Saturday, 11 December 2010

Over 40 NGOs Celebrate inti-Corruption Day

Cambodian company to build coal power plant

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Cambodian company to build 700-megawatt coal power plant

On Friday December 10, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- Cambodia's government has given its approval for a local company to build a 700-megawatt coal-fired power plant to help cope with the country's electricity shortage.

A government press release said Friday that Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co, Ltd had been awarded a 33-year contract to build and operate a $362 million power plant in the coastal province of Preah Sihanouk, the first Cambodian company to undertake such a project.

The statement said the plant would produce 270 megawatts in its first phase, due to be completed by 2015.

In September, a Chinese company, Erdos Electrical Power & Metallurgical Co., announced plans to build a 700-megawatt coal power plant in the same province. It was not immediately clear if the projects were related.

Cuba: Esteban Lazo Welcomes Cambodian Parliamentarians

http://www.escambray.cu/

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by PL — last modified Dec 10, 2010

Contributors: photo: AIN
The president of the National Assembly of Cambodia conveyed the greetings of his country's authorities to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Cuban Vice-president Esteban Lazo welcomed Thursday a delegation from the National Assembly of Cambodia.

Heng Samrin, president of the Assembly conveyed the greetings of his country's authorities to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and to the Cuban President, Raul Castro.

Samrin stressed the support given by the government and people of Cuba for the development of Cambodia.

During the talks both leaders highlighted the strong desire to continue working towards strengthening the historic ties of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples and governments.

New Cambodian laws may suppress free speech: rights groups

A general view shows a street of housing in Phnom Penh, Camboida in April 2010

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PHNOM PENH — Cambodia is introducing new laws which rights groups warned Friday could be used to silence critics and stifle freedom of expression.

The new penal code comes into force on Saturday and sets out a string of potential new crimes, including some that could see a person jailed or fined for expressing dissenting views, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said.

"The new code makes it a crime to criticise judges or 'disturb public order' by questioning court decisions," said Sara Colm, a Cambodia-based senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The change would make it "more risky" for court monitors, human rights defenders and victims to speak out, she added.

"We are concerned that provisions in the new penal code, which failed to decriminalise defamation, will be used to silence peaceful critics and suppress freedom of speech."

One law states that any act directed at a public official that affects the "dignity of a person" could be punished with up to six days in prison and a fine, local rights group Licadho said in a legal analysis.

In its most extreme form, the article could "criminalise all acts that hurt the feelings of public officials," the group said.

The government, however, said the penal code was "good news for Cambodia".

"It protects human rights and keeps social order," said government spokesman Phay Siphan.

"If the NGOs say that an article of the criminal code affects the rights of the people they should not make waves but they should file a complaint with the proper institutions to get an amendment," he said.

The code replaces laws set out by a UN transitional authority in the early 1990s after decades of civil war.

The Cambodian government has come under fire from rights groups in recent years for launching a number of defamation and disinformation lawsuits against critics and opposition members.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in Europe, faces a total of 12 years in prison if he returns to Cambodia, after a court in September sentenced him to 10 years for publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam.

He already had a two-year jail term hanging over his head for uprooting border markings.

In another high-profile case, local rights activist Leang Sokchouen was jailed for two years in August for disinformation after he allegedly distributed anti-government leaflets.

Former Khmer Rouge stronghold struggles with history


Cambodia's new national curriculum requires students to learn about the brutal regime. Former cadres who are now parents would rather not talk about it.

Eleventh-graders at O'Tapouk High School in Pailin, Cambodia. (Brendan Brady / For The Times)

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By Brendan Brady, Los Angeles Times
December 10, 2010

Reporting from Pailin, Cambodia — Twelfth-grade teacher Sam Borath recently asked her students in Svay, a town in northwestern Cambodia, to write down the names of five leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime that killed an estimated 1.7 million people during its reign in the late 1970s.

Simply identifying top figures, however, can be an awkward exercise. Many communities would rather not stir up memories of the war-torn past, particularly in this region. Svay is part of a thin belt along the northwestern border that remained under the control of ultra-communist Khmer Rouge leaders and their militias for two decades after 1979, when the regime was ousted from power in Phnom Penh. Many residents still defend the regime's legacy, contending that it had rural interests at heart.

But a new national curriculum requires schools to tackle the controversial topic as a way to confront and reconcile the past.

"Some did it," Sam Borath said of the writing exercise. "But some just wrote down one name. Others didn't even hand it in because their parents told them not to."

Naming specific cadres and their past deeds is sensitive, now that a United Nations-backed war crimes court is prosecuting a few former high-ranking officials and is considering taking on five others.

Students in Svay were introduced to the new lessons in November.

"A lot of the students are curious to know what happened," Sam Borath said. "But many parents are former Khmer Rouge, so they discourage their kids from learning about it. They think we are teaching their children to be angry at them."

Researchers estimate that nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population died under the extremist regime, and most survivors had been pushed to the edge of death by hard labor, starvation and medical neglect.

After the Khmer Rouge was ousted in 1979, Pailin became the base of its insurgency before morphing in the late 1990s into an autonomous zone for former regime leaders who agreed to leave the movement. A decade later, the province has been reincorporated into the country.

In July, a U.N.-backed court handed former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kang Kek Ieu, known as Comrade Duch, what amounted to a 30-year sentence. Two months later, it indicted four former senior leaders on charges that include genocide and crimes against humanity.

The desire in some areas to frustrate such prosecutions, though, was apparent during a recent trip by court officials to Pailin, the provincial capital, to meet with dozens of former Khmer Rouge figures now serving as police officers, soldiers and politicians.

"We want them to realize that we are doing this work for everyone," said Reach Sambath, a court spokesman.

Convincing former Khmer Rouge cadres that they'll benefit under a society that prosecutes the regime's top officials remains a hard sell here, however, even as angry residents in other parts of Cambodia wonder why so few of those leaders have been held accountable.

Mey Meakk, a deputy governor in Pailin province and former secretary to top Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, contended that his old boss deserves all the blame and everyone else should be left alone.

The four senior leaders awaiting trial are victims of Pol Pot, he said, "like me, like everyone else."

Back in the classroom, Pailin's high school teachers were trying to raise awareness one lesson at a time. Most of them grew up elsewhere and don't share local sentiments.

"We talk about the torture, how people were evicted from the cities, the endless hard labor," said Long Vannak, a 12th-grade history teacher who had moved here. "Many of the students are interested in this history."

Sat Sorya, 20, one of Long Vannak's students, struggled to make sense of the many disturbing snippets she'd heard over the years from relatives, classmates and the media.

"I want to know why they killed so many of their own people," she said. "I want to know why they left their own country in such terrible condition."

Brady is a special correspondent.

Political parties from India attend ICAPP in Cambodia

http://e-pao.net/

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Source: Hueiyen News Service / Newmai News Network

Imphal, December 09 2010: The 6th general assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) was held in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, from December 1 to December 4 under the theme Asia's Quest for a Better Tomorrow, informed Dr N Nara, Manipur ex-minister and executive member of CPI, Manipur chapter.

In a press briefing at Irawat Bhawan in Imphal today on his participation in the international conference – he attended as CPI representative – he said that 6 members representing different political parties of India participated in the general assembly: two each from CPI and BJP and one each from Congress and Forward Block.

Altogether 89 political parties from 36 different countries sent their representatives at the ICAPP which was hosted by Cambodian People's Party in collaboration with FUNCINPEC Party in Phnom Penh, capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Dr Nara said that during the conference, issues ranging from Indo-Pak hostile relations, Afghanistan problem to the standoff in the Korean peninsula between the North and the South were discussed threadbare.

The participating delegates tacitly agreed that the problems are political and that political parties are accountable for the mess in the region.

ICAPP was formed keeping in mind the persistence of uneven development in the world and to help countries who are falling behind on development, and to ameliorate the effect of natural calamity in the region, he said.

He said, the key component of the conference was the meeting on World Environment Safety which was sponsored by China.

The meet attempted to address some key problems besetting climate change and the effect of green house gases and it declared that ICAPP will support all efforts from international and national governments on the agenda of reducing the greenhouse effect globally.

It also endorsed United Nation secretary general Ban Ki-Moon's call for reducing greenhouse gases.

Cambodia a war torn land for two decades has successfully rebuilt itself from the ashes of was to develop as a peaceful country Dr Nara observed, Manipur is going through similar warlike circumstances.

He appealed to the people of Manipur to learn from Cambodia help build Manipur into a peaceful society.

Dr Nara said he spoke in the conference on the need to reform the electoral system in India so that free and fair elections may be conducted in the country and that people may be empowered to fight corruption emanating from a flawed electoral system.

Manipur going through Cambodia experience: Dr. Nara

http://kanglaonline.com/

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Posted by kanglaonline on December 9, 2010 in Headlines 

IMPHAL, December 9: Dr M Nara, ex-minister while briefing media persons after his return from Phnom Penh, Cambodia has equated the present situation of the state to that of the past situation in Cambodia which was genocidal.

He was in the Cambodian capital from December 2-3 to participate in the 6th International Conference of Asian Political Parties.

He said that Manipur has a lot to learn from Cambodia and its return to normalcy and rebuilding the country in order to bring the much anticipated peace and normalcy in the state.

He also reminded that the state needed an electoral reform to usher in peace in the state. Corruption is the foundation of all ills in the state including the issue of insurgency problem and as such the state need to collectively fight against corruption.

India even though is regarded as the biggest Democracy in the world, from the inside it has become a hollowed Democracy, with the country filled with corruption and all sections of the people most importantly the people at the helm of things, the government should start work sincerely towards a better society.

He further appealed to the people of the state to try and make 21st century as the century of Asia.

The International conference was attended by representatives of 89 political parties from 36 countries, with six representatives from the country. The country was represented by six delegates. Among the six member team CPI has two representatives of which Dr M Nara was one. BJP was represented by two members with Congress and Forward Block being represented by one member each.

The International Conference of Asian Poltical Parties addressed various issues relating to continent including environmental degradation and poverty, Asian economies; inter regional trade through open regionalism- by eliminating both tariff and non tariff barriers, linking up of the ASEAN and SAARC framework, strengthening of the Mekong- Indo- China economic corridors, reconciliation in all Asia’s conflict zone, preserving of Asia’s splendid heritage etc.

The first International Conference of Asian Political Parties was held in 2000 at Manila.

China expands its empire of investment to Cambodia

http://www.guilfordian.com/

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By Kyle Dometrovich & Zack Pinsky
Staff writers

Published: Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recently, Cambodia has seen a drastic influx of money into their economy due to Chinese investment, following a period of serious economic downturn. These monetary gains, however, come at a great cost to Cambodian citizens.

As the economy develops, the Chinese government strengthens its stranglehold on Cambodia's infrastructure.

According to the Washington Post, in 1997, Chinese investment in Cambodia tripled from past years. This increased another 40 percent in 1999, making China the largest foreign investor in the Cambodian economy.

Along with economic support, China has contributed significant military aid, totaling $14 million, to Cambodia, according to the Indian newspaper ZeeNews. As China continues to monopolize Cambodian infrastructure, there is growing global concern about the independence of Cambodia.

"You don't want to get too dependent on any one country," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Washington Post, in reference to the situation in Cambodia.

Cambodia's situation is in no way unique. It has been seen in Vietnam and in South America as well; cases of resources being exploited by those with the means of production are not uncommon.

Chinese investment appears to benefit Cambodia, but many are questioning the motives behind the infrastructural improvements.

In October 2010, China promised to support the construction of a $600 million railway between Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Vietnam, paving the way for a Chinese East Asia, according to The Phnom Penh Post.

In 1999, with the hopes of unifying Southeast Asia, China entered into a free-trade deal with 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAN). This deal removes duties from 90 percent of goods exchanged between these nations, reports The New York Times.

With China's trade tripling within Southeast Asia between 2003 and 2008, many question the fairness of the agreement. The agreement has benefited China's industry greatly, according to The Telegraph.

"On the Chinese side, the sectors that will benefit the most are light manufacturing, such as electrical and electronic goods, clothes, footwear, porcelain and so on," said Zuo Liancun, an economics professor at Guangdong University in China, to The Telegraph. "For South East Asian countries, they will sell more agricultural products and natural resources."

Cambodia, for instance, is rich in timber, and China has been a major importer of timber. While economically beneficial for both countries, the transaction is affecting the fauna of Cambodia. According to The China Post, Cambodian activists have been warned of the environmental harm that will result from such rapid industrialization.

"China looks beyond economic interests toward more strategic interests in this region," said Cheang Vanarith, director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace in Phnom Penh, to VOA News. "China used to be the center of the universe. China is the kind of regional hub in terms of strategic and economic. Some people call it China returning to the past."

China's history of imperialism dates back past 200 B.C. With the recent investments in Cambodia's infrastructure, many fear that China is returning to its imperialist roots.

"Injecting $1.6 billion into Cambodia's economic infrastructure endeavors is nothing but neo-imperialism," said junior and economics major Imir Paz. "Twenty-three cooperation projects create an environment where China ultimately has total control of investments."

With China's continued investment, Cambodia moves closer to becoming a part of a Chinese economic monopoly.

A Decade Brewing Coffee, and an Arts Scene

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 10 December 2010

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Photo: Courtesy of javaarts.org
A painting displayed at the Java Café & Gallery, celebrating its 10 years anniversary. The cafe was established by Dana Langlois in 2000.

“I developed into a well-known artist in Cambodia and now I’ve become an internationally recognized painter.”

Cambodian artists say they owe a debt of gratitude to Dana Langlois and her Java Gallery and Cafe, which marks its 10th anniversary on Saturday.

Langlois, an American, opened her cafe, near Independence Monument, in 2000, creating a space for Cambodian artists to display their work and encouraging the growth of the arts, which were devastated under the Khmer Rouge.

“The dozens of young Cambodian artists who have exhibited at Java have played significant roles in the Cambodian art scene,” Langlois said in an interview.

Artists who have shown their work at Java have pursued subjects like culture, conservation, the environment and the daily lives of other Cambodians.

At least 20 different Cambodians have shown their work at the gallery. Chath Piersath, a painter, said Langlois was the “first foreigner” to concern herself with Cambodian art.

Leang Seckon, a painter, said Langlois had helped Cambodian art reach foreigners and encouraged younger artists to pursue more works.

“Java is a center for training professionalism in art and for counseling the establishment, innovation and exhibition of new works of art,” he said. It has also provided a venue for Cambodian artists to study works “from many countries,” he said.

“At this time, foreigners have come to see the development of Cambodian works of art, which began to rise up after the war,” he said.

Leang Seckon has shown 100 different works at the gallery over the past 10 years, fetching tens of thousands of dollars.

“I developed into a well-known artist in Cambodia and now I’ve become an internationally recognized painter,” he said. “I’m very happy for the art works that I have learned from paintings of different countries at Java, such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom.”

Oeur Sokuntevy, perhaps Cambodia’s best-known female artist, said Java helped artists train and develop.

“Ms. Dana has helped counsel Cambodian artists in painting and promoted their knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the Cambodian artists,” Oeur Sokuntevy said. “I have more understanding of technical painting, and the reason is the establishment of my art works at Java.”

So far, Oeur Sokuntevy has shown 55 works of art at Java, including paintings and sculpture, with price tags between $400 and $500. But it’s not about the money, she says.

“We do not hope to sell the paintings,” she said. “We show our art works, and we want our work recognized by the international community. It doesn’t mean that we just sell our work.”

While some work brings high prices, “for the artists, they think that they do not need the money, but they think of producing new innovations and strangeness in their works.”

Hun Sen Scheduled for Five-Day Chinese Visit

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 10 December 2010

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Photo: AP
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, right, shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen before their meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 2008.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will spend five days in China next week at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao.

Hun Sen will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders and will pay a visit to former king Norodom Sihanouk, who is in Beijing for medical treatment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on its website Hun Sen would pay an official visit Dec. 13 through Dec. 17.

China has become a large supporter of Cambodia, providing millions of dollars in aid packages and investment in infrastructure, power and mining.

Cambodian officials say they expect Hun Sen to sign even more deals with China on this visit, though they declined to give details.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh are both expected to accompany the prime minister.

Railway Presents Relocation Woes: Housing Advocate

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 10 December 2010

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Photo: AP
Many will be evicted from their homes as the government, along with foreign aid agencies, restarts the country's long-unused railroad, in an effort to spur the economy and link up with the other economies of the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia.

“Some people received only $200 in exchange for leaving their houses, which were built near the railroad.”

A railway rehabilitation project under a loan from the Asian Development Bank will impact 4,000 families, and a housing rights advocate said Thursday the solutions for them are inadequate.

Eang Vuthy, a project manager for Bridges Across Borders, told “Hello VOA” that the families have not received enough compensation to relocate from the path of the rail line, while their businesses, jobs, and children’s education are in jeopardy.

Residents in the provinces of Battambang and Preah Sihanouk have already been moved, with negative results, he said.

“Those people are stifled in relation to their living, because the land that was exchanged for them is without enough infrastructure or programs to create businesses and jobs,” he said. The move from urban areas to relocation sites outside of town have meant a loss of jobs, work and school, he said.

“Some people received only $200 in exchange for leaving their houses, which were built near the railroad,” he said. “How can they live?”

In other countries, such projects entail clear plans on how to deal with evictions, he said. Those who live in the path of the railroad received fair compensation, shelter and means to find work and open businesses, he said. In Thailand, people who live within 20 meters of the proposed line receive rental housing for a certain amount of time, providing them an opportunity to find a new place to live.

“People are concerned about when they are going to change to a new place, so they dare not conduct business on their land, they dare not renovate their houses, and they feel frustrated,” he said. “We should review the examples of our neighbors and apply them to our country and clearly define when we are going to develop this land.”

One caller said he was given only $9 to leave his land in Banteay Meanchey province, but Eang Vuthy said this was illegal. Banteay Meanchey has not yet come up with a plan for rail projects, he said, and families should not be forced out ahead of time.

People cannot be forced off their land without a contract, he said, adding that there were commune, district and provincial authorities in place to help solve problems, along with the courts and the ADB.

The railway project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013, but delays are possible as unexpected problems crop up. The plan calls for the rehabilitation of 600 kilometers of railway, between Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk, and Phnom Penh and Banteay Meanchey and Poipet.

Eang Vuthy said the ADB has allocated $3.5 million for the resettlement of residents, a figure he said was not enough.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen will visit China

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Friday, 10 December 2010 05:35 dap-news

Cambodian PM Hun Sen will visit China from 13-17 December to strengthen bilateral cooperation, the government’s statement obtained on Friday said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will meet with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiaboa for bilateral cooperation, and also will pay the courtesy call on Chinese President Hu Jintao, and Wu Banghuo, Chinese National assembly’s president, “it added.

Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong, and commerce minister Chap Prasidh and other senior officials will accompany PM Hun Sen’s visit to China this time, it said, adding that PM Hun Sen also will pay the courtesy call on former King Norodom Sihanouk and queen mother, who stayed in Beijing for medical check-up and treatment.

China is a biggest loan provider for developing infrastructure. Cambodia, China have long history for relationship and ties.

Ministry warns providers to comply with abortion laws


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Friday, 10 December 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

THE Health Ministry has issued a directive warning state and private health officials that they will face legal action for failing to observe abortion laws, amid concerns that a high number of women are continuing to use unsafe services.

The notice, signed by Health Minister Mam Bun Heng and released Wednesday evening, states that the ministry will take “strong measures” to prosecute service providers who do not comply with the 1997 Law on Abortion.

Under the law, abortion services can only be provided by medical professionals who have been authorised by the Ministry of Health, and only in government-approved facilities.

But experts have warned that a dearth of certified medical professionals – combined with a low level of awareness that abortion is legal – has meant that a large number of women continue to resort to unsafe abortion services, which are estimated to account for up to 29 percent of maternal deaths in the Kingdom.

As of September 2009, less than 200 private providers nationwide were legally certified to provide abortions, according to a report from Population Services International.

The report also showed that more than 80 percent of respondents surveyed in Kampot and Kampong Thom provinces said they believed abortion was illegal..

According to a 2007 study from international NGO Ipas, 40 percent of providers working in hospitals believed that elective abortion was against the law.

Paou Linar, the head of child and maternal health care for the municipal Health Department in Phnom Penh, said that as well as cracking down on illegal providers, the ministry aimed to “encourage women who want to get abortion services [to seek] expert or professional doctors in order to avoid effects on their health or lives”.

Opposition lawmaker lambastes Ly Yong Phat


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Friday, 10 December 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

OPPOSITION lawmaker Son Chhay accused the government of complicity in rampant land grabbing by ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat during a celebration of International Human Rights Day yesterday.

In a speech at Sam Rainsy Party headquarters, Son Chhay charged that the government had no will to address the senator’s land grabbing and said the SRP would attempt to raise the issue internationally.

“If there was no participation from the government, Ly Yong Phat’s company could not grab people’s land,” Son Chhay said. “We will tell foreign buyers not to buy Ly Yong Phat’s sugar because this company has grabbed people’s land.”

Ly Yong Phat has been embroiled for months in a land dispute with hundreds of families in Kampong Speu province who say adjoining land concessions granted to the senator and his wife will push them off their land.

At least two villagers in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district have faced criminal charges in relation to the dispute, while at least 14 have been summoned for questioning, according to local rights group Adhoc.

Rights groups met with European Union officials in September after claiming that the Kingdom’s participation in the EU’s “Everything but Arms” trade programme may be fueling evictions by Ly Yong Phat and other tycoons who plan to export sugar to Europe.

Ly Yong Phat could not be reached for comment yesterday. Tith Sothea, spokesman for Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, accused Son Chhay and the SRP of “using International Human Rights Day for political benefit”.

Long-awaited penal code to go into effect


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Friday, 10 December 2010 15:02 Thomas Miller

A DECADE in the making, a new code of criminal law consisting of 672 articles is set to go into effect today in Phnom Penh and throughout the country on December 20.

The penal code defines criminal offences, responsibility and penalties, and complements the codes of penal procedure, civil law and civil procedure, all three of which are already en force.

The penal code was signed into law on November 30 of last year, but it included a one-year delay to provide time for government officials, law enforcement and legal professionals to become familiar with the new raft of laws.

According to the Constitution, laws are enacted en force in Phnom Penh 10 days after they are signed, and 20 days later in the provinces.

Officials at the Ministry of Justice said that over the past year they have provided copies of the new code and training sessions to judges, prosecutors, police and other civil servants.

Drafting for the code, which is based on the French civil system, began in 1999 and drew significant assistance from the French government.

The code introduces a spate of new crimes, whereas the UNTAC law – never intended as a long-term legal system – contained only about 30 criminal offences.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday the “criminal code plays a very important role in protecting human rights”.

But human rights activists have raised concerns about the new code. Licadho branded it a “setback for freedom of expression issues” in Cambodia yesterday, citing a host of concerns.

Two articles might have the effect of shielding the courts – which international human rights experts have said lack independence – from dissent.

According to Article 523, for example, criticism of a court decision that aims to “cause turmoil” or “endanger Cambodian institutions” could draw a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of 1 million riels (US$245), Licadho said in an analysis released yesterday.

Article 522 makes the publication of commentaries intended to pressure a court a similar crime.

Article 502, Licadho said, makes an action, gesture, piece of writing or drawing that “affects the dignity” of a public official a minor crime with a prison sentence of between 1 and 6 days and a 1,000 to 100,000 riel fine. Licadho called the definition of this crime “vague and highly subjective; taken to the extreme, the article essentially criminalises all acts which hurt the feelings of public officials”.

Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Kingdom ranks high for graft


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Government officials, lawyers and police attend an anti-corruption workshop at the National Institute of Education yesterday
.

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Friday, 10 December 2010 15:02 Adam Miller and Vong Sokheng

Some 84 percent of Cambodians say they have paid a bribe in the last 12 months, according to a global corruption survey released yesterday by German NGO Transparency International on International Anti-Corruption Day.

The report, titled 2010 Global Corruption Barometer, was based on polling of 91,000 people in 86 countries and focused on small-scale corruption.

Cambodia ranked among the leading nations where residents most frequently paid some form of bribe, based on surveys of 1,000 Cambodians conducted by Indochina Research in July.

The findings coincide with new efforts by the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit, established earlier this year to address chronic corruption in the Kingdom, and a growing perception among residents that such
efforts are effective.

Seventy-two percent of respondents ranked the government’s efforts to battle corruption as effective or extremely effective.

‘The survey findings are surprising,” Ran Liao, Transparency International’s senior programme coordinator for East and South Asia, said in a phone interview from Germany yesterday.

“I’m not sure why the respondent rate is so high as to why the government is so effective against corruption … in Cambodia. Seventy-two percent of respondents see the government as very effective, which is really above the average and quite high.”

The ACU convened a workshop yesterday to announce the implementation of a policy first introduced in July to require the declaration of all assets by more than 100,000 government officials beginning January1.

“We are starting to fight corruption from the lowest to the highest levels, from small groups to big groups,” said Om Yentieng, head of the ACU and close adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He added that the arrest last week of Pursat provincial prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth and two of his bodyguards on charges of corruption, extortion and false imprisonment – the first official arrest by the national anti-corruption body – affirmed the unit’s commitment to battling graft.

Om Yentieng told the workshop that the ACU was also investigating additional corruption cases in Battambang but declined to provide details to delegates.

Appeal Court upholds underage sex verdict


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Friday, 10 December 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

The Appeal Court yesterday upheld the 2006 conviction of 38-year-old German national Alexander Moritz Watrin for having sex with four underage boys in Preah Sihanouk province.

Watrin was arrested in Sihanoukville in April 2006 and charged with debauchery, a category of crime that no longer exists, after four boys aged between 12 and 15 said they had sex with him.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay US$5,000 in compensation, but his sentence was reduced to seven years by the Appeal Court in 2009 after passage of the Law on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.

Watrin appealed the conviction to Cambodia’s Supreme Court in May 2010, which ordered the case reinvestigated.

“We reheard the case after the Supreme Court ordered further investigations ... but we had enough evidence to find him guilty based on victims’ testimonies,” presiding Judge Seng Sivutha said yesterday.

However, the verdict reduced the amount of compensation owed to the victims to 10 million riels ($2,457).

Watrin maintained his innocence during yesterday’s hearing and blamed the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants for coaching the four boys and paying them money to testify against him.

Watrin’s defence lawyer, Pich Soyra, told reporters that the court’s ruling should not have been based solely on victims’ testimony but should have included medical examinations of the alleged victims, adding that he would consult with his client about further appeals.

APLE lawyer Nuon Phanith said he did not oppose the Appeal Court verdict but questioned why the court lowered the amount of compensation owed to the victims.

Personalised plates on way


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Friday, 10 December 2010 15:02 Adam Miller and Thet Sambath

THE Ministry of Public Works and Transport has proposed introducing personalised license plates in Cambodia next year in a bid to raise funds for the government and road safety projects, officials said.

“We have a draft to make personalised licence plates available for clients, but we need the government to approve it first,” Preap Chanvibol, the director of the Ministry’s Department of Land Transport, said on Tuesday. “But now we plan to make money for the government by collecting funds from personalised licence plates.”

According to the proposal, clients would be able to place any name or number on a personalised licence plate. Half the revenue would go to the state, while the other half would go towards road safety projects, Preap Chanvibol said.

Sann Socheata, road safety programme manager at Handicap International, confirmed that a meeting had taken place yesterday with ministry officials to discuss details of the proposed project.

“The funding will go to road safety projects in general, including public education, enforcement and capacity building programmes,” Sann Socheata said yesterday, adding that the plan, if approved, will be incorporated into the Cambodia National Road Safety Action Plan 2011-20.

“It has been submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen for approval and should be implemented early next year in March or April, but no one can confirm the exact date as we are still waiting for approval,” Sann Socheata said.

Lucky numbers
The proposed licence plates are estimated to cost between US$1,000 and $10,000, Preap Chanvibol said, adding that a number of Cambodia’s elite already pay a high price for consecutively numbered plates (eg 7777 or 8888), which are considered lucky.

“Rich people already buy plates with the same four numbers for their cars and pay between $4,000 and $5,000 for one plate because they think that it is a good luck number for them,” Preap said.

“I believe more people will pay between $1,000 and $10,000 for their personalised license plate. They are rich and have a lot of money, so they will want to spend this on their family’s car.”

Sann Socheata welcomed the initiative, saying that it could help to improve road safety programmes in the country and raise much needed revenue.

“Road safety is a serious issue in Cambodia, and it is crucial to have a mechanism for funding projects. This is part of a sustainable funding mechanism,” she said.

According to Preap Chanvibol, funds collected for the government from licence plates currently totals around $5 million to $6 million per year, predicting that if personalised license plates are approved by the government they could raise more than $10 million annually.

“Cambodians like to use personalised numbers because they think it will being peace, prosperity and good luck for themselves,” he said. Some of the “luckier” licence number plates will likely be put up for auction, he added.

Police Blotter: 10 Dec 2010


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

Spurned husband gets back in archery attack
A 40-year-old man has confessed to police that he shot and killed his ex-wife with a bow and arrow in Siem Reap because he was angry she had remarried. Police said the man had fled to Thailand after the incident in September and was arrested in Banteay Meanchey province on Tuesday before being sent back to Siem Reap.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Confession made over rape of disabled woman
A 22-year-old man has confessed to raping a 19-year-old disabled woman in Kratie province. Police said the man, who was arrested on November 26, was sent to court on Thursday last week after admitting to police that he had raped the woman on November 22. The victim’s father filed a complaint to police after catching the man in the act the following day when he returned to the woman’s house and attempted to rape her a second time.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Student injured by mystery chopper
A 17-year-old student has been sent to the provincial hospital after receiving severe injuries in a mysterious overnight attack in Kampong Chhnang province on Wednesday. Police said two knives and a cleaver covered in blood were found at the scene of the crime, and noted that the boy had been asleep when he was attacked. Police questioned two students who had been staying in the same house as the victim and were suspected of involvement in the attack, but officials said they did not know what the motive could have been.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Man hangs himself in Tuol Kork guesthouse
A 20-year-old man hung himself with a scarf in a guesthouse in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Wednesday because he could not afford medical treatment for injuries sustained in a series of traffic accidents, police said. According to a relative of the deceased, the man had recently been involved in a total of five traffic accidents while under the influence of drugs, and had been unable to afford medical treatment for his injuries because he was unemployed. She said the man had spent the evening before his suicide drinking beer and singing karaoke with friends.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Boy, 7, dies after being hit by van in Prey Veng
A 7-year-old boy was killed by a speeding van in Prey Veng province’s Kampong Trabek district on Tuesday. Police said the boy, who was playing on the street at around 9:30 pm when the van hit him, was rushed to the provincial hospital but died shortly after arrival. The van has been confiscated pending further investigation, police said.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Police seize methanol imported from Vietnam


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Sen David

Police yesterday said they have confiscated 3,300 liters of methanol from a 33-year old woman accused of illegally importing from Vietnam and attempting to sell the flammable liquid in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district. Seang Bunleang, director of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Economic Crime Police Department, said unauthorised import of methanol – which is commonly used as an antifreeze, solvent or fuel – was illegal. “Import of methanol alcohol is prohibited because it can impact people’s health,” he said, adding that the substance was sometimes used in the production of rice wine. Police released the 33-year-old woman after receiving a lecture and signing an agreement that she would stop trading in methanol.

Hope for Gold Tower restart


Flowers bask in the sunlight yesterday beneath Gold Tower 42, on Phnom Penh’s Sihanouk Boulevard. Photo by: WILL BAXTER

---------------------------------------------------------I cannot confirm exactly when, but we hope to restart as soon as possible ... hopefully in January or February next
---------------------------------------------------------

via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

THE project manager of Phnom Penh’s stalled US$300 million Gold Tower 42 development hopes construction on the skyscraper will restart as early as next month.

Three months ago, building work at the tower – which is set to be the capital’s tallest building at 192-metres high and is being developed by Yon Woo Cambodia Co – ground to a halt.

At the time, representatives told media that its builder, South Korea’s Hanil Engineering & Construction was undergoing financial restructuring, causing a delay to the development. Yesterday, leading officials at the skyscraper voiced belief that work could restart as early as January 2011.

Kim Kyo-Won, Hanil E&C’s Gold Tower 42 project director, said: “I cannot confirm exactly when, but we hope to restart as soon as possible …. hopefully in January or February next year.”

A Post reporter who visited the project site late Wednesday found activity at the previously deserted building site, which lies on the corner of Sihanouk and Monivong Boulevard.

This week, lights illuminating each of its 31-floors were being turned on at night.

A staff member at the building, who declined to be named, said that they also believed work would begin in the middle of January.

The hopes have also reached the surrounding area.

A repair man, working on the corner by the tower, reported that word had spread a street-level about a possible January restart.

“I am very happy when I hear news like this because I will do well with my business from construction workers - by selling food and repairing motorbikes,” he said.

When finished, 42-story Gold Tower is set to become the tallest building in the capital at 118.1 metres, dwarfing the 32-storey Canadia Tower.

So far, just 31-storeys of structure stand complete. The tower, which saw ground-breaking begin in 2008, was slated for completion in 2011.

Developers have previously said that 50 to 60 percent of the building had been sold to Cambodian and Korean investors.

Kim Kyo-Won said yesterday that the completion schedule had been put back.

“It will be affected a little bit. Maybe the couple’s months,” he said.

Kim Tae Yun, Yon Woo Cambodia’s assistant manager, declined to tell The Post earlier this week when construction was due to recommence, citing that nothing had changed.

Proposed investment rises by 51 percent


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE total value of approved investment projects in Cambodia has risen 51 percent in the first 11 months of this year, compared to the same period of 2009, according to figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

The CDC approved 84 investment projects worth US$2.45 billion between January and November, a 51 percent increase on the 81 projects approved in the same period last year that had a total value of $1.62 billion.

CDC officials said the increase was in part because of increasing capital being earmarked for industry, services, and agriculture sectors. Duy Thou, deputy secretary general of CDC, highlighted the South Korean venture that aims to build a new airport in Siem Reap province yesterday, which has flagged costs of nearly $1 billion.

“This shows the confidence of investors on Cambodia’s actual [economic] situation. We hope that this will continue, especially in agro-industry sector and rice production,” he said.

Based on a sector-by-sector breakdown, agriculture remained a leading industry for investors’ money, though approvals were on par with 2009 figures.

Chheng Kinlong, professor at the University of Cambodia, said yesterday that investment in agriculture, industry and services was very important, because the sectors were the backbone of Cambodia’s future development.

“We hope that the three sectors can reabsorb the labour which they had previously lost,” he said.

A country breakdown reveals changes from last year, with South Korea named the leading investor in 2010 so far, with a total promised capital of $1.02 billion – helped by the airport plan. China was the second largest with a total capital of $685.97 million. Malaysia was third with $171.8 million, while Vietnam was fourth with $114.7 million.

In 2009, China topped the table with $348.1 million.

Indochine Mining makes its Sydney debut


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Catherine James

INDOCHINE Mining, which claims to be Cambodia’s largest mineral miner by land concessions, began trading on the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday with a market capitalisation of A$54 million (US$53.2 million).

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Stephen Promnitz said the bulk of its 270 million tradable shares were owned by institutional investors seeking exposure to the Kingdom’s “expanding economy” and “resources in a new frontier such as Cambodia”.

“The great thing about Cambodia is it has not had a great amount of modern exploration,” he told The Post yesterday.

The company is “confident” of a “large discovery”, given the Kingdom’s history of limited exploration coupled with the large grants of land.

Indochine holds 2,900 square kilometres of land in Ratanakkiri province, in northern Cambodia, and another 1,400 square kilometres in Kratie province, “I don’t think we’d be there otherwise,” said Promnitz.

The gold and copper explorer listed on the ASX in Sydney at A$0.20 a share after a successful initial public offering in October.

The IPO raised $20.1 million, exceeding its minimum target of $12 million.

Indochine’s share price fell to a low of A$0.16 during the first day of trading, finally closing 3 cents down at $0.17.

Promnitz said such a large capital raising for the small explorer was important to show the company could “manage for at least the next two years of exploration without a problem”.

Convincing institutional shareholders to invest was “fairly straightforward” because of the experience of Indochine’s Cambodia-based chief geologist, David Meade, and the firm’s experience in the Kingdom.

“David Meade is very familiar with exploration in Cambodia, so on the technical side [the investors] were quite comfortable,” he said.

“Also the company has been in Cambodia for four years … and stayed during the global financial crisis … so we’re pretty familiar with it. This gives people confidence.”

Chairman Ian Ross stated the company aimed to become a “significant mining presence” in Southeast Asia.

Seed investor Jabre Capital Partners, a Geneva-based institutional investor, remains one of the largest shareholders with 7.65 percent, according to Indochine’s “top 20 shareholders” filing with the Australian Stock Exchange.

ASX-listed Kingsgate Mining

Consolidated, a company which operates Thailand’s largest gold mine in Chatree and where Promnitz previously worked as corporate development manager, also makes the top 20 list.

It has a shareholding in Indochine of 3.7 percent.

Other institutional investors hail from a diverse range of countries.These include the United Kingdom, the United States, Papua New Guinea, China, Malaysia, Australia, Germany and Hong Kong, the chief executive officer said.

JSM properties gain 'late' interest boost


Colonial Mansions in Phnom Penh pictured in December of last year. Photo by: Pha Lina

via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Catherine James

JSM Indochina has had some “late” interest in its Cambodian properties from companies who have previously not looked at real estate in the Kingdom, according to its sales manager CB Richard Ellis.

“We have received interest from a wide range of parties, including international companies that CBRE has introduced that have not previously looked at the country,” CBRE country manager Daniel Parkes said.

“As there is no fixed closing date we will allow some extra time to allow the late arrivals to assess the due diligence package.”

JSM is selling all five of its properties in Cambodia – four in Phnom Penh, including Colonial Mansions and the Embassy Centre, and one in Siem Reap.

JSM previously warned its shareholders of disappointing results from its Cambodian property sales, citing “less robust than hoped” buyer interest in an October trading update.

CBRE told The Post yesterday that the company has received some initial offers, which were being considered, but did not specify which sites were in demand. “Currently the interest we have is about fifty-fifty between domestic and foreign buyers,” Parkes said.

CBRE viewed 2010 as the market bottom for land prices following the fallout of the global economic downturn, he said.

Toyota dealer warns firms


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

CAMBODIA’S sole Toyota dealer called on traders and companies to stop illegally importing Toyota-branded vehicles and spare parts into Cambodia yesterday, with threats to take legal action.

Kong Nuon, chairman of Toyota Cambodia Co, said yesterday that the company had observed some shops illegally importing new Toyota’s into Cambodia market, despite TCC being the only company licensed to do so.

“This is a case that we’re concerned about and we want to call on them to stop immediately. If not, we will file a complaint to the relevant authorities to take legal action,” he said.

Lawyers representing TCC, Cambodia Law Firm, warned companies found to be engaging in the illegal activity would be subject to legal action in an advertisement in a local newspaper yesterday. TCC has a monopoly on importing Toyota vehicles and spare parts.

“We were granted exclusive rights by the Ministry of Commerce to import new Toyota’s into Cambodia,” Kong Nuon said, adding that the company also distributes Toyota products to smaller car retailers.

Earlier this year, ten Phnom Penh vehicle traders wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking for the right to import Toyotas into Cambodia, challenging the monopoly given to TCC. The request was not granted.

At the time TCC defended its exclusive arrangement with Toyota saying it was drawn up to ensure quality control of the Japan-based brand.

TCC sells and distributes most Toyota brands in production such as Camry, Landcruiser, Landcruiser Prado, Hilux, Coaster, Corolla, Fortuner, Previa, Corona and Yaris.

New SME policy in pipeline


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:00 Rann Reuy

A NEW policy document aimed at lifting the performance of small and medium enterprises will be released early next year, the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy announced this week.

Nouv Borey, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Small Industry and Handicafts, said the document would outline steps that officials and the private sector could take to work together.

“The document will become a road-map for indicating the development of SMEs in Cambodia in the future,” he told the Post by phone.

It would be a collaboration between the ministry and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, private sector groups, and the Ministries of Commerce, Economy and Finance, Tourism, and Agriculture.

Phok Sovanarith, secretary of state for the ministry, said SMEs in Cambodia accounted for 99 percent of all enterprises in Cambodia, but were not yet positioned to adequately support the needs of larger industries.

He said the competiveness of SMEs remained limited, with hurdles including legal and regulatory frameworks, and access to financing, innovation and technology.

Heng Heang, president of the SME Association in Phnom Penh, said he supported the new policy document if it could help to improve the work of SMEs.

Kobayashi Yukiharu, senior representative of JICA in Cambodia, said SMEs throughout the world played very important roles in social and economic development, because the sector absorbed a large portion of the national workforce.

Economic recovery close to complete in Cambodia


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:00 Steve Finch

ONE year ago Cambodia was coming to the end of its worst annual economic performance in recent memory after the global crisis hit, but just 12 months later the recovery is all but complete.

Although the government and international organisations were in disagreement over the scale of last year’s slump – the official line was economic growth of 0.1 percent while the Asian Development Bank said Cambodia’s economy contracted 0.4 percent – this year all forecasts point to growth of at least 5 percent.

Given the doom and gloom of last year the turnaround has been both fast and surprisingly robust.

ADB this week maintained a 5 percent gross domestic product growth rate for Cambodia for 2010, adding that recent economic data for developing Asia as a whole “reaffirms the view that the region is leading the world in the recovery from the recent economic crisis”. The government raised the official 2010 forecast again this quarter to 5.5 percent growth up from 4.5 percent at the start of the year, a sign that the rebound has come on stronger than anticipated.

Likewise, the World Bank raised its forecast 0.5 percentage points in October this year to 4.9 percent growth for 2010.

“There have been a few changes to the forecasts due to the strong growth in the export of garments, tourism and agriculture,” ACLEDA Bank General Manager In Channy told The Post yesterday.

The government has estimated that the rice surplus from this year will be higher than the 3.6 million-tonne surplus last year meaning more will be available for export.

Given increased processing power following investment in drying and milling machinery, Cambodia can expect to add greater value to the grain as well.

The garment industry saw 15 percent growth in exports in the first half of the year and growth in tourist arrivals were up 14.6 percent in the first nine months, government figures showed, including an increase in air arrivals, a category that usually includes higher spending tourists.

Siem Reap airport saw a 17.65 percent increase in air arrivals, while Phnom Penh saw an 11 percent rise.

In short, all of Cambodia’s key sectors have experienced significant recoveries in 2010, all except one – real estate.

With agents continuing to report low transaction levels, landlords continuing to knock down rent and prices in the market difficult to determine due to low sales activity, the property sector has been the last major area of the economy to get back to where it was pre-crisis.

But then many analysts consider the property market to have been overheated in early 2008 anyway.

Nevertheless, with the knock-on effect the property market exerts over other sectors of the economy it needs to show greater signs of life before Cambodia can talk of a complete recovery.

But otherwise all of the Kingdom’s vital economic signs are looking healthy heading into 2011.

Man about town


via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

Mekong on show

AN exhibition at the Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap, Stories of the Mekong, opened last week to a warm reception.

In fact, the show has been so successful it is being used as the basis of a new project with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

The director general of Cultural Heritage, Ok Sophon, said, “We will research the story and culture of the people around the lake.”

Stories of the Mekong will run until February 28.

Buddha correction

LAST week, in an article published about the Buddha statue in front of Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum, it was stated the land for the site was donated to the benefactor Sulata Sarkar by the AEON 1% Club of Japan.

Madame Chau Sun Kérya, the director of the Department of Cultural Development, Museums and Heritage Norms for Apsara Authority, would like it noted that Apsara provided the land, while the AEON 1% Club funded the building of the museum which also stands on the land. Furthermore, Apsara was also a contributor to the Buddha project by providing over $30,000 for the pedestal.

The granting of the land for the statue was steered by Professor Azedine Beschaouch, the permanent scientific secretary for UNESCO, via the president of Apsara, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, with support from the former Indian ambassador to Cambodia, Aloke Sen.

A water-borne Christmas tree


Kids from Sunrise Children’s Village sang carols.
A close-up look at the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor’s Christmas tree, made completely of traditional Cambodian fishing equipment.

via CAAI

Friday, 10 December 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

The annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony has become a tradition at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, but this year’s Christmas tree certainly branches away from tradition.

It is far removed from the traditional western-style faux-fir job that constitutes most such trees in this neck of the woods.

It is an intricate Cambodian-inspired couture tree, designed by none other than Siem Reap’s iconic fashionista Eric Raisina.

The Cambodia-based, Madagascar-born designer is noted internationally for his unconventional and edgy fashion that’s graced the runways of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix and New York Fashion Week.

Much of his work is noted for the use of Cambodian materials such as silks, and his signature touch is certainly evident in his designer tree which is about as Cambodian as it can get.

In fact, it looks more like a giant fish trap rather than a tree, as Raisina crafted it from traditional items such hand-woven fishing nets, bamboo fishing rods and various types of baskets.

This was to symbolise the fact that Cambodia is one of the countries that flanks the Mekong River, and that the agriculture and fishing opportunities provided by the river affords vital sustenance and support to those living along its banks.

Raisina was not present to see his delightful creation light up because he is currently showing his high-end fashion wares at various salons in Paris.

But the hotel’s general manger, Robert Hauck, who came straight to the ceremony from the airport upon returning from a trip, also to Paris, said in a statement: “This year, instead of the customary fir which we would have had to order from abroad, we have opted for an unconventional Christmas tree made entirely of locally available and natural fishing equipment.”

But the tree wasn’t the only departure from traditional western Christmas culture at the ceremony.

Special guests during the evening were a group of cute kids from the Sunrise Children’s Village orphanage in Siem Reap.

A group of the children formed a traditional choir but the carols and Christmas songs they sang at times veered from the originals – in their version of that famous ditty “Jingle Bells”, Santa Claus no longer travels by sleigh, but by tuk tuk.

The ceremony also included the launch of a range of Christmas cards drawn by the kids from the orphanage.

A panel of judges was on hand to assess the cards and pick the best one, a difficult job because there were more than 100 excellent entries.

The cards were divided into two groups: those rendered by children aged 6 to 12; and those drawn by older kids, aged 13 to 17.

The judge’s scores and recommendations are currently being tallied. One card from each group will shortly be selected to be printed and then sold at the hotel to raise funds for Sunrise Children’s Village.