Monday, 25 May 2009

Another thorn in the Crown

Photo by: NICK SELLS
Khemera Keila forward Anthony Ali (front, red shirt) fends off a challenge from fellow Nigerian and PKR defender Alex Ikeduba at Olympic Stadium Saturday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Dan Riley and Andy Brouwer
Monday, 25 May 2009

Build Bright United survive a late assault on their goal to run out 3-2 winners over last year's champions Phnom Penh Crown Saturday while Khim Borey grabs a brace to push put Post Tel.

ROUND FOUR of the Cambodian Premier League at the weekend saw the three league leaders play for clear space at the top. Preah Khan Reach (PKR), Phnom Penh Crown and Kirivong Sok Sen Chey all started their games on six points with just a goal in aggregate separating the sides.

Up first at the Olympic Stadium Saturday were PKR, still high from their stunning upset of Phnom Penh Crown last Sunday, and pitted against Khemera Keila, who have yet to find their form.

PKR quickly took control with Nigerian player Olisa Onyemerea walking through a slumbering defence in the opening minutes to pass across the face of goal and find Prak Monyoudom for the simplest of tap-ins from 3 yards.

Khemera eventually did wake up to put considerable pressure on PKR, stringing together neat passes and creating opportunities at their opponent's end. Anthony Ali was proving a nuisance for the PKR defence, but his efforts at goal lacked the power and accuracy needed to really worry keeper Ouk Mich.

With PKR's Phea Piphub trying to dig out the ball from between his legs while on the ground Khemera's Ty Bunvicheth thought he'd assist, issuing an unsavoury set of kicks to his opposite number's nether region. The PKR man deservedly went in the referee's book while Phea Piphub writhed around in agony.

With seconds remaining in the half and Khemera pressing too high to level the score, PKR's Khuonla Boravy somehow found himself clean through with an entire half pitch of empty space to exploit. Despite a colleague clearly available in a square position, the forward seemed to overanalyse the situation, dribbling weakly too close to keeper Mak Theara, who pounced to smother the ball with a collective groan sweeping the stands.

Khemera came out shouting in the second half and were gifted a fortuitous penalty when an obvious case of ball-to-hand was misdiagnosed by the referee as handball in the area by Khuonla Boravy. Star striker Kuoch Sokumpheak stepped up to take the spotkick, coolly converting under the diving Ouk Mich.

PKR appeared to have the slight edge and, after nice buildup play, went ahead again through Samel Nasa who chased down a clever lofted ball by Khuonla Boravy to knock around the keeper and pass into the empty net. PKR maintained their advantage til the final whistle to take a deserved 2-1 win.

BBU topple Crown
In Saturday's later kickoff, Phnom Penh Crown - the most successful club in Cambodia of late with league and Cup titles to their name and riding on success in the Singapore Cup - were humbled for the second time in as many matches as a stoic Build Bright United (BBU) held on for a famous 3-2 victory.

Crown's standout Cameroonian striker Jean-Roger Lappe Lappe, who had netted three in his last two games, was sold to Thai Premier League club Samut Songkhram two weeks ago for an undisclosed fee, and Crown were clearly lacking his offensive prowess.

BBU capitalised on miscommunication between Crown keeper and defender who collided with each other to allow Prum Puthsethy to poke home the loose ball after seven minutes.

Crown were displaying skill and slick passing but couldn't match the gritty determination of a passionate BBU side.

A moment of madness from Crown's Oscar Mpoko saw him kick out at Un Viputh whilst they were both on the turf with studs catching the BBU player in the face. Astonishingly, the referee only brandished Mpoko with a yellow for what in the West would potentially be a career-ending act of violence (a la Eric Cantona). However, Un Viputh did seem to shake off the assault in double quick time, and the players shook hands later, during the interval.

Rising Crown hitman Keo Sokngorn was looking sharp as ever but failed to find his usual composure in between the sticks.

In the 32nd minute, BBU's Ek Vannak floated over a long cross to the far post towards Oriola Adeseye. The Nigerian produced an erudite head back across goal to find the head of teammate Prum Puthsethy who directed past keeper Peng Bunchay to double BBU's lead.

Crown, who have also been missing midfield maestro Srey Veasna through injury, were looking shell-shocked and a shadow of their former self with a sizeable crowd of "neutrals" loving every minute.

A momentary lapse in concentration gave BBU defender Inn Virak a scare when his wild swipe at a cross span off his boot to smack his own upright, and the rebounded effort by Keo Sokngorn cleared off the line. However, Inn Virak quickly tempered his teammates' nerves when his hoof from deep flew into the Crown box and found an unmarked Sem Bunny, who was gifted time to take touches to control and punt past keeper Peng Bunchay.

With the fans in dreamland over the 3-0 scoreline, you could sense one of those epic comebacks that has plagued Tottenham twice against Man United in recent years. Sure enough, Crown pegged one back just before half time through substitute Nigerian forward Tunji Ayoyinka.

After the break, Crown pushed hard to gain momentum but it was BBU's Adeseye who was shining brighter, his skill and power proving too hot to handle on numerous occasions but sadly unable to convert his chances.

Then, Crown drew back within one when a clumsy attempted clearance by BBU's Bun Sophea was turned into his own net off a Chan Rithy cross.

In probably the most enthralling finish to a CPL match so far this season, Crown threw the kitchen sink at the BBU goal in search of the equaliser, only to be denied by a heroic performance from keeper Hem Simay which included a sublime double save off shots from Chan Rithy and Chan Chhaya.

With the crowd cheering every successfully-thwarted Crown advance, BBU held on to their slender lead to deal yet another blow to Crown's defense of their CPL title.

Khim Borey back to best
On Sunday, National Defence Ministry (MND) continued their rich vein of form after a shaky start to the season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Post Tel Club. MND had suspended star striker and former club and national team captain Khim Borey, along with four other key players, for two years after a match-fixing scandal during the Samdech Hun Sen Cup. However, with club sponsor Moeung Samphan worried that club talent would leak to rival clubs, Khim Borey and colleagues have been reinstated in the line-up since last week. Indeed Khim Borey proved his worth, netting the only two goals of the game. His first, a spectacular freekick from 20 yards curled expertly over the wall, left the keeper no chance, and when Nov Sok Seila was tripped in the area by Post Tel's Phea Sopheaknimul, Khim Borey confidentally sent the keeper the wrong way from eleven metres.

Sunday's late game between Naga Corp and Kirivong was entertaining enough, but saw goal attempts few and far between. The decisive moment came in injury time of the first half, with Him Salam knocking in from close range off an In Vicheka pass. Kirivong then scraped through a scrappy second half to emerge 1-0 victors and claim a share of the CPL summit once again with PKR.


Polidce Blotter: 25 May 2009

Written by Lim Phalla
Monday, 25 May 2009

Two of three suspected robbers were arrested by police for stealing a necklace and two cellphones from a 28-year-old female beer garden employee on the road near her house in Tuol Rokar village, Chak Angrae Kraom commune, Meanchey district, Phnom Penh, at midnight on Friday as she returned home from work. The arrested were identified by police as Mom Sophat, 23, and Meas Chamreoun, 22. Only the victim's cellphones were recovered.

Police arrested four men for using drugs on Friday in Kab Kor Thmey village, Ou Char commune, Battambang province. The suspects and police officers received minor injuries after the users resisted arrest. The arrested were identified by police as Roeuth Sarorn, 29, Roeuth Sakun, 23, Noeuth Dy, 23, and Chea Kong, 28.

Tha Mon, 61, and Tha Somaneth, 35, were arrested by police for beating Tha Somuny, 29, unconscious in Peam village, Rokakaong 1 commune, Mukh Kamphool district, Kandal province on Tuesday night. The victim, who was the assailants' son and brother respectively, was beaten after cursing his father and destroying household possessions.

A 15-year-old boy from Tamay village, Andaung Teuk commune, Botum Sakor district, Koh Kong province was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of raping a 7-year-old girl the previous day. Police said the victim was raped near her home and given 2,500 riels by the suspect to keep quiet. But she told her grandfather, who reported the suspect to police the next morning.

The decaying body of a 10-year-old girl was found Wednesday in a bush about 6 kilometres from her home in Khyang Cheung village, Svay commune, Samaki Meanchey district, Kampong Chhnang province. Police identified the deceased as Eam Phors, who had been missing since last Sunday. Police said the time and nature of her death remained unknown but ruled out the possibility of rape.

The Phnom Penh Post News In Briefs

In Brief: Suburban mall to open

Written by May Kunmakara
Monday, 25 May 2009

A NEW shopping centre on the fringes of Phnom Penh will open its doors on June 22, municipal authorities said Sunday. Russei Keo district's New Plaza Market - a construction project started in early 2007 - aims to reduce pedestrian congestion in the city, Pa Socheatvong, deputy governor of Phnom Penh Municipality, said Friday at an opening ceremony. The market is owned by Attwood Business Centre. "It is crucial to have such a market on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to meet demand ... to cut time spent travelling into the city," Pa Socheatvong said.

In Brief: Workshop on SMEs

Written by Nguon Sovan
Monday, 25 May 2009

A WORKSHOP on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should respond to the global financial crisis is to be held Tuesday at the Hotel Cambodiana in. Botumroath Lebun, the communication officer for the UNDP's TRADE Project, said Sunday that the Ministry of Commerce was organising the workshop in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Bank of Cambodia. The Kingdom's SMEs contribute about 65 percent to total national GDP.

Swine flu tests are negative

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Christopher shay And Cheang Sokha
Monday, 25 May 2009

Three tourists exposed on plane to influenza A(H1N1) not infected.

THREE Cambodian-Americans who shared a flight with a woman confirmed to have been infected with influenza A(H1N1), commonly known as swine flu, have been located by the Ministry of Health and tested negative for the virus, Dr Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department, said Sunday.

"There are still no confirmed cases of the A(H1N1) in Cambodia," he told the Post.

Sok Touch credited new health declaration forms at the airport for being able to rapidly locate two of the three passengers.

He said that increased monitoring at the country's points of entry has proven to be an effective tool in preventing the introduction of the swine flu virus.

The World Health Organisation, however, has expressed doubts over the use of health declaration forms and thermal imaging scanning to slow the spread of the flu.

"The World Health Organisation, on a global scale, has said that airport measures aren't effective at stopping influenza. [The virus] spreads fairly quickly and easily, and there could be people who have no symptoms," Michael O'Leary, Cambodia's WHO representative, said on Sunday.

At the moment, O'Leary said, the symptoms of H1N1 are "generally mild, like normal influenza", emphasising that "this is not a panic situation".

But he added that the influenza virus is unpredictable, and in the past, a more deadly second wave of the virus has hit a few months later.

"And because it's a new virus, everyone in the world is susceptible," he said.

Since last month, all passengers from international flights have been required to fill out a health declaration form on the plane and receive a yellow health notice when they turn it in, warning them about the A(H1N1) influenza virus and giving them phone numbers if they develop flulike symptoms, Sok Touch said.

Colum Murphy, author of Flu Action Plan: A Business Survival Guide, said, "Anything that helps to identify early cases and psychologically reassure people is worth considering."

But he said strategies that are executed only to ease people's minds will not be successful.

"There's no point in health declaration forms if they are just going to pile up unread," he said, "There really has to be an appropriate sense of urgency that's communicated to the front line implementers."

Passengers from Sunday's AirAsia flight 274 to Phnom Penh from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were impressed by steps taken by the Cambodian government and said the airport officials looked carefully at their health declaration forms before letting them into the country.

If tourists do not know what their physical address in Cambodia will be, they are encouraged to write down their email address, according to one passenger who arrived in Phnom Penh on Friday.

Tourists feel safer
David Khem, a Malaysian tourist from flight 274, said the health monitoring in Phnom Penh was tighter than it was in Malaysia. Olga Makarewicz, a Polish tourist, told the Post, "It is good that they make people aware [of A(H1N1)] and remind them."

A joint statement from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation on Sunday told the public to cover their coughs, sneeze with a tissue, wash their hands and refrain from spitting in public.

Murphy said, "There's a chance of feeling overwhelmed, but it's not so bleak, the simple things are the most effective", emphasising frequent communication about the virus and personal hygiene.

The latest WHO statistics show that 43 countries have reported 12,022 confirmed cases of the virus, with 86 deaths.

GMAC, union reject workers' pay report

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Monday, 25 May 2009

A RECENT report that claims a liveable minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia should be US$90 per month has been criticised by both trade unionists and employers.

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), which represents about 250 garment factories, and the Free Trade Union (FTU), representing 80,000 garment workers in Cambodia, rejected the findings of the report released Wednesday by the Cambodia Institute of Development Study (CIDS).

The study of 353 workers in 47 factories around Phnom Penh showed garment workers could maintain a good standard of living providing they earned at least $90 per month.

The current minimum wage for a garment worker is $50 per month, although workers can earn up to $66 per month with bonuses and allowances, plus more for overtime.

Cheath Khemara, labour issue officer at GMAC, said Sunday the association could not accept the study because the research was based on garment workers' expenses and did not take into account the worker productivity needed to keep factories profitable.

"It's not a good thing that they wish to raise workers' wages while their productivity is still low," Cheath Khemara said.

"If our workers had high productivity to help factories earn more profit, factories would be able to increase their wages to a higher level."

He said the financial crisis and informal expenses were already of great concern to garment factories, and the push for higher wages would create an additional threat to the sector.

Chea Mony, president of FTU, said Sunday he did not agree with the findings because they did not align with real inflation.

"We would never consider that a $90 wage is a suitable living wage for workers, because they have to spend a lot on their healthcare, children, clothes and other things," Chea Mony said. "We don't reject the research statistics, but we hope CIDS can help garment workers ask for wage rise to align with their research study.

"I think garment workers could have a suitable standard of living as long as they could get more than $100 per month," Chea Mony said.

Tun Sophorn, National Coordinator for International Legal Organisation Cambodia, said Sunday that although the research conducted by CIDS showed what was needed for garment workers to have good living conditions, it was not easy for employers to increase salaries to the required level while they faced constraints from the economic crisis.

"I think it will be difficult for factories to meet workers' demands based on this research, but I hope that this suggestion can be met if the economic situation improves in the future," Tun Sophorn said.

We hope that if garment workers received $90 ... per month, they would be motivated to work harder.

The CIDS study, conducted with support from German NGO Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, showed basic expenses such as food, transportation, clothing, and healthcare for each worker was $72 per month, which included $57 for personal expenses and $15 for family.

However, a wage of $72 per month would not be sufficient as a livable wage, the report said.

CIDS Director Kang Chandararot said Sunday the research aimed to provide a clear picture of the situation for garment workers. Both unions and GMAC could use this in negotiating a suitable wage for workers, he added.

"Our main purpose is to contribute to the sustainable development of the garment sector in order to compete with other countries in the future," Kang Chandararot said. "We hope that if garment workers received $90 in wages per month, they would be motivated to work harder to increase their productivity and may not think of going on strike."

He said some factories were currently having difficulty finding workers because they offered low wages.

Last week, four large federations representing 80 percent of garment workers in the country demanded employers and the government pay wages of $93 per month.

The Committee for Fair Wages said Wednesday that a wage of $50 a month was insufficient.

PULS Trading Far East Limited, a company that represents major international clothing brands in Cambodia including Adidas, Mike, Levi's and Gap, said it hoped that the government would persist with the exisiting wage structure while the economic crisis was hurting the garment industry. It added that it would, however, comply with a change should an updated wage law come into force.

Suu Kyi off Summit agenda

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Monday, 25 May 2009

ASEAN-EU meet will not discuss Myanmar.

A GOVERNMENT spokesperson said Sunday that the trial of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would not be on the official agenda for an ASEAN-EU summit scheduled to be held in Phnom Penh this week.

"Until now, I haven't seen on the schedule any mention of the issue," Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post.
"But it depends on what happens while a summit takes place."

He also said that no official statement on Aung San Suu Kyi would be forthcoming from the government, as Cambodia had already supported an earlier statement by ASEAN.

Opposition requests talks
Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party parliamentarians said Sunday they will sign a joint statement urging the summit's bloc leaders to hold talks with the Myanmar representatives on the release of the country's political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, while expressing concern over her ongoing trial.

"I think that it is necessary for ASEAN and European Union leaders to seek approval from China, Russia and Cambodia, which have close ties to Burma's military regime, to encourage the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and to bring national reconciliation to Burma," said opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who was also deputy chair of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentarian Myanmar Caucus.

"We will send our joint letter to the ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting on Monday, and I think that it is good opportunity to raise this issue during submit."

Capital 'cleanup' continues

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
A homeless child sits alone on Sunday on a Phnom Penh street.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear and Robbie Corey-Boulet
Monday, 25 May 2009

City officials partner with NGO in sweeping of capital's streets, which groups say is part of ASEAN preparation.

CITY Hall agreed Friday to partner with the local NGO Mith Samlanh as part of a campaign to rid the capital's streets of beggars and homeless families in advance of this week's ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, the NGO's founder told the Post Sunday.

Sebastien Marot said the partnership involves enrolling street children in a "weeklong holiday camp" in Kampong Speu province, thereby allowing them to avoid being caught up in the latest so-called "cleanup" effort spearheaded by municipal officials.

Rights groups charged last week that City Hall launched the cleanup effort early Thursday morning with the detention of 30 beggars, suspected drug users, sex workers and members of homeless families, who were taken from Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district and turned over to the Municipal Department of Social Affairs.

Past cleanup efforts have led to the detention of scores of street kids along with drug addicts and the mentally ill in government-run rehabilitation centres, though this practice was roundly vilified last year by rights groups and NGOs who said that inmates at the centres had been beaten and starved.

Marot said Mith Samlanh representatives met with two municipal officials Friday to propose the "holiday camp model" for street children, to which he said the officials readily agreed.

Though the NGO has undertaken similar efforts during past cleanups, Marot said Friday's meeting marked the first time municipal officials had agreed to get involved.

He said 50 street children had been transported from Phnom Penh to the camp in Kampong Speu - which provides food, medical services and "plenty of recreational opportunities" - and that 10 more would join them on Monday.

Sweeping the streets
Ban Vutha, chief of administration at the municipal Social Affairs Department, said the 30 people detained last week had been given the option of going to an NGO-run facility or a government-run rehabilitation centre.

"The police don't arrest them," he said. "They just collect them to educate them and take them to a suitable place."

He said the latest cleanup effort was part of a broader effort to prepare for the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, though Doung Socheat, Daun Penh district police chief, denied this.

Daun Penh District Governor Sok Sombath declined to comment on the cleanup effort, saying officials would discuss it in detail during a meeting at 2:30pm today at City Hall.

SRP lawyer to appear at inspection panel ahead of Bar ruling

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Socka
Monday, 25 May 2009

Kong Sam Onn faces accusations he acted unethically in lawsuit against PM Hun Sen.

THE lawyer of opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua is to appear before an inspection team at the Cambodian Bar Association today, accused of violating its code of legal ethics.

Kong Sam Onn said that he received a letter from the inspection team Friday, asking him to meet the panel Monday.

"I will go to meet them as scheduled," Kong Sam Onn said Sunday. "They told me that I am accused of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen."

Kong Sam Onn, who is representing Mu Sochua in her defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen, was himself accused of defamation by Hun Sen's lawyer after making comments about the case at a press conference April 23. If found guilty by the Bar, he faces possible disbarment.

Bar Association President Chiv Song Hak said he had ordered the inspection team to hand over its report of the investigation to the Bar Council by Monday, although it is not clear if the team will meet its deadline.

"As according to procedure, the Bar will look into the reports first before calling its 19 council members to make a ruling," he said.

Hun Sen's lawyer Ky Tech, who filed the complaint against Kong Sam Onn, said he had not received any information about the current investigation and was waiting to see the decision.

Mu Sochua is suing Hun Sen for comments he made during a speech in Kampot on April 4, which she says refers to her as cheung klang, a phrase that translates as "strong legs".

Mu Sochua says the term has derogatory connotations when applied to women. In response, Hun Sen is countersuing Mu Sochua for defamation, claiming his comments did not refer to her.

Tourists concerned over Angor Wat lights

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Monday, 25 May 2009

Tourists have voiced concern about an ongoing light installation project at Angkor Wat temple that they argue could alter the ancient complex's appearance and cause considerable structural damage.

The Sou Ching Co, which sponsors "Night Lighting" tours of Angkor Wat, began inserting lights into the walls of the temple late last year as part of an effort to illuminate the entire complex.

The company had previously placed lights on the ground, but these were often trampled by tourists, said owner Var Chhouda, who added that the company had spent US$12 million on lighting since 2006.

Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority, which manages the temple, said those who had complained about the light installation believed that the company had been drilling holes into the walls of the temple and placing lights in them. On the contrary, he said, the holes were already there.

Effort to dispel concerns
Bun Narith said he had been receiving complaints from tourists for months. He said he convened a press conference on Saturday during which 16 journalists were allowed to inspect the lighting project.

He said the Apsara Authority and UNESCO would meet June 2-3 to "evaluate the impact of using light at night at the temple site".

SRP to expel 9 councilors over bribes

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Stragio and Meas Sokchea
Monday, 25 May 2009

THE Sam Rainsy Party is set to expel at least nine members accused of taking money to vote for CPP candidates in provincial, district and municipal council polls, a party statement said, as opposition leaders Sunday rejected criticisms that commune councilors were forced to take loyalty oaths before the May 17 vote.

The nine Phnom Penh councilors are named in an undated party statement as facing imminent expulsion.

"The SRP cannot tolerate members who are corrupt.... We need to reorganise our party's structure and reinforce the party. We don't need corrupt people," party spokesman Yim Sovann said Sunday.

In a statement Saturday, the SRP defended its pre-election ceremonies as being designed to strengthen its councilors against what it said was a concerted CPP effort to "buy" the votes of its members.

"Despite threats, intimidation ... more than 90 percent of the SRP's commune councilors showed their stance of serving with honesty and responsibility," the statement said.

The comments came in response to a statement Friday by the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, criticising the SRP's decision to conduct loyalty oaths and then expel members who voted against the party.

"Any time you put this kind of pressure on the voters, you are violating the [most] basic principle of democracy," said CCHR President Ou Virak.

But Ou Virak added that the election system - which permitted only the country's 11,353 commune councilors to cast ballots - had put the SRP in a difficult position.

"It creates the incentive for parties to do all they can to force people to obey party lines," he said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Sunday that the SRP should not expel its members for voting against the party, but added that any fired opposition officials would get a warm welcome from the ruling party.

"If [SRP officials] come to the CPP, the CPP will welcome them with open arms."


US a 'facilitator' in bid to resolve ECCC graft claims: government

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, Clint Williamson, speaks to the press Friday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Monday, 25 May 2009

US urges officials to tackle corruption claims, which continue to dog court.

THE government said Sunday it will work with the United States on corruption allegations at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, but insisted that the donor country did not have any power to make decisions on court policy, only recommendations.

"The US is just a facilitator ... a friend of the court," Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said.

"[It] does not have any power to make decisions, wrong or right. But, in principle, we work with all donor countries," he added.

Phay Siphan said that he was hopeful that the visiting US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, Clint Williamson, would go to the UN with positive feedback on the court, after negotiations between the world body and government failed last month to agree on an anti-corruption mechanism.

"He will go back to New York and share information so [the UN] will understand what's going on," Phay Siphan said.

Tackle corruption: US
The comments come after Williamson told reporters at a press conference Friday following a visit here that officials must address the graft issue.

"This is an issue that has to be tackled. There has to be some sort of resolution of this going forward, and I think there is agreement on both sides that this is needed," Williamson said.

Williamson added that he had been in "extensive discussions" with other donor countries, as well as meetings with UN, government and civil society officials over how best to deal with graft allegations.

Suspected child rapist arrested after flight

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Monday, 25 May 2009

A CAMBODIAN man suspected of raping three children and throwing them into an empty well in February was arrested Friday after returning from Thailand, where he had fled following the crime, police said Sunday.

Thab La, 34, was seized in Battambang province's Ek Phnom district, said Kuy Heang, the provincial chief of the anti-human trafficking police.

He said the suspect told police that he had raped the children before escaping to Thailand. He secretly returned to his hometown last week, but was quickly arrested, Kuy Heang said.

The children, aged 4 to 6 years, survived the attack, police said.

Kuy Heang said the incident occurred February 12, when the suspect lured the three children, one boy and two girls, onto a boat by offering them cake and money.

The man told police he then took them to an isolated area and raped them before throwing them into the well. "The suspect was sent to court on Saturday for further investigations", Kuy Heang said.

Plantation highlights struggle of development and preservation

Ethnic Phnong houses sit on recently cleared rubber plantation land in Mondulkiri's Bou Sra commune.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Christopher Shay and Sebastian Strangio
Monday, 25 May 2009

Ethnic minority community says a giant rubber conglomerate is destroying its traditional culture, as plantation officials insist that the company is bringing much-needed work to the area.

Mondulkiri Province

FIVE months after an angry mob smashed and burned machinery belonging to a local rubber company in Mondulkiri province's Bou Sra village, ethnic minority residents in the area say their culture and livelihoods remain in danger from new plantations that have displaced them from their ancestral farmlands.

"They've lost hope," said Bill Herod, an adviser for Village Focus Cambodia who works with Phnong youth in the provincial capital Sen Monorom.

"We in the West talk negatively about slash-and-burn, but this is slash-and-burn by the company."

According to an article in Science, the expansion of rubber plantations in Southeast Asia could double or triple by 2050, doing far more damage than traditional farming methods.

And while the Bou Sra plantation owners say they seek to balance their interests with those of the local communities, residents and advocates say the situation is symptomatic of the unrestrained development that is harming other indigenous populations.

Residents in Mondulkiri say more than 800 families in seven villages - the majority of them from the Phnong ethnic minority - have had plots of land taken by the rubber plantation, claiming there was no consultation prior to the granting of the concessions.

"They just came and took my land," said Umbarup Sherup, a Bou Sra village resident who said he received no compensation from the company.

When we came to meet the company [they] said they would take the land whether we agreed to it or not.

Another resident, who declined to be named, said the villagers were not given a choice.

"When we came to meet the company, [they] said they would take the land whether we agreed to it or not," the resident said. "Now we have nothing."

In late 2007, government authorities granted 2,500 hectares in economic land concessions to a joint venture between the local Khaou Chuly Group and the French rubber conglomerate Socfin.

In early April, Khaou Chuly Group President Khaou Phallaboth signed an agreement with Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun granting his company a further 2,705 hectares in the area.

"We hope to receive a total economic land concession of over 20,000 hectares from the government by 2010 to grow rubber trees," Khaou Phallaboth told the Post at the time.

After clearing began last year, village representatives travelled to Phnom Penh in June to deliver a personal plea to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The dispute came to a head in December, when a frustrated group of villagers destroyed machinery belonging to Khaou Chuly Group.

"No one is happy with them. They do whatever they want, and they don't care about the people," said one Phnong community representative, who declined to give her name for fear of reprisals. "In the future, the Phnong people will die out because we have no forests."

Chith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, said an investigation by his organisation found that the rubber project had led to the loss of traditional agricultural land, water supplies and spirit forests, and had impeded access to schooling for some village children.

"Socfin or Khaou Chuly [should] focus strongly on consultation with the community regarding environmental impacts and impacts on their livelihoods ... and find a solution with the community before they start their project implementation," he said by email.

When contacted by the Post, Kao Phallaboth declined to comment in detail, saying day-to-day management was in the hands of Socfin officials.

Reversing the damage
Socfin sources say that following the burning of the tractors, managerial control was assumed by their company, which says it has adopted a more conciliatory approach.

Socfin General Manager Philippe Monnin said the company was doing all it can to help the community and offset the impact of the plantations.

At Socfin's invitation, Monnin said Medicins du Monde, a French NGO, had helped construct a local hospital, and that the company hoped to bring in the French governmental development agency AFD to revitalise the community.

"Our plan is to get NGOs to work with us to take care of the community and ensure what we are doing is a model," Monnin said during an interview in Bou Sra village. "We want to do something proper, but it will not be easy."

He said that of the 10,000 hectares planned for the rubber plantation, 3,000 hectares would remain as spirit forests for the Phnong. He also added that Socfin was now conducting an environmental and social impact assessment of the plantation as part of its master plan, as well as sending an ethnologist and sociologist to study the situation.

He said the plantation would provide regular employment for Phnong. From May until August, he said, the company would double its daily manpower to 1,000 workers, who would earn 20,000 riels ($5) per day on the plantation.

Mondulkiri Deputy Governor Yim Lux told the Post that Socfin was paying US$15,000 a month in wages for local workers, and said it was providing "fair" compensation to the villagers affected by the plantation.

"The company agreed to compensate the people whose farmland was impacted, either with a plot of land or with cash," he said, but added that negotiations were still in progress.

Monnin said that Socfin, as a French company that needs to maintain a positive global image, was more vulnerable to criticism than other rubber companies in Cambodia.

"It [development] is inevitable.... If we were not here, it would be the Vietnamese, and then for the Phnong it would be the end," he said.

But many of the Phnong villagers said the Vietnamese state-owned Daklak Rubber Co, which has a plot adjacent to Socfin, has treated the Phnong more equitably.

"If people disagree with the Vietnamese company, they don't destroy the land. When the Vietnamese company does [harvest] the land, they give half [the profits] to us," one villager said.

Officials at Daklak's Mondulkiri headquarters declined to comment in detail about their rubber operations.

Too little too late
Critics of Socfin say the company's actions come too late and that irreparable damage has been done.

"Mistakes have been made by all key partners involved, including the Cambodian government and the company. ... Forest was destroyed, a Phnong graveyard was bulldozed, and [these] can't be undone," Herod said.

According to Cambodian environmental law, Herod said, an impact study should have been completed before the concession was awarded. He also noted an increase in drunkenness and other disorders related to social disintegration among the underemployed Phnong.

But despite indigenous land protections existing under the country's 2001 Land Law, villagers insist the Phnong community was not consulted.

While there is intermittent work on the plantations, the Phnong representative said the loss of rotational farmland forests meant that local communities faced an uncertain future.

"Now that the company has come here, they are very strict and will not allow the Phnong to cut wood on company land," she said. "Before they had the freedom to cut the forests and grow crops. Now they say the land is French; the sky is French."


Banking sector calls for cut in reserve rate to bolster liquidity

Photo by: Sovann Philong
The National Bank of Cambodia says it has no plans to cut the reserve rate.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan and Steve Finch
Monday, 25 May 2009

ANZ, UCB and Canadia Bank call for rates cut with NBC responding that it will stay at 12pc.

SOME of the country's largest banks have called for a cut in the reserve requirement in a bid to free up capital and boost lending, a move that the NBC appeared to reject on Sunday in saying that the rate would stay at 12 percent.

The reserve requirement forces banks to deposit a percentage of capital in the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), partly to control lending and stem inflation.

"The central bank needs to slash the reserve requirement to 8 percent or 10 percent," Yum Sui Sang, president and CEO of Union Commercial Bank, said Thursday. "If the NBC reduces the reserve, it will be easier for the bank to lend funds. Every bank will benefit and we will get more liquidity."

The NBC increased the rate from 8 percent to 16 percent in July as money supply began to overheat last year before cutting the rate back to 12 percent in January when the wider economic crisis began to hit the financial system.

Because Cambodia is a dollar-based economy, the NBC cannot adjust interest rates, leaving the reserve requirement as one of the few regulatory tools at its disposal.

With inflation and economic growth continuing to slow, many bankers say a lower reserve requirement will give them flexibility while pumping liquidity into a cash-starved economy.

"I think the central bank should do it now to lighten pressure on the banks. Business is not good and people are just trying to survive," said Yum Sui Sang, whose clients are mostly garment manufacturers from Hong Kong and Macau.

"I have not heard anything about the central bank getting ready to lower the reserve rate, but if it lowers [the rate] ... it will be great for us," he said, adding that maintaining liquidity should be the top priority for policymakers.

"Our bank's liquidity is still high - 40 to 45 percent of liquidity against deposits - because our lending is about 65 percent of current total deposits of around US$90 million," he said.

Charles Vann, executive vice president at Canadia Bank, said at the end of last week that the banking industry is looking for the reserve rate to be cut "to at least 8 percent, the old [rate]".

"I think the National Bank of Cambodia is looking at this question [of lowering the reserve rate] at the moment," he said, without offering additional details. "We cannot release information about this at the moment.

In response, the NBC said Sunday it had no plans to alter the reserve requirement.

"We have not received any formal request from the banks, and the NBC is still maintaining the reserve requirement at 12 percent," said NBC Director General Tal Nay Im.

An ANZ spokesman said his bank is in line with other members of the private banking sector.

"We would welcome a rate reduction to the original 8 percent as this would release liquidity into the Banking system," James Lowrey, head of Corporate and Institutional Banking, wrote in an email Thursday. "This has been a common instrument used in many countries around the world to counter the impact of the economic crisis."

He said that the NBC is constantly reviewing the market situation.

"We understand the system of liquidity, whilst under pressure in the first quarter of 2009, the situation may have improved slightly in the past two months. However, we also believe the remainder of 2009 will be challenging for businesses in Cambodia," he said.

Vattanac Bank declined to respond to questions Thursday on the NBC's reserve rate.

John Brinsden, vice chairman of ACLEDA Bank, said that he would welcome a reduction in the reserve requirement, but added that the bank already had sufficient liquidity.

"In principal, a lower reserve requirement means more flexibility, but in practice, we are awash with liquidity.... [The reserve requirement] is something we are in ongoing discussions about, but it is not our top priority right now," he said.


Long journey to American dream

Chai Eang (above) and his brother Henry are business partners. Henry lives in Charleston and commutes to Charlotte. Chai lives uptown near their restaurant. DAVIE HINSHAW –

The Charlotte Observer
By Victoria Cherrie
Special Correspondent
Posted: Sunday, May. 24, 2009

Chai Eang rinses a few glasses behind the granite bar at Basil Thai Cuisine before sauntering into the softly-lit dining room to greet customers stopping in for dinner.

Each new face and each dish served highlights a dream for Eang, 38, and his brother Henry, 43, who escaped the killing fields of their native Cambodia as boys and grew up to be business partners.

Together, they own Basil Thai and Chai Lounge restaurants in Charleston, and now they've come back to their Charlotte-area roots to open a restaurant on North Church Street uptown.

Sitting in leather chairs parked at marble tables, they are a long way from their family's tiny house in Cambodia, where their parents raised nine boys and girls while operating a noodle restaurant.

They were all working there when armed soldiers flooded the Cambodian city of Tusat in 1975 and yelled for everyone to gather their belongings and “get out” because the Americans were going to drop bombs.

“We pulled whatever we could take, clothes, some rice and necessities for daily life,” said another of Chai's brothers, Sa Eang, 53.

The family loaded a pushcart and joined a massive parade of frightened people, not knowing where they were going or what would happen to them as the Khmer Rouge, under the command of Pol Pot, took control.

They traversed fields of dead bodies and then jungles before being split up by age and forced into different camps, where the older children worked for free and lived off a few tablespoons of rice a day, Chai and Sa said. Chai, who was only about 5, was young enough to stay with his parents, who grew vegetables and worked in communal kitchens.

“We worked 14 hour days, seven days a week,” Sa said. “I just remember being so hungry ... so hungry you can't sleep.”

The family was liberated when a Vietnamese invasion ended the Khmer Rouge genocide in 1978. But they were later separated when Chai, Henry, Sa and their father, Ta An, migrated with Sa's wife to Thailand without their mother, Kim Ev, and other siblings.

Kim Ev wanted to stay in Cambodia to wait for an older son who had been studying in college in a different city. Weeks later, she learned that he had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge, and she left for the Thai border, but she couldn't catch up to the boys and their father. They were separated for years.

“She had lost all hope,” Chai said.

After months in a Thai refugee camp, the Eang brothers were sponsored by a small church group from Rock Hill. The family arrived in 1980 with only their clothes. The congregation at Hopewell Presbyterian Church donated necessities and helped their dad set up a house.

“I still remember that house,” Sa said, smiling. “Three bedrooms, two baths and rent – $175 a month.”

Sa went straight to work, in a glass factory, in restaurants and then for the local housing authority while taking night courses. The younger boys, who were in grade school by then, struggled to learn English until Nancy Newton, a school tutor, took them in and made them part of her American family.

“You can't imagine the lessons they've taught us just by being who they are,” Newton said.

She and her husband, Joe, began inviting the Eangs to their home in Rock Hill for lunch, then dinner and then holidays.

The Newtons were instrumental in helping the boys have the kind of life that other kids here do, the Eangs said. They were involved in school programs, had opportunities to play sports and had a support system. “I don't know what our lives would have been like without them,” Henry said.

After high school, Chai joined the Army and became an infantryman, serving for several years before returning to the area. Henry earned an accounting degree and moved to Atlanta for about 10 years, working in numerous restaurants before returning to Charleston to fulfill his dream of opening his own.

The brothers, who both had worked in restaurants since about the eighth grade, opened Basil Thai Cuisine in Charleston in 2002. They opened Chai's Lounge and Tapas in 2005 and now continue their dream by expanding to Charlotte where, many of their Charleston customers actually live.

“I think what we went through during the Khmer Rouge gave us the will, the drive, to keep going,” Henry said. “I mean, every time you think you have it hard, you can look back and be reminded that this really isn't that hard.”

Their father died of cancer in 1998 but not before finally reconnecting with their mother and other siblings, whom they found living in Cambodia. She moved here for a while but returned to Cambodia shortly after her husband died.

Henry still lives in Charleston and commutes to Charlotte, where Chai now lives uptown a few blocks from the new restaurant.

“They truly are the American dream,” Newton said. “They came here literally with the clothes on their backs. They worked hard. And I am so proud of who they are.”

Law Enforcement – Sunday, 24.5.2009

Posted on 25 May 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 613

The Mirror has frequently focused on problems related to law and order – including, of course, the rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution, which the organs of law enforcement should protect and not curtail.

Very often problems in society do not happen because of a lack of legal clarity, but because existing laws are not enforced. Stability and happiness in a society depend, however, on predictability and general contentment, based on the notion that laws will be enforced to establish justice in peace.

In every society there are people who break the law – that is why all societies and states have developed rules how to deal with such violations of the rules. Most societies work with the concept that individuals do not have the right to break the rules or to use violence that harm others – but the state has a monopoly to enforce laws, and it is assumed that this happens regularly, as a matter of fact.

Why is it that in Cambodia, law enforcement often does not happen just simply based on an existing law, but an additional appeal or even a threat is necessary.

In 2007, traffic accidents killed 1,545 people in Cambodia. In 2008, 1,638 people lost their lives on the roads. During the first four months of 2009, already 579 people were killed on the roads. If this trend continues, the death toll by the end of the year may be more than 1,700.

There are many reasons that contribute to this tragedy, and many different measures to work against it.

A couple of years ago a rule was established that motorcycles have to have rear-view mirrors, and after a period of preparation – ? – a campaign was held for some weeks, educating drivers without such mirrors. In 2007, a new Land Traffic Law was adopted, that drivers of motorcycles have to wear helmets. The police was authorized to fine drivers in violation with Riel 3,000 [approx. US$0.75] for no helmet, and Riel 4,000 [approx. US$1.-] for no side mirrors.

But the chief of the traffic police in Phnom Penh was recently quoted as saying that fining those who do not respect the law does not seem to be very effective – a surprising statement, when one sees regularly groups of police standing at the roadside and not intervening when traffic is stagnant or congested.

Now we had a headline, saying: “Head of the Government Orders Not to Charge Money from Those Who Do Not Wear a Helmet, but to Confiscate Their Motorbikes – the Owners Cannot Take Their Motorbike Back Unless They Go with Their Newly-Bought Helmet.“ The Phnom Penh Post had more to report from the Prime Minister’s speech: “Police must keep the motorbikes, and when the owners have helmets and side mirrors, they can get their motorbikes back, and I will grant the owners one liter of petrol as an encouragement for them.”

Is change to come? This is difficult to predict, considering a report in the Phnom Penh Post:

“The general director of the General Transportation Department at the Transport Ministry, said that the ministry would re-examine existing traffic legislation to identify the articles that needed to be amended.

We think that it will take a long time to amend this law because we have to check all the articles that are being enforced before sending it to the National Assembly.”

Will change come from new, detailed legislation, or form a new approach to the enforcement of existing law? To reform road traffic, starting from a weak sector seems anyway to be an “easy way out” – one would have expected also a word about the many private luxury cars without any number plate at all, or the heavy ones with with military or police plates, driving high speed on the wrong side of the road, with headlights on, indicating that “Now get out of my way, don’t you see who is coming!”

But there is some hope.

The Prime Minister gave also also an ultimatum of two weeks to the many owners of cars with military or police number plates, who are actually using the license plates illegally for their private vehicles. Several hundred cars have been re-registered in the meantime. It can be assumed that most of the owners and drivers of these cars, mostly middle and high ranking officials, knew well that they were acting illegally until now.

These are the first steps on a long and arduous way towards a deep re-orientation of values. How complicated the related mental attitudes are, became obvious when a journalist, taking a picture of a banner announcing the advice of the Prime Minister – not to charge a monetary fine from those who do not wear a helmet, but to temporarily confiscate their motorbikes – was detained for some time, until he could convince those who had detained him, that the press law allows it that one takes a picture on a public road.

Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

PetroChina to Buy 45.5 Percent of Singapore Petroleum


May 24, 2009
By Chua Kong Ho

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co., China’s largest oil company, offered to pay S$1.47 billion ($1 billion) for a 45.5 percent stake in oil refiner Singapore Petroleum Co. to help expand its international business.

PetroChina will buy 234.5 million shares of Singapore Petroleum at S$6.25 per share from Singapore-based Keppel Corp., the company said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange today. That’s 24 percent higher than the last-traded price of S$5.04 at the May 22 close. The offer, when completed, will trigger a general offer for the remaining shares.

Singapore Petroleum has interests in oil and gas exploration and production projects in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Australia and owns a 50 percent stake in Singapore Refining Co., which operates a 285,000 barrel-per-day refinery, the statement said. Keppel Corp, the world’s largest builder of oil rigs, is selling its entire stake in the refiner.

“China is accelerating its overseas acquisitions now because the global financial crisis has made overseas assets cheaper,” Qiu Xiaofeng, an energy analyst with China Merchants Securities Ltd. in Shanghai, said by telephone today.

PetroChina said it aims to make Singapore Petroleum a platform to implement its international strategy and “provide a broader foundation and stable path for development.”

Kazakhstan Acquisition

Singapore Petroleum said last month profit for the first quarter fell 44 percent to S$55.6 million on lower oil prices and impairment charges.

A mandatory general cash offer for the remaining shares in the Singapore-based oil refiner will be made if the necessary approvals are received on or before July 24, PetroChina’s statement said. Deutsche Bank AG advised the Beijing-based company on the acquisition.

The acquisition announcement follows PetroChina’s decision in April to pay as much as $1.4 billion for a stake in an oil company in Kazakhstan. PetroChina Chairman Jiang Jiemin said last month the company is buying 50 percent of AO Mangistaumunaigas through its unit CNPC Exploration & Development Co. Kazakhstan’s state-owned KazMunaiGaz National Co. will own the rest, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chua Kong Ho in Shanghai at

Mine blast kills soldier

May 24, 2009

PHNOM PENH - A CAMBODIAN soldier was killed and two civilians were injured in a landmine blast near a disputed part of the border with Thailand, the military said on Sunday.

The incident happened on Saturday around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from an 11th century temple at the centre of a sometimes bloody territorial dispute between the two countries.

'The soldier was helping local people get rattan (cane used for furniture) near the border,' said Cambodian Lieutenant General Som Bopharoath, who is stationed in the area.

'The soldier died instantly. Two civilians were injured and were sent to hospital nearby,' he said.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July when the temple was granted UN World Heritage status.

Seven Thai and Cambodian troops have been killed in recent months during sporadic fighting between the two sides.

The border between the two countries has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. -- AFP

Local authorities warn about building Preah Vihear replica

MCOT English News

SI SA KET, May 24 (TNA) – Provincial authorities have warned the private sector to conduct a thorough study, including an impact assessment on the issue of Thai-Cambodian relations, before deciding to build a replica of the Preah Vihear temple in the northeastern Thai border province.

Si Sa Ket governor Rapi Pongbuphakit said he supported any constructive idea to develop the area but the idea to build the replica of the Preah Vihear temple at Pha Mor E-daeng, an area close to the stairway leading to Preah Vihear temple, needed a special and thorough study.

The issue was very important, especially in the aspect of environmental concerns and border security, he said. He added he couldn’t tell if he agreed with the idea or not at the moment.

Although the planned construction site is in Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district, it is not far from the Preah Vihear temple.

An international court awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962, but a 4.6-square km (1.9-square mile) parcel of land surrounding it remains the subject of territorial claims by the two countries.

The disputed area, adjacent to the ancient temple, has long been a source of tension between Thailand and Cambodia.

Meanwhile, Vichit Trisaranakul, chairman of the provincial administrative organisation said detailed feasibility studies were needed. The real Preah Vihear and its history attracted tourists. He suggested beautifying the surrounding location was better than building the temple replica, close to the real temple. (TNA)