Friday, 9 January 2009

Govt initiative encourages farmers to make smaller farms go further

Fish farmer Hong Hen with her daughter in front of her new catfish pond.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cornelius Rahn
Friday, 09 January 2009

A new agricultural initiative targeting fish farms is helping farmers diversify their crops and farm more sustainable breeds of fish in order to broaden their income base

SCORES of hungry young catfish churn up the surface of Hong Hen's small pond as they fight for the tastiest bits of fish feed that their owner rains down on them through a sieve.

The fishes' enthusiasm is only trumped by the look on the farmer's face, which glows with anticipation of the fat catch that she is hoping to make in just three months' time."I like feeding the fish," she said. "And it gives me some time off from working in the fields.

"Hong Hen, from Trapang Srange village in Kampong Chhnang, clearly has high hopes for her catfish. Having invested just US$26 in the construction of the pond and two kilos of baby fish, she is confident that within three months she will have around 100 kilograms of adult fish. At current market prices, this is about $150 worth of fish - a considerable amount of money for her.

Hong Hen is among a growing number of rural Cambodians who are participating in a government initiative to diversify into growing organic crops and enable farmers to augment their income. Raising sturdy and quick-growing catfish is a central component of this program, explained Ith Sarin, chief of the Kop Srau Agricultural Center in Phnom Penh.

" [Raising catfish] is great because it is tangible and very easy to put into practice. "

Fish is the main source of protein for Cambodians, who on average eat 52 kilograms of fish each year, he said.

But with the country's rapid population growth and fish stocks of the Tonle Sap and the Gulf of Thailand being fished close to capacity, many get far less than that, he added.

"Fish is an essential food for Cambodians," he said.

Ith Sarin brought back lessons from fish farms in Vietnam and Thailand, and set about teaching farmers how to construct micro fish ponds that only measure about 3.5 by 2.5 metres and allow for easy maintenance and harvesting.

Digging a hole half a meter deep, laying it out with a plastic sheet and stabilising the whole construct with bamboo poles and string is all it takes to make one pond, Ith Sarin said. The fish are fed rice bran, white ants and morning glory, which most local farmers can procure free of charge.

Before, Ith Sarin said, fish were only being farmed in big ponds that needed sophisticated drainage systems and cost upwards of US$75,000 to set up - a price well out of reach for Cambodia's rural poor.

While another popular farmed fish, Tilapia, takes six months to grow, Ith Sarin said the Vietnamese catfish reaches its full weight in half the time and is more resistant to disease.

In July, he began instructing 25 farmers in Kandal province on how to raise catfish. He used photos as illustrations, let his students construct a fish pond by themselves, and showed them how to feed the fish and replace the water. He also supplied the farmers with free materials and baby fish to get them started.

Sok Youn from Cham Bok Meas village in Kandal province has already harvested one batch of catfish and calls his pond a great success. The fish grew quickly and without hitches.

"[Raising catfish] is great because it is tangible and very easy to put into practice," he said.

He estimates that micro fish ponds are now being used by over 100 farmers across Kandal, Takeo and Kampong Chhnang provinces.

Knowledge transfer

Spreading the necessary know-how among farmers without the need for workshops is exactly what needs to happen because funding is in short supply, said a man working for the development NGO World Vision who declined to be identified.

"The main goal of development is sustainability," he said. "If [the knowledge] goes out when the NGO does, it's no good."

Ith Sarin said he plans to teach fish breeding in the future to decrease farmers' dependence on suppliers in Vietnam and achieve true sustainability.

But despite keen interest from the minister of agriculture, he says a lack of funds is the main obstacle in the way of expanding the program.

"If we had more money," Ith Sarin said, "we would do more workshops throughout the country and provide more free material to get farmers started".

Micro farms countering malnutrition
In a sign that the government’s new fish-farming initiatives are spilling into the NGO sector, World Vision is now working with the government to provide knowledge and an initial load of free fish to farmers in Kampong Chhnang’s Samaki Meanchey district to help them diversify their crops and enable them to augment their incomes. According to one of their employees, who declined to be named, crop diversification and micro-level fish farming are a necessary step in combating malnutrition in parts of Cambodia, where agriculture suffers from sandy soil and a lack of irrigation. “Before, farmers were only growing rice,” he said. “After harvesting that, they could not do anything with their fields.” With additional crops, they may be able to almost double their income, he said. Breeding alternative fish such as catfish requires an amount of know-how that is not yet widespread among Cambodian farmers, but the government program hopes its recent initiative, which includes educational workshops, will fill these gaps.


Govt admits lack of control over import of modified organisms

The World Food Program said recently that one billion people worldwide were starving as a result of food shortages and urged governments of developing countries in particular to grow and use genetically modified crops to increase food security.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Friday, 09 January 2009

Officials say genetically modified organisms are circulating freely throughout the country despite their potential adverse health effects

THE importation into Cambodia of living modified organisms (LMOs), organisms that have been genetically modified through the application of biotechnology, is out of the control of authorities despite their potential adverse effects on biodiversity and human health, a government expert said.

"Currently, we are very worried about the transit, handling and use of LMOs, especially the trans-boundary movement into Cambodia," said Oum Pisey, technical adviser for the Ministry of Environment. "We have a lack of expertise among officials and weak law enforcement."

He said that while LMOs were circulating freely throughout the country, Cambodian citizens had no way of knowing that the products were genetically modified.

Customs officers and border police lacked knowledge of which products were blacklisted, he said. They also had neither the equipment to test imports for LMO content nor the knowledge of how to operate such equipment. But he added that his ministry was now training customs officers on restrictions on LMO imports.

Chuon Mony Roth, chief officer of processing management at the Department of Agro-Industry, said she had asked the Ministry of Agriculture to purchase testing equipment, but was told there was not enough money available to equip all border stations, as one set comes at the hefty price of US$50,000.

Cambodia has signed the 2003 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and has introduced respective legislation in 2007. The protocol seeks to preserve biological diversity and protect human health by ensuring "safe transfer, handling and use of [LMOs]", and bans certain LMOs from crossing borders.

Ambiguous health effects

Scientific evidence concerning the benefits and dangers of LMOs is ambiguous. Despite their benefits, such as increased yield and resistance towards diseases, some allege that LMOs may reduce biodiversity, cause cancer and allergies in humans, and carry other health risks.

"If we use LMOs and genetically modified crops, we will get higher yields to feed our people and we will even be able to export, but it will impact the environment and human health in the future," Minister of Environment Mok Mareth said.

Hean Vanhan, a specialist on the implementation of plant protection within the Department of Agro-Industry, said the government always encouraged farmers to use modern technology to boost agricultural productivity in order to improve food security and exports, but tried to limit the use of technologies that caused harm to human health.

Hun Sen promises salary raises for civil servants

Photo by: Heng chivoan
Hun Sen speaks at the opening of the Stung Meanchey Bridge on Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Friday, 09 January 2009

Monthly wages to be raised 20 percent, but others warn that an economic downturn could keep salaries low

CIVIL servants can expect monthly salary increases of 20 percent beginning this month, Prime Minister Hun Sun said this week, amid concerns that workers are not making enough money to survive the rising cost of living.

"All civil servants at the end of [January] will receive an additional 20 percent in salary," Hun Sen said Tuesday at the inauguration of the new Stung Meanchey Bridge in Phnom Penh.

"For example, some who made 400,000 riels (US$97.78) per month in December last year will make 480,000 riels at the end of January," he added.

Hun Sen added that future salary rises could go up to 30 percent, depending on the state of the economy.

"If the economy runs well, I will jump higher," Hun Sen said.

"It is not good to promote [workers] without offering money. Salaries will increase every year. And when they increase, they will never go back down," he said.

Scraping by
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann said that civil servants do not care about the percentage, only that they are paid enough salary to support their families.

"We do not focus on the quantity of salaries, but whether a civil servant can live or not," he said, adding that corruption allows government officials to live well above the level of the average civil servant.

Sok Sina, an independent economist, said recent predictions by the International Monetary Fund and other foreign financial organisations of five percent or less economic growth in 2009 could make any salary rise impossible this year.

"It is a difficult time to increase salaries, in my opinion," he said.

"If we think in terms of productivity, normally salaries do not increase unless productivity does too. Otherwise, there would be an imbalance," he added.

He said that if the promotions were pushed ahead, despite low productivity and a more general economic slowdown, the resulting imbalance could see inflation rates - which have eased recently from highs of near 25 percent - spike.

Sok Sina said a 20 percent increase in salary for civil servants was an important step, but added that their salaries were already so low that such a rise was not enough to make a substantial difference in their standard of living.

Most civil servants make between $25 and $30 per month, making graft a common way of supplementing incomes.

That's Dr Hun Sen to you


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Friday, 09 January 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks on Wednesday after receiving an honorary doctorate degree in economic from the Woosuk University of the Republic of Korea. Ra Jong-yil, president of the university, handed over a certificate to Hun Sen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a ceremony attended by hundreds of government officials.

Govt to investigate 'tiger head' group in relation to bomb plot

Lay Sokha, Mondulkiri provincial governor, is the only person to have used the name Tiger Head Movement to describe the bandits so far. When asked about the moniker, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith commented, "ask the involved themselves about their name".

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Friday, 09 January 2009

A group of bandits thought to be called the ‘Tiger Head Movement’ are being investigated in relation to anti-government activities

BANDITS in Mondulkiri province have been accused by local authorities of having anti-government intentions, with Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith saying authorities now plan to investigate whether the group is connected to last week's foiled bomb plot in Phnom Penh.

"It is too soon to judge, [but] we plan to investigate whether the movement and the bombs are connected," he told the Post Thursday, adding that he could not reveal details of the scale of the alleged movement.

"We are monitoring them, but we do not know their goals and activities," he said.

On Tuesday, Mondulkiri provincial Governor Lay Sokha announced that around 300 RCAF soldiers were hunting for between six and nine armed bandits who he referred to as the Tiger Head Movement.

"We are working in close cooperation with the Kratie governor, and we have deployed some 300 RCAF troops to hunt the armed bandits who are operating in Kratie and Mondulkiri," he said, adding that he could not disclose further information about the movement's activities for fear of jeopardising the ongoing investigation.

Kham Phoeun, Kratie provincial governor, said Tuesday that he had heard about the case and that he also planned to investigate and was planning a no-holds-barred search for the bandits.

At the provincial office of local rights group Adhoc, coordinator Sam Sarin said that he knew of the armed bandits, but that he had not heard them referred to as the Tiger Head Movement. He said he did not have any information connecting them to anti-government activities.

"I have heard about five armed bandits wearing military uniforms who robbed 10 travellers in October 2008 in an isolated forest," he said, adding that the gang had allegedly carried AK-47 assault rifles. He said the incident occurred in the Sen Monorom district.

'Movement' a myth

Opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann said that he did not believe in the existence of an armed group named Tiger Head Movement, blaming "powerful people" for creating the term.

"[For the Tiger Head Movement to exist] is very ridiculous," said the Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker.

"The CPP wants to create the story and later blame it on democrats who do not support the ruling party," he said, before urging the government to search for the real facts in the case.

New youth television station set to launch

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Friday, 09 January 2009

A NEW youth-oriented TV channel called MYTV will officially launch this Friday at 7pm, station managers say.

The channel's normal schedule will be a mixture of comedy, entertainment and music, Glen Felgate, MYTV's general manager, wrote in an email Thursday, and programming will consist of reality TV shows as well as music programs and local teen dramas. There will also be an emphasis on entertaining educational programs, Felgate said.

"This is the first real free-to-air niche channel in Cambodia," Felgate said, adding that MYTV will cater to young people and advertisers interested in these markets.

Police eye bomb plot links

A bomb squad safely detonates an explosive device left outside state television station TV3 on January 2.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Friday, 09 January 2009

Authorities say the masterminds of last week's bomb plot may also have been behind the 2007 attack on the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument

POLICE say that their initial investigations into last week's bomb plot that appeared to target the Defence Ministry and a state television station have led them to suspect the perpetrators may be linked to those who executed a similar bomb plot at the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument in July 2007, an official from the Ministry of Interior told the Post Thursday.

Three explosive devices found on January 2 in front of the Defence Ministry and near the offices of TV3 were disassembled and destroyed by mine clearance personnel. In the 2007 plot, three fertiliser bombs were found and safely detonated near the monument, situated in the park opposite Phnom Penh's Wat Botum.

Em Sam An, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and president of the National Secretariat for Anti-Terrorism, said "police now suspect the perpetrators were also connected to the bombing at the [monument]."

Early days yet

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said one of two suspects in connection with the foiled plot was arrested Wednesday. The suspect, Som Ek, 44, was arrested in Palelai village, O'Chrov district, Banteay Meanchey province, by police cooperating with the Internal Security Department of the Secretary General Commission National Police stationed in Poipet, said Sun Savuth, deputy criminal police chief for O'Chrov district.

In addition to involvement in the foiled bombing attempt, the warrant used to arrest Som Ek also accused him of attempting to use explosives to destroy the friendship monument in July 2007, Sun Savuth said. Som Ek was the only person listed on the warrant.

Man of many names

Sun Savuth said Som Ek moved around frequently and went by eight different names: Som Ek, Ti To, Srun Seng, Chao Sakada, Chea Kimhoun, Seung Kamsan, Phat Vathna and Meng Saray.

Em Sam An said he expected there would be more arrests in the case but refused to comment further.

"Let the police work on the case for one or two more days," he said.

PM angered over Asean meet

Hun Sen speaking about the relocation of the upcoming Asean summit on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng and Sam Rith
Friday, 09 January 2009

Hun Sen calls on Thailand and other group members to reconsider the upcoming summit, saying the host country has security issues to address

PRIME Minister Hun Sen criticised Bangkok Thursday for its planning of an upcoming Asean summit, saying the country's new government was keeping other bloc members in the dark over scheduling and should reconsider holding the meeting amid ongoing political strife.

"So, should we have the Asean meeting or not while the host country has not set a date for the meeting?" he said.

"[Each Asean country's] leader has their time [to speak]. I also have my time - I would like to reconsider," he added, speaking to reporters at the Foreign Ministry.

He added that he had "not received any formal notification" of the summit's date and location, and called on Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other regional leaders to think twice about the meeting given its flimsy scheduling.

Other government officials also expressed concern about the timing of the meeting, which comes as anti-government protests continue to dog Thailand's new administration.

Security fears have already forced Thailand to postpone the meeting once and twice move its location.

In order for Thailand to hold the meeting, the country "has to be sure of its ability to keep their problems under control", Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.

" We're still waiting to hear whether our leaders will participate. "

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary of State Kao Kim Huorn said the summit was now confirmed for February 27 in the Thai seaside resort town of Hua Hin in order to avoid any political turmoil in the capital.

"We're still waiting to hear whether our leaders will participate in the summit," he said, adding that security remained a major concern in the wake of the demonstrations, which have seen a number of deaths.

Khieu Kanharith, however, said there were opportunities presented by the meeting, including the chance to ink free trade agreements.

Thai media has also reported that Abhisit would use the summit to discuss with Hun Sen the military standoff over their countries' shared border - a resolution of which has been stalled by Thailand's political unrest.

Thai PM confirms move

In the latest in a series of changes since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting was first postponed from December, Abhisit acknowledged on Wednesday that the venue for the summit had been moved from Bangkok to Hua Hin, partly due to possible anti-government protests.

Meetings with key regional partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, which were meant to occur simultaneously with the summit, have been pushed back to April, he added.

"The first section of the summit among 10 Asean leaders would be held in Hua Hin on February 27, 28 and March 1, because security officials have advised that it will be easier for security issues," Abhisit told reporters.

His announcement came a day after the Foreign Ministry insisted that the summit would take place in Bangkok.


KRT staff targeted by lawyers

Nuon Chea’s co-lawyer Michiel Pestman speaks to reporters Thursday outside the Municipal Court.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cat Barton
Friday, 09 January 2009

LAWYERS for former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea have requested the Phnom Penh Municipal Court initiate criminal proceedings against Sean Visoth, the government's top official to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, over alleged corruption at the UN-backed court.

In a complaint filed Thursday, the defence team, whose client has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, also urged investigation into the role of Keo Thyvuth, the tribunal's former chief of personnel, amid accusations that Cambodian tribunal employees were forced to kick back a percentage of their salaries to their bosses.

"We are hoping that at least the prosecutor and the judiciary will be willing to do something about [the corruption allegations] - the government has failed to do anything," co-lawyer Michiel Pestman told the Post.

In their complaint, the lawyers say that shortly after the government received the results of a United Nations probe into the graft allegations, Keo Thyvuth was transferred and Sean Visoth went on leave "until further notice".

This, the complaint states, indicates that both may have violated criminal law by "perpetrating, facilitating, aiding and/or abetting an organised regime of institutional corruption at the ECCC during the pending judicial investigation".

The UN's findings into the graft allegations have never been made public.

"Allegations have been made, but we don't know whether they are true as we have not been given access to any report," he said, adding that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who also acts as minister in charge of the tribunal, has refused to provide an explanation.

"[This] suggests that maybe the corruption is wider spread than we originally thought," he added. Helen Jarvis, the court's chief of public affairs, said that Sean Visoth was on sick leave, adding that she had not seen the complaint and could not comment.

The court will decide today whether to accept the lawyers' complaint. Pestman said that the court's failure to address the graft allegations would undermine his client's right to a fair trial and force him to rethink his involvement in the tribunal.

"I will have to consider whether I actually want to continue working in this system," he said.

Cambodia's Hun Sen says he might skip ASEAN summit in Thailand

TMC News
January 08, 2009

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) PHNOM PENH, Jan. 8_(Kyodo) _ Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday he might skip next month's summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Thailand because of dissatisfaction with the arrangements of the host country.

Hun Sen's remarks came a day after Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced another change of venue for the delayed ASEAN summit along with a change of format, saying it would not be held back-to-back with meetings between ASEAN leaders and those from Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand as is normally the case.

Hun Sen said that what Thailand proposes would necessitate him visiting the neighboring country at least three times this year, including once to attend the ASEAN summit, now set for Feb. 27 to March 1 in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin, and again in late April for the meetings with leaders of ASEAN's so-called dialogue partners in a location yet to be announced.

The ASEAN summit was originally scheduled to be held in Bangkok in mid-December. But massive antigovernment protests in the Thai capital prompted the Thai government to change the venue to the northern city of Chiang Mai before deciding Dec. 2 to postpone it.

Cambodia and Thailand have a tense relationship, as seen in fighting that erupted along disputed areas of their border last year.

ASEAN also includes Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Cambodia: PM Wants To Unify Dates Of Regional Meets

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Thailand on Thursday (8 Jan) to coordinate the dates of regional meetings it will host because the current schedule inconveniences him and other leaders.

The annual summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations should take place at the same time as other regional get-togethers as has been the practice in the past, Hun Sen said.

"I can't travel to Thailand three times a year to join the ASEAN summit, I have my own work to do too, and I think other leaders also do," he said.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday (7 Jan) announced that ASEAN's summit will be held 27 Feb to 1 March at the seaside resort town of Hua Hin.

But he added separate meetings with dialogue partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand would be held in late April because Beijing will be busy with its own ruling party congress at the time of the ASEAN summit.

Hun Sen described the plan to separate the meetings as "a waste of time." He said if the meetings could not be coordinated, then they should be rescheduled for the end of the year.

Thailand had already changed the date and venue of the ASEAN meeting several times because of domestic political turmoil. The summit was originally scheduled for last Dec in the capital, Bangkok, then changed to the northern city of Chiang Mai.

Hun Sen is often critical of Cambodia's bigger, western neighbor Thailand, with whom it sometimes has frosty relations. Last year, a border dispute led to minor clashes in which several soldiers died. (AP)

MySinchew 2009.01.09

Police detain man for 2 major bomb plots in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- A man allegedly involved in the 2007 explosion of the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument and the 2009 foiled bomb plots in downtown Phnom Penh has been arrested, according to national media on Friday.

Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean said that his officers working with the Ministry of Interior caught 46-year-old Ty To at his home on Wednesday and found 53 different bomb-making items there, including TNT and radio devices, English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily reported.

"(Ty To) told the police that he was involved with the attempt to blow up the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument and also with the TNT case on the Russian Boulevard (in Phnom Penh)," the newspaper said.

On Jan. 2, 2009, the police detonated three bombs outside the Ministry of National Defense and the state-run No. 3 TV station.

On July 29, 2007, a small bomb exploded right beside the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument. Two men were later arrested to serve terms in prison.

Neither accident caused any damage and casualties.

Editor: Han Jingjing

German media praises Vietnam’s role in toppling Pol Pot regime

VOV News

Germany’s Junge Welt (Young World) newspaper has highlighted Vietnam’s assistance in toppling the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia 30 years ago.

The article, published on Jan. 8 and entitled “Cambodia celebrates the 30th anniversary of its victory over Pol Pot: Thanks Vietnam”, stressed that, with the assistance of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers, the Cambodian United Front for National Salvation were able to topple the Pol Pot regime, forcing him and his accomplices to withdraw into the forests bordering Thailand.

Without this assistance, which began on December 25, 1978, it would have been very difficult for Cambodia to prevent and abolish the regime within a week, the paper added.

Previously, two other German newspapers, Die Welt (The World) and FTD (The Financial Times), carried articles highlighting the importance of this event to the Cambodian people. The two papers also spoke highly of the assistance given to the people of Cambodia by the Vietnamese volunteer force.

Cambodian garment industry needs to survive crisis

Special Report:
Global Financial Crisis

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Garment, the foremost pillar industry of Cambodia, has an urgency to survive its crisis in the upcoming days, amid the ongoing global financial crisis and the recession of traditional demand from the U.S. market.


At an annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Federation of Textiles and Apparel (AFTEX) which was held here on Thursday, Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said that the garment industry saw a 2 percent decrease in its export in 2008 over 2007.

"This is better than my own expectation. I thought that it would have been down 5 to 7 percent," said Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

Previous local reports have attributed it to the withering demand of traditional client countries.

Around 70 percent of Cambodia's garment products were sold to the United States, 4 percent to Canada and the rest mainly to European countries.

The export volume of the garment industry used to account for over 70 percent of the country's total annual export volume.

In 2007, garment export earned 2.93 billion U.S. dollars for Cambodia, according to official figures.


The garment industry of the kingdom will face a 6- to 9-month-long crisis in 2009, due to lack of profitable orders, Van Sou Ieng said at the AFTEX meeting.

"I think that we will have a crisis 6 to 9 months long this year," he said.

Due to the global financial crisis, especially the U.S. economic recession, most garment factories could not secure new worthy orders and the current orders could only sustain them until March, he said.

"The crisis has propelled some buyers to give prices too low to be acceptable for the producers, so they have no choice but shut down their factories," he said.

Over 20 or even more out of the 400-strong garment factories of the kingdom have closed, leading to the unemployment of some 25,000 workers, he added.

Meanwhile, suspension of bank credit also spilled oil over the troubled water of the manufacturers, he said.


Japan might become the alternative market for the garment producers of Cambodia, as the demand of traditional purchasers has sharply sagged, said the chairman, adding "currently, Japanese orders are few, because their quality demand is so high that we can hardly meet it."

Fortunately, Japanese buyers have already listed some suggestions which could help Cambodia improve product quality, he said.

"Two directors, rather than one, supervise the operation of every 10 workers. This is the open sesame that they give us," he said.

The United States, as the largest buyer of Cambodian garment products, may need 2 to 3 years to cope with its economic recession, so it has become ever more urgent for Cambodian garment producers to find new markets, he added.

The garment factories of Cambodia used to employ some 300,000 people and have been the largest foreign currency contributor for the kingdom.

Garment, as a labor-intensive industry, is well-rooted in Asian countries, which still encompasses China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Editor: Han Jingjing

Break Dancing, Phnom Penh-Style

The New York Times

A former gang member from Long Beach, California, teaches break dancing to at-risk youths in Cambodia.

Day in pictures

A Buddhist monk looks on in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. Buddhism is the predominate religion in Cambodia.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A young shoe vendor waits for customers at the Central Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. As the global economy is expected to slow Cambodia is expected to feel the effects.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A hree wheeled pedicab driver sleeps in his taxi near Victory Monument in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. As the global is expected to slow in 2009, impoverished nations such as Cambodia are sure to feel the effects.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A pair of street children play near three-wheeled pedicabs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. As the global economy is expected to slow, impoverished nations such as Cambodia are expected to feel the effects.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A security guard smiles as he stands watch at Central Market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. The market, which features an art-deco style building, has been serving the Cambodian capital since 1935.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Cambodia marks 30th anniversary of Khmer Rouge ouster

A Cambodian girl looks at skulls on diplay at the Choeung Ek killing fields memorial in Phnom Penh. Tens of thousands of Cambodians have celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ousting of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime at an elaborate ceremony in the capital.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Cambodians are still struggling to come to terms with the enormity of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Tens of thousands of Cambodians have celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ouster of the brutal regime at an elaborate stadium ceremony mounted by the country's powerful ruling party.(AFPTV)

Thousands of Cambodians look on during ceremonies at Olympic Stadium Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, celebrating the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime 30 years ago. As scheduled, the first trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders will take place sometime in the first quarter of this year.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Cambodian top leaders, standing in a car from right, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, wave as they lead a march to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. Thousands of Cambodians on Wednesday celebrated the fall of the murderous regime 30 years ago as a UN-backed tribunal prepared to finally try some of its key leaders for crimes against humanity.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian soldiers march during ceremonies at Olympic Stadium Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, celebrating the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime 30 years ago. As schedule, the first trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders will take place sometime in the first quarter of this year.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

An elderly Cambodian woman smiles as she is photographed during ceremonies at Olympic Stadium Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, celebrating the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime 30 years ago. As schedule, the first trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders will take place sometime in the first quarter of this year.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Cambodian civil servant officers march during the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. Thousands of Cambodians on Wednesday celebrated the fall of the murderous regime 30 years ago as a UN-backed tribunal prepared to finally try some of its key leaders for crimes against humanity.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

People march in a parade at the National Olympic stadium in Phnom Penh on January 7, 2009, to mark the 30th anniversary of the toppling of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime. Some 1.7 million people are believed to have died in the "Killing Fields" of the ultra-Maoist guerrillas, whose four year reign of terror was brought to an end in 1979 by invading troops from neighboring Vietnam.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Thai FM discusses plans for south

By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Watch Video

Mr Kasit promised a fresh start to negotiations with Cambodia over their disputed border.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has promised a new approach to the conflict in the country's south.

Mr Kasit told the BBC the government plans to appoint a new civilian body to administer the Muslim majority south.

It will make the military subordinate to a civilian body for the first time since violence flared in 2004 between separatist insurgents and the army.

Mr Kasit also promised a fresh start to negotiations with Cambodia over their disputed border.

A staunch supporter of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which helped unseat the last government, Kasit Piromya is the most controversial member of the new cabinet in Thailand.
As foreign minister he remains unapologetic about his support for the PAD's campaign of disruption, including the week-long occupation of Bangkok's main international airport last year.
He says he still views this as a legitimate tactic.

Armed clashes

Mr Kasit said a new civilian body would administer the south of Thailand, where 3,000 people have lost their lives over the past five years in the brutal conflict.

He also promised that soldiers found guilty of abuses would be brought to justice.

"This body will be under supervision at the political level," he said.

When asked whether the army would continue to run things in the region - as indicated by the army commander - Mr Kasit replied: "No, no - this is a civilian-led government.

"It's not the military or the police that will be running the south, it is the government which will be running the south."

The foreign minister said he also hoped to start fresh talks this month with Cambodia over the disputed territory around an ancient temple on their border, which was the scene of armed clashes between troops from the two countries.

There are no conflicts of interest to hinder us now, he said - a reference to allegations that the business interests of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia had influenced the foreign policy of the previous government.

The Ministry of Information Has the Intention to Regulate Publications on the Internet - Thursday, 8.1.2009

Posted on 9 January 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

“Since the Internet arrived in Cambodia in 1997 (when Cambodia officially had 24h Internet network for the first time), communication and publishing through this means became more popular in the Kingdom of Cambodia. In the meantime, the publishing through radio and cable TV and through satellite increased also. More than one decade of progress makes the Ministry of Information concerned about eventual effects of these new technologies on Khmer society.

Therefore the Ministry of Information has the intention to put ‘publishing services through electronic systems’ under the control of a law which is being drafted. The Ministry of Information said that electronic news (such as newspapers) will not be affected by this new law, because the major intention of this law is to control the publishing of audio-visual data, of games, and of entertainment programs and advertisements through the Internet, to ensure moral respect.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information in charge of drafting this law, Mr. Nov Sovathero, explained that because of the advances of new technologies, the Ministry of Information found that its responsibility has increased remarkably during these years. In addition to the control of the old audio-visual field which consisted of recording tapes – the burden of the Ministry of Information has become bigger with the control of 25 radio channels and 7 television channels broadcasting in Phnom Penh and in the provinces – leading now also to the control of the publishing through satellites and through the Internet. There will be 12 chapters and 67 articles in that draft law.

“Mr. Nov Sovathero said that radio and television influences listeners and watchers. Therefore, this law intends to control all publishing through electronic systems as well as the publication of performances for public viewing.

“This law will therefore also relate to audio-visual publishing through the Internet and through mobile phones. Over the course of the years, mobile phones are being used in general and at present, users can listen to radio, watch television, and send voice and picture messages through mobile phones.

“Though the responsibility of the Ministry of Information is now bigger, he said that the Ministry of Information does not have different intentions, besides protecting the respect of tradition and morality. He referred to an example that if we know that some Internet games have a bad impact on children, youth, or the Khmer society as a whole, the Ministry of Information will provide warnings about publishing licenses or revoke licenses by cooperating with relevant authorities.

“Also, we have to check the quality of advertisements so that there is no advertisement published with wrong information about the quality of the product advertised. This draft law will provide a legal framework both for content censors of electronic audio-visual documents and for Internet Service Providers who have an important responsibility in the technical field.

“Therefore, all Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.

“Mr. Nov Sovathero referred to another example that pictures were published by individual Internet users showing Apsaras with naked breasts with sexual postures.

“For him, such pictures can evoke sexual feelings of viewers.

“Thus, he believed that this law can control the publishing of such pictures. He mentioned another example, ‘If a website publishes the beautiful face of a Khmer actress by cutting her face out of another picture and put it onto the naked body of another woman, it is not clear at present which ministry will be responsible for it? The Ministry of Information, or the Ministry of Interior? According to this new draft law, the Ministry of Information is the first to be responsible for it, because it will control all publishing of audio-visual material.’”

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #318, 7.1.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 8 January 2009

World Bank Offers Rural Telecom Grant

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
08 January 2009

The World Bank announced Thursday a $2.6 million grant to the government to build up telecommunications access in rural areas.

The World Bank said in a statement up to 52,000 poor households, or 260,000 Cambodians, would benefit from the grant, which will provide a subsidies for telecom providers in otherwise “commercially unviable” areas.

The grant, which will go toward developing the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Pursat, “some of Cambodia’s poorest,” said Qimao Fan, the World Bank’s Cambodia manager.

“The project will focus both on landlines and mobile phones, but the government wants more in mobile phones than landlines, because the installation of hand phones is a lower cost than landlines,” La Narath, secretary of state at the Telecommunications Ministry, said.

Users of mobile phones and landlines in the cities and towns are higher than in rural areas, he said. “But now we it is very difficult to estimate between rural and city residents mobile phone users,” he said.

Chin Bunsean, another secretary of state for the ministry, said in a statement “bridging the ‘digital divide’” was a priority of the government.

“It’s time that the people in rural areas are able to benefit from the same services, at the same quality and prices, that the people in the cities have been enjoying for so many years,” he said.

Postpone Asean Meeting: Prime Minister Hun Sen

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
08 January 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday urged other Asean countries to postpone an upcoming meeting scheduled for Feb. 28 in Thailand, claiming political instability there was a security risk for leaders.

China has already canceled its meeting with Asean members that day, Hun Sen said, so there was no need for only the 10 neighbors to meet.

Thailand has been rocked by a series of demonstrations over the past six months that led to the dismantling of its government last month.

A meeting among Asean members, if it is held in Thailand, should be postponed until the end of 2009, when security for leaders in the region can be assured, Hun Sen said, following a meeting with British parliamentarian Ann Clwyd.

Hun Sen also said Thursday authorities were seeking to arrest more suspects in last week’s bombing plot in Phnom Penh, in which police found three unexploded TNT improvised explosive devices near government buildings.

Cambodian Amateur Car Maker Dreams of Greatness

By VOA Khmer,
Washington Video Editor: Manilene Ek
08 January 2009

In the backstreets of Phnom Penh, in a cramped workshop shared with equipment and old parts, a Cambodian man is chasing his vision of greatness. Nhean Pholet is not a trained mechanic, but this 50 year old is currently building the "Angkor 3".

Nhean Pholet: " I wanted to show my abilities. In Cambodia, we don't have a car industry so I wanted to see if I could do it."

He admits there's no design to follow. He's making it up as he goes along, but the results don't look bad. The shell - handcrafted from raw fibre-glass bought in the local market - looks even and aerodynamic. He says the 660 cc Mitsubishi engine should get it up to 80 kilometres per hour.

The car even has hi-tech touches. The ignition mechanism is an original - a hotel-style keycard, shaped like Cambodia's famous temple, Angkor Wat, which is the name o fhis car. Pride - personal and national - is very much the driving force behind this blind odyssey into the land of the motor car.

Hand-made it is, but on closer inspection, "home-made" might be a better description. The steering wheel and general trim could do with some attention, and the golf ball on a stick act as the gear shift. But the hardest part, he says, was the basic mechanics and his solution - trial and error.

Nhean Pholet: "It can be quite difficult because I'm not trained and I don't really know the techniques, so sometimes the car has a problem and I have to start again. After that I test it out. If there's still a problem, I have to do it overy again until it runs smoothly."

Nhean Pholet's original car , Angkor 1, has been driving through the streets of Phnom Penh for the past four years. With its sporty lines and pea green-- it looks sleek. On this particular day, one onlooker says the car is perfectly crafted.

Khieu Cola: "We don't need the big one because you see the size of Cambodian people, it's like me. I am small too. So, if I do this car it is very sweet with my body."

For Pok Chan Dara the Angkor 1 has a quality that no other car can match: its country of origin.
Pok Chan Dara: "Big or small, all kinds of car are the same. But, I really like this car because it has the name "Cambodia" on the back."

Now Nhean Pholet's dream is about to go one stage further. When he finishes the Angkor 3, he'll spray it gold and sell it - the first one ever to go on the market.

Nhean Pholet: "My idea is to start up an industry but it depends on money and on investment. I need technical back up. I can't do it alone. If I can get support, I can have my own factory making handmade cars. I want to see Cambodia build up a car industry."

By the time this car is ready, it will have taken a year to build and set him back $3000 USD. As for how much he will sell it for- it's still undecided.

Nuon Chea Defense Files Suit on Corruption

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
08 January 2009

Foreign lawyers for jailed Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea filed a complaint on Thursday to Phnom Penh Municipal Court, claiming widespread corruption within the Khmer Rouge tribunal jeopardizes their client.

“People who pay kickbacks cannot be independent,” Michiel Pestman, the leading international defense attorney, told reporters outside the Municipal Court, joined by assistant attorneys Victor Koppe and Andrew Ianuzzi.

Nuon Chea, 84, chief ideologue of the Khmer Rouge and lieutenant to Pol Pot, was arrested in September 2007 and faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But Pestman said his client could not receive a fair hearing under a corrupt system.

“We are seriously worried about the legitimacy of the court and also worried that our client will never get a fair trial if people are paying kickbacks to people higher up,” he said.

The complaint stems from a number of allegations over tribunal judges and staff that began in February 2007, when tribunal monitors reported that Cambodian staff members had paid a portion of their salaries to Cambodian government officials in exchange for the opportunity to work for the tribunal.

The Cambodian government rejected the claims, but fresh allegations from Cambodian staff members to the UN arose in June 2008, leading to the suspension of $300,000 in salaries on the Cambodian side of the courts.

Nuon Chea’s lawyers have written requests for an explanation of the allegations to both tribunal administrators and to Council Minister Sok An.

“But nothing happened,” Pestman said Thursday, adding that he did not know the number nor the names of staff who may have paid kickbacks. “I want the prosecutors to investigate the allegations.”

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said he did not have detail’s of Thursday’s complaint, but said the tribunal continued to investigate the allegations of corruption.

Ministry urges more female integration into Cambodian workforce

People's Daily Online
January 08, 2009

Cambodia needs to create 250,000 to 275,000 jobs to absorb its growing labor force and take urgent measures to integrate young women into the workforce, national media said on Thursday.

The Cambodian workforce, including those in jobs and those available for employment, rose from 4 million in 1994 to 7.5 million in 2004, English-language daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post quoted a report from the Ministry of Women's Affairs as saying.

Between 2001 and 2004 alone, the workforce grew by 19 percent, and in Phnom Penh alone, it increased by 53 percent over the same period, it said.

Women make up some 29 percent of the labor force and 71 percent of the women above 14 years old contribute to the economy, a ratio much higher than Thailand, Laos and Indonesia but slightly lower than Vietnam and China, it said.

However, employment opportunities for the masses of young women expecting to enter the job market over the next few years look slim, it said.

The labor market continues to be heavily segregated by gender, with women working mainly in the trade and handicraft sectors and men in the construction and communication sectors, it said.

In the countryside, farming, handicrafts and sale of products are almost the only career options for women, it said.

The Ministry of Women's Affairs is planning to work with the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to boost job opportunities for women, the paper added.


One arrested in Cambodian bomb plot

People's Daily Online
January 08, 2009

One of the two suspects wanted in connection with Friday's foiled bomb plot in downtown Phnom Penh has been arrested, English-language daily newspaper the PhnomPenh Post on Thursday quoted a minister as saying.

The police detained the suspect following a detailed probe, said government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, while declining to give the identity and further information on basis of confidential consideration.

"We are collecting new information to arrest other suspects," he said.

The three explosive devices were found on Friday near the Ministry of National Defense and the TV3 headquarters, and later safely detonated without causing any damage and casualty.

According to the analysis of the bomb parts from the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), they were made from aerosol cans packed with TNT, would have been noisy, but not destructive and only of little danger to the public.

Right after the accident, Khieu Kanharith said that the suspects committed acts of terrorism, which had affected the social order and security.


Cambodia, Vietnam ink MoU to inspect animal cargoes across border

People's Daily Online
January 08, 2009

The Cambodian and Vietnamese government officials have signed a memorandum of understanding to inspect all animal cargoes crossing the border, said English-language daily newspaper the Phnom Penh Post on Thursday.

The MoU stipulated that the construction of 11 inspection facilities along the border to separate the flow of animal cargoes and humans, in order to contain spread of avian influenza and its contraction from animal to human.

"The agreement will help curb the disease from spreading form animal to animal and from animals to human," said Kao Phal, Director of the Animal Health and Production Department of the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries.

A 19-year-old Cambodian man was infected with the H5N1 virus in December, which is the only confirmed infection in the country last year, but non-fatal, not like the 7 prior cases diagnosed in Cambodia.

Cambodia exports a large part of its rural consuming goods, especially livestock, from Vietnam, one of the countries that were hit most severely by the epidemic in the past years.

Source: Xinhua

At long last, Cambodia gets a trial date

Kaing Guek Eav, who headed a torture center, will probably go on trial in March.
January 8, 2009

BANGKOK - Three decades to the day after the fall of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, the country finally received word of a possible starting date for the trial of one of its key leaders.

International co-prosecutor Robert Petit said yesterday that Kaing Guek Eav, who was better known as Duch when he headed the Tuol Sleng torture center in Phnom Penh, will probably go on trial in March. But he said four other defendants, all in their 80s, are unlikely to take the stand until 2010.

The trial process has been marred by delays, controversial defense motions, accusations of corruption and, most recently, a public dispute between Petit and his Cambodian co-prosecutor, Chea Leang.

Petit wants to file charges against an additional five or six former Khmer Rouge members, but Chea Leang has objected, saying that the court should concentrate its limited resources on the cases on hand. She has also cited a need to focus on national reconciliation.

The court's pre-trial chamber is due to rule on the dispute.

As many as 1.7 million Cambodians were killed or succumbed to disease, malnutrition or overwork during the four years the Khmer Rouge were in power before they were removed by Vietnamese forces in 1979.

Human Rights Watch has long been critical of the court's inability to bring the perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule to justice.

"After 30 years, no one has been tried, convicted or sentenced for the crimes of one of the bloodiest regimes of the 20th century," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "This is no accident. For more than a decade, China and the United States blocked efforts at accountability, and for the past decade, (Prime Minister) Hun Sen has done his best to thwart justice."

30th anniversary of January 7th marked with celebrations sounding like praise to the CPP

Phnom Penh (Cambodia).07/01/2009. Olympic Stadium. Crowd celebrating 30th anniversary of what the CPP presents as the country's “liberation”
© Vandy Rattana

By Duong Sokha

On Wednesday, Cambodia marked the 30th anniversary of January 7th with festivities organised by the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) at the height of its power and gathering some 50,000 visitors at the Olympic stadium in Phnom Penh. The crowd, composed of a variety of civil servants, monks, students and officials representing the different districts of the capital and the country's 24 towns and provinces, chanted in unison slogans uttered by the organisers, glorifying January 7th and the CPP. The celebrations of that particular date are still fuelling debates and controversy among politicians and mark, for some, the liberation of the country from the yoke of the Khmer Rouge when for others it is rather synonymous with the start of the occupation of the Kingdom by the Vietnamese.

A conventional ceremony
The celebrations started off with the three “Samdech” - Chea Sim (President of the Senate), Hun Sen (Prime Minister) and Heng Samrin (President of the National Assembly) – parading in the stadium before finally reaching the official grandstand. The celebrations then gave way to a presentation of the different army corps and a parade of floats representing the Kingdom’s 24 provinces and municipalities and illustrating their own characteristic assets along with the CPP’s achievements in their part of the country. For instance, the Phnom Penh float carried a small papier-mâché version of the Independence Monument surrounded with pictures of skyscrapers, whereas the Siem Reap float showed pictures of the Prime Minister playing golf net to other pictures of Angkor Wat packed with tourists. A few chants and dance steps later, a giant statue of a Teveda deity appeared, standing in the same fashion as the one represented on the CPP logo.

Why celebrate January 7th?
Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information and spokesperson for the government, set the tone of the day with a press conference given on the morning of Sunday January 4th. There, he applied himself to explaining the major importance of such a commemoration, arguing that this was “a history lesson” which no one should forget, a lesson about leaders' bad decisions which led to the country’s destruction, but also a lesson about divisions which should be overcome. “It took us thirty years to rebuild the country!”

And to those who are more inclined to honour October 23rd 1991, date of the Paris Peace Accords – which used to be but is not any more a national Bank Holiday in Cambodia – when all Khmer factions sat at the same table, he responded that “without January 7th, there would have been no October 23rd”. Besides, these Agreements, according to him, lost most of their meaning when the Khmer Rouge flip-flopped and decided to withdraw their participation to the election process organised under the supervision of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The Minister stressed that the country had “had to wait until 1998 for war to end” and for the Khmer Rouge movement to be entirely brought down.

He observed that on January 7th, the Khmer Rouge were ousted from power by the United Front for the Salvation of Kampuchea (UFSK), led by Heng Samrin who called the Vietnamese army for help.

Moreover, if some argue that the CPP does not acknowledge the achievements of the UNTAC, it is because the authority “spent more than two billion dollars on their mission in Cambodia, and 80% of that budget did not go straight into Cambodians' pockets but were used to buy equipment abroad. [...] It is also because the UNTAC did not help us build schools and hospitals and pay for teachers' wages... Nobody helped us!”.

The CPP is not appropriating the event, according to Khieu KanharithThe CPP is not turning the situation to their own advantage, the government spokesperson explained. To convince the press, he argued that the party logo was not represented on the official emblem chosen for the January 7th ceremony, and that “all political parties” had been invited to take part in the celebrations.

“In the past, opposition parties accused the state of wasting public money to organise this ceremony instead of using it for the development of the country. On that matter, I need to stress that those festivities were financed by CPP members' personal funds”, Khieu Kanharith said.

The Minister then protested against those who claim that the CPP “forces” the population to celebrate January 7th. “If it were the case, the CPP would have mobilised twice as many people [on Wednesday]” All those who came did so on a voluntary basis.”

He concluded by saying that those who reject the symbolical meaning of January 7th are Cambodians who live abroad. “They are filled with the feeling of guilt. They know that when their fellow-citizens were suffering, they were helpless and could not share their hardship. They understand January 7th, the criticism they express is of a sole political nature!”

Rough list of the CPP's achievements...
Chea Sim, President of the Senate and CPP chairman, pronounced the ceremony's official speech, insisting on the fact that the country should continue to be rehabilitated, “to allow no return to its tragic past”. Speaking at length about the “victory” - the official terminology in use - these celebrations “in the memory of the sacrifice of our heroic soldiers and people all over the country who have made courageous efforts in the struggle to save the country from the regime of genocide”, he praised the liberating UFSK and expressed “in the name of the people of Cambodia, [his] deep gratitude for the government and people of Vietnam, for providing a sincere and great assistance for the people of Cambodia” during this period of torment in the history of the country.

He then proceeded to making a long list of achievements, which the CPP ought to be credited for: the “win-win” policy which allowed the reunification of the country on the basis of “sincere national reconciliation”, the fact that macro-economic stability has been maintained over the past ten years, the decrease in the level of poverty, “reduced from 47% in 1994 to 30% in 2007, the “progress made in democracy and pluralism”, etc. He did not fail to mention the government's success in gathering close to a billion US dollars from donor-countries for 2009.

However, he said, difficulties remain, like the trauma left by the Khmer Rouge regime or a non-violence culture, yet to be built. As a reminder, he called the audience to learn the lessons of the past: “People are the ones who build history”, “solidarity is the chief factor of all successes”, the importance of “the correlation between peace and national reconciliation”, of “resolutely defending the foundation of long lasting independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity in all circumstances”, of “having self-confidence in resolving national problems”, and last, of “solidarity and cooperation with other countries, especially with neighbouring countries”, a process which is to him “inevitable in keeping peace, stability and progress”. On this issue, the CPP chairman expressed his support to the government in “making stringent efforts in settling the border issue with Thailand”, with a view to build stability, peace, cooperation and development on the border.

Chea Sim finished his laudatory speech by declaring that “the thirty years passed truly show that the Cambodian People's Party is of the people, by the people and for the people”.

Cambodia prepares to try aging Khmer Rouge leaders

Thursday, 01.08.09

Cambodia is preparing to try the aging leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime that brutally ruled the country in the 1970s.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- (AP) -- Thirty years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the specter of the murderous regime still haunted Cambodia on Wednesday as victims remembered the countless dead and the country prepared to finally try the movement's leaders.

More than 40,000 people jammed Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium for speeches and a parade to mark the day Vietnamese troops ousted the ultra-communist regime.

''On Jan. 7, my second life began,'' said a 59-year-old farmer whose father and sister died of starvation under the Khmer Rouge. ``I want to see Khmer Rouge leaders prosecuted as soon as possible because they are getting old now.''

She was one of millions who endured what many survivors said was ''hell on earth.'' Phnom Penh, the capital, was emptied at gunpoint, its citizens forced to work in vast slave labor camps on starvation rations and under the constant threat of execution. Religion, unapproved marriages, money and most entertainment were banned.

When it was over, 1.7 million or more Cambodians had perished during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule.

But none of the surviving leaders have yet faced justice.

One of the accused -- Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, who headed the Khmer Rouge's largest torture center -- will probably take the stand in March at a U.N.-backed tribunal, said co-prosecutor Robert Petit. He said the trial is expected to take three to four months.

But the other four, all of them aging and ailing, probably won't be tried until 2010 or later.

''Although in the past three decades Cambodia has made great progress, difficulties that are left by war and genocide have been far reaching and are yet to be completely removed,'' Senate President Chea Sim said in the keynote speech at the stadium.

Cambodia NA president to visit Laos

HANOI, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian National Assembly President Samdech Heng Samrin will pay a two-day official visit to Laos from Friday, the Lao newspaper Vientiane Times reported Thursday.

The visit is at the invitation of Lao National Assembly President Thongsing Thammavong, according to an announcement of the Lao National Assembly.

During his visit, the Cambodian National Assembly president will attend the 17th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, slated for Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, said the newspaper.

Editor: Xiong

2000 miles in Cambodia


By Garry Moloney
08 January 2009

The first photo is my girlfriend and I with our copy of MCN outside the Bayon temple in Siem Reap Cambodia.

We did about 2000 miles in and around Siem Reap on our 125 Honda Dream in 2 months. About half of our mileage was on unmade roads or even off road completely, that's why we had the knobbly tyres fitted. The bike ran like a dream (or even a Honda Dream).

It was regularly taken through mud, sand and water up to 18 inches deep. We only had one occasion when the water was a little too deep and the bike started to misfire. As far as maintenance goes we only had the front wheel bearings replaced, new rear shock absorbers, new battery, chain adjusted and a scheduled oil change. Not bad considering most of the time we were 2 up and half the time off road.

Scariest moment was when the engine started to misfire whilst riding through 18 inch deep flood water. Best moment was riding through the Angkor Temples.

Picture 2. This is a complete house with it's contents and occupants still in it being moved on a trailer on the back of a 125cc bike.

Picture 3. Count the number of legs. 6 up on a bike. We keep being told to "save the planet" by travelling with more than one person in a car or on a bike. I think this is the ultimate in environmentally sound travel!

Picture 4. How much does this lot weigh? About half a ton of bananas being pulled by a tiny bike.
Picture 5. This guy rides every day into the rural areas, mostly off road, to collect coconuts. We helped him get moving with this lot. Check out the cleaver.

Picture 6. Live chickens on the way to market.

Picture 7. The pigs on the back of this bike are going to market. The driver has covered their bellies with grass and twigs so they don't get sun burned.

Picture 8. Pigs doing a mooney on us!

We would highly recommend Cambodia to all MCN readers, the Cambodian people are the nicest, cheeriest most generous people you could ever wish to meet.

Funding to Boost Telephone Services in Rural Cambodia

8th January 2009

­Poor families in four of the poorer provinces of northern and northwestern Cambodia – Banteay Meanchey, Otdar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, and Pursat – will benefit from a US$2.6 million grant to increase access to telecommunications services signed by the World Bank, acting as administrator for the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA), and the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Up to 52,000 poor households or 260,000 Cambodians are expected to benefit from the scheme, through improved telecommunications network coverage and the installation of public access points where people will be able to make and receive telephone calls on a regular and reliable basis.

“Ensuring access to telecom services to all people in Cambodia and bridging the ‘digital divide’ is one of the priorities of this Government,” said His Excellency, Mr. Chin Bunsean, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications of Cambodia which will oversee implementation of the project. “It’s time that the people in rural areas are able to benefit from the same services, at the same quality and prices, that the people in the cities have been enjoying for so many years.”

Despite improvements in telecommunications services and an increase in the number of telecommunications companies, rural access is still a challenge in Cambodia. The National Institute of Statistics estimates that only one in six rural households owns a phone, compared to over 30 percent of urban households. Rural and remote communes tend to be less commercially attractive to service providers because of higher operating costs and lower average revenues per user.

The GPOBA grant will provide a one-time capital subsidy for the provision of telephone services in locations that would otherwise be considered commercially unviable. Potential service providers will be selected competitively through an open bidding process. They will be free to use any technology, but must provide full network access and service at a quality and price similar to the rest of the network in Cambodia. The winning service provider will be the qualified bidder who offers the required services in the target areas for the lowest subsidy, and will sign a performance- or “output”-based contract with the Government. In line with the output-based approach, most of the GPOBA subsidy will be paid only after the services have been delivered and verified by an independent agent.

“By making telephone services available to poor households in remote rural villages, the GPOBA project will help to improve access to markets and economic opportunities in some of Cambodia’s poorest provinces,” said Mr. Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia.

The GPOBA project will draw on funds from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Cambodian deminer proud to serve his country

Photo by: Mom Kunthear
Kim Piseth at work in Battambang province.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Thursday, 08 January 2009

Since he first learned how to demine in 1992, Kim Piseth has been putting his life on the line to clear thousands of mines in Battambang province

Instead of living a quiet, stress-free life as a farmer in his hometown of Kampong Speu, 38-year-old Kim Piseth has chosen to risk his life and help his country by clearing the deadly mine fields of Battambang province.

Kim Piseth said that when he started demining in 1992, he did not expect to master his task, but that dealing with "thousands of mines" over the years has made him capable of handling anything that may come his way.

"I was very frightened the first time [I cleared mines] because I was afraid they would explode," he said. "But now that I have demined for many years I feel comfortable with the job. It has become a very easy task."

"To be a deminer is not as easy as other jobs because I have to put my life on the line in dealing with mines every day, but I [always have to] believe that I will succeed in my work," he said.

Legacy of war

Roughly six million land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) that still lay buried throughout Cambodia continue to claim about 800 victims a year, according to a report by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC).

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) states that between 30,000 and 40,000 Cambodians have to live with the consequences of UXOs, having lost legs, arms and other body parts to the deadly devices.

Anti-personnel mines and UXOs are the legacy of almost 30 years of civil war that lasted with interruptions from 1968 until 1998, when the last Khmer Rouge troops laid down their arms.

The most heavily mined areas run along the Thai border, where the communists made their last stand, and in the east of the country, where mines were an integral part of American and Vietnamese efforts to weaken the other side during their war.

According to CMAC, over 26 square kilometres have been fully cleared of land mines and UXOs in 2008, which is more than twice the area cleared annually during the 1990s. Since systematic demining began in 1992, over 220 square kilometres have been demined, and over 400,000 devices have been destroyed.

Reaping rewards

With the skills and experience he has acquired over the years, Kim Piseth said he usually has no problem clearing 70 to 100 square metres a day of mines.

" I don't want other countries to call cambodia a mine country any more. "

The rewards that come from demining may not be easy to understand, but Kim Piseth says he is motivated by a deep sense of pride in what he does.

"I cannot become rich because my salary is not high enough to improve [my family's standard of living], but we don't die either," he said. "On the other hand, I think that as a Cambodian I have to help my country and not just think about money."

Kim Piseth is adamant that he will never get fed up with his work. "I don't have other work to do and I don't want other countries to call Cambodia a mine country anymore," he said.

"It is my hope that in the future Cambodia will not have mines anymore, but we don't always know where they are," he said.

The work of JICA is substantial in facilitating the demining efforts of Kim Piseth and his colleagues. "I think our work goes faster because we have modern mine-searching machines and the support from JICA Cambodia," he said.

JICA uses aid money provided by the Japanese government to purchase removal machines, vehicles and communication devices, according to its website. The agency also sends experts to Cambodia who add to the demining efforts with their knowledge of information systems, maintenance and transportation systems.

Kim Piseth says that his commander even granted him an award letter recognising his hard work in the mine fields.

He added that his long years of dedicated work may also finally earn him a place to settle down - on land he cleared of mines with his own hands, no less.

"Being a deminer, I don't have my own land to farm on," he said. "Today, I live in a demining Unit 2 headquarters in Battambang province, but we will get land soon because my commander will give all deminers a piece of land after we remove the mines from it."

But even though he may finally have a place to settle down, for Kim Piseth there is no question of retirement. Indeed, he is even considering helping to demine other countries in the future.

"Throughout my whole life I have worked with weapons because before I became a deminer I used to be a soldier under the Pol Pot regime," he said. "I think I will do this job forever if the country needs my help, and I will be happy to do it."


Mong Reththy Group aims for one million pigs per year by 2015

A newly-arrived pig from England at Pochentong airport in December.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Thursday, 08 January 2009

The company says offspring from the new pigs imported from England could reduce Cambodia’s ‘pig deficit’ and eventually make Cambodia into a net pork exporter

The Mong Reththy Group on Monday announced an ambitious plan to breed up to one million pigs per year by 2015 to boost local production and cut dependence on foreign sources.

The latest imports are part of a US$5-million plan announced last year to import 600 Yorkshire breeding pigs from a farm in northern England.

The first shipment of 150 pigs arrived in Phnom Penh in mid-December, the company said at the time, and the pigs were expected to provide the foundation of a new program to expand local pig farming.

Company CEO and President Mong Reththy said he is preparing to distribute the first generation of breeder piglets in the coming weeks.

"I think the Cambodian people will not face a pork shortage for much longer as we continue to breed more piglets," Mong Reththy said, adding that the company expected the remaining 450 Yorkshire breeders to arrive by early February.

Mong Reththy said the company has also expanded facilities to house the breeders on 20 hectares of land near a company-owned palm oil plantation on the border of Koh Kong and Sihanouk provinces.

Man Bunneang, a pig farmer in Kampong Speu province, said Monday the new Yorkshire piglets could improve the sector for farmers who have struggled to cope with rising demand and volatile prices.

"I think this is an important step because we can reduce pig imports from abroad," he said.

"Local producers can only supply about 40 percent of market demand at the moment, so we must raise more pigs to cut down on imports and to stabilise the price of pork," he said.

Exports to come

The plan to grow more pigs at home could turn Cambodia from a pig importer to a pig exporter, said the company.

" I think this is an important step because we can reduce pig imports. "

Cambodia consumes 7,000 pigs per day - 1,600 in Phnom Penh alone, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

To meet the country's pork shortfall - estimated to be about 600 daily - the government allows farmers to import up to 800 pigs, principally from Thailand. But many more are smuggled in from abroad.

Kao Phal, director of the Animal Health and Production Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the introduction of the breeders, which reach maturity more rapidly than local types, would also boost incomes of animal feed growers.

Cross-sector boost

He said that corn, cassava and soybean farmers could benefit most from local pig production."The development of breeding farms and animal food plants will help create employment and generate new opportunities for production," he said.

"It will provide more job opportunities for rural residents and help boost family incomes," he added.

The company earlier announced a $4-million state-of-the-art slaughterhouse and processing facility that meets international sanitary standards.

The facilities will be equipped with imported German machinery and are slated to open this year.