Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Reaction to Position of Samrainsy Party

Cambodian Action Committe for Justice and Equity (CACJE)

Reaction to Position of Samrainsy Party

To Participate in first meeting of National Assembly

On 24th September 2008

Please see full statement by clicking here.


CACJE's Media Network

Cambodia Parliament Opens, Paving Way For More Hun Sen Rule

PHNOM PENH (AFP)--The king of Cambodia opened the newly elected parliament Wednesday, paving the way for Prime Minister Hun Sen to extend his 23-year grip on power.

During the opening ceremony, King Norodom Sihamoni hailed the session as a " new opportunity" for lawmakers to work for the development of the Southeast Asian nation, urging them to build "social justice."

Members of parliament were due to be sworn in at the royal palace later in the day, and parliament was scheduled to formally elect its president and Hun Sen's new government Thursday.

"This is a symbol that we will continue the development of the country for five years more," Hun Sen told reporters after the session.

"From now on, I will not allow the small-voice parties to hold the majority- voice party as hostage," he added.

His ruling Cambodian People's Party took 90 seats of the 123 up for grabs in the July 27 ballot, while the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party, or SRP, received 26 seats.

But the SRP and Human Rights Party, or HRP, which won 3 seats, have disputed the results and said Hun Sen's party got its crushing majority after thousands of people were intentionally left off voter lists.

Both parties had threatened to boycott the first session of the parliament, but SRP decided at the last minute earlier Wednesday to attend the meeting after negotiations between its leader, Sam Rainsy, and Hun Sen.

The HRP's members of parliament didn't attend the opening session.

After the previous general election, in July 2003, the kingdom was plunged into a year of political stalemate as parties wrangled over forming a coalition government.

Hun Sen has been accused of suppressing human rights to secure power, but a booming economy has bolstered his standing in a country struggling to lift itself from the ranks of the world's poorest nations.

Cambodia: Ruling Party Dominates New Parliament

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen walks on his way to the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. Cambodia's newly elected lower house of parliament held its inaugural session Wednesday, ushering in a new era of sweeping power of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen walks past an honor guard upon his arrival to attend the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the national assembly building in Phnom Penh September 24, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni greets people as he walks past an honor guard upon his arrival to preside over the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the national assembly building in Phnom Penh September 24, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (R) greets President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin after the opening of the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the national assembly building in Phnom Penh September 24, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, right, greets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. Cambodia's newly elected lower house of parliament held its inaugural session Wednesday, ushering in a new era of sweeping power of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, center, greets parliamentarians in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. Cambodia's newly elected lower house of parliament held its inaugural session Wednesday, ushering in a new era of sweeping power of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni walks past an honor guard upon his arrival to preside over the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the national assembly building in Phnom Penh September 24, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian parliamentarians and King Norodom Sihamoni pose for a picture after the opening of the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the national assembly building in Phnom Penh September 24, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian parliamentarians and King Norodom Sihamoni pose for a picture after the opening of the first parliamentarian meeting to form a new government after the national elections in July at the national assembly building in Phnom Penh September 24, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

John Pilger: This conflict is repeating the historical patterns of imperialism

Socialist Worker Online
Tuesday 23 September 2008

Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger is warning that the extension of the Afghanistan war into Pakistan has grim echoes of the past.

“There are striking parallels between US actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan with spread of Vietnam war into Cambodia and Laos,” he told Socialist Worker.

“Indeed, there is an historical pattern – whenever an imperial power gets stuck in one region, it will try to attack another, often disastrously. Caesar and Napoleon did just that.

“The Americans in Vietnam, deeply frustrated by a resistance they never bargained on, sought an easy conquest in Cambodia on a flimsy pretext. That was in 1970.

“The US invasion and carpet bombing of Cambodia acted as a catalyst for the rise and rise of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces. Without US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and president Richard Nixon, Pol Pot would not have succeeded.”

The Khmer Rouge emerged out of the chaos of the US war on Cambodia. Their rule was marked by brutality and mass murder. John Pilger warns that the US and its allies could do the same to Pakistan today.

“What George Bush and Dick Cheney are likely to achieve in Pakistan is the rise and rise of the Taliban and the rapid radicalising of ‘mainstream’ Islamic forces within the country.”

Pilger says the impact of these new wars is “likely to favour tough guy John McCain”. But he adds, “The longing for relief from war and insecurity in the US cannot be underestimated – and Barack Obama is likely to be the beneficiary of that, however undeserved.”

John Pilger will be presenting his film about Afghanistan, Breaking the Silence, in London on Friday of this week at a Socialist Worker Appeal event. He will be taking questions from the audience after the showing.

One reason why John made a film about Afghanistan was the difficulty of getting serious documentaries onto TV these days.

“In every survey of what the public wants from TV in Britain, the one constant is the demand for documentaries that make sense of the world,” says John.

“But TV bosses inevitably perceive ‘public taste’ in relation to ‘the market’. Big Brother may be mortally wounded in the ratings, but successors are being planned that are mutations of that form.

“That said, there are some marvellous documentary makers coming up, bypassing TV and heading straight for the cinema – which is where documentary began.”

Commercial arbitration council expected to launch

The Phnom Penh Post

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

THE government is close to establishing a commercial arbitration body to keep disputes in-country and prevent those involved from going to court, commerce officials say.

"Companies with problems won't need to go overseas anymore," said Mao Thora, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce.

"With commercial disputes in the past, the parties involved filed their cases to Singapore because there was no court in Cambodia to address commercial problems," he said, adding, however, that in its current proposed form, the National Arbitration Council (NAC) could not deliver legally-binding decisions.

The bill, which falls under the 2007 Law on Commercial Arbitration, is being reviewed by the Council of Ministers and should be passed once a new government is formed, Mao Thora said.

If approved, the NAC would be limited to non-criminal cases where both parties have consented to accept its judgment, he explained, adding that appeals would be passed to the civil court.

He said that the US$500,000 earmarked for startup costs from a larger $10 million Asian Development Bank loan for financial sector development would likely be expanded to cover costs for a permanent facility.

The body would be expected to become self-funded over time from user commissions.

Business leaders said they were pleased with the panel in principle, but were hesitant to commit to using it until it had proven its integrity.

"Our members have said they will only use it if it performs properly. If it has corruption and is not fair, then they will not use it," said Som Chamnan, manager of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations, which represents a wide swath of industries in the country, from garments to finance.

"So far we have no guarantee, we will see," he added.

Govt-private committee

Hem Vandy, from the ADB, which helped to draft the bill, said a government-private sector committee would be charged with running the body and elaborating on its administrative procedures, including setting user fees.

He added that the body would be staffed by local officials with backgrounds in Cambodian law and commerce.

"It sends a positive message about Cambodia's investment climate, and it should be a good mechanism to prove that Cambodia is moving forward and ready for the Cambodian Stock Exchange," Hem Vandy said.

Hor Soneath, a business environment specialist at the World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corp (IFC), acknowledged that the NAC's requirement of joint-party consent provides a loophole for conflicting parties to not cooperate with the council.

But he expected the body would get a boost from "peer pressure in the private sector to use the arbitration centre and not have their reputation tainted".

The IFC helped to draft the bill bringing the council into existence.

"Resolving commercial disputes has always been difficult here," Hor Soneath said.

He added that there were significant advantages to having a commercial-specific arbitration body. "It should be faster, more high quality and less costly than going through litigation in the main court system," he said.

"The body will offer judges with skills and background knowledge specific to the sector so they understand what the parties involved are talking about ... having a commercial arbitration body is the natural evolution of a developed business environment."

Shanghai exhibition showcases local artists

PHOTO SUPPLIED; People mill around a sculpture by artist Phe Sophorn at the opening of the Strategies from Within exhibition at the Ke Center for Contemporary Art in Shanghai last week.
The Phnom Penh Post

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Cambodian artists receive a gallery showing on the sidelines of the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, but the local arts scene remains woefully underexposed

IN the inaugural year of the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair last year, fair director Lorenzo Rudolf noticed that Southeast Asia was underrepresented.

So for this year's show last week, he invited a Cambodian artist, sculptor Sopheap Pich, to participate in the exhibition's Best of Discovery show.

Working in rattan and bamboo, Sopheap Pich said his experience at the fair made him eager to participate in more exhibitions internationally.

"People were surprised to see the sign 'Cambodia' on the Best of Discovery floor," added American curator and writer Erin Gleeson, who has lived in Cambodia for six years.

"Because it's a nascent scene there is a natural void of information about current artistic practice in Cambodia. This can be good for emerging artists; it's always nice to surprise an audience."

Gleeson said that surprise was echoed in the sentiment of audiences at "Strategies from Within", an exhibition of contemporary art from Cambodia and Vietnam at Ke Centre for Contemporary Art in Shanghai that ran parallel to the commercial art fair.

Representing Cambodia were photographs by Vandy Rattana, collage by Leang Seckon and Chan Dany, sculpture by Phe Sophorn and Sopheap Pich, film by Rithy Panh, and a documentary on Sophiline Shapiro's choreography.

Gleeson said, "At Ke, a Beijing-based curator said to me, 'This show is refreshing because it feels Asian.' As strange as it sounded it is a very relevant sense. So much of the work people are used to seeing coming out of Asia has very strong Western references, or more recently references to China or India. Cambodian artists have very few references outside of their direct experience of life and available materials."

Sopheap Pich agreed. "The Cambodian art scene is not that sophisticated. We're not very trendy. We do more back-to-Earth sort of stuff."

The art scene needed many more active artists and galleries to begin to grow, he added.Gleeson thought that there might be as few as a dozen artists working as full-time artists in Cambodia without needing to subsidise their earnings with other work. Graduates from the Kingdom's private art schools - Phar Selapak in Battambang and Reyum Art School in Phnom Penh - made up the bulk of emerging artists.

" We're not very trendy. we do more back-to-earth sort of stuff. "

"A country of 14 million should be able to support fifty artists but it doesn't," said Gleeson. "Funding is scarce, as are collectors.

"Some of the artists are making their art in tiny, hot little rooms, with six family members crowded around thinking that they are wasting their time. Many of these young artists have never made a full body of work in part because they are invited to participate in thematic exhibitions, so they repeatedly create within others' ideas, like 'genocide', ‘Aids' or ‘Asean'. Many have not dedicated themselves to finding what it is that defines their ideas and practices."

In July, to support the creation of more mature work, Gleeson opened BASSAC, an artist-in-residence program for emerging Cambodian artists. In residence is Reyum graduate Chan Dany, who is creating an exhibition for a gallery in Hong Kong for November.

Cambodia sees biofuel promise in jatropha

Energy Current
Filed from Singapore

STUNG TRENG, CAMBODIA: Cambodia-based process rubber and crude palm oil exporter Mong Reththy Co. plans to grow jatropha on more than 100,000 hectares (24,711 acres) of land in the country. Mong Reththy has started a pilot project on six hectares (15 acres) of land in the Stung Treng province.

The pilot project produced eight tonnes (8.8 tons) of jatropha oil per hectare, company chief Mong Reththy said during an interview with the Phnom Penh Post. Mong Reththy expects the oil to fetch as much as US$720 per tonne overseas.

Mong Reththy entered into a joint venture with UK-baed D1 Oils Plc last year to grow jatropha on 100,000 hectares (24,711 acres) of land in Stung Treng. The agreement is subject to the success of the pilot programme.

Mong Reththy said the company has also roped in a South Korean firm to assist in planting the crops. The company will receive US$400 million in funding to develop the plantations and build a biodiesel plant in the province.

The government of Cambodia sees biofuel from jatropha as an alternative source of energy that can be tapped to reduce the country's oil dependency and alleviate poverty among rural communities.

Cambodia: Ruling Party Dominates New Parliament

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, right, greets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, 24 Sept 2008. (Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Cambodia's newly elected lower house of parliament held its inaugural session Wednesday (24 Sept) that saw the ruling party's already firm grasp on power grow even tighter in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's party now holds 90 of 123 seats, ensuring that the Cambodian People's Party will have a free hand in virtually all legislative matters.

"They have been ruling the country single-handedly, and they still are," said Ou Virak, director of the nonprofit Cambodian Center for Human Rights. "Their one-party rule is just more legitimate than before."

An election on 27 July election handed Hun Sen's party 17 seats beyond the 73 it already held, further cementing the CPP's majority.

Ou Virak and other rights activists say the virtual one-party system risks damaging the country's fragile democracy and giving unfettered power to Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge soldier who has dominated the country's politics for decades.

They say the ruling party's supremacy will weaken an already limited system of checks-and-balances and make it more difficult to voice dissent and air grievances about social injustices.

Hun Sen is a former soldier in the Khmer Rouge movement that wreaked havoc in Cambodia when it held power from 1975-1979. He has been at the center of the country's politics since 1985, when he became the world's youngest prime minister at age 33. He has held or shared the top job ever since, bullying and outfoxing his opponents to stay in power.

The parliament will vote Thursday ( 25 Sept) on a new Cabinet _ an exercise seen only as a formality given the domination of Hun Sen's party.

King Norodom Sihamoni presided over Wednesday's event at the Nation Assembly, and called for the lawmakers to "succeed in fulfilling your duties for the great benefit of our nation." Sihamoni is a constitutional monarch who holds no executive power.

The lawmakers were dressed in green silky wrapped skirts and white turtleneck, long-sleeved shirts _ the traditional Cambodian outfit used in functions attended by the king.

The Sam Rainsy Party, Cambodia's main opposition group, has 26 seats in the parliament. The other three smaller parties hold combined seven seats. (AP)

Cambodia slips in corruption rating

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath and Georgia Wilkins
Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The new Transparency International graft rankings are out and the Kingdom has dropped five positions from last year, now 14 from bottom

CAMBODIA'S annual corruption rating has plummeted, according to an international transparency index.

The ratings, released by Transparency International (TI) in Berlin Tuesday, ranked Cambodia the 14th-most corrupt country in the world, five positions worse than its 2007 rating, and the most corrupt country in Asia after Myanmar.

"In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play," TI said at the report launch.

Municipal health director Veng Thai denied that corruption could be claiming lives in the Kingdom, saying "there is not much corruption in the health system in Cambodia".

Bun Uy, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, also said Tuesday that the ratings were meaningless.

"Every country has corruption. Even if they are rich countries, they are still corrupt," he said.
"The prime ministers of Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand are all accused of corruption even though they are rich countries," Bun Uy said.

Om Yentieng, Prime Minister Hun Sen's adviser on human rights, criticised the organisation for using developing countries as a political tool.

"This organisation is putting Cambodia to the bottom just to mock it. What are the ratings based on?" Om Yentieng said.

But Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) said Cambodia's ranking showed the government was still "holding the country hostage [to corruption]."

Cambodia ready for fresh dengue outbreaks: govt

Tracey Shelton; A child awaits treatment at a hospital during the 2007 dengue epidemic.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khoun leakhana and Sebastian strangio
Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Despite warnings from the World Health Organisation, health officials are confident of Cambodia's disease readiness

GOVERNMENT health officials say the country is ready to cope with a fresh outbreak of dengue fever, despite warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that up to two billion people in Asia could be vulnerable to infection in the event of a fresh epidemic.

In discussion papers released Tuesday at a regional committee meeting in Manila, the WHO said the virus "has greatly expanded over the last three decades" due to changes in weather patterns, migration and rapid urbanisation, noting that some Asian governments were yet to take effective action against the disease.

"Dengue is a neglected disease that gains attention during an epidemic," the WHO said. "[But] many Asia-Pacific countries lack adequate resources and have limited response capacities" to respond adequately to major outbreaks.

But Chang Moh Seng, a dengue specialist working for the WHO in Cambodia, said the government was well-placed to deal with future outbreaks, and hailed the drop in transmission rates from 39,000 last year to just 6,236 so far in 2008. "Outbreaks cannot be predicted, so we always have to be prepared," he said. "I think the government is ready for an outbreak, and the outbreak season [for 2008] is almost over."

National Malaria Centre Director Duong Socheat said Cambodia's health authorities had learned from last year's outbreaks and were increasingly successful at combating dengue. "The rate of death by dengue fever is less than in other countries," he said, noting that there have been just 50 deaths from dengue so far this year, compared with 407 in 2007. "In early 2008 the centre took measures to strengthen education and training in the prevention of the disease," he said.

Cheamon Thavy, director of the dengue health education unit at the National Malaria Centre, said the government's health and community education programs had contributed to a marked decrease in transmission rates.

"Through our local education programs, people have learned to take affected children to the hospital straight away," she said. "Our education programs have been in place since 2004, and around 80 percent of the population are now educated about the virus."

Chang Moh Seng agreed that education and cooperation were vital to protecting against the disease. "The government realises that for dengue control [it] need[s] more input from NGOs, the international community and local communities. This year, we actually have improved the collaboration between agencies ... an important aspect of preventing outbreaks," he said.

Youth TV channel launched in Cambodia


by Asiya Bakht

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian Television Network (CTN), the country’s most popular TV network, is launching a free-to-air commercial channel called MYTV that will cater to the youth market in the country.

Set to launch in January 2009, the new channel will largely include reality shows combined with a dynamic mix of music programmes, local teen dramas and educational documentaries.

Glen Felgate, the general manager of CTN and now of MYTV in Cambodia, said: "MYTV will cater to a demand for new programming from youth as well as advertisers trying to reach that particular market.

"Media support for the reality programmes will involve a dedicated website and mobile phone activity.Cambodia currently has seven free-to-air channels.

Brand Solutions, which handles advertising for CTN, will be handling the creative for MYTV.

1700 days of incarceration for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun

Cambodge Soir


Sentenced for the murder of the trade union worker, Chea Vichea, both men have always claimed their innocence, supported in their struggle by numerous NGO’s.

This Tuesday 23 September represents a symbolic date for the human rights representatives in Cambodia. This day marks the 1700th day of detention for Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, both sentenced for the murder of the trade union leader, Chea Vichea, who was shot on the street in Phnom Penh on the 22nd of January 2004.

In the morning, about one hundred human rights militants and close relatives of both men gathered in front of the prison on the outskirts of the capital in order to release 1700 white balloons, symbols of their proclaimed innocence.

“We want to ask the Supreme Court to speed up the investigation of this case and to request the intervention of the Government Leader and the King in order to obtain the release of the two prisoners”, explains Vann Sopath, deputy communications officer at Licadho.

In a press communiqué, the NGO highly criticises the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh which sentenced both men in August 2005 to 20 years criminal detention. A verdict confirmed after an appeal ruling in April 2007.

“This unfair sentence against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun represents a step back for the legal reforms in Cambodia”, deplores Naly Pirloge, director of Licadho.

Passenger tax included in the airline tickets

Siem Reap Airport.

Cambodge Soir


Since the 1st of September, the passenger tax which has to be paid by any traveller taking the plane on domestic flights is included in the airline ticket.

From now on it’s not necessary any more to stand in line to pay this tax at the counter of the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, or to look for change

Concerning the introduction of this measure for international flights, Norinda Khek, communications officer at the Société Concessionnaire des Aéroports (SCA), in charge of the three airports in Cambodia, explained that this project was still being examined, without however mentioning any date. “For domestic flights it was relatively easy to organise because there’s only one airline company. It’s more complicated for international flights but we’re working on it”, adds the manager.In Siem Reap, the construction works of the new domestic terminal should end during the month of October. However, the access to the public is not expected for the immediate future. “This new opening is determined by the traffic increase. The companies hesitate to launch new destinations. The price of kerosene is increasing while the demand is decreasing, explained the communications manager.

Today, Siem Reap Airways, subsidiary of Bangkok Airways, is the only domestic company which carries out flights within the Kingdom and over one route only; Phnom Penh – Siem Reap. Paradoxically, in the 1990’s, while the number of tourists was at its lowest point, at least three companies shared the domestic air traffic. Planes were landing in Battambang, Stung Treng and Rattanakiri, now all closed.

The airport of the seaside town of Sihanoukville, managed by SCA, should allow flight connections with the City of Temples. Siem Reap Airways, which had announced the launch of this destination for the 2nd of November now halted this decision. At the company’s headquarters in Phnom Penh, no comment was made concerning any eventual date, despite the promise of commercial flights between Angkor and Sihanoukville during next tourist season. To be followed!

Cambodia requests Thailand to stop sending troops to Ta Krabey

Cambodge Soir


Yet, the military in charge of the border surveillance haven’t observed new incursions from the Thai army since the 10th of September.

Cambodia has asked Thailand to stop sending troops to the temple of Ta Krabey, stated a communiqué dated 22 September from the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok.

“The Royal Cambodian Government urges Thailand to stop sending Thai soldiers to the temple while the bipartite Commission is outlining the territorial boundaries”, indicated the communiqué which was addressed to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Interviewed by “Cambodge Soir Hebdo”, the border surveillance unit Commander, Neak Vong, stated that no new Thai incursion had been observed since 10 September.

“Only one Thai border surveillance team entered the temple but didn’t stay, which is nothing abnormal”, did he add.

To Stamp Out Human Trafficking It Has to Be Done in Wide Cooperation

Posted on 24 September 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“Phnom Penh: Some human trafficking inside of the country and internationally always happens and changes into different forms. However, human trafficking could be stamped out in Cambodia efficiently, if all relevant sectors and sides are involved, and it has to be done in a wide cooperation.

“At a national conferences about stamping out human trafficking in Cambodia, held on 15 and 16 September 2008 at the Hotel Cambodiana, H.E. Ho Non, chairperson of the Commission on Public Health, Social Welfare and Labor, and Women’s and Veteran’s Affairs , stated that human trafficking, particularly of women and children, remains a complicated issue to which the Royal Government and the National Assembly have to put further efforts to solve it.

“H.E. Ho Non added that human trafficking occurs in Cambodia in different forms, and there are various causes, such as war, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, modernization, and poor social morality . As for the elimination of human trafficking, it cannot be solved by one institution alone, but it has to be attacked by all relevant sectors and sides, and it has to be implemented in cooperation.

“H.E. Mu Sochua, the Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary general and former Minister of Women’s Affairs, said that efficiency does not depend on the existence of laws, but on the respect and enforcement of laws.

“Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, the Director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that if we want to prevent human trafficking efficiently, there have to be reforms, such as the strengthening of procedures and of the competency of the police, and law enforcement officials must be neutral and must not have a bias towards any party.

“Mr. Sok Sam Oeun emphasized that laws against human trafficking have been well developed, but efforts to stamp out human trafficking are not yet sufficient.

“H.E. Mu Sochua, the Minister of Women’s Affairs between 1994 and 2004, continued, ‘If there is no court reform, and police and law enforcement officials do not place law enforcement as their top priority and are corrupt, there can be no improvement. Also, the government has to help to find solutions by engaging in socio-economic development, and law enforcement officials have to be independent.

“Nevertheless, H.E. Ho Non said that the Royal Government, led wisely by Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, always focuses on human trafficking, and it has created a [national anti-trafficking] task force to lead the fight against trafficking against the exploitation of human labor, and against sex exploitation on women and children, while the relevant ministries have publicized and implemented laws to bring perpetrators of human trafficking to be convicted.

“According to a report of the [Cambodian] Ministry of Interior published in the Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 of the US Department of State on June 2008, 65 human trafficking perpetrators were arrested and 52 were prosecuted by courts between April 2007 and March 2008. 188 [?] women were victimized by human trafficking [???].” Amnach Reas, Vol.1, #23, 22-28.9.2008


From the Cambodia section of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 (starting at page 31):
“Due to resource constraints, the government has not provided reliable statistics on prosecution.
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported receiving complaints of 53 trafficking cases from April 2007 to March 2008; thirty-five cases were sex trafficking involving 60 victims and 11 were labor trafficking cases involving 106 victims. Police took action on 43 cases. The MOI reported that 65 traffickers were arrested during the reporting period. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted 52 trafficking offenders. The MOI Department of Anti-Trafficking and Juvenile Protection reported 52 cases, involving 65 trafficking offenders that resulted in eight convictions.
NGOs reported 19 labor trafficking cases involving legal migrants who ended up in conditions of involuntary servitude in Malaysia, but Cambodian labor recruitment companies usually paid compensation and were not prosecuted for criminal offenses. There were no cases of labor agents being held responsible for the trafficking of migrant workers, or being prosecuted. In February 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Ministry of Commerce to annul business licenses for marriage agencies, calling the business a form of human trafficking.

Corruption is pervasive in Cambodia, and it is widely believed that some individuals, including police and judicial officials, are involved in trafficking. In an important move that sent a signal that corruption will not be tolerated by senior government officials, an investigation into the Chhay Hour II brothel case resulted in the removal of the President of the Appeals Court for trafficking related corruption. The same investigation resulted in three other judges and one deputy prosecutor of the Appeals Court receiving official letters of reprimand. The MOI Anti-Human Trafficking Juvenile Protection Department Director administratively transferred two police officers who were convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2006 by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for trafficking related corruption. While these anti-corruption efforts are laudable, officials involved in trafficking must ultimately be punished with jail time, not merely administrative penalties.”
(from pages 32 and 33)
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Economy on Thai-Cambodian border heavily affected

MCOT English News

Thai locals near the Preah Vihear area are facing a serious economic problem, and they hope the new prime minister will solve the dispute along the border so they can enjoy better lives. Let’s hear some locals’ voice their opinions to the Prime Minister in this report from the Thai News Agency.

It has been two months after the anti-government dhamma group claimed ownership of Preah Vihear, causing Cambodia to close the ancient Khmer temple on July 16th.

Locals of Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province have been severely affected by the Thai-Cambodian border dispute. Their business and tourism income have fallen to almost zero.

Not only does poverty menace the locals, the Cambodian Civil War also haunts them, as a Khmer gunshot explosion once fell on Thai territory, injuring many locals in the arms and legs.

Kantharalak district chief shared with us how one of his dwellers felt.

Prasert Aram-sriworapong, Kantharalak district chief said "Mr. Aran, a local resident, feels that after the incident, he must be the one who faces this karma, for he lives in the area and has nowhere else to move to."

Due to the poor quality of life and feelings of the area being unsafe to live, the locals of Kan-tha-ra-lak (???-??-??-???) district want their new government to speed up negotiations in the Thai-Cambodian border problem. Although the problem remains unresolved, they want commerce and tourism to be boosted as it was in the past.

Due to the poor quality of life and feelings of the area being unsafe to live, the locals of Kantharalak district want their new government to speed up negotiations in the Thai-Cambodian border problem. Although the problem remains unresolved, they want commerce and tourism to be boosted as it was in the past.

Noi Tongpanya, a local trader "I want Preah Vihear to be reopened because now we have no income. If the ancient temple is closed, everything goes quiet."

The locals’ hope now depends on the Somchai Wongsawat administration. They want the new prime minister to visit the area so he can acknowledge the real problem.

Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam triangle focuses on tourism

MCOT English News

LAOS, Sept 24 (KPL) - Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to develop tourism as a main key for boosting economic growth and reducing poverty in the development triangle area.

The agreement, which also included the creation of favourable conditions for the triangular region that comprises 10 border provinces of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, was reached at the third meeting addressing trade, investment and tourism promotion in the Development Triangle, held in Champassak province, on 22 September.

The meeting drew Lao Minister of Planning and Investment Soulivong Daravong, Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc and Cambodian Secretary General of the Development Council Soun Sitthy, which brought together both state officials and businesspeople of the 10 provinces from three countries.

Minister Phuc described the three countries’ policy to develop their shared triangle as a right decision that has contributed largely to promoting each country’s socio-economic growth and reinforcing friendship between the three nations.

Following the second meeting of its kind in February this year, the three countries have taken their own initiatives to spur the development of the triangle. In the meantime, mechanisms and policies to facilitate the cross-border flow of people and commodities, investment and trade in the area are being discussed, Minister Phuc added.

At this meeting, the participants focused on assessing what has been done since the two previous meetings and discussed ways to solve difficulties that arise in the process of implementing the reached agreements.

They informed each other of their own countries’ current policies, investment environments and related legal regulations in addition to the potentials and priorities of the localities located in the development triangle and worked on orientations for cooperation in the future.

Established in 2004 by a decision signed by the three countries’ prime ministers, the Development Triangle comprises Vietnam’s central highlands provinces of Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak and Dak Nong, Laos’s provinces of Attapeu, Sekong and Saravanh, and the Cambodian provinces of Rattanakiri, Strungstreng and Moldonkiri.

The governments of the three countries have high hopes for the effects of promoting the development of the region, which has been highly evaluated for its great potential in the areas of hydro-power industry, mining, industrial crop growing and processing and tourism, to improve the living conditions of local people, the majority of whom belong to ethnic minorities.(KPL)

Radios help people get clean water

47 % of people in Cambodia can't afford filters for clean water. (FEBC Photo)
24 September, 2008
Cambodia (MNN) ― In Cambodia, 47 percent of the population doesn't drink clean water simply because they can't afford filters. Others simply don't know the importance of clean water, and a large number suffer from diarrhea and waterborne illnesses.

In many countries, the ease of buying clean water or having it available in your home is taken for granted.

Far East Broadcasting Company is helping people learn more about hygiene, irrigation, the science of wells, and providing clean water for livestock in two new radio programs. One is called The Well of Life--a drama that runs five days a week for 5 minutes. The other is a 30-minute spot that is simply informative.

Listeners also hear how water and wells are a symbol of rebirth and life for Christians. FEBCambodia staff travel around giving out radios so more people can hear the message. They get feedback on their programs, and most importantly, they give families water filters. It is a small thing that can change lives.

Cambodian PM plans Doha visit

Gulf Times

Wednesday, 24 September, 2008
By Arvind Nair

CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to pay a state visit to Qatar next January as part of efforts to strengthen bilateral relations, reports said.

Hun Sen is also scheduled to stop by Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The visit is part of a new government strategy that aims to make Cambodia a target destination for more Middle Eastern travellers.

The move comes amid efforts by Hun Sen to strengthen ties between Cambodia and the Gulf nations.

Cambodia last month signed a direct-flight agreement with Qatar. Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism Thong Khon was quoted as saying that a similar agreement with Kuwait was expected soon.

In April, Qatari Prime Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani announced a $200mn investment in Cambodia’s agriculture sector, while Kuwait last month pledged $546mn in soft loans to upgrade irrigation systems and roads throughout the country.

Cambodia has more than 300,000 ethnic Muslim Cham residents. Cham communities are currently marketed to Muslim tourists, Cambodia Association of Travel Agents has said.

“Cambodia has a Muslim Centre and other sites of interest, and several restaurants serve halal food,” the sources said.

See it then you will believe it !

Under HUN SEN Regime, Cambodia
is the best country in the world
to receive RANK No. 166 on the most
corruption to the bones
among 180 nations

Please click here to read

Buddhist monks pray in front of the graves of the last 14 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime during an annual ceremony known as "Pchumben"

Cambodian Buddhist monks pray in front of the graves of the last 14 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime during an annual ceremony known as "pchumben", or "festival of the dead", at Tuol Sleng genocide museum (S-21) in Phnom Penh, September 23, 2008. The festival culminates on the fifteenth day of the tenth month of the Khmer calendar with millions of Camobdians visiting temples throughout the country to offer prayer and food to the spirits of loved ones.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian woman places incense on the graves of the last 14 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime as Buddhist monks pray during an annual ceremony known as "pchumben", or "festival of the dead", at Tuol Sleng genocide museum (S-21) in Phnom Penh, September 23, 2008. The festival culminates on the fifteenth day of the tenth month of the Khmer calendar with millions of Camobdians visiting temples throughout the country to offer prayer and food to the spirits of loved ones.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation Awards Support Major Projects at Cultural Sites in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Guatemala

US Department of State

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 23, 2008

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is pleased to announce awards of more than $2.2 million for major cultural preservation projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Guatemala through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. These awards for large-scale preservation projects at cultural sites are the first of their kind in the history of the Ambassadors Fund program.

The U.S. Congress recommended that the Department of State direct at least $1.5 million in Fiscal Year 2008 to at least three large cultural preservation projects, such as archaeological restoration of Phnom Bakheng, Cambodia, and Maya archaeological sites in the Petén region of Guatemala. ECA’s Cultural Heritage Center invited the U.S. Embassies at Phnom Penh, Guatemala City, and five other embassies to submit proposals on behalf of qualified applicants working in collaboration with the national cultural authority for large-scale partnership-based preservation projects at sites of global significance that are accessible to the public and protected by law.

The Center reviewed seven proposals based on program criteria, proposal quality and project merit, and recommended three for support in 2008, which are the following.

- $725,000 to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for the conservation of Qala Ikhtyaruddin, the 15th-century citadel of Herat, Afghanistan, a prominent public landmark of this ancient city and one of the most impressive surviving citadels in all of Central Asia;

- $978,705 to the World Monuments Fund for the conservation of the 10th-century Phnom Bakheng Temple in Cambodia, the most visited temple at Angkor and one of the greatest cultural achievements of the Khmer Kingdom; and

- $575,251 to the Fundación para la Conservación en Guatemala (Conservation Foundation of Guatemala) for the conservation of Late Preclassic period Maya murals at San Bartolo, as well as the conservation of the Classic period Maya Temple of the Hieroglyphic Staircase and the documentation of plundering at Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park, all sites of great importance in understanding the ancient Maya civilization in the northeastern Petén.

The Cultural Heritage Center supports Department of State foreign affairs functions that relate to the preservation of cultural heritage. In addition to the Ambassadors Fund, the Center administers U.S. responsibilities relating to the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention to reduce pillage and illicit trafficking in cultural property. Information on the Fund is available online at

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, 202-203-5107 or


Released on September 23, 2008

VN goods a big hit in Cambodia


HCM CITY — The Cambodian public and media have shown high appreciation of quality Vietnamese goods presented at a five-day fair in the capital city of Phnom Penh since last Thursday. More than 150 Vietnamese enterprises showcased a wide range of products including farm and pharmaceutical products, foodstuff, construction materials, chemicals, electrical equipment and stationery items at the Viet Nam High-quality and Export Fair 2008.

The Cambodia Daily’s Sunday edition noted that the seventh Viet Nam trade fair was held on a large scale with more exhibits than previous fairs, attracting tens of thousands of visitors who visited and bought products everyday.The annual trade fair aims to further accelerate the economic and friendly relationship between the two countries.

Hor Nam Hong, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, highly appreciated the fair and said Cambodia would do its best to attract Vietnamese investment in the country.

During the first eight months of this year, bilateral trade was worth US$1.2 billion, compared with $1.1 billion in 2007.

It is expected to reach $1.3 billion by the end of the year and $2 billion by 2010, he said. — VNS

Balloons released to urge freedom for two Cambodian prisoners

By eNews 2.0 Staff
September 23rd 2008

Cambodian human rights group Licadho released 1,700 white balloons outside a prison in the capital Tuesday to draw attention to the plight of two men it said were wrongly convicted of the 2004 murder of a union leader.

The number of balloons represented the total days that Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang have served in jail for the January 2004 murder of Chea Vichea, after being sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2005.

They were convicted despite having apparently watertight alibis. The police officer in charge of their prosecution, Heng Pov, has subsequently been sacked and is now himself in jail on charges including corruption, murder, attempted murder and kidnap.

No date for their Supreme Court appeal - their last legal avenue besides a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni - has been set.

"The two prisoners are in bad condition physically and mentally. We want to draw attention to their imprisonment to make sure this issue is not forgotten and give them strength," Licadho representative Van Sophat said.

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naroth said the matter was a court issue, but that police had decided not to disrupt a peaceful demonstration and Licadho's budget was its own affair.

"It is up to the organization how they draw attention to the issue and spend their money, but I think if they asked the prisoners, they will ask for food, not balloons," he said.

Cambodian courts are widely accused of lacking independence from the government and are riddled with corruption.

Cambodia's Top Tourist Destination Goes High-End


by Josh Lew
Sep 23rd 2008

Cambodia's biggest tourist draw, the Angkor Wat complex, has been developing more rapidly than the rest of the country. Demand for higher-end properties has led to a bit of a building boom. One luxury complex in the town of Siem Reap, which is adjacent to Angkor, was quickly sold out recently. The lower level condos sold for more than $200,000 each, while the units on the top floor went for a cool half-million.

The speed at which these particular luxury units were snapped up suggests that more similar buildings might be on the way soon. In fact, the development is indicative of what is happening throughout mainland Southeast Asia. Land prices have been rising steadily over the past decade, but building and labor costs remain low. Therefore, constructing high-end buildings allows developers to get the most out of their investment. An interesting aside: the architects and consultants who have been working on most of these high end projects are based in Ho Chi Minh City, which is fast becoming a regional hub to challenge Bangkok.

Cambodia bans Chinese powdered baby milk

The Earth Times
Tue, 23 Sep 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodia joined a growing list of countries that have banned Chinese milk powder and stepped up inspections, a senior official said Tuesday. Secretary of State for the Commerce Ministry Chan Nora said Cambodia's quality control bureau also ramped up testing of imported products.

"We need to protect the public. This applies to all products - not just Chinese goods. We have stepped up inspections," he said.

China is a major donor and close ally of Cambodia, and Nora stressed the crackdown was not aimed at any one country.

However Cambodia's endemic corruption, poor border control and poverty has made it a notorious dumping ground for unscrupulous traders of defective products in the past, including chicken suspected to be infected with bird flu and even toxic waste.

Cambodian authorities are concerned that contaminated milk powder might be repackaged and sold in poorer markets such as their own.

Chinese officials acknowledged last week that melamine, a chemical that causes kidney-related diseases, was present in milk processed by three major Chinese dairy companies.

Lengthy Drug Use Carries High Risks: Official

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
23 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 22 September (6.59 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 22 September (6.59 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Extended use of drugs and drug addiction can have severe risks for users, a drug official warned Monday.

"It may help you in the short term, but it makes you useless in the future," said Thong Sokunthea, deputy chief of rehabilitation at the National Anti-Drug Authority. "When you use it, for a short time, it's OK. It can help us forget suffering or sadness or complications. But after a long time, you can't find money to buy, and it leads to many other problems."

The Cambodian agency is working to combat increased drug use in Cambodia, by educating people and attacking supply and demand, Thong Sokunthea said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."
Drug addiction is hard to cure, he added.

Cambodia faces a threat from many types of drugs, including methamphetamines, Ecstasy, "yama," heroin and cocaine.

Compliance, Skills Could Help Garments

By Vohar Cheat, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 September 2008

The garment industry must work to decrease illegal strikes and better train workers before the end of the year, when competition from Chinese could further damage the sector, a new analysis suggests.

Growth within Cambodia’s top industry slowed in 2008, and a recent International Labor Organization report found that of 35 labor strikes in 2007, 32 were illegal. Meanwhile, the amount of value a Cambodian worker can add to a garment is much lower than in neighboring countries.

Price competition is expected to increase when the US lifts safeguards on Chinese exports at the end of the year, according to the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, which issued a monitoring report in July.

“As price competition will likely continue to intensify…Cambodian factories will likely lean on the strategy of labor compliance in the short term and raising productivity and skills in the long term,” according to the report.

Union leaders need to be trained to understand the basics of the global economy and be ready to compete in it, said Kang Chadararoth, director of the Institute.

Workers and managers must learn to resolve their problems to keep a factory viable, he said.

“We have to take responsibility, even if we are workers depending on monthly wages. If the factory is good we get more wages,” he said. “The factory owner also has to do the same thing. If they pay the workers on about working conditions, have good relationships, then the environment of the factory is good, and you are able to compete better.”

Kaing Monika, an official with the Garment Manufacturing Association of Cambodia, said Cambodia had a productivity problem, not a labor compliance problem. Nearly 90 percent of factories complied with labor laws, he said.

Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said the government has been aware of the lifting of trade barriers with Vietnam and China and has been preparing for the competition.

“We have made a working conditions policy for all factories to respect the rights of workers, and we use this reputation to attract buyers,” he said. “We are succeeding and we are a country as a good symbol to the world.”

Police Arrest Second Officer in Land Scam

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 23 September (1.23 B) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 23 September (1.23 B) - Listen (MP3)

Police have arrested a second infantry officer suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to sell state land in Phnom Penh with forged documents, officials said Tuesday.

National police arrested Lt. Col. Saphon Dara, 34, an RCAF infantry officer, at his home on Monday, said Brig. Gen. Mok Phito, director of the penal crime department of the Ministry of Interior.

Saphon Sara is the son of Neang Sovanny and Nou Sophonn, who are being sought as the “masterminds” behind a plot to sell the offices of the Agriculture Ministry’s fishery administration on Norodom Boulevard using forged documents, military police commander Gen. Sao Sokha said Tuesday.

“I believe the two of them are still in the country, but they are trying to flee the country,” he said. “I hope we will arrest the two of them soon.”

Neang Sovanny, and her husband, Nou Sophonn, owned a real estate company known alternately as Hun Yany or Hun Many, employing the name “Hun” to attract high-ranking leaders by appearing to be linked with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Sao Sokha said.

Military police are holding four suspected members of the plot, including Lt. Gen. Men Vichet, deputy commander of RCAF infantry, and national police are holding another 18 suspects, officials said.

Mok Phito said the Interior Ministry has filed a complaint with Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

King Faces Test of Political Power: Analysts

By Pin Sisovann, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 22 September (1.99 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 22 September (1.99 MB) - Listen (MP3)

King Norodom Sihamoni is facing the greatest challenge of his rule so far and should work to create a compromise between rival politicians, as a ceremony to begin the new government approaches, independent political analysts say.

King Sihamoni is facing pressure from the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties, who want to boycott a Sept. 24 swearing-in ceremony, as well as exiled Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is seeking a royal pardon so that he may return to Cambodia without serving an 18-month prison sentence.

The political pressure on King Sihamoni is the heaviest since he was crowned just four years ago, following the abdication of his father, Norodom Sihanouk, who was famous for his mercurial statecraft and an ability to reconcile parties.

Under these two kings alone, Cambodia has seen colonialism, independence, a coup, a republic, a communist takeover, a Vietnamese occupation and finally a democratic constitutional monarchy.

Lao Monghay, a senior researcher for the Asian Human Rights Committee, said King Sihamoni should first try to get all parties at the same swearing-in ceremony, in order to save Cambodia’s national image.

“It may be hard, but it is also a chance for His Majesty to try,” Lao Monghay said. “A success would increase his influence and image. His Majesty should test the waters, calling them one by one, to see if he can mediate when these political parties cannot find a compromise.”

Meanwhile, parties should also work to save the national image while the king is working on reconciliation, Lao Monghay said.

The king has less power than he has been afforded the constitution, he added.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay agreed that a compromise over the swearing-in ceremony must take place, or the king may not join.

“In 2003, we saw the king father [Sihanouk] didn’t go when he foresaw that some lawmakers wouldn’t make the first day of the meeting,” Son Chhay said.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said without more compromise his party will continue its boycott.

“We want His Majesty to exercise his powers as stated in the constitution,” Kem Sokha said, including to provide stability and mediate.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said there was little danger of anyone losing face except lawmakers who boycotted the ceremony and sought to come into the government through the back door.

Lawmakers elected in July have a duty to join the ceremony and subsequent first meeting of the National Assembly, and not use the occasion to pressure the ruling party, he said.

The Cambodian People’s Party has said that even as the opposition threatened a boycott they asked for positions in the National Assembly.

“They deny the election results but they take seats,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech last week. “They didn’t take only Assembly seats. Let me tell you”—and he whispered into the microphone—“they requested a deputy of National Assembly position and four committees.

“They sent the request to me after 3 pm and said they would go abroad at 7:30 pm,” he said.

“Do you know what they said? They said if Samdech agrees, they won’t need to go abroad. Wow. Threatening Hun Sen with their trips abroad. So I responded by telling them, ‘Go for your plan.’”

Chea Vannath, founder of the Center for Social Development, said there should be a compromise from the king, but first there must be a green light from the winning parties, including the CPP.

“His Majesty could broker a compromise that only all parties share, especially the CPP,” she said. “His Majesty would lose his image if he makes a proposal and they deny it.”

Oum Daravuth, the personal advisor to King Sihamoni, said the king has never been in the political arena and lacks the political experience of his father, who served as a prime minister and reined as a monarch twice.

“His Majesty is a constitutional monarch, so he can’t do anything other than follow the constitution and law,” Oum Daravuth said. “The political crisis in 2003 was solved by the king father, before His Majesty took over. This is the first crisis for him, so it’s kind of hard for him.”

Innocent Prisoners’ Mark Day 1,700

Noun Kim Sry, center, mother of jailed Born Samnang, joins in a call Tuesday for a Supreme Court hearing for her son and fellow convicted prisoner Sok Samoeun.

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 23 September (765 KB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 23 September (765 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Rights workers held a small ceremony outside the compound of Phnom Penh prison on Tuesday to mark the 1,700th day of incarceration for two “innocent prisoners” accused of the murder of a labor leader in 2004.

Born Samnang, 28, and Sok Samoeun, 40, have been in jail since their arrest in January 2004, following the shooting of labor leader Chea Vichea.

Both men were found guilty of the murder of Chea Vichea and face 20 years in prison each. They were arrested shortly after the killing and were convicted despite the absence of witness testimony or a murder weapon and in the face of convincing alibis for both.

The Appeals Court upheld a guilty verdict in April 2007. The Supreme Court has not set a date to hear their final appeal. A Supreme Court prosecutor said Tuesday he was not aware of any hearing date.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Federation of Unions, said Tuesday the two men have waited 17 months to have a hearing by the Supreme Court, a violation of a law that requires a hearing within six months of receiving a case.

About 100 people, including family of the accused, gathered outside the prison Tuesday morning to watch the release of 1,700 white balloons into the air above the prison.

'Clean hands' meet scepticism

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

New anti-graft scheme receives tepid welcome by the private sector

A SCHEME that aims to reduce corruption by creating a "clean business" network in Cambodia was launched Monday in Phnom Penh.

The brainchild of international NGO Pact Cambodia, the Clean Business Initiative (CBI) is being billed as a force for integrity in the private sector.

Aaron Bornstein, head of the group's anti-corruption work, said the program, scheduled to take effect in January 2009, would curb some of the undesirable demands of conducting business in the Kingdom.

"We want to develop a coalition of clean businesses where they know not to expect those surprise phone calls after business is done," he said, referring to the under-the-table fees often demanded of commercial enterprises here.

USAID Cambodia mission director Erin Soto said her organisation would contribute money from its four-year anti-corruption fund of US$4.2 million, but would not specify the exact amount.

The chairman of the CBI steering committee, Hagar Social Enterprises CEO Talmage Payne, said the scheme was borne out of frustration by business leaders at endemic corrupt practices.

But Sandra D'Amico, managing director of Human Resources Inc, told the Post no local business associations have endorsed the initiative, which she described as a duplication of current private-sector efforts to improve the business environment - such as the Private Sector Working Group - and called it little more than a new "stamp" that was an inefficient use of donor money.

"Belonging to a clean business club does not solve the challenges that businesses face or exclude you from having to pay fees or corruption.... I feel it is a publicity campaign that will play businesses off against each other ... and that is not good for the business environment."

Push for 'clean' business seal

Heng Chivoan; The chairman of the Clean Business Initiative steering committee, Hagar Social Enterprises CEO Talmage Payne (left), and ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins answer questions at the CBI launch Monday in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Will Hine and Brendan Brady
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

An NGO-backed scheme seeking to clean up corruption in the private sector has the support of major banks, but other business people are less keen

PLANS for the Clean Business Initiative organised by development NGO Pact Cambodia were announced Monday, with major Cambodian banks endorsing the NGO-backed scheme.

"As a bank, we are in an environment where we have to be responsible and transparent to our stakeholders," said In Channy, president and CEO of Acleda Bank.

In Channy added that the Clean Business Initiative, or CBI, would help lay the foundation for the Cambodian Stock Market by establishing a large pool of businesses whose practices were already regulated by a third party.

Stephen Higgins, CEO of ANZ Royal, said at the launch that corruption in Cambodia is "a major disincentive for multinationals to invest".

Both said they would promote the initiative to their commercial customers but would not make membership a necessary prerequisite for account holders.

Pact's Aaron Bornstein said the NGO wants the program to establish a recognised standard for all business in the Kingdom.

"We want to make it into a well-known brand," he said.

Strong-arm tactics?

Bornstein said that the Cambodian businesses participating in their focus groups were enthusiastic about the scheme and offered feedback that led to the expansion of the CBI's definition of corruption. While he expected there would be strong pressure within the private sector to join in order to earn a mark of trust, he said the program was not pressuring companies to enlist.

But multiple sources say that Pact's CBI project has received mixed reviews from representatives of the international business community in Phnom Penh. When a Pact official spoke to the British Business Association of Cambodia several months ago to explain the program the reception was particularly hostile as it was perceived that the private sector was being accused by Pact of colluding with corrupt government officials.

" ...we are in an environment where we have to be responsible. "

As well, it was not clear to many attendees how the program was supposed to help stop public-sector corruption, and some businessmen wondered if the CBI wasn't just another NGO boondoggle cooked up by good governance consultants.

More recently, one executive of a major international company was told by a client firm that had agreed to join the Pact initiative that if it did not also sign up for the project the firm would have to stop using its services.

Outraged at what was perceived to be a form of coercion to join the effort eventually reached the ears of a senior USAID official, who was not amused with the prospect that US government funds were being used to strong-arm businesses to join the CBI initiative.

Pact denied Monday that anybody is being pressured to join the initiative, with Bornstein saying that it would ultimately be in a business's best interest to participate. "Foreign investors will probably look to the groups registered in CBI first," Bornstein said.

CPP meet to finalise National Assembly

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

PARLIAMENTARY candidates from the ruling Cambodian People's Party met Monday to finalise a list of members for the new National Assembly and government, as they prepare to swear in on September 24.

"We prepared a scenario for the National Assembly and we will claim all nine chair and deputy chair committee positions of the parliament," CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

He added that there were about 40 members slated for resignation.

SRP to boycott swearing-in

Son Chhay, a lawmaker of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said that the opposition has not changed its stance and will boycott the swearing-in.

"Our elected parliamentarians will go to the constituency at the provinces the same day of the swearing-in," Son Chhay said.

He added that over the last three weeks, SRP lawmakers have written to CPP chairman Chea Sim to request that the National Assembly has a proper power sharing with the opposition, but there has been no response.

"We requested Chea Sim to share power with the opposition party and give proper roles to them, according to the internal regulations of the National Assembly," Son Chhay said.

The SRP won 24 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly.

In the last parliament, they chaired two committees - Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Information and Media; and Interior, National Defense, Investigation, Anti-Corruption and Public Function.

Municipal funding to plug flooded Russey Keo roads

Heng Chivoan; Men drag a trailer through waterlogged Hanoi Road.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The city will spend thousands of dollars to repair the crowded district's notoriously unusable thoroughfares, governor says

THE municipal government will spend about US$500,000 in Phnom Penh Thmey district to repair the Hanoi and 1986 roads, as well as the sewage system running along these streets, which have been damaged by heavy rains and floods.

"We can't let this situation continue any longer," Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told the Post Monday.

The Hanoi Road, also known as the Cambodian-Vietnam Friendship Highway, runs 15km through Russey Keo district and is notoriously unusable during wet season when the antiquated drainage system blocks up and rain floods the road.

"The purpose of the [project] is to improve the two damaged roads, but we can't complete the project during the rainy season. We expect to finish once the rainy season is over," Kep Chuktema said. "Currently, the road repair has started at the intersection of Russian Federation Boulevard and Hanoi Road."

Damage to the road has been compounded by previously uncompleted construction work, which has left large holes in its surface.

"Some parts of the roads still flood, and travel is difficult, but it will only be for three to four months longer," Kep Chuktema said.

Met Sothida, a resident living along 1986 Road, complained that the flooded byways not only made her travel difficult but also affected her and her children's health. She worried that stagnant water along the two roads would lead to more mosquitoes.

Floods a health problem

"I suggest that the city better prepare its sewage system to prevent floods in the future. This situation does not happen in modern cities," Met Sothida said.

The Hanoi Road was built by the Ministry of Rural Development, and 1986 Road was rebuilt by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and financed by the World Bank. The municipality was not involved in the construction of either road, Kep Chuktema said, but is charged with its maintenance. The new repair work has been given to David Construction Co Ltd.

Health and safety still a 'major concern' for beer-promotion girls

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A national workshop on workplace safety and rights for women working in the alcohol industry aims to empower employees

THE health and safety of women employed in Cambodia's ever-increasing beer promotion industry remain a "major concern", according to experts at a national workshop on workplace safety held Monday in Phnom Penh.

Sharon Wilkinson, country director of CARE International Cambodia, which along with the Ministry of Women's Affairs organised the conference, said the use of women to promote beer sales is a growing business in Cambodia, with thousands of women working nationwide, the majority in urban areas such as Phnom Penh.

"The issue of health and safety of beer promoters remain a major concern," she said.

CARE, with the cooperation of Heineken International and Cambodia Brewery Ltd, initiated a safety program for beer-promotion women nearly four years ago, Wilkinson said. She said that the project aims to empower women working within the industry by educating them about their rights, and providing them with information on reproductive health and the risks to HIV.

Government support

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kanthaphavi said that it is important that women working in the beer-promotion sector feel safe in their work place.

"Beer promoters are not sexual objects for men," she said.

Ing Kanthaphavi urged an end to sexual discrimination, saying, "I would like all people to give value to all types of work. Beer promoters don't sell their bodies, they sell beer."

Beer promoters have frequently been the victims of violence and even murder at the hands of men seeking sex.

Border discussion to move to UN in NYC

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

CAMBODIA and Thailand will resume talks on their ongoing border dispute next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, officials said Monday, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong will not attend the event.

The Cambodian government has appointed Sea Kosal, Cambodia's ambassador to the world body, to represent the Cambodian government at the meeting, said Koy Koung, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong will not attend the meeting in New York because he will be busy attending the meeting of the National Assembly Wednesday and forming the new government in the following days", said Koy Koung.

He added that Prime Minister Hun Sen would also not attend the meeting for the same reason.

Thailand ready to negotiate

Talks to discuss withdrawing the remaining troops from around Preah Vihear temple were postponed late last month amid political turmoil in Thailand.

Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said last week he was ready to hold talks on the disputed land with Hun Sen, and that he also expected representatives to meet during the UN General Assembly.

Farmers facing a fertiliser glut

HENG CHIVOAN; An employee of the new organic fertiliser company BioOne unloading the company’s products in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

An baffling array of chemical and supposedly better natural fertilisers are for sale in markets across the Kingdom. But composting works as well and is free, officials say

THE unregulated import of chemical fertilisers and agricultural materials to Cambodia has left many farmers trapped in a market saturated by expensive and sometimes unreliable products.

Yet business is still booming: Synara Ung, president of the newest entrant to the market, the natural fertiliser company Bio-One Inc, said in May alone the company imported 16 tonnes of organic fertiliser and sold it to 160 Farmer Associations in Cambodia.

According to Synara Ung, most Cambodian farmers are aware that chemical fertilisers can cause damage to their crops, but are still investing thousands of dollars in the pursuit of good harvests.

"Farmers today pay about US$1,000 a year for chemical fertilisers and herbicide," he said, adding that because profits were the key goal, organic fertilisers - allegedly costing less than chemicals and having fewer adverse effects - are a better business model.

Kim Sophon, 45, chief of the Kampong Rou district Farmers' Association in Svay Rieng province, said that he and other villagers have used organic fertilisers for three months now and are hoping to see some improvements in yield.

He said he previously spent about $500 a year on chemical fertiliser and about $250 a year on herbicide. He said by selling his rice crops for about $1,000 a year he could make a $250 profit, but was hoping to double it this year by using an organic fertiliser.

"I think my paddy rice is healthier and growing much faster," Kim Sophon said.

Go really organic

But Hean Vanhan, deputy director of the Department of Agronomy and Agricultural Land Improvement, said that farmers should make their own composts by collecting grass cuttings and leaves and combining them with manure and household waste.

"One family of farmers could reduce their expenditure by about $750 a year if they produced compost themselves," Hean Vanhan estimated.

He said that many of the agricultural companies imported fertilisers from America, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and China, few of which were suited to Cambodia's unique environment and damaged crops.

"We are not only worried about chemical fertilisers imported from other countries," he said. "Organic fertilisers from overseas are also not suited to Cambodia's environment and can have negative effects on its biodiversity," he added.

Flooding leaves hundreds stranded in Oddar Meanchey

The government pledged $2.5 billion in July this year to implement a 12-year national road reconstruction program. The project is expected to include major road repair work as well as drainage and flood-control schemes across Cambodia.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Six days of flooding in the northwest have caused serious washouts and left motorists without access to their homes

FLOODING in Oddar Meanchey has closed down the main road to the northwestern province, shutting off hundreds of people from the rest of the country.

"We can't leave our province's towns because a few places on [the road] have been destroyed by floods," provincial Deputy Governor San Vanna said.

Along a 30-kilometre stretch of National Road 56, running between Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces, heavy rains have caused a number of washouts.

Even the road from Anlong Veng district to Oddar Meanchey's provincial town has been damaged."Cars and trucks can't get through because heavy rains have caused serious floods," San Vanna said.

"I want to leave my house in the province, but I haven't been able to for two days," he added.

" We have no roads to access our province...we are living as if on an island. "

"We are surprised that such bad flooding was caused by rain this year. Last year, the roads were not a problem even when we had some flooding.

"We have no roads to access our province. We are living in the centre, as if on an island," San Vanna said.

Six days of heavy rain

Chhoeum Hap, deputy police chief of Oddar Meanchey province, said Sunday that heavy rains have lasted for six days and, in a number of places, floods have made Road 56 nearly impassable.

"Small cars can't cross this flooded road. Big cars can only cross if they are pulled by tractors," Chhoeum Hap said.

However people and businessmen can still travel to Oddar Meanchey province by switching cars and motorbikes along the way.

"People and businessmen have created their own way to travel to the province's town. They change their taxi or motorbike from place to place," Chhoeum Hap explained.

Yim Phim, commander of the army's Brigade 43, said Sunday that the road from Anlong Veng district to Sa Em village, Kontout commune, Chom Ksan district and Preah Vihear province is muddy and requires cars and trucks with four-wheel drive. Anlong Veng district's road is connected to the Preah Vihear temple.

"It is difficult to travel from Anlong Veng to Sa Em. Unless cars and trucks have four-wheel drive, you can't cross it," Yim Phim said.