Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Cambodia urging UN to halt clash at Thai border

via CAAI

By Sopheng Cheang
Associated Press / February 8, 2011

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Thailand accused Cambodia of refusing to negotiate to resolve a border dispute that led to the fourth straight day of fierce clashes yesterday, as Phnom Penh said that only UN peacekeepers can stop the fighting near an 11th century temple.

Cambodia says the crumbling stone temple — classified as a World Heritage site — has been heavily damaged during several bursts of artillery fire over four days.

The exchange of cross-border fire is highly unusual among members of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and has raised tensions in a region known for its stability.

Preah Vihear temple — which is in northern Cambodia, several hundred feet from the border with Thailand — has fueled nationalism in both countries for decades, and conflict over it has sparked battles in recent years. A one-hour clash yesterday morning stopped after both sides agreed to an unofficial cease-fire. Fighting has erupted daily since Friday, leaving at least seven dead and dozens wounded.

In 1962, the World Court determined that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia. Thai nationalists have never accepted that ruling.

In recent months, Thailand’s embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has come under intense criticism from ultranationalist groups who say he has shown weakness in his dealings with Cambodia and hasn’t done enough to protect Thailand’s sovereignty in the border dispute.

The fighting comes as those groups stage a prolonged protest outside Abhisit’s offices in Bangkok to demand that he step down over the border issue and a litany of other complaints.

Ambassador: Border row bilateral issue


via CAAI

Should be settled peacefully through two-party talks

Published: 8/02/2011 at 12:07 PM
Online news:

The continuing Thai-Cambodian border dispute should be settled peacefully at the bilateral level, Cambodia's ambassador to Thailand You Ay said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Couple of Love and Rival seminar on Tuesday morning, she said people should not politicise the border issue. It should be addressed at the bilateral level within the framework of the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission (JBC).

The border row would jeopardise regional cooperation in Southeast Asia, such as the single-visa agreement under the Acmecs (Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya - Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) scheme, she said.

"Educators need to teach the true history of both countries to the young generation," she said.

The Cambodian envoy also urged the Thai public to be well aware of the neutral voices, which do not take sides and have good faith.

She said the Bayon temple, a World Heritage site in Siem Reap, has 54 towers each representing the 54 provinces of the ancient Khmer empire.

"Cambodia now has only 24 provinces, because 17 of the others are in Vietnam and 13 in Thailand.

"Thai and Cambodian people share the same DNA as a consequence," she said.

She said Cambodia had never thought about claiming its 13 former provinces in Thailand, as both countries must co-exist side by side.

The border issue stemmed from the different maps used by the two countries. Cambodia used La Carte de l’annexe I which was an integral part of the (border) treaty settlement and widely-accepted internationally while Thailand used the map unilaterally produced during 1970-1975 during the time of Kampuchea democratic (government), she said.

In peaceful time, the Joint Border Committee was the suitable mechanism to deal with border dispute, but in the armed border conflicts like this, the multilateral mechanism such as the International Court of Justice should be the proper venue, said the Cambodian ambassador.

Since Feb 4 the border clashes have caused three deaths inThailand, one civilian and two soldiers, and 25 injuries, with five Cambodians reported dead and 45 injured.

Call for peace, negotiations


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Uong Ratana

Thais and Cambodians joined together in Phnom Penh yesterday to urge their respective countries to end the violence that broke out on Friday and continued yesterday near the Preah Vihear temple.

“The main purpose of the meeting is to encourage the leaders of the two countries, Cambodia and Thailand, to stop fighting with each other at the Preah Vihear Temple,” said Ros Sotha, President of the Buddhist and Khmer Society Network.

Ros Sotha, who is also a representative of the Joint Committee for Khmer-Thai Reconciliation, said the meeting sought to “promote the respect of human rights along the border and create a culture of peace and friendship between the two countries in accordance with the teaching of Lord Buddha”.

Roughly 50 Cambodians and Thais attended the event, dubbed “Neighborhood Love and Peace without Violence”.

The government reported five Cambodians and two Thais dead in the clash yesterday.

 Interviews by Buth Reaksmey Konkea and photos by Pha Lina.

Akkharaphong Khamthun

Lecturer, Thammasat University

“Mr. Abhisit [Vejjajiva] should stop playing politics inside Thailand because I have to say there is no PAD government in Thailand, and there are so many people who do not agree with him. It is the right of Cambodia to take Preah Vihear because according to the [International Court of Justice], it has already ruled [in 1962] that Preah Vihear was situated inside Cambodian territory.”
Chea Vannath

Political analyst

“As ASEAN member countries, Cambodia and Thailand should not use force to resolve the problem over the border issue. But they should resolve the problem via ASEAN’s mechanisms or a United Nations resolution. The two leaders should stop fighting each other from now on and should invite the leaders or country representatives of ASEAN and the UN to help find solutions for them.”
Phra Win

Thai Buddhist monk

“Cambodia and Thailand have almost the same culture and religion and they should not create problems with each other. They should be good neighbours and could live near each other well in a good community. We are Buddhists and we should not kill or fight each other over the border issue, but we should promote peace, security, development and progress for the two countries’ people who live along the border.”
Ros Sotha

Buddhist-Khmer Society Network

“Cambodian and Thai people are Buddhists who have strictly followed, practiced and respected the Buddhist religion. They should not fight each other and they should resolve the problems by following the teachings of the Dharma. We cannot use the gun to resolve the problem between the two countries. Therefore, I would like to appeal to the two leaders to settle the border issue by peaceful means.”

Appeal heard in Howes case


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Sebastian Strangio

The Appeal Court yesterday heard the case of four men convicted of the 1996 murder of British deminer Chris Howes, according to officials from the Mines Advisory Group, the man’s former employer.

In March 1996, Howes and his Cambodian counterpart Houn Hourth were abducted by Khmer Rouge cadres and killed shortly afterwards.

More than a decade later, in October 2008, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted four former Khmer Rouge – including Royal Cambodian Armed Forces brigadier general Kham Mum – of kidnapping and murder in connection with the case.

Three were convicted and handed 20-year jail terms for their role in the killing, while the fourth received 10 years.

Only two of the accused were present in court yesterday, according to a summary of the proceedings compiled by MAG staff. During the hearing, lawyers for the accused argued that their clients should have their sentences reduced or overturned because they did not mastermind the killing and faced death themselves if they did not obey orders.

Lawyers also claimed, the summary states, that their actions were covered by a pardon granted to KR defectors.

During the hearing, lawyers for the Howes family read out a translated statement from Howes’ sister Patricia Phillips, which called for the earlier verdicts to be upheld.

“We have never sought revenge, but simply justice for these two fine and brave men, brutally murdered whilst carrying out life saving work,” read the statement, a copy of which was obtained yesterday.

According to MAG’s summary of the proceedings, lawyers representing Houn Hourth’s family also requested US$50,000 compensation from the four accused.

In a statement yesterday, MAG’s Chief Executive Lou McGrath said the family would continue to receive support during the proceedings.

“Chris’ family has shown true honour in waiting diligently to achieve justice for his murder. I have the utmost respect for them and for Houn Hourth’s family too, and will continue to support them through this process,” he said.

Judge Um Sarith, who is in charge of the case, could not be reached yesterday.

A MAG representative said a verdict is scheduled to be handed down February 24.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY TITTHARA AND SAM RITH

KRT announces revised budget


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 James O'Toole

The Khmer Rouge tribunal announced yesterday that it has revised its 2010-2011 budget downward by US$15.1 million, an adjustment that comes following months of appeals for donations from the international community that have been slow in coming.

The hybrid court’s Cambodian side is set to spend $9.9 million this year, while the international side will spend $30.8 million. United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen said the tribunal was still short roughly $20 million in funding for this year.

Salary payments for the court’s Cambodian staff were delayed on several occasions last year due to funding shortfalls.

Savings from the previously approved budget resulted from factors including unexpected staffing vacancies and lower than anticipated use of experts and outside contractors, according to a budget summary posted on the court’s website. Savings will also accrue this year due to the consolidation and elimination of previously existing staff positions.

The court will spend approximately $72 million for 2010 and 2011 under the revised budget, yesterday’s statement said.

Last month, the tribunal announced that the Japanese government had pledged $11.7 million to fund court operations in 2011. Some $8.8 million will go towards the tribunal’s international side, while $2.9 million will go to the national side.

Soldier stabbed to death by superior


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Phak Seangley

Pursat police are searching for a fugitive army commander suspected of stabbing a subordinate officer to death in Krakor district.

Thang Thy, 52, commander of Platoon 141, stabbed 26-year-old soldier Von Vilar in the neck with a knife before fleeing the scene at about 1pm on Sunday, military police affairs official Chhorn Chean said yesterday.

Soldiers are routinely ordered to remain in their barracks and await orders during border hostilities, he said.

The incident stemmed from an argument between the two men while they were drinking alcohol in their quarters.

When Von Vilar tried to leave the scene, Thang Thy ordered him to apologise, Chhorn Chean said.

“The soldier did not, and went to relax on a hammock. His commander then stabbed him one time in the neck and fell down, dying on the ground.”

Chhorn Chhean said police are searching for Thang Thy to arrest him and submit the case to the provincial court based upon witnesses’ accounts of the attack.

Police Blotter: 8 Feb 2011


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Sen David

High-speed robbery hospitalises victim
A 26-year-old man was arrested after snatching a woman’s purse in Phnom Penh’s Phsar Kandal commune on Friday. Police said the victim was driving her motorbike to work when the suspect grabbed her purse and escaped, resulting in a high-speed chase. The victim then crashed her motorbike into the suspect and the two fell to the ground. She was severely injured and was sent to a hospital, while the suspect was apprehended by residents and was later sent to court by police. The victim’s purse was then stolen by another person at the scene.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Man ignites home after wife refuses to cook
Police in Battambang’s Banan district said a 22-year-old man set fire to his house and his motorbike because he was angry with his wife for refusing to cook food for him. Police said the man became intoxicated while his wife was away visiting her parents. The woman said that the family sells petrol out of their home and her husband set fire to their house and his motorbike with some fuel, burning himself badly. The man was sent to a hospital, while police said it was very lucky that the blaze did not spread to another house.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Fisherman shocked by electric fishing charges
Police in Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district on Friday arrested a 25-year-old man on an arrest warrant after he was accused of fishing in a private company’s fishing lot last year. The warrant accused him of using electricity to fish in the lake but the suspect denied this, saying he merely used a fishing pole and did so to support his family. The court had enough evidence to send the man to trial.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Woman arrested after police raid house
Police in Pailin City arrested a 30-year-old woman on Friday after neighbours complained that she was selling drugs out of her home. Police raided the house and arrested her with 9 pills of an unspecified drug, while one other person escaped. She confessed that she has been selling drugs for more than one year, because she has no husband or children to support her and lives alone. Police are investigating the case and the suspect was sent to court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Drunk driver injures two children
An intoxicated woman crashed her car into two boys in Phnom Penh’s Phsar Kandal district on Saturday, according to police. The boys were standing behind her car when they were hit and were later sent to a hospital. Police said the driver is a powerful woman who allegedly gave US$100 to the victims’ mother according to witnesses. She wanted to leave the scene, but traffic police impounded her car.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Thailand: Royalist right, ultra-nationalists want war with Cambodia

via CAAI

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

February 7, 2011 -- Fascist "People's Alliance for Democracy" (PAD) supporters, frothing at the mouth, cheered and clapped as a villager and a number of soldiers were killed in idiotic border clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers. Thai troops damaged the ancient Preah Vihear temple that the extreme Thai nationalists claim was “stolen” from Thailand. The PAD has been trying to start a war with Cambodia for months, using the pathetic excuse that an ancient Khmer temple "belonged to Thailand".

The temple is clearly Cambodian. This is all a displacement activity by manic right-wing royalists who are afraid that they are beginning to become irrelevant. No doubt some PAD idiots want another military coup in Thailand and a war with Cambodia. They will not be on the border facing the bullets themselves, however. It will be the poor conscripts and villagers who will pay the price. Recently a joint PAD-Democrat Party team deliberately intruded into Cambodian territory in order to cause an international incident. They were promptly arrested and PAD nutter Wira Somkwamkit is still in a Cambodian prison.

Prime Minister Abhisit, fresh from murdering 90 unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in May 2010, has said that he is not afraid of war with Cambodia. He wouldn't be. He won't be dying, nor will any of his rich relatives. His foreign minister Kasit Pirom is a well-known PAD member and has been itching for other people to die in a pointless war with Cambodia for years.

Colonel Sansern Keawkamnurd, former spokesperson for the military security centre who coordinated the bloodbath last May, said that "the Thai army could give as good as it got". General Prayut Junocha, army chief, was also jumping up and down with glee. This is what the Thai army is really about: killing democracy demonstrators and starting shooting matches with neighbouring countries in order to get people to forget the army's crimes. All Thai military officers obviously have their brains transplanted between their legs and their mouths stuffed up their bums in officer training school.

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. He is a member of Left Turn Thailand, a socialist organisation. His latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy, will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.]

Hor Namhong claims Thais fired first


via CAAI

Published: 8/02/2011
The Cambodian foreign minister has told the Asean chairman, Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, that the Thai military began firing first in the four clashes on the border over the last few days.

Cambodia’s KI Media website reported that Hor Namhong, the Cambodian foreign minister, had discussed the colnflict with Mr Natalegawa in Phnom Penh on Monday.

The website says that during the meeting Hor Namhong accused Thailand of instigating each of the four clashes, begining on Feb 4.

The Cambodian foreign minister said after the meeting that he told Mr Natalegawa that five Cambodian soldiers were killed and 45 others were injured, according to the website. People in disputed areas had been evacuated.

Mr Natalegawa said he wanted both countries to end their violent dispute.

He urged them to put down their weapons and return to the negotiating table because both countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Vietnam, another Asean member, has also called on Phnom Penh and Bangkok to end their border conflict around Preah Vihear temple through peaceful negotiations based on international law and the United Nations charter.

Cambodia frees Thai soldier captured during cross border clash


via CAAI

BANGKOK, Feb 8 -- Cambodia on Tuesday handed over a Thai soldier captured during the cross border clash between Thai and Cambodian troops on Saturday morning near the Preah Vihear Temple back to the Thai authorities in Phnom Penh following a request by the Thai Defence Ministry.

Lt Gen Nim Sovath, chief of the Defence Ministry's Department of Politics and Foreign Affairs, witnessed the handover of Pte Songkran Thongchompoo who was captured by Cambodian troops during Saturday's clash to Col Direk Bongkarn, military attache at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

The hand-over was held at the Cambodian Ministry of Defence.

It was also witnessed by military attaches from Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, the UK and the US.

Pte Songkran would then return to Thailand via the Poi Pet-Aranyaprathet checkpoint at Sa Kaeo province and is expected to arrive Thailand at 6pm.

There was no fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops overnight.

Since the fighting erupted Friday, one Thai soldier was killed, 25 were wounded and one civilian died in the clashes. (MCOT online news)

New underwriter launches


Chairman of Phnom Penh Securities, Kay Vat, celebrates its launch yesterday. Photo by: Wesley Monts

via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:00 Jeremy Mullins and Sen David

PHNOM Penh Securities opened its doors yesterday, becoming the third of seven approved underwriters to open ahead of the planned launch of the Cambodian stock exchange later this year.

Chairman of the firm, Kay Vat, said a key focus of the business would be guiding foreign firms planning to invest in the Kingdom’s listed companies.

“Especially, my company is focusing on marketing to other countries,” he said at the launch of Phnom Penh Securities on Monivong Boulevard in Daun Penh district yesterday.

A press release claimed US$10 million in net capital, financed through local and international shareholders, and added that its operations team came from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China as well as the Kingdom.

The names of shareholders in Phnom Penh Securities were not revealed yesterday.

The firm added hopes it could “assist Cambodia to become the financial centre of South East Asia” in a statement.

Underwriters are approved to trade on the exchange, as well as providing advice for companies looking to issue securities on the exchange.

The stock exchange – which is planned to launch in July of this year – is a long-term source of investment for the Kingdom, Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia director general Ming Bangkosal said at the launch yesterday.

The government was working hard to ensure investors in the planned bourse were ensured transparency, accountability, and security, he said.

“The Phnom Penh Securities Company is prepared and in the market for Cambodia,” he said. Speaking on the event sidelines, Ming Bankosal said educating Cambodians about the role of an exchange could be challenging, but added that exchanges were difficult ideas to understand even in developed countries.

The other six companies approved as underwriters were Tong Yang Securities (Cambodia), OSK Indochina Securities, CANA Securities, Campubank Securities, Cambodia-Vietnam Securities, and SBI Phnom Penh Securities.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

UN Welcomes ASEAN’s Role to Mediate Border Issues

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 08:04 DAP-NEWS/VIBOL

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, FEB 08, 2011-The UN has welcomed ASEAN’s role to help mediate the border issues between Cambodia and Thailand, leading the deadly armed clashes, a Cambodian official said on Tuesday.

“If ASEAN cannot help resolve the problem, the UN Security Council will be like to call on Friday or next Monday over the border issues,” Koy Kuong, spokesman for foreign ministry said.

Yesterday, Indonesia Foreign Minister met his Cambodian counterpart in Phnom Penh and today He will meet with His Thai counterpart to seek understanding about the recent armed clashed and situation at the border of the two countries.

Indonesian Foreign Minister told a press conference in Phnom Penh that ASEAN will create ASEAN Community in 2015 and we do not want to hear the gun fire. Indonesia this year is hosting the chairman of ASEAN.

Cambodia filed complaint with the UN Security Council about the Thai invasion near the 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple and PM Hun Sen yesterday asked the urgent intervention on the issues. He also appealed to The UN to call on an urgent meeting about Thai invasion.

Thai troops invade Cambodia on July 15. 2008. Thai forces want to take 4.6 square kilometers near the temple through unilateral map.

Dr. Sok Touch, scholar of political science of Royal Academy of Cambodia said that Bangkok administration must stop invading Cambodian territory. “Bangkok administration and Thai troops are similar to Hilter and German troops in the Second World War which invaded Poland. They used unilateral map to invade neighboring countries,Dr Sok Touch said. He also condemned the actions of Thai troop s which destroyed some parts of the Preah Vihear temple which has universal values.

Cambodia Released a Thai Soldier

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 07:22 DAP-NEWS/VIBOL

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, FEB 08, 2011-Royal Cambodian Armed Forces on Tuesday released a Thai soldier who captured during the fighting at the border area on February 5 near the 900 -years old Khmer Preah Vihear temple.

The release was made at the Cambodian defense ministry at 10 AM today after the request from Thai side, the official of ministry said, adding that the ministry told the foreign military attaches to Cambodia in a ceremony about the release of prisoner of war. Previously, Thai side refused about the prisoner of war and said the Thai soldier lost to Cambodian sovereignty.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen yesterday said that the Thai soldiers were too weak and the arrest occurred because Thai soldiers invaded Cambodian territory.

Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 2008 after Cambodia successfully enlisted the temple with the world heritage site. Thai side has opposed the management and development plan of the temple, which contains universal values. Cambodia will submit the plan to world heritage committee in Bahrain this year.

Hor Namhong, Foreign Minister said yesterday that so far 5 Cambodian soldiers have died and 45 injured.

Asean chairman to hear Thai viewpoint


via CAAI

Published: 8/02/2011
The current Asean chairman, Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, is due in Bangkok today to hear the Thai government's view on the volatile border conflict with Cambodia.

Mr Natalegawa met Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Monday.

Mr Natalegawa saidafter his meeting in Phnom Penh that he hoped the dispute could be peacefully settled through negotiation. He did not want any side to be pessimistic about the outcome.

Today, Mr Natalegawa has an appointment with Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdee, who will explain the Thai government's point of view.

Mr Thani said this morning that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), saying Thailand’s action during the clashes with Cambodia is appropriate and is in line with international principles.

The letter was addressed to the chairman of the UNSC and dated February 7, 2011.

The letter lays out Thailand’s stance and outlines facts about the clashes between Thailand and Cambodia and Thailand’s appropriate reaction during the clashes. It said the Thai military focused on military targets, as set down in international principles. Thailand also reiterated its stance on settling disputes through bilateral mechanisms.

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has also expressed his grave concern over the Thai-Cambodian clashes and urged both countries to come up with mechanisms to solve their disputes and end armed confrontation as soon as possible. He said the United Nations is ready to assist in a dispute settlement.

The United States has also called for Thailand and Cambodia to exercise restraint.

Thai-Cambodian border quiet after deadly clashes


via CAAI

Feb 8, 2011

PREAH VIHEAR (Cambodia) - CAMBODIAN and Thai troops held their fire on Tuesday as the UN Security Council said it was willing to meet to discuss four days of deadly border clashes near a disputed 11th-century temple.

No new fighting has broken out since brief skirmishes early on Monday, but a Cambodian military commander stationed near the temple said the situation remained 'tense'.

'We are still on alert,' said the source, who did not wish to be named. The unrest, which first broke out on Friday, has left five Cambodians and two Thais dead, including at least one civilian on each side.

Phnom Penh says that Thai artillery fire had damaged the Preah Vihear temple at the centre of the standoff. Thousands of families on both sides of the frontier have been displaced by the violence.

Many have been forced to seek shelter in camps, schools and pagodas in villages farther away from the border as they wait for hostilities to end.

Both Thailand and Cambodia have written to the UN Security Council twice about the border unrest, with Bangkok accusing Phnom Penh of seeking to use 'internationalisation' of the conflict. -- AFP

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Cambodian rubber set for China in 2011

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

SOPHEAK Nika Investment Group Company plans to export more than 10,000 tonnes of rubber to China in 2011. Men Sopheak, deputy director of the group, said that he hoped shipment would increase as its rubber trees grew and produced increased amounts of resin. In 2012, the company is set to double the size of its yielding plantations, which currently cover 700 hectares of land. The company owns rubber plantations in Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom provinces. CHUN SOPHAL

Five charged for trafficking workers

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Mom Kunthear

Battambang provincial court yesterday charged five men with unlawful removal for cross-border transfer after they were arrested in Sampov Loun district on Friday for attempting to transport 29 people to work illegally in Thailand. Deputy provincial prosecutor Khiev Phalla said yesterday that the five brokers were sent to the provincial prison pending further investigation. “They were charged under Article 11 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation,” he said.

Two charged with selling yama tablets

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged Vietnamese national Ly Sopatha, 22, and Cambodian Ouch Sovanarith, 17, with distribution of drugs. “According to the evidence, both of them distributed drugs,” said presiding judge Kor Vandy. Kong Sam Oun, a police officer from Teuk La Ok II commune, said the two men were arrested in August on suspicion of selling yama tablets out of a coffee shop owned by Ly Sopatha. Kor Vandy said a verdict was expected on February 16.

Kingdom to launch first measles campaign


Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Khoun Leakhana

The Ministry of Health will launch the Kingdom’s first campaign against measles next week, said Sok Sokun, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Health yesterday. The campaign aims to target children between the ages of nine months to 5 years of age and will provide vaccines for residents in half of the Kingdom’s provinces. “After the first campaign is carried out, health officials plan on a second immunisation campaign against measles so that we would be able to cover all the Kingdom’s provinces,” Sok Sokhun said.

Annual exports increase by a quarter: MoC


A vendor carts merchandise across the Thai-Cambodian border at the Poipet crossing last year. Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:00 May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA’S total exports rose around 25 percent in 2010, compared to a year earlier, according to an annual report released by Ministry of Commerce yesterday.

Revealed at the ministry’s annual meeting, presided over by Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon, the data showed the value of exports rose to US$3.494 billion in 2010, from $2.791 billion the year previous.

Officials cited market diversification and enhanced export opportunities in existing markets as reasons for growth.

“We had tried to keep [exports] into existing markets, while trying to diversify into the new markets – via strengthening cooperation in the sub-region, region and the globe,” Cham Prasidh said in a speech.

He also attributed growth to an improvement in regulations and business matching activities, increased local and international trade fairs, and the development of special economic zones.

“These became the firm base to maintain production and trade stability while our country has not escaped from challenges of global financial crisis. It [trade growth] is not an easy and simple process and requires us to make more effort.”

The report stated that Cambodia’s exports of garments, textile, shoes and other such products rose more than 27 percent year-on-year in 2010 to $3.403 billion from $2.670 billion.

A country-by-country breakdown showed that garment exports to the United States reached $1.844 billion in 2010, an increase of 21.39 percent. European Union garment exports rose 27.17 percent to $914 million, Canada went up 42.75 percent to $282 million, and exports to other markets increased 145 percent to $363 million.

Cambodia exported 44,718 tonnes of milled rice to China, the Philippines, Africa, USA, EU members and other Asian countries in 2010, said Cham Prasidh. While Keat Chhon urged the MoC to continue to export under the European Union's Generalised System of Preference/Most Favourable Nation scheme, which allows certain products to enter the EU duty-fee. He added that exploring new markets were crucial for future growth.

“To continue enlarging market opportunity for Cambodian products is an important task.

“Cambodia has to do it in order to assure its competitiveness in the region and the world,” he said.

“I think that Ministry of Commerce should play more active role especially to overcome challenges [caused by the crisis] in both national and international trade to convert them into a golden opportunity for economic growth.”

The Kingdom’s total imports also rose around 28 percent year-on-year to $4.778 billion in 2010 from $3.740 billion.

Cambodia's main import remained raw materials for the garment industry.

Raw materials were worth $2.174 billion in 2010, up from $1.507 billion the year previous. The value of construction materials increased 23 percent to $246 million in 2010 over 2009. Petroleum imports increased in value by 47 percent to $662 million, and 562,529 vehicles worth $252 million were imported during 2010.

“We’re very proud to see the country has gotten away from the crisis,” said Cham Prasidh. “Now, we can say that the business climate in Cambodia is much better compared with last year.”

Young women flock to buy on Facebook


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Facebook has become a popular clothes market for savvy young shoppers like Chan Reaksmey.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:01 Chhim Sreyneang

Lying on a sofa after work, office worker Chan Reaksmey is browsing Facebook for party dresses, before clicking on a link to buy one from a seller she doesn’t know.

With the increase in the numbers of Cambodian users on Facebook, up to 239,560 in the past six months, internet buying and selling has become more popular – especially for time-pressed women who can now buy clothes at the click of a button.

“I love buying clothes on Facebook because it’s easy and I save time by not shopping at markets,” said Chan Reaksmey, 25.

She outlined the advantages – buying clothes, shoes or bags on Facebook saves her time, saves her money on transport and gives her the choice that markets don’t have.

According to Facebook statistics, 80 percent of its users in Cambodia are people aged between 18 and 34, with women making up about 38 percent of users, says web analyst Facebakers.com.

The incredible popularity of Facebook made Sophea, the owner of Trendy Shop, decide to start selling clothes on the website.

“I found that most Cambodian people would like to buy clothes on the internet but some don’t know how do it because buying from overseas websites leads to more money being spent on postage and tax,” Sophea said.

The owner, in her early 20s, added: “So I launched a Facebook shop selling clothes at a suitable price, which has proved popular.”

Most of her clients are under 30 years old and the top sellers are party dresses imported from China, with most costing between US$10 and US$50, including free delivery.

However, after about three months in business, Sophea noticed a decline in trading as more competition opened up and other sellers jumped on the Facebook bandwagon.

Another seller, who asked not to be named, launched an online shop called the Supor Collection in November last year to sell clothes she imported from China. “Sales are good but it’s less income than you’d make from a market stall,” she said.

Meanwhile, experienced Facebook shopper Chan Reaksmey is happy with her purchases so far. “Yes, the prices are slightly higher than market stalls, but it’s simple to use.”

Pictures of the clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery are posted online, together with descriptions of their size, colour, price and code, she said. Buying just required contacting the seller by Facebook, SMS or email and waiting for the goods to be delivered.

Donated dental chairs bite into cavity crisis


Dr William Choi of Taipei poses with one of the dental “operatories” donated by Christian associations and the Rotary Club of Taipei to Cambodia.

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The average five-year-old has more than eight decayed teeth and 99 percent of children get no dental care

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via CAAI

Monday, 07 February 2011 15:00 Samoeun Sambath

ROTARY Club members from Taiwan have brought to Cambodia a container load of donated dental care equipment, including eight highly specialised dental chairs fully rigged with compressors and generators so poor people around Cambodia can have access to modern dental care.

A ceremony took place last week the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone where the container was unloaded and sorted including a dental X-ray machine, together with lots of clothing and groceries for needy children and orphans.

Dr Callum Durward, dean of the dentistry faculty at International University and executive director of an NGO called One-2-One, said Cambodian children had some of the worst teeth in the world.

“The average five-year-old has more than eight decayed teeth and 99 percent of children get no dental care,” Durward said.

“Studies show that children with bad teeth have lower weight and growth because they avoid chewing,” Durward said.

“The problem of rampant decay in children can’t be solved with treatment,” Durward said. “The right approach is prevention – like tooth-brushing programmes in schools.”

The Colgate and Pepsodent toothpaste companies had been supporting the efforts and fluoride treatments could quickly arrest tooth decay, Durward said.

Average teenagers in Phnom Penh had six decayed teeth, he said.

The event also marked the start of National Oral Health Month as ordained by the Cambodian Ministry of Health’s Dental Council.

A driving force behind the effort is Dr William Choi of Taipei, who has been supported by the Chinese Christian Medical Mission from Taiwan and the Chinese Christian Dental Services, also from Taiwan.

The complicated dental chairs, called “operatories”, along with donations of food and clothing and other items to orphans through various NGOs, were hosted and assisted by the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh.

On hand for last Monday’s ceremony were club president Eric Mousset and member Lity Yap who represented the Special Economic Zone, along with Reverend Lun-Hsien Tung of Taiwan, Excellency Professor Sabo Ojano of the International University of Cambodia, Pastor Sinai Phouek and Pastor Nonoy Maglacion.

“We hope we can help local people on their oral health problems,” said Dr Chui.

The dental chairs that run on compressed air are now being placed in locations around Cambodia with the assistance of a volunteer technician from Taiwan who gets them up and running.

Dr Annie Chen-Green, a volunteer from One-2-One, came from Christchurch in New Zealand to support the activities.

Herself a medical doctor, she works closely with Dr Durward to promote the health of children and orphans. She is actively involved in moving the equipment around Cambodia.

During the ceremony there was a distinct Christian flavour, with speeches from clergymen and songs about love and kindness from the orphan groups.

Fists of fury (and tape)


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Pha Lina

Khem Dyma, a 19-year-old Khmer boxer, prepares with his trainer for a fight on Sunday at CTN TV. Khem Dyma won the fight by decision.

Fleeing the shelling


via CAAI

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:02 Heng Chivoan

Cambodian villagers who have fled fighting on the Thai-Cambodian border sought temporary shelter yesterday at Tuol Andeang pagoda in Thnol Keang village, in Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district.

Border still in crosshairs


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldier stationed at Preah Vihear temple takes aim across the border into Thailand.

via CAAI

Monday, 07 February 2011 21:49 Cheang Sokha and Thet Sambath

Preah Vihear province

Cambodian and Thai troops clashed for a fourth straight day close to Preah Vihear temple today, prompting the flight of thousands of villagers from both sides of the border.

Nuth Teng, a Cambodian military official, said that fighting broke out at 4:25am and 8:12am at Ta Sem, about seven kilometres from Preah Vihear temple.

“They came and started shooting at us first,” said Nuth Teng.

Several hours of shelling and machine gun fire subsided at about 11am, creating an uneasy peace in the 4.6-square-kilometre contested area around the 11th-century temple.

Thai officials said today that two people had been killed and 34 others injured over the four days of clashes.

Speaking to reporters today, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said five Cambodians had been killed in the fighting and 45 injured.

The past four days have seen the deadliest clashes since tensions broke out on the border in July 2008, when the temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

About seven people had been killed in sporadic skirmishes before this round of fighting.

Both sides blame the other for sparking the clashes, which have unleashed nationalist passions in Bangkok, energising Yellow Shirt protesters demanding Thailand’s government step down.

Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Thai side had fired on Cambodian positions only in retaliation.

“Cambodian troops started firing into Thai territory and we fired back,’’ the Bangkok Post quoted him as saying.

“We retaliated and gave them what they deserved.”

Tensions also threaten to spread to other parts of the two countries’ shared border, where Cambodians claim Thai troops have been deployed since Sunday night.

“Thai soldiers have been sent at night time and deployed along the border with Cambodia,” said Banteay Meanchey provincial military commander Plon Dara. He said he met his Thai counterparts on Saturday and would continue to do so frequently – in a bid to head off any armed conflict, but said his troops were on alert “24 hours”.

“We are ready to defend our nation,” he said.

In the wake of fighting that re-erupted on Sunday night, more than 3,000 Cambodian families were evacuated from villages close to the temple to Kulen district’s Thmey commune, about 90 kilometres from Preah Vihear.

“Firstly, we will find them shelter and basic food,” said Kulen district governor Chum Poy, adding that local NGOs and the National Committee for Disaster Management were set to distribute food packages today.

Sek Pheak, 43, a resident of Thamacheat village, was one of about 1,000 villagers bunkering down in Tuol Andet pagoda in Kulen, where streams of people arrived today on trucks and improvised tractors bearing bags, sleeping mats and cooking pots.

“I could not stay in the village any longer, we started panicking when many bombs fell down nearby,” she said.

“I don’t know when can we go back, but I will stay here until the war is over.”

Forty-two-year-old Chin Choeun, another villager from the area, said that many fled their homes empty-handed as the shells began to fall.

“I have nothing here,” Chin Choeun said. “We don’t have even food or shelter.”

Sa Em, a town about 27 kilometres east of Preah Vihear, remained quiet today, after most of its inhabitants fled during the large-scale exchange of gunfire between Cambodian and Thai troops on Sunday night and early today.

Evacuations also took place across the two countries’ shared border, amid heightened tensions.

Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Bun Tharit said 158 families left from Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district and took shelter in the Sre Noy pagoda following Sunday night’s fierce clashes.

“They are leaving their houses as they want to escape from the Thai military’s artillery shelling,” Bun Tharit said.

He said he had registered them and he would discuss with the governor to look for assistance to help them.

In Phum Saron, an evacuated village in Thailand’s Sisaket province, Cambodian artillery reportedly struck several homes and a school during Sunday’s fighting. Thai soldiers guarded buildings today and said it was unclear if more fighting loomed.

Thai state media reported that about 15,000 villagers fled their homes and are now staying at five temporary shelters.

Reports also claim the government has closed Preah Vihear National Park in northeastern Sisaket province and evacuated the park’s officials out of the area.

Further along the Cambodian side of the border, life continued on relatively uninterrupted today.

Suon Khoeun, the governor of Phnom Proek district in Battambang province, said Thais and Cambodians were crossing the border back and forth as normal and soldiers were standing at their place along border.

“We have no problem with each other here,” Suon Khoeun said.

Koh Kong provincial military commander Yun Mean said the situation along the border in his province remained normal, though troops were on alert.

Two Cambodian border police and one soldier injured in the recent border clashes were being treated at Siem Reap Provincial Hospital.

The two border police, 35-year-old Kom Samnang and 25-year-old Ghing Nimol, were admitted to hospital today after being shot multiple times while driving a police car to deliver supplies to the Cambodian army, the mother of one of the men said.

All three were seriously injured, but their condition appeared to be stable.

Both men were in the same car and both had lost one of their hands as a result of the shooting.

Wet Poon, the mother of border policeman Kom Samnang, said she was “very sad” that her son had lost one of his hands.

She added that while the government placed the men in hospital, she had to provide food and drink for her son.

The Cambodian soldier, 49-year-old So Hot, was admitted to the hospital on February 4 after the first bout of clashes, with injuries to his upper chest after being shot.

Cambodian officials allege Thai millitary used cluster munitions

Cambodian officials raised suggestions today that the Thai military had deployed cluster bombs during the recent clashes.

Heng Rattana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said today that CMAC staff at the border had confirmed the use of M-42 cluster munitions by the Thai army.

He said they were delivered via 155mm rockets.

“We saw it already. We verified that,” he said.

“We are very disappointed and very sorry about that, because they will remain in our country and kill our people.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he had also received military reports that the Thais had used cluster bombs.

“[Foreign Minister] Hor Namhong also said he got information that the Thai side is using the cluster bomb,” Koy Kuong said.

“Now we are following the information,” he said. The use of cluster munitions could not be independently verified.

Colonel Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army, denied the charge, saying Thai troops had only deployed conventional artillery.

“This is just a normal one, not something against international law or standards. We completely deny the reports,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO, THOMAS MILLER, VONG SOKHENG AND REUTERS

Hun Sen makes plea to UN


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong talks with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh today.

via CAAI

Monday, 07 February 2011 21:51 Sam Rith and Vong Sokheng

Prime Minister Hun Sen called today for the United Nations to send peacekeepers to the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple, where at least seven people have been killed in clashes over the past few days.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, the premier repeated his plea for third party mediation, saying the conflict was in danger of spiraling out of control.

“We have sent [peacekeepers] to Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic and Lebanon, but now we would like the UN to establish a buffer zone so that we can avoid fighting with each other,” Hun Sen said. “Even in a boxing arena, they need a referee.”

The prime minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong have both written to the UN within the past few days appealing for intervention in the escalating conflict.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, whose country now holds the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday to meet with Hor Namhong, and was also set to meet with senior officials in Bangkok.

Hun Sen said Cambodia “welcomes the urgent intervention of ASEAN” in the conflict and urged Thailand to accept it.

“Please do not fear the third party, either ASEAN, the United Nations or others,” Hun Sen said. “Please do not fear the police, for the person who is not a thief does not fear the police.”

Hor Namhong said yesterday that he planned to travel to New York in the near future to explain the situation at the United Nations.

Thai officials, however, have consistently rejected calls for outside mediation, claiming the dispute can be resolved between the two countries. Abhisit said yesterday that the Joint Border Committee, the bilateral body through which Thailand and Cambodia are now demarcating their shared border, should be sufficient to handle the issue, Thai state media reported.

Natelegawa noted that border conflicts were common within ASEAN, but added that it was unfortunate that regional countries had allowed the situation between Thailand and Cambodia “to degenerate in this way”.

“There is no more place for use of force and military means in resolving problems or challenges among ASEAN countries,” he said.

“This is an issue that will be resolved by the two countries concerned, but there is also room for other countries to help create a climate conducive for resolution of the problem through bilateral means.”

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who visited the Kingdom in October, has voiced concern over the recent clashes, calling for the two sides to “exercise restraint and resolve their dispute through dialogue”.

“The Secretary-General appeals to both sides to put in place an effective arrangement for cessation of hostilities and to exercise maximum restraint,” Ban’s office said in a statement on Sunday.

The two sides have blamed one another for touching off clashes that began on Friday and resumed for a fourth straight day yesterday.

Tensions in the area have been heightened since 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for Cambodia over Thai objections. Thailand subsequently concentrated troops in the area, with Cambodia following suit, as the sides continued to disagree over the sovereignty of territory surrounding the temple.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova expressed “distress” on Sunday regarding the battles near the 11th century site, calling in a statement for the two sides to “exercise restraint for the sake of the preservation of the Temple of Preah Vihear”.

Chan Chhorn, director of information for the Preah Vihear National Authority, said yesterday that a Thai rocket had crashed into a wing of the temple and had significantly damaged it.

Small arms fire and artillery also caused surface level damage to the temple staircase and other portions of the exterior, he added. Sun Saing, abbot of Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara, which sits adjacent to the temple, said the pagoda’s charity hall and monks’ quarters were also damaged.

“There has been huge damage to the temple,” Chan Chhorn said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA AND JAMES O’TOOLE

Preah Vihear still a powder keg


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A Cambodian soldier monitors his sights near the Preah Vihear border yesterday
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via CAAI

Monday, 07 February 2011 16:00 Sam Rith

Prime Minister Hun Sen today called on his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to allow the United Nations Security Council to intervene in “serious” military clashes between Cambodia and Thailand that continued for a fourth consecutive day this morning.

At a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh today, the Cambodian Premier said talks between the two sides to end fighting in the disputed Preah Vihear border area had become impossible.

“Now the situation is getting serious…the two sides cannot listen to each other …now we ask for urgent intervention from the United Nations,” he said.

“[I] would like to insistently call on the president and members of the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting to curb the conflict from spreading and threatening the regional security of Southeast Asia,” he said.

Abhisit has said that no international mediation is necessary to resolve the border demarcation issue, as the Joint Border Commission already proves an efficient framework for negotiations, according to a statement from the National News Bureau of Thailand today.

The statement added that Abhisit has said ASEAN can request updates on the status of ongoing negotiations.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement today he was "deeply concerned" and urged both sides to cease fire and find a "lasting solution" to the dispute, echoing a similar statement by Washington over the weekend.

Hun Sen said Foreign Affairs minister Hor Namhong would be dispatched to such a meeting and urged his Thai counterpart to also defer to mediation of the fighting by the United Nations Security Council.

“Please do not fear the third party, either the ASEAN or the United Nations or others,” he said.

“If we are loyal…please do not fear the police, for the person who is not a thief does not fear the police.”

Meanwhile, the premier also welcomed the scheduled arrival of Indonesian Foreign Minister Chairman Marty M. Natalegawa later today, extending his pleas for intervention to the regional association. Indonesia currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN.

“Cambodia welcomes the urgent intervention of ASEAN,” he said.

The dispute over parts of the disputed Preah Vihear temple complex erupted on Friday when Cambodian military sources alleged Thai soldiers had encroached on their territory and refused to retreat, prompting firefights between the two armies.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A spent rocket lies on the ground at Preah Vihear temple on Saturday following intense fighting which continued into Monday.

via CAAI

Monday, 07 February 2011 19:21 Soeun Say

Thailand’s Ministry of Labour warned companies today to ensure that Cambodian workers in Thailand were not “abused” in the workplace as fighting continued on the border, state media said.
Thailand’s state-run news agency reported that ministry spokesman Sutham Nateetong had reminded firms that Cambodian nationals were lawfully employed and all kinds of abuse or hatred were “inappropriate”.

Warning companies not to confuse workers with soldiers on the basis of nationality, the report stated that unregistered migrant workers might become “too afraid to reveal their nationality” and stress might “trigger” Cambodian employees to respond negatively to their employers.

The release came as Thai businessmen working in Cambodia met at Thailand’s Embassy in Phnom Penh this afternoon.

Attendees of the meeting could not be reached for comment by reporters gathered at the site today.

But a Thai official, who preferred to remain nameless, claimed that it was a regular monthly meeting to discuss and exchange ideas on doing business in Cambodia.

Commercial concerns over the ongoing border dispute were also highlight by Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen.

During a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, the premier pledged to protect business interests, saying: “We are still continuing our cooperation to all sectors. We don’t want to spread … the dispute to effect trade cooperation.

“They [Thai businessmen] who want to do business or exhibitions in Phnom Penh, please come in. Don’t worry, we will protect the security of investors and diplomats,” he said.

On Sunday, border officials at Poipet said trade and tourist crossings were continuing as normal.

But Thai state media said today that labourers crossing borders in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo, Surin and Sisaket provinces had been affected by gate closures.

Meanwhile, in Bangkok today, the SET Index was in negative territory for most of the day before rising to 0.1 percent up to close at 985.63

Shares in Thai firms which have businesses in Cambodia fell, led by a 1.8 percent loss to 5.5 baht (US$0.18) in shares in satellite firm Thaicom, which runs Cambodian mobile phone provider Mfone, said broker Capital Nomura Securities.

According to figures from the Thai Embassy’s foreign trade promotion office, which were released last week in Phnom Penh, the value of bilateral trade rose to US$2.557 billion in 2010, from $1.658 billion a year earlier – growth of about 54 percent.

Cambodia’s exports to Thailand rose 176 percent year-on-year to $215 million, Thailand’s export increased by around 48 percent to $2.342 billion in 2010.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REUTERS