Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Preah Vihear Temple, World Heritage Site 07.07.2008

Cambodian celebration marking one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Dancers perform in Phnom Penh during an event to mark the 1st Anniversary of Preah Vihear's world heritage listing. Photo courtesy: AFP.

Monks march around a pagoda in Phnom Penh to mark the 1st Anniversary of the world heritage listing of Preah Vihear. Photo courtesy: AFP.

A monk beats a drum in front of a picture of Preah Vihear Temple in Phnom Penh. Photo courtesy: AFP.

A Cambodian Buddhist monk beats a drum during a celebration marking the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian Buddhist monk beats a drum during a celebration marking the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian school children wave national flags while participating in celebrations marking the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian school children participate in celebrations marking the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Buddhist monks bless officials and soldiers during celebrations at the ancient Hindu Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 7, 2009 Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodians and foreign tourists attend a ceremony at the ancient Hindu Preah Vihear temple, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 7, 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodians release pigeons and balloons as they celebrate at the ancient Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 7, 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian performers play drums to celebrate at the ancient Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 7, 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian dancers perform a traditional dance to mark the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian dancers perform a traditional dance to mark the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian dancers perform a traditional dance to mark the one-year anniversary of a U.N. decision to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian performers dance at the ancient Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 7, 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian dancers pray at the ancient Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 7, 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian performers dance at the ancient Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 6 , 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian performers dance at the ancient Hindu temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh July 6 , 2009. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Cambodians, including Buddhists, on Tuesday to honour the one year anniversary of the Preah Vihear Hindu temple's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a long-running source of Thai-Cambodian tension. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Khmer Rouge survivor tells of 'killing field' escape

7 Jul 2009

PHNOM PENH: A survivor of the main Khmer Rouge torture centre told Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court Tuesday that he escaped a notorious "killing field" despite being knocked into a pit full of dead bodies.

Phork Khan, 57, was testifying at the trial of jail chief Duch, who is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of around 15,000 people who passed through Tuol Sleng prison.

The witness described how he was transported to Choeung Ek, the best known of hundreds of sites in the country where victims of the 1975-1979 regime were killed, after a series of brutal interrogation sessions.

"I was put at the edge of a pit and I knew that would be the last day," Phork Khan told the court as he described kneeling in the former orchard along with other prisoners.

But he said he was merely knocked unconscious into the pit after executioners aimed blows at his knees and ribs, and later awoke underneath dead prisoners.

"My hands were tied, but I tried to crawl moving on top of the other corpses. I was so skinny, I could not even stand or walk properly," he said.

"I could see the bloodstains all over my body and it smelled so bad. Because of the smell, I was about to fall unconscious again and then I got out of the pit," he added.

Phork Khan went on to recount that he heard the sound of guns of invading Vietnamese forces in January 1979 as he left the field at dawn, and was rescued by troops after using a wooden plank to float down a river.

He was the seventh survivor to recount before the court his experiences at Tuol Sleng, although Duch has disputed whether three of the witnesses had indeed been detained at his notorious jail.

The 66-year-old Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, begged forgiveness from the victims near the start of his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity after accepting responsibility for his role in governing the jail.

But he has consistently rejected claims by prosecutors that he held a central leadership role in the Khmer Rouge, and says he never personally executed anyone.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge a communist utopia. Up to two million people died of starvation, overwork, torture and execution during the 1975-79 regime.

Four other former Khmer Rouge leaders are currently in detention and are expected to face trial next year.

Cambodia poultry industry struggling

07 Jul 2009

Rising costs, bird flu and knock-on effects from the global economic crisis are resulting in the closure of chicken farms across the nation.

Dozens of the county's chicken farmers say they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as they are forced to shut down, reports The Phnom Penh Post.

Chuon Hout, owner of the Poung Peay chicken farm on the outskirts of the capital, is one of those affected chicken farmers. His business was hit badly by a combination of the global economic crisis and disease. He stated that at least 5 chicken farms in his village have closed - all for the same reasons.

"My business failed, and I lost my investment of more than US$9,000," he said. "My chickens all died from bird flu, and then the economic crisis hurt me further. I'm scared to continue in this business."

It is a similar story in Damnak Ampil village in Kandal. Farmers there said the high cost of buying and rearing birds had made the business unprofitable since selling prices are too low. Man Veasna lost $4,000 on his chicken farm, and said 25 other farms in the village had gone bust.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) said it did not have statistics on the number of farms that have gone bust.

"We only know that there are 237 chicken farms breeding the birds for meat, and 45 farming them for eggs. We don't know how many people they employ," said Sar Sochetra, the office manager in MAFF's department of animal health and production Sar Sochetra said meat-raising farms have about 2 mln chickens, while egg-raising farms have about one-tenth of that number.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said he is concerned that some bankrupt farmers have borrowed money from banks, while others have sold land to raise the capital. The result is that some have been thrown into poverty, he said. Chan Sophal blamed a combination of low demand, low retail prices and high input costs.

Damnak Ampil Commune Chief Sy Nuon said 50 chicken farms with 4,000 birds each had closed in his commune since October when the effects of the global economic crisis started to drive down selling prices.

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian Students Debate with EU on Co-op Relations

Web Editor: Qin Mei

Dignified and senior representatives of the European Union and European Commission on Tuesday led a debate with some 300 Cambodian students on relations between the EU and Cambodia.

In a statement released Tuesday by the European Union, it said the debate was led by British Ambassador Andrew Mace, representing the European Union Presidency, and Mrs. Michelle Labeeu, the Charge d'Affaires of the European Commission's Delegation to Cambodia.

The debate, which took place at the University of Cambodia, one of the leading private universities in the country, touches on topics like development cooperation, political and commercial relations and the regional context provided by the ASEAN.

The debate also marks the launch of the fifth edition of the EU 'Blue Book', the annual report detailing the EU development cooperation activities in Cambodia. This edition shows the EU provided an estimated 214 million U.S. dollars of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2008, making the EU the largest grant donor of ODA in Cambodia.

The EU 'Blue Book' provides comprehensive information on EU support to help Cambodia achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

According to the statement, EU development partners are providing support for education, health, human rights and democracy, rural development, natural resource management, decentralization and de-concentration, legal and judicial reform, public financial management, as well as trade and private sector development.

"The Blue Book aims to put information about what the EU is doing into a more accessible form. I welcome the opportunity of its launch to discuss with young Cambodians the contribution of the EU to Cambodia's development and to hear their views on our work here," said Ambassador Andrew Mace.

Mrs. Michelle Labeeu, who also emphasized the importance of open discussion with students, said that "these young people will play an important role in Cambodia's future. It is very important to provide them an opportunity to debate the multi-faceted relations that their country has with the European Union," she added.

Cambodia meeting to tackle human trafficking

Australia Network News

Officials from several Asian nations are meeting in Cambodia to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking.

The two-day meeting in Phnom Penh involves officials from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia, as well as local and international non-government organisations.

The Phnom Penh Post says speakers are calling for better coordination and information sharing to help combat the cross-border trade.

In another development, it has been reported that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered a fresh crackdown on what is being described as gangster activity.

The government says it is concerned that such activity is on the rise.

Cambodia marks anniversary of temple's world heritage listing

A monk beats a drum in front of a picture of Preah Vihear Temple in Phnom Penh. Photo courtesy: AFP.

Monks march around a pagoda in Phnom Penh to mark the 1st Anniversary of the world heritage listing of Preah Vihear. Photo courtesy: AFP.

Dancers perform in Phnom Penh during an event to mark the 1st Anniversary of Preah Vihear's world heritage listing. Photo courtesy: AFP.

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodians on Tuesday noisily celebrated the first anniversary of the UN's world heritage listing of an ancient temple which has stoked nationalist tensions with neighbouring Thailand.

Posters of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple were plastered in pagodas, schools and prominent locations around the capital Phnom Penh while celebrators screamed, "Long Live Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site!"

"As Cambodian people, we are very proud of Preah Vihear temple. We must celebrate this day, it is historic for us," Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema said after a traditional dance ceremony at a pagoda in front of 1,000 people.

Waving colourful Cambodian flags, Buddhist monks, nuns, students and teachers gathered at pagodas and schools nationwide and promptly beat drums and rang bells at 11.00 a.m. (0400 GMT) to herald the listing, officials said.

"I am very happy and proud of Preah Vihear temple. The temple belongs to Cambodia. Thailand has no right to claim it," said student Hang Dalune as at another event as hundreds of people sang and danced to nationalist songs, waving Cambodian flags.

Soldiers, villagers, monks and officials at Preah Vihear also celebrated the listing despite a standoff nearby between Cambodian and Thai troops, Cambodian commanders said.

The neighbouring countries 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.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance to the ancient Khmer temple with its crumbling stone staircases and elegant carvings is from northeastern Thailand.

Thousands of people were also expected to gather in Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium Tuesday evening for an anniversary ceremony complete with a fireworks display, official speeches and patriotic songs.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia worsened last month when Bangkok announced it would ask UNESCO to reconsider its decision to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, as the surrounding land is still in dispute. (AFP)

MySinchew 2009.07.07

U.S. to provide assistance to reform Cambodia public financial system

People's Daily Online

July 06, 2009

The United States government announced Monday its intention to provide technical assistance to the Royal Government of Cambodia to support the country's public management reform program and efforts to improve fiscal controls and promote greater transparency in financial transactions.

The announcement was made after a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance Keat Chhon and U.S. Ambassador Carol A. Rodley, and Michael Ruffner from the Treasury Department's Office of Technical Assistance (OTA).

"The assistance is designed to help Cambodia strengthen the enforcement of laws and controls as they relate to budgeting and financial accountability, banking and financial services, the insurance and financial industries, and tax administration and collection," it said in the statement.

It added that the financial management and accountability assistance programs were expected to begin within the next few months.


Thailand to deploy forces to secure ASEAN ministerial meeting

People's Daily Online

July 07, 2009

The Thai government is planning to deploy forces to secure a series of the ASEAN meetings scheduled for later this month, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Monday night.

The 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting and the 16th ASEAN Regional Forum will be held at Thailand's southern resort island of Phuket on July 20 and July23, respectively.

Thailand currently chairs the ASEAN group, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

About the security measures for the meetings, Kasit said that everything goes smoothly and security officials scheduled to be deployed on July 9, will cooperate with local authorities including Phuket provisional administration organization to provide security for ministers.

Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will be in charge of security affairs for the meetings, he told the state-run TV, the NBT.

Commenting the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, which was forced to be canceled at Thailand's eastern resort city of Pattya in April, Kasit denied that it is a failure but a matter of security failure.

The 14th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits was initially scheduled to be held on April 10-12 in a hotel in the Thai resort town of Pattaya next to Bangkok, but the Thai government announced the postponement of it on April 11 after anti-government red-shirted protesters stormed into the venue. The government has rescheduled a new summits at Phuket late October.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodian party leaders meet with Chinese official

People's Daily Online

July 07, 2009

Leaders of Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Funcinpec Party on Monday met separately with the visiting Communist Party of China (CPC) delegation headed by Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPC.

They exchanged views on Sino-Cambodian relations, the relations between two countries' ruling parties, and on other issues of common concern.

Liu spoke highly of the great achievements made by the Royal Government of Cambodia in various fields, and thanked Cambodia for its commitment to strengthen the friendly cooperation of the two countries and stick to one-China policy. He also praised Cambodia for their deepening coordination and communication with China on the international affairs.

Liu emphasized that the Chinese government attaches great important to its traditional relations with Cambodia, and will work with Cambodia to further promote the long-term and sound growth of bilateral comprehensive and cooperative partnership.

During the meeting, CPP's Honorary President Heng Samrim, Vice President Hun Sen, also the Prime Miniser of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Funcinpec Party Chairman Ke Puth Rasmey expressed their heartfelt thanks to CPC, Chinese government and Chinese people for China's long-term great assistance and support for Cambodia's cause of independence, peace, reconstruction and development.

All the Cambodian party leaders reiterated their stance to stick to one-China policy, to further strengthen the traditional friendship with China as well as to deepen the development and cooperation on various areas.

Liu, who arrived Cambodia on Saturday afternoon for his four-day visit, makes the goodwill visit at the invitation of Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and the Funcinpec Party of Cambodia.

During his stay in Cambodia, Liu also paid a courtesy call on Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni. Cambodia is the first leg of Liu's four-nation visit which will take him to the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia Angkor Airline set to take off

Travel Blackboard

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Cambodian officials have announced plans to put Cambodia Angkor Airline (CAA) into operation and inaugurate Preah Sihanouk International Airport, formerly the Kang Keng Airport, on July 27.

Mao Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said only two ATR-72 Cambodia Angkor aircraft would fly between Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk province on the day of the airlines inauguration.

"In fact, on inauguration day, only the national air route by the newly established airline will fly. It is a kind of lightweight plane which flies locally, internationally and regionally to countries like Singapore, Vietnam and Bangkok," the secretary of state said.

Mao Havannal added that the national airline was a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines.

Plans to buy Airbus 320 and 321 aircraft

The Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines signed a plan for CAA to buy Airbus 320 and 321 aircraft in late 2009 and early 2010.

"I think that if the company sees that a joint venture can boost profits, the firm will order more planes to meet the company's needs," he added.

Representatives from certain regional airlines in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos will also be present during the inauguration ceremony this month to find out about Cambodia's business potential for airline business in their respective nations.

"Now, I am encouraging some foreign airlines to fly directly to Preah Sihanouk International Airport by asking them to pay low taxes on landing," the secretary of state said.

Travel agencies in the dark

No travel agencies have confirmed CAA’s initial operational information about ticket bookings by tourists who wish to visit Preah Sihanouk province.

Ho Vandy, managing director of World Express Tour and Travel, said that his company had not received any official news concerning upcoming flights with CAA.

"We are yet to receive any official information about the name of our national airline, the price [of its tickets], its flights and the management of the airline.

“We are asking all relevant ministries and institutions to provide clear information to us so that it will be easy for us to give information to tourists," the director said.

Airline to boost economy

CAA was formed not only to make profits but to also provide a good economic outlook for Cambodia, Vandy said.

The presence of the new national airline is guaranteed to help lure tourists traveling via large ships through Preah Sihanouk Port to visit Angkor Wat.

Sona Soth, director of Phnom Penh International Airport, said that once an airport is in operation, it is already required to meet international air traffic standards.

He said before the new airport opened, the International Civil Aviation Organisation inspected its navigation equipment, runway and infrastructure.

"This airport is safe enough to land and take off on," he said.

Cambodian Leader Talks To Influential Colo. Women

World leader Mu Sochua from the Opposition Party in Cambodia spoke to some of Colorado's most influential women activists to help her in her fight against corruption in Cambodia.

Shaun Boyd

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) ― The leader of an opposition party in Cambodia came to Colorado last week, not only to ask for help for her country, but to teach a lesson about freedom.

In a backyard in Boulder Bounty, on the eve of America's Independence Day holiday, a group of women gathered to change the world. Among them was world leader Mu Sochua from the Opposition Party in Cambodia.

"I'm here to ask the American public to be aware what is going on in Cambodia right now," Sochua told the women.

Sochua faces imprisonment after speaking out against the prime minister. With her freedom running out, she came to the United States to beg Americans to help free her country from corruption and to ask where American money goes in Cambodia.

"We're talking about 36 percent of our population living below poverty line," Sochua said.

It's a condition that she says has lead to children as young as 3 years old being sold as sex slaves for as little as $50.

"I'm an abolitionist. I rescue slaves," she said.

Beth Klein knows what Sochua is up against and called on some of Colorado's most influential women activists to help. A Boulder attorney, Klein works in her spare time rescuing women from the sex trade in Cambodia.

"It's a huge effort that needs to be made to support these people, who through no fault of their own, became a thing and now they need to become somebody," Klein said.

Sochua says she will return to her country for those women and children.

"We cannot continue selling our children because of a corrupt government. It has to be stopped," Sochua said.

Her hope is that those of us lucky enough to have freedom will help free others.

"I wish I could be here for the Fourth of July, but I won't be here," she said. "But in my heart I will breathe the freedom and that's why I go back, hoping one day there will be a Fourth of July in Cambodia."

Preah Vihear set for celebration

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Thet Sambath and Tracey Shelton

Preah Vihear temple

Ahead of today's Kingdom-wide celebration marking the one-year anniversary of Preah Vihear temple's inscription as a World Heritage site, soldiers and civilians on Monday pitched in to clean up the 11th-century Hindu complex that is at the centre of the nation's latest conflict.

Security forces were further bolstered by members of Prime Minister Hun Sen's bodyguard unit, who have been seen inspecting the temple grounds since Friday. Although many soldiers and officers said they could not celebrate because they had to maintain their positions, Colonel Khon Savoun, a member of the bodyguard unit, said Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commanders from the front lines would attend today's ceremony at the temple.

"We are proud to have our temple listed as a World Heritage site. Even though we are at the border, we also have a chance to join in happiness," he said.

He added that the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts was organising traditional dances to be held Tuesday night in Sa Em village, 20 kilometres from the temple.

In addition to military brass and local clergy, bodyguard Tleth Dara said Monday that Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An is expected to attend the ceremony today.

New 2-by-5-metre signs marking the anniversary in Khmer, French and English were hung around the temple and in the town at the foot of the mountain.

Meanwhile, troops from both sides joined together in disputed frontier territory Monday to enjoy two roasted pigs and wine, a Cambodian officer said.

Colonel Khoun Savoun said soldiers posted at Sambok Khmum met in the 20-metre-wide span between both camps to share the swine and wine. He added that, after the soldiers finished the Cambodians' wine, Thais supplied some of their own to keep the party going.

The feast followed a lunch on Sunday that brought together Cambodian and Thai officers and soldiers at the mountain's pagoda, where the presence of Thai soldiers has been a sticking point in negotiations.

Following that meal, RCAF General Thun Sopal said, "We want to tie up closer friendship between soldiers from both countries in order to reduce tension in the area."

Thai tourists turned back
Also Monday, a Thai couple was refused entry to the temple complex, which a bodyguard said was for security reasons.

Sarun Ya, a 38-year-old Thai citizen, said she was refused entry along with her male companion.

Tleth Dara said his commanders had given him orders to turn away Thai tourists.

"If these Thai people go to the temple ... they can spy on our military bases and then they can shoot at us," he said.

A senior commander who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, "We don't want Thai citizens at the temple because we are worried they can cause problems or can have problems with Cambodian people at the temple."

Tleth Dara added that the ban on Thai tourists would end when the conflict did.

"Any national can get to the temple, except Thais. Anyone who speaks Thai, we will not allow to visit this temple, too," he said, adding, "They can come later, when we solve the problems."

Deportees' futures in legal limbo

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Rights groups report one arrest in B'bang after Friday's deportation.

RIGHTS groups have continued to express concern over the fate of 56 Khmer Krom refugees who were deported by Thai immigration police on Friday and remain in legal limbo at the Poipet border crossing after being questioned by Cambodian authorities.

The deportees are currently being housed at the Poipet office of the Independent Democratic of Informal Economic Association (IDEA), a local NGO, until their statuses can be clarified.

"We are allowing them to stay temporarily until they have found somewhere to go," said IDEA secretary Chea Sokun.

"We are keeping them here because we want to protect them from any interference from the authorities."

The deportees were among a group of 62 arrested June 12 by Thai police. They claimed they were seeking political asylum after fleeing persecution in southern Vietnam, which has a significant minority of ethnic Khmers, also known as Khmer Krom.

Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, said it was unclear what steps authorities would take after questioning the group on its arrival at the border, but he said he was worried about the group's eventual fate.

"Right now they're still living without proper food and shelter. They don't even have clothes," he said.

"We have concerns about them right now. [Authorities] are seeking recommendations from their superiors, and I do not know what will happen to them."

Particular concerns have been raised about one deportee who was reportedly detained by police in Battambang province Sunday.

Chao Veasna, an assistant to Yont Tharo, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker representing Banteay Meanchey province, said the arrested deportee was among a group of four who left the larger group. He said three of the four went to Phnom Penh to get in touch with relatives, while the fourth was arrested by police in Battambang's Mong Russei district.

"He called to his friends to tell them that police had arrested him, and then the phone was cut off and he has not been able to be contacted since then."

Hun Hean, Banteay Meanchey's provincial police commissioner, said he did not know anything about the disappearance but said he would investigate the matter.

Legal confusion
The situation of the deportees is complicated by their vague legal status, and civil society groups say the exact facts of the case remain unclear.

"They are really Khmer Kampuchea Krom, but we do not know whether they entered Thailand because they were threatened or whether they just wanted to live in another country," said Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc.

Toshi Kawauchi, head of the Phnom Penh office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), confirmed some of the Khmer Krom had approached the office in Bangkok for help but that the full situation was still unclear.

"We are still in the process of trying to find out what actually happened and how many people are involved. Depending on the facts we find, we will have to get in touch with the Cambodian government for their appropriate intervention," he said.

Police officials have contested the legal status of the deportees.

"They come from Takeo and Kampot and Prey Veng provinces, they are Khmer citizens, not Khmer Krom," Poipet immigration police Chief Sao Bunrith said Sunday.

Sara Colm, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said that those Khmer Krom registered as asylum seekers with the UNHCR should have been able to have their cases adjudicated.

"Our main concern is that they have their asylum claims fairly heard in a safe environment," she said Monday.

Witness's story challenged

Photo by: AFP
Civil party Ly Hor, 57, testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Georgia Wilkins

The former chief of Tuol Sleng prison says he doubts that testimony from a Khmer Rouge tribunal civil party is true.

AWITNESS at the Khmer Rouge tribunal told the court Monday how he had been spared from execution at Tuol Sleng prison when he was transferred to another detention centre.

But the prison's former chief, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, challenged the veracity of the witness's story, saying the person the witness was claiming to be was in fact dead.

Ly Hor, a 57-year-old civil party, was called upon by his lawyers to testify about his time at Tuol Sleng. But the accused said Ly Hor was not the person he claimed to be.

"According to these documents, Comrade Hor already died," Duch said as he held up documents that he claimed included a "smash list" of exexecuted Tuol Sleng prisoners compiled by the prosecution.

Ly Hor told judges that he registered with the tribunal after a biography found at Tuol Sleng with the name "Ear Hor" was shown to him by a representative of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) earlier this year. When asked on Monday if it was his biography, he replied that it was.

The biography referenced a monthlong stay at Tuol Sleng, or S-21, before a stint at Prey Sar prison, or S-24.

When Ly Hor had trouble recalling details of his time at Tuol Sleng, judges questioned whether the documents proved he was a prisoner at the compound or whether they were merely found at the prison.

Civil party lawyer Alain Werner replied it was their "understanding" that the documents had indeed come from Tuol Sleng, adding that they were provided by DC-Cam.

"That's what we've been told at the outset, and we've worked on this assumption," he said, though he later said that "nothing [in the documents] attests that he was at S-21".

The head of DC-Cam's Victims Participation Project told the Post Monday that a "confession" with Ly Hor's name on it was found at S-21, which stated that he had been released.

"We asked him to confirm this and he said yes, he had been detained at S-21," Terith Chy said.

He added that Duch's comments were likely part of a defence tactic to deny that he had the authority to release people.

Though Ly Hor said on Monday that he had trouble remembering the year he was transferred to S-21, he said guards had told him the prison was called Tuol Sleng.

"It has been so long already, that is why I've been confused at some points," he said.

His confusion prompted Judge Sylvia Cartwright to warn the witness's civil party lawyers to better prepare their clients before they brought them to court.

Challenge from the defence
Defence lawyers said the fact that the witness could not recall being photographed or given an ID number at the prison indicated that it was unlikely he was detained there.

They asked him why he had applied for civil party status.

"I suffered during the regime, and after I heard there was going to be a trial for Duch, I was determined to participate," Ly Hor replied.

Regional cooperation needed to crack down on flesh trade: official

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Christopher Shay

During 2-day meeting, anti-trafficking groups from five countries open dialogue on strategies for law enforcement, sharing information.

COUNTRIES across Asia need to better coordinate their efforts to combat cross-border human trafficking, speakers told a regional anti-human trafficking conference in Phnom Penh on Monday.

The two-day meeting involving Cambodian, Vietnamese, Thai, South Korean and Malaysian delegations as well as local and international NGOs was designed to help the groups collaborate on strategies to fight the flesh trade.

"Individual countries acting alone cannot defeat human trafficking, and this dialogue presents an opportunity to endorse and reaffirm our commitment to work together," Ing Kantha Phavi, the minister of women's affairs, told the audience.

Nandita Baruah, the chief of party at the Asia Foundation's Counter-Trafficking in Cambodia ProgramME, told the Post that she hoped the dialogue would encourage countries to implement the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an agreement ratified by six ASEAN nations that aims to improve transnational law enforcement by allowing signatories to help each other obtain evidence.

According to Ith Sam Heng, the minister of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation, Cambodia has yet to ratify the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty but is currently taking steps to ratify it.

He stressed the need to set up international mechanisms to fight human trafficking, saying, "We need to have legal structure and processes that can address its cross-border nature".

During the Cambodia presentation, Brigadier General Ten Borany of the Interior Ministry's Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit said that information exchange among different countries needed to improve.

"Coordination among relevant agencies in different countries is still limited," he said.

Carol Rodley, the US ambassador, praised Cambodia's controversial 2008 anti-trafficking law, calling it a "tribute" to the efforts of the Cambodian government. But she noted that domestic legal instruments alone are not sufficient: "Regional cooperation is essential."

SRP lawmaker lashes out at network's news coverage

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Meas Sokchea

After denying interview, Mu Sochua says CTN is a CPP 'tool'.

SAM Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua turned down an interview request from the Cambodian Television Network (CTN) upon her arrival Saturday evening at Phnom Penh International Airport, then lashed out at the private station in an interview Monday, calling it "a tool" of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

"In its broadcasts, it makes attacks on the Sam Rainsy Party and other opposition politicians, who are not given the chance to respond," said the lawmaker, who was returning from a trip to the United States.

Soy Sopheap, the CTN reporter who approached Mu Sochua, said he had ordered his cameraman to take her photo and then asked for an interview.

In response to her charges of bias, he said Mu Sochua herself was not neutral.

"She turned down an interview with me and then provided interviews with Voice of America and Voice of Democracy radio," he said. "So how can she accuse me of not being neutral?"

He went on to say that no media outlet was truly independent.

He said he had no personal animosity towards Mu Sochua, who is currently being sued for defamation by Prime Minister Hun Sen, but suggested that she had overreacted to his interview request.

"If she does not want journalists to take her photos, she should quit politics," he said.

He also said CTN did in fact give all political parties the opportunity to respond to critical reports about them.

Koul Panha, the executive director of the election monitor Comfrel, declined to comment specifically on the spat, though he said he did not believe any television stations provided balanced coverage.

He also said he would not decline interview requests because of perceived bias on the part of a particular network.

"If they broadcast the interview wrong, we can just use the Press Law," he said, referring to the 1995 law pertaining to defamation and false information offences.

Defendant says he'll skip incitement trial

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Vong Sokheng and Chrann Chamroeun

KCF president says he will not attend hearing related to comments about Angkor Wat lights.

THE head of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation said Sunday that he would not appear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 14, the day he has been asked to answer to false information and incitement charges stemming from comments he made about a light installation project at Angkor Wat temple.

In a telephone interview Sunday, Moeung Sonn, who fled to France shortly after charges were filed against him last month, said the court should have conducted a more thorough investigation before scheduling the next week's hearing. He also said he was concerned that the court would not permit him to testify even if he appeared.

"The trial against me on criminal charges seems unjust," Moeung Sonn said, "and the court must allow me to testify and give evidence to prove that I am innocent."

Sam Sokong, a lawyer for the Cambodian Defenders Project, said he took over the case last Thursday, six days after Phnom Penh Municipal Court Prosecutor Sok Roeun issued the official summons detailing the charges against Moeung Sonn.

The charges stem from a radio interview in which Moeung Sonn said that heat generated from lights that had been installed in Angkor Wat temple would seriously damage the landmark tourist attraction.

He also reportedly accused the government of drilling holes into the temple walls as part of the installation project, though on Sunday he denied having ever said this to a radio reporter. Both the government and the Apsara Authority, the body charged with managing the temple complex, have flatly denied drilling holes as part of the light installation project.

Lawyer to make appearance
Moeung Sonn's attorney, Sam Sokong, said he would appear before the court on July 14, adding that he would ask for the court to conduct a thorough investigation into the charges against his client.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An told parliamentarians in June that Moeung Sonn had lied in interviews to confuse the public.

Government lawyer Pal Chan Dara said Monday that the government would not drop the charges against Moeung Sonn.

Mine clearance could cost $300 million over 10 years

Deminers clear land in Battambang province in April.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Sam Rith

At opening of conference on Cambodia's clearance strategy, official predicts effort will last far beyond first treaty deadline.

THE government will attempt to collect US$300 million over the next 10 years for mine-clearance projects, an official said Monday during the opening of a two-day conference on the government's national mine-clearance strategy.

"We will make an effort to collect $300 million within 10 years, which means we need $30 million per year," said Prak Sokhon, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, who noted that the yearly figure was equivalent to current funding from development partners.

Ten years ago, Cambodia became a signatory to the 1997 Ottawa Treaty, committing itself to removing all antipersonnel mines by the end of 2009. The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) in May drafted a request to extend the deadline for another 10 years.

That request will be formally submitted in September to the Secretariat of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which will decide whether or not to approve the request during a conference at the end of the year in Cartagena, Colombia.

At the Cartagena conference, Cambodia will also present its national strategy, which is the subject of this week's conference. Roughly 120 members of the mine action community in addition to 40 RCAF soldiers attended the launch Monday, during which Prak Sokhon said it remained unclear how long it will take to clear all of Cambodia's mines.

"No one knows how many mines still remain in Cambodia," Prak Sokhon said. "To tell you the truth, even 10 years from now, mines will not be cleared from Cambodian terrority."

Next steps
CMAA Secretary General Chum Bunrong said Monday that a first draft of the national strategy will be submitted on August 19, while the final draft will be ready in September.

Sophie Baranes, deputy country director for the UN Development ProgramME, said Thursday that the national strategy should go beyond clearance to address issues such as how cleared land is put to use.

"The strategy will guide development partners, and particularly operators, to better coordinate and align our support," she said.

Between 1992 and February 2009, deminers cleared 479,957 square kilometres of land for development purposes. Landmine experts estimate that fewer than 700 square kilometres of land still need to be cleared, although this figure has not been backed up by technical research.

Prak Sokhon said Monday that 4,544 square kilometers of land have been affected by land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), though that figure - taken from a 2001 baseline survey - is no longer considered valid.

Government, US start training sessions for future spokespeople

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Information minister says effort to acquire more spokespeople has been hampered by long-standing human resource limitations.

THE Ministry of Information and the US Embassy on Monday launched the first of two weeklong training sessions designed to teach officials to serve as spokespeople, part of a broader - and so-far unsuccessful - government effort to equip each government ministry with a designated spokesperson.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said Sunday that the government had hoped to hire spokespeople for all ministries as far back as 1993 but had been unable to find people who could fill the positions.

"The problem we are facing right now is the lack of human resources to fill these positions," Khieu Kanharith said. "We are working to achieve this goal gradually."

He said six ministries currently have spokespeople: information, interior, national defence, foreign affairs, land management, urbanization and construction, and the Council of Ministers. Chhum Socheat was appointed as spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence last week.

The two workshops this month will train a total of 46 officials, some of whom are expected to serve as spokespeople for the police and military police.

With journalists in mind
Khieu Kanharith said he believed the training of more spokespeople would enable the government to more effectively convey its perspective to reporters.

"We want to arrange to have a spokesperson in every ministry because we think that providing information to the public is indispensable," Khieu Kanharith said. "Spokespeople will facilitate the work of journalists."

Several journalists said the government's stated goal of placing spokespeople in all government ministries was a good one.

Mon Sophon, a reporter for Radio Free Asia, said the lack of spokespeople at key ministries had created "difficulties" for reporters.

The problem we are facing right now is the lack of human resources.

"I often work with the low-ranking officers, and they usually tell me to contact their ministers," he said. "I think the minister rarely has enough spare time for interviews with journalists."

A Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) press release issued last week also expressed support for the goal.

CCJ President Pen Samitthy said the hiring of responsible and effective spokespeople would "facilitate the journalists".

Phay Siphan, the spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said he believed the presence of more spokespeople would make journalists more likely to contact appropriate and knowledgeable sources.

Presently, he said, "They sometimes ask around without heading to the person who is responsible for the matter at hand. As journalists, they should understand about the duties of different officers".

Funeral puts protests on hold

Photo by: Heng Chivoan Sovanna Shopping Centre vendors protest while en route to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Takhmao residence on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Death of Senate President Chea Sim's wife delays demonstrations by vendor groups

VENDORS from Sovanna Shopping Centre and the Borei Keila community both delayed protests scheduled for Monday, saying government officials would be occupied with the funeral of Nhem Soeun, the wife of Senate President Chea Sim, who passed away Friday.

The Sovanna vendors had planned to meet at City Hall to protest high rents in the shopping mall.

"We want to go to protest today, but we delayed it because we don't want to disturb City Hall officers," said a Sovanna clothing vendor who gave her name as MC.

She added that the vendors wanted to follow up a protest held Thursday at Hun Sen's house, when the prime minister's cabinet chief promised to pass vendors' grievances onto municipal officials.

Sok Pao, another clothes seller, said the vendors would still hold protests in front of City Hall, during which they would request that the shopping centre management reduce rents by 30 percent until the world economic situation stabilises.

"We are not animals. We can negotiate face to face, and they don't need police and military police to threaten us," he told the Post, though he did not specify a date for the protest.

Chesda Metrey, the head of Sovanna Shopping Centre, declined to comment Monday.

Meanwhile, vendors at Phnom Penh's Borei Keila community had also planned a protest at Prime Minister Hun Sen's Kandal province home on Monday after they were prevented from selling their goods under apartments at the site.

The vendors were evicted from shops on the ground floor of the apartments to make way for a market development planned by Phanimex, a developer.

"We planned to go protest in front of the prime minister's house today, but we delayed it because today is a busy day for government officials," said Chea Ying, a Borei Keila vendor, who added that the protest had been rescheduled for Wednesday.

"We will ask him to intervene to stop the company's development project at the site. We hope he will help us."

But Keo Sakal, the chief of Prampi Makara district's Veal Vong commune, said the project would be good for the region.

"We cooperated with the Phanimex company to develop a market and parking spaces because this place is anarchic," he said.

"[Vendors] are trying to protest because they heard a rumour that we had sold the ground floor to the company, and that the company will not rent it to them."

Authorities accuse investment group of illegal sand-dredging

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Attwood Investment Group denies the charges from Sihanouk officials.

PREAH Sihaknouk provincial authorities have warned the Attwood Investment Group to stop exporting sand or risk having its sand-dredging vessels confiscated by the government, a provincial official told the Post Monday.

The Attwood Investment Group is a diversified Cambodian investment conglomerate that manages the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, the Otress Special Economic Zone and the Stung Hav International Port.

"This company used vessels that could hold between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes of sand for export," said Sok Phorn, the deputy cabinet director of Preah Sihanouk province. "We must fight this company."

On July 2, provincial authorities temporarily confiscated more than 30 sand-dredging vessels. The boats' owners, Sok Phorn said, admitted that the boats were unlicensed and worked for Attwood.

Meng Yean, a representative from Attwood, said that she was questioned by authorities on Monday, and that the ships have been returned.

"[We admitted] some vessels that we imported for our project we did not pay taxes on. Now, we will file the proper documents and pay taxes to the government," she said.

She denied, however, that Attwood was exporting sand, saying that the sand was for the development of the Stung Hav International Port.

"Our company has never exported sand. We were dredging to fill in land at the special economic zone in Stung Hav for the construction of a seaport," she said.

Sok Phorn said officials believed Attwood had been exporting sand because at least two sand-dredging vessels were located in a shipping lane leaving Cambodian waters.

Local fishermen said such dredging activity posed a threat to local marine life.

"Illegal sand dredging has destroyed the fish shelters and damaged our livelihoods," said Ros Hak, a fisherman in Thmor Rong village in Preah Sihanouk.

Police Blotter: 7 Jul 2009

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Lim Phalla

A 39-year-old HIV-positive man stripped naked, held his penis and chased a 71-year-old woman in a bid to rape her Friday, police said, adding that the attack happened after the victim's dog bit the perpetrator's hen in Kandal province's Ang Snoul district. However, the man said he attacked Pen Yien because he was depressed about having an incurable disease. The ageing woman managed to escape from the man, who was arrested a few hours later.

Ghet Yan, 35, has been arrested on suspicion of possessing an AK-47 rifle in Kampot province's Kampong Trach district. Battambang provincial police arrested the man on Wednesday in the province's Preay Trolach commune. After the arrest, police confiscated the weapon, which police say the suspect buried in the ground after using it to commit robberies.

A motorbike thief rubbed chilli into a 34-year-old motorbike taxi driver's eyes before riding off with his motorbike. The masked thief also kicked and punched the taxi driver, identified as Nuoun Tho, during Friday's attack.

Sin Khorn, 48, was arrested in Battambang province on Friday after attacking her husband with a machete to warn him against lashing out at his family when drunk, police said. Mao Roeun, 45, sustained serious injuries to the head, left shoulder and right arm. Following a request from her family, police released Sin Khorn to look after her hospitalised husband.

A 15-year-old was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of raping and killing his 16-year-old girlfriend in Battambang's Bavel district. The victim's body was found on Saturday morning under a tree with several cuts on her face. The suspect said he argued with his girlfriend on Friday but denied killing her.

Bo Chet, 18, was jailed on Friday after his mother said he slapped her for refusing him money for gin in Svay Rieng province's Romeas Haek district. Bo Chet is accused of threatening and slapping his mother three times after she refused to give him 400,000 riel (US$96) to buy alcohol. Police said that this is the second time the ungrateful son has been imprisoned.

Directive targets Kingdom's 'gangsters'

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Sam Rith

PRIME Minister Hun Sen issued a directive on June 24 ordering government ministries and law enforcement officials to crack down on "gangster activity".

"Recently, the government has noticed that gangster activity has continued growing," states the directive, which was stamped by the Ministry of Information last week and obtained by the Post Monday. "Those gangsters gather in groups and interfere with society in public places ... and they don't obey the law or the authorities."

Under the directive, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to arrest those suspected of criminal "gangster activity".

Banlung lakes subject to dumping, locals say

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Chrann Chamroeun

Residents say wastewater is polluting a pair of Ratanakkiri's lakes, worrying many locals.

TRASH, human excrement, chemicals and medical waste are pouring into Boeung Kangseng lake and Boeung Kamsan lake, residents and a rights group from Ratanakkiri's Banlung district have told the Post.

"We are concerned that the lake is not being carefully taken care of by the authorities," said Kong Yuthanear, a local resident who blamed houses surrounding the lake for the pollution.

"The authorities should take action and move those houses around the lake to another place at a fair compensation to take care of people's health," he said. "Hundreds of families from Banlung town drink purified water from the lake."

Pen Bonnar, the Adhoc provincial coordinator for Ratanakkiri, said the effects of the pollution on the health of the villagers might not be obvious immediately. But in a few years, he said, health problems will emerge.

"We are completely concerned about the pollution level of the lakes, which could severely damage people's health," he said.

He added that the pollution did not just come from the handful of houses abutting the lakes but also from nearby hotels, hospitals and apartments that lack sanitation and sewage systems.

"The waste will go directly to the lakes from the hotels, hospitals and houses, which lack all sanitation, and the purification of the water does not kill all the diseases," he said.

The Banlung town governor, Ly Vin, said he worried about water pollution, and that he planned to move four or five houses away from the lake. But he said that wastewater was not "flowing into the lakes" even though the city lacked a modern sewage system.

The director of the Ratanakkiri environment department declined to comment.

Rubber prices rise but remain down on 2008

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN Rubber plantations have seen prices fall in the past year, but in the first half prices began to recover, new figures show.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Price of $1,633 a tonne at end of June is up on January but down 50 percent from the end of the second quarter last year

THE price of rubber has risen slowly this year, but is still just half the figure reached at the end of the first quarter last year, the latest figures showed.

The government and one of the country's largest producers blamed the effects of the global economic crisis on the stagnant vehicle market for depressed prices.

Ly Phalla, director general of the rubber plantation department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said rubber sold for US$1,633 per tonne at the end of June, half of what producers earned at the same time last year.

"The drop is due to lower global demand by the tyre industry, which has cut production because of the global economic crisis," Ly Phalla said.

But, he added, business is still good since rubber costs around $600 per tonne to produce, leaving room for healthy margins.

Ly Phalla said the Kingdom exported more than 40,000 tonnes of rubber last year, with Vietnam and China its largest markets.

Ministry statistics showed the price of Standard Malaysian Rubber (SMR) has climbed steadily this year. SMR sold for $1,419 per tonne in January 2009, and traded at $1,633 last month. But that is sharply down on last year: In January 2008, SMR cost $2,551 per tonne, rising to $3,138 per tonne by June 2008.

"If the price drops to less than $1,000, then that can affect producers," said Ly Phalla. "But the rubber price often drops at the beginning of the year, and usually rises by year-end."

Dr Yaing Sang Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for the Study and Development of Agriculture (CEDAC), an agricultural NGO, said rubber exports are essential to economic development, with the industry a significant employer.

"Although the rubber price on global markets is down from last year, that won't damage most producers since the majority are small-scale farmers who operate their own plantations - and they have lower costs as they don't hire workers," he said.

However, Yaing Sang Koma said larger producers would be affected since they have higher production costs, and that means margins are already lower.

Mak Kimhong, director general of the Rubber Plantation Association and owner of the Chup rubber plantation, which has 7,000 hectares of rubber-producing trees, said lower prices meant he was unable to increase the salaries of his 4,000 workers to match their rising cost of living.

Mak Kimhong said his firm exported 3,000 tonnes of rubber to Vietnam and China this year and blamed the price slump on the global economic crisis.

Figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government body created to encourage domestic investment, showed the Kingdom wants 150,000 hectares under rubber cultivation by 2015.

CDC figures reveal that 42,000 hectares were approved as rubber concessions in the first four months of this year, and those seven projects have a proposed investment value of $146 million and will employ 9,000 workers. Last year, there were just four approvals worth $31.5 million for rubber plantations.

Pan Sorasak, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said there are now 80,000 hectares of rubber plantations with mature trees, which are at least six years old. He said 350,000 hectares are suitable for rubber, but are yet to go into production.

Ownership shares for new airline still unclear

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009

THE contract with Vietnam Airlines to establish Cambodia's national carrier is stuck in disagreement over the ownership split, but Cambodian officials are determined that the launch date of July 27 will be met, they said Monday.

Seng Limneou, chairman of the government commission negotiating with the Vietnamese carrier to set up the airline, said parties are still debating the division of ownership.

"We continue to negotiate," he said. "It hasn't yet been finalised, which means I cannot tell you any further information. Additionally the contract has never been disclosed and will remain confidential."

A source - speaking in June on condition of anonymity - said the government would hold 51 percent of the proposed carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air, with the rest held by the state-owned Vietnamese carrier.

Mao Havannal, secretary of state for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, is optimistic the new carrier will run more successfully than predecessor Royal Air Cambodge, which shut down in 2001.

Mao Havannal said that Prime Minister Hun Sen felt Cambodia deserved a national airline operating under suitably qualified management.

"We may end up losing some money, but we won't be allowed to lose the sums that the previous national carrier lost," Mao Havannal said. "We can fly to any country in the world, but we have to do that step by step. First we will operate ATR planes, but in the future we will have Airbuses ... and Boeing planes," he said.

Company planning to import cow sperm

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Chun Sophal

THE Mong Riththy Group will import US$1 million of cattle sperm from the United Kingdom for a breeding program to meet local demand, it said.

Mong Riththy, head of the eponymous group, spoke to the Post on Saturday before heading to the UK for a livestock exhibition. He said 100 local cows would be impregnated.

"The project aims to enable us to supply local markets with tender beef and quality milk, and to distribute these cattle to farmers," Mong Riththy said, adding that the project would be operational by the end of the year.

Sen Sovann, under secretary general at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in charge of domestic cattle production, welcomed the plan. However, he said the sperm would need to be tested for mad cow disease, which has previously struck UK cattle.

He agreed Cambodia cannot meet local beef demand. Almost 40 tonnes of beef was imported in 2008 to meet a shortfall, official figures showed.

Bheut Kam packs best punch

Pao Puot (left) takes one of many punishing left hands from Bheut Kam during the third round of their fight at TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao Sunday.

Bheut Kam (right) works the body of Pao Puot with a right hook in the third round of their bout Sunday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Robert Starkweather

In his first local ring appearance since January, Bheut Kam topples fellow Battambang native Pao Puot in the fourth round Sunday at TV5 boxing arena

WORKING patiently behind a pile-driver left hand, Bheut Kam, as expected, dismantled a game but overmatched Pao Puot on Sunday at TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao.

Ringside physician Dr Chhoeong Yav Yen halted the fight out of concern for Pao Puot's safety with just over a minute gone in the fourth round.

Since his first professional fight in 2004 at the age of 17 - a rural match in Kampong Speu for the prize of 5,000 riel (US$1.20) - Bheut Kam has lost only four times. The win Sunday improved his professional record to 171-4-1.

From Banan district in Battambang, Bheut Kam is a former champion in three weight divisions. He won his first belt at 48 kilograms in his debut year. Since then, has collected four more titles, one at 57 kilograms and three at 60 kilograms.

Taking a significant step up in weight, Bheut Kam entered the ring Sunday the heaviest of his career, 67 kilograms, where he plans to stay, he said.

Although he arguably got off to a slow start, Bheut Kam commanded the fight from the opening bell. Grinning and playful in the early rounds, he often appeared to be toying with Pao Puot, who spent much of the night either picking himself up off the canvass or covering up on the ropes.

In the opening seconds of round one, Bheut Kam landed a theatrical spinning back kick, drawing raucous applause from a crowd that spilled from the TV5 arena into the narrow dirt road outside.

He feinted by throwing his hands in the air and pushing his chin forward, then effortlessly sweeping Pao Puot to the ground. As Pao Puot dusted his gloves off, Bheut Kam acknowledged the ensuing applause with a thousand-watt smile and humble bow.

Not everyone, however, was smitten with the five-time champion's performance.

As the two fighters touched gloves to open the second round, referee Chaum Chaury warned them both for a lack of action. He warned them both again a minute later, and in the third round took a point from both sides.

In the break after the round, Bheut Kam got an earful from his trainer, Long Salavorn. Perhaps spurred by the chastising, he made quick work of Pao Puot in the fourth.

After a furious exchange at center ring to open the round, southpaw Bheut Kam caught Pao Puot with a clean, straight left hand that buckled the 23-year-old Battambang fighter and nearly sent him crumbling to the canvass.

Bheut Kam, 22, followed with a knee to the body and then seconds later a hard, inside low kick.
Pao Puot, waning but unbowed, answered with a left elbow to the chin, to little effect.

Bheut Kam continued to steamroll forward, scoring with an elbow, another head-snapping left hand to the jaw, and then a leg sweep that put Pao Puot on the canvass.

Chhoeong Yav Yen had seen enough and ordered the stoppage.

"I didn't fight very well," said Pao Puot afterwards, his cheeks puffy and lips swollen. Against Bheut Kam, not many fighters do.

Bheut Kam's most recent matches have come in France, where he spent three months training and fighting earlier in the year. He went 3-0 with two knockouts during his visit.

Philippe Sebire, his trainer in Paris, was on hand in an unofficial capacity Sunday, taking pictures of the fight and offering words of encouragement between rounds.

In the dressing room after the fight, talk immediately turned to bigger fights in the future.
"The belt," said Bheut Kam, spreading his hands across his waist. "Paris!"

Sebire said he plans to take Bheut Kam back to France later this year, probably in November. He remains confident that Bheut Kam can beat his country's top fighter at 67 kilograms.

"In France, all they know is Muay Thai," Sebire said with a hint of frustration in his voice. "I want to make a Kun Khmer champion."

He is not alone.

What were military weapons doing at Hun Sen's house?

Monday, 06 July 2009
By Roger Nault

Phnom Penh Post

Dear Editor

Separate stories this week published in the English-language press make me wonder.

On Sunday, June 28, a truck carrying B-40 rockets and other munitions en route to Preah Vihear blows up within the compound that they are stored, Toul Krorsang, in Takhmao. The same compound also houses one of Prime Minister Hun Sen's primary residences.

Separately, the first vice president of the National Assembly, Nguon Nhel, and another Cambodian People's Party lawmaker, Ai Khon, on the same day threaten the opposition against the use of expressions such as "dictated National Assembly" or other phrases suggesting that the NA is under single-party or single-man rule ("SRP lawmakers threatened with lawsuits over criticism", July 1, 2009).

So Cambodia is, as its constitution says, a vibrant, "multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law" with international standard separations of power. But I wonder why a democratically elected, civilian prime minister stores munitions of sufficient size and quantity to fight an international war at his house?

Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder. It sure does make me wonder.

Roger Nault
Phnom Penh

China launches yuan trade scheme

China's currency is not freely convertible but its use is spreading

Monday, 6 July 2009

China has begun a trial scheme that allows trade with its neighbours to be settled with its own currency, the yuan, also known as the renminbi.

Six Shanghai companies have signed contracts with counterparts in Hong Kong and Indonesia to settle deals in the currency.

It means if the two parties to a trade have yuan available, they need not enter world exchange markets to pay.

Executives said the move would save costs and avert exchange rate risks.

Most of China's foreign trade is settled in US dollars or the euro, leaving exporters vulnerable to exchange rate fluctuations.


The yuan is not yet a freely convertible currency.

But observers say that, when expanded, the scheme could lead to the strengthening of the Chinese currency.

"The scheme should have limited impact on the yuan's value in the initial stage, due to official restrictions and because firms need time to get familiar with the procedures," said Liu Dongliang, currency analyst at China Merchants Bank in Shenzhen.

"But with its expansion in the long run, it will increase pressure for the yuan to appreciate as the yuan's international status strengthens."

The trial is expected to be limited to Hong Kong and Macau outside of mainland China, and to Shanghai and Guandong province.

However it is expected to be extended so that the yuan could be used to settle trade between parts of eastern China (Guangdong and the Yangtze River delta) and the Asean group of countries (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

Last month, China's central bank reiterated its call for a new reserve currency to replace the US dollar.

The report from the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said a "super-sovereign" currency should take its place.

Central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan has loudly led calls during the financial crisis for the dollar to be replaced.

The bank report called for more regulation of the countries that issue currencies underpinning the global financial system.

"An international monetary system dominated by a single sovereign currency has intensified the concentration of risk and the spread of the crisis," the Chinese central bank said.

McNamara remembered as brilliant, troubled patriot

By Michael Mathes

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A 1960s White House colleague, US diplomats and the maker of an Oscar-winning documentary about Robert McNamara remembered the US defense secretary as a patriot who agonized and eventually repented over his role as architect of the most divisive US war in history.

McNamara, who died early Monday aged 93, enjoyed a multi-layered and highly successful career as a visionary auto-industry executive and a revolutionary in global financial aid.

But it was his deeply controversial role in the administrations of presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson -- and his mid-1960s recommendation to boost US troop levels in a little-known nation called South Vietnam before struggling to find a way to extract the US military from the quagmire -- for which he will be remembered.

"I think of Bob McNamara as the most brilliant and patriotic public servant I ever met," Kennedy special counsel and advisor Ted Sorensen, now 81, told AFP in a telephone interview.

"But I didn't agree with him on Vietnam."

With McNamara's passing, Sorensen, who said he is convinced Kennedy would have found a way to avoid a military escalation in Vietnam had he not been assassinated in 1963, is now among the very last of the small but powerful coterie that shaped US foreign and military policy in Southeast Asia.

From 1961 to 1968, McNamara oversaw the escalation of US combat efforts in Vietnam that became one of the biggest military blunders in US history -- and a war McNamara himself came to describe as "terribly wrong."

But in the early years, McNamara showed himself to be "upbeat" about how the war was going, said Barry Zorthian, who served as director in Vietnam of the US Information Service, the government's public diplomacy arm, from 1964 to 1968.

"If it was anyone's war in those early periods, it wasn't LBJ's war, it wasn't (top US general) Maxwell Taylor's war. It was McNamara's war," said Zorthian, 88.

"He was very controversial," added Zorthian, who said he traveled in 1964 with McNamara from Saigon to Hue and witnessed the defense secretary's "can-do attitude" toward the war.

Zorthian said the public would likely formulate its verdict on the McNamara legacy "on a realistic" evaluation of the man who conducted a failed war, but "that's too harsh a judgment."

"He did provide at considerable cost and lives -- lives we treasure -- the opportunity for South Vietnamese to build their own country."

McNamara's expressions of remorse -- in his controversial 1995 memoirs "In Retrospect: The Tragedies and Lessons of Vietnam" and in the Oscar-winning documentary "The Fog of War" -- have not sat well with critics of the war, who accuse him of sitting back while millions died in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

But Sorensen said that while he sees "the merit in those who say 'Why didn't he say that at the time, instead of waiting so many years and so many deaths later'," McNamara's contrition and the years he spent examining how he could have changed history are notable.

"At least McNamara admitted that it was wrong," said Sorensen, adding he remained friendly for years with McNamara.

"Most military chieftains never admit error at all."

Errol Morris, writer and director of the 2004 documentary "The Fog of War" -- the result of 20 hours of sit-down interviews with McNamara -- said his death marked "very much the end of an era."

"He was a seminal, historic figure," he told AFP, adding that McNamara "set a very high mark for public figures because he was willing to entertain the possibility that what he had done was wrong."

Morris said McNamara should be remembered for "how he revisited the past" later in life.

McNamara "is a reminder of the importance of revisiting history, to try and understand the past and to try and confront the past. It is an essential part of who we are," Morris said.

Now 61, Morris said he recalls clearly how, like many people his age demonstrating against US involvement in Vietnam, he had "strong feelings" about the man and against the war itself.

"I never changed my feelings about the war," said Morris, "but I changed my feelings about Robert McNamara."

HBO Expands Asian Reach

By Mansha Daswani
Published: July 6, 2009

SINGAPORE: HBO Asia has expanded its presence in the region, clinching new carriage deals in the Philippines and Mongolia and rolling out additional services in a host of markets, including Indonesia and Cambodia.

In Cambodia, HBO Asia has increased its offerings from two channels—HBO and MAX—to five. Through its distributor, Royal Group, all five HBO Asia multiplex channels—HBO, HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO Hits and MAX—will be available on various cable TV operators throughout Cambodia. In Indonesia, pay platform Indovision is adding HBO Hits and HBO Family to its lineup, completing the five-channel HBO Asia multiplex. Indovision is the second cable operator in Indonesia, after First Media, to offer all of HBO Asia’s five multiplex channels. Similarly, HiTron in Papua New Guinea has completed the five-channel multiplex with the addition of HBO Signature, HBO Family and HBO Hits.

In Mongolia, the HBO multiplex is available for the first time on DDish TV. HBO and MAX has been available to subscribers of Mongolia’s Super Cable Vision TV since 2002. In the Philippines, HBO Asia has signed a new carriage deal with newly launched DTH operator Cignal DTV. Cignal DTV has been offering HBO to its subscribers since April and will be launching more HBO Asia channels soon.

Currently, HBO Asia has a subscriber base of more than 31 million and is seen in 22 countries.