Saturday, 13 February 2010

From behind the shadows

via CAAI News Media

Published: 13/02/2010 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Problems lie ahead for the PM as Sirichok ''Mr Wallpaper'' Sopha emerges from his shadow, Thai welcoming committee praised for Hun Sen's hasty retreat from the border, Ex-FM Surakiart Sathirathai says removing Kasit from talks with Cambodia is key to resolving the dispute

Sirichok: Causing political misunderstandings

Dubbed ''Mr Wallpaper'' by the media for spending much of his time standing behind Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during press interviews, Sirichok Sopha has now become a figure to watch in Thai politics.

The fact that he is a well-trusted close aide of the prime minister has given him political leverage, even if few people remember him for his record as a former Songkhla MP.

Some Democrat politicians, however, are concerned Mr Sirichok could invite political problems for the premier.

Over the past year, Mr Abhisit has been seen to be playing the role of a man who tells himself over and over again: ''I'm the prime minister''.

Critics say Mr Abhisit has exercised his authority with little regard for the feelings of other politicians, whether they are leaders of coalition parties or the government manager, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban.

Among political insiders, it is widely believed that Mr Abhisit listens to suggestions from only a handful of people. Among them are his secretary-general Korbsak Sabhavasu, PM's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey, acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn and Mr Sirichok.

In Mr Sirichok's case, political observers reckon he has been following the prime minister like his shadow.

Nevertheless, several sources in the Democrat Party claim that recently Mr Sirichok has caused a number of misunderstandings between Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep.

A senior source in the Democrats said Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep had been at loggerheads over the nomination of the national police chief.

Mr Suthep and Mr Abhisit's previous secretary-general, Niphon Phromphan, were united in their support for deputy police chief Pol Gen Chumpol Manmai to become the new police commander. Mr Sirichok took Mr Abhisit's side and threw his support behind Pateep Tanprasert.

The tug of war ended with Mr Abhisit getting his way and Mr Niphon resigning as his secretary-general last October.

Even after Pol Gen Pateep had been appointed acting police chief, Mr Sirichok had a part to play. It is said that during a confrontation between Pol Gen Pateep and Mr Suthep, it was Mr Sirichok who backed the acting police chief. The party source added that during the reshuffle of police generals and police commissioners, differences between Pol Gen Pateep and Mr Suthep became apparent.

It was also believed that during the confrontation, Pol Gen Pateep was supported by Mr Sirichok.

Pol Gen Pateep and Mr Sirichok were dissatisfied with the appointment of Santhan Chayanon as the Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner, whose nomination was supported by Mr Suthep and the military. Pol Gen Pateep preferred Pol Lt Gen Rachata Yensuang for the post.

Then, a misunderstanding over the appointment of the Metropolitan Police Bureau chief erupted between Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep, said the source.

Mr Abhisit was told Pol Lt Gen Santhan took instructions only from Mr Suthep and certain high-ranking military officers.

The source said Mr Sirichok may have whispered a few words about Pol Lt Gen Santhan to Mr Abhisit.

Mr Suthep insisted it would be impossible for Pol Lt Gen Santhan to listen to him and not Mr Abhisit.

The source added Mr Sirichok has also tried to play political tricks. He had his aide contact Bhumjaithai de facto leader Newin Chidchob to arrange direct communication between Mr Abhisit and Mr Newin without going through Mr Suthep, who is the government manager.

However, Mr Newin did not agree to play his game.

Hun Sen: Put off by Thai welcoming committee

Say hello, wave goodbye
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's tour of the Thai-Cambodian border, including the disputed areas, from Feb 6-8 was meant to send signals to the Thai government and the army.

The opening of a village which Cambodians call ''Hun Sen village'' near Preah Vihear temple is part of Hun Sen's policy to build border villages for Cambodian soldiers and their families to live in.

These border villages are thought to be a kind of buffer against any Thai invasion. They are also gradually expanding further into Thai territory.

Most importantly, judging by the fact that Hun Sen wore a military uniform during his visit, the implication seen is that Cambodia is ready to clash with Thailand over their territorial dispute.

During his visit, Cambodian troops stationed at the border moved up an array of weapons and ammunition to impress their leader.

But Hun Sen was unhappy when 2nd Army chief Weewalit Chornsamrit and Thai authorities managed to climb up the Preah Vihear temple to ''receive'' him.

Lt Gen Weewalit wanted to show to Hun Sen that Thailand owned the land around the Preah Vihear temple and that he himself was a host who was duty bound to welcome his guest.

However, it was not easy for Lt Gen Weewalit and his delegation to make their way up to the temple.

A border army source said Cambodian troops guarding the temple allowed only 10 Thai officers access to the temple and demanded they be disarmed.

And on Feb 8, the Thai army wounded Hun Sen's pride again when they turned him away after he asked to cross the border to visit Ta Muan Thom temple in Surin's Phanom Dong Rak district.

The army said the presence of protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy could ''inconvenience'' him on his visit as a tourist.

Hun Sen later launched a verbal attack on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The source said Hun Sen spent just half an hour on the Cambodian side of the border opposite the Ta Muan Thom temple before flying back to Phnom Penh by helicopter after receiving a report there was ''a boom'' near the Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian soldiers were concerned for Hun Sen's safety and the opening ceremony of a military office at Ban O-rumchong, 6km inside Cambodia, had to be cut short.

A military source at the Preah Vihear temple said the ''boom'' was actually a sonic boom from F-5 and F-16 jets from the Royal Thai Air Force on patrol over Thai soil near Preah Vihear.

Breaking the sound barrier did the trick, sending the Cambodian premier dashing off home.

Afterwards, the source said both Lt Gen Weewalit and air force commander ACM Itthaporn Subhawong were praised for their roles in arranging ''welcome'' and ''send-off'' ceremonies which Hun Sen is unlikely to forget.

Kasit: Foreign minister in name only

World no longer Thailand's oyster

Even without naming names, former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai managed to snub his successor Kasit Piromya, who also happens to be one of his critics, on Wednesday.

Mr Surakiart, who was foreign minister under the Thaksin Shinawatra administration, feels Thailand is slowly alienating itself from others on the world stage.

''Since the coup, Thailand has lost many friends,'' said Mr Surakiart.

''Even the US deputy assistant secretary of state Scot Marciel is visiting Cambodia rather than Thailand.''

Mr Surakiart made the point that key US authorities in charge of Asean affairs had bypassed Thailand.

In fact, Thailand was part of Mr Marciel's five-country working tour of the region, which also included Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Mr Marciel did not meet Mr Kasit on Wednesday but made an introductory call on permanent foreign secretary Theerakul Niyom.

They discussed Burma and Cambodia.

As always, the Thai senior official was a good listener.

Earlier, Mr Marciel, the US ambassador to Asean, had a full day of meetings with high-ranking officials in Phnom Penh, including Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Mr Marciel spoke briefly about the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, saying the US would like to see a stable regional security.

He said that the US is a ''friend to both countries'' and hoped that the issue could be resolved bilaterally and peacefully.

But Hor Namhong responded by saying it was the Thai leadership that was being greedy by seeking Cambodian territory.

Hor Namhong asked the US to support Phnom Penh's application in 2012 for a non-permanent member's seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The US is not the first country from which Phnom Penh has asked for sympathy or support relating to its disputes with Thailand. It has also approached China.

The 18 votes for Cambodia's unilateral listing of the Preah Vihear temple at the World Heritage Board meeting in 2008 is evidence that Cambodia can exercise more clout than Thailand in terms of soliciting help on the international stage.

Yet, Mr Surakiart said there remained something Thailand could do to recover its dwindling influence.

He said, for example, that Thailand could remove the foreign minister from bilateral negotiation mechanisms with Cambodia and appoint a respected person such as former foreign minister Tej Bunnag, who might be better accepted by Phnom Penh to help salvage the fast deteriorating relationship.

Mr Surakiart may have realised that the Abhisit government is likely to stay in power longer than anticipated, so he has suggested practical action to soften the dispute with the eastern neighbour.

But it has been noted that Mr Kasit, who is an open supporter of the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy, is not cut out for the job of normalising ties with Cambodia.

The tough challenge is to find someone who is.

Some observers reckon that at least four other individuals are playing ''foreign minister'': Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva; Panich Vikitset, who is assistant to the foreign minister; the foreign minister's secretary Chavanond Komalayasutr; and PM Office Minister Virachai Viramethekul.

On his Chinese name card, Mr Virachai introduces himself as ''minister of foreign affairs''. So it's little wonder that Thailand's diplomacy seems confusing and contradictory, if not directionless.

Salot Nhip, 84, a younger brother of deceased Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, has Died

FILE - In this July 15, 2009 file photo, Salot Nhip, 84, a younger brother of deceased Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, sits at his home in Prek Sbov village, Kampong Thom province, about 160 kilometers (99 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The last surviving sibling of Pol Pot, the late leader of Cambodia's communist Khmer Rouge, has died at the age of 84. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

Cambodians visit Mekong

via CAAI News Media
February, 12 2010

SOC TRANG — A delegation from the Cambodian Royal Army led by General Dieng Sarun visited the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang yesterday.

Welcoming the Cambodian visitors, provincial Party Committee secretary Vo Minh Chien expressed his desire for enhanced friendship and solidarity between the two nations.

He said he hoped Cambodian army officials would make more contributions to strengthening the friendship between the two countries.

The living conditions of Soc Trang people, especially Khmer ethnic people, had improved remarkably, he added.

General Dieng Sarun thanked the Viet Nam People's Army for their assistance in Cambodia's struggle against the Khmer Rouge regime in the past.

As the visit coincided with the approach of Tet holiday, the General wished the Soc Trang authorities and people a happy and prosperous new year. — VNS

The world is her stage

"Dancer," a Cambodian art piece showing at Gallerie Karon.
Jim Craven
"Rama and Hanuman," a Cambodian art piece showing at Gallerie Karon.
Jim Craven

A Cambodian thespian prepares for a performance in Cambodia.
Courtesy of Helena de Crespo

OSW actor to share her experience in Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

By Myles Murphy
Ashland Daily Tidings
February 12, 2010

Helena de Crespo always has been fascinated by the ancient complex of elaborately constructed temples of Angkor Wat deep in the jungles of Cambodia.

During a trip to the nearby island city-state of Singapore three years ago, de Crespo couldn't resist taking a side trip to satisfy her lifelong curiosity.

It was a decision that would set her life on a new track.

If you go...
What: Talk and slide show by Helena de Crespo on her experience in Cambodia
When: 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Gallerie Karon, 500 A St. No. 1
For information:

While returning from the temples, she saw a huge, colorful stage set up on the side of the road, complete with proscenium, painted curtains, lights and a large group of actors, stagehands and theater artisans. Herself an actor (she appeared most recently in Ashland in the one-woman Oregon Stage Works production of "Shirley Valentine"), she felt compelled to stop and learn more about the group.

"As I began talking to them, I began to learn more about Cambodia," de Crespo said.

A period of political unrest and violence in Cambodia in the 1970s climaxed when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975. For the next four years, people were forced out of cities to work in the fields, banking and currency were abandoned in favor of an agrarian society, torture centers were created and public executions became common. Between starvation and killings, as many as 3 million people died during that period. Cambodia's population at the time was about 7.5 million, according to the U.S. State Department.

"Actors were among the first killed by the Khmer Rouge because they were keeping alive cultural traditions," de Crespo said. "Anyone closely resembling an intellectual was killed."

Many villages across the country had their own theater groups, which traveled from place to place retelling old stories, histories and mythologies. De Crespo had come across one such group that has been struggling to revive the tradition.

She decided to help. By using her connections to the theater community in the states, she was able to draw support and funds toward building a theater and housing for the group in Cambodia.

She also made contact with the Cambodian community in the U.S., which is how she met Portlander Kilong Ung, himself a refugee from Cambodia. Ung is speaking Saturday at the Ashland Branch Library as part of a collaboration cosponsored by Gallerie Karon and the Friends of the Ashland Library.

"He lived through it," de Crespo said. "I'm just a peripheral observer."

Searching for the most efficient way to help the Cambodian thespians, de Crespo learned that they were essentially homeless and that in the rainy season, their incomes dropped to nothing.

"They can't perform during rainy season and the company goes through hard times," she said. "The best way to help was to build a permanent housing complex with a performing area, stage, housing and buildings to construct costumes, sets and puppets."

The puppets are made from cow and buffalo leather punched with holes to allow light through to make for interesting silhouettes.

De Crespo has brought many examples of these puppets to Ashland for the show at Gallerie Karon.

De Crespo also will give a talk and slide show about her experience in Cambodia from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Gallerie Karon, 500 A St. No. 1. For information on de Crespo's Cambodia project, see the Web site

Myles Murphy is an editor and reporter with the Daily Tidings. Reach him at

A golden leaf looking for a forest

Kilong Ung survived the Khmer Rouge; now he helps people learn from the past

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By Myles Murphy
Ashland Daily Tidings
February 12, 2010

Kilong Ung was a young boy in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge took power in the early 1970s. Between 1974 and 1979, Ung survived while his parents and sister died in a genocide that claimed the lives of as many as 3 million people.

He has documented his story in the book "Golden Leaf, A Khmer Rouge Genocide Survivor" and will talk about his experience at the Ashland Library from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

"I want people to get a better appreciation of life and to understand what happened," Ung said Thursday in a telephone interview from his office in Portland, where he now lives. "My theme is leveraging the past to make the world a better place."

Ung's talk is part of a collaboration co-sponsored by Gallerie Karon and the Friends of Ashland Library.

Gallerie Karon is hosting a show through February, "East Meets East IV" which features textiles, adornments, leatherwork and other artwork from, among other East Asian countries, Cambodia.

Actress Helena De Crespo, who performed in the recent one-woman-show "Shirley Valentine" at Oregon Stage Works, was instrumental in bringing Ung to Ashland while the Gallerie Karon exhibit was on display.

"I was introduced to Helena several months ago, but I couldn't get the time to do an art show at the time," gallery owner Karen Wasser said. "Helena suggested Kilong. He's very in demand these days so we're very lucky."

Ung, now a software engineer in Portland and an adjunct computer programming instructor at Portland Community College, made it to the United States in 1979.

With little English at his command, he learned quickly and graduated from high school in Portland in 1983, going on to earn degrees from Reed College and Bowling Green State University.

Now he spends time traveling around giving motivational speeches in different communities. He is a past president of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon and participates in numerous community and business groups.

Ung's language becomes poetic as he describes his journey and his purpose following the publishing of "Golden Leaf."

"I was lucky," Ung said. "I was a golden leaf, blown by the wind. I went further and put down roots and became a tree."

He hopes through his talks to inspire others.

"As a tree I can only do so much," he said. "I want the audience to become my fellow trees. We all have a past. We all are ordinary people, but we can do uplifting things."

After one recent talk, Ung was approached by a man who bought his book. A short time later, after reading the book, the man returned with a $5,000 check to help Ung in his work building schools in Cambodia.

"The forest is growing," Ung said. "To be a tree is a privilege and with that privilege comes responsibility."

Still a very poor country, wracked by political instability, Cambodia is fertile ground for aid, Ung said. But helping often requires a political dance, and Ung strives to build schools there without becoming entangled in bureaucracy and political controversy.

"I'm not involved with government or politics," he said. "It's purely as humanitarian as possible. We have to walk very gingerly, navigate through political systems."

On a smaller scale, de Crespo is working on a similar project. She is organizing work to create a theater and housing for one specific theater group she came in contact with while traveling in Cambodia. She has collected shadow puppets and set pieces made of leather made by members of the Cambodia theater group, which will be on display at Gallery Karon through this month.

For more details on Ung's life, see the Web site

Cambodia Sentences Thai National to 20 Years
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A Thai national has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Cambodia.

In a hearing last week, Suphap Vong Pakna confessed to planting at least five explosive devices along the Cambodia-Thailand border, saying Thai soldiers paid him to do so.

Pakna’s lawyer says his client received a fair trial.

[Sam Sokong, Vong Prakna’s Atttorney]:
"I think he is getting a fair judgment according to the evidence and his confession, because the court reduced the jail term from 30 to life imprisonment to 20 years in prison based on our terror law, article 75."

The 39-year-old was arrested in February of last year after he allegedly entered Cambodian territory and laid landmines.

A Thai investigation reportedly found Russian-made landmines in the area which they say were recently planted and of a type that Thai soldiers have never used.

Thai authorities said the findings suggested that Cambodia may have been guilty of breaking the 1997 Ottawa Treaty, which bans signatories from using anti-personnel mines.

Cambodia, however, dismissed the accusation, saying any landmines in the area were remnants of the three-decade war.

The group Landmine Monitor says mined border areas between Cambodia and Thailand have the highest concentration of landmines in Cambodia.

Jailed for laying landmines

via CAAI News Media
Feb 12, 2010

PHNOM PENH - A CAMBODIAN military tribunal convicted a Thai man of planting landmines along the country's disputed border on Friday and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, court officials said.

Thai national Suphaph Vong Pakna confessed in proceedings last week to planting at least five mines in territory disputed between Thailand and Cambodia, saying Thai soldiers had paid him to do it.

'The court has considered the accused person's confession, so it sentences him to a jail term of 20 years, which is open to appeal,' military judge Pohk Pan said.

Suphaph, arrested last February, faced a maximum of 30 years in prison for attempted murder, endangering national security and entering Cambodia illegally.

Defence lawyer Sam Sokong said he would consult his client on whether to appeal the decision.

Cambodia is at loggerheads with Thailand over their border. Demarcation is complicated by landmines that still litter the area following decades of civil war in Cambodia. -- AFP

No pay hike for Cambodian garment workers

via CAAI News Media
February 12, 2010 (Cambodia)

Dialogue between Cambodia's government, the Garment Manufacturers' Association of Cambodia - the main trade body and unions, concerning a pay hike for garment workers, concluded without any decision being taken, but a representative of manufacturers announced that the members would further consider the matter.

Majority of Cambodia's 350,000 garment workers are young women engaged in stitching fabrics for exports and earning average monthly minimum wage of US $50 per month. But unions firmly opined that the wages are not sufficient and also that government's own statistics office consents to this, citing that the workers require minimum US $93 to make ends meet.

The industry has suffered on account of fall in orders during the last 18 months and proposed hike in wages would lead to further increase in costs. On account of a decline in demand from the leading US market, dozens of factories have shut down and hundreds of workers have been rendered jobless.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

U.S. Naval Vessel to Make Port in Cambodia's Coast of Sihanoukville

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Web Editor: Zheng Zhi

The USS Patriot, an Avenger- class countermeasures vessel from the 7th fleet based in Hawaii will make port in Cambodia's coast of Sihanoukville early next week, according to a statement released Friday by the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.

The statement said the USS Patriot will begin a weeklong visit starting from Monday and to conduct exercises with the Cambodian Navy.

Sihanoukville province is located 230 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh.

The bilateral training exercises will focus on damage control, search and seizure and at sea rescue techniques.

In addition, naval surveyors who are also traveling on the ship will assist their Cambodian counterparts in taking sides scan surveys of the port area to check for possible obstructions in commercial shipping lanes.

Both the bilateral training exercises and the survey are being orchestrated at the request of the Cambodian Navy and the Port Authority.

This is the fifth visit by a U.S. naval ship since the resumption of military to military engagement between the U.S. and Cambodia.

The statement said that "each visit represents another important step in this evolving relationship as well as an opportunity for military personnel from both countries to exchange experiences, tips and techniques which will assist them in the future."

News in Pictures

Supharp Prakna (2rd L), a Thai national, is escorted by military personal after his trial at a military court in Phnom Penh February 12, 2010. The Cambodian military court convicted and sentenced Prakna to 20 years in prison for terrorism charges. 39 year-old Prakna was arrested on April 24, 2009 at Anlong Veng district of Oddar Meanchey province, 240 km north of the Cambodia-Thai border, carrying a number of landmines with him so he could plant them, officials said.REUTERS/Stringer

Supharp Prakna (2rd L), a Thai national, is escorted by military personal after his trial at a military court in Phnom Penh February 12, 2010. The Cambodian military court convicted and sentenced Prakna to 20 years in prison for terrorism charges. 39 year-old Prakna was arrested on April 24, 2009 at Anlong Veng district of Oddar Meanchey province, 240 km north of the Cambodia-Thai border, carrying a number of landmines with him so he could plant them, officials said. REUTERS/Stringer

Khieu Samphan, a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, stands in the dock during his bail appeal hearing of the U.N. backed tribunal at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh February 12, 2010. Khieu Samphan who is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A general view shows the courtroom during the bail appeal hearing of Khieu Samphan ,a former president during the Khmer Rouge regime, at the U.N. backed tribunal of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) on the outskirts of Phnom Penh February 12, 2010. Khieu Samphan is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Khieu Samphan, right, former head of state of the Khmer Rouge, talks with his lawyer Sar Sovann during a hearing in the courtroom of the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Chor Sokunthea)

Khieu Samphan, former head of state of the Khmer Rouge, sits during a hearing in the courtroom of the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Chor Sokunthea)

Young children witnessed father’s shooting

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MYAKKA — A 7-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother witnessed their father being shot to death by their grandfather, and after the shooting the girl handled 911 calls with responding deputies, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports released Wednesday.

Sheriff’s reports also detailed an ongoing argument between 77-year-old Lim Chhea and his son-in-law Wilson Ngov, 43, that ended with Chhea shooting his son-in-law in the family’s kitchen.

The men lived with their wives and Ngov’s two children in the Myakka home where the shooting took place, in the 44000 block of State Road 70 East.

Lim Chhea

The dispute between the family members, who are of Cambodian descent, sparked over the handling of the family dogs, sheriff’s reports state. Chhea believed one of the dogs may have killed a goat in the area, and wanted them tied up.

Sheriff’s reports released Wednesday said Ngov disagreed and he argued with his father-in-law over tying up the dogs. On Tuesday, when Ngov left the home, Chhea told Ngov’s wife he “wanted to shoot” his son-in-law, she later told detectives. When Ngov came back home that afternoon, the warning turned into reality.

Ngov heard his father-in-law arguing with his wife and became angry, leading Chhea to get a handgun and shoot his son-in-law in the back in front of his wife and two kids, according to sheriff’s reports. Ngov’s wife wrestled the gun from Chhea, but he also grabbed a knife and tried to cut Ngov’s throat. She also wrestled the knife from him, according to reports.

At 4 p.m., sheriff’s dispatch received a 911 call from Ngov’s 7-year-old daughter and deputies responded to the home, where the first deputy to arrive told the girl over the phone to “get as many people out of the house as she could,” the deputy’s report stated.

The deputy then got on a loud speaker and directed the children out of the house and to the patrol car. Both children made it to the car and ducked behind the vehicle. Inside, deputies found Ngov shot to death, Chhea and both men’s wives.

Ngov’s children later told detectives that they saw their grandfather shoot their father “in the tummy,” according to sheriff’s reports.

Bristow confirmed Ngov was shot twice, but declined to go into detail about where on his body. He also declined to discuss the dispute over the animals, saying the case is still under investigation.

On Wednesday, Chhea appeared before a judge for a first appearance on a murder charge, but the elderly man could not hear a Cambodian translator that called in by telephone to conduct a translation of the proceedings.

County Judge Douglas Henderson postponed the hearing 24 hours in order for a Cambodian translator to be found who can conduct the proceeding in person. Chhea will be held in the Manatee County jail without bond until that hearing.

CBRE appointed Advisor and Agent for Developing New Cambodia Resort Destination

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 12 February 2010

CB Richard Ellis, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services firms, has been appointed by The Royal Group of Cambodia as exclusive advisor and sole agent to introduce investors in developing the island of Koh Rong, Cambodia for international tourism and real estate development. The Koh Rong archipelago is 30 minutes by boat from Cambodia’s main coastal town of Sihanoukville.

The Royal Group, renowned as one of Cambodia’s most dynamic and diversified business conglomerates, has been granted a 99-year lease by The Royal Government of Cambodia to develop Koh Rong, the largest private island in the region. The company is headed by Chairman & CEO Neak Oknha Kith Meng, one of Cambodia’s most prominent tycoons. The group has business interests in a wide range of industries such as telecommunication, media, banking (partner with ANZ Bank), insurance, education, trading, resorts and property, with interests extending to Cambodia’s railways with the subsidiary company Toll Holdings from Australia.

The Koh Rong archipelago is 30 minutes by boat from Cambodia’s main coastal town of Sihanoukville. Koh Rong, Cambodia’s largest island covers 78 sqkm, about a third of the size of Thailand’s Koh Samui, with a local population of approximately 1382 people from 317 families living in small fishing villages. The island remains virtually untouched with its 28 white sand beaches stretching up to 6 kilometers.

“The Koh Rong story is similar to that of Samui and Phuket 20 to 30 years ago,” said David Simister, Chairman, CB Richard Ellis Thailand and Cambodia. “It is one of the last undiscovered paradises in South East Asia.”

Development opportunities are now opening up with a new international airport at nearby Sihanoukville, currently welcoming chartered flights and private jets. Flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are expected to begin in the near future, with rumours of regional airlines also considering scheduled flights in 2010.

An environmental impact study is already underway for the development of Koh Rong as “Asia’s first environmentally planned island”. A team of international consultants is now on board including Scott Wilson Engineers to oversee the environmental aspects and MAP Architects Hong Kong to create the Master Plan to be rolled out over the next three months.

Tourism development of Phuket and Koh Samui over the past 20 years is being studied to shorten the process of developing high quality, sustainable tourism at Koh Rong, while avoiding the mistakes of previous developments.

Two to three golf courses can be accommodated on the island and new infrastructure will include plans for organic farming, waste management, improved education, jobs and medical care for the local population.

CBRE is also the sole agent for Song Saa Island Resort in the Koh Rong archipelago, the first international quality resort to be launched. Song Saa is an exclusive private island resort developed by Brocon Investment comprising 20 villas, of which only 14 are available for private ownership.

Song Saa has had an immediate success following an overseas launch in Phuket before Christmas. 85% of the units are booked by a global mix of investors including Norwegian, French, Hong Kong Chinese, Hong Kong expatriate, Japanese and British.

Overseas Vietnamese in Cambodia welcomes traditional Tet

Vietnamese Cambodian Le Van La cares for a yellow apricot tree.

via CAAI News Media

Friday ,Feb 12,2010

Tet atmosphere is overwhelming everywhere in the country. The most important national holidays is also come to overseas Vietnamese in Cambodia.

The Leuk Daek Distric in Kandal province, Cambodia near the Khanh Binh Border gate of Vietnam is home of the largest number of overseas Vietnamese.

Vietnamese Cambodian Le Van La, 65, said his family has been here 21 years. The lunar New Year is an occasion for the family reunions.

“We usually get together to make Banh tet (Cylindrical glutinous rice cake) on the 27th day of the twelfth lunar month. My wife and daughters-in-law buy flowers and fruits from the homeland to worship the ancestors” he said.

Bus driver Pham Van Tien and his family have been lived in Cambodia for 40 years. He usually holds many trips bringing overseas Vietnamese to the homeland for Tet.

“I am Vietnamese. I always remember the national habits and custom. My family will return the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on the 2nd day of lunar New Year (February 15) and come back on Tet Thanh Minh (the grave-visiting festival falls on the 100th from Lichun" (the first solar term in the East Asia Calendar), he said.

Overseas Vietnamese in Cambodia often visit and wish each other prosperity and luck on Vietnamese traditional Tet occasion. They reminisce memories of the homeland, Vietnamese Cambodian Le Xuan Tung added.

By Dinh Tuyen – Translated by Kim Khanh

Pig sales increase ahead of Chinese New Year in Cambodia

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February 12, 2010

Pigs sales in Cambodia are almost doubled ahead of Chinese New Year which falls on Sunday, compared to the normal days of the year.

Srun Pov, president of Association of Pigs Raising in Cambodia, said Friday that on normal daily basis, about 4,000 pigs are sold, but 7,000 to 8,000 pigs are sold out quickly ahead of the Chinese festival.

He said Cambodia permits the imports of 800 pigs from Thailand on daily basis, and a few hundreds more are illegally trafficked or imported in through small dealers or brokers.

The Chinese New Year holiday will begin on Saturday with the offering foods to ancestors and to be followed by family gathering and travels until next Monday.

While the number of the pig sales is increased during the Chinese New Year, its price is also increased.

The price is varied according to the size and weight of the pigs, with the regular price ranging from 25 U.S. dollars to 150 U. S. dollars a pig.

Source: Xinhua

Some 20,000 Free Condoms During Valentine's Day In Cambodia

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PHNOM PENH, Feb 12 (Bernama) -- Fearing the spread of HIV/AIDS during the upcoming Valentine's Day in Cambodia, a non-governmental organisation in cooperation with Cambodian authorities is ready to distribute free of charge of 20,000 condoms, Xinhua said Friday.

Director of Aids Health Care Foundation Chhim Sarath said that the NGO will begin to distribute the condoms to the public during the Valentine's Day celebration which will start from Saturday through Sunday.

Valentine's Day has become one of the popular get-together's day for many young Cambodians over the past several years.

Citing Chhim Sarath, Xinhua reported that the teenagers are the prime target of the distributions, so as to create awareness of the spread on HIV/AIDS, and educate them to avoid themselves from this deadly disease infection.

Cambodia is known as a successful country in Asia to curb with the spread of the HIV/AIDS through 100 percent use of condom campaign.

According to the government's statistics, the prevalence of infection rate has declined from 2 percent in 2006 to 0.9 percent in 2008 for adults aged 15 and 49, and is expected the rate will further decline to 0.6 percent by 2012.

French national charged with attempted robbery of Cambodian bank
via CAAI News Media

Feb 12, 2010

Phnom Penh - A French national living in Cambodia has been charged with the attempted robbery of a Cambodian bank and the illegal use of a weapon, national media reported Friday.

Francois Chateau, 48, was arrested Monday after allegedly stealing 275 US dollars during a botched hold-up the same day in Phnom Penh.

Chateau, who owns a car repair shop and has lived in the country for 17 years, told the Cambodia Daily newspaper he tried to rob the bank after a telephone argument with his elderly father in France.

'I drank a bottle of whisky. I don't remember what happened,' he said. 'I remember I crashed into a glass door.'

A clerk at the court said Chateau had confessed to the alleged crimes.

'We charged him with attempted robbery and illegal weapon possession,' the clerk said. 'He confessed to the robbery but said he was drunk.'

Chateau told the newspaper that the Glock pistol he was carrying had been given to him by a friend years before.

'Everybody has a gun here, it's the culture since 1993 [but] I've never used it,' he said.

Chateau faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of the two offences.

Minerva Fellows spotlight: Lyndsay in Cambodia
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Lyndsay Wehrumt
Issue date: 2/11/10

It had been 6 days since I hugged him goodbye. When I arrived at his "house" located on the dumpsite in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, his hair was already thinning and strewn with lice, clothes tattered and covered in dirt, and he had acquired a nasty cough and nickel sized sore on his shoeless foot.

This dumpsite, known as Stung Meanchey, is where four of my students' families live. Until recently, they were able to scavenge through this dumpsite's rotting food, hypodermic needles, and shards of broken glass, (usually barehanded and shoeless) for recyclable scraps to earn an "income." The garbage is burnt daily here and a 2002 health study by Japan's Ehime University's Center for Environmental Studies revealed that there are "high levels of carcinogenic dioxin in the area and people are exposed to high concentrations of mercury, cesium and cadmium which affect the nervous, endocrine and immune systems." However, construction of a new dumpsite far from their homes has resulted in the families bringing in even less money (less than $1/day) because of the added transportation fees.

I arrived midday at Stung Meanchey to find my former student sprawled out on a bamboo slat outside his home playing with two marbles with his mother sitting idly beside him. She is a single mother and unable to read or do basic math. I was surprised to find her home at 12pm as she has to support herself and three sons, which she does by sewing rice sacks, when she feels like it. The only thing she was doing however was gossiping with women around her and yelling at me in Khmer about her son's dismissal from our school. I couldn't help but wonder how she was planning to put food on the table for her children that night, if they even had a table.

This student was dismissed from our school because of an extended period of disrespect towards students and staff, frequent class absences, selling of school property, and so forth. He has recently been readmitted to our school with "one final chance." As I write, I am watching him and another student share a pair of headphones, singing along to Akon's "Smack That," during the time allotted for a nap and/or homework. I know that in less than one hour's time, this same "reformed" student will be feigning sleep in class, scowling at my instructions, and will not have his homework completed.

In many cases, his behavior seems unchanged. At a soccer match his first weekend back, I took him out to substitute in another player. All of the students who were younger than him understood this system but he stormed away from the team, mumbling in Khmer. During the weekly reading time, my attempts at finding an appropriate book for him were met with scowls and grunts of dissatisfaction which escalated to him leaving the room when I asked him to read at least some of a book before drawing a picture.

My attachment to him is growing stronger however as I am teaching him 1:1, three times a week. While reading together we arrive at many challenging words he does not know. Uninstructed, he writes every word and later looks up the Khmer translation. One sentence in his book was "I know you want…" and he jumped up and started singing and dancing "I know you want me" by Pitbull. We play hangman at the end of class and although he can choose any word, he decides on new words from his list, and beats me.

My reformed student's musical companion has left me in awe in a completely different way. After cursing at me and the other staff under his breath in Khmer, skipping classes, and erupting in bouts of laughter during the flag ceremony for two consecutive weeks, I awaited his next indiscretion. Instead, I discovered that he saved every Reil (2.5 pennies equivalent) of the Christmas money he received from the school (unlike many of the other students who spent at least a portion of it on a new article of clothing or candy), to send home to his family. At times he is one of the worst behaved students but also comes from one of the worst family situations; a history of abuse, a father with brain damage from a motor-bike accident, and an 11 person family whose income comes from collecting and selling vegetables. Their "home," which can be compared to a glorified chicken coop, rests on land which they don't own and is located far from the market. His family must spend more than half of their earnings (less than $1/day/person) on this commute.

One of my best students also calls the Stung Meanchey dumpsite home and is 18 years old, a first year University student, a mentor to the newly admitted students, and has recently obtained her first part time job. She was raised by her single mother and grandmother who make bracelets and necklaces from rolled up colorful paper. These can now be purchased in our school's café and boutique, Joe-To-Go, and have proven to be a hot commodity for tourists and hopefully for my friends back home. More importantly, selling these pieces in our boutique has provided her family with much needed funds.

Of my 24 students: 7 have family histories of abuse, 8 have parents with alcohol abuse, 10 were raised by a single parent, and 3 are orphans. Most of these parents cannot read, write, or maintain a job. When my students are having difficulty in school or in finding the proper motivation, their families are not the ones to turn to as in some cases they act as greater hindrances by actually encouraging them to leave school to make money.

However, I am still surprised/frustrated with many of my students complete apathy at times towards learning or towards seizing additional opportunities we offer such as soccer programs, movie nights, scavenger hunts, bike rides, or arts and crafts. I have to continually remind myself that they are kids, kids who had an upbringing that I will never be able to fully comprehend. While my childhood memories are of splashing in my turtle shaped swimming pool or the beaches in Cape Cod, my students have memories of sleeping and begging on the streets, and being responsible for their families' survival. These childhood experiences are still deeply engrained and have great effects on their behavior. In my moments of frustration, I need to remind myself that they are kids, and regardless of their histories, perhaps some characteristics are universal. The most important thing is to recall their backgrounds, let frustrations slide, and be a reason for them to enjoy school and learning in order to give them the greatest chance possible to create better lives for themselves.
Editor's Note:

You can read Lyndsay's blog @

Cambodia Vietnam Visa Exemptions

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Prime Minister Hun Sen left for Hanoi Tuesday for a two-day official visit, where he is expected to improve cross-border trade with visa exemptions for Cambodians.

PR Log (Press Release) – Feb 11, 2010 – Prime Minister Hun Sen left for Hanoi Tuesday for a two-day official visit, where he is expected to improve cross-border trade with visa exemptions for Cambodians. The premier will discuss the economy, trade, investment and the acceleration of border demarcation with his counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung. During Hun Sen’s visit, his first since the July elections, the two are expected to sign an agreement that will allow all passport holders to cross between the two countries without a visa, which will ease imports and exports. “These agreements really promote the economics between the two countries, especially cross-border trade and free visas, so that ordinary people can make business along the border and travel,” said Koy Koung, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two are also scheduled to sign an agreement to link the countries by rail, as part of a pan-Asean railway initiative, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two countries will also seek greater cooperation between their two national stations, National Radio of Cambodia and the Voice of Vietnam. “We will allow the news in Vietnamese to be broadcast on Cambodian national radio for 15 minutes each day, and Vietnam will help train Cambodians to use material and equipment for the radio in the studio,” Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said. Both sides will share with each other music and background broadcasts from national festivals and events, he said. In Hanoi, Hun Sen will also join economic summits with Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

Trade between the two countries increased from $180 million in 2000 to $1.2 billion in 2007, Vietnamnet reported Tuesday. From January to June this year, the two have traded $903 million. Both countries hope trade to reach $2 billion annually by 2012. Meanwhile, investment from Vietnam in Cambodia was $100 million in 2007.

Jørgen K. Hansen Enjoys Prison Life in Cambodia

Jørgen K. Hansen has been behind these walls since November 2009. And he will still be there for some time.

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Suspected for having sex with children and organizing the same for his friends, former Danish businessman and third-world supporter Jørgen K. Hansen is still waiting for his trial to begin. While waiting his friends come to visit and brings him food every day. But he does not want to talk to journalists.

12.02.2010 | text Niels C. Jensen | photos Niels C. Jensen

The Danish businessman and third-world supporter Jørgen K. Hansen is still imprisoned in Cambodia at the Banteay Meanchey Provinsual Prison close to Poipet suspected for having sex with minors and being involved in procuring. But he is not completely abandoned:

“Everyday, his friends come to visit him and everyday, a Cambodian woman, one of his friends, brings him food,” says one of the prison guards, Sang Rattaná.

Among good friends
Wednesday the 10th February I meet Jørgen K. Hansen in the courtyard at the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison where he is still waiting for the trial to begin. I am interested in when the trial will begin, which for now nobody seems to know.

Jørgen K. Hansen is seated in the middle of group of a Cambodian people and a woman is giving him a back massage. When I try to talk to him, he plainly refuses to talk.

“Go! – Go away!” and “Fuck off!” he says several times. Finally he calls a guard, who shows us the way out of the prison.

Just outside the prison we get in contact with a Cambodian woman who claims that she and her family have been very good friends of Jørgen K. Hansen for several years. She also tells us, that she is the person who brings food to him in the prison every day.

The Cambodian woman says that she and her family have been to Denmark to visit Jørgen K. Hansen and that they in some periods have lived in the same house in Cambodia.

Her husband is interpreter for Jørgen K. Hansen. The husband confirms that but he denies being a close friend of Jørgen K. Hansen and refuses to talk about the lawsuit.

With money you can
Sang Rattaná, one of the prison guards explains that all the prisoners have to work every day in the prison. But he also tells that Jørgen K. Hansen never works and that he sleeps in a bed while the other inmates sleep on a mattress on the floor.

Police sources in the town tell me, that personally they believe that Jørgen K. Hansen might be able to pay his way out of his problems in Cambodia:

“If he has enough money and a good lawyer maybe he could just walk out from here as a free man when the trial finish,” my contact suggests.

Background story
Jørgen K. Hansen was in November 2009 arrested by the Cambodian police together with a 13-year old girl in a room at Ngy Heng Hotel in border town Poipet.

He had also three other girls waiting in three different rooms at the same hotel, who were, according to the police, waiting for some friends of the Danish businessman.

Leader unit gets loan to fund Cambodia power plant

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SIHANOUKVILLE, CAMBODIA: Leader Infrastructure (Labuan) Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leader Universal Holdings Bhd, has secured a US$140mil syndicated term-loan facility from a consortium of four banks to finance the bulk of its coal-fired 100MW power plant in SihanoukVille, Cambodia.

OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Bhd was the sole book runner and one of the mandated joint lead arrangers of the loan.

The other mandated joint lead arranger was Malayan Banking Bhd, while AmBank (M) Bhd and Bank of China were joint lead managers.

Leader Universal managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Sean H’ng said the loan would be utilised to part-finance the construction of two units of 50MW coal-fired electric power generating facility and other ancillary facilities.

“The total cost of building the 100MW power plant is about US$170mil. The banks are financing us US$140mil and the remaining US$30mil will be jointly financed by Leader Universal and our joint-venture partner Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co Ltd (CIIDG),” he said after the syndicated term-loan signing ceremony between Leader Universal, CIIDG and the four banks here yesterday.

CIIDG comprises a group of Cambodians who will provide the land for the construction of the coal-fired power plant in Sihanoukville.

H’ng said Leader Infrastructure has an 80% stake in the 100MW coal-fired power plant, which is the first coal-fire power plant in the country, with the balance 20% stake held by CIIDG.

“We expect the 100MW power plant to be completed and operational by fourth quarter of 2012,” he said.

H’ng also said Leader Infrastructure was exploring the possibility of building another coal power plant with its partner CIIDG in Sihanoukville.

“But this coal-fired power plant will have a smaller capacity – around 700MW if constructed,” he said, adding that discussion on the second coal-fired power plant was still at the early stage and was subject to power demand and financing.

On the group’s other projects, H’ng said Leader Universal was also involved in the construction of a power transmisson system and two substations in Cambodia.

“We expect the 100MW coal-fired power plants and the power transmission system to contribute more significantly to Leader Universal’s overseas revenue when they are fully operational,” he said.

Revenue derived from Leader Universal’s overseas operations represents about 5% of the company’s total revenue of about RM2bil in 2009.

H’ng said the bulk of the company’s revenue was still derived from Malaysia, mainly in manufacturing power cables.

The loan financing signing ceremony in Sihanoukville was witnessed by the deputy prime minister of Cambodia; Keat Chhon and Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, his Suy Sem.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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U.S.S. Patriot to Dock in Cambodia on Feb. 15

Friday, 12 February 2010 10:30 By Ek Madra .

DAP News combodia

PHNOM PENH, The U.S.S. Patriot, an Avenger-class countermeasures vessel from the 7th fleet based in Hawaii, will make port in Sihanoukville on February 15th to begin a weeklong visit and to conduct exercises with the Cambodian Navy, said the U.S. release on Friday.

“The bilateral training exercises will focus on damage control, search and seizure and at sea rescue techniques,” it said.

In addition naval surveyors who are also traveling on the ship will assist their Cambodian counterparts in taking sides scan surveys of the port area to check for possible obstructions in commercial shipping lanes, it said.

“Both the bilateral training exercises and the survey are being orchestrated at the request of the Cambodian Navy and the Port Authority,” said the release was seen by DAP.

Sihanoukville is about 240 kilometres from the capital, Phnom Penh.

“This is the fifth visit by a U.S. naval ship since the resumption of military to military engagement between the U.S. and Cambodia.”

“Each visit represents another important step in this evolving relationship as well as an opportunity for military personnel from both countries to exchange experiences, tips and techniques which will assist them in the future,” it said.

In 2008, U.S. Navy destroyer arrived at the southern Cambodia deepwater port of Sihanoukville for a five-day visit aimed at strengthening bilateral ties.

The 155-metre USS Mustin (DDG-89), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, arrived with its crew of nearly 300 to embark on a goodwill mission, which included free dental clinics, repairs of local schools and hospitals and other humanitarian works.

The crew conducted training programs with the Cambodian naval personnel.

There were demonstration operations, including one on disastrous operation.

Also the USS Essex, with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked, made a port call at the coastal province from November 26 - December 2, 2007.

The Essex was the second ship to be commissioned in the WASP-class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships.

The 844-foot long, 44,000-ton Essex is capable of transporting, deploying, commanding and supporting all elements of a Marine landing force of over 2,000 troops during an assault by air and amphibious craft.

During the ship's visit, hundreds of U.S. Sailors and Marines deployed to sites across Cambodia to provide medical and dental treatment, to complete engineering and community relations projects, and to conduct military-to-military exchanges and training.

More Japanese Investors are Interested in Investing in Cambodia

Friday, 12 February 2010 04:58 DAP-NEWS/ Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 11, 2010– Japanese delegation told Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sok An late Thursday that there will be more Japanese investments to the kingdom in the near future.

But Mr. Hideo Ohkubo, a leadership committee member of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and vice-committee chairman of Advancement of New Industry, said more meetings should be held between Japanese investors and Cambodian government.

“The organizing tours for Japanese investors to see with their own eyes the Cambodia’s real situation and investment potential, which is a very good idea,” Ohkubo said.

“I am encouraging more Japanese investors to invest in the Mekong sub-region countries including Cambodia,” Ohkubo told Dr. Sok An, who is also Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, in a meeting late Thursday.

Ohkubo said it always takes times for Japanese investors before their investment flow could be made to foreign countries, but at the same he said Cambodia can be investment radar for Japanese businessmen.

“So, we need to arrange visits first for Japanese investors to see Cambodia’s investment potential,” said Ohkubo said in the meeting.

He said soon there will be a Japanese firm’s office and working with the government to facilitate Japanese investments in this Southeast Asian nation, where investment potential is high.

There are three main areas in Cambodia, which has been attractive to Japanese investors.

Those includes: Cambodian coastal province of Sihanouk could be a very good location for food processing and assembling plants, but we need to train the locals how to deal with the information technology (IT),” Ohkubo, who is also the New Business Convention Vice-Chairman, said.

“I will encourage Japanese investors to look into Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone,” he said.

“At the same time, I will convince Japanese investors, who are currently investing in Vietnam, to look into the possibilities to operate their businesses near the Cambodia-Vietnam borders.”

In response, Sok An said Cambodian government is soon to set up an information centre, where national and international investors could obtain accurate information about Cambodian investment potential.

Sok An also sought Japanese government to give green light for Cambodia Angkor Air for direct flight operation from Phnom Penh to Japanese cities such as Osaka and Narita airports, a move will contribute tourism sector.

“Japanese Airline (JAL) alone cannot carry all Japanese visitors who wanted to visit Cambodia. Soon, Cambodia Angkor Air will have more planes and we wish we could have direct fly to and from Japan if that possible,” Sok An told the delegation.

JAL had 20 flights to Cambodia in 2008 and it was only 10 flights last year, said Sok An.

Tourist arrivals from Japan ranked fourth. There was 144,220 Japanese tourists visited Cambodia in 2008. It was only 129,283 for last year, according to tourism ministry.

Japan also pledged to train Cambodian experts how to improve rice productions.

“I would like to see Japanese experts to technically help us how to improve Cambodian rice productions, especially in Takeo province, where the dry rice season has a lion share out of the country’s dry rice crops,” he said.

Dr. Sok An also said that a polytechnic institute is being built in the southern province and hoped Japanese firm could join hands to develop the centre.

In response, Japanese delegation is interested in Dr. Sok An’s project of the institute and will send Japanese rice experts along with farming technology to help Cambodian experts and farmers on how to improve rice yield and hoped to increase the crop harvest up to three times a year.

Agriculture and tourism played vital factors in contributing Cambodian economic growth.

Cambodia produced more than 7 million tonnes of rice for 2009/2010. The country received more than 2 million last year.

Total of Japan’s investment value in Cambodia between 1994- 2009 was US $105.18 million, according the figures provided by the Office of the Council of Ministers.

Cambodia exported goods to Japan was about US $32 million in 2008 and it was $6.8 million for the first eight months of 2009.

Cambodia imported goods from Japan was $69.6 million in 2008 and it was $8.3 million for the first eight months of 2009.

Japan provided Cambodia the duty free quota of 1,000 items exports to Japan.

Cambodian Soldiers Unconcerned by Thai Military Exercise

Friday, 12 February 2010 03:21 DAP-NEWS

A Thai military exercise on Thursday has caused Cambodian soldiers stationed at the border area no concern as they remain ready to defend the country, a source at the border said.

The source said the Thai exercise was not considered a significant event as Thai soldiers did not fire into Cambodian territory.

The Thai soldiers’ exercise comes following Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s first visit to the border areas. Hun Sen warned during his visit that any exercise must not involve firing into Cambodian territory.

Previous Thai exercises saw bullets in Cambodian land three times because of “technical matters.”

The situation at the border is normal, but the border source said that Cam-bodian soldiers are ready to fight if Thai forces cross illegally into Cambodia.

UN, City Hall Meet to Discuss Capital’s Future

Friday, 12 February 2010 03:21 DAP-NEWS

Cambodia’s Phnom Penh City Hall and UN-Habitat on Thursday met to discuss the safety and security of the urban poor in city of Phnom Penh joined by relevant stakeholders to seek the best way to help the capital’s urban poor.

Man Chheoun, deputy director of the committee of the population and development for the Council of Ministers and deputy governor of Phnom Penh, said that Phnom Penh will have master plan of development soon and we already handed over to the CoM after it was agreed by the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Construction, Urbanization and Land Management.

The master plan for 2020 will contribute to the beauty of the city and help boost health and with large spaces for people to exercise, he said in a seminar yesterday.

“To ensure safety and security and help the poor, we need to join to together to protect and clean our city, and need responsibility,” he said, adding that “anarchic” buildings promote disorder.

In 2003, there were 569 urban poor communities in Phnom Penh, but this was later reduced to 200 communities, he claimed.

“We integrated the urban poor into simple areas living like other people and it helped the poor to have responsibility for themselves, and upgrade their living conditions,” he said.

He highlighted that the poor created crimes, robbery and domestic violence, and are sometimes jobless and inactive. Streetlights along the streets also played a part in reducing crime, he said. “A good city needs to have all aspects, including beauty, few crimes and construction according to legal procedures and traditional norms.”

Din Somethearith, program manager of UN-habitat here, said that “we all are trying to create city with beauty, nice construction, and to avoid increasing crimes in the city, and ensure safety and security for all people. A city with crimes is unstable and sparks the fears of travelers.”

Celilia Andersson, coordinator for the Safer City project of UN-habitat in Nairobi, Kenya, said in the Asia-Pacific region there are over 2.6 billion urban poor so organizations involved must build trust.

According to the finding report from the CDRI, Cambodia has made significant progress from a decade ago, when the kingdom was experiencing a very high crimes rate and a lot of violence. A survey in 2001 by UNIVCS revealed that Cambodia ranked top for violence and property crimes among developing countries in the survey. Since then, however, the total number of victims of crimes has declined. In 2006, there were 1,451 organized crimes and 3,005 recorded property crimes. The amount of property crimes decreased from 2,414 in 2007 to 1,796 in 2008. The decrease was seen as a positive sign of security improvement since 2002.

No Worries over Rainsy Case, CPP Claims

Friday, 12 February 2010 03:20 DAP-NEWS

A Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker on Thursday claimed to be unworried by the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s plans to raise Cambodian opposition party leader Sam Rainsy’s case in the next parliamentary session.

The rejection was made following an IPU committee meeting on the human rights of parliamentarians and a confidential decision at its 128th session on 18-21 January, 2010 to confirm deep concern related to this case.

Svay Rieng Court on January 27, 2010 sentenced Cambodian opposition party leader Sam Rainsy in absentia to two years imprisonment for uprooting border markers on the border with Vietnam.

The opposition “express further concern at the charges laid against Mr. Sam Rainsy which, in the light of the information before it, appears highly questionable; and wishes to receive a copy of the indictment and to be kept informed of the outcome of the trail hearing of 27 January, 2010,” the report said.

Cheam Yeab, a CPP lawmaker, told DAP News Cambodia that only the political opposition and NGOs heed such reports of concern.

“All we have done is legal and was a request by the court via the Justice Ministry,” he added.

However, we reject all fear even though this case is going to talk at the next session as we have done by legal ways, he confirmed.

Abhisit Coward to File Border Dispute to International Court of Justice Commentary

Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:30 DAP-NEWS

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reaffirmed that his government will raise the ongoing border dispute with Thailand to the International Court of Justice or the U.N. Security Council, but Thai Prime Minister Abhhist Vejjajiva said he would not seek to do that fearing the repeated loss as that ruled by the International Court of Justice at Hague in favor to Cambodia on 15 June, 1962.

This attitude shows the current Thai leaders are shamelessly claiming without any legal background the ownership of Preah Vihear Temple and its vicinity of 4.6 square kilometers.

It is ridiculous that Abhisit is betraying his ancestors and predecessors who respected the ruling judged by the International Court of Justice that Preah Vihear Temple and its surrounding area are in Cambodia’s territory. The Cambodia’s exclusive ownership was in fact, if any objection, by Thailand in accordance with the international norms and laws--shall be made in 10 years, but has ever made such objection or claim until 46 years later. Based on the principle of international norm, Abhisit has nothing to say whether or not he agrees with the ruling and nor the ownership of the temple and the area.

With a latter unilateral map drawn by itself, Thailand claims for 4.6 squares kilometer adjacent to Preah Vihear Temple, and only after Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple was registered as the World Heritage Site. As this is a case, we wonder if any country on earth accepts this and nor Cambodia undoubtedly.

Cambodia itself was a victim of warfare for several decades and not at all ready to engage in any other war, but peace and good neighborly country. On the contrary, Thailand is provocative to stage war with Cambodia in order to divert public attentions from domestic political turmoil and divisions to the border area with Cambodia.

Facing such circumstance, Cambodia has no right stop Thailand from orchestrating this war, but to be ready for self-defense at any cost.

While certain powerful country is for sure to judge this disputed case in favor to Cambodia based on logic and legal principle at any means, it instead suggests not to have it raised at the top level, the U.N. Security Council, the consideration being processed by Cambodia.

It is useless and nonsense to further engage in bilateral negotiation with Thailand as long as the current Thai leaders bear in mind to sabotage the issue to its domestic problems for their political gains through this nationalistic sentiment.

A wise and just vision must be promptly materialized; otherwise, the ASEAN bloc will be divided and who to be blamed for this, of course, not Cambodia as a victim and neither a provocateur, but Thailand (and other backers, if any) who will solely and wholly be responsible.