Friday, 30 October 2009

Cambodian dad, four sons electrocuted

Fri, Oct 30, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH - A Cambodian father and his four sons died in a chain of electrocution on Friday when the front door to the family's corrugated-metal house cut into a power line, police said.

The deadly incident happened in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo commune when Mok En, 65, opened the door and it hit a power line connected to his home, triggering his electrocution, local police chief Sun Kanareth told AFP.

"When he opened up the door, it pinched the electric wire and he was immediately electrocuted and fell down with his left hand holding the door," he said.

"But the sons thought he had been hit by a fainting spell and they rushed to help him. So they were all electrocuted as soon as they touched the father," he added.

Four-fifths of Cambodians do not have proper access to electricity, and many use unsafe methods to tap into power grids.

Hun Sen, Thaksin and corrupt coalitions

By Frank G. Anderson
Column: Thai Traditions
Published: October 30, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Nakhonratchasima, Thailand — Last April the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s English-language daily, ran an article passing on a “leak” from the Royal Thai Air Force that it had tracked former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s private jet as it crossed the border into Cambodia, once each at Phnom Penh and Koh Kong.
At the time, Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh denied any contact between Cambodia and Thaksin. He rhetorically asked why Thaksin would want to come to Cambodia, and added that his country could do nothing to help the fugitive prime minister. He also said, "I have never seen Thaksin come here to Cambodia.”

So perhaps a few eyebrows were raised when Cambodia’s prime minister indicated in late October that he had a warm place in his heart for Thaksin.

Hun Sen, as he arrived in Thailand on Oct. 23 for the latest ASEAN summit, loudly proclaimed that Thaksin was welcome in his country and that he would not extradite him to Thailand if so requested by Thai authorities. He even pointed out that Article 3 of a Thai-Cambodian extradition treaty prohibits the extradition of those accused of political offenses. He went further to suggest that he would appoint the fugitive to be his economic adviser.

In response, Thailand’s current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva politely but pointedly told the Cambodian leader that he should not let himself be used as a pawn, but should work with other ASEAN members to meet the organization’s goals

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban subsequently had a two-hour talk with Hun Sen explaining the Thai government’s position regarding Thaksin. Suthep came out of the meeting publicly confident that Hun Sen would not make any more such comments. Perhaps privately he knew better.

According to claims by the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy, the ousted prime minister had already established friendly relations – allegedly in the form of personal financial benefits – with the Cambodian government in parlaying Thai sovereignty over the temple of Khao Phreah Vihear that sits on the two countries’ border for offshore oil concessions from Cambodia, that Thaksin would allegedly benefit from.

Hun Sen’s apparent disregard for Thailand’s sensitivities is not really all that difficult to understand. Like Europe and other countries that considered hypocritical certain policies by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, so too it is likely that Cambodia feels Thailand is hypocritical – saying one thing but doing quite another.

Thai people, unsurprisingly, have different opinions concerning Hun Sen’s comments in support of Thaksin, but most appear to be critical. One pro-PAD activist, in fact, threatened to lead a large group of protesters to surround the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, mostly because of the Khao Phreah Vihear temple dispute, but also because of what is viewed as Cambodian government interference in domestic Thai politics.

One protest leader who did demonstrate against the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok said, “Hun Sen's action intentionally showed hostility to Thailand, its government and its military as well as the Thai people. It is interference in Thai politics.”

As if for Thailand to further shoot itself in the foot over the issue of handing Cambodia hundreds of acres of land around Khao Phreah Vihear, Thai TV viewers were treated to a speech by Lt. Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, an army specialist and flamboyant individualist, in a recent TV interview.

When asked about the real problem behind the Khao Phreah Vihear issue and why the army could not resolve what Thailand views as seizure of its territory, Sawasdipol replied, “The army … it’s a ‘play golf’ army, ‘country club’ type. That’s why.” This is the same man who had earlier helped train guards for the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts until told by his superiors to stop, and who had allegedly been involved in violence against the People’s Alliance for Democracy in 2008.

Thailand’s relations with its “friendly neighboring countries” Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Malaysia have been traditionally less than ideal – for the majority of people in each nation, that is. But for business and political sleight-of-hand on both sides, the relationship has been very lucrative. Thaksin and look-alike “investors” gained immense fortunes through various deals with all these countries, including telecommunications contracts, oil concessions, lumber operations, construction and more.

For his part, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has his hands full keeping together a weak political coalition that has been described as one where everyone gets what he wants, and may abandon the ship, sinking the coalition, if he doesn’t.

This coalition includes Pranawm Phokham, parliamentarian from Nakhonratchasima and board member of the Motherland Party, which is composed of both pro- and anti-Thaksin members. A glittering example of the fruit of Pranawm’s labor during his political life includes a multimillion dollar resort home, now under construction near a controversial forestry reserve region of Wang Nam Khiew in Nakhonratchasima province.

Pranawm was one of 28 members of parliament who voted for Abhisit to become prime minister. Quid pro quo for Pranawm may include Thailand’s own version of its U.S. counterpart, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.


(Frank G. Anderson is the Thailand representative of American Citizens Abroad. He was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer to Thailand from 1965-67, working in community development. A freelance writer and founder of northeast Thailand's first local English language newspaper, the Korat Post – – he has spent over eight years in Thailand "embedded" with the local media. He has an MBA in information management and an associate degree in construction technology. ©Copyright Frank G. Anderson.)

Cambodian Youth Program Leader Awarded $25,000 Peace Prize

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phalen Lim fled Cambodia at the age of 2 in 1975, during the regime of the Khmer Rouge, and has never forgotten what it was like to start over as an immigrant in a new country. Now, the community leader is being awarded with a $25,000 California Peace Prize, reports The Orange County Register.

Lim and her family initially sought out help from the service agency The Cambodian Family (TCF) when they arrived in Santa Ana, California. Now, as the director of youth programs for the organization, Lim's job is to support and inspire young people to become balanced, healthy leaders. Serving refugees and immigrants, The Cambodian Family's emphasis is on community health, such as trauma resolution and stress reduction, employment services and youth programs.

The California Wellness Foundation, a private group whose mission is to improve the health and wellness of Californians, will present the peace awards tonight in San Francisco. It applauded Lim as an "integral leader in an agency that combats gang violence and promotes cultural pride and understanding in Santa Ana."

Lim mentors around 60 Cambodian and Latino youths, and impresses upon them the importance of working with what they have. She plans to put some of the prize money towards her son's education, and allocate a portion of it to the youngsters at The Cambodian Family.

Despite these accomplishments, she remains humble:

"I must have done something good to deserve it," she says now. But she's quick to add: "It's not just about me. It's about the work that I did and about the people that I serve."

You can donate to The Cambodian Family here.

Thais To Explain Thaksin Charges to Hun Sen

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

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Thai government said this week it will send an official document to Prime Minister Hun Sen regarding ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, following a war of words between Phnom Penh and Bangkok over Cambodia’s right to refuse extradition.

Thaksin, who lives in exile, but not in Cambodia, faces a prison term on corruption charges if he returns to Thailand.

Hun Sen angered the current Thai government earlier this month by hosting a Thaksin supporter of the opposition party, then declaring Thaksin welcome in Cambodia, despite an extradition treaty with Thailand.

Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Tuesday it will outline the facts of Thaksin’s case for Hun Sen, who it said may have obtained incorrect information.

“We will receive the documents relating to Thaksin to read if the Bangkok government sends the documents to us,” government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said. “It is no problem. We will have our legal experts examine the documents.”

Thaksin was ousted from power in a bloodless coup in 2006, but he still enjoys wide support among Thais, and Hun Sen has called Thaksin a political victim and thereby outside extradition requirements.

Koy Kong, a spokesman for Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the ministry had not yet received documentation from Bangkok, but relations otherwise continued as normal.

Katen Worshippers Barred from Remote Pagoda

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Police in Kampong Thom province have blocked villagers from participating in a Buddhist ceremony at a remote pagoda on disputed land for the past two days, officials said Thursday.

Celebrants of the Katen ceremony, in which the faithful bring offerings to sequestered monks, were stopped 15 kilometers outside the pagoda, in Santhouk district, which the provincial governor called “illegitimate.”

“We blocked them, but it does not mean we’re preventing people from holding the ceremony,” the governor, Chhun Choan, said. “That place is part of a land concession given to a company for the investment of rubber.”

Villagers from the provinces of Kandal and Kampong Cham had meant to travel to the Meakea Prachea Hema Voan pagoda, with gifts for monks who must remain on the premises for three months. The Katen ceremony ends Nov. 2.

“Yesterday, they blocked one convoy, and today another,” said Leng Chea, a monk’s assistant. “If they claim that the pagoda is illegal, they must wait until the ceremony is finished.”

The pagoda, located 100 kilometers from Kampong Thom town, was built by an association assisting debilitated soldiers. It is little more than a small house where two monks live.

Khun Sok Kea, head of the association, said he had acquired the land legally in 2004.

Thaksin denies he's off to Cambodia

Published: 30/10/2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra early on Friday denied a media report that he will go to Cambodia to celebrate Loy Krathong and to thank Cambodian leader Hun Sen for his promise not to allow his extradition to Thailand.

“I will not go to Cambodia and will stay here in a Muslim country,” Thaksin said on his twitter@thaksinlive website.

The ex-premier said that from Nov 1 he will be able to directly contact Thai people via SMS. “If you want to discuss economic matters, lock on to 'follow' in 'thaksinbiz'.''

Regarding his loss of his police rank, Thaksin said it was now clear that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is a supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Citing Puea Thai MP for Samut Prakarn Pracha Prasopdee, most local dailies reported on Friday morning that Thaksin will on Nov 2 travel by his personal jet to Cambodia.

Mr Abhisit on Thursday reaffirmed that if Thaksin does turn up in Cambodia his government would seek his extradition.

5 killed, 1 seriously injured by electric shock in Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Five people were killed and one was seriously injured by an electric shock caused by short circuit on Friday morning in Phnom Penh, police from Phnom Penh authority said.

The incident occurred on Friday morning, at about 6:30 o'clock local time, in a family who's old father, 67-years-old, was first found died at the door, and other four people were killed and one was seriously injured when they wanted to support the old man, according to a policeman who asked not to be named.

Police said the incident was caused by short circuit because the family's house was in a low-lying place and had water standing due to raining for several days. Four were died instantly, and another one was seriously injured. They all killed by short circuit because their house was built mostly by used iron sheets.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Thailand & Cambodia Argue About Thaksin & the Coup

Friday, 30 October 2009
Column: Richard S. Ehrlich

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thailand and Cambodia have descended into a loud political feud about Bangkok's 2006 coup, and Thailand's current threat to demand the extradition of its fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The rift between the two Buddhist-majority nations in the heart of Southeast Asia was expected to worsen if Mr. Thaksin accepts Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's surprise offer of a temporary house.

"There is an extradition process," warned Thailand's powerful Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Tuesday (October 27).

"The turmoil following Cambodian leader Hun Sen's remarks, about ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra being welcome in his country, has thrown the government into a spin," the Bangkok Post newspaper, which opposes Mr. Thaksin, reported on Tuesday (October 27).

Ratcheting up his rhetoric, Mr. Hun Sen compared Mr. Thaksin to Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has languished under house arrest in Rangoon for 14 years.

"Many people are talking about Mrs. Suu Kyi of Burma. Why can't I talk about the victim, Thaksin?" Mr. Hun Sen said on October 23.

"That cannot be regarded as interference by Cambodia into Thai internal affairs. Without the coup d'etat in 2006, such a thing would not have happened," Hun Sen said.

Soft-spoken Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lashed out Mr. Hun Sen's remarks.

"There are few people in the world who believe Thaksin is similar to that of Mr. Suu Kyi," Mr. Abhisit said later that day.

"I hope Prime Minister Hun Sen will receive the right information and change his mind on the matter."

Cambodia's government spokesman Phay Siphan said on October 23: "Cambodia has a right to offer Thaksin to visit Cambodia, and we have no obligation to send him back to Thailand."

If "former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra wishes to travel to Cambodia anytime...the Cambodian prime minister is ready to prepare a residence for [his] stay in Cambodia," reported Cambodia's government-run TVK television on October 22, according to Agence-France Presse.

Mr. Thaksin has been an international fugitive, based mostly in Dubai, dodging a two-year prison sentence for a conflict of interest.

That conviction involved a Bangkok real estate deal -- for his now divorced wife -- which was arranged when he was prime minister.

Mr. Thaksin became prime minister in 2001 when most voters elected the billionaire telecommunications tycoon, hoping he would boost the economy and modernize Thailand.

Mr. Thaksin was removed in September 2006 by Thailand's U.S.-trained military in a bloodless coup when they used tanks, armored personnel carriers, Humvees and other weapons to seize power.

He has unsuccessfully tried to return to power with the help of allied politicians, and get back his two billion U.S. dollars worth of assets which the coup leaders froze.

International human rights groups, however, want Mr. Thaksin investigated for his role in the alleged extrajudicial murder of more than 2,000 people during his government's "war on drugs."

Mr. Thaksin remains politically active in self-exile.

He helps lead a mass movement of so-called "Red Shirts" who claim to represent Thailand's majority lower classes, especially in the countryside.

Together they demand an immediate election, expecting Mr. Thaksin's allies to win.

They are opposed by the "Yellow Shirts" who claim to support Thailand's urban middle class and constitutional monarchy.

Led by Sondhi Limthongkul, the Yellow Shirts blockaded Bangkok's international and domestic airports in November 2008 for eight days, stranding more than 300,000 people worldwide.

Their blockade helped weaken a government allied to Mr. Thaksin, and paved the way for Parliament to elect Mr. Abhisit.

Mr. Abhisit's fragile coalition government enjoys the military's support, and much of his personal security is handled by the military.

Thailand's wealthy elite have mostly thrown their weight behind Mr. Abhisit as well, and appear nervous about Mr. Thaksin and the Red Shirts plotting to destabilize Bangkok.

Cambodia's prime minister has thrown a wild card into this dangerous mix, apparently hoping to attract big investments by Mr. Thaksin and weaken Bangkok's strategy over a smoldering border dispute, according to some analysts.

"It is true that I would invite former Prime Minister Thaksin to visit Cambodia anytime, and to be my economic advisor," Mr. Hun Sen said on October 22.

Thailand and Cambodia are former war-time enemies -- and current investment partners -- so the stakes are high for all sides to quell their public sniping.

Occasional killings on both sides have continued in and around the ancient stone ruins of Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple on the Thai-Cambodian border.

That dispute dates back to the 1950s, and continued even after the International Court in the Hague, Netherlands, confirmed Cambodia's ownership in 1962.

The conflict flared again after the ruins were declared a World Heritage Site in July 2008 by the World Heritage Committee, based on Cambodia's proposal to cash in on its tourism potential.

Thailand and Cambodia have suffered much worse relations in the past.

After Richard Nixon became president of the United States in 1969, he used Thailand as one of several military staging areas for heavy aerial bombing raids against communists in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, until America's wars ended in 1975 -- one year after Nixon's presidency -- with the U.S. defeated in all three countries.

Washington and Bangkok later indirectly backed Cambodia's communist Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, when his jungle-based guerrillas were in a loose alliance with other Cambodian rebels fighting against Vietnam's 1979-1989 occupation of Cambodia.

Thai and Cambodian politicians have been fleeing to each other's country for the past 50 years, seeking sanctuary from coups, arrest warrants, and other threats.

In 1957, when Thai dictator Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat unleashed a military coup against Prime Minister Phibun Songkram, the toppled leader fled Thailand for Cambodia in his Ford Thunderbird car.


Richard S Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist who has reported news from Asia since 1978. He is co-author of "Hello My Big Big Honey!", a non-fiction book of investigative journalism. His web page

Vietnam, Cambodia police step up anti-crime co-operation

October 30, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Vietnamese and Cambodian policemen are mulling over agreements on criminal justice support and extradition to enable the creation of a full-fledged legal foundation for their joint efforts to fight crime.

Meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on October 29, they assessed what they have gained in the fight against cross-border crime and identified specific areas that need to be stepped up in future.

Minister of Public Security Gen. Le Hong Anh highly valued close and effective co-operation between Vietnamese and Cambodian police in fighting criminals and maintaining social order and safety.

’The Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security has reinforced co-operation with the Cambodian Ministry of the Interior and the National Police of Cambodia, on helping manage the increasing crime rate in both countries,’ General Anh said.

He said he hoped bilateral co-operation in the field would be conducted more closely and effectively in the coming time.

Addressing the meeting, State Secretary of the Cambodian Ministry of the Interior Gen. Em Sam An, admitted that transnational crimes have adversely impacted security in localities along both nations’ borders.

He underlined the urgent need to beef up bilateral co-operation in maintaining social order and security in the two countries.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security put forward orientations to step up co-operation with the Cambodian National Police in the 2009-2010 period, including increasing the sharing of information on crime, especially transnational crime.

It proposed that Vietnamese and Cambodian police intensify collaboration to promptly address issues arising from the two countries’ enforcement of their laws and their maintenance of social order and security. It also proposed that Vietnamese police assist in the organisation of anti-crime training courses for their Cambodian colleagues.

The Vietnamese side suggested the establishment of flexible but effective co-operation at all levels, particularly in localities sharing the borderline, to handle complicated issues relating to security and social order.

The ministry also suggested the opening of police liaison offices in each other’s countries to aid the promotion of bilateral co-operation in the field.

The Ministry of Public Security reported that crime along the Vietnam-Cambodia border is very complicated, ranging from drug-related crimes and the trafficking of women, to the illegal arms trade, smuggling, gambling, robbery, and illegal immigration.

In 2008 and the first nine months of this year, police uncovered 1,893 cases of smuggling involving over VND 93.5 billion in goods and brought to light dozens of cases of trafficking in women and children in areas along the common border.

They arrested 43 people belonging to 12 criminal rings involved in stealing motorbikes in Vietnam and transporting them to Cambodia.

Police from the ten Vietnamese and Cambodian provinces have jointly investigated 569 drug-related cases, arresting 1,085 people and seizing 4.76 kg of heroin and 395.7 kg of marijuana. (VNA)

Cambodian 'jungle woman' hospitalised

The woman believed to be Rochom P'ngieng, Cambodia's "jungle woman", is pictured here in her house in a remote jungle village in Rattanakiri province in 2007. The woman, whose story gripped the country after she apparently spent 18 years living in a forest, was hospitalised after refusing food, her father and a doctor said. (AFP/File/AFP)

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia's "jungle woman", whose story gripped the country after she apparently spent 18 years living in a forest, was hospitalised after refusing food, her father and a doctor said Friday.

But the tale of Rochom P'ngieng, which has involved disputes over her real identity and how she spent her missing years, took a further twist when her father then removed her from the clinic against doctors' advice.

Rochom P'ngieng went missing as a little girl in 1989 while herding water buffalo in Ratanakkiri province around 600 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of the capital Phnom Penh.

In early 2007 the woman was brought from the jungle, naked and dirty, after being caught trying to steal food from a farmer. She was hunched over like a monkey, scavenging the ground for pieces of dried rice in the forest.

She could not utter a word of any intelligible language, instead making what Sal Lou, the man who says he is her father, calls "animal noises".

Cambodians described her as "jungle woman" and "half-animal girl".

Sal Lou told AFP by telephone on Friday that Rochom P'ngieng was admitted to the provincial hospital on Monday.

"She has refused to eat rice for about one month. She is skinny now... She still cannot speak. She acts totally like a monkey. Last night, she took off her clothes, and went to hide in the bathroom," Sal Lou said.

"Her condition looks worse than the time we brought her from the jungle. She always wants to take off her clothes and crawl back to the jungle," he added.

But he said in a later call that he had brought her home because it was too difficult to keep her from fleeing the hospital.

"We have to hold her hand all the time (at the hospital). Otherwise she would take her clothes off and run away," he said, adding that he would now appeal to charities to take over her care.

Doctor Hing Phan Sokunthea, director of Ratanakkiri provincial hospital, confirmed that Sal Lou had defied medical advice and checked her out of the hospital.

"We wanted to monitor her situation more, but we don't know what to do because the father already took his daughter out of hospital," he said.

The jungles of Ratanakkiri -- some of the most isolated and wild in Cambodia -- are known to have held hidden groups of hill tribes in the recent past.

In November 2004, 34 people from four hill tribe families emerged from the dense forest where they had fled in 1979 after the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, which they supported.

People Show Support of PM’s Khe Dara Remarks

Written by DAP NEWS -- Friday, 30 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
After Phnom Penh Appeal Court on Wednesday upheld the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s ruling in the case of Khe Dara, a woman who illegally fired a pistol and threatened police and journalists on September 28, more than 2,000 local citizens expressed their support for Cambodian Prime Minister on Tuesday in Phnom Penh, according to a local official.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced her to her to 18 months imprisonment and fined her CR1 million for the illegal use of a firearm.

Not only premier Hun Sen reacted Khe Dara’s crimes, but also much of Cambodian society, from top leaders and officials of the Cambodian Government, to ordinary members of the public, reacted to the heinous threats that typify the pernicious Cambodian culture of impunity.

“Following the premier’s remarks related to Khe Dara, more than 2,000 residents of Boeung Tompon Com-mune thumbprinted a statement of support for the premier’s good decision ,” Sous Sarin, Boeung Tompon commune chief, told DAP News Cambodia on Thursday. “All citizens thought that the premier’s remarks and suggestions were aimed at stopping gangster’s actions and rich people’s crimes, even though they are powerful and wealthy,” the commune chief added.

The Phnom Penh Court on Wednesday ruled to charge Khe Dara with the addition crimes of entering a house illegally and attempted murder.

On 28 September, 2009, Khe Dara, 30, fired several times and angrily cursed police and journalists in front of Sonsom Kosal pagoda, in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey District. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted only on the charge of illegal gun usage, so the premier recommended more charges.

Reporter Nabbed for Chiding Soy Sopheap Messages

Ros Sokhet inside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Ros Sokhet was arrested in Phnom Penh for obliquely threatening Cambodian Television Network anchor and DMC GM on October 8 and again on October 28, 2009 by sending messages

Written by Administrator -- Friday, 30 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has begun a case against a man who chi- ded Soy Sopheap, General Manager of Deum Ampil Media Center (DMC), twice with mobile phone SMS messages in October, a court officer said.

Ros Sokhet was arrested in Phnom Penh for obliquely threatening Cam- bodian Television Network anchor and DMC GM on October 8 and again on October 28, 2009 by sending messages.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Kong Chhay ordered a delay to court proceedings after the accused asked for time to find a defense lawyer. The hearing will recommence on November 6, 2009.

Ros Sokhet, a relatively frequent contributor to English-language media and foreign-owned magazines, told the court with unsteady voice that “Because I sent messages to him, I heard some people talked about him [Soy Sopheap], some journalists criticized him at Atalantic shop [called Arun Reah], so I decided to inform him as soon as possible.”

Ros Sokhet claimed that he “did not want to fight or denounce” Soy Sopheap. “If he agrees to an apology, I will write a letter to him,” he added.

Ros Sokhet, a resident of Phnom Penh, used to work with Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Soy Sopheap filed in official complaint with Phnom Penh Interior Ministry Police Chief, at the time unaware of the sender’s identity. Police investigated the case, a police officer said.

On October 8, 2009, between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, four messages were sent to Soy Sopheap: “How much money did you demand from Khe Dara, her husband said that amount US$ 5,000, why were you so bad in action?,” followed by, “Khe Dara’s file was a little bit, but you extended to large, I received a report from Tong Seng who was threatened money by you as well as other members of CPP, all of them were very unhappy whatever you acted,” then, “Ok, all of CPP’s members were not happy, they want to destroy you. Moreover, CTN’s boss also did not welcome you,” and finally, “Tong Seng asked me…?” All messages were sent from the same Online telephone number. Soy Sopheap vowed to stand fast against criticism and threats to continue to expose the truth. “I do not fear such chidings; they are of small concern. I focus on Cambodian peace,” he said.

The Khe Dara case has surprised many Cambodian citizens for the punishment correctly and fairly meted out for her wrongdoings.

Cambodia Refuses to Deport Thaksin, Thailand threatens International Law

Written by DAP NEWS -- Friday, 30 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Government has stated that Cambodia will not extradite fugitive Thai former PM Thaksin if he enters Cambodia despite the Thai Government’s threat to use international law to force Cambodia to hand him over.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban said that Thailand will use international law to bring back Thaksin to Thailand if he seeks for a place in Cambodia to stay, referring to the extradition treaty approved by both nations in 1998.

Suthep´s remarks come after Thaksin said he will visit Cambodia soon to thank Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen in person for the premier’s kind action.

International Lawyer Office Director Dy Poryma told DAP News Cambodia that extradition treaty is merely an agreement between the two countries and is not subject to international law.
“It cannot take any international law to pressure on another country which has sovereignty and independence,” Dy Poryma added.

The lawyer noted that the case of Sok Yeurn, in which the Cambodian Government requested an extradition, but Thailand declined the Cambodian request.

Sok Yeun was convicted of firing at PM Hun Sen during a trip to Siem Reap Province in 1998.

Demining squad unearths rocket

Officials with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre were called in to clear this 89mm rocket that was buried in front of Phnom Penh’s Baktouk High School in Prampi Makara district Thursday morning.

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:02 Sam Rith

Officials with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre were called in to clear this 89mm rocket that was buried in front of Phnom Penh’s Baktouk High School in Prampi Makara district Thursday morning.

Bon Om Tuk

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:03 Uong Ratana

Six-year-old Chanta makes decorations from lily pads with her friends after picking them from among the racing boats lining the river Thursday in anticipation of this weekend’s Water Festival.

Govt hails land concessions

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Soldiers guard Preah Vihear temple in July. The government says it is has given 20,000 hectares of land concessions to retired and disabled soldiers.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha

20,000 hectares handed to poor, disabled soldiers since 2007.

THE government has given away more than 20,000 hectares of state land since 2007 as social land concessions to the families of poor and disabled war veterans as a supplement to their national pensions, according to a statement issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.

Since 2007, the government had cleared 2,057 hectares of forested land in Siem Reap, 1,200 hectares for 240 disabled soldiers in Kampot, 173 hectares for 100 families in Stung Treng and 16,400 hectares for 1,912 families in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district, according to the statement.

“The main issue in providing social land concessions to the ex-armed forces is to set up a social safety net for those who have poor families so that they can build houses and cultivate the land,” read the statement.

Prak Chanthoeun, director general at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said Thursday that the government had formed a committee to evaluate the situation of retired and disabled soldiers in order to ensure they are eligible for the land.

“The land is offered as an incentive for what they have devoted to the nation,” Prak Chanthoeun said. “The offer is only open to the real poor and landless soldiers.”

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the social land concessions were a priority for poor and disabled troops but said the division and granting of the land should be conducted transparently and confined to areas that are suitable for agriculture.

“It should be real retired or disabled soldiers who get the land, and the division should be equal,” she said.

Prak Chanthoeun said the committee was seeking additional land for the concession programme and was conducting research about the number of retired or disabled soldiers needing land.

The government is currently spending about US$1 million a month supporting about 100,000 disabled and retired soldiers and the widows of those who have died in service. When their families are included – parents, widows and children – the Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for about 600,000 people.

Hong Sreysambath, director of the ministry’s Pension Office, said he had deleted some old names of retired, disabled or deceased war veterans, but that the new names on the pension payroll were increasing yearly.

“The ministry is auditing and reviewing the exact number of ex-armed forces receiving pensions,” he said.

Nuon Chea team blasts KRT judges

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:03 Robbie Corey Boulet

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday published a letter from the Nuon Chea defence team accusing the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges of having “spent the better part of the last two years confirming a particular set of historically accepted ‘truths’” rather than conducting its work impartially.

The October 15 letter listed a number of “failings”, but emphasises a witness account provided earlier this month by Wayne Bastin, a former chief of the Intelligence and Analysis Unit at the office, charging that Judge Marcel Lemonde encouraged investigators to “find more inculpatory evidence than exculpatory evidence” while putting together cases against former regime leaders.

The letter also stated that more than half of 15 requests for investigative action submitted by lawyers for the regime’s Brother No 2 have gone unanswered, “despite the fact that we have requested in most cases to be consulted in advance”.

In a reply dated October 27, the office said it was “impossible to comment upon” a motion to dismiss Lemonde filed by defence lawyers for former foreign minister Ieng Sary in light of Bastin’s statement. Judges Lemonde and You Bunleng added that they would “continue to conduct the judicial investigation with impartiality and with all necessary vigour”.

Officials downplay planned PAD protest

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:02 Vong Sokheng

A CAMBODIAN official responded Thursday to Thai media reports of a planned protest by People’s Alliance for Democracy members outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok on Monday.

The English-language daily newspaper The Nation reported earlier this week that PAD members planned to protest outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok in response to comments made by Prime Minister Hun Sen during the weekend’s ASEAN summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, during which he said that Thai ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup, had been treated unfairly by Thai authorities.

Hun Sen’s comments were seen as undermining Thailand’s judiciary credibility, The Nation reported.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Thursday that the government was not surprised by the announced protest.

“It is not the first time that PAD has warned Cambodia about a protest, but we are not concerned because the Cambodian embassy and its diplomats are under the careful protection of Thai authorities,” Koy Kuong said.

Koy Kuong added that Cambodia has yet to receive official confirmation that Thaksin has plans to visit the Kingdom.

“There is no official notice about his visit. We just heard that he told supporters that he would fly to Cambodia soon, but I think these sources of information are reliable,” he said, referring to Thai press reports that Thaksin had informed supporters via teleconference that he intended to take Hun Sen up on his offer to visit Cambodia.

City police arrest 17 suspected prostitutes

Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear

A POLICE crackdown on massage parlours and hotels in Phnom Penh ahead of the upcoming Water Festival has led to the arrest of 17 coining girls on suspicions of offering paid sexual services.

The girls who offered the traditional medical procedure were arrested in Daun Penh district on Wednesday and have been sent to the municipal social affairs office for vocational skills training.

Sok Penhvuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said Thursday that officials want to prevent the spread of disease as the capital’s population swells ahead of the three-day festival.

“We don’t want to see the boat racers bring diseases such as HIV/AIDS back to their wives. We want to protect the men in case they get caught up in the festivities and forget about health and safety,” he said.

Ly Rosyami, deputy governor of Russey Keo district, said authorities will continue surveying massage parlours, guesthouses and hotels today and tomorrow.

“During the three days of the Water Festival, we will have representatives standing outside each massage parlour, coining shop and karaoke bar to distribute condoms and provide health information to customers,” she said.

Mann Chhoeun, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said the intention was not to close down businesses but to prevent the spread of diseases.

“I want to say to them they can win a boat race but they cannot win against HIV/AIDS,” he said.

He added that authorities will cooperate with NGOs to organise health seminars for boat racers at their team tents.

City Hall says vendors must sell somewhere else this year

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Kirira plays on the boat his village’s team will be racing during the Water Festival this weekend. His family is camping by the riverside along with the team in preparation for the festival.

They are from the provinces, so they don’t know much about public order.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:02 May Titthara

THE telltale signs of Water Festival – racers readying boats on the Tonle Sap, clusters of villagers fresh from the provinces, an influx of portable toilets – could already be seen along Sisowath Quay on Thursday afternoon, three days before the festival officially begins.

One festival staple, however, was conspicuously absent: the scores of street vendors who typically set up along the main roads, eager to hawk
their wares in the capital, which generally welcomes more than 2 million visitors for the annual spectacle.

In a move to improve “public order”, City Hall has banned street vendors from Sisowath as well as Sothearos and Norodom boulevards, instead compelling them to gather on the grounds of Wat Ounalom and along Street 154.

“We will not allow them to sell on the busy streets because we want to manage them and maintain public order,” said Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun. “They are from the provinces, so they don’t know much about public order.”

The move has dismayed vendors, who expressed concern that their earnings would plummet if they were forced to sell from low-profile locations.

“This year I will not be able to earn nearly as much as last year because the authorities will not allow us to set up in front of the pagoda,” said Sou Chea, a 47-year-old vendor sitting on Street 154 amid the more than 100 woven baskets she brought to the capital from Kandal province. “The festival-goers will not know that they need to come here to buy my baskets.”

She said she and other vendors from her village had made the trip for the past six years, and that revenue from her baskets – which go for 7,000 to 15,000 riels – totaled around US$50 annually.

“We have no choice except to obey the authorities, but it is a lot easier to sell on the river,” she said.

Meanwhile, local authorities on Thursday morning told more than 40 vendors stationed in front of Wat Ounalom that they would be moved inside the pagoda grounds today.

Sok Penhvuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said that the new restrictions on vendors would “make the city beautiful and reduce traffic jams”.

The news left Pet Chheu, a 55-year-old vendor who had never before been to the capital before arriving on a Thursday morning bus, wondering whether she would be able to sell enough toys, bracelets and rings to afford the $5 bus ticket back home to her native Siem Reap.

“I came here for the festival, but also because I was wondering what Phnom Penh looks like,” she said. “I am really excited to be here, but if they don’t allow me to sell on the road, I don’t know how I will pay for another bus ticket.”

Defamation: Mu Sochua to appeal to highest court

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:02 Laura Snook


OPPOSITION lawmaker Mu Sochua will today file an appeal to the Supreme Court against her conviction for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen, a court official said Thursday. The outspoken Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian vowed to take her case to the higher court earlier this week after her conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal, a move she described as “politically motivated”. The original ruling, handed down by the Municipal Court in August, found Mu Sochua guilty of defaming the premier and ordered her to pay a total of 16.5 million riels (US$3,963) in fines and compensation. Despite the Appeal Court’s decision, Mu Sochua remained defiant on Wednesday. Speaking outside the Court of Appeal, she again said she had no intention of paying the fine. The prime minister sued Mu Sochua for defamation in April after she filed her own complaint that he had made derogatory remarks about her during a press conference. Her lawsuit, however, was dismissed by the Appeal Court on October 14, whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen’s proceeded.

Fishermen take row over resort to PM’s house

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:02 Vong Sokheng

FISHERMEN from Kampot province travelled to Takhmao on Thursday to submit a petition urging Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention in a dispute involving a proposed coastal resort development they say threatens their community fishing zone.

The fishermen, from Kep Thmey village in Kampot’s Chhouk district, arrived at Hun Sen’s residence just a day after they held protests against the Keo Chea Development Company, which is reclaiming coastal land for the construction of the resort.

They said the 200-hectare reclamation effort will affect the residents of Kep Thmey and Torteng Thngai villages, most of whom rely on local fisheries, putting up to 1,000 livelihoods at risk.


The company began reclaiming coastal land on October 8 in preparation for the project.

Villager Chan Dara, 47, said that the prime minister’s advisor accepted the petition and asked them to return home to wait until after the Water

Festival for a resolution.

“We have been fishing for several generations, and we will die of starvation if there is no place for us to fish,” she said.

“We need Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene and maintain a fishing zone for us because it is our daily life.”

Since October 8, villagers have held demonstrations on three occasions, attempting to block trucks carrying landfill to the project site near their village.

A rally Wednesday resulted in scuffles between the villagers and police.

Chan Dara said the villagers would continue to demonstrate until the government agrees to preserve a community fishing zone for the villagers.

Villagers say that at least 80 percent of the area’s residents depend on the community fishing zone for their survival.

Nov Nara, a secretary to the prime minister, said he had accepted the petition from the villagers and would soon submit it to Hun Sen for review.

Reporter charged with defamation

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:01 Meas Sokchea

PHNOM Penh Municipal court charged a local magazine journalist with defamation on Thursday, on suspicion that he spread malicious rumours about well-known CTN anchor Soy Sopheap by text message and telephone.

Deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun told the court that Ros Sokhet, a journalist for the Southeast Asia Globe, defamed Soy Sopheap by using his telephone to spread corruption accusations against him on October 8 and October 28.

Ros Sokhet, who appeared at the hearing without a lawyer, told the court that he could settle the case out of court by appealing to Soy Sopheap personally.

“I don’t want to oppose Soy Sopheap. I think I can talk with [him]. I would like the court to inform Soy Sopheap about this,” he said, making an additional request for the court to delay his second hearing and release him on bail so that he could obtain defence counsel.

“If the judgement is just, I will accept it. If the court allows me to seek a lawyer, I would like the court to postpone the hearing first,” he said, adding that he would seek a public interest lawyer because he did not have the money to afford private counsel.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Chhay Kong rejected his requests and remanded him into custody until his second hearing on November 6.

Soy Sopheap could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Refugee wins prize for work

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:01 Post Staff

A CAMBODIAN-AMERICAN community leader and Khmer Rouge refugee from California has been awarded the state’s US$25,000 Peace Prize for her work with endangered youth in the city of Santa Ana.

Phalen Lim, 36, who was granted the award at a ceremony in San Francisco on Wednesday night, has been recognised for her work with The Cambodian Family, which works with primary school and high school students in parts of the city where drugs and gangs are prevalent.

The California Wellness Foundation, which presented the award, applauded Phalen Lim as an “integral leader in an agency that combats gang violence and promotes cultural pride and understanding in Santa Ana”.

In response to the award, she was cited in the Orange County Register as saying, “I must have done something good to deserve it … [but] it’s not just about me. It’s about the work that I did and about the people that I serve”.

Phalen Lim was just 2 years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, but escaped into Vietnam and then to the US.

Leaders see threat to Buddhism

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A fellow monk shaves the head of a boy joining the monkhood in Battambang earlier this year.


Two monks from Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey pagoda have been charged with murder  following the death last week of a fourth-year medical student who chastised them for drinking alcohol. Another suspect, who is not a monk, has also been charged, police confirmed, and a third monk accused in the murder remains on the run. Monks Van Socheat, 19, and Nhem Vuthy, 20, were charged this week, said Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Hing Bunchea. The pair’s alleged accomplice, Chem Pros, was also charged. “We charged them yesterday on the murder case, and now we will investigate more,” Hing Bunchea said. The victim, 24-year-old Veth Vireak, was beaten to death. It is alleged the monks were furious after he scolded them for getting drunk on 10 litres of palm wine. Kong Samorn, deputy police chief in Meanchey district, said the group will be held in Prey Sar prison while an investigation is carried out. The monks had been ordained for five years before last Friday’s attack. If they are convicted of the murder, the monks could be defrocked and jailed, officials have previously said.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:01 Sam Rith

LEADING Buddhist intellectuals and civil society groups have called on the government to address a recent outbreak of offences ranging from drunkenness to rape and a deadly beating all allegedly committed by monks.

They warned that if the behaviour of monks continues to deteriorate, it could seriously diminish the position of Buddhism within Cambodian society.

Miech Ponn, an adviser to the Mores and Customs Commission at the Buddhism Institute, said that in the past, cases of monks’ engaging in sexual relationships were exceptionally rare, and that he had never heard of monks drinking wine, let alone killing people.

“Even though these have been isolated cases, they have the potential to impact Buddhism in Cambodia as a whole,” he said. “I think either the Ministry of Cults and Religions or supreme patriarchs should take action in order not to have such acts – drinking wine and killing people – occur among the monks again.”

Miech Ponn also suggested that the cause of such incidents might be the modern technology to which monks are increasingly exposed. Earlier this month, an 18-year-old monk in Kampong Thom province was charged with beating and injuring a fellow monk who failed to answer a call from the perpetrator on his mobile phone.

Thun Saray, president of the rights group ADHOC, echoed Miech Ponn’s concerns, urged the country’s religious authorities to find ways to strengthen discipline among members of the Buddhist community because of their role in society.

“If monks act the same as other people, they will cease to be respected, and no one will believe in them anymore,” he said. “It is a big loss of honour to Buddhism that there were cases of monks killing people because Buddhism tells people not to kill anything that is alive.”

Min Khin, minister of cults and religions, said Thursday that he was too busy to speak.

Tep Vong, supreme patriarch of Cambodia, said he was aware a monk had been charged with killing a nun earlier this week in Banteay Meanchey province and welcomed the legal action.

“I do not have any particular advice on the issue because Buddhism already takes a clear position against killing animals and human beings,” he said, adding that anyone who committed a crime should be brought before the courts.

He also insisted that his adviser, Kiet Chan Thouch, chief monk of Wat Leu in Preah Sihanouk province, was not guilty of getting drunk and attacking fellow monks in his pagoda, as was recently alleged.

“I already investigated [Kiet Chan Thouch’s] case, and the accusations against him are untrue,” he said. The supreme patriarch is now pursuing legal action against Kiet Chan Thouch’s accusers, who he said had deliberately set out to damage the man’s reputation.

According to the government, Cambodia has more than 4,300 active pagodas and 60,000 monks. Ninety-five percent of the Kingdom’s population is Buddhist.

Swine flu kills fourth person in Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:01 Cheang Sokha

A FOURTH person has died from swine flu in Cambodia, bringing the number of confirmed infections in the country to 239, officials said Thursday.

The capital and seven provinces have so far been affected by the spread of (A)H1N1: Kandal, Takeo, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang and Svay Rieng.

Last week, a 51-year-old woman died after contracting the virus, bringing the Kingdom’s total number of swine flu-related deaths to four. “She had breathing difficulties before she contracted the virus,” said Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Communicable Disease Control Department at the Ministry of Health.

Cambodia’s first confirmed fatality was a 41-year-old woman who died on September 27. In early October, a 41-year-old man and a 25-year-old pregnant woman also died after contracting the virus.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said the ministry has prepared about 500,000 information brochures, which will be delivered to the public during the Water Festival. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday appealed to rural villagers visiting the capital for the boat races to wear masks to prevent virus transmission.

Health officials advise people to wash their hands frequently, refrain from spitting in public, use tissues to cover coughs and avoid crowds.

Individuals experiencing any symptoms such as high fevers (above 38 C), coughing, headache, muscle ache, sore throat and nose congestion should call the swine flu hotline at 115, 012 488 981 or 089 669 567.

Star-Cell records static revenue growth in Q3

A sales assistant checks her phone Thursday at a Star Cell sales office in Phnom Penh.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:00 Steve Finch

Subscriber numbers bounce back from dismal second quarter, according to announcement, with 150,000 users by this month

TELIASONERA AB, the Stockholm-based mobile firm that manages Cambodia’s Star-Cell, announced late Wednesday that revenues from the Kingdom remained static in the third quarter as profits before tax for its overall operations rose 5.7 percent year on year to 5.04 billion kronor (US$720 million).

In its financial report for the June-to-September quarter, Teliasonera announced revenues of 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.13 million) for its Cambodia operation, taking revenues for the first nine months of the year to 24 million kronor ($3.406 million).

Sweden’s largest mobile operator did not publish net profits for its Cambodia unit, although it announced increased profitability overall “despite price erosion caused by growing competition and increasing price sensitivity among customers”.

Stocks in the firm fell 1.79 percent in Stockholm by 10.30am Thursday to 47.32 kronor.

Since Applifone, the local subsidiary of Teliasonera, launched in Cambodia in October 2007, five new operators have also entered the market prompting companies including Millicom International SA, the majority shareholder in market leader Mobitel, to complain of diminishing profitability this year.

In Wednesday’s announcement, Teliasonera said that it had added 2 million subscriptions with the acquisitions of operations in Cambodia and Nepal in September last year when it bought a 51 percent stake in TeliaSonera Asia Holding BV from Visor Group, which owns Applifone outright.

Most of these subscriptions were added in Nepal.

The company announcement stated it had 141,000 total users in Cambodia at the end of the third quarter of which only 1,000 were post-paid.

According to company figures, this represented a decrease of 3,000 users since the end of the last quarter of 2008, the first full quarter of operations since Teliasonera’s acquisition was announced on September 21 last year.

User numbers volatile
At the end of the second quarter, Star Cell saw its users plummet to 64,000 from a peak of 150,000 at the end of the first quarter, according to company data, an anomaly that remains unaccounted for.

Jen Borja Bornas, Applifone’s media manager in Cambodia, declined to comment Thursday on revenues and user numbers.

In Cambodia, mobile sector executives have noted a trend among users of swapping among competing operators’ SIM cards – often given away free of charge – in a bid to take advantage of increasingly competitive tariffs.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is currently working on a prakas, or edict, on pricing after competitors accused the newest operator, Beeline, of price-dumping and triggering a barrage of schemes offering free within-network calls.

Operators were due to submit a detailed breakdown on their costs by today with the aim of establishing a minimum tariff across the sector.

Two new air routes to Vietnam in planning

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 30 October 2009 15:00 May Kunmakara

Cambodia and Vietnam aviation officials are planning to launch two new aviation routes between the two countries, officials said Thursday.

The routes will connect Phu Quoc Island, off the southern coast of Vietnam near the mouth of the Mekong River, with Sihanoukville International Airport, and the southern province of Can Tho with Phnom Penh.

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Undersecretary of State Soy Sokhan said the SSCA and its Vietnamese counterpart were conducting a joint feasibility study on the routes.

“We see huge potential for these routes,” he said. “Sihanoukville International Airport will be a popular destination for the tourism industry, but the Phnom Penh International Airport also has great potential for cargo shipments.”

It was too early to estimate when that feasibility study would be completed, he said, but one flight was expected to be scheduled daily in each direction on both routes.

Flag carrier in running
SSCA Secretary of State Mao Havannal said the routes had not yet been allocated to any carriers but confirmed that Cambodia Angkor Air had been involved in discussions. The airline is 51 percent owned by the Cambodian government in a joint venture with Vietnam Airlines.

Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the Government-Private Sector Forum’s Tourism Working Group, said Phu Quoc Island and Can Tho province were both popular tourism hubs in Vietnam and could be valuable feeders for the Cambodian tourism sector if the routes became available.