Friday, 25 December 2009

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CAAI News Media would like to thanks to you all for supporting and coming to our blog. Your coming is mean a lot to us and we hope that everyone will coming back in the next year. As on holiday season, CAAI would not be able to post any news from 25 December 2009 to 3 January 2010.

CAAI would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy News Year and safe holiday.

Best wishes to all

CAAI News Media's Team

Red shirts alleges Thai govt plans to "get rid of" Thaksin

Thu, Dec 24, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

(CAAI News Media)

Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Prompan yesterday alleged the government was hatching a secret plan to "get rid of" fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra - backing up his allegation for a second time by disclosing a classified memorandum prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Repeating his claim of last week, Jatuporn said a memorandum on Thai-Cambodian ties, classified as secret and sent from Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, was purportedly a plot to assassinate Thaksin.

"The term "get rid of" is a codeword for killing," he said, claiming such a codeword is commonly understood by MFA officials.

At yesterday's press conference, Jatuporn focused on the five-page annex to the main document which he touched on last week.

The annex outlined responses of varying intensity to the prime minister of Cambodia, he said.

The 18 measures included a ban on Thai citizens visiting Cambodian casinos, cancellation of the extradition treaty, reinforcement of troops along the borders, and cancellation of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on maritime boundaries.

He said the MFA analysis shed light on the dilemma of memorandums of understanding previously signed with Cambodia.

In one case, the MFA urged cancellation of the 2001 MOU on maritime boundaries in order to smear Thaksin for conflict of interest, he said.

But an anticipated adverse impact might have led to the questioning of the MOU on land borders, signed in 2000 by Democrat MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, he added.

He claimed the debate about the MOUs raised two interesting facts - first, Thaksin had no conflict of interest but the government wanted to smear him; and second, the 2000 MOU highlighted the loss of sovereignty around Preah Vihear Temple, but the Democrats did not want to concede their mistake.

The two MOUs have remained in effect and Thailand will not be better off by meddling with them, he said.

The entire memorandum was 12-pages long and should be made public in order to stop the alleged plot to kill Thaksin, he said.

He insisted disclosure of the classified memorandum would neither be harmful to Thai interests nor beneficial to Cambodia.

"The memorandum is illegal with the aim to take Thaksin's life," he said, shrugging off the threat of litigation on unauthorised disclosure of classified information.

He said he might file a counter lawsuit charging the MFA with abuse of power for undertaking illegal actions.

He vowed to use the classified memorandum as a major rallying point for the red shirts to resume street protests next month designed to oust the government.

He also said he planned to censure Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu for intimidating the judiciary to relocate the construction site for a court in Pai, Mae Hong Son.

Reacting to Jatuporn's claims, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he would allow legal experts to determine appropriate counter-measures.

Suthep said the government had not planned on taking out a contract on Thaksin's life as alleged. Even though he had no access to the memorandum in question, he assumed it was just an outline of a general plan for responses to anticipated measures from Cambodia, he said.

Because of the leak, the MFA might have to rethink and redraw the plan, he added.

He said there was virtually nothing he nor the government could do to improve the bilateral ties with Cambodia since its prime minister was fully committed to supporting Thaksin in his attempts to undermine the Thai government.

The House committee on foreign relations plans to launch a hearing and will call on Kasit to testify on the classified memorandum, committee chairman Tophong Chaiyasarn said.

Meanwhile, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the foreign minister, said yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was preparing to take legal action against Jatuporn for making public the classified documents.

A fact-finding committee has been set up to investigate the leak of the documents, according to a ministry source.

The panel, headed by deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs Piyawat Niyomroek, has questioned almost 20 people but still has not yet completed its work, the source said.

Forcible Return Of Uighurs

Voice of America

24 December 2009

Cambodia took a step back this month in the protection of fundamental human rights. On December 18, the Royal Government of Cambodia forcibly repatriated a group of 20 asylum seekers, members of China's Uighur community, back to China before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] had the chance to complete its refugee status determination.

U.S. State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said, "The United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of these individuals, who had sought protection under international law. We are also deeply disturbed that the Cambodian government decided to forcibly remove the group without the benefit of a credible process for determining refugee status and without appropriate participation by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees."

"The United States strongly opposed Cambodia's involuntary return of these asylum seekers before their claims have been heard," said Mr. Duguid. He noted that "the incident will affect Cambodia's relationship with the U.S. and its international standing."

Cambodian law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 U-N Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, to which Cambodia is a signatory. But the Uighurs were denied the protection afforded by the law.

During his trip to China earlier this year, President Barack Obama said the United State does not "seek to impose any system of government on any nation, but we also don't believe that the principles that we stand for are unique to our nation." These principles include fundamental human rights, he said. "They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities," said President Obama, "whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation."

Now that the group of Uighurs who were seeking asylum in Cambodia has been returned to China, the United States urges the government of China to allow UNHCR access to all twenty Uighurs and to provide them with international standards of due process. The U.S. continues to stress to all parties the importance of respecting human rights and honoring their obligations under international law.

Of secrecy, deception and camouflage

By Thanong Khanthong
The Nation
Published on December 25, 2009

(CAAI News Media)

SO, General Surayud Chulnanont, the former interim prime minister and a member of the Privy Council, would like to act as a mediator in the conflict between Thaksin Shinawatra and the government, would he?

However, he did deny that he had ever given any impression to Bangkok Post reporter, Vassana Nanuam, that he would be willing to serve as the mediator. He only said that if - a theoretical if - Thaksin were to call him, he would accept the call and talk to him. There was no further truth beyond that, he said, as he had talked to Thaksin several times in the past.

Vassana, who became famous with her book, "Lap, Luang, Phrang" (Secrecy, Deception and Camouflage), stood her ground. She wasn't quite sure what was real or deceptive. Could she have fallen into her own trap of lap, luang, phrang - which, like a spy thriller, chronicled the military coup of 2006?

The Daily News, the number two daily, for two days played up Surayud's high moral ground as a potential mediator. Surayud's relationship with The Daily News is exceptionally cordial.

Then General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh came out to tango with Surayud by supporting the idea of reconciling with the peripatetic Thaksin.

Thaksin took the bait. He Twittered back that he was ready to negotiate.

But then Surayud come out to deny that he had any intention of acting as a mediator. "Got you!"

Thaksin's dream of a truce has been snatched away yet again. How many times has he fumbled and been forced to act like a fool?

As a fugitive, Thaksin has been given enough rope to tighten around his neck. But before he loses his breath, the rope is released. No, it is not time for him to die yet. But Thaksin will never accept that he is no longer master of the universe.

Earlier this week, Thaksin, as "economic adviser" to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, wanted to join the Cambodian leadership in greeting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who visited Phnom Penh to boost bilateral relations. But the Chinese politely denied the request. Thaksin's photo opportunity with one of the senior leaders of China - another ploy to boost his status - was dashed.

The recent spy fiasco surrounding Sivalak Chutipong, the Thai airport engineer in Phnom Penh, has in net effect led to a deteriorated status for both Hun Sen and Thaksin. Many inside Cambodia are unhappy with Hun Sen's meddling in Thai internal affairs. Internationally, Cambodia is being looked upon as a country without ISO 9000 certification.

Thaksin's rating is also falling like a stone. He has also rewritten Thai-Cambodian history.

In the past, whenever there was political turmoil in Cambodia, the country's king would come over to Thailand to seek shelter or protection. Thaksin, as a former Thai leader, is now seeking protection under Hun Sen's armpit. Many Thais are wondering whether Thaksin's proxy party is Pheu Thai or Pheu Cambodia.

It is now more difficult for the red shirts to spark off a political rally to gain mass support. Their December 10 rally ended up like a dead battery.

Thaksin originally planned the showdown rally on November 28 (two plus eight equals ten), which was delayed out. So watch out again for his lucky number 10.

Thaksin belonged to class 10 of the military cadet school. His schedules are arranged around the auspicious number 10. The red shirts will try to re-ignite the political fires and will rally again on January 10, 2010.

The bigger drama will be played out when the Supreme Court rules on the Bt76 billion assets seizure case against Thaksin, some time in February or March. Thaksin has lost a lot of his overseas investments. He definitely does not want to lose this Bt76 billion.

But by the time the Supreme Court rules on this case, his status will have fallen so low that he will garner little sympathy.

That's how a tiger is strangled.

Death sentences over Xinjiang riots

The Chinese government has prosecuted those it accuses of links to the Xinjiang riots [Reuters]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

(CAAI News Media)

China has sentenced to death another five people over riots in the country's western region of Xinjiang, according to officials in Urumqi, the provincial capital.

The sentences, reported on Thursday, bring to 22 the number of people sentenced to death over the unrest.

A statement from the regional government said that the new cases were from among 22 people who received various sentences in trials that took place earlier in the week in the regional capital of Urumqi.

The Xinjiang riots, which occured in July, saw ethnic Uighurs attack members of China's Han majority, leaving nearly 200 people dead.

It was unclear what charges had been brought against the defendants.


Hou Hanmin, the director of the Xinjiang government information office, refused to say what the charges were, but said they had been published in local newspapers.

The internet has been blocked in Xinjiang since July and local newspaper websites cannot be accessed from outside the region.

The court in Urumqi also sentence five people to death with a two-year suspension - a sentence that is usually commuted to life imprisonment - and jailed another eight people for life, according to a statement reported by the Reuters news agency.

Nine people were executed in November over the riots, and eight others were sentenced to death earlier this month.

Following the July riots, mobs of Han Chinese roamed the streets of Urumqi staging attacks on Uighurs in revenge.

Cambodia deportations

Thursday's sentencing comes days after a decision by the government of Cambodia to deport 20 Uighurs who had sought asylum there after fleeing the unrest in Xinjiang.

They were deported last week to China, a decision criticised by human rights groups and the US government.

The UN refugee agency also condemned the deportations.

The Cambodian government said the Uighurs were being deported for breaking immigration laws and entering Cambodia illegally.

Cambodia, Laos, VN hold talks


(CAAI News Media)

HCM CITY — Officials from Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam agreed to speed up development of a 111, border triangle area at the fourth meeting of the area’s joint co-ordination committee held in Central Highland Dac Lac Province on Monday.

The development efforts will focus on mining, hydroelectricity development, agro-forestry and trade.

The Cambodia – Laos – Viet Nam Development Triangle, which comprises 10 provinces in the three countries – Cambodia’s Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng; Laos’s Attapu, Salavan and Xekong; and Viet Nam’s Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Dak Nong – was initiated in 1999 by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Viet Nam’s Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc said on the sidelines of the meeting that many memorandums of understanding had been amended and ratified.

They were mainly related on customs procedures, transportation, export and import policies, and payment mechanism, he said.

The committee also agreed to adopt uniform policies for attracting investment and utilising official development assistance.

Representatives from the three countries promised to work on modifications to the area’s master plan, a Vietnamese initiative to spearhead the development of the area.

The modifications will be submitted for approval by the three nations’ prime ministers at their summit next year.

The potentially rich triangle remains poor despite efforts to change it by local authorities in the last 10 years. — VNS

Hamas To Meet German Mediator over Prisoner Swap

Thursday, 24 December 2009 04:34 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

GAZA CITY- A German mediator was on Wednesday to present Israel's proposal for the swap of Palestinian prisoners for a captured soldier to the Islamist Hamas movement, an official from the group said.

"The German mediator will meet a Hamas delegation in Gaza today to discuss the Shalit affair," the official told AFP, asking not to be named.

The German was expected to present Israel's latest offer for the proposed prisoner swap involving hundreds of Palesti- nian prisoners. The mediator has led indirect negotiations for the release of Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, 23, who was captured by Hamas and other gunmen in a deadly cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip in June 2006.

Both sides have been tight-lipped about the discussions, but the Hamas-run government in Gaza said after a weekly meeting that freeing prisoners remained "at the top of its priorities."

"The government affirms that it will stand by the demands of the resistance factions until it can bring about the release of all prisoners from the occupation prisons," it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Israeli security cabinet was to convene for its weekly meeting, with ministers set to discuss the latest developments in the Shalit affair, public radio said.

On Tuesday, Hamas blamed Israel for stalling efforts to swap hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for Shalit after the Jewish state reportedly expressed reservations over the Islamists' latest offer.

The two sides had appeared to be close to reaching a deal, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding five meetings in less than 48 hours with his top ministers before delivering an offer to the mediator.

"I am torn between the desire to free a hostage and the desire to protect Israeli citizens against future attacks," Netanyahu told family members of Israelis killed in deadly attacks concerned by the proposed prisoner exchange, which could include the release of several top Palestinian militants. Local media said that in its reply, Israel baulked at allowing some of the released Palestinians to return to their homes in the occupied West Bank, insisting that they instead go to Gaza or third countries. "Israel reported favourably to the general outline presented by the German mediator," the Ynet news website said. "Part of the reservations are the names of the heavyweight prisoners that Israel demands be deported."

According to Israeli and Palestinian officials, Israel would free 450 militants, including many involved in deadly attacks, in exchange for Shalit. An additional 500 prisoners would be released at a later stage. There are currently some 8,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Germany, which has a history of mediating successful prisoner exchanges between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, dispatched its mediator to join the talks earlier this year after months of unsuccessful Egyptian mediation.

Hamas and two smaller Palestinian militant groups captured Shalit in June 2006 when they tunneled into Israel out of Gaza and attacked an army post, killing two soldiers.

Female Alcoholism UP: CICP

Thursday, 24 December 2009 04:32 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Institute for Coop-eration and Peace has found that alcoholism among Cambodian women is about 58 percent
CICP Director Yang Kimeng said at a workshop said on Wednesday at the Cambodian National Children Hospital (NCH) on National Supporting Policy Alcohol in Cambodia that “Both Cambodian women and youths are similarly addicted to the alcohol.”

Insomnia, stress, cancer and other health problems can be caused by alcohol, Kimeng added.
Dr. Yil Daravuth from an anti-tobacco organization said that 76.3 million people have been diagnosed as alcoholics, according to the WHO.

Cambodians use alcohol after giving birth, he added.

Wine companies promote products among drinkers but do little to educate on the consequences, Kimeng said.

Vice chief traffic police Chiv Hak said the police educates officers, but can do nothing about drinks companies.

Lllegal Chicken Seized, Destroyed

Thursday, 24 December 2009 04:29 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

Tax officials seized about 500 kg of chicken meat illegally imported through the Poipet international border with Thailand in Banteay Meanchey province, a local source reported on Wednesday.

Cambodian authorities seized about 500 Kg of chicken meat and other illegal products from Thailand with no brands. The chicken was destroyed.

Vice Poipet tax chief Sean Sinath said that “We found and seized all the illegal products from Thailand as the vendors delivered them to our gate,”

Sinath added that his agents will crack down on illegal goods imported into Cambodia.

“We spent for a long time to investigate about this,” he said.

For the case, the local authorities they had recommended to all Cambodian vendors to stop on this, according to the officer said to the crowed.

Illegal chicken meat impacts to public health, officials said.

Only Poor, Retired Soldiers Get Free Land: PM

Thursday, 24 December 2009 04:23 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday confirmed that only the real poor and retired solders will be given land concessions, but the retired solders with high ranks will not receive land.

The premier said the redistribution will ensue an acceptable standard of living for the retied soldiers during a ceremony handing over land concessions to retied soldiers at Phnom Penh’s Chak-tomuk Center. “Retired soldiers who leave their units have to be ensured their standard of living, not leading them to see shortages and be poor. We have to provide them retirement compensation and land concessions allowing them to farm,” the premier said.

“If 10,000 soldiers retire, so 10,000 hectares of crop will be planted to help strengthen the economy and help develop society,” the premier added.

The policy and the premier’s declaration was welcomed by Cambodia’s opposition.

“It is good policy that we welcome, but the government officials have to work smoothly to be effective,” said Yem Pochrith, Human Rights Party Lawmaker.

UN to Launch Labor Rights Contest For Garment Workers

Thursday, 24 December 2009 04:21 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

Garment workers in Cambodia will have to know their rights to compete in a radio contest being launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO), with the winners to be announced on International Labour Day in May next year, the press release from the UN obtained on Wednesday said.

“The competition is organized by the ILO’s ‘Better Factories Cambodia’ project which, with support from the Govern-ment of Cambodia, monitors and strives to improve the conditions in Cambodian garment factories. “The basis of a sound industrial relation system, which is a key ingredient of healthy and sustained economic growth, is set in a wide understanding of the labour law and the institutions that implement it,” said Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, Training Specialist for Better Factories Cambodia.

“With this garment workers’ competition, Better Factories Cambodia wants to increase the knowledge that Cambo- dian workers have of the labour law, while promoting the importance, for workers, workers representatives and employers, of respecting the national legal framework, especially in times of economic hardship,” she added.

The competition is open for free to all current and former garment workers who apply before the January 22 deadline. Twelve finalists will be selected to debate with one another in front of a panel of judges during a live radio broadcast on February 20.

The three winners will be announced on the International Labour Day, observed on May 1 2010. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third-place winners.

Cambodia rejects Thailand’s PM statement over tapping calls

Wednesday, 23 December 2009 04:57 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh, Dec. 23, 2009 (DAP) – The Royal Government of Cambodia on Wednesday denied the Thai Prime Minister’s statement over Cambodia tapped conversation as baseless, said the release seen by DAP.

Phnom Penh said Thai Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva’s move was aimed to “obtain political gain and to hide his weakness in evading his responsibility only”, said the Cambodia’s government release.

“Cambodia has no habitude of acting against the law and the telephone tapping has never been the practice of Cambodia and it has never done anything which would affect any of its principles,” it said.

“Therefore, what Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had stated in his interview was simply a dream and an individual assumption that he would obtain political gain and to hide his weakness in evading his responsibility only.”

Cambodia is convinced that Abhisit’s statement “can be seen as an intention of misleading national and international public opinions that Cambodia does not abide by the law, which in fact is contrary to the tendency of the Kingdom of Cambodia which has promoted and strengthened the rule of law.”

Abhisit was interviewed by Thailand-based ASTV Manager Online and aired on December 16, in which he said “if Cambodia had tapped the telephone conversations between Sivarak and Kamrob, Cambodia then should clarify this case because this would affect the country’s image within the international sight.”

But Cambodia said such the allegation was groundless.

“The head of the Royal Government of Cambodia has received the records in the bills, which were provided by a private telephone company, concerning the data of conversation between Sivarak Chutipong, CATS engineer, and Kamrob Palawatwichai, First Secretary of Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh after the happening of the event,” it said.

“This is the normal practice of private company which needs the recorded data for the payment of the bill only,” it said.

The trial court of Phnom Penh sentenced Sivarak Chutipong, the Thai engineer, was sentenced in December to seven years in jail and also ordered to pay fine 10 million riel to the state.

Sivarak, an engineer of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), was arrested in November and charged of leaking the information flight schedule of the ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin and passing it to a Thai diplomat in Phnom Penh. Sivarak was pardoned a week later by King Norodom Sihamoni upon his request.

The Cambodia’s court said Thaksin’s flight schedule was considered confidential given the latter as an economic adviser and personal advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen since October.

Cambodia’s government said it “always stick to its obligations in the strengthening and the carrying out of the spirit of rule of law as well as the protection of rights and dignity of humanity by ensuring the individual privacy of telephone conversation”. That contributed to attract the foreign direct investment (FDI) to flow billion of US dollars to invest in this Kingdom.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia has taken unwavering position in respecting and promoting the investment laws by facilitating and providing the business self-determination to investors,” said the government statement.

“These prove that there was no reason whatsoever that Cambodia has tapped the telephone conversations between Sivarak and Komrob at all.”

Cambodia rejects Suthep’s claims

Thursday, 24 December 2009 04:18 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry official on Wednesday strongly rejected Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaug-suban’s claims that Cambodia provides fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra a base to fight and oppose the current Thai government.

MFA spokesman Koy Kuong said that the claim is completely false. “It is really overstated as Thaksin comes to Cambodia related to economic matters, not other things,” Koy Kuong added.

Suthep said that Thaksin used Cambodia as political basin to fight back and oppose to Thai government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, according to Thai-language news.

Suthep’s claims came after Thaksin left Cambodia at 10 am on Tuesday this week. The visit was the second to Camb- odia after he was appointed Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor and the government’s advisor on economic matters.

Diplomatic ties are low after Thailand recalled it ambassador on November 5

Cambodian PM accuses Thailand of preparing coup

By Agence France-Presse
Updated: 12/24/2009

(CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday accused neighbouring Thailand of preparing a coup against his government as the war of words between the neighbouring nations worsened.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday accused neighbouring Thailand of preparing a coup against his government as the war of words between the neighbouring nations worsened.

Hun Sen said he had seen a secret Thai government document outlining the plan to mount a coup, which he said he had passed to Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni to show the "bad character of our neighbouring leaders".

"In your secret document it says that although the (Thai) foreign ministry does not agree to stage a coup in Cambodia... others are working on it," Hun Sen said.

"Don't even think about it. I know who is doing this," he added, during a speech at a provincial ceremony.

The Cambodian premier said he had also seen documents that showed Thailand has considered waging war against its neighbour.

"You have outlined bad scenarios, including preparing to wage war against Cambodia," he said.

Hun Sen's comments follow the leaking of a document in Thailand last week, written by the Thai foreign minister to premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, in which the worsening relations between the two countries are analysed.

Relations between the countries, which have fought a string of deadly gunbattles on their border since last year, plunged last month when fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra became an economic adviser to Cambodia.

Both recalled their ambassadors in November and diplomatic tensions were further raised when Phnom Penh refused to extradite Thaksin during his first visit as adviser last month.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006, is living abroad, mostly in Dubai, to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption handed down by a Thai court in September 2008.

Cambodian new national airline makes profit

Posted: 24 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said the country's new national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air, had begun to turn a profit, raising hopes it would not fail like its predecessor.

The airline, which has capitalisation of US$100 million, was launched in July following the failure of a previous effort in 2001.

An aircraft of Cambodian National carrier 'Cambodia Angkor Air'.

Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines, aims to promote Cambodia as a destination and boost tourism.

"We expected the airline to make losses for two years, but now this airline is making profit because a lot of passengers are using it," Hun Sen said during a provincial ceremony.

The last national carrier, Royal Air Cambodge, folded in 2001 after running up losses of US$30 million.

Cambodia Angkor Air flies between tourist hub Siem Reap and Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.

Tourism is one of the only sources of foreign exchange for impoverished Cambodia, which is recovering from nearly three decades of conflict that ended in 1998.

The kingdom aims to lure three million tourists annually by next year, and in 2009 attracted more than two million holidaymakers.

A number of foreign airlines, including Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways, currently operate direct flights to Cambodia.

Vietnamese Fertilizer Plant Opens in Kandal

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)
Cambodia's largest fertilizer plant began operation in Kandal province on Thursday, a $65 million project funded by Vietnam.

The Kien Svay facility is expected to produce half a million tons of fertilizer per year, employing 300 workers. The fertilizer can be used on any soil and will lower the price of fertilizer, Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the opening Thursday morning.

Hun Sen is traveling to Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday to attend an investment conference and woo more Vietnamese investment. Vietnam became the top agricultural investor in Cambodia in 2009.

Commission Head Faces Lawmakers on Border Issue

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 December 2009

(CAAI News Media)
The head of the Cambodian Border Commission faced the National Assembly on Thursday and sharp criticism from an opposition lawmaker, as he sought to clarify Cambodia’s border policy.

Var Kimhong addressed the National Assembly at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this week. But on the floor of the Assembly, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay derided him for failing to answer whether Vietnamese had been encroaching on farmland in Svay Rieng province.

Farmers in Chantrea district met with opposition officials earlier this month to show where they thought the border had been encroached, prompting a letter from the opposition to Hun Sen requesting clarification of the border.

Hun Sen sent Var Kimhong to the National Assembly, where he spent nearly four hours Thursday explaining border laws, legal procedures, technical and equipment issues and the competence of his commission’s experts.

What he did not do, Son Chhay said, was explain where the border in Chantrea district lies, as he had requested in a letter to Hun Sen.

“If you don’t answer my question directly, we are very upset with your clarification,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this interview for nearly four hours. So, please answer my question.”

Var Kimhong replied: “Maybe you forgot what you wrote in your letter. So your memory is not so long.”

“I’m not a politician,” Var Kimhong continued. “I don’t want to take the border issue to speculate as a political issue. I want Cambodia to have the real border, a concrete border, for the future. If we have no border, our neighbors will encroach upon us.”

Cambodia faces a number of contested border issues with neighbors Vietnam and Thailand, and encroachment is a divisive political issue for many Cambodians, who fear that without clear demarcation the country loses land to both.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy is facing criminal charges of incitement and destruction of property for allegedly leading villagers in Chantrea district to dislodge border demarcation on sites villagers say are being encroached on.

Consumer prices fall again

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A vendor grills meat for sale at Phnom Penh’s Old Market on Wednesday. Government statistics Wednesday showed falling food prices prompted a second consecutive month of deflation in November.

We don't see people spending too much, as they don’t earn like they used to.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:03 Steve Finch

CAMBODIA experienced a second consecutive month of deflation in November, according to month-on-month consumer price index (CPI) statistics released Wednesday, a sign that demand for goods continues to flag, and that the economy is a long way from recovery, analysts said.

Data published by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) showed that deflation accelerated as prices fell 0.6 percent last month compared with October, when they dropped 0.3 percent, even if CPI increased on an annualised basis.

Food prices fell 0.9 percent in November, data showed, and restaurants slashed prices 2.2 percent.

Clothing and footwear prices fell at the same rate, according to NIS figures.

Nick Owen, a Cambodia specialist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the data reflected the generally depressed state of economic activity in the Kingdom.

“The Cambodian economy is clearly still some way from recovery, with garment exports, investment approvals and tourist arrivals all weak,” he told the Post on Wednesday, adding it was still too early to blame demand-side trends for recent deflation.

Kem Sithan, the government’s inflation specialist as undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said he was too busy to comment Wednesday.

Although prices fell month on month, data showed prices in November were 1.3 percent higher than during the same month last year, when the high food prices of August and September 2008 began to tail off significantly.

Although month-on-month inflation had begun to speed up, November’s data showed an end to an annualised deflationary cycle, “mainly due to last year’s lower statistical base” at the end of 2008, Owen said.

Cambodia had seen annualised deflation since March on the back of record prices last year before the economic crisis hit the Kingdom.

Though persistent deflationary pressures caused Japan a major economic headache in the 1990s, and more recently since the economic crisis, ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins said Wednesday that Cambodia’s less-developed nature makes deflation less of a concern.

“In a developing market like Cambodia, the demographics and socioeconomic changes provide a very strong counterweight,” he said. “That is, the population growth, emerging middle class … all provide a strong stimulus to demand over time, which makes a deflationary spiral unlikely.”

Both Higgins and Owen said the recent rise in deflationary pressure was not cause for too much concern.

Most economists agree that recent deflation will likely be shown to be insignificant, as Cambodia’s economy is expected to record GDP growth of more than 4 percent next year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF predicted in a December 9 report that Cambodia would experience 5 percent annualised inflation this year and would see price rises remain in the mid-single digits in 2010.

In recent weeks, there were signs that food prices may have risen, although this won’t be confirmed until the NIS releases its final report for 2009 at the beginning of the new year.

Phou Puy, president of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Millers Association, said Tuesday that rice prices had risen by between 5 percent and 10 percent since the end of November.

This was mainly due to demand-side pressures caused by brokers in neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand looking to buy up supplies for sale on the world market, he added.

South Korea has already said it plans to stockpile rice after this year’s harvest due to projected food shortages, and the Philippines has held repeated rice tenders in the past two months that have pushed up prices on global markets.

Deflation goes unnoticed
In Phnom Penh’s markets, vendors and buyers say they have barely noticed recent price decreases, complaining that overall prices are higher than last year. The main problem remains purchasing power due to continued economic weakness.

“Now we don’t see people spending too much, as they don’t earn like they used to,” Lim Chan, a grocery seller at Kandal Market, said Wednesday. “[I have] also reduced my expenses.… I don’t earn much.”


Authorities seek pair of Uighur escapees

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha

NATIONAL police said Wednesday that they had begun the hunt for two Uighur asylum seekers who avoided the deportation of 20 of their countrymen on Saturday, and a top UN official added his voice to those criticising the Cambodian government over the deportation.

Sok Phal, deputy national police commissioner, said the two missing Uighurs were being investigated in the same manner as all foreigners suspected of breaching the country’s immigration laws.

“Our police forces are working to make an arrest of all immigrants who entered Cambodia illegally. These two Uighur men are also under our investigation,” he said, adding that around 40 foreign nationals were in custody for entering the country illegally.

The two escaped Uighurs have been unaccounted for since last week, before 20 others were taken to a site jointly monitored by the government and the UN’s refugee agency on December 16.

Rights activists say Cambodian authorities went to the site two days later and detained the 20 at gunpoint before putting them on a chartered plane to China the next night.

All 22 Uighurs had applied for refugee status through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Phnom Penh after fleeing ethnic violence in China’s restive Xinjiang province in July.

On Tuesday, Sister Denise Coughlan, director of Jesuit Refugee Services Cambodia, which was involved with the Uighur case, said she was “praying” for the safety of the two missing Uighurs. “I can’t imagine that Cambodia is a safe place for them anymore, so I hope they’ve escaped,” she said.

On Wednesday, an online magazine run by an exiled Cambodian journalist living in Norway cited police sources as saying the escapees were two children, including a six-month-old infant, who were “suspected of being spirited out by UNHCR agents” prior to the deportation.

Coughlan, however, described the rumour as “completely false”, adding that the children in question were still with their parents at the safe house prior to their detention by police on Friday.

An open letter sent by Amnesty International to senior Chinese officials on Wednesday also said “two very young children” were among the 20 individuals sent back to China, expressing “particular concern” about their plight.

Christophe Peschoux, country director of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said he knew nothing about the whereabouts of the missing Uighurs, and described the infant rumour as “conjecture”.

But he said the government is still bound by its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention in its handling of the missing asylum seekers. “If the Cambodian authorities are to apply what they are obliged to under international law, which should have been done for the 20, they should help ensure a process with UNHCR in order to determine their refugee status,” he said.

Only after a fair process found they were ineligible for asylum status, and opportunities for appeal were exhausted, would the government be justified in declaring the two illegal immigrants, he said.

Kitty McKinsey, Asia spokeswoman for UN High Commissioner for Refugees, repeated earlier statements that the agency did not know the whereabouts of the missing Uighurs.

“We had assisted the government in jointly registering them, but as in other countries, we are not able to accept responsibility for policing the whereabouts of specific asylum seekers or refugees,” she said.

The announcement comes as senior UN officials weighed in on the Uighur case, expressing “grave concerns” for the fate of the 20 following their arrival back in China.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Manfred Nowak, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, said that due to reports of the “severe torture” and execution of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, Cambodia’s deportation of the asylum seekers had breached its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.

“The situation is aggravated by the fact that I had reminded the government of Cambodia beforehand by means of an urgent communication of their international obligations,” he said.

National drug rehab centre planned

An official from Fataco Ben Tre, the Vietnamese manufacturer of herbal drug Bong Sen, poses with government authorities during Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong’s September visit to Cambodia in this screen grab from the company’s Web site.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda and Irwin Loy

AUTHORITIES are planning to build the country’s first national drug rehabilitation centre with support from Vietnam, officials have confirmed, in another sign of deepening drug policy ties between the two nations.

The news comes amid controversy over a recently completed detoxification programme in which street drug users were dosed with a little-known Vietnamese herbal medication – a scheme that has drawn criticism from rights groups and concern from the UN.

The new treatment centre, planned for Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district, would fall under the watch of Cambodia’s anti-drugs bureau, the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD).

“Our future is to build a national drug centre,” NACD Secretary General Moek Dara said. “We will have trained doctors to treat addicted people and provide [drug users] with job training.”

The new centre could use the Vietnamese medication at the heart of the detoxification controversy, called Bong Sen, as part of its programme, Moek Dara said, adding that it would also provide vocational skills and follow-up support – key resources that are in short supply in the Kingdom today.

Claims of forced treatment
To date, Cambodia’s 14 drug treatment centres have been controlled by various authorities, ranging from municipal governments to provincial and military police.

But the country’s existing treatment centres have come under fire from rights groups – who call them detention centres – for a history of forced treatment, a dearth of addictions professionals and limited HIV-prevention education.

“The relapse rate in Cambodia after release from the centres is believed to be close to 100 percent,” a World Health Organisation assessment of compulsory treatment released this year stated.

A WHO official said he had concerns about the planned treatment centre.

“The UN position is quite clear,” said Graham Shaw, the WHO’s technical officer on drug use. “These compulsory treatment centres are not effective and are very costly. We do not support them.”

Twenty hectares of land for the centre will come from prominent businessman Senator Mong Reththy, who said the Vietnamese government will fund the project.

“I have land. Vietnam has money,” Mong Reththy said. “So we will give it to the government to build this national drug treatment centre.”

Mong Reththy said the Preah Sihanouk location would be ideal, providing job opportunities for drug users in nearby palm oil and acacia plantations and his privately owned Oknha Mong Port. Mong Reththy, through his company, the Mong Reththy Group, or its subsidiaries, is involved in all three sectors, with the port and acacia plantation operations in the same district as the planned treatment centre.

Deepening ties
The plan also appears to be an extension of drug policy ties between Vietnam and Cambodia after last week’s trial of Vietnamese-produced Bong Sen on street drug users.

“Vietnam is prepared to meet any requests by Cambodia to help it prevent and combat drugs, including sending Vietnamese experts to Cambodia to build detoxification centres … and providing medical equipment and Vietnamese-produced medicine to help drug addicts kick … their habits,” a statement from the Vietnamese embassy declared following a September visit by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong.

A statement on the Web site of Fataco Ban Tre, which manufactures Bong Sen, said company officials arrived with the Vietnamese delegation.

An accompanying photo shows Truong Vinh Trong and a company official meeting Cambodian officials, including NACD head Ke Kim Yan and Mong Reththy.

Mong Reththy told The Post he introduced Bong Sen to the Cambodian government.

“I am just a facilitator for both governments,” said Mong Reththy.

“There is no benefit to me because I have no share in the company that produces Bong Sen. I just want to help Cambodia reduce drug use.”

Mong Reththy said he wanted to build the centre “as soon as possible in 2010”, but the timeline is contingent on the Vietnamese government coming up with the US $2.7 million he said was needed for funding.

UN, donors worry over effect of incentive cuts

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Workers from the NGO Caritas hold a workshop in Phnom Penh with indigenous minority groups. The NGO works throughout Cambodia to improve agricultural production

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:02 James O'Toole

FOREIGN governments and development organisations, including the UN, have written a letter to the government expressing concern about the recent termination of salary supplement programmes for civil servants.

Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon wrote in a letter earlier this month that the government had decided to cancel the programmes, under which development organisations had been subsidising the salaries of civil servants in range of sectors.

In a letter dated December 17 and obtained by the Post on Wednesday, United Kingdom Ambassador Andrew Mace and Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson joined with UN resident coordinator Douglas Broderick, World Bank country manager Qimiao Fan and Asian Development Bank country director Putu Kamayana to address the government’s decision.

The writers of the letter said they “are encouraged that the [government] recognises the critical importance of developing and putting in place an efficient civil service”, but that they were distressed by the possible implications of the supplement cuts in isolation.

In the wake of such cuts, scheduled to take effect January 1, the group said there was a “substantially increased risk that adverse humanitarian consequences will arise”, adding that development organisations are “very concerned about the impact of reductions in contracted staff levels, particularly in rural areas, and how these will affect frontline service delivery”.

The authors of the letter said they had heard that the health and education sectors “have been granted authorisation to continue contracting staff at the present levels”, though they worried about the effect of the salary supplements’ termination on other government employees who provide vital services to poor Cambodians, including those at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

In a letter dated December 4, Keat Chhon explained that the government planned to terminate salary supplements and incentive programmes “across the complete portfolio of projects and programmes irrespective of funding sources”.

The minister explained that the government sees this as a necessary step to enacting civil-service reform in the wake of the global financial crisis and to maintaining fairness in government compensation.

Mace said Wednesday that development organisations hope to meet with the government to discuss the issue further “after the New Year”.

Development officials contacted this week said the salary supplements had benefited civil servants in a variety of sectors, though they could not provide figures on the total value of the cancelled programmes.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan referred questions to officials at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who were unavailable for comment.


Thai MP accuses his govt of plotting to murder Thaksin

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha and James O’toole

THE government has denied accusations that it recorded tele-phone conversations between Thai embassy officials and a Thai national subsequently convicted of espionage, and a Thai opposition parliamentarian revealed documents that he said implicated the Thai government in an assassination plot on fugitive former Thai prime minister and Cambodian government adviser Thaksin Shinawatra.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the government responded to comments Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reportedly made last week that had Cambodia wiretapped Thai embassy phones, it would affect the Kingdom’s standing internationally.

Abhisit’s reported comments, the government said, were “simply a dream and an individual assumption made to obtain political gain”.

The telephone conversations in question were between Sivarak Chutipong, a Thai employee at Cambodia Air Traffic Services, and Kamrob Palawatwichai, the former first secretary at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh. Sivarak was arrested in November and subsequently pardoned for leaking Thaksin’s flight information during the Thai ex-leader’s visit to the Kingdom last month.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said Wednesday that Bangkok had drawn no conclusion on whether the wiretapping took place.

Also on Wednesday, Jatuporn Prompan, a lawmaker from the Thaksin-aligned Puea Thai party, revealed documents that he said were part of a November note from Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to Abhisit, according to the Bangkok Post. Jatuporn reportedly accused Kasit of outlining a plan for the “elimination” of Thaksin.

Last week, Jatuporn revealed three pages of the note, which allegedly discussed the prospect of military force against Cambodia. On Tuesday, Thaksin posted an English translation on his Web site of what he said were the Thai Foreign Ministry documents regarding Cambodia.

Chawanon Intharakomansut, the secretary to the Thai Foreign Minister, said Sunday that while such documents did exist, Jatuporn had blown them out of proportion.

Panitan said Wednesday he could not comment on the documents’ veracity or the “personal Web sites of individuals.”

PM prohibits profiting from conceded land

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha and Jacob Gold

WAR veterans and armed forces retirees who sell or rent their portion of a social land concession risk having that land confiscated by the government, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned in a speech on Wednesday.

Speaking at a policy briefing, he said retirees and war veterans were obligated to farm the land themselves.

“Social land concessions are intended for those who are truly landless, not only those who served in the armed forces, but also people affected by natural disasters or family resettlement,” Hun Sen said.

“They cannot use the land given to them to make money by selling or renting it. Otherwise we will confiscate the land, with no exceptions.”

But Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), said the system was plagued with corruption.

He cited a case in Kampong Thom, where plots were downsized to meet social land concession terms and the remaining land sold off to private buyers.

Officials’ greed
“We know a lot of cases like this, where if you look at the list of the landless, there’s a lot of names of district and province officials,” Ou Virak said.

“We all know officials have been using this scheme to pocket money.”

Some groups, however, emphasised the importance of social land concessions, saying that rather than using them as a means of diverting land for personal gain, officials were prioritising economic land concessions.

“Social and economic land concessions ought to be balanced, but so far, economic concessions have proliferated at the expense of social concessions,” said Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force.

“There are so many poor people in Cambodia, and social concessions are more effective in terms of poverty reduction.”

Authorities arrest two Svey Reing villagers

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:02 Meas Sokchea

TWO villagers in Svey Rieng province who had filed complaints about losing their land were arrested on Wednesday after being questioned in connection with the uprooting of Cambodia-Vietnam border markers with opposition party leader Sam Rainsy on October 25, family members and rights groups said.

Meas Srey and Prom Chea were held by provincial court officials after questioning Wednesday. A third man, identified as Neang Phally who had yet to be questioned, fled the court, and his whereabouts remain unknown, officials said.

Two other villagers were due in court for questioning today, court officials added.

Prom Chea’s wife, Choeung Sarin, said her husband’s arrest was unjust. “He was detained in court until Meas Srey was questioned. Then, they were both taken into custody. I am afraid. I don’t know where they’ve taken my husband,” she said.

In a citation issued on December 16, Judge Long Kesphyrom said the accused had purposely destroyed border marker poles and warned that if they refused to appear in court they would be arrested.

“The citation summoned my sister to appear in court, so when she appeared, why did they arrest her?” said Meas Prel, brother of Meas Srey. “This is an abuse of human rights.”

Nget Nara, a coordinator with the human rights group Adhoc, called the arrests unjust. “This action makes other people who are victims never dare to complain again,” he said. “People rely on the court, but the court arrests them.”

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the court is adding to the injustices.

“They wanted the government to help, but they were arrested,” he said, adding that people complaining about losing land should be encouraged, not arrested.

Judge Long Kesyphyrom could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Men testify against cop

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A MECHANIC who accused a senior police official and two accomplices of beating him with a pistol has been questioned along with three witnesses by Phnom Penh Municipal Court about the incident, the victim’s employer said on Wednesday.

Neang Sok Na, deputy police chief of the Phnom Penh Minor Crimes Bureau, and two others are accused of pistol-whipping Phat Dara on the head and hands, and threatening his life after an argument over racing his car outside the victim’s garage. The accusations have been denied by the police. Om Heng, who employs Phat Dara, said he, the victim and two witnesses were questioned “for hours” on Monday.

A criminal complaint was lodged by the victim with the Ministry of Interior and thumb-printed by 50 witnesses following the incident on December 13. Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the group had called on the government to guarantee that the accused be charged.

“If the court prosecutor fails to prosecute the men, it will show that the culture of impunity still remains a concern,” he said.

JSM manager recommends return of uninvested capital

A businessman walks past a sign in the London Stock Exchange, where JSM Indochina is listed on the AIM board. Uninvested capital may be returned to shareholders if the board agrees.

(CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 24 December 2009 15:01 Nathan Green

But Craig Jones says return of capital will rob shareholders of future earnings.

THE manager of AIM-listed property developer JSM Indochina said Wednesday it has recommended the return of US$103 million in uninvested capital to shareholders following a vote earlier this month.

Craig Jones, chief executive officer of JSM Indochina Capital, which manages the closed-end fund’s investment and development activities, said the board still needed to give the go-ahead to the return of capital, which amounts to $0.45 per share.

However, he warned that the immediate financial gain for shareholders would be offset by lost returns in the future.

“Two years from now that money will be doubled. But democracy prevails: the vote was made, they want the cash,” he said, referring to a extraordinary general meeting held on December 7 following a leadership challenge by minority shareholder Passport Capital LLC, which also called for the return of uninvested capital.

The recommendation to return the uninvested capital had not been notified to the London Stock Exchange, which controls the AIM board, by the time the Post went to press Wednesday.

Jones said some recent investment decisions would need to be reconsidered if the move was agreed.

“We will need to defer some projects, delay some projects and cancel some projects,” he said, without giving further details of which would go ahead and which would be affected.

He also declined to confirm explicitly that the company’s Embassy Centre retail development would still go ahead, but said he was close to finalising a contract with a construction company for the project. The project has received approval from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), but a construction permit had not yet been approved, he added.

The fund announced in late October that it had purchased two stalled residential towers in Ho Chi Minh City for $65 million from a construction company that had run into financial difficulties. In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange’s AIM Board, Jones said he expected the towers, which will each have 90 apartment units, to be available for occupancy from mid-2011.

However, the transaction was still subject to due diligence at the time, and JSM has yet to issue an announcement finalising the deal.

Passport attack
The vote to return capital was initiated by minority shareholder Passport Capital, a San Francisco-based hedge fund that controls about 13 percent of JSM’s capital.

It also called for the removal of Jones and JSM Indochina Capital Chief Financial Officer Rowell Tan from the board of JSM Indochina, as well as the removal of non-executive Chairman Michael Tanner, claiming “serious corporate governance failings and the lack of transparency on matters of concern to all shareholders”.

Passport said the manager had failed to invest available capital and was paid excessive fees. It also said Jones was distracted from his duties due to financial difficulties in the United States, where 11 companies under his directorship had been placed into receivership.

Jones and Tan resigned ahead of the vote, whereas Tanner was removed by shareholders. The three were replaced by Passport nominees Scott Verges, who is now chairman, Paul Kaju and John Duggan. Alain Dupuis resigned as non-executive director on December 18.

The fund also announced Monday that Tan has resigned as CFO of the manager, effective following an annual audit of the firm's financial records to be completed by accounting firm KPMG on or before March 31.

Commenting on the resignation, Verges said: “Mr Tan is extremely well-regarded by the directors and the manager, and we are very sorry that he has resigned. We thank him for his excellent service to the company' and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

Jones said the resignation was a direct result of the leadership challenge. Tan is “a man of integrity, an extremely hard worker, and he’s going to be missed”, Jones said.

Trading in JSM shares has been suspended at $0.66 since December 7 under AIM rules following the resignation of Numis, the fund’s nominated adviser following the December 7 extraordinary general meeting. Numis did not respond to a request for comment on its resignation. The board has 30 days to find a replacement or the company will be delisted.