Friday, 7 August 2009

Mu Sochua fined 16.5 million riels ($4,125)


The defamation lawsuit involving Hun Xen and Mrs. Mu Sochua was heard by the Phnom Penh Municipal court last 24 July, and the sentence was handed down in the morning of Tuesday 04 August. The court ordered Mrs. Mu Sochua to pay 8.5 million riels ($2,125) in fine and she must pay 8 million riels ($2,000) in compensation to Hun Sen.

The Phnom Penh Court fined Mu Sochua 16,5 million riels


On 04 August 2009, the CPP-contolled Phnom Penh Municipal Court fined SRP MP Mu Sochua 16.5 million riels ($4,100) for allegedly defaming Hun Sen, Cambodia's Strongman.

Trafficking on trial

Photo by: Shaju John/UNDP
A victim of human trafficking breaks down during testimony on Thursday at the Court of Women in Bali, Indonesia.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Nathan Green

Bali, Indonesia

WITH tears flowing down her face, a trafficking survivor told a court of international jurists how she was condemned to a life with HIV by handlers who repeatedly raped her for refusing to have sex with strangers in a Malaysian brothel.

"I haven't talked to anyone about having the disease at all, except for my doctor," she told the Southeast Asia Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration on Thursday. "Whenever we talk about it, all I can do is cry, but I want to share my story so that if others are facing similar situations, they will have an idea of what to do."

The Cambodian, who uses the pseudonym Wanta and spoke only on condition of anonymity, was barely a teenager when she was forced into prostitution, but officials say she is far from alone in her plight.

Though the exact number is not known, it is estimated that more than 250,000 women and children are trafficked in Asia each year - one-third of the global total.

Caitlin Wiesen, Regional HIV/Aids practice leader and programme coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme, said: "These numbers are staggering and involve forms of violence that are numbing."

Trafficking is not only a "hideous crime" and "gross violation of human rights", but also a major contributor to the spread of HIV, Wiesen warned. "Sexual exploitation is an integral part of human trafficking, and unprotected sex is the major vector for the transmission and spread of HIV."

Wanta appeared with 21 other survivors of trafficking and exploitation, including the woman pictured above, at an emotionally charged 37th sitting of the Court For Women in Bali, Indonesia, set up to explore the links between HIV and human trafficking.

S-21 an 'anteroom to death', expert testifies at Duch trial

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Scholar David Chandler is shown testifying on television Thursday at the trial of former Khmer Rouge leader Duch.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009

AN EXPERT foreign witness at Cambodia's war crimes tribunal Thursday reiterated his characterisation of Tuol Sleng prison as "an anteroom to death", and called the accused Kaing Guek Eav "an enthusiastic and proud administrator of S-21 who worked out techniques and organisational methodology from scratch".

David Chandler, a 76-year-old history professor from Australia's Monash University who has written extensively on the history of the Khmer Rouge, including Voices From S-21, drew on his years of research to offer a nuanced portrait of S-21 and Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the prison's commandant.

"I think that your book is a reason that many of us are here," civil party lawyer Alain Werner told the witness at the conclusion of his cross-examination.

In his research, Chandler has drawn heavily on the S-21 archives, which he said were "voluminous, hundreds of thousands of pages".

Asked why record keeping would be so comprehensive at a facility where all prisoners were presumed guilty and condemned, Chandler speculated that Duch "wanted S-21 to be seen by his superiors ... as a highly professional and efficient organisation of which he as its administrator could be justly proud".

Chandler also discussed at length the Khmer Rouge's extreme secrecy and obsession with conspiracy theories.

"Paranoia began at the centre and spread down through the ranks," he said.

Extracting confessions from prisoners to support the conspiracy theories of top cadres was fundamental to the work of S-21, Chandler said.

"[Low-level interrogators] didn't even know what the CIA was; CIA was just what you had to accuse the prisoners of belonging to."

Chandler at times drew parallels to China's Cultural Revolution and the Soviet Union's Bolshevik Revolution in assessing the Democratic Kampuchea regime, but he said that S-21 was a unique phenomenon.

Public confessions and re-education programmes were crucial aspects of other Communist movements, Chandler said, whereas S-21 was "completely secret", and prisoners there were only "re-educating themselves in order to be killed".

During cross-examination by defense lawyer Francois Roux, the discussion took a turn to the philosophical, as he pressed the witness on "the crime of obedience", which Roux told Chandler was "the fundamental contribution of your book to these proceedings".

Duch has told the court that he was "an actor and a hostage of this criminal regime", and Chandler agreed that it was difficult to distinguish between Duch's personal agency and his obligations to his ruthless superiors.

"Who knows what you'd do if you were in that situation?" Chandler asked rhetorically. "But that doesn't mean that the people in that situation behaved in, in any sense, a commendable fashion.... To understand does not mean to accept."

In his response at the end of the day's proceedings, Duch told Chandler he was a "good researcher", and later asked to clarify for the record that a picture painted by previous witness Bou Meng of Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh's head on the body of a dog was only displayed at S-21 "because we could not find a picture of Richard Nixon".

Duch also requested that his written confession be made accessible to all Cambodians

Munipal police begin broad crackdown on unregistered tenants

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
May Titthara

DANGKOR district authorities have begun taking measures against landlords who rent their houses to unregistered tenants in a bid to cut down on robberies and other petty crime, officials said Thursday.

Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said the scheme had begun in Dangkor but would soon be extended to the entire city.

"The law has been clear for a long time: The landlord must give the clear identity of their tenants, but some districts just don't do it, and now Dangkor district is the first to comply," he said.

"The unidentified renters make it very hard when crimes are perpetrated and we don't know how to find [suspects]. We want to prevent crimes and activities perpetrated by spoiled teenagers, and it is easy for us when we know their background."

He added that any landlords found flouting the law by harbouring unregistered tenants would be educated by police, but that "administrative measures" would be taken in the case of repeat offenders.

Soth Sath, the chief of Choam Chao commune, said the crackdown began Wednesday, and that it would proceed at the rate of one or two villages per day.

"Before, my district was safe, but after we had a lot of newcomers come to rent houses it made my village unsafe because of spoiled teenagers," he said.

"So we are doing things like this to ensure security."

Mu Sochua requests court postponement

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Meas Sokchea

THE Appeal Court has summoned opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua to appear on August 18 for questioning in relation to her defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen, but the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, who left for the United States on Wednesday, has requested a postponement until late September.

"I would like to inform His Excellency the Prosecutor General that I have to leave for the United States to have medical treatment on August 5, and will return on September 20," she said in a letter to Prosecutor General Ouk Savouth dated Wednesday.

Mu Sochua's lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen, filed following comments made by Hun Sen during a speech in Kampot province in April, was dismissed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 10, a decision she is now attempting to overturn.

On Wednesday, Mu Sochua also appealed against the Municipal Court's verdict convicting her of defaming the prime minister and ordering her to pay 16.5 million riels (US$3,937) in fines and compensation.

Ouk Savouth said Thursday that her request to the Appeal Court might not be successful, since her letter lacked sufficient details about her trip to North America.

"We don't know whether she is going to the US or not. If she has appealed and she does not take care of her appeal, that is her business," he said.

Confronting the darkness: Cambodian victims speak

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Laura Snook

Two young victims, one lured by the promise of work and a second sold for her virginity, tell the Court of Women of the horrors of the flesh trade.

ORIGINALLY from Kampong Cham, the witness known only as Wanta moved to Phnom Penh when she was 12. One day, while she was selling sugarcane on the street, a regular customer offered Wanta a job in a garment factory outside Cambodia. The job would pay more than US$100 a month, she said.

Wanta accepted and, later that month, arrived at the border. "Officials examined my documents and asked me where I was going and for what kind of work," she said in a statement given to the court. "When I told them garment factory work, they warned me ... to be careful about the risks of being trafficked."

Wanta was transported to Malaysia, where she was showed her new place of employment - not a garment factory, but a brothel. "Here [my handlers] had me clean up and dress in not much more than underwear," her statement reads. "I asked them what was the point of wearing this, and they told me that I was now working as a prostitute. As soon as I heard this I began to cry.... The woman who ran the brothel told me that if I wouldn't work, then I wouldn't eat."

Wanta was taken from brothel to brothel, where she was forced to have sex with numerous men. Her handlers, believed to be Cambodian, told the girl that, because of the cost of transporting her, she owed them a great deal of money. "They told me that if there was any work to be done, I had to do it...."

Eventually, Wanta was taken to a karaoke bar, where, out of sheer desperation, she confided in a kindly client. "He assured me that if I could wait another few days, he would be able to get me out of there," the court heard. "Surely enough, a few days later, the police raided the karaoke bar, and I was taken to prison for six months."

After her release, Wanta was moved to another facility where she met representatives of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre (CWCC). She spent the next few months in their care before returning to Cambodia. "I didn't have anything, and I was apprehensive of seeking out family after this whole ordeal," her statement reads. "At the time, I didn't give much thought to reporting anything at all. Looking back, I know it was a mistake."

Back in Phnom Penh, Wanta spent her first month at a CWCC centre. "I had the chance to meet and get to know other women who all had been dealing with the same type of problems themselves," she remembered. With the organisation's help, she trained as a hairdresser and, for the past three years, has been running her own salon. But there is another, darker legacy.

"I've been troubled lately because I've been dealing with having the Aids virus," her statement reads. The only person Wanta feels she can talk to is her doctor. "I still haven't let my family know because I'm worried about bringing new issues into the family to trouble them. At the same time, I want to share my story so that if others are facing similar situations, they will have an idea of what to do."


WHEN her grandmother died, Chhoun Minea, who uses a false name to protect her identity, moved from Prey Veng province to Phnom Penh to live with her mother.

"We ran a small shop to survive," she said in her statement to the court. "My mother used to gamble and would leave me at home alone.
Eventually, my mother fell into debt. One day, a neighbour persuaded my mother to sell my virginity for US$700 to a businessman. I was 16 years old then. I was with the man for two days. My body was painful when I returned home."

Chhoun Minea's plight worsened when her mother fell ill. "I decided to leave school and find work to pay back the debt and to pay for medical care for my mother. I found a job at a snooker club with a low salary of $60 a month. My work started at 8am and went on to 9pm, seven days a week. With my low income, I was not able to pay for my daily needs apart from repaying the debt."

One day, a young man approached Chhoun Minea and promised her a better life. "I was so happy and believed that my dreams would come true. My dream was to have a good husband and good family. But my dream ended early on when I found I was pregnant. The man rejected his own baby. The man that I loved left. He left an additional weight on my shoulders. What was I going to do, and what would people think about me, a woman who has a baby but no husband?" The only thing that prevented her from taking her own life, she says, was the thought of her unborn child.

Chhoun Minea started washing clothes every day and, after giving birth, found a new job at a karaoke bar, where she worked as a waitress and massage parlour assistant for US$40 month. Then her mother died, and she was forced to borrow $300 from a lender to pay for the funeral.
With interest racking up at a dollar a day, she quickly fell deep into debt.

"I decided to work as a sex worker. This was the only way to pay back the debt and to survive," Chhoun Minea said. Club owners would find clients for her, or she would force herself to solicit in public. "This is against the law in Cambodia ... but it was the only way I could support my child."

In late 2007, she met a Cambodian Women Development Agency (CWDA) member working to promote health care who educated her on HIV/Aids. Since then, she's been getting health checkups every three months. She was also given counseling, which she says encouraged her to keep going. "I became a focal point for CWDA to empower women who worked as entertainment girls to go to access health care," her statement reads.

Today, Chhoun Minea still works in the sex industry, but she aspires to better things. Courtesy of the CWDA, she is training as a beautician and hopes one day to open her own salon and provide a better life for her son. "What the court is addressing, which is HIV and trafficking, I consider very important issues where the empowerment of women ... can make a difference in our lives."

Court of Women calls for action

Photo by: Shaju John/UNDP
Vichuta Ly of Cambodia’s Legal Service for Children and Women gives expert testimony on Thursday at the Southeast Asia Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration in Bali, Indonesia. A jury of experts urged greater global awareness of the ‘vicous cycle of poverty, violence, trafficking and HIV’.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Nathan Green

Experts urge greater global awareness of 'vicious cycle' of poverty, trafficking and HIV.

Bali, Indonesia

A jury of experts on Thursday called for urgent action to break the cycle of poverty, violence, trafficking and HIV that is ruining the lives of countless women, girls and communities in Southeast Asia.

The declaration was made at the culmination of the Southeast Asia Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration in Bali, Indonesia.

"Women's lives in Southeast Asia are dominated by acute inequality and injustice that make them highly vulnerable to various forms of violence, exploitation, trafficking and, subsequently, HIV," the declaration read.

"We, therefore, call upon all the governments, UN Agencies, civil society organisations, the media and the general public to take all possible steps to expeditiously address the vicious cycle of poverty, violence, trafficking and HIV that trap countless women in the region."

Wanta, a young Cambodian woman who refused to be photographed or allow her real name to be published, told the court of how she was now living with HIV as a result of her experience with traffickers. She acknowledged willingly having gone to Malaysia, where she had expected to work in a garment factory, but instead ended up in a brothel, highlighting the dangers all young women face when travelling abroad to work.

Refusing to work, she was raped repeatedly and starved, she said, before being rescued by police following a tip-off from a sympathetic customer.

Wanta was joined by 21 other survivors of trafficking from the region. Most were from poor backgrounds, exposed to exploitation as they tried to find a way out for their families.

Like Wanta, many were left HIV-positive by their experience of being trafficked into sexually exploitative situations, highlighting what experts at the court said was a tangible link between trafficking and the spread of the disease.

"[Women and girls] are trafficked for many different reasons, but overwhelmingly sexual exploitation remains the single major purpose," said Caitlin Wiesen, regional HIV/Aids practice leader and programme coordinator for the UN Development Programme, a co-organiser of the court.

More than 250,000 women and girls are trafficked every year in Southeast Asia - one-third of total global trafficking - according to UN estimates.

The jurors also called for rights-based policies to counter trafficking and prevent further injustices from being heaped on women after experts singled out Cambodia as a country where officials had gotten policy seriously wrong.

Wiesen said anti-trafficking laws passed last year had led to more women selling sex on the street "for fear of police raids in entertainment establishments, which can drive them further underground and further increase their vulnerability to trafficking and HIV infection."

She said the legislation had led to a "significant setback" for the country's 100-percent condom use programme, with a 31-percent reduction in the sale and availability of condoms in entertainment places and a 20-percent decline in women seeking testing and treatment at public clinics.

Vichuta Ly of Cambodia's Legal Service for Children and Women said the country's trafficking legislation needed to be refocused to protect the victims. Appearing as an expert witness, she also called for a better understanding of trafficking to protect those working voluntarily in the sex industry from harassment and prosecution.

RCAF officers warned over mushrooms

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Thet Sambath and Mom Kunthear

Deaths prompt advisory about foraging for food in the jungle.

MILITARY doctors have advised all RCAF commanders stationed at the border to issue warnings to their troops about eating wild mushrooms, following the death of three soldiers from poisoning late last month.

So Rin, 45, died at the Preah Vihear front line on July 29, while Saing Roeun, 45, and another unknown soldier died at the Military Region 4 Hospital the following day. Soldier Yoeun Be, 33, survived the poisoning.

"We ordered all military commanders during a meeting on Monday to tell their soldiers to be careful in picking mushrooms to eat," said Phoeuk Amrith, deputy chief of Military Region 4's hospital.

"They must only choose non-poisonous varieties."

He said that the soldiers who were poisoned had ingested three different species of mushroom, but that authorities were unsure which of the wild fungi was to blame.

Bo Sarath, a medic in Battalion 81, part of RCAF's Brigade 8, said that many ex-Khmer Rouge soldiers got used to foraging for food in the forest during the civil war of the 1980s and 1990s, and knew what was dangerous to eat.

"We are used to eating mushrooms, and we know which ones we can eat and which we can't eat. Sometimes they poison us, but not seriously," he said.

"These soldiers' deaths took us by surprise and taught us to be careful before taking anything to eat from the jungle."

Yim Phim, commander of Brigade 8, said that he had passed the warnings on to his troops.

"[Troops] choose to pick mushrooms to eat because they are delicious and there are plenty of them in the forest. They don't lack food, but these mushrooms are good and tasty," he said.

Wat Phnom to seek special status under new classification system

Vendors do business Thursday outside Wat Phnom. Officials are seeking special status for the site.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Chhay Channyda

City authorities will seek top-grade tourist status for ancient temple.

THE municipal Department of Tourism has submitted a letter to the Ministry of Tourism requesting that Wat Phnom receive special status as a national tourist site, officials said Thursday.

Som Chanren, the municipal director of tourism, said the temple, from which the city derives its name, was a sacred site, and that the city wanted to have it classified as a "three-star" attraction - the highest rating under the new Tourism Law.

"In the field of tourism, we need our attractions to be judged according to a set of standards," he said, adding that the popularity of the site, which attracts an average of 500 to 600 foreign tourists per month, made it a perfect candidate for the new classification.

"The judgement should take into account whether bad pollution exists around Wat Phnom, or whether we have good services at our tourist sites," he said.

Despite the rapid growth in international tourism in the past decade, Phnom Penh has never formally listed its tourist attractions with the Ministry of Tourism, officials said.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Thursday that under the Tourism Law, tourist sites can apply for special classification and would be rated up to three stars according to criteria such as site security, public restrooms and access to parking.

"We have a Tourism Law to help sustain our tourism industry. All services have to meet benchmark standards in order to attract tourists," he said.

He added that all provinces were welcome to lodge applications to have their attractions registered with the Ministry.

Single visa on horizon after talks in Bangkok

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Vong Sokheng

CAMBODIA and Thailand have agreed to speed up plans to provide a single tourist visa in a bid to increase visitors to the two countries, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday.

"We have signed an agreement, and we promised to push for the implementation of the plan as soon as possible, since our tourism industry has been hit by the global financial crisis," he told reporters following his return from bilateral talks in Bangkok.

In a further bid to boost tourism, he said, the two countries are also considering opening a new border crossing between Banteay Meanchey province and Thailand's Sa Keo province.

Hor Namhong said that the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border crossing was providing difficulties for tourists because of the volume of trade that crosses the border daily.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Thursday that the joint tourist visa would bring both countries benefits by boosting tourism, and that the neighbours also plan to create visa exemptions for each other's citizens from 2010.

Group to see stupa rebuilt

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Christopher Shay And Sam Rith

THIRTY years after the Khmer Rouge executed thousands of Cambodians on a sugarcane field in Pursat, the Documentation Centre of Cambodia [DC-Cam] announced that a new memorial stupa will be built by the community with its assistance.

DC-Cam members and about 500 villagers from Pursat's Bakan district gathered next to that same field last Sunday, DC-Cam director Youk Chhang said, adding that it was then that he decided to help build a memorial to replace one that had rotted away.

On his return to Phnom Penh, he said he contacted Columbia University's architecture school for assistance.

More than 2,000 Khmer Krom were killed by the Khmer Rouge at the site, along with thousands more Cambodians brought from the Eastern District, Youk Chhang said .

The Cambodians from the Eastern District who tried to escape "ran to the houses of villagers, hoping to be saved. But they were killed right there by the villagers," he said.

This, he said, has led to lingering anger he hopes the memorial will help ease.

But Youk Chhang's interest in the site is also personal. His sister, a niece, nephew and brother-in-law all died in that commune.

"My sister was accused of eating stolen food," he said.

"So they brought my sister to the hospital where they cut her open to see if the food was there."

When Youk Chhang gave a speech to the Pursat community on August 2, he was facing that very hospital.

The Rumleach commune chief, Ouk Chanmuon, said the memorial will also educate the village's youths.

"It will be a historic place for the younger generations to learn about the place where a lot of people were killed during the Pol Pot regime," he said.

WITHDRAWN: Adhoc pulls out rights activist

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Chrann Chamroeun


The Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc has been recalled to Phnom Penh following accusations he has incited area residents to hold protests in relation to an ongoing series of disputes with companies and local officials, the group's president said Thursday. "We made the decision that we don't want to fight in the courts," said Adhoc president Thun Saray. "We NGO organisations aim for good cooperation with government officials, who are leading our country towards improvement." Pen Bonnar, who has worked for Adhoc in Ratanakkiri since 1998, told the Post Thursday that he accepted the organisation's decision to repost him. "I wasn't officially informed by the judge [heading my case] ... but my lawyer and UN officials, who met with court officials a few days ago, informed me to stop working there because of the allegations of incitement."

Two arrested in bar raid

A guard keeps watch on Thursday at the Iris Bar on Street 136 in Phnom Penh. Police arrested the bar’s Korean owner on Wednesday night on suspicion of aggravated procurement of prostitution.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Mom Kunthear and Chrann Chamroeun

MUNICIPAL and district police raided the Iris Bar on Street 136 and arrested its Korean owner and another supervisor on Wednesday night, following complaints from female employees that he was threatening to fire them if they did not sleep with customers.

Keo Thea, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Anti-human Trafficking Bureau who led the arrest, said Thursday that 20 of the employees were taken for questioning after the raid.

"[The bar girls] confessed that many had been forced to sleep with customers and to present receipts as evidence; otherwise, they were forced to quit their jobs," Keo Thea said.

"A few bar girls had been fired from work already."

He added that the case had been forwarded on to Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and that the owner and supervisor had both been charged with aggravated procurement of prostitution.

Businessmen, officials hash out bourse rules

Aun Porn Moniroth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, addresses Thursday’s meeting on SECC regulations at Raffles Hotel le Royal.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Nguon Sovan

Government and bank officials consider capital requirements and fiscal histories of companies seeking to operate exchange

TWO hundred attendees from government bodies, development partners and private companies took part on Thursday in a consultation in Phnom Penh that discussed the two draft edicts that will regulate aspects of Cambodia's nascent stock exchange.

Aun Porn Moniroth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the consultation marks the beginning of the process towards finalising the regulations.

"These two drafts are part of a series of 30 edicts we have prepared to run the upcoming stock exchange," he said.

The two edicts, or prakas, discussed Thursday were drafted by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) and cover the granting of licences to firms wanting to deal in the market, and those that want to run it.

The prakas on the running of the market will grant an eight-year licence to each of the various operators of the stock exchange. Some of its provisions outline the capital requirements for firms wanting to run the market's functions.

A company looking to operate the stock market would need capital of US$9.52 million. The firm wanting to operate the clearance and settlement facility would need half that amount, $4.76 million.

The third company, which would operate the securities depository, would also need $4.76 million of capital.

A company wanting to act in all three capacities would need $19 million minimum capital.

The prakas states that the eight-year initial operating licence can be renewed prior to expiry for a further eight years, or indefinitely.

Participants at the conference suggested lower minimum capital requirements and raised the question of dealing with an article in the prakas that excludes any operator whose directors, senior staff or substantial shareholders have been declared bankrupt by a court here or abroad in the five years prior to the firm's lodging its application.

Nhean Vannak, a governance official at the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC), said it was unfair to punish a person declared bankrupt in any business sector.

"An individual who has been declared bankrupt within five years but whose business was not involved in the financial or securities sector should not be refused the right to operate the securities market," he suggested.

However Chan Narith, director of the SECC's securities market-supervision department, rejected that argument in the interests of market confidence.

"The SECC will not allow that person [to operate] because there will be suspicions about the applicant's financial soundness," he said. Chan Narith was supported by Tal Nay Im, director general of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

"Even though that person was bankrupt in another sector, they would still have a bankruptcy record," she said.

Tal Nay Im said the SECC should thoroughly consider the qualities of any firm looking to act as the operator of the securities depository.

"That must be done by a well-known, well-off and well-qualified firm," she said.

Govt: More workers go abroad

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
May Kunmakara

GOVERNMENT figures show the number of Cambodians registered as heading abroad for work jumped more than a third in the first six months of this year.

Nhem Kimhuov, an official at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, said 4,862 migrant labourers went abroad in the six months to June, compared with 3,561 in the same period last year.

"In the first six months our migrant worker numbers to Malaysia increased 150 percent from 1,181 to 2,955, whereas in Thailand they were down one-third to 812," he said.

The rise in workers to Malaysia was a knock-on from a shortfall in numbers sent at the end of 2008, he said.

"But in the case of Thailand, it definitely decreased because of political unrest and the issue on the border," he said, referring to the dispute at Preah Vihear.

However, he said there is still good cooperation between Thai and Cambodian counterparts in the labour sector, and with their opposite numbers in Malaysia.

The economic crisis and its impact on migrant workers is a concern, said Ya Navuth, director of the NGO Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM).

"When they return home, they often can't get work, as thousands of garment workers are unemployed," he said. "Recent research [by CARAM] shows many women who lost their jobs went to work in the entertainment and sex industries. The government should set up migrant labour offices in those countries to ensure our workers can access information about jobs and protect them when they face abuses."

Council of Ministers owes $1m

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
May Kunmakara and Ith Sothoeuth

THE Council of Ministers owes more than US$1 million to a state-owned Internet provider. Camnet. Deputy Prime Minister Sok An revealed the total, but not the firms concerned, at an IT meeting Wednesday.

"The Internet is expensive, and the last time we calculated it the Council of Ministers owes more than $1 million," he said.
Phu Leewood, secretary general of the National Information Communications Development Authority (NiDA), which falls under the remit of the Council, confirmed Camnet is the unpaid ISP.

He said every government ministry and institution connects through Camnet and has done so at no cost since 2001. He said even NiDA owes Camnet money but cannot pay because its budget is insufficient.

Lao Saroeun, Camnet's director general, said his company provides Internet and phone access to the government and is owed money by every ministry. "We always remind them, yet my debt report keeps increasing month by month," he said.

CEO Talk: After 10 years, Forte looks to turn promise into assured revenues

Forte Insurance Managing Director Carlo Cheo says that the insurance market in Cambodia has a lot of potential but that there needs to be an effort to build awareness of insurance products.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Kay Kimsong

Carlo Cheo, managing director of Forte Insurance, talks about his company’s experience of operating in Cambodia for a decade and what the future might hold for the industry here

CEO Talk

By Kay Kimsong

What is happening in the insurance market right now?
The market is still growing [internationally] even though it is going through a recession. Cambodia is different ... the recession doesn't really impact on the insurance industry.

If you look at the infrastructure and construction going on [locally], this will give more growth.
I am pretty excited about the future of Cambodia.

Cambodia doesn't have a culture of buying insurance, so what strategy do you use to convince people that they need what you have to offer?
We provide insurance at all levels. For Cambodians, medical costs are getting more and more expensive.

I would just say that it will take time for Cambodians to go on the right track. So for me, we work to bring awareness to Cambodia.

My main concern is those on middle incomes and lower incomes - not the rich and not the poor.
It will take a while to make the public aware.

Is Forte the country's leading insurance company?
Yes, we gained the No 1 position in 2003 in terms of market share and in terms of clients - I am not talking about individual clients, but about corporate clients. In terms of volume we were number one in 2007.

And we foresee premium growth of more than 10 percent in 2009.

[Today] we employ 70 staff. Ten years ago we had just seven employees.

Do the different industry players compete fairly?
I can't blame my competitors because everybody wants to make a profit, right?
So it is a question of competition, but it must be within reason.

Do you think the Ministry of Economy and Finance favours state-owned insurers more than privately owned firms?
The answer is no. Even if Caminco were still owned 100 percent by the government, it would be a level playing field because we compete with each other.

The key question is whether you know the business or not.

What insurance products does Forte sell?
Forte provides several classes of insurance products, including automobile insurance, casualty insurance, property insurance, engineering insurance and marine cargo insurance.

We are going to move beyond these products.

Are your premiums going to change?
As the market grows, new demands arise. Cambodia's potential means more and more people will show interest in [insurance products].

New investment will come in, and as time goes by there will be more money in people's pockets, and that will lead to more interest in buying insurance.

So as long as GDP grows, we will grow. Normally, insurance grows faster than GDP growth, and [in Cambodia] we have started from a low level.

Can you tell us your company's turnover?
Yes, why not? We are always open about that. For 2007 (excluding oil and gas) premiums [turnover] was US$6.8 million.

In 2008, excluding oil and gas premiums, [turnover] was $7.8 million.

Who are your clients?
We have more foreign than local customers because, again, the local consumer market is still not yet here.

Once it develops [further] there will be more premiums.

Normally, individual insurance generates more than commercial clients. But it all depends on awareness. I look at the middle-income people: As you go along, you find that insurance is the best investment they can have. If we are talking about challenges, it won't take too long - maybe three years.

So how do you go about educating people about insurance, then?
It's very difficult to say because it is an individual thing. I have seen that in Singapore.

When the country develops, other things develop including education, medical treatment; large companies come in; standards of living increase.

You find that as salaries rise, people need insurance. It will take a while - even today in Singapore some products don't sell well.

What can you tell us about the insurance industry in Asia and the rest of the world?
I think other countries are moving faster than Cambodia. I would give the example of Vietnam, a country that faced similar challenges to Cambodia after the war.

But today the premium market in Vietnam is worth $1 billion, and in Cambodia it is just $20 million. They are moving faster than us.

In a country like Hong Kong insurance premiums have reached 23 percent of GDP, and in Japan, which has the biggest market in Asia, it is more than 10 percent.

In other countries insurance is one of the backbones of the economy.

What made Forte decide to enter the Cambodian market 10 years ago?
I saw Singapore go through this, and I've seen many other countries go through it - the main thing is to know what the government will do.

My advantage is in thinking ahead to where a country can go. If I can anticipate that - and right now I am anticipating actively - I can get myself prepared. That is why I came here, and not just to be an expert, but to help.

I have spent many hours training my staff to be professional.

It is not easy to lecture the Cambodian community, especially in English, which is not commonly spoken by the majority of Cambodians.

And we have one Cambodian staffer here - she is No 1 in Malaysia. She is the best.
Am I proud of Cambodia? I think it is a national prize, seriously. The government does not know that yet.

Finally, what is your vision for the next 10-20 years in terms of your insurance business?
Cambodia is not a place to make predictions.

Taking down the competition

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Heng Chivoan

Two male wrestlers grapple during the first day of the Cambodian National Wrestling Championship at Olympic Stadium on Thursday. The three-day event has attracted over 160 participants from seven clubs across the country, including Olympic Club, Endrey (Eagle) Club and Ministry of Interior Club from Phnom Penh, Vihear Sor Club from Kandal Province, Pai Club from Kampong Chhnang Province, and Khmer Wrestling Clubs from Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces. There are four categories in which wrestlers compete; traditional Khmer, freestyle, Greco and premier. Women compete only in the freestyle category. Members of the national team are also competing in the tournament, with champions from this year chosen to make up a new team who will travel to Laos in December for the Southeast Asian Games. The team will undergo intense training ahead of the games, with expert coaching from Paek Sunam of Korea. A pre-SEA Games competition is also planned for November.

US girls teach the boys a lesson in football

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009

FOLLOWING the success of the first ever Battambang Futsal Tournament last week, which was organised by local NGO SALT Academy and sponsored by Hello Communications, a group of American soccer-playing girls have stayed on in Battambang to help lead clinics and skills-training for both outfield players and goalies of the Cambodian national girls team and SALT Academy league clubs.

Morning and afternoon sessions have been organised by US Women's Premier League football coaches Michelle Marklund and Shannon Otteson. "I count it a privilege to assist these girls and hope one day to see them perform on the world stage," stated Marklund.

The US girls team, which comprises U13 and U16 players from Washington state clubs Snohomish United, FC Mulkilteo Lightening and Evergreen, competed against the U13 Battambang province boys team Thursday, winning the 30-minute friendly game 5-0. The skill set, especially the passing and shooting of the girls, proved too much for the Cambodian youngsters, who failed to create clear chances to score. "I didn't think the American girls could beat the boys," said Cambodian National Girls Team member Ty Nait after watching the game. "They did a great job of spreading out on the field and passing the ball".

This Saturday at 2pm, the US girls will play another friendly against the U16 Cambodian national girls team, who have been eager to get back on the field and show what they have learned since losing their first international match against Laos 2-1 on May 22.

Football crowds happy to pay

A small crowd attend the Wednesday Cambodian Premier League game between Naga Corp and Kirivong Sok Sen Chey.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Ken Gadaffi

Spectators at Olympic Stadium seem undeterred by the FFC’s introduction of ticket sales, optimistic that the money will finance a higher standard of play

accepted: Fans want quality
Only when the Cambodian national team play international games, or when the Samdech Hun Sen Cup finals take place, will you find the stands of Olympic stadium at even half their capacity. However, during Cambodian Premier League (CPL) games, the stadium is often nearly empty, with only major team match-ups attracting any numbers of note.

Despite the low attendance on match days, the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) took a bold step this season to introduce gate takings at the main stand, with the fear that the US$1 fee might be regarded as too much for the average Cambodian, and drive away potential spectators.

However, of those who attend the CPL matches regularly, the general feeling is of a positive nature, with fans rationalising that they are now watching a higher level of play, thus justifying the ticket policy.

Dun Sophorn, 33, a food and beverage manager at Phnom Penh's Sunway Hotel visits the stadium every week to cheer his favourite team, Khemara Keila. "The league has improved a lot in the last two years I have been following the games," he noted. "The younger generation are now being attracted to come and watch football, and [experience] the passion of the game, which is good for the development of Cambodian [football]."

Sothea Pan, 33, a friend and colleague of Dun Sophorn, observed that "foreign players have added more glamour to the league." The pair felt the $1 fee was not too much, having gotten value for the money from watching their team run out 4-2 winners over Build Bright United on Saturday.

One of the few regular female spectators, Sophin Phorl, 25, also acknowledged that the standard of the games has improved in the past year. "The gate fee is not too much for me, but maybe for other girls," she said. "They don't really like to watch football like the boys, so only a few of them come here to watch."

Cameroon-born Monaco Tabondjo, 27, who watches CPL matches religiously, noted the impact of a busy crowd on the players. "Players like to play when they know there are fans behind them," he said. "It ups their game, even though sometimes the fans add more pressure if the team is not playing well."

Tabondjo called on football fans to attend CPL games more regularly, thus generating more revenue for the FCC, which is to distribute proceeds to the clubs at the end of the season. He also proposed that the FFC increase the quota of foreign players allowed at each CPL club, which would potentially raise the standard and attact a larger fan base of foreign expatriates.

San Siro founder Uba Anyanwu (centre) attempts to block a pass by former Kirivong Sok Sen Chey defender Justine Chijioke (left) during a game on the San Siro pitch in the Olympic Stadium complex Thursday.

Nareth Him, a student of Norton University, confessed that he comes to watch CPL games whenever he is sad or downcast.

"Today I feel unhappy, so I came here to relax my mind and try to lift my spirit," the 24-year-old undergraduate said. "I don't have any favourite team, I just watch for pleasure." Nareth Him thought the ticket prices were actually too cheap, while noting that there seemed to be an increase in attendance at the weekend but a decrease for the midweek games.

"I think many people are not aware of the match schedules," opined Nareth Him, noting that increased awareness would promote larger gate receipts.

Chhouen Kimeng, a 23-year-old student of Western University, said she was happy to see Cambodian football screened live on television every weekend, but enjoyed watching it live even more.

Phillip Zen, a 56-year-old German tourist who came to watch the league match with his wife and three children, commended the FFC for its high standard. "I am surprised to see the Cambodian league at this level now," he remarked. "The quality of play on display is quite impressive. My family and I have enjoyed our stay visiting Cambodia, and to come here this afternoon to watch this game is very good."

With the announcement of the $1.5 million three-year Metfone sponsorship deal starting next season, which will rebrand the CPL as the Metfone C-League, increased interest is expected from companies looking to cash in on the increased publicity of the CPL. Indeed, the FFC have offered to help CPL clubs promote themselves and find potential sponsors.

Watching live football is bound to become one of the most popular pastimes in the Kingdom.

Cambodia's home for unsigned players
Old Trafford, the home ground of Manchester United, is known as "the Theatre of Dreams", Liverpool's Anfield is revered for its Kop stand, and Stamford Bridge is synonymous with Chelsea. In Italy, the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza is more commonly called the San Siro for the Milan quarter where it is located, and hosts both Inter Milan and AC Milan home games.

In Cambodia, all CPL matches are played at the Olympic stadium, an obvious consequence of the lack of resources in the Kingdom, although with only five CPL fixtures per week, the ground can easily cope with demand. However, lurking in the Olympic complex is Cambodia's very own San Siro, an approximately 600-square-metre sandy space to the west of the Stadium, which is home to regular matches for foreigner players who are out of contract or aspire to one.

Players throng the Futsal-style pitch to keep fit and hone their skills under the watchful eyes of youthful Nigerian coach Uba Anyanwu, who established the pitch, albeit informally, around November 2008 after observing a surplus of unsigned players. "I started this forum for players to come together and train because most players could not find a ground to play," Anyanwu said. "It is open for all. We have many Cambodians, Europeans and Africans who come daily to train with us."

Australian-born soccer analyst Nick White advised CPL clubs to come visit the San Siro to scout for new talent. "There are quality players," he remarked.

The San Siro has survived on donations from professional players, such as Zila Seidu of Preah Khan Reach, David Adeyinka of Khemara Keila, and also some European tourists who have trained with them during a visit.

"We also get some support in [the] form of transportation and drinks when we go to play matches outside Phnom Penh," Anyanwu stated, referring to frequent practice matches arranged against CPL teams.

The San Siro side seem to hold their own against Premier League opposition, with wins against Phouchung Neak, National Defence Ministry and Preah Khan Reach (PKR), the last of which came in a 7-5 thriller at the San Siro last Saturday, during PKR's rest weekend.

The San Siro, which can often find Premier League players attending when not in club training, also now attracts a modest following of spectators, who stand and watch after their own workouts in the complex.

"Why will you [pay] to watch the league games where only six foreign players will be playing, when [you] can watch over 30 foreign players for free [at the San Siro]," said Nick White. "I have never seen a place where players play with such intensity, yet nothing at stake. They play with passion and [are] a joy to watch."

Photos by Nick Sells (

Police Blotter: 07 Aug 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Kong Sokun

Two men have been nabbed for burglary in Kandal province's Ponhea Lueu district. Yeong Pheara, 19, residing in the district's Phnom Bat commune, was arrested on Monday after allegedly stealing a USA N70 battery from a 28-year-old farmer, Kang Heim. The second perpetrator, Keo Socheat, 27, living in Phnom Penh's Dangkor district, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing a motorbike from a seller, Yein Vutha, 42, living in Ponhea Lueu district. Police have sent the pair to Kandal Provincial Court to stand trial.

Two defiant teenagers were arrested Saturday by police in Kandal province's Angsnuol district for carrying a sword while driving a motorbike. Police said that the arrest was made along Road 67 in the district's Chhak Chheu Neang commune at around 9pm, when the pair, identified as Phorn Manou, 21, and Siek Chamnan, 20, refused to stop their motorbike, but waved their sword at the police to mock them.

A 16-month-old baby died Monday after falling down from an elevator attached to a boat, which was being used as a bridge to carry a motorbike to a house surrounded with water. The accident took place in Kampong Thom's Prasat Sambour district. Police identified the dead baby as Chieng Chor, whose house has been surrounded with floodwater from Stung Sen river for 15 days. Neighbours said it took them two hours to locate the body, floating 200 metres from the house.

A police officer was accidentally wounded in the leg when his own gun discharged on Russian Confederation Boulevard in Toeuk Thla commune, Sen Sok district, in Phnom Penh at midnight on Tuesday. The gun went off after his motorbike was run down by a car speeding along the street. The victim was identified as Keo Socheat, 29, who works for the National Anti-drug Police.

A National Bank member was robbed of a necklace and a pair of diamond earrings by two gunmen while she was arriving at the bank gate on Monday afternoon. Passers-by and bank security guards who witnessed the event closely could freely watch the robbery going on. The victim is known as Um Lum Ang, female, 50, living in Phnom Penh's Tuol Kork district. The robbers escaped safely with their loot.

Cambodia's marathon man gets help to find the track to success

Twenty-three-year-old Hem Bunting does some morning training on Thursday around the running circuit of Olympic Stadium.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 07 August 2009
Jet Odrerir

Cambodia’s No 1 long-distance runner Hem Bunting is the recipient of financial support and professional advice aiming to help him in his quest to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics

HEM Bunting has been training at the Olympic Stadium for the past five years as a marathon runner and uses the facilities there for hours each day. To many athletes, their workout centre becomes a second home, but for 23 year-old Bunting, it's also his primary residence. He shares quarters with about 30 other athletes in a room inside the stadium. Such is the way of an Olympic hopeful in Cambodia.

Standing 1.67 metres tall and weighing 56 kilograms, he has a runner's physique. But having the ability and drive doesn't automatically guarantee you a good training programme. Without the proper regimen, athletes find themselves in an uphill battle to compete at international competitions. So how does this man from Stung Treng find himself hoping to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London?

As a youngster growing up in the small town of Srey Phor, Hem Bunting stood out from his classmates in all of the running events. He began participating in provincial 5km, 10km and 21km runs about 10 years ago, and kept coming in first. Bunting was so dominant at meets that his school instructors got in touch with the Khmer Amateur Athletic Federation (KAAF) and arranged for him to move to Phnom Penh to train.

In 2003, he came to the capital and moved into the Olympic Stadium, dividing his time between training and school. The KAAF committed to provide him with a 250,000-riel (US$59.50) monthly salary, as well as meals cooked for him at the stadium.

"I couldn't believe people travelled around the world to compete, and that there were events as big as the Olympics," remembered Hem Bunting. Yet it would be only one year before he would travel to Vietnam for his first international meet, where he came ninth in the 10km run.

Since then, the Cambodian has been adding stamps to his passport at a brisk rate, going to meets in Thailand, Indonesia and Japan among other destinations. "Japan has been the best host country so far," he says. "They took me on a tour and really made me feel welcome."

So far, Hem Bunting's best finish has been at the 2007 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, held in Korat, Thailand, where he finished second in the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 28 seconds, slashing the previous Cambodian best by eight minutes. It was impressive considering he had been running marathons in over three hours just two years previously. An added incentive for athletes to perform well at the SEA Games was a cash reward from the government of Cambodia; US$6,000 for a gold, $4,000 for a silver and $2,000 for a bronze medal.

To qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Hem Bunting would have had to run a marathon in a time of 2h:20m:00sec. However, in the spirit of the games, top athletes of a country in a sport are invited to participate, even when failing to make the cut. Thus last year, Hem Bunting was joined by three other Cambodian athletes to travel in China, where he finished 73rd out of 95 with a time of 2h33:32.

"If he's been able to do this with no advantages, think about how good he could be with a little help," says Rasmey Sokmongkol, Hem Bunting's benefactor since early this year.

The general manager of East West Visa Services, who goes by Raz, is hoping to get the runner competitive in time for the SEA Games, which take place in Vientiane, Laos, this December. The eventual goal is to qualify for and make a mark at the 2012 Olympics in London.

According to Raz, there has never been a Cambodian athlete to actually qualify for the Olympics, and he believes Hem Bunting has what it takes to be the first. Raz is also getting the Cambodian to run in the Boston, Sydney and London marathons as a lead-up to the 2012 Olympics.

"At this point, he has to be provided with things as seemingly simple as a proper diet," said Raz. "Trying to mix in work that barely pays for the necessities and training, obviously his running times will suffer for it. Shaving minutes off of a marathon time takes an increase in stamina that can only come from a stronger body."

Hem Bunting has got this far on a daily diet of breakfast noodles, five cups of rice and 150 grams of chicken; not exactly a Lance Armstrong diet. Previously, his daily caloric intake barely reached 2,000, with a training athlete his size recommended to get around 2,700.

Raz grew up in Australia and recalls the sensation caused by the Australian Steven Bradbury when he won the gold in the 1,000-meter speed skating event during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. "Steven Bradbury is still a celebrity there. It's a huge thing for a country that doesn't usually rank in the field to win a gold medal," asserted Raz, who was Bradbury's managing agent.

Raz already has fellow Australian-Cambodian Richard Chin joining Hem Bunting's cause by donating a year's membership to his health centre, AusFit, which is located atop the Skyline Apartments in Boeung Keng Kang. As a certified nutritionist, Chin will also help advise the athlete on how to tailor his diet for training and racing.

This month, Hem Bunting will be heading to Europe for the first time, competing in the 12th Athletics World Championships in Berlin on August 15-23. As athletics' biggest competition of the year, with over 200 countries participating, Hem Bunting is happy for the extra support he's getting now.

Survivors seek justice from podium

Niken Prathivi
The Jakarta Post
Nusa Dua
Fri, 08/07/2009

Twenty-two women, living with HIV/AIDS and having gone through human trafficking, exploitation and violence, gathered in Nusa Dua on Thursday for a mock trial to demand justice.

Their action was a call for involvement by society and for an end to the stigma against them.

The women came from six Southeast Asian countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia and Singapore.

Zar Zar (not her real name) from Myanmar, a 24-year-old with HIV, which she contracted after being forced into prostitution, said she was happy to meet others like herself at the gathering.

"It's not good to say, *I'm not alone', but for me I feel so encouraged I can start my life again," she said in a statement read by Myanmar HIV/AIDS activist Khin San Htwe.

Zar Zar is from Yangon, where she used to work in a factory to support her parents and two younger sisters. One day, a friend of her mother's offered her a better-paying job in Ruili, a town on the border with China.

Zar Zar became a waitress in a restaurant there, and 10 days later, a Chinese man offered her better work in a bar. This turned out to be work as a prostitute, which she was forced into after the Chinese man hit and raped her repeatedly.

"This is how I started my life as a sex worker. I had no choice because I was no longer a virgin and I needed money for my family," wrote Zar Zar, adding she stayed on under threat of being reported to the police.

In 2007, a medical checkup showed she had HIV. After this, her employer released her.

"I want the world to know that although we're women living with HIV, we're still humans, we still have our lives, futures, hopes and dignity," she wrote.

"Please don't forget us. We need your support, understanding, well treatment and encouragement."

Indonesian Ana, 24, who works for the NGO Partisan, told of being fired from a factory in Penang, Malaysia, after contracting HIV through sharing needles.

"For the Indonesian government especially, I really need them to give more attention, support and information to their people who want to work abroad," she said.

"Please educate them well, in terms of basic information on how to take care of themselves - from crimes to health problems."

State Minister for Women's Empowerment Meutia Hatta Swasono said that in the context of HIV/AIDS, it was crucial to strive for gender equality to protect women.

"Many women are still culturally not empowered," she said.

"This makes them liabilities to progress. Our task is to turn women from being liabilities into progressive assets of development."

International coordinator for the Court of Women, Corinne Kumar, said the 37th court of women in Southeast of Asia was aimed at promoting public awareness.

The mock trial, the Southeast Asia Court of Women on HIV and Human Trafficking, was held in line with the four-day 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Nusa Dua.

More Cambodian workers go abroad in first six months this year

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The number of Cambodians registered as heading abroad for work jumped more than a third in the first six months of this year, local media reported on Friday, citing government's figure.

Nhem Kimhuov, an official at the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying that 4,862 migrant laborers went abroad in the first six months, compared with 3,561 in the same period last year.

"In the first six months, the number of migrant worker in Malaysia increased 150 percent from 1,181 to 2,955, whereas in Thailand they were down one-third to 812," he said.

"But in the case of Thailand, it definitely decreased because of political unrest (in Thailand) and the issue in the border," he said.

However, he said there is still good cooperation between Thai and Cambodian counterparts in the labor sector, and with their opposite numbers in Malaysia.

The economic crisis and its impact on migrant workers is a concern, said Ya Navuth, director of the NGO Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility.

"When they return home, they often can't get work, as thousands of garment workers are unemployed," he said.

Editor: Li Shuncheng

Cambodia records 24 flu A/H1N1 cases

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian health ministry announced on Friday that it has confirmed 24 cases of A/H1N1 influenza in the the country.

"The two latest cases are a 22-year-old Khmer girl and a 38-year-old Australian man," said Sok Touch, director of communicable disease control department of Health Ministry.

"The Australian man is the father of a girl who had tested positive for the flu," he said.

"They are in stable condition and are recovering after treatment."

Nobody has died so far in Cambodia, according to Sok Touch. He said, "Cambodia will not hide the number of infected people or died people. Everything is transparent."

"Cambodia has been trying to prevent the spread of the flu and strengthening the tracking system at airports and international border gates," he said, calling the local people to protect and prevent themselves from the flu.

"The most important thing," Sok Touch stressed, "is that the local residents should have to protect themselves."

Special Report: World Tackles A/H1N1 Flu  

Editor: Li Shuncheng

UPDATE 1-Japan's NTT DoCoMo eyes Millicom's Cambodia network

Fri Aug 7, 2009

* DoCoMo mulls political risk, other targets in Cambodia * Looking to invest in Sri Lanka in future, including Celltell * Not interested in Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile UK unit * Focus in Europe, US on software firms to boost data revenues * Shares up 1.2 pct vs KDDI 0.2 pct rise, Softbank 0.9 pct fall (Adds details, background)

By Mayumi Negishi and Reiji Murai

TOKYO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Japan's top wireless operator NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T) is interested in buying Luxembourg-based telecom operator Millicom's (MICC.O) Cambodian network to boost its presence in Southeast Asia, an executive said.

DoCoMo, which controls half of Japan's mobile market, is hungry for acquisitions in other parts of Asia as growth slows in saturated markets at home, in the U.S. and in Europe.

It has not decided to make a bid for Mobitel and will consider other M&A targets in Cambodia and weigh political and economic risks there first, said Toshinari Kunieda, senior vice president and managing director of DoCoMo's global business.

"It's like a marriage proposal -- you don't make an offer the day after falling in love at first sight, you look at other potential partners, too," Kunieda told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

DoCoMo is hunting for investment targets in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, as well as in the Middle East, Oceania and Sri Lanka, as it chases a midterm target of boosting overseas revenues to 10 percent of its total sales in four to five years.

Based on its sales in the year ended in March, that would mean quadrupling its overseas revenues, of which 60 percent comes from roaming fees.

"It can't be done without M&A," Kunieda said. "We will have to hunt for a majority stake somewhere."

DoCoMo's recent foreign investments include a 26 percent stake in Tata Teleservices [TATASL.UL], India's sixth-largest mobile operator, a 30 percent stake in telecom operator Axiata's (AXIA.KL) Bangladesh unit, and a 16.5 percent stake in Malaysian operator U-Mobile.

DoCoMo's shares closed up 1.2 percent, while those of No.2 Japanese carrier KDDI Corp (9433.T) rose 0.2 percent and third-ranked Softbank Corp (9984.T) fell 0.9 percent.


DoCoMo incurred massive losses after spending nearly 1.9 trillion yen ($20 billion) in the late 1990s and early 2000s to invest in overseas carriers to promote its i-mode mobile Internet technology and the W-CDMA 3G standard.

In Europe and the U.S., the company is now focusing on possible M&A with software firms that could help DoCoMo raise its data-related revenues. It is not interested in Deutsche Telekom's (DTEGn.DE) T-Mobile UK unit, Kunieda said.

But DoCoMo is ready to bet on potential growth around other parts of Asia, and is waiting for countries to relax regulation on foreign telecom ownership.

DoCoMo, whose operating profit slid 15 percent in April-June on sluggish sign-ups, could look at Millicom's Sri Lanka asset Celltel among other possibilities, "but I can't say that we would pick Millicom," Kunieda said.

Millicom, which has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on the sale of its Asian assets, said last month that it had several potential suitors.

Malaysian telecom firm Axiata (AXIA.KL) has voiced interest in buying Millicom's Sri Lankan and Cambodian operations, each worth at least $500 million, while Russian operator VimpelCom (VIP.N) may be interested in assets in Laos and Cambodia, sources told Reuters last month [ID:nKLR441625] [ID:nL9469191]. ($1=95.31 Yen) (Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar in Singapore; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Police Invited to Annual Crime Conference in US ....Plenty of Crimes

New Tamil Tiger head arrested - Sri Lanka

Thu Aug 6, 2009
By C. Bryson Hull

COLOMBO, Aug 6 (Reuters) -- The new head of the Tamil Tigers, the separatist group defeated by the Sri Lankan military after a 25-year war, has been arrested in Thailand, Sri Lanka's military said on Thursday.

Selvarajah Pathmanathan was wanted on two Interpol warrants and took the reins of the remnants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after their defeat in May.

"He has been arrested in Bangkok. That is all we know at the moment," military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

There was no immediate comment from Thai officials.

Pathmanathan, better known as KP during his decades running the LTTE's arms and smuggling networks, took over as the public leader of the separatist group after Sri Lanka's military announced victory on May 18 after a 25-year war.

He was the first LTTE official to acknowledge the death of Tiger founder and leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, who was killed in the closing days of Sri Lanka's offensive on a narrow spit of northeastern coast where they had surrounded the rebels.

Security experts had long suspected Pathmanathan was hiding in southeast Asia.

A Western diplomat assigned to Sri Lanka met him somewhere in the region earlier this year, part of an effort to persuade the LTTE to surrender in the face of an imminent defeat and free civilians they were holding by force in the war zone.

Pathmanathan was believed to have earned millions of dollars procuring weapons for the Tigers and running smuggling operations from bases across the region including Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. Security experts say he had multiple passports.

Some estimates said the LTTE earned between $200-300 million from extortion, weapons sales and drug smuggling. Analysts said part of a brief struggle for Prabhakaran's mantle after the war was to take control of its financial assets.

After the war, Pathmanathan said the LTTE would try non-violent means to achieve its goal of a separate state for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils. Among his first initiatives was to try to form a transnational government-in-exile. (Editing by Richard Williams)

Researchers use mosquitoes used to deliver ‘vaccine’

August 06, 2009
By Marilynn Marchione

In a daring experiment in Europe, scientists used mosquitoes as flying needles to deliver a “vaccine’’ of live malaria parasites through their bites.

The results were astounding: Everyone in the vaccine group acquired immunity to malaria; everyone in a non-vaccinated comparison group did not, and developed malaria when exposed to the parasites later.

The study was only a small proof-of-principle test, and its approach is not practical on a large scale. However, it shows that scientists may finally be on the right track to developing an effective vaccine against one of mankind’s top killers. A vaccine that uses modified live parasites just entered human testing.

“Malaria vaccines are moving from the laboratory into the real world,’’ Dr. Carlos Campbell wrote in an editorial accompanying the study in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine. He works for PATH, the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, a Seattle-based global health foundation.

The new study “reminds us that the whole malaria parasite is the most potent immunizing’’ agent, even though it is harder to develop a vaccine this way and other leading candidates take a different approach, he wrote.

Malaria kills nearly a million people each year, mostly children under five and especially in Africa. Infected mosquitoes inject immature malaria parasites into the skin when they bite; these travel to the liver where they mature and multiply. From there, they enter the bloodstream and attack red blood cells — the phase that makes people sick.

People can develop immunity to malaria if exposed to it many times. The drug chloroquine can kill parasites in the final bloodstream phase, when they are most dangerous.

Scientists tried to take advantage of these two factors, by using chloroquine to protect people while gradually exposing them to malaria parasites and letting immunity develop.

They assigned 10 volunteers to a “vaccine’’ group and five others to a comparison group. All were given chloroquine for three months, and exposed once a month to about a dozen mosquitoes — malaria-infected ones in the vaccine group and non-infected mosquitoes in the comparison group.

That was to allow the “vaccine’’ effect to develop. Next came a test to see if it was working.

All 15 stopped taking chloroquine. Two months later, all were bitten by malaria-infected mosquitoes. None of the 10 in the vaccine group developed parasites in their bloodstreams; all five in the comparison group did.

The study was done in a lab at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and was funded by two foundations and a French government grant.

“This is not a vaccine’’ as in a commercial product, but a way to show how whole parasites can be used like a vaccine to protect against disease, said one of the Dutch researchers, Dr. Robert Sauerwein.

“It’s more of an in-depth study of the immune factors that might be able to generate a very protective type of response,’’ said Dr. John Treanor, a vaccine specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., who had no role in the study.

The concept already is in commercial development. A company in Rockville, Md. — Sanaria Inc. — is testing a vaccine using whole parasites that have been irradiated to weaken them, hopefully keeping them in an immature stage in the liver to generate immunity but not cause illness.

Two other reports in the New England Journal show that resistance is growing to artemisinin, the main drug used against malaria in the many areas where chloroquine is no longer effective. Studies in Thailand and Cambodia found the malaria parasite is less susceptible to artemisinin, underscoring the urgent need to develop a vaccine.

Associated Press

A(H1n1) Kills More in Southeast Asia

Bangkok, Aug 6 (PL) - The total number of persons who died as a result of A(H1N1) flu in Southeast Asia rose to 105 according to reports in Thailand and Indonesia about new deaths caused by the disease.

The Thai Public Health ministry pointed out in a report that another 16 persons died of the virus in spite of preventive measures and that the population has a greater access to Tamiflu.

According to the institution the number of deaths in Thailand rose to 61 and those infected is about 9,000, a result that doubles the figure of last week.

Health authorities pointed out, however, that the disease is disappearing.

Indonesia confirmed the death of a two year old girl and a 55 year old man raising the number of deaths three times in that region since last May when the virus was detected. There are a total number of 662 infected.

In the Philippines contagion was about 3,200 and eight deaths were registered. The same numbers were reported in Singapore.

Cambodia has 21 positive cases and Vietnam confirmed one death and 995 infected.

Malaysia reported four deaths while Brunei and Laos informed on each.

States of the region grouped in the South East Asian Association of Nations (SEAN) adopted measures during a recent meeting of chancellors to increase cooperation against the virus, among other measures and investigations and preparation of a vaccine against this pathogen.

Indochina gears up for next generation services

First phase involving fiber optic network to link six countries completed

by Ek Heng, Asia-Pacific Correspondent

Thu. August 6, 2009

An important milestone in connecting the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) was achieved recently with the official inauguration of a fiber optic network linking the six neighbouring countries of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

According to the Phnom Penh Post, the completion of the connection with Laos completes the first phase of an infrastructure project designed to provide a transmission speed of 620 Mbps. Known as the GMS information superhighway, the project is managed by TC and Huawei Technologies from China.

Rural areas will benefit

Telecom Cambodia’s Director General, Lao Saroeun, reportedly said the network already covers two-thirds of the country. The 650 km cable runs from Siem Reap to Kampong Cham, and from there east to Memot and north to the Laos border via Kratie and Stung Treng. At Siem Reap it branches out to an existing cable that runs from Vietnam through Phnom Penh and south of the Tonle Sap to Siem Reap and then to the Thai border at Poipet, according to the newspaper. Residents in rural areas will benefit from the ability to plug into the information highway for communication and Internet services.

The Director General added that the next phase for Cambodia would involve upgrading 11 network stations and the building of 15 new stations which will be connected to the existing national network.

Shedding further light, the Cambodian Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, So Khun, disclosed that three more companies are helping to improve the country’s telecom network, namely local firm Telcotech, China-based Cambodian Fiber Optic Communications Network Co (CFOCN) and Viettel from Vietnam, added the paper.

Three-phase infocomm project

The firm, CFOCN, has built more than 2,200 km of a projected 8,600 km of underground fiber optic cable in a five-year project that began in 2007. Telcotech is building an undersea cable while Viettel has built more than 1,000 km of land-based fiber optic cable, reported the paper.

Providing background information, the paper added that the GMS project had been initiated by China in 2005 and would cost around US $66 million. It comprises three phases – the first phase being the network linking the six GMS countries, now completed. The second phase involves building a high-speed network between the GMS nations while the final stage is to provide the public with online connections in the way of government, education and health services in Cambodia.

The paper also quoted Cambodian Minister of Economy and Finance, Keat Chhon: “The GMS project will help strengthen cooperation between people and the GMS countries, and will boost Cambodia’s economy and the regional economy. It will also help Cambodia improve its infocomm standard in the near future.”

US Senator Webb to make rare Myanmar visit

Jim Webb

WASHINGTON — Democratic US Senator Jim Webb will travel to Myanmar over the next two weeks, becoming the first US lawmaker to visit the country in more than 10 years, his office announced on Thursday.

Webb -- a Vietnam war veteran who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs -- leaves Sunday and will also visit Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia over a two-week span.

The Virginia lawmaker, whose precise itinerary was not disclosed, aims "to explore opportunities to advance US interests in Burma and the region," his office said in a statement. The United States refers to Myanmar as Burma.

At his stops outside Myanmar, Webb will meet with "government representatives and industry leaders," his office said in a statement.

Webb's panel oversees US relations with countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Rim, and Oceana as well as with organizations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Webb served as a Marine in the Vietnam war and later served as assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the navy.

On July 15, he held a hearing on July 15 to discuss China's role in Asian maritime territorial disputes, saying he understood the need to stay out of Asia's sometimes emotionally charged territorial disputes but worried that the lack of US position may embolden China.

"We don't discuss it enough here in the United States -- we are the only guarantor there to provide a credible umbrella under which those other countries in the region can successfully grow their economies without intimidation," said Webb.

Webb also openly worried that China was quickly closing the gap with the United States in seapower.

Webb said that if the US is to remain a Pacific power, leaders must choose to make the navy a priority.

"The United States should maintain the quality and strength of its seapower -- if not improve it," he said.

U.S. Senate's Webb to visit Myanmar this month

Thu Aug 6, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Jim Webb will visit Myanmar this month, the first member of Congress to travel to the southeast Asian country in more than a decade, his office said on Thursday.

Webb, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs, leaves on Sunday for a five-nation, two-week trip "to explore opportunities to advance U.S. interests in Burma (Myanmar) and the region," a statement from his office said.

A Vietnam war veteran and former U.S. Navy Secretary who speaks Vietnamese, Webb will also meet government representatives and industry leaders in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, his office said.

U.S. lawmakers are pushing for the release of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, but Webb, a Virginia Democrat, is not expected to see her during his visit, an aide to the senator said.

U.S. relations with Myanmar's military junta have been strained for years. In May, President Barack Obama extended for one year a ban on U.S. investment first imposed in 1997 because of the authorities' repression of the opposition. Last week, Obama renewed sanctions targeting imports from Myanmar.