Monday, 28 September 2009

Cambodian PM satisfies with Cambodia's boxers

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PHNOM PENH, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday that he was surprised with the ability of a 19-year Cambodian man who could bit his rival from the Philippines.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of Tourism Ministry's building, Hun Sen said he could not realize how strong the young Cambodian boxer only after he defeated his defender from the Philippines and who is a student of the world's champion.

Vi Savouth, 19, successfully challenged Pol Apolinaria for World Boxing Champion (WBC) from the Philippines with a 55.5 kg bout on Sunday night in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh.

Pol Apolinaria is known as a student of the World's Champion, Manny Pacquiao.

Vi Savouth joined with other two Cambodian boxers who also defeated their contenders from Brazil and Uganda.

Hun Sen said he had spent 5,000 U.S. dollars for the international boxing night which took place at Olympic national stadium with which he donated 1,000 U.S. dollars each to three Cambodian boxers fighting with international boxers and 500 U.S. dollars to each of other four Cambodian boxers challenging and defending their local titles.

Hun Sen also encouraged Monday to all Cambodian boxers and other athletes to train harder for the honor of the nation.

Editor: Fang Yang

The Highlight of the Past Week

Posted on 28 September 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 631

In some weeks, there is some important event attracting the attention of many people – a kind of theme of the week. In other weeks, there are even several items which compete for top attention – though different people are interested, or even affected differently, and it may not be easy to agree what can be considered for special attention.

During the past week there were no such spectacular events – but there way a holiday: Constitution’s Day. Though it is a National Holiday, it is obvious that it is not placed highly on the agenda of the citizens enjoying a free day. Before Pchum Ben, many families discussed what to do together – and not only government institutions and different organization’s offices were closed – also big and small businesses were not operating. But it was quite different for Constitution’s Day: while government and many organizations gave their staff a free day, many shops were operating, even more intensely compared to normal days, as it turned into a convenient day for many people in town to go shopping, or to meet with friends. It is quite natural to enjoy such opportunities, away from the regular daily obligations which determine our lives. It seems that not much time was spent by many people to consider the reasons why this was a free day.
But the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia is the basic and most important law of the country. We took already the opportunity to share some sections of its text on The Mirror on Thursday, 24 September 2009.
It is under the framework of this law that guidance has to be sought for everybody’s life in society, as this law was created with some basic assumptions and convictions to be considered and observed, monitored, and where necessary enforced, to constantly work towards the achievement of the goals set in the Preamble of the Constitution, which says, that after a glorious past, and after having endured sufferings and destructions,
“We, the people of Cambodia… stood up with a resolute determination… to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi-party liberal democratic regime with guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law, and responsible for the destiny of the nation always evolving toward progress, development, prosperity, and glory”

That is the spirit of the Constitution. We highlight here, for easy reading, again some sections about how this spirit is to be lived and put into practice.

  • Cambodia is a Kingdom with a King who shall rule according to the Constitution and to the principles of liberal democracy and pluralism.

  • The Kingdom of Cambodia shall be independent, sovereign, peaceful, permanently neutral and non-aligned country.

  • The King shall have the right to grant partial or complete amnesty.

  • The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s and children’s rights.

  • Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status. The exercise of personal rights and freedom by any individual shall not adversely affect the rights and freedom of others.

  • The exercise of such rights and freedom shall be in accordance with the law.

  • Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation.

  • Any suggestions from the people shall be given full consideration by the organs of the State.

  • The law guarantees there shall be no physical abuse against any individual.

  • The law shall protect life, honor, and dignity of the citizens.

  • Confessions obtained by physical or mental force shall not be admissible as evidence of guilt.

  • Any case of doubt, it shall be resolved in favor of the accused.

  • Khmer citizens shall have the right to denounce, make complaints or file claims against any breach of the law by state and social organs or by members of such organs committed during the course of their duties. The settlement of complaints and claims shall be the competence of the courts.

  • Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to effect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security.

  • The right to confiscate properties from any person shall be exercised only in the public interest as provided for under the law and shall require fair and just compensation in advance.

  • All forms of discrimination against women shall be abolished.

  • The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism.

  • The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.

  • All power belongs to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, The Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary.

  • The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.

  • The health of the people shall be guaranteed. The State shall give full consideration to disease prevention and medical treatment. Poor citizens shall receive free medical consultation in public hospitals, infirmaries and maternities.

  • The State shall establish a social security system for workers and employees.

  • The deputies in the National Assembly shall represent the entire Khmer people, not only Khmers from their constituencies.

  • Any imperative mandate shall be nullified.

  • The Judicial power shall be an independent power.

  • Judicial power shall not be granted to the legislative or executive branches.

  • The National Congress shall enable the people to be directly informed on various matters of national interests and to raise issues and requests for the State authority to solve.

  • Khmer citizens of both sexes shall have the right to participate in the National Congress.

  • The National Congress shall meet once a year in early December at the convocation of the Prime Minister.

  • It shall proceed under the chairmanship of the King.

  • This Constitution shall be the Supreme law of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

  • There is ample reason to remember these words, and to reflect on the Constitution, not only on Constitution’s Day.
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Cambodian PM orders to stop condom advertisement on TV

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PHNOM PENH, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered on Monday to halt condom advertisement on televisions, saying that he does not feel the advertisement help curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, but a promotion of condom sales.

Giving speech at launching ceremony of Tourism Ministry's building, Hun Sen said the content of the spot being displayed on televisions did not "serve the efficient campaign for the condom use to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but a promotion of the condom sales."

Thus, he ordered Ministers of Information and Culture to review the content and remove the spot from televisions.

The spot was showing a group of three men who enjoyed drinking, and singing karaoke before going to a hotel room with a display of a condom on the bed and one of the men there.

Hun Sen said this spot even encouraged Cambodian youths to get more sexual behaviors which are contradictory to Cambodia's tradition and custom.

On several occasions, Hun Sen has criticized TV spots for some parts, damaging the country's culture, tradition and even considered harmful to public health.

Cambodia is proud of its competence in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS related diseases through a nationwide campaign of "100 percent condom use."

Editor: Fang Yang

World's poorest countries discuss WTO accession

The WTO headquarters in Geneva

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PHNOM PENH — Some of the world's poorest countries on Monday began a three-day meeting in the Cambodian capital to discuss how to speed up entry to the World Trade Organisation.

Trade representatives from 12 of the least developed countries in Asia and Africa met officials from the WTO, World Bank, the European Commission and United Nations agencies in Phnom Penh to discuss accession to the organisation.

Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said his country wanted the meeting to help prepare other impoverished nations for the risks involved in negotiations with the global body.

"We want to share our own experience in negotiating to join the WTO...(and) now we are trying to push for more LDCs (Least Developed Countries) to join," Cham Prasidh told reporters.

"What we do is we try to, a little bit, lower their negotiation conditions so that those remaining LDCs can join without having to pay a very high ticket price," he said.

Fellow WTO members Cape Verde and Nepal joined Cambodia providing advice to officials from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Laos, Sudan, Vanuatu, Yemen, Comoros, Liberia, Samoa and Sao Tome and Principe.

Cambodia records 1st flu death

Sep 28, 2009

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA has recorded its first death from swine flu, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Monday.

The victim was a 40-year-old woman with previous health problems who died on Sunday at a hospital in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said.

'This is the first case. She has been sick for a long time - she had lung problems,' he said.

Mr Hun Sen added that the woman had checked into a private clinic a week before she died, but her infection was only confirmed Friday when she was transferred to the capital's Calmette hospital.

Cambodia has confirmed at least 88 cases of swine flu since the virus was first detected in the country in June.

More than 3,900 people have died from swine flu worldwide since the A(H1N1) virus was uncovered in April, the World Health Organisation said last week. -- AFP

Cambodia jails SA man

Article By: Imraan KaroliaMon, 28 Sep 2009 07:42A South African man is behind bars in Cambodia after a freak accident in which his friend died.

The two holidaymakers collided while riding on jet skis at a water park 10 days ago.

Cape Town resident Paul Hutchins died instantly and his Pretoria friend Andre Bester was subsequently arrested by Cambodian police.

The charges against him are unclear.

Bester's father, who flew to the country after hearing about the incident, said legal processes were underway.

"Andre is in good spirit and we're waiting for a bail hearing to take place on Tuesday and we’re hoping he’ll be out on bail. I'm just hoping to get my son out of jail and back into our country."

Mixed results for Cambodian development goals

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Mon, 28 Sep 2009
By : Jurgen Schmidt

Phnom Penh - Cambodia is seeing mixed results in its progress towards meeting nine Millennium Development Goals by 2015, a UN Development Programme consultant said Monday. Sherif Rushdy told a conference in Phnom Penh that the country is on track to meet targets for three goals - reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and the Cambodia-specific target of zero civilian casualties from landmines - but will likely miss the goals set in at least three other key areas.

Rushdy said Cambodia has shown "spectacular" performance in reducing mortality of children under five years to the goal of 65 per 1,000 live births. In 1998 the rate was 124 per 1,000 live births, and the latest figure is 83.

Infant mortality figures were also down sharply and ahead of target with the rate of 60 per 1,000 live births. The target for 2105 is 50 per 1,000 live births.

Rushdy warned that three goals likely to be missed are reduction in maternal mortality, the goal of nine years' education for all school-age children, and environmental sustainability.

"Maternal mortality has not changed at all, the situation is one of the worst," he noted, citing a figure of 461 deaths per 100,000 live births against a target of 140.

Rushdy said soaring food prices last year added to the likelihood that Cambodia would miss the maternal mortality goal, because the numbers of women suffering from anaemia and other nutritional deficiencies had not decreased.

Environmental sustainability is also falling short, particularly with respect to forest cover. Cambodia suffered extensive deforestation in the past decade.

Rushdy said 373,000 hectares of forest was lost between 2002 and 2006, and added that increasing dependence on wood for fuel means "the prospect of preserving natural resources is not very good."

He also said Cambodia's target for universal education "way too ambitious." The standard target is universal primary education, but Cambodia is aiming for nine years' schooling for all children.

"[These three goals] are flashing a red light, and the country is unlikely to reach its goals in these areas," he said.

Attaining two of the remaining three goals - eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and promoting gender equality and empowering women - remains possible provided certain changes are made to the way the goal is being approached.

The UN Millennium Development Goals are a set of typically eight goals that reflect the key development challenges facing countries around the world, and which countries agreed to meet by 2015. Cambodia added a ninth goal of achieving zero casualties from landmines and unexploded ordinance, legacies of its conflict-ridden past.

Cambodia Approves USD84 Million Worth Of Investments In August

September 28, 2009

PHNOM PENH, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- The Cambodian government approved US$84 million in investment applications in August, taking the total value of approvals for the year to date to USD1.56 billion, China's Xinhua news agency said quoting a local media report on Monday.

The new approvals included three agriculture and three industrial projects, the Phnom Penh Post quoted the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government's chief investment body, as saying.

In August last year, the government approved US$652 million worth of investments, and the first eight months of 2008 saw the approval of US$8.99 billion worth of investment projects.

The Post said Youn Heng, deputy director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Cambodian invesment Board (CIB), a body of the CDC, said he was too busy to comment Friday.

However, he said last month that although the number and value of applications was falling due to the economic crisis, a few very large project approvals contributed to heavily inflated investment figures last year, including a US$3.8 billion proposal, the largest approval last year, by Chinese company Union Developmem Group Co. to build a coastal development in Koh Kong.

Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said the drop in approvals in tourism and real estate was being offset by investments earmarked for the agriculture, industrial and agro-industrial sectors.

The International Monetary Fund projected Wednesday that foreign direct investment in Cambodia would be worth US$490 million this year, down from US$815 million in 2008.


Cambodia confirms first death of A/H1N1 flu


PHNOM PENH, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday announced the country's first death case of flu A/H1N1.

The dead patient, a 40-year-old Khmer woman, died on Sunday at Phnom Penh's Calmette Hospital, said the premier at the inauguration ceremony of Tourism Ministry building.

So far, the number of the confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases in Cambodia has risen to 88, according to officials of the Ministry of Health on Monday.

Editor: Li Xianzhi

Govt’s land policy failing most vulnerable: report

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Chab Bunleang, 49, who lives along rail lines in the north of Phnom Penh in a home she said she has owned for two decades, belongs to one of 23 households facing eviction. Three families have agreed to government compensation since last week.

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:04 Sebastian Stragio and Meas Sokchea

VULNERABLE communities are still being subjected to land-tenure insecurity and forced displacement despite a seven-year, multimillion-dollar effort to reform the land sector, according to a report to be released today.

The report, produced by a coalition of local and international housing rights groups, says the donor-funded US$38.4 million Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) has failed the country’s poor by “entrenching inequality”, signalling a potentially dark future for land rights in Cambodia.

LMAP was established in 2002 with funding from international donors including the World Bank with a goal of establishing an “efficient and transparent land administration system” within five years.

The 81-page report acknowledges that the project has notched up some significant achievements, including issuing legal titles for more than 1 million pieces of land nationwide, but it argues that sporadic successes have been overshadowed by an increase in forced evictions and the project’s failure to protect those most vulnerable to exploitation.

“Despite significant successes in some areas, LMAP is not improving tenure security for segments of Cambodian society that are most vulnerable to displacement,” the report states.

“Vulnerable groups that have legitimate claims to land are routinely and arbitrarily denied access to land-titling and dispute-resolution mechanisms, which undermines the project’s aim of reducing poverty and promoting social stability.”

A key defect identified by the report is the fact that LMAP’s land-titling system has excluded areas that are “likely to be disputed” or of “unclear status”, cutting tens of thousands of families off from access to land titles under the Kingdom’s 2001 Land Law.

The area around Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake, where more than 4,000 families have been unable to apply for land titles because the lake lies in a “development zone”, is cited as a key example. It also expresses concerns for the protection of indigenous land rights and argues that LMAP’s land-dispute resolution mechanism has failed to create a “fairly accessible, efficient and impartial” means of resolving conflicts.

“If the system continues to exclude vulnerable groups, the benefits of the programme will be overshadowed by the harms,” said David Pred, country director of international rights group Bridges Across Borders, which contributed to the report.

“The experience of LMAP has demonstrated that many of the intended benefits of titling do not materialise in the absence of the rule of law and functioning dispute-resolution mechanisms to protect people’s rights.”

Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Centre, said LMAP’s land-registration drive had made significant achievements, but that the project is restricted by the “rigidity” of its design and implementation.

Particularly, he said, the fact that LMAP’s land-titling programme is not carried out in at-risk areas means that many strong legal claims – including those from Phnom Penh’s

Boeung Kak, Group 78 and Dey Krahorm areas – had not been rewarded with land titles.

“[The] existing legal instruments are sufficient,” he said. “Their possession rights should be recognised and respected.”

Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun rejected the contents of the report, saying dispute-resolution mechanisms at district and provincial levels had been successfully enforced by governors.

“Both bodies have helped balance the work so that it is better and … responds to the people’s need more effectively. This is [an example of] good governance,” he told the Post.

Rights groups on Sunday expressed fears the successor programmes to LMAP – the Land Administration Sub-Sector Programme and Land Management Sub-Sector Programme – will do little to improve the situation.

“We hope to see both development partners and the government do a better job of fulfilling their responsibilities under the successor programmes,” said Natalie Bugalski, a legal officer from the Centre of Housing Rights and Evictions, which also contributed to the report.

Pred said the success of future programmes relied on more than the good intentions of one or two stakeholders.

“The most serious problems that we document in the report are beyond the capacity of LMAP and the Ministry of Land to address, and require better interministerial cooperation and political will that has so far been sorely lacking,” he said.

Railway residents brace for eviction

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:04 Meas Sokchea

TWENTY-THREE families living along dilapidated railway lines in Tuol Kork district say they face imminent eviction from their homes but fear for their futures if forced to give up their land.

Three families of the 26 left in the community agreed last week to government compensation.

Villager Chab Bunleang, 49, said she has lived and run a business in the community for 20 years but is concerned that her business will suffer if she is forced to move. “I was hopeless when I heard [about the eviction],” she said.

The residents’ complaints come ahead of the release today of an 81-page report that the government’s US$38.4 million Land Management and Administration Programme has “failed” to protect the land tenure of Phnom Penh’s urban poor.

Phok Kimhong, 41, said the community was granted a social land concession by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2003 but has never been granted ownership titles.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said that authorities plan to take action if the people do not move but did not give a final deadline.
“We are still patient with thembut if those people remain obstinate, we will take administrative action,” he said.

FM calls for climate action

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:04

Hor Namhong makes UN address, urging developed countries to redouble efforts.

CAMBODIA has called on developed nations to shoulder greater responsibility in fighting climate change.

Addressing the UN general assembly this Saturday at UN headquarters in New York, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Cambodia is disproportionately susceptible to the effects of climate change.

“[Cambodia] is very vulnerable to weather-related disasters,” Hor Namhong said in his address, a copy of which was given to the Post by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The negative impact from climate change on farming in Southeast Asia would seriously jeopardise the production of rice and other agricultural products, and consequently would have ripple effects on food security.”

It is wealthy, developed nations, he said, that must redouble their efforts.

“I believe that the industrialised countries, which produce 80 percent of the greenhouse gases, should share greater responsibility and take more drastic and urgent measures to reduce the emission of these deadly gases,” Hor Namhong said, insisting the Kingdom has done its part to fight climate change.

Research suggests climate change could have especially drastic effects on the Southeast Asia region, including Cambodia, where the economy is largely dependent on agriculture and natural resources.

“Effects of global warming are expected to be particularly devastating in coastal areas and floodplains,” the government’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action states.

“As the sea rise[s], flooding and coastal erosion will worsen and severely impact ... fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture.”

Hor Namhong’s comments echo a World Bank report released earlier this month, which warned that Cambodia and other developing nations would be disproportionately affected by climate change, despite producing only a small percentage of the world’s carbon emissions.

Efforts to stave off climate change, the report said, must “start with high-income countries taking aggressive action to reduce their own emissions”.

Particularly challenging for Cambodia is the fact that industries like the garment sector that have been fuelling the country’s economic growth also generate high emissions, according to the World Bank.

Hor Namhong also used his address to urge a successful conclusion to the long-running Doha Development Round trade negotiations, which have stalled largely over disagreements between developed nations and less-wealthy developing countries.

B’Bang fishermen decry ‘weak’ crackdown

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

FISHERMEN in Battambang province are accusing the government of going easy on poachers, following what was supposed to have been a joint crackdown last week on illegal fishing.

The fishermen say officials negotiated with the poachers – instead of fining them – after catching roughly 60 illegal fishermen in a two-day sting last week.

“We were very disappointed when the fisheries police stopped us from destroying the illegal fishnets and moved to negotiations with the illegal fishermen,” said Soeung Saran, who represents the fishermen in Kampong Prieng commune, adding that fisheries faced depletion from illegal operations.

Government officials, however, say their actions were intended to preserve a peaceful situation after some 60 poachers brandished knives when confronted by villagers and authorities.

“We need to keep people safe first,” said Heng Pisith, director of the fishery department in Battambang province.

The illegal fishermen, he said, have bigger boats. “If we continue to destroy their illegal fishing nets, they could fight against us, and our people could face danger,” he said.

Govt warns students to stop exam protests

Photo by: Sovann Philong.
A government official addresses disgruntled students during a press conference on Friday.

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:03 Chhay Channyda

MEDICAL students who failed their first-year exams plan to continue their protest against the University of Health Science despite government warnings of stiff crackdowns on further demonstrations.

The students say the government is trying to intimidate them after officials threatened legal action against students who continue to cause “disorder in the public places”.

“This is intimidation to us,” said student representative Keo Moly after a government press conference Friday. “We fear for our safety.”

However, she said students would continue to protest.

The students have been at an impasse with university and government officials since earlier this month, when more than half the students failed
their first-year exams.

The government had offered to let the failed students retake the entrance exam and repeat their first years, or move to another school. The students, meanwhile, want the full exam results released, saying the results were unfair.

Health project reduces fees

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A young child receives medical care at Treal Health Centre in Kampong Thom province. Vouchers that can be exchanged for medical treatment have proved a success, NGOs said in a new report.

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:03 James O’toole and Mom Kunthear

A joint project between the Ministry of Health and local NGOs reduces debt from health-care expenditures for thousands of Cambodian families, study shows.

AMINISTRY of Health programme designed to minimise health care fees for the poor has saved thousands of families from millions of dollars of debt, according to a report released today by University Research Co (URC), a local NGO.

The URC report evaluates the performance of Health Equity Funds (HEFs), a health-financing scheme operated jointly by the government and NGOs that offers financial support to poor Cambodians who make use of public health facilities. “This is done,” the report explains, “by purchasing health services on [poor people’s] behalf, providing them with transport reimbursements and providing the patients’ caretakers with money to cover food expenses.”

Health-care debts force 100 million people worldwide into poverty each year, Oxfam International said in May 2008. It is this threat, said Minister of Health Mam Bunheng, that HEFs have been urgently addressing.

“This project has been successful because it allows poor people to access services at hospitals or health centres without paying fees out-of-pocket,” the minister said.

While there are more than 30 separate HEF schemes currently operating in Cambodia, just 22 schemes on which URC cooperated were supporting 20 percent of all inpatients in the Cambodian public health system as of December 2008. Residents of communities served by HEFs, URC said, are making increased use of public health facilities while at the same time incurring significantly less health care-related debt compared with their counterparts in areas lacking HEFs.

In 2007, according to the government’s Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey, there were 27 operational districts in Cambodia supported by HEFs, compared with 49 without them. In those 27 districts, URC estimated that equity funds reduced health-care debt for nearly 20,000 households, saving them US$7.2 million in total.

Tapley Jordanwood, the URC health-financing team leader and one of the authors of today’s report, said that candidates for HEF support are identified on a local level, as local residents and commune council members deliberate on which community members should receive HEF cards that can be redeemed for treatment at public health facilities. “The actual mechanisms by which [HEF distribution] works are very unique to Cambodia,” Jordanwood said.

Mam Bunheng said the government was pleased with the development of the programme and hopes to implement it more widely in the near future. Funding is currently in place from both the government and other institutions, including the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development, to expand HEF coverage across the Kingdom in the next few years.

Though there are still thousands of Cambodians who are at risk of falling into poverty from health costs, Jordanwood said that the distribution of HEF cards in poor communities is hoped to coincide with greater reliance on public health facilities nationwide.

“People make decisions in their home when they get sick,” Jordanwood said. “When they have a card, then they have some confidence.”

Kingdom braces for torrential downpour

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

SEVERAL provinces have been warned of flash floods ahead of Tropical Storm Ketsana’s collision with Cambodia.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology released a statement on Sunday to alert people living in upland and coastal provinces that heavy rainfall is expected from Sunday through Thursday.

Department of Meteorology Director Seth Vannareth said Sunday that floods are to be expected in Kampong Cham, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces as well as along the coast in Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

Mao Hak, director of the Department of Hydrology and River Works, said Ketsana had already increased water levels in the basin of the Mekong River while in Vietnam, and that the current is flowing downstream towards Cambodia.

“It will flood the homes of Cambodian people [along the Mekong River] for three days or more,” he said.

Ketsana was formed in the Philippine Sea, killing 73 and putting parts of Manila under 6 metres of water.

New book assesses tribunal

Photo by: Photo Supplied
A DC-Cam Peace and Justice walk, led by nuns, monks and Cham Muslim leaders, heads towards the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:03 Robbie Corey-Boulet

DC-Cam effort addresses administration, challenges for survivor participation.

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal’s efforts to engage survivors have been hindered by a severe lack of resources, and administrative issues such as unresolved corruption complaints threaten to compromise progress in the courtroom, according to a new book from the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam).

The release of On Trial: The Khmer Rouge Accountability Process, scheduled for Saturday, roughly coincides with the third anniversary of the tribunal’s founding, initially with three-year mandate. In addition to topics such as the tribunal’s history and operations, the book includes chapters assessing its performance in three areas: rulings, administration and survivor-engagement.

The chapter on survivors, written by Sarah Thomas and Terith Chy, states that an under-resourced Victims’ Unit and ill-equipped civil party lawyers have detracted from survivors’ contributions to the proceedings.

The unit, they say, “has suffered greatly as a result of its late creation and the half-hearted support of donors”, making it necessary for outreach and other tasks to be delegated to NGOs and other intermediary organisations.

Though they note that the processing of complaints and civil party applications has been aided by the hiring of more data-entry clerks, more than 1,500 forms had not been processed as of late July, they say.

In an interview with the Post, Terith Chy, head of DC-Cam’s Victim Participation Project, said there was still a chance the forms could be useful in the shaping of the tribunal’s second case, but that “the window of possibility for this is … rapidly closing” as the investigation phase winds down.

Though they claim that the reliance on intermediary organisations “has been so extensive as to be overwhelming”, the authors argue that the unit should not try to take the lead on outreach.

“Having conducted outreach for almost two years, intermediary organisations possess far greater experience in the provision of victims’ rights education than the unit and have already secured the involvement of more survivors than the court may be able to handle,” they write.

The chapter goes on to describe civil party lawyers as inexperienced and outmatched by the prosecution and defence teams — a situation the authors say was inevitable, given that the tribunal does not fund civil party representation. In the trial of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, pro bono lawyers recruited through intermediary organisations “lacked the resources necessary to match the other parties, including the necessary administrative, investigative and technological capabilities”, the authors say.

In addition to pushing for the appointment of court-recruited legal teams, the authors advocate stronger intervention by judges in the civil party process, which they say could have prevented many of the problems that arose during the Duch case.

In a separate chapter, John Hall, an associate professor at California’s Chapman University School of Law who has written extensively about the tribunal, writes that administrative issues “have risen to such a level that they threaten to damage the legitimacy and viability of the legal process”.

After detailing allegations of a kickback scheme on the Cambodian side of the tribunal, Hall criticises the “apparent lack of teeth” of the independent counsellor position, an anticorruption mechanism announced last month.

In an interview with the Post, he said it “seems highly unlikely” that Cambodian staff would be comfortable bringing their complaints to the counsellor, Uth Chhorn.

Hall also criticises the donor community for failing “to exert the full potential of its fiscal, moral and political leverage” in pushing for “more effective anticorruption mechanisms”.

(Editor’s note: Robbie Corey-Boulet was acknowledged for having provided comments during the preparation of Hall’s chapter on administrative issues.)

Locals say syringe handouts draw criminals

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda

A CENTRE for intravenous drug users has boosted local criminal activity and left people living in fear, some Phnom Penh residents say.

Residents of Psar Deumtkov commune in Chamkarmon district asked at a public forum held last Friday that the centre be moved out of their neighbourhood.

The meeting, held at the office of the Cambodian Journalists’ Club, allowed community residents to speak directly with representatives of Korsang, the NGO that runs the centre.

The residents complained the influx of drug users into their commune had increased crime and diminished safety. Since it opened in 2004, the Korsang centre has distributed free syringes to drug users and educated them about safer drug use in order to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.

Thong Chhornu, Psar Deumtkov commune chief, said he had received many reports of homes being broken into and valuables stolen. He believed the perpetrators were drug users drawn to the commune by the Korsang centre.

“Those drug users from Korsang cause disorder in the commune,” he said.

Yong Meng, 72, said that in addition to raising crime, the presence of drug users in the commune made residents feel less safe. “They gather in groups at night to inject drugs, so people here are afraid to travel at night. They even defecate everywhere. We’re not safe here.”

Kab Vannda of the Korsang organisation explained at the forum that the needle programme, rather than encouraging drug use, had the opposite effect.

“Our organisation works with addicts to help them stop using drugs. Before they receive clean needles, users are educated on the dangers of drugs and the importance of going for a blood test,” he said.

“We want to cooperate with the authorities in order to maintain safety and public order in the area. Our goal is to free this community from addiction.”

Chamkarmon Deputy Governor Prum Sakhan, however, said the authorities stood by residents’ claims. “Korsang helps the government fight drug use, but their drop-in policy is irresponsible.”

Families in R’kiri await land review

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:02 Tep Nimol

Legitimacy of land titles at the centre of dispute.

REPRESENTATIVES of a group of 78 families in Ratanakkiri province say they have yet to receive a response to their request for the government to review ownership documents that are at the centre of a land dispute with a private rubber company.

Khim Sok, one of the representatives, said they had submitted the request for a review on September 1.

He said the families believe the ownership documents – which have been used by the Tay Seng Company in its attempt to evict the families from a 450-hectare rubber plantation – were fake.

“I have all the documents to prove that the 450 hectares of land belong to the families, but there has not been any response so far,” he said.

Khim Sok pointed to an investigation conducted in 2007 by Bou Thong, a Ratanakkiri parliamentarian, which he said proved that the land belonged to the families.

He added that the 78 families began farming the land in 1988, nearly two decades before the company first laid claim to it in 2007.

But Pen Bonnar, the former provincial coordinator for the local rights group Adhoc, said the land was state-owned.

“The families have been farming it, but it was given to them on a temporary basis only,” he said.

Tay Seng, the president of the rubber company, could not be reached for comment Sunday, nor could Hem Sophal, head of the Ratanakkiri Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, whom Khim Sok has accused of colluding with the company.

Govt slams Thai road claim

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha

Thai minister’s statement that a Cambodian-built road near P Vihear is on Thai soil elicits swift response from govt Council.

THE Council of Ministers has issued a statement rejecting comments made by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban suggesting that the road to Preah Vihear temple is not on Cambodian soil.

“The roads were built by the previous [Cambodian] government, but it does not mean that the land belongs to Cambodia,” the Thai official was quoted as saying in an interview with the Bangkok Post last Thursday.

Cambodia’s Council of Ministers responded by issuing a statement on Friday reiterating the Kingdom’s ownership of the territory. “This road is not a joint road between Cambodia and Thailand because it is entirely located in Cambodian territory,” it said.

Lieutenant Colonel Bun Vanna, deputy chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 8, which is based near Preah Vihear temple, agreed the 3.6km road was located entirely in Cambodia. He said maps used by Thai officials to justify the claim that the road was in disputed territory were not internationally recognised.

This road is not a joint road between cambodia and thailand...

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Sunday that the construction of the road to the temple was financed by Cambodia and first constructed in 2003 with funding from the Bayon Foundation. It was paved in 2008 to allow better access for visitors.

“The comment made by Suthep [Thaugsuban] shows a lack of consideration, and it will not get the support of the Thai government and the people,” he said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Suthep’s remarks come days before a government television segment about the border dispute is scheduled to air upon Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s return from the UN general assembly in New York. Suthep said it would be a response to accusations from the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship that the government has not acted forcefully enough in the dispute over land near Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805km shared border. Shortly after the inscription of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site in July 2008, Thai troops were accused of invading Cambodian land near the temple, sparking the largest buildup of troops and military equipment along the border in years.

In April 2009, more than 319 families were left homeless when a market at the foot of Preah Vihear temple was destroyed during fighting that razed 264 stalls. The government demanded US$2.1 million in compensation from Thailand, but has yet to receive an official response.

US forces to aid local police in gang control

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Footage of gang activity is screened behind Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak on Friday during a conference to discuss how to best combat gang violence.

(Post in

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda

THE Ministry of Interior has decided to take new measures in its fight against street gangs, announcing on Friday that US law enforcers will help equip local police to control a local wave of gang-related crime.

“US police will come to Cambodia in January to give presentations on gang control in their country,” National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith
said following a conference at the Ministry on Friday.

He added that the Cambodian government is currently translating and reviewing US legislature on gang control in order to incorporate their policies into a new draft law on gang control.

In June 2009, the Cambodian government issued a statement encouraging local authorities to be intolerant of gang activity.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak stated that 8,689 gang members were apprehended in police crackdowns nationwide since 2006, and that 454 gang members were sent to court on criminal charges.

He said Kampong Cham province was shown to have the most gang activity, followed by Banteay Meanchey, Takeo, Battambang and Phnom Penh.

“Gangs affect public order. We must control them,” he said.

Nuon Bophal, deputy director of the Central Department of Judicial Police, said the crackdown on gang crime could not be handled by authorities alone and called for public cooperation, urging people to call police hotlines 117 or 118 to report gang-related activity.

Swine flu cases rose 29pc in past 10 days

(Post in

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in Cambodia has risen to 88, the Ministry of Health announced last week.

The latest figure, released on Thursday, represents a significant climb over the previous tally of 68 cases reported before September 16. So far, no deaths from the influenza A(H1N1) virus, commonly known as swine flu, have been reported in the Kingdom.

Dr Sok Touch, director of the ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department, said Sunday that health officials were closely following the spread of the virus, which has now been reported in six Cambodian provinces: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kandal, Kampong Speo, Takeo and Battambang.

“The highest rates of swine flu transmission are during the cool season, so right now we’re monitoring the situation more strictly than ever”, Sok Touch said.

To help prevent the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health recommends that people wash their hands frequently, refrain from spitting in public, use tissues or handkerchiefs and avoid crowds. A response from the World Bank to the Ministry’s recent request for US$2 million to buy vaccines is due next month.

Running totals compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) put the number of worldwide swine flu cases during the current outbreak at 424,731, with 4,636 deaths caused by the virus.

Police Blotter: 28 Sep 2009

(Post in

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:01 Vong Sokheng

An Australian, a Scotsman and an Irishman walked into a bar Thursday night and started bashing each other, municipal police said. A security guard at the establishment – the Walkabout Hotel and Bar on streets 51 and 174 – sustained a head injury while trying to break up the scuffle. Neighbours described the event as not uncommon. The three men were taken into custody and will face charges in connection with the incident, police said.

A man who claimed to be an employee of the Cambodian Red Cross was arrested last week for conning villagers into giving him more than 600,000 riels (US$144). Police said Yun Siyeth sold fake Red Cross ID cards for 500 riels each to villagers in Preah Sihanouk province, telling them they would be able to exchange the card for rice donations.

A fight between two children in Battambang province led to the murder of one of their parents Wednesday, police said. The children were playing together in Phnom Prek district when they started bickering. Though they ultimately quelled their dispute, their parents continued arguing, and police said they believe the father of one stabbed the mother of the other to death. Sareth Viseth, the district’s deputy police chief, said the father, who was drunk, is believed to have escaped into the forest, though he added that police will hunt him down and take him to court.

A 41-year-old woman posing as an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An was arrested Thursday in Tuol Kork district after she allegedly conned three separate people – including one monk – into giving her nearly US$9,000. Police said the woman told the victims that the money would be used to construct a pagoda.

Police in Kandal province arrested a 45-year-old drunkard last week on suspicion of injuring four of his neighbours and trying to kill another. Police said the man had been drinking nonstop for nearly 24 hours. They confiscated a piece of wood and a knife as evidence of his crimes.

Siem Reap Airlines set to resume on all routes

Passengers disembark from a Vietnam Airlines plane at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. A State Secretariat of Civil Aviation official said Sunday that Siem Reap Airways would resume international flights, including those to Vietnam, following a relaunch scheduled for next month.

(Post in

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal and Steve Finch

Govt says the troubled line will resume its international flights and Phnom Penh-Siem Reap route – most likely in October

SIEM Reap Airways will resume international flights – as well as the domestic Phnom Penh-Siem Reap route – when it relaunches, most likely next month, a government aviation official said Sunday.

Sinn Chansereyvutha, director of the department of policy planning at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said that the airline would again fly to Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

The airline started flying to Ho Chi Minh City in late October before it grounded all international flights from December 1 following a European Union ban imposed after an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation found Cambodia in breach of 107 standards.

As the only Cambodian airline at the time, it therefore decided to suspend flights, Terry Alton, Siem Reap Airways general manager, previously told the Post. He was unavailable for further comment Sunday.

“We do not have any more reasons to suspend Siem Reap Airways flights … because the company already has the necessary documents and has fulfilled technical requirements,” said Sinn Chansereyvutha, adding that the government had approved a new two-year licence for the airline.

“We believe that Siem Reap Airways will start its official flights by November,” he said.

News of the return of the troubled airline comes after the Cambodian government chose not to renew the licence for its owner, Bangkok Airways, to fly the Phnom Penh-Siem Reap route from October 25, a decision it announced to travel agents the same day, according to a company statement. It did not give any further details on the suspension of its flights on the route in the announcement.

The government said the decision was made on the basis that Bangkok Airways had only been granted the route due to the suspension of Siem Reap Airways flights last year.

New national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air started the same domestic route at the end of July, and it now looks certain that two domestic carriers will compete on the Siem Reap-Phnom Penh route from the end of next month at the latest.

Relaunch date still unclear
Sinn Chansereyvutha said the exact restart date for Siem Reap Airways would depend on when the carrier was ready to fly again.

The airline had not posted news of its relaunch on its Web site by late Sunday.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Airways will increase the fuel surcharge on its international flights to and from Cambodia from October 1, it said in announcement, from US$15 to $20 per one-way flight. The airline said it would keep the fuel surcharge for domestic flights in the Kingdom at $12 per ticket from the same date until it stops flying between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

The last flight on the route is scheduled to fly from the capital at 12:35pm on October 24.

Investment worth $84m approved in August

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Monday, 28 September 2009 15:01 May Kunmakara and Nathan Green

THE Cambodian government approved US$84 million in investment applications in August, taking the total value of approvals for the year to date to $1.564 billion, official figures released Friday show.

The new approvals included three agriculture and three industrial projects, said the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government’s chief investment body.

The names of the companies behind the proposed investments were not disclosed.

In August last year, the government approved $652 million worth of investments, and the first eight months of 2008 saw the approval of $8.992 billion worth of investment projects.

Youn Heng, deputy director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB), a body of the CDC, said he was too busy to comment Friday.

He said last month that although the number and value of applications was falling due to the economic crisis, a few very large project approvals contributed to heavily inflated investment figures last year, including a $3.8 billion proposal, the largest approval last year, by Chinese company Union Development Group Co to build a coastal development in Koh Kong.

Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said the drop in approvals in tourism and real estate was being offset by a investments earmarked for the agriculture, industrial and agro-industrial sectors.

The International Monetary Fund projected Wednesday that foreign direct investment in Cambodia would be worth $490 million this year, down from $815 million in 2008.

Bank profits at risk, IMF says

(Post in

Monday, 28 September 2009 15:01 Nathan Green

‘Too much money’ replaces too little as key risk for local banks.

ASHORTAGE of “attractive” lending opportunities is posing profitability risks for the Kingdom’s banks given a growing deposit base and high interest rates, the International Monetary Fund said last week.

The international financial organisation made the warning Wednesday as it presented its findings from two weeks of discussions with government ministers and senior officials on economic and financial developments in Cambodia.

David Cowen, the deputy division chief in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, told reporters that “healthy deposit growth” meant there was “ample liquidity” in the banking system, but that high rates on deposits could dent profitability given a slowdown in new lending.

“We have expressed some concern that these high deposit rates may have some impact on bank profitability going forward if banks are not able to intermediate this liquidity into new lending opportunities,” he said.

“Much of the deposits that have come in this year are currently being held in the banks’ excess reserves at the NBC [National Bank of Cambodia], and those reserves are remunerated at a very low level.”

Stephen Higgins, chief executive officer at ANZ Royal Bank, said the lack of an interbank market, where banks make surplus funds available for other banks to borrow, and the low return offered by the NBC were an issue.

“In a normal interest-rate environment, where we were earning a decent return on our surplus funds, we wouldn’t be complaining about too much money,” he said.

“In the current environment, where the NBC pays something close to zero, because it is dictated by the US federal funds rate, yet we are offering customers a lot more than that, then yes, you could say we have too much money. That is why we’ve reduced our deposit rates over the last few months, to try and bring our surplus liquidity position to a more efficient level.”

Higgins added that the lack of “attractive lending opportunities”, which he defined as customers with sufficient cash flow to finance repayments, was the biggest problem facing the sector.

“There are some [attractive lending opportunities] out there, and we have a fairly attractive pipeline of opportunities, but not enough to absorb the surplus liquidity that we have,” he said.

The IMF’s findings came in stark contrast to its last fact-finding mission, which concluded in November last year. At the time, the fund warned that the country’s banks were facing liquidity shortages due to a sharp slowing in external inflows and deposit growth. Cowen said last week the NBC had done a “good job” in terms of helping manage liquidity risks over the last year but added that “it remains a concern going forward for us given still volatile conditions in global financial markets”.