Thursday, 3 March 2011

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

Thailand Expressed Shameful for Listing Preah Vihear temple: PM Hun Sen

Thursday, 03 March 2011 07:18 DAP-NEWS/VORN SARUN

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, MARCH 03, 2011-Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said that Thai side have started to play trick and expressed the shameful of the listing the Preah Vihear temple.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of a university in Phnom Penh, Thai (PM) told the UNESCO director general about delisting the temple. “It is so shameful” as neighboring countries and opposed the listing of the temple. PM Hun Sen met the director general of UNESCO earlier week.

Thailand has opposed the management and development plan. Thailand used troop to invade Cambodia at area near the 11th century temple which has universal value. Recently, Thai troop waged war to occupy the temple ad used heavy weapons to aggress Cambodia.

Cambodia collected 414 waste shells of Thai weapon from the fighting.

“Indonesian observers will come to monitor the situation soon, “He added. On Feb 22, Cambodia and Thailand agreed to allow the Indonesian observers to see the permanent ceasefire. Cambodia also submitted already the fourteen points to allow the observers to implement their duties smoothly.

Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 15, 2008.

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Military Attaches Visits Khmer Preah Vihear Temple

Thursday, 03 March 2011 07:17 DAP-NEWS/VENG BOPHA

PREAH VIHEAR, CAMBODIA, MARCH 03, 2011-12 military attaches in Cambodia on Thursday visited 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple in a move to seek understanding about the damages of the temple by Thai troops in recent fighting.

Gen. Srey Deok presented about the damages of the temple and kinds of weapons that fired by Thai troops during the fresh fighting to the military attaches.

“Thai troops invaded Cambodian territory. They destroyed the world heritage temple. That is a crime, “He said, adding that Thai troops used the cluster bombs which banned by the international community.

“Now, the situation of border at the area is normal,” He added.

Thai troops have ambition to take the temple and the land of 4.6 square kilometers near the temple through unilateral map. Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 15, 2008.

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

NEC Announces the Fixed Date for Cambodia’s Senate Election

Phnom Penh, March 3, 2011 AKP – Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) has announced the fixed date for the election of the Senate of the third mandate to be held on Jan. 29, 2012.

In a news release on Mar. 1 issued by NEC to all Cambodia’s political parties, local and international non-governmental organizations, and the public, the date for the election is set according to the approval made by the Cambodian Senate in a meeting held in late January on the set day of the election, the number of the seats and the division of the constituency seats.

In late February, the royal government also approved the date being fixed for Cambodia’s Senate election.

The number of seats for each regional constituency includes Region 1 (Phnom Penh capital city) with 6 seats, Region 2 (Kampong Cham province) 8 seats, Region 3 (Kandal province) 5 seats, Region 4 (Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey and Pailin provinces) 10 seats, Region 5 (Takeo, Kampot and Kep provinces) 7 seats, Region 6 (Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces) 7 seats, Region 7 (Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces) 8 seats, and Region 8 (Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Stung Treng, Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces) 6 seats, according to the announcement of the Senate.

The election will not be by universal suffrage. Only commune councilors throughout the country and parliamentarians will take part in this election.

The Cambodian political parties will compete for 57 of the 61 Senate seats. The remaining four seats will be appointed by the National Assembly and the King, who can choose two representatives each.

The term for senators is six years, according to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. –AKP

By THOU Peou

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Cambodia Kicks Off Campaign to Attract Japanese Tourists

Phnom Penh, March 3, 2011 AKP – Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism held a seminar here on Mar. 2 with an aim to attract more Japanese tourists to visit the country.
The seminar was presided over by Minister of Tourism H.E. Thong Khon and Cambodian Ambassador to Japan H.E. Hor Moniroth.

Japanese tourists consider Cambodia as the Regional Tourist Main Gateway, which is rich of historical and cultural heritage sites that attract many tourists from over the world.

According to the tourism minister, the total number of foreign tourist arrivals in 2010 reached some 2.5 million, or an increase of 16.04 percent as compared with 2009, of them 151,795 were Japanese.

In January 2011 alone, the number of tourists increased to 274,471, or 18 percent up, including 15,474 Japanese tourists (an increase by 7 percent) if compared with the same period of 2010, he said.

Cambodia is expected to receive around 2.7 million foreign visitors this year, some 3.1 million in 2012 and 4.5 million by 2015. –AKP

By CHEA Vannak

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State-run Radio Gains More Popularity

Phnom Penh, March 3, 2011 AKP – The National Radio of Kampuchea (RNK) has gained more and more popularity while more than 90 percent of Cambodian people are entitled to access to information, NRK Director General H.E. Tan Yan said.

“Our three state-run radio stations (AM918, FM96 and FM105.75) are competing with other private radio stations and mass media in providing news to the public,” he said.

According to ABC’s Project Manager Mr. Roth Nhata in 2010, the number of NRK’s listeners reached 1.2 million and it is expected to increase from 1.5 million to 1.6 million this year. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

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Information Ministry Holds First-Aid Training Course

Phnom Penh, March 3, 2011 AKP – As many as 39 officials from the five General Departments of the Information Ministry have been attending a First-Aid Training Course jointly organized by the Information Ministry and the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC).

The opening ceremony was held here on Mar. 2 in the presence of Secretary of State at the Ministry of Information H.E. Thach Phan and CRC Deputy Secretary General Mrs. Men Nearysopheak.

The two-day training course focuses on the CRC’s seven basic principles including humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality in assisting the victims. –AKP

By Théng

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“Voices of Khmer Rouge” Exhibition To Be Opened on Friday

Phnom Penh, March 3, 2011 AKP — “Voices of Khmer Rouge” Exhibition will be opened on Mar. 4, at 6:30 pm at Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center (BARC), Phnom Penh.
“Voices of Khmer Rouge” by Thomas Weber Carlsen and Jan Krogsgaard, was filmed during 2002-2003, edited, translated and subtitled 2004-2008, and finalized in 2010, according to a BARC press release.

The 43 hour long audiovisual memory document/art-installation “Voices of Khmer Rouge” consist of 30 human stories, shown on 30 monitors, where 30 former ordinary Khmer Rouge soldiers tell about their personal life experiences during the Cambodian civil war: their upbringing, actions, battles, thoughts, believes, feelings, secrets, ideologies and human values, the press release pointed out.

“We wanted to know what kind of people the Khmer Rouge movement was made up of: Who are they? When, why and how did they become “Khmer Rouge”? How do they look at themselves, being a part of the Khmer Rouge organization, with the loss of millions of people from executions, workloads and starvation as a result of its fatal policies? How do they look at society today?,” said Thomas Weber Carlsen and Jan Krogsgaard.

When watching and listening to the “Voices of Khmer Rouge”, these are some of the questions you will be confronted with and have to answer for yourself, they said, adding that each of the 30 stories last somewhere between twenty-five minutes and two hours. You can watch each episode for as short or long time as you like, moving from one story/monitor to another, and doing so end up with your “own editing” of the 30 stories.

From a universal human perspective, “Voices of Khmer Rouge” raises questions outside the Cambodian sphere like: Who writes History? Who are our gatekeepers? Who produce and digest information before we receive it? And how does this process take place?

Through its size, 43 hour long, “Voices of Khmer Rouge” is intended to challenge representation as we know it and asks, among several questions: When do we know enough to reach conclusions, when are we overwhelmed by information and must refrain from concluding in general terms? A question that seems to be significantly stressed these years through the ongoing Wikileak story.

“Voices of Khmer Rouge” has a story to tell to anyone who is willing to open up their mind. This goes for the young generation of Cambodians who in many ways are removed from the realities that created the Khmer Rouge, as well as for seasoned international Khmer Rouge and Cambodia scholars looking to fill the little gaps in their general knowledge. Also people without any specific knowledge of the Cambodian history might step into another experience. –AKP

Four guilty in teen rape case


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:03 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court found four suspects guilty of the attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl last year in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district.

Yong Thy, 22, Yoeun Thy, 21, Than No, 19, and Math Channa, 19, were arrested in July last year at a guesthouse in Choam Chao commune after a complaint from the victim’s parents.

They have pleaded innocent to the charges.

The four men had allegedly led the victim to a guesthouse in Phnom Penh with plans to rape her, Presiding Judge Din Sivuthy said.

He added that the attempted rape was thwarted because the victim had shouted to neighbours who intervened.

“According to the witnesses and hearings, these four people had attempted to rape her but their plan was not successful,” he said.

“We think that their activities are very bad for Cambodian society. We will hand down a sentence against them on 28 March,” he said.

Defendant Yong Thy said the charges should be dropped.

“I decided to bring her to stay at the guesthouse because she was my girlfriend and I did not commit any bad acts against her while we were there.”

Villagers protest at land clearing


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:03 Chhay Channyda

Villagers in Kandal Province’s Kandal Stung district said a local development company has cleared their rice fields for several days, while military police prevented them from speaking with the company.

Huot Ung, a village representative in Ampov Prey commune, said workers for Heng Development Company had bulldozed at least 20 hectares of land this week. “The company has deployed military police, not allowing us to get near [the company’s workers].”

The Heng Development Company and Kandal Stung district villagers have clashed over land since 2005. According to rights group Adhoc, Kandal provincial court has twice sided with nearly 300 district families, saying the company had no right to clear land in the disputed area.

However, So Sokhim, a representative of Heng Development Company, claimed the firm bought the land from villagers between 1993 and 1996 and had every right to deploy military police to the scene.

“[The protestors] don’t have land and they are newcomers trying to grab our land,” she said.

Seang Chan Heng, general director of Heng Development, told The Post in December that the company would build a hybrid car-manufacturing factory on 20 hectares of land in Kandal Stung district during the first half of 2011.

Worker injured in escape bid


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:03 Thet Sambath

A 31-year-old woman broke both of her legs late on Tuesday night after jumping from the offices of T&P Co Ltd, a company that trains domestic workers for employment in Malaysia.

Heng Hak said she wanted to leave the facility to visit her family but had been refused. “My request to visit my children was rejected by the company, so I decided to jump from the building to escape,” she said yesterday.

She said that she had climbed down a pipe from the third to first floor and that neighbouring residents had taken her to Preah Kossamak hospital for treatment.

A trainer at T&P, who declined to be identified, said the woman had been permitted to visit her children on three previous occasions and that the company had not refused any of her requests.

“This time she did not ask permission and tried to escape from our company,” the trainer said, adding that the company had given money up front for expenses related to her training.

Tola Moeun, head of the labour program unit at the Community Legal Education Centre, said there have been 20 cases of people trying to escape from such training centres since 2010 because living conditions were too strict.

Two accused of assaults


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:02 Phak Seangly

A 17-year-old male was sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on allegations that he raped a five-year old girl in Dangkor district, police said yesterday.

Oem Kak, Samrong Krom commune police chief, said the victim’s parents turned the suspect, Chev Nieng, over to commune police on Monday and accused him of raping their daughter while visiting their family that evening.

In a separate case, a complaint was filed yesterday against an 11-year-old boy accused of raping a four year-old girl in O’Chrou district in Banteay Meanchey province.

Temple vendors allege abuse


Photo by: Photo Supplied
Vendors from Banteay Srey temple share grievances with the Apsara Authority by meeting with SRP officials yesterday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:02 By Mom Kunthear and Thik Kaliyann

Vendors at the Banteay Srey temple in Siem Reap province have accused Apsara Authority officials of threatening and beating them, according to a letter sent to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An last week by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

The letter urged Sok An, who is also chairman of Apsara Authority, to take action against officials alleged to have physically abused vendors, including small children.

Five SRP lawmakers wrote the letter, after claiming to have received complaints from vendors at the temple.

“Plenty of people and children have raised concerns about difficulties caused by Apsara Authority officials based in Banteay Srey temple,” the letter read.

“[They] have confirmed that they were beaten, threatened, had their things confiscated and also forced to take off their clothes when they tried to sell small things at the temple.”

Ke Sovanroth, one of the SRP lawmakers who wrote the letter, said she had received complaints from nearly 100 vendors when she visited the temple.

Chhorn Om, a 21-year-old silk vendor, said she used to sell scarves in front of the temple, but was moved by Apsara officials to a more remote location.

“Nowadays, when I sell those souvenirs, I am afraid because if I’m caught by Apsara staff I will be treated like a thief,” she said.

Bun Narith, director general of Apsara Authority, dismissed allegations of physical abuse, but said that his officials have instructed vendors on how to behave in front of tourists.

“We do not want mobile vendors walking around, pulling guests’ hands and disturbing them,” he said.

“The guests will not be happy and it makes them look down on our country.”

Bun Narith said vending stalls had been set up throughout the temple complex to curb the number of vendors that follow and pester tourists.

Lin Neng Khonni, a spokesperson for the temple’s vendors, said she filed complaints to both the Cambodian People’s Party and Sam Rainsy Party, but had only received visits from the latter.

Training aims to alleviate climate impact


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:02 Thik Kaliyann

Farmers in Siem Reap province are receiving training in sustainable agricultural methods as part of a five year, US$2.9 million project aimed at protecting environmentally vulnerable areas from the effects of climate change.

The project developed by United Kingdom-based child development organisation Plan International, in cooperation with the Cambodia Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, has received $2.4 million in funding from the European Union and will provide services to 7,084 small-scale farmers in four districts of Siem Reap province.

Plan International Project Coordinator Mey Mony Setha said on Tuesday that the project will help eradicate poverty and hunger in dry land areas, while enhancing resilience against climate change and drought.

“Plan and CEDAC, through funding support by EU, are setting up training in four districts in Siem Reap to reduce poverty and to try to encourage small-scale farmers to combat climate change.”

The project which started in January 2011, with a launching workshop held on February 22, will run to December 2015, Mey Mony Setha said.

Senior CEDAC program officer Yi Kimthan said workshops conducted with farmers as part of the project will also cover areas such as agro-forestry, crop diversification and rainwater harvesting.

“We’re trying to teach them new technical methods of planting crops and rice, and how to price their products for market.”

Yi Kimthan said the project will include the construction of demonstration plots of farmland where residents outside the target area can observe the methods in practice.

Yi Kimthan says he believes “one hundred percent” that the project will succeed in reducing poverty and hunger in Siem Reap.

“We expect that poor Cambodian farmers, in particular those affected by climate change, will learn improved adaptation and mitigation measures to minimize the potential harm it may cause to their agriculture activities and their daily livelihood.”

Appeal Court denies Seng Chenda’s bail request


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Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:02 Kim Yuthana and Chhay Channyda

The Phnom Penh Appeal Court yesterday rejected a bail request by Seng Chenda, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for her role in a plot to murder her step-daughter.

Seng Chenda and three accomplices were sentenced on February 15 for plotting to kill Suv Chantha, the daughter from a previous marriage of her husband Khaou Chuly, a prominent businessman, as well as his nine-year-old granddaughter.

Seng Chenda had requested bail pending an appeal of her conviction.

“The court considers the bail rejection verdict … correct and acceptable,” said Presiding Judge Um Sarith after the hearing yesterday, adding that Seng Chenda has one month to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“I have followed the legal procedure to ask the court to release me on bail because my husband has money to [post my bail],” she said. “The court is biased.”

Seng Chenda told reporters she plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Police Blotter: 3 Mar 2011


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:01 Sen David

Thief shocked to death by security measures
A 25-YEAR-OLD man died of electrocution after he attempted to loot a victim’s house in Battambang’s Sangke district on Tuesday. The victim said that her house had been robbed many times before so she decided to take precautions and ran electrical wiring through her motorbike. The suspect then entered her house to steal her motorbike but died from the electric current.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Family feud leads to near-fatal stabbing
A 28-YEAR-OLD man was severely injured after his father-in-law stabbed him four times in Kampot’s Kampong Trach district on Monday. Police said the father-in-law came home from a wedding party drunk and attacked the victim with a knife and nearly killed him after an argument broke out.The mother of the victim said that the two had never had any serious conflicts before. Police have arrested the suspect and detained him.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Neighbour saves life in attempted suicide
A 21-YEAR-OLD woman in Kampong Chhnang town attempted suicide by swallowing drugs on Monday. Police said that a neighbour saw her swallow the drugs and rushed her to hospital. The victim is still alive and told police that she was angry with her husband who frequently fights with her. Police have detained the husband for education.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Construction worker survives heavy fall
A 28-YEAR-OLD construction worker was severely injured after he fell from the third storey of a building while working in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Monday. He was sent to hospital immediately and survived. The victim said that while he was working, he had a headache and fell down.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Motorbike thieves arrested in Tuol Kork
POLICE in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district arrested two suspects for robbery on Sunday. Police said the victim took a motodop home and while on the way, the suspects grabbed her purse. They escaped, but police managed to arrest them, only they are waiting for the victim to be identified while the suspects have been sent to court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Students busted for drugs in Daun Penh
POLICE in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district arrested three students for using drugs on Monday during a raid on a guesthouse. Their parents filed complaints to the police because they never came home or went to school. They have been sent to be educated at a facility in Daun Penh.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

City issues sky bridge deadline


Photo by: Pha Lina
Construction workers dig a trench yesterday along Russian Boulevard as part of a project to build a flyover linking Tuol Kork and Sen Sok districts.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:02 Tep Nimol

Phnom Penh City Hall yesterday announced a deadline of seven days for state institutions, private companies and commercial vendors to make way for construction of the capital’s second flyover.

The announcement warned that state facilities and businesses had one week to move their offices, including fibre-optic cables and water lines at the site along Russian Federation Boulevard, or City Hall would “move and cut those networks without any responsibility for damage or losses”.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 29 for the flyover, which will connect Tuol Kork and Sen Sok districts and aims to ease traffic congestion in the capital, particularly at the intersection of Russian Federation and Kampuchea Krom boulevards.

Khuong Sreng, Sen Sok district governor, said villagers in his district would not be affected by construction, which he said would principally impact facilities using underground fibre-optic networks.

He said most companies had already started to remove their underground systems.

“We have implemented the project since the ground-breaking ceremony and are continuing to do so,” he said.

Bech Sok Khoeurn, chief of Tuol Kork’s Teuk Laak 1 commune, said construction of the flyover would affect the Royal University of Phnom Penh but that issues would be “easy to solve”.

He added that about 120 square metres of land owned by one family in the commune would also be affected but that officials were working with the family to find a resolution.

At 345 metres long and 15.2 metres wide, the planned bridge would be larger than the capital’s first flyover, the Kbal Thnal Sky Bridge, and construction is estimated to take at least 13 months, at a cost of about US$8.7 million.

Regulator halts trading


Traffic passes by the offices of Gold Financial Global in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:01 May Kunmakara

FIVE domestic firms trading in derivatives have been ordered to suspend their operations by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia.

SECC director general Ming Bankosal said Cambodian firms offering derivatives trading had operated without the necessary regulatory framework being in place.

The SECC was cooperating with the firms to prepare the necessary regulations, but the emphasis for the regulatory body was currently on launching the Cambodia Securities Exchange, which is slated for July, he said yesterday.

“We had not prepared any regulations or rules to manage them [firms trading in derivatives],” he said.

“It is not the priority for us – we want the public to understand the stock exchange first, then we will think about preparation of regulations for derivative products.”

In an announcement dated March 1 and obtained yesterday, the SECC ordered five companies to halt operations. They were named as Gold Financial Global, First State Gold Investment Company, Global Gold and Forex Investment Consultant Company, CMDK Gold Company, and International Gold Market Company.

Although the SECC did not define what it considered a derivative product, the Korea Exchange – which is a 45 percent stakeholder in Cambodia’s planned bourse – said it considered a derivative to be a financial instrument that derives its value from other underlying assets, in a presentation given to Cambodian experts in December.

Such assets include contracts for commodities such as gold and oil. Examples of derivatives include options and futures.

Representatives from some of the affected firms told The Post they were complying with the SECC’s announcement yesterday.

Gold Financial Global administrative and human resource supervisor Sales Sovanna said the company had changed its business model since receiving a warning about the impending move from the SECC late last year.

“We have delayed our business, and changed [it] to offer financial sector training courses to the public to assist them with understanding the industry,” he said yesterday.

The firm had previously specialised online trading of foreign exchange currencies, spot metals, and crude oil, according to its website.

An official at Global Gold and Forex Investment, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the firm had suspended operations following notice from the SECC.

“We postponed our operation after receiving information from them [the SECC] in January,” the official said.

“The SECC told us we can restart operations following the launch of the Cambodia Securities Exchange. Now, we do nothing – we’re just waiting for an announcement from the SECC to restart our operations.”

Port director optimistic over growth in revenue


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE general director at state-run Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which is set to list on Cambodia’s planned stock exchange, expects its revenues to increase 7 percent this year.

Lou Kim Chun said yesterday that the revenue from transport services at the coastal transport hub was expected to increase by 7 percent on the $28.42 million garnered last year. Estimated revenue would top $30 million.

“We hope that this year the income will go up because amount of goods exchanged through our port in January was better compared to last year,” he said yesterday.

Independent economic analyst Huot Pom said that he expected 2011 to see an increase in freight transported through the Kingdom, due to the government’s policy to boost rice exports and bolster industry. He expected trade in agricultural produce and imports of construction equipment to increase.

According to a port report, January saw 18,349 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled by the port, an 10.74 percent increase on the same period of last year. In 2010, the port saw TEUs handled rise 7.24 percent increase on 2009. Last month, SBI Phnom Penh Securities was selected as the underwriter for the port’s IPO.

Unity expands by ‘all means’ possible


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

ACLEDA Bank’s Unity mobile banking service has signed up more than 23,000 users since launching in July last year. The firm targets 45,000 users by the end of 2011, according to its Executive Vice President So Phonnary. “We’re trying to promote and expand [the service] by all means we can,” she said. The largest stumbling block to furthering use of the service was the requirement for internet-enabled phones, she claimed.

However, ACLEDA is aiming to introduce more banking features for non-internet handsets in the coming year. The bank is also considering launching online banking by 2012, she added.

Swinging time for social dancers


Learners practise steps in a swing dance class at Amrita Performing Arts Centre.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:00 Ou Mom

ABOUT 10 dancers are clustered around the teacher at Amrita Performing Arts Centre, clad in flat shoes and swirly skirts.

They are learning the steps to a dance that grew out of American jazz music in the 1930s – the Lindy Hop.

Part of a group of dances under the loose umbrella of swing, the Lindy Hop requires a partner for maximum effect. Later in the evening, after the dance classes finish, learners can further practise their steps to a live band at Equinox bar and restaurant.

This class is under the leadership of teacher Robyn Zellar, who also goes by the name Mama Swing.

Having learned swing dancing and the Lindy Hop while she was in Beijing in 2005, and began to teach the steps to young teenagers. Arriving in Cambodia in mid 2009, she saw a gap in the market and began teaching others the infectious dance style.

“I love dancing, but at first it was very difficult to find someone else who was good at swing dancing in Cambodia. So I thought that if I wanted to find good dancers, I needed to open a dance club first.”

Teaching on Thursdays at Amrita, Zellar says that about most of her students are female, but she organised a few parties around town to increase the number of male dancers, who seemed a little shy.

“If we compare the traditional dance of Cambodia with swing, Cambodian dance is more serious and gentle because dancers do not need to touch their partner’s hands and legs,” she explained.

“I like swing because I love to dance alone, but the similarity is that dancing can strengthen solidarity, friendship and socialisation,” said Zellar.

Pupil Chhorn Linda, 27, has been practising swing dancing every week, saying she finds the exercise reduces stress and makes her happier.

“Lindy Hop swing and Khmer culture is different because many Khmer people are still very shy. But my family doesn’t mind me learning this dance, for exercise and fun.”

On alternate Sundays, Phnom Penh Swings heads out to Snowy’s Bar across the river for an afternoon of dancing.

The first lesson is free to enable people to find out whether they would enjoy the dancing.

Classes cost $5 for foreigners and $2.50 for Cambodians.

Amrita Performing Arts Centre dance studio is at 22 Street 240, next to the southern end of the Royal Palace. For forther information, visit www.pppswings.com.

Critics urge soprano to improve her pronunciation


Young soprano Bosba Panh in concert at Angkor. Photo by: OU MOM

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:00 Ou Mom

AFTER last weekend’s two-day concert at Bayon Temple billed as Tribute to the Masters, audience members were frank in their views of teenage soprano Bosba Panh’s talents.

Him Ryna, a 26-year-old student from Build Bright University who attended the concert featuring overseas artists, said she was proud of the clarity of Bosba Panh’s voice, which she said was rare among Cambodian artists, especially one aged only 13.

“However, I’m a little bit disappointed that Bosba sings Khmer songs unclearly,” she said.

“I think it is necessary for a Cambodian to sing and speak the Khmer language fluently, as I know she speaks and sings several languages,” she added.

Sorn Sopheap, a Siem Reap resident who came along to the concert with several fellow villagers, said she was proud for the young stage artist. “I like her voice and her performance for society. But when I listened to her Khmer songs, I couldn’t understand the meaning,” Sopheap said. “However, I think she has plenty of time to learn it since she is so young and her voice is very sweet and soft.”

Businessman Prim Theara, 50, said he was one of the few people in his row of seats to stay until the end of the concert, saying many people left early because they didn’t understand the lyrics.

The second number of the evening was sung in Sanskrit and English by Cambodian tenor Khuon Sitisak, who now lives in Russia.

Other artists who appeared during the concert included Laura Mam from The Like Me’s, Eng Ji Nary and Sarah O’Brien.

Distinguished Khmer artists who contributed to the concert included Yann Borin, a retired composer at the Royal University of Fine Art, who wrote a song for Bosba Panh about famed compassionate queen Indradevi, and accompanied her on a seven-holed traditional flute.

“Bosba’s voice flies so high and has reached an international standard, but it was hard to teach her to recite the Khmer poem clearly because her tongue is not yet flexible enough for the language,” he said.

Cambodians in San Jose Discussed With Their Lawyers About Case 002 (Cambodia news in Khmer)

Yeak Laom Lake Resort

Commune Council Members Visit Genocide Museum and KR Court

Rights groups welcome order to free man jailed for unionist murder

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Mar 2, 2011

Phnom Penh - Cambodian human rights groups welcomed the Supreme Court's order on Wednesday to release a man imprisoned for the 2004 murder of a prominent trade unionist.

Thach Saveth was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years for the killing of garment union factory head Ros Sovannareth. He had always protested his innocence.

The Supreme Court said Wednesday that the lower court must re-examine the conviction and ordered Thach Saveth's provisional release.

However, by late Wednesday, his paperwork had not been processed and he remained in prison.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights said there had never been any credible evidence linking Thach Saveth to the crime.

Its president, Ou Virak, blamed 'at best' incompetence in the judiciary for the original verdict and at worst manipulation for political ends.

At his Supreme Court hearing last month, Thach Saveth said he had been visiting relatives on the other side of the country when the killing occurred.

'They charged me wrongly,' the Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported him as telling the court on February 9. 'I request the court to find justice for me because I did not commit the crime.'

Ros Sovannareth was a factory representative for the Free Trade Union of Workers in the Kingdom of Cambodia, which has long been aligned with the political opposition. He was shot dead in Phnom Penh months after the union's national head, Chea Vichea, was shot and killed at a newspaper stand in the capital.

The two men convicted of Chea Vichea's murder were released in 2009 pending a new investigation after five years in prison.

The judiciary has long been criticized as being a pawn for the ruling party.

The UN human rights envoy, Surya Subedi, said in June that some judges were not interested in upholding the law and noted the courts faced 'tremendous challenges in delivering justice for the people of the country, especially the poor and marginalized.'

Kendal midwife quits to help Cambodian mums

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/

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Wednesday 2nd March 2011

By Steven Bell »

A LONG-SERVING Kendal midwife has quit her senior NHS job to spend two years in Cambodia helping improve mortality rates.

Angela Oxley flew out to the Asian country yesterday after stepping down as head of midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology at Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

Mrs Oxley, a midwife of 20 years, had worked at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary before becoming a matron at Helme Chase Maternity Unit in Kendal.

She felt compelled to help improve midwifery in the developing nation where mortality rates are one in 260 for mothers and 97 in 1,000 for infants. The reason for the high rates is a lack of trained staff in isolated areas.

Mrs Oxley said working in another country had always interested her but until now the time had not been right.

“It’s something that my husband and I have had in the back of our minds for quite a long time,” she said.

“I wanted to work abroad but life took over and I got married and had children. Now they have gone on to university, it’s a good opportunity to do so.”

The midwife has been studying an intensive Khmer language course alongside having motorbike lessons to prepare.

Mrs Oxley will be based at a hospital in the Stung Treng region where poverty means local midwives do not receive regular wages and have to work elsewhere to feed their familes.

Any free time they have is spent working in the hospital.

Births take place at small clinics under the supervision of a midwife with only basic training.

Mrs Oxley hopes to use her experience to help train others in the region but is aware of the size of the challenge.

“I will be reviewing midwifery services and teaching in every remote town in northern Cambodia and identifying what goes on,” she said.

“It’s about where we can make some positive changes.

“You have to be realistic about it. You can’t go out there thinking you can change the world but you can make small changes that are sustainable.”

The placement is being carried out through Voluntary Services Overseas which aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality in line with the United Nations and World Health Organisation.

Her husband, Chris, has also flown out and will teach English and advise small businesses.

Mrs Oxley added: “I’m leaving one set of challenges in the NHS for another set of challenges but I’m looking forward to it.”

To pledge donations to help fund the placement, visit www.justgiving.com/oxleyincambodia

Cambodian move raises border tension


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Published: 2/03/2011
Online news: Asia

A Cambodian bid to take a group of foreign military attaches into part of the disputed 4.6 square kilometres around Preah Vihear temple has raised tension, again, on the border in Si Sa Ket province, a military source said on Wednesday.

The source said that Thai troops were put on a continuing alert in the 4.6 sq-km area, especially around the Preah Vihear temple, as a precaution, from Tuesday night.

The tension flared after Cambodia informed the Thai soldiers that it planned to bring the military attaches of 10 countries from Phnom Penh into the disputed area on Wednesday. The Thai side denied them permission.

Cambodia wanted the attaches to see important spots, including the damage to Wat Kaeo Sikha Kiri Savara and the area around it, which is in Thai terrority, the source said.

"There would be no problems if the attaches were taken specifically to see Preah Vihear temple, but we cannot allow them to go into the disputed area which has been occupied by Cambodian soldiers. We also regard the disputed area as ours," said the source.

The source said when Thailand took military attaches of 14 countries to the border in the middle of last month; they were taken to see only Mor E-daeng cliff and Phum Srol village on the Thai side of the border. They did not enter the disputed area.

The rejection caused Cambodia to postpone the visit until Thursday. Thai troops have been put on the alert. It was not known whether Cambodia would persist with the visit or cancel it, the source said.

The source said the Thai military attaché in Phnom Penh had contacted the military attaches of other countries and been told they wanted the visit postponed for fear of sparking a new confrontation between Thailand and Cambodia.

Meanwhile, reports reaching the Thai military said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered a change to the border forces, replacing the current soldiers with those of the Khmer Rouge.

The source said Khmer Rouge soldiers were viewed as intended more for combat than for promoting a good relationship.

Yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid (left) and Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth

Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth said the health of yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid, who is imprisoned in Cambodia, is deteriorating.

Mr Panich, one of the seven Thais arrested by Cambodian troops on Dec 29 last year for illegal entry, said Mr Veera had a head injury, skin rashes and respiratory illness due to poor air circulation in his cell.

The MP said he had talked with the mothers of Mr Veera and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, who is also detained in Phnom Penh. Both mothers were concerned for Mr Veera and Ms Ratree and wanted them to be released as soon as possible.

The quickest way to get them released was to petition the Cambodian monarch to grant the pair a royal pardon, he said.

Mr Panich said he hoped the case of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree would be treated similarly to the case of Thai engineer Sivarak Chutipong who was granted a royal pardon by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni before serving the usual two-thirds of his sentence.

Mr Sivarak was found guilty of stealing the flight plan of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra ahead of his visit to Cambodia in 2009.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Feb 1 jailed Mr Veera for eight years, and Ms Ratree for six years, after they were found guilty of illegal entry and espionage on Dec 29.

UNESCO envoy meets Thai PM after trip to Cambodia


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BANGKOK, March 2 -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) special envoy on the Preah Vihear temple Koichiro Matsuura met Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva again on Tuesday to further listen to Thailand's opinion after returning from Cambodia.

Mr Matsuura met Mr Abhisit and Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya on Feb 25 before flying to Phnom Penh the next day for talks with Cambodian officials including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on ways of reducing tension and promoting dialogue on the preservation of the temple.

Mr Abhisit said after meeting with Mr Matsuura that the latter had told him about his Cambodian trip and asked for additional comments from Thailand.

Then, he would report the fact finding trip to Thailand and Cambodia to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and UNESCO would send its proposal to Thailand and Cambodia to consider, said the premier.

He said the proposal would aim to ease tension between the two countries which is related to UNESCO and Preah Vihear Temple.

Mr Abhsit said he believed the result would not affect Thailand's rights over the contested area of 4.6 square kilometres near Preah Vihear temple.

Mr Matsuura, a former director-general of UNESCO (1999-2009) and a former chairman of the World Heritage Committee (1999), was appointed by Director General Bokova to discuss with Thailand and Cambodia measures to safeguard the temple, which was listed as a World Heritage site in 2008.

Meanwhile, UNESCO issued a statement on Wednesday on Mr Matsuura's mission to Thailand and Cambodia, saying that during the trip to Phnom Penh, he had stressed the need to create the conditions necessary for the safeguarding of the 11th century temple.

He also expressed the hope for a lasting dialogue between the two countries with a view to establishing long-term sustainable conservation of the site.

The UNESCO statement said that the UNESCO special envoy did not travel to Preah Vihear during his mission.

According to the statement, following the conclusion of Mr Matsuura’s mission, Ms Bokova expressed her satisfaction that the meetings had taken place and stated that UNESCO would do everything in its power to maintain the dialogue.

She reiterated her statement made just before the special envoy’s mission that “the world’s cultural heritage should never be a cause for conflict,” said the statement.

Tension along the Thai-Cambodian border was renewed after clashes between soldiers of the two countries erupted near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on Feb 4, leading to casualties among troops and civilians of both sides, as well as forcing the evacuation of villagers living in and on both sides of the disputed area. (MCOT online news)

Jailed Thais won't appeal verdict

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By SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE
THE NATION
Published on March 3, 2011

The two Thai nationalists jailed in Cambodia on espionage charges have had a change of heart and will not contest their convictions, their attorney said on the last day for appeal yesterday.

"They decided days ago not to file an appeal against the verdict," an official at the office of Ros Aun, the attorney, told The Nation via telephone. "The case is final."

Activists Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were sentenced by the Phnom Penh Capital Court of First Instance on February 1 to eight and six years imprisonment respectively.

They had 30 days to file an appeal.

They were arrested along with five other Thais, including Democrat lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, on December 29 while inspecting a disputed border area near Sa Kaew's Ban Nong Chan village.

Veera had initially vowed to keep on fighting for justice on grounds that Cambodia had no authority to try him and he had been arrested on Thai territory.

Panich said relatives of his clients have submitted a request for a royal pardon.

"The royal pardon is the only channel now to free them," he said.

Veera should be released as soon as possible as he was not in good health, he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had said earlier that the activists could not seek a royal pardon until they had served two-thirds of their terms.

However the case was still mired in confusion yesterday as the colleagues of the two from the Thai Patriot Network (TPN) said they would file an appeal.

TPN's Karun Saingam said he just returned from Cambodia and learned that Veera and Ratree would lodge an appeal to carry on their struggle in court. The pair would never ask for a pardon from the Cambodian king, he said, but noted that he did not actually meet the two detainees during his visit to Phnom Penh.

The TPN has been camping out near Government House for more than two months to protest the government's stance in the conflict with Cambodia. They want the government to put pressure on the other side to free the activists, rather than allow the Cambodian court to judge them.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Karun was not authorised to make an appeal for the two activists.

"If any party really cared about Veera and Ratree's fate, we should respect their decision," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over their boundary for a long time. Border skirmishes near Preah Vihear Temple erupted early February claiming some 10 lives, including those of three civilians on both sides.

Cambodian court upholds convictions for murder of British mine-clearer

A Cambodian appeals court has upheld the convictions of four men for the kidnap and murder of a British expat 15 years ago.

Victim of the Khmer Rouge: Christopher Howes, who was abducted and killed in Cambodia in 1996

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

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By Leah Hyslop
02 Mar 2011

Christopher Howes, a 37-year-old British mine-clearing expert, was kidnapped and killed by former Khmer Rouge rebels in March 1996 when he was working to clear mines in north western Cambodia.

Last week, an appeals court in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh upheld 20-year prison sentences for three men accused of committing the murder, as well as a 10-year prison sentence for a fourth man who was involved in the kidnapping.

Mr Howes, who worked for the international mine-clearing charity the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), was abducted along with around 30 Cambodian colleagues near Angkor Wat, the historic temple complex, and taken to a Khmer Rouge base in Anlong Veng. Mr Howes was told he could leave to fetch a ransom, but refused to leave his co-workers behind. The Cambodian workers were eventually released, but Mr Howes and his translator, Houn Hourth, were killed.

The exact facts surrounding the disappearance of Mr Howes, originally from Somerset, and his translator did not emerge until many years after the event. Two of the four men accused of killing the pair rose to significant positions of power after the end of Cambodia's civil war, with one becoming an army general and another becoming a prominent civil servant. The group were finally tried and convicted in 2008.

On hearing the verdict, Pat Phillips, Mr Howes' sister, said: "My father Roy Howes and I had hoped with all our hearts that the sentences handed down by the Municipal Court would be upheld, and we are both hugely relieved to hear that the men convicted of killing my brother Christopher and his friend Houn Hourth remain in prison today.

“We’d like to pass our sincere thanks to the court for ensuring that the men guilty of their murder have not escaped justice, and especially the lawyers working on our behalf and staff from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh, who have shown us unwavering support throughout this process.”

Lou McGrath OBE, chief executive of MAG, said: “I am hugely pleased and relieved for Chris and Houn’s family, who continue to show true honour in diligently ensuring justice for their murders is upheld. MAG will never forget Chris, or the sacrifice he made for the people of Cambodia, and I too am grateful to the Municipal Court Judges who overturned this appeal.”

The Khmer Rouge were the followers of the ruling party of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Working under their leader Pol Pot, they were responsible for the execution of hundreds of thousands of people, and continued to function as a guerrilla movement for several decades after the regime was overthrown.

Mr Howes was awarded one of the highest awards for bravery, the Queen’s Gallantry Award, posthumously in 2001.

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By admin, on 2 March 2011

Cambodia should provide safe asylum for Montagnards fleeing Vietnam’s Central Highlands even after it closes the United Nations’ refugee centre in Phnom Penh for Montagnards on 15 February 2011, Human Rights Watch has said.
 
Montagnard refugees spend their time crocheting - Photo courtesy of UNHCR.

Ongoing government crackdowns in Vietnam against Montagnard Christians make it imperative for Cambodia not to deny Montagnards their basic right to seek safe asylum, Human Rights Watch said. As a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, Cambodia is obligated to protect the rights of all who seek asylum within its borders.

“Cambodia has a clear obligation to ensure that future Montagnard asylum seekers are permitted to enter a refugee screening process that is fair and based on international standards,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Closing the Montagnard refugee centre doesn’t change those obligations.”

In December 2010, the Cambodian government ordered the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to close the Montagnard refugee centre by 1 January 2011. The Cambodian government subsequently agreed to an extension of the deadline to 15 February to allow time to resettle or repatriate the Montagnards remaining at the centre.

Human Rights Watch expressed concerns that after the refugee centre closes, the Cambodian government will screen future Montagnard asylum seekers under a procedure that does not meet international standards.

A Cambodian government sub-decree passed in December 2009 allows Cambodia’s Interior Ministry, not UNHCR, to make the final decision about a refugee’s status. Human Rights Watch’s analysis of the sub-decree finds, however, that it fails to incorporate the UN Refugee Convention’s definition of what constitutes a refugee and lacks provisions to fulfil Cambodia’s other obligations as a party to the convention. The sub-decree provides Cambodian authorities great leeway to reject and expel asylum seekers, with insufficient procedural protections in place to prevent unlawful forced returns that are in violation of the Refugee Convention.

Just days after the sub-decree was passed, Cambodian authorities deported 20 Uighur asylum seekers who were at risk of torture and mistreatment to China.

“The Cambodian government has a dismal track record when it comes to deporting recognised refugees and asylum seekers under UNHCR protection – particularly those from countries such as China and Vietnam, with whom it has close relations,” said Robertson. “The UN and concerned governments should press Cambodia to make sure the Montagnards don’t suffer the same fate as the Uighurs and others who have been unlawfully deported.”

In defending the closure of the Montagnard refugee centre, Cambodian officials have declared there is no longer any need for Montagnards to flee to Cambodia, citing Vietnam’s economic progress and lack of armed conflict in Montagnard areas.

“It is time for us to close the refugee center because Vietnam has no war or armed conflict, and it is not necessary to have the refugee centre in our country,” Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters in December.

“The Cambodian foreign minister and other officials have grossly mischaracterised the definition of a refugee,” said Robertson. “A refugee is a person with a well-founded fear of being persecuted, whose flight can occur irrespective of armed conflict or economic factors.”

Since 2001, thousands of Montagnards in Vietnam have fled harsh government crackdowns to Cambodia, where most have been recognised as refugees and resettled to the United States, Sweden, Finland, and Canada.

Under a 2005 agreement between the UNHCR and the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments, the UNHCR handled the protection and refugee screening process for Montagnard asylum seekers in Cambodia. The agreement called for Montagnards whose asylum claims had been determined to be either resettled abroad or repatriated to Vietnam.

Human Rights Watch continues to receive credible reports of persecution of Montagnards in Vietnam, where more than 300 have been imprisoned since 2001 for peaceful expression of their religious or political views, or for trying to seek asylum in Cambodia.

“Montagnards will continue to try to flee Vietnam as long as the Vietnamese government systematically violates their basic rights,” said Robertson. “It’s imperative that the Cambodian government live up to its international obligations and not force asylum seekers back to a place where their lives and their liberty will be at stake.”

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple sees no tourists since recent deadly clashes

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English.news.cn
2011-03-02

PHNOM PENH, March 2 (Xinhua) -- There has been no tourist visiting Preah Vihear temple, a World Heritage site, in February due to the deadly clashes on Feb. 4-7 between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border disputed areas next to the temple, said officials on Wednesday.

"It was the worst month for tourists, it was recorded that the temple saw no even a visitor in February," Kong Vibol, chief of tourism department in Preah Vihear province, told Xinhua by telephone.

"They're scared to visit the temple; they worry about their own safety," he said. "I believe that it will take loner time to encourage them to visit the temple."

He said that before the military clashes occurred, in January, the temple received 13,443 Cambodians and 690 foreign visitors.

Hang Soth, general director of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said Wednesday that policemen have returned to protect tourists at the temple since last week.

"We have opened the temple for tourists just a week after the military clashes, but they don't go to visit," he said.

"Since the clashes, there have been only charitable groups and high-ranking officials bringing food and cash-gifts to donate to soldiers and their families near the temple."

The four-day clash unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border and killed and wounded soldiers and people of both sides. Tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers nearby the disputed areas fled for safe shelters.

The conflict has occurred just a week after the inscription due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, since then periodic clashes have happened between the two nations' troops, resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Wang Yan

Food Crisis Is Less Severe Than 2008 as Rice Lags Other Grains, OECD Says


Different varieties of rice are displayed for sale at a market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

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A global food crisis on the scale of what happened three years ago isn’t recurring because an increase in the cost of rice, a staple for half the world, has lagged behind a jump for other grains, according to the OECD.

Rice futures traded on the Chicago Board of Trade rose 3.4 percent in the past 12 months, compared with 60 percent for wheat and 93 percent for corn. World milled-rice output will rise 2.4 percent to a record 451.7 million metric tons in 2010-2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts, helping keep stockpiles near the highest in seven years.

Rice prices almost tripled in the 20 months to April 2008, contributing to a worsening in world hunger that meant a record 1.02 billion people were deemed by the United Nations to be undernourished in 2009. That figure fell to 925 million people last year, the first decline in 15 years, as food costs dropped and economic growth lifted incomes.

“The scale of the problem is not as bad for large parts of the world as it was in 2008,” said Ken Ash, the trade and agriculture director at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. “With two-thirds of the world’s hungry largely reliant on rice as a staple, rice prices have not increased and supplies are relatively strong.”

Rice added to the previous peak in food costs in 2008, with prices climbing 33 percent in 2007 and another 11 percent the next year, after export bans by producers including Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Egypt. Rice, which jumped as high as $25.07 for 100 pounds in Chicago in April 2008, traded at $14.315 on the Chicago Board of Trade at 12:38 p.m. Paris time.

Asian Benchmark

Thai grade-B white rice, the Asian benchmark, has dropped almost 3 percent from a year ago to $533 a ton this week, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association. The price of rice from Thailand, the world’s largest exporter of the grain, reached $1,038 a ton in May 2008.

Global food prices rose 28 percent in the past 12 months and reached a record in January, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s fueled riots across North Africa and the Middle East that have already toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. More than 60 food riots occurred worldwide from 2007 to 2009, according to the U.S. State Department.

World prices for rice “are well below what they were back then,” Ash said Feb. 24 in his office at the OECD headquarters in Paris. “In developing countries the impact should not be as negative. That’s not to say there’s no problem.”

‘Low Levels’

The price of rice has risen in some local markets, Ash said. In Bangladesh, the biggest South Asian rice buyer, prices rose to a record in January because of “low levels” of public stocks after the government cut purchases in the previous crop season, the UN reported last month.

Global food prices are expected to rise in the first half of the 21st century after falling in the second half of the previous century because of a rising population and higher incomes, slower crop-yield growth and the effect of climate change, Ross Garnaut, the Australian government’s climate-change adviser, said today.

Rice planting in the U.S., the world’s third-largest exporter, may drop 25 percent this year because growers can earn more from corn and soybeans, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of nine analysts and farmers in January.

“Good seasons” in parts of Africa and Asia have helped build up grain supplies there to levels above those of 2007-08, reducing the impact of rising world prices, Ash said. “Local grain supplies in parts of Africa and Asia are very good.”

‘Extreme’ Poverty

Higher food prices have pushed 44 million people into “extreme” poverty in developing countries since June, the World Bank said Feb. 15.

Wheat prices climbed in the past six months after Russia banned grain exports in August following a crop-damaging drought, while rising U.S. ethanol production has lifted demand for the feedstock corn.

Rice is the most important food crop in the developing world and a staple for more than half of the global population, according to the International Rice Research Institute.

World rice stocks are forecast to slip 0.7 percent to 93.9 million tons at the end of 2010-2011, after climbing in the previous three years on rising production in China and Thailand, USDA data shows.

OECD countries may see more inflation from food compared with 2007-08 because of rising meat prices, a “significant” part of the diet in developed economies, Ash said.

Higher Food Costs

The effect of higher food costs on OECD inflation “was relatively modest and relatively short-lived” in 2007-08, Ash said. For consumers in developed economies, “the fact that wheat is a bit more expensive is not a life or death matter.”

The OECD expects the supply response to higher grain prices to mainly come from developed countries, with planting up “quite significantly,” Ash said. That could “quickly” push grain prices down “by the summer, early fall” in the Northern Hemisphere, he said.

While public focus is on the impact of expensive food on poor consumers, the OECD is trying to focus attention on the “fundamental” problem that “the international community may tend to forget a little bit about,” Ash said.

“The problem is poverty,” Ash said. “At relatively low prices a decade ago there were still 800 million people hungry. What high prices, economic crises and various natural disasters do is, for some period of time, increase that number.”

Policy makers should focus on helping developing countries raise crop output and their purchasing power, he said.

‘Stable and Secure’

“There’s a self interest in a world that’s stable and secure, and where growth is more inclusive,” Ash said. “People who are well-fed are more productive.”

To address food security, the OECD is studying the idea of food stocks in regions prone to supply shortages, Ash said. The alternative is to “pre-position” cash, he said.

“There is no costless way to do this,” Ash said. “One of the advantages of cash as opposed to physical food aid is that you don’t have the same kind of negative disruption on local markets. You get the food, plus the producer benefits.”

Ivory Coast’s political crisis may lead to food shortages in the country and neighboring states as imports of staples including rice have been cut off and movement of food is hampered by the conflict, the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said yesterday.

“When a country is in conflict, you’ve got a problem,” Ash said. For sub-Saharan Africa, “if you take out of those countries the ones characterized as in conflict, in the rest there’s been significant improvement in food security.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.