Friday, 6 June 2008

Sacravatoons : " NEC,a Neutral-Tool "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Two Years After their Eviction from the Center of Phnom Penh Villagers are Still Living in Squalor

Published on June 6, 2008

On June 6, 2006, more than 1000 families were violently expelled from their homes in Sambok Chap village in inner city Phnom Penh. The eviction was conducted by police and military police armed with guns, tear gas, batons and riot shields, and resulted in physical injuries, significant psychological trauma, and loss of property. The residents were forced onto trucks and taken to be dumped in an open field at Andong, 22km from central Phnom Penh – their new 'home'. There was no shelter, electricity, running water, schools, health services or readily-available employment nearby. The low-lying site was prone to flooding in the rainy season. With no choice but to live there, the evictees started to build simple houses, usually made of only tarpaulins and pieces of wood. Soon they were living in ankle-deep contaminated water.

Today 6 June 2008 marks the two year anniversary of the eviction, the site of their former homes in Sambok Chap – slated for commercial development by a private company – remains bare and unused, while the evictees continue to live in squalor at the Andong relocation site.

Water & sanitation issues
There is no source of drinkable water available to Andong residents, according to a March 2008 water and sanitation analysis done by Future Cambodia Fund NGO. All onsite wells are contaminated with bacteria and unacceptably high levels of mineral and heavy metal content. So too is the water in large UNICEF-donated water tanks at the site; villagers have to pay for the tainted water in the tanks, which is supplied by a private company. Only two communal latrines function in Andong, but are heavily soiled. Most people openly defecate and urinate in the surrounding area. There is no sewage or waste collection service. Residents throw dirty waste water, and burn or dump household rubbish, on the ground around the site.

Medical issues
Sambok Chap now - barren and over run by nature, in the shadow of the National AssemblyMost common health problems for residents include malnutrition, typhoid, dengue fever, hepatitis A or B, hypertension, respiratory tract infections, gastro-intestinal illnesses including stress-related ulcers, depression and anger management problems. There is a high rate of miscarriage, hemorrhaging and anemia due to a lack of care for pregnant women. Unless an NGO helps them, most pregnant women give birth at the site because they cannot afford to go to hospital. Many children suffer from pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, diarrhea, dysentery, malnutrition, and skin diseases (from infected wounds or poor hygiene). Between June 2006-December 2007, Licadho's Medical Team provided 14,748 medical consultations at Andong; more than 5,000 were of children aged under 5, and more than 4,700 were of adult women.

Legal issues
No evictees at Andong have been given land titles, despite authorities' promises in 2006 that they would receive them. Only about 440 families have officially received plots of land at the relocation site (but were told they would not receive titles to them for five years) Hundreds of other families remain at the site in a complete legal void – the authorities do not recognize that they came from Sambok Chap or that they have any right to land at Andong. (Because authorities did not do any registration of evictees during the June 2006 eviction, there is no official record of how many families were expelled from Sambok Chap and relocated at Andong. Authorities have given widely varying statistics for this, and for how many people currently live at Andong.) All of the people at Andong have no clearly enforceable land rights, and could be evicted again at any time.

The Sambok Chap eviction, and the continuing treatment of the evictees at Andong, grossly violates the human rights protections for Khmer citizens contained in the country's Constitution, as well as international human rights law. This is just one case in a wider pattern of rapid, unregulated and often illegal development across Cambodia which threatens the health, welfare and economic security of countless people. It is exacerbated by a culture of corruption and impunity and, all too often, by an international donor community which turns a blind eye to such abuses.

Economic growth to ease to 7.0 percent in 2008, inflation remains high: IMF

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Meixner, Seth
Friday, 06 June 2008

Cambodia's economic growth is expected to dip into the single digits this year, dropping more than three points to 7.0 percent, the International Monetary Fund said on June 6, citing a slowdown in the Kingdom's key garment sector.

But the decrease from 2007's growth of 10.25 percent is not likely to hurt Cambodia's position as one of the region's most robust economies, it said in a statement released at the end of a round of talks between IMF and senior government officials."

Economic activity in Cambodia remains robust, although the pace of growth is expected to ease. ... The moderation mainly reflects slowing garment exports due to weaker external demand and heightened regional competition," the IMF said.

The garment sector is impoverished Cambodia's largest industrial employer – giving jobs to more than 330,000 people – and one of the main sources of foreign exchange.

But while exports topped $2 billion in 2007, orders plummeted by 46 percent in the last quarter of the year, raising fears that the industry would be badly shaken by increasing competition from China and Vietnam.

Inflation, which in January rose to 18.7 percent, will also hold back growth and continue to affect mostly poor Cambodians who have been hit hard by spiraling food and fuel costs.

"The mission shared authorities' concern with rising inflation and its adverse effect on the poor," the IMF said.

More than a third of Cambodia's 14 million people remain mired in poverty, living on the equivalent of $1 a day.

While record-high international oil and food prices have contributed heavily to inflation in Cambodia, domestic commercial bank lending, which increased 100 percent year-on-year in early 2008, has also flooded the economy with cash and added to inflationary pressures, the IMF said.

The government has tightened its monetary policies in an attempt to rein in inflation – including raising bank reserve requirements in a bid to curb high credit growth and reduce the demand for loans.

US pushes Cambodia to clean up trafficking

Radio Australia

The United States says while Cambodia still needs to do more to fight human trafficking, the nation has made progress.

This follows an increase in law enforcement and the passing of new legislation to crack down on the crime.Cambodia has now been upgraded to Tier 2 in the annual US State Department report on human trafficking.

With a reputation as a haven for sex offenders, Cambodia ranked below the second tier since 2004, raising the risk that Washington could impose sanctions or other punitive measures.

Danger real in child prostitution drama 'Holly'

By Dave Larsen
Staff Writer
Friday, June 06, 2008

The cast and crew of "Holly" risked their lives to make the film.

"I don't think that when we started this we actually realized how crazy we are and how dangerous it really is," writer-producer Guy Jacobson said from New York City.

The child sex trafficking drama that opens today, June 6, at the Neon theater in Dayton was filmed on location in Cambodia, including scenes in actual brothels in the notorious "K11" red-light district of Phnom Penh.

"We were very lucky that nobody really got hurt," Jacobson said. "My partner was held hostage for two weeks in Cambodia after we finished filming. We actually had an entire army of body guards with automatic machine guns when we were shooting the film. There were contracts on our lives."

Jacobson will present "Holly" at 8 p.m. today at the Neon, 130 E. Fifth St. He will answer audience questions after the screening, joined by Bill Livermore of LexisNexis, a sponsor of the film and its producers.

The film also stars Virginie Ledoyen, Udo Kier and the late Chris Penn. It will be shown through Thursday, June 12, at the Neon.

"Holly" is part of the three-film K11 Project that also includes two forthcoming documentaries, designed to raise awareness of child prostitution. The filmmakers also have launched the Redlight Children Campaign, at

"For a small independent film, it became an epic project," Jacobson said.

Cambodia presents new map of Preah Vihear

By Supalak G Khundee
The Nation

Cambodia's new annexe map for a proposal to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site does not claim 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping territory, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Friday. Following an agreement between the two countries in Paris last month to list only the temple itself as a heritage site, Phnom Penh on Thursday sent the new map to Bangkok for consideration.

"I have seen the map, which makes clear that Cambodia no longer claims the overlapping downhill area as part of the temple for the World Heritage Site," Noppadon said in a press briefing.

However, the Supreme Command's Royal Thai Survey Department will use satellite imaging to verify the map and location on the ground, he added.

If there is no objection, the National Security Council and the Cabinet will endorse the map and respond to Phnom Penh within a week, enabling Cambodia to send its proposal to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation by the middle of this month.

Unesco's World Heritage Committee will make a final decision on the proposal at a meeting in Canada in July.

Though Cambodia won its claim to Preah Vihear Temple in the International Court of Justice in 1962, its proposal to list the temple as a Unesco heritage site was opposed by Thailand because the map appended by Phnom Penh showed an area claimed by both countries as part of the temple site.

The agreement reached by Noppadon and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Paris will end not only conflict with Cambodia but also allegations made by street protesters that the foreign minister might cause Thailand to lose its territory.

"It's a winwin solution: we maintain good relations with Cambodia and retain sovereignty over the territory," Noppadon said.

Cambodia, UK to strengthen cooperation on diplomatic, election issues

PHNOM PENH, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Britain will strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of diplomatic ties and election affairs, said officials here Friday.

Both sides made the decisions while visiting British Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and lawmaker Meg Munn held talks with Hor Namhong, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, here Friday, said Sin Bunthoeun, director of the Information Department of the ministry.

Cambodia supports the United Kingdom to open an honorary general consulate in Siem Reap province, while the UK supports Cambodia for non-permanent membership of the Security Council of the United Nations, he said.

The UK will also provide legal experts to help organize draft law to benefit Cambodia, he said.

Meanwhile, during her visit, Meg Munn also held talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for common understanding of Cambodia's reform and the general election on July 27, said Eang Sophallet, assistant to Hun Sen.

Editor: Song Shutao

Cambodian minister promises action against sex workers' abusers

Associated Press Writer
AP - Friday, June 6

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A Cambodian Cabinet minister said Thursday he would take legal action against law enforcement personnel if there was evidence that they misused their authority to abuse local sex workers.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng made the remark a day after about 200 Cambodian sex workers claimed their colleagues had been physically and sexually abused in custody. The female and male sex workers made the allegations during a peaceful protest Wednesday against a recent crackdown on prostitution.

Police began rounding up workers from brothels, bars and parks in March, detaining them for a week to 10 days at a rehabilitation center for sex workers on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Cambodian law does not explicitly define prostitution as illegal, but authorities frown upon commercial sex and routinely launch such sweeps.

During the recent protest, sex workers said that many of their colleagues had been unlawfully detained and that some guards at the rehabilitation center had abused them.

In the recent protest, 32-year-old prostitute Chan Dina, a member of the sex workers' advocacy group Cambodian Prostitutes Union, said some of her colleagues "were beaten and gang-raped by the center guards." She said they did not use condoms.

Sar Kheng said the government "will take legal action against any official alleged to have abused sex workers."

"We have asked for evidence about any official or group involved in abuse or mistreatment of sex workers, but so far we have not received anything concrete about that yet," he said.

He was speaking at a news conference about the release of the Cambodia chapter of U.S. State Department's 2008 Trafficking in Persons report.

The report gave Cambodia an improved ranking of "Tier 2," up from levels it had held for the previous four years, when it had been described as "a source and destination country for trafficked persons" due to the government's allegedly inadequate efforts.

Sar Kheng said Cambodia would not allow its rating to slip down again.

Young Cambodians in fear of sexual slavery

6 June 2008
By Nicola Kerkenezov

Every day, girls as young as 18 months are being sold into the sex trade in Cambodia.

The shocking news has touched Noosa hairdresser Leanne Naylor and artist Lyne Redfern so deeply they are focusing all their energy, and large portions of their personal money, into the She Rescue Home to help stop the suffering.

The pair are asking residents to support the cause by attending a fundraising garage sale tomorrow.

The She Rescue Home is a Citipointe Church Brisbane initiative started by senior pastor Leigh Ramsey.

Leigh and husband Mark founded Noosa Christian Outreach Centre in 1987, then moved to the US to pioneer the Christian Outreach Centre movement, before returning to Brisbane in 2000.

Two years ago, Leigh visited Cambodia and saw how young girls were trafficked into prostitution.

“Girls as young as five-years-old are working in brothels, servicing as many as 30 men a day,” she said.

“On my last night in Phnom Penh, my final meal was spent with a 12-year-old girl telling me:

‘My friend. She is 10. Two men tonight. Mother, father sell. You come, you help. Please?’
“For this girl, a rescue home may be her only hope.”

Lyne said the She Home project aimed to help children who were victims of a culture that encouraged women to have extra babies to sell off just to make enough money for their families to survive.

To date, four homes have been established, each caring for about eight girls. At the shelters they receive education, counselling, health care and training for a long-term job.

With running costs for each shelter about $4000 a month, Lyne said it was “not okay for us to ignore this worthwhile charity”.

She encouraged people to give generously to collection tins at businesses around town and attend a garage sale tomorrow at 17 Wyandra Street, Noosa Heads, from 7am-12 noon. A raffle will be held outside The Warehouse at Noosaville next Saturday, a Art in Park expo at the Noosa gallery on July 13, and a high tea is planned for July 26.

To make a donation or assist with the fundraising and raffle, call Lyne Redfern on 0405 434 655 or email: lovely_ For more information, visit:

Recycling industry puts kids at risk

Radio Australia

In Cambodia thousands of street children are being put at risk by the recycling industry, where authorities report a sharp rise in the number children who scavenge through rubbish piles on the street to find items they can sell to recycling organisations.

And the imminent closure of Phnom Penh's largest dump poses another problem for the thousands of scavengers who call the giant rubbish heap home.

Land Disputes Across Cambodia Lead Villagers to Phnom Penh

Villagers walking from Battambang to Phnom Penh in a bid to plead with authorities in the capital to resolve their land dispute

Published on June 4, 2008

In the past week the number of villagers coming to Phnom Penh to highlight land grievances shows the continuing dire situation of land-grabbing in Cambodia.

"People are still coming to Phnom Penh from all over the country, desperate for government officials to listen to their land problems and resolve them," said Kek Galabru, LICADHO's president. "This shows that land-grabbing is still rampant and that villagers are unable to get their grievances heard anywhere else."

Last week in just a short period of 48 hours, five groups of villagers from five provinces came to Phnom Penh because of unresolved land problems:

• More than 100 villagers from Ta Kaen commune, Chhuk district of Kampot, where 152 families are in danger of losing farmland to military soldiers who have been granted a social land concession in the area.

• About 20 villagers formerly living in Preah Vihear province and now in Kampong Cham. They were among 317 families violently evicted by police, soldiers and other authorities from land in Choam Ksan district, Preah Vihear, last November. Two unarmed villagers were shot dead during the eviction; no-one has been brought to justice for their killings. Six villagers arrested during the eviction remain detained, and another one imprisoned died last month.

• More than 70 villagers from several communities in Bavel and Koas Krolar districts of Battambang province. The villagers walked all the way to Phnom Penh from Battambang. They are from communities affected by two land disputes which district and provincial authorities have failed to resolve.

• About 25 people from Preah Netr Preah district, Banteay Meanchey province, representing 220 families whose farmland was sold by military officials to businesspeople.

• Three individuals representing 300 families in Stung Trang commune, Sala Krau district, Pailin, whose farmland is being taken by military soldiers. Attempts to resolve the dispute by Pailin municipal authorities have so far failed.

In this last case from Palin, in the far North West of Cambodia, 378 km from Phnom Penh, on 24 May 2008 police detained four community representatives accused of inciting other villagers to protest over their land dispute.

The four were later released on the same day after they signed statements agreeing not to further incite the villagers. Three of the community representatives then traveled to Phnom Penh to lodge complaints at the National Assembly and other organizations, seeking a resolution to their land dispute.

The long standing land dispute involves land that was given to the villagers after its liberation from Khmer Rouge control in 1997. In 2006 ownership of the land was disputed by the commune and district authorities who sought to clear the land for development. Since 2006 the villagers have maintained their protests and have lodged complaints with the district and municipal authorities however bulldozers and concrete roads have continue to encroach onto their land.

On the morning of 24 May 2008, 30 police armed with rifles had attempted to stop the villagers from building houses on the disputed land. Pich Sothea, one of the community representatives had been filming the confrontation with police, as they moved to confiscate knives and axes from the villagers and pointed their guns at them. Pich Sothea captured the whole incident on video, however when he was detained by police they confiscated the camera, saying that it would only be returned after the land dispute was resolved.

LICADHO once more urges the government to declare a moratorium on evictions and to take firm action to discipline and prosecute State officials and other powerful individuals involved in land grabbing. In particular, we urge long-overdue measures to prevent and punish the widespread involvement of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces personnel in land grabbing and evictions of civilians.

US says Cambodia needs to more to fight trafficking

The United States said Thursday that Cambodia still needs to do more to fight human trafficking, even though an annual State Department(DoS) report said the nation had made progress.(DoS)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — The United States said Thursday that Cambodia still needs to do more to fight human trafficking, even though an annual State Department report said the nation had made progress.

The United States this year upgraded Cambodia to Tier 2 on its yearly human trafficking report, after the country increased law enforcement and passed new legislation to crack down on the crime.

Cambodia, which has a reputation as a haven for sex offenders, had ranked below the second tier since 2004 -- raising the risk that Washington could impose sanctions or other punitive measures.

US embassy charge d'affaires Piper Campbell told a press conference that trafficking remains a problem here.

"Trafficking in Cambodia is indeed still prevalent. It's obvious in combating human trafficking that you have to take a multi-dimensional approach that involves education, legislation, law enforcement and also support for victims," he said.

However, some victims claim that they have suffered abuse under the new anti-trafficking legislation.

Chan Dina, head of the Cambodian Prostitute's Union (CPU) which represents about 300 sex workers, said prostitutes have been robbed, beaten and raped by police since a crackdown on brothels began in March.

"The closures abuse the rights of sex workers. They do not want to work the sex industry, but they are destitute, that is why they have decided to do so," Chan Dina told AFP Thursday.
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng told reporters at the press conference that prostitutes abused by police should come forward.

"We ask that they provide evidence to us," Sar Kheng said.

Some 300 prostitutes rallied Wednesday to protest the police abuse amid Cambodia's human trafficking campaign.


The Temples of Angkor: The ancient city of Cambodia’s Khmer God-kings is now one of the world’s hottest travel destinations

By Jack Souther

You have a choice Bunat told us as our van pulled into a busy local market at the base of Phnom Bakheng. “You can either hire an elephant or walk.” Betty and Heather chose the elephant, I elected to walk — a long sweaty climb that left me doubting the wisdom of my choice. The elephant docked near the top shortly after I arrived and the two women, still fresh and raring to go, led the way up a series of incredibly steep stone steps to the third terrace of the summit temple where we settled down on a comfortable west-facing ledge and waited for the sun to set.

Below us, about a kilometre to the southeast, the cone-shaped towers of Angkor Wat rise high above the forest, and still farther south the town of Siem Reap is barely visible in the distance. To the north the Bayon with its multitude of towers and giant stone faces resembles a small, many-pinnacled mountain at the very centre of Angkor Tom. And off to the west the waters of West Baray reflect the first blush of the setting sun. Bunat points out a few other temples but most of Angkor’s ancient structures are hidden beneath the jungle canopy. “A thousand years ago” he tells us, “when Angkor was the capital of Cambodia’s vast Khmer Empire, more than a million people lived here. Their wooden houses disappeared long ago. Only the stone monuments dedicated to their Gods have survived.”

No one knows exactly when or why the god-kings and their subjects abandoned the great city of Angkor or when the pilgrims and holy men, who briefly occupied it later, also departed. What is known — the temples of Angkor lay empty, at the mercy of the encroaching jungle for centuries — until they were “rediscovered” by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860. But though the decline of Angkor is shrouded in mystery and speculation its rise to power and long period of glory is not. Each of Angkor’s all-powerful rulers made sure that his achievements — his wars, his public works, his gods — were duly recorded in stone. The history of Angkor, carved into the walls of its temples, is the history of one of Southeast Asia’s most powerful empires.

The Archeological story begins with Jayavarman II, who unified Cambodia’s competing states and declared himself supreme sovereign of the Khmer Empire in AD 802. He was the first in a mind-boggling succession of devaraja or “god-kings” who exercised absolute power over an empire that once extended over much of Southeast Asia. One of his successors, Yasovarman I (899-910), moved the capital to Angkor and built Phnom Bakheng, the temple where we have come to watch the sunset. Literally carved from the sandstone of the mountain itself, it was the first of Angkor’s temple-mountains. But as successive devaraja strove to build ever more extravagant monuments to themselves and their gods the number, size and complexity of Angkor’s temples continued to grow along with its burgeoning population.

I tried to imagine what it must have looked like before the wooden houses had rotted away and before the jungle had reclaimed the fields and rice paddies that once sustained more than a million people who lived here. The temples, now all that remain, were then surrounded by a vast city, and beyond the city a sophisticated irrigation system fed water from reservoirs onto the intensively cultivated land. West Baray, the largest of these, is an incredible 8km long and 2.3km wide. It was excavated by hand, and as I watch the fading sunset reflecting from its surface, I wonder how many lifetimes were spent in its making.

My daydreaming is interrupted by Bunat, who reminds us it’s time to go. There are no elephants for the trip down and it’s already dark. We stumble back to the van and head back to Siem Reap. “Tomorrow,” Bunat tells us, “we will see the sunrise over Angkor Wat.”

Bunat, a professional freelance guide with an encyclopedic knowledge of Cambodian history and a knack for avoiding the crowds, greets us at 4:30 the next morning. Sustained by a cup of strong coffee we pile back into the van and head for Angkor Wat. It is still pitch dark as Bunat leads us through a stone archway, along a narrow corridor and up a flight of stone stairs to a terrace directly in front of Angkor Wat. There is no one else around as we watch the ornate towers emerge from the dark — at first just ghostly outlines and later dark silhouettes against a brilliant red sunrise. It is a magical moment, well worth missing a few hours sleep for.

Built as a funerary temple for Suryavarman II in the early 12th century Angkor Wat is arguably the largest religious structure on earth, dwarfing even the great cathedrals of Europe. It is also the best preserved of Angkor’s temples. During the 16th century, when the rest of Angkor lay empty in the grips of the jungle, Angkor Wat was restored and occupied by Buddhist monks who helped preserve the thousands of magnificent bas-reliefs carved into its stone corridors. As we wander through one of the cavernous inner courtyards past ornate scenes of battles and feasts, gods and demons we pass a young schoolgirl busily sketching one of the apsaras. There are thousands of these bare-breasted heavenly nymphs adorning the walls of Angkor Wat, each one different, yet each an unmistakable work of Khmer art.

Angkor Wat may be the largest of Angkor’s many temples but it is only one of hundreds of magnificent stone structures that sprawl across an area of more than 100 square kilometres. The Bayon, which sits at the very centre of the fortified city of Angkor Tom, is a strange agglomeration of face-towers, walled courtyards and dark inner chambers. Thirty-seven of the temple’s original 54 towers are still standing, each bearing the gigantic faces of the god-kings they were built to honour. Beneath the enigmatic stare of the giant stone faces the detailed bas-reliefs carved into the courtyard walls depict centuries of Khmer history. Scenes of battles, military processions, victory parades, and everyday life in Angkor are recorded in minute detail. According to Bunat there are more than a kilometre of bas-reliefs incorporating at least 10,000 figures carved into the walls of the Bayon.

In the years since Henri Mouhot stumbled onto the jungle-covered ruins of Angkor in 1860 most of its temples have been cleared of vegetation and at least partially restored. But at Ta Prohm, a relatively small temple complex a few kilometres east of Angkor Tom, just enough clearing has been done to allow access. Many of its narrow corridors are still choked with rubble, lichen and moss still cling to its walls, and many of its buildings are still held in the grip of towering strangler fig and silk-cotton trees whose giant roots both engulf and support the crumbling structures beneath them. Ta Prohm is a confirmation of the ultimate power of nature to reclaim the land from human occupation. I found it one of the most fascinating of Angkor’s many ruins.

The first wave of tourists, archeologists and restoration crews began flocking to Angkor in 1907, the year that Cambodia came under French control. But during the civil war and subsequent takeover by the Khmer Rouge regime the temples of Angkor were either occupied as military barracks or returned again to the jungle. Siem Reap, gateway to Angkor, was little more than a sleepy little village until a stable peace was restored in the mid 1990s. Today, with Angkor as one of the hottest tourist destinations on the globe, Siem Reap is Cambodia’s fastest growing town, and the Temples of Angkor are both a source of national pride and a huge source of tourist revenue.

Phnom Penh market has good potential

By Somluck Srimalee
The Nation
June 6, 2008

Strong economy and interest from foreign investors seen fuelling demand

With foreign investors eyeing a piece of Phnom Penh's property pie, the Cambodian capital's real-estate market has potential for growth this year, a survey by Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA) shows.

AREA president Sopon Pornchokchai said land prices in Phnom Penh range between Bt200,000 and Bt300,000 per square metre.

By the end of January, 90 new condominium and residential projects comprising 25,596 units were launched.

The total worth of the projects was US$2.09 billion (Bt68.7 billion).

Of these, 66 per cent or 16,823 units were sold at an average price of Bt2.6 million.

With Cambodia's economy growing and investors showing interest in putting their money into the property market, the demand for residential projects in Phnom Penh has seen strong growth since 2005, Sopon said. Condominiums and commercial buildings have continued to attract the most investment.

Out of the 25,596 units constructed by the end of January, 22,985 were commercial buildings, 1,186 were condominiums, 547 were detached houses, 534 were double houses and 231 units were townhouses.

Most property developers homed in on the main city centre, where prices for residential properties start at Bt4.53 million.

The survey was conducted last month.

Cambodia to establish law for marriage with foreigners

PHNOM PENH, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will establish a law to allow Cambodian citizens to marry foreigners, Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng said here Thursday on the sideline of the Cambodia-U.S. cooperation meeting on combating human trafficking.

"Tomorrow, I will preside over a meeting for organizing the draft sub-decree to allow Cambodian people to marry foreigners," he told a press conference held after the meeting.

Recently, Cambodia halted to approve marriage between Cambodians and foreigners because it involved human trafficking, he said.

"We knew it contradicted our constitution and also discriminated individual rights, so we decided to establish law to facilitate marriage with foreigners, " he said.

The draft sub-decree would exclusively focus on marriage between Khmers and foreigners, he added.

Earlier this year, the International Organization for Migration issued a report stressing the vulnerability of Cambodian brides flocking to South Korea in increasing numbers.

The government in response condemned marriage brokerage agencies for exploitation and human trafficking, ordered the closure of three South Korean ones, and banned all marriages with foreigners on March 29, pending new legislation to regulate the process.

Editor: Yan Liang

Mr. Sam Rainsy Says that Good Investors Will Not Come to Invest in a Country Where Leaders Are Corrupt-to-the-Bone like in Cambodia

Posted on 6 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 563

“Observers said that the year 2008 is a most important year for Khmer citizens, for more than eight million voters, to change to a new leader to lead the government until 2013.

“However, early 2008 investments in Cambodia declined to nearly 50 percent of the period of three months, compared to the same period in early 2007.

“According to a summary report by the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC], in the period of three months, private investments in Cambodia covered in total US$253 million, which is less than that during last year, covering US$503 million. This report showed that foreign investment declined from US$282 million for the period of three months in early 2007 to US$162 million for the same period of early 2008; and also local investment declined from US$221 million for the same period of 2007 to only more than US$90 million in 2008.

“The CDC report added that in terms of foreign investments in the period of three months of 2008, Singapore ranked first with US$48 million, China ranked second with US$32 million, and South Korea ranked third with US$30 million. However, in the period of three months of 2007, the investments from China had been first with US$66 million, and South Korea had been third with US$38 million.

“An economic analyst said that the decline will affect the labor force, and economic growth will also decline. There are two reasons leading to this problem – the decline of garment exports, and the decline of the constructions of high rise buildings, flats, and houses, mostly by investments from South Korea. This decline might affect the everyday livelihood of citizens and might increase poverty.

“Regarding the above issue, Mr. Sam Rainsy, a famous opposition leader and an economist, criticized the government, claiming that the decline is because of corruption, which makes good investors not to dare to invest in Cambodia.

“He said, ‘It does not mean only the decline of quantity, but also the decline of quality, because there is more corruption in Cambodia than in other countries; therefore good investors will not come to invest in a country where leaders are corrupt-to-the-bone like in Cambodia, and companies that dare to invest in Cambodia are mostly problematic companies.

“The report of the CDC showed also that in 2007, the total investment covered US$2,700 million, of which US$1,200 million came form tourism, and US$708 million came from physical infrastructure and services, US$374 million came from industries and factories, and US$363 million came from agro-industries. In 2007 investment from China ranked first with US$461 million invested in big hydro-electricity plants, and South Korea ranked third with US$152 million.

“Some economic observers in Cambodia noted that investment in 2007 was lower than that in 2006, and in 2008 it will decline more than in 2007. This decline was mainly because of corruption and heavy bureaucratic procedures in important institutions, making big investors afraid of investing in Cambodia.

“Economic observers in Cambodia claim that some important state institutions which are full of corruption are the Council of Ministers of Cambodia, administered by Sok An, who is Hun Sen’s in-law, the Ministry of Economy and Finance managed by Keat Chhon, the former advisor to Pol Pot, the Ministry of Commerce administered by Cham Prasidh, Sok An’s in-law, the Customs and Excise office administered by Pen Siman, the CDC, and the Department of the Economic Police of the Ministry of Interior.

“Some officials of civil society organizations mentioned that in the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum meeting on 19 and 20 June 2007, the power addicted Hun Sen, head of the Royal Government of Cambodia, promised the international community and the donor countries that he would adopt an anti-corruption law soon; however, after the international community and the donor countries had agreed to provide aid of nearly US$600 million to Cambodia, he did not keep his promise. In contrast, he let corruption spread further than before, making foreign investors not to come to invest in Cambodia.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3478, 5.6.2008

No Borders for Global Warming: Experts

By Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer
05 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (755KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (755KB) - Listen (MP3)

Developed countries are pushing climate change that poorer countries suffer from, officials said Thursday, on World Environment Day.

Cambodia will suffer from global warming as coastal areas such as Koh Kong and Sihanoukville will feel an increase in heat, Prach Sun, secretary of state for the Ministry of Environment, told VOA Khmer Thursday.

Global warming can also lead to the spread of diseases, such as diarrhea, he said.

Cambodia is implementing the Kyoto Protocal and other international environmental agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve forest cover to help the Earth absorb those gases, he said.

UNDP Country Director Lay Khim said Thursday global warming affects all countries, from Egypt to Vietnam. Developed countries are responsible for the most gases, but developing countries feel the most effects, he said.

Trafficking Efforts Improving: US

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (843 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (843 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodia does not fully comply with US standards on curbing human trafficking, but it has doen enough in the past year to be taken off a "watch list," officials said Thursday.

In the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report, Cambodia was upgraded to "tier 2" status.

Cambodia "is making significant efforts" to comply with minimum standards, according to the report. Cambodia has not enjoyed "tier 2" status since 2004, but was raised due to "increased engagement in combating trafficking in persons over the previous year," the report says.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said he appreciated the evaluation on human trafficking, and he said the government planned to do more in the future to curb the illegal practice.

Khieu Samphan Back in Detention: Tribunal

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008(752 KB) - Download (MP3)
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Former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan was moved from a Phnom Penh hospital to his holding cell at the tribunal Thursday afternoon, officials said.

"He is now back in the detention facility," tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said. "He has been released from the hospital. Clearly, at the hospital, they determined that he was stable and healthy enough to return to the detention facility."

A tribunal statement said he was brought from the hospital at 3:30 pm Thursday, following observation from specialists.

Khieu Samphan's lawyers were quoted in media reports this week saying his condition was worsening, following his admittance to Calmette hospital May 22.

But Khieu Samphan's wife, So Socheat, said earlier Thursday he had improved "gradually" since his admission for high blood pressure.

Lawyer Sy Bory said earlier Thursday that even if his client's condition improved, he should not be immediately sent back to detention.

Khieu Samphan, who was the nominal head of the regime, faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

NEC Issues Debate Questions to Parties

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

Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (1.11 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (1.11 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The National Election Committee on Thursday issued a list of questions to all the competing political parties for July's general elections, in preparation for a series of roundtable debates to be held in the upcoming campaign period.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said each of the 15 questions was important for helping voters decide on which party might serve them best.

The questions focus on the economy, corruption, natural environment, tourism, social security, justice, immigration, rule of law, public health, land disputes, foreign policy, prostitution, drugs, international borders, rights of women and children, rural development, poverty reduction and education.

Kuol Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the prepared questions would not benefit the voters, because the questions and answers would be prepared ahead of the debates. A system of live questions and answers between voters and candidates would help inform the election, he said.

Political party officials said they were preparing to answer the questions according to their platforms.

Cambodian Wedding, American Twist

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
05 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (1.31 MB) - Download (MP3)
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Even Cambodians living outside their country can maintain their cultures and traditions. That much was evident through a recent wedding between a Cambodian woman and an American man.

Robert Hendricks, bedecked in traditional Cambodian groom clothes, said his bride's Cambodian family had welcomed him warmly.

His bride-to-be, Marianne Koch, said after eight years of dating, she was happy to be married.

Her father, Kouy Marong, said he was happy to be preserving Cambodian culture, and her mother, Chanthary, hoped she would continue to do so.

"I feel very happy for my relationship with my husband," Koch said. "I feel very satisfied and happy with my husband, that he can participate with the Khmer community. I also feel very happy to observe my husband’s culture.”

Hendricks' mother, Ronie Lake, called the Cambodian wedding a part of a "valuable tradition."
"It is a good ceremony," she said, "from beginning to end."

NEC Distributes Controversial Voter Cards

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

Khmer audio aired 5 June 2008 (1.16 MB) - Download (MP3)
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The National Election Committee began distribution Thursday of 8 million controversial voter information cards.

The cards, which NEC officials say help people find ballot stations and encourage them to vote, will be disbursed through every province and municipality.

Critics say the cards are exploited by local officials to stifle voting by those who don't support the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

The cards are often misconstrued as a necessary document for voting, and they are withheld from non-supporters, critics say.

"Most of the people don't know what these information cards are," said Muth Chantha, spokesman of the Norodom Ranariddh Party. "Even I myself, the authorities have not come to my house to explain about the information cards."

Former Khmer Rouge leader discharged from Cambodian hospital

M&G; Asia-Pacific News

Jun 5, 2008

Phnom Penh - Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan was discharged from hospital and was returning to prison, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, his lawyer said Thursday.

Say Bory said Samphan's immediate family informed him that doctors at the capital Calmette Hospital declared Samphan fit to return to his cell.

'I spoke to his wife a few minutes ago. They are preparing to return now,' Bory said Thursday afternoon.

'He is not in good health because he cannot walk unassisted,' he said, but did not complain about the diagnosis. 'I am immediately drafting a letter to request conjugal visits so he can be better taken care of.'

Samphan, 76, was moved by ambulance on May 21 from his cell to hospital after being diagnosed with high blood pressure. His family has said he is suffering weakness down his left side.

Five aging and ailing former Khmer Rouge leaders are currently in the custody of the joint UN-Cambodian court set up to try them and advocates have urged haste if they are to face justice.

Up to 2 million Cambodians died under the 1975-79 regime, but Samphan has denied all knowledge of the massacre, saying his job kept him busy and nobody appraised him of the situation.

Knight Frank opens office in Cambodia

UK headquartered global property consultancy firm Knight Frank has opened a full service office in Cambodia, South East Asia, as it continues its global growth strategy.

Located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, Knight Frank will provide full global real estate consultancy services. The office will be led by Eric Y H Ooi, chairman, Knight Frank Cambodia, with Sarkunan Subramaniam, director and Keith Ooi, country head. Two managers have also been appointed: Teh Young Khean and Sorn Seap.

Cambodia set to lift ban on marriage to foreigners says minister

The Earth Times
Thu, 05 Jun 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodia was set to lift a ban on marriages to foreigners, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Thursday. Speaking at a press conference on human trafficking, Sar Kheng said senior officials would meet Friday and a lifting of the ban is expected soon after.

Cambodia banned marriages of Cambodians to non-Khmers in April after allegations that often undereducated and poor Cambodians - especially women - were being exploited or trafficked under the guise of legitimate legal unions.

"Tomorrow we meet to see the new sub-decree but we cannot hold this decision longer as it contradicts the Cambodian constitution and the rights of Cambodian people," Sar Kheng said.

He said Cambodia was co-operating with the United States in a quest to find an adequate solution.

Cable Car and Air port construction proposal in Preah Vihear, Cambodia

Preah Vihear temple, one of the popular heritage destinations in Cambodia received 110, 000 visitors last year and this number is expected to rise when the accessible road is improved. Prime Minister Hun Sen last month inaugurated a 118 km road, linking to Preah Vihear's Provincial capital Tbeng MeanChey with the temple.

According to the senior government official on 14 May, An Indian Company has unveiled the multimillion-dollar proposal to construct the air port serving the Preah Vihear Temple. Hong Soth, the director of the Preah Vihear National Authority, said the cable car is included in the proposal. This proposal would be potential to attract more tourists to Preah Vihear Temple ( The proposal is in processing and five members team of the company has arranged the further talk with the government.

In order to minimize the negative impact of vibration destruction, the air port is expected to build 32 km from the temple in the case that the proposal is approval. Cambodia officials hope that the temple will be listed in the World Heritage Site but this is not yet preceded due to the disputation over the surrounding land ownership with Thailand.

For more information about Travel News in Cambodia:

US praises Cambodia's crackdown on prostitution

The Earth Times
Thu, 05 Jun 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The United States Thursday gave its support to fierce Cambodian crackdowns on brothels and saluted anti-human trafficking efforts in its annual Trafficking in Persons report. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement that the US appreciated concerted government efforts to stamp out the trade.

The news flew in the face of a protest by more than 100 sex workers and representatives Wednesday condemning the government's zero tolerance policy against brothels enshrined in a new law they claimed equated consensual sex work with trafficking.

Activists claimed the new law outlawing brothels is forcing sex workers away from education and health programmes and onto the streets. They said it had also led to police abuses of sex workers' human rights, including rape and robbery.

"That protest was a protest against the law," Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng told a press conference. "Please show us the evidence that police or competent authorities are harming or doing something wrong to you."

US embassy officials said the US government had pumped 14 million dollars into Cambodian anti-trafficking measures since 2003 and now believed the investment was paying off.

Rice said Cambodia still did not fully comply with US anti-trafficking standards, "however it is making a significant effort to do so."

Cambodia "has strongly supported an anti-trafficking effort including publicly promoting a zero tolerance policy", she said.

Managing Cambodia's mangroves

Story and photos by Dave Kattenburg

Beyond the bustling town of Koh Kong, off the coast of southern Cambodia, lie 45,000 hectares of mangrove forest. They're among the most pristine in Southeast Asia and, like others around the world, they're under threat.

Mangroves form a transition zone between land and sea. Like all transitional ecosystems, they are diverse. Mangrove foliage provides rich bird habitat. Fish, crabs and molluscs hide and breed in their dense, aerial root system, which is adapted to salty water.
As if these ecosystem services weren't enough, mangroves stabilise soil, moderate the force of wind and waves, recycle nutrients and sequester carbon.
Khmer Rouge
Ironically, Cambodian mangroves prospered under the Khmer Rouge, which preferred to herd its citizens into the middle of the country. With their downfall, and the emergence of a market economy in the 1990s, powerful entrepreneurs - with military or government links - began clearing the mangroves for shrimp farms and charcoal. Local middlemen joined in, along with inland Cambodians and foreign fishermen attracted to the region's rich mangroves.

Alarmed by resource decline - and encouraged by international NGOs - the Cambodian government began cracking down. Conservation and poverty reduction could both be promoted, the government reasoned, by empowering local communities. Commune elections were held for the first time in 2002, followed by a community fisheries law. For the first time, mangrove communities began managing their own resources.

Management committees
With help from the UN Development Program and Canada's International Development Research Center, Cambodia' Environment Ministry launched its Participatory Management of Coastal Resources Project in 1997. Community workshops were held on mangrove ecology and management.

In 2001, the first village management committees were formed within the boundaries of Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary, deep in Koh Kong's mangroves. Villages outside the sanctuary, around Chrouy Pros Bay, have been invited to participate, in order to reduce fishing conflicts.

Community management has been a success. Villagers have protected local sea grass beds, which are linked to the mangrove ecosystem and add fish spawning habitat. In the mangroves themselves, community patrols do their best to control illegal cutting and fishing practices. Mangroves have been successfully regenerated.On the down side, government support for enforcement is limited and inconsistent and, outside the confines of community areas, illegal practices continue, such as the use of "light" boats armed with powerful lamps that attract fish. Some fear that commercial dredging of the Koh Kong River - led by powerful Cambodian interests - will damage the mangroves.

As elsewhere in the world, mangrove villagers and their international supporters realize that tourism may be the greatest force for mangrove protection. At least one villager in the area is planning an ecotourism initiative.

Government moves to end price gouging as gasoline prices hit record highs

Tracey SheltonPump prices remain at records highs, hovering just below 6,000 riels per liter.

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Kay Kimsong
Friday, 06 June 2008

Finance Minister Keat Chhon has ordered a special ministry committee to be formed to monitor the price of gasoline amid fears the fuel companies were gouging prices, which have crept towards record highs of 6,000 riels ($1.50) a liter during the past few days, a ministry official said.

The move, announced June 4, was the first time the government has intervened directly to try and ease spiraling gas prices, which have also driven up the cost of food and other consumer goods.

Finance Secretary of State Chea Peng Chheang told the Post that the ministry was worried that fuel companies were taking advantage of skyrocketing global oil costs to unfairly raise local pump prices.

The new committee, while not putting caps on prices, would "work closely" with the fuel companies to determine how much should be charged for gasoline and diesel.

“Petroleum companies need not ask the ministry how much to raise prices, but they need to make sure they are not charging over market value,” he said.

The committee will also assess the cost of other consumer goods, which have risen sharply.

"The ministry just wants to understand why a company decides to raise prices for this or that, but the ministry will never interfere with a company's pricing decisions ... it is a free market in Cambodia," Chheang said.

Officials from fuel companies participating in the June 4 meeting with the finance minister said they welcomed the creation of the committee.

“I think the ministry wants to know the price of gasoline to make sure that petroleum companies are not overcharging,” said Hour Heng, vice president of the Cambodian fuel giant Sokimex.

“We accept the request of the ministry to control the price of gasoline and diesel,” he said. “It is an acceptable idea.

"But they also pointed out that their pricing decisions were driven largely by international oil prices.

“We can’t predict future international oil prices and are not sure if the price of fuel in Cambodia will increase," Heng said, while Stephane Dion, managing director for Total Cambodge, wrote an email on June 5: “This is a simple question of supply and demand."

The government has already tried to curb the price of gasoline by not raising the tariff on imported fuel – a move that officials say will cost the government $300 million in uncollected tax revenue.

Diesel is currently taxed at $103 per ton, while the per ton tax on gasoline is $254.

Some one million tons of petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel, are imported each year into Cambodia, according to industry officials.

Even with this measure in place, fuel company officials say they are making very little money.

According to a senior official at Tela Kampuchea Company who did not want to be named, global oil costs have reduced the company's profits to about 200 riels per liter.

“We only make a little profit – many people do not know that," he said.

Reported mineral exploration in national park raises concerns

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Cheang Sokha and Tracey Shelton
Thursday, 05 June 2008

An Australian company exploring for minerals in Virachey National Park is reported to have asked villagers to build helicopter landing pads in the forests of the ecologically rich, ASEAN heritage-listed site, highlighting fears that Cambodia's nascent mining sector will undo conservation efforts in the country's fragile environment.

Yang Ke, 48, a member of the Proeu minority, said the request was made last month as he guided representatives of Indochine Resources Ltd., on a visit to the park, which straddles the borders of northeastern Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces.

"We spent two nights traveling in the jungle from my home to the exploration site," Ke told the Post in an interview at his bamboo house in Taveng district, about 50 kilometers from the Ratanakkiri provincial capital, Banlung.

He said the company officials had asked villagers to clear four different landing sites for helicopters because of the difficulty of traveling through the thickly forested park.

An Indochine Resources spokesman, who asked not to be named, said the exploration work was taking place under a permit granted by Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy in 2007, and with the permission of the Ministry of Environment.

The spokesman said that while he could not say when mining operations might begin, partly because of the difficulty of access, the company recognized that the project would affect the environment.

"But we will try to minimize the impact and our project is strictly monitored by officials at the park."

Environmentalists, however, worry that mining in the park could seriously damage the Se San River and its tributaries.

“The river system in Virachey is one of the most pristine and unique in all of Cambodia,” said David Emmett, the deputy regional director of Conservation International, which has conducted surveys in the park for the last three years.

"The river contains species that don’t exist anywhere else on earth," he said.

"If runoff from mining was to change the water's pH level the whole ecosystem could collapse.”

Emmett said camera traps and surveys have identified populations of rare otters, turtles and frogs, endangered water lizards and pythons and fish species previously unrecorded in Cambodia.