Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cambodia alerts spread of local transmission of A/H1N1 disease

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and World Health Organization (WHO) alerted Thursday that the country is now facing a spread of local transmission of A/H1N1 disease.

In a released statement, Ministry of Health and WHO said "although the majority of cases contacted the A/H1N1 virus in other countries or had been in direct contact with travelers, there are now indications that local transmission of the New Influenza A/H1N1 is occurring within Cambodia."

"Five Cambodians were confirmed as having contracted the virus locally with no history of travel or contact with travelers," it added.

According to the statement, as of August 31, the number of laboratory confirmed cases of new influenza A/H1N1 in Cambodia has risen to 31, but all have fully recovered.

WHO said as of August 28, 2009, there were more than 209,438 confirmed cases in more than 180 countries world wide. The case fatality rate, however, is only around one percent.

The virus now has become so widespread that countries are no longer required to report individual cases to WHO as did in recent months.

In an effort to slow down the spread of the disease in Cambodia, individuals who test positive for new influenza A/H1N1 will be requested to undergo treatment or isolation either at home or at a hospital for seven days from onset of the symptoms.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Cambodia Airline Adds an Airbus

Cambodia Angkor Air´s Airbus A321 new national flag carrier starts flying to Siem Reap, the most attractive tourism destination of Cambodia, Kingdom of Wonder.

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 03 September 2009

Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA) on Wednesday added one more plane to implement its promise for air travelers in regional flights and its goal to expand its operation. The new Airbus will fly from Phnom Penh to transport the tourists around the region.

“The tourism field in Cambodia has been starting to recover with the remarkable progress,” said Nin Sothyvong, deputy director of administration of the Tourism Ministry. “Foreign tourists have arrived in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province in higher numbers,” he said, adding the Vietnamese tourists are making more and more visits to Cambodia.

Bun Tee, president of Phnom Penh Tourist Guide Association, said that tourism industry is beginning to recover from the global economic crisis (GEC). The safety of the travelers has strengthened for customers and other travelers, he noted.

CAA already has two ATR planes and “now it has a new airbus that is so impressive for us and it also provided a good image for Cambodian tourism field and foreign tourists to feel comfortable for their trips,” he said.

Ang Kim Eang, president of Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA), was at a meeting in Malaysia so could not comment.

Mao Hasvanal, secretary of state for the Civil Aviation Secretariat, referred questions to his colleagues. His deputies could not be reached for comment.

Tourism Ministry data reveal there were 1.08 million foreign tourist arrivals to Cambodia do far this year, and Vietnamese tourists increased over 40 percent to 147,000.

CAA is a joint venture between Vietnam side and the Cambodian Government. The Vietnamese have put up capital of US$100 million and the Cambodian Government provided office buildings and other facilities. Vietnam holds a 49 percent of share with Cambodia holding 51 percent. Official flights began on August 1.

Thailand Agrees to Demarcate Cambodia-Thai Preah Vihear border

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 03 September 2009

The Cambodia-Thai border dispute looks like it could soon be resolved and return to the situation before July 15, 2008, as the Thai Parliament on Wednesday gave the nod to Cambodia-Thai border demarcation.

The Thai Parliament on Wednesday approved reports from the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Border Commission (JBC), a move that essentially gives the go-ahead to boundary demarcation at a disputed area around Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple, according to The Nation newspaper.

“The joint session between the lower and upper house in their closed-door meeting voted in favor of the reports 306 against 6,” The Nation confirmed. “The Cabinet submitted for the parliament approval the three agreed-minutes of Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) as required by the article 190 of the constitution.”

Var Kimhong, head of the Cambodian side of the JBC, on Wednesday told DAP News Cambodia he welcomed for the Thai approval. he said the move would help reduce tension around the Khmer temple of Preah Vihear. he noted that the border demarcation in the area has stalled since 2006.
“We congratulate and warmly welcome this new information and Cambodia will send expert officials working with this issue to talk and negotiate with Thailand,” added Var Kimhong.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affair and International Cooperation Ministry (MFA), on Wednesday also welcomed of the Thai Parliament’s approval.

“We welcome the information that Thai parliament approved to demarcate Cambodia-Thai boundary,” said Koy Kuong. “It shows a positive sign for the two nation’s cooperation.”

“Both joint boundary committee expert officials will work together to study the area where we demarcate,” Koy Kuong confirmed.

The Thai Parliament also voted in favor of a framework for the negotiations of Thailand-Laos Joint Boundary Commission and Thailand-Burma Regional Border Committee, the agency stated.

The framework of border negotiation between Thailand and Malaysia as well as the framework of relation of high level commission between Thailand and Indonesia also got approval from the parliament.

However the Thai Government withdrew the draft of World Bank’s Public Sector Reform Development Policy Loan (PSRDPL) from parliamentary consideration, saying it will be re-submitted again later since members need time to consider.

The JBC met in November last year, and in February and April this year to set a framework for border demarcation and provisional arrange- ment at what the Thais claim is a “disputed area” near Cambodia’s ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand and Cambodia have long been at loggerheads over areas adjacent to the temple since last year. The JBC was asked to set a provisional arrangement to jointly run the disputed area while the demarcation takes place.

The Cambodia-Thai borer standoff started on July 15, 2008 after the temple was declared a Cambodian UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some Thais mistakenly view the temple as Thai propery.

The tensions have has been eased following the recent exchange of official trips by high ranking officials. As the last a two-day official visit of supreme commander of Thai Royal army chief to Cambodia in August 24, 2009 was to joint agreed with Cambodian side’s development at the two nation borders.

The first real sign negotiations would bear fruit was after Cambodian Deputy Prime Ministry Hor Namhong attended the Cambodia-Thai Cooperation Summit in Thailand on August 5, 2009. The Cambodian and Thai Governments have reached agreements to extend bilateral cooperation to avoid the possibility of armed conflict at the border near the Cambodian temple of Preah Viear.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen recently announced he will cut troop levels at the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple in northern Cambodia in response to a similar move by Thailand.
Opposite Pursat province, Thailand has recently cut the number of its soldiers to just 30, the premier said. He did not specify how many Cambodian soldiers would be withdrawn.

“We have a plan to change the deployment a little,” Hun Sen said. “If anything happened, it wouldn’t take long to send our troops up again, but I hope there won’t be any fighting there.”

“In our modern age, we need to discuss matters with each other and we do not want to see people shed their blood.”

Songkiti Jaggap Batara, supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, made a two day trip to Cambodia on August 24.

In a remarkable defusing of the tense Cambodia-Thai military standoff around Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple, army chiefs on Monday last week agreed to boost cooperation in development of border areas to improve living standards of the citizens of both countries. Cambodian troop deployments were said to have been scaled back.

Both nations have had soldiers killed and wounded in clashes in the area since mid-2008, when the temple was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, the UN’s cultural body.

The violence drove relations between the two ASEAN members to a low point and caused concern among other members of the regional bloc.

Most of view expects that the border at Cambodia´s Preah Vihear temple which kicked off while Cambodia´s Preah Vihear temple was inscribed as a World Heritage Site on July 07, 2008 will be eased tension gradually. Afollowing week, Thai soldiers encroached illegally into Cambodia´s territory.

Cambodia are waiting for the result of this work as Thai parliament approved its Joint Boundary Committee on Wednesday to pay the way for demarcating with Cambodia.

Over 100 Protesters Ask Hun Sen for Right to Remain

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 03 September 2009

Over 100 Cambodians protested at Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house on Wednesday asking not to be evicted from land they claim is rightfully theirs’.

About 104 families have asked to PM Hun Sen to intervene because local authorities, want to move houses to develop parks, a protester representative told DAP News Cambodia. “We lived there for 20 years with no one opposing us. But the Interior Ministry announced we must leave this area because the Cambodian Government needs to develop, but there has been no clear solution for us.”

“We filed this case since 2005, but got no good result from local authority,” the representative added. “We attempted to call Phnom Penh Municipality to discuss and resolve this, but they had three main demands: all residents must remove houses away by ourselves, second, Phnom Penh Municipality will remove away all houses or buildings then give us a chance to file a complain to court later. If we win, the Phnom Penh Municipality will decide to remove along the Russia Federation road only, but not along Chaum Chao road.”

The case seemed to die down when authorities agreed to a deal but the latest flareup came because protestors are “very worried about this case, so we decided to ask to PM Hun Sen to help for us.”

“We would like to ask to PM Hun Sen may give full right to us to live in this area with legal land certificates,” a protester representative requested.

Lim Leang Se, a member of PM Hun Sen’s Cabinet, pledged that Phnom Penh Municipality will find a good result.

Cambodia, US Continue Further Cooperation Against Human Trafficking

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 03 September 2009

Cambodia and the US will continue to expand cooperation to fight against human trafficking amid the global financial crisis, as vulnerable women and children, especially the poor, can still fall victim to traffickers, US Ambassador Luis Cdebaca director of office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

“I visited Malaysia and Thailand where also had Cambodian workers there. They have worked at underground economy and we also have concerned about the human trafficking cases and we do not sum up the data or clarified Cambodia in list yet,” he said at a press conference in the US embassy to Cambodia. “We need to further cooperation in combating human trafficking and we have to work team with cooperation other partners including non-governmental organizations,” he said.

“In working with the Cambodian Government, we also sent back home three Americans involved with pedophiles in Cambodia earlier this week,” he said, adding that his visit to Cambodia has been very productive. He met several government officials and other civic partners in fighting human trafficking.

“We need to cooperate the with Justice and Interior Ministries, and law enforcement agencies to strengthen the law, and we need to select specific cases to upgrade cases in fighting against human trafficking. We are concerned about women in failing into sex slavery or brothels.

Ambassador Luis Cde Baca, was appointed by US President Obama to direct the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department, where he serves as senior advisor to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

Cambodia MAFF to Boost Rural Food Security

Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 03 September 2009

The EU and the FAO on Wednesday provided €10.97 million (US$15.7 million) to the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) for the Improving the Food Security of Farm Families Affected by Volatile Food Prices project, a MAFF source said.

EU/FAO cosigned an agreement with MAFF over the project, which should help ensure food security for poor families in rural areas, the MAFF official said on September 2.

Rafael Dochao Moreno, EU delegation to Cambodia representative, said that “We considered providing these budgets to reduce Cambodian poverty, especially for the poor families in remote areas facing food insecurity, and we cooperate with the Cambodian government to eliminate these problems.”

MAFF Minister Chan Sarun said that “The project will start from May, 2009 to June 2011, under supported by EU/FAO with a budget of over US$ 15 million.”

“We are very optimistic over this project; we will do these tasks with EU and FAO to destroy any affected by volatile food prices as well as safe food security to all Cambodian who are producers of rice. We will assist some food insecure 50,000 smallholders and educate, improve food crops, rice production, and offer short courses of vocational training.”

MAFF hope that this project will help improve food security in 620 villages in 9 target provinces. “The MAFF will have the key role to resolve problems to get positive points, especially for all Cambodian facing natural disasters,” Chan Sarun added.

Ajay Markanday, Cambodia FAO representative, said that “I am sure that I also speak for my distinguished colleagues in the EC delegation in saying that it gives me great pride that our collective efforts have resulted in us being here today to sign and launch a project in Cambodia as a priority country under the EU Global Food Facility.”

“The EU/FAO project will speci- fically assist Cambodia in addressing the overarching goal of the Food Security Program under the Royal Government’s Agriculture Strategy, namely to improve agricultural systems and empower the poor and food-insecure to have substantially improved physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times,” he said.

“In meeting this goal, the project will be challenges related to increasing production throughout improved technologies and inputs and sustainable agriculture practices including mixed integrated nutrient management, strengthen and empower communities for enhanced participation in planning.”

Court, Announces to Reveals Cambodian Woman in Case Arrests Two Children

Written by Administrator
Thursday, 03 September 2009

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday said a Cambodian woman has been charged with illegally detaining two Cambodian children though she said the children themselves should be charged, a court officer said.

A court source told DAP News Cambodia that Phe Sophea, 28, caught two children in her house after claiming they stole money from her “many times.”

The two Cambodian children in question were said to be 8 years old. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Prospector Sok Kalyan accused Sophea of wrongdoing in the arrest and detention of the two children on August 31, 2009, but Judge Chan Madyna considered her actions more leniently in light of the fact that she has a baby, the source stressed.

The two children and their mother stole more than 15 times for a total of over US$600 as well, claimed the accused woman, the source continued.

Both the arrested and accused women are neighbors.

Sophea was released partly in view of the fact that the accused woman has a baby, “so we can not keep her imprisoned right now,” the source added.

“We will call her to judge next time, but the accused woman that police sent to court … did not file to us.”

Does Cambodia Continue Sea Sand Exploitation to Be Exported to Singapore or Stop It? – Wednesday, 2.9.2009

Posted on 3 September 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 628

“After the supply of sand supply from four countries – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam – has been reduced, Singapore turns to Cambodia as a new sand supplying country, because it is in only a short distance away for the supply.

“During primary tests to dredge sea sand in Cambodia by some local companies, a Cambodian-Singaporean study groups has cooperated to assess the deposits of natural sand and the possible impact on the environment which may be caused from sand dredging. According to results from scientific studies by an official expert in sea bio-diversity who asked not to be named, Singapore needs about 3.6 billion cubic meter of sand. At present, Singapore needs 2.5 billion cubic meters more for filling spaces of water to connect many islands to become land. Thus, Cambodia has the sufficient capacity to supply sea sand to the market of Singapore, as this country plans to spend approx. US$8 billion to import sand from Cambodia to meet the country’s demand within the next 10 to 15 years.

“Exporting sand to Singapore is a big source of national income for Cambodia. It is an opportunity to seek national income to counter and alleviate the social and economy impacts resulting from the global economic crisis.

“However, the dredging of too much sand has resulted in many objections, saying that it will affect the environment seriously, damaging the bio-diversity of fish, squids, crabs, and shrimps. There is the non-biased opinion that sand dredging should be operated only at places where the gathering of natural sand opens blocked waterways.

“The above expert continued to say that the opinion voiced above [to extend large scale sand dredgng] is not based on evidence and scientific data. Therefore, there needs to be a thorough analysis based on broad scientific data to make a careful assessment in order to ensure that the seeking of national income is acceptable for the environment and the society.

“Many scientific data related to the natural formation of sea sand from geology, oceanography, informatiin about the natural formation of seashores, and natural dynamics that influence the formation of sea sand, must be gathered to analyze the impact on the environment and the society, and to study the possibility for exploitation.

“According to research by this expert, sand is formed from three sources: 1. From core rock during early geological periods; 2. From the flow of water in river systems leading into seashore regions; 3. From movements at the sea bottom and surrounding regions and at the high sea.

“Regarding sea resources such as sea fish, crabs, squids, shrimps etc., so far they do not have an high economic value. There is little yield from the sea each year, and the number of fishermen is declining. This is also because the Cambodian sea is shallow, and not favorable for fish to lay eggs. Camong fish [phonetic] can live and lay eggs at a depth of 30 to 40 meters. According to research between 1983 and 1986, the yirld of natural sea fish in Cambodia was only little over 50,000 tonnes.

“One expert believes that Cambodia, with a seashore of 435 km, and with a sea area of 21,216 sqkm, which can be divided into four regions, has the potential to supply sea sand to the Singaporean market without much serious impact from sand dredging as mentioned by some critics. Considering physical and chemical factors, it can have an effect only for a short period, because after nine hours at the latest [after sand dredging], the situation it will return to the normal condition. The loss of life supporting elements and slides down of the seashore will not happen, if dredging sites are properly located, because sand that can be dredged is 30 km away from the seashore.

“In order to conduct (economically and environmentally) successful sand dredging, primarily, some technical conditions must be fulfilled: 1. Proper definition of sites; 2. Study sand deposits at the sea bottom by conducting Serab Smapling Vibrocoring seismic and Bathymetrie Surveys, and by analyzing tests to define the sand and the chemical consistency of the sand. 3. Define and use environmentally friendly sand dredging machines, like the Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger or the Cutter Suction Hopper Dredger.

“At present, the average price of sea sand is US$3.20 per cubic meter. Therefore, if Cambodia intends to supply the market with 2.5 billion cubic meters within 10 to 15 years, it can earn US$8 billion as national income. According to different studies, the tax rate for exporting sand is US$0.20 per cubic meter for the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Energy, corresponding to US$500 million; US$0.25 per cubic meters for the Taxation Department corresponding to US$625 million; US$0.7875 for the the CamSAB shipping agency, corresponding to US$1,868 million; and US$0.0025 for CamControl, corresponding to US$6.25 million.

“Based on the above tax rates, the total income sources becoming state and other related units, will amount to up to US$3.1 billion.

“Nevertheless, according to the above expert, the provision of many concession sites [for sand dredging] is not a proper way for sea sand exploitation. According to previous research, the Sand Control Committee, administered by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, has provided concession for 224 sites at the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Basak rivers, resulting in a variety of different consequences. There is not much income made for the national budget; furthermore, it affects the environment and the society. Sea sand dredging is not different from river sand dredging if the provision of dredging sites at the sea is given to as many different interests as at the rivers, and the sea environment will be affected, because the private sector that can receive concession regions with less sand resources, cannot use sand dredging methods which adhere to technical standards. For example, in order to lease a somewhat old Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger, which can dredge 10,000 cubic meters of sand per day, they need to pay US$2 million, and the export of sand per month must not be less than 1.5 million cubic meter. Why coulde the private sector join in using natural resource worth US$4.9 billion of the state to make benefits for themselves? If such activities continues 30 to 40 years, does the nation have resources for the country’s development in the future?

“Cambodia should turn to look back to 10 years ago, when Singapore imported sea sand from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Now, these countries reduce or stop exporting sand to Singapore. They have two reasons: 1. These four countries also need sea sand for developments in their own countries; second, the politics of these countries aim to compete with Singapore in the fields of the military, the economy, and the industry in the region, as Singapore is a leading country in ASEAN, both in ports and the transfer of goods in the region.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4988, 2.9.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Indonesian quake leaves 57 dead, dozens missing

Map of Indonesia's Java island showing the areas worst hit by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Rescue workers on Indonesia's Java island were searching by hand for dozens of people trapped by a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 49, officials said.(AFP/Graphic)

Soldiers and policemen try to dig out the body of a landslide victim in the village of Cikangkareng in Cibinong. Rescue workers on Indonesia's Java island were searching by hand for dozens of people trapped by a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 49, officials said.(AFP/Adek Berry)

Indonesian policemen carry the body of an earthquake victim at Cikangkareng village in Cibinong. Rescue workers on Indonesia's Java island were searching by hand for dozens of people trapped by a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 49, officials said.(AFP/Adek Berry)

Indonesian youths who were displaced by earthquake sit amid their belongings at a temporary shelter in Tasikmalaya, West java, Indonesia, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. Dozens of people were killed and missing after a strong earthquake rocked southern Indonesia, unleashing mudslides that buried villagers in their homes, disaster management officials said Thursday.(AP Photo/Pikiran Rakyat Daily)

Residents salvage items from a house destroyed by earthquake in Pengalengan, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. Dozens of people were killed and missing after a strong earthquake rocked southern Indonesia, unleashing mudslides that buried villagers in their homes, disaster management officials said Thursday.(AP Photo/Kusumadireza)

By IRWIN FEDRIANSYAH, Associated Press Writer

CIKANGKARENG, Indonesia – Rescuers dug through rocks and debris with their bare hands Thursday in search of dozens of villagers believed buried in a landslide triggered by a strong Indonesian earthquake that killed at least 57 people and damaged thousands of buildings.

At least 110 people were hospitalized with injuries from the 7.0 magnitude quake just off the coast of densely populated Java island, Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said, adding 10 were in critical condition.

The earthquake Wednesday afternoon caused destruction across West Java province, where more than 18,300 homes and offices were listed as damaged, about 9,000 seriously, Kardono said. At least 5,300 people were forced into temporary shelters.

Some rural areas could not be reached by telephone and there may be more victims and damage, officials said.

Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by falling debris or collapsed structures.

The death toll continued to rise Thursday. More bodies were found in Cianjur district, where a landslide buried a row of homes under tons of rock and mud in the village of Cikangkareng. Villagers were still searching for dozens of others believed missing.

"Everything is gone, my wife, my old father-in-law and my house ... now I just hope to find the bodies of my family," farmer Ahmad Suhana, 34, said as he pried at giant stones with a crowbar.

Heavy digging equipment had not reached the remote village, which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was to visit later Thursday. Police, military personnel and villagers used their hands to remove rubble.

Maskana Sumitra, a district administrator, said 11 houses and a mosque were buried by the landslide and estimated more than 50 people were trapped and feared dead.

"The chance of survival is so slim ... but we have to find them," Sumitra said.

When the quake struck it was felt hundreds of miles (kilometers) away on the neighboring resort island of Bali. In the capital, Jakarta, 125 miles (190 kilometers) north of the underwater epicenter of the temblor, thousands of panicked office workers flooded out of swaying skyscrapers onto the streets, some of them screaming.

A tsunami warning was issued after the quake but was lifted an hour later. Several dozen aftershocks were measured by geological agencies.

Hospitals in towns and cities across West Java quickly filled with scores of injured people, most with broken bones and cuts.

In Cikangkareng, Dede Kurniati said her 9-year-old son was playing at a friend's house when the earthquake struck and is now "buried under the rocks."

"I lost my son ... now I just want to see his body, I want to bury my lovely son properly," she said, weeping.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago, straddles continental plates and is prone to seismic activity along what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. A huge quake off western Indonesia caused a powerful tsunami in December 2004 that killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries, half of them in Aceh province.


Associated Press writers Ali Kotarumalos and Niniek Karmini in Jakarta contributed to this report.

More Khmer Rouge leaders could face trial

Cambodian farmer Penh Khen, centre, cries after a tour this week of a former Khmer Rouge prison, now turned into a genocide museum in Phnom Penh, the capital. (Heng Sinith/Associated Press)

More former Khmer Rouge leaders could face charges before a United Nations-backed tribunal after the court agreed Wednesday that investigations can be opened into additional suspects.

The decision could put the tribunal on a collision course with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has repeatedly said prosecutions should be confined to the five suspects already charged and suggested that he would end UN participation in the trials if the number were expanded.

A long-awaited first trial against the Khmer Rouge's chief jailer opened in March for war crimes and crimes against humanity. A joint trial with four other senior officials, currently in detention, is expected in the next year or two.

The tribunal is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died in Cambodia from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the communist regime's radical policies while in power from 1975-79.

Cambodia and the United Nations created the tribunal last year under an agreement they reached in 2003. It is an unprecedented hybrid that brings together domestic and foreign judges and prosecutors who operate under the Cambodian judicial system, which is often criticized as weak, corrupt and susceptible to political manipulation.

Lars Olsen, the tribunal's spokesman for legal issues, said Wednesday's announcement was a first step in a long process and does not necessarily mean more suspects will face trial.

What it did was resolve, at least for now, a major internal disagreement between Cambodian and international co-prosecutors over whether to expand the trials. The international co-prosecutor can now ask investigating judges to open investigations into additional suspects.

"It is important to say this does not automatically mean there will be more prosecutions," Olsen said. "It means [the international prosecutor] is no longer barred by the disagreement with Cambodian colleagues."

The dispute was one of many that has delayed and complicated proceedings at the tribunal.

Critics allege that Hun Sen has sought to limit the tribunal's scope because other potential defendants are now his political allies. Hun Sen served as a Khmer Rouge officer and many of his major political allies are also former members of the group.

Cambodia splash cash in bid to climb rankings

PHNOM PENH, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Cambodia are fleeing their swampy, flood-plain national training centre and will splash out on a high-tech soccer facility.

The Southeast Asian strugglers will fork out $5 million on new facilities to raise the standard of soccer in the impoverished country and catch up with their regional neighbours after decades of mediocrity.

“If we want to compete with other countries in the region, we need to develop players and that requires us to have better training fields,” Ouk Sethycheat, secretary-general of the Football Federation of Cambodia, told Reuters on Thursday.

The new centre in Takeo, about 40 km outside Phnom Penh, will have a match stadium, three training surfaces, medical facilities, accommodation for players and a reservoir to ensure a water supply for irrigating the fields.

An initial investment of $1.2 million will be made, Ouk Sethycheat said, provided by local companies and soccer’s world governing body FIFA, as well as money from the sale of the old training facility, which was heavily waterlogged after rains.

Cambodia have never won a soccer tournament and are ranked 171st among FIFA’s 208 member countries. (Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Martin Petty and Alison Wildey; To comment on this story, e-mail:

Noodle shop that sold lottery ticket basks in the rich broth of fame

Los Angeles Times

Kim Ky Noodle House in San Gabriel became an instant landmark after selling a Mega Millions ticket worth $166.5 million to Kevyn Ogawa of the San Fernando Valley.

By Ching-Ching Ni
September 3, 2009

Kim Ky Noodle House in San Gabriel is best known for its simple and affordable fare. A bowl of noodles goes for less than $5.

But after a customer purchased a winning lottery ticket there last week worth $166.5 million -- the second-biggest Mega Millions jackpot in California history -- the restaurant became an instant landmark.

"People from Monrovia, L.A., even San Francisco called to get our address," restaurant manager Linda Wong said during the lunch rush Tuesday. "They say, 'I never heard of you before.' They don't even know what we sell. They just want our address and directions."

California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said Kevyn Ogawa, 33, of the San Fernando Valley claimed his prize in the multistate game on Tuesday. Ogawa told officials he did not want to be interviewed.

The odds of winning Friday's jackpot was one in 176 million, state officials said. What made the win even sweeter for Ogawa was that he bought only one lottery ticket, for a dollar.

"That's about the biggest return on investment of any winner," Traverso said. The winning combination was 37, 1, 17, 31, 54 and mega number 31.

But Kim Ky Noodle House is the other big winner. The little neighborhood restaurant is enjoying its newfound popularity.

Inside the bustling eatery, with its East-meets-West decor of Christmas tree ornaments dangling from the ceiling and Chinese-language karaoke blasting from TVs, customers slurped pasta thick and thin this week and gossiped about the big win. The restaurant's owners taped posters inscribed with the nine-figure jackpot on all the mirrored walls.

"Makes me sick to see that sign," said David Tran, 28, of Alhambra, pulling at his skinny egg noodles with chopsticks. "I bought a ticket a week ago. That could have been me!"

Cinthia Lynn of Arcadia said she had just picked up her sister at the airport and drove her straight to her favorite noodle shop.

Lynn recounted how she had plunked down five bucks there last week for lottery tickets.

"I didn't win," she said. "Not even $1 million."

But she did win sister Yen Tran's approval for picking Kim Ky's for lunch. Tran had flown in from Vietnam a few hours earlier and for her first meal in the U.S. ordered a bowl of rice porridge, a typical Asian breakfast. It made her feel right at home, except for the portion, which was typically American.

"It's big," she said.

Some people were more interested in getting rich than getting fed.

"I already ate," said Richard Yeh, 50, who pushed through the front door and headed straight to the cashier to buy his tickets. "It could happen again," he said. "The god of good fortune is here. Do you believe it?"

Jessie Mendez, 68, a retired plant worker for GM, said he had never eaten at Kim Ky's. But he comes a few times a week just to try his luck with the lottery.

"I spent $392 yesterday," Mendez said. "I got nothing. I've been playing 35 years."

When they opened for business in 2001, the owners of the noodle house said, all they wanted was the chance to make an honest living, one bowl at a time. They were as surprised as anyone when Ogawa's big jackpot was traced back to their restaurant.

"That person is really lucky," said Vin Lay, 55, a Cambodian Chinese immigrant and one of the five owners.

Lay fled the "killing fields" of Cambodia before immigrating to the U.S. in 1981; the others are Vietnamese Chinese who fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

The owners will split a bonus of $832,500 for selling the winning ticket. They plan to celebrate today by giving away free lottery tickets to all their customers.

Vietnam Trade Fair opens in Cambodia


The 2009 Vietnam Trade Fair, the second of its kind, opened at the Mondial National Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh on September 2.

Attending the opening ceremony, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Cham Prasit described the event as a great effort of the Vietnamese Government to boost trade ties between the two countries to raise two-way trade to US$2 billion in 2010.

Deputy PM Cham Prasit said that through trade fairs, trade turnover between the two countries has consistently increased in recent years from US$935 million in 2006 to almost US$1.7 billion in 2008.

As many as 125 Vietnamese businesses are displaying their wares, including industrial products, commodities, foodstuff, cosmetics and garments.

During the fair, seminars will be held to discuss on business and investment opportunities between enterprises of the two countries.

The fair will run through September 6.


Cambodia Angkor Air receives Airbus A321

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cambodia Angkor Air, the new national carrier, has just received its first Airbus A321 to join its fleet of two ATR 72 planes for services between Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City.

Launched with the help of Vietnam Airlines, Cambodia Angkor Air started operations late in July this year after the collapse of former national carrier Royal Air Cambodge in 2001.

“In operating the new aircraft, we will triple return flights between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City - so now 21 flights a week - and double return flights between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh,” said Soy Sokhan, Secretariat of Civil Aviation Undersecretary of State, to local media.

Flown in a two class configuration, Cambodia Angkor Air intends to seat 16 in Business Class and 168 in Economy Class for its Airbus A321-184 aircarft.

Cambodia Angkor Air has previously said it aims to increase its fleet to ten aircraft by 2015.

Cambodian former King leaves for China for medical checkup

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Retired King Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk left Siem Reap on Thursday for Chinese capital Beijing for a routine medical checkup.

King Norodom Sihamoni accompanied his parents to Beijing for his father's medical appointment and will return in two weeks, according to a member of the royal family. The King left Phnom Penh on earlier morning to meet his parents in Siem Reap.

The King was seen off at the Phnom Penh International Airport by high-ranking government officials and members of royal family, as well as Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Zhang Jinfeng.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany flew with King Norodom Sihamoni from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to see former King and Queen off.

King-Father and Queen-Mother have stayed at their royal residence in Siem Reap province for nearly two months after they returned from Beijing on July 9.

During their stay, the former monarchs granted royal audiences to officials and gave donation to poor people.

They also attended the royal donation ceremony to the 289 poor families of Siem Reap province, which was held on Aug. 29 and organized by the Cambodian Red Cross, according to a earlier press release of the Ministry of Royal Palace.

According to the Constitution of the Kingdom, at the absence of the King, President of the Senate Chea Sim will assume the duty as acting Head of State.

Editor: Pliny

Philippine Female Legislators Denounce Hun Sen Over Slur

September 02,2009

Mu Sochua speaks to the press after being found guilty of defamation earlier this month.

A women's party in the Philippines has joined the international call for the Cambodian government to halt its campaign of intimidation against opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of sexism.

Mu Sochua, an SRP parliamentarian, was convicted on August 4 of defaming Hun Sen and ordered to pay 8.5 million riels (US$2,028) in fines and 8 million riels ($1,909) in compensation. The charges stemmed from an April speech by Hun Sen in which he referred to an unnamed woman as a "cheung klang". The term means "strong legs" and is considered derogatory when used to describe women.

The speech prompted Mu Sochua to file a defamation suit, but Hun Sen denied that he had been referring to her and countersued her for defamation, pointing to an April 23 press conference in which she made her suit public. Mu Sochua's case was thrown out, whereas the premier was allowed to proceed with his.

The verdict, which Mu Sochua described as a "political game" that has cast Cambodia's judicial system "into darkness", met with widespread international condemnation.

Last week, the Gabriela Women's Party (GWP), which describes itself as the only all-female party in the Philippine House of Representatives, accused the prime minister of being a chauvinist.

"We strongly protest the discriminatory slur of the statements of the prime minister as anti-women and chauvinist," the statement reads. "Likewise, we deplore the alleged acts of repression as forms of attacks against the right to free expression, democracy and equality."

"We denounce these tactics of intimidation, persecution and repression, using the legal system against the administration's critics and members of the opposition party. We urge the Cambodian government to respect the rights of MP Mu Sochua as a woman leader and parliamentarian who is working for democracy, equality and justice."

The government was dismissive of the criticisms on Sunday. Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan accused the party of knowing nothing about Cambodian politics.

(May be he compared Cambodian politics to the ecosystem)

"They have no right to make statements such as this because they don't know the facts of the situation in Cambodia," he said.

"A party in the Philippines probably knows the least about Mu Sochua's case."

A hearing on the dismissal of Mu Sochua's lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen was postponed earlier this month because of her absence from court.

The lawmaker was summoned to appear in court on August 17 by Prosecutor General Ouk Savuth after she contested a Municipal Court decision in July rejecting her lawsuit against Hun Sen.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said she requested the hearing be delayed because she was due to visit the United States for medical treatment.

The parliamentarian, who represents Kampot province, is scheduled to return from the US on September 20.

Over 93,000 motorized vehicles impounded by Cambodian police in August

September 02, 2009

More than 93,000 motorcycles and cars were impounded in August in nationwide operations since the start of strict enforcement of new traffic laws, local media reported on Wednesday, citing police officials.

Lieutenant-General Ouk Kimlek, deputy commissioner of the National Police and deputy chairman of the National Road Safety Committee, was quoted by the Cambodia Daily as saying on Tuesday that the police confiscated 92,283 motorcycles and l,089 cars since August l.

The most common offense in 39,727 cases was not having mirrors on motorcycles, followed by drivers not wearing helmets in 38,907 cases. Another reason for motorcycle confiscation was the lack of registration taxes, especially in Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

Him Yan, deputy director of the National Police public order department, said that between July 10 and August 10 traffic casualties and accidents decreased by 15 percent over the previous month to 101 fatalities. He said that so far only 562 motorcycles nationwide are still impounded, awaiting their owners to pay the required tax and register for a license plate.

Sann Socheata, road safety manager for Handicap International Belgium, however, said it was too early for the organization to say if the police operation has decreased the number of road accidents but that, in general, greater police vigilance about the laws of the road is a good thing.

"Speeding and drunk driving are the two main reasons for road traffic accidents," she added.

Source: Xinhua

Victim grieves verdict

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
In Soklyda breaks into tears during a press conference on Wednesday as she begs forgiveness from her aunt Ya Soknim for having a relationship with Chea Ratha that she believes led to the disfiguring acid attack on her aunt.

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Meas Sokchea

Abeauty queen whose aunt was scarred for life in an acid attack begged Prime Minister Hun Sen for protection Wednesday, saying she feared her family would be killed after a former high-ranking military official was acquitted of involvement in the crime.

"Every day I open my eyes and see the scar Chea Ratha left [on my aunt]," an emotional In Soklyda said during a press conference hosted by human rights group Licadho. "Now she has been acquitted, what am I supposed to think? We were scared before, but how can we live now? I implore Hun Sen to help me find justice."

Chea Ratha, former deputy chief of staff of the National Military Police, had an affair with In Soklyda that turned sour in early 2008. After In Soklyda went into hiding last April, Chea Ratha allegedly threatened the star's relatives, warning she would "spill blood", according to a joint statement released by Licadho and the Cambodia Centre for Human Rights on Wednesday.

Chea Ratha was particularly enraged with Ya Soknim, In Soklyda's aunt, whom she suspected of helping the star to flee, the statement continued.

On May 8, 2008, two men on a motorcycle accosted Yim Soknim and poured acid over her face and upper body. She suffered severe burns as a result, losing her right eye and breast. In tears, Ya Soknim addressed reporters at the conference, calling for greater legal protection for the poor. "I want to tell the world that this is the way Khmer courts operate," she said. "If offenders are acquitted, they will commit the crime again."

On Wednesday, Licadho and the CCHR jointly condemned Monday's verdict, in which Chea Ratha - along with several co-defendants - was cleared of all charges. "This is yet another blatant display of Cambodia's rampant impunity and culture of brutal violence," said Licadho Director Naly Pilorge. "What is so shocking in this case is the judges' apparent total disregard of evidence against Chea Ratha and her alleged accomplices.

"Cambodia's judicial system yet again allowed the strong - those with power and government connections - to victimise the weak. The court ruling like this only ensures that acid attacks will continue if the perpetrators aren't brought to justice."

They called on the Supreme Council of Magistracy to investigate Phnom Penh Municipal Court's handling of the case to determine whether the judges acted "inappropriately" in reaching their verdict. "Evidence of unethical or illegal conduct should prompt an official inquiry," they said in a statement.

Chea Ratha's lawyer, Keo Ya, dismissed the statements and accused In Soklyda and Ya Soknim of defamation. "My client was not behind this acid attack," he said. "If my client had acted like this, the court would not have acquitted her. If [the victim's family] is afraid, that is their business."

Mobile art

Photo by: Sovan Philong

The POhnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Sovann Philong

Tuk tuks display part of the Insideout exhibition during the launch at Java Cafe on Wednesday. The exhibit includes the work of five photographers of indoor scenes that will displayed on the back of tuk-tuks around town for the next month.

Fresh World Heritage bid

Photo by: Christoper Shay

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Christoper Shay

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts asked UNESCO on Wednesday to consider granting World Heritage status to Sambo Prey Kuk (pictured) and Banteay Chhmar temples; Lakhoan Khoal, an ancient play; and chapei, a traditional stringed instrument. The process could take years, officials said.

Fish carcasses from die-off might be toxic

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Fisherman Sok Yoeung, 62, oversees the netting of the few live fish remaining in the Tonle Sap river at Prek Phnov on Monday. Health concerns have arisen as fisherman continue to sell both live and dead fish collected from the river, which they say is polluted, for human consumption.

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Khouth Sophakchakrya

Health official warns against eating potentially poisoned fish.

Amunicipal health official on Wednesday warned vendors not to sell dead fish culled from waters in Kandal province's Doung village, where thousands of fish have died in recent days from what residents say was toxic discharge from a local bio-fuel plant.

Dr Veing Thai, head of the Phnom Penh's municipal health department said eating contaminated fish could result in severe health problems.
"These kinds of toxins are resistant to the body's natural defences and can cause infection of the kidneys and liver," he said.

The health warning follows the closure Tuesday of a South Korean bio-fuel plant, MH Bio-Energy Co, in Doung village after residents complained a foul-smelling liquid discharged from the plant had killed thousands of area fish.

Ith Praing, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, said the closure would remain in effect until a government investigation determined that the plant was not responsible for the dead fish.

Yet area fishermen and vendors continue to purchase and sell the dead fish, with one vendor who refused to be named estimating that as many as 30 tonnes of the potentially contaminated fish had been collected by vendors for sale in markets.

Ou Hong, 56, a fish vendor in Russey Keo district's Chraing Chamrest II, said she was not concerned about the potentially contaminated fish.

"I don't have any problem eating the poisoned fish," she said, adding that she had also purchased about 8 tonnes of the potentially poisoned fish for drying and fish-paste production.

"I paid only US$610 a tonne. It is much cheaper than regular fish," which she said sells for more than $1,400 a tonne.

But Veing Thai said that if the fish are contaminated, eating them could cause severe illness or even death, and he urged municipal authorities to test the fish before allowing anyone to sell it.

Despite the warnings, Sok Touch, director of the Anti-communicable Disease Department at the Ministry of Health, said he was aware of no risks, and that it was a matter for the Ministry of Environment.

Lunh Hell, general director of pollution control at the Ministry of Environment declined to comment Wednesday, saying he was busy with meetings.

Seng Thim, head of the Bassac fishery office at the municipal Fishery Administration, said Wednesday that about 30 families from Doung village who claim their fish were killed by the plant leak were seeking compensation from the company.

He added that the results of tests to determine the cause of death of the fish in Doung village were expected today.

Tribunal moves on additional inquiries

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Robbie Corey-Boulet

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal opened the door to investigations of additional suspects Wednesday, ending a nine-month disagreement between the national and international co-prosecutors and reigniting a debate about whether further indictments would jeopardise national stability.

The disagreement emerged in November, when former international co-prosecutor Robert Petit told his Cambodian colleague, Chea Leang, that he wished to file supplementary submissions for the court's second case - currently set to try four top Khmer Rouge leaders - as well as introductory submissions for two additional cases.

Chea Leang opposed the idea, arguing in later filings that peace, stability and national reconciliation could be compromised, and that "ex-members and those who have allegiance to Khmer Rouge leaders may commit violent acts" if additional investigations were allowed to proceed.

In a filing dated August 18 and made public Wednesday, the tribunal's five-person Pre-Trial Chamber said it had failed to reach a decision on the disagreement. The tribunal's internal rules held that Petit's proposed submissions with the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges would be allowed to go forward in the absence of a "supermajority", or four-to-one vote.

The chamber split along national and international lines, with the three Cambodian judges ruling against the filing of additional submissions.

Acting international co-prosecutor William Smith told the Post that he was "pleased to get the decision". Chea Leang declined to comment in detail before conferring with Smith.

Petit, whose resignation went into effect Tuesday, had reportedly identified six more suspects as of December, though he declined to comment on the number in his farewell press conference.

Smith said Wednesday that his office had yet to decide whether to make the number or other details public when submissions are filed.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said more indictments could jeopardise national stability, and in March he said he would "prefer to see the court fail than for war to come back to Cambodia".

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday that he could not comment on the August 18 filing because he had not seen it.

Long Panhavuth, a court monitor for the Cambodia Justice Initiative, dismissed concerns that more investigations would lead to violence.

He said the decision to allow further submissions was evidence of the court's "independence and integrity".

Sharp criticism of the decision came from former Khmer Rouge cadres, including Meas Muth, an army divisional commander who was cited as a possible suspect in the 2001 report "Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for the Crimes of the Khmer Rouge", by Stephen Heder and Brian D Tittemore.

"Why are they trying to make problems for living persons to find justice for the dead?" Meas Muth asked. "To satisfy the dead will not bring any good results and will instead lead to splits in society."

He added, though, that he was not concerned for himself.

"I have nothing to worry about," he said. "I have rice, vegetables and fruit to eat, and I sleep well. I did not commit any crimes directly. Only the top leaders did, and they know who they are."

Also Wednesday, former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, testified that he became a Christian in part to prevent his daughter from becoming a whore.

Duch said he became particularly concerned about the welfare of his children after his wife was slain in 1995.

"I picked Christianity because I wanted to make sure that my children would be taken care of after I passed away," Duch said. "When I die, my children will be under the good care of the people at the church, and my daughter will not end up being a whore."


Thai MPs OK border-mapping

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Sam Rith

THE Thai National Assembly on Wednesday approved solutions to technical and other issues surrounding border demarcation, paving the way for a resumption of the process of mapping the Cambodian-Thai border, a member of the Thai Democrat Party told the Post.

"A majority of parliamentarians approved the reports of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Boundary Commission this morning," said Kraisak Choonhavan, referring to the bilateral body that has met three times since November.

Var Kimhong, Cambodia's top border negotiator, said the minutes of the three meetings touched on issues such as how to demarcate the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple.

"There are many points that the Joint Boundary Commission agreed on, such as measuring major areas like Preah Vihear and other technical issues," Var Kimhong said.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the Cambodian government had received no official notification of the Thai National Assembly's vote, adding that he had only heard of it from Thai news reports.

"Now we can speed up the border-demarcation process," Koy Kuong said.

Kraisak also said he welcomed the news.

"I'm very much looking forward to putting the border issue behind us and returning to good relations," he said.

The two countries have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre shared border.

Boosting food security

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Vong Sokheng

Cambodia gets $15.7 million to aid smallholders.

THE European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) signed a US$15.7 million project to improve food security in Cambodia on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The three-year project, funded through the European Union Food Facility and implemented by the FAO and Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, will increase the production and productivity of at least 50,000 food-insecure smallholder farmers and their families all over Cambodia, a joint statement said.

It will give farmers access to high-quality agricultural inputs, such as rice and vegetable seed, fertilisers, fingerlings and farming tools to boost production. It also aims to reduce post-harvest losses by providing equipment and storage facilities to at least 7,800 households and training in post-harvest practices.

'Slavery' fight praised

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
James O'toole

A US State Department envoy applauds efforts by Cambodia in combating human trafficking and protecting of victims.

A SENIOR US diplomat specialising in human trafficking praised the Kingdom's progress in the fight against "modern slavery" after meeting with government officials Tuesday and Wednesday.

Luis CdeBaca, director of the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, met with representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior during his two-day visit to Phnom Penh. He stopped previously in Thailand and Malaysia, and plans to meet with NGOs in Siem Reap province today and Friday, the US Embassy said.

CdeBaca cited this week's removal of three American paedophiles arrested in Cambodia to stand trial in the US as an example of improvements in the Kingdom's anti-trafficking efforts. The successful apprehension of the three men, he said, "would not have been possible without the cooperation of US and Cambodian authorities".

He pointed also to national standards for the protection of victims of human trafficking issued this week by the Ministry of Social Affairs as indicative of Cambodian advancement in battling trafficking. "We commend the government for that step forward," he said.

While he noted "confusion" in the government's implementation of 2008's Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking, as "trafficking" was sometimes conflated with non-coerced sex work and other offences, CdeBaca's tone was conciliatory as the US State Department approaches its reassessment of Cambodian anti-trafficking efforts.

In June of this year, the US downgraded Cambodia to the second-lowest mark on its rating system for assessing human-trafficking prevention by national governments. Cambodia was bumped from "Tier 2" to the "Tier 2 Watch List", with the US State Department explaining in a press release that the government "did not show evidence of progress in convicting and punishing human trafficking offenders including complicit public officials, or in protecting trafficking victims". A fall one level further, to "Tier 3", could result in economic sanctions.

CdeBaca would not say definitively what rating Cambodia is likely to receive when it is re-evaluated in February 2010, but he indicated that the country has improved its reputation since the last assessment period.

"We certainly encourage the government to continue these efforts," he said.

Aussies offer eye care in Kampong Thom

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Khouth Sophakchakrya

A TEAM of 42 Australian optometrists provided free eye surgery and checkups to Cambodian patients as part of a three-day programme in Kampong Thom province.

Kak Kakada, director of the optometry unit at Kampong Thom hospital, said volunteer doctors in the Cambodian Vision programme plan to have performed 220 operations by the time the programme concludes on Wednesday. He said "thousands" had travelled to the provincial hospital where the programme was based, but that many of them simply received checkups. Those who underwent operations were given food and US$5 to pay for a taxi to get them home.

Hong Neam, 65, who received free cataract surgery, said he had suffered from cataracts for three years because his family was too poor to afford treatment.

"I am very happy. I hope I will have good eyesight," he said, adding that he wanted the doctors to delay their departure so they could treat more people in Cambodia.

ASEAN has supported growth: govt

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Vong Sokheng

SENIOR government officials said Wednesday that Cambodia's membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has helped the country increase its development and political prestige in the region.

The comments came during a national conference, "Cambodia, 10 Years after ASEAN: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects", sponsored by the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, in Phnom Penh.

"During our 10 years of membership ... Cambodia has benefited from the restoration of political prestige, the free flow of investment and an increase in regional economic competitiveness," said Chap Sotharith, chief of Cabinet at the Council of Ministers.

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said that although membership had influenced economic development, ASEAN had done little to improve domestic and political security in the Kingdom.

"ASEAN has little political will and few mechanisms for resolving problems such as border disputes between members," he said, referring to Cambodia's long-running border dispute with Thailand.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, went a step further, saying the bloc has had no impact on specific rights issues facing Cambodians.

"I think ASEAN is a talk shop and cannot represent people as a whole," he said.

Rice farmers decry dam

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Sam Rith

As drought threatens rice seedlings across the Kingdom, people from Phnom Srok district in Banteay Meanchey province say a new dam is further damaging local crops.

The Ministry of Water Resources and a private company called Eco Zone are building the dam to create an irrigation system to allow residents to cultivate rice during the dry season, but residents say the construction has disrupted water flow from Phnom Srok's Tompeang Thmar reservoir.

"The lower rice plantations aren't receiving sufficient water anymore," said Soy Lek, a commune council member in Phnom Srok district.

District governor Seng Ky acknowledged the farmers' difficulties but asked them to wait. "In the long run, the irrigation system will be very helpful," he said.

Cintri routes expand

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Chhay Channyda

A WASTE-management official said Wednesday that the garbage collection company Cintri has begun collecting rubbish in four communes on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Cintri, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm Cintec, has operated in the city for seven years, mainly in central Phnom Penh.

Sao Kun Chhon, director of Phnom Penh Waste Management, said Cintri on Tuesday began collecting garbage in Russey Keo district's Tuol Sangke and Chroy Changvar communes, Phnom Penh Thmei commune in Sen Sok district and Chhbar Ampov I commune in Meanchey district.

Collection in these areas was previously done by the municipality with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Sao Kun Chhon said.

The Airbus has landed


The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Heng Chivoan

Ground staff at Phnom Penh International Airport walk past a new Airbus A321 delivered Wednesday to the Kingdom's new national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air. The airline - a joint venture between the Cambodian government and Vietnam Airlines - plans to use the aircraft to expand its services. The Airbus will begin flights on Saturday, an official said Tuesday.

Trade with VN drops 22pc

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA's bilateral trade with Vietnam decreased an annualised 21.87 percent from US$951 million to $743 million in the first seven months of this year, official Vietnamese figures showed Wednesday, as the Kingdom maintained a large but shrinking trade deficit with its neighbour.

Le Bien Cuong, the commercial counsellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, told the Post that Vietnam's year-on-year exports to Cambodia had dropped 21.85 percent this year up to the end of July, from US$810 million to $633 million.

"Cambodia's exports to Vietnam also dramatically went down from $141 million to $110 million," he said, which represented a decline of 22 percent during the same period.

The figures showed that Cambodia's large trade deficit with Vietnam declined 21.82 percent during the first seven months from $669 million to $523 million as a result of the overall drop in trade.

Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said at the opening ceremony of a Vietnamese trade fair Wednesday morning in Phnom Penh that the two countries had enjoyed rising trade recently, "most notably in the past three years".

Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam was $935 million in 2006, rising to $1.19 billion in 2007 and up to a record $1.64 billion last year even as the full onset of the global economic crisis began to take hold in the two countries.

The minister pointed to the forthcoming establishment of new international border gates between both countries - six are planned for the end of this year - as a potential spur for bilateral trade.

"I would like all traders in our two countries to jointly cooperate and try to understand these golden opportunities, and seize them for the sake of their own businesses," Cham Prasidh said.

He acknowledged that the wide trade gap between the two countries was a result of the nature of Cambodian trade, which is mostly in raw materials, whereas its neighbour exported back finished products. He remained optimistic about trade prospects between the two ASEAN neighbours.

"We expect that if there had been no [economic] crisis, we would have reached more than $2 billion [in bilateral trade] this year and would not have to wait until 2010," he said.

The five-day trade fair started Wednesday at the Mondial Centre with 150 companies filling 200 sales stalls offering what have been termed "high-quality" products.

"The trade fair will ... give opportunities to traders of both countries to have a chance to seek business partners to boost bilateral trade during the crisis," said Nguyen Cam Tu, Vietnam's deputy minister of industry and trade, who attended the event Wednesday.

Canadia says tower opening delayed

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Soeun Say

CANADIA Bank on Wednesday again pushed back the likely opening date of what will be the tallest occupied structure in Cambodia, Canadia Tower.

Charles Vann, the bank's deputy general manager, said that banking staff would probably not move in to the bottom two levels of the 30-storey building until after this month. Originally, the grand opening was to be September 9. It was later pushed back, though Vann said recently Canadia staff might move in this month.

"We decided to do a little delay," he said Wednesday, adding that it had been decided the opening should not coincide with Chol Preah Vosar, a period of Buddhist retreat lasting three months, winding down at the end of October.

He also noted that "the interior is not yet finished" on the lower two banking floors; however, he said that banking staff would still almost certainly relocate to the tower before the official grand opening, which he said he still expected to take place before 2010.

"We haven't set a concrete date yet," he added.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, who inspected the tower on Tuesday, added feng shui to the list of reasons for delays to the structure, saying Wednesday that Canadia Bank still needed to have the tower assessed on an appropriate day using the Chinese discipline, which takes account of a structure's natural energies.

"We want them [Canadia Bank] to launch as soon as it is ready," he said.

He added that once the building is finished it will show "that Cambodia's economy was progressing, as well as the construction sector".


Cassava industry demands reopening of polluting plant

A security guard looks at a closure notice outside the shuttered gates of the South Korean-owned MH Bio-Energy Group factory Monday in Kampong Thom province.

I will lose $348,000 if the suspension of MH Bio-Energy Group continues.

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Khouth Sophakchakrya

Farmers and brokers say that unless the bio-ethanol factory resumes operations soon, they will lose thousands of dollars

CASSAVA farmers and brokers have urged the owners of a bio-ethanol factory closed Monday to overhaul its wastewater-treatment systems and resume production as quickly as possible as Thai buyers moved Tuesday to force down prices.

Pheng Se, 26, a cassava broker from Kampong Thom province, said he sold 6,500 tonnes of dried cassava to the South Korean-owned MH Bio-Energy Group in late July for US$118 per tonne and was preparing to deliver a 3,000-tonne shipment at $116 per tonne when the factory was shuttered after complaints by local villagers that toxic waste from the facility was killing tens of thousands of fish in nearby waterways.

"I will lose $348,000 if the suspension of MH Bio-Energy Group continues to until next month, because there is no-one else to buy [the cassava]," he said.

MH Bio-Energy Group is one of the few buyers of cassava in Cambodia.

Seng Chantha, a cassava farmer from Kampong Svay commune in Banteay Meanchey province, said the closure meant growers would be forced to sell their crops to Thai buyers, who pay much less than local brokers who planned to on-sell to the factory.

"Local cassava brokers have stopped buying our wet cassava products because they said ... MH Bio-Energy Group was closed," he said. "When I planted my cassava, I expected to be able to harvest it and sell it at a high price, but now I don't have a decent market to sell it in."

Te Haing, a broker from the province, said he cancelled plans to dry 10,000 tonnes of cassava bought from local farmers for the refinery and redirected it to Thailand, where he received 1,100 Thai baht (US$32.36) per tonne for it in its wet, unprocessed state. He said he had paid 1,250 to 1,300 baht per tonne to buy the cassava from farmers.

He sold the batch on Monday before Thai buyers dropped prices further in anticipation of a surplus on the market, he said. "The Thais reduced the price they would pay for wet cassava product to 800 baht per tonne Tuesday after they discovered that MH Bio-Energy Group was suspended on Monday," he said.

The closure of the factory had also left Te Haing with 7,000 tonnes of dry cassava already paid for sitting in his warehouse, preventing him from processing more of the crop. Thai buyers would only buy wet cassava, not value-added dried cassava, he said.

Sar Peov, the head of MH Bio-Energy's administration unit, acknowledged the impact of the suspension on the income of local cassava farmers and brokers. It had also jeopardised the company's contract with European buyers, he said. "We are concerned that we will not be able to process enough bio-ethanol to deliver to our buyers in time to fulfill our contract," he said. He declined to give the size of the order but said it was due in October.

MH Bio-Energy Director Lee Dong Jun told the Post in June that the factory had exported 20,000 tonnes of bio-ethanol fuel to European markets for the year so far and expected to export an additional 20,000 tonnes by year-end.

Sar Peov said the company was fixing the "malfunctioning" water-treatment system and hoped to have finished the job in two weeks.

Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy Secretary of State Ith Praing said the impact on cassava farmers and brokers was unfortunate. "But we need to suspend and fine them because they had technical problems which caused them to expel liquid wastes and gas that have caused harm to human health and the properties of people living around the plant, and seriously affected the environment," he said.

"However, I hope they will fix their water-treatment system and continue processing bio-ethanol again soon," he added.

The Department of Fisheries is expected to release findings on pollution levels near the factory today. Villagers were due to meet with the Ministry of Environment last night and were expected to make a demand for compensation today.

5pc of nation's hotels have ministry rating

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Nguon Sovan and Nathan Green

Government says it will not renew licences of unclassified hotels after end of next year

JUST 5.5 percent of the roughly 450 hotels in Cambodia have been rated under a Ministry of Tourism hotel classification system, and the remainder have until the end of next year to complete the process or their operating licences will be pulled, a senior official warned Wednesday.

"We are committed to having all hotels in Cambodia classified from one star to five stars by the end of 2010," Prak Chan Dara, the director of the ministry's Tourism Industry Department, said. "If they fail to do it, their annual operating licenses will not be renewed."

A further 12 hotels had submitted applications and were awaiting approval, he said, meaning 413 hotels had not engaged with the ministry scheme launched by sub-decree in 2004.

The hotel classification standards conformed to ASEAN rules, Prak Chan Dara said, adding that the system would boost the credibility of the sector among foreigners. The classification could also be used by hotels to demonstrate their standards against those of their competitors, he said

Of the 25 hotels that have completed the process, five are in Phnom Penh, 19 in Siem Reap and one in Preah Sihanouk province.

Prak Chan Dara urged hotel owners to begin the classification process immediately. Once documents are submitted, the ministry will evaluate and give final classification to the hotel within 28 days, he said.

The criteria included location, aesthetics, services, restaurants, the quality of rooms, swimming pools, gym facilities, massage services and spas. Fees range from US$300 for a five-star classification down to $100 for a one-star hotel and $50 for local hotels not seeking a star rating.

In a major report into Cambodia's international competitiveness released in May, the UN Development Programme identified delays in the implementation of the agreed hotel classification system as an obstacle to the growth of the domestic tourism sector.

"[Implementation] should be undertaken without delay, as this would provide valuable information to tourists coming into Cambodia and further reassure potential holidaymakers of the quality and value of the country's hotels," the report said.

Luu Meng, president of Cambodian Hotel Association, acknowledged Wednesday that few hotels had applied for classification and said the association was setting up a subcommittee to work with the Tourism Ministry to facilitate the process.

Despite the slow start, there is no reason that all of the Kingdom's hotels cannot be classified by the end of next year, he said. "If they need to classify them by then, then why not?" He estimated the Kingdom has nearer to 600 hotels than the ministry's figure of 450.

However, Luu Meng said work still needed to be done to clarify the ministry's classification system, which did not always accommodate cultural differences.

"The classification must be recognisable according to international and ASEAN standards, but it must be workable for Cambodia as well," he said. "Some standards may be good for developed countries but may not be good for developing countries."

Luu Meng also owns Phnom Penh's Almond Hotel. He said a classification form had already been submitted to the ministry, and that the ministry had completed its follow-up audit but had not yet given its approval.

Chea Sony, owner of Siem Reap's 48-room Sydney Angkor Hotel, which opened in 2004, said she had not applied for classification.

"My hotel targets only backpackers or ordinary customers, so I think that it's not important to have it classified," she said. "However, I will follow the law if I must."

GMAC to build training centre

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Chun Sophal

THE Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said it plans to spend US$5 million to develop a training institute next year to boost the skills of garment workers and enable them to take over management functions currently dominated by overseas workers.

GMAC President Van Sou Ieng told the Post by phone from China on Wednesday that the institute will be able to train around 1,000 workers a year.

"Our main purpose in building this institute is to train Cambodian workers in the garment sector with skills so that they will be able to replace foreign workers who are working in the management level in Cambodia at present," Van Sou Ieng said.

Around 320,000 people work in Cambodia's garment sector, including about 10,000 at management level. However, very few managers are Cambodian.

Van Sou Ieng said Cambodian workers with at least two years' experience could apply for the training courses, which would range from six months to three years. Fees would be paid by employers.

The association was looking for a location for the school, which will be built using a loan from the French Development Agency (AFD). Construction would begin early next year, Van Sou Ieng said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said the country has very few highly skilled workers but an abundance of low-skilled workers, particularly relative to neighbouring countries.

"I believe that the institute will enable our workers to keep in touch with and to have access to modern techniques in the garment sector to fulfill the requirements of investors," he said.

Chekhov comes to Cambodia

Treading the boards under the gun: Christine Liehr and Stuart Jordan act out a scene from one of Chekhov’s renowned tragicomedies.

ANTON CHEKHOV: 1860-1904
BORN in 1860 in Taganrog, Russia, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov joined the nation’s most cherished storytellers. Although fond of vaudeville and farce, he made his name with epic tragedies. He began writing short stories while studying medicine at the University of Moscow and later mastered the one-act form, producing several masterpieces, most notably The Bear (1888) and The Wedding (1889). Moving onto full-length plays, Chekhov’s early attempts were unsuccessful. For his third effort, The Seagull (1897), the future master honed his craft, and even then his success owed much to Moscow Art Theatre’s re-interpretation. This began a successful, if occasionally strained relationship. Chekhov insisted his plays were comedies and was often displeased with tragic readings. Nevertheless, Uncle Vanya (1899), The Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904) cemented Chekhov’s position as one of the greatest dramatists of all time. In his final years, Chekhov lived in exile in Crimea, dying from tuberculosis in 1904 at the age of 44.

The Phnom Penh Post
Thursday, 03 September 2009
Nora Lindstrom

Veteran director Brendan O'Driscoll hopes to raise chuckles with a pair of classic Russian one-acts this weekend as The Phnom Penh Players return to the stage

THE capital's very own amateur theatre group, The Phnom Penh Players, is back with two performances of An Evening with Chekhov Comedies at Khmer Surin on September 4 and 5.

Consisting of two one-act comic plays by famed Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, the group hopes to get the audience laughing - not through modern slapstick comedy, but through the comic effect of occurrences in everyday life, as penned over a century ago.

The two plays, The Bear and The Proposal, are, according to director Brendan O'Driscoll, similar, but different. "They both look at the nature of love and relationships," he said, explaining that the former deals with gender roles and the emancipation of women, and that the latter is about a marriage of convenience.

"It's hard to believe this stuff was written over 100 years ago," O'Driscoll stated with admiration, adding that he believes the universal themes of the plays are what make them appealing even today.

Though a fairly recent arrival to Phnom Penh, O'Driscoll is a veteran of the theatre.

The Irishman was involved in more than 20 plays in Tanzania, where he lived before moving to Cambodia in August last year.

He also acted in the Phnom Penh Players' previous performance, Noises Off, in May.

"The Bear is my favourite one-act ever. I produced it in Dar es Salaam, and I wanted to direct it because you always think you know better than the director," O'Driscoll said.

Fearing only one short comedy would leave the audience discontented, he settled on The Proposal to complete the bill.

"I'm expecting a lot of laughs," O'Driscoll said. "But at the same time it's Chekhov, so it will give people something to think about as well. It's not just laughs for laughs sake."

The director says he is a fan of classic plays, reasoning straightforwardly that "they're classics because they're so good".

When directing, he likes to stay true to the original play. "We're not doing Chekhov for idiots or anything," he said.

"We're staying faithful to the script, and the original tone of the play, but of course we're doing them in English, and we're not doing Russian accents."

Christine Liehr plays the lead in The Bear, despite being a newcomer to the world of acting.

She was involved backstage in the Players' previous production and after that experience felt the time was right to get on stage.

"Acting is not a secret passion, but it's something I've always wanted to do," she said, adding that the experience so far has been great.

She describes O'Driscoll as a fairly strict director. "He knows exactly what he wants," she said.

"In a way it's good, because he tells you straight, 'Do it like this, do it like that', but ... he's very direct and clear about what he wants," she concluded with a smile.

Like her director, Liehr enjoys the humour of the two plays, but admits it took a while to get into them.

She says the translations by Michael Frayn, on which the one-acts are based, help bring out the comedy of the pieces.

The rest, however, is up to the actors. "I hope the audience gets it, but it all depends on our acting," she said.

O'Driscoll, on the other hand, says he is certain the comedies will have the audience laughing.

"I think the audience will love them; actually, I really do," he said.

"There will be a couple of star performances, too," he added, though refrained from naming the stars, preferring to let the audience decide for itself.

Everyone involved in the play seems to agree it has been a fun four weeks putting the performances together.

Ronit Gerard, who, like Liehr, is a newcomer to the stage, describes it as a nice distraction from work.

"Everyone is here to have fun. That's why I like it. No one here takes it seriously," she said.

O'Driscoll agreed, saying that theatre groups are a great way to meet people from all walks of life, and urged those interested to audition for the Players' next performance, the annual Christmas panto.