Saturday, 14 June 2008

Sacravatoons :" Sanh-Jeat Kampuchea by James Sok "

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Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Sacravatoons : " The Sign-Eater "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at

Judge refuses to release Dam Sith on bail

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Army told to be quiet over temple row

Noppadon (L) shook hand Sok An (R) during their talks over Preah Vihear in Paris on 24th May 2008.

The Bangkok Post
Saturday June 14, 2008

Noppadon doesn't want ties with Cambodia hurt


Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has asked the supreme commander to order military officers who have no authority to refrain from giving interviews about the disputed Preah Vihear temple. The move came after an army source complained to the media on Thursday that a new Cambodian map of the Preah Vihear temple was found to encroach on Thai territory by up to 10 metres in two critical areas.

Mr Noppadon said he had asked the ministry's permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul to talk with Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit and insist his subordinates not give interviews about sensitive state issues.

''Just think about who will benefit from this. Don't hide by identifying yourself as 'a source'. I don't want ill-intentioned people to derail this smooth-running train,'' said Mr Noppadon.

He warned those who have no authority to give interviews to refrain from saying anything that could affect Thailand's relations with Cambodia.

''I have the authority to speak about this issue, so let me speak alone. If anybody dares to give interviews, please use your real name. I will let the defence minister warn him,'' said Mr Noppadon.

He also advised people not to arouse nationalistic sentiment and not to let politics damage national benefits.

He was referring to the protest by residents of Si Sa Ket province over the listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site and about Cambodians building houses and shops beyond Cambodia's border with Thailand.

Mr Noppadon said the issues will be resolved step by step. He noted that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy Sok An were cooperating with Thailand on the temple issue.

The Foreign Ministry will submit the new map to the National Security Council (NSC) and the cabinet to endorse next week, said the minister.

He said all problems about the new map have been resolved now that Thai agencies have verified the map against the actual site.

''I have already discussed this issue with the Cambodian side and I will not do anything on which I can be attacked later,'' said Mr Noppadon.

Cambodia handed the new map to Thailand on June 5 for consideration after both countries agreed in Paris late last month at a Unesco-brokered meeting to draw up the new map.

The Phnom Penh government plans to submit the map to the Unesco committee later this month to propose the temple ruins as a World Heritage Site.

The Unesco committee will meet early next month in Quebec, Canada.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tarit Charungwat said everything had been done openly.

''The government has acted with full transparency, using the principle of national sovereignty as the guiding force,'' he said.

''When the work has been done in accordance with the proper process, we can explain it accurately,'' he said.

Gen Boonsrang yesterday admitted that Mr Noppadon had called him to request the military not grant any interviews about Preah Vihear.

''He told me the military should not give any interviews related to the Preah Vihear temple as the issue is now being handled by the Foreign Ministry.

''If an interview is given, it may cause some trouble. The Foreign Ministry will hold talks with Cambodia over the issue,'' said Gen Boonsrang. He has already instructed his subordinates to hold their tongues.

Gen Boonsrang said the Foreign Ministry, which is the key negotiator, must take the ultimate responsibility.

18 Cambodian Students to Study in U.S. as Fulbright Scholars

Ambassador Mussomeli (front row, 3rdfrom rt.) and H.E. Dr. Kol Pheng (front row, 3rd from left) and the ten newestCambodian Fulbright students.

Embassy of United States in Cambodia

Phnom Penh
June 12, 2008

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh conducted a pre-departure orientation for 10 Cambodian students who will pursue graduate degrees in the U.S. as new participants in the Fulbright Fellowship Program. They will join 8 other Cambodian Fulbright students currently in the U.S. for a total of 18 Cambodian students studying under the Fulbright program in 2008-2009. For the first time ever, Cambodian students will also pursue Ph.D. degrees with Fulbright funding.

Guests of honor for the opening ceremony were U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli and H.E. Dr. Kol Pheng, Senior Minister and Minister of Education, Youth and Sports. After the opening ceremony, the new students and their parents had the opportunity to discuss living and studying in the U.S. with two recently returned Fulbright alumni: Mr. Chan Virak, who received a Masters in TESL from San Jose State University, and Ms. Noun Monisophorn, who received an MBA from Brandeis University.

The Fulbright Fellowship Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1945 as a means to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright program was re-instituted in Cambodia in 1994. Since that time, 94 Cambodian students have pursued programs of graduate study in the U.S., and 44 American Senior Scholars and Specialists have traveled to Cambodia to teach in Cambodian universities and assist with curriculum development.

In his remarks, Ambassador Mussomeli told the students, "You are about to embark on an adventure that will change your lives. Not only will you pursue an academic program that will strengthen your personal skills and development, you will also serve as cultural ambassadors to the United States during your time there, working to increase American understanding of Cambodia." The primary source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual appropriation from Congress to the Department of State. The allocation for the Fulbright program in Cambodia in 2008 is $500,000. Additionally, U.S. universities that will host Cambodian Fulbright students for the 2008-2009 academic year will contribute an additional $170,000 in scholarships and cost sharing, bringing the total value of the Fulbright Program for Cambodia this year to $670,000.

Fulbright Student Fellowship grants provide round-trip transportation to the United States, and tuition, fees and living expenses for full-time graduate study (except as noted below). The application process to become a Cambodian Fulbright Student Scholar begins in March each year with Embassy staff conducting information sessions on the process at universities throughout Cambodia.

To be eligible for the Fulbright program, applicants must:

-have a strong academic background and a record of excellence in previous studies;
-have completed a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university;
-be proficient in English (minimum TOEFL score 570);
-be able to adapt readily to a foreign environment; and
-be in good health and able to undergo a rigorous study program.

Since the Fulbright program is one of mutual exchange, it is also important to note that during the upcoming academic year two American Fulbright Scholars will travel to Cambodia to conduct curriculum development work at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Education Leadership and at the National University of Management in Business Marketing. Additionally, four American students will come to Cambodia to conduct research as part of the Fulbright program. These will be the individuals whom U.S. institutions of higher education will depend on to transmit a knowledge of Cambodia to American students in the years ahead, and so we are pleased to support these scholars as well.

Since its establishment, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 286,000 participants -- chosen for their leadership potential -- with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas, and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. Fulbright alumni populate an entire range of professions and include heads of state, cabinet ministers, ambassadors, Members of Congress, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, journalist, artists, professors, and teachers. Actor John Lithgow, composer Philip Glass, opera singer Renee Fleming and economist Joseph Stiglitz are among notable former American grantees.

In Cambodia, several Fulbright alumni are working in key positions in the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Natural Resources Preservation, and Interior. Many others are lecturers at different universities and national program officers for a variety of international and non-governmental organizations.

2008-2009 Cambodian Fulbright Student Grantees

New Students:

-Ms. Khun Channary Ph.D. In Economics, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
-Mr. Chea Kagnarith Master's Degree in Applied Linguistics, Arizona State University
-Ms. Prak Thapanak Vatey Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, Portland State University
-Ms. Pors Sidonie Master's in Educational Technology, Columbia University
-Mr. Sim Hoychhoung Master's in Business Administration, Brandeis University
-Ms. Ou Chouly Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, Biodiversity Conservation, Texas A & M University
-Ms. Sar Samphors Master's Degree in Education - Curriculum Design for Secondary Education, University of Kansas
-Ms. Kim Solyda Master's Degree in Computer Science, Purdue University
-Mr. Chui Chamnan Master's Degree in Business Administration, Worcester Technology Institute
-Mr. Hor Soknak* Master's Degree in Communications, American University, School of Communication

Renewed Students:

-Ms. Dy Keo Kunthea Master's in Public Health, Indiana State University
-Mr. Peo Vathana Master's Degree in Structural Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic
-Mr. Seang Soleak Master's Degree in Journalism, University of Kansas
-Mr. Heng Piphal Master's Degree in Archaeology, University of Hawaii, Manoa
-Mr. Chou Huot Master's Degree in Economics, Syracuse University
-Ms. Ong Bopha Master's Degree in Education Administration, State University of New York, Buffalo
-Ms. Pou Pichrachana Master's Degree in Business Administration, University of Akron
-Mr. Thy Khemra Master's Degree in Economics, New York University

*Receiving partial Fulbright funding

For Sok Kong, being 'green' makes cents

KAY KIMSONG Cambodian tycoon Sok Kong enjoys a day at the beach in Sihanoukville on June 7.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong and Cat Barton
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Tourism to Cambodia will be essential for attracting new investment in the next decade but the Kingdom must weigh long-term environmental concerns against rapid expansion in the already booming sector, key industry figures said.

“Thinking long term, tourism [is] the major sector to invest in ... if we keep our environment clean then we will be able to attract more tourists in the future,” Sok Kong, founder and owner of Sokimex, told the Post in a June 9 interview.

Sokimex Cambodia Investment Co., Ltd was founded in 1994 and has a portfolio which ranges from garments to gas by way of five-star hotels.

The company has recently launched a $1-billion renovation of the decaying French colonial era Bokor Mountain resort, which will include two new luxury golf courses, and has several other major tourism-related projects in the pipeline, including a 500-room hotel on the Chroy Changva peninsula in Phnom Penh.

“The project will be started in July, next month is the inauguration,” Sok Kong said of the Phnom Penh hotel. “But the price of commodities has almost doubled – before the project was slated to cost $70 million but now we are looking at $100 million plus.”

The impact of the global spike in commodities prices is affecting all of Sokimex’s projects, however for Sok Kong “the real challenge is the environment.”

“It is the role, or duty, of the government to protect the environment for the future and it is also the role of the private sector,” he said.

“We as investors have to consider the environment – that is in everyone’s interest. If the government or companies do not protect [the environment] then we will all suffer.”

Sok Kong said tourism development projects in pristine natural environments such as Cambodia’s beaches or national parks should be carefully scrutinized by the government to avoid inadvertently destroying the same natural beauty that attracted tourists to the Kingdom in the first place.

“For the two hotel projects in Sihanoukville, environment is my first concern before anything else,” he said.

“All the sectors [tourism, energy, heavy industry] have to go forward together but the environment must come first,” he added.

Environmental watchdogs, however, are skeptical that Cambodia can balance conservation and development, pointing out that waste management at the country’s multitude of tourist destinations was already a problem.

“The proposed golf course at Bokor Mountain is located inside a protected area. We worry that the investment might cause problems for many locals in the area,” Sam Chanthy, an environment project officer for the NGO Forum of Cambodia said on June 11.

But Tourism Minister Thong Khon said his ministry was aware of environmental concerns stemming from the country’s rapid growth and was trying to encourage eco-friendly tourism projects through an award system for environmentally conscious developers.

“We only award concessions to investors who understand the importance of environmental protection,” Thon Khon said.

Sokimex’s Bokor Mountain project has passed an environmental assessment, he said, as has the recently inaugurated Russian-owned Koh Puos investment project.

SHIFTING BURDEN OF PROOF: From Victims to Government of Political Violence

The Phnom Penh Post
Written by Theary C. SENG
Thursday, 12 June 2008

On June 2, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (Chrac), Nicfec and Comfrel held a press conference on political violence during the pre-campaign period, and questions arose as to how we know that these cases of violence were related to politics. Do we have proof?These are legitimate questions and the response requires us, first of all, to distinguish between what one knows and what one can prove, and related, to understand the term “burden of proof”.In law and in politics, as in life and in love, what we know can be different from what we can prove. The opposition commune chief was beaten unconscious: was he beaten for his political affiliation or for a personal vendetta or as a result of violence in the course of a random robbery? The victim, his family and neighbors believe (or know) the violence occurred because of his political stance, but how do they prove it? The government denies their charge or claim. In current Cambodia, we see this scenario repeat itself over and over again, with only the names, location and context changing.

What is the “burden of proof”?

In law and philosophy, the term “burden of proof” refers to the onus (duty, obligation) to establish (demonstrate, prove) a disputed charge or allegation for it to be accepted as true (or reasonable to believe). Simply put, the burden of proof is the responsibility of proving a fact in dispute.Normally, the burden of proof rests on the person who asserts, not who denies. That is, the necessary of proof lies with he who complains. The principle that it should be this way is commonly known as the “presumption of innocence”. If “he who asserts must prove” then the plaintiff has the burden in a civil case, and the prosecutor in a criminal case.

This allocation of burden is correct and as it should be.

Additionally, the less reasonable a statement or allegation seems, the more proof it requires.

Current burden on victims

Currently in Cambodia, when there is violence against opposition activists, the victims cry “politics!” and the government decry against it, claiming instead that it was random violence or personal vendetta. The victims carry the impossibly heavy burden of proving that it was politically motivated. It is impossible because the perpetrator hardly ever states his motivation; it is heavy because of the high threshold of non-existent visible proof, unlimited possibilities and motivations which could be and are posited, as well as a culture of fear and lack of investigative resources.Cambodians, who read or hear of the repeated patterns of these incidents, intuitively know that these acts of violence are politically related, their knowledge framed and informed by their personal experience and acute understanding of their society, even if the victims cannot prove the case.

These cases provide a dissonance and disconnect between public knowledge and proof.

Hence, to maintain the burden of proving it was political on the victims is to invite and encourage further political violence and impunity of the perpetrators and powers-that-be. It is to play a pretend game of life when everyone knows otherwise.

Shifting burden to Government

We need to shift the burden. We need to shift the responsibility of proof which is currently on the victims to the Government. We need to make it the Government’s duty to prove it was not political.

The exceptions to this general principle that “he who asserts must prove” can be had through a statute expressly placing the burden on the Government… “it shall be for the Government to prove…”

However, the shifting of burden through a statute must be limited (e.g., to the elections period) in order for it to be fair and reasonable.

Sample Statute

Six months prior to and three months after the July 27 national elections, any violence perpetrated on a known political activist [it does not matter which political party] will be considered a prima facie [automatically/ “on its face”] political case, and it shall be for the Government to prove that [the murder, the threat, the intimidation etc.] is not political.

The Government shall compensate the victim or his family [US$100,000 for murder, etc.].

If the Government is serious about stemming political violence and would like to proactively erase the high suspicion and distrust of the public, and conversely build public confidence and communicate that life is sacred by giving token compensation, this Statute is very reasonable and necessary. However, if it would like the public to continue to be cynical, suspicious and fearful, then the Government should maintain the status quo and continue to parrot “personal vendetta; random violence” speech.

Other random matters

The arrest of opposition journalist Dam Sith is a deeply, deeply shameful, flagrant disrespect for the rule of law, due process and free expression, and a deeply, deeply shameful display of brute power that has no place at the table of civilized people and civilized nations in a globalized community of 2008. Has defamation not been de-criminalized? Moreover, what is the falsehood to be legally charged? In defamation, truth is a defense.

Generally speaking, we see that the ancient Greek, Anarchus, was very prophetic of Cambodia when he wrote: “Written laws are like the web of a spider, and will like a spider web only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them.” (I highly recommend US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli’s speech of March 20, 2008 from which this quote is taken.) Or a more modern version of this: “For my friends, whatever they want. For my enemies, the law.”

Theary C. SENG
Executive Director

For past articles, please visit “Voice of Justice Program”.

Cabinet to endorse new map, enabling Cambodia to propose temple to Unesco

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on June 14, 2008

The Cabinet will endorse Cambodia's new map next week, enabling Phnom Penh to submit its proposal to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said yesterday.

The military was reportedly dissatisfied with the new map Cambodia sent to Thailand as it encroached on some 10 metres of Thai territory.

"I have worked with Cambodia on the issue and there is no problem now," Noppadon told reporters. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy Sok An were very cooperative in settling the differences, he added.

Thailand and Cambodia have locked horns since Bangkok opposed Phnom Penh's plan to list the temple with 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping area claimed by both sides.

After several rounds of negotiations, Cambodia agreed last month to list only the temple and sent the new drawing of the proposed site for Thailand's consideration.

Residents in northeastern Si Sa Ket province protested, wanting the Cambodian community to be removed from overlapping areas.

Sompong Sucharitkul, former Thai ambassador to The Hague, said the Kingdom had never admitted to Cambodia's sovereignty over the temple despite the International Court of Justice's ruling in 1962 in favour of Cambodia.

The government should not commit to anything that could be deemed as recognition of Cambodia's sovereignty, said the former diplomat, who was close to the case when it was being considered by the court.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the government had handled the case with transparency and would not allow the country to lose any sovereignty over territory.

"We are working on the World Heritage issue, so please do not mix this up with other issues that could complicate the matter and create misunderstandings between the two countries," Tharit said.

WB helps Cambodia fight poverty by improving road access

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank have signed agreements with Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance to help the country materialize two projects, namely Road Asset Management and Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development, said a WB release Friday.

Cambodia will be provided with 41.5 million U.S. dollars in credit and grants to carry out the projects, which aim at fighting poverty by improving road access and enabling poor and landless people to gain livelihood, it said.

"We recognize our responsibility to utilize these credits and grant in an efficient, accountable and transparent manner and to ensure that the benefits will flow to the people of Cambodia," said Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance.

WB Country Director Ian Porter said that "our Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) places a lot of emphasis on WB supporting the development of infrastructure and sustainable natural resource management to benefit rural communities."

Under the first project, the bank is well positioned to continue its support together with other development partners for a more comprehensive approach to road asset management capacity, with a strong focus on ensuring adequate maintenance of road infrastructure.

Under the second project, WB will also be working with the government and other partners to ensure local communities, particularly poor, landless and land-poor people, benefit from improved land management, including land access and tenure security.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

1,344 Primary Schools Will Receive Breakfast Again

In this April 29, 2008 file photo, a Cambodian boy eats rice in his classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, at Sangkum Seksa elementary school in Udong district, Kampong Speu province, about 70 kilometers (43 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Last minute funding to buy rice has allowed the World Food Program to continue offering free breakfast to hundreds of thousands of Cambodian children, the agency said Monday, June 9, 2008.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

Posted on 13 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 564

“Phnom Penh: The World Food Program [WFP] announced that, with important special funds received, it can begin again the program to provide breakfast to children at primary schools.

Funds which have just been received enable the WFP to distribute food to different schools in Cambodia soon, in order to provide food to children for the period of three weeks before these schools go into vocations. The provision of US$5.4 million at the last minute was made at a time when WFP was almost forced to stop its breakfast program in Cambodia, because food prices are more and more expensive, and at that time it faced a shortage of funds. The contribution is part the funds of WFP to help to keep these programs running in each country, and to continue to provide food aid, although prices of food are more expensive than before.

“Mr. Thomas Keusters, the WFP country director in Cambodia, said, ‘WFP is delighted to hear the news of new funds. Now, food can be distributed to 1,344 primary schools; so that the breakfast program for primary schools will restart, and it will continue until 5 July.’ Mr. Thomas added, ‘However, the future fate of the meal program will very much depend if we will receive donations in the coming weeks and months.’ WFP announced in March that its program could not continue to help the government and other partners to improve the attendance of primary school students at their classes. The shortage of funds and the rising cost of food made it impossible to buy the needed food. Rice supplying companies did default on their contracts with WFP, citing that prices of imported rice were higher than before.

“The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, Mr. Im Sethy said, ‘The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for primary education is one priority of other priorities of the Cambodian government. We would like to thank the international community for this support.’”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6370, 13.6.2008

Tribunal to Investigate More Former Leaders

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

Khmer audio aired 13 June (821 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 June (821 KB) - Listen (MP3)

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is prepared to pursue investigation of additional regime cadre, a prosecutor said, but no decision has been made on whom.

Officials have said in the past as many as 12 former Khmer Rouge leaders could be arrested and charged with atrocity crimes, but so far the tribunal is only holding five of the senior-most leaders.

Robert Petit, co-prosecutor for the tribunal, confirmed Friday that the courts were evaluating the preliminary investigation of more suspects.

"Regarding the nature of the crime committed here, and effectively based on the law and on evidence, [the tribunal] would have further investigations," he said. "We are now in the stage of preliminary investigation and the stage of the evaluation of evidence."

The investigations are being considered by the two prosecutors, but no decision has been made, he said.

"I cannot answer because the decision has not yet been made," he said, when asked how many more might be charged.

Petit said too the first trial of a Khmer Rouge suspect, for Kaing Khek Iev, alias Duch, would be held in September or October.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the courts would be more likely to find suspects for further investigation once trials of jailed leaders begin.

"We will see [more suspects] after the completion of the trials of the five first suspects," he said.

"I think if they charge more people now, it could turn the citizens' confidence on the court, because they could be confused," he said.

NEC Lists Omitted Thousands of Voters: NDI

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 13 June (1.30 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 June (1.30 MB) - Listen (MP3)

A review of voter registration lists found the omission of thousands of legitimate voters, the National Democratic Institute said Friday.

By auditing both National Election Committee voter registration and voter deletion lists and comparing the results, the group found that 10 percent of the deleted names were those of eligible voters, about 57,000 of them.

The group noted, however, that 500,000 invalid names had been removed from the voter registry.

NDI recommended the NEC take measures to ensure eligible voters be restored to the registry. If their names are not re-instated, the voters will be excluded from July's general election.

Health of Jailed Editor Good, But Wife Worries

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

Khmer audio aired 13 June (811 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 June (811 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Opposition editor Dam Sith called his arrest unfair and an abuse of Cambodian law, and he appealed to the courts to release him on bail, a journalist who visited him in prison said Friday.

Dam Sith is being detained in a cell 4 meters wide and 15 meters long, said Puy Kea, a member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, five of whose members visited the editor Friday morning.

Dam Sith has been in jail since Sunday on charges of defamation and disinformation, following the publication in Moneaksekar Khmer a speech by opposition leader Sam Rainsy that accused Foreign Minister Hor Namhong of being a former member of the Khmer Rouge.

Hor Namhong has denied such accusations in the past and filed suit against the paper April 25.
Wife Meas Chan Kanha said she worried about a stomach ailment of Dam Sith that requires daily medicine the prison cannot provide.

Kuy Bun Sorn, chief of Cambodian prisons, said Friday Dam Sith was detained with criminals of various charges, including murder, terrorism, assassination and rape.

US Agents Train Police in Forensics

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

Khmer audio aired 13 June (980 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 June (980 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Special agents of a US navy investigation unit completed a course on forensic techniques for national and military police Friday, in an exercise of continued US aid to Cambodian law enforcement.

Police were instructed in forensic science and crime scene processing by members of the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They were taught to examine various types of evidence and to handle crime scenes, officials said.

"Hopefully, we are learning how to identify evidence at the crime scene as well as how to process or develop and then to preserve it, so that the evidence can be used in the court room," said NCIS trainer Kiyomi Griffrey.

The US was leaving behind equipment to help the police use what they learned, she said.

The training will help Cambodia build a team of technical experts who can investigate whether a crime was individual and vindictive or an act of terrorism, said Lt. General Kim Nean, an assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen and member of the National Counter Terrorism Committee.

Other participants said they were happy for the training but concerned they would not have enough equipment for operations in the future.

Candidates Assail Government at Land Forum

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

Khmer audio aired 13 June (1.02 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 13 June (1.02 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Members of four political parties on Friday blamed the government and the ruling Cambodian People's Party for failure to address the growing problem of land disputes, and one official wept as he described landless poor forced to become beggars.

The Cambodian People's Party was not represented at the forum, which included members of the Funcinpec, Sam Rainsy, Norodom Ranariddh and Hang Dara Democratic Movement parties and was held by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.

Funcinpec member Kim Vean blamed the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution for failing to resolve land disputes for people; Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha blamed Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Duong Chan Soriya, of the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, said government leaders ignored land disputes in cases of the poor, who became landless beggars.

"In this regime, Cambodian people are facing the most difficulties," he said, as he began to weep, passing his floor time to Muth Chantha.

Land dispute authority spokesman Chun Bunrong said Friday the authority worked hard to resolve disputes. Without the authority, there would be confrontation and instability throughout the county, he said.

US Ambassador Expects Peaceful Elections

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 June 2008

Khme audio aired 13 June (1.57 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khme audio aired 13 June (1.57 MB) - Listen (MP3)

US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli expects a peaceful transition of power following free and fair elections in July.

Critics maintain that the ruling party continues to buy off or otherwise persuade activists from competing parties and to buy votes through gifts to the poor.

Mussomeli told VOA Khmer in Washington the election was likely to be peaceful and orderly.

That may be true, but the ruling party continues to buy off activists and buy votes through gifts to the poor, Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party said.

"The ruling party is buying or persuading the other political parties’ activists or offering gifts to poor people in the rural countryside in order to get their ballots,” he said. "Since my Human Rights Party was established, I've received so many threatening cases and more than 200 party signs were abolished."

Om Yintieng, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said Cambodia's political environment had gotten "better and better" since elections in 1993.

"I don't think it can satisfy everybody in the world, but we are proud for our country to be able to improve the election process," he said.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said he was concerned for the election process, which has already seen eight murders and 20 cases of intimidation.

Sacombank enters Laos and Cambodia

Friday, June 13, 2008

The central bank approved a plan by Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank, known as Sacombank, to open two branches in Laos and Cambodia, the bank said in a statement emailed to Thanh Nien Daily Thursday.

The lender, which is the only listed bank on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, said it was urgently completing necessary procedures to open the two branches.

Sacombank set up a representative office in China’s Guangxi Province on January 8 this year.
Former vegetable oil executive to cut stake

Tuong An Vegetable Oil Joint Stock Company said on the exchange’s website Huynh Tuan Phuong Mai, its former chief executive officer, would reduce his stake by half to the equivalent of 0.32 percent of the company’s stock.

He will begin selling 60,745 shares June 16.

Fertilizer giant to continue buyback

PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemical Joint Stock Company Thursday announced it would press ahead with a buyback of one million shares.

During the registered buyback period, the firm halted the process after purchasing 600,000 shares, saying it needed to use its cashflow to import fertilizers from abroad to meet domestic demand.

The company will acquire 400,000 shares before September 9 to complete its original plan, according to the exchange.

Sweet firm to issue more shares

The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange gave the green light to Bien Hoa Sugar Joint Stock Company to list 1,683,893 new shares on the exchange.

Deutsche Bank raises stake in seafood firm

Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaf & Deutsche Asset Management Ltd. raised its holding in seafood trader Nam Viet Corp. to 5.04 percent from 4.98 percent by buying 38,680 shares, according to the exchange’s report on its website Thursday.

Office equipment executive sells 5,000 shares

Sieu Thanh Joint Stock Company, an office automation equipment supplier, said Deputy Director Pham Khac Tien had registered to sell 5,000 shares to reduce his holding to 35,660 shares from 40,660.

The sale started Thursday and will finish on September 12.

Descon to buy back 200,000 shares

Descon Construction Corp. reported to the exchange it will buy back 200,000 shares from June 18 to September 18.

Port operator buys back shares

Doan Xa Port Joint Stock Company, a port operator, bought back 50,000 shares on June 6, the exchange said on its website.

Steel firm gets nod to issue shares to partner

Steel company Hoa Phat Group has been approved to issue 8.26 million shares to its strategic partner, the exchange said on its website without saying the partner’s name.

Petrolimex gas director to up stake

Petrolimex Gas Joint Stock Corp., which has interests in petroleum and petrochemical downstream sectors, announced Tran Van Thinh, a director, will raise his holding from 23,370 shares to 30,000 by buying the shares before June 22.

Source: Thanh Nien

French company to invest $250 mln to develop resort in Cambodia

June 13, 2008

A French-financed company will invest 250 million U.S. dollars to develop the Ream area in Cambodia's port city of Sihanoukville into a resort, according to Ieng Sophallet, assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen, here Friday.

Alain Dupuis, French citizen and director of the Ream Resort Development Company, met with Hun Sen here Thursday to find support from the government for his project, he added.

Khmer-language newspaper the Rsamei Kampuchea Friday quoted Alain as telling the premier that his company will construct five-star hotels, other accommodation facilities, golf course, leisure places along the beach and motor-boat sporting project for tourists in the Ream region.

The premier welcomed the investment and requested the company to work with the Council for Development of Cambodia to achieve success, it added.

Construction of the project will start in late 2008 and be finished in 2010. Sihanoukville is Cambodia's major sight-seeing destination.

Sandy beach and clean sea used to attract tens of thousands of travelers annually.

Source: Xinhua

Japan to send 25 observers for Cambodian general election

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government has decided to dispatch a governmental election observation mission, comprising about 25 members, for the Cambodian general election to be held on July 27, a press release from the Japanese embassy here said Friday.

This mission will be dispatched to Cambodia late in July for about ten days to observe election campaigns and the voting, the release said.

The Japanese government has contributed about three million U.S. dollars as assistance for the general election of the counterpart funds of the Japanese non-project grant aid, and about 148,000 dollars for a grass-root grant aid scheme to train the electorates, it added.

The parliamentary election is to establish the fourth mandate government of the kingdom.

Altogether 11 parties have been approved to vie for the 123 seats in the National Assembly.

Editor: Lin Li

Thai govt expected to endorse new map of Preah Vihear next week

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Fri, June 13, 2008

The Cabinet is expected to endorse Cambodia's new map next week enabling Phnom Penh to submit its proposal to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Friday.

The military was reportedly dissatisfied with the new map Cambodia sent to Thailand as it encroached on some 10 metres of Thai territory.

"I have worked with Cambodia on the issue and there is no problem now," Noppadon told reporters.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy Sok An were very cooperative in settling the differences, he added.

Thailand and Cambodia have locked horns since Bangkok opposed Phnom Penh's plan to list the temple with 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping area claimed by both sides.

After several rounds of negotiations, Cambodia agreed last month to list only the temple and sent the new drawing of the proposed site for Thailand's consideration.

Residents in northeastern Si Sa Ket province protested, wanting the Cambodian community to be removed from overlapping areas.

Sompong Sucharitkul, former Thai ambassador to The Hague, said the Kingdom had never admitted to Cambodia's sovereignty over the temple despite the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) ruling in 1962 in favour of Cambodia.

The government should not commit to anything that could be deemed as recognition of Cambodia's sovereignty, said the former diplomat, who was close to the case when it was being considered by the ICJ.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the government had handled the case with transparency and would not allow the country to lose any sovereignty over territory.

"We are working on the World Heritage issue, so please do not mix this up with other issues that could complicate the matter and create misunderstandings between the two countries," Tharit said.

The protest in Si Sa Ket is over the boundary demarcation, which the ministry says is a separate issue from the World Heritage Site.

Cambodian marathoner trains himself for Olympics out of hope, hardship

Special report:
2008 Olympic Games

By Xia Lin

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-five year old runner Hem Bunting has been training himself each day here at the Olympic Stadium since the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) chose him to join the Beijing Olympics in August together with three other Khmer athletes.

"Of course I am very excited to have the chance to compete in the Olympics, but I don't hope to win a medal," English-language bi-weekly the Phnom Penh Post Friday quoted him as saying.

Selected by NOCC, the Cambodian team consists of two swimmers, a female sprint runner and Bunting, who will compete in men's marathon and 5,000 meters run.

The team owes its presence at the Olympics to regulations allowing some of the world's least developed countries to enter a man and woman in two sports categories without having to qualify.

Bunting, like the other three, now lives for a supreme dream, but leads a hard life short of finance and understanding.

"He is the number on marathon runner in Cambodia but he still trains in old shoes," Chea Chandara, Bunting's friend and training partner, told the Phnom Penh Post, while complaining fund shortage.

Bunting said that athletes struggled also due to limited public interest in the face of more popular sports like football and boxing.

"Cambodians have little understanding of athletics. They are only interested in sports they can bet on," he added.

The government may not be able to meet their desperate demand for sponsor, equipment and training ground, but provided enough morale support instead to guarantee their confidence in participation of the games.

Cambodian Tourism Minister and NOCC President Thong Khon Tuesday donated 200 U.S. dollars for each of the six Cambodian athletes and trainers heading for the Beijing Olympics.

"I just visited them and offered them my personal money," he said, adding that he had asked the committee to raise their stipend, which is currently set at 50 U.S. dollars each athlete per month for three months prior to the games.

Meanwhile, NOCC is currently finalizing an agreement with South Korea which would allow Bunting to train in Seoul for two months before the games start.

Cambodia will send a 15-member delegation to take part in the Olympic Games with focus on swimming and marathon. King Norodom Sihamoni and Education Minister Kol Pheng are also planning to attend the opening ceremony.

It is not the first time Cambodia has sent athletes to the Olympics.

The first post-war delegation of five Khmers competed at the Atlanta Games in 1996, and Cambodia subsequently sent four athletes to both Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.

Cambodia govt approves 1bln usd Chinese dams


PHNOM PENH (XFN-ASIA) - The Cambodian government today approved two large hydropower dams to be built with more than 1 bln usd dollars in funding from Chinese companies.

The new projects, Stung Tatay dam and Stung Russey Chrum Krom dam in the southwestern province of Koh Kong, were approved during a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to a government statement.

The statement said the dams will ensure Cambodia's energy supply at reasonable prices, which is 'a necessary key to push for economic growth and other development.'

China National Heavy Machinery Corporation (CNHMC) will spend 540 mln usd to build Stung Tatay, Cambodian council of ministers official Seng Savorn told Agence France-Presse. The dam will generate 246 megawatts (MW) of power.

China's Michelle Corporation will spend 495.7 mln usd to build Stung Russey Chrum Krom dam, which will generate 338 MW of electricity, he added.

Construction of both dams will begin this year, with Stung Tatay due to be completed in 2014 and Stung Russey Chrum Krom in 2015, he said.

The Southeast Asian country will open nine other dams of various sizes between 2010 and 2019 to generate 1,942 MW of power, according to a government report to parliament obtained by AFP last month.

The US-based International Rivers Network last year said that two of those dams, also funded by China, threatened to flood huge swathes of Cambodia's protected forests.

Only 20 pct of Cambodian households currently have access to electricity.

Spiralling utility prices, driven by the lack of supply, are a major obstacle to attracting foreign investment, and the government has struggled to find a way to bring down the cost of power.

The government also plans to build nine coal-powered plants between 2011 and 2020, the report to parliament said.

afp/kmq - xfnkm
13 June 2008

Anti-trafficking drive marred by claims of gang rape, robbery

PHOTO SUPPLIED Protesters gather outside the Cambodian UN Mission in New York City on June 11 to demonstrate against new anti-trafficking legislation in Cambodia.

NICOLAS ASFOURI/ AFP A former prostitute drinks a soda in a Phnom Penh slum on June 10. Cambodia climbed up the United States’ anti-human trafficking ratings this month although sex workers here say a government crackdown has been accompanied by rampant abuse by police.

Tier 2 the hard way; Two women, one of whom is an HIV positive sex worker and the other a former prostitute, smoke cigarettes in an alleyway in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on June 10. Organizations working with prostitutes say they applaud the US State Department’s decision to reward Cambodia’s efforts to curb human trafficking by upgrading its anti-trafficking rating. But they also warn that the government’s fight against people smuggling is unfairly targeting commercial sex workers instead of those behind rampant sexual exploitation.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Cat Barton
Thursday, 12 June 2008

The United States’ decision to upgrade Cambodia’s anti-human trafficking rating has received praise from those working to end human smuggling. But advocates for sex workers, while saying they agree with the decision, warn that authorities are failing to distinguish between those forced into sexual slavery and those they say have chosen to prostitute themselves.

Cambodia this year has been placed in Tier 2, the middle category in the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, putting it alongside countries like Chile, Angola and El Salvador, which are among the 170 countries assessed.

Since 2006, the Kingdom has languished on the Tier 2 Watch List after being relegated to the lowest category, Tier 3, in 2005.US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said the country’s improved ranking “marks a continuing trend of sustained attention to the issue and reflects the Royal Government of Cambodia’s increased engagement in combating trafficking in persons.”

Achieving a Tier 2 ranking is an achievement “which would not have been possible without a strong commitment at the highest levels of the government,” he wrote to the Post on June 12.

For the Cambodian anti-trafficking community, Tier 2 was “definitely deserved” and due to a “marathon effort” on the part of the government, said Marielle Sander Lindstrom, chief of party of the Counter-Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) Program, which is funded by USAID and implemented by The Asia Foundation.

The Asia Foundation works directly with the government through the national task force on human trafficking.

“I’ve never worked with a government that has been so completely engaged and impressive and has tried so hard to get a better overview of the trafficking situation,” she told the Post on June 12.

The Tier 2 announcement on June 5 followed Cambodia’s passage in February of sweeping anti-trafficking legislation that resulted in what appeared to be a widespread crackdown on the country’s teeming sex industry, with authorities closing hundreds of brothels across Cambodia.

Advocates working with sex workers say they agree with Cambodia’s ascent to Tier 2, but say the government’s efforts to combat trafficking under the new legislation is unfairly targeting every prostitute, rather than only brothel owners, pimps and human traffickers.

“It is very good that Cambodia is active in combating human trafficking and I am glad about the Tier 2 ranking,” said Keo Tha, a representative of Women’s Network for Unity.

“[But] if people work voluntarily as sex workers to earn their living, they are not connected to human trafficking and the authorities should not crack down on them,” she told the Post on June 12.

Moreover, organizations working in the health sector – including UNAIDS – have expressed concerns about the public health implications of the government’s efforts to stamp out the sex industry, which they say only drives sex workers further underground and out of reach of the health care services they desperately need.

Critics claim that condom campaigns and HIV/Aids treatment and prevention programs which formerly reached hundreds of brothel-based prostitutes, have virtually collapsed since the crackdown began.

One HIV-positive sex worker, 26-year-old Mao Srey Mom, said she was denied regular access to anti-retroviral drugs for ten days after being caught up in a recent police sweep of public parks where the sex trade flourishes.

During her detention, Srey Mom – who said she was not forced into the sex trade and did not understand why she was targeted for arrest – alleges that she was threatened with gang rape and kicked hard enough to cause her to miscarry her three-month-old fetus.

Similar stories from other detained sex workers are mounting up, as is international concern over widespread reports of prostitutes being physically and sexually abused at the hands of Cambodian police.

A protest was held in New York City outside the Cambodian Mission to the UN on June 11, where activists released a statement saying that since Cambodia passed “an extremely punitive law criminalizing sex work” there have been numerous “grievous human rights violations committed against sex workers, even leading to the deaths in custody of at least three sex workers.”

No deaths of detained prostitutes have been reported in Cambodia. But numerous sex workers say they have been abused.

“We are being slapped, beaten, raped by police officers,” said Pheng Phally, team leader of the Women’s Network for Unity.

“Every time women are arrested the police take all their money and jewelry and if any girl is pretty the police gang rape them. The police and guards torture and rape us. Is this the way to protect and promote women’s value and rights?”

According to The Asia Foundation’s Lindstrom, claims that the legislation violates the rights of sex workers – what she called the “frustration on the ground” – have come about “because they (critics) don’t understand the new law.”

She said the legislation “targets those who benefit from the exploitation of others” and is based on international standards.

It is possible that the discrepancy between the law’s stated aims and its apparent impact comes down to police training, according to Lindstrom, who said: “In terms of how it is being applied [the police] have not had adequate training.”

“The donor community has not focused attention on police academy training.... After four months of training [the Cambodian police are] meant to have the same standards as international police – that’s ridiculous,” she said.

Cambodia’s top anti-trafficking police officer, Bith Kim Hong, said that police training was an urgent priority.

“Police are much in need of more training, even though in the past they have received training it is not enough, especially as we have this new anti-trafficking law to implement,” he told the Post on June 12.

Kim Hong said sex workers had yet to present any evidence of the alleged abuses by law enforcement officials and that Cambodia’s new Tier 2 ranking was a fair reflection of the Kingdom’s efforts to combat trafficking.

In the first five months of 2008, the police carried out over 100 raids, which resulted in 140 prosecutions under the new law, including the arrests of four foreigners, Kim Hong said without elaborating on the charges.

Anger builds over land-grab crisis

TRACEY SHELTON Photocopies of petitions calling for the government to act against land-grabbing are strung up on the bank of the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh on June 6, the day after the originals were handed to United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Tracey Shelton
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Desperate over the loss of their farms, hundreds of villagers from distant districts in the countryside have converged on Phnom Penh, some of them walking hundreds of kilometers to protest what rights groups warn is an increasingly dangerous land-grabbing crisis.

Some have come to beg for Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials to intervene, while others are seeking help from non-governmental organizations and rights groups.

“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, president of the rights group Licadho.

At least six separate groups representing hundreds of families have sought help from authorities in Phnom Penh this month over land seizures.

“This shows that land grabbing is rampant and that villagers are unable to get their grievance heard anywhere else,” Galabru said in a statement from Licadho.

Illegal land seizures have emerged as one of the most serious threats to stability in Cambodia, where the combination of corruption and a land registry system ruined by decades of civil strife have made property ownership tenuous at best for most.

The issue has been made worse by rapidly rising land prices, which have resulted in mass evictions across the country, with some rights groups estimating that hundreds of thousands of mostly poor Cambodians have either lost their property or face forced eviction.

“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,” the organization said in a statement.

The issue continues to garner international attention, with the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission saying on June 12 it had launched a petition demanding that Prime Minister Hun Sen halt land grabs for development projects.

In forced evictions thus far, public forces have demolished their homes or set them on fire and destroyed their belongings...

“In forced evictions thus far, public forces have demolished their homes or set them on fire and destroyed their belongings including crops and plantations,” the group said in a statement.

“Some evictees have been beaten or even arrested on fabricated charges to subdue resistance and force evictees to accept unjust compensation. It is very likely that such brutality will continue in future evictions,” it added.

A petition signed by 42,000 victims of land grabs was handed over earlier this month to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in Phnom Penh.

The 4,500-page petition calls on authorities to heed a much-publicized demand by Hun Sen for officials to stop land grabs and illegal logging throughout Cambodia, and return illegally seized land to its rightful owners.

“We chose to present our petition to the UN rather than government authorities for two reasons: to protect the petition from those who want to destroy it and because we want the UN to tell the rest of the world what is happening here,” said Om Meng, a community activist from Kampong Thom province and a member of the Cambodian Peace Network.

Hundreds of petition pages were confiscated by provincial police and other officials while signatures were being collected in what organizers say was an attempt to scare them into stopping their petition drive.

Licadho’s Galabru said the petition – the first of its kind – marks the beginning of organized grassroots opposition to illegal land seizures.

“This is the first time such a large group has united to fight against illegal land grabbing,” she said following a three-hour meeting with the UN rights agency’s country representative, Christophe Peschoux on June 5 during which villagers presented their petition.

“And they did it on their own. They used their own networks, their own ideas, organized their own meetings – we have simply been there to offer advice and support,” Galabru said.

She said the number of petitioners and the fact that they came from throughout the country highlighted the scale of illegal land seizures.

“And this is not all [of the victims]; there are more out there,” Galabru said, adding that she believed that the number of signatories would continue to rise as momentum built towards a resolution.

“With perseverance, the government will have to listen,” she said.

Neither Peschoux nor the government’s National Land Dispute Authority could be reached for comment.

(Additional reporting by Seth Meixner)

A legacy of war worth cheering for

TRACEY SHELTONCambodian deminers are greeted with garlands of flowers at Phnom Penh International Airport upon returning from a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan on June 10.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Sebastian Strangio
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Cambodia's continuing participation in the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Sudan marks an important landmark in the Kingdom's emergence from decades of upheaval, say diplomats and international observers.

This month saw military deminers both leaving for and returning from the violently divided African nation, where Cambodia has been participating in peacekeeping operations since 2006.

"I think it's a tremendous achievement," said Douglas Broderick, the UN's resident coordinator in Cambodia, who presided over a welcoming ceremony for the 135 deminers who returned from a year-long tour in Sudan on June 10.

"There are very few countries around the world that have this sort of expertise," he added, alluding to Cambodia's decades of civil war and upheaval that saw it become one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

Munitions experts estimate that as many as eight million landmines as well as millions of pieces of unexploded ordnance remain littered across the country and still kill or maim scores of people each year.

Demining is an excellent point for Cambodia to establish a close and more constructive relationship with the international community.

Cambodia's demining expertise, according to Broderick, could propel the country into a much greater international role.

"Demining is an excellent point for Cambodia to establish a close and more constructive relationship with the international community," he said.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Cambodia's contribution to peacekeeping efforts in Sudan highlighted how much progress the Kingdom had made since the UN's intervention here in the early 1990s.

"The fact that Cambodia is now contributing expertise to UN peacekeeping operations, after being the focus of one such mission just 15 years ago, attests to the laudable progress the country has made in its transition from a post-conflict state to a transitional democratic nation," Daigle wrote to the Post in an email.

He added that US military forces would continue to train the Cambodian army to improve its peacekeeping capabilities, saying, "We would welcome such increased engagement."

As the second contingent of deminers returned on June 10, Defense Minster Tea Banh said Cambodia was well positioned to contribute to future regional and international humanitarian missions.

A total of 417 Cambodian soldiers have so far been deployed to Sudan, said Ker Savoeun, director of UN Peacekeeping Operations.

They have so far cleared more than 28 million square-meters meters of land in the Malakal region of southern Sudan, defusing 368 different types of mines and removing a total of 5,664 pieces of unexploded ordnance, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Doung Ra, head of the returning mission.

"I am very happy. I missed my family and all of Cambodia while I was working in Sudan," he said.

As the soldiers stepped off the plane, seven-year-old Chean Channan could barely contain his excitement, yelling, "Papa is coming home!" as he broke free from his mother's grip and ran across the tarmac towards his father.

US Senate mulls new ambassador appointment

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Seth Meixner
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Carol Rodley, the former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, has been nominated to return to Cambodia as ambassador, embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said.

"On May 13, 2008, President Bush announced his decision to nominate Ms Carol Ann Rodley to replace Ambassador [Joseph] Mussomeli as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Cambodia," Daigle wrote in a June 11 email to the Post.

"The President transmitted the nomination to the US Senate for its advice and consent the same day. We cannot speculate on when the Senate will act on the nomination," he added.

Rodley, a career officer in the Senior Foreign Service, had previously worked in Cambodia from 1997 to 2000.

She has served in senior positions at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and also had assignments in Germany, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan, according to the US State Department website.

Cambodia's ties to Washington have increased significantly in recent years, particularly military-to-military relations, which resumed in 2006.

Runway hits a bump over land claims

TRACEY SHELTON Boys play football on the runway at Ratanakkiri Airport in provincial capital Banlung. The runway will be paved with bitumen and a terminal built as part of an upgrade for the airport, which will also require the land of nearby homeowners who are demanding they be compensated at market rates.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Thursday, 12 June 2008

RATANAKKIRI - Banlung residents facing eviction by the Ratanakkiri Airport expansion are threatening a protest that could disrupt the multi-million-dollar renovations which are hoped to boost tourism to the isolated northeastern province.

Chum Rithy, whose home is among the dozens which are likely to be lost as the airport is enlarged, said authorities had earlier agreed to pay compensation but later backtracked and will now only provide payouts for those holding land titles.

"We do not object to the development plan but we can't leave the land with nothing," he said.

"We will not agree to leave without proper compensation," he added, Most of the disputed land was bought from ethnic minority villagers, Rithy said, and is largely undocumented.

"I don't have a land title but I have the recognition paper from the commune authority," Rithy told the Post.

So Thy, another resident facing eviction, said he did not know if he would be compensated for his 3,350 square-meter plot because local authorities had not discussed the matter with him.

"If there is no compensation, then we will protest," Thy said. "I have a recognition letter from commune authority so they have to pay the market price."

Ratanakkiri Airport opened in 1965 but has been closed for the past two years in preparation for upgrades after a plane operated by local carrier PMT Air skidded off the runway in 2005.

Sinn Chan Sereyvutha, who is managing the Ratanakkiri Airport upgrade on behalf of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said that despite lingering questions of compensation, most Banlung residents were excited about the expansion, which it is hoped will kick-start a tourism boom in Cambodia's northeast.

He said the runway will be paved with bitumen and extended from 1,300 meters to 1,500 meters, a terminal for arrivals and departures will be built and improved safety equipment will be installed.

The project is targeted for completion in early 2010 and will cost more than $5 million, Chan Sereyvutha said, adding that the Asian Development Bank would provide a loan for 70 percent of expenses with the government paying the remaining 30 percent.

Ratanakkiri tourism director Tra Nuth Sean said provincial authorities had been trying to solve issues of land compensation since September 2007 and wanted the brewing dispute settled before construction on the airport begins this October.

He said he doubted many of the residents could prove ownership of the land.

"They are people who have migrated from other areas and don't have titles to the land. It is unlikely that they claim to own the land," Nuth Sean said.

Chan Sereyvutha said the ADB was involved in discussions with the government over compensation for land at the airport.

"They will solve the problem in a way that is acceptable to all parties," he said.

The Ratanakkiri airstrip will become Cambodia's fourth tourism-focused airport, following airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. It will initially service flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Garment sector falling victim to own success

TRACEY SHELTON Garment workers leave a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh after finishing work for the day. Several garment factories have been forced to close because the could not recruit enough workers, a union official said, claiming inflation had eroded wages to the point that factory work was no longer attractive.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Staff shortages force closures

The garment industry is becoming a victim of its own success, with expansion in the sector contributing to a serious labor shortage, factory owners and industry officials say.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Kingdom’s largest labor group, said five garment factories have closed since March because they could not hire enough staff.

“Other factories will also have to shut down because they cannot get any workers,” Mony told the Post on June 2.

He said some factory administrators had asked him to help find workers but the situation was “hopeless”.

Mony said inflation was one of the key reasons why some workers had given up their jobs, which pay an average of $55 a month.

“They can’t make money because goods and gasoline are so expensive,” he said.

Among those who have sought Mony’s help to recruit workers is Bun Tha, chief administrator at the New Mingda Garment Co., Ltd factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.

Tha said the factory had recently expanded but had postponed a decision to increase production because of the labor shortage.

“We need to recruit another 1,000 workers but we can’t get them,” he said.

“There is strong competition for workers because every factory is short of them,” Tha said.

“It doesn’t matter if they have no experience because we can train them.”

Tha said some workers had given up their factory jobs to return to the provinces and set up their own businesses. Others had left their jobs after making money from land speculation.

Srun Bunny, an administration assistant at South Bay Garment Co., Ltd, said the company’s factory in Meanchey district had also been affected by the shortage.

“We need to recruit another 400 workers,” Bunny said, adding that the situation was mainly due to the increase in the number of garment factories.

“It’s difficult to recruit more workers,” he said. “We have placed recruitment announcements in various places, including other garment factories, but we are only handling a few applications a day.”

Outside the factory, a security guard was encouraging bystanders to come in and apply for a job.

Oum Mean, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, said the shortage had begun in the middle of last year, when the number of factories began to increase.

“It is a good sign for Cambodians and shows they will have more job opportunities as more companies in different sectors come to invest in our country,” Mean said.

Cambodia has about 500 garment and footwear factories, which employ about 400,000 people, he said.

“The opposition party accuses the government of not finding jobs for people, but now there are more jobs and not enough people to fill them,” Mean said.

Cheath Khemara, senior labor officer with the Garment and Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said some factories were trying to retain their workers by offering them more pay.

The expansion of the garment sector was the main reason for the shortage, Khemara told the Post.

He said other factors included workers finding jobs in other sectors, such as tourism, or preferring to leave Phnom Penh to work at garment factories in the provinces.

Tourism arrivals up 14 pct in year to May

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Peter Olszewski
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Tourism to Cambodia jumped more than 14 percent in the year to May, with Siem Reap posting the largest influx of foreign visitors, government figures show, although the Angkor temple town experienced a first-quarter dip in the number of arrivals from the same period in 2007.

Kong Sopheareak, director of the statistics department at the Ministry of Tourism, told the Post that Cambodia was on track to attract 2.3 million visitors this year, adding that political stability and infrastructure improvements had increased the number of tourist destinations in the country.

This diversification could be behind the seven percent drop in arrivals to Cambodia’s most popular tourist draw, the Angkor temple town of Siem Reap, tourism officials said.

Elsewhere in Cambodia saw a significant surge in visitors, such as coastal resorts and the northeastern provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri, according to Sopheareak, who added that tourism was hoped to earn Cambodia some $1.64 billion this year.

He dismissed concerns that the July 27 general election would impact the tourism sector, which is one of the few viable industries in the impoverished country.

Ho Vandy, president of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, told the Post on June 10 that he too was optimistic that the polls would have little effect on arrival figures.

Cambodia’s year-long political stalemate following general elections in 2003 had resulted in a 12 percent drop in visitors, he said.

“Tourism is a fragile sector and if there is instability or unrest no tourists will want to come, so we hope all political parties will resolve any election issues peacefully,” he said.

South Koreans continue to make up the largest group of foreign visitors, followed by Vietnamese and then Japanese, according to tourism ministry figures.

Beaten wives struggle to call it quits

HENG CHIVOAN Residents of Prasut Balung village in Kampong Thom province attend a workshop on domestic violence hosted by the government-run Seary Rattanak group, on June 5.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Brendan Brady
Thursday, 12 June 2008

For Long De, small arguments with her husband can quickly escalate into a beating over the head with a shoe.

"He likes to show his power over me," said the 45-year-old native of Kampong Cham province's Kampong Siem district.

"I filed a complaint to divorce him in 2001 after he beat me really badly, but the court asked us to reconcile and stay together," she added.

Government and NGO officials have praised a rise in reported cases of domestic violence as proof that gains have been in public awareness of the issue following the passage in 2005 of legislation aimed at preventing abuse and protecting its victims.

Spousal battery cases reported to the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center rose from 827 in 2006 to 1,025 last year, with the organization's secretary general, Nep Sarin Srey Rath, saying that a better public understanding of the law had encouraged more women to lodge complaints.

The explanation was shared by Ny Ly Heng, the monitor of women's affairs for the human rights NGO Adhoc, to which 632 cases of domestic violence were reported last year, up from 531 in 2006.

But others say poor implementation of the law and men's financial hold over their wives keep women like Long De locked in abusive and sometimes lethal relationships.

"Look at access to the courts - a woman who has been abused and wants to take action has to go to the local police and pay an unofficial fee," said Sam Rainsy Party secretary general Mu Sochua, who as a former women's affairs minister helped draft the domestic abuse law.

"The case is then passed up the levels in a process that can take months if not years," she added, while Adhoc's Ly Heng said filing a complaint was no guarantee of protection from an abusive spouse.

Few perpetrators are ever charged; only 47 of Adhoc's cases lead to prosecutions in 2006 - a figure that rose marginally to 60 last year, Heng said.

"It usually takes a very serious beating, or if the women is killed," he said.

Chou Bunn Eng, director general of the social development department at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, said people were failing to consider domestic violence in the context of social harmony.

"My advice for all women who are abused by their husbands is to resolve the problem peacefully if possible, but if the abuse is serious then separate," she said.

But Kek Galabru, president of the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said fear of the financial consequences of being divorced kept many victims in abusive relationships.

Galabru said that in the few cases that have gone to court, perpetrators have been able to minimize their financial responsibilities.

"There's no system for assessing the husband's income and assets, so he can easily have much more than he declares," she said.

"Women know that in Cambodia there's no way to force the man to pay even if the court says he should."

Books for Cambodia


After a visit to a school in Cambodia this past winter, my family decided to collect books and supplies for the Savong School in Siem Reap. This is a school that provides free education in a country that charges children to go to the public school, something we take for granted. While the school is functioning with teachers and shelter, there were only scarce supplies and books available. We asked St. Bernard's High School and the communities of Townsend and Ashby for their help in collecting supplies that we could mail over to the school. The response was incredible! We received donations of over 30 boxes of books and school supplies that will be mailed out this week!

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to the students, teachers, and families that contributed to this special project. We also would like to give a special thank you to Pat King of Doody's Animal Shelter, who was instrumental in helping with this effort. The gift of education is needed all over the world, and although we can't change the world, your donations helped improve a small part of it! Thank you so very much!


Chinese language skills seen as gateway to better job in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- While English remains the most popular foreign language among students in Cambodia, Chinese is fast catching up as young Khmers increasingly view it as a gateway to better jobs in the country's growing industrial and tourism sectors, according to the June 13-26 edition of the English-language bi-weekly the Phnom Penh Post.

The biggest Chinese school in Cambodia is the Duan Hoa Chinese School, which has two branches in Phnom Penh and over 7,000 students, the newspaper said.

The school has been open since 1992 and caters mainly to Chinese students, although some Cambodians and Vietnamese also study there, said administration manager Kim Hean.

"Often, students are trying to learn Chinese so they can join the families business or find work in a private company, especially working in factories or in the tourism industry as many Chinese investors are coming to Cambodia now," Kim Hean was quoted as saying.

China has emerged as one of Cambodia's largest investment partners, and is heavily involved not only in the garment sector, but construction and other industries.

"I learn Chinese because I saw how many Chinese companies and factories there are in Cambodia and I want to be able to work at these places," said Chea Sokbouy, who is now studying in Grade 11 at Duan Hoa.

Another Chinese language school, the Chhung Cheng Chinese School, is popular with Chinese-Khmer families, said the deputy director of the school, ChanTirin.

Of the 2,000 pupils at Chhung Cheng, most come from Chinese or Chinese-Khmer families who, while continuing to study in Cambodian state-run schools, realize the value in today's society of speaking two languages.

Tirin said that preserving the Chinese language in Cambodia was an important motivation for many students, but securing a high-paying job also remained a driving force for learning Chinese.

Besides, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen set to sign a sub-decree that will put the Chinese language on the national curriculum at university level, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education Chea Se said.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

Brocon gets green light for island development projects

The Brocon Group’s Song Saa resort on Koh Ouen and Kah Bong will comprise 25 suites and five three-bedroom residential villas.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Strangio
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Australian property developer Brocon has been given the green light to begin work on a $35-million luxury resort on two islands off Sihanoukville, following the project’s final approval by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

“This is the final stage of approval of the project. We now have unconditional possession of the islands,” said Brocon sales and marketing director Nick Chandler.

In July 2007, the government granted Brocon a conditional lease on Koh Oeun and Koh Bong, which are 30 kilometers off the coast.

Chandler said the planned Song Saa resort, which will include 25 self-contained suites, three privately owned villas, a spa, wine cellar, gym and yoga retreat, will meet rigorous environmental standards.

“We’re making a commitment to only use renewable timber for all the construction,” said Chandler. “We are adhering to the best practice for green consumption.”

Brocon expects Song Saa to welcome its first visitors in early 2010.

Firms cautious of unclear CamEx rules

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Susan Postlewaite
Thursday, 12 June 2008

Cambodia’s stock market officials are cautiously pushing ahead with a preliminary plan for the Kingdom’s first bourse which envisions limited daily trading on fewer than a dozen companies as the exchange gets off the ground sometime next year.

The Cambodia Stock Exchange, or CamEx, still faced “some challenges, but we are optimistic we can have it ready by the fourth quarter of 2009,” said Kao Thach, a lawyer who was transferred from the Ministry of Justice to head the Finance Ministry’s Financial Markets Division.

CamEx is a joint venture between the Korea Exchange (KRX) and the Cambodian government, which will share both the cost of setting up the exchange and the eventual profits.

But details on one of the most significant events in Cambodia’s nascent financial sector are meager, and the private sector is clamoring for more information, from shareholding limits on foreign investors to what percentage of a company’s shares must be listed.

“The stock market would be to our benefit as a means of raising additional capital and a means of spreading shares among more people,” said Acleda Bank vice chairman John Brinsden.

“But our planning depends on how we see the structure of the stock exchange and the supporting regulations. We need to know more about the beast,” he said.

The Cambodian stock exchange is partly modeled after the Kosdaq, Korea’s junior stock exchange, as well as after the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, which launched in 2000 with only a handful of companies.

Although few decisions have been finalized, market organizers told the Post they are planning for an exchange that will initially employ about 50 people and hold three- to four-hour trading sessions each morning. Share prices would be announced and orders gathered two or three times per session.

But key regulations still need to be approved before trading can begin, and some potential market players fear that the preparatory work for such a complex undertaking has been left too late.
A stock exchange is a good idea if, and I say if, there is a proper plan.
– Sok Kong

“Now is the right time for a stock exchange, but [the rules and regulations] should have been prepared a decade ago,” said Sok Kong, founder and owner of the petroleum firm Sokimex, which could list under the right conditions.

He said he was pushing the exchange to prepare a long-term regulatory plan to keep CamEx from experiencing the upheavals suffered by Vietnam’s stock market.

“Rules and regulations are important, you need them,” Sok Kong said.

“You can see in Vietnam that they are having problems now because they did not put these in place early on ... it is like a casino but even worse. A stock exchange is a good idea if, and I say if, there is a proper plan.”

Thach said that there were still two sets of pending regulations necessary for the exchange’s establishment: one implementing the Cambodia Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and the other governing the operations of the Cambodia Stock Exchange itself.

The first set of regulations is drafted and at the committee level of the Council of Ministers, but Thach said that it would not likely get approval and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s signature until after the elections. The second set is still being drafted.

Both needed to be approved by the end of the year, Thach said, adding that preparation for next month’s general election had delayed debate on the regulations.

But Inpyo Lee, the project director from the Korea Exchange who has been working with the finance ministry on developing the local exchange since June 2007, said he was confident that a nine-member SEC would be in place by year’s end and able to determine disclosure guidelines and other listing issues.

The commission would likely be chaired by a senior finance ministry official, and include two members from the private sector, with the remainder drawn from government ministries, the National Bank of Cambodia and the Council of Ministers, he said.

Meanwhile, the organizers were continuing to train those likely to be involved with CamEx in all areas of securities market functions, including the SEC, the stock exchange, depository and settlement functions and the operation of securities companies.

Dozens of future staff and private sector workers in companies that may be interested in setting up stock brokerages or working in other aspects of the exchange have gone to Seoul for training, Lee said. Eventually, training will also be offered to potential investors.