Thursday, 25 November 2010

Questions Remain Over Cambodia Stampede


via CAAI

By SETH MYDANS
Published: November 25, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — More than two days after hundreds of people died in a huge, tightly jammed crowd on the last night of a water festival, both the cause and the death toll remained unclear on Thursday.

Most of the victims were caught in a crush on a small bridge. Rather than being trampled, the victims suffocated or were crushed to death by a dense, immobile crowd in which some people were trapped for hours.

Various officials gave different counts of the death toll, which in may not include victims who drowned or were taken from the scene.

On Wednesday the government said at least 350 people had died and 400 were injured. But among other tallies on Thursday, the Phnom Penh Post newspaper, citing government sources, said the death toll had climbed to 456.

As grief and shock turned to demands for explanations, questions grew on Thursday over the cause of the crush, over the response by the police and over the city’s readiness to handle an influx of as many as 3 million people for the festival.

A preliminary government investigation reported that the mostly rural holiday-goers panicked when the suspension bridge began to sway slightly under the weight of the crowd.

This conformed with a report by a military police investigator, Sawannara Chendamirie, who said on the morning after the disaster that survivors told him there had been shouts that the bridge was collapsing.

There have been reports, beginning immediately after the disaster, that some people were electrocuted, possibly by strings of lights on the fretwork of the bridge. Some reports said the police fired water hoses at the crowd that might have contributed to this.

But doctors at Calmette Hospital, the city’s main hospital, said they had seen no sign of electrocution among either the injured or the dead. They said this absence of evidence did not rule out the possibility, but they said most of the injured had suffered from the squeezing of the packed crowd. Some patients at the hospital said they had been unable to breathe and had passed out.

The police came under criticism for a failure of crowd management and for an inadequate and incompetent response to the disaster. One officer said only half the officially reported number of police were actually deployed. Badly injured survivors reported being dumped into vehicles together with the dead.

The government did quickly mobilize help for relatives of victims, many of whom traveled from distant provinces to claim the dead. Tables were set up near a makeshift morgue to confirm identities. Military trucks offered transportation home for coffins and family members. The morgue was all but cleared within a day, although some people wandered the hospital grounds holding snapshots of missing relatives.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission issued a report that documented the questions and criticisms.

“While the exact cause of the stampede last night remains unclear, with contradictory reports indicating it may have been instigated by either crowd antics or poor construction of the bridge to Koh Pich island, the failure of the state to control the crowd and limit the damage from the stampede is clear,” the report said.

“It is clear, too, that Phnom Penh was unprepared for any large-scale disaster,” the report said. “Responses by police and military were lacking and may even have contributed to the stampede while hospitals were overwhelmed. Emergency and medical personnel resorted to piling bodies together, covering them with mats or sheets.”

How to fund purchases in Cambodia


 

 
via CAAI
 
Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:00 Peter Mewes
 
CAMBODIA needs foreign investment. For almost a decade, GDP grew about 10 percent before the blip caused by the global economic crisis. Now the Cambodian economy is recovering and several high-rise residential projects dot the centre of Phnom Penh and its suburbs.
 
Although it is difficult to predict any future legislative changes to improve the present financial or tax system, there is every reason to believe that the government will continue to enact foreigner-friendly legislation to encourage increased confidence and economic growth. This may indicate the right climate to invest in Cambodian residential property, not only from an individual perspective, but also from a developer, financier and property agents’ perspective.
 
One important advantage for foreigners buying property in Cambodia is that there are no restrictions on foreign exchange operations through authorised banks.
 
There are also no restrictions on foreigners being eligible for loans in Cambodia. In practice, an individual, either a foreigner or Cambodian, may be granted a long-term loan of up to 10 years (possibly more at the bank’s discretion) to buy freehold residential property.
 
Generally, Cambodian banks provide loans of up to 60 percent of the market value of the property with an interest rate of 10 percent to 12 percent per annum. However, at the time of writing, a private commercial bank is offering special rates of 6-9 percent for refinancing existing long-term loans granted to individuals or corporate investors. Also, using immovable property as security is recognised by Cambodian law and usually enforceable in Cambodian courts. Most Cambodian banks now accept the land titles owned by the borrowers as security for both short-term and long-term loans.
 
Since foreigners can own freehold units in co-owned buildings, mortgages can be obtained on their investment. However, the concept of fractional and timeshare ownership on houses, villas or apartments is not generally accepted as collateral for a loan in Cambodia.
 
There are, however, several tax implications for buying, selling and holding property:
  • Registration Tax: Four percent of the assessed value. This tax is payable by the transferee unless the parties agree to the contrary. The certificate of ownership of the transferred property will not be issued in the name of the transferee until the registration tax has been paid.
  • Unused Land Tax: Two percent of market value of the land per square metre, determined by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This is an annual charge due on September 20.
  • Tax on Immovable Property: All owners (with some exceptions not relevant to this article) of property worth more than 100 million Riel (approximately US$25,000) are required to pay an annual tax on immovable property at 0.1 percent of the total value of the property. This was enacted in November 2009, but is likely only to be levied from 2011 as the government is still in the process of establishing a mechanism for tax collection and a property evaluation committee.
  • Profit Tax (on individuals or companies): Generally 20 percent – this is levied upon the sale of property or the closure of the property holding company. Any sale of company property is required by law to be recorded in the balance sheet as company revenue.
  • VAT: 10 percent: Applicable to both foreign and Cambodian companies, although this could be set off if the company is trading in Cambodia.
  • Tax on house and land rent: 10 percent on rental fees.
 
Cambodia is set to present many future opportunities and for those looking to invest, take proper legal advice to protect your potential investment as risks remain, particularly regarding obtaining a good registered title.
__________________________________________________
Peter Mewes is an English solicitor and legal advisor with HBS Law Firm and Consultants in Phnom Penh. For information about legal services for corporate, commercial and private clients he can be contacted at peter@hbs.com.kh.

Wrexham woman’s Cambodia mercy mission

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/

via CAAI

Nov 25 2010
by Steve Bagnall, Daily Post

A WOMAN will trek across mountains and a jungle to build traditional Khmer houses in Cambodia for land mine survivors.

Jenny Thomas, from Wrexham, is flying out today, as part of the Cambodia Community Challenge, organised by the humanitarian organisation Mines Advisory Group.

In Cambodia, MAG clears minefields and transforms the areas for building homes, schools, health centres, roads and access to clean water.

Jenny will be trekking in the Kulen Mountain area, through the jungle and paddy fields and then building houses.

“We will be working very closely with the local community,” she said.

“The houses we will be building are traditional Khmer houses, which are simple wooden houses set off the ground on wooden poles.”

Jenny needs £3,000 sponsorship money. To help contact Elfed ap N Roberts on 01978 290671.

Vietnam, Cambodia cooperate in fighting malaria

via CAAI

11/25/2010

Health services of the Vietnamese central highland province of Kon Tum and its neighbouring Cambodian province of Rattanakiri have agreed to enhance cooperation in fighting malaria along the common border.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed at the first border malaria fighting conference in Kon Tum province on November 24, both sides agreed to increase anti-malaria measures for local people along the border, to reduce the rates of infection and fatality of the disease and prevent malaria outbreaks.

They will also increase quarantine at their border gates and build a set of regulations on malaria-related information exchange.

At the first conference, delegates discussed a plan on cooperation and experience sharing on fighting malaria.

Border districts were urged to keep a close watch on the disease, increase education and train grassroots officials to detect and prevent outbreaks.

Sa Thay district in Kon Tum province has reported 202 malaria cases this year, up 10.38 percent over the same period last year.

Parliament offers Cambodia sympathy

http://news.smh.com.au/

via CAAI

November 25, 2010

AAP

The Australian parliament has offered its sympathy to Cambodia after more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at a festival.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered the condolences of the Australian parliament to Cambodia for the terrible loss of life at the Water Festival on Monday.

A swaying bridge sparked panic and set off a stampede that killed hundreds on their way to a free concert in Cambodia's capital.

Advertisement: Story continues below "The Water Festival of course is an annual event and should have been a time of very great happiness and celebration for the people of Cambodia," Ms Gillard told parliament.

"But instead of being a time of happiness and celebration we now believe that as a result of a stampede 380 people have died and this number may grow in the coming days.

"It really is hard for us to imagine that a rush of human beings and the pushing and the shoving and the terror of that would result in a loss of life on that scale but that is what has occurred."

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had written to his Cambodian counterpart to offer assistance, Ms Gillard said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott echoed Ms Gillard's sentiments.

"This is an almost incomprehensible tragedy for a country that has seen too much suffering," Mr Abbott said.

Cambodian authorities said no Australians were injured or killed in the stampede.

Mr Abbott said Australian firefighters in the country at a conference had pitched in to help with triage efforts.

SAVVY TRAVELLER: Winner this week


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RISTINA MARIA DASS in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Must Do A MUST-VISIT is the Angkor Wat temple. Deemed one of the wonders of the world, it is surrounded by a 5.5km long lake. The sunrise at Angkor Wat is a gorgeous sight. Angkor Thom, once the largest city of the Khmer empire, is another place to visit. There, a must-see is the Bayon temple and the Terraces Of Elephants. The picturesque Ta Prohm with its giant fig trees intertwined with the temple ruins should be visited as this is the temple where Tomb Raider was filmed. Another temple worth visiting is the pink sandstone temple at Banteay Srei and the Serpent temple, Neak Pean. Apart from temples, a boat ride at the floating village on Tonle Sap Lake, the largest in Southeast Asia, must not be missed. Here, a different lifestyle of the Vietnamese can be observed. If time permits, nature lovers should make a trip to Kbal Spean, The River of the Thousand Lingas. There, a beautiful waterfall awaits. Do not forget to take a ride on the tuk-tuk around town.

Avoid Don’t wear clothing that exposes the shoulders and knees as certain temples will forbid entry. Visitors should also avoid touching items sold by kids, as it will upset them if you do not buy their items.

Good Eats Try local dishes such as Amok fish cooked with coconut and Morning Glory, a popular vegetable dish there. These are eaten with rice. Local deserts sold at the market street should not be missed as well. For coffee lovers, try the local Cambodian coffee which it’s smooth and tasty. Buy a packet of Ratnagiri coffee to bring home. This is available at the Artisan’s Centre or the airport. If you don’t like coffee, get a refreshing coconut drink. Priced at US$1 (RM3.10), it’s worth a try.

Top Shop The best place for shopping and buying souvenirs is market street, open from 8am till 7pm. Or go to the night market that opens till midnight. Good bargaining skills will come in handy at these places.

Insider Tips Apply sunscreen lotion before going out and bring an umbrella too. Caps and sunshades are also a must. Wear comfortable shoes or sandals as there will be plenty of walking and climbing. Bring more US currency. These are useful during your shopping sprees in Siem Reap. Bargaining with the local kids is easier than in the market.

Cambodia holds day of mourning for stampede dead

A Cambodian couple pray for victims of the stampede in Phnom Penh on November 24, 2010. Cambodia's prime minister led a mourning ceremony Thursday at the site of a bridge stampede in the capital that killed 347 people in the worst national tragedy for decades.

via CAAI

by Kelly Macnamara Kelly MacnamaraThu Nov 25

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia's prime minister led an emotional memorial ceremony Thursday at the site of a bridge stampede in the capital that killed almost 350 people in the worst national tragedy for decades.

Hun Sen, dressed in black, wiped away a tear and burnt incense at a small altar erected at the foot of the narrow bridge, now cleared of the shoes, clothing and plastic bottles that were a grim reminder of Monday's disaster.

Officials said throngs of revellers celebrating the nation's annual water festival apparently panicked as rumours rippled through the crowds that the bridge to an island in Phnom Penh was about to give way.

The death toll was revised down to 347 from 456 because some victims had been mistakenly included twice, the social affairs ministry said.

Of those who perished, 221 were women. Hospitals reported 395 people were injured.

At the memorial ceremony, Hun Sen's wife, Bun Rany, stood at her husband's side and openly cried as a military band played a sombre tune. Other government officials, including Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, also paid their respects.

The women wore white shirts, a colour of mourning in Cambodia.

Flags were flying at half-mast at government buildings across the capital, while many schools were closed and dozens of uniformed school children carrying flowers attended the brief early morning service.

Afterwards, streams of people, including foreigners, lined up to lay out fruit, rice and water -- sustenance for the spirits of the dead.

King Sihamoni did not attend the event, but his father, Norodom Sihanouk, the former monarch who is still highly revered by Cambodians, sent out a public letter of condolence from Beijing, where he is receiving medical treatment.

The message, which appeared in full on the front page of a local newspaper, said the event had filled him and his wife "with very profound sadness."

Initial findings from a probe into the stampede released Wednesday suggested a combination of factors was to blame.

"The deaths happened because the bridge was overcrowded and there was panic that the bridge was collapsing because it is hung by cables and it was swaying," said Prum Sokha, who heads a panel investigating the tragedy.

The government has admitted it overlooked issues of crowd control but says a private firm was in charge of security on the island and bridge where the disaster unfolded.

Phnom Penh's police chief Touch Naruth estimated that at least 7,000 people were on the eight-metre (26 feet) wide, 100-metre (328 feet) long crossing when the stampede happened.

"It's unfortunate, but even if we had had tens of thousands of policemen, we would still not have been able to help them because they were stuck on the bridge," he told AFP.

More than 4,000 police officers were deployed during the festival and thousands of other security personnel were on guard as well, he added.

Funerals and cremations have been taking place across the country as distressed relatives and survivors searched for answers.

"I was stamped on for an hour but I didn't see any police coming to save me before I jumped into the water," said 18-year-old student Nol Socheata.

Hun Sen has described the disaster as Cambodia's worst tragedy since the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 reign of terror, which killed up to a quarter of the population.

Exuberant festival-goers had been crossing the bridge to reach an island hosting concerts, food stalls and ice sculptures when the stampede began, resulting in a deadly crush of bodies.

It marked a tragic end to the boat races, concerts and fireworks that are part of the traditional festival, which celebrates the reversal of the flow between the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers.

Prime minister weeps as Cambodia mourns dead from riverside stampede

A Cambodian man carries the body of his son killed in a stampede, at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian...   (Associated Press)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany pray with incenses sticks during a Buddhist ceremony for the victims near the site where people stampeded during Monday's water festival in Phnom...   (Associated Press)

via CAAI

Cambodia holds day of mourning for stampede dead

By SOPHENG CHEANG | Associated Press | Nov 24, 2010

Prime Minister Hun Sen cried as he lit candles and incense at a narrow bridge where thousands of festival-goers panicked, trampling hundreds underfoot on Monday night. He was joined by the Bassac River in the capital Phnom Penh by his wife Bun Rany and Cabinet members. Flags throughout the country were flying at half-mast and a Buddhist ceremony was scheduled for later in the day.

There has been confusion over the death toll from the tragedy. The latest official casualty tally was 347 dead and 395 injured, down from earlier official figures.

A government investigation showed that as the suspension bridge swayed under the weight of thousands of revelers, some began to shout that the structure was going to collapse. Others pushed, heaved and even jumped off the span as a panic took hold that ended in the mass deaths.

"People became panicked when they saw other people fall down, and they started running when they heard cries that the bridge was going to collapse," city police chief Touch Naroth told AP Television News on Wednesday.

The official probe into the accident continues with a final report expected next week, said Om Yentieng, a member of the investigating committee, Thursday. He said earlier casualty figures were not correct due to overlapping of counts by various institutions.

Hun Sen has described the stampede as the biggest tragedy since the communist Khmer Rouge's reign of terror, which killed an estimated 1.7 million people in the late 1970s.

During Thursday's official day of mourning, the Tourism Ministry has asked all entertainment venues, including karaoke parlors, nightclubs, beer gardens and discotheques, to close for the day.

The stampede happened during celebrations of a three-day holiday marking the end of the monsoon season, when as many as 2 million people are believed to have come to the capital. As festivities wrapped up Monday night, tens of thousands flocked to a free concert on an island in the Bassac River.

An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people were streaming over a bridge that connects the island to the mainland when it began to sway, according to Banyon TV, which serves as a mouthpiece for the government and was citing the investigation committee.

Om Yentieng said there were no signs on the dead bodies that any had been electocuted as some earlier reports suggested.

Street cleaners late Wednesday removed the debris that littered the yellow-and-gray bridge after the disaster: rubber sandals and other footwear, plastic bracelets, water bottles, condom wrappers and pieces of sugar cane pieces, a local snack.

Cambodia PM weeps for stampede dead

 via CAAI

25-11-2010

Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen weeps during a memorial service for victims of the stampede (AP)

Cambodia's prime minister has wept at the spot where hundreds died during a wild riverside stampede, as the country began a day of mourning for victims.

Hun Sen's tears came as he lit candles and incense at the narrow bridge where tens of thousands of festival-goers panicked, trampling hundreds underfoot, on Monday.

There has been confusion over the exact number of deaths. The latest official casualty tally from the incident was 347 dead and 395 injured, down from earlier official figures.

The premier was joined at the Bassac River in the capital Phnom Penh by his wife Bun Rany and cabinet members. Flags throughout the country were flying at half-mast and a Buddhist ceremony was being held.

A government investigation showed that as the suspension bridge swayed under the weight of thousands of revellers, some began to shout that the structure was going to collapse. Others pushed, heaved and even jumped off the span as a panic took hold that ended in the mass deaths.

The official probe into the accident continues with a final report expected next week, said Om Yentieng, a member of the investigating committee. He said earlier casualty figures were not correct due to overlapping of counts by various institutions.

Hun Sen described the stampede as the biggest tragedy since the communist Khmer Rouge's reign of terror, which killed an estimated 1.7 million people in the late 1970s.

During the day of mourning, the tourism ministry asked all entertainment venues, including karaoke parlours, nightclubs, beer gardens and discos, to close for the day.

The stampede happened during celebrations of a three-day holiday marking the end of the monsoon season, when as many as two million people were believed to have come to the capital.

As festivities wrapped up on Monday night, tens of thousands flocked to a free concert on an island in the Bassac River. An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people were streaming over a bridge that connects the island to the mainland when it began to sway, according to Banyon TV, which serves as a mouthpiece for the government and was citing the investigation committee.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

 via CAAI

Royal Honorary Consulate General of Cambodia in Lowell, Massachusetts Holds Bangskol and Offers Prayers to Stampede victims on Koh Pich Bridge


Thursday, 25 November 2010 07:53 DAP-NEWS


Cambodia’s Official Causality Figure in Stampede

Thursday, 25 November 2010 03:31 DAP-NEWS


Cambodia gov't revises down death figure of stampede to 347

Thursday, 25 November 2010 02:37 Xinhua

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- The latest statement by the sub- committee for urgent settlement on the Diamond Island bridge accident Thursday morning revised the death toll figure of the major stampede to 347, a big drop from the previous 456.

The statement, signed by the chairman of the sub-committee Ith Samheng, who is also the minister of social affairs, said the previous figure of death toll was incorrect due to some overlap in the statistics.

This is a major amendment for the death toll figure of 456 provided by the same sub-committee Wednesday afternoon.

By 00:30 a.m. on Thursday, after verification, 347 were dead in the stampede, of which 126 men and 221 women, said the latest statement.

It also revised down the injury number from 755 to 395, saying the latter was based on the statistics by the hospitals.

Earlier the Bayon TV, owned by the daughter of the Prime Minister Hun Sen, reported 755 people had got injured in the stampede on Monday night, the final day of the Water Festival.

The tragedy occurred as thousands of people tried to flee a bridge connecting the mainland of Phnom Penh and the Diamond Island due to rumors of bridge collapsing.

8 Vietnamese killed, 8 injured in Phnom Penh stampede: Embassy

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:27 Xinhua

PHNEM PENH, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- An official from the Vietnamese Embassy to Cambodia confirmed on Wednesday that eight Vietnamese died and another eight were injured in the deadly stampede on Monday night, which claimed at least 375 lives and wounded more than 700.

Viet Long, the official of the Vietnamese Embassy, told Xinhua Wednesday morning that all the dead and injured Vietnamese were not tourists but residents living in Cambodia.

This is the first report of foreign victims since the tragedy, which occurred in the final day of the Water Festival when a overcrowded bridge, connecting the mainland of Phnom Penh to Diamond Island, saw a sudden panic of the pedestrians.

When the tightly packed crowd were trying to flee from the narrow bridge on around 09:30 p.m. local time Monday night, many were drowned, suffocated or were trampled to death.

The three-day Water Festival, the largest annual festival of the country, this year attracted over three million Cambodians, many from rural areas, converging to the capital city to enjoy the regatta.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

PM Pays Tribute to the Dead of the Stampede Tragedy

Phnom Penh, November 25, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and his wife Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen paid tribute this morning at Pich Bridge of Koh Pich to those who died in the tragic stampede last Nov. 22.

Members of the Parliament, high-ranking government officials, members of the Cambodian People’s Party, Phnom Penh Municipality’s authorities also came to offer incenses and flowers at the mourning rite.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and his wife shed tears during the ceremony.

Friendly countries, including Australia, Brunei, France, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, the U.S, and Vietnam, and the UN have extended their deepest condolences to Cambodian leaders and people as well as to the victims’ families.

Cambodian political parties, state institutions, civil society and trade unions have also expressed their condolences over his tragedy.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has announced Nov. 25 as the national mourning day to commemorate those killed during this tragic event and recommended all state institutions, public and private establishments to hoist the flag at half mast.

According to H.E. Om Yentieng, vice-chairman of the Commission in charge of resolution of the incident, the stampede tragedy left 347 dead and 395 injured. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

-------------------

Chinese Red Cross Society Donates US$50,000 to Cambodia’s Stampede Victims

Phnom Penh, November 25, 2010 AKP -- Chinese Red Cross Society on Wednesday donated US$50,000 humanitarian aid to its Cambodian counterpart to help the victims of stampede tragedy occurred on Monday night.

The donation was delivered by Pan Guangxue, Chinese ambassador to Cambodia, on behalf of the Red Cross Society of China, to the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), Chinese News Agency Xinhua reported.

Mrs. Any Sok An, vice president of CRC, received the donation and held a talk with ambassador Pan.

Pan expressed his deep condolences and profound sympathy to the victims, families of the victims and the injured of the tragedy. Pan said that Chinese people were deeply affected by the stampede tragedy which happened on Monday night in Diamond Island (Koh Pich) and had a deep sympathy with the pain Cambodians were suffering.

He expressed his belief that under the leadership of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Cambodian people will be able to unite and tide over the difficulty.

Mrs. Any Sok An thanked China for its assistance, and saying “Cambodia and China are two traditional friendly countries. Chinese people are our great friends and provide a lot of valuable support and assistance.”

Mrs. Any Sok An said that the stampede accident was the worst tragedy in 30 years in Cambodia, adding that CRC is actively cooperating with the relevant government bodies to carry out relief work. She also said CRC will use the donation to help those victims in the stampede accident.

The accident happened on the last day of the successful celebration of Water Festival, the biggest annual event and the happiest time for many people around the country, especially, those coming from rural areas. It was estimated that the festival attracted about 3 million people across the country. --AKP

Lakeside families rebuff offer


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Heng Mom sits with neighbours yesterday at her lake-area home showing a letter of notice from Daun Penh district giving her seven days to settle on compensation.

via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

REPRESENTATIVES of 12 families set to be evicted from the Boeung Kak lakeside’s Village 22 rejected a compensation offer yesterday from developer Shukaku Inc, complaining their village chief had intentionally withheld a letter outlining a deadline for a settlement to pressure negotiations.

The representatives said they rushed to the office of the Boeung Kak Development Committee yesterday after a letter dated November 17 from Daun Penh governor Sok Sambath giving them one week to negotiate compensation was delivered to them just one day before the due date by village chief Men Sokha.

The group, representing 80 families, has consistently said they do not want to negotiate a resettlement package unless an existing cash compensation offer of US$8,500 was substantially increased.

“However, our discussion was not successful because the committee did not agree with our request. They tried to force us to receive compensation of $8,500 to leave our homes,” village representative Sok Tongheng said.

Another representative Ros Sovan said the Boeung Kak Development Committee had previously assured him that a resettlement agreement could be negotiated over a longer time frame provided he agreed to move into temporary accommodations.

“We were very worried when we received this letter,” he said, adding that he had told authorities he was willing to wait as long as it took to negotiate a resettlement offer.

According the group, the letter states that the villagers must come to a compensation agreement by November 24 or “the authorities will take legal action and will not responsible for loss of or damage to any of your belongings, if you do not follow this notification”.

Men Sokha, chief of Village 22, denied he had deliberately withheld the letter yesterday.

“I also had just received this letter from Srah Chork commune authorities on November 23 as well. I immediately distributed it to the villagers,” he said.

But In Sophorn, Srah Chork deputy commune chief, said that she had sent the letter to local authorities on Tuesday of last week.

“If they want to cooperate we will extend the deadline.”

She confirmed authorities were willing to house the villagers in temporary accommodation while negotiations took place over a possible resettlement offer, but declined to specify where they would be temporarily relocated.

“This time we want them to discuss with us at the office on Friday in order to find a way to solve the issue together,” she said.

Court tries three in murder case


via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case against three men charged in connection with the murder and robbery of a woman, who two of the suspects allegedly killed by spiking her drink with sleeping pills and beating her with a tyre iron.

Military official An Sophoeun, 35, and his accomplice Meng Ly, 27, were arrested in May after allegedly killing the woman by spiking her drink on March 15, before stealing her vehicle and dumping her beaten body in Preah Vihear province. Both suspects were charged with premeditated murder.

Vietnamese national Din Yong Dav was arrested and charged with receiving stolen goods after buying the vehicle for more than US$5,000.

During the hearing yesterday, Meng Ly confessed to the charges after previously denying any involvement in the plot. He said An Sophoeun called him to come to Phnom Penh with the promise of “a job for me to do”.

“I came to a suburban restaurant in Preak Leap commune, where the victim also came with her mini-Lexus,” he told the court. “She drank with us and during that time, I put more than 10 sleeping pills in her alcoholic drink until she felt sleepy.”

“Then An Sophoeun told me to carry her to her car to leave for Preah Vihear province. He drove the car and ordered me to beat her ... until she died.”

An Sophoeun denied the charges and asked for a postponement until his lawyer was present. He told the court that he knew the victim, as they conducted business with each other in Kampong Cham province’s Prey Chhor district.

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy said the new hearing is scheduled for December 6, and would go ahead regardless of whether An Sophoeun found a lawyer or not.

Police Blotter: 25 Nov 2010


via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:02 Sen David

Woman arrested after leisurely nude stroll
Police arrested a 30-year-old mentally ill woman who was strolling down the street naked in Kampong Chhnang city on Sunday. Police said she was sent to an NGO, and that she was a “newcomer” to the city who did not have any known relatives. Police brought her clothes on two separate occasions, but she refused to wear them. Passengers who saw her as they drove past felt pity for the woman, and came to the conclusion that she was “crazy”. Police are attempting to locate her relatives so she can be sent to a mental institution. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Neighbours nabbed eating man’s stolen cow
Four men were arrested on Sunday after they stole a villager’s cow and ate it in Siem Reap town. Police said the owner of the cow filed a complaint, and they went to search for the missing bovine. They stumbled upon the suspects eating “cow meat at a wild place” and began to question them. They admitted to stealing the cow while the villager was sleeping. The victim said they were his neighbours, and “they should not eat it”. He has demanded US$100 in compensation. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Investigation proceeds in gambling-house row
Battambang city police said the owner of a gambling den “made an argument” with one of their officers on Saturday. The officer in question said he was taking photos of the gambling house and its activities when the owner threw a bottle of water at him. It was at this time the owner allegedly “made the argument”. Police are now investigating who is at fault: the policeman, who the owner said “had no right” to take photos; or the owner, who the official said was running the gambling hub illegally. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Dusty route and no helmet kills moto driver
A 31-year-old man was killed and three people were severely injured during a collision between two motorbikes in Battambang town on Sunday. Police said the victim initiated the contact with the other motorbike and died at the scene. They said “maybe there was a lot of dust on the road”, which impaired the victim’s vision, but also said if the victim wore a helmet he may have survived. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Police at a loss over mysterious corpse
Police in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district are baffled after the body of a 40-year-old man was discovered dead by a motorbike taxi driver on Monday. The taxi driver said he saw the victim drinking wine at the scene, but 30 minutes later the man was gone. He wandered a short distance to find the man dead. Police have so far concluded that the man died “with no real reason”. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Assembly to debate draft budget law

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:02 Vong Sokheng

The National Assembly today will start debating the 2011 draft budget law, which was approved last month by the Council of Ministers and includes a roughly 18 percent increase in spending. Debate and questioning will come from the Cambodian People’s Party, as well as parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party, Norodom Ranariddh Party and Human Rights Party. The Assembly will also be debating prior bi-lateral agreements made between the Cambodian and South Korean governments.

Nigerian gets seven years for drugs

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a Nigerian man to seven years in prison and two Cambodian women to two years each after finding them guilty of drug smuggling in Tuol Kork district in March. Em Meka Awuwo, Chhaem Mom and In Sreytwo were arrested in Boeung Kak II commune in March after they were found in possession of a combined 20 grams of heroin and cocaine. Presiding Judge Kor Vandy also ordered Awuwo to pay a fine of 10 million riels (US$2,500).

RCAF official charged in deception case

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

AN official from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Kampong Cham province was charged with fraud after two people accused him of cheating them out of US$1,600 in exchange for their children gaining positions in the military. Pao Lim was arrested last Friday by military police after the victims filed a complaint accusing him of promising positions for their children at Preah Vihear province, according to deputy provincial military police chief Lak Leang.

Diamond Island stays on track


via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

COMPANIES said yesterday that they intended to continue with business developments as planned for Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island, following Monday’s tragedy.

Although some Cambodians expressed concerns to The Post about visiting the isle to enjoy its entertainment venues or marriage facilities, officials from developer Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation said its scheme, projected to cost around US$200 million, remained on track.

“The disaster has not affected our future plans,” Touch Samnang project manager of the Diamond Island development said yesterday. “Everything is going on as it was before. We have not changed our project.”

OCIC had just broken ground on its $3-million City Hall Diamond project – which would see 3,000 square metres of offices and conference rooms built and intended to see it complete in six or seven months, he said.

The firm is also building a $3 million new theatre and film centre, to be finished in April, as well as housing and a golf driving range.

Officials also confirmed that preparations for a 555-metre tall tower – which would be the world’s second largest if built today – would continue on the isle. Touch Samnang said plans were already drawn up, and preparations for a survey was underway.

“The second step is to study the land in detail, and then we will start construction on it,” he said.

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The disaster has not affected our future plans. Everything is going on as it was before - we have not changed our project.
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Although OCIC remained confident, Touch Samnang said he was deeply saddened by the disaster.

Diamond Island is also home to a number of restaurants and vendors. Outlets of popular Kingdom brands were slated to open on the isle – which has proved a popular attraction in the capital – in the next few months.

Lucky Burger representatives said yesterday it still intends to open its first fast food outlet on the island tomorrow, though operations manager Sok Vong said he was concerned about the tragedy keeping customers away.

“I worry a little about attracting clients, but our location is far from where the tragedy took place. I hope the situation will get better soon,” he said yesterday.

Diamond Island had also become a popular location for weddings, due to its large banquting halls.

Although some have expressed their concerns at following through with marriage on the isle, officials said yesterday there had not yet been any cancellations.

Prak Chan Long, general manager of Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre, said yesterday he expected a strong season ahead.

“Business is still the same. We haven’t had cancelled weddings, exhibitions, or other meetings,” he said, adding that more than 10 couples were scheduled to get married today.

Over the remainder of the year, he said a further 300 couples were set to celebrate their weddings at the centre.

The Diamond Island Night Market is also open, and vendors have not announced any intention of moving on, according to Prak Chan Long.

“We are trying to normalise a bad situation by upgrading things on the island. I hope that people will continue to come, more and more.”

Banana rumour sparks concern


Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:01 Ran Reuy

The price of bananas doubled to 5,000 riel a bunch in Phnom Penh markets yesterday, according to buyers, as unsubstantiated rumours circulated that the fruit was costing up to US$5 a bunch. Bananas – used by Cambodians in ceremonies such as funerals - have been in high demand, but supplies have been short, according to sellers, due to transport blocks associated with the Water Festival. Despite fears of exorbitant mark-ups expressed by would-be buyers yesterday, bunches were selling at around double the normal price of 2,300 riel. New supplies were thought to have resumed.

SIM cards as status symbols


Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
SIM cards on display. Special phone numbers are becoming increasingly popular as status symbols in Cambodia.

---------------------------------------------------------The rich people, they need something special to show they have money and power.
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via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

CELL phone numbers are becoming a sign of social status in Cambodia, and a new firm aims to collect on the trend by offering SIM cards for up to thousands of dollars.

KhmerSim.com’s Managing Director Kong Piseth said demand for SIM cards with “lucky” or “VIP” numbers was coming primarily from the Kingdom’s businessmen, who were keen to portray their wealth.

“The rich people, they need something special to show they have money and power,” he said.

What constitutes a “VIP” or “lucky” number depends on the customer. Some prefer numbers that are easy to remember, but it is repeating digits in particular that often demand serious cash.

Its website offered several Star-Cell numbers – such as 098 79 7777 – for US$2,830, and a selection of Mobitel numbers for $1,530, including 017 43 7777.

On the other end of the spectrum, Smart’s 010 82 0003 was on offer from KhmerSim.com for $10.

“So far we have not sold any in the thousands, but we have sold some that cost $200 or $300,” he said late last week.

Although the company is only a few months old, it claims to have already sold “hundreds” of SIM cards.With five employees, it is planning to begin contacting high-powered businessmen directly to expand sales.

KhmerSim.com acts as a middleman for “dealers” who obtain the SIMs, said Kong Piseth – though he declined to reveal the identity of the dealers, calling it a company secret.

Gary Foo, marketing manager at mobile provider Hello, said some SIMs sell for considerable amounts of money.

“The price to pay for special numbers does go sky-high sometimes,” he wrote last week.

Consumers have come to see certain numbers as a means to demonstrate their individual social status, with the more expensive the number conferring the owner’s social standing.

Repeating numbers or easy to remember digits are very popular, he said, but added there was also a cultural component to what constituted special numbers, particularly with Chinese influence.

The number eight represents prosperity in Chinese culture, and often shows up in “lucky” numbers, according to Gary Foo.

Some numbers also have meanings attached to them in Chinese languages, such as 118, which combines to mean “everyday prosperity” in Cantonese.

Piseth Kong said there were another two or three Cambodian websites in the same business as KhmerSim.com, but competition was likely to grow further over time.

He claimed Metfone was the most popular SIM requested from the company, with Mobitel coming in second and Beeline rounding out at a close third.

The most expensive number on rival site KhmerSimCard.com displayed yesterday was 015 888 848, which was on offer for $980.

Government issues warning over taxes


via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

THE Ministry of Economy and Finance has called for companies, particularly in the import and export business, to catch up on their taxes, or risk closure. Promulgated yesterday, the announcement said “measures will be taken for those that are late to pay, such as property seizure, closing bank accounts, stop import and export transactions, and invalidate officers”.

TFC welcomes the return of SEA Games hero Tan Nysan


Tan Nysan will return to boast tennis in the Kingdom following a seven month recovery period in Paris from an ankle injury. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY TFC

via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

The Tennis Federation of Cambodia is all set to roll out a warm reception for two-time SEA Games bronze medalist Tan Nysan on his return to Phnom Penh this coming Monday after a lengthy treatment and recovery in Paris from a serious ankle injury he picked up in March during an International Tennis Federation event in India.

The French-born Cambodian, who caused a flutter when he won the Kingdom’s first tennis bronze medals at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and then repeated his feat at the next edition in Laos, will rejoin the national team as Tennis Cambodia prepare to host two ITF Futures events in Phnom Penh early next year.

At the start of the season this year, Nysan was in fabulous touch in India where he picked up his first world ranking point on the way to a place in the quarterfinals. However, during a highly combative contest, he badly hurt his ankle and was forced to retire.

Upon returning to Phnom Penh, Nysan decided to get back to Paris for treatment.

“He has fully recovered from his injury,” said TFC General Secretary Tep Rithivit yesterday. “It took much longer for him to get back to his best because he aggravated the injury while getting back to the court a bit too early to play for his club in Paris. He has been training regularly in France and he is in quite a good shape right now.”

The federation official expressed their excitement to have their star man back in the fold. “He will definitely strengthen our side. He brings a new dimension when he teams up with Bun Kenny [the No 1 ranked local player].”

Nysan is set to go back to training under national team head coach Braen Aneiros. “He will clearly be eying the two futures events we are organising in early January,” added Tep Rithivit. “He has explicitly told me that he would like to pursue his tennis career in Cambodia. He has his typical ways of doing things, but who cares; he is an exciting tennis prospect for us.”

Clown duo provides medicinal laughter


San Franciscan clowns Jon and Tyler ham it up. Photo by: CHARLOTTE DUCROT

via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:00 Emilie Boulenger

TYLER and Jon, two clowns from San Francisco who perform under the organisation Clowns without Borders will give a show on Sunday for the NGO Homeland, located in Battambang, which helps street children.

The two volunteer artists raised money in the United-States to attend Tini Tinou festival, organised by the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak. The professional circus arts teachers are performing workshops at the festival as part of their work with their company called Pi.

The playful duo decided to kill two birds with one stone, spending time performing at schools and other centres for children in Phnom Penh and Battambang.

The clowns decided to contact Clowns without Borders, a group that brings levity, contemporary clowning and circus oriented performances and workshops into communities all around the world. The group’s aim is to celebrate together and forget for a moment the tensions that darken everyday lives.

Jon and Tyler, who regularly perform a clown cabaret at the Climate Theater in San Francisco, are definitely ready to bring laughter to the people of Cambodia.

So far, they have already performed two shows, one at A New Day Cambodia, an organisation that provides shelter, food and education to underprivileged children and another at an international school.

“I can’t fix teeth or do surgery so I thought I had to bring laughter,” says Tyler.

“Everybody needs to laugh. It’s a form of social healing and it’s a wonderful thing to make someone laugh,” adds Jon.

Funny faces and fake slaps seem to work with Khmer children, whose smiles definitely touched the two artists. There’s no doubt that the language of laughter is universal.

Children display workshop pics


via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:00 Will Baxter

A GROUP of more than 40 underprivileged children from the Siem Reap area had their photographic work shown last night at Wat Damnak in Siem Reap town as part of the sixth annual Angkor Photo Festival.

Armed with small cameras and guided by seven professional photographers from across Asia, the children documented the world around them for a week, focusing on the people, wildlife and scenes in Siem Reap and the Tonle Sap lake area.

Samuel Flint, director of Anjali House, an underprivileged children’s NGO founded under the umbrella of the Angkor Photography Festival Association, said that the students benefitted greatly from the workshops.

“It gives them confidence by having their photos displayed publicly [and] builds their self-esteem,” he said.

Sohrab Hura, a freelance photographer from India and one of the coordinators of the workshop and Children’s Night, said that yesterday’s presentation was a kind of “celebration”.

“For me, it’s one of the most important days of the festival,” he said. “There is some innocence left over in [their work]. I can feel a lot more in their photographs than some of the other [professional] slideshows I see.”

A total of 43 Anjali House students had their photographs shown as part of Children’s Night at Wat Damnak.

Professional teams with novice in show


via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

SIEM Reap’s fashionable Hotel de la Paix plays host to a launch of an Angkor Photo Festival dual exhibition tonight which features work from the acclaimed Paolo Patrizi and 17-year-old local Chan Sokdam’s second solo exhibition as an upcoming photographer.

A self-taught documentary photographer, Paolo Patrizi showcases a series of images entitled European Starlings.

He began his career in London, working on freelance assignments for British magazines and design groups, until he started developing projects of his own.

Paolo’s recent work has explored the contradictions between traditions and modernity and cultural disconnections produced from rapid economic growth.

European Starlings illustrates thousands of birds in the city of Rome forming together in the sky to create a beautiful abstracted silhouette called a ‘murmuration’.

Sokdam, an Anjali House graduate, presents his second solo exhibition titled Life and Disability.

Sokdam’s talent in photography was discovered in November 2009, during the Anjali Photo Workshop, and he concentrates on bringing Cambodian realism into photos built on the theme of disability.

The images hang from the large tree at the heart of the hotel, in the spectacular Fire Garden.

Snappers on the streets


Partygoers have their pictures taken at the Hip Hop Club as part of the photo festival. Photo by: LIM SOKCHANLINA

via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:00 Craig Miles

SIEM Reap’s trendy new nightspot, the Hip Hop Club near the Old Market, is the venue for an innovative Angkor Photo Festival happening called the Street Studio, where revellers can have their photo taken on the spot for free.

The Street Studio launched on Monday and will be alive with laughing, dancing and photography again tomorrow night.

Street Studio was a concept originally thought of by Angkor Photo Festival director Jean-Yves Navel, and put into action by some of the team from the festival. Angkor Photo Festival coordinator assistant and Street Studio organiser Jessica Lim said it aimed to involve young people from the Cambodian community.

“We want to extend the festival to young Khmer people,” she said. “We chose the Hip Hop Club because mainly young Khmer people go there and many of them aren’t aware of the photo festival.

“We want to make them realise the festival is not just for foreigners.”

India’s Kapil Das, the co-publisher of blindboys.org, was one of about eight photographers at Street Studio and he said he was “super excited” with how it went.

Street Studio was first run on Monday night and according to Jessica Lim the first session was a complete success and it was exciting to see so many young Khmer people having fun.

“We took over 100 portraits of people and we even had some of the tuk tuk and moto drivers come in to have their picture taken,” she said. “The street kids came too.

“We were already crowded very early and were swallowed by people wanting more than one photograph taken.”

She said she expected even more people to come on Friday because word of mouth was buzzing in town.

She said some people were not happy with their photo so they will be back for more.

“We are hoping to make the process smoother this time around. Canon is sponsoring it with two small printers.”

Street Studio at the Hip Hop Club begins at 9:30pm tomorrow.

Convicted rapist speaks out


Photo by: Pha Lina
Graham Cleghorn, serving a 20-year sentence for rape, arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to face disinformation charges.

via CAAI

Thursday, 25 November 2010 15:18 Cameron Wells

Graham Cleghorn says he fully expects to be found guilty in the defamation case against him on Friday.

“I’m going to stand up there and they’re going to say ‘you’re guilty, here’s the sentence’,” he said, before adding: “Find me a case where a foreigner has been found innocent in Cambodia.”

New Zealander Cleghorn, 62, was sentenced by Siem Reap provincial court in 2004 to 20 years in prison for the rape of five girls aged between 14 and 19. He is due to attend a verdict hearing today in the defamation case bought against him by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre.

Following the 2004 conviction, he was accused by the CWCC of claiming through various media outlets that the NGO offered to pay each victim US$10,000 each to testify against him. In a hearing last Monday, Mea Sophea, the lawyer representing the CWCC in Siem Reap, requested that the court demand Cleghorn pay US$5,000 in compensation.

But in an interview with the Post at Prey Sar prison this week, Cleghorn, defending himself in the complaint, repeated previous statements that the case should never have made it to court.

“Apparently I’m not allowed to tell you that those people [the CWCC] are thieves and liars and set me up, because that’s defamation now,” he says. “Any information I gave to the court [in prior hearings] is privileged information and can’t be used against me in a defamation case.”

CWCC denies claims

In an email last month, CWCC representative Say Vathany called the bribery claims “groundless”.

“CWCC wishes to express deep disappointment in Mr Graham Cleghorn’s groundless accusation against CWCC. These attacks prompted CWCC to file a defamation case against Mr Cleghorn,” she said.

“His defamation against CWCC is intended to discredit CWCC in a desperate attempt to influence a more favourable verdict for his case in the Supreme Court.”

During the hearing last week, Siem Reap-based CWCC manager Ket Noeun said the defamation complaint stemmed from Cleghorn’s repeated statements through the press.

“He hadn’t stopped his activities and still defamed the CWCC through the world media,” she told the court. “It was more than 10 papers [and] included the Bangkok Post and radio, and we have evidence from email and websites of his quotes accusing our organisation of persuading the five victims with a promise of $10,000 each.”

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, said any claims made in hearings cannot be used in a defamation complaint, unless the accused spoke to the press independently and out of court.

“If [the media] publish a statement made in court, it is not defamation,” he said. “Otherwise, no-one would testify.”

Cleghorn has never denied making the claims in court, but denies making the claims in interviews to the press.

He said his comments regarding the CWCC “are the basis of my defence” and cannot be used in a defamation suit against him.

Moreover, he claims the case is “sub judice”, or now under consideration by a court, as he prepares for an appeal on his conviction with the Supreme Court.

“You can’t hear a case in a minor court that’s subject to a decision in a higher court,” he said, claiming that any comments he has made about the CWCC have not been proved false by the Supreme Court. Until they are proven to be false, he says, the comments are factual.

Money and Land

Cleghorn said the CWCC has been out to “persecute” him since day one, and for two reasons: money and land.

He said one of the judges he claimed was involved in his conviction, Ten Senarong, is “the most corrupt judge Siem Reap has ever seen” and conspired with the CWCC to imprison him.

“Ten Senarong was after my land,” he said. “I had a lot of land [in Siem Reap] on various titles … and the land was in my wife’s name. About two years ago, I gave [the land] up.”

He says he does not know who now owns the land. But he maintains that Ten Senarong and the CWCC were behind his conviction in an effort to gain his land and foreign donor money.

“[Ten Senarong’s] made money, but not as much money as he wanted to make because I’ve told everyone what a lying, thieving … dog he is.”

But Ten Senarong, now an investigating judge with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, denied being involved in the case.

“He is probably confused and made wrong accusations against me as the most corrupted judge,” he said.

“At that time I had already moved to be a judge at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, in November 2002. There is a royal decree as evidence.”

Looking forward

Cleghorn faces an extra two years in prison for each victim that he refuses to pay $2,000 in compensation to in relation to his rape conviction. He said the money will go unpaid.

“I don’t give a f… what they do,” he said. “I am what I am, and I am not going to pay these girls for lying. At least I can look in the mirror every morning and like what I see.”

When asked if he would pay any compensation if he is found guilty of defamation today, he grinned and said: “What do you think?”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHRANN CHAMROEUN AND BROOKE LEWIS