Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Union woman released

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Union representative Pheng Chou, 38, waves from a United Nations vehicle after she was released from police custody yesterday in Phnom Penh.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:02May Titthara

A union representative arrested during a violent protest over severance pay in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Sunday was released without charge yesterday.

Pheng Chou was one of the leaders of a 1,000 person-strong demonstration, which saw at least eight people injured when former June Textile employees clashed with police. She said yesterday that she was released after police failed to force her to confess to beating them.

“I didn’t agree to thumbprint [a confession] because I am a worker. I did not do what they accused me of, how could I [beat them] when I did not have a gun or an electric baton,” she said. Police, she said, declined her offer to thumbprint the confession if they agreed to admit to beating workers during the protest, which blocked Russian Boulevard. Free Trade Union President Chea Mony had helped secure her release, she added.

The protest was the latest flare up of an ongoing industrial dispute that has raged since 4,000 workers were laid-off after a June Textile’s factory burnt down in late March. June Textile has offered sacked workers $US20 severance pay per year of service but protestors have called for $US150 for each year worked.

Mouen Tola, head of the labour programme at Cambodian Legal Education Center said yesterday that another protestor, Meas Narin, was taken by police for questioning last night but released shortly afterward. Pol Phithey, deputy municipal police chief, told reporters to ask Pheng Chou why police had released her.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

Minister mulls mixed impact of prices

Fish for sale at a market in Sorya village in Banteay Meanchey province. Prices for some fish have increased by 23 percent this year. Photo by: Will Baxter

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:01May Kunmakara and Tom Brennan

THE jump in commodity prices may benefit Cambodia’s farmers for the moment, but it also threatens the country’s poor, officials said yesterday.

Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon said that while rising inflation was an issue, the resultant increase in revenues was a boon to the local agriculture sector.

“We are concerned, but it’s good for our farmers whenever food prices go up,” he said at a meeting at the ministry.

He admitted that those prices contributed to the overall growth in inflation, but said that Cambodia’s inflation rate was still much lower than other countries.

Inflation for the first quarter was up an average of 3.6 percent compared to the same quarter in 2010, according to previous figures from the National Institute of Statistics.

Cashew nuts, pork and smoked fish were among the food products seeing the biggest increases year-to-date in Phnom Penh’s markets, rising 48 percent, 41 percent and 23 percent, respectively, according
to the Ministry of Commerce.

However, rice – a staple product for most Cambodian families – saw a rise of about 2-percent during same period.

ACLEDA Bank Vice Chairman John Brinsden said that steady rice prices were the result of increased output by local suppliers meeting demand for the product.

“Rice production has surged, and the rate of growth exceeds that of other agricultural products. And that has stabilised rice prices here,” he said.

Cambodia has also stockpiled rice, which serves as a buffer against price inflation, he said.

However, expensive oil could weigh on the Kingdom’s economy, as businesses spend more on energy, said Business Research Institute of Cambodia economist Hiroshi Suzuki.

“It could affect the competitiveness of Cambodia’s exports,” he said.

The Cambodian government in the past has reduced the duty on oil imports to alleviate the pressure, and may consider doing so again if prices remain at this high level, he said.

Oil prices may even out with tensions easing in the Middle East, which would trickle down to Cambodia, he said.

But Suzuki Hiroshi said a significant threat from inflation is its effect on much of the country’s population, pulling some of them below the poverty line, which is defined by the Cambodian government as making less than US$1.50 per day.

“The most vulnerable to the inflation is the poor. It could affect the pace of poverty reduction,” he said.

Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon said the number of people below the poverty line last year had been reduced to 27.4 percent of the population, and he hoped it would drop further in 2011.

Teachers raise concerns

Photo by: Hong Menea
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:02Mom Kunthear

Abuse of government funds, low teacher salaries and a lack of training and materials are weakening the Kingdom’s education system, according to a report released by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association yesterday.

CITA said that it had surveyed 726 teachers across 17 provinces in March, revealing that 24 percent of teachers were concerned about low salaries, 17 percent about corruption in schools and 15 percent about a lack of study materials and teacher training. About 8 percent of those surveyed were CITA members.

CITA President Rong Chhun said yesterday that he would send the report to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, which had to eliminate corruption in the education system.

“The teachers said … some school directors use government funds for their own benefit, keep money from vendors who rent school space, keep some teachers’ salaries and overtime pay and sell examination papers [to students],” he said.

“The education system in Cambodia is still bad.”

Rong Chhun said that 52 percent of teachers surveyed wanted higher salaries and 15 percent wanted new principals in their schools.

“If the ministry of education does not find a solution for teachers who are facing these problems, we will keep demanding action,” he said, adding that association members were willing to protest or strike.

Thong Soeun, a former primary school teacher from Prey Veng province, said yesterday that he had changed professions because his teaching salary was too low to support his family.

“I suspended my teaching one year ago and now work elsewhere because my teaching salary was low,” he said, claiming that the principal at his school had taken government funds intended for the school’s development.

In March, Rong Chhun sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen urging government officials to provide teachers with an additional 20,000 riel (US$5) a month to compensate for a rise in living expenses.

Neither Education Minister Im Sethy, nor officials from the Ministry of Education could be reached for comment yesterday.

Former accountant found guilty of stealing $65,000 from employer

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:02Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced a man to six years in prison yesterday for using fake identification cards to steal US$65,000 from a Chinese air-conditioning company in Phnom Penh in 2008.

Municipal Court presiding judge Ker Sokhorn said yesterday that 26-year-old Vong Song Tung, a former accounting manager at Chin Huang Air-Conditioning Company, had used fake identification cards to steal from the firm after he was given cheques – intended to pay staff – by the company director.

“The suspect … used fake identification cards to steal money from the bank account,” he said.

Ker Sokhorn said that Vong Song Tung was sued by the company director and escaped arrest after he was officially charged with stealing company money and using fake identification in December 2008.
He was not present to hear the judgment and was sentenced in absentia.

“Based on his activities, documents and witnesses that we have collected from the bank where he [withdrew] the money, the court has found that he was involved and committed the crimes as accused,” Ker Sokhorn said.

“[The court] also ordered Vong Song Tung to return a total of US$65,000 to the company and to pay the company another 10 million riel (roughly US$2,500) in compensation.”

Vong Song Tung was also fined 5 million riel (about US$1,250) by the court.

Pang Sothea, Vong Song Tung’s defence lawyer, yesterday denied the charges against his client.

“My client has acknowledged that he had been given cheques worth US$65,000 by the company,” Pang Sothea said.

“He has not stolen any money from the company.”

Pang Sothea added that he believed the verdict was “heavy”.

“I think that his verdict is very heavy and it is unjust for him,” he said.

“To find truth and justice for him, I will talk to his family about an appeal.”

Representatives from the Chin Huang Air-Conditioning Company were unable to bee reached for comment yesterday.

Pride week kicks off in Cambodia

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:02Kenneth Ingram

Cambodia's third official Pride celebration began yesterday with a variety of events that will continue throughout the Kingdom this week.

The Pride 2011 committee, consisting of about 30 volunteers who form part of a larger non-profit organisation Rainbow Community Kampuchea, aims to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Cambodia by promoting awareness, education and community participation.

Events include the Pride Film Festival, a variety of art exhibitions and workshops, morning aerobics classes, together with other social and community events that incorporate LGBT themes. Collette O’Regan, Pride committee member, said she has seen “huge progress” since the first pride was held unofficially in Cambodia in 2004.

“It was a one night party [each year] from 2004 to 2008,” she said. “Each year, more and more people, as well as various groups and venues, want to get involved and help one another.”

Funded primarily by the British Embassy, the American Jewish World Service and private donors, about US$10,000 was raised for Pride this year, according to organisers. While most of the festivities are taking place in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang provinces are also hosting events for the first time this year. Chris Connelly, also a Pride committee volunteer, says the activities focus on inclusion and that everyone is invited.

“The events provide people with the opportunity to come together, see that there are other people who are welcoming and they learn from each other. Many stay in touch and that strengthens the LGBT community,” he said.

For more information visit http://www.phnompenhpride.blogspot.com/

Police Blotter: 10 May 2011

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:00Phak Seangly

Cleaver attack after drunken argument
Police in Kandal’s Leuk Dek district are searching for a 42-year-old man after he allegedly hacked his 37-year-old brother-in-law to death on Tuesday night. Police said the suspect and the victim drank alcohol with a few other villagers when an argument erupted and the suspect grabbed a nearby cleaver, hacking the victim once in the neck. The suspect escaped from the scene before police arrived.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Father dies on way to get marriage permit
A 40-YEAR-OLD man was killed after a speeding bus crashed into him on Saturday in Kampot’s Teuk Chhou district. Traffic police said that the victim was driving his motorbike to ask for a permission letter from the village chief so that his daughter could get married, when the bus slammed into him from behind. Police said the driver escaped.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

One arrested after drunken beating
BORDER police in Banteay Meanchey province apprehended a 51-year-old drunk man on Saturday, who was accused of injuring a 54-year-old woman in Poipet town. Police said the suspect drank a lot of alcohol and had an argument with the victim and then beat her. The victim notified police before being sent to hospital. The suspect was arrested by police and sent to court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Robbery suspect detained in Dangkor
VILLAGERS detained a 23-year-old man and turned him over to police after he allegedly committed a robbery on Thursday night in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. Police said that the suspect, who is a garment worker, snatched a platinum necklace from a 59-year-old woman, who was walking down the road. The suspect’s motorbike broke down and while the victim scuffled with him to try to get her necklace back nearby villagers intervened to apprehend the suspect. Police are preparing to send him to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Motorbike theft leads to one arrest
POLICE in Takeo province arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of stealing a motorbike on Wednesday in Trang district. Police said the suspect stole the vehicle from a 58-year-old man, who notified police. The suspect was caught the same day. He is thought to have driven to Phnom Penh but was arrested when he returned home. Police returned the vehicle to the owner and sent the suspect to provincial court.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Migrant worker missing

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:00Phak Seangly

A 58-year-old woman filed a complaint with local rights group Adhoc yesterday, asking for help in locating and returning her 21-year-old daughter who she has not heard from since she left to work in Malaysia in December 2010. Ream Phal said that she decided to seek intervention from Adhoc after a company, Top Manpower Recruitment Agency, told her that one of her daughters had gone missing. She also claimed that the company was uncooperative. “The company told me that they would stop helping me to look for my daughter, and would let rights group do it instead,” she said. A staff member at Top Manpower Recruitment declined to comment.

Cellcard Cash close to NBC approval

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:00Jeremy Mullins

MOBITEL has submitted the required documents for licensing of its Cellcard Cash programme, with approval slated to come soon, according to National Bank of Cambodia Director General and Spokeswoman Nguon Sokha yesterday.

“Actually, Mobitel has complied with all our legal requirements,” she said, adding the firm’s application is before NBC Governor Chea Chanto, which is the last step in the process to become fully licensed.

“I don’t think it [approval] will take long,” she said.

Mobitel controversially launched its Cellcard Cash programme in September 2010 without NBC oversight. Cellcard Cash is a method of providing money transfers using mobile phones.

The central bank released a prakas, or edict, on August 27, 2010, stipulating programmes such as Cellcard Cash must partner with a bank and submit to NBC approval.

NBC officials had set a February 2011 deadline for Mobitel to meet its requirements, which was later pushed back to April.

Mobitel officials declined to comment yesterday.

Mobitel had received some funding for Cellcard Cash from the Mobile Money for the Unbanked programme, which had been funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. MMU officials froze payments of the grant to the Cambodian mobile provider following the programme’s launch without central bank oversight.

Nguon Sokha also confirmed that Mobitel would be partnering with Union Commercial Bank to provide the service.

Raising rat revenue

Hourt Vy, 40, transports a load of field rats from Kandal province to the Cambodia-Vietnam border earlier this week. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

VIETNAMESE demand for field rat meat is boosting some Cambodians’ income, local traders say.

Traders in Kandal province claimed the Vietnamese consider rat meat an affordable delicacy, and said it generated a modest wage that often served as a secondary source of income.

“Rats in Vietnam are used for food, and sometimes to make pâté meat,” said Hourt Vy, who for 10 years has been buying rats in Kandal and selling them in the Kingdom’s eastern neighbour.

He claimed rat meat was well regarded in parts of Vietnam, and enjoyed on the level of pork and beef.

Hourt Vy said he can collect as much as 150 kilogrammes a day, buying them for 3,500 riel per kilogramme and selling them across the border for 4,000 riel per kilogramme.

“People without a job can do this to make money to support their families. And some do it to add to money they’re already making at their regular job,” he said, adding that rat traders can turn profits up to 15,000 riel per day.

Sang Yung, a buyer in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district, said he has exported rats from Kandal, Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom provinces to Vietnam. His Vietnamese customers pay 4,200 riel per kilogramme, giving him a profit of 200 riel per kilogramme.

“Vietnam indeed needs more rats because they use it for food. And dead rats are used to feed fish and crocodiles,” he said.

Sang Yung added that rat trading is currently a popular profession as demand from Vietnam is high.

In Khun, district governor in Koh Thom said that rat trading serves a dual purpose for people in his area.

“Most are farmers growing dry-season rice who capture the rats to keep them from eating the rice, but they can make additional money by selling the rats as well,” said In Khun.

The Cambodian government does not charge a tax on rat exports because they damage crops here, some rat traders said.

The Vietnamese government has created a policy that calls on the country’s population to catch rats for the same reason, In Khun said.

Officials at Chrey Thom gate, a border crossing through which many rat traders operate, could not be reached for comment.

Vietnamese Commercial Counsellor Le Bien Cuong, who is based in Phnom Penh, said that he did not have any information about the export of rats to Vietnam from Cambodia.

 ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY PRAK SAY

Adding irrigation: China loan for dam on Sreng river

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:00May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA collected a US$52-million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, to develop an irrigation project on the Steung Sreng river in northwest Cambodia, according to a press release yesterday.

“It is expected, after the completion, Steung Sreng basin will be able to cover 25,000 hectares of farm land in rainy season and 3,750 hectares in dry season,” it said.

The project is aimed to irrigate areas in Oddar Meancheay, Siem Reap, and Banteay Meancheay provinces. Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon and bank Deputy President Zhu Hongje signed the loan agreement yesterday.

The loan was originally announced as part of $400-million loan package agreed to in December 2009.

Artists' works scream with Pride


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Tuesday, 10 May 2011 15:00Roth Meas

GAY pride is the theme of an exhibition by Cambodian and foreign artists opening tonight at Meta House in Phnom Penh as part of LGBT Pride week in the Kingdom.

The multimedia Proud Out Loud exhibition addresses issues of sexuality in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Among Cambodia’s well-known creative types seizing the chance to support equal rights in the show is sculptor and artist Em Riem, a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Saint Etienne Arts School in France and the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris.

He has contributed two sculptures, one of a woman’s body and the other of a human head, for the show.

“My human head, one among my two sculptures, hides many other pictures behind it. Some people see it as an actual human head, but other people look at it and can see the masculine gender, arse, or its sexy lips,” he explains.

He says the gay pride week is a chance for all gays or lesbians who have hidden their true feelings to express their real selves, as he saw when he was studying in France.

During LGBT pride events there, he saw men dressed in women’s clothes or women dressed in masculine attire during a large parade that attracted many heterosexual supporters.

“Gays and lesbians in France have the same rights as other people,” says Em Riem, known also for his sleek chairs sculpted out of Cambodian rattan.

Self-taught painter Thang Sothea, 26, has contributed 14 acrylic paintings to the exhibition. An architecture graduate from Norton University, he is well known for his graffiti-like paintings featuring Khmer script in his recent exhibition titled Look at Me! featuring pairs of eyes.

His third exhibition, entitled Don’t be Shy!, reflects themes he first addressed in his premiere solo exhibition called Happy Together, featuring men’s bodies.

“I called this series Don’t Be Shy because all of them are uncomfortable to look at. Some people may feel shy to look at them, but I want people to stop being shy and enjoy the paintings together,” says Thang Sothea.

He feels gay and lesbian people shouldn’t hide their real identities because of fear of discrimination. “They have equal rights to dress how they like,” he says. “We shouldn’t laugh at gay people or discriminate against them. And gays and lesbians shouldn’t feel shy or think they are different from anyone else. They should believe that they are a special person, and have to confront society.”

AKP : The Agent Kampuchea Press


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Malaysia Blames Thailand over Cambodia Border Clash

 

AKP Phnom Penh, May 10, 2011 – Malaysia on Monday blamed Thailand for the renewed clashes on the Thai-Cambodia border, saying it had reneged on a deal to send observers to the disputed region.

The dispute overshadowed a weekend summit of the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc, where Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen launched into a tirade against Thailand over the conflict that has left 18 dead since last month.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed in February to accept Indonesian military observers on the border but the initiative remains on ice due to Thai demands that Cambodia first pull troops out of the temple.

“An agreement had been agreed upon, (Thailand) should adhere to it, I wouldn’t want to say lacking in faith… (but) they did not adhere to the agreement,” Malaysian deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem told reporters.

“Thailand refused and that’s why the skirmish came again,” said Riot, who attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting where it was agreed 30 observers would be stationed on either side of the border.

“All the 10 countries, I stress, including Thailand and Cambodia, agreed to the agreement but sad to say, the agreement was brought back to the respective two countries. Cambodia accepted it, Thailand did not accept,” he said.

“Before this, Cambodia was pointing at Thailand as starting the attack and Thailand said it was Cambodia who started …so to (determine) who started the skirmish… the foreign ministers decided to assign observers.”

Some 85,000 people have been temporarily displaced in weeks of clashes over ownership of a small patch of territory surrounding an 11th-century Khmer temple. The temple itself belongs to Cambodia.

The relationship between the two countries has been strained since the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

Sporadic cross-border fights have erupted since then, occasionally claiming lives, but the recent violence — mainly at a new flashpoint about 150 km (90 miles) west of Preah Vihear — has been the fiercest yet.

ASEAN’s weakness in conflict resolution was thrown into stark relief Sunday when the leaders’ final statement after the summit in Jakarta merely said the dispute “should be amicably resolved in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity”.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hosted an unscheduled meeting with the Thai and Cambodian leaders on Sunday but it failed to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations.

Source: AFP
Mon, May 09, 2011

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AIPA Calls for Peaceful Solutions to Conflicts

AKP Phnom Penh, May 10, 2011 – The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) has appealed to the leaders of the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to properly respect the Charter of the United Nations and the ASEAN Charter, especially in the conflict-solving mechanism.

State PhD Cheam Yeap was speaking late Sunday at a press conference at the airport following the return of Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, from Indonesia, where he attended the meeting of the Heads of State, the Heads of Government and the AIPA delegations.

State PhD Cheam Yeap referred to the Chapter 8 on the dispute resolution in the ASEAN Charter ….and the regional mechanism in timely settling the regional problems with a view to guaranteeing peace for building the ASEAN Community in 2015.

Speaking at the meeting in the name of AIPA President, Samdech Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin pointed out the important role of the ASEAN and AIPA in leading all countries in the region to making joint efforts in preserving peace, stability, development and prosperity in this region of the world, as part of the ASEAN Charter’s perspective, according to State PhD Cheam Yeap.

Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by Ravuth M.

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Cambodia Gains Much Supports in ICAPP Conference on Natural Disasters and Environmental Protection

AKP Phnom Penh, May 10, 2011 – Cambodia gained much supports for the resolution in Cambodia-Thailand border dispute in the ICAPP Conference on Natural Disasters and Environmental Protection, said Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok An.

H.E. Sok An, Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers’ Office told this to reporters upon arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport on May 8 on his way back from Malaysia, where he led a delegation of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to participate in the 15th International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) held from May 5 to 7.

ICAPP issued a statement, supporting Cambodia and demanding to halt all aggressive acts made by Thailand, as well as endorsing the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s appeals to both sides to take “immediate measures for an effective and verifiable ceasefire”.

ICAPP also asked ASEAN leaders to do the best to enter the issue in the process of ASEAN Summit, so as to reach an effective and verifiable ceasefire.

ICAPP issued a statement dealing with the aggressive acts by Thailand, after Cambodia was asked to present arguments that Thailand encroached on Cambodian territorial integrity, he said.

The 15th ICAPP Conference on Natural Disasters and Environmental Protection, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was attended by 93 delegates from 40 political parties and 41 speakers of ASEAN countries.

The conference was held following the ICAPP General Assembly hosted by the Cambodian Peoples’ Party (CPP) in Phnom Penh on December 2010 with the participation of 100 political parties and foreign institutions.

The conference discussed on tackling natural disasters such as floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, tsunami and others.

In addition, the conference decided to set up a mechanism, named International Medical Emergency Forum (IMEF), for collecting the possibility for assistance in case of natural disaster outbreak and other organization, called Asia Pacific SOS Emergency Assistance and Security Center.

By THOU Peou

កិច្ច​ប្រជុំ​កំពូល​អាស៊ាន

ការ​ប្រើប្រាស់​ថាមពល​ជីវម៉ាស

Cambodia Rahab House

PM: Malaysia doesn't understand ( YES SIAMESE MALAYSIA DOESN"T UNDERSTAND BECAUSE THEY DON"T HAVE DAMM TRICKS AS SIAMESE)

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Published: 10/05/2011 at 10:34 AM
Online news:

Malaysia's Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Riot Jaem does not understand the Thai-Cambodian border situation, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.

Mr Riot yesterday blamed Thailand for the clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops on the disputed border near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, and said Thailand "did not adhere to the agreement".

"The Malaysian deputy foreign minister may not understand the border situation because there was a tripartite meeting between Thai, Cambodian and Indonesian foreign ministers last night (May 9) and the issue was settled," Mr Abhisit said.

He said Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will return to Thailand today and will report the result of the meeting to the cabinet next week.

"Thailand's stance remains the same. If Cambodia doesn't withdraw its troops from the disputed border area, no observers will be sent there," he added.

Alila Sothea opens in Siem Reap

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

May 2011 Luxury boutique resort Alila Sothea has re-launched as the latest addition to Alila’s lifestyle collection. Located in Siem Reap, the stylishly reminiscent resort marks Alila’s entry into Cambodia.

Alila Sothea lies nestled in the heart of Siem Reap, the seat of Khmer culture, famed for the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Temples. Its beautiful landscaping comprises intimate gardens, fountains and soothing waterways, forming a lovely backdrop for the resort’s interiors, which blends contemporary lines with details that reflect Khmer traditions.

Heralded by Sunday Times UK in January 2011, as the world’s coolest chain, Alila’s brand attributes lie in its cultural sensitivity and in creating unique destination experiences. Fans of Alila will be rewarded with the many new initiatives incorporated under Alila Hospitalities at Alila managed properties.

As of 01 April 2011, Alila Sothea partners Preferred Boutiques in their global distribution platforms.

All guests will now benefit from the use of the Alila Tuk-Tuk services on call to enable leisurely exploration of the stunning local sites and town at their own pace. Upon utilizing the service, room guests will be given the use of a local mobile phone which allows the driver to be at their beck and call for pick up at whichever venue in town, to bring guests back safely to the resort.

With an extremely competitive new lead-in rate of USD180++, Alila Sothea is now the ultimate choice for affordable luxury in Siem Reap. There are 3 exciting introductory packages for a 3 nights’ stay available for 1st April to 30th September 2011 starting from:

- ‘Siem Reap Escapade’ at US$ 207 per night for the Deluxe category room of 48 sqm

- ‘An Angkor Discovery’ at US$ 440 per night for the Queen category room of 90 sqm

- ‘A Royal Angkor Experience’ at US$ 593 per night for the King category room of 110 – 140 sqm

The packages cover the four categories of rooms & suites inclusive of airport transfers, breakfast, Spa Alila treats and daily Tuk-Tuk services. The Queen and King categories offer the epitome of elegance and comfort along with your personal guide to the Angkor site and select dining options.

A recipient of Asian Spa 2010 Award for Eco-Spa of the Year, Spa Alila, will debut at Alila Sothea from 15 May. This award-winning Spa philosophy developed by Alila uses locally developed products with their own customized treatments. Guests can also look forward to innovative cuisine put on by the new Alila F&B team.

With its emphasis on intimate spaces, exquisite design, and experiences among the World Heritage temples that offer a feast for the senses, Alila Sothea makes a perfect addition to the Alila portfolio.

Respondent-driven sampling on the Thailand-Cambodia border. I. Can malaria cases be contained in mobile migrant workers?

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Reliable information on mobility patterns of migrants is a crucial part of the strategy to contain the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites in South-East Asia, and may also be helpful to efforts to address other public health problems for migrants and members of host communities. In order to limit the spread of malarial drug resistance, the malaria prevention and control programme will need to devise strategies to reach cross-border and mobile migrant populations.MethodologyThe Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) method was used to survey migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, both registered and undocumented, in three Thai provinces on the Thailand-Cambodia border in close proximity to areas with documented artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites.

1,719 participants (828 Cambodian and 891 Myanmar migrants) were recruited. Subpopulations of migrant workers were analysed using the Thailand Ministry of Health classification based on length of residence in Thailand of greater than six months (long-term, or M1) or less than six months (short-term, or M2).

Key information collected on the structured questionnaire included patterns of mobility and migration, demographic characteristics, treatment-seeking behaviours, and knowledge, perceptions, and practices about malaria.

Results: Workers from Cambodia came from provinces across Cambodia, and 22% of Cambodian M1 and 72% of Cambodian M2 migrants had been in Cambodia in the last three months. Less than 6% returned with a frequency of greater than once per month.

Of migrants from Cambodia, 32% of M1 and 68% of M2 were planning to return, and named provinces across Cambodia as their likely next destinations. Most workers from Myanmar came from Mon state (86%), had never returned to Myanmar (85%), and only 4% stated plans to return.

Conclusion: Information on migratory patterns of migrants from Myanmar and Cambodia along the malaria endemic Thailand-Cambodian border within the artemisinin resistance containment zone will help target health interventions, including treatment follow-up and surveillance.

Author: Amnat KhamsiriwatcharaPiyaporn WangroongsarbJulie ThwingJames EliadesWichai SatimaiCharles DelacolletteJaranit Kaewkungwal

Credits/Source: Malaria Journal 2011, 10:120

M’sia hopeful Thailand, Cambodia will reach deal

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Posted on May 10, 2011, Tuesday

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is still hopeful that Thailand and Cambodia, which clashed over a border issue, will be able to reach an amicable agreement soon.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem said Malaysia also hoped that Thailand would adhere to the ceasefire agreement it signed in February this year.

Despite calls by leaders attending the Asean Summit in Jakarta over the weekend to resolve the crisis, both Thai and Cambodian leaders have refused a truce.

Following the refusal, Thai and Cambodian Foreign Ministers agreed to extend their stay in Jakarta for more talks mediated by Indonesia yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a Symposium on the Dynamics of Youth and Terrorism, here yesterday, Riot said he was taken aback by the fact that the agreement, signed in February, in which he was the signatory representing the Malaysian government, was not upheld.

“During the meeting in Jakarta in February this year, all 10 countries, including Thailand and Cambodia, had agreed to the agreement.

“But sadly, it was not adhered to by the concerned countries. Cambodia accepted it, but Thailand did not,” he noted.

The agreement was violated in April, causing deadly clashes near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, killing 18 people and displacing thousands from the area.

Thailand and Cambodia continue to accuse each other for starting the clashes.

“If Thailand would accept and adhere to the agreement, I think the clash will not arise,” Riot added.

Meanwhile, Riot said Malaysians should not take the security of the country for granted and should be prepared for counter-terrorism measures, although Malaysia is not a “high-risk country”.

Earlier in his speech, the foreign deputy minister noted that the youth had become an easy target for terrorists for recruitment because they were easier to manipulate and indoctrinate.

He added that the youth also provided an endless supply for terrorists to carry out their deeds.

“A young person with no prior police records allows a terrorist group more operational freedom since such involvement reduces the likelihood of arrest of the more senior terrorist leaders.

“Young people are also, at times, given more dangerous tasks on the assumption that if they are caught, they will receive lighter sentences due to their age,” he added.

The four-day symposium, which started yesterday and is being attended by 42 participants, is organised by the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism, Japan-Asean Integration Fund and Asean. — Bernama

Cambodia, Thailand Agree on Proposed Package Solution


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AKP Phnom Penh, May 10, 2011 – The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand have agreed on a package solution proposed by Indonesian Foreign Minister H.E. Marty Natalegawa to settle the border conflict between the two countries in their meeting on May 9 in Jakarta.

According to the package solution, once Thailand approved the terms of reference (TOR) for the deployment of Indonesian Observer Team (IOT) to the disputed border area, the announcement of the meetings of General Border Committee (GBC) and Cambodia-Thailand Joint Commission on Demarcation of Land Boundary (JBC) will be made, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong told Cambodian reporters after the trilateral meeting.

Five days after Thailand sent the letter of acceptance of TOR to the Indonesian foreign minister, Indonesia will send a Survey Team of IOT to the armed clashes border area, he said, adding that meanwhile GBC and JBC will resume their meetings.

Ten days after Thailand sent the letter of acceptance of TOR, Indonesia will send all IOT to the border (Full Assignment), and at the same time there will be an assessment of the GBC and JBC meetings’ results, he stressed.

All the three foreign ministers agreed to seek their respective governments’ approval of the package solution as soon as possible, said H.E. Hor Namhong, who also asked his Thai counterpart to do his best to push the Thai cabinet to approve the TOR in its meeting on May 10.

On the occasion, the Cambodian foreign minister reiterated Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen’s stance to divide the issue into two aspects – the GBC and JBC meetings concerning Preah Vihear Temple area must be held in the presence of Indonesia, while those concerning other areas such as Ta Moan and Ta Krabey Temples can be done bilaterally in Cambodia or in Thailand.

During the trilateral talks, the Thai side did not raise its condition over the withdrawal of Cambodian troops from the disputed 4.6-square-kilometer border area before receiving the observers.

The talks followed those on May 8 between Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the 18th ASEAN Summit held on May 7-8 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

By SOKMOM Nimul

______

Cambodia-Vietnam Investment Agreement on Organic Farm in Siem Reap Province

AKP Phnom Penh, May 10, 2011 – The APSARA Authority of Cambodia and a Vietnamese company reached last week an investment agreement to set up an organic farm in Siem Reap province.

Some US$561,000, of them US$336,000 from the APSARA Authority and US$225,000 from Saigon Investment Construction, will be used to grow organic vegetable on 100 ha for the first step in Ron Ta Ek commune, Banteay Srey district, some 30 kilometers northeast of Siem Reap provincial town, according to H.E. Sou Phirin, Siem Reap governor.

H.E. Bun Narith, General Director of APSARA Authority, highly valued this organic vegetable farm project, which he said will help improve the living condition of local and provincial people.

Article in Khmer by HANG Seak
Article in English by KHAN Sophirom

Dozens injured as Cambodian casino ceiling collapses

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

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May 10, 2011

Phnom Penh - Thirty gamblers and staff at a Cambodian casino were injured over the weekend when a ceiling collapsed on them while workers were installing security cameras, national media reported Tuesday.

The accident took place Saturday evening at the Sunday Casino in the south-eastern province of Kampot near the border with Vietnam.

The Cambodia Daily newspaper said six Vietnamese gamblers and a Cambodian card dealer were critically injured.

The head of the border crossing, Phan Sophal, told the newspaper that around 100 customers and staff were on the casino floor at the time.

'The casino has only been open since September, and many Vietnamese come to play every day,' he said. 'But it was built wrong technically and with poor quality.'

He added that the casino would close until repairs were completed.

Cambodia has 27 casinos, but it is illegal for Cambodians to gamble in any of them. Most casinos are located along the borders with Vietnam and Thailand.

Credit checking company Veda Advantage will build Cambodia's first credit bureau.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/

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Veda secured the contract in a global tender, competing with the world's top 10 credit checking firms.

It will have a 49% stake in Cambodia's new bureau with the rest owned by the Association of Banks in Cambodia and the Cambodia Microfinance Association.

Veda Advantage managing director John Roberts says the bureau will allow Cambodia's micro-finance sector to borrow money from the foreign banks, which require credit checks.

He says the company is also looking at opportunities in Indonesia, the Philippines and China.

Asean still has to prove that it is really unified

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Despite the sterling efforts of Indonesia as the current chair, the regional grouping must show the world it can act in true solidarity

Thanks to the effectiveness and non-partisan outlook of the current chair, Indonesia, the 18th Asean Summit last weekend concluded on a high note. With the Thai-Cambodian conflict still simmering and overshadowing the summit, it took the calmness of the chair to steer the summit toward a successful conclusion.

If it hadn't been for Indonesia's cool-headed approach, the summit could have turned out differently. For the first time in the history of the regional grouping, an intra-Asean conflict featured prominently during the plenary sessions at the ministerial and summit levels, much to the chagrin of the more conservative members and delegates.

Cambodia's unilateral decision to seek international assistance has pushed the other Asean members to support the ongoing efforts of Thailand to settle the border dispute through a bilateral mechanism, as reflected in the chairman's statement.

The aggressive approach and the lack of consistency by the Cambodian side also helped to strengthen Indonesia's facilitating role and the "fullest utilisation" of the bilateral efforts. It remains to be seen how Indonesia will further engage both sides as the Asean leaders sent a clear signal to the two protagonists not to split Asean with this conflict and thus delay the realisation of an integrated Asean Community by 2015.

Apart from the hullabaloo surrounding the Hun Sen-Hor Nam Hong dramatics, Indonesia managed to push forward processes within the grouping to ensure that the prospect of achieving the Asean Community for 2015 and beyond will be a strong one.

The statement on "the Asean Community in a Global Community of Nations" is a good testimony to Indonesia's current leadership. The Asean leaders agreed that the regional grouping needs to move forward with a shared vision and coordinated action on global issues of common interest. Without these commonalities, Asean will remain weak and lack bargaining power in the globalised world. Toward these objectives, Asean has to do a lot more, as its members are still basically unwilling to think "collectively" for the good of the whole organisation and its 600 million people.

Indonesia has done an excellent job in encouraging the dialogue between the Asean leaders and the civil society organisations. However, Burma has not taken part in the interface. The chair has shown initiative and demonstrated that such dialogues are useful and can be carried out without any politicisation. Vietnam chose not to do so last year.

Somehow, this dialogue process must be institutionalised further. Otherwise there is no guarantee that there will be this type of positive gathering when Cambodia is chair, given past negative responses from Phnom Penh. Without the dialogue process, it is hard to convince the world that Asean is moving toward a people-oriented economic community.

As expected, the controversial issues relating to Burma's request to chair Asean in 2014, as well as the proposed membership of East Timor [Timor Leste], were further deferred. Asean will dispatch fact-finding teams to both countries to assess the situation on the ground and come back with a set of recommendations for the next summit. However, there is nothing given on both cases.

Several Asean members have strong views on the 2014 Asean chairmanship for Burma, as well as the grouping's enlargement. As a rules-based organisation, Asean is getting tough on its members about strictly adhering to rules and regulations.

Indonesia's chairmanship will remain pivotal for the reduction of Thai-Cambodian border tensions in the months to come. Further progress is crucial if so-called Asean solidarity is to become a reality. The whole world is watching.

RI hails progress in row, but deadlock remains

http://www.thejakartapost.com/

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The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Tue, 05/10/2011

An Indonesian-brokered meeting aimed at defusing a border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia ended Monday evening, with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa later describing the outcome as positive and claiming progress.

However after three hours of intensive talks, Thailand still insisted that Cambodian troops must withdraw from the disputed border area before any further talks could be held, a condition the Cambodian leader rejected during meeting Sunday’s ASEAN summit.

Marty said Indonesia had proposed a package solution to the deadlock, but did not elaborate.

According to analysts, this may mean a combination of having Thailand sign a term of reference allowing Indonesia to send in observers to the disputed area, meeting the Thai-Cambodian general border committee and withdrawing its troops from the disputed areas.

“In a very interactive and dynamic meeting, both sides have shown the spirit of solving the dispute peacefully. They have the consensus to accept Indonesia’s proposal of having a package solution,” Marty told the press after the meeting

“With this package approach, we don’t talk about who will take what step first anymore before the other takes a step. We should see this as a process, not an event. This way, our chances of having progress are more open.”

Marty said that both ministers would return to their respective countries to consult with their respective leaders and government.

“We will await the responses from each of the governments,” he said.

While reaching a consensus at the ministerial level is considered a success by Jakarta, experts and officials from both sides have agreed that domestic politics in each of the countries will have a far more significant impact on the dispute.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will face a major test in Thailand’s July general elections, when he will run against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose supporters call themselves the Red Shirts, and a nationalist group loyal to the royal family and the military called the Yellow Shirts.

Abhisit’s response to the dispute with Cambodia has prompted critics to label him as weak.

“There is always an element or group of nationalists and they may have very strong nationalistic feelings, and they’re part of society,” Abhisit said in an interview with The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

“But my government has demonstrated clearly that we listen to them but we would do what is best and what is necessary in the interests of the country and we protect our sovereignty and we protect our territory,” he said.

Experts have said that backing down from their demands for Cambodian troops to withdraw from the border is not a credible option for Abhisit.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s popularity has peaked since he began taking a tough stance on Thailand.

“The withdrawal of Cambodian troops and people from our own territory is not acceptable,” he told a press conference during Sunday’s summit.

Cambodian Monks Fight to Protect Forests

http://greenanswers.com/

via CAAI

By Ramon Ho on Mon, 05/09/2011

In Northern Cambodia, a group of Buddhist monks have made plans to protect their forest home, Sorng Rukavorn, from illegal loggers and profiteers by registering it as an international ecological asset. By listing it as a bank of carbon credits, the monks hope to protect the land so that the public can continue to use its resources, and to sustain their own lifestyles.

This is done through the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program, an international tool of climate mitigation. Through REDD, companies and governments of industrialized nations can make payments to developing countries to reduce carbon emissions by not cutting trees. A quarter of greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans is released through deforestation, which takes away trees and plants that help balance the levels of the atmosphere by absorbing the gas produced by natural and man-made processes like burning fossil fuels for factories and cars.

Currently, the monks bid for their forest needs to be jointly validated the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard, who are third party auditors, and also needs to attract a buyer.

The forest’s importance to the monks stems not only from its resources in medicinal herbs and food for the locals and their livestock, but also from their religious beliefs. Forests are an important symbol to Buddhist monks, who believe that Buddha was born, meditated, reached enlightenment, and died underneath a tree.

Over the past two decades, Cambodia’s forests have declined over 22%, according to the UN. It could have been much worse, as at point there was 40% of Cambodia’s land signed over over to loggers, but was later cancelled by the government.

Photo Credit: state.gov/cms_images/cambodia_temple_2006_06_08.jpg

Thai, Cambodian foreign ministers agree to Indonesian observers

http://channel6newsonline.com/

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9 May 2011 278
BY: BNO News

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) -- The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand agreed to allow the deployment of Indonesian monitors to their disputed border area, the Bangkok Post reported Monday.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong met after the two countries' prime ministers Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen failed to reach an agreement during talks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit on Sunday. The agreement must still be approved by both leaders, however.

"The achievement this afternoon exceeded my expectations," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said after mediating the talks. "I'm not underestimating the scale of the problem, but they have overcome their mutually exclusive demands."

The two sides had signed up to Indonesia's proposal to send observers to monitor a ceasefire on their common border on February 22 at the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, insisted Cambodian troops leave the 4.6-square-kilometer disputed border area before Indonesian observers arrive.

The Cambodian side, meanwhile, had insisted that the monitoring team be deployed before any negotiations on troop withdrawal could resume.

On Sunday, the Chong Jom border crossing opened and over 80% of Thai and Cambodian vendors reopened their stalls at a local market near the border pass on the Thai side.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed in February as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

Indonesia Proposes Solution to Cambodia-Thailand Dispute

http://www.plenglish.com/

via CAAI

Jakarta, May 9 (Prensa Latina) The Indonesian government on Monday formally proposed a solution for the longstanding Cambodia-Thailand border dispute, which most recently has sparked clashes have left 18 deads and more than 55,000.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa presented the initiative to his Cambodian and Thai counterparts, Hor Namhong and Kasit Piromya, respectively, during a trilateral meeting held in this capital, the Antara News Agency reported.

The proposal establishes measures to achieve a negotiated solution to the dispute and the deployment of Indonesian observers in conflict zones.

"We will identify the points required to achieve an approach, rather than ask one of the two countries to act a certain way in response to a step taken by the other," said Natalegawa.

Natalegawa added that the initial gesture for bringing about the easing of tension should be performed in unison to avoid arguments about which of the two countries have the obligation to move first.

According to Natalegawa, the program sets a specific timetable for the completion of each stage and bilateral meetings.

Now the two foreign ministers will return to their countries and report to their prime ministers on this proposal, and Natalegawa said he looked forward to hearing about it soon.

The talks followed those started yesterday between the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang, and the prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand, Hun Sen and Abhisit Vejjajiva, respectively, in the framework of the summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The two countries have clashed six times since 2008, when Preah Vihear was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Thai PM Calls for Peace at the Thai-Cambodian Border

http://english.ntdtv.com/

via CAAI

2011-05-09



Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is calling for peace on the Thai-Cambodian border. At the ASEAN meeting on Sunday, he met with journalists, making a plea for peace.

[Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai Prime Minister]:
"Because after all the objective of what we are doing shouldn't be about scoring political points, but thinking that there is some kind of technical victory on one issue or another. But the ultimate objective must be to achieve lasting peace. So, that both our people can live peacefully side by side along the Thai-Cambodian border.”

Southeast Asian leaders failed to achieve any breakthrough to end deadly border skirmishes between Thailand and Cambodia.

The clashes around crumbling Hindu temples in disputed areas have starkly illustrated the tensions between countries in the ASEAN. This could derail plans to create a single economic community by 2015, and the apparent inability of the bloc to deal with disagreements.

Indonesia has been pressing for a deal that would prevent the meeting being marred by the border dispute. But in the end all that was achieved was an announcement that the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers would stay an extra day in Jakarta for more talks.

Earlier, Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen said the removal of "the armed forces from our own territory is not acceptable."

The two sides have spoken plenty of times in recent weeks, but without finding a resolution to the clashes.

Foreign ministers agree on observers

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

'Package solution' allows deployment to border

Published: 10/05/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

JAKARTA : The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand have agreed on a deal via a so-called "package solution" to allow the deployment of Indonesian monitors to their disputed border area.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong met yesterday to try to iron out their differences after the two countries' prime ministers Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen failed to reach an agreement during talks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit on Sunday.

"The achievement this afternoon exceeded my expectations," said Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in the wake of the talks that he mediated.

"I'm not underestimating the scale of the problem, but they have overcome their mutually exclusive demands," he said.

Hor Namhong said Cambodia and Thailand had agreed to a "package solution" on sending observers to the disputed area, the Kyodo News agency reported.

He said the solution was to combine six points in one, that is, both sides would have to first exchange letters of acceptance on the terms of reference for the Indonesian Observer Team (IOT), and at the same time announce the dates of the meetings of the General Border Committee (GBC) and the Joint Border Commission (JBC) of the two countries.

Points three and four are to send a survey team to the disputed area and convene meetings of the GBC and JBC with five days, he said.

Points five and six are to send the full assignment of the IOT and follow up on the results of GBC and JBC meetings within 10 days.

Indonesia, this year's Asean chairman, has tried to facilitate talks over the two countries' joint claims to the 4.6-square-kilometre land plot adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple.

The two sides had signed up to Indonesia's proposal to send observers to monitor a ceasefire on their common border on Feb 22 at the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta, but the deployment was delayed because Bangkok demanded that Cambodian troops and civilians withdraw from the area around the temple site first.

The Cambodian side, meanwhile, had insisted that the monitoring team be deployed before any negotiations on troop withdrawal could resume under the GBC.

Under the compromise, the two foreign ministers agreed that Thailand's formal approval for the deployment of the Indonesian monitoring team would be made on the same date as the announcement of the committee's next meeting, Mr Marty said.

Yesterday's agreement must still be approved by both countries' leaders, however.

In Bangkok, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said he agreed with Prime Minister Abhisit's demand that Cambodia withdraw its troops from the disputed area before Indonesia sends its observers there.

He said a GBC meeting should be held first to explore ways of enabling Thai and Cambodian troops to stay in place before the terms of reference are signed to deploy the observers.

Gen Prawit will attend the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting in Indonesia on May 18-21.

He is expected to discuss with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh preparations for the 8th GBC meeting, a military source said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia yesterday blamed Thailand for renewed clashes on the Thai-Cambodian border, saying a solution was being delayed as Thailand was demanding that Cambodia first pull troops out of the temple area before letting observers in.

"An agreement had been agreed upon. [Thailand] should adhere to it, I wouldn't want to say lacking in faith ... [but] they did not adhere to the agreement," Malaysian deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem was quoted by AFP as saying.

"Thailand refused and that's why the skirmish came again," said Mr Riot, who attended the Asean meeting.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said Mr Riot's remarks contradicted what Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said at the Asean summit to support the two countries in solving the border problem bilaterally.Meanwhile, the border area in Surin province enjoyed its seventh day free of gunfire yesterday but soldiers on both sides were still confronting each other from Ta Kwai temple in tambon Bak Dai to Ta Muen Thom temple in tambon Ta Miang of Phanom Dong Rak district.

The Chong Jom border pass opened yesterday and over 80% of Thai and Cambodian vendors reopened their stalls at a local market near the border pass on the Thai side.

There were more Cambodian buyers than Thais at the market and they stocked up on piles of consumer products for their customers.

Local people want both governments to negotiate and withdraw their soldiers from the border as soon as possible because their confrontation increases the possibility of clashing.

Thailand, Cambodia make progress on border dispute

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (L) and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Nam Hong (R) during a meeting in Jakarta on Monday

http://edition.cnn.com/

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By Kathy Quiano, CNN
May 9, 2011

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Thailand and Cambodia took a step Monday towards resolving a simmering border conflict around an ancient temple, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

The solution will allow for the resumption of talks between the two countries and the deployment of an Indonesian observer team to the disputed territory if the two governments agree to the deal hammered out between foreign ministers, Natalegawa said.

Fighting along the turbulent border has raged since last month. Clashes around the Preah Vihear temple prompted displacement of thousands on both sides and caused at least 20 deaths.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Cambodia Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with Natalegawa for about three hours in Jakarta to iron out details of a plan to help ease tensions and prevent more clashes the disputed territory near the temple.

The package was proposed by Indonesia as chair of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, during its annual summit on Sunday.

On the sidelines of the just-concluded summit, a breakthrough seemed impossible as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen refused to back down from their sets of opposing conditions.

But after a meeting with host Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, both leaders agreed to let their foreign ministers stay another day for further talks.

Thailand had earlier refused to agree to a proposal that would send Indonesian observers to the disputed territory, saying Cambodia must first withdraw its troops from the area. Cambodia has rejected that demand, insisting that a team of Indonesian observers needs to be sent to the region.

The two ministers did not address the media after the Monday meeting but Natalegawa described the meetings as constructive and comprehensive.

Natalegawa later told reporters: "This meeting was very productive and exceeded my expectations. The agreement is at least on the ministers' level."

Both ministers will report Monday's discussions to their respective governments for approval, he said.

The proposed comprehensive solution includes a timeline but will need the final approval before specific actions may be set in motion, he added.

Sofitel positions Phnom Penh as a Major MICE player

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Published by Ozgur Tore
Monday, 09 May 2011

Size may not always matter, but for Phnom Penh’s newest luxury hotel bigger is bolder when it comes to luring MICE clients.

With its 1,800-square-metre Grand Ballroom – the largest in Cambodia — providing a show-stopping centrepiece for events, the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra aims to establish itself as the country’s premier venue for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events.

Situated in the heart of Indochina with major hubs such as Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City within easy striking distance, Phnom Penh is positioned to host important corporate events and exhibitions.

Until now, however, the city has lacked truly top grade facilities to match its potential as a major MICE player in the region. The advent of the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, however, has changed all that.

In addition to the ballroom, the hotel has a range of other facilities for MICE clients, including five boardrooms, mobile communications systems and flexible accommodation for small- to medium-scale functions. The hotel also has a fully equipped business centre. Wireless Internet is available throughout the property.

The ballroom and the boardrooms are all fitted with state of the art audio-visual equipment – the fruit of a USD1.5 million investment on the part of the hotel. Meanwhile, clients who require multi-lingual capabilities can utilise the equipment for simultaneous translation in three languages.

The ballroom has earned its ‘Grand’ moniker. Towering ceilings are bedecked with crystal chandeliers, the floor is luxuriantly carpeted and there’s even an oversized elevator from the hotel’s drive to the ballroom to allow vehicular access for car exhibitions.

At the head of the room, a giant screen backs a spacious stage while two further screens are hung from the room’s right wall.

These additional screens can be used for smaller scale events, for which the ballroom can be partitioned into three separate rooms to create a more intimate atmosphere.

At full size, the ballroom can host up to 2,000 guests theatre-style while, for banquets and buffets, as many as 1,200 guests can be catered for.

A dedicated kitchen serves ballroom functions, and a complement of hotel chefs and wait staff alike have been extensively drilled to cope with myriad challenges presented by large-scale events.

When the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) was held in Cambodia earlier this year the hotel entertained thousands of guests in the ballroom during separate events organised by delegations from Indonesia and the city of Pattaya in Thailand.

The property has also played host to guests from the French embassy in Phnom Penh while weddings and gala gourmet dinners have also been held in the magnificent space.

“We had the room at full capacity for both the events at the ATF and the atmosphere was fantastic,” says Guiliano Callegaro, Food and Beverage Manager at the hotel. “The great thing about the space though is that we can adapt it for different sized groups.

“Our job is to make sure that the event lives up to the surroundings by providing top-class service and food. We’ve passed the test on several occasions already and we are determined to maintain the standards that have now been set.”

In addition to onsite facilities, MICE clients can also benefit from Sofitel’s Inspired Meetings concept – a bespoke service where a team of dedicated planners, chefs and concierges are made available to personalize and perfect a function or an event.

Beyond built-for-business amenities, leisure facilities at the hotel include a spa, a fully-equipped fitness centre and two outdoor swimming pools. The hotel’s eight restaurants and bars cater amply for gastronomes.

While Siem Reap has long reigned as Cambodia’s premier MICE destination, Phnom Penh is emerging as one of the most dynamic capitals in the region with a range of eating and entertainment options complementing tourist attractions such as its spectacular Royal Palace. The world-famous temples of Angkor are a short flight away.

“It is about striking the right balance,” says Didier Lamoot, area general manager of the hotel. “We expect that two of every three of our guests will be a corporate traveller, but they will want to relax as well as work.”