Wednesday, 2 December 2009

HCC graduate Bunthany Thap receives $10,000 award to study at AIC

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

HOLYOKE - She has come a long way from a being a 2-year-old escaping from Cambodia to graduating from Holyoke Community College graduate and now pursuing a bachelor's degree at American International College.

In between, Bunthany Thap, 33, has been homeless and raised two children as a single mother working in a factory.

This year, Thap is the recipient of a unique $10,000 annual Dean to Dean scholarship given by the business departments of Holyoke Community College and American International College to a graduate interested in continuing studies in Springfield.

The scholarship, combined with financial assistance, loans and work study is allowing Thap to earn her degree in

accounting and pursue her goal to work in a college and eventually earn her doctorate.

"I am very grateful for this," she said. "It was wonderful. I was able to quit my job and go to college."

It has been a long road to college for Thap, whose father kidnapped her and her older brother so he could smuggle them from Cambodia.

Her father fought against the Khmer Rouge and was taken prisoner. After her was captured, word came to her mother that he had died. The villagers recommended she remarry and she did.

But Thap's father was alive and, when he escaped, he learned his wife had remarried. He fled to Thailand and had a chance to come to the United States with his new wife, but did not want to leave without his two young children.

Thap said she remembers little about the escape or the walk through mine fields to Thailand. But she remembers the time spent in refugee camps, meeting her step-mother, who was 15 and did not know her husband had children.

Cambodian kids painting with hope

Reaching out: Debbie Tuckey and civic centre co-ordinator Ashley Hoffman with some of the paintings to be exhibited. Picture: Elliott Housego

02 Dec, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

CAMDEN Civic Centre will be filled with the colours of hope next week as the artwork of Cambodia's poorest children goes on sale.

The artwork, painted by underprivileged street children, will be sold to raise money for the Cambodian Children's Painting Project, which helps the poorest children in the village of Sihanoukville.

Project director Felix Brooks-Church said residents of the coastal village lacked regular access to food, clean drinking water and medical care.

``We are trying to change that by providing a supportive and safe place to come and play and express themselves in a positive way. And it's art that is our major focus,'' he said.

Mr Brooks-Church has been travelling around Australia since August holding fund-raising art exhibitions.

Camden Council's Family Day Care coordinator Debbie Tuckey is custodian of the unsold paintings, which will be exhibited at Camden Civic Centre.

They will be available for purchase for one week only from Saturday at 1pm.

Group to show film on genocide

PHOTO: Meghan Russell

Laura Karp (junior-biobehavioral health) puts falafel on her plate during the Hillel Falafel Festival on Tuesday night.

By Amanda Elser
Collegian Staff Writer

December 2, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Academy Award-winning film "The Killing Fields" will be screened this evening in Foster Auditorium as an engineering student group's effort to promote international issues.

The film is a realistic adaptation of an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Sydney H. Schanberg during the genocide in Cambodia.

Jonathan Rumbaugh (junior-architectural engineering) said the Engineering Students for International Outreach (ESIO) is showing this film to contribute to the organization's main goal -- promoting awareness.

The 1984 film depicts the true story of Schanberg and a Cambodia journalist, Dith Pran, and their struggles after being caught up in the 1970s genocide, Rumbaugh said. "We just hope to educate the public and the community," he said.

Rumbaugh said the genocide in Cambodia -- in which up to 3 million people were murdered -- is something with which the entire community can sympathize. Katie Greco (junior-international politics and Russian) said ESIO has two main goals: build a schoolhouse in Cambodia and figure out how to get clean water to people in Morocco. "Basically, our main purpose is to promote and fundraise for international issues by applying engineering to it," Rumbaugh said

Both Greco and Rumbaugh joined ESIO through a requirement with an engineering class, but have decided to stay on once the semester is over. Stephanie Giannetti, the vice president of ESIO, said her main goal for the club is to expand membership.

"It's a good cause that people can get behind, and clearly you don't have to be engineering majors," Giannetti (junior-management) said. "The name is a little deceiving."

Giannetti said plans for larger fundraising efforts can only be accomplished with a larger group, so they are always looking for new members. Greco said the target audience for the event is Penn State students, although the whole community is welcome.

Southern Gold commences drilling program for 2009-2010 field season in Cambodia

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Diversified resources company Southern Gold (ASX:SAU) has announced the commencement of drilling operations for the 2009‐2010 Field Season on the Snoul gold and base metals tenements in Cambodia.

The 2,500m program is testing the continuity of gold mineralisation intersected at the Anchor Prospect including 8m @ 5.9g/t gold (SNRC09) and at the nearby Oh Pok prospect and will also test several other prospects identified from soil and/or trenching results.

Managing director Stephen Biggins said the drilling operations were the first of an extensive program of diamond core and Reverse Circulation drilling that would be completed by Southern Gold on its Cambodian Projects over the next few months.

It is planned that drilling operations will be carried out utilising 2‐3 man portable diamond core drill rigs and 2 RC (multi‐purpose) drill rigs.

A soil sampling program completed last week on the Snoul tenement collected 895 samples to identify new gold and base metal anomalies which can be prioritised for trenching and/or drill testing.

This program will also include infill sampling of previously identified targets within the tenement.

A soil sampling program has also commenced on the Kratie South JV (JOGMEC) tenements, Preak Khlong and O’Kthung, with the aim of identifying new gold and base metal anomalies for trench and/or drill testing.

Drilling operations will commence shortly on the Kratie North and South JV tenements, which are located in the same intrusive related gold district as Oz Minerals Ltd’s (ASX:OZL) Cambodian gold exploration projects.

Cambodia hosts regional meeting on economic recession


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia hosts a regional meeting of officials and stakeholders from the four new members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday to discuss how to improve the economic status in the region.

The one-day meeting is co-organized by Cambodia's Ministry of Commerce and Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) with the support from Economic Research Institute for the ASEAN and East Asia.

Prince Norodom Sirivudh, founder and chairman of CICP said the meeting was necessary to seek ways on how to curb with the impact of global economic crisis.

He said the four countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, are the new members of the ASEAN and are still poor.

He added that the economic downturn has affected economic growth, tourism and the garment sector.

At the forum, Pan Sorasak, secretary of state of Ministry of Commerce said that the Cambodian government is now working with the United States to open more markets for Cambodian products.

He said that agriculture is another potential resource for Cambodia to help boost the country's economy. But at the same time, the government is not ignoring its capacity building and the human resource development. 

Editor: Li Xianzhi

Khmer Rouge tribunal names new foreign prosecutor


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal said Wednesday that it has appointed a new international prosecutor whose most recent job was defending former Liberian President Charles Taylor at his war crimes trial.

Andrew T. Cayley of Britain, who has also served as a prosecutor at international war crimes courts, was named to the post left vacant in September by the resignation of Canadian co-prosecutor Robert Petit, the tribunal said in a statement.

The tribunal, known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, incorporates mixed teams of foreign and Cambodian judges, prosecutors and defenders. Political wrangling between the two sides has led to many delays, and allegations of corruption among the tribunal's Cambodian staff have hurt the tribunal's credibility.

A verdict is expected early next year in the tribunal's first trial, of Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, who is charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

The brutal 1970s rule of the Khmer Rouge left an estimated 1.7 million people dead from torture, execution, disease and starvation.

The tribunal is also holding four former senior Khmer Rouge leaders in custody, and they are expected to be tried next year or later.

Cayley has spent the last two years in private practice, during which time he defended Charles Taylor, the tribunal said. Taylor, accused of providing arms to Sierra Leone rebels in exchange for diamonds mined by slave laborers, ended 13 weeks on the witness stand earlier this month at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Cayley earlier served as senior prosecuting counsel for the International Criminal Court investigating crimes in Darfur and the International Criminal Tribunal investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, it said.

The tribunal also said American Nicholas Koumjian was appointed reserve co-prosecutor.

The Government Explains Land and House Taxes and the Road Taxes’ Increase – Tuesday, 1.12.2009

Posted on 2 December 2009
The Mirror, Vol.13, No.641

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“Phnom Penh: Government officials and parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party explained in detail the regulations for setting of taxes on land and houses, and the increase of road taxes in 2010. This decision is part of the decisions for the national budget for 2010 which the National Assembly discussed and approved on Monday 30 November 2009.

“Defending the national budget draft for 2010, officially known as a financial management law for 2010, during the parliament session on Monday morning, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, said that the increase of road taxes and the collection of taxes for real estate including land, houses, buildings, and constructions are a measure to seek additional income while Cambodia is encountering an economic and financial crisis.

“Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon added that measures of the government to create taxes on land and houses is not expected to bring in much here in Phnom Penh, because there are 180,000 houses from which only US$3 million to US$9 million can be made. This tax collection will surely be made from high ranking officials and rich people, but it does not have an impact like the tax rates of land and houses in foreign countries, where up to 1% of the total value is charged. In our country, it is only 0.1%. The government will use it to reduce the state support of resources to under national levels and to expand taxation culture which is a movement for direct tax income in the future.

“Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon stressed that this new tax was created after proper studies, by an assessment committee, but it is not to frighten the people.

“This statement of the Minister of Economy and Finance is a defense and a response to the criticism of Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians when the parliament begun discussing to approve a draft of the national budget for 2010.

“The total national budget for 2010, about US$2 billion, was criticized by the Sam Rainsy Party because of the increased expense allocated for national defense and security, which amounts to about US$274 million, while expenses allocated for agriculture and contributing to the development of the national economy were increased by only 5%.

“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians also opposed the policy to collect land and house taxes, and to augment road taxes from automobiles, which is proposed as a measure to increase income for state expense in 2010.

“Parliamentarian and spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Yim Sovann, said during the parliament session that to augment road taxes and the collection of land and house taxes are strange moves and cannot be supported. Both the rich and the poor cannot cry during the economic crisis at present, because their houses and their land cannot be sold, and some even are indebted to banks.

“The parliamentarian Yim Sovann suggested that the government should try to be brave to collect other taxes, like from visits to the Angkor Wat Temples [contracted to a private company], from forest exploitation, from land contracted out as economic concession land, and to monitor the selling of state property, so that it becomes transparent. Doing so, the state will have increased income and does not need to collect taxes from houses and to increase the road tax.

“The National budget law for 2010 says that taxes will be collected from real estate such as land, houses, buildings, constructions, and others, with a value over Riel 100,000,000 [approx. US$25,000]. The tax will be collected annually at a rate of 0.1% of the total value of the real estate. But the tax excludes agricultural land, and land and buildings of the government, of communities, or individuals who serve religious or humanitarian activities. But houses for normal citizens must pay taxes.

“The budget law for 2010 foresees also an increase of taxes on means transportation including automobiles (road taxes):

1- Vehicles with a power over 12 HP to 17 HP, within 5 years from their production date, have to pay Riel 500,000 [approx. US$125] each year, and after the 5th years, it is Riel 360,000 [approx. US$90].

2- Cars with a power over 17 HP to 24 HP, within 5 years from their production date, have to pay Riel 1,600,000 [approx. US$400], and after the 5th year, it is Riel 1,200,000 [approx. US$300].

3- Cars with a power over 24 HP, like Lexus’ and Land Cruisers, had to pay only Riel 1,000,000 [approx. US$250] for road tax in the previous year, but next year, they will be charged Riel 2,000,000 [approx. US$500].

4- As for passengers’, general transportation, and tourists’ cars with a power of 12 HP, and small motorbikes, their taxes are kept at the same level.

“However, 106 parliamentarians among 109, who were present during the session on Monday morning, raised their hand in favor of the overall content to accept the draft of the national budget for 2010 to be discussed and approved. The Parliament session continued until Monday afternoon, and the parliament plans to continue to discuss the national budget law, which consists of 6 chapters and 20 articles, on Tuesday morning.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5061, 1.12.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Cambodia, Thai troops play volleyball at border

December 02, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

In an effort to build confidence and ease down the situation along the Cambodia-Thai border, 20 Cambodian and Thai troops played volleyball on Tuesday afternoon at the border area, local newspaper the Cambodia Daily reported Wednesday.

The paper quoted Gen. Srey Dek, commander of armed forces' Division 3 based at Preah Vihear Temple as saying that 10 Cambodian soldiers and 10 Thai soldiers joined a "friendly volleyball game" on Tuesday.

He said the move will strengthen the cooperation between the two armies.

At the game, Srey Dek said, the two sides did not keep score, but for fun.

He, meanwhile, said both sides of military wish not to have a repeated armed clash.

Armed forces from the two countries had exchanged two times of gun fires and left several people dead and more than a dozen others injured since their border conflict began in July last year.

Source: Xinhua

Khmer Rouge court announces new international prosecutor

Agence France-Presse
Phnom Penh, December 02, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes court has a new international prosecutor, the UN-backed tribunal announced on Wednesday, several months after the previous holder of the post resigned.

Briton Andrew T Caley, who has worked at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has been formally appointed by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, a court statement said.

The appointment was welcomed by court observers, who said it was important to get a permanent international prosecutor in place as soon as possible.

"There are many critical decisions that should be made in the (next) case in the next two months and they should be made by the international prosecutor who will have the responsibility for carrying them out," Heather Ryan, court monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, told AFP.

Caley is expected to arrive in Cambodia within the next few weeks, said tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen.

Canadian prosecutor Robert Petit announced his resignation from the court in June, citing personal and family reasons after a row with his local counterpart over whether to pursue more suspects of the late 1970s communist regime.

Petit denied his sudden resignation from the tribunal was due to the dispute with Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang.

The court's first trial of prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, concluded last week with Australian Bill Smith serving as interim international prosecutor.

The tribunal, which was created in 2006 to prosecute leading Khmer Rouge members, also plans to try four former leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity sometime in 2011.

It is currently investigating whether to open cases against five additional suspects.

The process, however, has often been hit by allegations that Prime Minister Hun Sen's administration has attempted to interfere in the tribunal to protect former regime members who are now in government.

The 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime killed up to two million people through starvation, overwork and torture as it attempted to forge a communist utopia.

Thai mother travels to Cambodia to visit arrested son

December 02, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Mrs. Simaluck Na Nakhon Panom, the mother of a Thai man having been arrested in Cambodia Wednesday traveled to Cambodia to visit the detained son.

Mrs. Simaluck's son, Siwarak Chothipong, who worked as an engineer at the Cambodia Air Traffic Services Co Ltd (CATS), has been arrested in Cambodia from Nov. 11, according to an arrest warrant of the prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipality Court.

Cambodia has charged Siwarak of having had confidential information affecting Cambodia's national security.

Also, a younger brother of Siwarak accompanied the mother traveling to Cambodia, which is their second trip after Siwarak has been detained in a prison in Phnom Penh, the Thai News Agency reported.

The Thai mother flew to Cambodia with dry foods and clothes for the detained son.

Meanwhile, the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, which has prepared some money worth from 50,000 baht (1,506 U.S. dollars) to 200,000 baht (6,027 U.S. dollars), has been in the process of seeking a quick release of Siwarak on bail.

Source: Xinhua

New int'l prosecutor named for UN-backed court in Cambodia


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 2(Xinhua)-- The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia announced Wednesday that Andrew T. Cayley was named as a new international co-prosecutor for the UN-backed court in Cambodia .

In the statement, the ECCC said Andrew T. Cayley, from the United Kingdom , has been appointed as a new international Co-Prosecutor.

Robert Petit, former international co-prosecutor resigned some six months ago and left the seat for William Smith, Australian, as acting international co-prosecutor since then.

The ECCC's statement said over the last two years, Mr. Cayley, has been in private practice, defending Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ivan Cermak before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Prior to this he served as Prosecuting Counsel at ICTY from 1995-2001, the first three years being seconded from the British army by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the ICTY.

Cayley holds an LL. B and LL.M. from University College London and is also a professional officer graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Cambodia, Camko City Ink Agreement to Establish Financial Development

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:16 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian government officials and South Korean investors on Tuesday signed a US$6 million agreement to building the of the Financial Development District (FDD), to be located in CAMKO City and scheduled to complete the construction in late 2010.

Aun Porn Moniroth, delegate minister and secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), said at the signing ceremony that the purpose of the establishment is to develop a center for conglomeration of financial institutions providing diversified financial services and also to develop a financial center with infrastructures of high level conforming to the Cambodian government policy of Financial sector development strategy 2006-2015, particularly the development of Cambodia’s securities markets.

Speaking at a signing ceremony at the MEF presided over by DPM and MEF Keat Chhon, Aun Porn Moniroth said that the building will house the public trading of securities market, adding qualified businesses—such as financial business including both banking and non-baking institutions, realty estate investment, and other supporting service activities such hotel, conference halls—will be encouraged to conduct in the area.

“The establishment is an important and historic event in Cambodia in developing physical infrastructure for supporting the Cambodia’s securities market development that will contribute to fast and sustainable development of the economy,” he said. “It is also an implication for contributing to faster development of the city.”

Lee Sang ho, chairman of World City Co., Ltd, said that the establishment is a historical event for Cambodia which is located in CAMKO City, the most suitable place.

Lee added that his company provided free of charge to the Cambodian government of 15 hectares of lands to build the FDD at a cost US$6 million.

Lee added that has invested US$2 billion for the CAMKO City in Phnom Penh, which broke ground in 2005 and is planned to complete by 2015.

Noppadon, Sivarak’s Mother to Arrive in Phnom Penh Today

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:15 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Former Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and the mother of an alleged spy, Thai engineer Sivarak Chutipong, will arrive in Phnom Penh today or on Thursday, according a high ranking Cambodian government official on Tuesday.

However, Sivarak’s defense lawyer said he is not aware of the developments.

“The arrival of the two people is to negotiate with Cambodia government to release Sivarak from the Prey Sar Prison and release him from the accusations of the Phnom Penh court,” the official told DAP News Cambodia on Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Court will proceed with a trail on December 8.

The arrival made following the mother of the jailed Thai engineer in Cambodia. She has asked the Phue Thai Party to assist in her son’s case.

The Thai government claims that it is not embarrassed and is fully sympathetic with the mother.

Simalak Na Nakhon Panom, the mother of the jailed Thai engineer in Cambodia, traveled to Pheu Thai Party headquarters to seek assistance from former Foreign Minister, Noppadol Pattama and a legal adviser, according to Bangkok Post.

Simalak said that she is concerned about the well-being of her son and is willing to resort to any mean to ensure her son’s release.

She believes that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is slowly proceeding with the case and therefore she has contacted the Phue Thai Party for help.

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 information 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.

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh said the alleged spy will not be freed before trial.

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,Noppadon insists that this has nothing to do with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinnawatra’s appointment as an economic adviser to Cambodia and that the Pheu Thai Party is willing to fully assist a fellow Thai.

Abhisit Rejects Hun Sen’s Comments

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:14 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

One day after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ruled to review all agreements and Memorandum of Under- standing (MOU) with Thailand, including completed agreements and those being processed, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday brushed off his comments.

Abhisit said he was not aware of reports that Hun Sen was unhappy with him and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, and that the Cambodian government would not ask for their assistance.
“I believe the problem has arisen because someone could be trying to instigate a situation,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

Premier Hun Sen’s orders came after the Thai government annulled loan projects signed on August 27, 2009 with the Thai government to build 117 km of National Road 68 from the Thai provincial border to Siem Reap at a cost of more than US$41 million.

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.”

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of security affairs, said the Thai-Cambodia situation had improved to some extent, but the government had to be strong and calm after being criticized by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The government had to be very cautious about its ties with neighboring countries, Suthep said in the Bangkok Post. “Don’t get stuck on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s words. The government has been doing well so far and the problem will not spread to include other ASEAN member states,” he said.

“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 1.4 billion baht, 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.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic dispute between Thailand and Cambodia could escalate to war if the government fails to take action to ease the tension, Gen Panlop Pinmanee, former deputy director of Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and a member of the opposition Puea Thai Party, said on Tuesday.

Gen Panlop said the latest criticism of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya by Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen clearly shows that Phnom Penh was not happy with the premier, Kasit and the Democrat Party.

Over 600 Gather to Mark World AIDS Day

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:12 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Over 600 governmental officials, foreign diplomatic corps, NGOs involved with AIDS/HIV and others on Tuesday gathered to mark World AIDS Day at the Chaktomuk theater hall in Phnom Penh.

Bun Rany Hun Sen, wife of PM Hun Sen and Chairman of Cambodian Red Cross, presided.

HIV/AIDS has caused problems for Cambodian society, including losing human resources and force people to live poverty and discrimination, she said, adding that promoting gender equality is a good route to HIV/AIDS prevention.

“We are continuing to strongly support all activities for HIV/AIDS projects to cancel this deadly disease,” said Bun Rany Hun Sen, who is also recently awarded as an Asia-pacific outstanding leader.

“We have to continue our existing work on this disease effectively such as caring of AIDS/HIV infected people, prevention, stopping pandemic, education and omitting all kinds of discrimination and stigma.”

The government has never forgotten victims, she added. “We all strongly thank all people who have continued to help the AIDS/HIV infected people and have promoted heath care and poverty reduction of those people.” She also urged to stop all private companies and NGOs, other institutions that forced the employees to test blood for AIDS/ HIV. “This act violates our law on AIDS/HIV,” she noted.

A second wave of AIDS/HIV infections are resulting from MSM—men who have sex with—from syringe use among drug addicts, and sex workers and entertainment workers, Nuth Sokhom, said senior minister in charge of National AIDS Authority.

AIDS/HIV prevalence has been reduced to 0.9 per cent among the adult population from a high of 2 percent in 1998, he said, adding that now 92 percent of HIV/AIDS–infected people receive treatment with medicine, and 70 percent of aids victims are child orphans, with over 44,371 HIV/AIDS-infected people getting help from society. “Each year we spend about US$45-50 million for HIV/AIDS work,” he said, adding that at the same time, “we promoted condom use to 90 percent.”

The Millennium Development Goal for AIDS has already been achieved and intensive work is underway to ensure Cambodia reaches its ambitions, but there are achievable universal access targets for HIV prevention, treatment and care by 2010, said Alice Levisay, representative of the United Nations Country Team on AIDS on Cambodia said. The UN is continuing to support the aids work in the country. We collectively owe this commitment to every woman and child in Cambodia, and we have intensified and accelerated efforts linkages to maternal and newborn and sexual and reproductive heath, she said in her speech.

DAP News in Brief

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

EU Supports €7.7 Mln Program on Legal Reform, Good Governance

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:12 DAP-NEWS

The European Union will conduct a press briefing about a financing agreement signed between the EU and the Cambodian Government today.

The EU will support a €7.7 million cooperation program on legal and judicial reform and good governance, including a €2 million contribution to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

Speakers include Rafael Dochao Moreno, ChargĂ© d’ Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to Cambodia.

Cambodia’s Securities Market Suspended

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:11 DAP-NEWS

Cambodia’s first securities market will be suspended according to Aun Porn Moniroth, delegate minister and secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). He added the new date is set for late 2010, explaining that the suspension was due to a year of global economic and financial crisis.

He added that the suspension was also agreed by the Prime Minster Hun Sen.

Lake Filling Delayed in Kampong Thom

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:08 DAP-NEWS

About 16 lakes in Kampong Thom province are to be filled, but the government is considering delaying until next year, according to a Ministry of Water Resource and Metrology (MWRM) on Tuesday.

A senior of the MWRM Officer told DAP News Cambodia that “Cambodian farmers asked to delay.”

The lakes are in the Staung, Stoeung Sen, Baray, and Kampong Svay districts of Kampong Thom province, he added.

The locals are to be found jobs to compensate for their losses from no longer being able to fish, he said.

Cambodia Has Most Traffic accidents in Southeast Asia

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 04:09 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia has the most traffic accidents in Southeast Asia per capita, according to a Phnom Penh police source on Tuesday.

Vice Police Chief Officer of Traffic Police Chev Hak told DAP News Cambodia that traffic accidents “are a big concerning for us and now the Cambodian government is trying to avoid or reduce these. Since World War II, Cambodia faced to mines, HIV/AIDS, and presently we focus on the traffic accidents as a priority.”

Hak said that Cambodia tops South-east Asia for accidents.

There are 18 traffic fatalities for every 10,000 people. On average at least one person dies every two days, a report said. In 2008, there were 1,015 accidents with 25,796 victims, 1,638 deaths, and more than 700 serious injuries, Hak added.

Accidents decreased in the 10 months for 2009, with 562 accidents in Phnom Penh—about 25 less than 2008.

Police have been trying to reduce careless driving and enforce the traffic laws, fining lawbreakers, he stressed.

Traffic accidents are a serious problem for both infrastructure and society, he said.
Human factors account for 99 percent of accidents, he claimed.

Funding for mines falls short

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Deminers from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre search for and remove land mines in Battambang province.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:04 Robbie Corey Boulet

THE mine action community faces a 74 percent budget shortfall for 2010, a year in which the government and its partners plan to spend 75 percent more on mine-related programmes, a UN report has found.

The “Portfolio of Mine Action Projects”, released Monday in New York, states that only $8 million of the $30.9 million required for 13 different projects has been secured, a figure some say underscores the downside of Cambodia’s reliance on a network of benefactors that has been battered by the economic crisis as well as donor fatigue.

“This has been an issue for so long in Cambodia that people tend to forget about it. People think, ‘We’ve been working on that for the past 15 or 20 years, so that problem should be solved by now’,” said Jeroen Stol, country director for Handicap International Belgium.

“Fundraising is difficult in all areas – not just mine action – because of the economic crisis. But mine action is even worse than the others.”

Plong Chhaya, a project officer for child protection at UNICEF, said Cambodia has been a victim of its own past success.

“The number of casualties has dropped sharply compared to previous years, and this is causing some trouble for the UN and other mine-action groups in looking for additional support,” he said.

Last year saw a total of 271 land-mine casualties, compared with an annual average of 2,700 between 1979 and 1999. Experts estimate that less than 700 square kilometres of land still needs to be cleared, although this figure has not been backed up by technical research.

UNICEF is one of 10 mine-action groups seeking funding for 2010. Of a projected budget of $621,000, only $300,000 in donor funding has been secured, according to the UN portfolio.

“The situation compared to previous years is a little bit different,” Plong Chhaya said. “It should have been confirmed since June or July. But we haven’t got that confirmation yet. Hopefully, they will confirm it. If not, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.”

Chhiv Lim, project manager for the Cambodian Red Cross victim information system, said he was confident his programme would receive funding, despite the fact that, according to the UN portfolio, none of the roughly $155,000 budget had been secured. He noted, though, that he will probably face a year-end shortfall of “between $20,000 and $30,000”.

“But maybe this will not affect our activities too much,” he said.

In 1999, Cambodia became a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty, committing itself to removing all antipersonnel mines by the end of this year. A Cambodian delegation is currently attending the Summit on a Mine-Free World in Cartagena, Colom-bia, where it is expected to formally present a request for a 10-year extension of that deadline on Monday, along with a plan to focus on clearance efforts in the 21 most heavily mined districts.

A review committee is expected to approve the extension request today.

Several members of the mine action community said they believe the extended deadline and clearance plan will make donors more likely to fund
Cambodian projects.

But Plong Chhaya said he believed donors would be more responsive if the government were to take more of a leadership role in funding and administering mine-action projects.

Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, could not be reached Tuesday, and Sem Sokha, the secretary of state at the Social Affairs Ministry in charge of disability issues, declined to comment.

Stol said other problems that had recently led to more casualties – traffic accidents, for instance – would be more likely to capture donors’ interest in the immediate future.

Reduced donor funding could hurt the local mine-action community, as the UN portfolio asserts that Cambodia is likely to be dependent on external donors to fund mine-action projects for “10 to 20 years”.

The total amount of requested funding for mine-action projects for 2010 is 75 percent higher than the $17.7 million requested last year.


UN envoys start torture inquiry

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Guards watch over inmates at Prey Sar prison during an International Children’s Day celebration in June.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:04 Sebastian Strangio and May Titthara

FOUR members of the UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) began their first mission to Cambodia on Tuesday to assess the current situation in the country’s prison system and to prevent torture and ill-treatment.

In a statement released Tuesday, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said the visit will take place until December 11, during which time experts will make unannounced visits to prisons, police stations and rehabilitation centres, as well as hold talks with key government officials.

Christophe Peschoux, the director of the OHCHR in Cambodia, said giving the mission access to the country’s prisons and detention centres was one of the two obligations laid down by the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by Cambodia in 2007.

“This is part of [the government’s] engagement, to allow the SPT to look into torture in prisons and detention centres and put in place mechanisms to prevent torture,” he said.

The other obligation under the protocol, Peschoux said, was the establishment of an independent national commission to monitor torture.

Rights groups said that despite clear improvements over the situation in the 1980s and 1990s, torture and mistreatment continue to be a blight on the Cambodian justice system.

“The systematic use of torture – particularly to extract forced confessions, information or bribes from detainees – is deeply entrenched in Cambodia’s criminal justice system,” said Sara Colm, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“Marginalised Cambodians are subjected to ill treatment – including torture – in police custody, [Ministry of] Social Affairs centres and drug detention centres.”

A report released in March by the rights group Licadho found 85 cases of torture in the 18 prisons monitored by the organisation in 2008, 78 of which had occurred in police custody prior to detention.

The report stated that the most common forms of torture reported to Licadho were “beatings with a wooden baton, electric baton, gun or other blunt objects, and kicking”.

Colm said that although monitoring by human rights advocates has reduced the incidence of torture, there is no systemic push to punish offenders on the part of the government.

“While it has been shown that the practice of torture decreases when human rights monitors, lawyers and medical workers have regular access to detention settings to monitor conditions and interview detainees, the fact that perpetrators are rarely punished for torture perpetuates the practice,” she added.

The lack of an avenue for legal recourse also prevents further reductions in the practice, she said.

Licadho Director Naly Pilorge added that the number of cases of prison and police torture is likely to be underreported, since prisoners often face retaliation for confiding in rights workers.

Many prisons have also normalised mistreatment by encouraging inmates to perform a variety of prison functions, she said, including meting out official punishments.

“Key abuses are done mostly within the prison cells by a hierarchy of prisoners,” she said, adding that social rehabilitation centres – including the Prey Speu and Koh Kor centres in Phnom Penh – have also played host to “severe” forms of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

Prison officials admitted that abuses have occurred in the prison system in the past, but said recent reforms had taken significant steps towards reducing the practice.

“We did have some cases in which prisoners do torture each other, but after we allowed them to leave their cells to do exercise, grow vegetables and take part in short training courses, these cases have not happened,” said Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior. He added that inmates’ standard of living has also improved since the government bolstered its daily food rations in June this year.

Thun Saray, president of local rights group Adhoc, said that despite undoubted improvements in the situation, the government still has a long way to go towards halting torture.

“Cambodia is a country that has ratified most conventions on human rights, but implementation is still weak,” he said.

Cambodia is the only country in Southeast Asia to have ratified the protocol.

AIDS Day event sparks debate

Photo by: Sovan Philong
HIV/AIDS-affected families start anew in the capital’s outer limits at Toul Sambo after being relocated earlier this year from their community in Borei Keila, in the centre of the city.


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:04 Chhay Channyda

A World AIDS Day ceremony held Tuesday in Phnom Penh became a de facto debate over Cambodia’s HIV/AIDS policies after first lady and head of the Cambodian Red Cross Bun Rany used her speech to rebut claims made by a UN official.

Alice Levisay, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) country director, said that despite progress in lowering HIV prevalence, Cambodia was “falling behind on targets for preventing mother-to-child transmission and protecting the health of orphans and vulnerable children.”

Levisay added: “Intensified and accelerated efforts must be made to eliminate mother-to-child transmission. One out of seven children aged 0-17 years is either an orphan or vulnerable due to the chronic illness of a parent. Orphans should not be addressed in isolation.”

Levisay reserved her strongest comments for the relocation community of Tuol Sambo. “Isolation of people living with or affected by HIV is never acceptable, and we must ensure that situations like Borei Keila and Tuol Sambo do not happen again,” she said. “Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV must be addressed with determination, and this must be a cornerstone of the national response. This is of particular importance when providing prevention, care and treatment service to people living with HIV.”

In June and July, more than 60 HIV-positive patients from 40 families were relocated from Borei Keila, a central Phnom Penh community, to a site in Dangkor district’s Tuol Sambo village. The move prompted a widespread outcry from rights groups concerned about the oppressive heat, lack of adequate healthcare and food, and limited job prospects at the site, which some have called a de facto AIDS colony.

Cambodian Red Cross President Bun Rany denied that the families had been isolated. “We care about the people of Tuol Sambo like normal people. We do not isolate them or put them aside. In Cambodia, there are no AIDS people creating an AIDS colony,” she said, insisting the relocation was a gesture of compassion.

Bun Rany said the government was limited in its response to the Borei Keila problem because the site was sold to a private company. “It was difficult. We wanted them to have houses [at Borei Keila], but it was the company’s land development,” she said, adding that, in general, “discrimination against HIV-positive people has been greatly reduced.”

Draft 2010 budget passes National Assembly

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:04 Meas Sokchea

THE National Assembly overwhelmingly passed the 2010 draft budget on Tuesday, the second day of debate. The US$2 billion spending plan passed with 81 out of 103 votes and unanimous CPP support.

The feature of the budget most heavily criticised by both the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party was Chapter Five, which levies new taxes on automobiles and property. Far from targeting the rich, opposition lawmakers said, the taxes disproportionately affected the poor.

“If the property tax in Phnom Penh began at real estate worth only 100 million riels, it will affect 90 percent of people in this city because the land and houses of plenty of people in Phnom Penh are worth more than 100 million riels,” SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said. “We want government to levy taxes on the houses of the rich and on vehicles with a price of more than US$50,000.”

SRP assembly spokesman Yim Sovann also weighed in. “If the government forces people to pay a tax on real estate in these economic circumstances, I would find it impossible to vote for this law,” he said, adding that it would affect people earning US$50 per month.

In a statement released to the media, the HRP said the government should find ways to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn on the electorate.

Chan Sophal, senior researcher for the Cambodian Resource Development Institute, said: “The tax on real estate should apply to properties worth more than 100 million riels. The government should ask more of the rich in order to help the poor.”

Temporary teachers face cuts, group says

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Bun Tharum

PLANS to reduce the number of temporary teachers in Cambodia by more than 50 percent may greatly hamper the development of the Kingdom’s education sector, the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) said Tuesday.

In a directive dated October 23, the Ministry of Education states that the number of temporary contract teachers in Cambodia is to be reduced from 20,871 in 2009 to 10,236 in 2010. Overall spending for the Ministry of Education in the 2010 budget is US$201 million, up from $181 million in 2009.

CITA President Rong Chhun said further budget increases are necessary to stem the loss of temporary teachers.

“Teacher shortages will undermine the government’s goal of raising the Cambodian education standard, and that’s why I want the minister to reconsider this reduction,” Rong Chhun said, adding that CITA sent a letter to Minister of Education Im Sethy on Monday asking him to explain the reduction. Officials from the Ministry of Education could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap declined to comment on the education budget but acknowledged the problem of crowded classrooms and said the government is working on the issue.

“Since I used to be a teacher, I know that normally there are about 30 students in a class, but if there are more than this it can be difficult for both students and teachers,” he said. “The government always cares about education standards even though we sometimes face difficulties, and I have never forgotten to celebrate Teachers Day.”

Thais still open to joint plans

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03 James O'Toole

THAILAND is still open to pursuing bilateral projects with Cambodia, regardless of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent tirade against the neighbouring administration, acting Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said Tuesday.

Hun Sen on Monday called for Cambodian officials to review all bilateral agreements with Thailand and annul all Thai loans and grants, accusing Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of insulting Cambodia.

Panitan would not comment directly on Hun Sen’s remarks, calling them an “internal” matter, but said Thailand has made no decisions about any agreements with Cambodia excluding the cancellation of a memorandum of understanding related to joint oil exploration that is pending in Thai parliament.

“We hope that we can go back to the beginning of the relations where there are no complications,” he said, referring to the rift caused by Cambodia’s appointment of convicted Thai former leader Thaksin Shinwatra as economic adviser.

Punch-up interrupts Chi Kraeng rice harvest

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03 Rann Reuy


A STAFF member with a human rights group was assaulted as tensions flared in Siem Reap province after farmers tried to harvest rice on a disputed piece of land Tuesday, observers said.

Forty farmers from Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng commune abandoned plans to harvest the rice after a staff member of rights group Licadho was punched by a villager from a neighbouring commune, villagers and NGO officials said.

Tork Ponloek, a representative of the villagers, said he saw roughly 50 villagers from Anlong Samnor commune. The two communes have been locked in dispute over 475 hectares of land, which a court ruled was part of Anlong Samnor. “I told villagers from my commune to move back,” Tork Ponloek said. “We will withdraw to think about the law because we don’t want there to be violence.”

Licadho investigator Am Sam Ath said his staff member was punched when he tried to reach the disputed land. He urged authorities to bring both sides together, fearing an escalation in violence after seeing that villagers from both sides were armed with axes and knives.

The situation in Chi Kraeng has been particularly tense this year after four villagers were shot and injured by police during a dispute in March.

Korsang advocate up for award

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Chen Reaksmey, assists an overwhelmed mother in caring for her baby as part of her work with the women’s programme with the harm-reduction NGO Korsang on Tuesday.

So many of my friends ended up dying. i didn’t want that to happen to me.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03 Irwin Loy and Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Former beer girl who works to prevent HIV/AIDS among vulnerable women nominated by US state department for International Woman of Courage Award.

Chen Reaksmey looked on in horror as someone she had known died.

Hired as a peer educator by the harm-reduction NGO Korsang in 2007, Chen Reaksmey had no plans to quit using the drugs that she thought numbed her pain for so long.

But when she saw the man – a former client at Korsang’s outreach centre, just like her – overdose, she knew something had to change.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to stop,” Chen Reaksmey, 28, recalled in an interview Tuesday. “That’s when I knew I had to quit.”

Since then, she’s been hired full time at the NGO. Last year, she started the group’s women’s programme, which she now supervises. This week, she learned she would be the US embassy in Phnom Penh’s nomination for the 2010 International Woman of Courage Award.

“This year, Reaksmey stood out from the crowd due to her recent accomplishments, valour and the critical role she plays in bringing vital information, hope and dignity to an often neglected group within Cambodian society,” an embassy statement announcing the nomination stated.

Just a few years ago, it might have seemed an unlikely honour.

Chen Reaksmey came to Phnom Penh as a 15-year-old from her home in Battambang province to find work to support her impoverished family.

With little education and few skills, however, she found herself in the informal sex industry, working as a beer girl in a karaoke parlour.

She became pregnant, and then she stumbled into drug addiction.

“So many of my friends using drugs ended up dying from overdoses,” she said. “I didn’t want that to happen to me.”

She found hope, however, when she met Korsang’s outreach workers. A few months later, she decided it would be her mission to spread what she had learned about HIV/AIDS prevention to other girls still working in the bars.

Korsang Executive Director Holly Bradford said she hopes the award nomination will allow Chen Reaksmey to become a voice for Cambodian drug users.

“I think it’s important the voices come from Cambodians, not foreigners,” Bradford said. “It’s important the voices come from someone who understands it, feels it, has compassion for it. I think she’s a really powerful example.”

For now, Chen Reaksmey hopes to use her award nomination as a message to government, police and local communities.

“Drug users are victims,” she said. “They don’t want to use drugs. They are victims, not criminals.”

Winners of the 2010 International Woman of Courage Award are expected to be announced next year.

This year, eight nominees were chosen out of a list of 80, from former child slaves to lawyers and NGO directors.

Pay Protest: Students seek raise for lecturers

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03 Tep Nimol and May Titthara

Pay Protest

STUDENTS at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh called for higher wages for teachers on Tuesday, accusing university officials of pocketing tuition fees. “We are protesting because we would like the university to pay the teachers more,” said student Mak Mai. Last week, some fee-paying students were turned away from class because the money they had paid to the university had not reached the lecturer. “The teacher told us that he could only teach students who had scholarships because he was only paid to teach them. We don’t know where our tuition money is going,” he said. Chhum Phetlun, one of the lecturers at the university, said the school had the resources to raise teachers’ pay because it receives up to US$400,000 in tuition fees annually. “Lecturers should be paid $80 per month, while other workers, like cleaners, should get $50,” Chhum Phetlun said. Students said overtime should also increase from 9,500 riels per hour to $6 per hour. Chan Nareth, director of the Royal University of Agriculture, could not be reached for comment.

Koh Kong villagers protest against dredging operation

Photo by: Matt Jacobson
A vessel dredges sand in estuaries upstream from Koh Kong town last month, part of an operation that local villagers say has led to sharp dropoffs in fish catches.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:03 Sen David

MORE than 100 fishermen descended on Koh Kong provincial hall on Monday to protest a large-scale sand-dredging operation they say has jeopardised the livelihoods of as many as 2,000 families in the region.

Rain Many, 40, who has fished around Koh Kong for about 20 years, said fish catches had dropped off steeply since the dredging operations began about a year ago.

“The villagers have always depended on fishing, but now we can’t find saltwater fish anymore because some of the fish are poisonous and some have migrated to other areas,” he said Tuesday.

Kon Sanem, 35, said the fall in income had forced her to mortgage her house in order to support her children.

“I want to cry right now because my standard of living has dropped; I don’t have enough income to send money to my two children studying in Phnom Penh,” she said.

Kon Sanem said that before the dredging operations started, she could earn around 50,000 riels each day, but that now she can only earn 10,000 riels, adding that vessels have been dredging at night “in secret”.

In March, the Post reported that Winton Enterprises, a Hong Kong-based firm, was removing thousands of tonnes of sand each week from coastal estuaries in Koh Kong. Reporters observed sand being extracted by dredging vessels in estuaries upstream from Koh Kong town and shipped offshore, where it was unloaded into an ocean-going bulk carrier for export to Singapore.

A report issued in February by anticorruption watchdog Global Witness estimated that around 60,000 tonnes were being mined for export each month, and that the annual value of the Koh Kong sand was around US$35 million.

Sanh Moniroath, director of the provincial Department of Water Resources, said he could not resolve the dispute because it was a matter for the governor and the companies involved in the dredging.

But Lim Savan, a cabinet official at Koh Kong provincial hall, said he had asked the fishermen to write a new letter to the local authorities so that the case could be investigated further.

Clinic built for remote village sits abandoned

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Wednesday, 02 December 2009 15:02 Khuon Leakhana and Sen David

A HEALTH centre built to service a remote village in Stung Treng province has been sitting empty and unused since its opening almost 15 years ago, villagers said Tuesday.

The health centre in Chrok village, Sesan district, has been closed ever since it was built in 1995, residents said: no staff, no medicine and no service.

“Villagers wonder why the authorities even built this health centre, if there are to be no services at all,” said resident Moeng Vuthy, whose village has 200 residents.

The continuing lack of services forces residents to make costly and time-consuming trips when they are ill. The closest operational health centre is nearly 55 kilometres away, Moeng Vuthy said.

Provincial Governor Loy Sophat said he believed the villagers’ claims and that he would order an investigation of the health centre.

Health Minister Mom Bun Heng also pledged to address the issue. “We recognise that some places in Cambodia still do not have enough health services,” he said.