Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Sihanouk : I Stop Producing Movie Now...

S. Korean company to build skyscraper, new cities in Cambodia

January 09, 2008

A South Korean construction company has unveiled plans to construct a skyscraper and new cities in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, local newspaper on Wednesday quoted an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen as saying.

Kevin Kab Ryal Kim, executive director of GS Engineering and Construction, told Hun Sen of the projects during a meeting in Phnom Penhon Tuesday at the premier's residence in Kandal province's Ta Khmao district, according to Cambodian-language newspaper the Kampuchea Thmey.

Sry Thamrong, advisor to Hun Sen, said that the firm will begin constructing a 53-storey international financial building in mid-2008 on nearly seven hectares of land near the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh's Tonle Bassac commune and the construction is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

In the building, there will be supermarkets, shops, offices, schools, and apartments able to accommodate around 10,000 people, said the advisor, adding that the plan will create 3,000 jobs, reported another Cambodian-language newspaper the Rasmei Kampuchea.

Kevin Kab Ryal Kim said that his company also plans to construct a satellite city on 145 hectares of land on the outskirts on Phnom Penh alongside National Road 6, adding that another city with five-star hotels and an international airport will be built in Sihanoukville.

Hun Sen expressed support for the firm's projects and vowed to ask state institutions to ease the company's work, said the newspaper.South Korea surpassed China in 2006 to become the largest foreign investor in Cambodia.


Thaksin’s wife returns to Thailand

Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok yesterday. (REUTERS)


bangkok • The wife of Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned yesterday to defend herself in court against charges of corruption, as her husband insisted on their innocence.

Pojaman Shinawatra, a shrewd political player in her own right, arrived in Thailand with her husband's political allies facing legal hurdles to forming a new government despite their victory in last month's general elections.

She was immediately escorted by police to the Supreme Court to face corruption charges and then to the special investigations unit of the justice ministry to hear fraud charges.

A short while later she was released after posting a total of six million baht ($178,000) in bail. Pojaman smiled at the throngs of reporters who followed her every move but said nothing.
Dressed in a black suit and dark sunglasses, Pojaman was accompanied by her three children and waved to the handful of supporters who had gathered to greet her.

The 51-year-old has spent more than six months overseas with her husband while investigators here piled charges against them.

"She came here today to prove her innocence," her lawyer Noppadon Pattama told reporters after the court hearing.

Noppadon said Pojaman would go to Bangkok's Grand Palace later in the day to pay her respects to Princess Galyani, who died of cancer last week at age 84. The princess was the sister of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Pojaman and Thaksin are charged with corruption in the purchase of a plot of prime Bangkok real estate. Investigators say Pojaman used her husband's political influence to buy the land from a government agency at one-third of its estimated value.

They are also accused of making fraudulent filings to securities regulators in 2003 when they listed a property firm on the local exchange.

Pojaman, her step-brother Banpot Damapong and her personal secretary Kanchanapa Honghern also face additional criminal charges of tax evasion.

Conviction on any of the charges could result in prison sentences.

Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since the military toppled his government in a bloodless coup in September 2006, but yesterday he again vowed to return home to defend himself in court once the political situation settles.

"I have long said that I will return to Thailand to prove my innocence and to fight for justice, but I do not want to trigger any conflicts that would worsen the situation," Thaksin said in a statement on his website.

"I want to reassure you that when the appropriate time comes, I will return to Thailand to prove the innocence of myself and my family."

His allies in the People Power Party (PPP) emerged from elections last month just shy of a majority in parliament, but the military-appointed Election Commission has opened dozens of vote fraud investigations that threaten their ability to form a new government.

Sacravatoons: Hanoi's Tool

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

Sacravatoons: Xihanuk's Film

Courtesy of Sacravatoon:

In December 1978, around 200,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia and captured Phnom Penh om 7 January 1979.

Pol Pot overthrown on this day in 1979

Vietnamese troops seize the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, toppling the brutal regime of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge.

FOCUS News Agency - Bulgaria7 January 2008

The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a solely agrarian society. In 1970, aided by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, Khmer Rouge guerrillas began a large-scale insurgency against Cambodian government forces, soon gaining control of nearly a third of the country.

By 1973, secret U.S. bombings of Cambodian territory controlled by the Vietnamese Communists forced the Vietnamese out of the country, creating a power vacuum that was soon filled by Pol Pot's rapidly growing Khmer Rouge movement. In April 1975, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, overthrew the pro-U.S. regime, and established a new government, the Kampuchean People's Republic.

As the new ruler of Cambodia, Pol Pot set about transforming the country into his vision of an agrarian utopia. The cities were evacuated, factories and schools were closed, and currency and private property was abolished. Anyone believed to be an intellectual, such as someone who spoke a foreign language, was immediately killed. Skilled workers were also killed, in addition to anyone caught in possession of eyeglasses, a wristwatch, or any other modern technology. In forced marches punctuated with atrocities from the Khmer Rouge, the millions who failed to escape Cambodia were herded onto rural collective farms.

Between 1975 and 1978, an estimated two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor, and famine. In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh in early 1979. A moderate Communist government was established, and Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge retreated back into the jungle.

In 1985, Pol Pot officially retired but remained the effective head of the Khmer Rouge, which continued its guerrilla actions against the government in Phnom Penh. In 1997, however, he was put on trial by the organization after an internal power struggle ousted him from his leadership position. Sentenced to life imprisonment by a "people's tribunal," which critics derided as a show trial, Pol Pot later declared in an interview, "My conscience is clear." Much of the international community hoped that his captors would extradite him to stand trial for his crimes against humanity, but he died of apparently natural causes while under house arrest in 1998.

Cambodia blog watch

January 9, 2008

The latest crop of foreign bloggers, in no particular order.

John Vink - Photographer for the world-renowned photo agency Magnum. Great photojournalism.

Anne Elizabeth Moore - Former editor of Punk Planet, now volunteering in Cambodia. Offers a refreshing, new-comer’s perspective of the country.

Moniving Boulevard - Cambodia Daily journalist on local current events and American politics.
Grasshopper - Khmer boxing news from Paddy’s sports center.

Gordon Sharpless - Long-term Siem Reap expat and guesthouse owner. Covers the ins and outs and ups and downs of life in Cambodia and Thailand.

Andy Brouwer - Long-time Cambodiaphile recently transplanted to the motherland. Writes mostly about tourism-related subjects. Very informative.

The Daily gets competitors

January 9, 2008

According to Scoop, the new owners of the Phnom Penh Post plan to open offices in Siem Reap and take the paper daily.

Immediate plans for the paper are to turn it into a daily newspaper in about March. In April the newspaper will open an office in Cambodia’s second largest city, Siem Reap. Australian journalist Peter Olszewski will be bureau chief in Siem Reap and will assist with the launch of the daily edition in Phnom Penh.

Interesting. Because word on the street is that MC&D is on the verge of launching an English-language daily newspaper, too, perhaps as early as next week.

Thailand, a country with a lot more people than Cambodia, manages to support two daily newspapers, The Post and The Nation, but only just. It seems incredibly unlikely — impossible, even — that Cambodia will be able to support three.

Because of its NGO status, The Daily could ostensibly hang on for quite some time. But as advertising revenue gets thin, and, much more importantly, staff start defecting to the rivals, the quality of the Daily is likely to dive so precariously as to make it irrelevant, despite whatever financial life support from foreign friends of the publisher.

As for the other two, MC&D is a French-operated quasi-NGO publishing in a language it doesn’t speak very well. The Australians behind the Post are, well, Australians — it’s not like they speak English very well either. Which makes it a close call. But if you’re taking bets, the smart money is on the people with experience, and translating stuff from the Khmer papers doesn’t count.

Cambodia takes thousands of bullets, bombs from scrap merchants

Posted : Wed, 09 Jan 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodian authorities have confiscated 6,000 bullets and more than 1,000 bombs and grenades from scrap collectors near the Thailand border, authorities said Wednesday. Police chief for O'Chrou district in Banteay Meanchey province, Ung Song Yue, said by telephone that raids on at least seven scrap metal merchants had netted the dangerous haul but the operation was still not complete.

"We will conduct an inventory Thursday but the total is likely to go higher," he said.
"Cambodian scrap collectors sometimes think about money to eat with now more than their future."

An official with the Cambodian Mine Action Center, which is helping police with their work, agreed that the haul would probably be much higher than the 7,000 weapons and unexploded ordinance currently collected.

Cambodia is still recovering from a 30-year civil war and remains littered with unexploded bombs and bullets, which contain valuable metals, including copper, and provide collectors with lucrative incomes.

However, the death toll amongst scrap collectors is high and police said they feared the consequences of keeping large stashes of old and potentially unstable weapons in residential areas. Banteay Meanchey, home to several former Khmer Rouge strongholds, was the site of heavy fighting until just over a decade ago.

Biking for Development in Cambodia

Mara Hvistendahl
January 8, 2008

It started simply enough. In early 2005, Daniela Papi was finishing up a three-year stint as a English teacher in Japan and looking for a meaningful next step. She'd visited Cambodia a few years back and wanted to return. Her friend Greta Arnquist had volunteered there the summer before. The two decided they would bike across the country – and make a contribution along the way.

Papi had experience with other “voluntourism” trips and knew it would be difficult to find a project that benefited locals as much as it did her and Arnquist. Still, she says: “I felt like we could be using our funds toward something sustainable and ongoing.” The friends found American Assistance for Cambodia online and asked them how much money it took to build a school in Cambodia. AAfC said $16,000.

Giving themselves a year to raise the money, they set out on a tour of churches, synagogues, and community centers back home in America. (Papi is from New York, Arnquist from Minnesota). They met their target in three months – and kept going. By the end of the year, they had raised $100,000, most of it in checks of a few hundred dollars or less. The largest individual donation was $2,000.

Partnering with AAfC, they funded an addition on a primary school in Siem Reap Province. The school had been struggling to house 500 students in five classrooms. The money paid for a new building with another five classrooms, a solar panel, a generator, an Internet connection and salaries for computer and English teachers. And they had funds to spare.

They scheduled their bike trip to coincide with the opening of the school. Meanwhile, their fundraising campaign had an unintended side effect: a number of people who heard them speak wanted to tag along. As long as riders agreed to pay their own way and contribute funds to the school, they consented. By December 2005, they had assembled a group of 35 people from 13 countries – and they were turning people away. Protect the Environment Protect Yourself (PEPY) was born.

Two years later, Papi is leading several trips a year and overseeing seven full-time Cambodian staff members, along with eight foreign volunteers. (Arnquist now works for an NGO back in the U.S.) In March 2007, PEPY opened a middle school in Streung Treng province. The first school, meanwhile, has become a pilot for the One Laptop Per Child program.

PEPY has grown so quickly that it has split into two nonprofits, a development organization that funds and oversees schools and other initiatives and a separate tour company. Next year, PEPY Ride will have a Cambodian executive director. But the priorities that first sent Papi and Arnquist across Cambodia-- an interest in education and in finding a way to spur sustainable tourism – are still very much in focus.

Before each trip, PEPY organizers consider how riders might be most useful. On-the-ground local staff help identify community needs. While on the road, bikers strive to minimize their impact on organizations’ time. Rather than stopping at orphanages to play with kids or pounding nails into houses and schools, they might donate to worthy local projects – today’s riders commit to raising $1,000 each -- in exchange for a quick introduction to a local development issue.

“People like to paint something and get dirty,” Papi says, “and that’s when they feel like they’re most valuable. But actually they’re being useful just by being there and talking to people.”

Riders might also talk with kids at PEPY schools about career options or teach them English. In exchange, children lead lessons on Cambodian culture. “We try to show people that they can learn as much as they give,” Papi says.

The emphasis on learning ensures that after the trips riders go home armed with ideas about how to keep working on some of the issues they encountered in Cambodia. After the first PEPY ride, one woman spearheaded a similar project for Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans. Two riders developed master’s thesis topics based on their experiences.

The program has also had less tangible outcomes. When asked what they want to do when they grow up, many local kids used to say they want to be shop owners. After exposure to other opportunities, many now say they’d rather become teachers. “They’re learning to expand their horizons,” Papi says.

Images: PEPY.

Gov’t delegation concludes Cambodia visit


VietNamNet Bridge – Repatriating remains of fallen soldiers was in the spotlight during a freshly-concluded week long visit to Cambodia by a delegation of the Governmental Ad-Hoc Committee.

The delegation was led by its Deputy Permanent President Lieut. Gen. Bui Van Huan, who is also a member of the Party Central Committee and Deputy Director of the Viet Nam People’s Army General Politics Department.

He was accompanied by Bui Hong Linh, Deputy Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and many other senior officials from ministries and army officers.

The Vietnamese guests had a working session with Cambodian counterparts led by Gen. Pol Saroun, Deputy Commander in Chief of the Cambodian Royal Army and President of the Cambodian Governmental Ad-Hoc Committee.

Their talks focused on progress made in locating and repatriating home remains of Vietnamese volunteers who were killed in the Cambodian soil during the war time.

Under the spirit of a relevant agreement signed by the two Governments, the Cambodian side pledged to make greater efforts and give bigger support to speed up the work.

During their stay from January 2-8, the Vietnamese officials made field trips to Siem Reap, Prek Vihia and Kongpong Chhnang provinces, to inspect the excavations sites for this purpose.

They also had working sessions with Cambodian provincial taskforces on this issue. From 2002, close to 10,000 sets of remains of Vietnamese volunteers who sacrificed their lives in Cambodian battlefields have been repatriated home.

(Source: VNA)

Cambodia rejects Taiwan's bid to open business representative office

January 09, 2008

The Cambodian government has reiterated its rejection of the so-called Taiwan External Trade Development Council's request to open a business representative office in Cambodia, local newspaper the Deum Ampil reported on Wednesday.

The council plans to open a branch in Cambodia and a number of other countries in Asia to seek new markets for Taiwanese businesses, according to the reports of Channel News Asia (CNA) on Monday.

The attempt to reopen a business representative office is impossible, said Om Yentieng, advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A Taiwanese business representative office was opened in 1993 in Cambodia but closed following factional fighting in 1997.

The Taiwan business council also plans to organize a delegation visit to promote business ties with both Cambodia and Myanmar, according to CNA.

Some 1,000 Taiwanese investors do business here, mainly in the garment sector, said Om Yentieng, adding that five shoemaking factories in Cambodia are owned by Taiwanese investors, with each employing around 8,000 to 10,000 Cambodian workers.

The Cambodian government consistently supports China's One-China policy and in July last year announced its opposition to Taiwan's bid to join the United Nations.

"There is only one China in the world, namely the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan is an integral part of China," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong told Xinhua at the time.


Cambodian French Quarter Hosts Property Investment Opportunity

(OPENPRESS) January 9, 2008 -- Whether you’re looking for a sleek and stylish property to boost the appeal of your property portfolio or simply looking for the levels of investment return that only come with an overseas property investment, a second home in Cambodia’s emerging market hosts the perfect opportunity. Overseas property investment specialists David Stanley Redfern Ltd are offering investors the chance to own an affordable, financially rewarding 1-2 bedroom property from as little as £29,151 so, the failsafe ownership of a highly desirable riverside property in the revered French Quarter of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, is there for the taking, along with all of its attached benefits.

Cambodia’s current capital growth promises an enticing 15%-20% net rental return, however, these apartments include a 2 year guarantee of a 10% minimum return, so a little peace of mind comes with the package too.. With Cambodia’s profile attracting an increasing number of holiday takers and investment makers alike, the vast rental opportunities are simply undeniable. Any emerging property market place holds great rewards for the assertive and the shrewd investor particularly perhaps, but with Cambodia’s ever strengthening economy taken into account, the future of the region and any investment made in it will surely flourish.

But just what exactly is being offered for your investment? Well, it’s breathtaking contemporary master-class at its most alluring, so it’s somewhat reassuring to know that a £1000 reservation fee will secure a property with no construction risks and nothing to pay until completion after an initial post-due diligence payment of 35%. An accessible 1-2 bedroom apartment complete with full utilities that’s serviced by 17 airports in landlord friendly Cambodia can now belong to any buyer on the international property market. As always, ensuring you have a reputable and reliable agent such as David Stanley Redfern Ltd is highly recommended, so as to alleviate any sense of worry that overseas property buyers can often feel.

Truck-maker Hino expands to Laos, Cambodia, Haiti

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

TOKYO, Jan 9, 2008 (Asia In Focus via COMTEX) -- Japan's HINO MOTORS LTD.

(TSE:7205) is looking to cultivate demand in emerging markets, entering Laos and Cambodia and launching sales in Haiti and other countries with the help of parent TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. (TSE:7203). Hino has formed sales agencies in Laos and Cambodia, becoming the first Japanese commercial-vehicle manufacturer to enter these markets.

* Hino plans to take advantage of the Toyota group's networks to begin marketing in Haiti, Algeria and three other countries by the end of March.

* Annual truck sales in Laos, Haiti and other new markets are projected at only 200-300 vehicles initially, compared with the 5,000-plus units Hino sells in nations such as Thailand, the U.S. and Australia.

Mondolkiri Residents Protest Arrest of Four

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

Listen Chun Sakada reports in Khmer

A group of 120 hill tribe villagers from remote Mondolkiri province are protesting for the release of four arrested men, officials and representatives said Tuesday.

The protest follows the decision by the provincial court to jail four men accused of attempting to murder the provincial deputy military commander following an altercation.

Protestors say the charges against the men are unfair, as they were involved only in a small scuffle with the commander and his party.

Village representative Sieng Sareth said the group was unhappy with the charges against Chreb Chreh, 36, Pek Khek, 38, Ghas Tung, 30, and Peal Peng 34.

Provincial court prosecutor Lou Sosambath said the case was proceeding according to law.

Construction Co. Truck Torched After Dispute in 'Red Earth' Neighborhood

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer Orginal report from Phnom Penh
08 January 2008

Listen Heng Reaksmey reports in Khmer

Residents of a Phnom Penh neighborhood slated for development demolition allegedly set fire to the truck of a construction company's truck, officials said Tuesday.

Chhim Savuth, an investigator for the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, said residents of the Red Earth neighborhood, near the National Assembly building, and employees of the 7NG Company had thrown rocks at each other.

An hour later, he said, a 7NG truck parked near the entrance of the neighborhood was lit on fire.
Several witnesses said company personnel set fire to the truck and blamed the villagers.

The fire is the latest in a round of sparring between the residents of Red Earth, who claim they are being unfairly evicted from their homes, and 7NG.

Srey Sothea, a representative of 7NG, said Tuesday the company was being caught up in a dispute between residents and local authorities.

Tribunal to Hold Public Forum in Former KR Stronghold

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

Listen Mean Veasna reports in Khmer

The Khmer Rouge tribunal will hold a public meeting in Pailin next week, in an effort to allay fears of lower ranking cadre they could be arrested too, officials said Tuesday.

Pailin, in the mountainous jungles of northwest Cambodia, had been the home of chief ideologue Nuon Chea and nominal head Khieu Samphan before their arrests late last year. Many of their family members and supporters still live there.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the goal of the forum would be to reassure former low-ranking Khmer Rogue soldiers they would not be similarly prosecuted.

Co-investigating judges will explain to participants that the tribunal's mandate is to indict top leaders only, he said.

Pailin authorities will disseminate information ahead of the meeting in an effort to include as many participants as possible, he said.

Ly Kimseng, wife of Nuon Chea, said Tuesday she had not received information on participation.

Sam Rainsy: We All Welcome 7 January

Posted on 8 January 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 541

“Phnom Penh: Mr. Sam Rainsy, the President of the opposition party in Cambodia, joined on 5 January with Khmer citizens countrywide to welcome the 7 January as a holiday, when Cambodian people’s lives were saved and the country was liberated from the black-clad regime of mass killings.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy, who has just returned to the country after visiting Europe, said, ‘We are all happy to welcome the 7 January, because we remember this day as the day when the Khmer Rouge regime was ended.’ He added that on the 7 January, the Pol Pot regime was overthrown and the Cambodian people were freed from the killings. He considered that the liberation of the Cambodian people gives a positive view to 7 January.

“People throughout the country acknowledge that without the 7 January 1979, many would not be alive, because the Khmer Rouge cruelly killed many people, causing the death of almost two million people.

“Though Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the opposition party of Cambodia, recognized the importance of the 7 January 1979, he also considered the 7 January 1979 to be the day when a foreign country invaded Cambodia. He said, ‘If they entered to free us and then they would have gone back home, we would be grateful to them. But they overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime and then they continued to control Cambodia. This was not good.’ He explained that the 7 January 1979 also made Cambodia lose its independence and sovereignty, and it was controlled by Vietnamese troops.

“Because the 7 January 1979 saved Cambodian people’s lives, it has become an important day in political afguments for the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] to propagandize for votes so far. In general, it is recognized that the 7 January is an important element to help towards the success of the CPP in three national elections so far – i.e. in 1993, 1998, and 2003.

“However, Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the opposition party, said that after 29 years have passed, the 7 January has become ineffective for election campaigns. He thinks that the 7 January has no longer a powerful role as a political threat against the Sam Rainsy Party. He explained that in the 2008 election, the number of young people voting increases, and these young people do not remember anything.

“He went on to say that young people in Cambodia, and also worldwide, think more about their employment, their salary, and justice etc.

“A CPP official said that no one can deny that the 7 January 1979 is the second birthday of the Cambodian people. Therefore, we hope that the people will continue to support us; and moreover, we are also obliged to repay those who were before us their favor with the construction of the country, so that it is developed, peaceful, free from poverty, and it has social justice.

“Though Mr. Sam Rainsy does not consider the 7 January to be a threat against his party in elections, most observers and political analysts thought, ‘Whatever the degree, the 7 January will collect votes for the CPP which led the forces to free the Cambodian people from the killings by the Khmer Rouge. A political analyst, who has been working for a long time, said that when time passes by, more and more people in the young generation reach the age of voting. These young people know very little about what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime. Hence, the propaganda about the 7 January 1979 may be effective only with a small number among the young voters. He continued, ‘However, the 7 January is still deep in the heart of people in the middle and older age groups. Thus, they will still vote for the CPP.’

“This analyst went on to say that the overall effectiveness of the 7 January for voters may decline with the increase of the number of people of the younger generation participating in the elections. As a result, the CPP must think beyond the use the 7 January for its election campaigns. Economic growth, people’s improved livelihood, a clean society, and justice are what the Khmer people in general want. This is what the ruling party must consider to be among the priorities in its political platform, if they want the people to continue to support them.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4482, 6-7.1.2008

Aussies Take Over At Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Article: MediaBlab

Aussie Businessmen Take Over Cambodia's Phnom Penh Post

Story From MediaBlab Australia

Two Australian businessmen with stakes in The Myanmar Times weekly have taken a controlling interest in The Phnom Penh Post, a respected Cambodian newspaper, according to Thomson Financial News.

Ross Dunkley, chief executive officer of Myanmar Consolidated Media, which publishes the Myanmar Times, said he and Bill Clough, an Australian miner and oil and gas entrepreneur, have taken a controlling stake in the paper.

The acquisition deal was formally signed in Bangkok on December 22, 2007.
He said the Cambodian paper would be run completely separately from the Myanmar publications, which include English and Myanmar-language weeklies.

The Phnom Penh Post, which publishes every two weeks, was founded by American journalist Michael Hayes 17 years ago.

Hayes will remain as editor in chief, while the project will be managed by Michel Dauguet, a French national with extensive experience working in Vietnam in media and software development.

Immediate plans for the paper are to turn it into a daily newspaper in about March. In April the newspaper will open an office in Cambodia's second largest city, Siem Reap. Australian journalist Peter Olszewski will be bureau chief in Siem Reap and will assist with the launch of the daily edition in Phnom Penh.

Olszewski, editor of MediaBlab news service, worked with Ross Dunkley in Yangon, as a journalism trainer. He wrote a book about Myanmar titled Land of a Thousand Eyes, published in Australia by Allen & Unwin.

The Myanmar Times began publishing in 2000 as that country's first private newspaper in over three decades. Dunkley also had experience working in tightly-controlled societies as editor of the Vietnam Investment Review.

MediaBlab reported late last year that this deal was in the offing (see archives.)

MediaBlab's report said that that Hayes has been saying he wants to sell for the last couple of years, and it seems the potential new buyers are keen to transform the paper into a serious daily to cash in on Cambodia's booming economy and thriving media market.

Hayes is a typically colourful expat character and landed a cameo role in the 2002 drama movie, City of Ghosts, co-written, directed by and starring Matt Dillon, about a con artist who goes to Cambodia to collect his share in money collected from an insurance scam.

Hayes plays the part of Harry an American expat who frequents a bar.

Michael Hayes first visited Cambodia in October 1974, one year before the Khmer Rouge came to power.

In October 1991, after working for an aid foundation in Thailand for several years, Michael returned to Phnom Penh looking for work and instead decided to set up the country's only independent newspaper.

Hayes and his then wife Kathleen moved into the Phnom Penh Post office, a three-story colonial villa, in May 1992. They slept on the floor, rewired the whole building and enlisted friends to bring computer equipment in with their hand luggage on trips from America.

All the printing houses were government-run and not permitted to do private print jobs, so at first the paper was printed in Bangkok and brought to Cambodia as 20 boxes of extra luggage.
The paper then forged a relationship with Wellington's Dominion newspaper in New Zealand, and the Wellington Polytechnic, now Massey University, journalism program.

Several Kiwi graduates of the university worked at the newspaper and Matthew Grainger, Jason Barber and Peter Sainsbury were to become three successive editors over seven years at the Phnom Penh Post, making up what Jason Barber called the kiwi mafia in Phnom Penh.

The paper reported, and survived, the 1997 coup. The airports closed, foreigners and volunteers were shipped out and the country was devastated, but the Post found a printer in Phnom Penh, covered the story and the paper got out on time.

The paper has continued to follow controversial stories about the human rights atrocities, poverty and corruption that are part of Cambodian society.

"All kinds of people are pissed off about our stories. Death threats are more common than Christmas cards here. People use them all the time," Michael Hayes told the Massey University Magazine.

Cambodia's oldest English newspaper to publish weekly

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA'S oldest English-language newspaper will publish weekly instead of once every two weeks under a new ownership deal meant to make the paper more competitive, its founder said on Tuesday.

Ross Dunkley and Bill Clough of Australia and Michel Dauguet of France have bought a controlling interest in the Phnom Penh Post, said Michael Hayes, a US citizen who founded the paper 15 years ago.

Mr Dunkley is the chief executive officer of Myanmar Consolidated Media, which publishes the Myanmar Times newspaper in that country, and Mr Clough owns a mining and oil exploration company in Perth, Australia, said Mr Hayes, who said he will stay on as the paper's editor-in-chief.

The newspaper is now published once every two weeks and will go weekly under the new ownership, Mr Hayes said. It was not immediately clear when the new publication schedule would start.

'It has been several years that I have been looking for an investor to help expand the Post,' he said in an e-mailed response to a reporter's questions.

Mr Hayes said that the Post is not in debt, though it just breaks even financially.

'It has never really been easy to run a paper here in Cambodia,' he said.

The Post is a respected publication in Cambodia's media world, and sometimes draws the government's ire. The paper is read mostly by expatriates, overseas subscribers and government officials.

The Post became Cambodia's first English newspaper in 1992 when Mr Hayes started it with US$50,000 (S$71,689) in savings - as well as two computers and a fax machine. -- AP