Thursday, 4 June 2009

Khmer Rouge lawyers say documents stolen from office, left in moat

Thu, 04 Jun 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Lawyers for a former Khmer Rouge leader said Thursday that confidential documents were stolen from their office at Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes tribunal and left in a moat outside the court's detention facility. Michael Pestman, international co-lawyer for Khmer Rouge chief ideologue Noun Chea, said he found the documents after a visit to his client in the detention facility Wednesday.

"We saw documents floating in the moat, and after I fished them out, they turned out to be a draft letter from our office, which should have been shredded," he said. "This is a serious breech of security, and this document was most probably stolen from our office."

Pestman said the document was a draft of letter sent to Helen Jarvis, head of the tribunal's victims unit, which related to an open letter she signed in 2006 when she was a member of an Australian socialist political party.

Nuon Chea's lawyers earlier this week criticized Jarvis, an Australian citizen who was formerly the court's public affairs chief, over the letter, in which she and more than 50 other members of the Leninist Party Faction of the Democratic Socialist Party declared their position on an ideological dispute.

"We too are Marxists and believe that 'the end justifies the means,'" the declaration said. "In time of revolution and civil war, the most extreme measures will sometimes become necessary and justified. Against the bourgeoisie and their state agencies, we don't respect their laws and their fake moral principles."

Pestman said the position expressed in the declaration led him to have "serious concerns" over Jarvis' suitability for the role as head of the victims unit and as an ethics monitor in the trial of five former leaders of Cambodia's 1975-1979 Maoist regime.

"We are not saying that she does not have the right to hold personal political views, but we are concerned that she signed a letter stating that she does not have to follow the rule of law," he said. "We are concerned that this could affect our client's right to a fair trial."

Jarvis has remained silent on the issue and has not replied to the lawyers' letter.

Pestman refused to speculate on who had taken the draft letter from his legal team's office.

He said a security official at the court had launched an investigation into the incident.

Five former Khmer Rouge leaders are facing trial at the court for their roles in the deaths of up to 2 million people through execution, starvation or overwork during the group's rule.

The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, former warden of the Tuol Sleng torture prison in Phnom Penh, began in February.

None of the other four detainees have been indicted yet.

The tribunal was established in 2006 after a decade of negotiations between the Cambodian Government and the United Nations. For the past year, it has been dogged by allegations of government interference in the trials and corruption on the Cambodian side of the court.

Nuon Chea's lawyers also this week sent letters to the court's chief prosecutors and co-investigating judges claiming to have evidence of government interference.

A letter to prosecutor Chea Leang accused her of breaching the court's rules by acting on the government's instructions to not extend the court's investigation to more former Khmer Rouge members.

Chea Leang's decision not to extend the investigation led to a disagreement with her international co-prosecutor, which was made public in February.

"We are reliably informed that you have received instructions from the [government] not to pursue the prosecutions that form the basis of the current disagreement," the defence team's letter said.

In a letter to You Bunleng, co-investigating judge, Nuon Chea's lawyers asked: "Have you received any member or official of the Royal Government of Cambodia with respect to our teams seventh and/or 10th request for investigative action?"

The former leaders' lawyers have accused the country's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of stifling attempts to extend the tribunal's investigation out of fear that high-ranking government officials could face prosecution.

Many CPP politicians, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, are former Khmer Rouge cadres.

A Khmer Rouge Tribunal with civil parties but no guarantees of implementation of reparations

Choeung Ek (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 17/04/2008: Commemoration of the start of Pol Pot’s regime at the “Killing Fields” in Choeung Ek©John Vink/ Magnum


By Stéphanie Gée

While the Rules Committee of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) – which examines potential amendments of the Internal Rules of the jurisdiction backed by the United Nations –, is meeting this week in Phnom Penh, the issue of the reparations to be awarded to victims of the Khmer Rouge is back on the table. Cambodian civil society organisations as well as lawyers for civil parties at the ECCC called to clarify this point as soon as possible, instead of waiting until the end of the judicial process, so that the measures provided for in the rules regarding collective and moral reparations do not remain a simple symbolic rule on paper.

Penniless accused
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal is the first hybrid jurisdiction with a mandate providing for the request for reparations by victims who are joined as civil parties. The CHRAC, a coalition of 21 NGOs defending human rights and the rule of law, intends to remind the court of its commitments. In an open letter, dated June 3rd, to the members of the Plenary and the Rules Committee, the organisations urge them to make a debate on the issue of reparations a main item of their agenda for the next Plenary Assembly, and to amend the existing rule.

Indeed, Rule 23 states that “the Chambers may award only collective and moral reparations to Civil Parties. These shall be awarded against, and be borne by convicted persons.” Yet, the CHRAC reminds that all five defendants before the Court have claimed to be “indigent” in order to qualify for legal aid. “As it currently stands,” the CHRAC argues, “this provision would drastically limit the potential scope of any Court-ordered reparations. Even a limited reparations award, such as an order to publish the judgment of the court, as suggested in Rule 23.12 (a), would be rendered unenforceable given the defendants lack of funds or assets to pay for such an award.”

Yet, the coalition recalls the results, presented earlier this year, of a country-wide survey among the Cambodian people conducted by the Human Rights Center of the University of Berkeley, California, which showed that “88 percent of all respondents believe that it is important to provide symbolic (moral) reparations to victims of the Khmer Rouge or their family.”

A system of voluntary contributions, an option to explore
It is not the first time that representatives of the Cambodian civil society have expressed their concerns on this issue. This time, the CHRAC clearly suggests that the tribunal allows voluntary contributions to compensate for the indigence of the defendants, who are the only ones who have to pay for the reparations to this day. “Only such an opening clause would provide a realistic perspective for the implementation of ‘collective and moral reparations’,” the coalition argues. Moreover, they also urge the court to “[S]upport credible action to investigate into the assets and property of the accused persons in order to recover potential resources to fund reparations orders”. To this day, there is nothing on how to administer and implement ECCC reparations orders, which should be corrected, the NGOs believe.

A call for the creation of a Victims Trust Fund
At the same time, civil party lawyers, including Silke Studzinsky, make the same observation as the CHRAC: the provisions on the funding of reparations are ineffective. They have therefore drafted proposals for amendments of the Internal Rules, regarding, among others, the establishment of a Victims Trust Fund by the Office of the Administration. The proposals were submitted on April 30th 2009 to the court via the Victims Unit. The initiative could be partly guided by the example of the Victims Trust Fund based on voluntary contributions and established in September 2002 by the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Moreover, the lawyers argue that by implementing the Extraordinary Chambers into its national court structure, the Cambodian government also assumes “its duty according to para 16 of the [United Nations] Basic Principles for Victims also for the ECCC”, which states that “States should endeavor to establish national programs for reparation and other assistance to victims in the event that the parties liable for the harm suffered are unable or unwilling to meet their obligations.”

Necessary amendments to the Internal Rules
The civil party representatives note that the resources to this – independent – Trust Fund should also be contributed by the Kingdom of Cambodia itself. They conclude that “[A] Trust Fund foreseen in the Internal Rules is likely to be a good starting point for negotiations with the Royal Government of Cambodia on this matter.” On this point, they recall it is “common in many legal systems of the world, that certain reliefs concerning the detention are conditional upon the conduct of voluntary work by the detainee.” If this were to apply here, they argue that “[P]art of the compensation received for such work conducted by the defendants at the ECCC could be used as a contribution to the Trust Fund.” However, it may be noted that, in light of the advanced age of the defendants and the length of the judicial process, the last hypothesis seems most unlikely.

In addition to funds contributed by the Cambodian government and the defendants, voluntary contributions could be made by “Governments, international organizations, individuals, corporations and other entities.” The sums would all be collected by the Victims Trust Fund, which would manage these funds and their distribution. These are as many elements the lawyers would like to see written in black and white in the Internal Rules.

For Sok Sam Oeun, chairman of the CHRAC, reparations could also be funded by countries that were involved in the Pol Pot regime. Their implementation would contribute to “allay the suffering of the victims.” The important figure of the Cambodian civil society does not want to stray into idle speculations and simply hammers for now that the court must address this sensitive issue head-on.

Closure looms for dump families

A woman combs through garbage at Stung Meanchey Municipal Dump on Monday, searching for recyclable goods that she can resell. Over the years, the dump has received a great deal of international attention, but next month, the government will close the infamous site, taking away the main source of income for hundreds of families.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Khunthear and Christopher Shay
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Hundreds will be left without work next month with the closing of Stung Meanchey dump, an icon of poverty that has become an unlikely safety net for some of the city's poorest inhabitants.

SPRINTING towards an oncoming garbage truck, Phorn Sreymean hoped to beat a dozen other scavengers in fishing out the bottles and cans embedded in the garbage raining down from behind the vehicle.

For her efforts, repeated each time a truck trundle over the mounds of refuse msaking up Stung Meanchey dump, Phorn Sreymean said she might make 5,000 riels (US$1.25) in a day.

The 14-year-old said she began working the dump five years ago, after her parents divorced and she was forced to join her mother to help support the rest of her family.

Stung Meanchey dump has been written about, photographed and filmed, and through these stories, the hundreds of dirt-poor families who work the 40 hectares of steaming trash have become international icons of Third World poverty.

"The fact that so many foreigners want to come here shows that it has become a symbol of poor people in Cambodia," said Cindy Godden, an anthropology PhD candidate at the Australian National University who has been doing her fieldwork at the dump for a year.

But next month the site is to close, and the 1,000 tonnes of trash that arrive each day will instead be trucked to a new site located near Cheung Ek, about 15 kilometres outside of the city.

Scavengers will not be allowed, according to Sao Kunchhon the director of Phnom Penh Waste Management.

Though the dump has become a popular spot on the development tourism circuit, Phymean Noun, the director of the People Improvement Organisation, an NGO that runs three schools and a vocational training centre for families living near the dump, said the site is still "very dangerous".

In February, a cart on top of a dump truck tumbled onto a woman, causing her to fall headfirst onto her metal pick and killing her, Godden said, adding that, on average, one person dies a year in accidents at the dump.

A young girl adjusts her gloves at the Stung Meanchey Municipal Dump on Monday. The government says the dumpsite will be closed next month.

Many others are injured - crushed by vehicles while competing for anything of value amid the trash - and the long-term health hazards of working in the stinging haze that engulfs the dump worries Phymean Noun, who says she sees many of her young students wheeze through class.

"[The students] have problems with their hair, heart and breathing.... The toxic smoke makes it hard for them to breathe," she said.

Yet news that the dump will be closed has instilled fear, rather than relief, in the people who depend on it.

According to Phymean Noun, the old site, which opened in 1965, is the main source of income for about 1,000 families.

"I am worried that when this dump site moves I won't be allowed to work anymore," Phorn Sreymean said, adding that losing her daily income would be a disaster for her family.

Only about five families actually live on the dump, while most of the others live in surrounding communities.

Phymean Noun estimates that only about 30 percent will move once Stung Meanchey closes, leaving hundreds of families without work.

Phorn Sreymean worked in the city before, collecting plastic bags from the garbage outside of people's homes, and she said she expects to return to this once the dump closes.

But she said she prefers the dump site, where she can work without being looked down upon by others.

I don’t want this place to close ... how can i live if this dump site is closed.

"I used to work in city, and it was difficult for me, because most house owners don't allow me to take their plastics. Sometimes they yelled at me," she said.

But Sao Kunchhon vowed that the city would not abandon the scavengers and hoped that closing down the dump site would force them to improve their lives, adding that the municipality is working with NGOs to provide employment skills for these families.

"Stopping them from working at the dump site does not mean we will make them suffer," he said. "We want them to have good health and work."

No matter the risks, Oum Ren, 56 who collects recyclables, said she wants to stay at the dump and does not know how she will make a living when it closes.

"I don't want this place to close, because I will lose a lot money that I need to survive ... how can I live if this dump site is closed?" she said.

Despite a 50 percent drop in the price of recycled goods since last year, Godden said that every week new people are arriving at the dump because it can still provide enough to live.

In April, the municipality approved a proposal that would turn the dump into a source for methane gas that could potentially provide electricity for 3,000 families.

In order to collect the gas, a joint German-Cambodian company will cover the landfill with soil and plant trees on top. The ultimate goal, said Chau Kim Heng, Chau Kim Heng, director of the Cambodian Education and Waste Management Organisation, is to capture all emissions and control the toxic leakage from the dump.

Though Phorn Sreymean fears what will happen to her family when the site closes, she does not want to work at the dump forever. She has another dream:

"Sometimes I am really disappointed with myself that I was born into a very poor family and have to work at the dump since I was young," Phorn Sreymean said. "I want to be a beautician."

Mu Sochua grilled in court

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Mu Sochua speaks to reporters outside of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Thursday, 04 June 2009

SRP lawmaker questioned for four hours by court prosecutor in Hun Sen's defamation suit.

OPPOSITION Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua answered questions Wednesday in Phnom Penh Municipal Court regarding a defamation lawsuit filed against her by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The lawsuit stems from a complaint lodged by Mu Sochua over an April 4 speech given by the prime minister in which, she claims, he made derogatory comments about her. Mu Sochua's own complaint prompted a countersuit from Hun Sen, who denied that the comments in question referred to her.

Emerging from the court after four hours of questioning, the Kampot lawmaker told reporters that Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun had focused on the question of why she had organised a press conference announcing her intention to sue Hun Sen before actually filing her complaint.

She said she told the deputy prosecutor that she did so because she wanted to outline her case clearly to the media, adding that holding press conferences is not illegal.

"As I am a victim, I turned to Cambodian law to defend myself," she told reporters.

In the April speech in Kampot, Hun Sen referred to an unnamed lawmaker as a cheung klang, or "strong leg", a term viewed by some as particularly offensive to women. Mu Sochua has said repeatedly that the speech clearly referred to her, noting that Hun Sen described the same lawmaker as a "strong female MP from the opposition party in Kampot" who lost a button on her shirt while running around embracing people.

During last year's election campaign, Mu Sochua was involved in an altercation in which she said an army general tore a buttom from her blouse and exposed her bra.

"Although Samdech Hun Sen did not refer to me by name, people who were at the speech on April 4 told me by phone to listen to it because he had clearly referred to me," she said.

Ky Tech, the prime minister's lawyer, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun declined to comment Wednesday afternoon, saying that he was busy with teaching obligations.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan declined to comment beyond saying that he was not interested in Mu Sochua's comments and that "all people must be under the law".

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said in a statement Monday that the case was demonstrative of "an inclination to shut down the rights and freedoms" of the opposition party.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, expressed concern that no action seemed to have been taken with regard to Mu Sochua's original complaint, adding that the court must be willing to summon Hun Sen as well.

Prime minister hun sen has always said he is brave, so he should agree to appear in court.

"The court must summon them together," Sok Sam Oeun said.

Mu Sochua urged Hun Sen to appear before the court if summoned, saying that SRP President Sam Rainsy had always appeared when called in for questioning.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen has always said he is brave, so he should agree to appear in court," she said. "I still hope that the court will give us justice."

Legal misconduct claims
The case has also resulted in a complaint filed by Ky Tech against Kong Sam Onn, Mu Sochua's lawyer, on charges of violating professional codes of ethics by speaking publicly about the Mu Sochua case.

Kong Sam Onn appeared before a Bar Association inspection team Monday, but the meeting was suspended after he requested that the bar replace one of the inspection panel members - lawyer Hem Voun - who works at the law firm of Ky Tech. The meeting with the inspection team has now been suspended twice and has not been rescheduled.

Bar Association President Chiv Songkak said after the second cancellation that he supported Kong Sam Onn's request, but that he could not say who would replace Hem Voun on the inspection team.

Hem Voun also said he understood the request and "did not oppose" it.

More graft, more govt support: TI

Written by Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Kingdom gets mixed report from corruption watchdog.

CAMBODIA has the highest levels of bribery in the Asia-Pacific, but popular perceptions of anti-graft efforts appear to be improving, according to the latest report by global corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).

The group's "2009 Global Corruption Barometer", released Wednesday, noted increased popular support for the government's efforts to fight corruption, but also showed corruption worsening in key areas.

According to the report, which was based on interviews with 1,019 Cambodians in the country's "main provinces", 47 percent of respondents said they or a member of their family had paid a bribe in the last year - compared with the Asian average of just 13 percent.

Perceptions of corruption in political parties, the legislature and the judiciary also increased slightly, with 62 percent of Cambodians seeing the courts as the most graft-prone institutions in society.

But the report also found that 67 percent of respondents perceived government anti-corruption efforts as "effective", up from just 29 percent in 2007.

The report found the country was one of several where "the public appears to regard corruption as less pronounced" than what is reflected in TI's annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which rated Cambodia 166th out of 180 countries in 2008.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said he had not seen the report, but that he was unsurprised at the support shown for the government's anti-corruption efforts.

"The government has never ignored the fight against corruption," he said Wednesday.

"The report says that 67 percent think the government is effective in eliminating corruption, but I think this figure is incorrect - it might be higher."

But Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said that the 67 percent figure was misleading, since so many Cambodians lacked the information to make an independent judgment.

"I think that [the people]... receive information from one side, such as television stations that are controlled by the ruling party," he said.

The release of the TI report comes amid controversy over recent comments by US Ambassador Carol Rodley, who cited "numerous studies" showing that Cambodia is losing up to US$500 million to corruption each year.

The statement, made in a speech at the Clean Hands anti-corruption concert at Olympic Stadium on Saturday, prompted a strong reaction Tuesday from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which labelled the comments "politically motivated and unsubstantiated", and called for their retraction.

In the wake of the government reaction, international NGO PACT announced Wednesday that it would delay indefinitely the release of its own corruption survey, scheduled for today.

Nuth Youthy, senior research officer at PACT's Mainstreaming Anti-corruption for Equity Programme, did not comment on the reason for the postponement and said he did not know when the press conference would be held.

But local observers say the government reaction was out of proportion to the comments.

"Rather than reacting negatively to the statements of the ambassador, the government should use it as a reason to investigate further," said Chheat Sreang, project coordinator at the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, agreed, saying that although it was impossible to measure corruption precisely in dollar terms, Rodley's comments were a "reminder that it is time to speed up measures combating corruption".

But Yim Sovann said that the $500 million figure was accurate and that corruption was in fact worsening in Cambodia.

"The government has no political will to push for an Anti-corruption Law, [since] many people in the CPP are involved heavily in the corruption," he said.

Publisher answers charges

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Accused of defamation in corruption coverage.

THE publisher of a Khmer-language newspaper told a Municipal Court prosecutor Wednesday that he stood by articles detailing high-level corruption allegations, adding that he would not identify his newspaper's sources.

"When the prosecutor asked me to show them more information, I told them that I still stood by the information published in my newspaper and told them that I could not reveal the source of the information," Hang Chakra, publisher of Khmer Machas Srok News, told the Post after the hearing.

Hang Chakra faces criminal and civil complaints in connection with three articles published in April and May that he said uncovered corruption on the part of officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

He said Wednesday that he was considering filing a complaint against government lawyer Suong Chanthan, who filed the complaints against him.

Suong Chanthan said Wednesday that he planned to use the three articles to demonstrate that Hang Chakra is guilty of defamation and publishing false information.

Under the Press Law, publishing false information is a criminal offense for which the court can impose a fine of between 1 million riels (US$241) and 5 million riels. Defamation is a civil offense, and Suong Chanthan requested compensation totalling 10 million riels in that complaint.

Sam Rithy Doung Hak, deputy director of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), said civil and criminal complaints against journalists posed a threat to democracy.

Political meddling at ECCC confirmed, say intl lawyers

Co-prosecutors Robert Petit, of Canada, and Cambodian Chea Leang at the Extraordinary Chambers in this file photograph. Lawyers for former Brother No 2 Nuon Chea have accused Chea Leang of receiving instructions from the government.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Foreign lawyers for Nuon Chea have accused top court officials of breaching the tribunal's independence laws, amid pressure from the government.

INTERNATIONAL lawyers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal said they have been "reliably informed" that national co-prosecutor Chea Leang has received instructions from the government not to prosecute more suspects at the UN-backed court.

They also said they have evidence suggesting that the government blocked judges from interviewing Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Father Norodom Sihanouk, as well as other top government officials, as part of an investigation into their client.

In four separate emails sent to the two investigating judges and two prosecutors - and forwarded to the press - the foreign lawyers representing Nuon Chea claimed the top officials were in breach of the court's law on independence and requested them to confirm or deny allegations in writing.

"We are reliably informed that you [Chea Leang] have received instructions from the [government] not to pursue the prosecutions which form the basis of the disagreement," an email to Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang stated.

"Therefore, on information and belief, it appears your office may be in breach of ... the ECCC agreement and ... the ECCC law," it added.

An email to international co-prosecutor Robert Petit claimed lawyers had also been "reliably informed" Petit was in possession of "actual or constructive knowledge" that Chea Leang had received such instructions, and, as such, accused Petit of being in breach of the same court laws.

Petit would not comment on the allegations Wednesday except to say that he had read the email, and that he was "well aware of [his] responsibilities, both as a UN official and a member of the bar".

The emails to the judges cited a recent report by court monitors at the Open Society Justice Initiative, which said court sources had verified that the government was "attempting to block" the investigating judges from interviewing certain "insider" or "high-level witnesses" in the government. As a result, lawyers said, judges were also in breach of court law.

Co-lawyer Michiel Pestman confirmed that allegations towards the judges related to the recent dismissal of requests by his defence team to interview the prime minister and other government officials. He would not name any of the sources for the information.

"Without independent judges, there's never going to be a fair trial," Pestman said.

Chea Leang said Wednesday that she had not yet read the email and so could not comment. Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan could not be reached for comment.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Chea Leang denied that there was political interference at the court. "This court is an independent court," she said.


Court of Appeal hears from Group 78

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 04 June 2009

FOUR residents of the embattled Group 78 community presented evidence Wednesday at the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal as part of their attempt to overturn an April 20 eviction notice that gave them until May 5 to accept a City Hall compensation package and vacate their homes.

"We were asked to show our evidence by the judge, and they said they would inform us of their decision two weeks from now," said community representative Lim Sambo.

He said the evidence demonstrated that the residents were not living on a public road or on land belonging to Sour Srun Enterprises, a local developer.

An injunction against the eviction notice filed by residents was rejected on May 18 by Judge Duch Kimsan.

Yin Savat, a lawyer for the Community for Legal Education Centre, said, "The residents showed the judge the reason that they are trying to cancel the eviction notice."

He added: "It's the explanation stage. The notice is illegal and a violation of the Cambodian Constitution and the Land Law."

Accused stands trial over fatal Kampot acid attacks


Since 1999, there have been at least 127 acid attacks reported in Cambodian newspapers, involving a total of 208 victims. At least nine of the victims died, with the remainder often left with severe injuries. Of the 208 victims, 112 of them were male and 96 female. The youngest was a 3-week-old baby, according to data from local rights group Licadho.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Court hears that an ill-fated love triangle may have been the cause of the attack, which left a Kampot woman and her granddaughter dead.

THE trial of a man accused of an acid attack that killed a Kampot woman and her granddaughter opened Wednesday, although two others accused of the crime are still on the run from authorities.

Mon Ton, 27, appeared in Kampot provincial court Wednesday, accused of the murder of Thom Saroeun, 46, and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Thai Srey Thim, in January 2008.

Yun Phally, a Kampot-based prison researcher for local rights group Licadho who was present at the hearing, said the accused denied the allegations against him, but court prosecutor Chum Samba upheld the charges.

The presiding judge, Pich Chhoeut, told the court the verdict will be handed down Tuesday.

Mom Ton's mother, wife of the O'Makak village Chief Mom Touch, and another unnamed relative are also wanted in connection with the case, which took place in Angkor Chey district's Dambok Kpos commune.

San Sou Dalen, a lawyer for the victims' family said they were requesting 30 million riels (US$7,245) in compensation for the deaths and also to punish the fugitive suspects.

Police statement
During the hearing, a clerk read out statements from a confession the accused's mother made at the provincial police station following the commission of the crime, Yun Phally said.

He said the clerk read parts of the interveiw in which the mother said the "acid attack was caused by a love triangle between her husband and the dead woman, who had a close relationship and made her jealous".

But Yun Phally added that Mom Touch has denied from the beginning that he was involved in an affair with the slain woman, although his wife and another relative have been on the run since the court issued arrest warrants.

Provincial Licadho coordinator Ngeth Soseng said there were still uncertainties relating to the case, and that there has been no official confirmation from the victim's family about whether a love triangle led to the deadly attack.

But he said Licadho had been informed that Thom Saroeun was the subject of a jealous hatred from the village chief's wife, who reportedly hired a man to kill her.

Ngeth Soseng said the would-be assassin informed his victim, and it was only later, once the woman lodged a complaint at the local police station, that she and her granddaughter were assaulted with acid.

"We couldn't ask any information from the woman [after the attack] because her condition was very serious and her granddaughter was also severely wounded," he said.

Court prosecutor Chum Samba declined to comment on the case pending Tuesday's verdict.

Officials hunt for Canadian man who may have H1N1: ministry

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Man may have flown next to Taiwanese child confirmed with swine flu, says Health Ministry, which wants him to come forward for testing.

CAMBODIAN health officials said Wednesday that they are searching for a recently arrived Canadian man who may be infected with the influenza A(H1N1) virus, commonly known as swine flu.

"We have not found the Canadian man, as he did not fill in the form indicating where he will stay," said Dr Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Health.

"We are continuing to look for him," he added.

The man, who arrived May 31 at Phnom Penh International Airport on a flight from Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport, may have been exposed to the H1N1 strain of flu on his flight into Taiwan, officials say.

According to Taiwanese news agencies, an 8-year-old Taiwanese boy who arrived in the country from Texas in the United States, via Los Angeles, was diagnosed Monday morning with H1N1, a day after he arrived in Taiwan.

Sok Touch said officials were searching for the Canadian to give him a medical checkup because they believe the Canadian sat next to the infected child on the flight from the United States.

Thong Sophat, deputy director of Phnom Penh International Airport, confirmed Wednesday that all passengers from all flights were obliged to walk through a thermal scanner before clearing Cambodian customs.

He said the Canadian man had not been identified as having a fever by the machine. Several passengers had been detected as feverish, he said, but after testing were found not to be infected with swine flu.

Sok Touch said airport officials had distributed information forms with phone numbers to all passengers, and he hoped the Canadian would contact health officials if he becomes ill. Cambodia has not reported any cases of H1N1, he added.

Specs revealed for Siem Reap canal project

Written by Nicky McGavin
Thursday, 04 June 2009


THE details of a US$800,000 project to preserve, clean and further develop a network of canals in Siem Reap province were revealed Wednesday during a meeting of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC).

The canals project, to be implemented in Siem Reap district's Sala Kamreuk commune, is expected to get under way late this year, at the conclusion of the rainy season.

Tep Vattho, project manager for the Apsara Authority, the body responsible for managing Angkor Wat, said the project was prompted by complaints from villagers and farmers about the quality and quantity of water available during the dry season.

She said water contamination had adversely affected crop production during the past three years, and that the project was designed to remedy this problem as well as other sanitation problems and flooding to the north and south of Siem Reap town.

Proposal details
Details of the project presented Wednesday indicate that the flow of water in the canals will be improved by new hydraulic structures, while the cleaning and dredging of the canals will be facilitated by the installation of new drainage tanks. The details also reference a plan to transport
water to the canals during the dry season and to limit water intake during the rainy season.

A system of septic tanks will allow for wastewater recovery and treatment. Dirty water will be funneled to a plant basin filtration system, which will clean it before discharging it into the canals. In addition, the plan calls for an education programme to ensure that local villagers no longer deposit wastewater into the canals.

The bulk of the funding for the project is to come from French bodies including the Greater Paris Interdepartmental Sanitary Authority, which will provide €530,000 (US$748,095).

Cham radio programme debuts

Ly No checks the donation box Tuesday in the Halal restaurant near Kandal market. The box was set up to support the Radio Sap Cham station.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khuon Leakhana and Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Privately funded project offers first Khmer-language content geared towards Cham population.

THE president of the Cambodian Muslim Development Foundation (CMDF) this week began broadcasting Khmer-language radio programming geared towards the Cham community, the first such programming to air in a language other than Cham.

CMDF President Othsman Hassan said Tuesday that this week's programming would consist of readings, in both Khmer and Cham, from the Koran. He said it would air at 4pm each day on Radio Phnom Penh and at 5pm on Apsara Radio.

"As a first step, we are not producing commentary," he said. "We are just playing the chanting from our holy books."

He said future programming would include shows about political and economic news affecting the Cham community, adding that these could begin airing as soon as next month.

Othsman Hassan told the Post in February that the programming would air exclusively in Khmer, but he said Wednesday that he decided to also include Cham-language programming because not all members of the Cham community speak Khmer.

He said he expected the project to cost US$4,000 per month, and that he would fund it himself.

Ahmad Yahya, the founder of Radio Sap Cham, a Cham-language radio station, said he commended Othsman Hassan's decision to include Cham-language programming.

Sos Kamry, the grand mufti of Cambodia, said he wanted Othsman Hassan to broadcast fishing-related shows and other programming that would prove practical for the Kingdom's Cham population, which Ahmad Yahya said totalled between 700,000 and 800,000.

The start of silk


Written by Sovann Philong
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Baby silkworms hatch at a farm in Phnom Vao this week. Once hatched, the larvae are kept in trays with mulberry leaves that they eat for about a month before spinning their cocoons. Silkworms have been domesticated to the point where they can no longer exist in the wild.

4-wheeled help for rural province

A unique tuk-tuk designed by Phil Starling (pictured on vehicle with Sarah Ferry) is taken on two medical tours every weekday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kyle Sherer
Thursday, 04 June 2009

A heavy-duty tuk-tuk brings emergency transport and health care to remote Siem Reap villages.

ABeefed-up tuk-tuk drawn by a quad bike is on the front lines of medical care in rural Siem Reap, racing over dirt tracks to bring patients to hospital and taking medical staff and equipment to remote communities. The tuk-tuk ambulance is the brainchild of Phil Starling, founder of the NGO Making a Difference for Good (MAD), and it's proved so successful that he hopes to construct a fleet of them.

In rural Siem Reap, getting a crash victim to a hospital quickly may be the difference between life and death. But motos and tuk-tuks are no match for violent weather and rugged terrain, especially for the critically injured, so Starling built the medical tuk-tuk.

"The [medical] tuk-tuk was designed because when we tried last year in the wet to get people to hospital, we struggled to get through the country tracks," he said. "We needed something big enough to carry a few children and a mother, or a stretcher, and all our medical equipment. We couldn't find a tuk-tuk like that, so we had to make our own. We took the framework of a normal tuk-tuk and extended it."

The team reinforced the wheels and installed heavy-duty suspension from a pick-up truck. They also stripped it of anything that could be stained, so it can be washed down afterwards.

When the tuk-tuk carriage was finished, it was large enough to hold a stretcher and strong enough to handle a rough ride, but only a quad bike had the muscle to pull it. Although the quad also needed modification.

Without our tuk-tuk, he might ave lost his leg."

"The back end of the quad was stripped down, and we had to beef up the chassis. Then we had to rewire it to take the tuk-tuk lights."

Starling was the first to drive the machine because, he said, Cambodians weren't game enough. "How fast can it go?" he asked. "Put it this way. Going up Route 6 when we were testing it, we were overtaking cars and trucks."

The tuk-tuk has already been involved in high-stakes rescue operations.

A unique tuk-tuk designed by Phil Starling (pictured on vehicle with Sarah Ferry ) is taken on two medical tours every weekday.

"In one case, someone on a motorbike was hit by a truck as our medical tuk-tuk was going by," said Starling. "It was really nasty. The motorcycle driver was trapped under the truck, but we were able to put him on the tuk-tuk and take him to hospital. Without the tuk-tuk, he might have lost the leg."

"In another case, a patient was unable to get on a moto to go to hospital due to a broken leg. We dressed the wound and laid him in the tuk-tuk. It's just much more comfortable because it's spacious and you can keep people laying flat, put a cushion under the leg, and get them into hospital."

Loeng Vinh, a veterinary nurse who performs cow castrations, acts as driver, translator and medical assistant, and is aided by a volunteer English nurse, Sarah Ferry.

The team, whose services are free, treats a number of sick children with bloated stomachs, a tell-tale sign of worms. Also common are dry skin, breathing difficulties and headaches. Occasionally they clean and bandage an infected cut or bite.

Ferry said, "I treated a little kid once who chopped the end of his fingers off. When we saw him, the hand was tied together with a strip of curtain."

Starling said the MAD tuk-tuk and medical team, which is completely donor funded, have built a reputation in the communities they work in.

"We've transported people into town with all sorts of injuries. Burns, nasty cuts, people who injured their feet after getting them caught in the wheels of a bike during a crash. We've become known as the medical program that will help people at all times. People will see the tuk-tuk going by and stop it and ask for help."

Twice every weekday, workers in the MAD medical program take the tuk-tuk to different communities.

Treatments are usually basic, but when there is a crisis, they say the heavy-duty tuk-tuk saves the day.

Ponies prosper at ranch

Sary Pann, owner of the Happy Ranch.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Shannon Dunlap
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Sary Pann takes working ponies and retrains them to carry tourists.

THE Happy Ranch in Siem Reap, established in 1996, is dedicated to improving the lot of Cambodian ponies.

Owner Sary Pann first bought a Cambodian pony in 1997 because he felt sorry about how hard the ponies were worked, and he has since added more to his stable, hiring them out to riders as a tourist attraction.

But training the ponies has proved difficult and requires extra patience because they are used to only pulling carts, not being ridden, he said.

"It's at least six months before we can train them to ride," Sary Pann said.

Lucinda King, a New Zealand horse expert working at the ranch, said the cart ponies are "worked so hard, from early morning to late at night. They're so used to trotting that they don't even remember how to run".

Sary Pann said his ranch has not yet broken even financially, even though he has been providing trail rides and riding lessons to tourists for almost three years.

But catering to tourists also presents obstacles. Cambodian ponies are typically smaller then Western horses, and the physique of some Westerners can prove too taxing for them.

The ranch has to impose a 90-kilogram limit.

Sary Pann has purchased a few bigger horses from Thailand and near the Vietnamese border to breed with his Cambodian ponies to give them more heft.

Despite the problems, the Cambodian ponies are proving as resilient as their human counterparts and seem to be finding a new and respected place within the society.

The ponies have also been used to help resurrect some Khmer traditions, and they are loaned to pagodas for bous neak ceremonies, in which monks who are preparing to be ordained ride through their village.

A crocodile farm with a grisly past struggles to attract tourists

Photo by: Kyle Sherer
Lim Chhay owns crocodile farm in Siem Reap with 600 crocs and nearly 3,000 eggs.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kyle Sherer
Thursday, 04 June 2009

LIM Chhay, owner of a Siem Reap crocodile farm, is gearing up for his yearly harvest of hatchlings. His crocodiles will stop laying eggs as the rainy season hits, and after 80 to 90 days of incubation, he will welcome a new generation of baby reptiles, which he can sell on the market for US$10 to $15 each.

Lim Chhay houses just more than 600 crocodiles in his pens, and has almost 3,000 eggs as a result of the latest breeding season. The egg count is slightly lower than last year, but he is heartened by a rise in demand from Thai and Vietnamese buyers. "People want more crocodiles this year," he said.

Each year, Lim Chhay sells newborn crocs across the border, where they are raised in better conditions before being killed for their skin. But despite the increase in demand from foreign buyers, Lim Chhay has experienced an overall drop-off in profits due to a lack of tourists. For $3 per person, Lim Chhay will show travellers the crocodile pits, which he said once served a morbid purpose.

"In the Khmer Rouge time, the soldiers would take people here and feed them to the crocodiles, so they didn't have to kill them with bamboo spears and dispose of the bodies," Lim Chhay said.

Many of the older crocodiles who once served the Khmer Rouge as man-eaters still remain at the farm, he said.

"I estimate the oldest ones to be 50 to 80 years old," Lim Chhay said. "You can tell they are very old by the white skin on their snouts."

The deteriorated and battle-scarred skin of Lim Chhay's older crocodiles makes their hides worthless. But Lim Chhay also refuses to sell them for their meat. "I don't want to kill them," he said. "Their life is as valuable as mine.

Siem Reap Scene: 4 Jun 2009

The Nest, Siem Reap's trendy new bar.

Written by Post Staff
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Friday night heralded the grand opening of the uber-trendy Nest Angkor nightspot, the latest venture by Thai-based businessman Joseph Polito and his partner and director Socheat Cheng, who also oversees the large local Khmer restaurant, Angkor Mondial.

More than 120 guests, comprised of travel agents, hotel managers, and movers and shakers, attended the festivity at the innovative, open-air, garden-style cafe constructed from PVC-canvas sails.

But a notable absentee was Polito, stuck in Bangkok with passport problems - particularly galling for the inveterate traveller.

And shortly after the opening, Nest's general manager Ivan Comizzoli flew to Saigon, having quit the job he took up in January.

Polito, well-known in Siem Reap due to his stint as debut general manager at Hotel de la Paix, lives in Bali and owns a similar nightspot, the Nest, in Bangkok. This is perched on the rooftop of Le Fenix hotel and is regularly featured in up-market glossy magazines eliciting descriptions such as a "Hollywood style pre-party (or after-party) outdoor hangout for Bangkok lounger ... with slouch-friendly furnishings and
sultry evening breezes".

During an earlier visit to Siem Reap, Polito told Scene that US$400,000 had been sunk into the venture, adding, "We had an opportunity to open in Siem Reap with a local businessman who liked our concept. He had a great site available, and I felt there was a good existing market and opportunity."

The owners of a soon-to-be-opened boutique hotel are trying to attract cockatoos - and that's not a MICE-style acronym for a new business market. Peter Oxley and Virgilio Calaguian want to buy the birds for the garden of their seven-room hotel, The Cockatoo Resort and Restaurant, which will open later this month.

Calaguian told Scene they chose the cockatoo name to give the hotel a "tropical feel".

In contrast to the tropical feel of the resort is the hotel bar, Cafe Noir, decked out with vintage movie posters. The bar is targeted at expats, and a film club is in the works to reel in movie buffs. The owners have a collection of about 200 movies, mainly '30s and '40s detective flicks, but also classic Japanese films.

Plan International, an NGO promoting child rights, oversaw a day of activities at 17 schools in Siem Reap for International Children's Day on Monday. The exercises were based on the theme of "learn without fear", and encouraged parents, children and teachers to reduce violence in classrooms and homes. Pich Sophary, the program manager, told Scene that roughly 10,000 people participated.

"It was very successful," she said. "Children now know more about their rights." At every school, a forum was arranged for the parents, teachers and children to exchange opinions and ask questions about punishment. This was followed up with a quiz that tested the children on their understanding of their rights and domestic violence.

Junior football in Siem Reap will receive a boost over the next two weeks in mini tournaments sponsored by the Centre for Khmer Studies.

Some 150 children will take part in football tournaments for under-12 and under-16 players at the Provincial Teacher Training Centre this Sunday and June 14.

For the under-12 tournament, teams from Anjali House, Green Gecko SC, the PTTC, Sangkheum FC and the Siem Reap International School will play. The under-16 tournament also includes teams from all of the aforementioned NGOs, plus the Sunrise Children's Orphanage.

The emphasis of the tournament is to provide football entertainment and promote sporting values.

The teams will play in a round-robin-style tournament, with the overall winner taking the trophy. Steve Longley, a teacher with ACE, is the tournament organiser and will also act as referee, together with Sin Bota and Prom Doung.

A highly anticipated collection of roughly 800 books and government documents worth over $37,000 arrived at the Centre for Khmer Studies last week. The collection belonged to Leonard Overton, a US diplomat who worked in Saigon and Phnom Penh during the 1950s and '60s, and according to the centre's director of operations, Michael Sullivan, it will "make a valuable contribution to understanding American and Cambodian relations during the Cold War".

Among the treasures is Le Cambodge, a three-volume book written by French explorer Etienne Francois Aymonier at the turn of the 20th century, which contains the first systematic survey of the Angkor ruins. Together, the three tomes are valued at $1,000.

Another book sure to attract interest is Charles H Wharton's An Ecological Study of the Kouprey, which documents the infamously enigmatic mammal, believed to live in Cambodia but classified as "possibly extinct". Wharton's book was published in 1957, 20 years after the buffalo-like beast was discovered and 26 years before its last recorded sighting.

There are also many official documents from the governments of the US, Cambodia, Vietnam and France, which are sure to provide juicy reading. "It's the dates on the documents that are important," said Sullivan. "They'll be very interesting to researchers interested in Cambodia's political development."

Temple Watch: Welcome to Angkor Wet

Written by Dave perkes
Thursday, 04 June 2009

I visited Angkor last week to get some rainy season photography. Black and white shot against the light with people carrying rain-soaked umbrellas always make great subjects. It's one of the occasions when I love to see tourists, especially bedraggled tourists. Of course they usually smile when they see me juggling my camera equipment and fighting with a brolly, that is attempting to self-destruct in a sudden rain-sodden gust. If I were lighter in weight, I could do a Mary Poppins, flying across the heavens like an Apsara. Instead, I am on terra firma in the middle of the Angkor Wat causeway, just about equidistant from any nearest shelter. It's at times like these that Angkor Wat seems big, very big. In fact, it can seem so big in the rain that those celestial oceans that surround the temple appear to be travelling to the ends of the earth. My expensive camera equipment might be water-resistant, but is not designed for this kind of tropical deluge. Come to think of it, my folding umbrella is designed to do precisely what it is doing right now - self-destructing - in anything more than a light breeze. Why did I ignore the boy selling rain macs 10 minutes earlier?

ANZ Royal nation's top boss, survey of students shows

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
A call centre operator at ANZ Royal Bank. The company was ranked in a new survey of university students as the most desirable place to work.

Ten of the best Rank Company

1 ANZ Royal Bank 52.1%
2 ACLEDA Bank 40.7%
3 World Bank 36.6%
4 World Vision 34.6%
5 Cambodia Airport Management Services 22.8%
6 Nokia KTH Co Ltd 22.3%
7 UN Agency 20.9%
8 Canadia Bank 20.8%
9 Infinity Insurance 15.2%
10 Bristish American Tobacco Cambodia 14.2%

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nathan Green
Thursday, 04 June 2009

International companies in Cambodia say working for large organisation with opportunities for overseas employment proves a big draw among graduates

Employers that offer international career opportunities have an advantage in attracting graduate students, according to a new survey released by business consultancy BD Link.

In the survey of 1,200 students from Cambodia's public and private universities, 48.3 percent of respondents identified the opportunity to work overseas as one of their top five reasons for wanting to work for a particular company.

Mirroring the finding, domestic-foreign joint venture ANZ Royal Bank was identified by 52.1 percent of respondents to the "Employer Branding Survey 2008-9" as one of the five employers they would most like to work for, ranking it first among all companies in the country.

The joint venture bank is owned by Australia's ANZ Group and Cambodia's Royal Group.

"We're an international organisation, and that carries a lot of weight," said ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins.

"It's that international path; the fact we regularly send staff on offshore secondments really gives people very good career options."

Continuing on the international theme, the World Bank was the third most popular employer among students, selected by 36.6 percent of respondents as one of their top five picks, and World Vision was selected by 34.6 percent, placing it fourth.

ACLEDA Bank was the top domestic firm selected, with 40.7 percent of respondents identifying it among their top five preferred employers, putting it in second place behind ANZ Royal.

While ACLEDA is a domestic bank, it also has big offshore expansion plans. It already has branches in Laos and plans to open more in Vietnam and China.

When asked to nominate just one preferred employer, ANZ Royal again came out on top with13.5 percent of all respondents nominating it.

The World Bank was the second most desirable employer, with 12.5 percent of respondents, followed by World Vision and ACLEDA Bank, each preferred by 11.4 percent of students.

Employer aid
British American Tobacco Cambodia, ANZ Royal Bank, Cambrew Ltd and Amret were the main sponsors of the survey, which was released in association with human resources firm HR Inc, a sister company to BD Link.

HR Inc managing director Sandra D'Amico, said the survey also asked respondents about the key characteristics they looked for in an employer, giving employers tools to better understand how to attract top graduates in a competitive market.

"If you look at private sector development over the last couple of years, you've seen a lot of big multinationals and brands set up in the market," she said.

"We're all looking for top talent, and we're all looking for something different in our top talent. It's very difficult for an employer to find that, so this survey helps employers."

Market success was associated with employers of choice by 42.9 percent of respondents and financial strength by 41.8 percent. Corporate social responsibility and good management also rated highly.

Respondents also took into account how much each employer would help their career prospects, with 48.3 percent looking for international career opportunities and 48.2 percent good career references. Trainee programs were sought after by 40.9 percent of respondents and internal education opportunities by 34.9 percent.

The survey will also be distributed at universities to help students learn more about different companies, industries and sectors, D'Amico said.

Youth organisation targets growth in recruitment drive

Photo by: MARK ROY
Pea Vanchhay had to overcome reluctance from his family before he could join AIESEC.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Eleanor Ainge Roy
Thursday, 04 June 2009

New arrival in Cambodia is hoping to add 20 new students as part of plan to place 20 members in work experience this year

THE local chapter of global youth development organisation AIESEC is aiming to pick up 20 new students through a recruitment drive it has launched in Phnom Penh.

It is also hoping to send 20 students overseas for work experience by the end of the year, according to Sim Pech Chetra, AIESEC comittee vice president for Pannasastra University of Cambodia.

AIESEC is a new initiative in Cambodia; its first team of five students from PUC has only been in operation five months. But Sim Pech Chetra said in that short time his experience as a member has helped develop his confidence and fuelled his ambition to work and travel outside of Cambodia.

"I used to be very shy, but now I feel much more confident that I can achieve my best," he said. "I feel I can see how big the world is, and I want to go out there and challenge myself."

He has recently returned from Vietnam, where he took part in Aiesec's annual global meeting.

Long history
AIESEC, which is pronounced as one word but was originally an acronym for Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, has been in existence since the 1940s, though it had its origins in the 1930s.

It is an international, not-for-profit, apolitical organisation run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education.

Currently we are focused on selecting the right people to become members.

It describes itself as "the international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society".

The Netherlands-based network includes 35,000 students in more than 1,100 universities in 108 countries and places around 5,500 student exchanges every year.

It offers its members practical training to support their theory-based university studies, Sim Pech Chetra said. Cambodian members are also offered workshops and classes by business professionals and a formal arena in which to practice their English-language skills.

"AEISEC is working to help students in Cambodia discover their potential in order to build Cambodia as a very strong nation in the future," he said.

"They do this by offering leadership and team-building training on weekends and holidays, and facilitating work exchanges around the world."

Sim Pech Chetra and his team have set up a recruitment table at PUC and peppered the campus with posters and flyers.

He said that sharing his personal experience with students - and mentioning the phrase "leadership training" - have proved the most effective methods of garnering interest. "Everybody wants to be a leader, and there is a realization that extracurricular activities such as AIESEC give you an advantage in the job market," he said.

The PUC team is joined in Cambodia by an AIESEC team at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

Both have been mentored by AIESEC students from the United Kingdom, who arrived last year with the aim of developing a strong presence for the group in Cambodia.

Pea Vanchhay, who has been a vice president on the Pannasastra AIESEC committee since January, said his family was initially reluctant for him to join because they mistakingly feared the organisation might be mixed up in politics.

"AIESEC is a completely non-political organisation, and once I convinced them of that they were happy that I had this opportunity," he said.

"For me I really want to change Cambodian students' perspectives. Instead of just thinking of working in Cambodia, you can have a short period of experience working in other countries in order to gain knowledge to bring back to our country to develop it."

Daniel Henderson, a member of the AIESEC UK team who has relocated to Cambodia, said his team chose the country after a research trip convinced them it would prove successful.

"Currently we are focused on selecting the right people to become members, giving them responsibility and initiating a leadership pipeline to prepare students and recent graduates for leadership and management roles," he said.

PUC crowned mock champs

Pannasastra University was crowned National Champions for the second year running.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Eleanor Ainge Roy
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Pannasastra University team wins annual trial competition, making it two victories in a row at the prestigious event

Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC) was crowned national champion for the second year running at Cambodia's third annual mock trial competition that concluded Friday.

Eight teams from seven Cambodian law schools competed for the title over three days at Phnom Penh's Royal University of Law and Economics.

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said such events are an important way to support the training that students receive in the classroom.

"It allows them to experience the real-world pressures and decisions that legal professionals make on a daily basis and to put lecture-hall theory into practice" he said.

The competitors assumed the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a civil case depicting a fictitious property dispute in Siem Reap.

Moeng Theara, from the winning PUC team, said the competition was stiff, but that teamwork won over the judges at the end of the day.

"We understand now that teamwork is very important - without it we could not have won," he said.

"Good communication skills are essential to being a championship team, and that is probably the most valuable lesson I have learnt from this competition."

The younger generation of Cambodian students ...[has] an enormous potential to effect change ...

Johnson said the judges were impressed by the dedication and intelligence of all of the competitors and noted that the current generation are using the Internet, legal databases and mock trial competitions in ways that would have previously been impossible.

"The US Embassy believes that that the younger generation of Cambodian students, in law school and elsewhere, have an enormous potential to effect change throughout the country," he said.

"The students from Pannasastra were judged against an established set of criteria and stood out for their skill in questioning and developing a rapport with witnesses as well as making effective use of their exhibits."

Moeng Theara said his five-person team studied every day for two weeks leading up to the mock trial as they were inexperienced in property law. Everyone had to work "very hard" to feel prepared for the competition, he said.

The teams also attended a two-day interactive training workshop in which they learned basic examination and case-analysis skills.

Sary Maria, of the Pannasastra team, said that learning how to cross-examine a witness was the most challenging aspect of the mock trial.

"I had to learn how to control my feelings and how to control the witness at the same time," she said.

"Sometimes the witness is talkative and sometimes they are quiet, but as lawyers we must always be in control of the situation, and I think that is not easy."

The mock trial was presided over by three judges: Reed Aeschliman of USAID, James Turpin of the United Nations and Tan Senarong, a judge at the Kandal Court and at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

The event is part of USAID's Cambodia Program on Rights and Justice, which has introduced a number of initiatives in legal education, such as a client counselling competion, legal clinics, legal ethics and alternative dispute resolution.

Strategic staffing for business development

Written by Susanna Coghlan
Thursday, 04 June 2009

The economic downturn has seen organisations and companies around the world streamlining their hiring and staffing needs.

Even more than ever, employees now need to do more than simply fulfill their duties and tasks - they need to contribute, which means companies simply cannot afford to make poor hiring choices.

Employees must have a measurable impact on a company's ability to compete through maintaining high quality standards, keeping customers happy and keeping costs under control.

Developing a strategic approach to staffing for your organisation requires detailed research and analysis. It is common among businesses and organisations looking to grow and to keep pace with rapidly changing national and global trends.

While old staffing methods focused primarily on the job specifications and finding the person who best fitted the roles and responsibilities of the position, strategic staffing looks at the tasks and responsibilities that are linked to business goals and that enhance a company's ability to compete. It means putting together a combination of human resources that are strategically aligned to the needs of the business.

During this process, a company will typically investigate what are the most pressing competitive priorities facing the company right now - those that have the most bearing on the company's ability to stay competitive. Companies will also analyse the key competitive trends in their industry.

Employees must have a measurable impact on a company’s ability to compete.

Using this information, they will try to forecast what knowledge, skills sets and attributes are required to keep pace with market trends and developments and that are aligned with achieving business goals.

Using strategic staffing, employers and human resource professionals look beyond the purely functional requirements of the various positions in the company and focus on what human resources are needed to perform those functions exceptionally well.

Hiring for the future
Competency modelling is one of the practices a company can use to support strategic development. This is the process of determining, as accurately as possible, what particular mix of skills, attributes and attitudes produce superior performance in those operational functions that have the most bearing on the company's competitive strength.

This strategic process becomes the basis not only of hiring decisions, but also of training and development strategies.

Though you may not find a candidate with a perfect match of skills, attributes and attitude, you will at least have a frame of reference from which to work. You can identify the skills gaps between the job requirements and the competencies of the candidate. This allows you to judge what investment will be required on the part of your organisation in closing this gap.

Some suggestions for what you can do to get started in developing your own competency models are:

1.Interview your ‘top' performers
For example, if you have a sales force within your company, talk to your sales staff who consistently meet or exceed sales targets. Find out what makes them successful. Try to answer the following questions:

- What special skills do they have?
- What behaviours do they use?
- What type of personality traits do they share?
- What are the common attitudes and values that they bring to their job?

2. Talk to your customers.
One of the easiest ways to find out which employees in your company can provide the basis for your competency modelling is to talk to your customers. Find out which employees your customers enjoy dealing with the most, and why.

When you have collected this information, use it to develop a description of what an employee needs to do to become a top performer, not only in their role, but in their contribution to the overall strategic development of the company.

This information is important not only for selecting and hiring the right people, but also for building and maintaining a system of successful performance management within your company.
Susanna Coghlan is director of training at AAA Cambodia. AAA provides strategic human resources consulting to companies and organisations throughout Cambodia and Southeast Asia. For more information, email

Joint venture to invest $50m in quarry, cement factory

Limestone is extracted from a quarry in Pursat province in this file photo. Paul Cham Group has a joint-venture with Phi Group to develop a limestone quarry and cement factory in Stung Treng.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Paul Cham Group – part-owned by T&T Company of Vietnam – to work with US-based Phi Group on investment in Stung Treng province

A MAJOR cement project is in the works after US-based Phi Mining Group signed a joint venture with Paul Cham Group, the Phnom Penh-based company said Wednesday.

Documents from Paul Cham Group say 815 billion dong (US$50.94 million) would be invested in a cement factory and limestone quarry in Thala Barivath district, Stung Treng province.

The joint venture company, Phi Cham Mining Corporation, is 60 percent owned by Phi Mining and 40 percent by Paul Cham.

Cambodia's construction sector has left the country dependent on imports, and economists say boosting local production should be a priority.

The Kingdom imported $120 million in construction materials in 2007, up from $60 million in 2002, said a UN Development Programme report released in May. "A significant proportion of this total is imports of cement and steel," the report said.

Paul Cham Group Director Nguyen Thi Cham told the Post Wednesday that the company has completed a feasibility study and will start construction next month. She expected the project would go online next year.

"We are most interested in the export market. Cambodia has a lot of minerals, and there is strong demand for cement," she told the Post at the company head office in Phnom Penh.

We are ... interested in the export market – Cambodia has a lot of minerals.

Phi Mining Group is a publicly listed company "engaged in the exploration for, and acquisition of, diatomite, lead, copper and granite properties in Southeast Asia and South America", according to its Web site. The joint venture would explore, "exploit and process the minerals from the limestone mine", said the site, without specifically mentioning cement.

The Stung Treng project would see $625,000 spent on a 50-kilometre road and $600,000 on an electrical link to Laos, say company documents. Total costs for infrastructure and the factory would be $28.7 million, said company reports, with the investment expected to be recouped within three years.

A Paul Cham feasibility study released in 2008 said the factory would yield about 1 million tonnes of cement per year that would be shipped to Phnom Penh and exported worldwide. Estimated reserves are 2 billion to 3 billion tonnes on the 200-square-kilometre site, says Phi Mining Group's Web site.

The concession was granted by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy in November 2007 on a 50-year lease to Paul Cham, which is 51 percent owned by Vietnam-based T&T Company.

Royalties are set at $0.20 per tonne for Portland Cement - the main component in concrete. Rental on the concession is $1,000 per square kilometre, according to the agreement.

A 2008 geological report prepared by the Paul Cham Group said the property has a 150-year lifespan. Director Nguyen Thi Cham said the main target markets are China, the United States and Australia.

Sorasak Pan, a secretary of state at Cambodia's Ministry of Commerce, welcomed the project, saying that the government has seen strong interest in the mining sector despite the economic downturn.

"There is a lot of interest in mining, especially gold and base metals.... We are pleased to hear that investors are showing interest in the cement sector in Cambodia. One of the main barriers has been that it requires a lot of capital, infrastructure and electricity," he said.

He said that Cambodia's cement factories, including a SCG-owned Kampot plant, are geared towards the domestic market. "It would be nice to see a cement project tailored towards the export side. ... More local cement production would cut construction costs."

A 2007 feasibility study by Paul Cham Group contains passages on environmental protection and preventing damage to local communities, but Ministry of Environment permits could not be obtained, and company documents contained no independent environmental impact assessment.

The Paul Cham director said her company is exploring for other minerals, including sapphires and rubies, but that it was not seeking partners for those ventures. She added that the company is affiliated to Southern Mining - a Vietnamese company operating in Pursat province - but would not provide details.

Three officials at the Ministry of Mines and Energy were contacted by the Post, but declined to comment.


ANZ most desirable employer, survey says

Written by Nathan Green
Thursday, 04 June 2009

ANZ Royal Bank has been identified as the most desirable employer among university students and new graduates in a new survey released by business consultancy BD Link.

In the survey of 1,200 students from Cambodia's public and private universities, 52.1 percent of respondents identified ANZ Royal as one of the top five employers they would most like to work for. ACLEDA Bank was identified as a top five choice by 40.7 percent of respondents, the World Bank by 36.6 percent and NGO World Vision by 34.6 percent.

Asked to nominate just one employer, 13.5 percent selected ANZ Royal, 12.5 percent the World Bank, 11.4 percent World Vision and 11.4 percent ACLEDA Bank.

ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins said the results were a reward for the bank's efforts to establish its brand.

"Most people in Cambodia know who we are," he said.

See more coverage in today's Education and Careers section.

Planting machinery imports set to improve rice farming

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
The new planting technology, imported from Brazil using French financial aid, will cut the need for manual labour and increase rice yields, said farming experts.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Thursday, 04 June 2009

Farming experts say imported technology will increase paddy yields, with demonstrations set to take place in three provinces through 2012

THE Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday said it plans to show farmers a new agricultural technology that would allow them to cultivate rice without ploughing, saving time while drastically improving annual yields.

In the next three years, the ministry plans to demonstrate this technology on 500 hectares of land over three provinces, said Som Lorn, deputy director at the Department of Horticulture.

With €2.5 million (US$3.55 million) in aid from the French development agency AFD, the Cambodian government is using part of the funding to import 11 machines that would produce rice harvests without manual ploughing. Stephane Boulakia, an AFD expert from the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), said on Wednesday that each of the machines, which are imported from Brazil, costs $11,000.

The first demonstrations, set for 2009, will be in three arid districts of Battambang province, he said.

We want ... to distribute this new technology ... as widely as possible.

"We will show them [farmers] this new technology to grow rice ... to reduce the labour required to cultivate," said Som Lorn. "It will help maintain the quality of the land and increase the rice yield."

A pilot project in Kampong Cham province's Dambaer district showed that the new technology would allow farmers to grow rice all year round, even without a sophisticated irrigation system, and could double or triple the yield. In Dambaer, farmers were able to cultivate 6 tonnes per hectare, instead of only two or three under conventional methods, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

"We want to show these machines in provinces with rice-growing potential so that more farmers can see and learn ... as well as practise on them in order to increase rice yield," said Som Lorn.

Bouy Chhornheng, an agronomy professor at Fanta Francois school in Takeo province, said that the new technology could protect the land and was an important long-term investment for agricultural production in Cambodia.

"We want the ministry to distribute this new technology for growing rice as widely as possible across the country. We do not want farmers ploughing their land for cultivation like at present. This conventional method will wash away fertility from the land and lead to less rice production," he said.