Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sacravatoons : " The Sovereignty of SCAMBODIA "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sex workers rally against new anti-trafficking law

Chanting "save us from saviours," sex workers protest gross police mistreatment during the latest crackdown on commercial sex workers and human trafficking.

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Nguon Sovan
Wednesday, 04 June 2008

For six months they have endured worsening physical and sexual abuse at the hands of police over-zealously enforcing a new anti-trafficking law, but now Cambodian sex workers are fighting back.

More than 500 commercial sex workers rallied together on June 4 to protest the massive escalation of violent police raids on brothels and the criminalization of sex work due to new US-backed "model" anti-trafficking legislation, passed in February this year.

The "day of action," held at the Women's Network for Unity (WNU) in Phnom Penh, called for the repeal of the new anti-trafficking law, which critics say conflates prostitution with trafficking and is so over-broad that even carrying condoms can now get you arrested.

Chanting "save us from saviors" and waving placards saying "condoms protect, police threaten," hundreds of red-shirted sex workers demanded their human rights be respected and asserted they did not need to be "saved" from their jobs in brothels, least of all by lecherous, avaricious police officers.

“During brothel raids the police beat sex workers with sticks, stones, or weapons, and take all their money and jewelry," said Pheng Phally, a sex worker and team leader of the WNU.

"If any sex workers are pretty, the police gang rape them before sending them to the rehabilitation center where there is not enough food and very poor hygiene.

"Video-taped evidence of the abuse of sex workers by Cambodian law-enforcement officials was presented at the event, which comes just one day before Minister of Interior Sar Kheng is due to make an announcement on the US State Department's annual assessment of the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking efforts.

WNU's Phally explained that after the new anti-trafficking legislation passed the police ramped-up brothel raids, began targeting street-based sex workers and closing down karaoke bars.

Not only does the new climate of fear and repression make it nearly impossible for the tens of thousands of women employed in the Kingdom's sex industry to earn a living, but they are being "beaten and treated like animals" during the raids, she said.

“We have gathered today to ask the government to repeal the law and stop the violent raids on us, we have rights too and we need to be allowed to earn money for ourselves and our families – sex work is work," Phally said.

The head of Cambodia's anti-trafficking police, Bith Kim Hong, on May 13 denied reports from groups like the WNU that large numbers of prostitutes were being rounded up under the new law’s soliciting clause, only to emerge from jail stripped of their money and possessions, or showing signs of physical and sexual abuse.

“It is not true police are using this law to arrest and extort money from the suspects. We never arrest prostitutes but rather we save them from brothels,” he told the Post at the time.

Cambodia’s “Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation” is based on US-style model anti-trafficking legislation that seeks to eliminate human trafficking by criminalizing the sex industry as a whole.

Activists claim it was only passed in a misguided attempt to meet anti-trafficking standards imposed by the US State Department, and point to the fact other US agencies –- such as USAID -– oppose the law.

Campu Bank opens 11th branch

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Kay Kimsong
Wednesday, 04 June 2008

Cambodian Public Bank, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Public Bank Berhad, opened its 11th branch in the country on June 3 in a move the company said was in anticipation of strong national economic growth over the coming years.

Dr Teh Hong Piow, founder of Public Bank Bhd and director general of Campu Bank, as the Cambodian lender is commonly known, said the enterprise had experienced swift growth in the Kingdom and was now the country’s biggest bank in terms of paid-up capital.

According to a Campu Bank press release, paid-up capital doubled from $45 million in November 2007 to $90 million at the end of April.

Teh said Campu Bank’s loans grew by 129 percent in 2007 while deposits increased by 59 percent over the previous year.

Similar growth rates had continued in 2008, he said at the opening of the branch on Mao Tse-Tung Boulevard in Phnom Penh, adding that Campu Bank has been Cambodia’s largest lender since September last year.

Teh said that as of April 30, Campu Bank’s total loans and deposits stood at $526 million and $376 million respectively – a 45 percent and 18 percent increase from December 2007.

“Campu Bank will continue to invest in technology, train and develop human capital, and develop new products and services to better serve the banking needs of the Cambodian public,” he said.

National Bank governor Chea Chanto welcomed Campu Bank’s expansion, noting that it now accounts for a quarter of all loans and deposits in Cambodia.

Public Bank Bhd is the biggest bank in Malaysia in terms of market capitalization, with a value of nearly $13 billion. Teh is one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen with a net worth of $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Hope springs eternal

Wednesday, 04 June 2008

Cambodian orphanage is providing new hope for HIV-positive orphans, with Sydneysiders playing a significant part, reports Peter Hackney.

When Tim Berry learned of a group of 38 orphaned children living in a tin shed in western Cambodia, he knew he had to do something.

The children were being cared for by a Buddhist monk – but without toilets, showers, and clean drinking water, their basic needs were barely being met.

So Berry, owner of Sydney’s longest-running gay club, The Midnight Shift, and former Governor of the AIDS Trust of Australia, decided to step in and set up his own orphanage, with the help of the Trust.

Established two years ago, the facility has evolved into a fully-fledged charity organisation: Hope for Cambodian Children. The registered charity runs the orphanage in Battambang province, which now cares for almost 100 children, and has a dedicated child sponsorship program, through which Westerners can sponsor a child and monitor their progress.

“Cambodia is a poor country,” says Berry, explaining the rationale for the project. “They’ve had their culture decimated by war and half their population killed. They’re still in a process of rebuilding. But Battambang, the area where the orphanage is, is poor even by Cambodian standards.

“HIV/AIDS has hit the area hard and left them with a lot of orphans. And to make things worse, the orphanages there won’t accept HIV-positive orphans.”

For, like Australia at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, when HIV-positive toddler Eve van Grafhorst and her family were hounded out of their Gosford home, HIV/AIDS is still poorly understood in Cambodia. Many people believe the disease can be spread by sharing utensils, and basic physical contact like touching or kissing. HIV-positive people are pariahs.

“The children are literally tested by the other orphanages, and if they’re HIV-positive, they are turned away,” says Berry. “They also don’t generally accept land mine victims or kids with any other major disease or disability, because they just don’t have the resources to cope with them.

“We’re trying a new approach. Not only do we accept HIV-positive children, but none of the other kids know who has HIV or not ... Rather than putting kids who are HIV positive in one room, and these in another, everyone’s all together as one happy family. There’s no segregation, apart from the boys and girls having separate dormitories.”

The approach of Hope for Cambodian Children, and its inclusive ethos, has not gone unnoticed. The official opening of the orphanage in March this year was attended by a slew of Cambodian officials, including Deputy Cambodian Prime Minister, Sok An.

It’s also what attracted award-winning Australian actress Joy Smithers to the project. Smithers, perhaps best known for acting the pants off co-star Nicole Kidman in Bangkok Hilton, and a long-running stint on Channel Seven’s All Saints, sits on the board of Hope for Cambodian Children, working to raise awareness and funds for the operation.

“What’s been set up is really incredible,” she tells SX. “There are 97 kids there. They’ve got wonderful accommodation, good food, they have computer classes, there’s a library – which the local community uses as well – there are ‘house mothers’ on site, who have about ten kids each who they mentor and look after ... The kids go to school every day, and are so well cared for. We have teachers, volunteers, and Terry Trethowan, the previous CEO of the AIDS Trust, is up there running the centre. We’ve even got out own ambulance.”

Smithers, who travels frequently to the orphanage between acting work, such as her role in new independent film Newcastle, says the organisation needs ongoing support, however, and that child sponsorship is particularly needed.

“When I first got involved, I asked Terry, ‘Should I try and organise clothes donations here in Australia?’ and he said, ‘Joy, for $5 I can clothe those kids for a year.’ So if someone donates $20, it’s like donating hundreds of dollars. People might think $20 or $50 is nothing – ‘What’s that gonna do?’ – but really it provides an incredible amount for the children.

“The interaction when you sponsor a child is a lot more hands-on than other programs,” she adds. “I sponsor a World Vision child as well and this is a lot more hands-on. You can go and visit the child if you want; there’s a whole procedure. You can go and volunteer over there as well.

But really, just to sponsor a child is an amazing help – so that we can get these kids who are damaged and educate them, nurture them, and make them into strong, brilliant people who will help build Cambodia.”

For more information on Hope for Cambodian Children, including children’s stories, picture galleries, and how to sponsor a child, visit

Protests Strain Thai Coalition and Put Focus on Deadlock

The New York Times
Published: June 4, 2008

BANGKOK — Only five months after national elections ended military rule here, a week of street protests has weakened the coalition government and highlighted Thailand’s failure to move beyond the stalemate that has frozen politics for more than two years.

Thousands of protesters have set up camp near the prime minister’s office, turning a major intersection in front of the United Nations offices into a round-the-clock carnival of protest songs, fiery speeches and — because this is Thailand — vendors hawking many types of sausages, smoked squid and green mangoes.

The protesters are in the streets for many of the same reasons that they were two years ago: they want to see the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, tried on corruption charges.

Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, returned to Thailand in February as an ally of the current government. The protesters are also defending the aging king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, from what they consider attacks on the institution of the monarchy. And they distrust a government that received the core of its support from the countryside.

“The government didn’t win the vote among educated people,” said Somsak Kosaisook, a protest organizer. The poor and uneducated were “trapped” into voting for the government, he said.

While the protesters appeared to have strong support, they also elicited concern and criticism from a nation that remains deeply divided and worn down by two years of political battles with no clear resolution in sight.

Thailand, more liberal and pluralistic than the neighboring democracies of Malaysia and Cambodia, has a long tradition of street protests. But unlike the antigovernment protests of previous years, the current demonstrations aim to defeat a democratically elected government, not military rulers.

“It’s a dangerous trend,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “I’m not a fan of the P.P.P.,” he said of the governing party, “but you have an elected government, and you have 10,000 people taking to the streets who want to overthrow it.”

Newspapers have highlighted the plight of students and commuters inconvenienced by the noise of the protest and the traffic jams that it causes. And there have been rumors of a possible military coup.

But many blame the government for mishandling the protests. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej threatened Saturday to clear the demonstrators by force, but backed down.

“The prime minister should have engaged these people from the beginning,” said Panitan Wattanayagorn, an expert on Thai politics, also at Chulalongkorn University.

Protesters took to the streets, he said, because they realized that they were not getting their way in Parliament. They opposed a plan by the government to amend the Constitution written under the military government and called for the resignation of Jakrapob Penkair, a minister whom they accused of insulting the king in comments to foreign correspondents last August.

After veiled threats by the military of another coup, he resigned on Friday, and the government abandoned its plan to amend the Constitution.

Minor parties in Mr. Samak’s governing coalition have met to discuss the future of the alliance.

“Samak has been severely weakened,” Mr. Thitinan said. “This may lead to his downfall.”

Mr. Somsak, the protest leader, said that “in principle” the protests would continue until Mr. Samak resigned. He said that on the slowest day his movement received about $30,000 in donations from the public, so he would have no trouble continuing the protest.

His main target, he said, was Mr. Thaksin, who he contended was influencing the government from behind the scenes.

“This is the No. 1 reason people have come here to protest,” Mr. Somsak said. “Everyone wants to see him go on trial.”

Mr. Thaksin returned in February to crowds of cheering supporters. He has vowed to stay out of politics and faces corruption charges. Yet, despite his lower profile, he still can divide the country.

Among the crowd on a recent evening, when the number of protesters swelled to several thousand, were a business school student, a retired soldier, the owner of an electronics shop and a factory owner. They vented their animus toward Mr. Thaksin.

“This could last a year,” Mr. Somsak said.

ATIPetroleum (ATIP) Board of Director Meet up with Chairman of National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — An ATIP (Paris:MLATP) delegation including senior staff and experts in oil and gas field led by Dr Dinh Duc Huu, ATIP's Chairman and CEO was invited to see in person and to have a working session by the Chairman of National Asembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Heng SomRin.

Upon the meeting, the Chairman highly appreciated what ATIP has achieved over the past few years, especially the international cooperation in many countries all over the world. It is expected that ATIP would accelarate the procedure of exploration and exploitation in 2 Blocks X and XV offshore as well as investment in Agroforestry in Cambodia.

On behalf of ATIP management board, ATIP's representative in Cambodia, Count Rat Sokhorn has shown the company commitment to implement the project in Cambodia and hope for a strong support from the King and the Government.

Aside from Cambodia, ATIP also has gained other oil and gas exploration contracts in so- called potential countries.

ATIP news

Hazardous lives led by Cambodian children worsened by recycling boom

Across Cambodia an estimated 1.5 million children under 14 are forced to work. -- PHOTO: AP

The Straits Times
June 4, 2008

PHNOM PENH - DR Tuy Puthea was finishing his rounds one day in late March, inspecting a wound on the neck of a young boy, one of a dozen children loitering in an alley behind Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium.

His ten-year-old patient, wearing only ragged shorts and a t-shirt, was just one among thousands of youngsters scraping out an existence scavenging waste on the streets of the Cambodian capital.

Cambodia's growing demand for recyclables - from bottles and cans to cardboard - has seen a sharp rise in the number of child scavengers trawling through the capital's waste heaps, many of them press-ganged into what advocates say is one of the world's most hazardous forms of labour.

In 2006, around 4,000 children were working on Phnom Penh's streets, according to Chan Haranvadey, an official with the Social Affairs Ministry.

That number is estimated to have spiraled to between 10,000 and 20,000, though the number dips during the planting season in May and June, when many children return to family farms, non-governmental organisations say.

'These child scavengers are the most vulnerable,' said Dr Tuy Puthea, who works with the NGO Mith Samlanh, which helps homeless children.

'They use neither gloves nor shoes, they inhale toxic fumes, eat out of garbage bins,' he said, listing ailments he sees every day, from headaches and infected wounds to diarrhoea and hacking coughs.

Across Cambodia an estimated 1.5 million children under 14 are forced to work, child advocacy groups say. They says that while most labour on family farms, up to 250,000 work in hazardous conditions at such pursuits as begging, waste scavenging, factory work or mining.

In Phnom Penh, where an economic boom has also fueled the trash trade, some 70 per cent of scavengers are children, according to Mith Samlanh and another child advocacy group, For the Smile of a Child (PSE).

They can be seen day and night, sometimes alone or with their families, picking through piles of trash or begging for bottles and cans from customers at streetside restaurants.

Scavengers' lives defined by violence, degradation By foraging for plastic, glass, metal or cardboard, a child can make a dollar or two a day - no small sum in a country where 35 per cent of the population is mired in poverty.

But scavenging also places them in a rigid system of patronage, extortion and intimidation at the hands of local thugs acting as middlemen for large recycling outfits operating in Thailand or Vietnam.

These handlers, sometimes children only a few years older than the scavengers themselves, often pay lower than market value in exchange for protection or small tips.

It's a necessary arrangement in a world defined by violence and degradation.

'They are exposed to others problems - violence, drug use, sexual harassment or trafficking,' says Dr Tuy Puthea, whose clinic treats about 30 children a day.

That number could drastically increase as plans to close Cambodia's largest dump get underway. Phnom Penh needs to find somewhere else for its garbage because the current dump is almost full, say city officials.

Only a few short kilometres from Phnom Penh's burgeoning downtown, at the end of a dirt lane crowded with garbage trucks, is the Stung Meanchey tip, a vast horizon of trash.

Here hundreds of scavengers, many of them children, wander through the smoldering squalor, their clothing stiff with grime and faces tightly wrapped with scarves against the stinging, ever-present smoke.

But without the dump, they will be forced into the streets, swelling the ranks of those already prowling Phnom Penh's litter piles but also taking them further from the reach of the groups most actively trying to help them.

'Closing the dump is a good thing - this should not be so close to the city,' said Mr Pin Sarapitch, director of the programmes at PSE, which for 12 years has operated on the fringes of Stung Meanchey, providing education or vocational training for more than 5,000 children.

'The closure should be followed by more social intervention from the state.

The government cannot close the dump and leave these families without a place to live or work,' Mr Pin Sarapitch said.

'Where will they go, and how will we be able to our work with them if they cannot be found,' he added. -- AFP

Lawyer says former Khmer Rouge leader ailing

The Associated Press
Published: June 4, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: The Khmer Rouge's 76-year-old former head of state, who is awaiting trial on war crimes charges, has suffered an apparent stroke and can barely speak, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Khieu Samphan was rushed from his detention cell to a hospital on May 21 with high blood pressure. Since then, his condition has worsened, said attorney Say Bory, who is defending him at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal scheduled to start later this year.

The lawyer said he believed Khieu Samphan had suffered his second stroke following one in November, though doctors have not issued a diagnosis.

"The left side of his body is nearly deadened," Say Bory told The Associated Press.
The tribunal's spokesmen and Khieu Samphan's doctors could not immediately be reached for comment.

The long-delayed tribunal is seeking justice for atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge when it ruled Cambodia from 1975-79. The regime is blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people who died of starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

Khieu Samphan is among five suspects facing trial for their alleged roles in the regime's brutality. He faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

All five defendants are aging and infirm. Many fear the aging suspects might die before they ever see a courtroom.

Airlines reduce flights to Cambodia as off season comes

PHNOM PENH, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Airlines are beginning their annual reduction of flights into Cambodia as the off season of tourism has started, the Cambodian Daily reported Wednesday.

As of June 1, Bangkok Airways has temporarily canceled its twice-weekly flights from Chiang Mai, Thailand, to Siem Reap, Cambodia, which will not reopen until October.

Meanwhile, the airline will remain its five-to-six daily flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap, the English-Khmer language newspaper quoted company source as saying.

Last month, Vietnam Airlines canceled 110 flights into Siem Reap, which is the hottest sight-seeing spot of Cambodia.

Also in May, Eva Air cut off 13 flights into Cambodia.

Every year, airlines scale back flights to Cambodia when the rainy season begins and tourism slows, the paper quoted airport official as saying.

Tourism is one of the kingdom's foremost pillar industries. In 2007, it received some 2 million foreign tourist arrivals.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Education offers solution to child labor, ill-health in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Education is the right solution to child labor and ill-health problems in Cambodia, local media reported Wednesday, citing senior officials and international experts.

Thousands of children plus their grown-up hanger-ons celebrated an event combining two international days celebrating children and their rights Tuesday at Samdech Hun Sen Park and the riverbank in Phnom Penh, the Mekong Times newspaper reported.

The days celebrated were the International Children's Day of June 1 and International Child Labor Day of June 12. The themes featured were "Health care for infants and children for the development of the country" and "Education is the right solution to child labor."

"Every Cambodian citizen has a great obligation to ensure infants and children can live peacefully, grow to be healthy and intelligent adults, and live in peace and dignity," said Ith Sam Heng, chairman of the Cambodian National Council for Children and minister of social affairs, in front of thousands of children.

"Child and infant health care is a key to poverty reduction and sustainable development. All parents have the obligation to keep their children healthy and disease free he said.

The minister added that investment in child and infant health care is the only way to ensure that Cambodian children receive full rights so they can do their best to rebuild the country and have a decent standard of living.

"Children are the bamboo shoots which will grow into our bamboo plants and are the firm pillar of the country, but the poverty of the people is an obstacle to the achievement of children's educational potential," said Deputy Prime Minister Sok An at the event.

He also urged all national and international organizations to pay close attention to children's issues and to seek means to free children from all forms of exploitation.

Speaking at the event, Menachery Paul Joseph, technical advisory leader at the International Labor Organization's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, encouraged the government to work for the elimination of child labor in all sectors.

He said "if children are laboring, they are doing it outside of school, which means they are unable to go to school to receive an education".

Meas Samnang, representative for the NGO Committee on the Rights of the Child, said during the event that children are the most vulnerable to exploitation in the community because their parents' poverty often means they are unable to attend school.

According to a 2003 survey, nearly 30,000 domestic child laborers in Phnom Penh alone were not going to school, he said.

He urged the government, NGOs and members of the public to encourage the implementation of laws to prevent the use of child labor.

"Education is the most suitable solution for children," said the official.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Largest Cambodian Buddha resurrected in Siem Reap

PHNOM PENH, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The largest reclining Buddha in Cambodia, part of the Baphuon Temple at Angkor in Siem Reap province, has just opened to the public, the Mekong Times newspaper said Wednesday.

The Buddha is a 16th century addition to the west face of the 11th century Hindu Baphuon temple, the newspaper said, adding that it marks a religious schism between the Brahmanic Angkor society and the Buddhist culture that arose later.

The Buddha is one of the final stages of the reconstruction of the temple, with the three tiered monument slated to be fully open to the public by the end of 2009.

The restoration of the temple has been an epic journey, begun by the well-known French organization Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient (EFEO) before the civil war in 1970. The project was interrupted by the war and resumed by the EFEO in 1995.

The Reclining Buddha, a representation of the Buddha after attaining enlightenment, is 70 meters long and 12 meters high. The French have undertaken nine years of "complex work" on the statue, which is one of the "most astonishing" archeological remains of the post-Angkorian period, according to a French Embassy press release.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Cambodian NGO Forum asks Mekong River dam developers to consider environmental effects

June 04, 2008

The NGO Forum in Cambodia has asked the developers of a series of large dams planned for the Sekong River Basin in southern Laos to pay close attention to their potential environmental impact as fears grow for the tens of thousands of Cambodians living alongside the river's lower stretches, local media reported Wednesday.

"We are really concerned about the potential negative effects on Cambodian people living downstream of the proposed dams," NGO Forum deputy executive director Ngy San was quoted as saying in the Mekong Times newspaper.

The dams could help power the region but it is critical that these environmental concerns are not overlooked, he added.

"We do not want to oppose the government or companies which are developing the dams," he said. "But we need to think about impacts on water quality and aquatic biodiversity ... We need the (Cambodian) government to hold talks with Laos on the matter."

According to a recent report from the Cambodian Mekong River Alliance, Laos has already constructed two hydropower dams on the river, with the Houay Ho dam capable of producing 150 megawatts, and the Xekamen dam to be complete in 2010 250 megawatts, the newspaper said.

The existing dams are believed to have seriously damaged the river's ecological wellbeing both in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia, affecting the livelihoods of an estimated 30,000 villagers living alongside it, the vast majority of whom are from ethnic minorities, it said.


Flights to Cambodia reduced for off-season

Airlines are beginning their annual reduction of flights into Cambodia as the off season of tourism has started, the Cambodian Daily reported Wednesday.

As of June 1, Bangkok Airways has temporarily canceled its twice-weekly flights from Chiang Mai, Thailand, to Siem Reap, Cambodia, which will not reopen until October.

Meanwhile, the airline will remain its five-to-six daily flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap, the English-Khmer language newspaper quoted company source as saying.

Last month, Vietnam Airlines canceled 110 flights into Siem Reap, which is the hottest sight-seeing spot of Cambodia.

Also in May, Eva Air cut off 13 flights into Cambodia.

Every year, airlines scale back flights to Cambodia when the rainy season begins and tourism slows, the paper quoted airport official as saying.

Tourism is one of the kingdom's foremost pillar industries. In 2007, it received some 2 million foreign tourist arrivals.

(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2008)

Sam Rainsy vows to confiscate lands from Tycoon if he wins in election

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Friday, 30 May 2008

Belligerent pre-election banter is only to be expected, but opposition leader Sam Rainsy has raised the game by declaring he will redistribute the ill-gotten gains of corrupt pro-government tycoons if his party wins July's national elections.

Cambodian People's Party-affiliated Okhna, tycoons and businessmen beware: on May 12 Rainsy announced that he "will give back to the nation, give back to the victims of land grabbing, return to the state millions of hectares of land that have been illegally sold off.

"Rainsy alleges that by maintaining close ties with the ruling CPP - in particular with Prime Minister Hun Sen - powerful individuals have been able to acquire state land illegally through secretive land swaps or grab land from poor farmers.

"Any new government led by me, Sam Rainsy, will confiscate land, forests, mountains, beaches and islands which have been sold to foreign companies by the CPP," Rainsy said. "We will take them back for the nation and the people. We do not recognize the contracts issued by Hun Sen's government as they have signed away our lands to evil companies."

This policy of land redistribution is "unsustainable" and will "bring problems for the Cambodian people," Information Minister and CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said on May 20.

Chairman of Hong Kong's Largest Property Firm Ousted

By Claudia Blume
Hong Kong
02 June 2008

Hong Kong's largest property firm has ousted its chairman, after a high-profile family feud. And, Cambodia has become the first country in Asia to lift a ban on rice exports. From Hong Kong, Claudia Blume has more on these and other business stories from the Asia-Pacific region.

Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties has replaced its chairman and chief executive, Walter Kwok, with his mother, Kwong Siu-hing. The action came after he lost a court battle with his younger brothers, Thomas and Raymond, who are both vice chairmen of Hong Kong's largest property firm. A high court judge turned down Walter Kwok's application for a permanent injunction order to prevent the company's board from voting on his removal.

Walter Kwok's lawyer, Ronny Tong, says his client exhausted all legal channels open to stop the vote.

"The court of appeal has delivered its judgment. We respect that judgment," he said. "I think there will be no further applications for injunctions. There is always the possibility that the matter can be resolved amicably. We have always taken the position that we are willing to negotiate and that has been the position since day one."

Cambodia has lifted a temporary ban on rice exports. The government introduced the ban in March, in a bid to halt the staple food's spiraling prices, which reached a record high of almost $1 per kilo on the local market this year. The ban followed similar moves by Vietnam and India.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says the country has enough rice for its own needs and that export of the surplus will help reduce concerns of other countries about supplies of rice.

The Philippines - one of the world's largest rice importers - has been particularly affected by dwindling stocks and rising prices of the commodity. To ensure food sufficiency, the government has placed a two-year ban on the conversion of rice farms to other uses. The ban is expected to impact real estate developers and corporate farms looking for areas to grow higher-value crops.

Foreign companies have pledged to invest more than $15 billion in Vietnam, in the first five months of this year. This is more than double the amount of foreign direct investment the country attracted in the same period, last year. More than 300 projects have been licensed, so far this year. The biggest one is a $4,2 billion casino and tourism complex that a Canadian investor will build in southern Vietnam.

Australia's Qantas Airline said it will cut its capacity by five percent to cope with soaring fuel prices. The airline will cut routes, ax jobs and ground several planes.

Despite spiraling prices for fuel, the net profit of Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia went up 86 percent in the first quarter. Profits rose to $50 million, in the three months. AirAsia says higher passenger volume contributed to the positive result. Passenger numbers in the first quarter increased by 21 percent, to 2.6 million.

Former officer pleads guilty over sham raid

James McCabe … extradited from Cambodia.Photo: Peter Morris

The Sydney Morning Herald.
Bellinda Kontominas
June 4, 2008

A FORMER senior police officer is facing up to 20 years in jail after he stole drugs in a pretend raid, a court has been told.

James Anthony McCabe, 38, a former Victorian police officer, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Sydney District Court to robbing methamphetamines from a drug trafficker during a fake police operation in the inner- west suburb of Enfield in 2002. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

An agreed statement of facts tendered to court revealed that McCabe, who was working as a drug-trafficking investigator with the Australian Crime Commission, met with a NSW police officer, Detective Sergeant Samuel Foster, also with the commission.

Foster had arranged for his contacts to set up a drug deal in a car, which the two policemen would then bust.

Under the plan, the drug trafficker, who cannot be named, would be told the police were prepared to "ignore or go easy" on him because their main interest was in the other parties involved, the court heard. The trafficker was likely to agree to the arrangement because losing the drugs would be preferable to arrest, the court heard.

Shortly before 8pm, as the deal was being done, McCabe and Foster, who has already been sentenced for his part in the crime, approached the car. McCabe handcuffed one dealer and Foster took his particulars "to make it appear to be a legitimate arrest", the court heard.

Once the drug trafficker had handed over the speed to police, McCabe drove the man he had "arrested" to The Rocks where they met up with two others who had arranged the deal. They then split the drugs.

Police became aware of McCabe's part in the crime through phone taps and surveillance. For his part, Foster pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 7½ years in jail with a non-parole period of 4½ years.

McCabe, who lives in Booker Bay on the Central Coast, was arrested after being extradited from Cambodia, despite no existence of a formal extradition treaty between the countries.

He was due to face trial in the Sydney District Court this week on drug and armed robbery charges, but pleaded guilty after a deal was struck with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

McCabe will be sentenced next month.

Nick Faldo Opens First Golf Course in Cambodia

Written by Ozgur Tore
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

Nick Faldo has opened the Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap and predicts great things for his company’s first course in Cambodia. Energized by a two-day visit to Siem Reap and after playing his new 18-hole design near to the famous temples of Angkor Wat,

“I am certain that this site and this golf course will become world renowned. We have designed and built a golf course that challenges all standards of golfers, from the casual weekender through to the seasoned professional. It is a golf course that will offer enjoyment to everyone and will hopefully have them coming back to be challenged by this strategic layout time after time”, said Nick Faldo.

Under glorious skies, the six-time Major winner received a blessing from local monks and then conducted a golf clinic, passing on golf tips to the attending masses and showcasing his precision ball striking on Angkor Golf Resort’s 300 meter long driving range. This was followed by an 18-hole exhibition round to view his latest masterpiece.

Faldo continued: “Overall, I believe that we have created a course that offers great variety through all 18 holes and the fact that we have been working alongside such remarkable surroundings has been a real inspiration; the result is a strategically testing and very engaging round of golf. I believe that our course at the Angkor Golf Resort will help to put this part of South East Asia firmly on the golfing map. Our fairways are typically generous, but our bunkering style is impressively bold. The greens have plenty of subtle undulations and they reward and encourage a variety of approach shots."

Drug use up in Phnom Penh

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Friday, 30 May 2008

The number of people using illicit drugs is on the rise in Phnom Penh and elsewhere in the country, Cambodia's top anti-narcotics official says, warning also that addicts are turning to increasingly harder drugs.

Although he provided no data on the numbers of drug users, Lieutenant General Lour Ramin, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said at the organization's annual meeting on May 21 that 42 drugs cases had been investigated in the first three months of this year, resulting in 67 arrests.

"More people are looking for happiness from drugs ... drug users are spreading out into the provinces," he told the Post on June 2, adding that Cambodia's developing economy meant more people had the money to spend on narcotics.

"We've found that there is an increase in the use of injected drugs because people are looking for a faster high," he added.

The drugs cases investigated this year showed that traffickers based in the Golden Triangle region bordering Myanmar, Laos and Thailand were still targeting Cambodia as an easy trans-shipment point," Ramin said.

"We see that the same sources of drugs trafficking are continuing," he said.

Ramin said that in 2007, the authorities acted in 152 cases and arrested a total of 279 people.He said that in 15 months to the end of last March, the authority seized 467,905 methamphetamine pills, 7,043 grams of Ice, 12,430 grams of heroin and 5,770 kilograms of amphetamine-type stimulants.

The number of methamphetamine pills seized in Cambodia had fallen from 428,553 in 2006 to 390,987 last year, Ramin said.

The May 21 meeting was attended by more than 100 police and military police from throughout the country, who agreed on the need to strengthen collaboration with neighboring countries to help combat smuggling.

The move is in line with the authority's 2008 action plan, which calls for provincial narcotics authorities to play a key role in intercepting traffickers.

Ramin said the authority will strengthen and expand the Border Liaison Office mechanism in priority areas, such as along the borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, a survey released on May 29 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has found that amphetamines were used by 67 percent of those who reported ever using an illicit drug, while 40 percent said they had used it during the previous month. The survey was conducted in 60 communes in 12 provinces with high rates of drug abuse.

Prisons plagued by mismanagement, despite improvements: Licadho

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Friday, 30 May 2008

Conditions at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison are steadily improving, according to human rights activists, although jails in the provinces are still plagued by mismanagement and massive funding shortfalls.

During a June 1 visit to Prey Sar, during which donations were offered to 382 underage and female prisoners, local human rights group Licadho reported that conditions at the prison’s Correctional Center 2 (CC2) had improved with prisoners no longer being routinely shackled or tortured, said Licadho president Kek Galabru.

But outside of the capital prisons are still plagued by overcrowding and a severe lack of resources.“Provincial prisons lack two things: food and medical supplies,” Galabru said, noting that prisoners receive an average of just 1,500 riels of resources per day.

Licadho used the event, which marked International Children’s Day, to draw attention to the practice of keeping people in detention past the completion of their sentences while they await the prosecution's appeal, which is, they say, a serious violation of human rights.

“I was sentenced to one year in jail when I was 15. I am now 18. I want to know how long I will stay in prison,” said Nut Saron, a prisoner at CC2.

Currently, if the prosecutor appeals a case, the accused – such as Saron – cannot be released until the case has been heard by the Appeals Court, which is overburdened by a backlog of up to two years.

“Our officials have already raised over 20 similar cases of overlong confinement [awaiting appeal] with the Appeals Court and asked that they check the cases and set exact dates for the hearings rather than allowing minors to stay in jail for over two years waiting. This is an injustice," Galabru said.

Licadho visits 18 of Cambodia’s 26 prisons on three occasions each year, donating clothing and cans of food to mark International Children Day, International Women’s Day and Khmer New Year.

Plight of the hungry

A Cambodian school boy eats rice during a school breakfast supported by the World Food Program in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (HENG SINITH / AP)

Chronic world hunger reflects neglect of small farms in poor countries

he Associated Press
Tue. Jun 3

ROME — Ferried in by helicopters and boats or loaded on the backs of yaks and elephants, massive amounts of food aid have reached millions of homeless or hungry people after disasters in the last few years.

But while the world rises to the challenge of saving those survivors from starvation, hundreds of millions go hungry from a catastrophe that has stubbornly lasted for decades: the failure of agriculture in much of Africa and some parts of Asia and Latin America to ensure enough food for their own.

World leaders convening in Rome on Tuesday to grapple with skyrocketing food prices will have to make progress on this problem if they want to eradicate chronic hunger, say United Nations experts, non-profit aid groups and economists.

As the recent outpouring of nearly $1 billion to help the UN purchase emergency aid during the current food price crisis might show, the world can be more willing to take on dramatic emergencies than to invest in helping poor countries to feed themselves.

"What we’ve seen is we’re getting better at emergencies, but getting worse at tackling chronic hunger," said Duncan Green, director of research at Oxfam, a British aid group.

"Even in 2006, which was a good food (harvest) year, 850 million people were hungry," said Raj Patel, a political economist who testified earlier this month before U.S. Congress about the food crisis. "It’s part of a chronic crisis which has recently become acute" because of soaring prices.
Agricultural development has been "horrendously neglected," Oxfam’s Green said in a telephone interview from Britain ahead of the June 3-5 UN summit.

"I’d say it’s three decades of neglect," said Jim Butler, deputy director-general of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, which is hosting the summit. He said his agency will encourage aid to small farmers in the form of seed, feed, supplies, fertilizer and technology.

An internal report by the World Bank, which wealthy countries finance to help poor ones, concluded last year that the institution had long neglected farming in sub-Saharan Africa.

Congressional investigators said last week that African-bound food aid, particularly from the United States, has increasingly been sent for short-term emergencies rather than to help long-term agricultural development.

"We tend to deal with what is happening now, today, tomorrow or next week, and insufficient attention is given to more fundamental processes such as population growth, or the need to invest in agriculture research for people living in difficult environments," said Timothy Dyson, an expert in agriculture and famine issues at the London School of Economics.

Agricultural development aid dropped by one-half between 1980 and 2005, said another Oxfam official, Tricia O’Rourke.

In 2006, $4 billion was spent on agricultural development, a pittance compared to the $25 billion worldwide on subsidies to farmers by governments of developed countries eager to keep home products competitive, said O’Rourke.

Many argue that subsidiaries hurt small farmers abroad, since imported subsidized products compete for homegrown products in their countries, while proponents argue that subsidies will encourage more food for mouths worldwide.

Last week, the World Bank pledged to boost support for both agriculture and food aid. It calculates that food prices have increased by 83 per cent over the past three years.

The dizzying escalation has been blamed on fuel hikes, changing diets, urbanization, expanding populations, climate change, bad weather, growth in biofuel production and speculation, as well as the legacy of flawed food policies.

The previous two decades saw pressures from international banks and governments in the developed world to get the state out of poor countries’ economies.

"The argument was that the state institutions were inefficient, and the private sector would do it better," said Oxfam’s Green. But "the private sector goes where it can make a decent profit" leaving out those "farmers in the middle of nowhere with no access to markets or roads."

Patel criticized U.S. policies of purchasing U.S.-produced food for disaster emergencies halfway around the globe instead of providing funds so poor countries can buy the aid food from their own struggling farmers.

"When the ship comes in loaded with grain from Kansas, that wipes out domestic agricultural production," said Patel in a phone interview from San Francisco.

U.S. legislators recently ignored an administration request to allow 25 per cent of U.S. food aid funds to be used to purchase foreign supplies near crisis areas. Instead, congressional negotiators set up a small pilot program to allow for limited local foreign purchases using U.S. aid money.

"We are hoping that we can move to greater amounts of local purchase," Henrietta Fore of the U.S. Agency for International Development told reporters Sunday.

ATIPetroleum (ATIP) Board of Director Meet up with Chairman of National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia

June 03, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An ATIP (Paris:MLATP) delegation including senior staff and experts in oil and gas field led by Dr Dinh Duc Huu, ATIP’s Chairman and CEO was invited to see in person and to have a working session by the Chairman of National Asembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Heng SomRin.

Upon the meeting, the Chairman highly appreciated what ATIP has achieved over the past few years, especially the international cooperation in many countries all over the world. It is expected that ATIP would accelarate the procedure of exploration and exploitation in 2 Blocks X and XV offshore as well as investment in Agroforestry in Cambodia.

On behalf of ATIP management board, ATIP’s representative in Cambodia, Count Rat Sokhorn has shown the company commitment to implement the project in Cambodia and hope for a strong support from the King and the Government.

Aside from Cambodia, ATIP also has gained other oil and gas exploration contracts in so- called potential countries.

Five Organizations Sign a Memorandum with the Ministry of Social Affairs

Posted on 4 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 563

“Phnom Penh: A memorandum for a project for a period of three years has been signed at the Ministry of Social Affairs between the Minister of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Mr. Ith Samheng, and five other organizations – the International Committee of the Red Cross, Handicap International Belgium, Handicap International France, the Cambodia Trust, and Veterans International Cambodia, on 2 June 2008, with the goal to create appropriate employment opportunities.

“Mr. Ith Samheng said that, based on the Rectangular Strategy of the third term royal government of Cambodia, and based on the 1993-2002 and the 2003-2012 Millennium Policies for persons with disabilities, the Ministry of Social Affairs has set six strategic goals for the field of people with disabilities – first, to concentrate on promoting the basic rights of persons with disabilities, second, to strengthen and expand self-dependent groups of persons with disabilities; third, to strengthen and expand the rights of persons with disabilities to join social activities; fourth, to strengthen professional training programs for persons with disabilities; fifth, to guarantee the creation of appropriate employment. This depends on rehabilitation measures for restoring possibilities for appropriate employment, which require non-pharmacological interventions to prevent serious disabilities by such treatments which use physiotherapy, the provision of artificial and of supporting limbs, and the provision of assisting tools for mobility; and sixth, coordinate and facilitate the traveling of handicapped people to public places.
Separately, the restoration of the possibility of appropriate employment is a very important service which has brought many successes.

Additional Information from page 8 of a Five Year Plan 2004-2009 of the UK based Cambodia Trust website

Millennium Development Goals

The priority for Governments, UN agencies and major development organizations, is to meet the [Eight] UN Global Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Unfortunately, the Goals do not make specific reference to disabled people. Most major development organizations have failed to include disabled people in their mainstream poverty alleviation programs.

“Eliminating world poverty is unlikely to be achieved unless the rights and needs of disabled people are taken into account.”

Cambodia’s goal

Cambodia has added a ninth target to these goals: Millennium Development Goal 9 - to move towards zero impact from landmines and UXOs by 2012. One quotation from this document is of specific importance:

“A victim assistance framework [for victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance] needs to be developed on a national scale that is rights based and not a disability model. Victim assistance must move much more into mainstream development programs and the self-help movement.

The challenge to develop victim assistance through mainstream poverty reduction programs requires developing co-operative strategies with a network of NGOs. Just as the disability sector in Cambodia needs to develop a rights-based approach, so victim assistance needs to be thought of in terms of integration with society and not as a separate group.” (Unpublished paper, UNDP, December 2003).

“Mr. Ith Samheng stressed that the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has encouraged and facilitated international non-government organizations to provide services for fruitful rehabilitation measures towards appropriate employment. Nowadays, the provision of such services include the production, the distribution, and the repairing of artificial and supporting limbs, the provision and maintenance of wheel-chairs and other support tools to ease mobility, physiotherapeutic treatment for the restoration appropriate employment in the community, and other services like special arrangements for the provision of meals, for special housing, financial support for moving around, social sponsorships, and training.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol. 41, #6361, 3.6.2008

Election Year Investment Dips

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

Khmer audio aired June 03 (767MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 03 (767MB) - Listen (MP3)

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the first in a two-part series examining the impact of foreign investment on voters.]

Signs of investment in Cambodia now abound: from plans for skyscrapers, fresh paint on new villas and infrastructure projects across the countryside. Millions of dollars are coming in, but, as Cambodia enters an election year, those numbers are dipping.

Political observers say little of this money gets to the people anyway, even as quality investment has shied away from the country thanks to corruption.

Still, voters are likely to start looking for leaders who can help bring them some of the millions of dollars of foreign investment coming in, with a government that will be in power until 2013.

Cambodia saw private investment drop from $503 million in the first quarter of 2007 to $253 million in the same period this year, according to the government's investment oversight body, the Council for Development of Cambodia. The top investors for the country include Singapore, China and South Korea.

A dip in investment capital will be felt by Cambodia's labor force, which comprises hundreds of thousands of young voters. This also affects Cambodia's overall economic development, said Sok Sina, an independent economic analyst, who blamed a decline in garment exports to the US and the overall struggling global economy for the dip.

Voters may not necessarily think of this immediately as an issue, but opposition leader Sam Rainsy said poor investment was a product of poor government, especially corruption, which keeps away quality investors.

Election observers say voters are not concerned with the fall of investment or slow economic growth, because their living conditions remain still poor. But voters could concentrate on leaders who can pull them out of poverty.

Info Cards Can Confuse Voters: Parties

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 03 (4.88MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 03 (4.88MB) - Listen (MP3)

The National Election Committee will begin distribution of more than 8 million voter information cards Thursday, but competing parties said this week the cards did more harm than good.

The information cards are often misconstrued as a second form of identification necessary for voting, and, in the provinces, local leaders of the ruling Cambodian People's Party exploit this confusion, candidates said.

The NEC said Tuesday it had developed a system of distribution that would prevent party favoritism, but critics disagree.

Distribution will last from June 5 to June 25, nationwide, and is the responsibility of commune election committees.

The cards are meant to provide voters with information on polling station numbers, location and the date of the election, said NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha.

But the cards are too complicated, leading some people who don't receive them to believe they are not eligible to vote, Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha said.

The cards were a waste of NEC money, he said. The NEC spent $240,000 to produce them.

The Neutral and Impartial Committee on Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia will dispatch 7,000 observers for the card distribution.

Dengue Fever Cases Down This Year: Doctor

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
03 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 01 (7.24MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 01 (7.24MB) - Listen (MP3)

The spread of dengue fever has decreased this year, following a heavy outbreak of the disease in 2007's rainy season, a doctor said Sunday.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Health's dengue and malaria center will host a meeting in Kampong Cham province Thursday to discuss environmental changes and their impact on the mosquito-borne illnesses.

"From earlier this year until now, when the disease maintained its peak spread, some 1,050 children were hospitalized, and 13 died," said Dr. Ngan Chantha, deputy director of the National Malaria Center. "The recent rate of dengue fever has gone down by three to four times that of last year."

The government has distributed across eight provinces 50 tons of Abate, a chemical added to open water containers to kill mosquito larvae.

With time and proper treatment, dengue patients can be saved, Ngan Chantha said, but sometimes they arrive at the hospital late, having received improper treatment at private clinics.

Fishermen to Gather in Kampot March

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 03 (3.28MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 03 (3.28MB) - Listen (MP3)

More than 500 coastal fishermen from three coastal provinces have been allowed permission to gather ahead of World Environment Day, rights officials said.

The fishermen were originally denied permission by Kampot provincial authorities, but after meetings late Tuesday, Kampot Deputy Governor Khem Samorn said they would be allowed to continue a march Wednesday, a day ahead of Environment Day.

The fishermen plan to gather in Kampot town in the morning, then carry banners through the streets denouncing illegal sales of land along the southern sea coast, in a strip of forest called Korng Kang.

Wednesday's gathering would be the first of its kind, organizers said.

Khem Samorn said he decided to allow the march because the Ministry of Interior approved. Police will provide security for the marchers, he said.

Heritage Temple Will Bring Benefits: Officials

By Poch Reasey, VOA Khmer
03 June 2008

Khmer audio aired June 02 (24.4MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired June 02 (24.4MB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodia will gain many benefits once Preah Vihear temple receives Unesco's World Heritage Site status, a government spokesman said Monday.

The temple will receive recognition and financial assistance, once approved, said Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers spokesman, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

"Cambodia will also be able to develop its tourism, which will lead to poverty reduction," he said.

Michael Tranet, the former vice president of Unesco's Cambodia committee, said the recognition of Preah Vihear temple as Cambodian represented a second victory for the country, the first coming from then king Norodom Sihanouk's winning the temple in world court hearing.

Unesco will make a formal announcement of the temple's World Heritage status in July, Phay Siphan said.

Sean Pengse, president of the Cambodia Border Committee, based in Paris, told VOA Khmer recently that Cambodia should submit the temple as well as the surrounding area for protection.

PM warns against vehicle smuggling during election period

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged customs officials to heighten vigilance against vehicle smuggling during the campaign for the July 27 national election.

“When we are all busy preparing for the election, the smugglers are likely to take advantage of the situation,” Hun Sen said on May 28.

The prime minister also warned customs officials not to become directly involved in the campaign.

"Customs officials are not supposed to campaign with others ... the duty of customs officials is to collect money," he said.

In a related development, Economics and Finance Minister Keat Chhon has announced the creation by the Customs and Excise Department of a mobile team to crack down on all kinds of smuggling.

The team will be on duty during busy times, such as the election campaign, Chhon said.

Meanwhile, Son Chhay, an SRP lawmaker and chairman of the National Assembly’s commission on Public Works, Transport, Post and Telecommunications, Industry, Energy and Commerce, told the Post on May 29 he expected little to come from the prime minister's order.

“He [Hun Sen] just wanted to sound good," Chhay said, accusing the Cambodian People's Party of complicity in vehicle smuggling to raise funds, including for the election campaign. (Kay Kimsong)

More Cambodian de-miners to head to Sudan

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

A third team of Cambodian de-miners will head to Sudan to serve a year-long stint with the UN humanitarian mission in the war-torn African nation, Minister of Defense Tea Banh announced May 30.

The team of 124 de-mining soldiers will depart June 8, Banh said.

"This is the third time that Cambodia has sent soldiers to serve on this UN humanitarian mission,” he added.

The second team of 135 Cambodian de-miners will return to the Kingdom on June 10 after a successful year-long tour in Sudan. The first batch of 139 de-miners left in April 2006.

“Ten years ago Cambodia demanded UN assistance to help us clear landmines and enable development in this country, now we send our own Cambodian de-miners to serve as part of the UN's humanitarian mission in Sudan," Banh said. (Khouth Sophak Chakrya)

Cambodia implements zero tolerance of brothels despite protests

Top News Law
June 3rd, 2008
by Raman Iyer

Phnom Penh - Dozens of sex worker representatives will meet in the capital to protest the implementation of new laws which make brothels illegal, the groups involved said Tuesday.

Scores of sex workers have been rounded up and dozens of brothels closed since the government recently invoked new laws which workers say unfairly equate consensual sex with human trafficking.

Some male patrons have also been detained and "re-educated."

The groups say they will appeal directly to Prime Minister Hun Sen to modify the laws, claiming to have been unfairly targeted in the country's moral crackdown which has seen everything from skimpy dresses on television to adultery outlawed in recent years.

Once notorious for its sex trade and known as a haven for perverts and child molesters, Cambodia has made a concerted effort to change this reputation, arresting dozens of men for sex crimes and now attacking the country's thriving flesh trade.

But sex worker groups say the crackdown is only forcing women into the streets or the karaoke bars often used as fronts for prostitution and away from access to health care and education.

Interior Ministry anti-trafficking chief Bith Kimhong was unrepentant, saying the crackdown will continue.

"It is a difficult job because when we shut one, another just opens up, but I will continue to investigate each one, and when we have the evidence, we will continue to close them, because they affect the honour of Cambodia," he said by telephone.

The sex worker representatives said they would meet on Wednesday, one day before Interior Minister Sar Kheng is due to join a global conference call on anti-trafficking with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to a US embassy press release Tuesday. (dpa)