Tuesday, 1 December 2009

PM Orders to Review Agreements and MoU with Thailand

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:49 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered all state and provincial agencies to review all agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Thailand including completed agreements and the process ones.

The Premier´s orders was made following Thai government, led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, annulled the loan projects provided by Thai government to build National Road 68 from a Thai provincial border to Siem Reap, length 117 km, which costs more than US$ 41 Million, signed on August 27, 2009.

After Thai government annuls the loan agreement, Cambodia’s Foreign Affair Ministry declared that Cambodia canceled this agreement as Cambodian government affords to build and repair this road.

“Since 1994 up to now, we have 23 agreements which some were completed as the rest is under progress and the last agreement was signed on August 27, 2009 costs 1400 million bath, and if we keep this amount of money, it is a bar in our neck and owe their thanks. Therefore, Cambodia will spend our own money to build this road,” the premier said during his presidency at a pagoda achievement opening in Kompong Cham province.

The premier ruled and warned his government officials not to sign any agreement or ask for money from Thai FM Abhisit and FM Kasit Piromya, warning that if Cambodian government officials do that, they will be fired. He added that only Thai donations are acceptable.

Meanwhile, the premier Hun Sen ruled to Education Minister not to send any Cambodian students to study in Thailand although Thailand has provided the scholarship. “I will pay all spending to these students to study in Cambodia,” he added.

Bangkok Leaders recently warned to seal the border between the two countries, and they decided to cancel overlapping area at the sea agreements. The premier said that “If you [Thailand] seal the border, Cambodia will follow and stop all Thai goods not to be present in all markets in Cambodia. Thai citizens must know that the one who destroy your businesses is Thai Prime Minister Abhisit,” the premier said, adding that “If you close the sea border, Cambodia will rule to close as well.”

Respond to Kasit´s saying that Cambodia was the first which caused the tension after Thaksin was appointed as the Premier Hun Sen´s advisor and the government´s advisor on economic work, Hun Sen responded that “The tension has been taken place since July 15, 2008 as Thai soldiers encroached illegally into Cambodian territory.”

“Kasit, you are the PAD leader. You are the one who has encroached Preah Vihear illegally and you cursed me very strong during a previous protest. You are a wicked man, if not believe, you can listen to your tape, then you will see,” the premier added.

The premier Hun Sen also confirmed that among 10 Thai prime ministers since he has worked with, Abhisit is the most difficult one to work with. “Thai political issues are created by Abhisit, and the diplomatic tension with Cambodia is also Abhisit.”

However, according to the premier, the situation at the border is normal between the two soldier parties as the two defense Ministers agreed on Friday last week during Joint Committee Meeting in Pattaya, Thailand.

The diplomatic tie between the two counties has been down since Cambodia appointed former Thai PM Thaksin as a Cambodian government economic advisor. Following the day, Bangkok leaders recalled its ambassador in Phnom Penh. Then, they decided to cancel MoU on marine over lapping area and annul loan agreement to Cambodia over building National road 68 from Krolanh to Osmach in Cambodia.

Next Year’s Budget Discussed in NA

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:49 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian National Assembly on Monday began debating the 2010 budget of just over US$2 billion. The new budget focuses on boosting economic growth during the global economic crisis, and more social affairs and defence spending.

The 2010 national budget increased about 11 percent over 2009 with the government to spend on public investment projects to improve living conditions and foster economic growth, Cheap Yeam, chairman of the NA Committee for Economy, Finance, Banking and Auditing, told the NA floor.

National defence and the Interior Ministry will receive US$274 million next year, up from US$223 million, he said. “We increased the budget for national defence because we want to build the capacity of our troops to protect territorial sovereignty at the border. Cambodia and Thai troops have confronted each other since July 2008 near Cambodia’s 11th century Preah Vihear temple.”

“We have to protect sovereignty and our dignity for the country and we can not bow our heads to interfering in our independence,” said Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon. The NA will allow the government to borrow US$400 million dollars in 2010 from foreign partners to implement the projects, Keat Chhon said, adding that the government will tighten tax collection for national revenue to implement this expenditure. “We increase tax on some fields from early 2010,” he said.

According to the draft national budget for 2010, Cheam Yeam said agriculture will receive 1.7 per cent of the budget, an increase of 13.6 percent. The rural development ministry will get 1.65 percent, and increase of 30.4 percent from 2009. Education will get US$196 million and the Health Ministry US$142 million, he added.

Keat Chhon predicted around 2 percent growth in 2010, adding that the government is taking action to mitigate the financial crisis and strengthen financial system for economic policy to stabilize the macro-economy. The budget will focus on improving and building rural infrastructure to reduce poverty among local people and commits to working effectively and with transparency, Keat Chhon said.

Yim Sovann, lawmaker from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said that local people will be charged more by the government to implement the 2010 budget “but in this context of finance crisis we should not put pressure on people through tax payment. The government will charge more tax on luxury items like cars and up import taxes, the draft law said.

Bangkok Confirms Ability to Help Its Detained Spy

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:47 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Bangkok government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday confirmed that its ability to help the detained Thai spy who is accused of stealing Fugitive Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra during his 4-day private trip to Cambodia, while Cambodian government officials still insist that this case currently is under Phnom Penh Court’s probe.

Sivarak Chutipong, an employee of Thai-owned Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), was arrested on Nov 11, 2009 charged of passing a state secret to Thai diplomatic officials - flight infor- mation about fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra when he visited Phnom Penh. Sivarak is being held in Prey Sar prison.

The government is doing its best within the limits of the law to help the Thai engineer accused of spying in Cambodia; Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was quoted by Bangkok Post on Monday.

"In addition, a lawyer from the Lawyers Council of Thailand is available to help Sivarak, who insists he is innocent," Kasit confirmed.

The confirmation of Bangkok leaders was made following the spy´s mother, Khun Simaluck, met him on Friday last week at Prey Sar Prison, outskirt of Phnom Penh. Following their talk around 90 Minutes, having been allowed by Cambodian Foreign Affair Ministry, she expressed glad and confirmed that she did not worry as she found that Cambo-dian authority has taken care of his son carefully.

"Khun Simaluck described the atmosphere of the meeting as being good. She gave her son medicine and asthma inhaler. She worried about him at first but now that she met him already and he had no problem," Thai FM's secretary of state Chawanont Indharako-marnsutr quoted the mother as saying.

Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), where the Thai spy worked, was takeover by Cambodian government official. The controlling by the official made following 9Thai workers were temporarily stopped, allowing to work outsides the company, not to allow to work in Technical room as they will realize the government leaders´ flight, ensuring their safety.

Following this case, some report from Bangkok raised that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen´s daughter was controlling this company. However, this was strongly rejected by the government officials.

Thaksin was willing to help Sivarak if he will be found guilty by Cambodian court, according to Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin’s advisor and a former Thai foreign minister.

“If Bangkok government cannot help this man, Thaksin will ask for Cambodian court to get this man free,” he added.

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh said the alleged spy will not be freed any time soon.
In a phone interview with the Bangkok Post, Gen Tea Banh said legal proceedings against the Thai engineer must be allowed to run their course.

The spy´s mother will attend a court session on December 8 in Phnom Penh, he said, adding Sivarak reiterated that he did not do anything against the Cambodian laws as the information about Thaksin's flight plans were not confidential.

The Thai man arrested made following Cambodia declared officially appointing Thaksin as Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor and the government advisor on economic work.

The day following, Thai leaders recalled their ambassador to Phnom Penh, and then Cambodia did so.

Residents Complain over Preah Sihanouk Factory Pollution

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:47 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Preah Sihanouk provincial residents have complained to Royal Crown International (RCI) garment factory about pollution drained into the sea, according to a report on Monday.

A local resident complained that “Every night, RCI drains the water pollution into the sea; it is a serious to affect to the environment in the whole province.”

The resident told DAP News Cambodia that “Since many years ago, this garment factory always did like this, no authorities or other institutions to crack down on them.”

The RCI is in the No. 1 commune of Preah Sihanouk province.

The residents alleged that the factory did treat chemicals before discharging them, polluting seawater and beaches.

A No. 1 commune official told DAP News Cambodia that he reported the issue to his seniors to little effect.

DAP tried to contact to RCI management, but a security guard claimed that no-one was available.

Local administrative officers did not reply to DAP’s phone calls. Preah Sihanouk Provincial Director of Depart- ment of Environment Hem Saroeun “I called for 10 times, but he did not reply,” he added.

Environmental pollution and degradation is an increasing problem in Cambodia.

Army Chiefs Talk at Border

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:13 DAP-NEWS

Cambodian and Thai army chiefs stationed around Preah Vihear are speeding up talks to reduce tension as diplomatic ties continue to slip.

The two defense ministers recently agreed to convene a Joint Border Com-mittee meeting in Pattaya, Thailand to keep the peace.

Chea Dara, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) chief at Preah Vihear, told DAP News Cambodia on Saturday that on Saturday, “we have met at Phnom Trob, and on Sunday we will meet at Ta Thoav gate.”
“We speed up talks … to get better relations between the two countries,” Chea Dara added.

After a two-day meeting in the Thai resort town of Pattaya which ended Friday, the Thai and Cambodian defense ministers said they had agreed to reach peaceful solutions to solve new misunderstandings.
“Thai and Cambodian forces will support every mechanism to strengthen relations between the two countries,” Thai defense minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters, according to AFP.

Prawit said the meeting focused on issues around the poorly defined, heavily armed border and how to make people who live there live peacefully.

“Cambodia will not do anything that would affect the public in both countries. We will avoid any action that would lead to a conflict between the two countries,” Cambodian Defense Minister Gen Tea Banh told the news conference.

The diplomatic dispute between Thailand and Cambodia has been eased after the latter allowed the mum of jailed “Thai spy” to meet her son at Prey Sar prison, Democrat Party spokesman Buranat Samutrak said on Saturday, according to Bangkok Post.

The detained Thai engineer convicted by Cambodia Court of stealing fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra’s flight plans on Friday met his mother, Simaluck Na Nakhon, at Prey Sar Prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for the first time since he was arrested by Cambodian authorities on November 12.

Simaluck Na Nakhon Panom met her son Sivarak for about 90 minutes, instead of the 60 minutes as normally allowed by the prison, Thai FM’s secretary Chawanont Indharakomarnsutr was quoted by Thai newspaper the Nation as saying. Chawanot said he talked to Simaluck on the phone after she met her son. He said the Cambodian prison arranged a room of the prison for the meeting of Simaluck and her son.

The Cambodian Government on Friday last week 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 Cambodian Government.

Buranat said the political movements by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra received no responded from the armed forces of the two countries.

He said Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh had on Friday clearly said that the legal trial case against the arrested Thai engineer, Sivarak Chutipong, had nothing to do with politics.

The Thai-Cambodia general border committee meeting in Pattaya concluded on Friday that only peaceful means should be used in settling border disputes between the two countries.

ASEAN, South Korea Strengthen Educational Ties

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:12 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Top ASEAN educators gathered in Seoul to launch the ASEAN-Korea Education Leader’s Forum in cooperation with the Korean Federation of Teachers Associations (KFTA), Korea ‘s largest teachers’ group, the Korean Times reported on Saturday.

A total of 15 teachers’ groups from the 10 countries along with the Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia participated in the two-day forum to discuss how to attract talented students to schools and develop better re-training systems for teachers. Some 150 educators participated in the opening ceremony, held at the KFTA building.

“ASEAN, which is an association of the 10 nations with an estimated combined population of 577 million, is very meaningful to us,” said KFTA President Lee Won-hee was quoted saying by the Korean Times. “In the education field, there is much work to be done among ASEAN countries.”

Following the ceremony, Park Yong-jo, KFTA vice president made a keynote speech about the teaching environment in Korea. Participants discussed better education systems and environments through a series of presentations.

The “2009 Seoul Declaration,” which calls for strengthened partnerships with educators in Korea and ASEAN.

The participants will also have oppor- tunities to learn more about Korean schools and culture during their stay. They have already visited an elementary school in Seoul , Thursday, and the state -run Education Broadcasting System. They are scheduled to visit the Korea Folk Village and Cheonggye Stream on Sunday.

While participating in the ASEAN Council of Teachers’ Convention held in Thailand , last February, KFTA proposed the establishment of the joint forum in accordance with the growing relationship between Korea and ASEAN countries.

ASEAN consists of 10 member coun- tries; Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippin es, Singapore , Thailand and Vietnam. Esta- blished in 1947 to boost teachers’ right, the KFTA has grown as the largest organization for teachers.

Couple Accused of Pilfering Nearly US$500,000

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:11 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

An ACLEDA Kampong Cham provi- nce bank official and his girlfriend, a Canadia Bank staff member, were arrested for stealing nearly US$500,000, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court official said on Saturday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Vice Prose-cutor Hoeng Bunchea and Judge Pho Paosun said that suspects were arrested in Kampong Cham province after the ACLEDA Bank found nearly US$ 500,000 missing during monthly accoun ting.

A source told DAP News Cambodia a Kampong Cham ACLEDA official, Yean Sith, cooperated with his girlfriend, Veng Mouy.

ACLEDA CEO In Channy told DAP News Cambodia that investigations are ongoing.

In Channy confirmed that Yean Sith is not a staff member of ACLEDA.
“On Monday it will be clear,” he added.

The police source said that the authority wills end the file to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for trial.

During the arrest, police confiscated a Mercedes from Yean Sith.

Sith apparently gave a deposit book to his girlfriend, then his partner withdrew money in securities, the police said.

Preah Vihear Delegation Accident

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:10 DAP-NEWS 


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Cambodia delegation returning from Preah Vihear temple was involved in an accident on Saturday morning but luckily no-one was injured or killed, according to a source from Kampong Thom Province on Saturday.

The accident took place when a delegation bus collided with a car.

A police source who declined to give his name said that the accident took place in Kampong Thom province’s Baray District.

“I do no what happened to them as when I arrived the scene, I did not see any one including the driver,” the police added. However, the Baray District Police Chief told DAP News Cambodia on Saturday afternoon that the accident took place around 11 am between a bus and a car.

“We have dragged the vehicles to the police station in Baray district, and the delegation changed to another bus.”

Serial Motorbike Thief in Court

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 04:33 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday convicted a man of 6 motorbike robberies, a court officer said.

The accused, Kea Vicheth, 27, was arrested and remanded in custody on December 30, 2008, a police source said.

On November 30, 2009, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court held a hearing, the court officer added.

A vice Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge and a Committee of the Court Ke Sakhon, representative prosecutor Heang Sopheak, the accused, defense lawyers and local police officers attended.

If found guilty, Kea Vicheth could face decades in prison.

Kea Vicheth said that a Vann Vuthy, another man involved in the case, had sold the bikes.

“I robbed but I did not sell them,” he said, claiming that he received US$100 for a C125. He denied that “I recognized for the twice times.”

I robbed on December 23 and 24, 2008, he stressed.

The gun and radio he used in robberies were also alleged to be Vuthy’s property. All the motos robbed by Vicheth were Honda Dream C125s, a court official said.

Vicheth’s defense asked the court to “research and consider in trustily and reduce to my defendant.”

The trial will conclude on December 14.

Cambodia: ending HIV stigma in hospitals


Monday, November 30

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Patient in Chey Chumneas hospital

“They turned my patient away because she was HIV positive.” Discrimination of people living with HIV is found in every layer of society. Dr Vuthy King, from CAFOD partner Maryknoll, explains how he is working to stamp out stigma in the medical profession

“Some hospitals in Cambodia do not like to operate on people living with HIV. In Phnom Penh there are eight hospitals. In my experience, only two will operate on HIV-positive patients.

“This is not hospital policy, but a decision made by the surgeons. If medical professionals discriminate against HIV-positive people, you can imagine what kind of reactions they face from the public in general.

“A few years ago, I had a patient with appendicitis. I sent the patient to the nearest hospital at 9pm. But they said they wouldn’t operate on her because she had HIV. She would have to wait until 9am the next day so they could hold a meeting to discuss her case.

“When I went back at 10am, they rejected her from the hospital. By this time she was in a critical condition. I drove her to another hospital but they also refused to treat her. Finally the third hospital I went to accepted her.

“The Maryknoll hospice opened in 2000. We were the first non-governmental organisation in Cambodia to open a free hospice for poor people living with HIV.

“Almost 1,000 patients have used this hospice since it opened. Many would have died without the care they received here. Some poor people sell everything, their land, livestock, and home, to pay for medical bills because hospital fees are expensive.

“But when they recover they have no way to support themselves. It is a vicious trap for poor people. “We treat those with opportunistic infections like TB or meningitis. We also do complicated medical procedures like lumbar punctures but we’re not equipped to perform full operations.

“Recently, we opened a specialist HIV wing in Chey Chumneas hospital. We provide consultations with the patients and assess their needs. People travel from miles around to come and see us because they know they will receive the best staff. We are teaching hospital staff to treat HIV positive people with respect and care."

Cambodia: UN Review Should Insist on Respect for Rights


Crackdown on Dissent, Lack of Accountability, Forced Evictions Marr Country’s Record

November 30, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

(Geneva) - United Nations member states should express concerns about the dramatic deterioration of freedom of expression, assembly, and association in Cambodia at today's review of the nation's human rights record, Human Rights Watch said today.

Cambodia is undergoing its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Under the process, the rights record of each member state is reviewed once every four years. In its submission to the Council, Human Rights Watch highlighted political violence, the lack of punishment for senior government officials involved in serious rights abuses, forced evictions and land confiscation, arbitrary detention of drug users, and substandard prison conditions.

"In the past year there's been a sharp regression in Cambodia's respect for basic rights, with major setbacks in press freedom and a harsh crackdown on government critics," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Countries should ask Cambodia why it uses repressive tactics to silence peaceful dissent, while thrusting the poor even further into poverty by condoning illegal land grabbing."

In addition to intimidation, threats, and violence, the government increasingly uses the judicial system to muzzle journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition party members, who increasingly face unwarranted charges of criminal defamation and disinformation, Human Rights Watch said.

In recent months the government has pushed new laws through the National Assembly that further restrict freedom of expression and assembly, with little input from civil society. These include a new penal code and a law restricting demonstrations. A law regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGO) is expected to be taken up by the National Assembly soon, even though civil society groups have not been provided with the draft law for review and comment.

"Given the shrinking political space for human rights and advocacy groups in Cambodia, there's justified alarm that the NGO law will be used to shut down groups critical of the government," Adams said. "Countries at the Human Rights Council should ask the Cambodian government what it fears from a vibrant civil society."

Among Human Rights Watch's recommendations are for the Cambodian government to cease the harassment, arbitrary arrests, and physical attacks on human rights defenders, civil society activists, and opposition party members, and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of such attacks. The government should also tackle longstanding cases in which those responsible have not been brought to justice, such as the deadly 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally. And it should resolve more recent rights violations, such as excessive use of force by soldiers and police in forced evictions; physical abuse in detention centers of sex workers, people who use drugs, and homeless people; and the assassinations of labor leaders and journalists.

To address widespread evictions of people from their homes and their land, Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian government to enact a moratorium on forced evictions until the government has properly adopted and implemented a strict legislative framework on land and housing rights in general, and evictions and resettlement in particular.

Human Rights Watch also highlighted the need for continued UN engagement in Cambodia, especially given the worsening rights situation. Countries should urge the Cambodian government to continue to work with the Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to improve prisons, fight impunity, and enhance the protection of human rights.

"Without an impartial judiciary and other independent institutions to provide checks and balances on the government, a close partnership with the UN human rights office is crucial," Adams said. "Cambodia's worsening rights record should come under careful scrutiny, with the UN and its member states insisting that it abide by its international human rights commitments."

Sam Rainsy backers protest abroad

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Supporters of opposition leader Sam Rainsy wave placards during a demonstration against the “deterioration of democracy in Cambodia” on Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, on Monday. Hundreds gathered to protest against the Cambodian government’s alleged mistreatment of opposition politicians.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:02 Irwin Loy

SUPPORTERS of embattled opposition leader Sam Rainsy gathered in North American capitals this weekend to protest what they called the deteriorating state of democracy in Cambodia.

Organised as a response to the National Assembly’s decision last month to strip Sam Rainsy of his parliamentary immunity, nearly 200 people protested on Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, while a smaller group demonstrated in front of the Cambodian embassy in Washington on Saturday, organisers said.

Pretty Ma, secretary general of the Sam Rainsy Party North America, said opposition politicians in the Kingdom face “mistreatment and harassment”.

“The way immunity can be easily revoked from the people’s representatives is something almost unheard of here in the West,” he wrote in an email. “It’s overdone, truly abusive and ridiculous.”

The protesters urged Canada and the US to deny entry visas to “any corrupted official, including any human rights violators”.

Sam Rainsy, who is currently in Europe, was stripped of his immunity last month after an October incident in which he uprooted six wooden posts in Svay Rieng province along the border with Vietnam.

Villagers had claimed the Vietnamese were encroaching on their land.

The Vietnamese government, however, reacted with outrage, and the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the act “perverse”.

PM orders Thai loans halted

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha and James O’toole

PRIME Minister Hun Sen lashed out at the Thai government on Monday, instructing Cambodian officials to review all bilateral agreements with the neighbouring country and ordering the cessation of all its loans and grants to Cambodia.

Speaking at the opening of the Luong Preah Sdech Korn resort in Kampong Cham province, the prime minister accused the government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of insulting Cambodia and warned his subordinates against applying for Thai aid.

“Anyone who dares to ask for assistance from Thailand without my permission should resign. We may be poor, but we would rather shed our blood than let you look down on us,” Hun Sen said, apparently addressing Abhisit.

Tensions between the two governments have been heightened since fugitive Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Cambodia last month in his capacity as newly appointed economics adviser to the Royal government, and the government denied a request by Thailand to extradite him. Hun Sen laid the blame for the dispute squarely on Thailand, however, calling Abhisit the most difficult of the 10 Thai premiers he has dealt with and reserving especially pointed words for Abhisit’s foreign minister, Kasit Piromya.

“In diplomatic relations, Kasit is a gangster,” Hun Sen said, referencing the controversy that erupted earlier this year when a tape emerged of Kasit levying the same insult against Hun Sen. Kasit has said he was attempting to pay Hun Sen a compliment that was lost in translation.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand was in the process of communicating with Cambodia about the countries’ bilateral agreements. The two nations withdrew their respective ambassadors last month in the row over Thaksin’s appointment and visit to Cambodia, and Thani said any attempt to normalise relations would have to be initiated by Cambodia.

“From our perspective, the issue was the result of actions on the part of the Cambodian side, and so we hope that steps will be taken to rectify the situation,” he said.

Thailand, Thani added, will not submit to negotiations with Cambodia while Thaksin, who was deposed in a 2006 coup and self-exiled to avoid a jail term for corruption, remains as an official adviser to the Cambodian government.

On Friday, the Cambodian government announced that it had annulled a US$41 million loan from Thailand that was to have funded renovations of National Road 68, connecting Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey provinces with Thailand. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Friday that Cambodia is capable of funding this project on its own.

Hun Sen said he had spoken with Abhisit on Friday about the road project, and that the Thai PM asked him to reconsider the annulment and told him Thailand would send a diplomatic note confirming the project’s ongoing status. Because Abhisit was travelling in Thailand, however, the note did not arrive over the weekend, and by Monday, Hun Sen said he had decided to stick with his original policy.

“Please, all government institutions, review bilateral agreements with Thailand ... so that we will not owe any favours to Abhisit and their government,” Hun Sen said, adding that he had instructed the Ministry of Education not to send abroad 20 Cambodian students who had earned scholarships to study in Thailand because he planned to pay for their education in Cambodia instead.

Bail hearing set for ‘spy’
Kao Soupha, lawyer for Sivarak Chutipong, said a bail hearing had been set for his client at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on December 4.

Sivarak, a Thai national, was arrested on November 12 after passing Thaksin’s flight schedule to the Thai embassy during his visit to the Kingdom. Sivarak’s trial is scheduled for December 8.

Partial approval for draft budget

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:02 Meas Sokchea

The National Assembly approved four of the six chapters in the 2010 draft budget law on Monday, despite the objections of opposition lawmakers.

The National Assembly approved four of the six chapters in the 2010 draft budget law on Monday, despite the objections of opposition lawmakers.

Keat Chhon, minister of economy and finance, told the National Assembly that his ministry had “worked hard to generate revenue, and we hope to increase the level of revenue for next year”.

During the debate, the minister said the government would save money by limiting state employees with multiple positions to a single salary. “The government did not reduce the salaries of soldiers or civil servants. On the contrary, the government has increased their salaries from last year.

At the same time, public servants with multiple positions can only be paid for one of them,” Keat Chhon said.

To help shore up revenue sapped by effects of the global downturn, the budget contains provisions for new property and automobile taxes.

Under the draft, a tax of 0.1 percent would be levied on properties that are valued at more than 100 million riels (US$24,000) by a Property Valuation Commission to be established by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Agricultural land, government property and religious, diplomatic and humanitarian organisations would be tax-exempt.

Automobiles would be subject to taxes varying by year of production and horsepower, with vehicles of 24 horsepower and above subject to a tax of 2 million riels ($480).

Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the budget allocated too little to crucial development-related areas such as education, health and agriculture.

“In the health sector, people spend lots of money for care in private hospitals, but they cannot find quality treatment in public hospitals,” he said.

“The education sector receives very little money, even though far more spending is needed here. Agriculture also needs a greater allotment if we are to build up the sector to the point where we can compete with neighbouring countries.”

Civil society coalition NGO Forum echoed Yim Sovann’s concerns in an analysis of the 2010 budget issued on Saturday, which said that “there is concern that the relative low increase for education will affect the improvement of quality education,” citing the need for “qualified teachers and appropriate teaching materials, both financed from the current budget”.

The analysis also noted that “the increase for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is lower than expected, given, for instance, the need for investment in agriculture extension services.”

Yam Ponnarith, spokesman and lawmaker from the Human Rights Party, said: “The HRP did not adopt the budget because the government has included too many irregularities and ambiguities regarding how the money will be spent. The budget package must be divided and explained clearly.”

The National Assembly is due to resume debate on the draft budget law today, when parliamentarians are expected to pass the law’s final two chapters.


Siem Reap court questions evictee in land row

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:02 Tep Nimol and May Titthara

SIEM Reap Prosecutor Ty Soveinthal on Monday began his questioning of Huoy Mai, a 46-year-old villager from Oddar Meanchey province who has been accused of illegally cutting down trees on land at the centre of an ongoing dispute with the Angkor Sugar Company, owned by Cambodian People’s Party senator Ly Yongphat.

Huoy Mai’s family was one of 214 that were evicted from the 1,500-hectare plot of land in Kounkriel commune in October, when armed officials bulldozed some homes and burned others to the ground. Seventy families then travelled to Phnom Penh to protest the eviction.

Police arrested Huoy Mai and one other evictee in the capital on Saturday, bringing the total number of arrested evictees to five. Three were arrested immediately after the eviction and are being held on the same charges as Huoy Mai, who police say cut down trees in the buildup before the eviction. The other villager who was arrested on Saturday, Vey Sarin, was released later that day.

Huoy Chhuoy, a villager representative and Huoy Mai’s brother, said his sister had not cut down any trees on the land.

“They should file a complaint to the Angkor Sugar Company because they cut down a lot of forest to develop their farm,” he said, adding that Huoy Mai is five months pregnant.

The court has also issued a warrant for Huoy Chhuoy, who is currently in Phnom Penh.

Thon Nol, governor of Samrong district, which includes Kounkriel commune, said the families who did not flee to Phnom Penh had all accepted 30-metre-by-50-metre houses and a one-hectare plot of farmland as compensation.

Govt readies for UN human rights review

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:02 Sebastian Strangio and Sam Rith

Land evictions, judicial reform to feature high on the agenda during the three-day hearing.

JUDICIAL reform, corruption and land rights are expected to be high on the agenda when Cambodia comes before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for its first formal rights review this afternoon.

A UN summary report compiling the recommendations filed by 23 local and international rights organisations in April flagged concerns including continuing legal impunity and increases in the “rate and scale of land-grabbing and forced evictions” that have plagued the country since 2004.

The UPR is not the only event in geneva − this is a continuing process.

Surya Prasad Subedi, the UN’s special human rights rapporteur to Cambodia, said the three-day Universal Periodic Review hearing would give Cambodia “an opportunity ... to engage in a comprehensive manner” on rights issues with other member states.

Subedi also said he hoped the government would take the hearing seriously, after it was criticised at a similar review at the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva in May for sending just a single delegate – UN ambassador Sun Suon – to the two-day hearing.

“It is a good opportunity for the government of Cambodia to defend its human rights record before an international human rights body. The more the government appears taking the matter seriously the more the government will receive credit for its endeavours in this regard,” he said by email.

New mechanism
The quadrennial review, established with the reform of the UN’s rights body in 2006, is the main mechanism by which each UN member state is scrutinised on human rights issues.

During a three-hour session today, the Cambodian delegation is expected to answer questions from the council, the result of which will shape an outcome report to be adopted on Thursday.

Om Yentieng, senior adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and head of the government-run Cambodian Committee of Human Rights, said on Monday that the government had sent three officials to Geneva, including its ambassador to the UN, to attend the UPR session.

“I do not expect anything from the meeting in Geneva because the situation in Cambodia is not the same as what is written in the human rights reports,” he said. “What we have seen is that Cambodia is getting more progressive from day to day.”

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said the review would not lead to an immediate improvement in the human rights situation, but appealed to the government to accept its recommendations and make a plan for joint NGO-government action to improve the rights situation.

“The UPR is not only the event in Geneva – this is a continuing process,” he said. “We would like to appeal to the government to take this issue seriously.”

Fire victims face health threats

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Residents could do nothing but watch as their homes burned in Russey Keo district last month. Now they face a growing threat of illness.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

NEARLY 2,000 people made homeless by a residential fire in Phnom Penh say they are suffering from poor sanitation and a shortfall of medical supplies nearly a fortnight after the blaze ripped through their Russey Keo district homes on November 19.

Resident Tolas Navy, 40, said she is sleeping on a wooden bed under wall-less tents, but that exposure to cooler evenings has caused her family increasing health problems.

“My children and I have colds because we can’t handle the cold air,” she said.

Others said the lack of sanitation in the makeshift shelters was an increasing concern for the community.

“Currently, I am concerned about my villagers catching cholera and other epidemic diseases because of a lack of sanitation systems,” said Soeb Sim, 64, the chief of Kho village.

Van Thorn, Chraing Chamres II commune chief, said he had instructed the people to drink only boiled water and wear masks to protect against coughs and colds. But he called on the Ministry of Health to send staff to distribute medicine to the people.

“Our people received some tents, beds, food, blankets and mosquito nets from the Cambodian Red Cross, students’ associations and the Phnom Penh authorities, but no health officials have come to give medicine,” he said.

When contacted Tuesday, Sok Sokun, director of the Municipal Department of Health, said officials from his office would visit the affected area in the coming days.

Kraya gets final negotiation

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Kraya commune villagers rest at their homes in Kampong Thom last week. The residents, many of whom are disabled, say they were given permission by Prime Minister Hun Sen to live on the land.

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Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 May Titthara

AFTER Sunday’s refusal by the besieged residents of Kraya commune to acknowledge relocation talks, Kampong Thom provincial authorities made a unilateral decision on Monday to issue villagers their last compensation offer on December 3.

“We’ve called the negotiations on Thursday because we want to find a peaceful resolution, but if they do not agree with us, we will begin to enforce the eviction order,” said Santuk district Governor Pich Sophea.

Village leader Pou Kin said that he and his neighbours would continue to reject the possibility of relocation. “When the authorities come here on Thursday, it looks like we are all going to have a real big problem because we refuse to leave,” he said. “Even though authorities say they want a peaceful resolution, I don’t think we will be able to avoid it coming to violence.”

Another villager, Neang Sinath, said officials had threatened to reduce their homes “to ashes” if they fail to reach an agreement on Thursday. “We are willing to die here and let the authorities find a ‘peaceful resolution’ for our spirits,” she said. “I know that we are disabled and cannot win, but we can try.”

Kraya commune was established as a social concession in 2004 to offer poor and disabled veterans a chance to support their families, according to Khun Sokea, chief of the Kraya Disabled Veterans’ Development Community. “Having farmland is better than going to beg in the city,” he said. “We’re trying to escape poverty. Living with disabilities is already hard, but the authorities are trying to make it harder still.”

The commune is now home to more than 1,000 families from across the country. Their claim to the land was recognised by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2007, but in that same year the land was sold to the Tin Bien rubber company. “We’ve had trouble here ever since,” Khun Sokea said.

In 2008, police began a campaign of harassment and intimidation aimed at pressuring the commune’s residents to relocate, villagers say.

Resentment erupted into violence on November 16, when 200 villagers burned four company excavators and other property before clashing with Military Police. Since the incident, the village has been blockaded by police hoping to catch the alleged ringleaders. Seven people have so far been arrested. A further 13 are still being sought.

PM warns against insulting monarchy

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Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 Cheang Sokha

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday warned members of the Royal family not to publicly disrespect the King, saying the government would take action against anyone insulting the monarchy.

At the launch of a new resort in Kampong Cham province, the premier referenced an “inappropriate” comment made in June, in which an unnamed Royal said King Norodom Sihamoni had left the Royal Palace to go touring. In fact, said the prime minister, the King was not – as the comment suggested – taking a holiday, but was engaged in humanitarian work, Royal affairs and presiding over traditional ceremonies.

“I would like to warn any member of the Royal family who says disrespectful things to the current King, King Father or King Mother that the government will take action,” Hun Sen said, describing himself as a “faithful protector” of the monarchy who felt pity for the King “because he stays alone”. The prime minister also emphasised the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s support for the Royal institution. “There is no threat to the monarchy,” he said.

Land Dispute: Chi Kraeng rice planting abandoned

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Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 Rann Reuy

Land Dispute

SIEM REAP – Villagers in Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng commune said Monday that they had abandoned a plan to plant dry-season rice on a disputed 475-hectare plot of land after 30 police and military police officers showed up, though the district governor denied that additional police had been sent to the scene. Village representative Thorng Sareth said the villagers had become frightened when they saw the officers riding on motorbikes and cars to the disputed land, which Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin has ruled belongs to neighbouring Anlong Samnor commune. “We were afraid to go because we heard the police say that they would electrocute us and kill us if we went,” said Tork Savong, 30, who claims to own a two-hectare plot of the disputed land. “But the villagers may decide to go tomorrow.” The ongoing land dispute erupted in violence last March, when some 100 armed police opened fire on 80 Chi Kraeng villagers caught harvesting crops on the land. Four were injured in that altercation. Chi Kraeng district Governor Pork Sereyrothmony denied that officers had been sent to the site on Monday. District police chief Touch Sakal could not be reached for comment.

Bank accuses employee of $500k fraud

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Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

A senior official with an ACLEDA Bank branch in Kampong Cham’s Srey Santhor district has been arrested after being accused of defrauding the company of nearly US$500,000, bank and police officials confirmed Monday.

We have learned that he had cheated the bank by transferring nearly $500,000....

Yan Seth, chief of the marketing section of ACLEDA in Srey Santhor district, was arrested after bank officials became suspicious of some “irregularities”, said the bank’s CEO and President In Channy.

“There were some irregularities in the audit system,” said In Channy, who alleged that Yan Seth conspired with his girlfriend, an employee at a competing bank, to steal the money.

“We have learned that he had cheated the bank by transferring nearly $500,000 to his girlfriend’s bank account. We want him to be prosecuted,” said In Channy, adding that he would not confirm when Yan Seth was arrested or elaborate further on the accusations, which have yet to be proved in court.

“It is an internal affair. Let the police complete their investigation, and then it will become public,” he said.

Calls to Ministry of Interior police officials, who are handling the case, were not returned Monday.

Sor Ros, head of the anti-drug trafficking bureau of the Kampong Cham provincial police, confirmed that the ACLEDA employee and his girlfriend had both been arrested, before referring questions to the ministry.

Meanwhile, another ACLEDA official in Kampong Cham province was breathing a sigh of relief Monday after a local newspaper erroneously reported that it was he who had been arrested.

“I was very surprised after reading the newspaper, which wrongly accused me of cheating a large amount of money,” said Heng Phalla, ACLEDA’s provincial director in Kampong Cham.

Vendors appeal to Hun Sen

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Vendors protest in front of Hun Sen’s house on Monday against high rent at City Mall. They say the mall’s owners have been charging them unfairly.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 May Titthara

MORE than 100 vendors from the City Mall in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district protested in front of Hun Sen’s house on Monday after claiming the mall’s owners breached a leasing contract.

Buo Monineat, a vendor representative, said: “We are protesting in front of the prime minister’s house because we are asking him to help reduce the rent that the mall owners are charging us. They are cheating us.”

Vendors say that they have been forced to pay rent from October to the end of this year even though their leasing contract states that they don’t need to pay until the mall is officially inaugurated in January 2010. The mall owners are accused of threatening to close the vendors’ stalls.

“We would like the mall owner to reduce our rent by 40 percent over the next three years because of the economic crisis, and we don’t want to have to pay any rent from October until the end of this year,” said Buo Monineat.

“The owners denied our request and threatened us. They are giving us problems,” he added.

Sok Ath, chief of the government’s development programme in Prampi Makara district, said that he is trying to work out a solution between owners and vendors.

“I have asked the mall owners not to confiscate the vendors’ stalls,” he said.

Heng Kiet, deputy manager of the City Mall, could not be reached on Monday.

Nuon Chea team asks for probe

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Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 Robbie Corey Boulet

LAWYERS for Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea have called on tribunal judges to investigate what they describe as blatant attempts by the government to block the testimony of six officials who were requested to testify in September.

The filing, dated Monday, cites an interview in which spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the government had decided that the officials should not appear at the court. It also refers to a speech in which Hun Sen said he had personally rejected a request for “some people to testify”. UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said Sunday that none of the six officials had responded to the requests.

Nuon Chea’s international co-lawyer Michiel Pestman said the statements were “a very serious problem”.

“It looks like the government, and Hun Sen in particular, are interfering with the administration of justice by coercing witnesses, and that is a crime,” he said by phone from Amsterdam.

Olsen said he could not comment on “investigative steps”. Khieu Kanharith could not be reached Monday, and Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan declined to comment on the filing, saying he had not seen it.

OZ Minerals looks to large gold find in 2010

A worker responds to a two-way radio message at the OZ Minerals Ltd Prominent Hill mine in South Australia. The firm said Monday that much of Cambodia’s mineral wealth remains undiscovered. BLOOMBERG

We plan to make an announcement on Okvao ... by the first quarter next year.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:00 Jeremy Mullins and Chun Sophal

Australian miner plans to net at least 2 million ounces of gold at its east Cambodia concessions by end of next year

OZ Minerals Limited announced plans aimed at identifying at least 2 million ounces of gold at its Cambodian concessions by the end of 2010 in an online conference Monday.

“We are going very hard on five projects [in Cambodia] to see whether that can come forward,” Tony Houston, head of exploration of the Victoria, Australia-based miner, said at the conference.

OZ Minerals has recently refocused on gold and copper mining in Australia and Southeast Asia following the June sale of US$1.35 billion of its zinc mines to China Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Co to pay off outstanding debts.

Having operated in eastern Cambodia for over three years, the firm handles four gold concessions and one copper property. OZ has completed most exploratory work at its Okvao gold tenement in Mondulkiri province, where it has completed resource drilling and geological modelling is already under way, said Houston.

“By the end of 2010 we aim to be in a position where we can identify strong potential for over 2 million ounces, and the longer term we’re looking for more, for over 3 million ounces,” he said. “We plan to make an announcement on Okvao on resource and inferred resource by the first quarter next year.”

Only preliminary work has been carried out at the firm’s other Cambodian sites, but early results show potential, he added.

“Cambodia is completely unexplored, and it is one where there are continual surprises as you go out into the bush and start doing your detailed work,” Houston said, adding that OZ Minerals is also actively searching for opportunities in Thailand and Laos.

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company closed up 3.3 percent on Monday to A$1.12 (US$1.02). The stock fell 7.09 percent last week but has gradually climbed from a low of A$0.37 earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the government announced Monday that it had licensed an unnamed private overseas company to explore for gold in the Barsub Trub area east of Banteay Chhmar temple in Banteay Meanchey province.

Minister of Finance Keat Chhon told the National Assembly Monday that the licence had already been issued on the area, which has been the subject of geological study for some time, he added.

“We hope to gain some income from this gold mining as gold prices on [world] markets are very high at the moment,” he said.

According to a report Keat Chhon showed to the National Assembly, studies from Barsub Trub indicated that roughly 5 grams of gold could be mined from 1 tonne of soil.

Trade with Vietnam plummets by 39pc

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Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:00 May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA’S bilateral trade with Vietnam saw a further decline in October, dropping 39 percent year on year, according to official figures released Monday by the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh.

Trade was down to US$103 million in October, down from $169 during the same month last year. The fall was greater than the aggregated year-to-date slide of 29.7 percent for the first 10 months, meaning a recovery in trade with one of the Kingdom’s most important economic partners has failed to materialise. Bilateral trade was down an annualised 22.8 percent in September.

“People [in the two countries] don’t earn well, meaning they have had to cut expenses,” Le Bien Cuong, Vietnam’s commercial counsellor in Phnom Penh, said Monday, also citing a drop in Cambodia’s imports of raw materials for the key construction and garment sectors.

Two-way trade stood at $1.049 billion this year to the end of October from $1.493 billion over the same period last year.

Still, Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said Monday that there had been flight from Thai products to those from Vietnam in the wake of the diplomatic dispute with Bangkok.

“The more problems that exist with Thailand, the more progress is made with Vietnam,” he said, although it remained difficult to back up this claim statistically given that trade data for November – when relations with Thailand reached a recent low – will not be available for another month.

Cuong predicted trade between Cambodia and Vietnam would be down about 20 percent overall for 2009 compared with last year.

Victory escapes Bheut Kam

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Bheut Kam (left) thrashed Ma Chaimov with brutal body work Sunday at TV5, but victory escaped him when the referee ruled the fight a no-contest.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:00 Robert Starkweather

Referee Chey Bunchoeu stops the fight between Ma Chaimov and Bheut Kam in the third round at TV5 boxing arena Sunday, citing a lack of aggression

THE same fate has befallen dozens of other fighters.

With Bheut Kam’s punches coming hard and fast, Ma Chaimov could do little but cover up and hope the end came quick.

But where the crowd at TV5 saw a knockout Sunday, referee Chey Bunchoeu saw a ruse. He called off the fight in the third round, citing lack of aggression. Officially, the match ended in a no decision. With that declaration came the most painful shot of the night.

“They don’t want to pay us,” said Ma Chaimov, standing in a puddle of sweat in the TV5 dressing room afterward, his ribs red from the beating.

The news wiped the near permanent smile from the face of the 26-year-old Battambang native, who said Sunday’s fight would have brought a welcome payday.

Bheut Kam was originally scheduled to fight 68-kilogram titleholder May Sopheap. But May Sopheap dropped out of the fight citing unspecified injuries, and Ma Chaimov (44-15-1) got the call unexpectedly.

It was a journeyman’s assignment by all accounts.

“He has a 90 percent chance to lose,” joked Ma Chaimov’s friend, Yoeung Sokun, ahead of Sunday’s match.

Bookmakers offered similarly long odds, for good reason. No one ever really expects to beat Bheut Kam, the 22-year-old Battambang prodigy with a career record of 185 wins, five losses and 85 knockouts.

Certainly Ma Chaimov didn’t. Since winning first place in his weight division at the national championships in October, he has devoted his attention to his future wife and their upcoming wedding.

“Don’t listen to all that,” implored Ma Chaimov’s brother and cornerman Ma Chaimuet. “You can beat him. He hasn’t fought in a long time.”

Ma Chaimov wasted no time when opening bell rang, foregoing the traditional boxer’s handshake and instead landing a low kick.

He appeared competitive through the first two rounds, sweeping Bheut Kam to the canvas early in round one and catching him with a clean elbow and several flush punches in the second.

But as Bheut Kam began pushing the pace late in round two, Ma Chaimov wilted.

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Worse than a knockout, 26-year-old Ma Chaimov got booted from the ring Sunday by referee Chey Bunchoeu.

In the clinch, Bheut Kam dominated, landing hard knees repeatedly and dumping Ma Chaimov to the canvas half a dozen times. Ma Chaimov returned to his feet slower and slower each time.

A flurry of unanswered punches midway through the third round prompted Chey Bunchoeu, the eldest of the sport’s elder statesmen, to halt the action and warn Ma Chaimov to get on the stick.

But a tired Ma Chaimov appeared to have little left. And Bheut Kam continued to unleash a flurry of knocks, including a brutal left hook to the body that crumpled his tired opponent.

As Ma Chaimov slumped hurt and helpless against the ropes, Bheut Kam unloaded with a vicious right hand to the body, a hard left-right to the head and devastating left hook to the ribs.

Chey Bunchoeu stepped in to count eight.

Ma Chaimov turned his back and sagged on the ropes.

When Ma Chaimov did not answer the count, Chey Bunchoeu tapped him on the shoulder and, with the polite gesture of an usher in a movie theater, directed him to the stairs. Bheut Kam stepped to center ring for the hand-raising, but Chey Bunchoeu offered him the same curt nod.
No decision. No winners, no losers. No paycheck.

“I told to you that you had to work harder,” railed Ma Chaimuet in the dressing room afterward, his brother slumped in a red plastic chair. “Why didn’t you listen?”

Ma Chaimov, a vivacious and well-spoken 26-year-old outside the ring and a respectable force inside it, offered no answers.

He got dressed and milled around the sweaty arena hallway, then watched as two youngsters slugged it out wildly in the ring.

“You get paid yet?” shot Long Sophy, who cornered for Bheut Kam, his teammate at Club Salavorn.

Staring out at the judges table from a sidestage door, Ma Chaimov shook his head and said nothing.

“It’s very difficult,” Yoeung Sokun said. “He is about to get married.”

Then he asked, “Do you think he is a fraud?”

An official at the judge’s table stubbed out a cigarette and walked over. “Come here,” he said to Ma Chaimuet, without breaking his stride.

Ma Chaimuet left his brother and his friend standing in the hallway and followed the man outside, where the official handed over the prize money, about $80, and a few stern words.

Ma Chaimov lost to Bheut Kam, after all. That’s not fraudulent, just human.