Tuesday, 27 October 2009

FM to issue official response

Published: 27/10/2009 

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Foreign Affairs Ministry will issue an official response to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, because he may have obtained incorrect information about former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the foreign minister's secretary said on Tuesday.

Mr Hun Sen expressed sympathy for Thaksin during the Asean summit last week. The Cambodian leader said Thaksin was treated unjustly and was homeless as a result.

He also said Thailand had allowed Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, his political rival, to attack him from Thai soil.

Mr Chavanont said the Foreign Ministry's statement will outline the facts about Thaksin because Mr Hun Sen might have been given incorrect information, leading to a misunderstanding and uncomfortable feelings between Thailand and Cambodia.

Mr Chavanont said the government had nothing to do with Sam Rainsy being invited to speak at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. Moreover, Sam Rainsy, unlike Thaksin, was not a convicted criminal and could enter the country as an ordinary tourist.

On the issue of Thaksin's possible extradition if he stays in Cambodia, he said this was a matter for the appropriate parties to determine prove whether he is a political victim or convicted criminal. It was not a subject for verbal argument.

Mr Chavanont said the Foreign Ministry has to be careful not to turn the Thaksin case into a dispute between countries. The government had no policy to hold talks in secret in exchange for some benefit without telling the people, he said.

He also clarified Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya's remark that a senior figure was clearing up this matter with Mr Hun Sen,

Mr Chavanont said that person was Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who had already talked with the Cambodian leader during the Asean summit.

Mr Suthep said he explained to Mr Hun Sen that Thaksin had not been unfairly persecuted as claimed. In fact, the former prime minister was found to have broken the law and was sentenced to imprisonment in a proper judicial process.

Mr Suthep said he told Mr Hun Sen that Thaksin fled the country not because of the Sept 19 coup but to avoid the court's legal sentencing and a two year jail term.

"The post-coup government stayed for only one year and a new constitution was approved by the people in a public referendum.

''Thaksin and his men accepted the constitution, took part in the elections and their party was the winner and subsequently formed governments in which Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat were the prime ministers.

''However, these two men were unseated because they had broken the law," Mr Suthep said.

On extradition, Mr Suthep said he told Mr Hun Sen said that although he and Thaksin were friends, Thailand would ask Cambodia to extradite Thaksin if he was in Cambodia, as allowed by the extradition treaty.

''It is up to Cambodia to decide whether or not it would do as requested. The matter might have to be taken to court in the end,'' he added.

Asked if Hun Sen wanted to know when there would be an election in Thailand, Mr Suthep said: "The Cambodian leader told me he does not want to interfere in Thai politics at all. He also accepted my request that the verbal exchanges between the leaders of the two countries should not lead to border tensions or a clash between soldiers."

Cambodian Journalist Wins International Award

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct 27 (Bernama) -- A Cambodian journalist has won an international media award for article touching on poverty impact that caused by global economic crisis, China's Xinhua news agency reported quoting a press release issued Tuesday by Economics Today magazine.

An Sithav, 25, a reporter for Economic Today Magazine, won a 2009 Developing Asia Journalism Award, on Oct 23 held in Tokyo, Japan.

He was awarded with the first prize in the poverty impact of the global financial crisis category.

Sithav said he was surprised to hear his story, "Not Working", the lead story of the June Issue 40 of Economics Today, was worthy of a place among the finalists.

"I was very pleased that I was selected as a finalist of 2009 Developing Asia Journalist Award, and then as a winner of poverty impact of the Global Financial Crisis among the journalists of Asia Pacific region," he said.

"I do not believe I could be recognized internationally with two years experience as journalist, but now I am a representative of Cambodia who won the first place," he added.

Sithav began working as a journalist in September 2007 and he reports mostly on development which he thinks is the current pressing issue.

Parista Yuthamanop of the Bangkok Post took the second place in the same category, with Yoke Heong Chee of Malaysia's Third World Network taking the third.

Published twice monthly, Economics Today covers economic and business, politics and society, international news, and provides snapshots of key economic and financial indicators.


Cambodian PM "was misinformed"


(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Tue, Oct 27, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network
"I understand that Prime Minister Hun Sen made such remarks because he was misinformed about Thaksin and the whole situation in Thailand, so we have to give him the facts," Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said yesterday.

Hun Sen said upon his arrival at the Asean Summit that he would offer Thaksin refuge in Cambodia and appoint him as an adviser.

He said Thaksin was a victim of political changes in the wake of the 2006 coup.

"We will tell him what happened in Thailand over the past three years and that his many trials have nothing to do with the coup," Kasit said.

The letter would not be an argument or condemnation of Hun Sen but just a plain description of Thaksin, the |political situation and Thailand's justice system, he said.

Many criminal cases arose before the coup and asset concealment actually took place only within Thaksin's family, he said.

Hun Sen's invitation to Thaksin threw more fuel on the fire after the two countries have faced off over the controversial Preah Vihear Temple for over a year.

The government had Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban explain the matter to Hun Sen during his two-night stay in Thailand.

The foreign ministry would make the clarification and send it through diplomatic channels to him again within a week to make sure he gets the right picture, Kasit said.

While declining to interpret Hun Sen's move, Kasit said his government would simply regard the incident as the Cambodian premier, who is an old friend of Thaksin, just getting the wrong idea.

Kasit rejected a demand by a group of senators to retaliate against Hun Sen since the two governments have promised to jointly develop their countries and not to bring up internal politics.

"We don't allow a minor thing to jeopardise the entire relationship," he said.

Thai-Cambodian military ties 'intact'

Published: 27/10/2009 

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Military ties between Cambodia and Thailand remain tight, army chief Anupong Paojinda said on Tuesday.

His statement came as political relations between the two countries soured after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced he would welcome ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra to Cambodia and that the Cambodian government would not allow his extradition to Thailand.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva responded by asking Mr Hun Sen to decide between personal relations and bilateral benefits with Thailand.

Gen Anupong would not say whether Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's visit to the neighbouring country would affect the army in any way. He said he did not know whether Gen Chavalit was there to discuss personal matters or not.

But the army chief reiterated that situation along the Thai-Cambodian border remains calm, and that soldiers of the two countries are obeying their governments' decision to solve the border conflicts through bilateral talks.

"I can assure you that the situation there will not lead to fighting, and we will not resort to the use of force," Gen Anupong said.

Vietnam seeks larger garment market share in Cambodia


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Viet Tien Garment Joint Stock Corporation on October 26 opened an office for a sole sales outlet for Viettien-branded products in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The corporation’s first overseas outlet is a 120 s.q.m showroom built in partnership with Cambodia’s Caja Top company to display a wide variety of garments including shirts, trousers, shorts, jeans, and coats made of various materials such as khaki, elastic, and cotton.

Vietnamese goods are on the right track to gain a foothold in the Cambodian market, especially after series of trade fairs which promoted high-quality Vietnamese products to Cambodian consumers.

Observers said Vietnamese goods, which have been greatly improved in terms of quality, now stand a chance to successfully compete with products from Thailand and China which have long flooded the market.

Viet Tien Corporation plans to partner with Caja Top to open more showrooms and sales outlets across Cambodia.

Thais protest in front of Cambodia's embassy on Thaksin related issue


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Over 100 Thais protested in front of Cambodia's embassy here on Tuesday morning as they condemned Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said earlier Cambodia would not extradite fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand.

Former Thai premier Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in September 2006 and has been in exile since then.

Thaksin returned to Thailand in February 2008 to face corruption charges, but he later went to exile again and was convicted in absentia.

Hun Sen told reporters during the recent 15th ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit hosted in Thailand that Cambodia would not hand over Thaksin to Thailand if Thailand sought his extradition.

The members of the People's Assembly of Thailand, who were led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong said Hun Sen's statement is insulting Thailand, the Thai government and the Thai people.

Also, the Cambodian prime minister's announcement has destroyed good relationship between the two neighboring countries.

Hence, the Thai protesters have demanded the Cambodian prime minister to realize that his remark is not the right thing and HunSen must apologize immediately.

The protesters have also condemned former Thai premier ChavalitYongchaiyudh, who went to Cambodia and met with Hun Sen in Phnom Penh last week.

A company of police had been deployed to ensure law and order around the Cambodian embassy.

Their protest, however, was peaceful as they dispersed at about 11.30 a.m. local time.

Editor: Li Xianzhi

Cambodia becomes permanent member of World Heritage Committee


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister on Tuesday expressed his warmly welcome as Cambodia becomes the permanent member of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO in 17th general assembly in France.

"It is a new pride for our country that became fully permanent member of the world heritage committee," Hun Sen told over 2,000 students in graduation ceremony of a university in Phnom Penh. "Itwill promote the image and prestige of the Kingdom of Cambodia on the world arena," he added.

On behalf of new permanent member of the WHC, Cambodia will implement its mission with high responsibility and will strengthen the cooperation with other countries, he said.

"We will enhance capacity building and study multi experiences with the world heritage committee, UNESCO, and other international forums," he stressed.

Moreover, Hun Sen said that Cambodia will do more to follow the common purposes in the WHC that has been working on conservation, culture and heritage development. "We have to enhance more international cooperation to move forward of conservation and heritage development."

The Kingdom of Cambodia was elected as a member of the WHC thanks to her richness in cultural properties and history including intangible cultural properties, several of which were inscribed on the World Heritage List, namely the Royal Ballet, the Shadow Theater, Angkor area, and the Temple of Preah Vihear, the premier said.

Cambodia becomes one of 21 permanent members which represent 186 countries in the world in the 17th general assembly of world heritage committee that is held from Oct. 23 to 28, 2009 in Paris, France at UNESCO Headquarters.

Cambodia became a member of UNESCO in 1951.

Editor: Li Xianzhi

Health Ministry Warns Clinics over A/H1N1 Vaccine

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia is Health Minister Mam Bunheng on Sunday strongly warned clinic in Cambodia offering A/H1N1 vaccines, saying the meds have yet to be approved for use by the ministry.

The warning came following reports said that some clinics in Cam- bodia are offering A/H1N1 vaccines to Cambodians for between US$10 and US$15.

“In Cambodia the A/H1N1 vaccine has so far not been inspected yet,” Mam Bunheng told reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport as welcomed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen back from the 15th ASEAN summit in Thailand.

“If anyone knows of such cases, please give detail information about the clinic name and the location to the ministry, and the ministry will investigate and take action,” Mam Bunheng said.
He urged Cambodians to exercise caution as there have been no official shipments of the A/H1N1 vaccine to Cambodia yet.

Sok Touch, Anti-Communicable Disease Control Department director, said last week that Cambodia will receive the A/H1N1 vaccine in November via the World Health Organization (WHO).

A senior Cambodian government official admitted on Saturday that he had already received an A/H1N1 flu vaccination at a private hospital on Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh. State hospitals, however, do not offer these injections.

“I paid US$20 for injecting the new flu vaccination this morning, an official from anti-corruption authority told his master’s degree classes at a university in Phnom Penh. “I am so concerned about this flu. Therefore I called to my friend as doctor at Calmette Hospital. But he told me to that his hospital does not offer this vaccination. He recommended me to a private hospital … [but] the doctor there told me that this vaccination is cannot offer 100 percent protection or cure A(H1N1) flu or strengthen the immune system.”

A local journalist also said that he paid about US$30 for a flu vaccination from a doctor near Central Market. Cambodia on Wednesday confirmed the 202nd case of the A/H1N1 virus, more commonly called swine flu, with new cases 41 confirmed, according to a Cambodian Health Ministry official. There have been three fatalities.

The Health Ministry confirmed the first case of the A/H1N1 virus in Cambodia on June 24 after an American student from a group, which arrived in Cambodia June 19, tested positive for the disease.

Construction Investment over US$1.6 Billion for First 9 Months

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction announced on Monday that investment in construction and real estate in country totalled nearly US$1.679 billion for the nine months of this year.

“We have checked and provided permission to construct the buildings with 83 projects that were worth about US$1.459 billion covering 4,882,773 square meters,” the ministry said. “If we compare with the same period with last year, investment decreased 26.42 percent.”

Phnom Penh has 1,722 projects, including 620 illegal construction projects, that cover 776,189 square meters and are worth over US$219 million. This represents a decrease of 22 percent compared to the same period of last year.

The ministry provided 128 licenses to construction companies, an increase of 16 companies year-on-year. “In total, we have 819 construction com- panies making business in Cambodia, 653 local companies and 166 foreign companies.”

Cambodia has signed MoUs on construction cooperation with South Korea and Vietnam.

Cambodian Reporter Wins International Award

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Cambodian journalist, Sithav An, who works for Economics Today magazine, has won a 2009 Developing Asia Journalism Award.

Sithav An was awarded with the first prize in the poverty impact of the global financial crisis category at the awards ceremony held in the evening of Oct 23 at the Foreign Correspond- ents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

Sithav said he was surprised to hear his story, ‘Not Working’, the lead story of the June Issue 40 of Econo-mics Today, was worthy of a place among the finalists.

“I was very pleased that I was selected as a finalist of 2009 Develo- ping Asia Journalist Award, and then as the winner of poverty impact of the Global Financial Crisis among the journalists of the Asia Pacific region,” he said. “I did not believe I could be recognized internationally with two years experience as journalist, but now I am a representative of Cambodia who won first place.”
Sithav began working at Econo-mics Today in September 2007 and reports mostly on development. “I think journalists should report current issues,” he said.

Parista Yuthamanop of the Bangkok Post took second place in the same category, with Yoke Heong Chee of Malaysia’s Third World Network taking third. Sam Rith, a Phnom Penh Post reporter who won an award in 2006, was also present at the awards ceremony. Sam Campbell, managing editor of Economics Today, said the award reflected Economics Today’s dedication to providing accurate and balanced information related to development, macro-economic and business issues. “We are all very proud of Sithav’s achievement in winning this award,” he said. “We hope this marks the beginning of an increased awareness of our publication and recognition of our role as the premier business magazine in Cambodia.”

Published twice monthly, Econo-mics Today covers economics and business, politics and society, international news, and provides snapshots of key economic and financial indicators.

India Vows US$15 Million Loan for Cambodia

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Indian Government has vowed to provide US$15 million in loans to Cambodia in order to promote social and economic development, according to a high-ranking official on Sunday.

The Indian came following Cam- bodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh at the 15th ASEAN summit in Hua Hin, Cha-am, Thailand.

“During talks between the Hun Sen and Indian prime minister, India promised to provide US$15 million in loans to the Cambodian Governm- ent,” Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong told reporters at a press conference on Sunday at the Phnom Penh International Air Port following his return from the ASEAN summit with the premier.

The minister added that Hun Sen asked to the Indian PM to return help build electricity lines from Pailin province, to Kratie and into Stung Treng province. The Indian prime minister apparently agreed. Hun Sen also asked India to keep the same loan interest rate of 0.2 percent. India wanted to increase it to 0.5 percent, but then agreed to Hun Sen’s request.

“The two parties agree to cooperate in protection and premier Hun Sen asked India to help anti-terrorism, and the Indian premier agreed,” Hor Namhong added.

Premier Hun Sen invited Singh to make a formal visit visit to Cambodia. India agreed, the minister confirmed.

Hun Sen also requested India continue the care and repair of ancient Cambodian temples such as the iconic Angkor Wat.

Monk Arrested for Killing Nun

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Banteay Meanchey province Buddhist nun was killed after fighting with a monk living in Phnom Prasat pagoda, Banteay Meanchey Provincial Police Chief said on Monday.

A case of the killing the nun at the pagoda in Ou Prasat commune, Mokul Borey grew out of a small conflict between the monk and the nun. The victim protested and reprimanded the monk, at which time he became very angry and beat her with a piece of wood until she died, Hun Han told DAP News Cambodia.

“Our officers arrested this monk as soon as he finished killing the nun and we sent him to court,” the Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief said.

This accused monk had previously lived a long time in normal life. But constant fights with his wife resulted in a divorce, Hun Han said. The man had also been previously ordained twice in Battambong province.

This is the first known case of a monk killing a nun in Cambodia. Monks have increasingly been caught drinking alcohol, smoking, taking drugs, and raping and fraternizing with women, but killing marks a new low. Monks across the whole country have expressed extreme surprise and dismay. Hun Han said that the accused monk was “so very bad,” adding that “he never changed his attitude.”

The monk tried to reconcile with his wife when he returned from the first pagoda in Battambong province, but his wife declined, so he decided to be ordained as a monk in the Banteay Meanchey province pagoda, Han added.

Korea Companies Arranging Illegal Marriages: NGO

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian officials and South Korean companies have conspired to illegally arrange marriages between Korean men and Cambodian women, according to a Monday statement from women’s protection NGO in Cambodia.

Jang Min Hyeok, a representative of the Association for People’s Prote- ction (APP), told DAP News Cambodia that since 2008, when marriages were made illegal, there have been “many illegal ways to arrange both Cambo-dian and Korean wrongdoing.”

Jang Min did not confirm which companies had indulged in illegalities, but said his APP had kept track of all illegal arranged marriage activities. He did name the Korean company OUI Rim as having pictures of over 1,800 Cambodian women. “This is a sexual market trafficking,” he said.

The Cambodian Government banned marriages of Cambodian women to foreigners after reports of abusive marriages, mostly with South Koreans and Taiwanese, that sometimes resulted in slave labor or sexual exploitation. Some Cambodian women had been illegally enticed with cash payments, the NGO alleged.

Some Cambodian officials are apparently implicated in corruption for arranging the paperwork for the arranged marriages.

“Although, the new law was set by the government, as the APP will continue to observe all activities,” Jang Min said. “I would like to ask the Cambodian Government to manage this task. It is the best time to destroy all illegal ways.”

Cambodian Interior Minister Khieu Sopheak said that authorities were making progress in the battle against the scourge of human trafficking.

Cambodia Moves Toward ASEAN Economic Association

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Government has made progress toward achieving ASEAN Economic Association goals in 2015, according to a high-ranking official on Sunday.

“Cambodia achieved lots, but we will make an effort over the remaining agreements to be adopted by the National Assembly,” Cham Prasith, Commerce Minister told reporters in the press conference on Sunday.

Cambodia follows Singapore and Myanmar, “but we will insist on and urge to other ministers from Tourism Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, and the [Finance and] Economy Ministry to check these reports and asking appr- oval from the NA,” the minister added.

Killing Suspect Returns After 7 Years, Arrested

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 27 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A man on the run for 7 years returned home to Kampong Cham to find provincial police officers waiting. He was arrested in the Kampong Siem district on Sunday.

A source said that the man is accused of killing Tin Noura, 27, who lived in the Rokar Krom, Sambour Meas district of Kampong Cham province, and had worked since 2002 at the Phnom Bros restaurant.

The team of killers were responsible for the death, all of whom went on the run, the source added.

Police officer Sor Sara told DAP News Cambodia that “Our officers always search for fugitives but they hide far away from us for many years.”

After he heard information related to the killing, he reported to the Provincial Police Chief, and was commanded to arrest the suspect as soon as possible, Sara stressed.

Sor Sara said the suspect has been sent to Kampong Cham Provincial Court.

Suspects sometimes prove hard to nab in Cambodia, where wily fugitives can go on the lam for years at a time, creating a new identity and hiding out in the remote rural areas. Many are caught when they return to their home village to look up friends or relatives.

Govt takes bite out of TB


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:03 Khoun Leakhana

A patient at the National Tuberculosis Hospital in Phnom Penh. Cases of tuberculosis are on the decline in Cambodia, according to new statistics released by the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control. As of the first nine months of this year, an estimated 30,000 cases have been reported, compared with around 40,000 in 2008.

Where the rubber meets the robe


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:02 Heng Chivoan

Monks hitch a ride on a farmer’s mini-tracker on National Road 10 in Battambang province last week.

Shipshape for the race


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:04 Heng Chivoan

Workers repair racing boats Monday on the Phnom Penh riverside in preparation for next week’s Water Festival on Monday.

Military beefs up defences

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:04 Thet Sambath

TROOPS in the northwest are stockpiling munitions following heightened tensions between Thailand and Cambodia in recent weeks, officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) confirmed Monday.

RCAF General Men Saroeun, in charge of air defence in Military Region 5 based in Battambang province, said his forces had recently received significant supplies of new small arms and artillery. “We now have modern weapons to defend our nation,” he said. “We have what the Thai soldiers have. This is our strategy to defend our border.”

Tanks were seen being transported along National Road 5 last week in Battambang province, and an RCAF general, speaking on condition of anonymity, said missiles with a range of up to 60 kilometres had also arrived. In addition to 16 new tanks delivered to Military Region 5, he said, more than 700 RCAF officers have been issued K-54 pistols, marking the first time since 2000 that low-level commanders have been issued sidearms.

Chhouk Ang, commander of Border Police Battalion 911 in Banteay Meanchey province, said he received word from his superiors to be on alert in the wake of the spat between Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. “While we remain watchful at all times, we have put our forces on alert to prevent Thai forces from entering Cambodian territory,” he said.

But Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the re-arming was unrelated to tensions between Thailand and Cambodia, which intensified last week after Prime Minister Hun Sen invited fugitive ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to serve as his economic adviser.

“This has nothing to do with relations between Cambodia and Thailand. The Thai Foreign Ministry has said that Cambodia and Thailand have a good relationship and that Thaksin’s case is a personal issue,” he said, adding that such rearmaments are a normal part of military operations.

Appeal date set in Chea Ratha acid case

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:03 LAURA SNOOK

An appeal against the acquittal of a former Military Police official accused of involvement in a brutal acid attack against her lesbian lover’s aunt will be heard Wednesday, a court official confirmed Monday.

The appeal was lodged after Chea Ratha, former deputy chief of staff of the Military Police, was found not guilty of masterminding the May 2008 attack that left Ya Soknim, the aunt of prominent beauty queen In Soklyda, scarred for life.

The verdict, announced August 31, was jointly condemned by human rights groups Licadho and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR).

In a statement released to the media September 2, Licadho director Naly Pilorge said: “What is so shocking in this case is the judges’apparent total disregard of evidence against Chea Ratha and her alleged accomplices.”

Evidence received by Phnom Penh Municipal Court during the yearlong investigation included recordings of phone calls in which Chea Ratha threatened to kill In Soklyda’s relatives, logs of telephone calls for Chea Ratha and her co-defendants on the day of the attack, and a report confirming that acid was found in the home of one of Chea Ratha’s associates, Licadho and CCHR said.

Chea Ratha’s lawyer, Nach Try, said his client – who is believed to have left the country – would not be present at the hearing, the date of which was confirmed by Court of Appeal Deputy President Chuon Sunleng.

Neither Ya Soknim nor In Soklyda could be reached for comment.

Govt rejects dredging claims

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha and Sebastian Strangio

ASENIOR official has denied that a large-scale sand-dredging operation in Koh Kong province is responsible for plummeting fish catches.

More than 300 fishermen from three districts gathered in Koh Kong town on October 19 to call for authorities to halt the operation, which they say has jeopardised thousands of local livelihoods.

“There is no oil spilling into the seawater that is causing the death of the fishes as the villagers are claiming,” said Lim Kean Hor, minister of water resources and meteorology and the chairman of the government’s commission on sand-dredging, which visited Koh Kong this week.

“All dredging operators are only authorised to operate in the estuaries with the full inspection of the commission.”

In March, the Post reported that thousands of tonnes of sand were being removed from coastal estuaries in Koh Kong and exported to Singapore as part of a joint venture between the Hong Kong-based Winton Enterprises and the LYP Group, reportedly owned by CPP Senator Ly Yongphat.

Local residents, however, remain unconvinced of the government’s oversight.

“The people who complained about the dredging operation are living in the area” and affected by it, said Ros Math, the chief of Group IV village in Dang Tung commune. “The company continues to dredge all day and sometimes at night as well.”

Paul Ferber, founder of Marine Conservation Cambodia, said that the past six months had seen a “huge increase” in the number of Koh Kong fishing trawlers detained by local authorities in Preah Sihanouk province, apparently driven south by declining fish catches.

“The word from the fishermen is that there is nothing to catch in the waters around Koh Kong. They’re struggling to keep their catches up,” he said.

Environmentalists say sand-dredging carries a high risk of long-term degradation to coastal areas.

“We are worried about the dredging of sand from Cambodia [and its export] to other countries,” said Om Savath, programme manager at the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, adding that the use of large pumps to remove sand from the sea bed could have a “strong” impact, including the disruption of fish spawning grounds.

Lim Kean Hor confirmed that 14 sand-mining concessions have been granted in coastal areas in Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk and Kampot provinces.

The licences were awarded despite a ban on sand exports announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in May and July this year.

Thai troops at border accused of murder

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:03 Robbie Corey Boulet

THAI soldiers responsible for the death of a 16-year-old Cambodian logger who was reportedly burned alive last month could be found guilty of premeditated murder under Thai or Cambodian law and were likely in violation of international human rights law, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said in a report released Monday.

The report, which draws on a two-day CCHR investigation as well as a month’s worth of “factual and legal research”, calls on the government to demand “an immediate end to Thai mistreatment” of Cambodian loggers.

Though the parents of the victim, Yon Rith, said in an interview earlier this month that their son had been logging in Thai territory, the CCHR report challenges Thai claims to the area, noting that the Khmer Rouge controlled it until 1997, when Thai troops “were operating 10 to 20 kilometres away”.

“In more recent years, however, Thai military activity has become more pervasive in the area and, in turn, has gradually led to Thailand’s assertion of a deeper territorial claim,” the report states.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday that the government considered the area to be “along the border” rather than belonging to either country.

He said the government had received from the Thais a diplomatic note that denied any Thai military involvement but expressed a willingness to cooperate with Cambodian authorities in assessing evidence.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has instructed “all relevant ministries” to collect evidence pertaining to the incident, which will then be presented to Thailand, Koy Kuong said.

SRP senator calls for review of Penal Code

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:03 Vong Sokheng

A SENATOR from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party has written to the Senate requesting that it review certain articles of the new Penal Code to ensure the law is in line with the Constitution and international standards on freedom of expression.

In a letter dated Friday, Senator Kong Kom repeated concerns made by local and international critics that the law contains a number of excessive restrictions on freedom of expression and imprisonment for some forms of defamation.

“We are looking for the Senate to reconsider the recommendations of the national and international civil society groups because freedom of expression has not yet been fully realised in accordance with the Kingdom’s Constitution,” he said by phone Monday.

Kong Kom said that after being passed by the National Assembly earlier this month, the Penal Code was in the hands of the Senate’s Legislation and Justice Commission and would be reviewed for a month before the Senate votes to approve the bill. King Norodom Sihamoni is expected to sign the law at most one week after its approval by the Senate, he added.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of Cambodia Defenders Project, said Monday that about 20 articles of the new code had been reviewed by a group of 30 NGOs, and that a written request for amendments would be submitted to the Senate within the next few days.

“We are not optimistic that our recommendations will be accepted, and that there will changes in the criminal code when the Senate reviews the law,” he said.

“But if there is no change, we will keep following it up when the law comes into force, and we will monitor our concerns.”

Sam Rainsy uproots VN border markers

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea

OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy uprooted six demarcation poles on the Cambodia-Vietnam border Sunday after leading his party’s Kathen festival procession to the Ang Rumdenh pagoda in Svay Rieng province’s Sam Raung commune, Chantrea district, saying that the poles were placed illegally by Vietnamese authorities.

Sam Rainsy said Monday that the poles he removed were not border markers accepted by both countries but had been erected only recently by Vietnam.

“As I was putting a money offering in a monk’s bowl, people approached me and asked me for help. I asked them, ‘With what do you need my help?’ And they told me, ‘[The Vietnamese] took Khmers’ land’”, Sam Rainsy said, adding that the residents’ rice fields and the pagoda were located about 100 metres from the border.

Sam Rainsy said the people who lost their land told him that a few months ago, about 10 officials from Vietnam and one Cambodian came to measure their land and then set up poles on it, declaring that the area fell within the “white zone” – a buffer strip whose use is denied to people from either nation.

Sam Rainsy said that these poles were not official and that people in the area told him they had already removed similar poles earlier this year.

Svay Rieng provincial Governor Cheang Am said he did not know why Sam Rainsy uprooted the poles, which had been set up by a joint committee of Cambodians and Vietnamese, but that Sam Rainsy must be held responsible before the law.

“These poles are difficult to put up. They were plotted properly, in accordance with procedure,” he said.

Officials prepare city for festival throngs

Nu Loy from Takhmao repairs a boat for his village’s 22-seat women’s team in preparation for the Water Festival next week.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:02 May Titthara

CITY authorities said Monday they will ban cars and buses from entering the capital for 12 hours a day during the forthcoming Water Festival, a measure aimed at coping with the massive crowds expected to rush into the city for the annual celebration.

Beginning Saturday, all cars, buses and tuk-tuks will be banned from travelling into Phnom Penh between 10am and 10pm each day.

All vehicles will also be banned between those hours in a high-traffic zone with the river to the east, Sihanouk Boulevard to the south, Norodom Boulevard to the west and Wat Phnom to the north. The measures end on November 4, the day after the festival.

“We are doing this to reduce traffic jams in the city during the festival,” said Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema.

The Water Festival, which takes place this year from Sunday to Tuesday, is one of the biggest events on the Cambodian calendar, swelling the city’s population by an estimated 2 million people each year.

This year, revellers can also expect a heavy police presence during the festival.

More than 6,500 officers, including municipal and military police, will be stationed throughout the city, said Touch Naruth, municipal police chief.

Authorities will also crack down on street vendors in the busiest areas near the river.

“We will not allow vendors to sell along the river, in front of the Royal Palace, Wat Botum and Hun Sen Park because we want to make our city beautiful, and we also want to protect the security of our high-level officials,” said Sok Penhvuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district.

District officials are also hoping a liberal smattering of public toilets – one toilet every 50 to 100 metres along the river – will bring public urination to a halt.

“We will put about 50 mobile toilets around the ceremony area, from Hun Sen Park to Wat Phnom along the river,” Sok Penhvuth said.

In the run-up to the festival, city officials and police have also quickened an ongoing crackdown on beggars and other social outcasts, funneling them to “rehabilitation centres” in the name of security and public discipline.

Parents hurting from informal school fees

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear and Meas Sokchea

PHNOM Penh parents have accused some city teachers of charging their children ever-increasing amounts for education, doubling informal fees from 500 riels (US$0.12) to 1,000 riels per day.

Kim Hean, who has two sons studying at Tuol Svay Prey High School, complained that her son’s teacher was forcing her children to pay daily sums in exchange for their lessons.

“I paid only 500 riels per day for my first son when he was in grade 3 … but now I have to pay more than double for my second son who is learning in the same class,” she said.

Oung Bunoun, 12, a third- grader at Tuol Svay Prey, said students have to pay money to their teachers, and that if they don’t, they will receive lower grades.

A teacher from Phnom Penh’s Anuvath primary school, who declined to be named, said Monday that she has to collect money from her students because she cannot feed her family with the salary provided.

“It’s not only me that takes money from them but also the other teachers. So why can’t I?,” she said.

Chea Cheat, president of the Municipal Department of Education, acknowledged that the department allows teachers to take money from students but said it would take action against any school that forces students to pay more than 500 riels.

“If any teacher behaves illegally, we will remove him,” he said, adding that teachers have never been allowed to take money from poor students.

Elder monk accused of killing 68-year-old nun

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:02 Kim Yuthana and Chrann Chamroeun

A 68-YEAR-OLD monk in Banteay Meanchey province bludgeoned a nun to death with a piece of firewood on Sunday after he caught her allowing pigs to eat from his rice plate, officials said Monday.

Or Borin, provincial military police deputy chief, said the monk, Pov Ron, had confessed to the killing and blamed an uncontrollable anger.

“The pair had been feuding over little things for a long time, and the most recent incident happened when he saw the nun letting pigs use the plate he always used for eating rice,” he said.

Or Borin said he was defrocked before being taken to the police station for interrogation. The victim was identified as Kheuv Lav, also 68.

The killing came two days after two monks allegedly beat to death a fourth-year medical student in the capital’s Meanchey district after he chastised them for drinking palm wine.

Chhith Sophay, the deputy chief monk in Meanchey district, expressed alarm at the most recent killing, as well as the potential damage such violence could cause to the Buddhist faith.

“There have been a lot of bad cases of killings recently,” he said. “This bad behaviour will severely impact traditional Buddhism.”

Chi Kraeng villagers skip court hearing

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:02 Rann Reuy

Verdict expected today for nine others arrested in related land row as families face food crisis

Siem Reap Province

FOUR men who had been summoned to Siem Reap provincial court in connection with a long-running land dispute failed to show up on Monday, and nine others jailed on charges of theft and battery in a related case prepared to receive a verdict, which is expected today.

Investigating Judge Sok Leang had summoned the four men – three Chi Kraeng commune villagers and their lawyer – to answer to charges that they insulted and illegally detained court officials during a protest in January concerning a dispute over land that has also been claimed by residents of neighbouring Anlong Samnor district.

The judge said he planned to issue two more rounds of summonses before resorting to an arrest warrant.
Ngos have few gifts to give to the families of those who were arrested.

Also on Monday, a group of doctors, a monk and a rights group leader visited 11 Chi Kraeng villagers who were arrested after a March 22 protest during which 100 armed police opened fire on 80 villagers caught harvesting crops on the same 465-hectare section of disputed land.

Nine of the 11 villagers appeared in court last week to answer questions about the case, and the court is expected to issue a verdict today. The other two suspects are still in prison and are expected to be tried in a separate case.

“We celebrated the water-blessing ceremony for those people in the hope that it can somehow help the nine villagers to be free,” said Loun Sovath, the monk who visited the prison.“Those prisoners cried when they saw us.”

Families short on food
While the 11 suspects have been in prison awaiting rulings from the court, more than 100 families affected by the dispute have been grappling with a severe rice shortage for the past several months, Loun Sovath said.

“It is the decision of the authorities not to help these villagers,” he said. “They have had a hard time since the land dispute erupted into violence.”

He added that the families of the arrested men had been affected most of all – a claim supported by other villagers and rights group workers.

Ham Sunrith, deputy director of human rights monitoring and protection for the group Licadho, said Wednesday that on recent tours of villages in Chi Kraeng commune he had seen many families facing rice shortages.

“We hope that government officials will decide to resolve this problem, because NGOs have few gifts to give to the families of those who were arrested,” he said.

Sork Sereyrothmony, Chi Kraeng commune governor, denied last week that families in his commune were facing shortages, adding that he had heard of only one in recent months.

King writes letter concerning imminent Koh Kong eviction

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:02 Kim Yuthana and May Titthara

KING Norodom Sihamoni has written a letter to Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, asking that the minister investigate a land dispute in Koh Kong province in which villagers are set to be evicted from their homes today.

The King’s letter referenced a note he had received from Kek Pung, president of local rights group Licadho, which, the King wrote, “asked for my help and intervention regarding the Supreme Court’s verdict on June 16, 2009”.

Kek Pung’s letter drew attention to the plight of 43 families from Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel district, who have been involved in a land dispute since 2006 with two businessmen who claim the families have been squatting illegally on their land.The Supreme Court ruled in June that the land belongs to the businessmen, Heng Huy and Sok Hong.

Tep Hai, one of the affected residents, said he was worried that the eviction will occur today, as he had seen several police cars driving on the disputed land. Despite the threat of violence, however, he and other villagers said they plan to resist authorities.

“I am very worried about the court-ordered action ... because it may lead to violence and arrests,” he said. “We will resist attempts by the authorities to enforce the court’s order.”

Phay Nheung, also of Sre Ambel, said that though she and other residents plan to resist the eviction, they would avoid using violence.

Heng Huy said he supported the court order, though he added that he hoped violence could be avoided.

“I will join with the government authorities in carrying out the court’s verdict [today], but we will try to negotiate with the residents there in order to avoid violence,” he said.

Sre Ambel district governor Bun Noeut and Koh Kong provincial Deputy Judge Meas Vatanea said they, too, hoped to avoid violence.

Meas Vatanea said he was not aware of any compensation offered to the affected villagers.

Ang Vong Vathana is currently travelling in Vietnam and could not be reached for comment.

Govt carbon credits to hit market

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
A member of the Bunong minority group enjoys a traditional brew by a fire in Mondulkiri. Minorities groups will continue to hold traditional land rights and stand to benefit from carbon-credit revenue.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:01 Jacob Gold

A PROTECTED forest will be the first biodiversity reserve in Cambodia designed to take advantage of the global market for carbon credits, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Seima Protected Forest, a former logging concession in Mondulkiri, covers 3,000 square kilometres and was declared a protected area by the Council of Ministers last week.

The WCS is now assessing the amount of carbon stored in the forest. Carbon credits will then be floated on the international market under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) system adopted by the UN in 2007, an extension of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.

Tom Evans, country programme director for WCS Cambodia, explained that once the number of trees that will be saved by the forest’s protected status has been calculated, the corresponding metric tonnes of carbon can be sold on what is called the “voluntary market”. Evans said most of the present buyers are “large companies with an interest in corporate responsibility”, but that a similar project in Madagascar saw rock bands such as Pearl Jam buying carbon credits as well.

Evans explained that “the carbon credits [will be] owned by Cambodia, not an NGO, and the government has made a policy decision that [these] pilot projects ensure benefits for local communities”.

Some of those who stand to benefit most from the carbon revenues are the members of the ethnic Bunong minority who live in the forest.

“They have … legally registered tenure in several villages,” Evans said. “Our expectation is that they will benefit from the carbon. They are at the centre of how the site is managed.”

Carbon-credit revenues will also help authorities protect the incredible array of wildlife found in the forest. “The ... area shelters 23 carnivore species, including seven cat species, two bears and two species of wild dog. Researchers working there have recently discovered a bat and two frog species that are all new to science,” the WCS said in a statement.

Like all other commodities, the value of carbon credits has fluctuated greatly in recent months, but rates are currently “$5 per tonne of CO2 emissions avoided”, Evans said, while smaller-volume sales could net between $10 and $20 per tonne.

Policymakers from around the world are meeting in Copenhagen in December to discuss a formal “compliance” market to replace the voluntary one, which could allow Cambodia to sell carbon credits from Seima and similar projects for higher rates.

Five children drown in multiple incidents

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:01 RANN REUY


FIVE children in Siem Reap province drowned in two separate incidents over the weekend, one of which officials linked to residual flooding from Typhoon Ketsana.

On Saturday, three siblings drowned after the youngest, a 4-year-old boy identified as Chim Pech, fell into a roadside canal. The boy’s older brother, 14-year-old Chim Met, and older sister, 10-year-old Chim Roeu, both dove in after Chim Pech in an attempt to save him, but all three ended up drowning, said Hang Hoeuy, chief of Svan Dangkum commune in Siem Reap district.

We were shocked and terrified after hearing this news.

“There was too much water in the canal, which was the result of all the flooding, and the water level has been slow in going down,” he said, adding that the children had likely been trying to fish in the canal.

The previous day, two schoolgirls drowned after falling into a pond in Sla Kram commune. Witnesses said the girls – 13-year-old Deng Nita and 12-year-old Pov Sokhim – had been wearing their school uniforms at the time of the incident, though commune chief Khieu Sath said it was unclear whether they were coming from or going to school.

He said witnesses reported that the girls fell in after trying to retrieve something from the pond, which was two metres deep.

Kem Sour, director of New Hope Cambodia, a Siem Reap-based charity, said the girls had belonged to poor families, and that the charity had previously given them assistance in the form of food, clothing and bicycles.

“We were shocked” upon hearing news of the girls’ drowning, he said.

'Disaster' strikes schools as flooding disrupts curricula

Photo by: SEA SOPHAL
Monks from Wat Prasat Tramneak join with local villagers to repair National Road 6 on Friday, after it was badly damaged by flooding.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

THE damage caused by Typhoon Ketsana has penetrated the Kingdom’s school system, “destroying” education opportunities for tens of thousands of students in Cambodia, officials said Monday.

At least 1,169 schools have been closed or are dealing with ongoing flooding, said Inth The, spokesman for the Ministry of Education. “Disaster … is destroying the quality of education in Cambodia,” he said. “Students are missing education while their schools are flooded.”

Although some schools have remained open, flooding on ground floors has forced students and teachers to wade through knee-deep water to hold classes on upper floors. “School directors and teachers must look after the students’ safety,” Inth The said.

In Kampong Thom alone, 132 schools have been shut, leaving more than 28,000 students in the lurch. “Now the students cannot study at school,” said Kim Visoth, director of the province’s Education Department. “We are worried about their missed lessons.”

He also raised concerns about students in grades 9 and 12, who are due to sit crucial national exams next year. “It is a big problem,” he said. “If the ministry does not delay [the exams], the students will not do very well.”

The Education Ministry has now urged provinces and municipal departments to create teaching “rotations”, whereby some students attend class on even-numbered days, while others come on odd-numbered days. Students, however, remain concerned.

In Phnom Penh, flooding blamed on heavy rain and the filling in of Boeung Kak lake has seeped into 10 schools in two districts. Tan Ratana, 19, a 12th-grade student at Russey Keo High School, said the system means her teachers are unable to offer detailed lectures in difficult subjects such as mathematics, physics and chemistry. “I am very worried about my education quality because my family is poor and doesn’t have enough money for my studies,” she said.

NGOs seek higher organic standards

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:01 Tep Nimol

Farmers from across the Kingdom gathered Monday for a training seminar designed to help growers improve the quality of organic rice to meet international standards and better compete on the global market.

Organised by the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) as part of the fifth National Assembly of the Organic Rice Producers Federation – with funding from a German Development Service programme – the seminar was attended by 72 representatives from farming associations in seven provinces.

“Farmers should upgrade the quality of their organic rice to compete with both local and international markets,” said Yang Saing Koma, president of CEDAC, on Monday.

Winfried Scheewe, a marketing adviser with CEDAC, noted that the quality of milling and packaging of Cambodian organic rice has fallen short of products from other countries in the region.

Cambodian growers were given guidelines for improving harvest quality, including longer drying times so that rice could be stored safely for longer periods.

Seminar attendees were also urged to register their farming associations with provincial agricultural departments in order to receive additional support services, seeds and education in planting techniques.

Mak Seurn, chief of the Department of Agriculture Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries observed that currently only 115 of more than 10,000 farming associations were formally registered with the ministry.

Tra Saroeun, a farming association representative from Prey Veng province, said extremes of weather this year were responsible for a 50 percent drop in organic rice yields compared with last year.

Canadia finally set to relocate to new tower

Construction workers continue interior work earlier this month on Canadia Tower in Phnom Penh.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:01 Nathan Green

After repeated delays, Canadia Bank’s vice president says the lender will move into the Kingdom’s tallest building next week

CANADIA Bank will begin offering banking services from its new tower – the tallest in the country at 29 storeys – on November 5 after the Water Festival, a vice president of the bank said Monday.

Dieter Billmeier said the bank would use the annual holiday period to move its head office into Cambodia’s first skyscraper, which has yet to be officially opened.

“The whole head office will be moved, and we will be ready for full-scale operations after the Water Festival,” he said.

The bank’s retail operations will be housed on the ground and first floors, taking up half of the available space there, while head office staff will be housed over five storeys between levels six and 10.

Billmeier said the bank employed more than 300 staff at head office, out of around 850 people employed countrywide.

The bank had also invested a “huge sum” in upgrading its information technology systems, installing a T24 core banking system from Geneva-based provider Temenos. Only one other bank in Cambodia – ACLEDA – uses the system, Billmeier said, describing it as the most advanced banking system available. “This system is now fully operational,” he said.

The bank originally intended to open its new tower on September 9, but Chief Executive Officer Charles Vann told the Post during a site visit this month that the delay was due to unexpected complications in installing electrical and telecommunications wiring.

Billmeier said Monday an official launch date had not been decided, adding negotiations were still continuing over the composition of the rest of the floors. “It’s not 100 percent clear yet, but it will be a mixture of offices, restaurants, retail space and serviced apartments,” he said.

Vann said earlier this month that negotiations with prospective tenants were ongoing and said the company was staying firm on its well-publicised asking rate of between US$30 and $35 per square metre, “plus or minus”, for office space.