Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cambodia starts hearing against 7 Thais

 via CAAI

Jan 6, 2011

Thai 'Yellow shirt' activist Veera Somkwamkid (second left) and Thai Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth (right) are escorted by Cambodian police at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. -- PHOTO: AFP

THAILAND - A CAMBODIAN court on Thursday commenced its hearings against seven Thais including a Democrat MP charged with illegal entry into Cambodia.

The seven were also accused of entering a Cambodian military base without permission.

A TV footage showed MP Panich Vikitseth and activist Veera Somkwamkit entering a court building one by one. No one talked to reporters; Panich, a Bangkok MP just waved to the waiting reporters; both Thais and Khmers.

The group were arrested while inspecting a site in Sa Kaew's Kok Soong district, which is opposite Banteay Meanchay province of Cambodia last Wednesday.

They were taken to Phnom Penh and detained in a central prison, pending trial.

Earlier reports said they will testify before court one by one. The court will decide whether to consider the case. -- THE NATION/ANN

P.Penh Court finishes examining Panich


via CAAI

Published: 6/01/2011
A Phnom Penh court has finished the preliminary questioning of Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and two other members of his team also arrested on the border, foreign minister's secretary to Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said on Thursday afternoon.

Yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid (left), Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and five other detained Thais were escorted by Cambodian security personnel to attend the first hearing at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance on Jan 5. They were arrested by Cambodian troops for intruding into Cambodian soil on Dec 29.

Seven Thais were arrested on Dec 29 and charged with illegal entry and trespassing on a restricted military zone in Cambodia.

They were taken from Prey Sor prison to the court on Thursday morning when the questioning of the defendants began.

The court examined the defendants individually, and had finished questioning of Mr Panich and two Thai women on the team, Mr Chavanond said.

Mr Chavanond said he did not expect the court to deliver a verdict today. There would be a long holiday starting tomorrow in Cambodia, so when the verdict would be given was not known.

Relatives of the defendants, reporters and Thai embassy officials were not allowed inside the courtroom.

The relatives returned to a hotel after seeing them arrive at the court.

Mr Panich and the others, including Veera Somkwamkid, a former leader of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy, were charged last week with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military area, offences that carry a combined maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

The group were arrested near a military encampment in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district while attempting to “investigate” the contentious border demarcation process between Thailand and Cambodia.

Thai Deputy PM Hopes Cambodia Sees Thailand As Friend

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 6 (Bernama) -- Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday that all signals from Cambodia were positive and he believed that the Cambodian government would prioritise friendship and good relations between Bangkok and Phnom Penh regarding the detention of seven Thai nationals on charges of illegal entry into the Cambodian territory after they were apprehended by Cambodian border soldiers last week.

In response to speculations that Veera Somkwamkid, one of the seven Thai detainees, would be additionally charged with espionage against the Cambodian military, Suthep, who oversees national security, suggested that the Thai public stay calm and speak positively of the issue to show their respect to the Cambodian judiciary, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

The Thai deputy premier acknowledged, however, that personally he hopes that the Cambodian court will base its judgment on facts and have mercy for the Thai people who had no ill intention and had approached the border only to look for demarcation posts in response to complaints from local Thai villagers that they could not access to farmlands.

The deputy prime minister said that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and he, himself, have already raised facts and official concerns to the Cambodian government and prepared to seek a royal pardon if any judicial punishment was handed out against the seven Thai detainees.

Meanwhile, Commanding General of Thailand's First Army Area Command Lieutenant General Udomdet Sitabutr said that order has been maintained along the Thai-Cambodian border in the eastern Sa Kaeo Province and there has been no reinforcement of Thai troops along the frontier.

The first army area commander acknowledged that he considers the deployment of Cambodian soldiers along the border as normal, and that most local people understood the situation well although public relations and coordination remained necessary there.

Lieutenant General Udomdet said if authorities of both countries respected each other's different opinions, there should not be any problem.

Thais Call Cambodia Crossing An Accident

http://www.globe-democrat.com/

via CAAI

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

BANGKOK, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Seven Thais arrested by Cambodia at the border will say they crossed by accident, Thailand's foreign minister said Wednesday.

The seven, including Parliament member Panich Vikitsreth and the leader of the Thai Patriots Network, Veera Somkwamkid, were arrested by Cambodian troops Dec. 29 near the village of Nong Jan.

The trial is to begin Thursday and is expected to be short, Thai officials told the Bangkok Post.

Lawyers appointed by the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh will defend the seven, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said. They will contend the suspects were inspecting land owned by Thais next to the border, and will cite video evidence.

The Foreign Ministry will ask the court to release the defendants on bail, Kasit said.

The seven will need to admit trespassing since the Thai military inspected the scene and found they had crossed a few yards into Cambodia.

Thai diplomat Adisorn Pokmontri said both governments want to settle the case amicably.

Seven members of the Thai Patriots Network were allowed to visit the disputed border area Wednesday despite opposition from local residents who said they were hurting good relations with their Cambodian neighbors.

Baldacci pardons Cambodian for OUI crash that killed sister


via CAAI

By David Hench
Staff Writer

In one of his final official acts, Gov. John Baldacci pardoned a Cambodian man who faced deportation because of a drunken driving crash that killed his sister 10 years ago.

Touch Rin Svay in a 2004 file photo.

Touch Rin Svay was 21 and home on leave from the Marine Corps when he lost control of the 1991 Acura he was driving and crashed on Route 85 in Raymond, killing his 19-year-old sister Sary.

Svay was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving and aggravated assault. Because he was born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp in Thailand, he faced likely deportation to Cambodia, even though he did not speak the language or have any ties to that country since his family moved to the U.S. when he was 4.

Svay applied for a pardon and the governor agreed in 2004, but just hours before the order was signed, Svay was charged with violating probation and served five months in jail. That put the pardon on hold and Svay in danger again of deportation.

Baldacci's pardon, signed this morning, means the conviction for the 2001 car crash, as well as separate convictions for disorderly conduct and criminal trespass, will be officially forgiven.

Baldacci said he made the decision in large part because of Sary Svay's two children and Touch Svay's role in helping support them.

"He has complied with the terms of his sentence, and has turned his life around," Baldacci said. "But, in my mind, he continues to have an obligation to his sister’s two children -- his niece and nephew -- to be involved in their lives and to explain to them his actions. He is actively involved in their lives, and his debt cannot be fully repaid unless he maintains that supporting role.”

“Rin committed a terrible crime, one that took the life of his sister,” Baldacci said. “But he has, over the last five years, demonstrated a commitment to atone for his error."

Svay also will tell his story as part of an anti-drunk driving education effort.

"Perhaps his message will save another family from the unimaginable horror of losing a wife, sister and mother at the hands of a drunken driver,” Baldacci said.

U.S., Australian, Canadian Rotary Clubs Partner to Help Cambodia

http://www.america.gov/

via CAAI

05 January 2011
By Nancy L. Pontius
Special Correspondent

The children of Mut Phall, a farmer and gardener, and Phun Saoly, a construction worker, attend a Sustainable Cambodia school in Svay Att Commune.

Lakewood, Colorado — Rotary clubs in the United States, Cambodia, Australia and Canada are working together through Sustainable Cambodia Inc. — a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization — to help more than 15,000 Cambodians in 18 rural villages in central Cambodia.

In the Svay Att Commune, families such as that of Phun Saoly and Mut Phall can send their children to a Sustainable Cambodia school. The couple also has received piglets, irrigation water, fruit and vegetable seeds, clean drinking water and small loans to grow mushrooms and raise chickens.

Sustainable Cambodia partners with villagers, helping them improve their quality of life, Richard Allen, volunteer chief executive officer of Sustainable Cambodia, told America.gov. “We are an empowerment organization — not an ‘aid’ organization.”

The group focuses on villagers’ priorities and provides training and funding. In return, Cambodian families commit their labor and agree to help surrounding villages. The process develops a sense of empowerment and ownership, Allen said.

Sustainable Cambodia programs include projects based on the most successful development strategies from around the world:

• Preschool day care centers, which communities often see as a priority to allow mothers to work and provide intellectual stimulation for children.

• Kindergarten to 12th-grade instruction. In 2010, Rotary clubs in Western Australia funded construction of five new primary schools in remote Bakan district and financed 84,299 high-protein meals for seven preschools in Pursat province, Allan Lewins, a past district governor from Rotary International in Western Australia, told America.gov. During 2011, the clubs will support a preschool annex, a latrine, a well and a library at each of the five new schools.

• Resources for safe drinking water, including wells, large community ponds, biosand filters and rooftop rainwater harvesting. In addition to improving the residents’ health, when clean water is close to a community, “kids don’t have to spend many hours a day hiking for water and therefore can stay in school,” Allen said.

• Irrigation systems, which supply water for crops during the five-month dry season.

• Alternative agriculture, which reduces the villagers’ reliance on rice, bringing them seeds, training and supplies for growing fruits and vegetables year-round.

• “Pass on” animals — providing a family with a breeding pair of animals when they agree to receive animal-care training and give offspring to neighbors. The neighbors also must agree to give animals to additional neighbors, perpetuating the cycle.

Children gather with their teachers outside the Sustainable Cambodia library in Pursat province in November 2010.
Children gather with their teachers outside the Sustainable Cambodia library in Pursat province in November 2010.

• Village banks that offer microloans to families at low interest rates. To encourage repayment, initial loans to a few families must be repaid before more families can receive loans, Allen said. On average, at least 95 percent of loans are repaid. The village keeps the interest paid to fund future projects.

• Community rice banks, which provide safe storage for extra rice crops that can be consumed later or sold for higher prices during the dry season. The community retains a percentage of the sales to support the rice bank.

Nothing is given outright to the villagers. For each project, Cambodians contribute materials and all labor, Allen said. For instance, when constructing community ponds — that often span a tenth of a hectare and are 2.4 to 3 meters deep — Rotarians supply “funding that would have gone to pay for heavy equipment, which instead is paid to families for their labor,” Allen said. Plus, money is provided for shovels, wheelbarrows and fish that are stocked in the ponds and raised for food or sold.

Funding for a community is reduced gradually after three to five years, as residents become more and more self-reliant. By then, the quality of life in the village tends to have improved dramatically and the Cambodians have the self-created resources to sustain the new economy.

Sustainable Cambodia employs about 80 Cambodians locally to supervise and direct projects. All other staff members are volunteers.

U.S., AUSTRALIAN PARTNERSHIP

To make the most effective use of their resources, U.S. and Australian Rotary clubs joined forces, Lewins said. The relationship with the Australian Rotarians “quickly grew into a really neat partnership,” Allen added.

Lewins believes because “we are all part of the Rotary International organization, we jointly see ourselves as part of a greater movement to assist, wherever possible, those people less fortunate than ourselves — to help them move onwards and upwards toward a better life.”

Rotary International says there are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographic areas. Club members “provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world,” according to the Rotary International website.

In November 2010, Australian and American Rotarians visited Cambodia. The Australians observed the progress of children in seven preschools, where student health and hygiene have improved noticeably since 2009, Lewins said.

“There is still another year [for] this project before we hand [it] over to the villagers,” he said. “The nutrition program will then become self-sustaining, operated by those villagers, while [we will] move the program on to other rural preschools in need.”

During the trip, U.S. staff worked with Cambodian staff “like the management team of a company,” Allen said, “to keep everybody in sync and make sure the Cambodian staff members have the skills they need to succeed.”

More information on Sustainable Cambodia’s efforts is available on the organization’s website and its Facebook page.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov/ )

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

PM: “7 January Day” Does Not Take Anybody As Enemy

Phnom Penh, January 6, 2011 AKP -- Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen said “7 January Day” does not try to take anybody as an enemy except Pol Pot genocidal regime.

In his remarks on Jan. 5 at the celebration of the “7 January Day” in Memut district, Kampong Cham province, two-day ahead of the country’s official celebration, the Cambodian premier said “7 January Day” becomes a national movement although some of the inconsiderate people try to distort the truth, adding that they can not take the palm of their hand to hide the sun light.

He believed that those who are ungrateful for the event are due to the political reasons.

The move does not give a benefit to them because the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) does not monopolize “7 January Day” for itself, considering it as a collective event.

He said the celebration of the day reflected that the Cambodian people mark the collapse of Khmer Rouge’s barbarous regime and the victory of the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea Motherland, whose spirit was deeply taken in the Cambodian feelings, as well as considering “7 January Day” as their second birthday.

He also recalled the courage of the Cambodian combatants who sacrificed their lives, freshly bloody and fleshy, for the cause of the national liberation and freedom, mainly a right to rebirth of the Cambodian people.

Beginning from the tireless efforts made by the Cambodian royal government, he said, Cambodia gained many achievements in the national rehabilitation and development.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords and the first general election in 1993 are inseparable from the victory day of January 7, 1979, bringing back the constitutional monarchy regime, especially the national reconciliation and the integration of the national community via win-win policy of the royal government, he stressed. --AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by THOU Peou

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AKP/02

Cambodia To Consider Helping Guinea in Agricultural Field

Phnom Penh, January 6, 2011 AKP -- Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will consider sending its experts to help develop Guinea’s human resource in agricultural field.

Agriculture Minister H.E. Chan Sarun said in reply to the request of the Guinea’s side during his meeting here on Jan. 4 with Guinea’s Ambassador to Cambodia Mr. Mamady Diare.

H.E. Chan Sarun told the Guinea side about the potential of Cambodia’s agriculture and experiences, especially in rice growing. Cambodia has currently 2.4 million tons of surplus rice for export.

Cambodia and Guinea further agreed to set up a Joint Commission to discuss the agricultural cooperation agreement. --AKP

By CHEA Vannak

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AKP/03

ADB Opens Public Information Centers in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, January 6, 2011 AKP -- Three Public Information Centers were opened on Dec. 5 in three different universities in Cambodia with an aim to provide a range of knowledge resources for Cambodian people and contribute to the development of human resources in the provinces.

The Public Information Centers are part of a joint Asian Development Bank/World Bank project, according to an ADB press release.

Located in Western University in Kampong Cham province, Southeast Asia University in Siem Reap province and Management and Economics University in Preah Sihanouk province, the three Public Information Centers are equipped with computers, printers, and Internet connections, and stocked with thousands of books in English and Khmer on various development issues in Cambodia and across the globe, including economic theory and statistics, social development and information on projects and other activities of development partners.

ADB Country Director Mr. Putu Kamayana said the centers serve as dedicated resource hubs for knowledge sharing with the public, including students, researchers, staff from civil society organizations and government officials.

“They provide a gateway to deepen Cambodians’ knowledge on development issues, and at the same time, it will help develop human resources at the provincial level,” he said, adding that the Public Information Centers, which contain a range of updated versions of books and access to Internet resources, will stimulate the new generation to become increasingly interested in reading. --AKP

By Théng

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AKP/04

Cambodia Has 400 Tour Companies

Phnom Penh, January 6, 2011 AKP -- Up to 2010, the Kingdom of Cambodia has around 400 tour companies, a tourism expert said.

Ho Vandy, co-chairman of Tourism Promotion Working Group said most of the tour companies are operated by Cambodians.

“Among the 400 tour companies, only 10 to 15 percent are run by foreign operators,” he added.

In 2010, the number of foreign tourists visited Cambodia reached 2.5 millions, or an increase by 16 percent as compared with that of 2009. --AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

Three to face court over land dispute


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:02 Chhay Channyda

A RIGHTS activist and two village representatives embroiled in an ongoing land dispute with development company KDC International have been summoned to appear at Kampong Chhnang provincial court this month.

Pheng Rom and Reach Seima, representatives of 64 families in Kompong Tralach district’s Ta Ches commune, and Sam Chankea, a coordinator for rights group Adhoc, stand accused of defaming and obstructing the work of KDC.

The company is headed by Chea Kheng, the wife of Minister of Industry Suy Sem.

Sam Chankea said yesteday that he was not expecting the court to take such a step.

“I am surprised that there is a hearing,” he said. “I didn’t even know that there was a charge against me.”

The complaint against Sam Chankea stems from a December 2009 radio interview in which he suggested that the clearance of disputed land by KDC may have been illegal.

Pheng Rom and Reach Seima have been accused of defamation and of obstructing the company’s development attempts by staging repeated protests.

Pheng Rom said yesterday that he had received a summons to appear in court on January 18. He said the hearing represented an “injustice” to the villagers involved in the dispute.

“We have filed complaints but none were accepted. But when the company filed a complaint against us, the court took immediate action,” he said. “The court should not follow the power of money.”

Defence lawyer Sam Sokong said the hearing had not been preceded by a proper investigation. “It means that it is doubtful this hearing can provide justice to my clients,” he said.

Presiding judge Ty Samnang and KDC International representative Thai Hy declined to comment yesterday.

The dispute, which dates back to 2002, escalated in 2007 when the company complained that 108 families had sold their land but proceeded to plant crops on it.

Some families have since negotiated agreements with KDC, but the remaining 64 have refused, insisting that they have never sold their land.

Pair claims forced confessions


Photo by: Pha Lina
Seng Chenda, the wife of tycoon Khaou Chuly, is led to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for a hearing in a case of attempted murder yesterday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A DEFENDANT who stood trial for attempted murder at Phnom Penh municipal court yesterday accused a high-ranking Interior Ministry official of forcing her to confess to the crime during interrogations, as a local rights group announced it would begin monitoring the case.

The court convened for the second day of hearings in a trial involving five suspects including Seng Chenda, the wife of Khaou Chuly, a prominent businessman.

The five stand accused of attempting to murder Suv Chantha, Khaou Chuly’s daughter from a previous wife, on the night of June 13, a plot allegedly masterminded by Seng Chenda. All have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Suv Chantha is currently married to Sun Chanthol, chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works and transport.

Two defendants took the stand yesterday. When questioned yesterday by court prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot, Chan Sokha, who works as a housemaid for Khaou Chuly, repeated claims made during last week’s hearing that her statements to police were made under duress.

Chan Sokha said she was forced to confess “following the order and threats from Excellency Sun Chanthol, telling me to give every answer that police wanted in its report, or my beloved children and I will be
killed”.

Chan Sokha went on to name names.

“Ministry of Interior police officials, including Mok Chito and Chhim Mony, escorted me to meet Excellency Sun Chanthol at his house,” she alleged. Mok Chito heads the Ministry of Interior’s criminal police.

Chan Sokha accused Sun Chanthol of forcing her to blame Seng Chenda for the plot. “He said I would be okay after my testimonies to the police, or I would be killed if I was stubborn,” she said. “I am innocent and I didn’t commit the crime, I told the truth with God in my heart.”

When contacted yesterday, Mok Chito dismissed the allegations raised in the testimony.

“It depends on the court officials’ considerations of whether or not to believe the testimony and exonerations from a liar that we threatened them to answer, which is impossible in the present society,” he said.

The second defendant to testify in the trial was Neang Sinath, who worked as a maid at Khaou Chuly’s house for about three years and had been working at Sun Chanthol’s house for about two months prior to her arrest.

Neang Sinath also said her statements to police and the court prosecutor were made under duress.

She is accused of carrying out an order from Chan Sokha to poison two guard dogs at the residence and open a bedroom window and a door for Yin Sophearith and Khorn Lak, security guards for one of Khaou Chuly’s companies. Both are also defendants in the case.

“I confessed forcibly at the police station, blaming Chan Sokha,” Neang Sinath said. “Excellency Sun Chanthol … ordered me to answer all of the police’s questions … and said I would be OK, otherwise my husband, children and I would be killed, and I must follow as he is a very influential man in the government.”

In a statement yesterday, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said it would start monitoring the trial “to assess its fairness against international and Cambodian fair trial standards”.

If convicted, the five defendants face up to life in prison. Presiding Judge Sin Visal said the trial will reconvene January 18.

Appeal heard in child pornography case


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Appeal Court yesterday heard an appeal in the case of Japanese national Shunichi Nakagawa, who was convicted in July 2009 of producing child pornography and sentenced to six years jail.

Preah Sihanouk provincial court, which handed down the original ruling, also ordered him to pay each of his seven victims 500,000 riel (US$125) in damages.

Peng Maneth of the anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said the original sentence was insubstantial and called for $5,000 damages to be paid to each of the victims.

“We hope that court officials will meet our request, not only for the benefit of the victims, but to act as a warning for potential offenders,” he said.

Court prosecutor Prak Kimsan reiterated the request, urging judges to reconsider the small amount of money given to the boys in compensation.

Viroch Sophang, Nakagawa’s defence lawyer, said the original sentence should be upheld, but admitted the financial penalties might increase, since his client’s crimes had had “such a detrimental effect on the victims’ reputation”.

Presiding judge Chuon Sunleng said a verdict would be announced January 18.

Pursat protest delayed


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 May Titthara

RESIDENTS of Pursat province’s Krakor district have postponed a protest in which they planned to block National Road 5 after meeting with a government official who promised to discuss their concerns with the provincial governor and Prime Minister Hun Sen, villagers said yesterday.

Sok Chamroeun, a representative of roughly 260 families who claim their land is being grabbed by local conglomerate Pheapimex Group, said the villagers had met with Keo Rattanak, the director of the cabinet at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

“He said that if he is a Buddhist, he will find a resolution for us immediately,” Sok Chamroeun said. “I hope he will respect this promise, because otherwise we will go through with our plan to protest.”

The villagers had threatened to stage a two-week sit-in on National Road 5, blocking the busy highway with cows, beds and buffalo carts. They say they are under threat from a 315,028-hectare land concession granted to Pheapimex.

Justice officials briefed on asset declaration process


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Kim Yuthana

THE Ministry of Justice held a meeting yesterday on the ambitious asset declaration programme that will be conducted by the Anticorruption Unit over the next two months, providing officials with a 16-page, seven-point declaration form for submission to the ACU.

The form provides separate pages for declarations of assets in the following categories: Real estate, vehicles, property such as jewellery worth more than 4 million riel (US$1,000) that can be easily exchanged for cash, business interests, debts and income. ACU staff say roughly 100,000 government officials, including the Prime Minister, are expected to submit the asset declaration forms by the end of next month.

Observers have criticised the declaration regulations because they do not require officials to include assets of spouses and family members, nor details of personal bank accounts.

In the declaration form, the ACU offers officials the chance to make “optional” declarations of their banking and financial details.

“Not declaring money in the bank is the same as declaring it, because the bank is a legal place to keep money,” the form reads. “For money declared that is kept outside the bank, it will be useful as legal evidence ... during inquiries from the Anticorruption Unit.”

Ith Rady, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, said in yesterday’s presentation that while the declaration of bank details was optional, government officials would “face judgment if it is discovered that they haven’t declared their assets or they have made false declarations”.

Ith Rady said roughly 900 Ministry of Justice officials, including secretaries of state, judges and court clerks, are required to take part in the declaration process.

Kheang Seng, the ACU’s head of law enforcement, said that officials in all 24 of the Kingdom’s provinces had already been advised on the declaration process, and that only a few more ministries needed to be briefed on the subject.

During a meeting last week in Kampong Thom province, ACU head Om Yentieng reportedly identified officials by name, including Kampong Thom Provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn, who he said were “black-listed” and under investigation by the ACU for taking bribes from illegal loggers, according to a police official who attended the meeting.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAM RITH

Calls for extended voter registration


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Im Suosdey, president of the NEC, speaks to reporters yesterday about the distribution of the NEC’s updated voter list.

via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Meas Sokchea

THE opposition Sam Rainsy Party has requested that the National Election Committee and Ministry of Interior extend the time in which people are able to register to vote, a period that currently lasts for just 20 days per year.

Speaking during a press conference yesterday, SRP lawmaker Ho Vann said the narrow window unnecessarily limited the number of registered voters, and called for the NEC to allow people to register within a six-month annual window.

“I want people to register all together and vote all together,” Ho Vann said, adding that this often did not happen and that there were “a lot of people” who remained unregistered.

“The time for registration is very short. We would like to have registration longer than this, at least six months,” he said.

The short window for registration was especially likely to hinder people living in poverty and those without a fixed address, who may not have easy access to identity cards and other documents required for registration, Ho Vann added.

NEC president Im Suosdey, who presided over the press conference yesterday, said extending the registration process would contravene Cambodia’s Election Law.

He said the NEC, too, would like to achieve comprehensive registration and voting rates, but noted that even if the time frame was extended it was impossible to ensure that everyone participated.

“There is no country that can [ensure] registration all together,” he said. “[If someone] has documents and he does not come to register, it is his right and we cannot force him.”

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, called for a compromise, suggesting that the registration process be extended to four months.

“It is not enough of an improvement, but at least it can make it easier for people,” he said.

A total of 8,543,283 people were registered to vote last year, up from 8,331,906 in 2009, according to NEC figures released yesterday.

NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha said that 0.58 percent of the eligible voting population was unregistered in 2010, down from 0.82 percent.

Arrests in Malaysia: Uncertain future for detainees


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Brooke Lewis and Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Arrests in Malaysia

MALAYSIAN officials said yesterday that 74 Cambodian nationals were arrested and detained in Malaysia on Saturday, amending earlier reported figures of the number detained.

Raja Saifful Ridzuwan, minister counsellor at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that the group was composed of 43 adult males, 16 adult females, nine boys and six girls.

“They are being held at the immigration depot in Johor pending further investigation and subject to whether they will be charged and sent to court or not,” he said.

“Initial investigation showed that this group probably stayed in Malaysia for some time so we are trying to ascertain how they came into the country.” Ridzuwan added that none of the detainess possessed travel documents for Cambodia or any other country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Koung said Cambodian officials would try to repatriate the group as quickly as possible.

“We will try our best to help our people return back to their homes,” he said.

Preah Vihear villagers lodge NGO complaint


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Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Tep Nimol

SIX representatives of more than 100 families from Kantuot commune in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district have filed complaints to the interior and defence ministries, requesting an intervention into an ongoing land dispute with an NGO accused of clearing farmland and using intimidation and violence against the residents. Hun Daren, a village representative, said the six travelled to Phnom Penh on Monday to file complaints about the Drug and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation. Pen Loem, the director of DARPO and a one-star general with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, could not be reached for comment.

Aspiring miner ends site study


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Catherine James

JUNIOR mining company Aspire International Inc has completed a geological survey of prospective mining sites in Pailin and Battambang provinces, with results due shortly according to a company statement.

“Reports to assess promising gold, silver and rare earth mineral deposits are being prepared for possible acquisitions” the company said in a public release late on Tuesday, following Aspire’s recent expedition to Cambodia and China.

The Canadian-registered firm signed a memorandum with the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy in early April 2010 for permission to collect geological data in Pailin’s Salakrau district, and Battambang’s Ratanakmondol and Samlot districts in order to consider applying for mining licences in the future.

“We are awaiting results of the Asian visit,” Chief Executive Bok Wong said in the release.

“These properties which we feel may become critically important acquisitions will be further explored and sampled. These can contribute to our future growth.”

The firm, which is publicly traded in over-the-counter market, is currently developing infrastructure at its manganese mine in GuangXi, China, and has offices in Canada and China, according to its website.

Aspire said a financial audit was underway with its annual report due soon “with a view to becoming fully reporting compliant”.

Its shares fell US$0.05 to $0.30 on the day of the release, having traded between $0.11 and $0.44 in the past year.

The company could not be contacted for comment.

European demand for Kingdom’s rice surges


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Chun Sophal

CAMBODIA’S rice exports to Europe increased 45 percent in the first 11 months of 2010, over the same period for 2009.

The rise was largely due to the easing of import measures from the European Union’s Everything But Arms initiative, according to government officials.

Under the terms of the EBA initiative, EU import quotas were cancelled and Cambodian rice was exempted import tax, Ministry of Commerce Deputy Cabinet Chief Kong Putheara said yesterday.

“We hope that rice exports to Europe will double this year, as the quality of Cambodia’s rice is becoming recognised by buyers,” he said.

According to Ministry of Commerce figures obtained yesterday, 37,458 tonnes of rice were exported to Europe in the first 11 months of 2010, worth some US$27.5 million – a 45 percent increase on the 25,833 tonnes shipped in the period 2009, worth $19 million.

The European Union largely ended restrictions on importing rice from Least Developed Countries such as Cambodia in the latter half of 2009.

Kong Putheara said the EU’s initiative had generated increased demand for domestic rice producers, providing companies with more revenue to equip the factories with more modern processing machinery.

“The situation is different from the past,” he said. “Buyers in Europe, as well as other markets, are becoming more interested in our rice.”

Lim Bun Heng, president of Loran Import-Export Company, said that Cambodian produced rice was become extensively recognised by the European Union markets.

He added hopes that wider recognition would translate to increased sales.

“We will have more opportunity to export our rice this year,” he said.

Loran aims to export some 40,000 tonnes of rice to European markets this year.

Grameen foundation aids Kingdom’s MFIs


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Catherine James

TWO Cambodian microfinance institutions have secured loans from the Luxembourg-based Grameen Credit Agricole Microfinance Foundation, amounting to a total US$1.14 million.

Thaneakea Phum Cambodia Ltd received the equivalent of a $1 million loan, while Chamroeun Microfinance received a loan of $144,000, according to a release from Grameen Credit Agricole Microfinance Foundation this week.

Michael Spingler, TPC Chairman, said the three-year loan was the first TPC has received from the Foundation.

“TPC began discussions with GCAMF in May and received the loan in November,” he said via email yesterday.

“The loan will be used to service client demands. It will assist to meet new client and existing client loan requirements.”

Established in 1994 and officially licensed by the Cambodian government in 2003, TPC’s average loan size is $250, and about 90 percent of its customers are women, Spingler said.

“TPC was established to help rural low-income women by providing them with access to financial products and services that they can use to finance their microenterprises… For this reason, the majority of TPC’s loans are group loans – community-based lending facilities delivered directly to villages – to better serve female entrepreneurs,” he said.

According to Spingler, TPC is the fifth largest local MFI by client base, and the eighth largest in terms of portfolio size. As of November 2010, TPC was had a gross loan portfolio of $21.5 million and total assets of $29.8 million. It’s return on equity was 15.52 percent.

Chamroeun Microfinance could not be contacted for comment but according to the GCAMF release, it was established in 1995. In 2009 it reported to the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX), a gross loan portfolio of $679,000 and total assets of $755,000. Its return on equity was negative 25.14 percent.

GCAMF was established in 2008 as a partnership between Bangladeshi pioneering microfinance foundation Grameen Trust and French retail bank Credit Agricole SA which provided a 50 million euro ($73 million) endowment. It offers financing products to MFIs, “targeting MFIs that adhere to transparency and consumer protection practices and focuses on MFIs dedicated to agricultural and rural development, specifically those intended for women”, according to the release.

TC surpasses revenue target


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:00 May Kunmakara

STATE-Owned enterprise Telecom Cambodia’s revenues have exceeded the target for 2010, despite strong market competition.

Telecom Cambodia achieved revenues above its US$31-million target for 2010, according to its director general Lao Sareoun yesterday.

In 2009, he said the company achieved 95 percent of its $29-million revenue plan, an estimated $27.55 million.

He did not disclose the exact revenue total or the telecommunication firm’s profits.

“The recovery of global financial crisis and especially the improvement of our economy is why [our revenue] rose,” he said.

“Although we see the increase [in revenue] of many private companies, our business was still good [because] we tried to upgrade our services and made new ones to attract customers.” He said that so far, TC had more than 35,000 subscribers,

Revenue was derived from local and international phone calls, Voice over Internet Protocol, internet access, Asymmetric Digital Subscribers Line services, fibre optic cable services and interconnection and transit fees.

VoIP services accounted for the majority of revenue, he said, adding that so far this month the number of call minutes hit 5 million due to an initiative to lower call price. He also highlighted interconnection and transit fees as a key part of the business. He said that TC plans to achieve $34 million in revenue for 2011, saying that the firm intended to increase business activities and investment.

It intends to extend the scope of its services in provinces such as Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Kratie, Stueng Treng, Kampong Speu and Sihanoukville.

TC is one of the three state-owned enterprises set to list on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), which is scheduled to launch by July.

“We will list in the CSX when it launches in July this year because we follow the decision from the Ministry of Economy and Finance,” he said.

Presently, Cambodia has about 30 internet service providers and eight mobile operators.

Siem Reap set for rubber summit


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:00 Craig Miles

RUBBER experts will have their eyes on Siem Reap next month when a summit convenes to address increasing demand for rubber, lower output and soaring prices.

The summit will examine opportunities for rubber plant investment and the best practices for tree management with expert analysis on key rubber-producing countries, including Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and China.

The summit will be held at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort in Siem Reap from February 21 to 22, and will be opened by director general of the general directorate of rubber in Cambodia, Ly Phalla. He will give an overview on Cambodia’s rubber outlook and where the country stands in terms of land availability and concession incentives for foreign investors.

Thai Rubber Association president Luckchai Kittipol will also discuss new areas for rubber cultivation. Other organisations to send speakers include Tradewinds Plantation Berhad, which will discuss developing rubber on an ex-sugarcane and logged jungle land, and Greenyield Berhad, talking on potentials for higher natural rubber production in West Africa.

LMC International Ltd will also present analysis on the latest trends in global tyre production and its implications for natural rubber demand.

The summit will come at an important time for the world’s rubber industry. In Tokyo yesterday, rubber prices for June delivery climbed to an all time high of $5,230 a tonne.

Cup campaigns set for launch


Sophal Odam (right), the newly installed captain of National Police Commissary, trains with teammates at the 7NG Field in Phnom Penh on Monday, ahead of tomorrow’s 2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup group stage opener against Prey Veng provincial team in Prey Veng. Preliminary round Cup action takes part at four centres across the Kingdom over the next five days. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:00 H S Manjunath

A new football campaign unfolds on “liberation day” tomorrow, when the group phase of the 2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup involving 32 teams simultaneously kicks off at the four provincial centres of Battambang, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Prey Veng.

At stake for a heady mix of professionals and part-timers, established teams and loose coalitions, top-tier units and provincial novices, is a huge purse to go with the national pride of winning the most prestigious domestic competition.

It is in the inequality of the teams that the tournament derives its intensity and offers different strokes for different players. The timing of the event this year is near perfect, as national team players representing various clubs get in some match play practice in the lead up to two crucial international fixtures against Macau in the Asia Challenge Cup in the second week of February.

For fringe players trying to break into national reckoning, the group phase and subsequent knockout rounds to be held in Phnom Penh afford a chance to catch national team head coach Lee Tae Hoon’s eye. The South Korean is almost certain to watch as much of action as he can with note pad and pen in hand to draw out a shortlist of candidates.

For well-funded teams, the stage is set for shaking off the notorious inertia that normally sets in after a long break. To start the Metfone C-League season on the right foot weeks after the conclusion of this event is so crucial for teams beginning their quest for top league honours.

Provincial sides have nothing much to lose but everything to gain in a set up like this.

Each of the eight groups will be headed by one of the Metfone C-League outfits with the exception of Khemara Keila, who have pulled out due to financial constraints. Chhma Khmao, one of the two teams relegated from the top tier last year, replace Khemara as the premier side of group E.

Defending league champions Phnom Penh Crown begin their crusade under new coach Bojan Hodak, who will miss the three preliminary matches due to commitments towards obtaining his UEFA Pro coaching license in his native Croatia.

Crown have drafted in Kouch Sokumpheak from Khemara Keila and Khim Borey from National Defence Ministry during the off season, and the two formidable front men could not have hoped for a better environment to blend in.

There is no opposition worth the name for Crown in a group D pool filled up with three relatively weak provincial sides.

League runners-up Preah Khan Reach have a wish list that includes bringing in players from the team’s youth pool into the main stream.

Manager Ork Samnang sees absolutely no threats to the team’s safe passage to the next stage and hopes that by then, the newcomers would have found their right footing.

Friendlies in neighbouring Malaysia during December should prove an added advantage for the military police backed side.

For defending Cup champions MND, the exodus of many key players may cut deep, but assistant coach Hor Sokheng is confident that new players will rise to the occasion.

MND lost local heroes such as Khim Borey, Nov Sokseila, Samreth Seiha and Sin Dalin during the post-season reshuffle.

An interesting proposition in MND’s group F is Division 2 winners National Police Commissary, who are also relishing their promotion into the Metfone C-League this year. Manager Suo Moniroth notes his team’s absolute fitness and boundless energy as clear positives. Life may not be that easy for Life University in this group, but having qualified for the second phase twice before, they will looking for a miracle of sorts to maintain their strong tradition.

For established University backed side Build Bright United, the storyline is slightly different. The team have acquired Keo Chea and Heng Sok Ly from Crown to reinforce the squad that finished third in the league last year. Manager Bun Pich Mony feels BBU is cut above the others three in group B.

Sensational defeats in the Super 4 playoffs saw Naga Corp end in a disappointing fourth in the league, and vastly experienced coach Prak Sovanara is determined to start the new year on a brighter note. The former national team coach said his players had been training well and were ready to reclaim lost ground.

While most of the provincial teams are desperate to make the Phnom Penh rounds, previous experience against top clubs for these lesser mortals have not been particularly promising. An official from one of the provincial sides noted: “every good performance, every victory, even every goal and every save our goalkeepers make come as a blessing because this is the only chance we get to play with the country’s best.”

It is this spirit of competition that enlivens the Samdech Hun Sen Cup as a whole.

TFC in double trouble after Thailand withdraws


via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:00 H S Manjunath

The Tennis Federation of Cambodia is stretching well beyond its financial means to honour its three-event ITF Men’s Futures package. The Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand has backed out of its commitment to host the third leg of the regional events in a fashion similar to the recent Vietnam flip-flop.

A terse email from the Thai association two days ago expressing its inability to stage the third leg during the second week of February came as a total shock to the TFC, forcing the federation to seek desperate alternatives. After considerable thought and hectic parleys with the officials of the International Tennis Federation, the TFC has now found the best possible way to salvage the situation.

The three-leg US$10,000 package will now be compressed into two $15,000 events, with the TFC hosting them both at the National Training Centre in Phnom Penh on the dates previously announced - the first leg on January 24-30, and the second from January 31 to February 6.

ITF Administrator for Beach Tennis & Professional tournaments, Alistair Williams sent an email to the TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit late on Tuesday.

“Keeping your tournaments on the calendar and in the same weeks is our main priority, but with other nations in the region not able to commit to holding the third event at such short notice, increasing the prize money at your two tournaments is certainly the preferred alternative,” said Williams.

The tennis official felt that pushing the series back to March was an unfavourable option, noting that “holding just two rather than three tournaments means costs like officiating and event staff will remain the same.”

In the light of the prize fund being upgraded to $15,000 for each event, the ITF will provide an additional grant of $8,000. However, the added financial burden for the TFC will weigh very heavily on its coffers.

The two back-to-back tournaments are likely to cost up to $72,000, and even with financial support from corporate sponsors ANZ Royal Bank and Infinity Insurance as well as the ITF grants, the Federation is likely to face a massive shortfall.

“It is an historic opportunity we did not want to miss at any cost,” said Tep Rithivit.

“We are terribly disappointed with what happened regarding the third leg. We know we have to stretch our resources like elastic to meet the financial demands but this is the only way we could have achieved our twin aims of saving the Futures and sticking to the Calendar.”

The TFC is now working frantically to amend and submit two fact sheets – which outline the conduct of the tournaments – to the ITF, while launching their appeal for new sponsors.

“I am glad that the uncertainty has been removed. I hope the country’s business community and the corporate sector will step in to help us stage these historic events,” said Tep Rithivit.

Fresh dawn of luxury for the Capital


Tourism is still new to Cambodia and Khmer culture offers much to discover, according to Didier Lamoot of the new Sofitel hotel.

via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:00 Post Staff

TWO weeks ago, the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra opened its doors as the first new five-star hotel to open in Phnom Penh in more than a decade. General Manager Didier Lamoot believes the hotel is evidence of a fresh dawn in the capital and talks about why Cambodian tourism faces a boom.

Why haven’t any other five-star hotels opened in the city in the past decade?
The region’s booming, yet Phnom Penh, until now, hasn’t really been able to capitalise on the wider world’s interest.

When talking about Cambodia, people immediately think of Angkor Wat. And who can blame them? It is one of the world’s marvels. For the past dozen years, so much of the interest in Cambodia, for both the leisure and the corporate traveller, has been on Angkor Wat. There’s been so much attraction to Siem Reap — gravitational attraction, inevitable attraction — that Phnom Penh has been left with the second fiddle. But the second fiddle is now asking the first violin for some time on the main stage.

Can Phnom Penh support another five-star hotel? The city already has two, as well as a fairly new 600-room hotel-casino.

In 2004-2005, they were telling me it would be crazy to put up a hotel. The upscale hotels were losing money then. But by 2007- 2008, everyone was saying we’re waiting for you. We need more rooms.

How do you persuade corporate and leisure travellers that indeed, Phnom Penh should be a worthwhile destination?
This is the future of Cambodia. This city is emerging as Cambodia’s hub, as a gateway to Angkor Wat, yes, but also to Sihanoukville and the southern coast. Note that Thai Airways flies into Phnom Penh, not Siem Reap. If we want to develop the country as a real destination, we have to develop the south. That’s how Phnom Penh becomes a hub
.
So, that is not the way the city is perceived now?
No. According to the official statistics, we had 471,283 arrivals to Phnom Penh in from January to October 2010, while there were 557,145 arrivals to Siem Reap. That doesn’t suggest that the country yet revolves around a hub.

What is the next milestone you’re looking out for in Cambodia’s redevelopment as a destination?
Easy. We need a long-haul flight into Phnom Penh from Europe, the States or from Australia. All of the planes coming in now are with regional carriers.

Air France?
Bien sur. Yes, we’ve just learned that Air France plans to fly direct to Phnom Penh from Paris three times per week, starting in March. This is big, even if there will be a connecting flight at Bangkok. We have 250,000 Franco Khmer coming in from Paris.

Where are most travellers coming in from now?
From Vietnam, remarkably enough. Tourists from Vietnam are the No1 source of travellers to Cambodia at present. Then Korea, China, Japan. The United States is No5.

What does the opening of the Sofitel mean for Phnom Penh? As general manager of the hotel, we know you’re predisposed to say it’s a big deal, but is it really?
It really is, and for this reason. There has been very little investment in upscale hotel development over the past 10 or 12 years. Well, start with the design. All of the restaurants and bars are singular. There is an individual concept. There will be a service level comparable to what you can have in Tokyo or New York. It will cost. Our Sunday brunch, for example, will cost $45 to $60. But we’re not afraid to deliver luxury. People want to pay money for value.

How can Phnom Penh compete with the draw of Angkor Wat?
Let me go out on a limb here. The first wonder of Cambodia is not Angkor Wat. It is Khmer culture. It is the smell that comes from these kitchens, the smiles you see on these faces. Tourism is still rather new to the Khmer, and as such, it’s a wonder. Every great new destination goes through this. And so in the near-term, travellers to Cambodia will be the beneficiaries of fresh contact with Khmer culture.

What do you expect to be most compelling about the hotel?
I expect that it will be the cumulative effect of all our restaurants. You may not come to the Sofitel just to eat. But if you want Italian, you’ll come to Do Forni. For Chinese to Fu Lu Zu. For pastry, to Chocolat. Each kitchen is led by an individual chef and will celebrate an individual identity. For all of this to happen all at once in Phnom Penh, with eight new food and beverage options at once, that I think will be extremely compelling.

Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra is located at 26 Old August Site, Sothearos Blvd. Tel. 023 999 200.

A mile in her moccasins


Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Heng Chivoan

The feet of Sambo, the beloved elephant who works at Wat Phnom, shod with improvised rubber soles. Because of the jerry-rigged footwear, wounds appear to have opened up between the pachyderm’s toes.

Small fry in single file


Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Thursday, 06 January 2011 15:01 Sovan Philong

Children walk in line past a spray-painted phone number advertising a property for sale in Chroy Changvar commune Children walk in line past a spray-painted phone number advertising a property for sale in Chroy Changvar commune, Russei Keo district, Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

Hun Sen focuses ire on NGO law critics


via CAAI

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 20:46 Thomas Miller and Vong Sokheng

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday took aim at critics of the government’s new draft NGO legislation, ahead of a government-hosted consultation on the issue on Monday.

Speaking at the inauguration of a high school in Kampong Cham province, Hun Sen slammed critics of the law in the NGO community, arguing that they were demanding too many rights.

“How many rights do you have so far? You have many rights to insult [the government] every day,” Hun Sen said in his speech. “Or do you need more rights to hit the heads of others?”

The premier deflected recent concerns from NGOs that the intent of the new draft law was to control, rather than enable, civil society and suggested that organisations were exceeding their mandate.

“Even now, if there is a draft [law] to control NGOs, they play the role of the National Assembly. [The government] will allow a consultation but the adoption of the law depends on the National Assembly,” he said.

Local rights group Licadho yesterday released a new analysis of the draft legislation, containing some of the most trenchant criticisms of the law yet.

It states that the draft, made public December 15, “confirms long-standing fears that the government’s desire for such a law is in order to control, rather than promote and strengthen, civil society”.

The law is the third attempt by the government to regulate the country’s large NGO sector.

Licadho claimed the draft was a direct attack on the independence of NGOs, going on to say that it constitutes “the most serious threat to civil society in years”.

“The draft law seeks to take the ‘N’ out of ‘NGOs’, turning them into de facto government organisations,” the report states.

“It ignores the very concept of NGOs, associations and other civil society actors, that they are independent and should not be controlled by the government.”

Licadho said there are several specific areas of concern in the draft law, including restrictions on freedom of association, registration requirements, the authority given to government officials, reporting requirements and restrictions placed on foreign NGOs.

Meanwhile, following a meeting with roughly 250 NGO representatives in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, four umbrella organisations released a joint statement calling for changes to the draft law.

The Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO Forum on Cambodia, Medicam and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee said the draft law would “restrict” the work of NGOs working in all sectors of the Kingdom by placing “significant barriers on their registration and implementation of their work”.

The four groups plan to submit detailed recommendations to the government in a report that they said represents the inputs of more than 500 civil society organisations on the new legislation.

The statement called for a longer consultation period and the establishment of a “joint working group” made up of government and civil society representatives.

Lun Borithy, executive director of CCC, said the NGOs had completed their analysis and would make it public today. CCC senior operations and finance manager Soeung Saroeun said CCC representatives met with officials from the Ministry of Interior yesterday.