Saturday, 30 August 2008

Stop illegal lake filling

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by David Pred
Friday, 29 August 2008

Dear Editor,

After a decade of rumours, the so-called 'development' of the Boeung Kok lake area is now under way. The contract for the development was negotiated in a shroud of secrecy without even the pretense of open bidding or participation from the tens of thousands of the residents and business owners who will be directly affected. Senator Lao Meng Khin appears to have won the no-bid contract on the basis of his connections to the highest levels of the Cambodian political hierarchy.

The lease agreement that his company Shukaku Inc signed last February with the Municipality of Phnom Penh violates numerous provisions of Cambodian Land Law. The agreement calls for the filling in of Boeung Kok lake - a crucial natural reservoir for excess rainwater - which threatens to significantly worsen the flooding that Phnom Penh has already seen. An environmental impact assessment - required by law before the commencement of any major development project - has not been made public or approved by the Ministry of Environment, yet the filling of the lake has already begun.

The senator's contract strips away the land and property rights of more than 4,000 families. The contract transfers interest in land that is already legally possessed by local families under the 2001 Land Law to a private company. While the lake itself is state public property, many surrounding families have demonstrated legal claims to their property through lawful possession. Recent precedents by the municipality and the abysmal track record of Senator Lao Meng Khin's other company Pheapimex suggest that those families who do not accept the proposed compensation or resettlement offer will be forcibly evicted.

The Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In doing so, it has committed itself to respect the right to adequate housing of its citizens and refrain from forced evictions, which are prohibited under international law.

The Cambodian government will be presenting its first report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) this October. It will be required to explain to the committee how it has implemented the covenant in Cambodia. Surely, the Cambodian delegation will not want to face questions from the committee about why it has permitted the Municipality of Phnom Penh to uproot the lives of more than 20,000 citizens in the name of "city beautification" and embark on the largest single displacement of people in Cambodia since the Khmer Rouge evacuated the capital city in 1975.

It is not too late to stop this terrible mistake. When the Boeung Kok residents file their legal complaint to halt these illegal actions, let us hope that the Cambodian judiciary surprises us for a change and defends the rule of law.

David Pred,
Cambodia Country Director
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia

Thailand: Postponement of the Second Meeting

Thailand: Postponement of the Second Meeting between the Head of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the Head of the Thai Regional Border Committee


Reference is made to the agreement reached during the Second Foreign Ministers Meeting between Thailand and Cambodia regarding the border area adjacent to the Temple of Phra Viharn, held in Cha-am, Phetchaburi Province on 19 August 2008, to convene a second meeting between the Head of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the Head of the Thai Regional Border Committee (RBC) on 29 August 2008 in Cambodia to discuss the second phase of redeployment of their respective troops. Given media reports of the said meeting's postponement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to provide the following clarification:

1. Contrary to media reports, the said meeting has been postponed, not because of Thailand's domestic political situation, but because both sides still need to complete their relevant internal procedures. Both sides therefore agreed to postpone the meeting and reschedule it as soon as possible.

2. Thailand is committed to resolving outstanding issues through negotiations within existing bilateral mechanisms and firmly believes that, with the friendship that has long existed between both Kingdoms, a solution can be found that is acceptable to both sides.


Pattaya Daily News
August 30, 2008

Banglamung police arrested motorbike thieves and confiscated 10 motorbikes to return to the owners. Suspects confessed of dividing them to sell in Cambodia.

At 2pm, on August 29th, 2008, Pol.Col. Sarayut Sa-gnuen-bpo-kai, Banglamung superintendent, Chonburi, Samrit Khunchit, deputy suppressing superintendent, Pol.Maj.Kamol Thaweesri and investigation team, joined to release the news on the arrest of 4 suspects in a motorbike theft and a theft shop gang.

Mr. Art and Mr. Phong (Alias), (16), were arrested for motorbike theft. Mr. Nak Sosude (27), from Pijit province, the owner of a motorbike repair shop in Chonburi and Mr. Weerachai Pholdaharn or nickname "Tong", (42), from Nakornrachasima province, were arrested for running a motorbike theft shop with the evidence of dismantled tools, 10 motorbikes and many motorbike parts.

Pol.Col.Sarayut Sa-gnuen-bpo-kai, Banglamung superintendent, declared that police had found two suspects, Mr. Art and Mr. Phong (Alias), riding on a black and white Honda Click, license No. 306, Bangkok, coming into Nantha Apartment, Moo 13, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi. Both of them looked suspicious then police had inspected, and found the motorbike that they were on, was stolen from Poi Pet market, Soi Nern-plub-warn, Moo 5, Nongprue.

Police arrested Mr. Art and Mr.Phong and extended the case to find out that they had joined with Mr. Chachawan Suthina or nickname "Lek" (22), Mr. Tong and Mr. Gap (no real names were identified and they had escaped), going around to steal motorbikes in Pattaya and Banglamung area. They sold the stolen bikes to Mr. Nak Sosude and Mr. Weerachai Poldaharn or nickname "Tong" for 1,800 – 2,000 each. The stolen motorbikes would be resell through Thai-Cambodia border , Sra-gaew province.

Those Who Live at Boeng Kak Lake Go to Give Their Thumbprints to Get Money and New Housing

Posted on 30 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

“Phnom Penh: On 27 August 2008, from morning to night, many citizens, including husbands, wives, and children 18 years and older, went to the headquarters of a company [the writer of this article, focused on this company, surprisingly does not name the company or give any related information] that has received a legal permit to develop the Boeng Kak region, so some residents start to go and give their thumbprints, to leave the Boeng Kak region, getting compensation money or new housing.

“Mr. Man Chhoeun, the Phnom Penh Municipal deputy governor and the person in charge of this task with a Boeng Kak regional developer company, said that 500 families had agreed to receive the compensation money of US$8,000 and Riel 2 million [approx. US$490] or new housing with Riel 2 million [approx US$490], costly solutions for the developer company.

“As for citizens who agree to take the compensation money or new housing, the company will continue to offer this, until no more family is left outside of this scheme.

“At the company headquarters, the citizens who went to accept the compensation money or new housing in order to leave the old region, said that they took the money because they want to run their businesses and live in the new places with a good environment, and they do not want to live above the sewage at the lake which affects their heath.

“The new housing that they agree to receive can be constructed one floor above the ground, and it is in Cham Chao, Dangkoa. After leading their families to see [models of] those new housing, they agreed to give their thumbprints to accept the new housing, because they are satisfied with the new housing. All the citizens said that they want to see the company develop the Boeng Kak region soon, requesting that the company has to act very quickly and make good development, so that the area is not left it unused or sold to another company.

“While this exchange process is going on - [citizens accept money or housing while the company gets the thumbprints in exchange, showing that the citizens agree the leave the region], it is seen that the company had prepared documents very carefully, including fair lucky draws, and thumbprints are taken from husbands, wives, and children who are 18 or older, and the company explained clearly the statutes of the contracts, in order to avoid any future complicated problems.

“In the meantime, the company also informed about another good news: that the company offers Riel 100 million loans [approx. US$25,000] with a very low interest rate, to help the citizens from the Boeng Kak region who agree to live in new locations, to run small businesses.

“Now, the citizens living at the Boeng Kak Lake gradually go to give their thumbprints to receive the compensation money and new housing; as for the company, it is trying to prepare everything for the citizens without delay.

“Most of the citizens agreed to take US$8,000 and Riel 2 million, because they want to choose a new location by themselves where it is easy to run their everyday living businesses.

“As for the development of the Boeng Kak region, it is seen that the company has started to pump sand into lake, gradually, since 26 August 2008.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #1680, 29.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Friday, 29 August 2008

APB names new general manager for Cambodia Brewery

Drinks Business Review
29th August 2008
By Staff Writer

Asia Pacific Breweries has appointed Koh Tai Hong as general manager for Cambodia Brewery, the company's operations in Cambodia, effective September 1, 2008.

As the new general manager of Cambodia Brewery, Mr Hong will be responsible for its overall management of strategic and operational matters including sales, marketing, technical and business development.

Previously, Mr Hong joined Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) for 14 years from 1990 to 2004, following his stint at McCann-Erickson. During his first 12 years with the brewery group, Mr Hong led the sales and marketing of APB's beer brands in China, Singapore and Vietnam.

Mr Hong led the key Tiger brand campaigns and launch of Baron's Strong Brew in Singapore; established Tiger in the Chinese market; as well as introduced and enabled the penetration of locally-brewed Tiger in Vietnam in the early 1990s when the brand was still relatively new to the market. In 2002, he assumed the position of general manager of Cambodia Brewery.

Little Cambodian flute player makes big noise

LILI SISOMBAT PANHLauv, 8, performs on the flute and (below) speaks with his teachers Hou Gongneng and Anton Isslehardt.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Karen London
Friday, 29 August 2008

Talented eight-year-old PANHLauv comes from a musical family and took to the flute at the age of six, despite being told he was too small to play itost

Little eight-year-old flautist PANHLauv was once told he couldn't play the flute because it was too long.

But his performance with two of his teachers at the Art Cafe on Wednesday night showed he has become accomplished on the instrument.

In a country where western classical music is not well-known or widely practised, PANHLauv has been privileged since the age of six to study under Chinese teacher Hou Gongneng - who is visiting Phnom Penh for the first time - and Art Cafe owner and flutist Anton Isslehardt.

PANHLauv met Hou, a flutist from the Wind Instruments Orchestra of Sichuan, when he was based in China during his summer holidays while his mother, Dr Lili Sisombat, worked there for two years.

PANHLauv began his studies in the summer of 2006 and could blow steadily and play three compositions within less than three weeks. The younger brother of BosbaPANH, a promising Khmer coloratura soprano - both siblings opt to style their names in uppercase letters - and nephew of filmmaker Rithy Panh, PANHLauv comes from a talented family and, according to his mother, has always had a very good ear for music.

"He didn't know how to read the notes but could play music just by listening. During a concert by his sister last December, he could play all the songs," Sisombat said.

"He grew up with his sister singing and musicians always coming to the house, and he was always observing them. When he first tried a flute, the Khmer teacher said he couldn't play the flute as it was too long. But when we were in China, they had a special flute he could easily use and hold."

It has taken a lot of discipline and determination to get to where he is, and, when based in China, PANHLuav practised for four hours a week with his master teacher, the director of the Sichuan symphony, and with Hun for two hours a day.
When at home in Cambodia, he practises four hours a day during the school holidays and one-and-a-half to two hours a day during the school term.
According to his mother, PANHLauv is also learning to read and write music and likes to play the drums.
"I like music and what I like about the flute is playing with the fingers. I have learned how to put my lips on the flute, place my fingers and lots of songs from my teachers. I want to one day be a conductor like my teacher in China," said PANHLauv.
There is little opportunity for students in Cambodia to study with European teachers, said Sisombat. "PANHLauv is of Cambodian roots but lucky enough to have been exposed to international musicians and disciplines," she said.
With support and appropriate training, however, PANHLauv's talent gives his dream of becoming a conductor a real possibility of coming true.

Cambodian banks partner with Visa to launch integrated ATMs

VANDY RATTANA; National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Chanto in a file photo.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod and Nguon sovan
Friday, 29 August 2008

System to allow customers to use cash points at competing banks, raising the number of available ATMs and making banking easier

FOUR of Cambodia's key banks have partnered with Visa to launch the Kingdom's first integrated ATM system that bank officials say will allow customers to make withdrawals and check balances at competitor banks without facing international charges.

"[The system] will make it easier to perform financial transactions ... and provide greater convenience," said Truong Minh Ha, the country manager for Visa, which set up the Easy Cash system with Canadia Bank, Mekong Bank, SBC and Union Commercial Bank.

Visa operates VisaNet, the world's largest retail electronic payment network, connecting 16,000 banks and 1.6 billion cards, with access to 29 million merchants and one million ATMs around the world, the company said in a statement.

"The VisaNet system will increase the number of ATMs available to our customers ... we are looking to have up to 126 ATMs connected under VisaNet before the end of 2008," said Luis Chen, vice president of Canadia Bank, in a statement.

Many Cambodian ATMs are already linked to the international Plus system, which allows for cross-bank withdrawals and balance checks. But Plus requires customers to pay international rates.


"Easy Cash will be priced for the local market ... this system is for Cambodia and has a different set of relations," said Stuart Tomlinson, Visa's Malaysia country manager.

A latecomer to the ATM market, Cambodia has seen an explosion in the machines in the past two years, with their numbers quadrupling since January 2007.

More than 600 ATMs are available throughout the country today, according to National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) Governor Chea Chanto.

"The [Easy Cash] system will allow for rapid, safe and cheap money, and increase integration of our bank system," Chea Chanto said.

Acleda Bank, Cambodia's largest bank in terms of the number of branches, said that the new system is a major step for electronic banking.

"Location and coverage [of ATMs] will increase. We are already nationwide, so it won't affect the number of provinces we are in, but it will increase access and convenience," said Acleda CEO In Channy. Acleda is an observer, but not a member of the network.

Acleda is not part of the Easy Cash system, but has launched its own aggressive ATM campaign, issuing more than 130,000 cards for its branches around Cambodia, according to In Channy.

The fees for the service have not yet been established and are subject to negotiation between individual banks, officials said.

New licensing rules to be set for property developers

TRACEY SHELTON; Workers pull a cart at the CamKo City construction site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
2% of total cost
This is the amount developers will be required to deposit with the National Bank of Cambodia before being allowed to begin construction on projects under new regulations aimed at curbing fraud.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 29 August 2008

Regulations meant to provide more government control over builders as capital construction boom leaves investors vulnerable to fraud

Real estate developers in Cambodia must now obtain licences from the Ministry of Economy and Finance or face legal action for unauthorised projects, according to a ministry announcement dated August 19.

"Legal and physical entities who develop real estate such as the construction of houses, flats, and the parceling of land plots for sale or rent must apply for a real estate development licence from the Ministry of Economy and Finance," said the announcement, signed by Minister of Finance Keat Chhon.

Developers who fail to get a licence by September 30 will be subject to closure and legal action, the announcement added.The price of the licence will depend on the scale of the project, officials said.

Mao Pao, deputy chief of the ministry's real estate division, told the Post Wednesday that developers had before only needed a letter of permission from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, as well as investment licences from the Council for the Development of Cambodia.Developers also face changes in the financing of projects.

"Real estate developers will be required to deposit two percent of the projects' total value at the National Bank of Cambodia," Mao Pao said.

"We will require a developer to open a housing development account at any commercial bank to enable buyers to make payments through the bank," he added.


He said that developers would not be able to withdraw money from development accounts without approval by the bank and relevant ministries and that the government could intervene if companies failed to honor their contracts.

Mao Pao said the new regulations were part of a move by the National Assembly to tighten the Kingdom's oversight of real estate developers in the wake of a 2007 project involving the Chinese-owned Long Chhin (Cambodia) Investment Ltd.

The company had filled in Kob Srov Lake on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for a luxury housing complex.

The government charged the company with illegally developing the lake and demolished the estate, while company officials fled the country and buyers lost millions of dollars.

Mao Pao said licensing fees would be determined based on the scale of the development.

He added that there are an estimated 100 developers currently working in Cambodia.

Some developers strongly oppose the new regulations.

Small operators upset

Kong Vansophy, general manager of Dream Town in Dangkor district's Choam Chao area, told the Post the new regulations would put pressure on small contractors.

"It is likely [the regulations] could make small companies with no reserve capital go bankrupt," said Kong Vansophy, whose Dream Town project comprises 50 flats and an investment of US$1 million.

"This announcement is unacceptable," said a representative of Grand Phnom Penh International City, who asked not to be named.

"It is unreasonable and violates the freedom of developers and customers."

He said companies should not be penalised over the Long Chhin case, because the government had also approved that project.

"The government should check its internal irregularities first before problems come up and not make others suffer," the representative told the Post.

Phnom Penh has undergone an unprecedented construction boom over the last several years, including the start of at least five satellite cities - residential and commercial mega-projects that are set to transform the capital from a sleepy backwater.

However, progress has been slow, developers admit, saying the rising cost of construction materials has hindered work on large-scale projects. Despite this, demand remains high, they say.

US deputy secretary of state plans visit

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by AFP
Friday, 29 August 2008

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is to travel to Vietnam, Cambodia and Hong Kong for talks with his counterparts, the State Department said Wednesday. The September 10-18 visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's top lieutenant to the region is "for discussions with his counterparts on a broad range of bilateral and global issues", the department said in a statement. No specific topics were identified. Negroponte's trip "is an opportunity to deepen our engagement in a region that is growing in peace, prosperity and freedom", the statement said, citing strong ties with and enduring US interests in Asia.

Conviction catches up with Kiwi sex offender

Saturday August 30, 2008
By Jarrod Booker

New Zealand Herald

A New Zealander who made legal history when convicted in Great Britain of child sex offences committed in Southeast Asia has returned home, but discovered he cannot escape his past.

Heavy vehicle driver Peter Swale returned to New Zealand last year after serving a jail term in Great Britain for abusing an 11-year-old boy and taking 584 indecent photographs of children in hotel rooms during trips to Cambodia and the Philippines from 2001 to 2004.

He was caught downloading other indecent images at an internet cafe in Ipswich, in Suffolk, England.

A total of 3865 were found by police on his home computer in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Swale, then 49, was jailed in 2005 for three years and nine months by Ipswich Crown court. He was also banned from working with children for life.

At the time, prosecutor Robert Sadd said: "It's believed to be the first time offences committed in the Philippines and Cambodia have been tried in the United Kingdom."

Since his release, Swale has spent time in Australia.

More recently, he has been living in his former hometown of Dunedin, where he rejoined the town's Pitlane Slot Car Club and featured on its website being welcomed back.

A concerned Australian, who followed Swale's movements, emailed the club to alert members last week.

Club spokesman Graeme Mitchell told the Herald Swale was a member of the club during the 1990s, and while some unusual photographs he kept on his computer had created suspicions, his criminal convictions were a shock.

Swale mostly came across as "just a typical bloke".

Mr Mitchell was thankful the club no longer had young members who might have been exposed to Swale.

After members of the club began exchanging emails on Swale's past, he got wind of it and in an email said he wouldn't return to the club.

"Obviously he volunteered without any prompting from us," Mr Mitchell said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis of Dunedin said he was not aware of any specific alerts in relation to Swale. International criminal databases "don't talk to each other", he said.

A legal ethics expert warned this week against naming and shaming child sex offenders.

"If we victimise one person and create them as outcasts, we aren't addressing the risk," Christchurch crown prosecutor Kathryn Dalziel told a privacy issues forum in Wellington.

Embedded Travel Guide Cambodia: Sex, Drugs and Orangutan Boxing



This week, our Cambodia embed, Tim Patterson, is giving us the inside scoop on the country, live from a guesthouse in Sihanoukville.

A window to depravity opened last Saturday afternoon in Koh Kong, a boom town on the Thai border. My buddy Jon had to catch a flight home from Bangkok at seven the next morning. How to cap off his Cambodian adventure?

"Theoretically, we could hire half a dozen prostitutes, load up on cocaine, watch orangutans beat each other up in the boxing ring at Safari World and cap it all off with an all-night drunken flight to Bangkok," I mused.

"That would be memorable," said Jon.

In the end Jon and I settled on a farewell beer instead. I've never slept with a prostitute, snorted cocaine or condoned blood sports involving endangered species, and I sincerely hope I never will.

Still, the possibility of debauchery is very much alive in Cambodia, whether that involves drugs, sex, endangered wildlife or any combination of the three. Plenty of assholes travel to Cambodia expressly to take advantage of the country's booming black market. Please don't be one of them.

Prostitution in Cambodia:
A man is like a jewel. If you drop a jewel in the mud you can wipe it clean. A woman is like a silk scarf. Drop a scarf in the mud once and it's ruined forever.

The saying sums up the Cambodian attitude to sex: The virgin or whore paradigm is very strong in this socially conservative nation. Men are expected to sleep with prostitutes, and women are required to remain virgins until marriage.

But the availability of cheap sex here attracts men from around the world. The government has begun to crack down on pedophilia, but plain old prostitution remains common. It's a sad scene, as young professionals in Phnom Penh can't go on casual dates. "We fuck the prostitutes," a Cambodian friend told me with a resigned shrug.

Drugs in Cambodia:
Not long ago marijuana was sold by the kilo in Phnom Penh markets, but the government has started making arrests for possession. It's still easy to score pot at the backpacker ghetto on the lake in Phnom Penh, but these days you're taking a serious risk. I've got no moral qualms about smoking pot, but the possibility of Cambodian prison isn't worth a couple joints.

Other drugs are also widely available, including heroin, opium, cocaine and cheap methamphetamines called yaba. Don't go there: You don't know what you're getting, for one, and there's a very real possibility that hard drugs will land you in prison.

The Wildlife Trade:
Orangutan boxing in Koh Kong is promoted on billboards across the country, but the sick "sport" is only one example of animal mistreatment in Cambodia. The Cambodian forests are a refuge for many endangered species, but their numbers are dwindling due to loss of habitat and surging demand from the trade in exotic pets and traditional medicine. Needless to say, supporting the fights doesn't help.

Better factories for Cambodia

NIC - New Island ClothingWorkers at NIC receive a starting monthly salary of 45 US dollars, as well as a five-dollar a month attendance bonus. After a year, they are entitled to a two-dollar a month seniority bonus.According to general manager Adrian Ross, "We still have a very large proportion of our workforce who've been with us from the start, five years ago. The average wage in the factory is about 98 dollars a month, a fairly decent salary by Cambodian standards. The workforce appreciate that we look after them. We see ourselves not as a big factory but as a working family."In February 2005, NIC received a corporate citizenship award from the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank, and the Mekong Private Sector Development Facility. Four awards were given, and NIC won in the category of employment and labour practices.

27-year-old San Su Pung (pictured above) began working in the garment industry four years ago. She is married and has one child. Her first job was in a sweatshop.
"I was forced to work overtime, up to 9 p.m. every day. The premises were dirty too. I only earned 50 dollars a month. I decided to leave the company after a year because I didn't earn enough to feed my family and I couldn't even pay for transport."
"I had never heard about New Island Clothing. All I knew was that it was a foreign factory. So I decided to apply and I passed the test."
"I plan to stay here as long as I live. I'm earning more than my husband because he's a farmer, and that makes me quite proud."
by Eric Beauchemin
In 1994, Cambodia began to emerge from decades of instability, war and genocide. Companies started setting up garment factories, which today account for 80 percent of Cambodia's export earnings. Initially, most of the factories were sweatshops, but since 2001 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been running a unique programme to improve working conditions in the industry.
The Better Factories programme is the result of a trade accord signed between the United States and Cambodia in 1999. Washington agreed to give the Southeast Asian nation quotas in return for an improvement in working conditions in the garment sector. Neither side knew how to measure whether that was actually happening, so they approached the ILO. Poor conditionsInitially, says Ros Harvey, the Better Factories' chief technical advisor, the conditions were quite poor. "But over the past five years," she says:

"We've seen a significant improvement. For example, wages are now regularly paid, as is overtime, and women get maternity leave. However there are still problems. It's not a perfect world in Cambodia, but we are engaged in a process of improvement that is delivering real benefits to working people." The Better Factories programme doesn't only monitor the garment industry. It also helps factories improve working conditions. Over half of the Better Factories' budget is spent in training and education.

GATTIn 1995, GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, decided that industrialised countries had 10 years to open their textile and garment industries. It gave developed countries some breathing space, forcing companies in developing countries, such as China and India, but also Cambodia, to pay extra to export their products to countries in the European Union, North America and elsewhere.
Experts predicted that the phasing out of quotas would decimate the garment industries of countries like Cambodia because they wouldn't be able to compete. But that hasn't happened, says Ros Harvey. "The government, employers and unions have agreed that they're trying to pursue a market niche, where compliance with labour standards matters. As a result, both the quantity and value of Cambodian garment exports have increased.""I think that this creates a degree of optimism that there are companies that care about this. It shows that a developing country can capture the benefits of globalisation for its workers by insisting that the labour laws are respected."
Success story One of the success stories in the Better Factories programme is New Island Clothing (Cambodia) Limited, which was set up five years ago by a British group on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. It employs nearly 600 people and manufactures clothes for companies around the world. The company has committed itself to exceeding government and international employment and labour standards. General manager Adrian Ross (photo) says: "Our intention was to bring to Cambodia a factory that would be considered to be of a world-class standard and to create a good environment for our potential Cambodian employees. We believe that a good factory is well-organised, creating the products and environment for good quality work. When customers come along and see that the place is properly structured and looks right and feels right, they're confident to put their product in with us."
Corporate social responsibilityCambodia is the only country in the world where the ILO publishes the names of factories and their progress in making improvements. Ros Harvey: "This is very unique, particularly in the context of corporate social responsibility or CSR. It means that international companies that are sourcing in a developing country should try to ensure that working conditions in their supply chain comply with the law. In Cambodia, we're actually monitoring that and also providing information in a transparent manner. This ensures that CSR is not just window-dressing."
Unexpected results Most of the workers in the garment sector, which represents 80 percent of Cambodia's export earnings, are women. On average, they earn 60 dollars, compared to the average monthly salary of 20 dollars. It may not seem like much, but it can make a huge difference in the lives of these women and their families. Many of the employees send up to half the wages to their families in the countryside.

The Better Factories programme is having unexpected results, says Ros Harvey. "The status of women has improved significantly in their families, where they are the principle breadwinner. In Cambodia, that is a very important thing. Women have very low status compared to men. There are very worrying trends in terms of domestic violence and the attitude of men to women. If this sector of the economy and these opportunities can correct some of that and create a better status for women, I think that is a really positive impact as well."
Child labour The Better Factories programme is also helping eliminate one of the major problems in Southeast Asia: child labour. Most of the women working in factories today are over 18. According to Ros Harvey, "The ILO puts a lot of lot of emphasis on maternity protection and the right to breast-feeding, which is protected by Cambodian law, to ensure that women really do have those options so that they can combine their family and their working life. Because this is one of the few opportunities for what are relatively good incomes in Cambodia, you're seeing more women staying in the work force rather than just leaving when they get married."

All photographs © RNW/Eric Beauchemin

Group discovers large threatened monkey populations in Cambodia

Black-shanked Douc

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — There are "surprisingly large" populations of two globally threatened monkey species in a protected area in Cambodia, a conservation group said Friday.

The US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in a study of Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the group said.

"At present all evidence does suggest that Cambodia has the largest populations in the world of both the black-shanked douc and the yellow-cheeked crested gibbon," Edward Pollard, a WCS scientist who worked on the census in the northeastern protected area, told AFP.

The two populations started to recover in 2002 when the Cambodian government established the Seima conservation area, and numbers have remained stable since 2005, said WCS in a statement.

Before the recent discovery, the largest known populations were believed to be in adjacent Vietnam, where black-shanked douc langurs and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons hover at 600 and 200 respectively, WCS said.

"The total population of the two species remains unknown," the organisation said.

WCS attributed the Cambodian monkey boon to several factors, including successful management of the area, cessation of logging activities and a nationwide gun confiscation programme implemented in the 1990s.

However the group warned the protected area is still at risk from growing plantations and commercial mining operations.

Crackdown on illegal fishing

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Friday, 29 August 2008

Seven fishermen have been arrested and 22 fined for illegal fishing during spawning season in a protected area, Fisheries Administration Director Nao Thuok told the Post Wednesday. "The arrested fishermen were sentenced to one year imprisonment, and 22 others were fined 27 million riel (US$6,750)," Nao Thuok added. The National Assembly in 2006 adopted a law prohibiting fishing during the spawning season, which runs from June to October, to preserve fresh water natural resources. Nao Thuok said that this year the Fisheries Administration, in collaboration with provincial authorities, has cracked down on more than 600 cases of illegal fishing across the country. To date, fisheries officials and authorities have burned 73,162 metres of fishing nets and other equipment. More than two million fish have been confiscated from fishermen and released back into the sea, Nao Thuok said.

Foreign student service centre receives Cambodian, Lao honours


VietNamNet Bridge – The Centre in Services of Foreign Students in Hanoi has been rewarded by the Cambodian and Lao governments for the assistance it provides to their students over the past 20 years.

Cambodian Ambassador to Vietnam Vann Phal presented the centre with the Cambodian Royal Government’s Sahametrei Order while Lao Deputy Minister of Education Lytou Bouapao handed over the Lao President’s Labour Order, second class, to the agency at ceremonies in Hanoi on August 28.

Over the past 20 years, the centre under the Ministry of Education and Training has accommodated thousands of students from various countries with about 80 percent from Cambodia and Laos ’ training courses in Vietnam.

The centre has received other rewards, including the Vietnamese President’s Labour Order, third class, Cambodia’s Gold Medal for National Construction, and the Lao President’s Labour Order, third class.

(Source: VNA)

Cambodia: Records Reveal Survivors Of Ex-Khmer Rouge Prison

Tourists view portraits of former Khmer Rouge prisoners as they tour in Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, 28 Aug 2008. (Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Visitors are seen in the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, 28 Aug 2008. (Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Newly analyzed documents indicate that as many as 177 prisoners were released from a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center where it was previously believed that there were only 14 survivors, Cambodian researchers said.

However, at least 100 of those found to have been released from S-21 prison were Khmer Rouge soldiers taken to the facility and released after only three days. It was not immediately clear why they were detained there.

The prison in Phnom Penh was the largest prison facility run by the Khmer Rouge when they were in power in the late 1970s. It was a highly secretive center where thousands of supposed enemies of the regime were tortured before being executed.

But a prison record The Associated Press obtained from the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group researching the Khmer Rouge crimes, shows the names of 100 former Khmer Rouge soldiers aged 17 to 38 who were brought to the prison on 23 Nov, 1977, and released three days later. The record did not give the reason for their arrest or release.

Prisoners at S-21 were usually held for weeks and months for grueling interrogations before they were taken out for execution. Many of the prison's population included Khmer Rouge members who were arrested and killed in the regime's internal purges of its own ranks.

Youk Chhang, director of the center, said his group's findings proved that the long-held belief that no one had ever been released from S-21 and that only 14 had survived their time there was inaccurate.

"Research shows that people were released, so for public knowledge, it's important for the Cambodians, for the (Khmer Rouge) survivors to understand that," he said late Thursday (28 Aug).

He said the enormous scale of the Khmer Rouge killings and other atrocities may have made it easy for historians, scholars and the public at large to overlook the records.

"That's why this detail didn't come out," he said late Thursday. "But to understand the whole history, you have to look at both sides of what happened."

The prison is the focal point of the investigation into alleged atrocities for which its former director, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been indicted to stand trial by a U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal.

Concluding their yearlong probe into Duch's case early this month, the tribunal's judges stated that the vast majority of evidence showed that no prisoners had been released from S-21.

"This is confirmed by testimony that prisoners brought to S-21 by mistake were executed in order to ensure secrecy and security," they said in their indictment.

The judges said more than 12,380 prisoners were executed or died from inhumane treatment at the prison, a number lower than the 16,000 previously estimated by genocide researchers.

"The facility served primarily as an anteroom to death," David Chandler, an American scholar, wrote in his book "Voices from S-21." He, too, said no one had been released from the prison.

Youk Chhang said his group found other records that indicate another 77 inmates had been released from S-21. He said the records have been around for the past 30 years but had been largely overlooked by the public and scholars.

Dara P. Vanthan, the group's senior researcher, said his team determined that one of the inmates on the list is still alive but he has yet to meet with him.

"Many other families did not even know their loved ones were released and today still do not know where they are, dead or alive," he said.


Will there a wall around Preah Vihear Temple?

According to reports from some agencies in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is planning to build a "Berlin-style" wall to shut-off Thailand and develop tourist facilities around the still disputed Preah Vihear Temple by its own.

The Cambodian government will build a series of walls at "complicated border areas," while still calling for talks to mark and properly demarcate the frontier, Camdodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and a government spokesman told reporters at a press conference.

"Both sides should start to discuss to plant border markers from undisputed border areas to the complicated border areas and some complicated border areas will be built with border markers or concrete walls," Khieu Kanharith said."Cambodia will allow private companies to invest at least $2 million dollars at the Preah Vihear Temple to set up cable cars for tourists," he explained, adding that the government is also trying to rebuild an existing road to the temple.

It seems that the Preah Vihear border gate to Thailand will only be opened again, when the situation there is stable, but foreign tourists could visit the temple from the Cambodian side. At the moment, authorities have closed the temple grounds to visitors. For decades, the only way to get to Preah Vihear was through Thailand, because the temple is situated atop a sharp cliff on the Cambodian side (

Cambodia and Thailand share a border of over 800km with only 73 demarcation markers, the Cambodian official said on Sunday.

At a meeting on Aug 18-19, Cambodian and Thai foreign ministers agreed to arrange second-phase troop redeployment at the disputed border area near the temple. They agreed to a meeting of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the Thai Regional Border Committee on Aug 29 in Cambodia to discuss the troop redeployment.The two foreign ministers also agreed to recommend to their governments that the next meeting of legal experts and the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Committee be convened in early October, to discuss the issues related to border survey and demarcation of the relevant frontier sectors.

On July 15, Thai troops went into the border area to fetch three trespassers who had intended to claim Thai sovereignty over the Preah Vihear Temple. The incident triggered a military standoff, as troop strength on each side grew to more than 1,000 soldiers. In 1962, the International Court of Justice (or World Court) in Den Haag/Holland decided that the 11-century temple belongs to Cambodia (

By Reinhard Hohler, eTN Ambassador, Chiang Mai

Vietnam and Cambodia speed up land border marker planting

Nhan Dan
August 29, 2008

The Joint Vietnam-Cambodia Committee on Land Border Marker Planting concluded a two-day meeting in Hanoi on August 28.

Leading the Vietnamese delegation to the Ad-hoc meeting was Vu Dung, Deputy Foreign Minister and Chairman of the National Border Committee.

The Cambodian delegation was led by Var Kim Hong, Senior Minister and President of the National Border Authority.

The two sides were satisfied at the progress made in the land border marker-planting process in the recent past and pledged to fulfill their 2008 targets. Priority for 2008 is given to determining marker locations and installing markers at border gates so as to boost border economies for the two countries.

The sides agreed on a number of measures to speed up planting border markers in reality as well as the process of reviewing and copying the graphic interfaces of remaining map pieces in an effort to finish mapping a complete borderline between the two countries as soon as possible. (VNA)

Bangkok protests not reason Thai, Cambodia border talks postponed


Submitted by Mohit Joshi
Fri, 08/29/2008

Bangkok - Thailand's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday that talks between Bangkok and Phnom Penh over disputed border areas were postponed by mutual agreement for internal procedures and not because of political tension in Thailand, as some media reported.

The "meeting has been postponed, not because of Thailand's domestic political situation, but because both sides still need to complete their relevant internal procedures," the press release states.

Anti-government protests in Bangkok by the Thai opposition People's Alliance for Democracy movement, which escalated Tuesday and continued to be tense Friday.

But the Thai Foreign Ministry statement says both sides agreed to postpone the meeting and "reschedule it as soon as possible ... Thailand is committed to resolving outstanding issues through negotiations," the press statement reads.

On Thursday a Cambodian official said the formal talks scheduled for Friday were abruptly cancelled.

"We had prepared all the documents," said Cambodian Defence Ministry Secretary of State Neang Phat. "Then a call came and they asked for the meeting to be delayed. They didn't say why but we can assume. This is Thailand's business, not ours."

No date has been set to resume joint talks over border areas around the newly listed UNESCO World Heritage site of Preah Vihear temple, as well as the Ta Moan temple complex 150 kilometres to its west.

Thailand maintains the sovereignty of the areas is disputed but Phnom Penh claims the territory belongs to Cambodia. Several rounds of bilateral talks so far have failed to break the impasse.

Cambodia closed the border to Thailand at Preah Vihear, north of Siem Reap, in June after Thai protesters gathered in the area, saying it feared trouble with Cambodian settlers.

On July 7 UNESCO granted the 11th-century hilltop Hindu temple World Heritage status over protests by Thailand. Thai troops moved into nearby areas a week later, severely straining relations between the neighbours. (dpa)

Students drive a booming business at Phnom Penh's internet cafes

TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP; Cambodian youths use the internet at a cafe in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara and Chhay Channyda
Friday, 29 August 2008

As Cambodia's online infrastructure gets more sophisticated, students are turning to cafes in greater numbers for work, play or simply keeping in touch with friends and family

Business is roaring for internet cafes in Phnom Penh as students flock to research school papers, chat with friends and explore the growing online resources available in Cambodia.

Sem Samnang, owner of Lucky Sky internet cafe, said he gets as many as 40 or 50 regular users each day.

"I can earn up to 150,000 riels (US$37.50) or 200,000 riels every day," he said, adding that most of his customers are students. He charges 2,000 riels per hour of usage.

"Students come here to study, or they talk online with friends and download music," Sem Samnang said.

Bak Phaly, who studies information technology at Norton University in Phnom Penh, calls the internet a "world library" that provides vital resources for students who sometimes cannot get the study materials they need from professors.

"The internet is very important because it has millions of documents," Bak Phaly said. "I spend more time now at internet cafes to get what I need for my studies."

What Bak Phaly needs, however, is not always school related. "I like to use the internet to talk with my friends or download new songs," he said.


Internet cafes and roadside shops in Phnom Penh do a brisk trade in mobile phone and music downloads, while Justice X Wars II (JXII), an online role-playing game introduced in early 2008, provides users with a broader range of Khmer-language entertainment opportunities.

Unrestricted learning

Bak Phaly said the internet gives him the freedom to learn about anything he wants. "If I want to visit Malaysia, I can type it into a search engine and learn all I need to know," he said.

Kong Samrach, a student in the Royal University of Phnom Penh's computer science department, also saw the internet as a "personal library" that frequently took the place of missing school materials.

"We can find what we need and improve our knowledge."

He added that he keeps up with friends living in the United States and has looked into the availability of e-learning courses that would allow him to study online at universities in the US and in Europe.

"There are schools that offer internet courses and training certificates, as long as I can afford the tuition," Kong Samrach said.

Improved connectivity

So Khun, the minister of posts and telecommunications, said Phnom Penh has nearly 11,000 internet-capable computers in cafes throughout Cambodia.

"Most of the internet cafes are in Phnom Penh," So Khun told the Post by phone on Thursday.

"In the provinces, there are fewer users because of problems with the availability of steady electricity."

He said Cambodia's internet connection speeds are gaining ground on those of neighbouring countries, but the number of users still lags far behind. "Less than one percent of the population regularly uses the internet," he said.

That number is likely to rise as Cambodia's online infrastructure expands.

Cambodia currently has six registered internet service providers, according to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, with an additional 31 scheduled for approval through early 2009.

Teen allegedly raped by brother-in-law in Pursat as cases spiral

Most rapes occur in remote regions and are overwhelmingly committed by non-blood relatives, such as stepfathers. “Many people lack understanding of the law and don’t know that perpetrators can be arrested,” said Licadho’s Eng Chhun Han

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Friday, 29 August 2008

Victim's parents are demanding jail time for the perpetrator and say that compensation payments will not absolve him of responsibility

POLICE in Pursat province are investigating the alleged rape of 14-year-old girl by her brother-in-law as rights workers warn that rape cases involving juvenile victims are on the rise.

So Sa Hong, Phnum Kravang district deputy police chief, said that the girl's parents filed a complaint on Tuesday, nearly a week after the attack.

"I will forward the complaint to the police commissioner's bureau of juvenile protection tomorrow to send to the court and ask for an arrest warrant," he said.

Eng Chhun Han, a coordinator for the rights group Licadho in Pursat, said that he found out about the rape on Thursday.

He said that while he could not interfere with the police investigation, he would speak with the girl's parents and file a complaint with the prosecutor as soon as possible.

"Rape cases are on the increase. I have already received four complaints of rape of a juvenile by an adult this month," he added.

Seeking justice

"The girl didn't tell her parents about the rape for nearly a week because the perpetrator threatened to kill her if she told anyone," So Sa Hong said, adding that it is likely that the perpetrator has already left Pursat.

"But we will try to hunt him down and arrest him," So Sa Hong said. "The girl's parents haven't asked for compensation from the perpetrator but want him to be punished by the law," he added.

"Rape is a criminal offence. The perpetrator shouldn't be able to get away with rape by paying compensation, he must be punished."

Overcrowding, dirty conditions push Kampot jail to crisis

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Friday, 29 August 2008

As many as 60 inmates are stuffed into each 7-by-15-metre cell, leading to health problems as increasing numbers of criminals arrive

A SURGE in inmates in Kampot prison has led to severe overcrowding and mounting health problems, including malnutrition, prison and provincial health officials said Thursday.

"We've seen a large increase in the prison population since early 2008," said prison chief Toch Banarith, adding that the facility now houses 265 inmates, including 13 women.

"The main problem is sanitation," Toch Banarith said. "Conditions become unsafe and unhealthy when you have so many people living in one room. The smell is nearly unbearable."

In particular, several prisoners suffer from tuberculosis, skin infections and hypertension, said Lim Kaing Eang, chief of Kampot's provincial health department.

Most prisoners, he said, also suffer from malnutrition.

Prison cells at Kampot measure seven metres by 15 metres and generally house as many as 60 inmates, the warden said, adding that when the temperature gets too high, prisoners are allowed outside for fresh air.

Toch Banarith said the prison does its best to provide a healthy environment for prisoners.

Prison treatment

Apart from the 1,500 riels it spends on average for each inmate's food per day, the prison allows inmates to grow vegetables and play sports to maintain good health.

"We provide treatment for any medical problems [affecting prisoners], and we have doctors that come each month to monitor prisoner health," he said.

But Sao Neny, a human rights researcher with the Cambodian rights group Licadho, said some prisoners have started suffering from numbness in their limbs because they do not get enough exercise.

"Many inmates rarely leave their small cells," Sao Neny said, adding that the prison does nothing to ease the overcrowding that has pushed the facility into crisis.

"It is the policy of Kampot prison never to transfer prisoners out to facilities in other provinces," Sao Neny said.

Prisons across the Kingdom suffer from under-funding, officials say.

More than 100 SRP vote fraud witnesses in hiding

HENG CHIVOAN; Sam Rainsy gestures at a pile of alleged evidence of voter fraud.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng and Cat Barton
Friday, 29 August 2008

Opposition leader claims CPP-led government will threaten violence against election whistleblowers

More than 100 people who supported the opposition's claims of election fraud stemming from last month's polls have been forced into hiding, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Thursday.

He added that he feared the Cambodian People's Party would use violence against anyone making allegations of vote rigging against it.

"Witnesses are embarrassing for the CPP," he said, but vowed to push ahead with his campaign to discredit the results of the July 27 general election, which the opposition claims was riddled with irregularities.

"We have just started," Sam Rainsy said, a day after the Constitutional Council upheld the National Election Committee's dismissal of his party's final election complaint.

The SRP this week lodged its first legal complaints against CPP-aligned commune chiefs that it accuses of issuing fraudulent election forms to unregistered voters in a bid to stuff the ballot boxes for the ruling party.

One of the first submitted to the courts involved Suos Sarin, chief of Boeung Tumpun commune, who the SRP said gave one voter, Kong Kiet, documentation that allowed him to cast two ballots - once in his own name and the second time under the name Yov Pheth, a so-called "ghost voter".

"We have evidence that the same person was given [identity documents in] two different names and so voted twice with both votes going to the CPP," Sam Rainsy said.

"We have to prevent Kong Kiet from being killed, and so we have helped him go into hiding," he added.

Suos Sarin told the Post Thursday he had not heard that he was the subject of an SRP complaint.

Vote fraud complaints dismissed

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Friday, 29 August 2008

Constitutional Council says no evidence of irregularities

IN the wake of their crushing defeat at the polls, opposition parties have been dealt another blow by the Constitutional Council, which on Thursday rejected all of their demands for a re-vote amid claims of rampant election fraud.

The Constitutional Council upheld the National Election Committee's rejection of complaints from Kem Sokha's Human Rights Party after a four-hour hearing.

"The HRP's complaint has no clear, reasonable legal grounds, and this is why we have rejected it," said council President Ek Sam Ol.

He added that the council felt that the NEC's decision not to grant the HRP a re-vote in contested provinces was legally and judicially valid. He added that the HRP had presented insufficient supporting evidence with their complaint.

The Sam Rainsy Party's complaints were all dismissed Wednesday.

Election invalid

The HRP complaint was submitted to the Constitutional Council on August 16 and asserted the council should not recognise the results of the July 27 national election because of widespread voter irregularities.

Ek Sam Ol said the HRP had claimed that names were duplicated on the voter lists, but he said that the party had failed to prove this.

According to the HRP's deputy secretary general, Nhek Vannara, party representatives reported duplicate names on the voter list, which the party maintains is evidence of electoral fraud at 15,255 polling offices across the country.

"We brought evidence of these duplicate names to the hearing, but our arguments were still rejected by the council, who said we didn't have enough witnesses," Nhek Vannara said.

Em Sophat, a representative of the NEC, told the council during the hearing that the committee did not contest the fact that the voter list contained some duplicate names. But he said this could easily be explained as "some relatives use the same identity card to register with their commune chiefs to vote".


The HRP's Nhek Vannara said that this proved there had been a lack of oversight in the voter registration process. "I don't believe that in one village, three or four people have the same name, share the same date of birth," he said.

He said he was unsurprised by the ruling, as "both the council and the NEC, where are they from?" he asked, referring to the opposition parties' allegation that the NEC and the Constitutional Council are aligned with the Cambodian People's Party.

Sweet harvest


The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 29 August 2008

Men and youths load sugarcane onto a boat on a lake in Kandal province, some 60 kilometres southeast of Phnom Penh, on Wednesday.

Border talks off, standoff to continue

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath and Cheang Sokha
Friday, 29 August 2008

Hopes for quick withdrawal of Thai troops dashed

CAMBODIAN officials said Thursday that the postponement of border talks with Thailand would delay the withdrawal of Thai troops from around Cambodian temples, pushing the military standoff over disputed territory deeper into stalemate.

The meeting, which was to be held today in Siem Reap, was abruptly cancelled by the Thai side Wednesday, said Neang Phat, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence.

Neang Phat said the cancellation came as a surprise. "I was told on Wednesday afternoon that the meeting was cancelled," he said.

"They did not give us a reason, but we think it has something to do with their current internal political problems," he added, saying that the meeting has not yet been rescheduled.

"The cancellation means that Thai soldiers will remain in our territory," Var Kimhong, chairman of the Joint Border Committee, told the Post Thursday.

"We are focusing on the withdrawal of all Thai armed forces, and we want them out as soon as possible," he added.

Council of Ministry spokesman Phay Siphan said his Thai counterparts informed him that they were busy and unable to attend today's meeting, scheduled as a follow-up to last month's negotiations between Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and his Thai counterpart in the Thai resort town of Hua Hin.

"I don't think the dispute at Preah Vihear temple will become a shooting war," Phay Siphan added. "The temple is a tourist destination. The situation there remains normal, and we have no need to face off militarily."

However, he said that the postponement is regrettable.

"I was sorry to hear of it," he said. "We wanted a fast resolution to the dispute. But as long as both sides show good will, we have a chance for good results."

He said he has received no official information about when the meeting will be rescheduled.

Tim Sareth, deputy chief of the Cambodia-Thailand border relations office, said he is working to reschedule the talks. "We know they are having serious problems with demonstrations, so they need to resolve these issues first," Tim Sareth said.

Soldiers from both sides remain deployed at the flashpoint Preah Vihear temple.

Protest threatened over lake

NICOLAS AXLEROD; A Boeung Kak resident dismantles his house Thursday as the water level on the lake started to rise.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Friday, 29 August 2008

Boeung Kak residents begin dismantling homes as water rises

DISGRUNTLED Boeung Kak residents will march on City Hall next week to demand that the municipality halt a reclamation project that is driving them from their homes, one resident said Thursday as others began tearing down their homes and leaving the future construction site.

A developer on Tuesday began pumping sand and water into the lake, which will be filled in over the next year to make way for a 133-hectare residential and commercial complex.

Thousands of families will be affected by the development, which has been condemned as illegal by rights groups.

Noun Thol, who faces eviction, was collecting thumbprints from other affected residents and by Thursday afternoon had 40 other families on his petition.

"We are planning to take this case to court. We will also march from Boeung Kak to City Hall demanding that the government halt the pumping of sand into the lake. If we don't get a solution, we will seek help from Prime Minister Hun Sen," Noun Thoul said, explaining that he thought that more people would join his effort as anger over the development rose.

"The residents must demand compensation," Noun Thol said, adding that the water levels have risen since the pumping began as tonnes of sand settle onto the lake bottom.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for Licadho, said that he has not heard of any Boeung Kak families being compensated for their lost homes. "Compensation should have been made before filling in of the lake began," he said. "The pumping of sand is an act of intimidation to get the residents to leave Boeung Kak while they have not yet agreed to the nature and amount of compensation.

"But Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said that many lake residents have already received compensation. "Municipal officials today are giving Boeung Kak residents houses and cash," he said.

He declined comment on how many residents had received compensation but said around 500 families have agreed to "deal" with the municipality.

Youth Leaders Encouraged by US Visit

Norin Toch and Sarita Nuch

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
29 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 28 August 2008 (4.47 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 28 August 2008 (4.47 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Leadership Development Training Program, hosted in the US between Aug. 23 and Sept. 7, included two Cambodians, selected after their participation in a televised game show in Cambodia.

Lalune Sreang and Norin Toch both said as guests on "Hello VOA" Thursday they had been encouraged by the training program, which seeks to expose them into US politics, government and lifestyles and presented the opportunity to meet high-ranking US officials.

Participants met with Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, which sponsored the trip, as well as Karen Johnson, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women, and others.

"Most of the American people are very helpful, honest and friendly," Lalune Sreang, who won the IRI-sponsored television contest "Cambodian Best Youth Leadership Challenge" in 2008, said Thursday. "American women are strong and independent, but women in Cambodia face adversities in participating in politics and civil society."

Lalune Sreang said she would like to see Cambodian women have "equal access to every level of educational and vocational training and in the professional field."

Norin Toch, who won the "Leadership Challenge" in 2007, said the trip had been a good opportunity for him.

"I want in the future other Cambodian youths to come and learn about this program, which is to increase youth's visibility and influence and to encourage them to take the lead in action," he said Thursday. "The Cambodian government needs to promote and encourage young Cambodians in democratic and development processes in order to fight against corruption and maintain sustainable peace in Cambodia."

Groups Worry UN Rights Office Could Close

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
29 August 2008

Cambodian civic leaders plan to lobby the international community in a September push to keep the UN human rights office open in Phnom Penh.

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, and Thun Saray, head of the rights group Adhoc, will both travel to Geneva, where the UN is headquartered, Sept. 7 to urge member countries not to eliminate the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kek Galabru said Thursday.

Many of the 47 member countries of the UN Human Rights Council do not support a special envoy to represent the UN secretary-general, not only in Cambodia, but other countries, she said.

Cambodia's rights record remains poor, Kek Galabru said, making the continued operations of a UN rights office here important.

The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has had problems with UN rights envoys in the past, especially the special envoy of the secretary-general, Yash Ghai, a strident critic of the premier.

Yash Ghai has had his visa to the US restricted, and top officials, including Hun Sen, have refused to meet him on past visits.

Meanwhile, the UN rights office is in transition, with the former head of the commission, Luis Arbour, stepping down Sept. 1, to be replaced by Navanethem Phillay.

Kek Galabru said Thursday at least 12 European Union countries opposed the elimination of the rights office.

Senior US State Official To Meet With Leaders

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
29 August 2008

When John Negroponte, a senior US State Department official, arrives in Cambodia for an official visit next month, he will encounter human rights groups unhappy with a host of problems and tension between the ruling party and opposition still battling over July's election.

Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, is one of the highest-ranking US officials to travel to Cambodia in recent years.

Over three days starting Sept. 14, he will meet with government officials, opposition leaders and representatives of civil society, the embassy said.

"I really think that the fact that the Secretary is coming is a sign that our relationship is strengthening," US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said. The visit "will serve to deepen the ties between our two countries."

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said Thursday civic organizations hoped to raise a number of issues with Negroponte, including irregularities in July's election.

"The NGOs would raise the issues of land disputes, freedom of information, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, for example, the killing of journalist Khim Sambor, domestic violence, rape and human trafficking," she said.

Negroponte's visit will come ahead of a scheduled swearing-in ceremony for newly elected National Assembly members that the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties have threatened to boycott, potentially deadlocking the formation of the government.

Both parties maintain the elections were fraudulent, with a high number of irregularities occurring ahead of the polls and on Election Day.

Hun Sen Nephew Sues Two of Opposition

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 August 2008

A nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen filed suit in Kandal provincial court this week, claiming he had been defamed by remarks of two opposition parliamentary candidates who accused him of assault.

Hun To's suit stems from an altercation on a ferry in Ponhea Leu district, Kandal, in which Sam Rainsy Party candidates Nuon Vuthy and Uch Sereyyuth said Hun To ordered his bodyguards to assault them.

Hun To has denied the accusation, and on Monday he asked the Kandal court to investigate the two men for defamation.

The alleged assault occurred during the campaign to the national election, when the two lawmakers say they were attacked by Hun To's bodyguards after they drove their vehicle off the ferry.

Nuon Vuthy said bodyguards Hun To's bodyguards punched him in the head and kicked Uch Sereyyuth after a confrontation on the ferry.

"If the court works at its procedure and is not under pressure from a powerful man, it would find the truth after it investigates," Nuon Vuthy said.

Kandal court prosecutor Ouk Kimsith confirmed receipt of the complaint.

"I have not taken any measures yet," he said.

He had also received a complaint from the two Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers of the assault and had referred that case to deputy prosecutor Koeurt Vannareth.

Hun To's lawyer, Yin Wengka, said Friday he had filed the complaint Monday.

"These two men defamed my client," he said. "What they said is not true. At that time, no bodyguard went with Hun To. At that time Hun To took one car with three people, traveling to Kampong Cham."

According to Cambodian law, defamation charges do not carry penalties of imprisonment, but do carry fines. Assaults can lead to a sentence of one to five years in prison.

Parties Warn World of 'Death' of Democracy

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 August 2008

Two opposition leaders said Friday they would continue to push the international community to support their denial of July's election results, following a series of hearings this week that dismissed their complaints of fraud and calls for a re-vote.

The Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties maintain the election results were fraudulent and have called for a nationwide re-vote, citing a number of irregularities during the run-up to the election and on the day of the polls.

The parties are now seeking international lawyers to complain of irregularities to the US government, the EU and the UN, and to call on them "to review their relationship with the fourth mandate of the Phnom Penh government," opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Friday.

"The Phnom Penh government has come from an illegal National Assembly, which came from unfair elections."

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said a failure of the international community to intervene would lead to "the death of the democratic process in Cambodia."

Both the National Election Committee and the Constitutional Council maintain that the elections were legitimate, with the ruling Cambodian People's Party claiming to have won 90 or 123 National Assembly seats.

According to the NEC, the Sam Rainsy Party won 26 seats and the Human Rights Party won three.

CPP, Funcinpec and Norodom Ranariddh Party officials say they will go ahead with a swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected National Assembly on Sept. 24, but both opposition leaders said Friday their representatives would boycott the ceremony.

A boycott of the ceremony could lead to a further delay in the formation of a new government.

Regime Survivor to Victims: Exercise Rights

Workers under the Khmer Rouge file past a rice field in 1978, a period in which the regime gave no rights to its victims, a Tuol Sleng prison survivor says.

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 August 2008

Tuol Sleng prison survivor Chum Mey on Friday called on living victims of the Khmer Rouge to file further complaints against five former regime leaders now in the custody of the tribunal.

Chum Mey, who was imprisoned at Tuol Sleng until Vietnamese forces pushed the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh in January 1979, said victims must exercise their right to complain, as no such rights existed under Democratic Kampuchea.

"They closed our mouths and our ears, and they banned our eyes from seeing," he told seminar on victim compensation in Phnom Penh Friday. "But now I tell you we have full rights. I need to ask you to file complaints as much as possible to try those five."

Chum Mey, who is 77 now, spoke during a seminar held by the rights group Adhoc to discuss possible reparations for victims following potential trials of the five former leaders: "Brother No. 2" Nuon Chea, nominal president Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary, social affairs minister Ieng Thirith and Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, better known by his revolutionary name, Duch.

"Do not let them go free," said Chum Mey, who himself has filed a complaint to the Khmer Rouge tribunal as a civil party. "If we file many complaints, the evidence will be more solid to prove there was mass killing."

The Victims Unit of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, located behind the Cambodian Red Cross Hospital on Norodom Boulevard, estimates about 1,800 people have so far filed complaints. Not all of them have been accepted by the courts, but more than 60 complaints will be used against Duch, whose case is nearing the trial stage.

Victims still lack access to information on filing complaints, said Hisham Mousar, who monitors the courts for the rights group Adhoc.

The tribunal should have a budget to support victims in the complaint process, he added.

Some people know they can complain, but they don't know where to go, Chum Mey said. Many of them are poor and are more concerned about making a living than making a trip to Phnom Penh to file a complaint.

Chea Sorn, 71, who attended Friday's seminar, said she was among those who want to file but do not know how.

"I alone am still alive; 10 others died," she said, weeping. "I don't know how to file a complaint. I earn money by keeping a parcel of land for one owner. I would rather die and forget all these difficulties."