Saturday, 7 November 2009

Businesses wary of border closure

Protecting people and assets the concern

Published: 7/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Amid the rising tension after fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's appointment as an economic adviser to Cambodia, Thai businesses are highly concerned about the safety of their people and assets, but they say closing the borders should be a last resort.

Thais andCambodian tourists travel freely across the border at a checkpoint linking Trat province with Cambodia’s Koh Kong. Thai officials yesterday threatened to close the borders as a diplomatic row between the two countries continues to escalate. JAKKRIT WAEWKLAIHONG

Thailand's national energy flagship PTT has valuable assets in Cambodia and is monitoring developments closely. Should violence occur, it said its assets in the country would be protected by the Royal Thai Navy.

"So far we are in alarm mode since we have facilities worth billions of baht in Cambodia, even though they are located in areas far from conflict," said Kampong Kittitornkul, vice-president for international marketing.

PTT has a 50% market share from six service stations and three oil tank farms in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The rest of the market is held by France-based Total.

PTT's oil products stored in tanks include jet fuel, petrol, diesel, lubricant and fuel oil used in power plants. The oil tanks are located in Navy areas.

"The Thai business community has not seen any impact yet, but we have to be cautious," he said. "Our major concern is if the situation comes to the point of a border closure, whether our business can run as usual or not. We also need to prepare for immediate evacuation if riots break out.

"We hope the situation will not lead to violence as happened in 2003. So far, high-ranking officials in Cambodia are still attempting to calm down the local business community."

Logistics operators are wary a border closure will hurt not only trade with Cambodia but also within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

Sealing border trade with Cambodia affects co-operation to integrate GMS logistics networks. Last month, a trial run trucking goods from the Thai border to Ho Chi Minh City via Cambodia took place successfully, said Yoo Chienuenyongpong, a counsellor to Thai Logistics Alliance Co.

Chemical product shipments to factories in southern Vietnam would be affected, said Mr Yoo, also the president of the Land Transport Federation of Thailand.

"We should not let politics cause problems for people who are not involved in the dispute," he said.

"Vietnam is more important to us than Cambodia in terms of business opportunity. Our counterparts in China are concerned about growing disputes between Thailand and Cambodia because it might further delay our regional economic integration."

Land transport takes two nights and three days to reach Ho Chi Minh City from the Thai border, compared with 10 days by sea from Laem Chabang Port to Sihanoukville in Cambodia.

Thanet Sorat, vice-president of logistics service provider V-Serve Group, said tens of local logistics companies operating at the border and with Vietnam would be affected.

"These logistics companies are the second group of casualties after local residents if the disputes intensify and lead to border closure," Mr Thanet said.

"I think the issue should not be blown up to become a national agenda item to minimise the damage for the sake of the people and the business sector."

The Commerce Ministry is calling on people and business operators of both nations not to panic, as Thai trade officials and commercial counsellors in Cambodia have not been recalled yet even though the two countries' ambassadors have left their posts.

Border trade represents up to 80% of trade between the countries worth at least 50 billion baht a year.

Traditionally, commercial ministers are not recalled as the recall of Thailand's ambassador to Cambodia is strong enough to show the kingdom's disapproval with Hun Sen's embrace of Mr Thaksin.

Commerce permanent secretary Yanyong Phuangrach said that during emergencies, all Thai trade officials are told to be ready to help Thais doing business in Cambodia.

Business as usual for Thai firms in Cambodia
Sat, Nov 07, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The government is being urged to support Thai businesses that have a presence in Cambodia even though the latest tensions between the two countries have not yet affected them.

"Despite reports of no effects now, the situation could degenerate quickly. Aside from supportive measures, the government should try to end this conflict quickly through diplomatic means," Federation of Thai Industries official Thaworn Techakraisri said yesterday.

FTI chairman Santi Vilassakdanont also expressed concern about border trade, which constitutes 80 per cent of bilateral trade between the countries.

The two-way trade amounted to US$2.13 billion (S$2.98 billion) last year. Major Thai exports are sugar, fuel, pigs and cement. Major goods imported from Cambodia include cassava, maize and scrap aluminium.

To date, all business activities are continuing as usual.

Pongsak Viddayakorn, an executive adviser to Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS), said company executives were not concerned about the diplomatic rift possibly hurting healthcare operations in Cambodia.

BDMS operates Royal Angkor International Hospital in Seam Reap and Bangkok Hospital Medical Centre in Phnom Penh.

He said the hospitals are partially owned by Cambodian officials, and since the rift was not at the grass-roots level, the company's healthcare services should not be affected.

However, if the worst comes to the worst, the company is prepared to evacuate all physicians, nurses and medical staff to Thailand on Bangkok Airways.

BDMS founder and CEO Prasert Prasarttongosoth is also the founder of Bangkok Airways.

At present, BDMS still plans to add 100 beds to the present 50 in the Phnom Penh property. Pongsak said the economic environment played a bigger role in investment decisions than did diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, a source at pharmaceutical manufacturer Thai Nakorn Pattana, owner of the Phokeethra Country Club in Seam Reap, said the hotel-sponsored Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open golf tournament would still take place from November 19-22 as planned.

The source said the tournament had the full backing of the Cambodian government and that the rift would not affect the company's new Bt2-billion hotel in Phnom Penh or its Bt400-million golf course.

Krung Thai Bank president Apisak Tantivorawong, while expecting a solution soon, reported no unusual movement at the bank's two Cambodian branches.

Na Bhengbhasang Krishnamra, vice president of Siam Commercial Bank - owner of the Cambodian Commercial bank - said it was business as usual yesterday at the Cambodian properties and that there were no signs of huge withdrawals.

The unit, which has a 10-per-cent share of the local lending market, deals mostly with Thais in Cambodia. With four branches throughout the country, the 18-year-old bank employs 60 Cambodians and has $100 million in assets.

Na Bhengbhasang said there was a contingency plan to evacuate all 11 Thai staff to Thailand if need be.

During a videoconference yesterday with commercial counsellors throughout Thailand, Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said the counsellors in Phnom Penh had not been recalled and urged all businessmen to remain calm.

He said some 40 Thai businessmen continued to operate normally in Cambodia but that a contingency plan was in place if needed.

"We're worried about the diplomatic trouble, but I want to emphasise that the commercial counsellors and other staff are working as usual," said Alongkorn. "We hope the prime minister will speak with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Tokyo [during the Greater Mekong Subregion meeting]."

The ministry is monitoring border trade in seven provinces. Alongkorn will lead a survey team to Sa Kaew province today.

Si Sa Ket province yesterday decided to delay next Wednesday's planned opening of Chong Sa-Ngam Market in Phu Sing district by at least six months, said the border-trade coordinator for the provincial chamber of commerce.

He said the delay was advised by Second Army Region commander Lt-General Wiwalit Jonsamphan and that the chamber had agreed for security reasons.

Bank of Thailand Governor Tarisa Watanagase expects a solution soon, given the long relationship between the two countries. Moreover, the conflict is only at the national level and both countries' citizens are acting in good faith with each other.

Export-Import Bank of Thailand chairman Narongchai Akrasanee said there should be no effect on trade, due to Cambodia's economic potential.

His bank has extended a Bt1.3-billion loan to finance road, railroad and other infrastructure projects in that country and another Bt1 billion to private companies involved in tourism and infrastructure-construction projects there.

Logistics operators have felt no impact from the diplomatic tussle, given that there are no land-transport links between the two countries.

Triple i Logistics Group CEO Tipp Dalal said problems would arise only if the conflict dragged on.

TNT Express Worldwide (TNT), which has a substantial land-transport on the Asia Road Network (ARN), yesterday said its business remained normal.

"The recent events do not affect TNT's services on the ARN [connecting Thailand with Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and southern China]. TNT continues to provide the same high level of solutions for customers doing business in Thailand and Cambodia," said a high-ranking TNT official.

Boundary deal faces axe

PM intensifies protest against Cambodia

Published: 7/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thailand may suspend a land boundary demarcation settlement in a further diplomatic strike against Cambodia.

Financial aid worth 1.4 billion baht for Cambodia's Route 48 is also under review.

Thailand yesterday revoked a memorandum of understanding on developing an overlapping border area which is rich in oil and gas in the Gulf of Thailand. The agreement between the two countries was reached in June 2001.

It was the latest protest against Cambodia's decision to appoint convicted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser.

In a video link from Japan last night, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva hinted that his government might suspend negotiations under the Thai-Cambodia Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC).

Parliament is scheduled to consider endorsing the JBC framework on Monday. However, Mr Abhisit yesterday said: "It's not a priority at present."

The agreement on the disputed maritime boundary was reached under the Thaksin administration. The Democrat-led government believes Cambodia could gain an advantage in negotiations if Thaksin is advising it.

"Thaksin was directly involved in pushing for the government to sign the MoU, so the Thai government could not continue negotiating with Cambodia based on this MoU," said Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

The unilateral termination of the MoU will take effect three months after Bangkok informs Phnom Penh.

Mr Kasit said the potential oil and natural gas reserves in the 26,000 square kilometre overlapping area could benefit both countries and negotiations would directly affect economic benefits and national security.

Mr Abhisit said the decision was aimed at protecting Thailand's interests and defending its judicial system.

The government did not trigger the dispute and it was up to Phnom Penh to consider what steps should be taken to ease tensions.

He had told the Foreign Ministry to prepare mechanisms for a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Cambodia.

"I think the government and Thai people are exercising patience and restraint," Mr Abhisit said.

"The issue must be dealt with at the bilateral level. But the problem was not created by us. It is up to Cambodia to consider how to proceed with it."

He was speaking after a reception lunch for leaders of the Mekong Subregion hosted by the Japanese chamber of commerce and industry and the confederation of Japanese businessmen in Tokyo.

Mr Abhisit and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen are among the Mekong Subregion leaders taking part in the summit with Japan, which ends today.

A Foreign Ministry source said Thaksin's decision to advise Cambodia has caused a fundamental change in circumstances which could justify Thailand revoking the MoU in question under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

But Cambodia said that, under the MoU, neither country could renege on its pledges to develop the area.

"I don't see any articles or any sentences that allow either party to terminate the memorandum of understanding," Var Kimhong, the Cambodian government's top border negotiator, told AFP. "Both sides have to implement it until we find a solution to the overlapping claims area," he said.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the foreign minister, added the ministry would also review other agreements signed with Cambodia during the Thaksin administration.

It includes a Thai financial package to Cambodia for construction of the 153km Route 48 worth 1.4 billion baht linking Trat province with Koh Kong's Serei Ample district.

Meanwhile, Thaksin yesterday criticised the Democrat-led government's decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with Cambodia.

The fugitive former prime minister said the government's decision could worsen the relations between the two countries and cause economic damage between the neighbours. Advising the country was an act of good neighbourliness which could also help Thailand.

Hun Sen tells troops to remain calm at border

Published: 7/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered his troops to maintain peaceful relations with Thai soldiers on the other side of the border.

As a result, military leaders of the two countries have agreed not to reinforce their troops along the border, says Second Army commander Lt Gen Weewalit Chornsamrit.

Hun Sen's message was conveyed to him by Cambodia's deputy supreme commander Gen Chea Dara and 3rd supportive division commander Lt Gen Sarai Duek.

They met at the Khao Phra Viharn National Park tourist centre in Si Sa Ket province about 4pm yesterday.

After the meeting, Lt Gen Weewalit said the Cambodian delegation was ordered by Hun Sen to hold talks with the Second Army and to ask the Thai army to stay calm and continue to maintain good relations.

Hun Sen's message was that soldiers should sidestep any politically sensitive issues. Such matters could only be solved through diplomatic channels and not by the border authorities.

Cambodian leaders have made it clear they do not plan to send any reinforcements and have left it in the hands of Gen Chea Dara and Lt Gen Sarai Duek to decide what should be done to enhance security at the border, said the Second Army chief.

Neither is there any sign of 4,000 troops being rushed to the Preah Vihear temple as some media outlets have reported, he said.

He advised people along the border not to be too concerned by the current dispute as the local situation remained normal. He was reassured by the fact that the Cambodian officers who visited him were all high-ranking officers.

Meanwhile, joint chief of staff Gen Ratchakrit Kanchanawat said even after the recalling of their ambassadors, relations between the respective defence ministries remained sound and there would soon be negotiations to prevent the situation from getting out of control.

He said the government and the National Security Council would direct further actions and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would discuss the issue with the council soon.

He does not expect Thai authorities to call for the evacuation of Thais from Cambodia as happened during events that led up to the burning of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh in 2003.

"Such incidents are unlikely to be repeated because that lesson should have taught Cambodia to have preventive measures in place. I don't believe the situation would deteriorate into a war," Gen Ratchakrit said.

However, a senior government source said the Thai military was ready to evacuate Thai nationals if needed.

"The air force will deploy C-130 aircraft which would be escorted by fighter jets to pick up the Thais in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap from secret meeting points," said the source.

The navy has raised the number of vessels patrolling disputed waters from three to five and increased the frequency of patrols.

Cambodia has two vessels patrolling the disputed areas.

Support for govt rockets after protest

Most Thais oppose Thaksin giving advice
Published: 7/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The popularity of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has soared after its diplomatic protest against Phnom Penh's appointment of convicted Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser, an opinion poll has found.

And most Thais have told another poll they don't want Thaksin to offer advice to Cambodia.

Up to 68.8% of 3,709 respondents in 21 provinces have thrown their support behind the government, a huge increase on the 23.3% who backed it in September, according to an Abac poll conducted by Assumption University, between Oct 25 and Thursday.

In northern provinces, including Thaksin's home town of Chiang Mai, and northeastern provinces, most people (64.6%) support the government.

In the Northeast, the opposition Puea Thai Party's stronghold, 53.1% support the government over the Cambodia issue. Thais believe Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen places his relationship with Thaksin over the importance of national ties with Thailand, said Abac Poll Research Centre director Noppadol Kannikar.

Phnom Penh appointed Thaksin an economic adviser on Nov 4.

In protest, Thailand recalled its ambassador to Phnom Penh on Thursday.

While some diplomats say Thailand over-reacted and that the row threatens Asean's stability, most Thais back the government's response.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found Thaksin guilty of a conflict of interest in the Ratchadaphisek land purchase case in 2003, but Cambodia argued the charges against Thaksin were politically motivated.

Thais, however, still trusted the judicial system, Mr Noppadol said.

"The dispute is good for the government's support."

Meanwhile, a Dusit poll, conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University over the last two days, found 69.2% of people sampled countrywide oppose Thaksin acting as adviser to Cambodia, which they believe could escalate tensions between the two countries.

Many people (33.12%) also wanted Mr Abhisit to review all agreements which Thailand had made with Cambodia, the poll says.

The New Politics Party, formerly the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy, denounced Mr Hun Sen's move.

It was an attempt to interfere in Thailand's internal affairs, which could also "ravage the verdict of a Thai court", said the party secretary-general Suriyasai Katasila.

The anti-Thaksin group of 40 senators said the government should take the opportunity to revoke a memorandum of understanding in 2001 and an agreement in 2003 on maritime borders with Cambodia, reached when the Thaksin administration was in power, and to warn Thai businessmen against investment in Cambodia.

The government says it is reviewing all agreements with Cambodia, including the maritime one.

Senator Paiboon Nititawan also asked Thaksin whether he is still Thai. He warned Thaksin against serving two masters, which could never end happily.

ASEAN urges Thailand, Cambodia to resolve feud


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed concern Saturday over a worsening diplomatic feud between Cambodia and Thailand and urged the neighboring countries to exercise restraint.

Already tense relations between the two nations erupted this past week when Cambodia named fugitive Thai ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra its economic adviser. Thailand recalled its ambassador Thursday, and Cambodia followed suit.

The row stands to embarrass the 10-nation bloc and undermine its credibility at a summit of Asian and Pacific leaders in Singapore later this month, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said.

Surin expressed "concern over the escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand (and) has appealed to both countries to exercise maximum restraint," an ASEAN statement said.

Surin took the unusual step of publicly asking ASEAN's foreign ministers to "assist the two (countries) to settle their bilateral dispute amicably and as soon as possible." ASEAN generally abides by a policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of its members.

The appointment of Thaksin as an economic adviser to Cambodia's government, announced Wednesday, soured already poor relations between the two neighbors, which have had small but sometimes deadly skirmishes over their land border in the past year.

The diplomatic dispute is closely tied to an ongoing political struggle within Thailand, where Thaksin is at the center of a political crisis and street protests that have gripped the country since 2006.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged massive corruption and other charges. His supporters say he should be pardoned and returned to power. Since the coup, Thaksin has lived abroad to escape a corruption conviction and two-year prison sentence.

ASEAN urges 'maximum restraint' in Thai-Cambodia row

Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Surin Pitsuwan


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK — The head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations urged Thailand and Cambodia to show "maximum restraint" amid tensions over Phnom Penh's job offer to a fugitive former Thai premier.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said the 10-country bloc should not be seen to be divided by the dispute ahead of a historic meeting with US President Barack Obama and regional leaders later this month.

Cambodia and Thailand on Thursday recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia appointed Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, as an economic adviser.

Thailand and Cambodia have fought a series deadly clashes on their border since July 2008 in a dispute over land around an ancient Cambodian temple that was granted UN World Heritage Status.

Surin expressed "concern over the escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand, has appealed to both countries to exercise maximum restraint," said a statement issued by the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

He also urged foreign ministers from the bloc to help the two countries to "settle their bilateral dispute amicably and as soon as possible".

"We in ASEAN cannot afford to be seen as being so seriously divided prior to the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders Meeting and the historic ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting in Singapore this month," it quoted Surin as saying in a letter to regional foreign ministers.

Thailand has accused Cambodia of interfering in its internal affairs by appointing Thaksin, who is living abroad to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.

Cambodia says Thaksin was the victim of a politically motivated case.

During his time in power, Thaksin was close to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who first floated the idea of the adviser's job at an Asian summit in October.

The billionaire tycoon has stirred up a series of protests in recent months against the Thai government. His own allies were forced from government in December 2008 after anti-Thakin demonstrators besieged Bangkok's airports.

Cambodia-Thai Army Chiefs Meet Amid Worsening Relations

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 07 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian and Thai army chiefs on Friday met for bilateral talks at the border to ensure security and peace, according to a military source.

The discussions come amid rapidly worsening diplomatic ties after ousted former Thai Premier Thaksin Shina-watra was officially appointed as economic advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen by King Norodom Sihamoni. On Thursday evening the Cambodian Government recalled its ambassador to Thailand in a tit-for-tat response after the Thai Government’s earlier recall of its ambassador to Cambodia.

A Cambodian army delegation led by Chea Dara, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) sub chief, accompanied by Srey Doeuk, met with Thai Army 2 Chief Weevalit.

“We agreed to avoid force use by focusing on diplomacy and political avenues decided upon by both countries’ top leaders,” a military source told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

Thailand steps up its protest against Cambodia on Friday by cancelling a bilateral agreement on the overlapping continental shelf area with Cambodia, according to news sources in Thailand. The decision came one day after Thailand downgraded its bilateral relations with Cambodia to protest Cambodia’s appointment of ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser. Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said in a phone-in interview from Tokyo on Friday that Thailand decided to revoke Thai-Cambodia memorandum of understanding on the overlapping continental shelf area signed in June 2001 under premiership of then PM Thaksin.

The decision was rejected by Cambodia official. Va Kimhong, Cambodia joint Border Committee Director said that Thailand should not just cancel agreements jointly signed by the two governments.

“If Thailand does this, no Govern- ment will dare to sign anything with them. When they are glad, they are willing to sign, but when they are not happy, they cancel the agreement,” Va Kimhong noted.

Prince Ranariddh in Court Again over Divorce

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 07 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Friday saw the second session of Phnom Penh Municipal Court to decide on the terms of the divorce between Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his wife Princess Mary.

A source reported that Prince Norodom Ranarith, has decided to protest against a request from Princess Mary that all properties be shared equally.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh was in court but his wife Princess Mary did not appear so the judge could make no ruling.

Despite his position as Senior President of Council of King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni, a position formally equal in rank to the Cambodian Prime Minister, no delegation or guards accompanied Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

A court sources said that Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Chiv Keng invited both Prince Norodom Ranarith and Pricess Mary to appear before the court on September 22.

King Sends Letter to PM Hun Sen over Publisher’s Pardon

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 07 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

King Norodom Sihamoni sent a letter to PM Hun Sen to kindly request as a favour that he pardon the convicted publisher of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, according to the king’s letter obtained on Friday.

“I received a letter that dated on 23 October 2009 from the lawmakers from Sam Rainsy Party and they asked me for granting pardon for publisher of Khmer language daily Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, Hang Chakra, who currently has been in custody at Prey Sar prison over the charge of disinformation in June 26, 2009,” the King wrote.

“I send this letter to Samdech PM Hun Sen to check and consider as a favor granting a pardon for him and I thank with deep gratitude, social friendship, and honesty from me,” the King wrote. Hang Chakra, also editor-in -chief of the opposition Khmer -language daily Khmer Machas Srok, was sentenced to one year in prison after reports on alleged Government corruption. In June 2009, a Camb- odian court ruled that Hang Chakra violated criminal disinformation laws by publishing a series of articles that accused officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of corruption. The court also fined the editor CR9 million riel (US$2,250). So far, he has served nearly 6 months in jail.

Cambodia Confirms 74 New Cases of A/H1N1

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 07 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

There have been 74 new reported cases of A/H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, this week, bringing the total to 313 cases, but with only 4 deaths, a Health Ministry official said on Friday.

The number of cases in Cam-bodia is still low compared to other countries in the region.

“Cambodia on Friday confirmed 313 cases of A/H1N1 infection, but the death is still the same as before,” Ly Sovan, deputy director of the Anti -Communicable Disease Department of Cambodia’s Health Ministry, told DAP News Cambodia on Friday.

The virus is confined to 11 cities and provinces in Cambodia: Phnom Penh, Kandal, Takeo, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Battambang, Svay Rieng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham, Mondulkiri, and Kampot province,” he added.

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. The Cambodian Ministry of Health, in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO), is striving to control the A/H1N1 situation, working to curb the spread of the virus an d keeping the public well informed with updates.

The Health Ministry Minister warned to any private clinics that provided A/H1N1 vaccine as Cambodia has not had this vaccine yet.

A heath official said the A/H1N1 vaccine will arrive in Cambodia in November but will only be given to “first priority people.”

Fatal Shooting of Fish Thief Criticized

Written by DAP NEWS -- Saturday, 07 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian rights organization ADHOC has criticized the fatal shooting of man caught pilfering fish.

An ADHOC official in Kampong Chhang said a Cambodian fisherman was shot by fish farmer on November 5. He was sent to the provincial hospital but did not survive.

“The action was wrongdoing… but they should not kill him like this,” Chankea added.

All of assailants are civilians so should not be in possession of guns or other illegal weapons. The dead man, Taing Thy, 29, lived in Chralong village in the Kampong Leng district of Kampong Chhang province. He leaves behind a wife and two children. The accused men in the shooting in Lot no.10th at Sdeydakkong in Kampong Leng commune were identified as Chem Chheun 27, Chet Chuch 26, and Sreang Sreu 25. Two AK47 assault rifles and a sword were recovered, according to an anonymous police source.

All the accused men were workers at Lot 10. Two were arrested but one has so far evaded police.

Provincial Police Chief Ath Khem said he was busy in meeting so could not comment.


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CAMBODIA Embassy in Thailand

Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each other's country in a diplomatic spat over Phnom Penh naming fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a government adviser

A policeman walks outside the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok November 6, 2009. Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each others' countries on Thursday, deepening a diplomatic row after Cambodia made fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra an economic adviser. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (CAAI News Media)

Motorcycles ride past the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok November 6, 2009. Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each others' countries on Thursday, deepening a diplomatic row after Cambodia made fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra an economic adviser. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (CAAI News Media)

A broom seller rides his vehicle past the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each other's country in a diplomatic spat over Phnom Penh naming fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a government adviser. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) (CAAI News Media)

A Thai police officer, left, and a security guard stand guarding outside the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each other's country in a diplomatic spat over Phnom Penh naming fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a government adviser.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) (CAAI News Media)

Pedestrians and a tricycle motorist pass the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each other's country in a diplomatic spat over Phnom Penh naming fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a government adviser. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) (CAAI News Media)

CAMBODIA: Life along Mekong River

People row a boat across the Mekong river in Kandal province, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh November 6, 2009. A jostle for influence in Southeast Asia's emerging Mekong River region moves up a notch this week when Japan hosts leaders from five countries where China and other players have ramped up aid and investment. The two-day event in Tokyo will focus on sustainable development and climate change in a region that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

Boats are seen in the Mekong river in Kandal province, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh November 6, 2009. A jostle for influence in Southeast Asia's emerging Mekong River region moves up a notch this week when Japan hosts leaders from five countries where China and other players have ramped up aid and investment. The two-day event in Tokyo will focus on sustainable development and climate change in a region that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

People ride a ferry across the Mekong river from the city to their homeland in Kandal province, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh November 6, 2009. A jostle for influence in Southeast Asia's emerging Mekong River region moves up a notch this week when Japan hosts leaders from five countries where China and other players have ramped up aid and investment. The two-day event in Tokyo will focus on sustainable development and climate change in a region that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea  (CAAI News Media)

Cambodians, who live in boats at the Mekong river, are transported back to their homeland in Kandal province, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh November 6, 2009. A jostle for influence in Southeast Asia's emerging Mekong River region moves up a notch this week when Japan hosts leaders from five countries where China and other players have ramped up aid and investment. The two-day event in Tokyo will focus on sustainable development and climate change in a region that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

Cambodian children play in the Mekong river in Kandal province, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh November 6, 2009. A jostle for influence in Southeast Asia's emerging Mekong River region moves up a notch this week when Japan hosts leaders from five countries where China and other players have ramped up aid and investment. The two-day event in Tokyo will focus on sustainable development and climate change in a region that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

A Cambodian girl washes her clothes in the Mekong river in Kandal province, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh November 6, 2009. A jostle for influence in Southeast Asia's emerging Mekong River region moves up a notch this week when Japan hosts leaders from five countries where China and other players have ramped up aid and investment. The two-day event in Tokyo will focus on sustainable development and climate change in a region that includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

Vietnam, Cambodia encourage border provinces to enhance cooperation


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Consul General in HCM City Luon Kim Khuon has reaffirmed the Vietnamese and Cambodian Governments’ pledge to create the most favourable conditions for bilateral cooperation in economics, culture, communications and tourism development.

At a meeting to mark Cambodia’s 56th National Day (November 9) in HCM City on November 5, Consul General Luon Kim Khuon said that the two countries consider trade promotion and the exchange of experiences in poverty reduction and hunger eradication as the best ways to help their people enjoy a better life.

He took the occasion to express the deep gratitude of the Cambodian Royal Government and people towards Vietnam for its sincere assistance to the nation to escape from genocide and restore it to life.

The President of the HCM City chapter of the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association, Truong Minh Nhat, said that Vietnam’s investment in Cambodia reached US$114 million in the first nine months of the year, an increase of more than 20 percent compared with 2008.

Both sides were committed to promoting trade and service activities to increase two-way trade to US$2 billion next year, he said, adding that trade activities between HCM City and Phnom Penh have increased significantly with at least three fairs held each year.

Last June, the fifth conference on cooperation and development between Vietnam-Cambodia border provinces was co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng in HCM City.

At the conference, 22 Vietnamese and Cambodian border provinces reached a consensus on priority fields and measures to boost cooperation between their localities.


Funding drought threatens Happy Garden

Young Victorian of the year, Leigh Matthews. Photo: Jason South
November 7, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

LEIGH Mathews is a Melbourne girl from a blue-collar family, her father a truck driver, who grew up around Seaford. The family of three split when she was very young.

She was expelled from school at 15 for venting anger bottled at home. ''Swearing and fighting and yelling at teachers,'' she says, ''and not turning up.''

She left home, too, and at 16 was living in Frankston with friends and working in cafes. She did bits of other schooling but not much and drifted through jobs and then she started travelling.

In 2004, her life changed in an instant - literally as she turned a corner in a side street in a ghetto in Asia. Now, and because of that, Ms Mathews runs a unique charity - a non-government, community development called the Future Cambodia Fund - for some of the world's most dispossessed children.

At last count, 2000 children had used its programs in Cambodia. Ms Mathews (below) is Victoria's Young Australian of the Year for 2009. And next week, she will be announced as one of 10 outstanding young people of the world by JCI, a United Nations-aligned welfare group.

But the Future Cambodia Fund's own future is in jeopardy after most of its funding vanished. Ms Mathews has 10 staff in Cambodia but the charity may have only three weeks before it folds.

''I'm devastated,'' she says. ''There is a such need for what we do.''

The thing that Ms Mathews saw in Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2004 was two young boys, aged six and three, unconscious in a gutter, ''covered in shit and dirt and water, the tourists walking past, horrible and upsetting''. She got them to a hospital but it refused to treat them because they were street kids.

The medical staff called the police, who accused Ms Mathews of being a journalist trying to get inside the hospital. She was intimidated and held until, in the morning, she said, ''I'm not listening to this'', and left unimpeded but with a new realisation of how endemically dysfunctional and unjust a country like Cambodia could be and how those at the bottom had no status.

''That turned my whole world upside down,'' she says.

She started researching how aid agencies worked and what the notion of community development meant. She raised money and set up street medical clinics.

Next, Ms Mathews tried to set up a drop-in centre for street kids. She registered the Future Cambodia Fund as a charity and assembled a board of directors.

Then she came across the phenomenon of ''relocations'' in which entire communities and suburbs of lower socio-economic people were evicted to make way for new developments. It is estimated that 200,000 Cambodians have been evicted since 2000. Last month 30,000 were forced from Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak Lake district.

At a place called Andong, Ms Mathews found that 8000 people from central Phnom Penh had been taken 22 kilometres away to a field with no food, power, sanitation or shelter. A tent city went up and a dirty slum rose of ''traumatised and very sick people''. The UN deemed it a humanitarian crisis.

By 2008, Ms Mathews' fund was working to help the children there. It began with seven children in a tent doing music and art therapy and language lessons. Slowly, she hired teachers and counsellors and set up an office in Phnom Penh and then moved into a disused pavilion opposite Andong that she renamed ''Happy Garden'', now hosting 2000 children a year for schooling, therapy, sport and lessons in nutrition and health. It has vegetable gardens and a soccer field.

Funding of about $150,000 a year was provided by Oxfam, a fund administered by Lonely Planet publisher Tony Wheeler called Planet Wheeler, and private philanthropic groups and public donations.

But the money has dried up. All that is left is a small grant from the Australian embassy in Cambodia and the remains of some bridging finance from Planet Wheeler.

It is not lost on Ms Mathews that she is driven to help others because as a child she needed help. Nor is it lost on her that she has been awarded for setting up a charity that now may die. She feels she is letting down 2000 Cambodian children and also letting herself down because she is supposed to be so capable.

She says $150,000 a year is not much and that the problem could be solved ''with the click of someone's fingers''.

''I've tried everything … I don't know where to turn.''

Japan’s Hatoyama Pledges $5.5 Billion in Aid to Mekong Nations

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

By Sachiko Sakamaki

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Japan pledged at least 500 billion yen ($5.5 billion) in aid to five Southeast Asian nations that share the Mekong river over the next three years to spur economic development and fight climate change.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said developing the Mekong region will accelerate economic integration among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Mekong region is “key” to promoting Hatoyama’s idea of an “East Asian Community” modeled on the European Union and that would eventually have a regional currency, according to a Japanese government official who briefed reporters.

The leaders of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar welcomed Japan’s pledge at the first Japan-Mekong summit in Tokyo, the official said.

Attendees included Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, whose countries have recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia named fugitive ex-Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra an economic adviser.

Also present were Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Japan is now giving roughly 160-170 billion yen a year to the five countries, the official said.

President Barack Obama, on his first trip to Asia, is scheduled to co-chair with Abhisit a Nov. 15 summit of Southeast Asian leaders that will include Hun Sen.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo at;

Report of the National Audit Authority Does Not Show the Amount of Lost Money – Thursday, 5.11.2009
Posted on 6 November 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“At the Hotel Cambodiana there was a press conference organized by the National Audit Authority on 30 October 2009, to present an audit report about the management of public finances, which had been checked from 2002 to 2009. But the report was only for 2006.

“The general auditor, Mr. Ut Chhon, stated in the conference that this report only s negatives, but he did not respond in detail to questions of journalists like: ‘According to the audit results, how much money was lost by corruption each year?’

“During the conference, which lasted for several hours to share information through the report presented, there were four main points, which included 12 important items about resource management and the audit results included. Those important points are the same mentioned also in a book of 100 points in a report written by the Sam Rainsy Party in 2003.

“The report speaks about tax on unused land, which is in line with the policy of the Sam Rainsy Party. As a result of the audit it was found that there were many cases where tax was not paid for unused land, while several companies received concession land from the government of more than one million hectares, where the state has not set appropriate costs for leasing this land.

“The report speaks about this point, stressing that the Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of the whole government, had signed agreements with more than 70 companies from 1992 to 2006, to provide more than one million hectares of concession land for development, and most agreements were made, deciding that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy and Finance are responsible for assessing and for setting the costs for leasing of the land. But by 2007, the assessment and setting of costs for leasing this concession land was not fully implemented in accordance with the above decision. The Ministry of Economy and Finance agreed with the audit report on this point.

“The National Audit Authority, established in 2000 ,started to work in 2002, and has worked by now for seven years. But this institution has only just now released a report, and the opinions was expressed that it was released to satisfy what donors want. Anyway, the auditor general, Mr. Ut Chhon, told journalists that the release of the report is done based on the will of the government, not because of pressure from any other country.

“Mr. Ut Chhon added that the audit of the working team had discovered some problems, like at some tax institutions, collecting taxes at the border, and monitoring and assessing the tax to be demanded for goods loaded in containers by some companies – this was difficult, and the assessment of tax collection covers only about 25%.

“He spoke also about the management of state property, and about the licensing of ownership of state property, where many of such cases occur in cities and provinces countrywide.

“According to the report consisting of more than 500 cases, it is said that corruption led to the loss of much state resources.

“When asked whether the general auditor can assess how much tax was lost every year, Mr. Ut Chhon said that he cannot say anything, and that every country is the same. But he added that only England made the amount of the lost money publicly known.

“At the end of the conference, Mr. Ut Chhon said that he expects that the release of this report will promote better relation between the public and the National Audit Authority, in order to ease the work of his institution in the future.

“However, what the national and the international public want is to know the amount of money missed because of corruption, and they want to see that the results of the audit explicitly identify negative points, especially about the loss of national resources.

“Recently, the US Ambassador in Phnom Penh, Ms. Carol Rodley, said that corruption in Cambodia amounts to a loss of state resource of about US$500 million each year. This speech had invited strong reactions from government officials.

“Analysts said that the National Audit Authority released the report just to satisfy donors.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #521-522, 31-5.10-11.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 5 November 2009

Thais Threaten to Close Cambodian Borders

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thailand’s deputy prime minister on Friday warned the country could close its borders to Cambodia, after each withdrew their ambassadors in a worsening row over ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Both sides have troops amassed on the border following skirmishes over Preah Vihear temple last year, but military officials said Friday the situation remained calm.

The two countries share seven international checkpoints, as well as 12 others, along 800 kilometers of border.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban was quoted Friday saying worsening relations could lead to closed checkpoints, following Cambodia’s announcement it had made Thaksin an economic adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Thaksin is in self-imposed exile and faces a two-year jail sentence for corruption charges if he returns to Thailand. Hun Sen has said he would welcome the former premier, who was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006, in spite of an extradition treaty with Thailand.

“If Cambodia still adopts a hard line and uncompromising attitude, then we must continue to downgrade relations and maybe seal off all border checkpoints,” Suthep was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he wasn’t surprised by the warning, but he added that Thailand would suffer more from a border closure than Cambodia.

The deepening diplomatic crisis had no bearing on a military standoff along the northern border, officials said Friday.

Defense Minister Tea Banh told VOA Khmer the border situation was “quiet” and “normal,” despite the withdrawal of ambassadors from Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

Chea Mon, commander of Division 4, said Cambodian soldiers were maintaining their positions on the border, which was quiet.

Appeals Court Postpones Acid Attack Case

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

The Court of Appeals on Friday postponed a hearing to decide whether a former military police officer, recently released from jail, should stand trial for an alleged acid attack.

The former brigadier general, Chea Ratha, was released, along with six suspected accomplices, in August, but her alleged victim, Ya Soknim, 39, filed an appeal to have her tried.

Chea Ratha had a reported love affair with Ya Soknim’s niece, beauty queen In Solida, which ended in 2008 and was allegedly the cause of the attack, which occured May 8, 2008, outside Phnom Penh’s Tuol Tumpong market.

The court was forced to postpone the hearing because the lawyers of the defendants were not present, said Seng Sivutha, chief judge of the Appeals Court. “We will seek the lawyers for the suspects for an upcoming hearing,” to be held later this month or next, he added.

Ya Soknim, who has gone into hiding since Chea Ratha’s release, said she was “disappointed” with Friday’s delay.

“I want the Appeals Court to hold a hearing against Chea Ratha…sooner and sooner, providing real justice to me as an acid attack victim,” she said.

Am Sam Ath, an investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the postponement was legal, but he hoped the next hearing would “provide real justice.”

“If the Appeals Court upholds the [release] verdict of the Phnom Penh court, this is a new instance of impunity in Cambodia,” he said.

Licadho reported 12 acid attacks in 2008, with 14 victims. No suspects were brought to trial.

Former King Remembered for Independence Day

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
06 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s claim to independence 56 years ago, led by former king Norodom Sihanouk, prevented the country from weakening and losing territory, opposition lead Sam Rainsy said Thursday, four days ahead of Independence Day.

“Luckily, we had leaders, especially…Norodom Sihanouk,” Sam Rainsy said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “By then he had the highest clever wisdom to claim independence. And if we had not claimed independence, we would have been a weak country, mistreated, without sovereignty, losing territory and dignity.”

Cambodia had been a protectorate under French colonialism, a position that lasted 90 years but one that prevented Cambodia from being taken over, half by Thailand and half by Vietnam, split at the Mekong River.

Independence would be followed by years of turmoil: Sihanouk was ousted in 1970 and a republic was established, only to be overrun by the communist Khmer Rouge in 1975, who were pushed out by the Vietnamese and their decade-long occupation.

It was not until 1991 that Cambodia became a constitutional monarchy, where a king reigns but does not rule, signing off on legislation that is drafted by the executive branch and debated and approved by the National Assembly and the Senate.

Sihanouk abdicated in 2004, but is still widely respected as the man who brought independence.

“So a good leader, this our Khmers respect, our Khmers follow, and our nation progresses,” Sam Rainsy said. “But when there is a lamentable leader, an uneducated person, a cruel person,” he can only be the leader if he has help from foreigners, if foreigners install him to be the leader, he said. “They owe the foreigners, and the foreigners want what in payment?”

“And this is not a new story,” he continued. “It’s an old story, centuries old. They want our land. They want more of their people to flow into and live on our land. Then one day, to that will be another Kampuchea Krom. Then it’s finished. That’s why we need a leader who is a real nationalist, who has high idealism, that all Khmers can unite with.”

Without a good leader, Cambodia would lose more of its territory to Vietnamese and Thai expansion, he said. Sihanouk was able to maintain neutrality, “a good policy,” Sam Rainsy said, allowing the Vietnamese to fight with each other and the Thais to fight with each other.

“Let them fight,” he said. “We do not need to take sides. That would be just like playing with fire. And playing with fire can burn the hand, and if it doesn’t burn the hand, it can burn the house, and if the houses surrounding our home are burning and we go to play, we blow the fire and it may ignite our home.”

Cambodia should remember Independence Day, he said, and the hard struggle by former nationalists who helped Sihanouk achieve it.

Journalist Handed Two Years for Disinformation

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh court on Friday sentenced a freelance journalist to two years in prison for disinformation, following alleged threats made to a TV commentator.

Ros Soket, 40, a part-time journalist for the Southeast Asia Globe, was arrested Oct. 28, after sending several text messages to Soy Sopheap, questioning the CTN celebrity over allegations of corruption.

Judge Chhay Kong said the text messages “dishonored” Soy Sopheap and caused problems for society, dismissing Ros Sokhet’s claims that he had been seeking comment from him, not threatening him.

Prosecutors said Ros Sokhet sent the text messages to four other people, enough for a disinformation charge.

Ros Sokhet is the second journalist to be jailed under defamation or disinformation laws, following the arrest of Hang Chakra, an opposition journalist who ran stories alleging corruption within the powerful Council of Ministers.

Ros Sokhet’s sister, Kearaveak, said Friday the court should investigate further and release her brother on bail.

Soy Sopheap said Friday the decision had been fair.

But Um Sarin, president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists, said the case showed a lack of understanding between two reporters who do the same job.

Embassy on alert but life goes on

By The Nation
Published on November 7, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh//epa

A senior Thai security officer in Bangkok said yesterday that intelligence and security agencies were drafting contingency plans that included the downsizing of staff at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, as well as an evacuation in case the diplomatic tensions translate into another anti-Thai riot.

Thai businessmen in Cambodia have been briefed about the situation and will continue to remain engaged with embassy staff for regular updates, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

But while the diplomatic fallout has forced officials there to look over their shoulders, no one thinks diplomatic tension will translate into another anti-Thai riot as was seen in January 2003 when the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh was torched along with Thai-owned businesses and other establishments.

According to the officer - who is observing the situation very closely - the embassy in Phnom Penh has been instructed to continue with standard operating procedures for the time being.

About 50 armed police and soldiers are posted in front of the embassy, said the officer, who added that there were no signs of any sort of protest in the making.

"Unlike the anti-Thai riot [in 2003], the Cambodia government appears to be taking adequate preventive measures to prevent a similar incident," said the officer.

"But then again, public protests are often orchestrated by political figures. If someone wants to see the embassy attacked again, they can set things in motion," said the officer.

Changes to standard operating prodcedures will depend on the situation on the ground. But as of yesterday there had been no restrictions on the movements of officers assigned to the embassy, according to another intelligence officer.

Thailand's 2nd Army Region commander, Lt-General Weewalit Jorasamrit, said the situation along the border near the Preah Vihear Temple remained normal.

"Contrary to some news reports, Cambodia has not at all called for reinforcements. We have not increased the number of our troops either," he said.

Crossing along the Thai-Cambodia common border also continued as usual yesterday as local residents and small traders carried on with their daily activities.

More than 5,000 Cambodian vendors and workers travelled past the Ban Khlong Leuk checkpoint yesterday to earn their livings in Na Klua market.

At their stalls, the Cambodian traders were seen glued to TV to check news updates about Thai-Cambodian relations.

Thai gamblers, however, were clearly reluctant to travel to casinos in Cambodia's Poi Pet.

Not many Thais went past Aranyaprathet to the casinos yesterday.

The tension has also taken its toll on the air-travel industry, as some foreign visitors heading to Cambodia via Thailand decided to remain in Thailand for the duration of their holidays.