Friday, 16 October 2009

Singer laments lack of good live music in town

Australian musician Daniel Sea

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:02 Peter Olszewski

Live music in Siem Reap, like in most resort towns, sucks and is confined mostly to covers of old 60s and 70s tunes, usually perpetrated by over-energetic Filipino bands.

Australian musician Daniel Sea, who performs three evenings a week at Molly Malone’s, laments the lack of decent live music in town.

“There’s not much of a music scene here to be honest, which is a shame because Siem Reap could use a lot more entertainment options.”

While his brief is, as usual, to play cover versions, Sea likes to mix it up to keep things interesting.

“I try to pick songs that people know but maybe they haven’t heard in a long time, and aren’t the obvious choices,” he said.

Sea, 35, grew up around music: his father was an Australian pop star in his youth. He moved to London in 1997 where he formed a rock band, Eight Foot Four.

In 2005, Sea started performing in Asia and first came to Siem Reap as a tourist over three years ago during a break from regular gigs at Choppers bar on Thailand’s Koh Tao.

Since then, he has shared his time between Koh Tao and Siem Reap. Sea also writes songs for other artists, in collaboration with songwriter/producer Niall Flynne.

Award-winning Aussie fish and chip shop opens its doors in Siem Reap

Heng Sok with his trophy for ‘Best Fish and Chips in Sydney’.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:02 Peter Olszewski

Award-winning, Australian-style fish and chips are now available, thanks to a Khmer entrepreneur who learned the culinary art deep in the heart of Sydney suburbia.

Heng Sok migrated to Australia in 1998 where he married. To guarantee a regular supply of food on the table, he opened a fish and chip shop in Sydney’s suburban Sylvania Waters.

In 2003, his shop, Sylvania Waters Seafood, won a gong for Best Fish and Chips in Sydney, as part of the Sydney Fish Markets Awards for that year.

Just over a year ago Sok sold his Aussie business, cashed up, and returned to Cambodia to open the Master Suki Soup restaurant in Oum Khun Street, near Angkor Market.

Last week he expanded his empire by opening his second restaurant, Master Seafood, next door, purveying the aforesaid fish and chips.

Sok is quick to point out that, traditionally, fish and chips are renowned for their artery-plugging greasiness, but his fare is a healthy alternative, as the batter he uses is made from “pure, cholesterol-free oil”.

The species of fish which features on his customers’ plates is pacific grouper, at just $5, including a serving of chips.

The art of running a shoddy bus company

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:02 Shannon Dunlap

I usually grow fond of people who teach me their specialities for this column. Yet there is another personality type with whom anyone who has spent time in Cambodia is well acquainted: the successful con-artist.

During a recent journey to Siem Reap from the Thai border, I received a crash course in how to start up an excellent sham of a transportation company, courtesy of a Siem Reap-based company – a new career option should I ever tire of writing.

Unlike most of my Khmer lessons, however, this one was not free. For those readers with criminal minds and an entrepreneurial bent, here are a few pointers.

Location, location, location
Just as in real estate, consider where to locate your scam. Anchoring yourself in Siem Reap, the country’s biggest tourist town, is a good start. If you can, through force or finagling, obliterate all competing bus companies along the busiest route, you’re halfway there.

It’s the details that matter
Don’t lose sight of the small things. You can hire people to sweet-talk tourists into foregoing the money exchange booth at the border in order to rip them off at the bus station. Any day when you can convince a na├»ve Chinese teenager that he should change $50-worth of Thai baht into riel for an abysmal rate is a small victory.

Fun with mental torture
Once customers have purchased their exorbitantly priced tickets and gotten on your decrepit bus, it’s time to let the good times roll. What, in theory, would be a three-hour ride should be lengthened, with a minimum of four stops at shabby restaurants so your fares can purchase plates of oily fried rice for two dollars a pop. “We stop for 40 minutes!” you should announce before they get off the bus, and watch them try to stifle tears. If someone complains, citing an approaching flight time or a desire to see the temples before they die of food poisoning, pretend not to understand English then penalise them with an extra 20 minutes of roadside purgatory.
For those who choose to arrive with sanity intact, I have one piece of advice: take a taxi.

The importance of inflexibility
Never, ever let tourists forget who’s boss. If they request to be dropped off along the route at a more convenient location, you should resolutely refuse and resort to violent threats involving the Khmer Rouge if they complain.

Instead, take them far beyond the centre of Siem Reap, to a dismal empty lot that in no way resembles a bus station. There you should have a group of thuggish tuk-tuk drivers waiting, ready to intimidate the loudmouthed ones and offer the timid ones four-dollar rides back to the town they just passed.

Leave a lasting impression
The experience will not be complete unless you can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Those you corral into tuk-tuks can be strong-armed into choosing a guesthouse that will give you a kickback and continue providing miserable service. As for the few troublemakers who shoulder their luggage and stumble away from you, have a few employees on hand to scream expletives.

These tips should serve well anyone who wishes to wade in the treacherous waters of the local transportation business, but for those who choose to remain a customer and arrive with sanity intact, I have only one piece of advice: take a taxi.

Siem Reap Scene: 16 Oct 2009

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:01 Post Staff

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Smoke and haute texture feature in art show openings

Hotel de la Paix’s Arts Lounge opened its latest exhibition on Wednesday evening and, as usual, the venue turned on the special effects, this time with smoke pouring from an installation.

The smoke represented pollution and the significance of this was that the exhibition, called “Black”, is a statement about urbanisation, according to curator Don Protasio.

“It’s an observation and critique of urban landscapes of Cambodia and how urbanisation affects people,” he said.

The exhibition features the distinctive work of 26-year-old Kong Vollak, who graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and now teaches at Preah Ponlea High School, Svay Rieng Province.

Protasio said Kong Vollak has been a prolific practising artist for around five years and, typical of most artists exhibited at the Arts Lounge, works in mixed media and installations.

“We’re showing an assortment of all the stuff he’s doing, including sculptures, drawings, paintings and installations. He uses a lot of minimalist black lines, that’s why the exhibition is called ‘Black’.

“I haven’t seen him work in colour; it’s always black and white.”

Meanwhile, McDermott Gallery launched its “exclusive invitation-only event” called “If Love is Silk” last night, featuring what is dubbed “haute texture” work by Siem Reap’s cutting-edge fashion designer Eric Raisina.

This short season show, which runs until October 22, is apparently a prelude to the opening of Raisina’s new store at FCC Angkor.

Kids’ photography course launched
Australian Liam MacKenzie launched his project called “UnderExposed” at the weekend, with a photography course for kids from The Global Child NGO.

MacKenzie, 24, a professional photographer, said the eight-week course aims to encourage kids to express themselves.

“The goal is not to make every student a photographer. The goal is to introduce a world of creativity and opportunity to a child to whom it would otherwise be unknown,” he said.

MacKenzie first came to Siem Reap as a tourist about two months ago. Having noticed a real lack of education about visual arts for kids, he decided to stick around and pass on his knowledge.

MacKenzie will work co-operatively with NGOs and schools that already exist, giving classes as an extra-curricular activity to interested children.

He already has several businesses interested in exhibiting the children’s work when they graduate in mid-December.

The students use an assortment of old 35mm cameras donated by individuals in Australia. All other materials are also donated.

The ultimate aim, according to Mackenzie, is to take the project to more rural parts of Cambodia; to places where “they’ve never even seen a camera before.”

Former sex slave wins 2009 Freedom Award

Photo by: AFP
Former Cambodian sex slave Sina Vann arrives for the 2009 Freedom Awards, where she received the Frederick Douglass Award in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:03 Jude Mak

SEX slave-turned-activist Sina Vann received the Frederick Douglass Award at the 2009 Freedom Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Awarded to those who have survived a form of slavery and are actively helping the lives of others, the Frederick Douglass Award provides US$10,000 to help facilitate current work and another $10,000 as a personal reward.

A native of Vietnam, Sina Vann, 25, was kidnapped at the age of 13 and brought to Cambodia to work as a sex slave at a brothel.

Raped by 20 to 30 men daily and beaten if she hesitated to serve customers, Sina Vann was finally freed at the age of 16 after a police raid.

After being rehabilitated at a rescue shelter, she has since been working for the Somaly Mam Foundation as the leader of the Voice for Change initiative, an outreach program for sex slaves.

“We are happy that people not only see people like Sina as a victim but as an activist. This award shows that people understand her [positive] role in society,” said Lin Sylor, a spokesperson for the Somaly Mam Foundation office in Cambodia.

Broadcast executive charged

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Sem Sovandeth, deputy director of Southeast Asia Radio and Television stations, leaves Municipal Court on Thursday.

It is absolute slander, which can destroy [kem sovandeth]

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

SEA TV & Radio official accused by partner of embezzling more than $7 million.

A PROMINENT Cambodian broadcasting executive has been charged with breach of trust, accused of embezzling millions in investment money meant for his radio and television network, court officials confirmed Thursday.

Sem Sovandeth, the deputy general director of Southeast Asia TV & Radio (SEA), was held for questioning in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday after being accused by his business partner of embezzling US$7 million from Japanese financiers – money that was supposed to have been injected into the group’s radio station and TV programming.

“I charged [Sem Sovandeth] with breach of trust,” deputy court prosecutor Plang Sophal said Thursday. “If he is found guilty, he could be sentenced to between one and five years in prison.”

Sem Sovandeth appeared in court Thursday, accompanied by several National Police officers.

Kao Kimhuon, SEA’s general director, said he lodged the complaint against his business partner after discovering what he called “irregularities”.

Money that was supposed to fund staff salaries, building construction and equipment has disappeared, Kao Kimhuon said.

“I have enough credible evidence and witnesses to prove Sem Sovandeth’s irregularities in embezzling more than US$7 million,” said Kao Kimhuon, who is also a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a dean at the University of Cambodia.

“I strongly hope that the court will find justice for us and all the staff … whose salaries have been cheated,” he said.

Kao Kimhuon said he and Sem Sovandeth entered into a business partnership in 2007, negotiating with a Japanese investor to fund a network of television and radio stations.

Southeast Asia Radio, on FM 106, opened in July of that year. Kao Kimhuon said he later transferred the bulk of start-up responsibilities to his partner, including oversight of hiring staff and building a home for the new media entities.

However, an associate of Sem Sovandeth called the allegations baseless.

“Kao Kimhuon’s complaint against his partner on breach of trust … is not true,” said Mam Rasmey, general manager at SEA’s FM 106 radio station. “It is absolute slander, which can destroy his partner.”

Mam Rasmey said the business partners should have sorted out the allegations internally before taking the matter to the courts.

“Sem Sovandeth’s arrest was done very quickly,” he said.

The case’s investigating judge, Chhay Kong, declined to speak about the case in depth when contacted by the Post on Thursday.

“I am terribly sorry that I cannot reveal information about the investigation,” Chhay Kong said. “It might affect the individual’s reputation, and if I dare reveal the information, I will be prosecuted.”

PM travels to China to attend trade fair

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:03 Sam Rith

PRIME Minister Hun Sen left Cambodia on Thursday to attend the 10th Western China International Economy and Trade Fair, to be held in Chengdu, and officials from both sides hailed the strengthening ties between the two countries.

During the October 15-17 visit, the prime minister is to meet with Premier Wen Jiabao and receive a courtesy call from Liu Qibao, secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The trade fair, which runs throughout October, is a major annual event featuring economic and trade exchanges and promoting the Chinese government’s policy of developing the Western half of the country.

Qian Hai, second secretary and spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, said Wednesday that this is the first time that the prime minister will be attending the trade fair, which will be attended by delegations from over 100 countries.

Liberating 310,000 children

Photo by: SOovan Philong
A child of around 6 years sells birdseed in front of the Royal Palace last month.

Even among the poorest Cambodian families there is an unparalleled respect for education.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:03 Menacherry Paul Joseph

Cambodia might be within a decade of meeting the ILO’s goal of eradicating the worst forms of child labour by the year 2016.

CAN Cambodia end child labour? That’s a question I have often asked myself during the past years. And my answer is: Yes, it can.

I would even set a target year – 2016 – for ending the worst forms of child labour here. The year 2016 is, of course, not one I have chosen at random. It is the year that the ILO has set for ending the worst forms of child labour globally. I believe we can achieve that goal in Cambodia.

In 1999, the ILO Convention No 182 on the Immediate Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) was adopted unanimously by its member states. Cambodia ratified the Convention in 2005 and obliged itself thereby to take immediate measures to eliminate all the WFCL, such as children in slavery (including in trafficking and debt bondage), child prostitution, children in illicit activities (such as drug trafficking) and the use of children in hazardous work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.

In June 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen approved a five-year National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The plan identified 16 sectors of hazardous child labour for immediate elimination. These sectors include children in domestic labour, quarrying, brick-making, portering, rubber plantations, salt production, fishing, scavenging and begging, etc.

In June this year, the government set 2016 as the target for ending the worst forms of child labour in the country.

The political will seems, then, to be present. Employers and workers organisations, as well as civil society organisations, have also begun to understand and participate in efforts against child labour. But considering the scale of the task, can the WFCL end by 2016? And if so, what resources would be needed to do so?

Some statistics may put matters in perspective. A survey conducted in 2001 showed that 1.5 million children were involved in some form of economic activity in Cambodia. Of these, 750,000 children were working as child labourers, and among them, 250,000 were in the worst forms of child labour.

Recently, the Rome-based Understanding Children’s Work (UCW) Project, a joint effort of the ILO, World Bank and UNICEF, updated this data.

Accounting for population increases since 2001, economic growth, poverty reduction, enhanced accessibility to schools and their improved quality, UCW estimated that presently there are around 310,000 Cambodia children in the WFCL.

To end the worst forms of child labour by 2016, then, involves first removing these 310,000 children from work and putting them in schools or in vocational skills training and retaining them there. At the same time, any fresh entry of children into the workforce must be prevented. The worst forms of child labour can end when these initiatives occur together.

Even for Cambodia, withdrawing and rehabilitating 310,000 children from work over an eight-year period is not an impossible task. In 2007-08, working with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and with the support of the Ministry of Education, the ILO piloted a model for the elimination of the WFCL. In this pilot, the Royal government was able to remove (or prevent) over 18,000 children from hazardous work and rehabilitate them into schools. Removing 310,000 children from hazardous work over the next eight years through an expansion and scaling-up of the work done during the pilot is not an unrealistic target for Cambodia.

But how much would it cost the country to do this?

The UCW project also assessed the additional resources required to eliminate the WFCL in Cambodia by 2016. Based on the cost per child incurred in recent government initiatives for withdrawing and preventing child labour, UCW made this assessment for different economic growth scenarios. They found that even in the worst-case scenario of zero growth over the next eight years, the additional resources required to completely end the WFCL by 2016 would only be around US$90 million. This is roughly $12 million per year. With nearly $1 billion in foreign aid pouring into Cambodia each year, the country can easily afford this modest sum for its vulnerable children. Cambodia, then, can end child labour. But there are a few conditions.

Firstly, there is an immediate need for donors in Cambodia to bring child labour into their donor agenda and fund child labour concerns and programmes within the country.

Unfortunately, few donors, with the exception of the US and its department of labour have paid much attention to funding child labour issues in Cambodia thus far. Child labour does not seem to be on the agenda of most other donors here. Enhancing donor interest on child labour is, therefore, a pressing sine qua non to be addressed.

Secondly, donor support surely does not take away the primary responsibility of the government to itself support and fund child labour programmes.

Child labour is today as much an economic as a child-rights issue. There is a growing realisation within the government that sending children to work instead of to school is not merely of social, moral and ethical concern, but has immense economic implications as well. For each child dropping out from school, the country loses valuable future human resources. Considering the depletion in human capital that occurred during the Khmer Rouge, every bit of future human capital is sorely needed to sustain economic growth. Today, think tanks within the government, such as the Supreme National Economic Council and the Economic, Social and Cultural Observation Unit, have begun to look at the economic implications of child labour. It is expected that this would soon lead to budgetary support for programmes and projects aimed at ending child labour.

Thirdly, there is need for the employers and workers to participate fully in this effort. Civil society also needs to be fully onboard, for child labour cannot end until society appreciates the importance of this task.

Finally, note that even among the poorest Cambodian families, rural or urban, there is an unparalleled respect for education. And note their instinctive and innate impulse to send their sons and daughters to schools. With this native urge for learning, a committed government, increased donor and government funds and a sensitised society, Cambodia can end child labour.

But will it?

My forecast: Yes, it will. And it will end the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
Menacherry Paul Joseph is the chief technical adviser of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO IPEC). He has been working in child labour for more than a decade. The views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ILO.

Traffic at Sihanoukville Port drops further in September

Containers are loaded at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which reported an annualised 20.66 percent drop in traffic last month.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:01 Nguon Sovan

New deepwater port in Vietnam and economic crisis blamed for 20-percent fall drop in volumes for firm due for IPO in 2010

CARGO handled at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) fell by a fifth in September when compared with the same month last year, as coal imports plummeted 63 percent, figures released by the port Thursday show.

The downturn in coal imports, which were described by PAS General Director Lou Kim Chhun as part of the regular ebb and flow in trade in the commodity, magnified falling container volumes on a range of import and export sectors.

“Some months, more coal is imported; some months, less coal is imported, and that dragged handling volumes down further in September,” he said.

The port, which is Cambodia’s largest shipping facility by volume, has now seen throughput fall 11.62 percent over the first nine months of the year to 1.4 million tonnes.

The 20.66 percent year-on-year drop in throughput for September came after a fall of just 6.4 percent in August and slight growth in July.

Revenues dropped 17 percent year on year to $17.92 million to the end of September. Last year, port revenues were $28.8 million, 12 percent up on 2007.

Lou Kim Chhun said imports and exports have both been hit, blaming a mix of the global economic crisis and the launch in June of the Cai Mep deepwater port in southern Vietnam’s Ba Ria Vung Tau province, which has led to a diversion of some traffic up the Mekong to Phnom Penh.

While coal imports have fallen just 7 percent when averaged across the first nine months of the year, imports of containerised cargo have fallen 23.41 percent as domestic demand for goods slumped.

Cargo exports, the bulk of which are ready-made garments, fell 23.66 percent to 225,874 tonnes. The result was broadly in line with the 22.56 percent drop in garment exports over the first eight months of the year reported by the Ministry of Commerce.

“Competition from Cai Mep hasn’t helped, but the port has also been hurt by a fall in garment and textile exports to the US and European countries, along with declining imports of autos and construction materials,” Lou Kim Chhun said.

Steel imports fell 77.88 percent over the first nine months of the year to 7,412 tonnes, figures show, while cement imports fell 23.12 percent to 37,772 tonnes.

Figures released by Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP) this month show its throughput increased 22.7 percent in September year on year, following gains in both July and August and losses in each of the preceeding six months.

Like Lou Kim Chhun, PPAP Deputy Director Eang Veng Sun put the change down to the impact of the Cai Mep deepwater port.

Before the opening of Cai Mep, exports produced in industrial Phnom Penh had to be carried overland to PAS. It lacks a deepwater port so goods must then be transferred to Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong and loaded into a larger container ship to take them to key export markets in the US and Europe. Shipping goods down the Mekong River from Phnom Penh to Cai Mep and then on to those markets is faster.

Port due to list on bourse
PAS is scheduled to be one of three state-owned companies that will list when the planned Cambodia Stock Exchange is launched, which is now expected to take place next year at the earliest.

Mey Vann, director of the Department of Industrial Finance at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and Ming Bankosal, director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia, were not prepared to comment Thursday on whether the shift in transport volumes from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh would affect the port’s listing plans.

Lou Kim Chhun also refused to comment, saying only that he expected the global economy to recover and freight volumes to rebound. The port also plans to accelerate development of a 70-hectare special economic zone on the adjacent site to attract manufacturers and boost trade volumes, he added.

OZ reports progress at Cambodia prospects

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:01 Steve Finch

AUSTRALIAN firm OZ Minerals is “moving towards an initial gold resource” in Cambodia, it said Thursday in a statement announcing results for the third quarter.

The company had completed about 60 percent of a “significant drilling campaign” during the period at its Okvau prospect in western Mondulkiri province, with nine holes drilled by the end of September, it added.

“The aim of this programme is to expand on previous encouraging drilling results,” the OZ Minerals statement said, adding that an initial resources estimate would be finalised during the first quarter of 2010.

Acting Chief Executive Bruce Loveday said in July that OZ Minerals had “done enough work now to believe that there may well be a gold system there that is of interest”.

Thursday’s announcement also said drilling had started at its Area 6 prospect outside of Okvau that had produced “high-grade gold mineralisation”.

OZ Minerals’ third-quarter results, which showed that the firm’s Australian gold production was unchanged during the period, prompted its share price to close 0.76 percent up at A$1.32 (US$1.22) on the Sydney stock exchange Thursday.

Gold prices have hit repeated record highs since last week as the dollar rate has crashed, but early trading Thursday in London saw a dip in prices, Bloomberg reported, as traders began to sell to cash in on recent high prices.

In Cambodia, gold was selling at a new high of $1,290 per damlung Wednesday, according to prices at Phnom Penh’s Ly Hour Exchange, representing a 1.57 percent rise on the previous day’s price.

Rail network repairs on track

A bicyclist and passenger ride past cargo wagons Thursday outside of Phnom Penh station. Renovation of Cambodia’s dilapidated rail network should be finished on target, the companies responsible said.

There were issues related to relocating people who lived along the tracks.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:01 JEREMY MULLINS

However, railways official admits that construction of the section linking Cambodia to Vietnam as part of the Trans-Asia Railway is still 'years away'

WORK to repair the country’s decrepit rail network is on track, but construction of the vital Cambodian segment of a planned trans-Asia network is “years away” from beginning, a senior official said Thursday.

Sok Naty, secretary of the Railway Construction Committee, the Royal Railways of Cambodia unit in charge of building the country’s rail network, said a southern line linking Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was expected to be completed next year.

A northern line from Phnom Penh to Poipet would be operational by 2012 or 2013, he said. However, a China Railway Group feasibility study into a 255-kilometre line from near Phnom Penh to the Vietnamese border had still not been completed. The line is the missing section of the Kunming-Singapore track in a planned Trans-Asia Railway (TAR) linking 28 countries in Asia and Europe.

“We can’t predict today when the Chinese will finish their study, but we hope it will be completed next year so we can determine if the project will be feasible,” Sok Naty said.

He declined to give a start date for construction of the line, but said it was more likely to be “years away” than months. Vietnam completed a feasibility study in September to create a US$438 million line from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodian border and plans to begin construction on the four-year project soon, according to press reports.

A Preliminary Technical Study Report seen by the Post in August noted that the proposed line is likely to face a series of cost hurdles that will require additional funding. These include a 1,000-metre bridge crossing of the Mekong River and a 1,500-metre bridge over the Tonle Sap, which would cost a combined $262 million. A government source said that at least $120 million would also have to be spent on smaller bridges along the line.

Repairs of the northern and southern lines are being funded to the tune of $142 million by a group of international contributors, in the form of grants and a long-term low-interest loan. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) contributed $89.9 million, while the remainder came from investments by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the governments of Australia, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Toll Holdings of Australia has an agreement to take over the operation of the two routes when repair work is completed.

Cambodia expects to begin rebuilding 48 kilometres of track in Poipet province in November and complete it early next year as part of the northern line, said ADB Cambodia spokesperson Chantha Kim Thursday. “There were issues related to relocating people who lived along the tracks that were being addressed by the government,” he said. “Mine clearance was also a problem.”

Sok Naty said that when the lines were completed, the first priority would be to start moving goods. “We will concentrate on freight trains, but the first thing we need to do is finish the repairs.”

Restarting passenger services would require working with different contractors, he added.

Hyundai plant might open in February

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:01 May Kunmakara

HYUNDAI’S new assembly plant in Koh Kong province may start operations in February, the head of the joint venture responsible for the plant said Thursday, countering a Bloomberg report that production would not begin until the end of 2010.

Although the US$12 million plant is only 20 to 30 percent complete because of delays, it is set to begin assembling about 100 cars per month during its initial phase, from February 2010, said Jo Young Dae, chief operating officer and director of Camko Motor Co Ltd, a joint venture between South Korean Hyundai distributor KH Motors and Phnom Penh-based Ly Yong Phat (LYP) Group.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that assembly would not begin until the end of next year, citing LYP’s general manager of the business division, Visal Lim, who blamed excessive rain for delays. However, Jo Young Dae later denied the report.

Construction began in June on the first phase, which will cover 165,000 square metres, and further phases are planned, he said. “After three years we will try to make 450 to 600 cars every month.” This second phase would cost an additional $15 million, he added.

“We see Cambodia [has] … potential opportunities in the automobile market in the future – that’s why we started our assembly plant here,” said Jo Young Dae, adding that the facility would create 1,000 jobs.

Acknowledging that the Kingdom’s automobile market is “very small” compared to other countries in the region, he said he was optimistic that sales could be increased by lowering prices by up to 30 percent for Cambodians.

Rugby players take the field all for the love of the game

Photo by: Joe Garrison
Sisowath Knight prop Chro Kim Seang (centre) fends off two Siem Reap tacklers during a match of last season’s Cambodian Rugby Premiership in Siem Reap.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:00 Ray Leos

Rugby remains a purely amateur sport in Cambodia, with the local contingent of players happy to commit and respectful of the opportunities it can afford

WITH the 2009 Angkor 10s rugby tournament just a week away and the Cambodian Rugby Premiership season set to begin next month, Cambodia’s rugby players are anxious to get things under way.

But unlike the professional footballers of the Cambodian Premier League, which finished its season last month, no one playing in the Cambodian Rugby Premiership gets paid.

“We do it because we enjoy it, that’s all,” said Vannak Vireak, the PSE Garuda centre and national team stalwart, who is widely regarded as one of the best current Cambodian rugby players.

Although the sport of rugby union has been openly professional since 1995, the game remains strictly an amateur sport in many countries, especially small, less-developed ones such as Cambodia.

Much of this has to do with funding. Despite the Cambodian Federation of Rugby – the national sanctioning body of rugby union – in existence for nearly a decade, development resources and team sponsorships are often hard to come by.

“Realistically, we are a long way off from paying players,” remarked CFR Secretary General and former national team coach Peter Maley. “We have a lot of other pressing priorities, like fielding representative international sides in both the senior and junior grades; developing quality coaches and referees; getting better training facilities and game venues; and most importantly, becoming full members of the IRB [International Rugby Board].”

Photo by: Joe Garrison
Vannak Vireak (left) evades a Stade Khmer defender during a Cambodian Rugby Premiership match this year

Still, Maley admires the grit, dedication and determination of the players who toil for months on end training in the blistering heat on fields of dirt, and who play a physically demanding sport for no monetary reward, often before sparse crowds.

“These guys put their bodies on the line every time they go out on the field,” adds Maley. “But rugby for them isn’t about the money, and it isn’t about the public attention. It’s about enjoying the sport and using it as a vehicle for other things in their lives.”

Vannak Vireak is a case in point. Playing for the Cambodian national team against Indonesia at the 2008 HSBC 5 Nations Regional Tournament in Jakarta, he prevented a score with a tackle near the goal line against an Indonesian player twice his size. In the process he suffered a broken nose and severe facial injuries, requiring extensive surgery.

“It hurt, that’s for sure,” said the humble, soft-spoken 24-year-old native of Pursat, who recently graduated with a degree in tourism from the National University of Management. “But somebody had to make that tackle,” he grinned.

During this previous rugby season, Vannak Vireak was back at it again, leading his PSE Garuda team to another Premiership title and having another standout season as the starting centre for the Cambodian national team, the Koupreys.

“In our two matches against Laos, [Vannak] was awesome,” said Maley. “That injury had no effect on his rugby.”

Vannak Vireak claims the physical and mental challenges of the sport are well worth it. “Rugby has opened a lot of doors for me,” he stated. “It’s given me a chance to represent my country, travel to different parts of the world, and see and do things I would have never had the chance to do. It also maintains my fitness and my mental discipline.”

After next week’s Angkor 10s, Vannak Vireak and his Garuda teammate Vong Vannak, along with Chro Kim Seang of the Sisowath Knights, will travel to Singapore for a two-week player development clinic sponsored by the Singapore Rugby Union. The three players will be hosted by the Bedok Kings, a Singapore club who will also be participating in the Angkor 10s this year. Like Vannak Vireak, Vong Vannak and Chro Kim Seang have also been capped 14 times for Cambodia.

Vannak Vireak said he is looking forward to the Singapore trip. “It will be good training with the Singapore players,” he said. “I hope to learn a lot, and improve my skills and technique. Playing well and doing my best – that’s what makes rugby always enjoyable for me.”

Eagles face Scorpions in volleyball final

Chat Samouen, coach of the Siem Reap Globe Eagles. CNVLD

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:00 UNG Chamroeun and Dan Riley

THE 2009 Cellcard National Volleyball League (Disabled) will reach its exciting conclusion today at 7:30pm, when the two best teams of the regular season face off in the grand final at the inside hall of Olympic Stadium. An Armed Art trophy sculpted from decommissioned machine guns and a cash prize of US$3,000 is up for grabs for the winner, with the runners up receiving a respectable $2,000.

Siem Reap Eagles flying high
Chat Samouen, 46, has coached the Siem Reap Globe Eagles since 2003, taking third place that year and improving to a second-place finish in 2005. However, the Eagles are firm favourites to claim their first-ever league title this year having ridden out a perfect nine wins for the loss of only three sets in their season campaign.

Pin Sarath, captain and coach of the Kampong Speu Scorpions.CNVLD

“We are well prepared by training regularly,” says Chat Samoeuen. “I believe 100 percent we will win. I know the rival team well, especially their weakness. During our training, we played twice against an able-bodied team in Siem Reap. Even though we lost [both games], they were not big losses.”

The Siem Reap side is bolstered by internationally capped players Chheum Chandy and Chhoeum Korng, and the experienced 46-year-old veteran Heav Vannak, who has been at the club since 2002.

Scorpions seek finals upset
The Kampong Speu Global Giving Scorpions are also seeking their first title and will hope to show local rivals and last year’s champions Kampong Speu CTN Koupreys that they are also capable of the feat. Team captain Pin Sarath, 26, has coached the side for five years and will hope his international experience can see off the Siem Reap threat.

“We’ve worked hard during our training in Kong Pisey district of Kampong Speu province to raise our attack and our defense,” asserted Pin Sarath. “Our performance keeps getting better and better.”

However, the captain isn’t utterly convinced of victory in the finals against the only team unbeaten in the 2009 league. “I believe that our team has an 85 percent chance of becoming champion this year,” he added. “We really need this victory over Siem Reap team. In our squad, the players understand each other well, and we play with heart. Because of this, we have reached the final.”

The third place playoff at the earlier time of 4pm will see the Kompong Speu CTN Koupreys square up to six-time champions Phnom Penh ANZ Royal Dragons.

NOCC launch committee to prepare for SEA Games

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Ouk Srey Mom, 2007 SEA Games petanque silver medallist, practises at Olympic Stadium for this year’s event in Laos.

Photo by: Ken Gadaffi
SEA Games coordinator Nhan Sokvisal says Cambodia’s aim is to win more medals.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:00 Ken Gadaffi

THE National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) announced Wednesday the formation of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee, to be chaired by NOCC Vice Presidrnt Bun Sok, who is also secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

The committee consists of representatives of various Olympic sports federations and will be responsible for final screening and selection of athletes to represent Cambodia at the Southeast Asian Games in Laos in December.

Nhan Sokvisal, the SEA Games coordinator, stated Cambodia is looking to better their medals haul from the last SEA Games in Thailand in 2007. “We won two gold, five silver and 12 bronze medals in the last games, and so we want to improve on that,” he said.

According to Nhan Sokvisal, Cambodia will contest in 17 sports, with expectations of medals in petanque, athletics, tennis, wrestling, boxing, taekwondo and beach volleyball.

As part of the preparation for December, the athletics and taekwondo athletes have travelled to Korea to undergo intensive training courtesy of the Incheon City of Korea Support Programme, while other athletes will complete training in Vietnam.

“We have a goal, and our goal is to win more medals than we have done before,” Nhan Sokvisal stated. “To do this, we have to prepare hard, and provide adequate training and support for our athletes.

“We may not be as good as Thailand, Vietnam or Singapore because they have better trainers, equipment and diet regime than we do,” he continued. “But we will try to compete with them. They have foreign coaches and trainers, but we use our local coaches. Their athletes have more energy, but we are preparing our athletes to be strong, too.”

Meanwhile, the SEA Games organising committee has announced the cancellation of 13 categories in selected events, affecting sports such as karate-do, wushu sanshou, pencaksilat, wrestling and weightlifting.

However, NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun has assured that the Cambodian delegation has not been affected at all by the cuts. “There is no problem for us,” he said. “Our preparation is in progress.”

U16 qualifiers: Cambodia qualification hopes end

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

BANGKOK – The Cambodian U16 national team were soundly beaten for the third straight time in Bangkok Wednesday, falling 7-1 to Vietnam in their AFC U16 Championship qualifier. The result gives them no hope of qualification for next year’s tournament, although the youngsters can take small consolation in recording their first score of the trip. A brace from Nguy En Van Nui, and one from Nguy En Anh Phong gave Vietnam a 3-0 lead into the break. Dang Anh Tuan pushed them further ahead after the restart, before Cambodia’s Chan Vathanaka pegged one back in the 67th minute. Vietnam struck back a minute later, and knocked in two more before the end to run out comfortable winners. Dith Nimol, a Cambodian student attending the match, said the team showed improvement from the previous heavy defeats. “They had a few occasions to kick on their opponents’ side,” he said. “However, they preferred keeping the ball rather than attacking.” North Korea tops the group after three consecutive victories following a 2-1 win over South Korea Wednesday.

Police Blotter: 16 Oct 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:03 Chhay Channyda

Three men in Battambang province have been sentenced to prison for killing a woman who was the mistress of one of the men’s father. The provincial court ruled that the men must also pay 15 million riels (US$3,602) in compensation to the victim’s family. The slaying happened in July when one of the men asked the two others to help him kill the victim. One of the suspects said he was forced to be involved and was sentenced to eight years, whereas the other men received 16 years.

A man in Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district died Tuesday after he took a stick and pierced his tongue for an unknown reason. Police said that the 36-year-old man was an epileptic, and no one was able to save him when his tongue was bleeding profusely. Authorities said the local hospital, which was located far away from the village, delayed offering medical attention.

A coffee shop in Kampong Cham province was discovered to be a porn-screening venue after a police crackdown on Tuesday. Police found many pornographic VCDs, two television sets for viewers and drug paraphernalia at the coffee shop. Fifty porn-viewing customers and four owners of the shop were arrested. The customers were released, and the owners have been sent to court. One owner was warned by police to stop screening such videos.

Three men were sent to court on Sunday for harassing local police in Battambang province. Police had stopped the drunken men to question their intentions in holding a metal lantern. The three men started cursing at the police and threatened to set the police station on fire.

Three men were arrested on Tuesday after beating two men in Pursat province’s Krakor district. Police said that though four men were involved in the assault, only three were found. The suspects had rode their motorbikes to the playground where the victims were playing and hit them. Aged between 19 and 24 years old, the suspects have been identified by police as gangsters. The men’s heads were shaved as a punishment and were then released with a warning.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

(Post by CAAI News Media)

In Brief: Govt targets copyright

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:00 Chun Sophal

THE government met Thursday with 65 domestic companies for the start of a two-day workshop aimed at boosting the Kingdom's copyright compliance, which officials admitted still had a long way to go. A Ministry of Commerce report showed that 11 brand names were unregistered in the first nine months of this year because of copyright violations. "We hope ... to be able to work with investors and local producers until the full implementation of copyright laws," said Dith Tina, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce. The Kingdom first introduced copyright laws in 2002.

In Brief: Vimpelcom's year high

Friday, 16 October 2009 15:00 Steve Finch

VIMPELCOM, the parent company of mobile phone brand Beeline, saw its stock price surge 4.19 percent in New York trading Wednesday to reach US$20.12, its highest value since September last year. The stock price has climbed in recent months on the back of positive news from the Moscow-based company including its entrance into Laos and a recent deal between its previously warring major stake holders, Altimo and Telenor. Deutsche Bank last week raised the stock to “buy” with a target price of $23.10.

Cambodia in Pictures

A Cambodia fisherman throws a fishing net to catch fish at the flooded village of Kampong Roteh, Kampong Thom province, about 168 kilometers (104 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) (CAAI News Media)

A Cambodia fisherman throws a fishing net to catch fish at the flooded village of Kampong Roteh, Kampong Thom province, about 168 kilometers (104 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) (CAAI News Media)

A Cambodia fisherman throws a fishing net to catch fish at the flooded village of Kampong Roteh, Kampong Thom province, about 168 kilometers (104 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) (CAAI News Media)

A Cambodia fisherman uses a wooden boat to catch fish at the flooded village of Kampong Roteh, Kampong Thom province, about 168 kilometers (104 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) (CAAI News Media)

1,000 Cambodian schools still closed after storm Ketsana
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Flooding caused by Typhoon Ketsana prevented almost a thousand Cambodian schools from opening at the start of the academic year, keeping tens of thousands of students home, an Education Ministry official said Thursday.

Chroeng Limsry, director of the secondary education department, said some schools were still inundated while others had been damaged by the storm, which swept through the country late last month. Cambodia has about 7,000 schools nationwide attended by more than 3 million students. They should have opened at the beginning of this month.

Typhoon Ketsana toppled scores of rickety houses in Cambodia, killing at least 18 people and injuring 100 others.

Keo Vy, communications officer at the National Committee for Disaster Management, said initial estimates were that the storm caused at least $29.3 million in damage.

The British-based international aid agency Oxfam warned Thursday that "a food crisis is looming in flood-affected communities."

It said an estimated 100,000 people in eight provinces remain affected by the floods, and 15,000 households need immediate food assistance.

The situation is expected to get worse unless food assistance is provided urgently, it said.

"Many of the affected families are forced to borrow rice from each other, but now finding enough food is a big challenge," it said in a statement. "In some communities, Oxfam has also observed an increase in food prices which further weakens the capacities of the most vulnerable to live life in dignity." - AP

Cambodian Charcoal Market Is Booming

Simon Marks/IHT
A merchant in Phnom Penh sifts through his trailer filled with charcoal.

October 15, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Simon Marks

According to a 2008 study conducted jointly by Cambodia’s Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, the United Nations Development Program and the environmental group Geres, the number of households projected to use charcoal as an energy source in Cambodia will rise from about 500,000 currently to more than one million in 2015.

That projected increase has raised concerns among environmentalists, who note that charcoal production entails the removal of vast quantities of woodland, often in naturally growing forests, as well as high levels of “black carbon” or soot — which scientists say plays a significant role in global warming.

The report values the current annual market for charcoal in the capital, Phnom Penh, at $25 million — a number that is expected to more than double in size during the next five years based on current trends.

And while the authors note a shift towards modern energy sources, “the demand for firewood, charcoal, kerosene and batteries will remain high over the next decades,” the report said.

Wood burners for cooking, which are used extensively in Asia and Africa, produce large quantities of soot particles, which scientists say is responsible for as much as 18 percent of global warming.

David Beritault, an energy expert at Geres, said that much of the charcoal made in Cambodia has not been sufficiently burned to complete its transformation from wood, a phenomenon that leads to higher levels of black carbon in the atmosphere.

Black carbon can travel long distances, warming the air and melting ice by absorbing the sun’s heat.

But charcoal, if produced correctly, can burn almost smokeless, and is less polluting than wood — although it does emit greenhouse gases during its production. Geres is currently involved in a so-called “green charcoal” project that aims to make charcoal with more energy-efficient wood.

“If we can control the process we can produce the same amount of charcoal but with less wood,” said Mr Beritault.

Environmentalists also say that water filters, which cost about $7.50, could be used instead of having to boil water to make it potable. Moreover, Biodigesters, which provide a cheap source of fuel by converting organic waste into biogas, is another option that could improve health conditions inside households that cook with wood and charcoal.

Still, 27 percent of residents in Phnom Penh are currently using charcoal as their main energy source, according to the Ministry of Industry, and urban demand for charcoal is expected to nearly triple over the next two decades.

Khiev Thim, a charcoal merchant in the Phnom Penh who, on a recent morning, sold roughly 1,300 lbs. of charcoal to a avariety of households and small businesses, said that demand in the city was fierce.

“We sell it everywhere in the city,” he said, “except along the main roads.”

Caritas eye hospital gives hope to the poor

October 15 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

TAKEO, Cambodia : The Church-run Takeo Eye Hospital has given free treatment to patients to mark World Sight Day.

About 200 people took advantage of the opportunity on Oct. 8.

Takeo Eye Hospital, in Takeo, southern Cambodia, is run by Caritas, the Church's social service arm, and has been treating people for 12 years.

"Today our purpose is to spread awareness among people of how to take care of their own eyes," said Sun Sarin, the hospital co-director.

He said that 2.5 percent, or 350,000 people of Cambodia's 14 million people in the country, are considered blind.

The hospital's focus is on poor people and charges a nominal sum for treatment, including surgery.

"We provide service for all but our priority is poor people," said Te Serebun the hospital's project manager.

He said the hospital was committed to reducing blindness in accordance with Vision 2020, a global initiative by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness to eliminate preventable blindness.

Serebun said the hospital does not charge a fixed fee for its treatment but accepts whatever "donations" the patients can afford.

The hospital draws patients from around the country. One who spoke with UCA News, Pun Vann, 55, had traveled hundreds of kilometers from Battambang province to seek treatment for pterygium -- a membranous growth over the eye.

"After treatment from this hospital, my eyes are getting better," she said, adding that she had gone to many places in her province but to no avail.

Vann said she gave only 4,000 riel (US$0.85) "donation" to the hospital and said she was delighted with the care she had received.

Nget Vanny, 55, also from Battambang, has been getting treatment since July, after her eyes were injured by fire. "I pay only US$15 for treatment including an operation. Now, my eyes are better," she said. "I waiting for my second operation."

The hospital has treated 204,035 patients since opening in 1997. The hospital was built by American priest Father John Barth with support from Markynoll missioners and the German-based agency Christoffel Blindenmission.

The health ministry in Takeo province arranged the location and provides infrastructural services and technical staff. Caritas Cambodia took over the hospital's administration in 2000.

Besides the eye hospital in Takeo, Caritas runs two psychiatric hospitals in the country -- in Kandal and Siem Reap provinces. It is also heavily involved in education and agricultural and rural development, as well as other health care projects.

Courtesy : UCAN

Vietnam Airlines Media Trip to Vietnam & Cambodia

Thursday, 15 October 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Vietnam Airlines hosted a 7 day Media Trip to Vietnam and Cambodia which included: Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh & Siem Reap.
The trip showcased the many aspects of tourism in Cambodia, also that Vietnam Airlines now have daily flights from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. As at 30 July 2009, Vietnam Airlines became a large stakeholder in Cambodian Angkor Air.

Photograph – left to right

Mr Rob Dunlop – Independent Travel Writer
Ms Louise Southerden – Independent Travel Writer
Ms Madeline Spielman – Vietnam Airlines
Ms Jacqueline Lai – E-Travel Blackboard on-line Travel Magazine
Ms Vikki Campion – Daily Telegraph – Sunday Telegraph Newspaper
Mr Rick Grossman – Rolling Stone Magazine
Mr Graham Simmons – Vacations & Travel Magazine

VN-Cambodia border gates ‘will increase trade, tourism’

Tinh Bien border gate in southern An Giang Province is one of three newly opened border-crossing points connecting Viet Nam and Cambodia. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan

(Posted by CAAI News Media)


by Vinh Hoa & Nhu Binh

Ha Noi — The opening of three more border gates between Viet Nam and Cambodia earlier this month will create more opportunities for trade and tourism between the two countries, economists say.

Xa Mat Gate is located in Tay Ninh Province, Tinh Bien Gate in An Giang province and Ha Tien Gate in Kien Giang Province, all in southern Viet Nam.

The move is part of an agreement signed between the two countries in 2005 to open seven border gates in the long run.

After the first border gate of Moc Bai was put into operation in 2006, the number of vehicles going through it increased from 80 to 300 by March this year. According to Phan Thi Thu Hien, deputy head of the Transport Department under the Ministry of Transport’s Road Administration, the sluggish infrastructure development coupled with complicated import-export policies applied at border gate areas was to blame for the delay in opening more border gates.

The business community, meanwhile, has seen new opportunities.

Huynh Huu Phuc, head of the finance and legal group of Bitis, one of Viet Nam’s biggest shoe producers that has branches in Cambodia, said that his company was conducting research to open more branches in Cambodian provinces that have convenient transportation to and from Viet Nam.

Pho Duc Hung, vice-president of Viettel Post, a subsidiary of Viet Nam’s Military Telecom Corporation (Viettel), which is now the largest telecommunications service provider in Cambodia, said that his company was hoping to open more branches in Vietnamese provinces that have border gates to Cambodia.

Hung said that having more border gates would cut down on transportation costs and help businesses. He said currently his company had to send their products via other companies and was thinking of sending them directly to Cambodia using their own vehicles.

Trade and commerce between Viet Nam and Cambodia has been quickly expanding. More than 100 Vietnamese companies are now operating in Cambodia, mostly in agro-forestry, services and industrial sectors. In Viet Nam, many Cambodian companies are also doing business with local companies including Golden Eagle Meng Sun Fish Sauce Enterprise, LyLy Food Industry and Sin Tai Seng Tea-Coffee factory.

In addition, tourist potential will benefit both countries. According to statistics from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, Vietnamese tourists constituted the second greatest number of foreign tourists in Cambodia in 2007 and 2008, 9.86 per cent of the total. The number of Vietnamese tourists in 2008 increased dramatically at a rate of 67.02 per cent from the previous year. As more border gates open, tour costs will decrease and the number of tourists will increase.

Phan Thanh, vice president of Phuong Nam Star Travel, said the border gate openings were very good news for Vietnamese tourists as they now could travel to Cambodia more conveniently and for lower prices.

However, Thanh also underlined the fact that more borders gates will also mean already-existing companies facing more competition, as more local companies in border areas open. According to the agreement between the two countries, another three border gates will open, helping boost bilateral trade. — VNS