Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Thailand Hopes Cambodia to Release Detained Thai Man

Web Editor: Qin Mei

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thailand has hoped that Cambodia will release a Thai man, who was arrested by the Cambodian government last week, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday.

An official allegation against the Thai man has not been made clear by Cambodia partly due to a language problem, which occurred during an investigation process, the Thai premier said.

It is expected by Wednesday all involved legal processes will be completed, Abhisit said.

Siwarak Chothipong, a 31-year-old Thai man worked as an engineer in Cambodia Air Traffic Services Co Ltd (CATS), was arrested on Nov. 11 according to the arrest warrant of prosecutor of Phnom Penh Municipality Court.

He spied through copying the letters of flights of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia and Prime Minister Hun Sen from CATS, which has duties to control all flights in the country, and he sent those reports to Thailand, the Khmer language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea reported.

Meanwhile, Mrs Simaluck Na Nakhon Panom, the mother of Siwarak has asked the Thai government to help her to meet with her son and for a quick release of him, Abhisit said.

Earlier Tuesday Thai envoy Chalotorn Paowiboon was allowed to meet with Siwarak, which was the first meeting with Thai officials after Siwarak has been arrested.

In a related development, the Thai weekly cabinet meeting did not review agreements made with Cambodia and financial aid projects planned for Cambodia.

Thailand and Cambodia have downgraded their diplomatic relations due to conflict over an appointment of ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic advisor to Cambodia 's government and Prime Minister Hun Sen on Nov. 4.

Thaksin was ousted by the military coup in September 2006, in accusation of corruption, and has been kept in exile since then.

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

VN investment in Cambodia reached US$1.5 bn

By By Rasmei Kampuchea
Asia News Network

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh : Vietnamese investors consider Cambodia as a big potential investment destination in the future. So far, its investment in Cambodia has reached US$1.5 billion in the last few years in different sectors such as construction, agriculture, and banking sector.

Tran Bac Ha, chief of a delegation of Vietnamee investors told Prime Minister Hun Sen on October 16 that Vietnam government allowed three Vietnamese companies to invest in Cambodia in real estate, construction and agriculture.

Tran Bac Ha added that Vietnamese company planned to buy in 2010 between 300 000 and 400 000 tonnes of paddy from Cambodia to boost Cambodian economy and reduce poverty.

Recently, Vietnamese investors planned to plant rubber trees on 50 000 hectare in the Northeast of the country and they put in place the mobile phone company, Viettel, and at the same time, Vietnamese airline company has invested in running the Cambodian National Airline called "Cambodia Angkor Air". The joint venture investment costs $100 millions, of which , Cambodia holds 51 per cent and the rest belongs to Vietnamese side.

While the diplomatic row has increased between Thailand and Cambodia, Some Thai leaders threatened to close the border. But, in his reaction, Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to stop buying Thai products and in stead using products from other countries.

Cambodia’s Continued Economic Growth Dependant On Financing And Skilled Labor


Source: Asian Develpment Bank (ADB)
16th November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Rising demand for skilled labor and inadequate investment in vocational training has created a shortage of skilled workers in Cambodia, impacting on productivity and economic growth.

To address these constraints, the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a $24.5 million grant from its concessional Asian Development Fund for a project to improve the government’s technical and vocational education training (TVET) system to make it more responsive to the country’s growing need for a skilled and educated workforce.

The project will provide an expanded and more integrated training system that is endorsed by industry and better aligned with the skills requirements of the formal and informal economies. Initially, the project will focus on three industry sectors – mechanics, construction, and business services and information and communication technology – to develop models for formal and nonformal training programs. Later, similar training models will be rolled out for other industries.

Cambodia’s economy has grown significantly over the past decade, as the country transitions from a traditional agrarian base to a modern industrialized economy. However, the recent global financial crisis has significantly slowed Cambodia’s economic growth rate and highlighted the country’s vulnerability to shocks due to its narrow economic base. Agriculture, manufacturing and the services industry account for 85% of employment and 92% of its gross domestic product.

“The government recognizes that the issue of productivity must be addressed, as must the need to attract new industries to increase the diversification of the economy,” said Wendy Duncan, Principal Education Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “It strongly believes that TVET has an important role to play in the effort to meet these challenges, and it recognizes the need to transform TVET into a quality, demand driven training system that is relevant to industry.” At the same time, the government recognizes the continuing importance of providing nonformal basic skills training to help the young and unemployed in rural areas raise their incomes.

The primary beneficiaries of the project will be the rural underemployed, including workers recently displaced from the garment and other industries hit hard by the global financial crisis. As well, by 2020 it is expected that there will be at least a 30% increase in the number of employees holding formal TVET qualifications.

“Beneficiaries will acquire skills responsive to the needs of industries, which should raise productivity and incomes and benefit the economy as a whole,” said Ms. Duncan.

The government will contribute $3 million toward the project’s total cost of $27.52 million. The executing agency is the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.

Justice officials ordered to Cambodia

Published: 17/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga has ordered two high-level ministry officials to travel to Cambodia to visit Thai engineer Siwarak Chutiphong, who was arrested for spying last Wednesday, Department of Special Investigation director-general Tharit Pengdit said on Tuesday.

Mr Tharit said they are deputy justice permanent secretary Pol Col Tawee Sodsong and Suwana Suwannajutha, director-general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department.

Mr Siwarak is being detained at Prey Sar prison. They had been instructed to visit him as soon as possible to make sure he is accorded his rights.

The Rights and Liberties Protection Department has also been assigned to contact Mr Siwarak's family and the Foreign Ministry to arrange legal assistance.

Thai officials will not interfere in Cambodia's investigation process, Mr Tharit said.

Mrs Suwana said will visit Mr Siwarak's mother, Seemarak na Nakhon Phanom, in Nakhon Ratchasima to find out if she wants any help.

Thailand reviews aid to Cambodia after Thaksin row

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Thailand's cabinet was reviewing aid to Cambodia on Tuesday, a government official said, the latest move in a diplomatic row triggered by a visit by fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to the neighbouring country.

The cabinet will discuss various retaliatory measures, including freezing low-interest loans to build roads in Cambodia, during its weekly meeting, said Panitan Wattanayagorn, deputy secretary-general to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

"Most of the projects discussed are aid and loans for infrastructure projects, which might be delayed or cancelled," Panitan said.

"The government will also look at all other projects with Cambodia and discuss appropriate measures, but we will make sure it does not hurt the public."

Thaksin went to Cambodia after its prime minister, Hun Sen, offered him a job as an economic adviser. The Cambodian government rejected Bangkok's request to extradite him.

Thaksin returned to self-imposed exile last year ahead of a court judgment that found him guilty of violating a conflict of interest law while in office and sentenced him to two years in jail. He was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006.

His visit to Cambodia further strained relations between the two neighbours. They recalled their ambassadors and a Thai man was arrested in Cambodia for alleged spying.

Panitan said the cabinet would discuss ways to assist the man, who works as an engineer for the Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS).

He is accused of sending Thaksin's flight schedule to a Thai diplomat, who was expelled from Cambodia last week for allegedly breaching diplomatic protocol.

The Thai government says the information was publicly available. An embassy official in Phnom Penh was allowed to see the engineer on Tuesday but was not informed of any formal charges.

Abhisit urged Cambodia on Monday to follow "international standards" in pursuing any case against him.

Thailand has already said it would scrap a 2001 memorandum of understanding on energy development in the Gulf of Thailand.

The agreement was signed under Thaksin's administration, with the aim of finding a way to jointly develop oil and gas resources in disputed waters, although little progress has been made.

Thaksin left Cambodia on Saturday. He spends most of his time in Dubai. (Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Cambodian PM highlights development links to peace and security


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen highlighted Tuesday that development of a country or a region is strongly linked to the existing peace and security.

In his opening address of the 7th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the 4th ASEAN plus Three Ministerial Meeting as well as the 1st ASEAN plus China Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime, Hun Sen said, "development cannot be sustained in the absence of peace and security."

"Security situation can have a great influence on development," he said at the two-day forum of interior ministers from the 10-member states of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)and their three dialogue partners from China, Japan, and South Korea.

The forum is held in Siem Reap province, northern Cambodia.

In a statement released by Cambodia as a host of the forum, it said the countries of ASEAN share many common perspectives, and many common challenges.

"The relationship within ASEAN has always been characterized by understanding and cooperation. Together, within the ASEAN framework, ASEAN Member States (AMS) have faced many challenges and accomplished many things," the statement said.

It added that today, ASEAN Member States face many challenges within their region. Chief among these is the problem of transnational crime. AMS realizes that this is not Cambodia's problem alone. This is all ASEAN Member States face.

On Tuesday, Hun Sen admitted that terrorism and transnational crime still remain a big challenge for ASEAN region and individual country.

"Within this spirit, our anti-transnational crime dialogue today is both timely and urgent as we have clearly seen the impact of transnational crime on global and regional growth," he said.

"Fighting transnational crime, therefore, requires joint effort among all of us. In this connection, the gathering of ASEAN ministers of security and anti-crime affairs can be regarded as a joint search of solutions for transnational crime, which has threatened the people's life, social security, and economic development," he added.

Founded in 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Cabinet seeking to help release Thai detained in Cambodia on spy charges

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov 17 (TNA) – Thailand’s Cabinet is considering options to help speed the release of a Thai national, an engineer detained in Cambodia on spy charges, and the government is seeking permission from Cambodian authorities to meet the detainee in jail.

Acting Thai government spokesman Panitan Watanayagorn said the Cabinet will also evaluate Thailand’s economic cooperation projects with Cambodia at its weekly meeting Tuesday, as proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because the country may now be at a disadvantage as ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra in now economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

The 31-year-old Siwarak Chothipong, an employee at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service (CATS), who was arrested last week after being accused of giving Mr Thaksin’s flight schedule to the first secretary at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier urged his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen to apply international practice in dealing with the Thai engineer.

He said Cambodia has not given permission to Thai officials to visit Mr Siwarak and there was no clear information that what specific charges have been made.

He added that the flight schedule should not be considered secret information.

The diplomatic falling out between the Thai and Cambodian governments flared up after the Cambodian government appointed Mr Thaksin as its economic adviser. The two kingdoms recalled their respective ambassadors in retaliatory actions.

The Cambodian government also invited Mr Thaksin to Phnom Penh to lecture over 300 Cambodian businessmen and economists as his first assignment, at the same time rejecting Thailand's request to extradite the fugitive former premier.

As the diplomatic row continues, Mr Thaksin's interview with Britain’s Timesonline website continued to rankle Thais.

In the article, Mr Thaksin commented about the Thai monarch and his successor, with remarks considered offensive to the monarchy. The ousted premier, however, reportedly defended himself by saying his interview was ‘distorted’ by the reporter. (TNA)

Assembly strips Sam Rainsy of parliamentary immunity

Photo by: Heng Chivoan, Photo Supplied, Sovan Philong
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and SRP lawmakers Ho Vann and Mu Sochua have all been stripped of their immunity in legal spats with the government this year.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio

OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy was stripped of his parliamentary immunity for the second time this year during a closed National Assembly session on Monday, paving the way for his prosecution on charges related to the removal of posts marking the country’s border with Vietnam.

The Assembly’s vote was boycotted by lawmakers from the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party, who marched through the city holding a large map of Cambodia aloft in protest.

In a statement released after the motion, which was supported by all 87 lawmakers present, the SRP accused the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of caving to pressure from Hanoi.

“This measure has violated the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and it shows that that the Cambodian authorities have merely enforced a Vietnamese government order,” said the statement.

The Assembly’s vote paves the way for Sam Rainsy’s prosecution by Svay Rieng provincial court with regard to an October 26 incident in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district, where he helped uproot six wooden posts that villagers say were placed illegally by Vietnamese authorities.

His action prompted a storm of protest from Hanoi, which said his “perverse” act had interfered in the two countries’ sensitive border-demarcation process.

Speaking by phone from Paris, Sam Rainsy said the lifting of his immunity was an “alarming sign”, but that his allegations of Vietnamese border incursions were based on facts about threats to Cambodia’s territorial integrity. In other border provinces – especially Kampong Cham – he said villagers have made similar complaints to him about Vietnamese encroachments.

Sam Rainsy said he did not yet know when he would return to Cambodia, but that he is scheduled to meet with the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament, where he will discuss border encroachments in addition to other political and human rights issues.

“The incident in Svay Rieng is just one example of the totalitarian drift of this country,” he added.

Speaking at the Council of Ministers on Monday evening, Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, said the Assembly had suspended Sam Rainsy’s immunity because he destroyed border markers agreed between the two countries.

He said the border posts were placed on the basis of treaties signed in 1985 and 2005, and that although land had been ceded to Vietnam in some areas, it was compensated by gains elsewhere.

“We did [border demarcation] by bipartisan agreement.... We did not allow Vietnam to take action based on their own decisions,” he said.

Nguon Nhel, first deputy president of the Assembly, dismissed the SRP claim that the government was acting under orders from Vietnam.

“The decision to revoke Sam Rainsy’s immunity does not come at the request of any nation. Cambodia is a sovereign and independent nation ... not a colony of any foreign country.”

Monday’s vote was the fourth time this year that an SRP lawmaker’s constitutional immunity has been revoked. On June 22, the Assembly suspended the immunity of SRP lawmakers Mu Sochua and Ho Vann after senior government officials filed lawsuits against them. Sam Rainsy was also stripped of his immunity in February, forcing him to pay a fine to the National Election Committee.

The action drew widespread criticism from human rights activists, who said it undermined the freedom of representatives to perform their duties.

“Every time [lawmakers] say anything controversial or critical, they’re in danger of having their immunity lifted,” said Sara Colm, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

She said that during the current diplomatic spat with Thailand, discussion of border issues, particularly with Vietnam, were a particular sore point for the government.

“Most people are reluctant – if not fearful – to press any criticisms of the relationship between the two countries,” she said.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), repeated SRP claims that the action was intended to “satisfy neighbouring countries”. Others said allegations of Vietnamese encroachments should have been investigated.

“If they were found to be true, we should have debated it as a political issue,” said Chan Soveth, a programme officer at rights group Adhoc.

Kek Pung, president of rights group Licadho, said the suspensions undermined the constitutional role of parliamentarians.

“It’s a kind of protection. If their immunity is lifted so easily, it can affect their work,” she said. “And who at the end will be the victims? The Cambodian people.”

Embassy sees accused spy: govt

Photo by: AFP
A royalist demonstrator shouts slogans during a rally protesting against former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok on Sunday.


Whatever motivated Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to come to Cambodia as an economic adviser to the government, personal business interest does not appear to be a factor – at least for now. For the past year, the Thai press has speculated about Thaksin’s interests in Koh Kong province, but sources in Thailand say the recent diplomatic spat between the two countries has put paid to Thaksin’s investment plans. On Friday, The Nation newspaper quoted a source close to Thaksin as saying his plans would be “absolutely deferred” for two or three years due to the current volatile relationship. A day earlier, following his lecture at the Ministry of Economy and Finance last Thursday, Thaksin confirmed he had “no business here whatsoever”. In May 2008, Defence Minister Tea Banh said that Prime Minister Hun Sen “trusted and wanted Mr Thaksin to advise on developing Koh Kong as a special economic zone’’, as the first stage in turning the coastal province into a “second Hong Kong”. The Bangkok Post also quoted Tea Banh as saying that CPP Senator Ly Yongphat “was discussing the prospective investment in Koh Kong with Mr Thaksin”, which would include an entertainment complex and casino.Thaksin’s business connection with Cambodia began in 1998, when his Shin Corporation set up Cambodia Shinawatra Co Ltd, a telecoms provider currently operating under the Mfone brand. In 2006, the Shinawatra family sold its remaining stake in Shin Corp to Temasek Holdings, the Singapore government’s investment arm, cutting his businesss link with Cambodia.


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:03 Cheang sokha and James O’toole

AN official from the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh met with a Thai national accused of espionage at Prey Sar prison on Monday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said.

Thirty-one year old Siwarak Chotipong, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Services Co, is being held on suspicion of stealing the flight schedule of fugitive Thai former premier Thaksin Shinawatra at the behest of Kamrob Palawatwichai, the first secretary of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, National Police Deputy Chief Sok Phal said last week.

Kamrob was expelled by the Cambodian government last Thursday, and Thailand responded by expelling the first secretary of the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok. The countries had previously withdrawn their respective ambassadors in the row over Thaksin’s appointment as economics adviser to the Cambodian government and his visit to the Kingdom last week. Thailand has forcefully denied the allegations against Siwarak and Kamrob.

Koy Kuong said that following a request from the Thai embassy, the embassy’s charge d’affaires, Chalotorn Phaovibul, had been permitted to visit Siwarak on Monday afternoon.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said as of Monday evening Bangkok had yet to receive confirmation of the visit. He added that the Thai government was treating Siwarak’s case “the same as the cases for which Thai nationals abroad need consular assistance”, providing assistance and legal advice but not formal legal representation.

Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said an investigation of the case was ongoing but did not name a specific trial date.

Thaksin sought in Dubai
Panich Vikitsreth, vice minister at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he met United Arab Emirates ambassador Mohammed Ali Ahmed Omran Al Shamsi briefly on Monday “to discuss information related to Thaksin”.

Thaksin is believed to have spent most of his time in Dubai since self-exiling last year to avoid a prison term for corruption. Cambodia drew Thai criticism last week by refusing a request to extradite Thaksin during his time in Cambodia, which concluded on Saturday, describing his prosecution as “politically motivated”.

“The ambassador responded very warmly to our information. He affirmed the UAE’s principle that it will not allow anyone to use it as a political base to attack other countries,” Panich said.


World leaders discuss food security

Photo by: AFP
ActionAid members demonstrate Sunday in front of Rome’s Colosseum illuminated to mark world hunger on the eve of the World Food Summit.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:03 Irwin Loy

TYPHOON Ketsana’s aftermath has shown Cambodia must redouble efforts to bolster food security, observers warned Monday, as senior officials met in Rome to tackle the issue of how to feed the world’s hungry.

Ketsana’s devastation shows just how vulnerable the country’s food production is, said Francis Perez, the country head for Oxfam in Cambodia.

Beyond the loss of life and property damage, however, the effects of flooding on the country’s key rice crop could have been devastating. It is estimated that up to 50,000 hectares of rice paddy was damaged, said Perez.

“If typhoons like this land in Cambodia … there is no way we can predict when or where or how big they will be,” Perez said. “So there is the urgent need to look at the implications of how to prepare.”

The Cambodian government’s record on bolstering its food supply is mixed, said Yang Saing Koma, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC).

Though at the national level, producers are on target to harvest 7 million tonnes of rice this year, at the community level “there are still a lot of people who cannot produce enough rice”, Yang Saing Koma said.

However, merely expanding the number of rice fields in the Kingdom may not be the answer. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation warns that 80 percent of increased food production in developing countries will have to come from boosting crop yields – not from increasing precious arable land. That will demand significant government and donor investments in technology and knowledge, Yang Saing Koma said.

In the meantime, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has joined delegates in Rome for the UN’s World Summit on Food Security – a three-day event ending tomorrow that some have dubbed a global “hunger summit”.

It comes as the number of undernourished people in the world has reached 1 billion, triggered by a financial crisis that sent 100 million people into hunger this year, according to the UN.

Still, critics have questioned what is likely to come out of the summit, with leaders from the world’s richest nations largely absent and a draft declaration posted on the summit Web site stripped of dollar signs.

“It says hunger will be halved by 2015 but fails to commit any new resources to achieve this,” Francisco Sarmento, food rights coordinator for the NGO ActionAid, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the world cannot eat promises.”

Cambodian soldiers leave for UN missions

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:03 Jacob Gold

A GROUP of 42 Cambodian soldiers has departed for UN peacekeeping missions in Chad and the Central African Republic, the United Nations announced Monday.

The troops were drawn from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Movement Control Contingent 306, a unit specially trained for UN peacekeeping operations, and will serve overseas for one year following their departure Saturday, officials said.

“Cambodia can be proud of the changes that have made this day possible,” said UN Resident Coordinator Douglas Broderick in a press release. “It is remarkable to see the transition this country has made from being a country where peacekeeping forces were required, to becoming a contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.”

Cambodia’s first major contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts began in 2006, when the Kingdom sent its first mine-clearance team to Sudan’s Darfur region. Trained to remove decades’ worth of mines and unexploded ordnance within Cambodia’s borders, the RCAF delegation proved an especially effective and spirited component of the UN’s presence in Sudan, UN officials have said. Cambodia continues to send teams to Sudan, with more than 468 deminers having served one-year tours of duty there so far.

Over the same period, Cambodia has also sent 197 officers to train in the tactics of multinational peacekeeping in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Mongolia.

Accused rapist evades arrest by B’bang police

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A Battambang man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl last Friday has evaded arresting officers, police said on Monday.

The girl was watching television at the suspect’s house in Ek Phnom district’s Preak Luong commune when the alleged attack took place. When police went to the suspect’s home after the girl’s parents filed a complaint on Saturday, he had already left. Kuy Heang, provincial chief of the anti-human trafficking police, said: “I am sorry to say that the perpetrator escaped capture by speed boating to Siem Reap province after he learned that the victim’s parents complained to the police.”

The attack took place when the girl returned to the man’s home to watch more television after going shopping at her mother’s request at 8pm, Kuy Heang said.

When she climbed the ladder to his door, he allegedly put his hand over her mouth before dragging her to the back of his home and raping her.

“Although the perpetrator evaded punishment for now, I believe he will be caught by police soon,” Kuy Heang said.

Yat Kamsant, provincial monitor for human rights group Licadho, said Monday that he was not yet aware of the details of the case but would arrange a medical examination for the girl.

Carter opens bid to house region’s poor

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:02 Post Staff and AFP

FORMER US president Jimmy Carter launched a campaign Monday in which thousands of volunteers will build homes for the poor in five nations along the Mekong River, a humanitarian group said.

The volunteers for Habitat for Humanity will build or repair 166 homes in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on the November 15-20 tour, the Atlanta-based Christian group said.

“Over the years, I have seen the lasting impact Habitat for Humanity volunteers can have, and I have been personally touched by the work they are doing around the world,” the 85-year-old Carter was quoted as saying in a statement.

In Cambodia, Habitat plans to build 21 houses in Kandal province’s Oudong district for families relocating from the Stung Meanchey dumpsite in the capital.

Ngin Lyda, a communications assistant for Habitat, said Monday that the organisation had arranged for 300 local and international volunteers to work on the five-day project. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are scheduled to visit the site on November 21 to meet the families and volunteers who built the houses. Deputy Prime Minister Sok An is also expected to be present for the one-hour site visit.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) issued a statement Monday expressing its hope that Carter’s scheduled visit to Kandal province would “raise international awareness of ongoing eviction practices in Cambodia”.

The statement decries what it describes as a recent increase in land-grabbing and forced evictions, adding that rural landlessness has climbed from 13 percent in 1997 to 20-25 percent in 2007.

CCHR President Ou Virak said he hoped Carter’s visit would send “a message to the government that the world is paying attention to shelter and housing” issues.

“No matter how many houses you can build, unless those properties are protected and the right to private property is protected, it’s a losing battle,” he said.

Tack Fat workers get meeting

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Workers from the Tack Fat garment factory protest on Monday in front of the Ministry of Labour.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:02 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Kim Yuthana

A PROTEST by workers from Meanchey district’s Tack Fat garment factory in front of the Ministry of Labour on Monday morning has prompted the ministry to schedule a new meeting between union representatives and factory owners to attempt to broker a solution.

Workers complain that the factory closed unexpectedly on October 8 without offering proper plans to compensate them.

Vayu Vavadhana, chief officer of the litigation office at the Ministry of Labour, said Monday that the decision to schedule new talks was made following the gathering of about 1,000 Tack Fat workers in front of his ministry.

“We will call the workers’ representative and the factory owner to come to the Ministry of Labour on Tuesday to reconcile their conflict,” he said, adding: “If they still disagree, their case will be sent to the Arbitration Council again.”

Meas Samphors, head of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Unions, said Monday that protesters will continue their demonstration until they receive their wages and severance pay.

“We will file a complaint to the court if they still deny our offers in both litigation places at the Ministry of Labour and the Arbitration Council,” he said.

Tack Fat representatives said in October, after their factory’s closure, that they planned to offer workers US$10 per month for the duration of the suspension in production, adding that the suspension would not be permanent.

Rik Reay holdouts accept govt offer

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:02 May Titthara

THE last nine families from Phnom Penh’s Rik Reay community to hold out for more compensation agreed to the government’s eviction terms on Monday, citing fears of violence and legal penalties.

“We changed our minds to accept because we are afraid the authorities will use administrative measures on us,” said Pen Thai, a Rik Reay community representative, citing concerns about the violent evictions that were the fate of the Group 78 and Dey Krahorm communities earlier this year.

The last nine families agreed to the same package accepted by 24 families earlier this month: US$20,000 from the government and $3,000 from Canadia Bank, which is financing the acquisition of the site by land developer Bassac Garden City.

Bassac commune Chief Khat Narith said the nine families demanded higher compensation only because they had already sold their plots of community-owned land to others.

After a January 30 eviction announcement, all but 54 of Rik Reay’s 219 families agreed to leave in exchange for $10,000 and a home in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district.

Pageant proceeds in Norway

A photo of the winner of Miss Landmine Cambodia, Miss Battambang Dos Sopheap, is presented in Oslo on Saturday. The pageant was held in exile, as it previously was forbidden in Cambodia.

I'm getting used to having one leg and my feeling of discrimination is reduced.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda

A CONTROVERSIAL beauty pageant for Cambodian land mine victims found its winners on Saturday at a “final-in-exile” ceremony in Kristiansand, Norway, hosted by Norway’s Association of Cambodians and its Khmer Buddhist Council.

Miss Battambang, 18-year-old Dos Sopheap, was crowned Miss Landmine Cambodia 2009 in absentia, followed by first runner-up Miss Takeo, 30-year-old Thou Chorn, and second runner-up Miss Kompong Cham, So Yeu, 35.

The contest, organised by Norwegian land-mine survivor advocates, was banned from taking place in Cambodia by a July 31 government decree, which also forbade the 20 contestants to leave their hometowns to participate in the pageant elsewhere. The decree said that the pageants “made a mockery” of Cambodia’s disabled. The contestants were represented at the ceremony by photographs carried down the catwalk by Cambodian-Norwegian women.

Dos Sopheap, a high school senior, said Monday that she was thrilled to find out she would receive the pageant’s grand prize: a custom-made prosthesis. “I never thought I could win the award,” Dos Sopheap said. “I was very excited when I received the information. I was glad to participate in the contest because I want people to know that disabled women are not discouraged.”

Dos Sopheap said she initially faced discrimination for her injury, but that her struggle to live and study earned her the admiration of neighbours and classmates. “I’m now getting used to having one leg, and my feeling of discrimination is reduced,” she said.

Her mother, 38-year-old Kong Navy, said Dos Sopheap, the second of five children, lost her leg in 1996 when she was 6 years old. She was visiting her father, a soldier, who took her on a fishing trip with his friends. When one of the men stepped on a land mine, the explosion injured six people, including Dos Sopheap and her father, who lost his left hand.

“I felt very shocked when they were injured,” Kong Navy said. “Sopheap was mistreated for having one leg. She cried and cried, but I consoled her, saying not to be angry with villagers and to tell herself, ‘They will stop discriminating against you one day.’ I felt pity for my daughter, but now I am proud of her.” Her daughter hopes one day to become an accountant or open a wedding dress shop, she said.

Morten Traavik, programme leader of Miss Landmine Cambodia, said by email on Monday that the winner will receive a Norwegian-built prosthetic leg worth approximately $20,000 and $500 in cash to support her education. The runners-up will receive $300 each as seed money for their own businesses.

“We would naturally have liked to have given them more,” Traavik wrote, “but the money will all come from the Miss Landmine project’s own limited funds, as the [Cambodian] government’s ban on the project naturally prevents any sponsors from coming on, as was the original plan.”

Traavik was hesitant to discuss how prizes would be disbursed without an “explicit guarantee from the government that ... our candidates will not be subject to any negative consequences for accepting these prizes.”

Leng Sochea, deputy permanent secretary general at the Cambodian Mine Action Authority, rebutted his concerns. “The winners will not face any problems receiving their awards. The government is not as cruel as they think,” he said.

Demonstration: Event hails Khmer Krom struggle

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:02 Tep Nimol and Vong Sokheng


About 500 Khmer Krom gathered Monday at a pagoda in Meanchey district to mark the 33rd anniversary of their decision to openly resist what they described as a systematic effort by Vietnam to stamp out the minority group. “Today the Khmer Krom communities in Cambodia commemorated the 33rd anniversary of their fight against the Vietnamese government to conserve their regional identity,” said Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yont Tharo, who is Khmer Krom. He added that the local authorities had approved the peaceful gathering, during which attendees presented food to the monks at Wat Samakirangsey in Stung Meanchey commune as a way of giving thanks to those who have died “in the struggle to preserve Khmer Krom culture”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said he was confident that the peaceful demonstration would not affect relations with Vietnam. The government in September led a delegation to Vietnam’s Tra Vinh province to showcase good relations among Cambodia, the Khmer Krom and Vietnam.

Gem haven loses its lustre

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Jewellery shop owner Sheak Chhan Dara shows off gems found in Pailin province. Officials say the rapid decline in gems in the province has led to a sharp drop in amateur gem hunters, which in turn has helped drag down the entire industry.

This area doesn’t have many gems because of the thai people. they used big excavator trucks to dig....

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:01 Robbie Corey-Boulet and May Titthara

Pailin’s shrinking supply of rubies and sapphires leads hunters to abandon weekends of hard work and inconsistent rewards.

Pailin Province

ON a recent Saturday morning, Inn Chhoeun, 29, placed 100 empty charcoal sacks in a truck he had borrowed from his neighbour and drove the 10 kilometres from his home to Boryakhar commune.

He worked until lunchtime, using a shovel to fill each sack with dirt. In the afternoon, he drove to a bridge spanning the O’Chra river, where, after placing the sacks on the riverbank, he spent the rest of the weekend sifting through their contents, searching for rubies and sapphires amid the plant roots and gravel.

The results on this particular weekend were less than encouraging.

“In all those 100 sacks,” he said, “what did I find? I’ll tell you. Nothing.” He shrugged his shoulders. “But I don’t have another job on the weekends, so I will keep looking.”

Inn Chhoeun, a farmer, has passed weekends this way since 1993, when the prospect of gem riches prompted his family to move from Battambang to Pailin. For decades, gems had been one of Pailin’s signature products, supporting, among others, the Khmer Rouge cadres who turned the province into a stronghold after falling from power.

At first, the move seemed to have been a smart one. “Sometimes, there were only one or two gems, and some days the sacks were empty, but most of the time we could find a gem in every five or six sacks,” he said.

With middlemen paying an average price of 3,000 baht (US$90) per stone, the 20 or so gems found on a good weekend could fetch $1,800 — more than enough to cover the family’s short-term living expenses.

In the past few years, however, the number of gems in Pailin has fallen off sharply, precipitating a decline in amateur gem hunters like Inn Chhoeun.

“Recently, we don’t have nearly as many people panning for gems as before, because they can’t find anything anymore,” said Lim Sam At, deputy chief of the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy.

Though talk of a drop-off began around 2000, the gems have all but disappeared since 2006, and never before have so many gem hunters given up in such a short period of time, Lim Sam At said. “They’ve all started to farm all the time instead,” he added.

The trend has come as no surprise to Som Sopheap, 37, Inn Chhoeun’s next-door neighbour and herself a former amateur gem hunter. Like Inn Chhoeun, she began looking for gems after moving to Pailin in 1993. And like Inn Chhoeun, she had some early success. She made about 100,000 baht in the first five years, but she quickly became frustrated with the tiresome work and inconsistent rewards, and by 2000 she had stopped completely.

Asked if others would soon follow suit, she said it was probably inevitable. “If they cannot find any more, they will stop,” she said. “They will not want to spend such a hard day digging if they can’t find anything.”

An industry withers
Gone with the amateur gem hunters are many of the middlemen who bought the gems and sold them in markets in other provinces or across the border, as well as the shops that polished and shaped the gems in Pailin town.

Many of the now-shuttered storefronts on the town’s strip of National Road 10 were once occupied by such businesses. Sheak Chhan Dara, the owner of one of the few gem shops that remain open, said half of the 20 shops that were operating in 2006 have since closed.

Even facing depleted competition, business for Sheak Chhan Dara is difficult. “There are no gems and diamonds, so I cannot earn much income,” he said.

On the right side of his shop, a glass display case contained the earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces he hoped to sell to Thai tourists making quick trips across the border and merchants making the rounds of exhibitions in Phnom Penh. As the industry in Pailin has declined, he said, an increasing amount of that jewellery has come from Cambodia’s other gem-heavy provinces, including Takeo and Kampong Thom.

“For people here, looking for gems is not important now,” he said. “In the future, if no one can find diamonds in this province, it will seriously affect my business. I will not close, but I will need to start buying from collectors or something.”

So where have the gems gone? A range of theories were provided in interviews, but for many, the villain in this story is a familiar one.

“The Thais have come and taken all the diamonds away already,” Som Sopheap said, voicing a claim repeated throughout Pailin town.

“This area doesn’t have many gems because of the Thai people,” said Lim Sam At, the provincial mines and energy official, who added that the Thais first came looking for gems in Pailin in the late 1980s.

“They used big excavator trucks to dig up the gem areas and take the gems back to their country, so our people, who use only the traditional hand-sifting method, can no longer find anything.” The government banned the use of excavator trucks in 2003.

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A gem necklace on sale at Sheak Chhan Dara’s shop in Pailin province. heng chivoan

But the Thais weren’t the only ones blamed. Both Lim Sam At and Sheak Chhan Dara allowed for the fact that Cambodian gem hunters might share responsibility for the depletion of Pailin’s gems. Sheak Chhan Dara noted that as the area has become more developed, there has been less unclaimed land on which to dig.

Whatever the reason, Sheak Chhan Dara seemed resigned to the fact that things would never again be as good as they were in 1996, which he said was the peak year for his 22-year-old business. “There were so many diamonds back then. I didn’t have enough capital to buy all the ones that were brought to my shop,” he said.

For some, though, the thrill of the hunt makes up for the diminishing rewards. Towards the end of the interview with Sheak Chhan Dara, Chhoun Khoun, a 25-year-old newcomer to Pailin from Kampong Chhnang, came in with his finds for the day: five blue and black stones, each smaller than a thumbnail, that Sheak Chhan Dara purchased for 10,000 riels ($2.40).

Asked why he had moved to Pailin, Chhoun Khoun said he had been motivated by the lack of job prospects at home.

Low earnings aside, he said he was happy with his new life and planned to stay for at least two years. “Here, even though I don’t make very much money, I have a fun job looking for diamonds,” he said. “It is like an adventure for me.”

ASEAN free trade deal set to boost China ties

Shanghai Construction Co continues work Saturday on a new bridge spanning the Tonle Sap river in Kandal province.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal

Chinese delegation says it will urge firms to raise trade and investment ties with Kingdom as ASEAN agreement kicks in

ACHINESE delegation said Monday it would urge firms in the region’s fastest-growing economy to increase Cambodian trade and investment with the introduction of the ASEAN-China free trade zone from January 1.

Talking Monday at a seminar in Phnom Penh on bilateral trade between the two countries, Yu Ping, vice chairman of the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade, who led the delegation, said there remained big business opportunities in the Kingdom particularly in energy, agriculture, tourism, telecommunications and garments.

“I believe that investment and trade between China and Cambodia will reach another level,” he said, citing the new free trade area and the Kingdom’s stable political situation.

Chinese investment in the Kingdom has dropped sharply this year as the economic crisis slowed construction projects, and firms from the world’s third-largest economy have sought much smaller developments.

In the first nine months of 2008, Chinese investment in Cambodia hit a record US$3.94 billion, Centre for the Development of Cambodia figures showed, compared with just $339 million during the same period this year.

China was the biggest foreign investor in the Kingdom last year, representing more than 40 percent of the total number of approved investments.

Sun Weiren, trade counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, said Monday that over 200 companies from China had invested in Cambodia in 2008.

Cambodian government officials acknowledged Monday that Chinese trade and investment would be down this year due to the economic crisis.

Trade between the Kingdom and mainland China remains muted at just $794 million over the past two years, significantly lower than that with neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, which each traded more than $1 billion in goods with the Kingdom last year alone.

By contrast, trade between Cambodia and Hong Kong, a Chinese Special Administrative Region, reached nearly $500 million in the first nine months of 2008 alone.

Commerce Ministry reports showed Monday that Beijing permitted 418 categories of Cambodian goods to enter China duty free in the past year.

“China is Cambodia’s best partner in terms of trade and investment cooperation,” Pan Sorsak, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said Monday.

Kith Meng, CEO of Royal Group and chairman of Cambodia’s Chamber of Commerce, said at Monday’s forum that Cambodia remained a good bet for investment due to its rapid economic development.

“I believe that Chinese companies will convert their research on Cambodia into real business as they have been encouraged to do so by the Chinese government in the future,” he told delegates.

3 VN firms seeking to invest meet with PM

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:01 Cheang Sokha

REPRESENTATIVES of three Vietnamese firms met with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday to obtain permission to invest in Cambodia, Hun Sen’s spokesman Eang Sophalleth said.

He declined to name the companies but said they were in the involved in chemicals, sugar and construction.

Hun Sen told the group he welcomed the proposed investment but referred them to Suy Sem, the minister of industry, mines and energy, and Sok Chenda, secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Eang Sophalleth said.

The companies were supported at the meeting by Tran Bac Ha, chairman of the state-owned Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), Vietnam’s second-largest bank by assets and fourth-largest enterprise. BIDV and its Cambodian subsidiary, the Investment and Development Joint Stock Company of Cambodia (IDCC), which owns the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC), are behind a number of major investment initiatives from across the border.

In October, the IDCC established a US$8 million joint-venture rice-processing and -export company called Cambodia-Vietnam Foods Company (Cavifoods) with Vina Foods II and Cambodia’s Green Trade Co.

In August, a 60-strong delegation led by Tran Bac Ha inked what is said to be the country’s largest investment package with Cambodian government representatives. The package included eight deals worth $420 million, taking the value of Vietnam-funded projects approved by the CDC to around $540 million at that time.

Hopes stay alive for refugee

Pin Yathay at a press conference with a copy of his book, Stay Alive My Son.

I pray that one day my son, Nawath, will read this book and it will result in us meeting each other.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:00 Roth Meas

The author of a book written more than 20 years ago says he has not given up hope that his son might have survived the murderous Khmer Rouge regime

Pin Yathay once was forced to make an almost unimaginably difficult decision. Now 65, his face still contorts with emotion when he thinks back to the day in 1977 that he decided to leave his only surviving son, Nawath, in hospital with an elderly woman while he and his wife fled the malevolence of the Khmer Rouge.

Stay Alive My Son, Pin Yathay’s book about this time, can therefore be seen as both self-reproach and vindication for a man who has been haunted by his decision ever since. It is also, most importantly, a father’s attempt to reconnect with his estranged son.

Written more than 20 years ago, Pin Yathay’s tale has already struck a chord with Cambodians – 8,300 copies have already been sold in Khmer.

It has also been translated into English and French, with a further 1,800 copies printed for the third edition.

Though the book has not, thus far, given the desperate father any clues as to the whereabouts, or fate, of his son, Pin Yathay insists this has not dented his optimism.

“I pray that one day my son, Nawath, will read this book and it will result in us meeting each other,” he said.

Pin Yathay was forced to flee the country of his birth during Pol Pot’s reign.

Under the previous Lon Nol government, Pin Yathay was an important public figure, working as the president of a new project in the Ministry of Public Works. He was also an educated man, having studied mathematics and engineering in Canada.

During the Khmer Rouge regime, the lives of educated individuals, especially public figures, were in danger. The engineer’s decision to flee almost certainly saved his life.

He explained that the option of moving what was left of his family together was never a realistic one.

“In the Khmer Rouge era, we never travelled as a family,” Pin Yathay said.

“Children travelled with children, men with men, and women with women. The only time we were allowed to travel was for work purposes or a mission. I would make fake authorisation letters so I could move around.”

Escaping to Thailand via the Thmor Keo Mountain, in the Kravanh district of Pursat, he suffered a second tragedy when his wife was lost in the densely forested area.

Nevertheless, Pin Yathay insisted, he is thankful his past forced him to flee, and said he believed that without the chance to escape and “blow the whistle” on the regime he would probably have died in Cambodia.

Starvation, overwork, disease or execution had already claimed the lives of his family by the time the engineer found his way to a refugee camp on the Cambodia-Thailand border. It was there that he wrote his first book, The Murderous Utopia, which sought to inform the outside world of the atrocities being committed in Cambodia.

He also used the relative sanctity of the refugee camp to continue his search for Nawath.

“When I was in the refugee camp at the Cambodia-Thailand border, I stuck many notes around, and posters too,” he said.

“I even asked the International Red Cross to look for my son.”

Yet it was to no avail, and Pin Yathay would soon be granted asylum in France, where he married a fellow Cambodian and had three sons.

Having recently retired, after a successful engineering career that spanned France, Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines and Bangladesh, the 65-year-old decided to return to his homeland to see some of the places he passed through during the Khmer Rouge regime.

“I’m still so full of pain; I didn’t know what to do. But after visiting those places, I did begin to feel a certain amount of release,” he said.

After being haunted by the memory of his lost son for more than three decades, Pin Yathay can find a small amount of closure.

Star-studded celebration


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:00 Sovan Philong

Cambodian singer/songwriter Sapoun Midada and his bride, the actress Soeur Sotheara are greeted by singer Chhom Sovannareat at the couple’s wedding ceremony at NagaWorld last Friday.

Nuon Soriya storms Europe

Photo by: Virginie Noel
Cambodian Nuon Soriya (left) registered a decision victory over Moroccan Yassim Lamidi in Frameries, Belgium, on Saturday in his European boxing debut.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:00 Virginie Noel

Cambodian kickboxing veteran Nuon Soriya makes a triumphant debut to the European scene, hammering Morrocan Yassim Lamidi in Frameries, Belgium

Frameries, Belgium

NUON Soriya prepared for his fight Saturday against Morrocan Yassim Lamidi in Frameries, near Mons, Belgium, with a zen-like calm. Arriving from Cambodia two days previously, he was excited by the prospect of his first fight in a European ring despite suffering from jet lag and facing the cold temperatures of the Belgian winter.

The match, which was organized by Thai promoter and trainer Suruswadee Thong, was part of a long night of 17 amateur and professional fights. Nuon Soriya was welcomed by a crowd of young local Cambodians, who had been looking forward to seeing a boxer from their homeland fight in their Belgian hometown.

Nuon Soriya’s opponent Yassim Lamidi, from the renowned Muay Thai Chakuri Gym in Holland, weighed in at 70kg, 3 kilos more than the Cambodian. However, with this slight weight disadvantage and a shorter height, Soriya proved to be the stronger fighter.

Shortly before the fight, Yassim Lamidi requested to change the rules from Muay Thai to K1, thus disallowing elbows. The request was granted, although it added an additional challenge for Soriya.

Nuon Soriya shows class
The fight lasted five rounds of three minutes each, and Nuon Soriya demonstrated his superb technical skill throughout, as well as his ability to bounce back after taking a string of punches. Both boxers fought with strong English-style hands, but Soriya landed more repeated kicks, which eventually wore his adversary down.

The 29-year-old kickboxing veteran seemed to improve in form as the rounds went on, with an explosive fifth round sealing victory. When the points decision was announced, Nuon Soriya made frog jumps into the air, accompanied by his Cambodian fans’ cheers.

“I am so happy,” he said with a wide grin after the fight. “It was my first fight in Europe, and I’ve won it.”

Sebire helps promote sport
Philippe Sebire, the French trainer who had brought over Nuon Soriya to replace injured Sen Bunthen for this fight, was delighted at the result. Sebire’s motivation for bringing Cambodian boxers to Europe stems from a desire both to help them gain international recognition, and to give them the opportunity to earn greater prize money than the purses available in Cambodia. The Frenchman is also campaigning to promote the Cambodian kickboxing form of Kun Khmer in Europe.

As Sebire explains: “It is a great achievement for me to be able to work together with a Thai promoter to bring Khmer fighters to an international stage. It helps the fighter, it helps Kun Khmer, and it increases knowledge about Kun Khmer in the Muay Thai-dominated European kickboxing scene.” Sebire had even more reason to celebrate on the night, as his 16-year-old son, Benjamin Sebire – alias Preap Sarin – also won with a TKO in the second round.

Officials play friendly game

Photo by: RANN REUY
Tournament winners and dignitaries pose at the award ceremony at Sofitel Hotel in Siem Reap Sunday. (From left to right) Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin, RCAF adviser Seng Vanthy, Minister of National Defence and Cambodian Golf Federation President Tea Banh and Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 15:00 Rann Reuy

Govt and embassy officials join on golf course to help promote tourism

Siem Reap

SIXTY golfers constituting high-ranking Cambodia government officials, ambassadors and embassy staff members working in Cambodia and Thailand gathered at Siem Reap’s Phokeethra Country Club over the weekend to play in a friendly golf tournament.

Seng Vanthy, adviser to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, was crowned champion of the event Sunday, while Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin was the runner-up, and Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara took third.

Thong Khon, minister of tourism and president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said that he hoped the tournament would help promote tourism in the Kingdom.

“This is the first-ever friendly golf tournament organised by the Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with relevant ministries and institutions,” he said, adding that this event is also aimed at exposing the recent development of good overland access for tourists into Cambodia, particularly in connecting the Poipet international border with Thailand with the famous cultural tourism sites of Siem Reap and Preah Vihear.

According to Ministry of Tourism, the first nine months of this year has seen a total of 1.57 million visitors, a 1.7 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year.

Sou Phirin said his second placing was a great honour for him because he has only just learned how to play golf.

Phokeethra Country Club is preparing to host the Johnnie Walker Cambodia Open from Thursday to Sunday, when professional golfers from 22 countries around the world take part in the annual Asian Golf Tour event, now in its third edition.