Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Pleas fail to stop the Hanoi Road eviction

House-breakers, employed by local authorities, saw at a resident's house in the Sen Sok district of Phnom Penh on Monday. Residents of the area's Hanoi Road had been warned to leave, but many had not, instead staying to watch in shock as their homes were torn down.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara and chhay channyda
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Roadside properties demolished by authorities in advance of road-widening project, with affected families calling on the municipality to provide them with fair compensation.

HOMES and fences belonging to residents of Teuk Thla and Phnom Penh Thmey communes in Sen Sok district were demolished by Phnom Penh authorities on Monday to make way for a road expansion project, with witnesses reporting that hundreds of armed police were deployed in the action.

Ten families comprising 40 people lost their homes along the Cambodia-Vietnam Frienship Highway - popularly known as Hanoi Road.

The demolition began after Sen Sok district Governor Khoung Sreng on March 6 told some residents living along the road that they had five days to remove their homes, fences and stalls. Residents did not move in time.

Oeum Reun, 53, whose house was demolished Monday morning, said she had lived there since 1979 and would go to Prime Minister Hun Sen's house to ask for his personal intervention.

"This is crueller than what Pol Pot's soldiers did to us - they mistreated me and then made me put my thumbprint on the form allowing them to demolish my house," she said.

If they want to kill me i don't care because my house has been ... demolished."

"It's up to them - if they want to kill me, I don't care because my house has been completely demolished."

Oeum Reun said she was not interested in being relocated to the four-by-eight metre site at Thnot Chrum that the municipality was offering. "I would rather die than live at Thnot Chrum. I want to live in this area."

The expansion plan requires a width of 22 metres for the road, 8 metres of which will be for drainage infrastructure.

Sek Sovanna, a lawyer for the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), which has been representing the residents, filed an injunction with the Municipal Court last month seeking to halt the construction and has also filed complaints to City Hall. But she said CLEC has yet to receive any response.

"The authorities wrote to them in 2004. Since then the residents have tried asking the authorities to negotiate, but they kept quiet until the end of 2008," she said.

"If they had expanded the road to the width they said in 2004, it wouldn't affect the villagers - back then they said it would be widened by 8 metres along the 4-kilometre length. Now they have turned up and said it must be widened to 30 metres."

Sek Sovanna said the authorities were obliged to pay compensation since the residents were living there legally.

She added that in 2004 there were 90 families, but more than half had left since they did not dare stand up to the authorities.

District Governor Khuong Sreng told the Post Monday that the authorities could not delay the project simply because residents had failed to move and said most would get no compensation.

"They have to respect our notice. This is for development, and City Hall has a policy only to speak to those whose entire houses are affected," he said. And because the expansion project "affected only one or two complete houses", the authorities had offered those people a plot of land each in Thnot Chrum village.

He said that other affected families had lost fences and pavement area and therefore would not be entitled to compensation.

"They have big houses and villas," he said.

No compensation
Resident Prum Navy, 38, said her 14-metre house had lost 12 metres of its length to the project.

"My house has just 2 metres left - how can I live?" she asked. "I would like compensation from the authorities to buy a new house, but they say they have no plan to provide any compensation."

She said of the 10 families that had lost their property, just one had been compensated.

"The authorities came to demolish our houses with rage - they came to tell us on Friday and gave us just three days. And today they have come and destroyed them," she said.

"We are poor people and we don't have power like them. So they can do anything to us."

Chen Ton, 60, watched as her house lost 12 metres of its length, leaving her with just 2.5 metres of living space. She said the authorities showed no pity for the poor.

"We don't deny that the authorities need to develop, but they should know how this affects us. We are humans, not animals," she said.

"They use their power to destroy our houses. We have asked them about compensation since 2004, but they never spoke with us."

Resident Tey Narin told reporters that none of the residents dared to confront the police and the authorities and simply left their houses and fences to be demolished: "No one dares to protest - we fear being arrested," he said.

CPP backs NEC ban on foreign participation in council elections

On the
campaign trail in Phnom Penh during last year's general election.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Election watchdog Comfrel says military, police influence a higher priority.

THE ruling Cambodian People's Party said Monday it supports the ban on foreign citizens participating in the May 17 district, municipal and provincial elections.

In the election, votes will be cast by the 11,353 elected commune council members, but not by the public. The new bodies are part of the government's decentralisation program to improve representation among the National Assembly and the commune councils.

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap told the Post his party agreed with last week's ruling by the National Election Committee and said it would help to prevent any violence that might ensue by inflammatory comments by foreigners.

He claimed the CPP had discovered foreigners helping the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in last year's general election, campaigning in Kampong Cham and Prey Veng.

"We are patient with criticisms made by Cambodian politicians, but we don't want to see electoral campaigns conducted by foreigners in support of opposition political parties," said Cheam Yeap. "Their criticisms look down on Cambodia and our people."

But SRP Secretary General and lawmaker Ke Sovannroth denied the allegation. She said the only foreigners who took part in the general election were international observers monitoring proceedings.

The election-monitoring body Comfrel said the NEC had missed the point and ought to focus on more relevant issues. Comfrel Executive Director Koul Panha said the issue of foreign participation was not a priority.

"It happens very rarely and would have no influence - foreigners respect the code of conduct," he said.

Koul Panha said the NEC ought to prioritise focussing on the role of the police and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in influencing election results. He said the NEC should issue clear regulations on how those bodies participated in elections.

NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha said the regulation was designed to remind all parties that foreigners were not allowed to take part in the campaign, and any party that flouted the rule could be fined.

Campaigning for the election will run from May 1 to 15 and is to see the CPP, the SRP, the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec competing to win votes from the country's 11,353 commune councillors. The outcome will determine the composition of the parties at the higher-level district councils and the municipal and provincial councils.

Tep Nytha said CPP candidates were listed at 217 polling stations, the SRP had candidates at 205, Funcinpec candidates were at 71 and the NRP were at 62. A total of 17,293 candidates from the four parties are registered with the NEC.

The CPP's Cheam Yeap said his party was ready to compete with all four political parties in May's election and appealed to each party to actively build confidence among their voters.

"We aren't worried about the influence of those foreigners who back opposition parties, but we don't want foreigners coming here and insulting the Cambodian people," said Cheam

Education summit opens

School children are the focus of a 3-day congress

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Robbie Corey-Boulet
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The National Education Congress will cover progress made at all levels of education as well as persistent problems.

AS THEY marked the beginning of a national education summit Monday, officials and development partners described an education system that has made recent gains in recruiting hard-to-reach students but is still grappling with quality and retention issues.

The National Education Congress brings more than 200 government officials, NGO members and development partners together for three days of programming at the National Institute of Education. Scheduled events include reports on progress made in the past year and discussions of future reform strategies. The summit coincides with the release of a report from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport detailing its performance during the 2007-08 academic year.

Presentations and discussions will address topics including enrolment and dropout targets for the current school year, teacher training at all education levels and aid effectiveness.

Remaining challenges
"While Cambodia has made remarkable progress in the expansion of access to education over the past 10 years, the quality of education remains a major issue across the sector," said Richard Bridle, a UNICEF representative who spoke on behalf of development partners.

Noting that higher education institutions had experienced "a tenfold increase in enrolment" without "a concurrent increase in qualified lecturers and administrative staff", Bridle called on participants to develop solutions to this and other problems facing post-secondary programs.

In addition to improving quality, participants should also devise strategies to further expand enrolment, said Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Im Sethy.

Universal primary enrolment by 2010 is one target under Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals pertaining to education. At the time of the 2005 MDG assessment, 93 percent of boys and 90.7 percent of girls were enrolled, according to Ministry of Planning figures.

The summit will conclude Wednesday with a speech by Prime Minister Hun

Party to protest CTN

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Funcinpec claims news anchor ‘attacked' party.

FUNCINPEC Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay says his party members are to stage a protest outside the studio of television network CTN this Saturday because the network's popular news anchor, Soy Sopheap, keeps "attacking" his party.

The royalist leader told the Post Monday that his party's patience was "wearing thin" with what he believed were regular derogatory comments about the party by the station's commentator.

"We will not be patient. He has attacked us five times in the same story. He has acted illegally," he said, claiming Soy Sopheap appealed to Funcinpec members to vote for the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

"His appeal is contrary to election law. We have already asked municipal authorities to protest in front of CTN," he said.

Intention to divide solidarity
Nhek Bun Chhay claimed Soy Sopheap's intention was to divide solidarity between CPP and Funcinpec members and to discredit the party by claiming it forced Siem Reap members to swear their vote.

"Funcinpec did not force its members to swear their vote ...it just wants its members to be honest and work together," he said.

Party has right to protest
Director of CTN Kith Meng told the Post Monday he did not know the specifics of the issue, adding that if Nhek Bun Chhay wants to protest in front of his CTN studio he may, as it is his right to do so.

Soy Sopheap told the Post Monday he would welcome the protest and confirmed that he told Funcinpec voters to defect on CTN Thursday of last week.

"Before, political parties including Funcinpec criticised the CPP for forcing its members to swear, but now Funcinpec are doing the same thing," he said.

"If Funcinpec is going to make their members swear like the CPP, they may as well defect to the CPP," he added.

Nhek Bun Chhay said that his party would also consider lodging a complaint in court against the anchor.

Govt eyes visa frauds

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

OFFICIALS at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are actively trying to shut down three unauthorised websites offering electronic travel visas, a ministry official told the Post Monday.

Koy Kuong, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, said officials are investigating who is behind the sites. When they find this out, he said, they will shut the sites down.

"These websites make trouble and difficulty for the tourists," Koy Kuong said Monday.

The ministry released a statement Saturday identifying the sites as: www.cambodiaonarrival.com, www.cambodiaevisa.com, and www.welovecambodia.com. The statement noted that the only website authorised to issue electronic visas was the ministry's: www.mfaic.gov.kh.

Koy Kuong said the ministry could not provide information on how many tourists had fallen victim to the fraudulent sites.

All three unauthorised websites were still accessible early Monday evening.

Sports clubs in Russey Keo raided

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Over 40 arrested as more clubs come under scrutiny.

POLICE have raided local betting clubs in Russey Keo district in line with last month's gambling ban in the capital, arresting over 40 people, police said.

Two sports clubs in Svay Pak commune were the targets of the raid, which happened on Saturday night in cooperation with the provincial court prosecutor, police said.

Police arrested 41 patrons and two club owners, telling the Post that another club owner was "on the run".

"We are interrogating [the detained] to see whether there is enough evidence to press charges. We have divided them into two: the gamblers and the bettinghouse staff. The other club owner is on the run but we know that person's identity," Song Ly, head of the Phnom Penh's Minor Crimes Division, said Monday.

"We will free them if there is not enough evidence against them, but if there is evidence we will send them to the court for further investigations," he added.

Warning to the stubborn
Kaub Slesh, Russey Keo deputy district governor, confirmed the raids Monday, but said he was not involved.

"A gradual crackdown is still in place and provides a warning to those [gamblers and employees] who choose to be stubborn and ignore the ban implemented by the prime minister and City Hall," Song Ly said.

"It reminds others to be afraid and that club owners can face court if they don't comply," he added.

The government issued a directive last month terminating all valid gambling licences following a directive by Hun Sen the same day, ending gambling to "make social reform, strengthen public order and improve social morality".

Drug Run: Taiwan man arrested at airport

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 17 March 2009


A TAIWANESE national has been charged at Phnom Penh Municipal Court with smuggling drugs and using an illegal weapon. Lo Ching Hang, 22, was arrested Friday at Phnom Penh International Airport with 809 grams of heroin, said prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot. He added that a military police officer was also charged with supplying an illegal weapon to the man. Customs official Theam Chan Sotha said authorities had found the drugs in the man's pocket when he was going through security to catch his flight to Taiwan. Moeuk Dara, director of the anti-drug trafficking department, said his office suspected "ring leaders" in Phnom Penh were behind the attempted smuggling. Lo Ching Hang faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, said Cambodia Defenders Project director Sok Sam Oeun.

Film school back on agenda

Filming on location with Khmer Mekong Film in this file photograph.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear and Chhay Channyda
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Despite a delay in South Korean funding for the establishment of a local cinema academy, Royal University to create in-house faculty of film studies.

THE Royal University of Fine Arts is to establish a local film academy with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture next year, despite a delay in South Korean funds pledged to the Ministry of Culture in 2006.

University Deputy Director Proeung Chheang said the ministry had originally planned to found a film school this year, but that the plans would be scaled down because funds from South Korea had been delayed by the onset of the global economic crisis.

Instead of the full-scale school planned under Korean auspices, the university will instead go it alone and create an in-house department to teach film and acting techniques.

"We will no longer wait for support from the Korean National University of Art, and we will create a department of cinema by ourselves in the next year," he said.

He said also that a film school was vital for the survival of Cambodian cinema and a central part of bringing local talent up to a professional standard.

"If we have no local film school, Khmer cinema will be hopeless forever," he said.

"I want to use our country's human resources in order to develop our cinema to the same level as in other countries."

Proeung Chheang said the school would likely offer student scholarships in addition to fee-based programs. Although he said charging students fees was not ideal, he said he hoped it would help attract experienced teachers and quality equipment for the school.

Minister of Culture Him Chhem said the proposed school would be put under the management of the university and would be staffed with local and foreign teachers with experience in the industry.


"It is our goal to have a faculty of cinema, but we are still not sure if we will open a faculty or a whole school," he said, referring to the uncertainty over the Korean funds.

"But it is important to establish a cinema school because up until now our film actors and actresses have never received any training. Our film industry is not up to a very high standard, so we need to improve the sector, which will help promote our culture."

New golden age
Ly Bun Yim, a local filmmaker who directed 1972's Twelve Sisters and Khmer After Angkor - one of the last films to be completed before the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975 - said that education in film and acting was vital to reverse the recent closure of many Phnom Penh movie houses.

"I think that once we establish a cinema school, Khmer films will be better even than they were in the 1950s and 1960s because of our cooperation with Korea," he said, adding that the previous generation of Khmer filmmakers had to go to France to receive film training.

Resources are also a central issue for the local industry, and Ly Bun Yim said that in the earlier generation films could were made for around US$500,000.

"If we want to make our movies look good, film producers will have to have good equipment and a lot of money," he said.

"I'm very happy to share my knowledge with the next generation if they invite me to help them."

Proeung Chheang also expressed regrets over the closures that have decimated Phnom Penh's once-flourishing cinema scene and hoped a local school could help reverse the decline.

"I regret that most of the cinemas were closed, and that we don't have the ability to prevent their closure," he said. "So that's why we have been trying to find sponsors to open a film school."

French HIV/AIDS body convenes in capital

A young orphan receives medical treatment for AIDS at Takhmao Hospital.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tom Hunter
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Two clinical trials by the group involve research into TB HIV/AIDS patients and mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

HIV/Aids researchers convened Friday in Phnom Penh to discuss new regional projects aimed at alleviating the epidemic, which now affects an estimated 64,750 Cambodians.

The French National Agency for Aids (ANRS) gathered at Phnom Penh's Pasteur Institute after an annual conference in Vietnam last week, in which they collected information about the disease from representatives across the region.

"Now more than ever we need a global response to the epidemic that will mobilise all forces in order to meet the new medical, social and economic challenges it imposes," Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, the 2008 Nobel laureate in medicine, said in a press release.

The French research body is involved in two clinical trials in Cambodia: one that looks at new ways to treat patients co-infected with HIV and tuberculosis, and another that seeks improved detection and alternative treatments of mother-to-child virus transmission.

Results of the later study were "very promising", Barre-Sinoussi said, adding that there were no adverse effects to either mother or child. Official results are to be released next month.

Research into co-infections
Dr Francois Xavier-Blanc, a researcher based at the institute, told the Post Friday that the high rate of TB in Cambodia posed a problem to the administration of anti-retroviral drugs to patients infected with both HIV/AIDS and TB because of interactions between the two treatments.

"It is unclear why Cambodia suffers from such high rates of TB.... One reason may be that [Cambodia] has better measures for detection in comparison to other developing countries," he said.

The body aims to identify a method for which both treatments can be used without interference.

ANRS researchers in Cambodia were responsible for the development of an early diagnosis test late last year involving blotting paper to store a small sample of blood. The test was widely acknowledged as a success, as it was easy to transport, heat-resistant and inexpensive.

However, it has not yet been made available on the market.

Border talks: Alleged incursions to be raised

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 17 March 2009


CAMBODIAN military commanders said they will press their Thai counterparts during a meeting near Preah Vihear temple today to ensure their troops abstain from making new incursions into Cambodian territory. The meeting, they say, follows a renewed effort from Thai soldiers to put their stamp on Cambodian land by erecting fences and taking patrols into land that does not belong to them. Sao Socheat, deputy commander of Military Region 4, said Cambodian military officials would refer to a 2000 memorandum of understanding requiring soldiers on both sides to abstain from advancing into each other's territory. "If they accept it, then they should not be able to move their troops into Cambodian territory," he said. "Thai soldiers have been moving into disputed territory. They must stop if our border committees are going to work together to demarcate the border," he said. Srey Doek, 3rd Division Commander and the highest-ranking RCAF official on the ground there, said the "problem will be raised during the meeting in order to prevent confrontations in the future".

Feel the rock

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sovan Philong
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Students from the International School of Phnom Penh perform in the Everybody Gotta Rock Musical on Friday at the Chenla Theatre. The musical comedy was a big hit with the crowds of family, friends and theatre enthusiasts.

Israelis focus on farming, telecoms during visit

Photo by: George Mcleod
From left to right: Israeli delegate Yitzhak Kiriati; Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Pan Sorasak; Israeli Ambassador Yael Rubinstein and Israeli trade attache Tzahi Selzer.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Israel's biggest-ever delegation arrived in Phnom Penh Monday, with telecoms and agriculture firms saying they have big plans for Cambodia

With Cambodia's huge agricultural potential and Israel's world-class technology, the two countries have a bright future of cooperation ahead of them, said Israeli Ambassador Yael Rubinstein on Monday in Phnom Penh during her country's largest-ever visit to the Kingdom.

Included with the delegation were representatives of Israel's top agriculture technology companies, offering what they say are the world's most advanced farming methods.

"One of our most important messages is that we see agriculture as a business - not just a way of feeding people," said Yitzhak Kiriati, director of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, a government-private export promotion group.

"We are not coming to Cambodia to save hungry people - we are here to make people make money from agriculture," he said.

He said Israel will be working to introduce new technologies and to change methods used on Cambodian farms.

"Israeli agriculture operates as a system - you pool resources.... We will be working with Cambodia to increase not only the technology, but the way that farms organise themselves."

No deals were signed, but a delegation spokesman said he expects major announcements before year's end.

Technology needed
Local agricultural experts said the Israeli visit could bring much-needed advancements to a sector plagued by inefficiency and low productivity.

"There are serious problems in Cambodia with a lack of investment - agriculture needs more support and loans for small farmers," said Yang Saing Koma, president of CEDAC - a local agriculture development association.

One of our most important messages is … we see agriculture as a business.

Israel is an arid, desert country that has become an important agriculture exporter, in part because of advanced irrigation, greenhouses and fertilisers. One of its most famous technologies is "drip irrigation" that waters plants individually, cutting evaporation and waste.

The Israeli government told the Post better farming techniques have allowed it to boost agriculture earnings from US$0.50 per cubic litre of water to $4.00 in the past 60 years. These technologies could fit well in Cambodia's wet-dry climate, say local experts.

"We are growing rice in the wet season, but we really aren't growing much in the dry season. We should be growing vegetables in the dry season, but we need better irrigation, and greenhouses," said Yang Saing Koma.

Agricultural advancements would pay off in terms of poverty reduction and economic growth, say experts. World Bank figures say 59 percent of Cambodians rely on agriculture. Rice yields in Cambodia are a low 2.6 tonnes per hectare, compared with 3.5 in Thailand and close to six in China.

"[Agriculture sector] growth is constrained by the poor use of fertilisers, weak irrigation systems and rural roads, limited access to credit and poor research," said the World Bank in its 2008 report.

Telecoms were also an area of focus for the delegation.

"Cambodia's telecoms market is expanding fast," said Eyal Mayer, director for Business Development and Project Management at Celtro, a mobile phone technology firm.

"The prospects for Cambodia are very strong indeed."

Amnon Ferber from the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute said that the Cambodian market would be especially lucrative for small- and medium-sized Israeli companies.

"There is a lot of competition in India and China, so Cambodia is very interesting for Israeli business," he said.

But Israel's politics continue to be a subject of debate, and the head of the Palestine Solidarity Council (PSC) in Thailand said that the Israel delegation's visit to Phnom Penh is nothing to celebrate. "Cambodia should steer clear of Israeli investment.... We can and should be doing something about the violence against the Palestinians through nonviolent means," said PSC Chairman Stuart Ward.

Work agencies target new destinations for migrants

Workers take a break on a construction site in Hong Kong. Construction and maid employment are among the most common for migrant workers in the territory.

Working overseas
- 4,000 new workers head overseas from Cambodia each year
- 30,000 Cambodians worked overseas at the end of 2008.
- 13,324 Cambodians working in Malaysia at the end of last year, the most popular destination
- 5,949 Cambodians working in South Korea

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Kunmakara
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Hong Kong, Middle East seen as emerging spots for Cambodian migrant workers after downturn in traditional overseas employment markets

AS the demand for migrant workers drops off in traditional markets as a result of the global economic downturn, Hong Kong and the Middle East are being earmarked as future destinations for Cambodian workers, according to labour officials.

An Bun Hak, president of the Cambodian Recruitment Agency (CRA), said that employment opportunities in South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia - the traditional destinations for Cambodian workers - had dried up and that the growing economic links between Cambodia and Gulf countries could help forge a fruitful worker-exchange program.

He is in the process of asking for support from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to seek out new overseas marketplaces, he said, while urging the National Assembly to sign off on a memorandum of understanding already signed with Kuwait.

"I think we can send between 2,000 and 3,000 local labourers to these countries each year," he said, adding that migrant workers could expect net salaries of around $500 per month and good working conditions. "I think we can send our workers to Hong Kong and Kuwait in the third quarter of 2009 if both of these governments take action to curb unemployment."

Sok Chanpheakdey, president of Philimore Cambodia Co Ltd, an agency recruiting locals to work in Malaysia and Thailand, said that the company was currently sending Cambodians to work as housekeepers in Malaysia, but that factory and construction workers were not needed due to the severe local impact of the global economic crisis.

"I still recruit our labour to work as housekeepers in Malaysia, which is needed," he said, adding that Philimore had ceased sending Cambodian workers to Thailand, citing the poor conditions and low pay.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said that although he supported the idea in principle, the plan to export labour to the Middle East and Hong Kong lacked detail on conditions there. "We cannot send our workers without knowing anything about recruitment offices in that country," he said. "It is a big risk. If Cambodia and foreign countries are already in communication, they have to request proposals for new labour arrangements so both governments can check them."

He said that South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand are still the biggest overseas markets for Cambodian labour, but that the ministry was making attempts to diversify. In addition to the memorandum signed with Kuwait, Oum Mean said the ministry was also preparing to sign agreements with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and had contacted officials in Hong Kong and Singapore about exporting labour.

An Bun Hak said that Cambodia sends around 4,000 new labourers to work abroad annually, and that at the end of 2008, there were 30,000 Cambodians working abroad including 13,324 workers in Malaysia, 5,949 workers in South Korea and 8,231 workers in Thailand. Salaries ranged from around US$180 per month in Malaysia and Thailand to $800 in South Korea.

"Our country earns around $20 million per year from migrant workers," he said. "Overseas jobs directly contribute to economic growth, decrease unemployment, and raise local living standards."

Vietnam border trade up

Trade with Vietnam
- $1.6bn bilateral trade be tween Cambodia and Vietnam in 2008
- $1.1bn cross-border trade the same year
- $5bn in total bilateral trade the aim by 2015-2020

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Kunmakara
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Cross-border trade reached $1.1billion in 2008, say govt officials

TRADE between the border provinces of Cambodia and Vietnam reached $1.1 billion in 2008, a significant proportion of the $1.6 billion in two-way trade between the countries, officials from both countries said Monday.

Nguyen Cam Tu, Vietnam's vice minister of industry and trade, said that border trade had increased dramatically since last year following the signing of a bilateral memorandum of understanding on border trade facilitation.

He did not know the exact figure for 2007, he added.

"Presently border trade is getting better ... offering a good business climate to people and it will help alleviate poverty during the global economic upheavals," he said at the second meeting on the Development of Border Trade Cooperation Monday. "Moreover, as border trade increases, infrastructure will also improve and facilitate further business."

But he said he was still disappointed with the complicated paperwork required at border checkpoints, which remained a barrier to the further expansion of trade. "I proposed that the Cambodian government reform its administration to facilitate trade, improve marketplaces and support Vietnamese investors," he said.

The global crisis requires us to cooperate to enhance trade in the region.

Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh expressed similar hopes that trade would continue to increase in 2009, adding that he was "profoundly proud" of the economic and social ties that had developed between the two nations.

"At this time, the global crisis requires us to cooperate to enhance trade in the region and to coordinate on business in order to deal with current challenges," he said.

But Chap Sotharith, an economist at the Cambodian Cooperation and Peace Institute, said that cross-border trade had increased in large part due to political tensions with Thailand, which had prompted many Cambodians to stop importing Thai products. "Since Vietnam has offered free visas to Cambodians, the people can enter easily, while Thailand is very strict on our people," he said.

Vun Huy Haong, Vietnam's minister of Industry and Commerce, told Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday that trade between both countries would increase to $5 billion between 2015 and 2020, hitting $2 billion next year.

Vun was visiting Phnom Penh as part of a trade delegation.

Phone revenue to rise: Govt

A mobile phone shop in Phnom Penh. Phone revenues are expected to climb on the back of increased coverage.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

State revenues from telecommunications are expected to hit $30m this year, government says, but opposition questions method of collection

GOVERNMENT revenues from the telecommunications sector are set to increase in 2009 on the back of expanding domestic demand for mobile phone services, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said Sunday.

"We expect around $30 million in revenue this year as the number of phone companies and users in Cambodia are increasing year on year," he told the Post, adding that revenues stood at around $28 million in 2008. "Currently there are about 4 million mobile phone users in Cambodia."

The government earns revenue from phone operators by charging them an annual fee to use various frequencies within the country. So Khun said the ministry had so far licensed 11 telecom operators, eight of which are in full operation with three more still preparing to enter the market.

"I think that revenue from the telecommunications sector may increase in the coming years, but it is unlikely to exceed $30 million, as there are no more available frequencies," he said.

Cheam Yeap, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said that he hoped to see an increase in telecommunications revenue but warned that the current financial crisis could have unpredictable effects on the industry.

"I believe that telecoms revenues will increase if there is strong confidence in the sector, but it will otherwise be hard to estimate the upcoming growth."

Opposition concerns
But Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay was sceptical of any talk of an increase, saying the government granted mobile licences to companies in a disorderly manner that cost the country millions in lost revenue each year.

Telecoms revenues will increase if there is strong confidence in the sector.

"I believe that the ministry should be able to collect revenue of at least $150 million per year from this sector because in 1995, when phones were used in smaller numbers than they are now, they were receiving an income of $47 million," he said Monday.

Son Chhay added that the government did not have a central system to monitor the volume of mobile calls made in Cambodia and that yearly operation taxes were calculated on the basis of the operators' own figures.

"The companies pay in accordance with the information they provide, which results in a loss of income for the government," he said.

He added that the government would face a serious shortfall in revenues for 2009, having increased its total expenditure by 28 percent on last year, from $1.37 billion to $1.75 billion.

Keat Chhon, minister of economy and finance, said early this year that the government depended on income it received from tax collection to respond to the necessary budget increase. However, Pen Simorn, general director of the Custom and Tax Levy Headquarters, has announced in an annual conference recently that income from tax in January and February 2009 decreased by 30 percent compared with the same period last year.

New prefix 081 set up by Hello network

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Hor Hab
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

MOBILE phone service operator Hello, a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia International, has announced the launch of the new prefix number 081 to meet the needs of its growing number of subscribers, it said last week.

The company has seen the number of its subscribers almost double during the past 12 months, said Gary Foo, brand manager of Hello.

"This new launch shows the commitment of Hello to our customers and future development of the network," Foo said.
Customers using the new prefix will still receive the same benefits as existing customers using the provider's 015 and 016, Foo added.

Currently, 29 percent of Cambodians own mobile phones, a figure that is expected to rise to 46 percent by 2012, private sector data shows.

The company this month also launched an unlimited international roaming package, the country's first, it said.

The Phnom Penh Post News In Brief

In Brief: New Vattanac branch

Written by Nguon Sovan
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Vattanac Bank on Monday opened its third branch near Olympic Market in Phnom Penh. Its president, Chhun Leang, said at the opening ceremony, "Although some huge international banks have faced closure due to the crisis, Vattanac is still strong." The expansion comes after the bank opened its first branch in the capital in 2002 followed by a Siem Reap branch in 2005. The bank had total assets of US$190 million at the end of 2008, financial results show, with total lending of $103.89 million.

In Brief: KOTRA to reopen office

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) plans to reopen its Phnom Penh office Wednesday in response to the "high growth" of the Cambodian economy and "a rapid increase of Korean investment in Cambodia", according to a press release on Monday. The office will include a Korea Business Support Centre that will aid investors from the country, the release states. The old KOTRA office opened in 1997 and closed less than two years ago, in July 2007.

In Brief: Vendors protest outside pm's house

Written by May Titthara
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Some 100 Olympic Market fish vendors demonstrated outside Prime Minister Hun Sen's house Monday, protesting their forced relocation last month from sidewalks outside the market to a strip half a kilometre away along an open sewer. They have said the new site is not suitable. Their removal came following a city initiative that police said was directed at clearing clogged streets.

In Brief: Facial deformity surgeries

Written by Sam Rtih
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Operation Smile is conducting its 13th medical mission in Cambodia from Monday to Friday, providing free surgery to 125 people with cleft palates and other facial deformities at Phnom Penh's Cambodia-Russia Friendship Hospital. The mission includes 144 volunteer physicians from India, the Philippines, Vietnam, the United States and England, according to Mok Theavy, program director of Operation Smile Cambodia. Since 2002, the group has provided more than 1,450 Cambodians with corrective surgeries, he said. The group plans to provide a mission on May 2 to 8 in Kampong Cham, he added.

In Brief: Japan demining, clean water aid

Written by Chean Sokha
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Japanese Ambassador Katsuhiro Shinohara is to sign over Wednesday a 548 million yen ($US 5.58 million) grant for demining equipment and a 3.51 billion yen loan for the construction of a new water treatment facility to serve Phnom Penh.

Proskauer Associate Joins Cambodian War Crimes Legal Team

The American Lawyer

Brian Baxter
March 17, 2009

Thirty years after the totalitarian Khmer Rouge regime headed by the notorious dictator Pol Pot was forced from power, proceedings in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) have finally begun.

Pol Pot's dream of an agrarian utopia resulted in a genocide that's thought to have claimed the lives of nearly 2 million people -- about a third of Cambodia's population.

While Academy Award-winning films would capture the horror of the massacre, it wasn't until Pol Pot's death in 1998 and the eradication of the last vestiges of the Khmer Rouge that Cambodia began the process of bringing former regime figures to justice.

The venue will be the ECCC, which has its roots in a Cambodian government task force formed in 1997, and which under an agreement with the United Nations is now a "hybrid" tribunal consisting of both Cambodian and international judges and lawyers.

Daniella Rudy, a third-year litigation associate with Proskauer Rose in New York, will soon be a part of that international legal team. Rudy leaves in two weeks for Cambodia, where she will work for British barrister Karim Khan in trying a civil case against Kaing Guek Eav, a former Khmer official nicknamed "Duch" who ran the regime's most notorious prison.

We caught up with Rudy to chat about her decision to head to Phnom Penh, the ECCC and international living.

Hi, Daniella. So, why are you doing this?

I've always been interested in this type of work, having been active in Proskauer's pro bono program and working closely with [international legal counsel] Eric Blinderman, who heads a program here assisting Iraqi refugees. He's always known about my interests -- I was a former intern at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague -- and when he saw the application [for the ECCC job] he forwarded it to me. I thought it sounded like a fantastic opportunity and the firm's been really supportive and encouraging.

Did you apply through the UN for this position?

No, I actually went through the legal team [in Cambodia]. I'm going to be working with one of the legal teams representing a group of victims who are civil parties to this trial. And they sent out an application through a variety of different means and channels. And through that it got to Eric Blinderman and then it made its way to me. As a team, they made the selection.

The individual going on trial is called "Duch" (pronounced "doik")?

Yeah. Pretrial hearings commenced Feb. 17, which dealt with the procedural aspects of the court, and the actual substantive trial is set to start on March 30. So we're definitely going ahead and it will be quite fascinating to see how it all goes, especially with respect to my case, where the civil parties will have a pretty substantial part in these proceedings.

It's my understanding that Duch has admitted some guilt. Is that correct?

That's right, he has said that he's sorry and not denying what has happened. A large part of this process is certainly seeking justice in a retributive system, but it's also a court that seeks reconciliation. Since this whole country was affected, [reconciliation] is something this whole country is committed to.

(Note: Former American Lawyer colleague Claire Duffett is now a freelance journalist based in Cambodia. You can find a detailed account of the charges against Duch in this piece she penned for The Economist as well as in a Q&A with a former Coudert Brothers patent litigator turned ECCC defense chief, available on Law.com's international page.)

This being a civil case, are you seeking damages from Duch?

There are moral collective damages. The basic structure is based on Cambodian law, which is in turn based on French civil law. In this case parties can join the criminal proceedings as civil parties. So it's not a true civil case as we would know it here, but a hybrid form whereby the civil parties seek moral damages and reparations for what has occurred.

Have you been to Cambodia before?

No I have not. I've been to Thailand but I'm sure [Cambodia] is quite different and unique.

When do you leave?

March 24th and I'll get there on the 25th. With the trial starting five days later, I'll definitely hit the ground running. Hopefully there won't be a delay.

How long do you expect to stay there? Is it just for this trial?

Yes. All of the attorneys out there on this case are working pro bono, including myself, so I'm planning to be there for five months. The trial is expected to last three to four months, give or take, and if possible I'd like to see it through. But it depends on how things go.

I understand that Mr. Khan is British. How about the rest of the trial team?

We've got Alain Werner, who worked as an assistant prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone on the Charles Taylor case. He's Swiss. Then we've got a fantastic Cambodian attorney named Ty Srinna. And we have Brianne McGonigle, who is a U.S. attorney that will be returning to Holland soon, where she is working at the University of Utrecht. So I'm going to be filling in for her, more or less. All of them have been working extremely hard to this point. We might get two more interns joining, but we're not sure yet.

And what's your status with Proskauer? Are you still on the payroll?

I will be taking a leave of absence but I will still receive a stipend. I plan on returning to the firm in September.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

I'm looking forward to the hands-on experience since the team is very small, but the responsibilities will be great. And just working on a trial of such significance and being a part of that will help me [as a litigator], especially one that's representing the victim's in this case. I feel privileged to be a part of it.

All interviews are condensed and edited for style and grammar.

Cambodia prepares to list 2 more temples as world heritage sites+

PHNOM PENH, March 16 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Cambodia is preparing to nominate two more ancient temple sites -- Sambo Prey Kuk and Bantaey Chmar -- as UNESCO World Heritage sites, a senior government official said Monday.

Chuch Phoeung, secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and a famous Cambodian archeologist, told Kyodo News that the Cambodian government is prioritizing Sambo Prey Kuk and Bantaey Chmar out of thousands of ancient temples in the country.

If the nominations are accepted by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, they would bring the number of World Heritage sites in Cambodia to four.

The world-famous Angkor Wat temple complex and nearby ruins in the northern province of Siem Reap became a World Heritage site in 1992. The Preah Vihear temple, on Cambodia's border with Thailand, was inscribed last year.

Sambo Prey Kuk, commonly spelled Sambor Prei Kuk, is located in the central province of Kompong Thom and consists of dozens of small temples and structures that were built between the 6th and 7th centuries AD, predating the Angkor monuments that lie some 140 kilometers to the northwest.

The temples of Banteay Chmar, in the northern province of Banteay Meanchey, were built between the 12th and 13th centuries and are known for their superb bas-reliefs.
Chuch Phoeung said more paperwork needs to be done before the temples can be officially nominated for inscription.

He said Waseda University of Japan is currently helping his ministry with those preparations. Waseda's Laboratory of Architectural History has been engaged with the ministry since 1998 in a project to conserve and restore the ruins of Sambo Prey Kuk.

Once isolated from the outside world, Cambodia jumps online

Monks head online in Phnom Penh.

March 16, 2009
Several decades ago under the communist Khmer Rouge, Cambodia was isolated and cut off from much of the outside world. While the Internet has since expanded the range of global communication, most Cambodians still lack Internet access — only about 70,000 people are online.

Tharum Bun is the information technology manager at The Asia Foundation in Cambodia and writes at the “In Asia” blog that while Internet access may be scarce, those who have embraced the Web — including a former king — have used blogs to engage in dynamic and open dialogue.
Cambodians Embrace Online Dialogue

Cambodia has over 13 million people, but currently, less than 2 percent have regular access to the Internet. Cambodia’s official language is Khmer, but these Cambodians who chat, e-mail, and blog on the Internet – and the approximately 23 percent of Cambodians who text with their mobile phones – find it easier to use English. While low Internet penetration, language barriers, and technical issues with using the Khmer scripts limit the amount of Cambodians who can engage in online dialogue, those Cambodians who are entering the international blogosphere are breaking a pattern of devastating silence and isolation.

The former King (or King Father), Norodom Sihanouk, now 86, makes regular postings about Cambodia’s past and present on his website. The former Prince – fluent in Khmer, French, and English – posts communiqués and reactions to media reports regularly. Originally launched in 2002, the King’s website became a new digital medium for global visitors. Cambodian media largely use their websites as a source for information, taking the King’s comments and those of his critics, and translating them into Khmer. The King’s online conversation and personal digital medium is inspiring young Cambodians to engage the Internet as a forum for discussion and debate, and to learn English as a second language.

After the Khmer Rouge fell in the 1980s, Cambodia experienced a big baby boom; today 60 percent of the population qualifies as youth. Because of their English language skills and affinity for technology, Cambodian youth make up the largest number of Internet users in the country and are, like the King, engaging in online debate. This group of active Internet users writes mostly in English, given both the technical difficulties of inputting Khmer characters, as well as the widespread use of English among their audience: their own peers and the international online community.

This dynamic online dialogue has helped pave the way for a more open discussion in a country torn by civil wars in recent decades. The trauma inflicted by the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) is still a major point of discussion in Cambodia. Cambodian intellectuals, who were once the target of mass killings, and their surviving children, use their knowledge of the English language and technology to express their opinions and views. To move Cambodia past years of silence, this is essential. The King has used his website to post his thoughts on social order and past politics, encouraging today’s Cambodian youth to use online forums, chat rooms, and blogs to discuss issues from everyday life to larger, social issues.

While this new emergence of online voices, in a language other than their own, doesn’t necessarily reflect the progressive thinking of the entire nation, it is a starting point of voiced, diversified opinions.

To read more, see the original post.

Websites blacklisted by Cambodia for giving fake visa information


PHNOM PENH, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government has names three "fraudulent" websites as providing fake visa and wrong information about Cambodia, said official news agency the Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) on Monday.

These fraudulent website were addressed as www.cambodiaonarrival.com, www.cambodiaevisa.com, and www.elovecambodia.com, AKP quoted a press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as saying.

Some of them offered visa service which turned out to be fake and deceptive, it said.

The ministry "would like to inform the users of e-Visa that the ministry's website, www.mfaic.gov.kh, is the only authorized website to issue e-visa" for travelers coming into the country, it said.

The ministry "welcomes visitors to the Kingdom of Cambodia to use the convenience of our e-Visa services that enable you to participate in the E-government initiative," it added.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

UN pledges efforts to conserve Preah Vihear temple of Cambodia


PHNOM PENH, March 16 (Xinhua) -- UN has pledged great efforts to preserve and develop the centuries-old Preah Vihear temple of Cambodia as World Heritage Site, said official news agency the Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) on Monday.

A delegation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) made this promise during a recent visit to the temple in border province of Preah Vihear, it said.

UN will arrange activities to promote the cooperation between Cambodia and UNESCO in the fields of finance and technique to protect the site, AKP quoted government officials as saying.

The delegation will continue its visit till late March to find more ways for conservation of the temple, they added.

The Preah Vihear temple was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

Cambodian government rejects U.S. human rights report


PHNOM PENH, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government has condemned that a human rights report recently issued by the U.S. State Department didn't reflect the reality of Cambodia, said official news agency AKP on Monday.

"The 2008 Country Report on Human Rights Practices on Cambodia issued by the U.S. State Department seems to be a routine that has nothing to do with human rights reality in Cambodia, and appears to be almost a carbon copy of the reports of the previous years with a few cosmetic changes here and there," the Agence Kampuchea Presse quoted a spokesman of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as saying in a statement.

The report contains a number of unsubstantiated assertions which appear to rely on misleading information supplied by certain organizations, which are monitored and financially supported by certain foreign countries, said the spokesman.

He clarified that "it is very normal in democratic countries that political party which wins landslide victory in democratic elections has to lead the country, and there is nothing unusual about such democratic practice everywhere in the world."

"There is simply never 'extra-judicial killing' by security forces in Cambodia as mentioned in the report. This is only vulgarlie," he said.

"With regard to the freedom of speech and press in Cambodia, one only needs to read and see how the ubiquitous opposition newspapers attack the Royal Government of Cambodia. Even the newspapers written in foreign languages, financed and managed by foreigners do not have the slightest reservation or hesitation in criticizing the Royal Government of Cambodia," he added.

The spokesman also explained the so-called "unlawful forced eviction," saying that "one must ponder whether there is any country in the world which allows squatters to take over possession of or occupy permanently private properties or public areas such as public gardens, sidewalk and streets."

"Finally, if enforcing rules to maintain public order is construed as human rights violation, then what does one have to say in terms of human rights respect on the condition in the secret prisons of a certain country where torture of prisoners is practiced as reported in the media?" added the spokesman in the statement.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

The Killing Fields: authentically good

Roland Joffé's 1984 masterwork is a solid piece of historical film-making, capturing factual detail without sacrificing fine storytelling. Alex von Tunzelmann can even forgive the use of Imagine

Alex von Tunzelmann
Thursday 12 March 2009

Bomb site ... Sam Waterston and Haing S Ngor as Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran in The Killing Fields. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

Director: Roland Joffé
Entertainment grade: A–
History grade: A–

The Killing Fields
Release: 1984
Country: UK
Directors: Roland Joffé
Cast: Haing S Ngor, John Malkovich, Julian Sands, Sam Waterston
More on this film

Richard Nixon ordered an incursion into Cambodia in 1970 as a corollary to the war in Vietnam. With the country under an American-installed government, the Khmer Rouge gained widespread support. After American withdrawal in 1975, it instituted a regime that made George Orwell's 1984 look like a feelgood tale of heartwarming friendship between a man, his brother and their pet rat. Between 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge coerced most of Cambodia's people into forced labour, and murdered something in the region of 1.5-2 million – around 20-30% of the entire population.
No beating about the bush ... Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Warner Bros

The Killing Fields follows the story of Dith Pran, a Cambodian fixer, and his patron, New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg. The first few scenes show the two of them travelling to the town of Neak Luong, which the Americans accidentally bombed, in 1973. Putrid water fills enormous craters where homes used to be. Refugees stagger around the makeshift field hospital, begging Schanberg to take their photographs and show the world the truth of what is happening. Immediately, it's clear that this film is not going to patronise its audience by giftwrapping the story. It's complicated, challenging and upsetting. Just like the modern history of Cambodia.


In an inspired piece of casting, Dith is played by Haing S Ngor, a doctor and real-life veteran of the Khmer Rouge's labour camps. This was Ngor's first performance, and it deservedly won him an Oscar. Sam Waterston is well cast as Schanberg, and John Malkovich gives a memorable performance as photographer Al Rockoff. On the other hand, the real Rockoff has always insisted that Schanberg was a lying coward, and that both Malkovich's performance, and many of the details in the scenes that take place inside the French embassy in Phnom Penh, are inaccurate.

Of human bondage ... Photograph: Kobal

When the journalists are forced to leave, Dith is left to the mercy of the new regime. He passes himself off as a taxi driver, pretending not to speak English or French. The languages would immediately give him away as being middle-class and having worked with foreigners, either of which would have earned him a summary execution. The two-and-a-half years Dith spent in Dam Dek, a village-cum-slave camp near Siem Reap, are unavoidably compressed, but the film does an excellent job of recreating the sense of living in constant fear and confusion. Characters speak in Khmer, without subtitles – leaving the mostly non-Khmer-speaking audience, like the prisoners in the camp, reliant on instinct to work out what's going on. In totalitarian regimes, whatever is said cannot be trusted anyway.


Some of the facts of Dith's escape have been switched around, but the significant historical details are all present and correct: the Vietnamese invasion, Dith's flight over the border to Thailand, and the shocking recreation of the killing fields themselves. These vast dumping grounds, where the Khmer Rouge left the bodies of their victims, were described by the real Dith as being pitted with water wells full of corpses, "like soup bones in broth". In reality, Dith stayed around for longer under the Vietnamese occupation than the film allows, even becoming mayor of Siem Reap. However, the closing scenes, shot in a real Cambodian refugee camp in Khao-i-Dang, Thailand, provide plenty of authenticity. They also include the film's one artistic misstep: ending on the fatuous strains of John Lennon's Imagine.

Reunited ... Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran in Thailand in 1979. Photograph: Teresa Zabala/AP
It's hard to know whether the real Al Rockoff or the real Sydney Schanberg is right about certain minor details. But the main storylines of this movie – US involvement in Cambodia, the rise of the Khmer Rouge, the abuses and horrors of the regime – are not only accurate but, for many viewers, enlightening. The Killing Fields uses real archive footage and personalities to tell an astonishing and moving true story. As a result, even with one or two question marks, and even with John Lennon, this is historical film-making at its very best.

Vietnam, Cambodia talk trade cooperation


VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Cambodian Minister of Trade Cham Prasidh held talks in Phnom Penh on March 16, agreeing to accelerate trade activities towards a target of 2 billion USD in turnover by 2010.

During the talks, the two ministers reviewed the implementation of trade cooperation agreements and discussed obstacles on the way to reach the targets.

The two sides agreed in principle to set up a coordination mechanism, probably a specialised board co-chaired by the two ministers, to deal with emerging issues in a timely manner.

They agreed that the two countries should meet to revise existing regulations on customs procedures for transit goods and border gate management in order to facilitate goods transport and travel along their shared border.

After the talks, the ministers signed minutes of their meeting, pledging to accelerate the implementation of trade agreements signed by the two countries’ Prime Ministers and the two ministries. They also plan to cooperate in personnel training hold more meetings between the two ministries to solve any rising problems, and promote border trade to boost sales of agricultural products and create more jobs for border inhabitants.

Earlier the same day, the two ministers co-chaired the opening ceremony of the second conference on Vietnam-Cambodia border trade cooperation.

During his stay in Cambodia from March 15-16, Minister Hoang was received by the Cambodian Prime Minister. He also had a working session with Vietnamese investors in Cambodia to learn of their projects and their difficulties in the process of implementation.


Candidates Ready for Upcoming Council Election

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
16 March 2009

More 17,000 candidates for provincial and district councils have registered for upcoming elections in May, the National Election Committee announced Monday.

The candidates will come from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, Funcinpec, the Norodom Ranariddh Party and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which all have commune council members spread nationwide.

Full candidates totaled 8,521, with reserve candidates making up the rest, NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said in a statement. More than 2,500 candidates were women, he said.

On May 17, commune council members will vote for 2,861 district council members and 374 provincial or municipal council members.

“This election is very important for Cambodia to move on decentralization, which will provide power to local authorities and the people to make decisions in local development,” Tep Nitha said.

The CPP has registered its candidates in all districts, provinces and municipalities, or around 217 centers, Funcinpec at 71 centers, NRP at 64 centers and SRP at 205 centers.

“We have prepared a stronger strategy for joining the first [council] election in May,” SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Monday. “We have also prepared a careful strategy to counter the CPP tactics of buying and threatening voters and candidates.”

The opposition party had strengthened its stance at local points “to find the way to protect its members from the ruling party members, to buy and threaten Sam Rainsy Party voters and candidates,” he said. “I hope that our value cannot be sold. We can earn, but our value and honor, for which we have struggled for nearly two decades, cannot be sold.”

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Elections in Cambodia, said his group was “carefully watching the election process.”

Government Faces Continued Waste Challenges

By Ker Yann, VOA Khmer
16 March 2009

The government is dealing with the difficult task in collecting dangerous waste but is making an effort to inform public and private institutions of the dangers, an environmental official said Thursday.

The government continues to give notice to schools, hospitals and businesses of the dangers of medical, chemical and radioactive waste, said Chiek Ang, director of the Phnom Penh department of the environment, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Cambodia adopted a waste management law in April 1999, dividing solid waste into dangerous and non-dangerous categories, Chiek Ang said.

While some regular household waste is turned into compost, other waste is collected and sold for recycling, he said.

The Phnom Penh government has a contract with a private company, Cintri, which collects around 1,000 tons of trash daily around the city, sending it on to the Stung Meanchey dump.

But the government has found an additional need to collect batteries, electronic waste, syringes, needles, medicine bottles and organic waste such as limbs and the bodies of animals or humans, Chiek Ang said.

Recent projects include a 2007 student campaign to collect batteries from schools and embassies, with the Belgian government helping to destroy 18,000 tons of batteries, as well as a 2008 campaign to collect medical and industrial waste, he said.

Phnom Penh now is much cleaner and its air healthier because the government has set standards for water, smoke and noise pollution, he said.

However, one “Hello VOA” caller from Kampong Cham province said he disagreed.

Each time he comes to Phnom Penh, the caller said, he smells sewage and exhaust and notices that tourists cover their noses. Meanwhile, the roads remain dusty and drivers blow their horns non-stop, the caller said.

Party Leader To Protest TV Host Remarks

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
16 March 2009

Phnom Penh authorities have green-lighted a demonstration to be led by Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay against a television political commentator, officials said Monday.

No date has been set for a demonstration, against Cambodian Television Network commentator Soy Sopheap, which could be held in front of CTN headquarters in Phnom Penh, Nhiek Bun Chhay said.

Nhiek Bun Chhay claims Soy Sopheap slandered the reputation of his party, which was once a rival to the ruling party but is now a diminished coalition partner, in comments made March 12.

The party is preparing for district and provincial council elections in May.

“My party’s commune activists were unhappy when they heard Soy Sopheap announcement on the 12th about Funcinpec’s reputation,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said. “I received a lot of complaints from them against Soy Sopheap.”

Soy Sopheap hosts a political show, “Thursday Talk,” which airs every Thursday night.

Soy Sopheap said Monday he was expressing his opinion, legal under the constitution.

“If you are a politician, you should be able to receive constructive criticism,” he told VOA Khmer.

Pen Samitik, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said Monday the demonstration marked the first time a senior political figure demonstrated against a journalist.

“Nhiek Bun Chhay should have another solution against Soy Sopheap, such as writing an official letter to him asking for an apology, or filing a complaint to the court,” Pen Samitik said.

Reached by phone in Beijing Monday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema told VOA Khmer he had not received the complaint, but said that as a high-ranking official, Nhiek Bun Chhay should not choose a demonstration as a resolution.

“If you think an announcement affects your party, you should ask [the commentator] to correct his mistake or file a complaint to the court,” Kep Chuktema said.