Saturday, 21 November 2009

Somchai: P. Thai will win at next polls

Published: 21/11/2009
Online news: Breakingnews

(CAAI News Media)

Puea Thai Party would win the forthcoming general elections and become a government again, former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat said on Saturday.

He was making the remark while chairing the opening ceremony of the main opposition party’s coordinating center in Pitsanulok’s Prompiram district.

Mr Somchai said after returning to power, Puea Thai party will pay most attention to settle the poverty problem of Thai people.

He said many countries welcomed and wanted ousted from prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to help them by taking a job as an economic advisor. He did not understand why the appointment of Thaksin as an economic advisor by the Cambodian government created problem between Thailand and Cambodia.

The ex-premier was confident that Thaksin will never love Cambodia more than his own motherland.

“Thaksin wants to help Cambodia as it will also help Thailand at the same time”, Mr Somchai, who is also a brother-in-law of Thaksin, said.

Mrs Yaowapa, Mr Somchai’s wife, said if Puea Thai Party wins at the upcoming polls and becomes a government, her elder brother will definitely be able to return home.

Seven villagers charged in Kampong Thom land dispute

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

(CAAI News Media)

The Kampong Thom provincial court on Friday charged seven villagers on connection with damaging properties belonging to a developing company and a security team.

“We have charged the seven men of damaging public and private properties,” Men Sarath, the court prosecutor, told VOA Khmer. He said that there will be more charges against an alleged ringleader, whom he did not identify. If found guilty, the men face up to three years in prison.

Human rights advocates, however, decry the charges and insist the men should be educated instead. “These men should not be charged as they do not understand the law,” said Nhoung Samoeun, coordinator for local human rights group Licadho.

Kampong Thom police chief Phan Sopheng said 20 additional people might be arrested while others will be rehabilitated and informed about the law. “Some villagers should be educated, but for those brutal men, we can’t be patient with them,” he said.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Asked to Define Victim Reparation

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

(CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) and a London-based rights group, Redress, urged the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Friday to show respect for the principle of reparation and make funds available for the regime’s survivors.

The groups insist on having victims participate in the discussions about reparations with the court, and that judges should issue an order about reparations and explain ways to find funds for it.

“We want to know clearly from the Khmer Rouge tribunal regarding the reparation,” said Hang Chhaya, director of Khmer Institute for Democracy and coordinator of the CHRAC.

But Reach Sambath, head of public affairs of UN-backed court, said the court is not yet in a position to thoroughly review the issue of reparation. “The court is now working on Duch’s case,” he said, referring to case 001 against a notorious former Khmer Rouge prison chief. “And that issue has not been discussed in details yet.”

Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister opens Jimmy Carter Work project

Saturday, 21 November 2009 05:53 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, and the former US President on Saturday officially opened the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Kandal province where 21 houses were built for the poor Cambodians.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Sok An said he was pleased with the humanitarian work done by the Project, led by the former US President Jimmy Carter over the last 26 years, for building the homes for those are relocated from the Steung Meanchey dumpsite outskirt of Phnom Penh.

“This project is of course to promote the living standard of the poor Cambodians... as well as contribute to social welfare activities which aims to reduce poverty,” Dr. Sok An told the crowd attended by the American ambassador to Cambodia and volunteers who participated in building the houses.

He also said the housing project contributed to the country’s political and social stability, which has been materialized by the Royal Government of Cambodia after two decades of civil war ended in 1998.

“The present of Jimmy Carter and Madam reflects another step of enhancing the good bilateral cooperation and friendship between Cambodia and America,” Sok An said.

There are 250 Cambodian volunteers joined hands with foreign volunteers in the housing project of the New Life Community which surrounded by rice fields in Oudong about 40 km north of Phnom Penh.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former US President Jimmy Carter said before cutting the ribbon that he was impressed with the contribution made by the Royal Government of Cambodia for making a possible for this project done as well as receiving the delegations to visit this beautiful Southeast Asian nation.

“For 26 years, my wife and I each year have gone to build habitat homes but we never had an exciting ceremony than this one and never had a beautiful place,” Carter told the cheerful villagers.

Carter said his project has planned to build another 166 homes this week in the Mekong countries, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Another 50,000 homes will be built in the next five years including 6,000 homes in Cambodia alone.

“This is a great demonstration of the Cambodian leadership in this region of the world.”

“It is a wonderful work,” Carter, who is accompanied by his wife Rosalynn, told the crowd waved Cambodian and American flags.

Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Opens Jimmy & Carter Work Project

Oudong, Cambodia, Nov. 21: Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, and the former US President on Saturday officially opened the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Kandal province where 21 houses were built for the poor Cambodians.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Sok An said he was pleased with the humanitarian work done by the Project, led by the former US President Jimmy Carter over the last 26 years, for building the homes for those are relocated from the Steung Meanchey dumpsite outskirt of Phnom Penh.

“This project is of course to promote the living standard of the poor Cambodians... as well as contribute to social welfare activities which aims to reduce poverty,” Dr. Sok An told the crowd attended by the American ambassador to Cambodia and volunteers who participated in building the houses.

He also said the housing project contributed to the country’s political and social stability, which has been materialized by the Royal Government of Cambodia after two decades of civil war ended in 1998.

“The present of Jimmy Carter and Madam reflects another step of enhancing the good bilateral cooperation and friendship between Cambodia and America,” Sok An said.

There are 250 Cambodian volunteers joined hands with foreign volunteers in the housing project of the New Life Community which surrounded by rice fields in Oudong about 40 km north of Phnom Penh.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former US President Jimmy Carter said before cutting the ribbon that he was impressed with the contribution made by the Royal Government of Cambodia for making a possible for this project done as well as receiving the delegations to visit this beautiful Southeast Asian nation.

“For 26 years, my wife and I each year have gone to build habitat homes but we never had an exciting ceremony than this one and never had a beautiful place,” Carter told the cheerful villagers.

Carter said his project has planned to build another 166 homes this week in the Mekong countries, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Another 50,000 homes will be built in the next five years including 6,000 homes in Cambodia alone.

“This is a great demonstration of the Cambodian leadership in this region of the world.”

“It is a wonderful work,” Carter, who is accompanied by his wife Rosalynn, told the crowd waved Cambodian and American flags.

Cambodia Clarifies on Thai CATS Workers

Saturday, 21 November 2009 05:13 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“We have temporarily stopped 9 Thai workers entering and working at the technical room as this duty is responsible for the government leaders’ flight to protect their safety,” Secretary of Council of Ministers Toeuk Ret Samrech told reporters at a press conference on Friday evening.

“The Government is preparing a law and technical working groups to monitor and inspect all CATS processing and then, if all processes of working are normal, the Government will take any measures,” he added.

However, CATS is still working as normal and “we often contact with the company director-general when we have something to ask,” he confirmed.

Internal Security Department Director of Interior Ministry Chhai Sinarith said at the press conference that Sivarak himself had already made a formal confession. “He confessed the time which he contacted to first secretary of Thai embassy in Phnom Penh related to stealing Thaksin’s flight schedules.”

“Following we found all evidence along with two witnesses, one Cambodian and Thai, we cooperated with PP court prosecutors arrested him in Phnom Penh on November 11, 2009.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodia Foreign Ministry, told press that the ministry has not expelled any other Thai embassy officials or staff besides Sivarak.

Toeuk Ket Samrech confirmed that all Thai businesses are working as normal.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya insisted on Thursday that everything must be in line with the law after the Cambo- dian Government banned Thai nationals from working at Cambodian Air Traffic Services (CATS), which is operated by Thailand’s Samart Corporation, according to the Bangkok Post.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says he is confident Cambodia’s move to take over air traffic operations from a Thai firm will not worsen the already bitter spat between the two countries.

The prime minister said there was no sign that what happened to Cambodia Air Traffic Service (CATS) would erode the confidence of other Thai businesses operating in the country.

Kasit also challenged the Puea Thai Party to reveal what it claimed was a secret tape recording of his conversation with the embassy in which he allegedly tried to obtain Thaksin’s flight details.

Puea Thai MP Jatuporn Prompan claimed the Cambodian government had an audio clip of Kasit, the Bangkok Post wrote.

“I am dying to listen to my voice. Does Jatuporn work for Cambodia?” Kasit asked reporters.

Kasit said the ministry was waiting for confirmation from Cambodian authorities about when the detained Thai engineer could receive visitors, the Bangkok Post added.

The confirmation comes after Thai newspapers as saying that the Royal Government of Cambodia fired 9 Thai workers at CATS. Thai media also made much of a Cambodia’s arrest of Sivarak Chutipong, 31. Phnom Penh Municipal Court has remanded the suspect in Prey Sar after charges of of stealing fugitive former Thai Primer Minister Thaksin Sinawatra’s flight schedule during his 4-day trip to Cambodia last week.

The Cambodian Government on Friday confirmed that Thai workers at Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) have not been fired, contrary to reports in the Thai press. Thai workers have been barred from entering technical rooms as this duty is responsibility of the Cambo- dian Government.

Cambodia Strengthens Banking ASEAN Cooperation

Saturday, 21 November 2009 05:13 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on Friday urged cooperation on baking system integration with other ASEAN countries.

“I am rather optimistic that rational dialogue based on responsible and knowledgeable positions, between people acting professionally, is always a source of progress in the banking industry to support economic growth,” Neav Chanthana, deputy governor of NBC told the 39th ASEAN Bankers council meeting in Cambodia.

Close cooperation among ASEAN banks will certainly help to speed up the process of the integration of ASEAN financial services by 2015, she added.

As the 10th member of ASEAN, Cambodia enjoyed double-digit economic growth over the past decade. In 2009, however, Cambodia was severely hit by the global crisis, especially in garments, construction and tourism, previously main drivers of the economy, he noted. Agriculture remains a bright spot, with positive growth expected.

The economic prognosis for 2010 is optimistic, with positive growth, she stresses. I have noted that our program focuses on three major items on cooperation in finance, investment and trade, education and ASEAN inter-regional relations, Neav Chanthana added. The NBC will carefully follow international developments and consider implementation in a progressive manner and in line with domestic market developments and priorities, she said.

At the same time, Phung Kheav Se, chairman of Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), and president and CEO of Canadia Bank PLC, said that the occasion was of great significance since it was the first time a council meeting has been held in Cambodia. “Many of you are already familiar with Cambodia and are well aware of the impressive progress we have made, both in terms of economic development and political maturity,” he added.

“We are proud of how far we have come in the relatively short time that our country has been at peace, but we also recognized that we have great challenges and hard work ahead of us before we can realize our country’s potential.”

“Our industry’s affiliation with the ASEAN bankers association has been equally beneficial. We are very grateful to the association as a whole and to the individual banks that have worked with us. Members of the Cambodian association of the banks have been active participants in ABA committee and workshop and more recently helped organize the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam investment conference. This has been a wonderful experience for us. Cambodia is eager to participate in the continuing integration of ASEAN econo- mies. We banking sector in Cambodia has been a large number of new entries over the past few years … However we also believed that agriculture and medium scale manufacturing will be particularly attractive areas for new activity as we seek to diversify our economic base.”

“With the help of our investment of our international friends, much public and private investment has been channelled into infrastructure such as power and roads to enhance the overall investment environment, he noted. We have also streamlined our need to be competitive.”

New Vice Phnom Penh Police Chief

Saturday, 21 November 2009 05:11 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The ex-vice National Police Chief of Phnom Penh will removed after a directive from the Interior Ministry and the National Police Chief of Phnom Penh, according to a police source on Friday.

A high-ranking police officer said that the new vice NPCPP, the well-known Sok Khemarin, is the former vice police chief in Kampong Speu province and was an Interior Ministry Department of Administration officer. A source said that the reshuffle has long been planned but only now officially announced.

Khemarin had transferred to his ex-office at Phnom Penh after he lived in Kampong Speu, the official added.

“Now, he is studying in Russia,” the source added. The ex-vice NPCPP Reach Sokhun was said to be one of the oldest staff at the Interior Ministry.

Cambodia, Thai Army Chiefs Talk Friendship

Saturday, 21 November 2009 05:11 DAP-NEWS .

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Both Cambodia and Thailand army chiefs at the shared border have regular talks to normalize the situation at the border as the two countries’ diplomatic ties have recently down following Cambodia appointed fugitive former Thai Thaksin Sisinawatra as Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor and an economic advisor to the Government.

Chea Dara, the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces (RCAF) sub-chief and Preah Vihear army chief, told DAP News Cambodia that the Thai second region army “always called me to ask the situation not to face among the two soldiers. They raised PM Hun Sen’s remarks saying that Cambodia wishes for a safe border to be developed as the two countries’ citizens live with one another.”

“At the weekend, we often make a date to play games such as football, volleyball, and we jointly have meal,” Chea Dara added.

However, Chea Dara confirmed that Cambodian soldiers never forget their duties to protect the kingdom.

The Thai-Cambodia Joint Border Committee (JBC) will meet on Nov 27 at 28 at the Dusit Thani hotel in Pattaya, Thai Defence Ministry spokesman Col Thanathip Saengsawang said on Friday, according to the Bangkok Post.

“It will be a ministerial level defence meeting to discuss border security and military cooperation,” Col Thanathip was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wong- suwon will apparently use his ties with Cambodian military leaders to help ease the current tension between the two countries.

The spokesman said that military relations between the two countries remain intact despite the diplomatic row between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

The Thai Defence Ministry hopes to help settle the dispute between the two governments and at the same time to strengthen ties and trust on both sides, Col Thanathip said.

Chavalit advises PM to be careful

Published: 21/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Puea Thai Party chairman Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said on Saturday that he did not believe there was a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as reported by the media, but the premier should not be indiscretion while visiting Chiang Mai.

Asked about the planned mass anti-government demonstrations from Nov 28 to Dec 2 by the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), Gen Chavalit said there should be no violence.

“UDD had staged demonstration for several times and learned that using violent maens makes no good to any parties”, Gen Chavalit said.

He confirmed that the mother of the detained Thai engineer, Sivarak Chutiphong, had asked for help from him but he recommended her to directly contact Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban instead.

Gen Chavalit said he had talked with senior persons of Cambodia and believes the Thai engineer case will end soon.

The opposition party chairman insisted that he had no idea about the secret audio clip of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya ordering a Thai official in Phnom Penh to obtain the flight schedule of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as claimed by his party MP.

Khmer killed after quarrel with Thai

Published: 21/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

CHON BURI : A Thai rubber tapper allegedly killed his Cambodian co-worker with an axe after a drinking session in which they had a heated argument over the two countries' diplomatic spat.

The Cambodian worker was identified as Diang, aged about 40. Police found his body lying on the floor in a room of an apartment run by Sri Maha Racha Co, the men's employer.

Blood covered the floor of room No.2, where he lived. A cut about five centimetres deep was found on his left cheek and another on his left shoulder, which was almost severed. Several empty liquor bottles were found in the room along with a bloodstained axe.

Kraisorn Namnont, a rubber tapper who lived next to the Cambodian worker, alerted Si Racha police about the killing about half past midnight on Friday.

He said the murderer was Sinchai Namnont, 44, his younger brother. They were from the northeastern province of Maha Sarakham.

He said Mr Sinchai, who lived with him in room No.1, had been drinking with Diang in Diang's room. They started arguing about the Cambodian authorities' arrest of a Thai engineer for alleged spying. Earlier, Cambodia named convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser.

Mr Kraisorn said he remembered hearing Mr Sinchai say it was not right for Cambodia to act in the way it had and Diang replying, "So, what can you do with my government?"

Shortly after that, Mr Sinchai rushed back to room No.1 to grab some of his clothes, then hurried out without saying anything about what had happened next door, said Mr Kraisorn.

After hearing Diang crying for help in pain, Mr Kraisorn decided to go to check on him but found him dead.

Police, however, said they were not convinced by Mr Kraisorn's testimony and suspected him of being involved in the murder of Diang in some way.

Thai businesses fear closure of border

Published: 21/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

As the Thai-Cambodian media skirmish continues, Thai executives are starting to fear their operations will suffer.

Gamblers are staying away from casinos in Koh Kong and Poipet, while tourist numbers are on the slide. Kasikorn Research Center said the escalating tensions could affect businesses and populations on both sides of the border.

The conflict between the Thai and Cambodian governments recently reached a new and alarming level when both countries withdrew their ambassadors after Cambodia named fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser and refused to extradite him when he visited the country.

But the Thai-Cambodian border remains open so the border trade, which accounts for as much as 80% of bilateral trade, continues as usual.

If the conflict is quickly resolved without either side resorting to force, trade will not be disrupted, said K-Research.

Even a temporary border closure, similar to that caused by the earlier Preah Vihear temple dispute, would only have a limited impact, the researchers said. But a prolonged closure would inevitably damage trade, causing Thai exporters to lose their share in Cambodia's market.

Thai exports to Cambodia last year were worth 67 billion baht, while imports from Cambodia were only 3 billion baht.

Thailand's trade surplus reflects Cambodia's inability to supply its market's demand, while Cambodian consumers are accustomed to imported Thai products such as sugar, beverages, cosmetics, soaps and related products. The Cambodian business sector also relies on imported processed oil and cement.

Thailand is currently the largest exporter to Cambodia, supplying 23% of its imports, followed by Vietnam with 17% and China with 15%.

Like Thailand, Vietnam benefits from close proximity with Cambodia, with significant border trade. Vietnam's exports to Cambodia have soared from US$178 million in 2002 to $1.43 billion last year. The country is now competing directly with Thailand in oil, sugar and cement.

Chinese goods, currently in third place, also have good opportunities for growth due to the strength of the Chinese economy and the development of the logistics system linking China and Asean.

But Cambodia would also face losses from this scenario. Materials and intermediate goods from other countries for its production sector would likely have higher prices due to the logistics costs. Similarly, Cambodian consumers would likely have higher living costs.

Vietnamese economy poses no threat to Thailand

Hanoi ensures existence of political stability and cheap labour

Published: 21/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

The Vietnamese economy poses no immediate threat to Thailand, which has healthy investments in that country, says the Thai ambassador in Hanoi.

Vietnam said it would put in a high-speed train, similar to the bullet train in Japan, running from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The news excited Thai readers but most did not realise that work on the railway won’t start until 2036, or nearly 30 years into the future.

Pisanu Chanvitan says Thailand's economy is still far more advanced than Vietnam's.

However, the ambassador told Thai Rath newspaper, Vietnam has certain advantages including political stability, thanks to its one-party rule and cheap labour.

Last year, Vietnam's economy grew 3%.

Mr Pisanu said that medical advances in Vietnam lag far behind Thailand. For difficult cases, well-to-do patients still travel to Thailand for treatment because Vietnam's health care expertise is lacking.

Nor was Thailand's status as the world's top rice exporter under threat from Vietnam.

Mr Pisanu said Vietnam exported about 5 million tonnes of rice last year while Thailand exported 8-9 million tonnes.

Thai rice is more expensive because of its higher quality especially the world famous Hom Mali, while Vietnam exports cheaper varieties.

Vietnam can face typhoons several times a year, causing extensive damage to rice fields.

Vietnam's rice cultivation area is similar to Thailand's, but Vietnam has a growing population. As its population grows, Vietnam will probably export less rice.

Vietnam's rulers like to talk about their plans for the economy, but sometimes these projects can be many years off.

Vietnam said it would put in a high-speed train, similar to the bullet train in Japan, running from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

The news excited Thai readers but most did not realise that work on the railway won't start until 2036, or nearly 30 years into the future.

In 1990, Vietnam began to open the country to foreign direct investment, creating special industrial zones and expanding the economic zone in Ho Chi Minh City.

Thailand is ranked 9th among foreign investors in Vietnam. Investment is concentrated in agri-business, cement, real estate, and motorcycle parts.

Mr Pisanu said Thailand exported more than 10,000 tonnes of fruit to Vietnam last year, including longan, mangosteen, durian and mango.

Food processing including canned fish is another bright prospect for Thai exporters. Several Thai canneries have set up operations in Vietnam and are doing good business.

Engineer is a

'political victim'

Sivarak Chutipong, 31, the Thai engineer arrested in Cambodia on a spying charge, is being used as a pawn in the diplomatic dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, argues a Matichon newspaper writer.

Sivarak worked for Cambodia Air Traffic Services, a subsidiary of Thailand's Samart Telecom.

He was arrested last week on a spying charge, after he allegedly transmitted the flight schedule of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Cambodia's premier Hun Sen to Thailand.

The newspaper argues the engineer was a victim of the conflicts between Thailand and Cambodia concerning Hun Sen's appointment of Thaksin as economic adviser.

If Sivarak is found guilty by a Cambodian court, he could be jailed for 7-10 years and/or fined 50,000-250,000 baht.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thaksin's flight schedule was not secret information and Thailand already knew Thaksin's likely flight movements.

Suthep argued that Cambodian authorities may have misunderstood the intention of the government, which never intended to inflict any harm.

Yet the Matichon writer was not satisfied with explanations offered by the Thai Foreign Ministry and Samart Telecom in defence of Sivarak.

The government, the writer said, should protect Sivarak's honour and tell international observers that Cambodia's allegations are trumped up.


Cambodia has expelled all Thai staff from Cambodia Air Traffic Services after a Thai engineer on staff was charged with spying.

Phnom Penh has filed national security charges of stealing classified information against engineer Sivarak Chutipong.

Cambodia has now ordered all Thai nationals working for CATS to leave the company and prohibited them from re-entering until the legal proceedings against Mr Sivarak are completed, Samart Corporation Plc president Watchai Wilailuck said.

CATS, a fully owned subsidiary of Bangkok-based Samart, holds a concession to run air traffic control services in Cambodia.

The firm employs nine Thai officials at Cambodian airport, in management or senior engineering positions. About 200 other staff are Cambodians.

Mr Watchai was told Cambodian authorities would send their own people to run the company.

"We need to follow Cambodia's order and are asking the Thai government to negotiate with Cambodia.

'We have nothing to do with their diplomatic dispute, but it is affecting our business," Mr Watchai said.

Thailand and Cambodia are signatories to an investment protection agreement, to protect each other's private businesses.

Navy chief warns govt on MoU

Man City to expose Thaksin 'failings'

Published: 21/11/2009 at 12:00 AM

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Navy chief Kamthorn Pumhirun has warned the government to tread carefully with its plan to revoke a memorandum of understanding on the overlapping maritime boundary with Cambodia.

Adm Kamthorn said even though the cabinet has decided to scrap the MoU, the decision will not take effect until it is approved by parliament. The government is seeking parliamentary approval to annul the MoU.

Adm Kamthorn urged all parties concerned to weigh the pros and cons of terminating the MoU carefully.

However, he was confident the Foreign Ministry and three House committees responsible for deliberating the matter will handle it in a professional manner.

"I believe they are professionals and will put the country's interests first. They should know what the advantages and disadvantages are for the country," he said.

The government's move to scrap the MoU is in response to Cambodia's appointment of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser.

The document was signed in 2001 when Thaksin was prime minister. Its main goal is for the two countries to demarcate territorial waters and jointly explore natural gas and oil reserves in the overlapping area.

Adm Kamthorn said the navy has continued to look after Thai territorial waters and to make sure the disputed maritime area is not violated.

The navy chief said relations between the navies of the two countries have remained healthy. There had been no Cambodian military movements nor any Cambodian navy presence in the waterways, he said.

Defence Ministry spokesman Thanathip Sawangsaeng said the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) will hold its meeting to discuss border issues in Pattaya next Thursday and Friday.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh will jointly chair the meeting.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he believed relations between Thailand and Cambodia will return to normal shortly. However, he said the government will not send Thai envoys to Phnom Penh until the Cambodian government reviews its position.

The prime minister said the government is stepping up its efforts to arrange for Simarak na Nakhon Phanom to visit her son Sivarak Chutipong, a Cambodia Air Traffic Services engineer who is being held in a Cambodian prison on charges of spying.

Deputy permanent secretary for justice Thawee Sodsong said he and Suvana Suwannajuta, the director-general of the Liberties and Rights Protection Department, will travel to Cambodia on Monday to visit Mr Sivarak.

Mr Thawee said he will arrange for Mr Sivarak's family members to visit him.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said it will take 10 days for Cambodia to consider whether to grant him bail.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy leader Kraisak Choonhavan has said executives of the English Premier League soccer club Manchester City are planning to expose the failings of Thaksin, its former owner.

Mr Kraisak said the football club had been unhappy with Thaksin's style of running the club, including superstitious practices he brought to the club and his efforts to meddle with the management of the football team. Thaksin bought City in July 2007, 10 months after he was ousted in a military coup. He sold the club to an investment group from the United Arab Emirates in September 2008.

UNPO Speaks About Indigenous Issues at the European Parliament

Friday, 20 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) was invited to speak at a Hearing on Cambodia facilitated by Human Rights Without Frontiers at the European Parliament on 17 November 2009.

The Hearing was chaired by Niccolò Rinaldi (Vice President of ALDE group) and moderated by Edward McMillan-Scott (VP European Parliament) alongside Willy Fautre (Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers). The panels were composed of representatives from the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (Ms Maggie Murphy, Program Coordinator), Cambodian Government (H.E. Ambassador Mr. Rudi Veestraeten), the United Nations (Prof. Surya P. Subedi, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia), the European Commission (Mr. Seamus Gillespie, Head of Unit), the Center for Development Research and Cooperation (Dr. Prof. Tazeen Murshid), Amnesty International (Susi Dennison, Executive Director), International Trade Union Confederation (June Sorensen), The Cambodian Association for Human Rights (Mr. Thun Saray, President and former political prisoner) and Human Rights Watch (Brad Adams, Asia Director).

Forced evictions, labor rights, judiciary issues, the role of the EU in Cambodia, as well as political and institutional factors impacting on human rights in Cambodia were among the list of issues discussed during the hearing. Panelists shared valuable information on several topics to describe the current status of human rights in Cambodia.

Susi Dennison, Executive Officer of Amnesty International explained how the ongoing violence against women subsequently leading to forced evictions can be traced back to their lack of civil and political rights.

On the other hand, Mr Thun Saray, former political prisoner and President of the Cambodian Association for Human Rights raised deep concerns about the failure of Cambodia’s justice system to provide a political environment that would safeguard fundamental human rights of both Cambodians and its defenders in the country.

The international community is aware of Cambodia’s ratification of 7 out of 8 labour rights laws. However, June Sorensen of the International Trade Union Confederation stressed that the majority of Cambodia’s workforce remains completely unaware of labour rights making it difficult for trade unions to operate in Cambodia.

Mr. Seamus Gillespie, Head of Unit of the European Commission recognized that Cambodia has entered the process of recovery. However whilst the country has achieved some level of stability, as the elections in 2008 showcased, international standards on electoral processes have not been followed. Furthermore, not all violations against human rights in Cambodia are accurately reported especially those committed during the dictatorship. Mr Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, stressed this issue saying that crimes committed in the past should not be forgotten by simply concentrating on the recent ones.

Maggie Murphy, Program Coordinator of UNPO, spoke on four major issues of great concern to the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom and the Montagnards: land rights claims and subsequent forced relocation, religious persecution, violence and torture and forced repatriation.

Ms Murphy reiterated that these issues should be primarily addressed by acknowledging the indigenous status of both the Khmer Kampuchea Krom people and the Montagnards. The unfortunate fact is that Cambodia can sign and ratify all international declarations and agreements pertaining to indigenous peoples but unless the people of Khmer Krom and the Montagnards are acknowledged as such, every declaration is meaningless. Thus, the first step in effecting significant changes to the lives of the marginalized peoples of Khmer Krom and Montagnards is to give them the status of indigenous peoples and then ensure that constant international pressure is applied to Cambodian authorities to ensure that they abide by these international agreements.

UNPO suggests a more active role for EU in Cambodia
There are significant political and institutional factors that impede the forceful repatriation of Khmer and Montagnard refugees from Cambodia to Vietnam. UNPO hopes that the EU will put pressure on Cambodia to sign and ratify the ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, with the aim of respecting the traditions of indigenous peoples in relation to the use of their ancestral lands.

Lack of Political Will
In contrast to the presentations by the majority of panelists, the Ambassador of Cambodia strongly affirmed that the concept of “freedom of expression in Cambodia is very strange” and further elaborated that “freedom of expression is in place”. He contended that this is especially true in the areas of civil and political rights. However, whilst sufficient mechanisms are in place to adequately guarantee the rights of minorities and indigenous groups, the implementation has been severely lacking. Issues addressed in the hearing can only be tackled if the Cambodian government demonstrates a strong sense of political will to ensure that the human rights of the aforementioned groups are safeguarded.

Ms Murphy concluded by explaining that many similar recommendations were made by states and NGOs as Vietnam recently underwent examination under the UPR process. On 24 September the review ended with Vietnam rejecting 45 of the Human Rights Council’s recommendations, which demonstrated a lack of commitment to securing fundamental human rights. UNPO hopes that Cambodia will be more receptive to the UPR process, and that they will facilitate it, rather than obstruct it through rejections and rebuttals. Political will is fundamental to guaranteeing the improvement of the human rights situation in Cambodia.

Chavalit 'selling his condo to fund trips'

Published: 21/11/2009 at 12:00 AM

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh will sell his 15-million-baht riverside condominium unit to finance a series of trips in the region, says a source close to him.

Chavalit: No financial deal with Thaksin

The source said Gen Chavalit was raising funds to finance trips to Burma, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam and China.

Gen Chavalit had said he would sell his unit at the River Line Place Condominium on Phibun Songkhram Road, in Nonthaburi, for 15 million baht, the source said.

Gen Chavalit, a former premier and former army chief, currently lives at the condominium.

He came under fire over his Oct 21 visit to Cambodia where he met with Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Diplomatic relations between Thailand and Cambodia have deteriorated since Hun Sen appointed convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser and refused to arrest and extradite him to Thailand when he recently visited Cambodia.

Gen Chavalit said he did not care who criticised him as he only wanted to solve national problems.

"But now the plans [for his trips] must be delayed because there is no money to fund them. They are costly and Gen Chavalit must pay all the expenses himself," the source said.

Since joining the Puea Thai Party, Gen Chavalit had tried to boost ties with neighbouring countries, the source said.

Besides his visit to Cambodia, the party chairman had also sent his emissaries to contact Malaysia and insurgent groups active in the deep South in an attempt to bring peace to the restive border provinces, the source said.

Gen Chavalit's activities were not funded by Thaksin, the source said.

"I confirm that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra did not give one baht to Gen Chavalit. He spent his own money and did not make any financial agreement with Mr Thaksin," the source said.

Lights, camera, genocide!

Sek O, 42, cries as she prays at her father's portrait during a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Aug. 31, 2009. The museum is at the site of the most notorious prison in Democratic Kampuchea, code-named S-21. (Chor Sokunthea/Reuters)

A new TV show is rapidly extending the reach of the Khmer Rouge war crimes court to Cambodian households.

By Brendan Brady — Special to GlobalPost
Published: November 20, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — When the former Khmer Rouge prison chief, Kaing Ghek Eav, first took the stand eight months ago, most Cambodians had scarce knowledge of the tribunal that was trying him.

The notorious man — known best by his revolutionary name, Duch — stands accused of crimes against humanity for the medieval torture of 14,000 people at a secret prison code-named S-21 during the Khmer Rouge's reign from 1975 to 1979.

At first, 85 percent of Cambodians “had little or no knowledge” of the U.N.-backed trial that was 30 years in the making, according to a University of California at Berkeley’s Human Rights Center survey.

Outreach has stepped up considerably since the opening of testimony, though. Perhaps no development has been more effective in disseminating the often-baffling work of the tribunal than a new weekly television program. In a country of 14 million, where 85 percent of people live in rural areas, some 2 million Cambodians are tuning in to “Duch on Trial.”

Every Monday afternoon, along with fellow Cambodian journalist, Ung Chan Sophea, host Neth Pheaktra provides a sober summary and analysis of court testimony and the legal framework in which it is heard. Local analysts weigh in on the use of legal strategies by the lawyers and Duch.

“My relatives tell me, ‘You look so serious on TV,'” said Neth, whose program launched in April with British and U.S. funding. “We’re discussing the death of millions of compatriots, including many of my relatives, so it’s not a time to smile.”

The show plays clips of court testimony, including ghastly stories of men and women being bludgeoned, water-boarded and electrocuted before their execution, and of their babies being smashed against trees.

In total, an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died from overwork, starvation and murder under the Khmer Rouge’s maniacal vision to transform the country into an agrarian utopia. For the some 5 million Cambodians who survived Khmer Rouge rule, the regime’s brutality remains deeply entrenched in their psyche.

Today, not even half the country's more than 14 million people are over 20 years old, which means they never lived under the regime. Their ignorance of firsthand atrocities has been compounded by the fact that, until this year, Khmer Rouge history wasn’t taught in schools. Many current government officials are former Khmer Rouge cadres and the subject matter remains highly controversial.

Unlike some other international war crimes courts, the Khmer Rouge tribunal hasn't had community-based truth and reconciliation committees to extend its reach to the population.

The hosts of "Duch on Trial" explain how the court is run by Cambodian and international judges, lawyers and staff. How subordinates and prisoners who were under Duch’s control and are still alive today provided testimony, and how the maximum penalty for the five elderly former leaders in detention is to live out their few remaining years in prison.

For many viewers, such plain talk concentrated into engaging 24-minute episodes lets them grasp the court’s work for the first time.

“Part of the reason for the show’s popularity is that before there was a big lack of communication about the tribunal,” said Neth. “So we’re trying to help fix that.”

The challenge, said Matthew Robinson, the show’s British producer and head of Khmer Mekong Films, “is how to cram into less than half an hour the highlights of a week’s worth of the trial that a group of not legally-sophisticated people can relate to.”

Previously, the bulk of outreach for the tribunal had been shouldered by a handful of NGOs, such as the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), the leading custodian of primary documents on the Khmer Rouge.

Through this non-profit group, 10,000 rural Cambodians have been bussed into Phnom Penh to attend the tribunal and 300,000 textbooks about the Khmer Rouge have been distributed to high school classrooms across the country.

The group also makes regular trips to the countryside, assisting people in filling out paperwork to file evidence to the tribunal of crimes they witnessed under the regime’s rule and, perhaps more importantly, helping people simply gain closure by gathering details on the fate of loved ones.

For a man whose sister was tortured and executed at S-21, where Duch presided, DC-Cam recently tracked down the order of execution signed by Duch. The man’s reason for filing with the court: “So that she is remembered,” he wrote.

“The Khmer Rouge left the entire country shattered,” said DC-Cam director Youk Chhang. “We’re trying to help people connect the broken pieces, and without people’s involvement the court is meaningless.”

The court’s own outreach has also been reinvigorated. Since June, hearings that were previously attended by scant crowds of a couple dozen people began to see audiences numbering in the hundreds.

Reach Sambath, whose takeover of public affairs at the court coincided with this boom, attributed some part of the rising numbers to the nature of dialogue in the courtroom. The stories of real witnesses caught the attention of lay people, who found the early procedural hearings hard to follow.

“The testimony was very emotional,” said Reach. “Duch cried. Then the witnesses cried. Then the audience cried. And then I cried. Seeing this is part of the healing process.”

Reach also initiated announcements about the court on local radio stations — a move that had his office inundated with phone calls asking how to attend.

“Before it was difficult for people to have trust in the court,” he says. “But if seeing is believing, then coming to the court in person has people feeling that justice is being provided.”

While such emotionally charged moments provided the catharsis the tribunal wanted to stage, in a country where some 90 percent of the population regularly views television — despite enormous poverty — the tube has proven the most efficient channel for engaging people in the war crimes court.

“It’s easy and interesting to learn about the tribunal this way,” said 51-year-old No Min, who lives in a remote village in the province of Kampong Cham where road access is limited and newspapers are scarce. “I’ve learned more about the [court’s] process and it seems fair.”

“I tell the younger kids in the village to come watch the show with me so they can learn about an important part of history that is easy to want to forget.”

Vietnam chairs ASEAN Bankers Association


(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Vietnam officially assumed the presidency of the ASEAN Bankers Association (ABA) for the 2009-2011 term at the 39th meeting of the association in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 19-20.

At the event, Pham Huy Hung, Chairman of VietinBank and the President of the Vietnam Banks Association, affirmed that Vietnam will try its utmost to contribute to ABA’s sustainable development and push ABA and ASEAN activities harmoniously to meet the goal of building a successful ASEAN Community by 2015.

Mr. Hung pointed out that ABA always heightens the objective of seeking opportunities and creating conditions for all member banks to develop strongly and dynamically.

The meeting drew the participation of 10 members of association, representatives of finance organisations and senior officials of the Cambodian Government.

Established in 1976, ABA had only five members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The association has developed strongly after admitting the last five ASEAN members: Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

Coming in off the streets

Poverty and the legacy of civil war has had a corrosive effect on family life in Cambodia, leaving many children homeless and vulnerable. But children's support projects offer hope of a better future

Cynara Vetch
The Guardian

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian children study in a classroom at one of the M’Lop Tapang organisation’s schools in Sihanoukville. Photography by: Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Srey Mom recalls: "My father burnt the house down one evening, and after that me and my brother slept in the forest. I was so scared I couldn't sleep and he would cry all night because he was hungry." Srey Mom's father was a violent alcoholic, unable to pay the rent, and her mother, who was addicted to gambling, attempted suicide many times. With her family left homeless and hungry, Srey Mom joined almost 2,000 working children who spend their days and nights on the streets and beaches of Sihanoukville, Cambodia's growing resort town.

Over 36% of Cambodians live below the poverty line and families have been drawn to Sihanoukville by the economic promise of a growing tourist trade and work in the country's only deep-water port. In reality, the average income of a family of four living in the town's slums is $2 a day. With families who are unable or unwilling to support them, children work on the town's streets, beaches and slums both day and night, and are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, and discrimination.

It was cases such as Srey Mom's that persuaded the director and co-founder of M'Lop Tapang, Eve Sao Sarin, to help set up the organisation with his partner Maggie Eno back in 2004. M'Lop Tapang is one of six small organisations in Asia partnered by the NGO International Childcare Trust.

"We believed we had to commit to these children, find them a safe place and learn their needs. We also wanted to resolve issues within their families. There are many problems in their homes due to poverty, domestic violence and drug abuse," Sarin explains.

M'Lop Tapang offers a chance for street children to get an education and to change behaviour such as drug abuse and crime, but without the support of their families this is very difficult. As a result the organisation collaborates with the children to deal with their issues at home, setting up services such as alcoholics' counselling and vocational training for their relatives.

Srey Mom has managed to rebuild her home and family with the help of M'Lop Tapang. Srey Mom's father is surprisingly candid. "I drank rice wine so I could forget," he says. "When I was drunk no one else mattered, that is why I could beat my wife and burn my home." He was introduced to an alcoholics' counselling course and is now a skilled builder, earning a stable wage. Similar efforts to build up communities through dedicated social work have been very successful, with every street-living or working child in the town using M'Lop Tapang's services, albeit to varying degrees.

Many of Sihanoukville's social problems can be attributed to Cambodia's recent history. From 1970 to 1975 Cambodia was immersed in a costly civil war, which displaced nearly half the population and killed more than 1 million people. In 1975 the communist movement, the Khmer Rouge, seized power and set about creating a peasant revolution. The majority of the population was forcibly moved to the countryside; healthcare and money were banned and those with an education were executed. In 1979 the regime was toppled, but the war continued and much of the population was displaced. Finally, democratic elections took place in 1993.

For Sarin, the community is "like the basket that breaks. No one trusts each other any more." Children under the age of 18 make up more than 50% of the country's population and Sarin believes that many are still affected by the past.

"Children suffer indirectly from the war, most of their parents lost beloveds, they are depressed and frightened, and Cambodian culture doesn't encourage any show of weakness. They deal with these problems with gambling, drinking and violence."

Vannthy is a social worker with M'Lop Tapang, co-ordinating a network of former street children, who now work in their communities. He is adamant that "young people are the ones that change things. They come up with solutions I would never have thought of." This network has built homes for evicted families, cleared the slums of rubbish and set up awareness programmes on issues such as drug abuse. Its members have also painted and repaired beds at the town hospital and volunteered to teach the English they have learnt at M'Lop Tapang. The Youth Volunteering Network also includes middle-class youth who attend community college and university. These youths volunteer their time at M'Lop Tapang, educate their families and peers on issues such as environment, poverty and social work and encourage social responsibility. The most dedicated volunteers are provided with the opportunity of employment at M'Lop Tapang.

While decades of violence and conflict have affected communities in Cambodia, they have also had an impact on the country's institutions and infrastructure. Andrew Mace is the British ambassador to Cambodia and he has seen weaknesses in the police force and other parts of the public sector. "It is a historical problem," he explains. "The whole of government was essentially destroyed. For example they lost the whole of the judiciary in that period and having lost them it takes a long time to get back that capacity." As a result a new structure of law enforcement was hurriedly created and in some cases recruits were given inadequate training.

Another problem is lack of funding. Social issues receive less attention from international donors than topical concerns such as health and education. Vou Savin, a welfare officer for the Ministry of Social Affairs, is the only government social worker responsible for over 130,000 people living in Sihanoukville and the surrounding countryside. He admits that there is a limit to what he can achieve "Our job is to help vulnerable people, but we have so little money in our department that we need to partner with other organisations."

People coming in from the outside exploit these vulnerabilities to prey on children. Paedophiles see the country as a "safe destination." However, the government is alert to these unwelcome visitors and has forged strong relationships with the NGO community. One such example is Action Pour Les Enfants, an investigation agency working against sex offenders in Cambodia, which has trained up the local police force in areas such as interrogation techniques and forensic evidence. Efforts have also been made to educate law enforcement officials on children's rights and protection against child abuse.

M'Lop Tapang is teaching the children themselves to be aware of the dangers on the streets and to protect one another. They have already trained 40 street children in how to recognise suspicious behaviour and what to do if they see cases of abuse or discrimination. This network then filters the information back to other children. They also act as a safety net for children who are new to the streets. M'Lop Tapang has established a ChildSafe network in Sihanoukville, training local restaurants, bars, hotels and taxi owners to recognise signs and cases of child abuse and report them to its 24-hour ChildSafe hotline.

For Srey Mom, street living is now a thing of the past. She sits calmly surrounded by her family in their small stilted house and although the torrential monsoon rain beats against the tin roof, they remain leak free. She has a stable income working as a manager at the local M'Lop Tapang shop and is a testament to what a street child in Cambodia can achieve.

*Some names have been changed

Science and Technology : DNA Results Give New Hope for 'Extinct' Siamese Crocodiles

A proposed breeding program for the critically endangered Siamese crocodile received a significant boost this month with the news that 35 crocodiles at a wildlife rescue center in Cambodia are purebred Siamese.

VOA News
Robert Carmichael

Phnom Penh 20 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Photo: VOA - R. Carmichael
A close-up of a Siamese crocodile hatchling at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia, 19 Nov 2009

A proposed breeding program for the critically endangered Siamese crocodile received a significant boost this month with the news that 35 crocodiles at a wildlife rescue center in Cambodia are purebred Siamese.

Siamese crocodiles have had a tough time. Twenty years ago they were declared extinct in the wild.

The crocodiles once ranged widely across Southeast Asia. But, coveted for their soft skin, Siamese crocodiles were poached to the very edge of existence.

However, in 2001 researchers discovered small populations of Siamese crocodiles in the wild in Cambodia. That meant the species went from being listed as extinct to critically endangered.

This month there was more good news. DNA tests on 69 crocodiles at a wildlife rescue center outside Phnom Penh found that 35 of them are purebred Siamese crocodiles.

Photo: VOA - R. Carmichael

Adam Scott, head of the crocodile project at Fauna and Flora International, holding a hatchling Siamese crocodile at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre

Adam Starr heads the crocodile conservation program at Fauna and Flora International, a conservation organization that works with the Cambodian government to protect Siamese crocodiles.

He says just 250 Siamese crocodiles exist in the wild in the world, most of them in Cambodia.

"How important is Cambodia? Very important. Siamese crocodiles used to exist throughout Southeast Asia. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, everywhere. Now they are reduced from about 99 percent of their original population range area. We can say Cambodia hosts between 95 and 99 percent of the remaining wild crocodiles which is about 250," he said.

The tests proved invaluable in allowing researchers to distinguish between purebred Siamese crocodiles and hybrid crocodiles - something that can not be done just by looking at them.

Knowing which animals are hybrid is essential because conservationists do not want hybrids colonizing the country's rivers.

Nhek Ratanapech is the director of the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where the purebred crocodiles live. He also heads the country's Crocodile Conservation Program.

He says the discovery of the purebreds could provide a critical lifeline for the preservation of Siamese crocodiles.

"Previously we have so many crocodiles but we didn't know which ones are pure Siamese crocodiles and which one is the hybrid one," he said. "Now we know exactly which one is pure and which is hybrid. We do hope that some potential donor help to support the activity to conserve or to stop this species being extinct from the world."

The problem of hybrids stems from crocodile farms, which bred Siamese crocodiles with other, faster-growing, larger, more aggressive crocodiles. The leather from the hybrid crocodile is still soft, and the hybrids provide more of it faster.

Nhek Ratanapech says the next step is to create a breeding program using the six mature purebreds at his center. The tests also showed that they are not related, which is vital for genetic diversity.

Their offspring will be kept for two years before being released into the wild, to maximize their chances of survival.

Nhek Ratanapech says the goal is to get Siamese crocodiles taken off the critically endangered list, which means reaching a target of 500 mature adults in the wild. As it takes 15 years for a Siamese crocodile to reach maturity, this is a long-term project.

But Cambodia is the Siamese crocodile's last chance. "So this population is on the verge of extinction and now Cambodia is the stronghold of this species," he said.

Adam Starr says many challenges remain. Human encroachment on the crocodile habitat is one problem; another is Cambodia's plans to build huge hydroelectric dams, which block rivers.

But those challenges are hardly new. And the DNA tests, which were carried out by a university in Thailand, have helped to move the project forward.

"What we're able to do now is work with a captive population that is of pure genetic stock and be able to start a breeding program and be able to reintroduce animals to areas where Siamese crocodiles once existed but have been eradicated due to poaching. So it's a very exciting phase we're about to embark upon," said Starr.

That sound is the call of a Siamese crocodile hatchling. It is a sound that Nhek Ratanapech and his colleagues hope will be heard across at least some of Cambodia's rivers in the coming years - as it was not long ago.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month – Friday, 20.11.2009

Posted on 20 November 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

“Phnom Penh: According to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, Mr. So Khun, who spoke to journalists in the morning of 19 November 2009 at the Phnom Penh Hotel, where he presided over a workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication of the Kingdom of Cambodia will set equal phone service costs at the end of this month.

“The minister said that so far, the post and telecommunication sector has advanced dramatically, and it is a pride of the ministry as well as of the Cambodian government under the wise leadership of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen. However, together with this progress, the ministry noticed that mobile phone companies in Cambodia compete with each other over phone call costs. This is not yet considered as a conflict, but just as a sign of disagreements. Therefore, the ministry prepares to set a general cost system. The minister added that the cost that the ministry plans to set is not yet known, but the ministry is discussing to set a cost system that all mobile phone companies in Cambodia can accept.

“Regarding the workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, Mr. So Khun said that this is a good way to promote the telecommunications sector in Cambodia, because at present, this sector is being served by nine mobile phone companies and many ISP/VOIP systems. About 4,500 mobile phone towers have been set up both on the ground and on the roof of houses, in order to compete in attracting about 5.3 million clients, who need mobile phone towers so that they can use their mobile phones. ‘It is a great pride and we acknowledge that the telecommunications sector does grow, but meanwhile, we must think also about the environment, the stable health of citizens, and public order in the society and in the nation.’

“The general manager of the Tower Master Cambodia Co Ltd (TMCC), Mr. Ung Veasna said, the company had received concession rights to operate for 35 years to set up and to maintain mobile phone towers.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 20 November 2009

Special Reports : Thai, Cambodian military leaders to meet

Nov. 20, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Thai and Cambodian military leaders will meet next week amid growing tensions over Phnom Penh's appointment of a fugitive former Thai premier as an adviser.

The Thai-Cambodia Joint Border Committee will have a two-day meeting starting Nov. 27 at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Pattaya, according to a report in the Bangkok Post newspaper.

"It will be a ministerial level defense meeting to discuss border security and military cooperation," a Thai defense ministry spokesman said. Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon would use his ties with Cambodian military leaders to help ease the current tension between the two countries, the spokesman said.

The meeting is important because it could avoid spontaneous armed clashes by patrols in the Preah Vihear mountains, around 300 miles north of Bangkok. The two armies have been facing each other for months over a disputed area surrounding an 11th-century Hindu temple. The international court of justice ruled in 1962 that the temple was on Cambodian land. But the only access to the mountaintop building is on the Thai side, which Thai troops sealed off last summer.

A military clash is precisely what both countries, whose ambassadors were recalled this month over the Thaksin affair, are hoping to avoid.

But political tensions moved up a notch Thursday when Cambodian police and aviation experts took over the offices of the Thai-owned firm Cambodia Air Traffic Services. CATS is a subsidiary of Bangkok's Samart Corporation which has a 32-year contract to run air traffic control operations.

The Cambodian authorities now in charge of the services also banned the firm's nine Thai employees from entering the building.

The takeover comes after Cambodian police arrested a Thai national working at CATS on spy allegations. Siwarak Chotipong, 31, is being held in Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh. He is alleged to have passed on the flight schedule of the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during his visit to Cambodia last week, according to a report in the newspaper Phnom Penh News.

The newspaper article quoted a representative for Cambodia's ruling Council of Ministers saying the takeover of CATS was "temporary" and done "to ensure national security and public safety." The financial operations of the company would not be affected.

Cambodia's appointment of Thaksin as an economic adviser was covered widely in the country's media this month, including a television interview with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thaksin. Hun has called Thaksin a friend of Cambodia.

Thailand has formerly requested the extradition of Thaksin, 60, who was ousted from power in a military coup in 2006. He returned in 2007 and the following year received a two-year jail sentence for conflict of interest in high-level business dealings. He fled the country, leaving an estimated $2 billion in frozen assets. He has since lived mostly in the United Kingdom.

Cambodia has refused to hand him over because, they say, his trial was political and not criminal, meaning they are not bound to extradite him under any bilateral treaty.

Analysts are saying that the issue of his return is, in fact, more political than just a case of evading prison. Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, 45, is a member of the Democrat Party and heads a large coalition government that fears Thaksin could pose a credible election threat if he returns to the country. Thaksin, as a former police officer, could call in favors among senior policemen and also some military leaders in any election, possibly next year.

Many of Thaksin's supporters are in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship Party that has demonstrated for Thaksin to receive a royal pardon from the ailing but much revered Thai king.

For his part, Thaksin has reportedly used his Twitter site to vent his anger at the Abhisit government and his opponents within Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported.

"Everything you guys do is right, but whatever we do is wrong. So how can we live together? How long can peace last?" He went on to say he did not believe how long it would be before his supporters' "patience will snap," the article stated.

The Bangkok Post has also reported that Thailand's Foreign Ministry has lodged a complaint with the ambassador of Dubai. Ministry officials said Thaksin is using Dubai as a base for political activities Thailand's government.

The Cambodian Ministry of the Interior has also this week ordered its officials to encrypt as much as possible government information and sensitive documents that it is sending over the Internet. The government fear is that more data, such as happened with Thaksin's fight details, could be siphoned off by spies, the Phnom Penh News report said.