Friday, 4 January 2008

Lawyers: Khmer Rouge Leaders Patiently Await Trial

By Mean Veasna,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
03 January 2008

Listen Mean Veasna reports in Khmer

The five arrested former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime are all patiently awaiting trial, their lawyers said this week.

All five leaders have so far been denied bail, though the only pre-trial release hearing held has been for former prison chief Duch.

Former foreign minister Ieng Sary faced a deadline for his petition for release Thursday; his wife, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, faces a Friday deadline.

Say Bory, lawyer for the former nominal head of the regime, Khieu Samphan, said his client was "calm" and "respects the process."

And Son Arun, who represents the regimes chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, said his clent had not mentioned was seeking pre-trial release.

The tribunal will hold a hearing on Feb. 4 to decide on Nuon Chea's request, Son Arun said.

UN Rights Envoy: Cambodians Need One to Speak on Their Behalf

By Poch Reasey,
VOA Khmer Original report from Washington
03 January 2008

Following a visit to Cambodia in December, the UN special rights envoy to Cambodia, Yash Ghai, said many citizens still live in fear and insecurity and could rise up against the government.

Prime Minister Hun Sen refused to send a government representative to meet him during the visit, and Ghai's impending report was denounced in advance by Hun Sen in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. VOA Khmer interviewed Ghai in a question-answer session broadcast Dec. 29. Below is a transcript of the interview.

Q. Have you seen or received Cambodia's letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concerning you?

A. Yes, I have seen that letter, yes.

Q. What did you think?

A. Well, I think [government officials] are entitled to do what they have done. I have my responsibilities as the special representative of the secretary-general for human rights. And I have made a very honest assessment of the problems the people have in exercising their rights. And I always try to be very open and transparent, and this upsets the government sometimes. I will write my report to the Human Rights Council of the UN based on my report and research. The government will have an opportunity to deal with very detailed comment on the situation of human rights.

Q. Why didn't government officials meet with you when you were in Cambodia?

A. Well, you have to ask them. We have always made a request to meet them, and they have refused to see me. For some reason the government doesn't want to see me.

Q. Did they give you a reason?

A. No, they did not give me a reason. Perhaps you can call them and ask them why they don't see me.

Q. Your assessment was based on your meeting with non-governmental people. Who did you meet?

A. I met a large number of groups; they included political parties, the legal professionals, the NGOs, human rights organizations, the media. And I also of course have many reports sent to me by various groups. I spent a day with the Extraordinary Chambers [in the Courts of Cambodia], which is the Khmer Rouge tribunal. I met with the judges and the prosecutors there, so I had a very full program.

Q. What are your thoughts on the process of the tribunal?

A. Well, I think the international judges and staff are doing their very best in such difficult circumstances. I will have a section on the tribunal in my report, which I will present to the UN in March. You can read the details then.

Q. What about the Cambodian side?

A. There have been various allegations about the Cambodian side of the tribunal. There have been some allegations about the integrity of the judges. There have been many allegations of the breach of the normal appointment procedures, such as very high salary. There have been large number of allegations, and I have tried to look at the allegations and talked to various groups to see what the truth is.

Q. So what are your recommendations about the human rights situation in Cambodia?

A. Well, I am still formulating my recommendation. But really the government will do well to read the recommendations of my predecessor, because my recommendations aren't going to be very different from theirs, which suggested that for the last 10 years or so, very limited progress has been made about human rights, and in some cases the situation has gotten worse.
Q. Do you agree with the letter of Cambodia's UN ambassador, Sea Kosal, in which he said technically Cambodia doesn't need a UN special representative on human rights in Cambodia?
A. Well, there are so many violations of human rights. There are so many people who are in detention for years before they are brought to trial, so many people who have lost their land to senior politicians and to companies connected to the government that it is hard to say that the situation there is perfect.

Q. Land grabbing is a huge problem in Cambodia, isn't it?

A. Yes, it is a very big problem. I actually went to Ratanakkiri to visit a village where villagers claimed that 500 hectares of land were taken by fraudulent means. I also tried to meet with companies which have been accused of having done this. I've spent a long time with the villagers, and in fact the police came to disrupt the meeting when I was in the village. So I could see from that incident how harsh and brutal the police and the military can be, and now I begin to understand how Cambodians feel about the security forces. If they could treat the UN special representative the way they treated me, I wonder how they behave when the UN presence is not there when they come to visit people.

Q. You have been accused of being too negative about the human rights situation in Cambodia.

A. Well, I gave an illustration of every statement I made, and it's for the readers to judge whether I am too optimistic or too pessimistic or too alarmist. I always try to give plenty of evidence on every statement that I make.

Q. You had a chance to participate in a walk with the Cambodian people on Dec. 1, International Human Rights Day. Can you describe the experience?

A. Well, the walk was a short walk because the government did not want a long walk. They also restricted the number of people who wanted to join the walk to 500 only, and so many, many other people wanted to join but weren't able to. But at the meeting itself there were many more people. I thought we had a very good meeting. There were a number of speeches; there was music and dancing. People were celebrating human rights day, and it should be despite many restrictions imposed by the government. There was no one from the government at this celebration of human rights. Human Rights Day is a public holiday in Cambodia. And I am afraid to say there was only one ambassador, and that was the US ambassador. There was no one from the various UN agencies except from the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, so I was struck by how little interest the international community takes on human rights.

Q. If you and US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli were not there, do you think the government would have allowed people to march on that day?

A. Well, I know it was very hard to get permission, and in the end the government kept on saying, "No." Then the Office of the High Commissioner made a special plea to the [Minister of the Interior Sar Keng]. It was only the evening before the walk that permission was given to a limited assembly.

Q. What's your mandate in Cambodia?

A. My mandate is to report on the human rights situation and to assist in any way I can to improve the human rights situation there. The Special Representative is appointed in accordance to the [1993] Paris Agreement. That's why the appointment is made by the secretary-general and not by the Human Rights Council.

Q. So the decision to eliminate the position of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights, is it up to the UN or Cambodia?

A. It's a matter for discussion between the Cambodian government and the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva.

Q. Do you strongly believe that Cambodia still needs someone like you?

A. I think it needs independent scrutiny. A lot of people in the country are very frightened to speak out, and I think it's valuable to have an external, independent, and, I hope, objective person who also has the knowledge of human rights, law and practice, to be able to speak out on behalf of those who cannot.

Ho Vann: Dredging of Soil to Fill Boeng Kak Lake May Cause Phnom Penh Flooding

4 January 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 541

“Shukaku Inc., which got a concession for the Boeng Kak Lake area of 133 hectares in Srah Chak Subdistrict, Daun Penh District, has been preparing to connect a pipe to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill Boeng Kak Lake, in order to build a trade center. This makes a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian concerned that it could make the river embankment constructions and some buildings along the riverside areas collapse into the river, like some houses and the land of some citizens in Koh Norea Village, Nirouth Subdistrict, Meachey District in Phnom Penh, collapsed in December 2007.

“The Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Ho Vann from Phnom Penh expressed his concerns to journalists on 2 January 2008, that the dredging of sand from the river to fill the Boeng Kak Lake will cause an impact, like the dredging of sand by the Sok Kong company in Koh Norea Village, Nirouth Subdistrict, Meachey District, which caused some houses and some land of citizens along the Mekong River to fall into the river, and it also destroyed the property of these citizens.

“The Parliamentarian Ho Vann stated that before allowing Shukaku Inc. to dredge sand from the river to fill 133 hectares of Boeng Kak Lake, the Ministry of Meteorology and Water Resources, which is managed by Lim Kean Hor, the Ministry of Environment, which is managed by Mok Mareth, as well as other relevant institutions must join together to study carefully the impact on the environment, if this company dredges sand to fill Beong Kak Lake, leaving only 10 hectares of the lake’s surface, in order to guard from damages like what happened when the Sokimex Company dredged sand from the riverbed in Koh Norea Village to an area of more than 100 hectares of Boeng Snao Lake, which caused the collapse of land and houses of citizens in Koh Norea Village.

“Mr. Ho Vann told reporters that the impact of the dredging of sand to fill Boeng Kak Lake could cause Phnom Penh to be flooded, because the whole lake will be filled, leaving only 10 hectares of its surface, and it will cause sewage problems in neighborhood areas, because there are not enough sewers; moreover, in the rainy season, small water reservoirs in some subdistricts in Russey Keo District had caused some houses of citizens to be flooded.

“Mr. Ho Vann continued that the Phnom Penh Municipality, which is managed by Kep Chutema from the Cambodian People’s Party, must discuss this clearly with the citizens - approximately 4,000 families - living at the Boeng Kak Lake area to find a solution, whether Shukaku Inc., which wants to develops the Boeng Kak Lake area, will also bring benefits also the citizens in any way. The Parliamentarian Ho Vann continued that to maintain good relations and the confidence of the citizens, the Phnom Penh Municipality and Shukaku Inc. must issue formal letters, providing housing to all citizens, so that they are not worried any longer. The dredging of soil to fill the lake makes many citizens lose their business of picking vegetables growing in the lake water, of fishing, and of growing some other crops on this Boeng Kak Lake area.

“Mr. Ho Vann shared his opinion about the Phnom Penh Municipality that it should not have given a concession for 99 years to Shukaku Inc. to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area, that the Phnom Penh authorities should have sold 10 hectares of land along the railway to Shukaku at $2,000 per square meter and that the municipality would have received $200 million to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area without causing any impact on the environment. He went on to say that the signing of the contract to develop the Boeng Kak Lake area for 99 years could turn the whole Boeng Kak Lake area in future into property of Shukaku Inc., and the company could manage to sell land to private companies at high prices.

“Mr. Ho Vann called the signing of the contract to grant the concession of Boeng Kak Lake to Shukaku Inc. seriously corrupt, involving senior officials in the government and in the Cambodian People’s Party, who do not think about the public interest and the impact on the environment. This huge development plan was not publicly announced so that other private companies could have participated in the bidding for the development of the Boeng Kak Lake area. He continued that even Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, who demanded many times to see the contract with Shukaku Inc. which invests in the Boeng Kak Lake are, demanding to see the master plan for the development of this area - but the Phnom Penh Municipality did not allow them to do so, but told the parliamentarians to first ask for permission from the Ministry of Interior.

“Shukaku Inc. belongs to Yeay Phou [Grandmother Phou, Chheung Sopheap, the director of the Pheapimex company] and her husband Lao Meng Khin, who advises Prime Minister Hun Sen on international affairs, and who suggested to cooperate with a Korean company, asking for an investment license in the Boeng Kak Lake area on 133 hectares, with a lease contract for 99 years at a price of more than $70 million. This price of the lease is considered by economists to be very cheap; moreover, the contract was signed quietly and secretly between the Council of Ministers, the Municipality, and Shukaku Inc.

“The citizens, who live in the Boeng Kak Lake area, had opposed this development plan by Shukaku Inc. many times , but they did not get any result, and now the company is connecting the pipes to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill the Boeng Kak Lake, by laying the pipes across the railway station into the Boeng Kak Lake, without studying the future impact on the environment.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #85, 3.1.2008

Doctor: Care With Children Can Prevent Ear Infection

Dr. Ek Samoeun sitting in VOA
Khmer studio in Phnom Penh.

By Nuch Sarita,
VOA Khmer Washington
03 January 2008

Listen Nuch Sarita hosts 'Hello VOA' in Khmer

The high number of middle-ear infections incurred by Cambodian children can be prevented through better care by parents, a doctor said Thursday.

Children, especially infants, are the most susceptible to the infection, a risk made worse if they are left alone with their bottles or tears, said Dr. Ek Samoeun, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Phnom Penh's Norodom Sihanouk Hospital.

For example, a baby left on its back, crying, can catch an ear infection if the wet tears run into its ear canal, or if milk from a neglected bottle finds its way into the ear, Ek Samoeun said, as a Washington studio guest on "Hello VOA."

Parents who monitor their children closely and make sure the child is slightly propped up can prevent an infection, he said.

Hun Sen Turns Kenyan Turmoil on UN Nemesis

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
03 January 2008

Listen Chun Sakada reports in Khmer

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday slammed UN human rights envoy Yash Ghai and his homeland, Kenya, which has undergone political turmoil in recent weeks.

In the latest round of verbal attacks against the UN secretary-general's rights representative to Cambodia, who has been critical of the prime minister and his government, Hun Sen said Ghai should be sent "to work in his own country." "This is the New Year message I want to send to the secretary-general: Whatever [Ghai] said about Cambodia is his country's problem, not Cambodia's problem," Hun Sen said in a public address in Phnom Penh.

In December, Ghai, who is from Kenya, reported that Cambodians could rise up against the government, which has failed to provide them with security, as more and more land is stolen from Cambodia's poor.

Ghai was shunned on his visit by government officials and met only with human rights workers and the displaced rural poor.

"Everything that happened in his country, he compares it to Cambodia. The systematic violation of human rights happens in his country," Hun Sen said. "The president [of Kenya] ordered the shootings, so the soldiers have to carry out the order. Now, the death toll is over 300. There is no rule of law in the country. Even on New Year's Day there is killing. Even people who were trying to hide in a church were killed. So, Yash Ghai, who is the UN secretary-general's special rights representative to Cambodia, tries to come to Cambodia to teach us."

Hun Sen also compared the post-election rioting to Cambodia's killing fields.

"There is killing and bloody violence there. Kenya is almost becoming a killing field," the Associated Press quoted Hun Sen saying Thursday.

Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia agree to share electricity


Phnom Penh — Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam have signed an energy co-operation agreement, aiming to facilitate the construction of two World Bank-funded power transmission lines from Viet Nam and Laos to Cambodia.

The construction of the two projects, estimated at US$18 million, will start in 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2010.

One power line will stretch from Tay Ninh Province in southern Viet Nam to Kampong Cham Province of Cambodia and the other from Champasak Province in Laos will reach Cambodia’s Stung Treng Province.

Mohinder Gulati, a World Bank energy expert, said that the lines would greatly reduce the electricity production cost in those areas.

Thanks to the projects, Cambodia will directly use electricity from Laos in addition to the supply from Viet Nam.


Sacravatoons: A Films by Xihanuk

Courtesy of Sacravatoon:

Ministry of Environment Orders Confiscation of a Car, a Motorcycle, and Other Pieces of Equipment from Siem Reap Department of Environment

Ministry of Environment Orders Confiscation of a Car, a Motorcycle, and Other Pieces of Equipment from Siem Reap Department of Environment Deputy Director

3 January 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 541

“Siem Reap: Leadership officials of the Siem Reap Department of Environment told Rasmei Kampuchea that the Director-General of Administration of the Ministry of Environment issued an order to the Siem Reap Department of Environment to confiscate a Toyota car, a motorcycle, and other office equipment from Mr. Tang Chenda, Deputy Director of the Department of Environment, and to keep them in the department, considering that the deputy director of the Siem Reap Department of Environment has used the car and the motorcycle for private purposes.

“According to sources in the Siem Reap Department of Environment, the Director-General of Administration, following an order from Mr. Mok Mareth, the Minister of Environment, recently issued such an order to the Department of Environment of Siem Reap.

“The sources above said that Mr. Tang Chenda, the Deputy Director of the Siem Reap Department of Environment, seldom comes to work and he is even absent without permission.

“Working as a deputy director of the Siem Reap Department of Environment, Mr. Tang Chenda was provided by the department a Toyota car with a state number plate 0228 for transportation. However, after getting the car, he does not use it for the department work but he uses it for personal purposes, and he keeps it at home instead of keeping it at the department.

“Furthermore, public servants at the department said that a motorcycle is also taken by Mr. Chenda, and he keeps it at home. Moreover, a number of equipments in the office have been locked by Mr. Chenda in his room, and he even does not come to work.

“Officials in the department said that in general, government cars are to be used for government work, and they have to be kept at the department at the end of a mission or of every day’s work. However the deputy director of the Siem Reap Department of Environment acts contrary to the statute for civil servants – i.e. he uses the car and the motorcycle of the department for personal purposes and he keeps them at his house.

“Mr. Chev Phal, the Director of the Siem Reap Department of Environment, told the newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea that the department really got a letter from the Ministry of Environment to confiscate the car and the motorcycle, and to keep them at the department.

“Mr. Chev Phal added, however, that the department has not carried out the requested action – it waits for an arrangement to be found at an internal meeting. Mr. Chev Phal said that the internal meeting will be held soon, summoning Mr. Tang Chenda, the deputy director of the department, to attend the meeting, so that he then hand over the car and the motorcycle to be kept at the department, and to be used according to assignments by the department.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4478, 2.1.2008

Cambodia's leader calls Kenyan violence the 'killing fields'

The Associated Press
January 3, 2008

Cambodia's prime minister compared Kenya's bloody rioting to the "killing fields," continuing a scathing attack Thursday against a Kenyan-born U.N. envoy who criticized the Southeast Asian nation's human rights record.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia's troubles were nothing compared to the situation in Kenya, where an estimated 300 people have been killed in rioting since the African nation's highly contested Dec. 27 presidential election.

"There is killing and bloody violence there. Kenya is almost becoming a killing field," Hun Sen said, using the term synonymous with the Khmer Rouge's genocidal reign of Cambodia in the 1970s which led to some 1.7 million deaths.

Hun Sen has persistently denounced Yash Ghai, the U.N. special envoy for human rights in Cambodia, since the envoy's Dec. 1-10 visit to the country.

Ghai criticized the government's alleged rights violations and called the judiciary "a perversity." He predicted that Cambodians were eventually "going to rise" against the government.

"All the points he raised in his human rights reports about Cambodia are now happening in his own country," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen, who has had a prickly relationship with U.N. envoys, has vowed to never meet Ghai. Hun Sen shunned the Kenyan constitutional lawyer during his recent trip.

Library Staff On Mission In Cambodia

Jan 03, 2008

By Carla M. ColladoStaff Writer

Two Mark Twain Library staff members left for Cambodia yesterday (Wednesday), not for a vacation, but rather to buy Khmer books and materials for their library, as well as the rest of Long Beach’s public libraries.

The newly renovated Mark Twain Library — which opened in August 2007 — already has one of the largest Cambodian collections in the state. However, the library has been unable to purchase new books and materials for the past five years, as local and regional vendors’ supplies have depleted.

Susan Taylor and Lyda Thanh will visit the two Cambodian cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap until Jan. 15 to refresh the library’s collection. Taylor, who is the branch librarian at Mark Twain, will be in charge of selecting new materials for the children’s, teen and adult collections.

Taylor said the Cambodian materials at Mark Twain always have been heavily used.

“We need more books!” Taylor said in a release. “We don’t want to lose any of our patrons because they have read everything in the collection and there is nothing new to entice them back to the library.”

Thanh is a homework helper at Mark Twain’s family learning center, and is also a Cambodian who speaks, reads and writes Khmer. She will facilitate purchasing decisions and cataloging of the new materials during the trip.

“My father was a scholar, teacher and monk in Cambodia and taught me the value of language, learning and history,” Thanh said in a release. “I see the need of the students to have materials available in their families’ first language — these materials build bonds between children and parents, preserve cultural heritage and knowledge, and support English language acquisition.”

The Helen Fuller Cultural Carrousel, the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library, the Long Beach Public Library Foundation, the city of Long Beach and the local Cambodian community are all helping make the trip possible.

The Helen Fuller Cultural Carrousel will pay for Taylor’s and Thanh’s travel, lodging and miscellaneous expenses. The city of Long Beach will provide money to purchase the new Khmer materials (as part of the library’s general operating budget). The LBPLF will pay for Thanh’s homework helper position.

The Friends of the Long Beach Public Library and members of the local Cambodian community will help offset some of the travel costs and provide other in-kind support.

Cambodian garment workers threaten strike over pay rise

Thursday, January 3, 2008

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodia's largest garment workers union would call a strike if its demands for a pay rise to keep pace with inflation were not met, its president said Wednesday.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said it was demanding a 10 percent wage hike and a new minimum wage of US$55 a month, up from US$50 a month.

In an open letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia president, Van Sou Ieng, Mony cited inflation, particularly for basic goods because of rising world oil prices, for the request.

"We will proceed in three steps," Mony said in a telephone interview. "First, we negotiate. Second, we demonstrate in the factories, and thirdly, we walk out as a group.

Van Sou Ieng was overseas Wednesday, and officials at his association said they would not consider the proposal until his return. The previous garment worker pay rise was in October 2006.

Cambodia has around 300,000 garment workers, and the trade is a major export earner and a pillar of the economy.

However, some analysts have claimed that factors including high wages compared to rival producers such as China and Bangladesh, high transport costs, erratic power supplies and corruption threaten the sector, which is mainly run from rented premises by Taiwan, Chinese and other overseas owners.

Hugs, love and feelings of hope

Nancy Pihl shows a Cambodian child how to take care of her teeth. In just two weeks Phil assisted dentists from Medical Teams International with over 300 orphaned children.

Memories of Cambodian trip make Pihl determined to return

By Cliff Newell
The Lake Oswego Review, Jan 3, 2008

Nancy Pihl of Lake Oswego is full of warm/sad memories of her medical mission trip with children in Cambodia last October.

Especially of her last day at the country orphanage where she assisted dentists in serving hundreds of children.

Pihl had grown especially close to a 14-year-old girl named Somneang, who called her “Mama.” Pihl was having a difficult time telling the girl she would not see her the next day because she was taking an airplane home.

“I put arms and made like I was flying,” Pihl said. “That’s when it sunk in. She burst into tears and started hugging me and sobbing.”

Pihl, herself, has been crying ever since. Memories of the Cambodian children quickly trigger tears in her eyes.

“To be honest, they made a significant difference in my life,” said Pihl. “They put a lot more meaning and purpose into my life.

“There is not a day that goes by where I don’t wake up or go to sleep without thinking about them.”

Pihl’s Cambodian journey started with just a blurb in her church bulletin (she is a member of Southlake Church) about dentists from Medical Teams International needing assistance for their trip.

Pihl is a realtor with Windermere Realty Group in Lake Oswego, and she has no medical background. But that was no barrier.

“I have a hard time sitting home watching,” she said. “I thought, ‘I may not have medical training but I can help.’ I could do any kind of grunt work. Or just give them hugs, love and feelings of hope.“

Just how much her hugs and help were needed was realized when truckload after truckload of children kept arriving at the orphanage where the dental medical team was stationed.

“There would be as many as 35 people on a little, tiny pickup truck,” Pihl said. “This would go on for four or five hours. There would be a different group and more and more children every day.
It was non-stop. We worked so hard that we never took a break.”

Pihl would guide the children in and out of the dentist’s chair, and then show them how to brush and floss their teeth.

“They would come in and wait for hours to see the dentist and not make a peep,” Pihl said. “If you gave them a balloon or a pipecleaner it was like you gave them a laptop computer. They would put their hands together and bow down. They were the most wonderfully happy, loving and appreciative children.

“They didn’t speak much English. But hugs and smiles are pretty universal.”

Pihl asked herself how much she wanted to give, and the answer was more, more, more. Using donations from family and friends, Pihl was able to buy a roof to put over a building at the orphanage. Also mosquito nets, rice mats, and blankets.

“For each kid it was like Christmas,” Pihl said. “They were squealing and jumping up and down.”
Christmas, of course, was very much on Pihl’s mind last week. She had to decide what “Mama” was going to give her Cambodian kids for Christmas – something for each individual child and worker in the orphanage.

That did not stop the tears from coming. Still, gifts will have to do for now.

“But I will see them again some day,” promises Pihl.

Cambodia tourist arrivals top two million in 2007

Thursday, January 3, 2008

PHNOM PENH -- Tourist arrivals to Cambodia topped two million in 2007, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Wednesday, adding that the country hopes to attract more visitors this year by expanding its attractions.

"We hit our target" for tourist arrivals last year, he told AFP, saying the two-million mark represented a jump of nearly 20 percent over 2006 figures.

While most foreigners still flock to Cambodia's famed Angkor temples, officials are seeking to create more destinations for visitors, he said.

Vietnam extends tax-free Cambodia rice imports till '09

3 Jan 2008, IST,REUTERS

HANOI: Vietnam has extended its suspension of duty on rice imported from neighbouring Cambodia until 2009, and will raise the tax-free limit by one-third to 200,000 tonnes next year, state media reported on Thursday.

Vietnam, the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand, would allow the duty-free import of 150,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice this year, the Saigon Giai Phong newspaper quoted the Industry and Trade Ministry as saying.

The ministry also permitted Vietnamese importers to buy 3,000 tonnes of dry tobacco from Cambodia a year without paying import duty, the newspaper said. Both countries are members of the World Trade Organisation and many Vietnamese farmers work in Cambodian rice fields or buy the grain from there to offset a domestic shortfall during the period between crops.

Vietnam has allowed Cambodian rice to be imported without tax since 2006.

The purchases, which often take place in the last quarter of the year, help stablise Vietnam's grain prices and enable exporters to buy better-quality grain more easily.

Vietnam plans to export between 4.5 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes of rice this year after a 3 percent fall last year from 2006 to an estimated 4.5 million tonnes, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Indochinese nations sign up for WB-funded power projects

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have signed an energy cooperation agreement to facilitate the construction of two World Bank-financed power transmission lines from Vietnam and Laos to Cambodia.

In the agreement signed Wednesday in Phnom Penh, work on the two electricity transmission lines will start later this year and be completed in 2010.

One line will stretch from Tay Ninh Province in Vietnam’s south to Cambodia’s Kampong Cham Province and the other from Champasak Province in Laos to Stung Treng Province in Cambodia.

Mohinder Gulati, a World Bank energy expert, said the lines, estimated at some US$18 million, aim to reduce the electricity production costs in those areas.

Thanks to the projects, Cambodia will be provided with electricity from Laos in addition to the supplies from Vietnam which currently serve seven cross-border localities in Cambodia,

Khmer Rouge Movie by Former King Begins Shooting

By Mean Veasna,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
02 January 2008

Listen Mean Veasna reports in Khmer

A film depicting the capture of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rogue began shooting Tuesday morning, with actors dressed as Lon Nol government soldiers lining a street to welcome the incoming communists.

The film is the apparent work of former king Norodom Sihanouk, who was famous for his movie-making before he was famous as the leader of the country that fell to the Khmer communists.

Sisowath Sieng Dy, who is a member of the Royal Cabinet and plays the lead female role in the film, told VOA Khmer the film is the former monarch's first film about the Khmer Rouge and its rise to power.

Filming began Tuesday, she said, with the Khmer Rouge shooting at the Independence Monument, and with Lon Nol soldiers at first greeting the communists as they marched down Russian Boulevard, which leads from the main airport into the capital.

The Lon Nol regime fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975. Soldiers lined up in the early morning to greet the communist insurgents that had defeated them. The Lon Nol soldiers were immediately executed.

The making of a Khmer Rouge film by former king Sihanouk, who at one time aligned himself with the communists following his ouster in a US-backed coup, comes as war crimes trials are set to begin this year.

Khmer Rouge tribunal officials have said in the past the king could be called as a witness at the trials.

Ranariddh Party Calls for Murder Investigation

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
02 January 2008

Listen Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer

Officials from the Norodom Ranariddh Party on Wednesday called on the government to speed up its investigation into the alleged murder of a provincial activist.

Lun On, 41, was allegedly beaten to death by security personnel at a rubber plantation in Kampong Cham on the night of Dec. 30.

Human rights officials said he was killed for stealing rubber from the plantation, but NRP officials say he was taking rubber tree bark for cooking only.

There have been no arrests in the case so far.

Kompong Cham Police Chief Seng Sokim told VOA Khmer police had sent a report to the provincial court, and a decision was expected from the court.

"We have finished putting the case together," he said. "The case is under investigation."

Than Kim Hor, NRP acting secretary-general, said he did not believe the police had started an investigation.

"Even though the court has not indicted anyone, the police have the right to arrest and detain a suspect for up to 48 hours because a man died in this case," he said. "So this is a criminal case."

This was not the first time police failed to investigate the assault of an NRP activist, he said.

In March, a party activist was injured by a Cambodian People's Party district chief, and no one has been arrested so far, he said.

Cambodia, Vietnam Officials Meet on Crime

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
02 January 2008

Listen Chun Sakada reports in Khmer

Cambodian and Vietnamese officials met Saturday in Svay Rieng province to discuss the prevention of cross-border crimes and immigration, officials said Wednesday.

Svay Rieng Governor Cheang Om told VOA Khmer that he met with the governors of Tay Ninh and Long An provinces in an annual meeting to review the cooperation between the two countries in 2007 and to plan strategies for 2008.

"We meet every six months to a year to discuss border security issues, particularly on drug trafficking, human trafficking and other cross-border crimes," he said. "We also discuss illegal immigration."

Cheang Om said cooperation between the authorities of both countries had led to a decrease in crime.

"Because of this cooperation, people living along the border of both countries can go on with their lives without any fear or insecurity about their safety," he said.

Svay Rieng officials who attended the annual meeting said the three governors were able to discuss many issues on cooperation and implementation of strategies.

Suwon City Beat Cambodia National Team

Korea’s Suwon City FC clinched a 3-2 friendly win over the Cambodia national team in Phnom Penh at National Olympic Stadium.

The Korean National League side scored two goals in three minutes in the first half through Han Dong Hok (3rd minute) and Seo Kwan Su (6th minute).

Cambodia, however, came back strongly in the second-half. Nut Sinuon scored in the 54th minute for the hosts.

Suwon scored their third goal of the evening, as Seo grabbed his second goal of the match. Hong Ratana scored the last goal five minutes before the final whistle.

Samuel Zhang