Saturday, 24 October 2009

Cambodia passes new law for foreign adoptions

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's National Assembly on Friday approved a new law for foreign adoptions, setting up criteria for children to be adopted, the eligibility of potential adoptive parents and the procedures for legal adoptions by families living overseas, local newspaper the Phnom Penh Post reported on Saturday.

All 72 parliamentarians in attendance voted to pass the two final chapters of the law after about one hour of debate, it said. Debate on the lO-chapter draft law began on Wednesday.

The law is aimed at ensuring that Cambodian children adopted by foreign parents, "grow up in a family environment, a happy environment, with love and understanding in order to develop fully."

For a child to be adopted by foreigners, he or she must be younger than 8 years old, except in the cases of special needs. The children must be living in an orphanage, under the care of the Social Affairs Ministry, or have poor or disabled parents, the law said.

Moreover, under the law, adoptive parents must be between 30 and 45 years old, and should have, at the most, one other child, who must be younger than 22 years old.

According to statistics presented by Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, more than 20,000 Cambodian children live in state-run orphanages, and about 130,000 live in private facilities. He added that adoptive parents in the U.S. alone took home 1,415 Cambodian children between 1998 and 2003, although the U.S. government officially suspended adoptions in 2001 over fraud concerns.

And Britain cut off Cambodian adoptions in 2004, while France implemented a temporary ban between 2003 and 2006. Australians are also forbidden from adopting, as the two countries have never signed an agreement on adoption.

Ith Sam Heng was quoted by the Post as saying that the law would be "seriously implemented," adding that he had not heard of any bad things happening to Cambodian children after being adopted abroad.

He said a delegation from the ministry had already visited adoptive families in Canada, France, Italy and the U.S. Some foreign parents had also written annual reports to the government describing the conditions of the children, including photos, about health and education, he added.

Editor: Anne Tang

Yellow shirts to protest at Cambodian Embassy next month

Sat, October 24, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Protesters led by People's Alliance for Democracy on Saturday threatened to protest and surround the Cambodian Embassy next month unless Cambodia withdrew its troops from area adjacent to Preah Vihear Temple.

The threat was made when they organised a brief protest at Puk Tien Beach in Cha-Am district Saturday, demanding the withdrawal of troops from the area immediately.

"We will protest at the Cambodian Embassy next month. Unless its government withdrew troops from the disputed area, we will surround the embassy."

Some 30 people gathered at the beach, about ten kilometers from meeting venue of Asean Summit, also in responding to harsh remarks by Cambodia that it would not extradite former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said upon arrival in Hua Hin to attend the summit on Friday that he would make Thaksin his economic adviser.

The statement fuels tension in the relation with the Thai government which wanted Thaksin to returnn to Thailand to serve jail term on abuse of power and corruption charges.

The protesters held banners, reading that Hun Sen was not welcomed by Thai people.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at the loggerhead over the disputed area near the Hindu temple for long time but the issue was heated a year ago as it was listed as a world heritage site.

Cambodia, Thai friction mounts at summit

King Bhumibol appearing in public for the first time since he was hospitalised over a month ago

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Hun Sen says Thaksin can stay in Cambodia as guest and economic adviser

(Hua Hin, Thailand)

CAMBODIA'S Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday offered Thaksin Shinawatra a job as economic adviser.

The comments add to mounting friction between the neighbouring countries that threatens to overshadow a summit of the 10-member Association of South East Nations (Asean) that began yesterday.

Thailand is seeking to extradite the former premier, who is living in self-imposed exile in Dubai, to serve a jail term for corruption.

'Thaksin can stay in Cambodia as the guest of Cambodia and also be my guest as my adviser on our economy,' Mr Hun Sen said in a rare appearance before international journalists, while attending the Asean summit in the Thai resort town of Hua Hin.

He likened Thaksin to pro-democracy icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest or in jail in military-ruled Myanmar.

'People talk about Aung San Suu Kyi, why not talk about Thaksin?' said Mr Hun Sen, who described the former telecommunications tycoon on Wednesday as an 'eternal friend' who had a residence in Cambodia waiting for him.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had tough words for Mr Hun Sen, calling him 'seriously misinformed' as the row threatened to overtake other issues at the Asean summit.

'I don't know how many people share his view that Thaksin is like Aung San Suu Kyi. I doubt there are many in the world, for obvious reasons,' Mr Abhisit told a news conference.

'I don't want him to be a victim or a pawn for someone who undermines the interests of this country,' he added. 'I'm sure when he's better informed, he'll change his mind.'

Before yesterday, the Thai government had sought to play down Mr Hun Sen's overtures to Thaksin, saying that it would try to extradite the former tycoon if he ever came to Cambodia.

Mr Hun Sen, however, said that his government would never agree to extraditing Thaksin.

The war of words underlined how Thaksin can still yield considerable influence over Thailand's affairs even from exile.

Six months ago, Thaksin also embarrassed the Thai government when hundreds of his red-shirted supporters broke through security barriers at an Asian summit, forcing some leaders to flee by helicopter and abruptly ending the meeting.

Mr Hun Sen caused a stir earlier this month when he ordered troops to shoot any Thai who crosses illegally into Cambodia, as nationalist tensions mounted over an 11th century temple the two countries have fought over for decades.

And Mr Hun Sen previously threatened to boycott the Hua Hin meeting altogether over the temple.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is considered a moral authority and a unifying figure for Thailand, has been in hospital for more than month.

On Thursday, he appeared in public for the first time since he was hospitalised.

The 81-year-old king's appearance follows a pronouncement by the palace - which had been giving daily updates on his condition - that his health was 'stable'. Wearing a light-blue short-sleeved shirt, King Bhumibol was wheeled in an electric wheelchair into a closed-off area on the ground floor of the hospital in Bangkok to garland the statues of his late parents.

He looked alert and much the same as in previous public appearances. He raised his arm to greet the public as he was wheeled through the hospital corridor.

The Bureau of Royal Household said in a statement late on Wednesday that the king's condition was stable and he was 'physically stronger'. He will continue to take antibiotics, it said.

King Bhumibol checked into Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital on Sept 19 with fever, fatigue and lack of appetite.

Rumours about his health led to a short but sharp sell-off of shares on the Thai stocks last week. -- Reuters, AP

Gov´t Criticizes Rainsy's Paris Peace Accord Celebrations

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 24 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Cambodian Government spok-esman on Friday criticized opposition leader Sam Rainsy over his rejection of celebrations on January 7, the day when Vietnamese troops entered Phnom Penh, effectively ending the Khmer Rouge's control of Cambodia's central Government.

Sam Rainsy on Friday morning marked October 23, the anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords of October 23, 1991. "The only two dates which we have remember and welcome are November 9 as Independence [from France] Day, and October 23 as the Paris Peace Accords."

January 7 is referred to as Victory Day by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

April 17, 1975 and January 7, 1979 were two events that reflected a bloody victory of Khmers over Khmers, leading to massacres or civil war and/or the loss of national independence and sovereignty following the country's invasion by a foreign occupying force, Sam Rainsy claimed. Information Minister and Gover-nment spokesman Khieu Kahnarith said that "We exactly remember that on October 23, Sam Rainsy cooperated with Khmer Rouge to lead Khmer Rouge leaders to have seats in the Government and [National] Assembly."

If Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had not made efforts to overcome these difficulties, Cambodia would not have achieved safety and stability, the minister added.

"Sam Rainsy made effort to urge Khmer Rouge leaders to sit in the SNC," Khieuv Kahanrith said. "If these people do not cooperate with the Khmer Rouge leaders, Khmer Rouge leaders would not have the right to get aid from overseas."

Cambodia Clarifies Thaksin Extradition Options

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 24 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Following warning from Thai leaders over the extradition of ex-Thai PM Thaksin if Cambodia allows him to visit, a Cambodian Government spokesman vowed that the fugitive leader would not be extradited to Thailand.

“Cambodia would like to make clear its position that Cambodia will not extradite Thaksin on any request made by the Thai Government if he decides to stay in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” said a Friday Government press statement.

The statement came just a day after the Thai Government threatened to request Cambodia to extradite Thaksin, who is still on the lam from two-year jail term in Thailand, if he should visit Cambodia.

Under Article 3 of Cambodia-Thailand Extradition Agreement singed on July 17, 1999, both parties may reject completely any extradition if: “[The] Requested party see that offense is an item of extradition made by the requesting party as political offense … [or that there is a] clear basis to assume that request extradition made by the requesting party has a goal using anti-criminal measures or practice penalty of an individual is filed complaint in terms of race, religion, nationality, or that individual’s political opinion.”

The Cambodian Government said that Thaksin’s case could be viewed as being politically motivated, noting that the Cambodian Government has the right to interpret the applicability of the exeception.

Prime Minster Hun Sen’s offer to allow Thaksin to stay in Cambodia is a “virtuous gesture” as Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thaksin are “old friends, who shall help each other in a difficult situation and this moral attitude does not necessarily mean that it is an interference in the internal affairs of Thailand,” the statement said.

Thaksin thanked Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen in his twitter feed for welcoming him to the country and having offering to build a home for him. “I have to express deepest thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen for saying in public that I am his friend. I also would like to thank him for arranging me a house,” Thaksin said on twitter.

Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, lea- der-in-waiting of Thailand’s opposition Puea Thai Party, has already visi- ted Phnom Penh at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The two parties will discuss bilaterally to promote and strengthen between Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) and Puea Thai Party leaders,” a high-ranking Cambodian Government official told DAP News Cambodia.

The Cambodian PM suggested the establishment of a working group. Cambodian Minister of Defense Tea Banh, also a deputy prime minister, will be assigned as a leader of the above working group. A high-ranking military official from the Puea Thai Party will be another leader of the group.

Some analysts asked if cooperation between the premier Hun Sen and Chavalit Yongchaiyuth could be a bid the add further pressure to the Thai Government led by Abhisit, which was elected by a coup back by factions of the Thai army.

South Korea Helps E-Government in Cambodia

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 24 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The South Korean Government has vowed to help e-government in Cambodia, using high technology to manage and collect data to the benefit of Cambodia, officials said on Friday.

The Cambodian Government and South Korean partners signed an MoU to enhance cooperation over e-government in Cambodia. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Choi Khyung Hwan, Minister of Economy and Know-ledge of South Korea, made the agreement to strengthen ICT cooperation.

South Korea will continue to support Cambodia with help e-go- vernment for all provinces, and all Government agencies need to equip modern ICT to manage data and analyse data from provinces, Sok An said after the signing ceremony. “When we have modern technology, we can easily manage land title registration, collect tax … [for] customs, motorcycles and other vehicles,” he said. “All these things will improve the public service of the government and we could minimize the problems of the people in the communities.”

E-government has apparently already been introduced Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk province, and NIDA will work with Cambodia and South Korea to “build the backbone of IT system in provinces.”

The provincial administration informational system (PAIS) will include underground fibre-optic cables for provinces around the Tonle Sap lake, connecting with Phnom Penh.

South Korea and Cambodia have been cooperating closely in integrating digital information into Cambodian Government services, Choi said. “We will continue to work with the Cambodian side to help Cambodian people.”

South Korea has allocated US$29 million for e-government in Cambodia over the next three years, he said.

CEDAC to Organize Organic Rice Federation

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 24 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) is organizing the 5th National Assembly of the Organic Rice Producers Federation to be held at the CEDAC head office in Phnom Penh on October 26, a press release from CEDAC said on Friday.

The objectives of the National Assembly are to provide understanding the process of community agricultural development, to examine the history of a cooperative in Germany and how it could provide a model for Cambodia, to disseminate a strategy for collecting the upcoming harvest, and to promote and strengthen the understanding of organic rice quality, CEDAC said. Keynote speakers include Dr. Yang Saing Koma, CEDAC president; Mak Seurn, Chief of the Department of Agriculture Extension of MAFF; Dr. Carl Josef Weiers, Senior expert on Cooperatives; the President of the Farmer and Nature Net (FNN); and the National Organic Rice Producers Federation.

Cambodia to Boost Economic Integration with East Asia Summit

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 24 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The upcoming East Asia Summit will offer financial support to train human resources and financial experts for Cambodians to work with the East Asia countries, a press release from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) obtained on Saturday said.

“We thank Indian, Chinese and Australian experts in finance and economy for sharing experience with Cambodia on financial matters and strengthening capacity building to work with other countries in East Asia,” Keat Chhon, MEF minister, said in his speech.

Margaret Adamson, Australian ambassador to Cambodia, said Aust- ralia is working with ASEAN countries to help them benefit from the East Asia summit. All of the countries from this region, or those who are G20 members like Australia, must help ASEAN countries, she added. “We see the Australian opportunities for East Asia summit countries, which includes ASEAN countries plus China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia, play a very important role in the wake of the global economic downturn,” she said.

“We see a very great opportunity for East Asia summit countries to have a strong impact on the global agenda for management of financial cooperation and economy and trade cooperation. We are of course a very long standing partner and friend of the countries in this region, of course including Cambodia. And we see that we need capacity building in least developed members of this region in terms of the development of strong financial services and regulatory arrangements, including of course in securities institutions.”

Australia supports the pilot capacity building program for financial institutions in Cambodia, she said, “and we have been enlarging work very closely with the ASEAN secretariat on these issues.”

“I believe financial ministers will meet each other to strengthen the cooperation in region and in East Asia summit has many other meetings including trade and environment ministers,” Adamson said. The Cambodian financial system needs to be strengthened, she added.

The 4th East Asia Summit is to be held on October 24-25 in Thailand during the ASEAN Summit. Coope- ration in five key areas – energy, edu- cation, finance, avian influenza and national disaster mitigation – will be reviewed.

The East Asia Summit will comprise the 10 ASEAN countries as well as Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan and South Korea. The 16-member grouping was established in 2005 in Kuala Lumpur. The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political and economic issues of common interest and concern with the aim of promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in East Asia.

It claims to be an open, inclusive, transparent and outward-looking forum, which strives to strengthen global norms and universally recognised values with ASEAN as the driving force working in partnership with the other participants of the East Asia Summit.

The First East Asia Summit was held on December 14, 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia . It was attended by the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India , Japan, South Korea and New Zealand .

The First India-ASEAN Summit was held in 2002 in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The meeting in Thailand will review the progres in the growth of the relationship, which began with the launch of India’s “Look East Policy” in 1992.

In his statement, Indian Prime Minister said yesterday that India’s engagement with the 10-nation ASEAN was at the heart of its “Look East” policy.

Hun Sen, Thaksin's eternal friend

Philip Golingai
The Star
Publication Date: 24-10-2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

What can an eternal friend, who happens to be the Cambodian Prime Minister, do to help his self-exiled billionaire politician buddy?

If you were Hun Sen, you would offer to build a beautiful home in Cambodia for Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

In Phnom Penh on Wednesday the Cambodian premier told Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the puu yai (Thai for “senior elder”) of the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party, that he was prepared to host Thaksin, who fled Thailand in August 2008 to avoid a two-year jail term on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

“I consider Thaksin as my eternal friend. Cambodia will welcome him to stay here for anytime.

“I make the house available for him at any time if he decides to visit Cambodia,” Hun Sen told reporters after meeting Chavalit.

“Though I’m not Thai, I’m hurt by what has happened to him. My wife even cried on knowing about it and has the idea of building a home for Thaksin to come and stay honourably,” he said.

“We have been great friends since Thaksin was a businessman, and the relationship has remained the same since he entered politics,” Hun Sen said.

In Thaksinlive, Thaksin tweeted in Thai: “I have to express deepest thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen for saying in public that I am his friend.

“I also would like to thank him for arranging me a house.”

However, Thaksin — who is currently staying in Dubai — did not say whether he would accept Hun Sen’s offer.

In an article yesterday, The Nation reported that relations between Hun Sen and Thaksin go back nearly two decades when the Thai was “an up-and-coming businessman trying to align himself with important people.”

“It started with lucrative business contracts in the area of telecommunications, with the Vietnamese-installed government in Phnom Penh. At the time Hun Sen was top man on the hill,” wrote Don Pathan, The Nation’s foreign editor.

Hun Sen’s invitation to Thaksin came two days before the Asean summit, where Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will be hosting him and other Asian leaders in Hua Hin, Thailand.

A Bangkok Post editorial cartoon yesterday succinctly illustrated the consequence of the undiplomatic invitation: Hun Sen’s right arm warmly welcoming a delighted Thaksin, while his left hand was rudely slapping a flustered Abhisit.

On Thursday, Veera Prateepchaikul, a former Bangkok Post editor, wrote:

“A shrewd politician, the Cambodian prime minister should have realised that his receiving of Chavalit at this juncture and his remark about Thaksin would embarrass if not offend the Thai government, Prime Minister Abhisit in particular.”

“But he didn’t seem bothered and appeared willingly to play into Chavalit’s political game,” he opined in the Bangkok Post.

Ever the statesman, Abhisit on Thursday told journalists he had no hard feelings towards Hun Sen.

The Thai premier said he believed his Cambodian counterpart was mature enough to differentiate matters and had no intention of interfering in Thailand’s internal affairs. He added that he would not raise the matter with Hun Sen during the Asean summit.

However, Abhisit said his government would seek Thaksin’s extradition if he ever set foot in Cambodia.

“Once Thaksin enters Cambodia the extradition process will begin. If Cambodia fails to comply with (the) treaty, that would be another story,” he said.

Don’t bet on that happening.

“If Thaksin decides to come and stay closer to home, he can rest assured it won’t be a walk into a trap,” The Nation opined yesterday.

“First and foremost, the one who invites him and who would be his host is the most powerful man in Cambodia, thus the chance of Thaksin being stabbed in the back and extradited is virtually zero.”

The article continued: “Combine the apparently heartfelt message with Hun Sen’s stormy relations with the current Bangkok leaders, an extradition request should either bounce back to the senders or head straight to diplomatic oblivion.”

Yesterday, Hun Sen’s invitation took a twist.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith claimed that it was untrue the Cambodian premier would allow Thaksin to have a permanent home in Cambodia. He added that Hun Sen was misquoted by the media.

Perhaps Thaksin can shed some light on this latest twist in his next tweet.

Safety Violators Targeted

Cambodian workers leave after their shift at a garment factory in Phnom Penh on July 5, 2008.

Radio Free Asia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia vows to crack down on safety violations by factory owners.

PNHOM PENH—Officials have vowed to crack down on safety violations that endanger factory workers after toxic fumes in a garment factory in Cambodia’s capital sickened hundreds of workers.

The Cambodian Ministry of Labor & Vocational Training allowed World Best Cambodia Co. Ltd. Garment Factory to reopen at its Phnom Penh factory Oct. 14 after more than 400 workers fainted days earlier from inhaling a pesticide.

But Uk Vantha of the Department of Health, Ministry of Labor & Vocational Training, said that the continued operation of the factory depended upon a substantial overhaul of working conditions.

“The factory used a chemical substance in the cloth warehouses, workplace, on the exterior of the factory, workers’ residences, and bathrooms,” Uk Vantha said.

“Additionally, the working environment is inadequate. Water containers are not clean. Toilets at the back of the complex give off a bad smell and the wind blows it into the factory,” he said.

Uk Vantha said factory management must clean the building’s interior, upgrade toilet facilities, ensure no deductions from workers’ salaries, and allow workers who have not fully recovered from the poisoning to rest.

He said the factory will be subject to inspections from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Environment, and local authorities going forward, adding that any factory that disregards Ministry of Labor regulations on the use of toxic substances will be fined.

Fainting from fumes

On Oct. 12, more than 400 workers, mostly women, lost consciousness after inhaling the pesticide at the World Best garment factory in Phnom Penh’s suburban subdistrict of Chaom Chau, in Dangkao district.

The two-year-old factory, which says it employs around 1,500 garment workers, was forced to suspend operations for one day after the incident to rid the premises of remaining chemical vapors.

Factory worker Nou Mom, 36, who received emergency treatment at a hospital in Phnom Penh, said she had recovered.

“I was seriously poisoned, but I’m feeling better following an infusion,” Nou Mom said.

“First we smelled something from the poison on the cloth and then we felt with a dizzy,” she said, recalling the events of Oct. 12.

Unknown substance

Another worker who identified herself as Nary, 21, said that while she was recovering, she was still experiencing side effects.

“I’m just now getting better. It’s just a bit difficult for me to breathe and I feel nauseated,” she said.

Pok Vantha, director of the Department of Health, Ministry of Labor & Vocational Training, oversaw an investigation into the incident, which he attributed to the use of powerful pesticides.

Operations have returned to normal, he said, and added that the ministry has issued a statement to other factories providing measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“Factory directors have already been advised. Their management has been corrected,” he said.

Pok Vantha said the chemical that caused the sickness was a poison used on mice, ants, cockroaches, and other pests.

But he said that the name of the substance and how much of it had been used was unknown.

“We have advised [factory] directors to apply technical standards,” Pok Vantha said.

Sen Kunthea, human resources director at World Best Cambodia Co., Ltd., said the situation at the factory had been resolved and most workers were back on the job.

“Operations have resumed…95 percent of those who had fainted are now back at work,” Kunthea said.

“A pest exterminator company sprayed poison in the factory, but experts now say it is completely gone,” she said.

Future precautions

Labor activist Chea Mony said the Ministry of Labor & Vocational Training should be vigilant in preventing such an incident from happening again.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, also called for a thorough follow-up of the company’s products to ensure no one else might be affected.

Clothing produced at the factory “may still contain strong chemicals,” Chea Mony said.

Trina Tocco, deputy director at International Labor Rights Forum in Washington, said management at World Best Cambodia Co., Ltd. needs to implement a transparent process to deal with the situation in both immediately and in the long term.

“Did the factory take responsibility for paying for the medical expenses as caused by this incident...You don’t want this coming out of worker’s paychecks which often times medical [costs] do,” Tocco said.

She said that inadequate documentation of the incident could lead to questionable long-term impacts and continued problems for workers.

“The factory may try to say, ‘This had nothing to do with what happened at work,’ thereby denying that claim and putting that worker into poverty.”

Tocco also called on the company’s management to educate their workforce about the chemical they had been exposed to, as well as the establishment of an independent body to monitor their health.

“The other part is identifying whether there is any independent analysis of what is going on to make sure that there is somebody thinking about it from the workers’ perspective, instead of just hushing things,” Tocco said.

“Initiate some sort of process with local civil society or independent doctors where they could do some sort of check up on workers that isn’t connected with some of the bureaucracy of the government,” she advised.

Officials haven’t said what poison was used at the factory, but inspectors have said it wasn’t applied properly.

World Best Cambodia Co., Ltd. is owned by Oknha Srey Sothea, a businessman said to have close ties to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Tough times for garment workers

Garment workers at the World Best Cambodia Co., Ltd. factory aren't alone suffering from chemical toxins in the workplace.

Last September in Phnom Penh, 69 workers at the Morea Garment Factory and 24 workers at the Golden Mile Factory also fainted from inhaling poison fumes.

In addition, Cambodia’s workers have faced tough economic times as the country’s garment factories—a major employer and exporter in this impoverished country—are forced to close in the face of a worldwide economic slump.

The garment industry accounts for some two-thirds of Cambodia's export revenues and employs nearly 360,000 people, mostly women making less than U.S. $100 a month.

Some 73 factories in Phnom Penh were closed in 2008, putting 224,000 people out of work. In 2007, Cambodia enjoyed exceptional economic growth on the back of a thriving garment industry. But just one year later, more than 30 garment factories were closed, leaving thousands jobless.

Original reporting by Sok Serey for RFA’s Khmer service. Khmer service director: Sos Kem. Translated by Uon Chhin. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Hun Sen, Abhisit start summit war of words

Published: 24/10/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

CHA-AM : A war of words between the Thai and Cambodian leaders has erupted as Southeast Asian leaders begin talks at the Asean summit aimed at fostering ties among 10 members.

The conflict centred on deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday offered his country as a temporary home for him.

Hun Sen reaffirmed his position yesterday and went even further by saying Thaksin could become Phnom Penh's economic adviser.

Hun Sen also indirectly compared Thaksin to Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and said he considered Thaksin to be a victim of the 2006 military coup.

"What is the purpose of Prime Minister Hun Sen coming to Thailand?" said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in a press conference held after his Cambodian counterpart spoke to reporters. "And what has he said that was in line with the aim of the meeting?"

The prime minister said Asean emphasised building a stronger community with unity.

"(Asean) has no time to pay attention to a person who wants to destroy Asean unity. And I hope Prime Minister Hun Sen will receive the right information and change his mind on the matter."

Mr Abhisit countered his Cambodian counterpart's remarks made shortly after arriving in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi to attend the summit.

"Many people are talking about Mrs Suu Kyi of Burma. Why can't I talk about the victim, Thaksin?" said Hun Sen. "That cannot be regarded as interference by Cambodia into Thai internal affairs," he said.

"Without the coup d'etat in 2006, such a thing would not have happened," he added.

The Cambodian leader made clear his government will not send Thaksin back to serve his jail term in Thailand if he stays on Cambodian soil.

Article 3 of the extradition treaty between Thailand and Cambodia says that the country asked to extradite someone has the legal grounds to absolutely reject any extradition if it considers the request involves a political offence, he said.

Prior to his arrival in Thailand, the Cambodian government issued a statement outlining the decision by Hun Sen over his offer to Thaksin.

"Allowing Mr Thaksin to stay in Cambodia is reflecting the virtuous behaviour of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is Thaksin's long time friend.

"This virtuous attitude is not interpreted as interference in Thailand's internal affairs," said the statement obtained by the Bangkok Post.

Hun Sen said he was not interfering in Thailand's problems.

"This is just moral support from me. As one million Thai people of the red shirt group support Thaksin, why can't I, as a friend from afar, support Thaksin?" said the Cambodian leader.

Problems in Thailand should be solved by Thais, he added.

Mr Abhisit, however, argued that Hun Sen might have got the wrong information about Thaksin who could not be compared with Mrs Suu Kyi.

"There are few people in the world who believe (the case of) Thaksin is similar to that of Mrs Suu Kyi," Mr Abhisit said. "I don't know where he got the information."

The case of Mrs Suu Kyi was a resolution where Asean had a common stance and it could not be compared with Thaksin's, he said, apparently referring to the Asean statement calling for the release of the Burmese opposition leader.

Mr Abhisit said the Cambodian government should not say in advance that it would not extradite Thaksin if he takes refuge in Cambodia.

"It is a process from both sides to prove if the case is a matter of politics or corruption," said Mr Abhisit.

Hun Sen should "think carefully" and focus on bilateral relations and benefits to the two countries, Mr Abhisit said, adding: "I hope I will have a chance to make him understand."

CBRE spots opportunity in Cambodia

Published: 24/10/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH : CB Richard Ellis Group Inc (CBRE) is opening a new office in Phnom Penh to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia. The company aims to capitalise on growing demand for professional real estate services and is also planning ahead to serve the market on Cambodia's southern coast.

"The opening of an office in Cambodia will allow CBRE to provide research, consultancy, valuation and advisory services in the country and will strengthen our broader platform in Southeast Asia," said Daniel Parkes, country manager of CBRE Cambodia.

He said land prices in Cambodia had eased back from the sharp rises experienced since 2005. The market could be compared to Thailand, in particular Bangkok in the late 1980s, and Vietnam in the early 1990s - with a lot of potential for growth, few modern developments but latent demand.

The good news, he said, is that the government is very pro-investment and is offering a tax cap of 20%. It already offers 99-year leases to foreigners and is considering full foreign freehold.

Cambodia's Council of Ministers in July approved a sub-decree covering new co-ownership regulations, allowing legal ownership of individual apartments or condominium units, which paves the way for a law allowing foreign ownership of some property.

The new co-ownership regulations will make it possible to own units within a larger building without having title to the land it occupies. The goal is to guarantee and protect rights of legal holders in apartments or condominiums for co-ownership. It will also facilitate management on behalf of co-owners who live in the apartments or condominiums.

As well, the new regulations facilitate co-ownership for sale, exchange, donation, inheritance, permanent rental and collateralising of private holdings as personal ownership.

Foreigners have not been able to own Cambodian land or housing in the past. They could only rent property for their business or residence. Also, foreigners cannot buy land near borders with neighbouring countries because it could affect national sovereignty and security.

"The market is not without challenges and is coming off a low base," said Mr Parkes. "There is no doubt that per-capita income in Phnom Penh is continuing to improve, with a surprisingly high number of private cars, trucks and bikes.

"Inbound retailers, while they lack a modern centre, are enjoying good business - for example, pizza franchises. There is only one modern high-rise office, Canadia Tower, which is soon to be completed. Projected rents are comparable to those of Bangkok's Grade A space."

In 2008, the GDP of Cambodia reached $9.2 billion, with tourism contributing $1.72 billion. Culture has played a key role in Cambodia in the past three decades and has created many jobs. From 2000 to 2008, GDP per capita in Cambodia increased by 158% from $286.90 to $739.

Take-up of industrial property is slow but major global companies are already buying land for assembly and manufacturing facilities, said Mr Parkes. There is also a fledgling condominium market and Korean developers have been active. There has also been a boom in new villas, with prices of up to $1 million each.

Chris Brooke, president and chief executive officer of CBRE in Asia, said the company's presence in the market would facilitate the provision of professional property services, while also supporting regional clients who have an interest in a unique emerging market.

As the capital, Phnom Penh has become a major focal point for economic and business development in recent years, said Mr Brooke. This region offers enormous business potential for further growth of domestic and foreign businesses.

In particular, backed by investment resulting from positive sentiment, Cambodia's real estate market is expected to continue its growth momentum in the years to come, particularly the resort property market along the coastline.

In the future CBRE will consider a resort office on the south coast, with the opening of the Ream airport, said Mr Parkes.

The company already has two major contracts. It is the sole agent for marketing exclusive villas on a private island, which are priced from $200,000 and come with hotel management and guaranteed returns. The company also has a key advisory role for Koh Rong, an island being positioned as an eco-tourism destination and a potential rival to Phuket and Koh Samui in Thailand.

Korea to help Cambodia launch mobile TV service

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Korean government said Friday that it has reached an agreement with Cambodia to help the Southeast Asian country launch a land-based mobile television service, Yonhap said.

The agreement was reached between the broadcasting regulators of the two nations in Cambodia, where South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited as part of the second leg of a three-nation Southeast Asian tour.

Under the agreement, Cambodia plans to start the mobile TV service by the end of this year, using new technology developed in Korea that offers crystal-clear definition for displays on mobile devices, according to the Korea Communications Commission.

Thaksin should have no fear as Hun Sen's house guest
Fri, Oct 23, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thaksin should have no fear as Hun Sen's house guest.

Bangkok's threat to invoke both countries' extradition treaty once Thaksin sets foot on Cambodian soil, however, may not scare anyone.

If Thaksin, who thanked Hun Sen in a Twitter message but stopped short of elaborating his future plans, decides to come and stay closer to home, he can rest assured it won't be a walk into a trap.

First and foremost, the one who invites him and who would be his host is the most powerful man in Cambodia, thus the chance of Thaksin being stabbed in the back and extradited is virtually zero. Hun Sen's message following his meeting Wednesday with Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Thaksin's virtual representative, left no doubt about whether the Cambodian leader is the man Thaksin can trust.

Hun Sen talked about great friendship dating back to the days Thaksin was just a businessman, about how his [Hun Sen's] wife cried over Thaksin's political misfortune, and about how much the first Cambodian couple would love to give the ousted Thai leader a "home that deserves his honour".

Combine the apparently heart-felt message with Hun Sen's stormy relations with the current Bangkok leaders, an extradition request should either bounce back to the senders or head straight to a diplomatic oblivion.

The countries' extradition treaty does not oblige them to send back someone like Thaksin as long as he can be deemed a political victim in his own country.

The legal agreement is like most other extradition treaties in essence. It says extraditable offences are punishable under the laws of the two countries by the penalty of imprisonment for a period of more than one year or by any heavier penalty.

"The Contracting Parties undertake to extradite to each other, in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty, persons found in the territory of one of the Contracting Parties who are wanted for prosecution, trial or for the imposition or execution of punishment in the territory of the other Party for an extraditable offence," the treaty says.

If the above article can make Thaksin squirm, there exists another article that is likelier to come into play.

According to Article 3, extradition will not be granted when:

"The Requested Party considers the offence for which the request for extradition is made by the Requesting Party as a political offence.. ...

"(Or) The Requested Party has well-founded reasons to suppose that the request aims to institute criminal proceedings against or execute punishment upon the person sought on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion of that person, or that the position of the person sought in judicial proceedings will be prejudiced for any of the reasons mentioned above.

"(Or) The offence for which the request for extradition is made is exclusively an offence under military law of the Requesting Party and does not constitute an offence under criminal law of that contracting party."

On the surface, it's in favour of Thaksin, but he will have to read the above very carefully, especially because he was convicted under a law that has been in existence long before the military coup that ousted him. Then again, while those letters could be a cause for concern, Hun Sen has all but said Thaksin shouldn't be scared. -The Nation/Asia News Network

Thaksin Most Welcome: Government Official

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Were ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to come to Cambodia, the country would not extradite him, a government statement said Friday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier this week he would welcome the former premier to Cambodia, which prompted a rebuke from Bangkok.

“Cambodia will not extradite in following of any eventual request by Thai government, in case the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra decides to stay in Cambodia,” according to a government statement.

Thaksin, who was ousted in 2006 by a military coup, lives in exile in Dubai. He faces a two-year jail term for corruption in Thailand.

The extradition treaty between Cambodia and Thailand allows either party to deny extradition in cases of “political offenses,” among others, the Cambodian statement said.

“The Cambodian government has the right to interpret these two points [on whether] the case of Thaksin Shinawatra is a political case or not,” it said.

Hun Sen told reporters Wednesday after a meeting with Thaksin supporter Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a member of the opposition Puea Thai Party, Thaksin was “a political victim.”

“I respect and like him more now than when he was a prime minister,” Hun Sen said. “I have prepared a house where Thaksin can stay at any time.”

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva responded, saying if Thaksin entered Cambodia, “the extradition process will begin.”

“If Cambodia failed to comply with the treaty on the extradition, that would be another story,” he said.

The Cambodian statement said Hun Sen’s invitation was one of long friendship and should not be interpreted as “interference of Thailand’s internal affairs.”

Hun Sen left Friday for Hua Hin, Thailand, where Asean leaders are holding a summit. He is expected to hold talks with Abhisit there.

Peace Accords Remain Unfulfilled: Officials

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

With laws or treaties not being applied, and some canceled or nullified, and with Cambodia’s human rights efforts under fire, opposition and rights officials said Thursday the Paris Peace Accords have not been fully implemented.

Friday marks the 18th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, but “if the government does not fulfill it, we as a people will just do it, struggle for it,” Tith Huon, a Sam Rainsy Party official in France, said on “Hello VOA.”

Eighteen countries signed the accords on Oct. 23, 1991, ending a civil war that raged in Cambodia in the 1980s and paving the way for a UN peacekeeping force and elections in 1993.

The accords aimed to bring awareness of human rights and other freedoms, and opened the way for non-governmental organizations to aid in the country’s development.

However, 18 years later, the ideals of the accord have been slow to materialize, said Thun Saray, director of the rights group Adhoc, who was also a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“The rights to land and housing are still lacking,” he said, referring to forced evictions that have increased in recent years, alongside a land value boom.

However, the accords did bring monitoring by foreign countries over the restoration of economic and social issues, as well as education and health, he said.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the government had not ignored the accords, which cannot be nullified.

“The Khmers have done [everything] on their own,” he said, speaking by phone ahead of the program. “We should be proud as Khmers.”

Groups Push Adherence to Paris Accords

By King Sothanarith and Neou Sarem, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh and Washington
23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Marking the anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, which ended Cambodia’s civil war in 1991, opposition officials and rights groups on Friday urged signatory countries to use the agreement to settle a number of problems facing the country.

The peace agreement, signed by warring Cambodian factions and 18 nations, outlined a framework of sovereignty and independence, neutrality and national unity.

The groups pointed to the military standoff on the Thai border, weakened democratic mechanisms, attacks on freedoms, and the gap between rich and poor as reasons to renew efforts to follow the accords.

The Human Rights Party said in a statement the agreement had brought elections, non-governmental organizations, pluralism and an independent media. But, the party said, Cambodia still faces weaknesses in its democratic process, illegal immigration, incursions by foreign countries and a large gap between rich and poor.

“Those problems are concerns of Cambodian citizens,” HRP President Kem Sokha said. “The spirit of the Paris agreement was to bring development to Cambodia, but only rich men and powerful men benefit the most.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association and representative of the Cambodia Watchdog Council, insisted that Cambodian leaders respect the agreement.

Signatories of the agreement should be approached to stop an “invasion” by Thai soldiers, he said, referring to a military standoff in a border dispute near Preah Vihear temple.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia did not need “foreign intervention.”

Cambodia was developing by the spirit of the accords, he said, including in “the development in the area of human rights, in the economy, in national defense and in democracy.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Friday Cambodia had not yet reached “full liberty and freedom.”

Ahead of the anniversary, groups in France urged more adherence to the accords, as well.

Before Prime Minister Hun Sen visited France in July, to celebrate that country’s independence day, the Cambodian community in France sent letters, e-mails and petitions to the office of the president, claiming the Paris accords had been abused over the past 18 years.

Cedric Goubet, chief of the French Cabinet, replied in a letter, saying the office was taking the complaints under consideration and had communicated concern to the French Foreign Ministry and the European Union’s office of Foreign Affairs.

The French advocates said the response gave them hope the accords were not dead.

“We have to unite among ourselves to find ways to convince France to pay more attention to the actual situation in Cambodia, to scrutinize respect of the Paris Peace Agreement by the [Cambodian] government, and ask all signatory countries to reconvene the Paris peace agreement,” said Chak Sakhun, president of the French-based Khmer Mchas Srok Movement.

Sean Pengse, president of the Cambodian Border Committee, based in Paris, said his group was “happy” the French government continued “to respect the Paris Peace Agreement.”

“From now on, perhaps France will understand what we mean,” he said.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the peace accords had been breached long ago, with the Khmer Rouge withdrawing from the deal to fight a campaign against the government and its then-new peace partners.

“That means the Paris Peace Agreement was already dead,” he said. “It is thanks to the goodwill of the State of Cambodia at the time that we continued to respect it.”

Cambodia’s thousands of non-governmental organizations, in a country of roughly 14 million, along with the start of a Khmer Rouge tribunal, were signs the government was following the spirit of the accords, he said.

That statement prompted a letter of response by the Khmer Mchas Srok movement in France, and Seng Pengse, requesting that the matter be brought before the UN.

“It is very good that Mr. Sean Pengse has brought up the matter of the abuse of this agreement by the Hun Sen government, to inform the French government, as [Cambodia] seems to have been taken advantage of by other countries,” said Ong Thong Hoeung, author of “J’ai cru aux Khmers rouges.” “If the Paris Peace Agreement is already dead, it means that [Cambodia] has no borders, because this agreement was a promise to help Cambodia have solid borders. For those who say the Paris Peace Agreement is already dead, it means people have no respect for the…borders.”

Dy Kareth, vice president of the Cambodian Border Committee, said international treaties such as the Paris Accords “never die.”

“For example, the French-Siamese agreement about [Cambodian] and [Thai] borders, in 1904 and 1907, was more than 100 years ago,” he said.

“I know that the Paris Peace Agreement is still in effect until now,” Son Soubert, a member of the Constitutional Council, said. “But please look back at the UN, which, while implementing the Paris Peace Agreement in Cambodia had violated it, and no one dared to protest. Some superpowers didn’t pay attention to it, and now it’s too late to correct it.”

Cambodia, South Korea to Explore in Cambodian Sea
Xinhua News Agency|Friday, October 23, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia and South Korea on Friday signed a MOU of cooperation to explore for oil and gas in the Cambodian sea.

The MOU was signed by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, who is also chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) and his South Korean counterpart.

The MOU will allow South Korean partner to research and collect data about areas of oil and gas in Cambodian sea and plan to invest in the off-shore oil and gas fields, Sok An said after the signing ceremony.

Ho Vichet, vice chairman of CNPA told reporters that the project will be started after the MOU is effective. "We hope South Korea will invest in oil and gas in Cambodia because they expressed their interests in petroleum in Cambodian."

According to the MOU, South Korea will help training Cambodian human resources on oil and gas areas, Ho Vichet said. Moreover, it will help enhancing the cooperation between the two countries, Young Won Kang, Chairman of Korean National Oil Corporation said.

South Korea - President Lee wraps up state visit to Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

President Lee Myung-bak finished his tour to Cambodia, the second leg of his Southeast Asian tour, by visiting a local branch of a Korean company and the world-famous temple complex Angkor Wat on Friday (Oct. 23).

Earlier in the day, the President paid a visit to the Cambodian branch of Korea's KTC Cable, the only producer of electric, communication and optical cables in Cambodia.

The Korean branch was established in 2005 and recorded US million of sales in 2008. It is recognized as one of the most successful foreign companies operating in Cambodia and employs a staff of about 300, including 10 Koreans.

Later in the day, the President visited the famous cultural heritage site Angkor Wat along with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, and discussed at the subsequent luncheon the construction of a detour road near the temple complex. Korea promised to provide assistance in the building of such a road during the Korea-Cambodia summit held on Thursday (Oct. 22).

On the last leg of his East Asian tour, to Hua Hin, Thailand, President Lee will attend the Korea-ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN+3 Summit and the East Asia Summit on Oct. 24 and 25.

Lee Broadens Outreach Program in Asia

President Lee Myung-bak and first lady Kim Yoon-ok look at sculpture on the wall during their visit to Angkor Wat, an ancient temple complex in Cambodia, Friday. They arrived in the country Thursday as part of a three-nation Southeast Asian trip. They arrived in Bangkok later Friday to attend the summit of ASEAN plus three . Korea, Japan and China.
Korea Times photo by Sohn Yong-seok

By Na Jeong-ju
Staff Reporter

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

President Lee Myung-bak is expected to seek broad support from Southeast Asian countries for his New Asia Initiative, under which Korea would expand the scope of its diplomacy to promote the common interests of its regional partners at global forums.

Lee arrived in Hua Hin, Thailand, yesterday to attend today's summit of ASEAN plus three ― Korea, Japan and China ― and the annual East Asia Summit, which involves India, Australia, New Zealand and the ASEAN+3 countries tomorrow.

The New Asia Initiative, Korea's green growth policies, the global fight against climate change and North Korea's nuclear program will be on the agenda when Lee holds talks with other leaders, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Lee announced the new diplomatic doctrine during his trip to Jakarta, Indonesia, in March and shared it with regional partners during the ASEAN plus Korea Summit on Jeju Island in late May.

This time, Lee will seek firm backing for his plan to represent the voices of emerging economies in Asia on the global stage and play a bridging role between developed and developing countries.

Korea will become the first Asian nation to host a summit of the G20 economies in November next year. In its capacity as the host country, Korea will invite some non-members to the forum.

Under the initiative, Korea plans to upgrade its relations with more regional partners in the areas of economy, security and culture.

The Lee administration has pledged to increase economic contributions to developing countries in Asia and promote cultural exchanges based on the growing popularity of Korean dramas and pop songs.

It is also seeking to sign free trade agreements not only with ASEAN, but also other Asia-Pacific countries as part of efforts to further regional economic cooperation.

"Lee has become one of the most well-known Asian leaders thanks to his active summit diplomacy with world leaders since his inauguration in February last year," a Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson said.

"Korea's hosting of the G20 Summit reflects the country's growing influence and improving reputation. The forum will be a good opportunity for Korea as well as Asia."

At the ASEAN+3 Summit, Lee will also call for efforts to prepare for a global economic paradigm shift to a green economy.

He will also urge the nations to actively participate in global talks on reducing greenhouse gas emission, which is forecast to become a key trade barrier in the near future.

North Korea's nuclear program will also be a key topic.

Lee and ASEAN leaders may call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.

Thailand angry at offer of refuge to former PM

October 24, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

FUGITIVE former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be jailed if he sets foot in neighbouring Cambodia, the Thai Government has warned.

The warning came in response to an extraordinary offer from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to build the exiled Mr Thaksin a house in Phnom Penh.

Mr Hun Sen described Mr Thaksin as ''an eternal friend'' and said the former prime minister was a ''political victim''.

''Though I'm not Thai, I'm hurt by what has happened to him. My wife even cried on knowing about it and has an idea to build a home for Thaksin to come and stay honourably,'' Mr Hun Sen said.

Mr Thaksin, forced from power in Thailand in a 2006 coup, thanked Hun Sen in a Twitter message, but stopped short of accepting the offer.

In August last year, Mr Thaksin was convicted in absentia of corruption over a land deal and sentenced to two years' jail.

He has not returned to Thailand since. Instead, he travels the world on a number of passports, including one from Nicaragua, spending most of his time in Dubai.

But the self-made telecommunications billionaire still commands enormous loyalty within Thailand, particularly in the poorer, rural north.

Mr Thaksin addressed a rally of his red-shirted followers last Saturday by phone, but would not disclose his location. A base in Cambodia would allow him to more easily co-ordinate a political comeback.

But Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned that if Mr Thaksin sets foot in Cambodia, Thailand would immediately seek his extradition.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told an ASEAN press conference: ''Were he to move to Cambodia, surely that will have some effect on relations. We have an extradition agreement and procedures should be followed. Both sides should follow their obligations.''

Thailand's Foreign Minister and Mr Hun Sen have history. Mr Hun Sen was believed to be deeply offended when Mr Kasit reportedly called him a ''gangster'' recently. Mr Hun Sen's offer has completely overshadowed the first day of the ASEAN conference, which in itself is being seen as a test of the fragile Abhisit Government.

This is the third attempt for Thailand to host this summit. The first was abandoned in December 2008, when yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin protesters loyal to the Thai king took control of both of Bangkok's airports.

In April this year, with the summit moved to Pattaya, red-shirts rioted, storming the conference centre where the summit was being held. This weekend's summit in the beachside city of Hua Hin is being conducted under extraordinary security.

Fury at Cambodia's refuge offer to Thaksin

October 24, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

HUA HIN, Thailand: The fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will face extradition and jail if he sets foot in neighbouring Cambodia, the Thai Government has warned.

Thailand was responding to an offer from the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, to build a house for Thaksin in Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen made the offer a day before the Association of South-East Asian Nations leaders' meeting in Thailand, which began yesterday.

He said Thaksin was a ''political victim''. ''We have been great friends since Thaksin was [a] businessman, and the relationship has remained the same since he entered politics.

''Though I'm not Thai, I'm hurt by what has happened to him. My wife even cried on knowing about it and has an idea to build a home for Thaksin to come and stay honourably.''

Thaksin thanked Hun Sen in a Twitter message but stopped short of accepting the offer.

Thaksin was forced from power in a coup in 2006. In August last year he was convicted in his absence of corruption over a land deal and sentenced to two years' jail.

He has not returned since. Instead, he travels the world on a number of passports, including one from Nicaragua. A base in Cambodia would allow him to more easily co-ordinate a political comeback.

But the Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has warned that if Thaksin sets foot in Cambodia, Thailand would immediately seek his extradition.

At an ASEAN media conference the Thai Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, said: ''We have an extradition agreement, and procedures should be followed.''