Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cambodia to Host Int’l Disaster Management Conference

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 30 November 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Government and the National Disaster Management Committee will work with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) to organize an international disaster management conference in Phnom Penh in near future, Eang Sophalleth, assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday.

The conference will focus on the general disaster management of such calamities as flooding and drought, problems increasingly affecting both Asia and the world, Eang Sophalleth told reporters after talks between Premier Hun Sen and the visiting Prof. Krasae Chanawongse, ADPC chairman and director of the Board of Trustees.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he welcomes and fully supports hosting the event in Phnom Penh, and requested Krasae work with Nhim Vanda, first deputy president of National Disaster Management Committee of Cambodia to successfully organize the event.

Cambodia will exchange disaster information with other countries, helping all to better deal with disaster management issues, he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen told Krasae that Cambodia has all levels of disaster management authorities from municipal to village, as well as the Cambodian Red Cross to help victims and the vulnerable.

Krasae told premier the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) will open an office to work with Cambodian Government, Eang added. Even though the date of the conference has yet to confirmed, planning is going ahead, Eang said.

Nhim Vanda could not be reached for comment yesterday. The ADPC created on February 28, 2005, with Thailand, the Philippi- nes, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan as signatory states.

“Natural hazards and disasters continue to increase in frequency and with varying magnitude leading to destruction, devastation, threats to lives, infrastructure and life supporting systems. Concerns grow and remain with the emergence of associated issues like health emergencies, livelihoods, food security,” an ADPC press release said. “The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies World Disaster Report 2009 reports a total of 226 disasters with 236,302 total numbers of people killed in Asia in 2008. The number of people reported killed was the second highest of the decade, with Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar killing 138,366 people and the earthquake in Sichuan, China with 87,476 people dead or missing. The reported disaster damages were the highest of the decade, accounting for 64 per cent of all damages reported in the world. The Sichuan earthquake alone accounted for 45 per cent of all reported damages. In terms of natural hazards and their impacts, 2008 was one of the most devastating years.”

“We have to join together to share information and provide the mutual benefits for people in the world,” the ADPC concluded.

Kasit Abandons Plans for Neutral Border Organization

Written by DAP NEWS -- Wednesday, 14 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has at the ASEAN Summit abandoned his proposed neutral border dispute resolution organization, paving the way to the resolution of border issues between the neighbors, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.

Kasit’s denial came following a formal letter sent by Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Monday to Kasit to request the border issue be included on the agenda for the upcoming ASEAN Summit Oct 23-25 in Hua Hin and Cha-am, Thailand.

The Cambodian FM rejected Kasit’s proposal to establish a neutral organization in the ASEAN summit to solve the border dispute.

However, Thai Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thani Thongpakdi has denied Kasit ever proposed an ASEAN dispute settlement mechanism to solve the standoff around Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple, according the Thai media on Tuesday.

“The minister might have been quoted out of context in media reports,” Thongpakdi was quoted by the Nation as saying. “The Thai government had reaffirmed its position that the border dispute must be solved bilaterally through the joint boundary commission.” Cambodian MFAIC spokesman Koy Kuong on Tuesday said the Ministry has not yet finalized an official statement about the latest development. “We has not answered yet for the above denial of Kasit as the Ministry has not received any formal clarified letter from the Thai party,” Koy Kuong told DAP News Cambodia.

Meanwhile, one of Thailand’s chiefs of the Joint Boundary Com-mission (JBC) has warned political groups in Thailand not to politicize the border issue for their benefit, since it could jeopardize the boundary demarcation with Cambodia.

“The border issue is very sensitive. It could be a powerful political tool if used for political purposes,” said Co-chair of the Thai-Cambodia Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary Vasin Teeravechyan.

“It is dangerous to politicize the issue for personal interests,” he told a seminar at the Thai Foreign Ministry yesterday.

The issue has been politicized recently by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and its New Politics Party to gain support from nationalists to attack the government.

However, this movement has already received a stern warning from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Over 95,000 Cambodians Listed ‘Temporarily’: NEC

Written by DAP NEWS -- Wednesday, 14 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian listed as temporary in the electoral register now number over 95,000 people, the National Election Committee (NEC) said Tuesday.

NEC Vice-Director Sin Chumbo said at a press conference on October 13 at the NEC of office that 95,446 voters were temporarily registered. There are around 8 million registered voters on Cambodia’s electoral role.

“We deleted on deaths data and reformed remained over 16,398 persons and about 33,144 people changed their homeland.”

There were 8,400,448 Cambo- dians 18 years old or above, inclu- ding 4,394,667 females.

“Previously, we were not sure to determinate the realistic figures in the schedule yet, because during the NEC started to process, there was typhoon [Ketsana] came,” Tep Nytha said. He added that the schedule to start to list from October 01-20, 2009.

Ketsana has slowed electoral registering and checking in Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri, Stung Treng, and Pursat provinces.

Kampong Cham provincial vice secretary of NEC Sok Chhin said that 15 communes were flooded and destroyed, so the schedule was shelved.

Cambodia has suffered significant damage from Ketsana, with rice, vegetables and many houses destroyed in some regions.

Cambodia to raise border issues with Thailand at ASEAN Summit: Cambodian FM

October 14, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will raise border issues with Thailand at area near the 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple at the forthcoming ASEAN summit, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Wednesday.

"We requested the Thai side (Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya) in my official letter to put the border issues between Cambodia and Thailand in the agenda of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit but the Thai side so far has not replied to me officially," Hor told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Hor stressed that "border issues between Cambodia and Thailand are easy to settle and easy to plant the border markers if the Thai side respects international regulations" as the verdict of international court and border treaty in 1904 and 1907 and existing mechanism.

"It is the last choice that we will take the border issues with Thailand to international institutions," he said, adding that actually, "we want to deal with the issue through bilateral and peaceful deal."

Thailand will host ASEAN summit on Oct. 23-25.

Troops with heavy weapons from Cambodia and Thailand have conflicted on border at areas near Preah Vihear temple since July 15, 2008 after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization approved Cambodia's sole bid to list the 11th century temple as a world heritage site.

But, the question of sovereignty over the land has never been clearly resolved as Thailand and Cambodia share a nearly 800-kilometer long common border.

The international court ruled the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia more than 40 years ago, but border dispute over areas around the temple has remained a fuse in the two neighboring countries' relationship.

Armed clashed occurred two or three times and killed several soldiers from both sides.


Lee to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand

(Post by CAAI News Media)

President Lee Myung-bak will visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand next week for bilateral and regional summits, Cheong Wa Dae announced yesterday.

He will attend the annual regional summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its Asia-Pacific dialogue partners to be held in Hua Hin, Thailand Oct. 24-25.

On his way to Thailand, he will visit Hanoi Tuesday and Phnom Penh Thursday.

Lee will seek to enhance bilateral economic ties and regional cooperation with emerging economies in Southeast Asia, Cheong Wa Dae said.

In a summit on Jeju Island in June, Lee and 10 ASEAN leaders adopted a comprehensive partnership agreement on security, trade and socio-cultural ties. They also finalized a free trade agreement by signing its investment segment.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In the upcoming meeting, they will review the implementation of the agreement and seek to broaden their cooperation, the presidential office said.

Lee will also attend the ASEAN Plus Three Summit which includes China and Japan and an annual East Asia Summit that involves the ASEAN Plus Three and India, Australia and New Zealand.

Economic ties between Korea and ASEAN have grown rapidly since the launch of an official dialogue partnership 20 years ago.

The bloc is now Korea's third largest export market and second biggest investment destination.

During his three-days in Hanoi, Lee will hold meetings with Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and will attend a dinner hosted by Nong Duc Manh, secretary-general of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

"President Lee and President Triet will review the progress in their countries' bilateral relations since their diplomatic normalization in 1992 and consult on ways to strengthen cooperation in economic, trade, social and cultural sectors," Cheong Wa Dae said.

Lee will also seek Vietnam's cooperation for Korean companies' greater participation in infrastructure, energy, mineral resources, atomic energy and telecommunications industries, it said.

During a two-day stay in Phnom Penh he will hold a summit with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on cooperation in resources, forestation and agriculture and other economic ties.

The leaders are expected to sign an extradition treaty and a revision to an agreement on the provision of Seoul's development fund. Lee will also meet with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

In June, Lee hosted a special summit to mark 20 years of official ties between Korea and ASEAN.

Korea has been striving to catch up with China and Japan, which have already made huge investments and provided assistance in those dynamic economies with high growth potential and rich natural resources.

During the Jeju summit, Lee declared his hopes to broaden Korea-ASEAN ties as part of his New Asia Initiative aimed at expanding the nation's role in the continent.

Korea aims to increase bilateral trade with the regional bloc from $90.2 billion in 2008 to $150 billion by 2015.

It also promised to double the annual volume of Korea's official development assistance for ASEAN to $400 million by that year.

At the close of the summit, trade ministers signed an investment agreement, which marks the completion of nearly five years of FTA negotiations between the two sides.

The agreement is expected to boost investment through enhanced protection, fair treatment, transparency and dispute settlement rules, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.


By Hwang Jang-jin

Writing Program helps build new generation of scholars

October 13, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

By Ellen Baker

From Cambodia to Kentucky, university professors are always helping each other.

Anne Mareck, the UK Writing Program associate director, was contacted by a professor on a mission to rebuild a generation of scholars.

Mareck said Jeanette Coufal, a curriculum and development specialist at Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, contacted the UK Writing Program for ideas about how to teach composition. Mareck said she invited Coufal to talk about teaching students to write. They met on Aug. 4, and at that time, Mareck learned of Coufal’s mission.

Mareck learned Coufal was seeking assistance from the UK Writing Program because she was looking to rebuild a lost generation of Cambodian intellectuals.

The Khmer Rouge, a Cambodian Communist wave of violence led by dictator Pol Pot from 1975-79, murdered approximately 2 million Cambodians—about 21 percent of the national population. The massacre specifically targeted scholars, who were seen as subversives, effectively eliminating Cambodia’s knowledge base.

When Coufal received a Fulbright professorship to the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, she was surprised she would teach English composition to graduate students. Coufal told Mareck Cambodian universities have never fully recovered from the Pol Pot massacres and her Fulbright professorship is an attempt to train a new generation of scholars in hopes of enriching the Cambodian higher education environment.

Upon traveling to UK to learn more about writing composition, Coufal carried $1,000 to purchase textbooks to bring back to Cambodia. However, Mareck knew Coufal’s budget would be insufficient for the books she needed.

Mareck contacted the program’s Bedford/St. Martin’s book representative, Cindy Hall, for financial assistance. Hall immediately asked her supervisors to donate textbooks to Coufal’s mission

“It was just the right things to do,” Hall said. “They needed good textbooks and they had such a paltry budget.”

On Coufal’s behalf, Bedford/St. Martin’s donated 80 textbooks and 13 personal teaching guides, worth more than $3,500. Mareck said Coufal was thrilled that her $1,000 could now be spent on other educational costs for her students.

“Community literacy is something that we concentrate on,” Mareck said. “Literacy can be used to broaden the contribution the community offers.”

PM, Nat’l Assembly talk weaponry

Photo by: AFP

Prime Minister Hun Sen salutes during a military parade celebrating the 15th anniversary of Brigade 70 in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:05 Meas Sokchea and Sam Rith

CAMBODIA is in the process of modernising its national defences, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday, on the same day that the National Assembly adopted articles of a law regulating chemical weapons and the substances that may be used to produce them.

Speaking during a ceremony to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 70, his personal bodyguard unit, Hun Sen said the Cambodian government “has been working to develop and modernise the national defence sector in order to give our armed forces the chance to fulfill their duties effectively”.

Parliamentarians, meanwhile, passed articles contained in six of the 13 chapters of a law relating to the regulation of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons in a relatively peaceful session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The law would make the production or transportation of such weapons punishable by sentences of 20 years to life in prison. The sale and distribution of materials that may be used to manufacture such weapons, even if the materials are being used for another purpose, will carry a steep fine if it is done without advance permission from the government.

In an appearance before the assembly, Defence Minister Tea Banh urged lawmakers to ratify these penalties, warning of the castastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences of chemical and nuclear weapons.

Photo by: Kem Sovannara

Soldiers march as others salute from the tops of tanks Tuesday during a ceremony to commemorate Brigade 70’s 15th anniversary at Royal Cambodian Armed Forces headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Lawyers for Ieng Sary file OCIJ appeal

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:05 Sebastian Strangio and Meas Sokchea

Say investigation of their client lacks transparency, fairness.

DEFENCE lawyers for former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary have turned up the heat on the war crimes tribunal’s Office of Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ), saying investigators are stonewalling requests for details about the investigation process.

In a motion of appeal filed Tuesday, Ieng Sary’s lawyers reiterated the contents of a request filed in May seeking additional information about the ongoing investigation of four former regime leaders, saying they have not received a timely response from the OCIJ.

“This is an issue which directly involves the transparency and fairness of the proceedings,” lawyers Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom wrote in the appeal.

“By failing to provide a timely response, the OCIJ is deliberately concealing information related to the quality, scope and methodology of its investigation.”

Among the requests lodged in May – and reiterated in Tuesday’s appeal – were demands for information relating to the overall strategy of the investigation, the qualifications of the investigating judges and “the collection and analysis of exculpatory evidence”.

The latter became a fraught issue on Friday, when Ieng Sary’s lawyers filed a separate motion requesting the removal of International Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde, saying he has shown an “impermissible bias” in his conduct of the investigation.

The motion was based on an account provided by Wayne Bastin, a former chief of the OCIJ’s Intelligence and Analysis Unit, who quoted Lemonde as saying investigators should “find more inculpatory evidence than exculpatory evidence” in the tribunal’s case against four former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Also Tuesday, So Sovann, the lawyer for former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, filed a similar motion seeking the removal of Lemonde and the release of his client.

“My client Khieu Samphan must be released immediately because … this judge did not respect his obligation to be neutral,” he told reporters.

In light of recent allegations, Karnavas said the appeal would bear heavily on the court’s second case, due to begin next year.

The “entire process of investigating has been one of immense doubt and concern – primarily because of the complexity of the case and the lack of transparency,” he said.

However, court spokesman Lars Olsen said the request filed by Ieng Sary’s team in May was being considered by the OCIJ, who had every intention of responding to the defence’s concerns.

“The co-investigating judges have received many requests from the defence teams, which raise a lot of legal issues that are very time-consuming,” he said.

Although internal rules place the judges under strict obligation to conduct investigations impartially – searching for evidence that both incriminates and exculpates defendants – observers remain uncertain about the outcome of the allegations against Lemonde.

“The eventual outcome relating to these allegations is entirely too speculative until we know the true nature and scope of the alleged misconduct,” said David Scheffer, director of the Centre for International Human Rights at Chicago’s Northwestern University School of Law.

“If the facts show that investigations proceeded on a fair and comprehensive basis to explore exculpatory evidence regardless of the co-investigating judge’s alleged remarks, the allegations may prove inconsequential,” he said.

Also Tuesday, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and the REDRESS Trust submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Pre-Trial Chamber pertaining to a decision by the OCIJ regarding the use of “torture-tainted evidence” in the case of former Khmer Rouge minister of social action, Ieng Thirith.

The OCIJ in July dismissed a request from Ieng Thirith’s defence team to deem all such evidence inadmissible.

In their brief, filed September 25, the organisations urged the chamber to “reject any attempts to admit statements obtained by torture as evidence in any proceedings”.

King supports rights groups

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:05 Chrann Chamroeun

KING Norodom Sihamoni is backing a local rights group’s letter urging intervention in the case of a controversial Ratanakkiri judge accused of irregularities in a simmering land dispute, the NGO said.

News of the unusual move from the monarch came a day after Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana announced that Ratanakkiri provincial court Judge Thor Saron would face an investigation over an unrelated allegation that he haddriven for personal use a truck that had been impounded as evidence in a murder trial.

According to the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), King Sihamoni has written to Ang Vong Vathana, a member of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, urging him to conduct an investigation into Thor Saron.

CCHR investigator Chhim Savudth said his group received a copy of the letter Tuesday from the King’s cabinet.

Judge disputes allegations
In September, the CCHR urged an investigation into allegations against Thor Saron regarding an ongoing land dispute in Ratanakkiri involving ethnic minorities and a private company.

The judge had been accused of releasing some of the arrested villagers in exchange for land.

The judge on Tuesday welcomed the King’s apparent intervention.

“I welcome the royal letter to conduct an investigation, but I would countersue these people for wrongly accusing me of releasing culprits in return for a sum of money and land,” Thor Saron said.

“It’s a complete slander against me,” he said.

PM urges support for victims of Ketsana

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:05 Vong Sokheng and Jacob Gold

PRIME Minister Hun Sen urged the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the government and provinical authorities to prepare to supply emergency food, sanitation and shelter to the thousands of Cambodians affected by Typhoon Ketsana.

Speaking at Brigade 70’s 15th anniversary parade Tuesday, the premier said: “I sympathise with people who died in Typhoon Ketsana. This was a disaster such as we have not seen since 2000, and, in its wake, we must ensure that its victims are not faced with starvation.”

Ketsana slammed into Cambodia on September 29, pummelling the country with 185km/h winds and torrential rain. Two weeks on, conditions in the hardest-hit provinces are still grim. Oxfam spokesman Seang Soleak recalled the story of You Thaych, 25, from Toulchar village in Kampong Thom.

“She was a 25-year-old mother of five with a newborn baby, just one-and-a-half months old. Before the typhoon, the family evacuated to higher ground. On the night Ketsana hit, it blew the roof off the place they were staying, and they were forced to sleep in the rain. The newborn baby had nothing but a little blanket.”

The baby survived, as did the rest of You Thaych’s family, but they have been forced to rely on NGOs for food. During the storm, her fisherman husband sustained a leg injury that became infected, leaving him unable to work.

“They were living in an extremely difficult situation,” Seang Soleak said. “They were trying to borrow rice from their neighbours, but everyone else was running out of rice, too.”

Workers faint from pesticide

Photo by: AFP
An unconscious woman is carried from a factory in Phnom Penh on Monday. Hundreds of garment workers have fainted in the capital so far this month.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:05 Chhay Channyda

SOUTH Korean-owned Willbes garment factory in Phnom Penh closed its doors for cleaning on Tuesday, a day after hundreds of workers fainted following exposure to a chemical spray.

Pok Vanthat, director of the Labour Health Department at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, confirmed that 414 of the factory’s 1,540 workers fainted on Monday. He also confirmed that the spray involved was a pesticide, although he couldn’t identify which one.

“We found that the factory was spraying chemical pesticide in its warehouse ... to kill insects that might damage the clothes” he said. “[Factories] should use chemicals that present the minimum danger to workers.” An investigation conducted on the day of the incident also found the factory was improperly ventilated.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said factories should be educated in the safe use of chemicals. “Some factories do not even provide masks for workers to wear”, he said.

This is the fourth time in two months that mass fainting has hit garment workers. In early September, 130 workers passed out at the Maurea garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district due to the overuse of pesticides. The same month, 124 workers fainted over the course of several days at nearby Golden Mile factory because of poor ventilation.

Survivor of ferry disaster speaks of loss

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:05 Rann Reuy

A FATHER who lost his two young sons and a pregnant wife in this weekend’s ferry capsizing described on Tuesday his desperate attempts to save his family, as other survivors struggled to come to terms with their losses.

Families of the 17 drowned victims Monday demanded compensation from the owner of the overloaded boat that capsized in Kratie province Saturday evening, and the district’s police chief awaited a court order to arrest the still-missing ferry owner.

Survivor Eang Sokun lost his family in the disaster, and he described a scene of terrified passengers grasping at one another in the dark in a desperate bid to stay afloat.

Clutching one of his toddler sons in one arm and the hand of his pregnant wife in the other, Eang Sokun struggled to swim to safety when the boat capsized. But his wife was torn from his grip as other victims, their arms flailing wildly, latched on to anything they could to save themselves from drowning.

By the time he reached the shore, grabbing a bamboo pole someone had thrown into the water, his family was gone.

“I am lucky to survive,” Eang Sokun said on Tuesday.

“But I feel like I have died because all my family has died.”

Three days after the disaster, Eang Sokun was still haunted by unanswered questions. Why didn’t the ferry owner, Uch Ry, try to save the other victims, he asked.

Officials say they believe the owner swam to safety and is now in hiding, although the man’s daughter told the Post on Sunday that she thought her father drowned.

The survivors and families of the victims are now demanding compensation from the boat owner’s family. Eang Sokun is demanding US$2,000 for each of his drowned family members. Others have asked for 4 million riels (US$960), said Chhlong district police Chief Hong Sokhly. The boat owner’s family has offered 1 million riels (US$240).

Kratie provincial prosecutor Chat Soreasmei said it was too early to speculate on what charges, if any, the boat owner could face.

Blame for the ferry disaster has been liberally thrown around. An employee of the boat owner who survived the sinking previously said that passengers insisted on cramming onto the 8-metre-long vessel Saturday evening, even though it was clearly overloaded.

Cambodian ferry operators had previously been ordered to equip their vessels with safety equipment, such as life vests, said Ung Chun Huor, director general in the Transportation Department at the Ministry of Public Works.

Implementation, however, is another matter.

“We already instructed them, but we don’t know how the order has been implemented,” Ung Chun Huor said.

The state of the law is equally murky. Ung Chun Huor said his ministry does not have a law pertaining to river transportation – although one is being drafted.

“Next year, the law will be ready,” he said.

Thai national held on suspicion of murder

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

A THAI national was arrested Monday on suspicion of strangling a 20-year-old Cambodian woman to death in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district over the weekend.

The killing occurred on Saturday night at the Ly Hour Guesthouse, where the suspect and victim were staying together.

“The suspect is now being detained temporarily at our district police station for questioning relating to a murder case at Ly Hour Guesthouse, where he shared a room with the murdered woman on Saturday night,” said Daun Penh district police Chief Yim Socheat.

The suspect, who worked as an air-conditioner technician for Canadia bank, entered Cambodia on April 18.

Yim Socheat added that the suspect has not yet been charged with murder but is currently under investigation.

“The suspect didn’t confess to the murder, but he confessed to having a relationship with the girl for a while at a massage club which he used to frequent,” he said.

However, Psar Thmey commune police Chief Nou Punthol said he believes that the suspect is involved in the murder.

Nou Punthol said that with cooperation from the owner of the guesthouse, police were able to identify the suspect and apprehend him near his workplace after the victim’s body was found on Sunday morning.

“Her family learned about the sad news on Sunday mornin,” he said. “They requested that the killer be brought to justice.”

Thais reject ASEAN role in border row

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:04 James O'Toole

Dispute with Cambodia must be solved bilaterally: Bangkok.

THAILAND has rejected reports that it favours ASEAN intervention in its ongoing border dispute with Cambodia, one day after Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong sent a letter to his Thai counterpart, Kasit Piromya, supporting the idea.

Last Thursday, the Bangkok Post newspaper published an article in which Kasit was quoted as saying that he planned to propose the establishment of a “neutral organisation” to resolve disputes between ASEAN countries at the regional body’s upcoming summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, to be held October 23 to 25.

Such an organisation, Kasit was quoted as saying, “may provide an avenue for Thailand and Cambodia to settle the dispute” over the border area near Preah Vihear temple.

Hor Namhong cited this article in his letter to Kasit, proposing that ASEAN include the two countries’ border dispute in the agenda for its upcoming summit.

On Tuesday, however, an official from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Bangkok Post had taken Kasit’s quotes out of context, and that Thailand continues to support bilateral negotiations under the auspices of the Joint Border Commission as the means of settling the dispute.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday that although officials in his ministry had yet to receive an official response regarding Hor Namhong’s letter, they were open to a variety of proposals for settling the two countries’ disagreement.

“Cambodia has said that the border issue should be solved bilaterally, peacefully and unequivocally” with Thailand, Koy Kuong said.

“But if Thailand wants the border issues to be solved at the ASEAN level, Cambodia is happy to accept it.”

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, was more cynical about Hor Namhong’s letter, however. He called the missive an example of “brinksmanship”, saying that Hor Namhong likely recognises the difficult position in which the border issue places Thailand.

“This would be a challenge to Thailand, as the host and chair of ASEAN, not to be able to solve the border dispute through the ASEAN framework,” he said, adding that Cambodia likely believes its case for the disputed territory would stand up well under international scrutiny.

Officials contacted at the ASEAN secretariat in Jakarta had not responded to a request for comment as of press time on Tuesday.

Drunken drivers targeted

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Police officer Loy Chen on Tuesday tests one of 30 breath analysers donated to the Cambodian National Police department by Australia’s Queensland Police Service.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:04 Khoun Leakhana

Australia’s Queensland Police Service (QPS) donated 30 breath analysers and five mobile radars to Cambodia’s National Police on Tuesday to help with the enforcement of traffic laws targeting drunken drivers.

“Road accidents in Cambodia kill at least four people per day and are the result of speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol,” QPS spokesman Ray Shuey said.

The equipment is to be delivered to police stations in selected provinces on Friday. “The equipment is not new, but it will help Cambodia,” Yun Chhun Ny, National Police deputy commissioner, said.

In Phnom Penh alone, between August and October, 1,172 drivers were caught speeding, and 682 were caught driving under the influence of alcohol, official data show. According to traffic laws introduced in February 2007, drivers who refuse a breath analysis face up to a month in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 riels (US$48). Drunken drivers face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 1 million riels.

More monks behaving badly

Photo by: DAP
Preah Sihanouk province monk Kiet Chan Thouch was accused of biting subordinates.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:04 Kim Yuthana

Eleven monks defrocked in Siem Reap for all-night pagoda drinking session.

ELEVEN monks in Siem Reap province have been defrocked after a gin-fuelled all-night bender that shocked local villagers, government and religious authorities said Tuesday.

Officials said the monks gathered for a gin-drinking session on Sunday night in the province’s Srah Daun Rik pagoda and continued drinking until the next morning, when a villager found the monks still in an intoxicated state.

Residents demanded that the monks be defrocked, said Banteay Srey district Deputy Governor Sou Son.

“The 11 monks were stripped of their robes Monday morning in response to the villagers’ requests,” said Sou Son.

Nine of the monks were under the age of 20, he said.

Villager Sam Sarin said he saw the pagoda’s abbot giving the visibly disheveled monks an angry tongue-lashing Monday morning.

“I noticed they were still in a drunken manner,” he said.

“Some of them seemed to be seriously sleepy. There were remnants of vomit still on their robes. They looked very disgusting.”

The Post was unable to reach the pagoda’s abbot for comment on Sunday.

Instant punishment
However, the order to defrock the monks was immediate, said the province’s Buddhist archbishop, Pech Sokhaing, who said he issued the decree promptly after receiving a report on the case.

“It is against the disciplines of Buddhism, so defrocking the monks was the right measure,” he said.

The province’s deputy director of cults and religious affairs, Van Bunna, said he was shocked at news of monks behaving badly and breaching their codes of behaviour. Their action reflects poorly on Buddhism, he said.

“I regret to hear that Buddhist monks acted against the discipline of Buddhism like this,” he said.

The defrocked monks could not be reached for comment.

Monks have been making headlines for the wrong reasons over the last month. In September, Kiet Chan Thouch, a prominent monk from Preah Sihanouk province, was accused by subordinates of drunkenly biting them – a charge he has adamantly denied.

Last week, an abbot in Banteay Meanchey was deposed and defrocked after he was accused of stealing cash intended for his pagoda’s upkeep, and failing in his duties.

Workers sought in Kampot attack

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:04 Kim Yuthana

KAMPOT provincial police say they are preparing arrest warrants for more than 10 Chinese construction workers suspected of assaulting two Cambodian traffic police following a dispute on Sunday.

Phlang Phearin, the Kampot provincial police chief, said Tuesday that a fight broke out when the two traffic police stopped a truck carrying Chinese workers from the Kamchay hydropower dam in the province’s Teuk Chhou district. After phoning more workers, the police were beaten up and the suspects fled, he said.

“We have identified the suspects and will arrest them soon after we have the documents,” he said, adding police were seeking “more than 10” men.

Phlang Phearin said that in the fight, traffic police officer Chhem Hak, 42, was injured in the hip, and Chamroeut Chhoeun, 43, sustained head injuries and a broken left hand.

He also said a representative of Sinohydro, the Chinese company building the dam, had tried to negotiate with police, but did not comment further.

Shu Jiang, Sinohydro’s deputy managing director, admitted workers from his company had been involved in the incident but said there was probably more to the story.

“My workers attacked the policemen, but there was some reason, I think,” he said. “I don’t know – maybe the police asked for money, and the workers didn’t want to give it.”

Shu Jiang did not know anything about plans to arrest the workers, saying he had already been in touch with police and expected a peaceful resolution to the affair.


Cuts to voter rolls incite alarm

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:04 Khouth Sophakchakrya

THE National Election Committee (NEC) has removed the names of thousands of voters who have died or relocated, it announced on Tuesday, prompting fears that victims of forced evictions may be denied the right to vote.

Sin Chum Bo, vice president of the NEC, said it removed the names of 33,144 voters.

The move was condemned by the opposition and civil society groups, who said it could prevent evictees taking part in future elections.

Hyng Yoeun, the Sam Rainsy Party representative in charge of elections, said: “We are concerned that, just as in 2008’s national election, the evictees will be unable to vote. Most of them have already been refused registration by various authorities and election staff.”

Lim Kim Ly, executive director of the Family Agriculture Development Community, said the majority of evictees were being struck off on technicalities.

“Most ... are being refused registration because they lost documents during their eviction. These include identity cards, family books, residence books and birth certificates. In these cases, the authorities should help to replace the documents.”

According to the NEC, 351,862 eligible voters have yet to register.

NGOs decry forced eviction

Villagers watch on as their homes and possesions are destroyed by police during a land eviciton Friday in Bos village, Oddar Meanchey.

I’m very concerned about my personal safety. I dare not go anywhere at all.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:03 Tep Nimol

Human rights watchdog lashes out at Oddar Meanchey authorities as more than 20 villagers remain on the run, fearing arrest on incitement charges.

RIGHTS groups have slammed the violent forced eviction of villagers in Oddar Meanchey province last week following a long-running land dispute, describing the actions as a “serious violation” of human rights.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) – a coalition of 21 local NGOs – criticised the action, which saw authorities raze the homes of 214 villagers in Kaun Kriel commune’s Bos village.

“CHRAC wishes to propose to provincial authorities and all classes of competent authorities to provide intervention for a swift halt of arrests of and threats against people, and to provide land for those victimised,” the statement said.

On October 9, armed provincial authorities crushed and set fire to houses in Kaun Kriel commune’s Bos village to clear the area for development by Angkor Sugar Company, which has been granted a 10,000-hectare economic land concession in the area.

One villager, who is now hiding out in Phnom Penh, said Tuesday that Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities had threatened to arrest all the men in Bos village on incitement charges, forcing them to flee into the forest or to the capital to escape detention.

“Some are hiding in the forest with nothing to eat, and they will be arrested when they show up,” the villager said. “They are now in a very miserable situation.”

He said that there were fears authorities would also arrest any women who dared to stand up against the eviction, but that 16-year-old villager Mao Phleung, who was detained on Monday for questioning, had already been released by police.

Huoy Chhuoy, the former Bos village chief, said the authorities knew the approximate whereabouts of 28 villagers who had fled and planned to hunt for them in Phnom Penh. “I’m very concerned about my personal safety. I dare not go anywhere at all. I would like to call for the government and [civil society groups] to help protect us and especially help bring food to our hiding places, too,” he said.

Authorities, however, denied they were seeking the arrests of the villagers. Ty Sovintal, prosecutor of the Siem Reap provincial court, who is in charge of the land dispute case at Bos village, said the court had only issued warrants for the arrest of three villagers on charges, filed by the provincial Forestry Administration, of inciting villagers and “causing turbulence” against the government’s development policy.

Vath Paranin, Banteay Meanchey provincial secretary general, said the authorities never planned to arrest the other villagers.

“It was just a rumour,” he said. “In fact, we are trying to call all the escaped villagers to return home.”

Lightning deaths on the rise in Cambodia

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Tep Nimol

THE number of people killed by lightning in Cambodia is rising fast, according to new figures released Tuesday.

During the first eight months of this year, 138 people died, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management. Last year, 95 people were killed. The increase has been blamed on a lack of awareness in rural areas.

Most victims were people standing in open fields or sheltering under trees during electrical storms, said the committee’s spokesman, Keo Vy.

The second-biggest cause was using electrical appliances. “Although we cannot stop lightning, we can help reduce the dangers caused by it,” he said, emphasising the need to educate people living in rural areas about mitigating the risk of being hit by lightning.

With the power of 100 million volts of electricity, a lightning bolt can measure more than 8 kilometres in length and raise the temperature of the surrounding air to 27,700C. Victims typically suffer cardiac arrest and damage to the central nervous system when struck.

Airport in Sihanoukville due to open in November: govt

A Cambodia Angkor Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Phnom Penh International Airport. The new airline is assessing its options over possible routes through Preah Sihanouk International Airport.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:03 May Kunmakara and Nathan Green

New national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air weighs possibility of charter flights to refurbished airport, aviation officials say

CAMBODIA’S PREAH Sihanouk International Airport is now expected to open to air traffic from November, with Cambodia’s national carrier slated to begin offering chartered services to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap from some time next month.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Secretary of State Mao Havannal said Tuesday that long-awaited upgrades to the coastal resort’s sole airport had been completed by Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports (SCA), which also operates airports in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. “I went to check all the technical equipment last Friday,” he said. “Everything is in place and complies with international standards.”

SCA had confirmed it was on track for the launch, which was originally planned to coincide with the maiden flight of Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA) on July 27, but had not set a precise date, Mao Havannal said.

The airport operator had also confirmed the launch would be presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and top officials from France. The delayed launch was attributed to the wishes of SCA to have French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy in attendance.

Soy Sokhan, SSCA undersecretary of state in charge of CAA, said the airline would initially launch chartered flights only from Sihanoukville, though it was examining the feasibility of establishing regular routes between the town and both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

“Firstly, we need to complete a market survey looking at the number of tourists, and contact with travel agents who book passengers on cruises to get an idea of potential demand,” he said.

SCA is due to announce its flight schedule for Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanouk international airports on October 21, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

Mao Havannal said Siem Reap Airways, which has been cleared by the government to take over domestic routes from its parent Bangkok Airways on October 25, had not been considered for a permit to fly from the airport as the firm has not registered any planes in Cambodia, a requirement for domestic operators to receive an Air Operator Certificate (AOC).

He also cast doubt on whether the airline would be ready to take over any routes from its parent on October 25.

“I don’t know for sure if Siem Reap Airways will be able to fly or not,” he said. “It depends on the airline because we have already confirmed with them that if they want to resume their operations, they need to register an airplane [in Cambodia]. It already completely complies with SSCA requirements and has satisfied concerns over its operations.”

The government decided last month not to renew a special permit issued to Bangkok Airways when Siem Reap Airways was grounded in controversial circumstances at the end of last year following an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit of civil aviation standards in Cambodia. A full reason for the grounding has never been publicly released.

Siem Reap Airways General Manager Terry Alton said Tuesday the airline was in discussions with financiers about leasing a plane to fly the Siem Reap-Phnom Penh route and was hopeful of concluding an agreement.

“It could happen tomorrow, it could happen in a week, it could happen in a month,” he said.

No airplanes available
Alton added that Bangkok Airways did not have a spare plane to loan for registration in Cambodia, as required by Cambodian law.

Siem Reap Airlines has already put in its request for flight slots to SCA ahead of next week’s announcement, but it had not asked for routes through Sihanoukville, he said.

Bangkok Airways Deputy Manager of International Media Relations Ekkaphon Nanta O’Sot said that passengers booked on the Phnom Penh-Siem Reap route through Bangkok Airways will need to be transferred to CAA if Siem Reap Airways is not back in operation on that date.

High-end hotel slide continues

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:03 JEREMY MULLINS

CAMBODIA’S high-end hotels have continued to suffer in recent months, managers said Tuesday, though some said they were optimistic of a pickup as the high season kicks in next month.

Sokha Beach Resort sales coordinator Vantaa In said his Sihanoukville hotel had seen occupancy rates of between 30 and 40 percent this autumn, a drop of about 10 percent on the same period last year during what is the low season.

“Our general manager … said business will suffer until October of next year,” he said.

Luxury hotels in Phnom Penh have suffered the same drop in occupancy, but representatives of the industry in the capital said they were more optimistic about the immediate future.

“We’re down to about 40 to 30 percent business,” Sorphorn Loeuk, sales manager at Hotel Cambodiana, said Tuesday. “It’s picking up a lot right now,” he said, adding “at the end of the month it will become busier”.

Cambodia’s main destination, Siem Reap, has suffered even more due to the global economic crisis, hotel managers said.

“Phnom Penh is better off than Siem Reap. People stay longer in Phnom Penh,” said Kham Serey Chantha of Pacific Hotel, which has branches in the capital and Siem Reap. “The number of Japanese guests is decreasing, and Europeans are not increasing. The Asian market is all that’s left.”

That means this high season will be worse than last year, said Greg Anderson, general manager of Le Meridien Angkor hotel in Siem Reap.

“The fourth quarter is not going to be the fourth quarter of 2008,” he said.

Besides the financial crisis, swine flu and the Thai border dispute had affected the sector, he added.

Most Cambodians still shop at markets, survey discovers

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Checkout workers wait for customers at Phnom Penh’s City Mall last month. Most Cambodians still do the bulk of their shopping in traditional markets, a survey said Tuesday.

MARKET majority

Retail format most often used for shopping:

Traditional markets - 37pc
Local shops - 28pc
Street vendors - 18pc
Shopping centres - 7pc
Supermarkets - 8pc

Source: Indochina Resource

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:02 Nathan Green

New data show that the Kingdom’s new supermarkets and shopping centres still have a lot of work to do to entice shoppers away from traditional markets.

MODERN retail shopping centres have sprung up recently in Phnom Penh, leading to tight competition for customers at a time when discretionary spending is under pressure from the global economic crisis.

But according to the results of a survey released Tuesday by Indochina Research, the toughest battle the city’s malls are facing is in luring consumers away from traditional markets.

Although the survey shows that almost 40 percent of Cambodia’s urbanites prefer to shop in modern-format shopping centres and supermarkets, just 15 percent cited them as the place they most often shopped. In contrast, 65 percent cited traditional markets, convenience stores and neighbourhood shops as the place they made the bulk of purchases.

“If you look at the data, the modern shopping centres still have a lot to do to attract consumers,” said Indochina Research General Manager Laurent Notin.

The survey was part of the market research company’s quarterly regional I-TRAK survey. It questioned 600 key household-purchase decision makers aged 21 and over in Phnom Penh, Vientiane, and Vietnam’s two major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Notin said the research indicated that consumers in Cambodia were beginning to change shopping habits in favour of modern retail options, but that convenience stores were reaping the benefits over shopping centres and supermarkets.

“The perceptions among consumers are that supermarkets are more expensive than convenience stores and traditional markets,” he said, adding that the company did not have a price index to determine the accuracy of the perception.

But findings from Vietnam, where 56 percent of those surveyed made the bulk of their purchases in shopping malls and supermarkets, gave hope for the modern format in Cambodia, Notin said.

“In Vietnam, supermarkets are bigger and provide everything under one roof,” he said. “Here in Cambodia, where it is the traditional markets that are known for having everything under one roof, we are far from that point. [The Vietnam findings show] there is still a lot to achieve in being more modern and attracting more people.”

Lee Hsieh Yu, whose Taiwanese firm Fu Yang Investment owns the four-storey City Mall Shopping Centre recently opened next to Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium, said the findings were not a surprise, but that he was confident that Cambodians would increasingly embrace the modern retail format if mall and store owners got the recipe right.

“We have promotions every month and we work with shop owners to improve their offerings,” he said, adding that goods had to be priced right and then discounts offered judiciously to attract customers. He also said it was important retailers improved the range of products on offer.

Home-grown favourites
The survey also looked at preferences for locally produced and imported products. Cambodian respondents showed the clearest preference for home-grown food and beverage goods with 58 percent preferring to buy local goods, compared with 52 percent in Vietnam and 44 percent in Laos. The numbers dropped to 54 percent preference for locally made personal-care products among Cambodian respondents and just 41 percent for durable goods, reflecting the paucity of decent-quality goods produced locally.

“It’s a good sign. There seems to be the space for local brands, but there aren’t a lot of local products now,” Notin said. “Vietnam has a lot more local brands, but here you can almost count them on one hand.”

ACLEDA profits up 73pc in Q3

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:02 Nguon Sovan

ACLEDA Bank recorded a 72.79 percent rise in profits between June and September quarter-on-quarter, a report by the lender said Tuesday, marking a recovery after a fall of 54 percent in the second quarter.

The financial report showed profits after tax hit US$2.32 million, up from $1.34 million in the second quarter.

“In the second quarter, profit was down due to … the non-performing loan rate, but in the third quarter, the NPL rate dropped, so profit is up again,” So Phonnary, executive vice president and chief of operations officer at ACLEDA Bank, said Tuesday.

She added that the NPL ratio dropped to 1.3 percent at the end of September from 1.6 percent at the end of June.

“Some of the NPLs have been recovered – that’s the reason for the rise in profit,” said So Phonnary. “We expect that the NPL ratio will drop to less than 1 percent in the fourth quarter because now everything is going to recover, but just slightly.”

Total profit for the first nine months was $6.578 million, Tuesday’s report showed, meaning it is unlikely that ACLEDA will match the $19.4 million it made over the whole of last year.

“It was the best year for the bank’s profits in 2008, but this year we expect … only around $10 million for the whole year,” said So Phonnary.

No other Cambodian banks disclosed financial results for the third quarter; however, Stephen Higgins, CEO of ANZ Royal, said revenues during the period marked a major improvement on the first quarter.

“Revenues in the September quarter were up nearly 25 percent on the January quarter, which was probably the low point in terms of performance,” he said, adding that annual revenues were likely “to be up high single digits, to maybe low double digits” year-on-year.

This is “quite a good performance in the context of the severe economic downturn that hit Cambodia late last year”, Higgins added.


Designing a high-end business model to survive crisis

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Design Group art director Sok Kong works on his latest design Tuesday.

We are not getting small business, we are getting big business.... We are the most expensive in town.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:02 Jeremy Mullins and Soeun Say

Although many firms have cut design outsourcing, Design Group has carved out a niche market.

OVER more than a decade in Cambodia, Design Group (DG) has established itself as a leading graphic design company, creating appealing layouts and printed products for some of the country’s premier clients.

Founded in 1996 by Richard McDonough, a British national, the Phnom Penh-based mid-sized agency has developed an impressive list of customers, ranging from Metro Cafe to Foster’s beer, the FCC, the World Bank and the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

DG art director Sok Kong said the key to the company’s success was that it focused on the needs of the end user, not just the perceived needs of DG’s clients.

He said the first step in any design job was to meet the clients to discover what they were trying to say, and, most importantly, who they were trying to say it to.

As an example, he talked about the challenges of printing T-shirts for ABC Radio Australia during the Water Festival. The firm asked for medium-sized T-shirts for their advertisements, but initially failed to realise that an Australian medium-sized shirt and a Cambodian one were considerably different in size.

“For some Cambodians, the T-shirt reaches below their bottoms, and you can’t see the advertising on the bottom of the T-shirt,” Sok Kong said.

He added that the global financial crisis has resulted in around a 10 percent reduction in business over the last year, but that the smaller clients appeared to have taken the hardest hit.

“We are not getting small business, we are getting big business,” he said. “[The small businesses] only think of cost. We are the most expensive in town. Big companies are looking for a strong company they can believe in.”

Business from NGOs has also remained fairly constant despite the financial crisis, he added.

The professionalism and creativity of DG’s staff enables them to charge top dollar without losing key clients, Sok Kong said. “We compete with newer local design agencies of the same size as us. They are cheaper advertising agencies, but customers come back because they get what they want from here.”

Clients tend to provide the raw materials for the print jobs, such as pictures, logos and text, from which DG creates three unique drafts of the product for the client to choose from, he added.

The design agency is staffed by two expats, who tend to focus on work for foreign clients, and eight Cambodians, who work on projects for both Cambodian and foreign organisations.

“Some clients are owned by foreigners, and the design has to be done for foreigner’s specifications,” he said. “If it’s a Cambodian company, we do it for what Cambodians like.”

The salary for DG’s Cambodian staff ranges from US$300 to $700 per month. They were mostly drawn from technology graduates of the Vocational Training Centre of Battambang, many of them starting their careers at DG as interns.

Generally designing products in English and Khmer, DG has also worked with creating merchandise for firms in Vietnamese, French, Laotian, Thai, and Chinese.

“The most difficult is Chinese,” Sok Kong said. “If you change one little part then the whole meaning is changed.”

Like other Cambodian businesses, DG remains content to weather the financial storm for the next year or two. Sok Kong said he would like to see the business grow to hire more foreign-trained designers and expand to different media, specifically to develop television commercials. But he says these goals are probably several years away.

For now, Sok Kong says he is content to watch as DG designs and creates graphic products for some of Cambodia’s premier companies and organisations.