Wednesday, 3 February 2010

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Cambodia to Invest US $310 Million in Irrigations to Boost Rice Exports-PM

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 06:28 EK MADRA

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen announced another ambitious plan to invest US$310 million including the Chinese loans of US$240 million for improving the kingdom’s irrigation systems, which are the key factors contribute to boost rice production for exports.

“Good irrigations enables us to produce more crops and yield production, which boost for exports but to reach that we need more irrigations,” Hun Sen said at a ceremony of a China-funded construction in the Northwestern province of Batttambang.

The money will be mostly channeled through the ministry of water resources.
Hun Sen also said that “if you get on the plane and look below, you can see vast area of lands, but it looks dry and grey... because of shortage in irrigations. That means we could export more rice when we have enough water to support rice cultivation.”

He said Thailand and Vietnam have invested in agricultural sector to a full extend, yet for Cambodia has more rooms of opportunities for such investment.

“Once we can export more rice, it will also contribute to the global food security.”

“We are transforming the former battle fields as cultivated areas. We are transforming the former war zones as development area and markets,” the Prime Minister’s speech was aired on state-run TVK.

Many analysts said Cambodia’s potential investment in rice is high but opportunities for increased exports have been limited because of poor irrigations and processing facilities.

Agricultural minister Dr. Chan Sarun has said before that Cambodia’s area planted for rice could be pushed up to 3.5 million hectares from 2.6 million, giving a potential harvest of 12.25 million tonnes.

Average rice yield expects to reach 3.5 tonnes per hectare in 2015 from 2.6 tonnes, he said.

“More cultivated areas, higher yield, and double crops will contribute to 15 million of rice,” Sarun has said.

He said many rice producing countries have invested at the maximum level, not yet for Cambodia. The outside analysts say it might be a possibility, but not by 2015—worrying that Cambodia needs more time to develop, farming skills.

Cambodia also looks to expand in the northeast and in former battlefields of the nation's civil war in the northwestern.

Other questioned about landmines hinders the potential cultivated area, but agriculture minister shrugged off and said: “We do not have to wait for de-mining.”

Just around Tonle Sap, Cambodia's biggest freshwater lake, has potential farm land of “more than 800,000 hectares”, he said.

“These areas are rich in fertilizer and to produce high yield,” said Dr. Sarun.

He is also shared viewed with the local rice researcher who has said that the country could achieve up to 15 million tonnes of rice by year 2015.

“More cultivated areas, higher yield, double crops will contribute to 15 million of rice,” Sarun told has said before.

“We won’t be the top rice exporter, but we will have lots of rice for export by 2015,” agriculture minister Chan Sarun said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cambodia was the world's ninth-biggest exporter in 2007 with 450,000 tonnes. This Southeast Asian nation expects to export up to 8 million tonnes from expansion of cultivated areas—a figure that would put it just behind fellow Thailand.

Cambodia has been successful with rice production in the last decade and this prospect remains unchanged. The kingdom produced 7.286 million tonnes of rice for 2009/2010 of which the country saw another surplus of rice of 3.1 million tonnes available for export.

The high potential in rice investment has intrigued not only China, which is Cambodian biggest donor, but other donors as well—given the country’s agricultural sector is the nation’s backbone economy.

China has pledged more loans for Cambodia to invest more in constructing irrigations in Prey Veng, Pursat and Oddar Meanchey.

Last October, Beijing pledged another US $853 million in loans for Cambodia to invest in building more infrastructure, irrigation, and dam projects to boost its economy and reduce poverty. The announcement was made during the meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on the sidelines of an economy and trade fair in Sichuan.

Water Resource ministry official said the ministry would seek multi-millions to investment more in irrigations.

“Japan and South Korea are also helping us, but that is not enough,” Chea Chhun Keat of the water resource ministry has said before. He also said that irrigations have so far covered 1.6 million hectares out of 2.6 million.

Investments from Kuwait and Qatar are the plus.

Kuwait also agreed to loans Cambodia of $546 million of which some $486 million will be invested in irrigation systems and hydro-power in the northeast, and remain $60 million goes for roads in the north-western province of Battambang, a rice-growing area.

Kuwait, which had leased rice fields in Cambodia to secure food supplies, planned to invest $200 million in Cambodian farmland, said a Kuwait newspaper.

“They have money, we have land. They won’t come if we do not have agricultural potential,” Chan Sarun has said before.

IRI Reports 2009 Public Survey Findings

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 06:26 DAP-NEWS

The International Republican Institute (IRI) on Tuesday reported its 2009 public survey about Cambodia conducted July 1 to August 29, 2009.

The survey interviewed 1,600 citizens representative of all Cambodians in all provinces aged over 18 years. The sample of the survey included 400 Muslims.

The report showed that ethnic Khmers make up 96.6 percent of respondents, Islam people 2.4 percent, Chinese 0.3 percent, and Vietnamese 0.2 percent.

Five percent of people were found to earn from US$0-20 dollars per month, 23 percent of people earn from US$21-50, 31 percent of people can earn US$51-100, 34 percent of people earn from US$101 to 300 and 7 percent of people earn US$301 or more each month.

Of those interviewed, 78 percent of people supported the government’s policy to lead the country, and 20 percent of people thought that the government’s policy is wrong, with 0.6 percent declining to comment.

MoH Vows to Reduce Maternal Deaths

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 06:26 DAP-NEWS

The Health Minister said at an MOH meeting on Tuesday that his ministry will strive to reduce the death toll for women giving birth in Cambodia .

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said that “MoH will prepare some strategies by setting networks to control the death toll. ”

Vice director of National Women and Children Assistance Center, Tong Rothavy, told DAP News Cambodia that 1990 saw 900 deaths, decreasing to 490 in 2008. “By 2015, this will decrease to 250,” she vowed.

MOH Project and Information Department Director Lau Veasnakiri said that increasing attention would help reduce deaths.

Sin Yungshu, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in the meeting that the situation is improving.

The MoH Project and Information Department now keeps much better records, Lau Veasnakiri said.

City areas are improving faster than rural areas, Mam Bunheng said. Tradi- tional birth practices are partly to blame.

A capital adventure

Photo by: Uy Nouseremony

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:03 Uy Nouseremony

Passengers climb out of a bus bound for Siem Reap after it ran off the road and into a field in Kandal province last month.

Simulated disaster

Photo by: Pha Lina

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:05 Pha Lina

People posing as plane crash victims are checked during a full-scale air-crash emergency drill at Phnom Penh’s Military Air Force Base on Tuesday. The teams practised coordinating rescue resources in case of an aircraft accident, tested call-out procedures and evaluated the efficiency of information-recording in the field and in the Emergency Operation Centre.

Govt panel to target racy images

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
The image of a woman from a Khmer folktale is seen on Tuesday on, a site the government has condemned

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:05 Sen David and Brooke Lewis

THE government’s morality committee will soon begin holding bimonthly meetings to review Web sites featuring racy images of Khmer women, and will consider blocking access to those deemed in conflict with national values, officials said Tuesday.

Ros Sorakha, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, said Tuesday that representatives from local Internet service providers as well as mobile-phone companies would be present at the meetings, which she said would begin in about two months.

She added that the ramped-up monitoring of online content was necessary in light of the rapid growth of information and communications technology nationwide.

“As young Cambodians have access to such technologies, they indulge and commit wrongdoings that deviate from our customs and traditions by accessing and replicating erotic and pornographic pictures over Internet sites,” she said during the annual conference of the National Committee for Upholding Cambodian Social Morality, Women’s and Khmer Family Values.

The committee includes officials from the Post and Telecommunications Ministry as well as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Interior Ministry.

In her remarks, Ros Sorakha noted that officials have occasionally implemented similar measures in the past – including targeting magazines featuring “sexual” images of Cambodian women as well as shops in which such images can be uploaded onto mobile phones – but stated that the growing popularity of the Internet mandated a systematic effort aimed at Web sites.

“We are still concerned about it because nowadays the world has modern information and communication technology from developed countries, so it is difficult for us to fight it,” she said.

But the announcement renewed debate about whether the government should have a hand in filtering online content.

For his part, Oum Sarith, president of the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists, said he had no problem with the shutting down of “pornographic sites” so long as other Web sites were not affected.

“I think it’s good if they close down the pornographic sites if they don’t close other sites that are not offensive,” he said. “This is not of concern for freedom of information or freedom of the press because these sites are not good for Khmer society.”

But Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), said he was concerned about the proposed monitoring effort.

“It depends on how they implement it,” he said. “The fear is that they’ll use this to censor the Internet and that they will move on to political content. If they block users, that could be very, very dangerous.”

Ou Virak said he doubted that the effort could be effective. “I’m not sure if blocking access to Internet sites is going to work, because of the presence of VCDs, which are available very cheaply. That could be very easily controlled, and it’s not – they’re being sold in public,” he said.

He also said that pornography transmitted by mobile phone was a more persistent problem in rural areas, where Internet access is limited.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who is also president of the morality committee, said the monitoring of objectionable Web sites is entirely consistent with its mission.

“If we can stop the flow and influence of foreign culture, then we can maintain our own culture and traditions and foster values for our women.”

Past restrictions
The effort to block Web sites featuring steamy images of Cambodian women is not entirely new. On Tuesday, Ros Sarakha pointed to the government’s decision to prevent local Internet service providers from allowing access to, the Web site of the Khmer-American artist Koke Lor.

Ros Sorakha said the site, which displays paintings of scantily clad Khmer folktale figures, was blocked early last year “so that it wouldn’t affect Cambodian women’s dignity, society and culture”, adding that the site remained blocked.

But the Web site was accessible yesterday from a computer connected with the MekongNet service provider. Sonak Kouy, assistant CEO at MekongNet, said the service provider was not among the major providers operating in Cambodia when the site was targeted by the government, and thus had not been asked to block access to

“Now our engineers are working on it, and it will be blocked later today,” Sokan Kouy said Tuesday afternoon. The site was still accessible on Tuesday evening.

Thai soldiers shot logger, villagers say

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:05 Meas Sokchea

A25-YEAR-OLD man from Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday became the latest Cambodian logger to be shot by Thai soldiers, villagers and rights workers said.

Ly Khleung, of O’Smach commune in Samroang district, was returning from a cross-border logging expedition with 11 other people when he was shot, sustaining wounds in a hand and his torso, but survived, his father, Ly Kim Eng, said.

“It is normal for people living in O’Smach commune ... to earn a living by logging. In the past, [Thai soldiers] just shot to warn, but now they shoot to kill,” Ly Kim Eng said

“I am scared when I venture across the border into Thailand, but I must go to make a living,” he said, adding that he would abandon logging if he had even half a hectare of farmland.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said 11 loggers from the province had been killed by the Thai military since the beginning of 2009.

Most recently, 21-year-old Chhoeun Roun failed to return from a January 24 logging expedition. Though no body was discovered, his family held a funeral for him on Saturday after discovering a pool of blood at the site where Chhoeun Roun and his companions had been fired upon by Thai soldiers.

Srey Naren said Thai authorities do not reciprocate the fair treatment their citizens receive when they are arrested by Cambodian officials.

When Cambodia arrests Thai loggers, “they are not detained for a long time, but when Thailand arrests [Cambodian loggers], they are detained at length, and requests for their return ... are rejected”, he said.

Mak Borin, O’Smach commune police chief, said he has advised people not to enter Thailand to cut trees, but that they are forced to do so because they have no other way to generate income.

Disabled soldiers say official skimmed pay

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:05 Tep Nimol and Mom Kunthear

THE representative of 28 disabled soldiers, who have complained about reductions in their salaries since 2007, has accused a senior public official of pocketing the money himself.

Yan Ny, 44, said Tuesday he would sue the deputy director of the Banteay Meanchey Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Em Nuy, who he said had tried but failed to buy his silence.

“Em Nuy met me in secret and asked me to drop the complaint in exchange for all of my missing salary, but I told him that I could not betray other disabled soldiers,” he said.

The soldiers said Em Nuy had stolen between 30,000 and 50,000 riels (US$12) per month from each of them for around three years and had threatened to steal more, or remove them entirely from the payroll, if they didn’t keep quiet.

Em Nuy rejected the allegations on Tuesday, saying he would meet with the soldiers to clear up the matter.

“I have never reduced their salary at all, not even by 100 riels, since I have worked here, but they accused me of reducing their salary by 20,000 to 30,000 riels per month,” he said.

He said the reduction in the soldiers’ salary was due to the loss of child support payments that the soldiers automatically stopped receiving when their children turned 18 years old.

But Chhuy Keang Thoung, the chief of Phnom Leab commune, also said Em Nuy had reduced the soldiers’ salaries.

“I will meet with the officials from the Department of Social Affairs on Tuesday evening to talk about this problem, but they are also going to set a date to meet with the representative of the disabled soldiers to end this issue,” he said.

The soldiers are supposed to receive 170,000 riels in salary per month plus an additional 120,000 riels from Prime Minister Hun Sen, Yan Ny said.

Cambodian law prevents state employees from retiring before they reach the age of 50, which means the 28 soldiers from Preah Net Preah district must receive a salary instead of a pension, despite being physically unable to work.

Political parties failing: survey

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CAMBODIANS want to hear of less bickering among political parties and more about proposals for solutions to the challenges they face, according to a survey released by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on Tuesday.

Some 51 percent of the survey’s 2,000 respondents said they wanted political parties to spend less time discussing the leaders of other parties, compared with 21 percent who said they wanted to hear more about them. Similarly, 42 percent said they wanted to hear less about “civil wars and prior regimes”, compared with 32 percent who said the opposite.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of respondents – 93 percent – said they wanted political parties to spend more time discussing “how to improve government services such as education and health”, and 88 percent wanted them to spend more time addressing the issue of corruption.
In addition, 86 percent said they wanted to hear more about job creation and the economy as well as “how to lower food prices”, and 83 percent said they wanted to hear more about development projects such as the construction of roads and schools.

Nearly 80 percent said they believed the country was heading in the right direction, a statistic that was touted by Prime Minister Hun Sen during a January 12 speech.

John Willis, the country director for IRI, said political parties should take note of the findings of the survey, which was conducted this past summer.

“There is a huge political opportunity in Cambodia for any political party to take, whether they’re currently in power or out of power,” he said. “All around the world people want to hear from their parties solutions to the problems that they and their country face. Cambodians aren’t getting that, by and large, from any of the political parties.”

But Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said he believed the IRI report was not a true indication of the views of the people, in particular the finding that 79 percent believe the current government is taking Cambodia in the right direction.

“It is an oppressive environment in Cambodia,” he said. “When Saddam Hussein was in power, he had [high approval ratings] as well. But actually it wasn’t true. The report does not reflect the view of the people.”

He said many respondents who believed the country was heading in the wrong direction were likely to be too scared to speak out, and added that he agreed political parties should spend more time addressing corruption.

“If we eliminate the corruption, more roads will be built, [there will be] more infrastructure,” he said.

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said addressing problems facing everyday people would make them feel as though they were more involved in the political process.

“People need to know what the people they elected are doing,” he said. “On national issues, they need information made available.”

New office to record maternal death stats

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 Khoun Leakhana

THE Ministry of Health plans to set up a central office in Phnom Penh to track the number of women who die during pregnancy, in a move aimed at combating the Kingdom’s troublingly high maternal mortality rate, officials said Tuesday.

A centralised bureau tracking maternal deaths will allow authorities to pull together precise data on the issue, Health Minister Mam Bunheng told reporters at a news conference.

“We will order all hospitals and health centres to inform the central office when maternal deaths happen,” said Mam Bunheng. “We will have figures on the number of women who die, as well as where and when these deaths take place.”

Officials are hoping the data can be used to figure out where resources will best be placed.

The information “will support a more systematic approach to building more health centres, midwives and hospitals in communities” where the mortality rate is high, Mam Bunheng said.

The 2008 national census pegged the country’s maternal mortality rate at 461 for every 100,000 live births – one of the highest rates in the region.

In December, officials announced they would build “waiting houses” near rural health centres, aimed at ensuring that pregnant women do not have to travel long distances to receive treatment.

KRT plans rule changes

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Reserve co-prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian, left, and co-prosecutors Andrew Cayley, centre, and Chea Leang at the ECCC’s seventh plenary session on Tuesday.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 James O'Toole

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to enact broad reforms to victim participation in the courtroom at its seventh plenary session, which convened on Tuesday.

“The current plenary session has a specific objective, which is to ... consolidate civil party participation in [court] proceedings,” plenary president Kong Srim said in his opening remarks.

Among the reforms likely to be approved is the establishment of one team of lead co-lawyers to represent all civil parties in the courtroom.

Ninety civil parties participated for the duration of the court’s first case. The court had received 4,004 civil party applications for Case 002 as of Friday. The number, plenary vice president Silvia Cartwright said, “greatly exceeds the capacity of the trial chamber to involve [civil parties] individually”.

Case 002 is set to try Democratic Kampuchea leaders Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the sole accused in the court’s first case.

Kong Srim also announced on Tuesday that the court’s pre-trial chamber will now be working in Cambodia on a full-time basis. The pretrial chamber rules on appeals and other procedural requests.

The pretrial chamber judges had previously met just a few times per year, and UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said their full-time schedule would expedite the tribunal’s proceedings, particularly given the complexity of the second case.

In Case 001, there was just one defendant, and he did not contest the charges against him. In Case 002, by contrast, “You have five defence teams ... all maintaining their different lines of interests, and that itself obviously means more filings of appeals,” Olsen said.

Also on Tuesday, the court swore in new international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley and reserve co-prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian.

Boeung Kak lake residents rally over rising wastewater

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
A resident living near the railroad tracks at Boeung Kak lake thumbprints a document at a protest at City Hall on Tuesday over wastewater drainage problems that residents say have put their health at risk.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 May Titthara

ABOUT 100 residents from Boeung Kak lake’s Village 3 protested in front of City Hall on Tuesday to demand that authorities construct a drainage system in the area, as wastewater continues to encroach upon their homes.

Resident representative Tang Phuong, 53, said dirty water had completely submerged her kitchen, and that villagers wanted help to prevent floods during this year’s wet season.

“We filed a complaint to the village chief since it first started to flood in September, but [authorities] have never responded,” she said at the protest.

“When we asked them, they said that they sent our case to City Hall. Because they are still quiet, we decided to come to City Hall.”

She added that wastewater had started to rise again at the end of December, even though the dry season had set in. Sam Vanna, 50, who lives in Village 3 with her two children, said she was worried that her children would be at higher risk of disease because of the flooding.

“There is a bad smell and a lot of mosquitoes. I am afraid that [my children] will get dengue,” she said.

Neup Ly, a community empowerment officer at the Housing Rights Task Force, said the dirty water was a threat to villagers’ health and called on authorities to help them “immediately”.

“There will be serious impacts to their health because the water is very bad and will affect other families in Boeung Kak when the rains come,” he said.

He linked rising wastewater with the filling of the lake for a controversial housing and commercial development, and chided local developer Shukaku Inc for not clearly researching the effects of the lake’s reclamation.

Local officials said they were working to pump water out of the lakeside area, but that the effort was on hold for a few days because pumps were broken.

“We already sent a letter to City Hall to ask for a permanent drainage system for them, but we didn’t get any response from City Hall yet,” said Daun Penh district Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth. “I am waiting for City Hall to respond, too.”

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said he was too busy to comment on Tuesday.

Local resident Suos Sopheap, 57, said she wanted officials to build permanent flood-prevention drains.

“If they use machines, we still get flooding. In the dry season we have floods already, so what will happen in the rainy season?” she said.

Judicial rotations set to begin

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 Chhay Channyda

JUDGES, prosecutors and deputy prosecutors across the country will soon be reshuffled as part of an ongoing component of judicial reform, a court official said Tuesday.

Sam Prachea Manith, assistant to the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, said the council held a meeting on January 27 to discuss the rotations, but declined to give further details.

Sok Kalyan, deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said he had already been told that his future post would be director of the Prey Veng provincial court, a position that also entails a judgeship.

“I am still waiting for a Royal decree,” he said.

Sok Kalyan said he was aware of only a few of the new assignments included in the upcoming reshuffle.

“I expect this will help the court system become better in the future,” he said.

“Even now, people do not trust us 100 percent.”

Bird flu kills Takeo ducks: govt

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 Chhay channyda and Jacob Gold

Sample tissue from ducks in Takeo province that died in an outbreak of a disease officials could not identify earlier this week have tested positive for the H5N1 virus, commonly known as bird flu, officials at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Tuesday.

In light of the test result, officials said they will move ahead with Monday’s order from the provincial agriculture department to destroy all live ducks and halt duck meat sales in the affected area. Since the outbreak began last month, 16,442 ducks have died and at least 31,000 live ducks are exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Health, confirmed the positive test result on Tuesday and related the contents of an unreleased statement from the Agriculture Ministry.

“The statement identified the bird flu-affected area as Pralay village, Romenh commune, Koh Andeth district. All ducks within 5 kilometres of the village will be incinerated, sales of duck meat will be stopped and local officials within 10 kilometres of the area must monitor both ducks and humans for signs of infection,” Ly Sovann said.

The bird flu outbreaks always occur around this period of time.

Hong Narith, cabinet director of the Agriculture Ministry, also confirmed the release of a ministry press release, but declined to comment further in advance of the statement’s release.

While the farmers of Romenh commune may face financial hardship as a result of the cull, Dr Phillipe Buchy, director of the virology unit at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, said that isolated outbreaks were now a yearly occurrence, and that the threat of a larger-scale outbreak was low.

“These [bird flu] outbreaks always occur during this period of time, around Vietnamese and Chinese New Year celebrations. This is because there is an increased traffic in poultry, though we’re not sure if this is the only reason,” he said. “Since 2004 we have had cases every year.”

Buchy said it was too soon to comment on the threat of the H5N1 strain in Takeo, but said the strain responsible for the December 2009 bird flu outbreak in Kampong Cham province showed no signs of mutation from the most common form of the virus, which has very little ability to infect humans.

Dr Nima Asgari, a public health specialist for the World Health Organisation in Cambodia, said that investigators from the Ministry of Health had begun screening people in the affected district for signs of infection, and that “nobody seemed to be sick.” Nonetheless, Asgari said that anyone handling ducks or duck meat, particularly the health officials tasked with destroying the ducks, should still follow standard precautions.

“They should wear a proper mask and gloves, and wash their hands with soap and water,” he said, adding that people cooking duck meat should also wash their hands with soap and water and make sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly to eliminate the slight risk of transmission from consuming infected meat.

Cambodia reported its first case of H5N1 in poultry in January 2004. Four human cases of bird flu were reported in Cambodia between February and May of 2005, all of them fatal. There have been nine known cases of bird flu in Cambodia. Two of them, including the case of a Kampong Cham man diagnosed in December, have been non-lethal.

Emergency responders stage drill simulating disastrous plane crash

Photo by: Pha Lina
A fire truck sits on the tarmac at the scene of an air-crash emergency drill at Phnom Penh’s Military Air Force Base on Tuesday.

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 Kim Yuthana

INTENSE black smoke billowed up from the Military Air Force Base in Phnom Penh Tuesday morning. Nearby villagers could have been forgiven if they thought a plane had caught fire on the runway.

But the scene was merely part of an exercise meant to prepare emergency responders in the event of an actual disaster.

The exercise was aimed at strengthening the capabilities of local officials to respond in cases where urgent rescues are needed, said Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

The airport emergency exercise “is necessary for the airport to protect and prevent unexpected incidents in order to keep passengers secure and protect their lives”, Sok An said.

On Tuesday morning, observers said they could hear the piercing sounds of sirens, as fire trucks and ambulances headed at full speed towards the scene – part of a crew of 630 participants from 19 different units, including civilian and military police, firefighters and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Crash spurred exercise
The responders extinguished the blaze from a pile of old tyres that had been set alight to symbolise a burning plane. While crews from 10 fire trucks battled the staged blaze, other emergency responders, with special black-clad commandos serving as security, practised rescuing victims and carrying them to ambulances, which shuttled the simulated casualties to local hospitals.

The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation said they warned nearby residents of the exercise four days in advance. Mao Havanal, a secretary of state at the State Secretariat, said such large-scale exercises are conducted roughly once every two years, and that a smaller one takes place annually.

The first exercise was conducted in 2007, following a Kampot province plane crash that killed 22 people, he said.

Child sex case set for verdict on American

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
US citizen Harvey Alexander Johnson, who is charged with committing indecent acts against three underage girls, arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday.

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court is set to announce its verdict today in the case of a 57-year-old American national charged with abusing three underage Cambodian girls, court officials said following a closed-door hearing on Tuesday.

After the four-hour session, Judge Chhay Kong said a verdict against Harvey Alexander Johnson, who has been charged with committing indecent acts against three girls, aged 13 and 14, would be announced at 8am.

Johnson was arrested on August 9 at his rented room in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak commune after case workers for anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) presented authorities with statements from 10 underage girls accusing him of sexual abuse.

Nuon Phanith, an APLE lawyer who is representing the victims, told the Post that Johnson had proclaimed his innocence and rejected the charges
against him during the hearing.

“There is nothing surprising about Johnson not confessing to the charges. That is normal for the accused,” he said.

He added that the court heard from two of the accusers, who he said provided “concrete evidence” of Johnson’s guilt.

“I firmly hope that the court will truly find justice for the three victims based on testimonies from two victims,” he said.

The hearing was originally scheduled for January 19 but was postponed due to the lack of an interpreter.

Court prosecutor Chea Meth said Tuesday that Johnson had the right to protest his innocence, but that he had not provided any evidence to disprove the charges. If found guilty, he said, Johnson faces from one to five years in prison and a fine of between 2 million and 6 million riels (US$1,444).

Johnson’s defence lawyer, Dun Vibol, could not be reached Tuesday evening.

Electric fish-shockers destroyed

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

THE Battambang fisheries department on Monday destroyed nearly 400 devices used to electrocute fish as part of a broader effort to curb illegal fishing in the province, the department’s director said.

“Trying to catch fish by electrocuting them has a very bad effect on the fish, and also on plankton and the general ecological system in the water. It can also kill the fishermen,” Heng Pisith said.

He added that fishermen caught employing the illegal method – in which car batteries are connected to fishing equipment to shock it – face between three and five years in jail if caught.

The practice seems to be widespread, Heng Pisith said, citing, as evidence, a survey conducted last July by the department in 18 communes around the Tonle Sap lake. In that survey, 1,000 families in fishing communities said they had tried electrocuting fish.

Ek Samon, chief of Cham Ro-A village, said he had collected 49 devices used to electrocute fish from families in his village and had turned them over to the department.

He said he believed the department’s effort to discourage illegal fishing had already been effective.

“My villagers have stopped using illegal fishing methods, such as electrocuting fish, using illegal nets or trawling, and now they are beginning to breed fish to promote their livelihoods and protect the natural rivers and lakes of Cambodia,” he said.

Trade with Vietnam fell by nearly 19pc in 2009

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
Shoppers pass in front of Vina Mart, a store selling Vietnamese-produced goods on Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Tuesday. Imports from Cambodia's neighbour fell more than 19 percent last year.

If we still have a problem with Thailand, Vietnam will have more of a chance to win market share."

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:03 May Kunmakara

Despite a small recovery in volumes during the final quarter, bilateral trade suffered due to the global crisis, body reports

FALLOUT from the global economic crisis is to blame for an 18.7 percent slump in bilateral trade between the Kingdom and Vietnam, the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said Tuesday.

Official figures from the Vietnam Embassy in Phnom Penh, released to the Post on Tuesday, showed that trade between the neighbours dropped to US$1.332 billion in 2009, from $1.640 billion in 2008.

Cambodia’s main exports of unprocessed agricultural products plummeted 15.5 percent, to $186 million from $220 million.

Vietnam’s exports of garment and construction materials, homemade goods and processed foods were down more than 19 percent, to $1.146 billion from $1.420 billion in 2008, the figures showed.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the CCC, said the decline in bilateral trade was due to the global economic crisis hurting consumption.

“We recognise that ... the global crisis impacts people’s demand,” he said.

Lee Bien Cuong, commercial counsellor at the Vietnam Embassy, explained that the impact of the financial crisis was “severely felt” in the export of goods to supply the Kingdom’s garment and real-estate sectors, both of which were hit hard by the international downturn.

Vietnamese exports of garment materials tumbled by more than 10 percent and exports of construction materials dropped about 6 percent.

But Lee Bien Cuong said he remained hopeful that a recovery is due after trade levels began to recover from October. In December bilateral trade hit $160 million.

“If the figures remain positive, I believe that we will reach our plan of ... $2 billion in bilateral trade by the end of this year,” he said.

Nguon Meng Tech added that the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra may, in future, help boost Vietnam’s business presence in Cambodia.

“If [Cambodians] still have a problem with Thailand, Vietnam will have more of a chance to win market share in our country,” he said, adding that the effects of the dispute had not been felt in trade as yet because international borders have remained open.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand declined an annualised 22.15 percent in 2009 to $1.658 billion from $2.130 billion, according to figures from the Thai Embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office (FTPO) in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia’s exports to Thailand declined 13.84 percent to $77.73 million from $90.22 million in 2008, while imports from Thailand fell 22.52 percent to $1.58 billion from $2.04 billion over the same period.

Sok Sopheak, director general of the International Trade Department, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Police Blotter: 3 Feb 2010

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:03 Phak Seangly

A 39-year-old widow has accused her neighbor of raping her last year in Teuk Chhou district, Kampot province, causing her to become pregnant. Police are still hunting for the 40-year-old man, who allegedly broke into her home and raped her several times before threatening to kill her if she went to the police. Local authorities said she was unable to afford the child, and the accused would be ordered to pay the victim compensation if found guilty.

A man from Takeo province has admitted to raping his sister-in-law on Saturday after forcing her to sing karaoke with him for more than an hour. Shortly after the allegations were made, the Prey Kabas district police arrested the 24-year-old, who confessed to the charges. The police said he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the rape. He will appear at the Takeo provincial court for sentencing on Monday.

Saange district police have arrested a 30-year-old man from Kandal province on charges of ongoing domestic violence. Police said they had warned the accused several times after frequent reports of verbal and domestic abuse towards his mother and his wife. He was finally arrested on Saturday after a serious assault on his wife, allegedly for eating rice at her brother’s house.

A 35-year-old iron saleswoman was taken into custody on Monday after a tip-off led to her arrest. A Daun Penh company alerted police when a staff member recognised iron in the woman’s car as that which had been stolen from the company. The woman was cleared of theft but charged with purchasing stolen property. Police said they were investigating iron purchasers at markets around Phnom Penh in connection with the case but have made no further reports.

The owner of a high-class hotel in Mondulkiri province has been accused of denigrating the Cambodian flag – by using it as a cleaning cloth. According to an eyewitness, the flag was used to polish furniture and to cover a birdcage in the hotel. Khmer historians were outraged, calling for an urgent enquiry and serious punishment for the manager if he is found guilty. The manager denies the allegations. Recently, the government of Cambodia condemned a foreign company for printing images of the Khmer flag on a shoe.

VN rubber foundation planning to invest $55m

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:02 Chun Sophal

THE Vietnamese Rubber Enterprise Foundation (VREF) will spend US$55 million on growing rubber in five Cambodian provinces this year, its president said.

Leng Rithy, president of VREF, told the Post on Tuesday that the federation is set to grow the crop on 20,000 hectares of land in Kampong Thom, Kratie, Ratanakiri, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces.

“We hope that Cambodia’s rubber plantations will grow bigger and bigger thanks to this plan. This will bring both job opportunities, increase income for the Cambodian people, and improve the economy,” he said.

VREF is an umbrella group which represents 14 companies. In November, it announced it wants to invest $600 million in growing rubber by 2012 on 100,000 hectares throughout the Kingdom.

According the federation’s 2010 plan, 8,900 hectares of rubber will be grown in Kampong Thom, 7,500 hectares in Kratie, 1,500 hectares in Ratanakiri, 1,100 hectares in Stung Treng, and 1,000 hectares in Preah Vihear.

By 2017, the VREF wants to export 150,000 tonnes of rubber per year, rising to 250,000 tonnes in 2020, said Leng Rithy.

Mork Kim Hong, president of the Cambodian Rubber Association (CRA), said Tuesday: “We welcome the Vietnamese federation’s plan to grow rubber in Cambodia. The plan will be advantageous for the future of Cambodia’s economy.”

Currently, the government imposes a $50 charge on every tonne of rubber exported from Cambodia. Companies must also pay 20 percent income tax.

Mork Kim Hong added: “If the Vietnamese company is really able to grow rubber on as much land as they have announced, I believe that, in five years, Cambodia’s government revenue from tax on rubber exports will be $40 million to $100 million per year.”

A report from Cambodia’s General Directorate of Rubber Plantations (GDRP) showed that Cambodia grew 123,000 hectares of rubber through family and private farms in 2009. Around 50,000 hectares of the plants are yielding rubber, providing 50,000 tonnes of dry rubber for export. Another 73,000 hectares have been planted but have yet to mature.

On Tuesday, no statistics detailing the amount of rubber exported in 2009 were made available by GDRP.

Sofitel set to open by mid-2010

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:02 Soeun Say

THE capital’s new luxury 12-storey Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Hotel will open in the middle of 2010, a project coordinator said Tuesday.

The hotel is being built on about 12 hectares of land on the site of the former Royal Phnom Penh Hotel on Sothearos Boulevard in Chamkarmorn District.

When complete, it will have 220 rooms, a spa, swimming pool, Chinese restaurant and conference hall.

“We have now completed about 90 percent of the construction. We have only the interior design elements left to do, and we plan to open in mid-2010,” said Sreng Soramy, engineering project coordinator at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Hotel.

He said that the 2,000-person conference hall is set to be ready by April, and that the US Embassy had already expressed an interest in booking it for a meeting.

Chan Syvannak, director of administration, declined to tell the Post the level of investment made in the hotel Tuesday, citing confidentiality.

She added that the hotel is a joint venture with three partners from Cambodia, Thailand and an undisclosed European country.

It is being built by Phokeethra Resort & Spa (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

Building work began in 2006 and was expected to be completed by 2008.

Breaking ground so close to the river had taken much longer than anticipated before the project started, said Chan Syvannak.

MH Bio-Energy fails to meet export target during first year

Trucks sit parked outside the MH Bio-Energy Cambodia ethanol plant in Kandal province. The facility was closed for a week from the end of August over pollution concerns.

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:02 Nguon Sovan

SKorean operator dismisses earlier forced closure as reason for export shortfall

MH Bio-Energy Cambodia denied Tuesday that the temporary suspension of production over suspected environmental pollution led the firm to miss its export target for last year by 26.4 percent.

In 2009, the South Korean business exported 29,406 tonnes of bio-ethanol to European markets. Its target was 40,000 tonnes. Bio-ethanol is a fuel which, when blended with petrol, can be used by vehicles to reduce polluting emissions. It can be made by processing cassava.

Kim Jung Ho, the company’s director of administration, said the below-target exports had not resulted from the one-week suspension of the factory by the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy in late August because of pollution concerns.

Instead, he blamed building issues, saying: “We could not achieve our original plan, due to the delay in production while we restored our factory last April.”

Kim Jung Ho said that the plant expects to export 40,000 tonnes of bio-ethanol to European markets this year, due to increasing demand for the product. He added that the price of bio-ethanol exported from Cambodia increased 12 percent in the past year, to US$640 per tonne from $571 a tonne in February 2009.

“The price of ethanol goes hand-in-hand with the price of oil. When oil prices go up, the bio-ethanol price goes up, too,” he explained.

The price of cassava, which is an ingredient in ethanol production, has also soared in recent months thanks to reduced local output and rising demand from Thailand. One tonne of dry-chip cassava fetches between $160 and $170 a tonne, up around 17 percent from $145 a tonne in December and 51 percent from the May low of $112 per tonne, according to Kim Jung Ho.

MH Bio-Energy’s Kandal province plant opened in November 2008 and buys at least 10,000 tonnes of cassava a month.

Local firm to manage Siem Reap Marriott

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:02 Peter Olszewski

GRAND Lion Group has signed a deal with global hotel chain Marriott International that will see the Cambodian firm manage a new Siem Reap hotel when it opens next year.

The agreement was announced in a press statement made at the weekend, in which Grand Lion also pledged to invest US$300 million in its ongoing hotel ventures throughout the Kingdom.

The 218-room Courtyard by Marriot Siem Reap is being built on a 1.2 hectare site about 15 minutes from Angkor Wat.

President and CEO of Grand Lion Group Lundy Nath said in the release the group had thoroughly reviewed well-known hotel brands before teaming up with Marriott. “It will appeal to our guests exploring the Indo-China region, where Marriott International has already established a presence.”

The CEO hopes that more visitors from Europe, Asia and the United States will be drawn in by the brand.

The Grand Lion Group said it plans to build a new super resort in Sihanoukville and a 200-room business hotel in Phnom Penh, both due for completion in 2013.


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Wednesday, 13 January 2010 15:00 Post Staff

It may not have seemed possible when we were children, but technology has grown up as quickly we have, especially in Phnom Penh. The landscape of the city is now filled with ATMs, Internet shops and cell phone stores.

Cell phones in particular have presented Cambodians with infinite possibilities in communications, business and access to information. It is for this reason we pay them homage on the back page of this week’s Technology issue.

Despite the fact that many universities do not have the financial ability to invest in internationally competitive information technology systems, individual students have endless possibilities for using computers and the Internet to their benefit.

While some of us cannot afford our own computer, access to the Web is quite cheap at Internet shops around the country, and even a few hours of research on the Internet can do a lot of good. The better schools in the country already have computers with the Internet available for student use in libraries and computer labs.

If you want to do more than surf the net, there are training schools such as CIST, the Institute of Technology or various private and public schools who are also trying to build up their capacity for teaching computer skills.

The possibilities in Cambodia’s job market are exciting, but in order to take advantage of them we must have the ability to work through a computer and online.

Help us celebrate the power of technology. Send your comments and opinion of this issue of Lift to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we will print the best of the bunch in next week’s issue.

Our technology thoughts...

" I think the internet is very important for my academics because some information that I want doesn’t exist in libraries, but it is online. I also need the internet to communicate with my friends and lecturers. I find it difficult to access my studies with no internet connection”

Rithy Cheatana, 22, senior at the Institute of Foreign Languages

" I think my laptop is very important for my studies because I can bring it everywhere, especially when I go to school or an internet cafe. I use it to do research, complete assignments and store documents easily.”

Thy Rathanak, 20, junior at the Department of Media and Communication
" Microsoft Encarta really helps my performance in school. Sometimes I don’t even have to go to the internet cafe because the information I want is already on the programme, which I set up on my personal computer. It contains a lot of information and multimedia such as pictures, slideshows and video.”

Tith Chandara, 21, senior at Norton University
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Teaming up on TV

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01 Tha Piseth

Support Children and Young People (SCY) is cooperating with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to pilot “Youth Today”, a discussion forum that will be recorded at TVK studios. The event, which will be aired on February 15, is meant to show people how important youth can be in social development.

SCY will conduct the TV programme to provide young Cambodians with the opportunity to participate in media advocacy and to illustrate the contributions that youth can make within society. The forum will support SCY’s vision that youth can play a crucial role in the development by giving young people a tool to share their perspectives with the masses.

“We can see that throughout the world, especially in the United States, young people are encouraged to participate in social development policy,” said Em Chan Makara, executive director of SCY. The main purpose of the upcoming forum is to “provide commune leaders in the provinces with examples of what our organisation has done with youth so far”, explained Em Chan Makara. “We believe that young people can make the society change through their commitment, participation and voice.”

In the forum, SCY will select youth representatives from three different provinces, including Kampong Thom and Battambang, and ethnic minority youth from Ratanakkiri province. SCY will also invite commune leader and university students in Phnom Penh to participate in the upcoming programme, hoping to bring together 65 people in all.

Phnom Penh officials have also been invited to the event to observe and to provide ideas for how youth can be involved in the development of the Kingdom.

There will be a one-hour discussion based around two documentaries made by volunteers from youth organisations. Those documentaries are about the educational sector, as well as activities of youth in the provinces working to inform people in their communities about reproductive health, traffic rules and the human rights situation among ethnic minority groups in Ratanakkiri.

“One of the main purposes is to show that young people can be an examples for youth in other provinces, letting them know what they can do toward social development,” Em Chan Makara said. He added that many young people in Cambodia do not have opportunities to get involved in media activities and need access to these types of outlets.

Besides the two documentaries, there will also be a circus featuring young representatives from Ratanakkiri, which will also be about education.

SCY is cooperating with community radio in Ratanakkiri to broadcast the forum to minority ethnic groups. The organisation also has young reporters to translate the documentaries into ethnic minority languages.

Greg Lavender, civil Society liaison and media development officer at UNDP, told Lift: “SCY has extensive experience in helping Cambodian youth to get involved in media production. UNDP is excited to be supporting them to help young Cambodians make their voices heard.”

Ly Chhay, an 18-year-old cameraman, said students should pay close attention to the documentary because they highlight the cooperation among youth in social development.

“They raised money among youths to construct roads in their community. They raised chickens and used the money to help poor people and people living with HIV,” Ly Chhay said.

Youth have the power to improve their community, with support from the UNDP, SCY hopes that by promoting those efforts that have been made in the past, it can encourage greater participation of young people in the future.

Now it is in your hands!

Support Children and Young People (SCY) is an organisation that is giving young Cambodians the opportunity to participate in media advocacy. The organisation gives young people a chance to raise concerns, speak their minds and express interests.
Get more information at

Making moves in the media

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Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01 Post Staff

A growing number of people in Cambodia consume news with the same regularity that they have breakfast every morning. However, the situation of the media in the Kingdom, particularly the way facts and information in the news are presented and consumed, is rather worrying.

In our country of 14.8 million people, many people read newspapers every morning, look at magazines over lunch, watch their favourite television programmes when they have a spare moment and listen to the radio throughout the day. The government, opposition parties and private businesses are all deeply invested in media, as it is both a necessary tool for communicating with their constituents, as well as an increasingly attractive entrepreneurial opportunity.

While everyone has their favourite media outlets, it is important to seek out news from various sources in order to have a balanced understanding of events in the Kingdom. “People should listen to more than one news agency for any major news stories,” said 26-year-old Ung Chan Sophea, a Radio France International correspondent.

The young journalist, who is also a reporter for the French newspaper Cambodge Soir Hebdo, says that news over the radio is more independent than through other channels such as print and television. Since radio is the most affordable of all of these media, it means that a large percentage of the population is able to receive relatively unfiltered information, especially if they seek out stations that are not politically aligned.

People from all walks of life now have more choices than ever when it comes to deciding where they want to get their information from. Cambodia now has more than 22 radio stations, seven television outfits, 341 print newspapers, as well as more than100 magazines focusing on a variety of topics. If people are mindful about their choices, information gleaned from these sources can help improve the way they live, work and do business.

Among the various forms of media, radio is the most widely used in Cambodia. A September 2009 media survey by Indochina Research found that more than 70 percent of the Kingdom listens to the radio. News and song request shows are the two most popular types of programmes for listeners from the five cities who were included in the survey.

People should listen to more than one news agency for any major news stories"

Having spent four years at Royal University of Phnom Penh to reach fluency in French, Ung Chan Sophea signed on for another two years at the country’s oldest university to participate in intensive journalism training before venturing into the male-dominated profession of journalism.

The young radio reporter thinks that the ability of journalists like her to gather well-balanced and accurate news is becoming more realistic. Government officials are providing news releases and daring to answer questions about political and societal issues that they haven’t done in the past.

Faced with the responsibility of reporting on social and political affairs, Ung Chan Sophea believes that news over the airwaves helps inform and educate people on an array of issues ranging from government policies, amplifying voices of the marginalised and agricultural market information.

Twenty-three-year-old Yung Khemara, an FM93.75 radio presenter and reporter, agrees that the government’s increasing openness to the media is a welcome change for journalists hoping to cover major news stories for their listeners. “In recent years, ministries have been providing more information to the media. There are more trained press officers in the government institutions, as well as more trained journalists to fill reporting positions for radio and newspapers,” Yung Khemara said.

The Institute of Foreign Language graduate thinks that her ability to gather news from sources ranging from a person on the street to government ministers makes news more credible. “For a news story on a conflict between rich and poor, I need to talk to both sides, and also to reach out to authorities for additional explanation.”

A 2009 report titled Enhancing Independent Media in Cambodia: An Ethics Perspective, by the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media, said that 51 percent of the 2,000 people who responded claimed radio was their primary source of information and 37 percent said TV. The report also recommended that the government pass “a freedom of information law – a basic law characteristic of any democracy – that sets guidelines for government officials disclosing documents not deemed confidential by the state”.


Cambodian Television Network (CTN)

From current affairs to entertainment to education programmes, the latecomer is the largest station the Kingdom. A BBC World Service Trust survey, published last year, says 59 percent of Cambodians watche television everyday, and that 73 percent of these are part of the expansive CTN audience.



One of the oldest print magazines to survive the unpredictable publishing market, the decade-old, fortnightly publication is known for its stories on art, culture, film stars and lifestyle. As it’s name suggests, the magazine remains Cambodia’s most “popular”.

Wat Phnom FM 105.75

Launched in November 2009, Wat Phnom FM 105.75 is one of the latest radio stations to reach for a younger audience. FM 105.75, though, is not only about entertainment and lifestyle, but strives also to promote democracy in the Kingdom. News on air is all about good governance, politics, economics and social issues. It is supported by AusAID and the World Bank.