Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Hand-over ceremony of determine equipment from Japanese government in Phnom Penh

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that some 670 square kilometers of the country's land are still cover by landmine and would take several years to be removal.
Photo by Khem Sovannara, DAP News

Cambodia deminers try out demining equipments during a hand-over ceremony of them from Japanese government in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that some 670 square kilometers of the country's land are still cover by landmine and would take several years to be removal. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian deminer shows demining equipments during a hand-over ceremony of them from Japanese government in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that some 670 square kilometers of the country's land are still cover by landmine and would take several years to be removal. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian deminer tries out demining equipments during a hand-over ceremony of them from Japanese government in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that some 670 square kilometers of the country's land are still cover by landmine and would take several years to be removal. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Addiction in Cambodia

In recent years, Cambodia has experienced a surge in the use of methamphetamines, known here and in Thailand as "crazy medicine." Apart from the 11 government-run centers, drug users in Cambodia have few places to turn for help with their addictions.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

A vacant lot littered with used needles.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

A drug dealer working in a poor neighborhood in Phnom Penh.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

In some cases, desperate families commit their relatives to the centers, but most former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they had been locked up there against their will. At left, an addict passed out in a Phnom Penh slum.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

The United Nations has estimated that as many as half a million people in Cambodia may be drug users.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

A heroin addict shot up in a vacant lot in Phnom Penh.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

Another heroin addict said he was whipped by authorities at a detention center with a twisted metal wire as thick as his thumb until he passed out. "They used a blanket to cover me and they beat me," said the detainee, who insisted that only his first name, Chandara, be used. "There were 10 of them beating me."
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

Nguyen Minh Tam said he got used to the routine during three months in a government drug detention center: three punches to the chest when he woke up in the morning and three more before he went to bed.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

In a report last month, Human Rights Watch described in detail abuses in 11 government-run centers that included electric shocks, beatings, rape, forced labor and forced donations of blood. At left, drug addicts in the Korsang Center in Phnom Penh.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

Treatment for the addicts "involving both the physical abuse and the involuntary administration of an experimental drug" have stirred concern in Cambodia since they were documented recently by the New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

Ban Sophea, on the other hand, an emaciated man who supports his heroin habit by collecting used cans and bottles, said things were quite different for him during a carefully monitored 10-day detention. "They gave us medicine three times a day from a bottle that looked like a whisky bottle," he said. "The rest of the time we just wasted time and ate. They let us dance and eat cake. We were eating all the time."
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

The centers appear to be used not only for drug users but as a means to clear the streets of vagrants, beggars, prostitutes and the mentally ill, according to Human Rights Watch and the reports of other former detainees. Workers from the Korsang Clinic often tour slums.
Photo: Justin Mott for The New York Times

ver 45,000 Garment Jobs Lost in Cambodia Last Year

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Web Editor: Cao

At least 106 garment and shoe factories were closed last year, mostly because of a slump in Cambodia's key export industry, forcing more than 45,000 workers out of employment, local media reported on Wednesday, citing figures from the Ministry of Labour.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the ministry, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying that 66 additional factories had suspended operations over the same period, temporarily affecting an additional 38,124 workers.

"At the same time, we also saw 48 new established factories that employed 16,886 workers," he said, adding that the government trained 40,000 unemployed garment workers in agriculture up to October.

The Ministry of Labour said that at the end of September last year, 130 garment factories closed or suspended operations in Cambodia in the first three quarters, meaning an additional 42 factories had shut down from October to the end of December.

Just over 30,000 garment workers were made redundant last year up to the end of September. Evidence so far has suggested that openings and closures were about the same, according to Oum Mean.

However, a representative of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said that the sector is far from recovery. GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo pointed out that shipments were still down after dismal figures for the last quarter of 2008.

Cambodia's garment sector is regarded as the first largest earning income for the country's revenue.

Cambodian garment trade struggles to get over slump

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By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Cambodia's garment industry, its third-biggest currency earner, shed almost 30,000 jobs in 2009 after a drop in sales to the United States and Europe and could struggle this year, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Labor Ministry, said 106 factories had closed in 2009, putting 45,500 people out of work.

On top of that, 66 factories suspended operations, leaving another 38,000 on half pay, after a slump in export orders as shoppers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere cut back on clothing purchases due to the global financial crisis.

However, 48 factories had opened during the year, employing 16,900 people, Oun Mean said. These firms had received permits before the downturn and had taken the risk of continuing with their ventures, banking on an improvement in the world economy.

"In 2010, we suspect garment and shoe production will still be affected," Oum Mean said, adding the industry had 468 factories by the end of last year, employing 330,000 people.

"We just feel happy after hearing information that there's been some recovery in those big countries," he said.

According to data from the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, the country exported garments, textiles and shoes to the value of $2.3 billion last year, down from $2.9 billion in 2008. More than half of its exports go to the United States.

In recent years the sector has been the third-biggest foreign exchange earner after agriculture and tourism in a country ravaged by civil war in the 1970s but which has achieved some stability over the past two decades.

It accounts for about 16 percent of gross domestic product, so the factory closures will hurt, with a ripple effect in the countryside as the money sent home by garment workers dries up.

The International Monetary Fund forecast in December that the economy would shrink 2.7 percent in 2009 before growing 4.3 percent this year.

The government has offered vocational training to the unemployed, but Oum Mean said some female workers had also turned to the "entertainment industry" -- a euphemism for prostitution. "Some think that these jobs are not good for society," he said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said some workers had sought jobs in neighbouring Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.

"Some of the women went to work in night clubs and beer gardens," he said. "Unemployment is a heavy burden for Cambodian women."

(Editing by Alan Raybould)

((; +855 2 399 2102; Reuters Messaging: 
Keywords: CAMBODIA ECONOMY/GARMENTS (If you have a query or comment on this story, e-mail to

In 2010, Officials Who Use Their Positions to Extort Money from the People Will Not Be Tolerated – Tuesday, 16.2.2010

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Posted on 16 February 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: The firm position of the Phnom Penh Municipality in 2010 is not like that in 2009; it will not allow dishonest officials to keep on committing bad activities towards the people. This was declared by an official during the convention in the morning of 15 February 2010 to reflect on the work during 2009, and to determine the targets for 2010; the meeting was chaired by the Phnom Penh governor, Mr. Kep Chuktema.

“During this annual convention, Mr. Kep Chuktema advised all civil servants and all armed personnel to continue to be strictly honorable towards the people, so that they have confidence and trust in the services provided, though previously, some officials used the opportunity of their positions to extort money from the people. But now, he warned, saying that officials doing such bad activities will no longer be tolerated.

“The governor went on to say that only by obeying discipline and with heightened responsibility can the efficiency of the work and its results increase. He added, ‘Considering 2009, Phnom Penh can be proud for having cooperated well with each other, effectively deploying our forces to prevent and intercept crime, the activities of gangs, the illegal use of weapons, gambling, human and sex trafficking, and drug related crimes.’

“He continued to say that in 2010, what remains to be done is to focus more on such issues as public order, car parking facilities, traffic jam, illegal construction sites, and violations of the regulations regarding the use of pedestrian’s sidewalks. Also, he shared the information that Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen had ordered the Phnom Penh Municipality to create ties with the Intervention Brigade 9 of Division 3, stationed at the battlefield in the Preah Vihear area. ‘It is a new obligation for all of us to support the battlefield which is a great pride for the people in Phnom Penh.’

“During the convention, the Phnom Penh governor delivered a new car the Tuol Kork district command station, as a reward for its previous hard work.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5127, 16.2.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Millions of landmines still scattered across Cambodia: PM
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Agence France-Presse | 02/17/2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen warned on Wednesday that thousands of families are living at risk from millions of landmines still scattered across the kingdom.

Around 670 square kilometres (258 square miles) still needs to be cleared of explosives left over from a long-running civil war, Hun Sen said during a ceremony to hand over demining equipment from the Japanese government.

"This is the legacy of civil war," Hun Sen said. "Thousands of families are directly and indirectly exposed to the constant threat posed by these hazardous war remnants."

The murderous Khmer Rouge regime was toppled in 1979 but civil unrest continued until 1998, and left impoverished Cambodia one of the world's most heavily mined countries along with Afghanistan and Angola.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain buried around villages and farmland, despite the destruction of 2.7 million explosive objects across 200 square miles over the past 17 years, the prime minister said.

But the number of related casualties has dropped to 200 victims per year in 2008-2009, down from 800 annually in the period 2005-6, according to the Cambodian Red Cross.

At Wednesday's ceremony, the Japanese government donated 588 mine detectors and 44 deep-search detectors, along with spare parts and a mobile repair unit for mine clearance machines.

A taste of Cambodia in Vietnam

Num banh choc, a Cambodian breakfast staple, is also a much-loved dish in southern Vietnam
Courtesy of Mon Ngon Viet Nam Magazine

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Compiled by Hong Nguyen

Num banh choc, a fish and rice noodle soup from Cambodia, has won a place in the hearts of many in Ho Chi Minh City, the bustling southern metropolis crowded with food lovers.

The fish noodle soup is a breakfast staple for people from the land of Angkor Wat. The dish, which includes freshwater fish and herbs, reflects the Cambodian fondness for fish, one of the country’s cheap and abundant sources of food.

The dish gets its distinctive flavor from prahok, a type of fermented fish paste, commonly used in Cambodian cuisine as a seasoning or a condiment.

A bowl of num banh choc not only satisfies the taste buds but also the eyes of gourmets.

It is consisted of a subtle yellow fish and coconut milk broth with fresh rice noodles, paper-thin chopped banana blossom, cucumber and cabbage and topped off with prahok.

A wide variety of fresh vegetables, herbs and even flowers, including watercress, snake beans and water lily stalks, are also used to add more color and flavor to the sweet, sour and salty fish broth.

The noodles are served with fillets – and the head and guts - of freshwater fish. The fish guts are thoroughly cleaned with salt before being cooked to maintain their crunchy texture.

Fish guts are definitely an acquired taste but are also the most-ordered extra ingredient at num banh choc restaurants.

Num banh choc is on the menu of several restaurants in HCMC’s “Cambodian Town” in District 10.

The Tu Xe Restaurant has been a familiar destination for num banh choc fans since it opened in 1972. The owner of the restaurant is a 74-year-old Vietnamese woman who learned the art of Cambodian cuisine while living in Cambodia.

More and more Vietnamese visit Cambodian Town to sample the rich tastes of cuisine from neighboring Cambodia. Cambodian cuisine is said to be influenced by Chinese and Thai cooking, although Cambodian dishes are not as spicy as Thai food.

Some housewives even travel to Cambodian Town to buy ingredients to create their own Vietnamese versions of Num banh choc at home.

Another Cambodian dish, Hu tieu nam vang (Phnom Penh Noodle Soup), is also near the top of the list of favorite breakfast foods of southern Vietnamese.

Hu tieu nam vang is most often prepared with shrimp, pork, squid, fried spring onions and fresh herbs, although different variations can include pork liver and wonton dumplings.

The increasing popularity of cuisine from Cambodia and other countries is unarguably a reflection of the welcoming nature of HCMC.

The city embraces different cultures and people from all around the world, making it an attractive destination for all adventurous spirits who seek to explore the diversity of the world’s cultures and cuisines.

Japan donates $5.5 mil. for mine clearance equipments to Cambodia+

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PHNOM PENH, Feb. 17 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The Japanese government on Wednesday donated mine clearance equipment to Cambodia with a total worth of $5.5 million.

In a speech at a ceremony to hand over the equipment, Japanese Ambassador Masafumi Kuroki said Japan's latest donation brings the total value of the assistance it has rendered to Cambodia for demining activities to $110 million.

He said Japan places a particular emphasis on assisting Cambodia in this area because landmines and unexploded ordnance "endanger the lives of the people and hinder the development of the country."

The equipment handed over includes more than 600 mine detectors as well as mine destruction vehicles and a mobile maintenance warehouse.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked Japan for its latest donation and said clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance remains one of his government's priorities.

He said that since the mine clearance activities commenced in 1993, Cambodia with international support has been able to clear 520 square kilometers of land, though another 670 square km has yet to be completely cleared.

NY court overturns adoption by J&J heiress

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By MICHAEL GORMLEY, Associated Press Writer 
Tue Feb 16

ALBANY, N.Y. – A four-year adoption fight between jet-setting Manhattanites over an ailing and abandoned orphan from Cambodia is ending, at least for now, with the boy able to see the only father he's known.

New York's top court on Tuesday overturned the adoption by Johnson & Johnson heiress Elizabeth "Libet" Johnson, closing a case that wended through international law and involved what the adoptive father's lawyer called a "stealth adoption" by Johnson.

One of Manhattan's richest women, Johnson has been fighting over the adoption of the 7-year-old with her former lover, Dr. Lionel Bissoon, the one-time weight-loss guru to the rich of Manhattan, West Palm Beach and Beverly Hills.

"It means they will be able to have the father-and-son relationship they had since he was just a few months old and not have it cut off," said Bissoon's attorney, Bonnie E. Rabin. "The irony is that this child was orphaned and they tried to take away the only father he ever had ... this child loves his father."

The child continues to live with Johnson in her multimillion dollar Manhattan apartment, although the decision gives Bissoon legal standing he sought to see the child he helped rescue.

Richard A. Greenberg, Johnson's lawyer, said after Tuesday's ruling that he has several options, including taking the international case to the U.S. Supreme Court. There, he said he could argue the federal question of whether New York had to respect the Cambodian government's decisions regarding one of its orphans.

The court referred to the privileged upbringing Johnson, a mother of four, is able to provide. She's a jet-setter who once reportedly dated bold-faced bachelors including actor Michael Nouri and singer Michael Bolton, while living in her $62 million triplex in the Trump Tower overlooking Central Park, according to a 2008 story in "New York" magazine. It quoted Johnson as seeing herself as another poor little rich girl like Paris Hilton.

But Johnson found her life's work in establishing the Golden Child orphanage in Cambodia to care for the huge number of abandoned children in the impoverished country.

The saga began in January 2003, when the child, then 2 months old with a heart ailment, was found abandoned in a village market. Johnson already had become a leader in providing Cambodian orphans new lives in the United States, and she and Bissoon brought the infant to Manhattan on a temporary visa for medical care.

The couple had hoped to adopt and raise the child together. But the United States had a moratorium on Cambodian adoptions to combat illegal trafficking. Bissoon, however, then claimed dual citizenship in Trinidad and Tobago, which had no moratorium.

Trinidad approved the request, but Bissoon found out too late that the country doesn't allow unmarried men to adopt.

At about this time, in August 2004, the romance was strained as they again sought to adopt the child through Cambodia's government. In December 2005, more fighting over differing approaches to raising the child ended the relationship.

A month later, Johnson sought a New York adoption for the boy, but didn't tell Bissoon. Johnson later acknowledged errors in her petition, first by erroneously calling it a "re-adoption" and then failing to disclose a recent stay in an alcohol treatment facility, according to court records.

Unopposed, the New York adoption was granted.

Then, eight months later, Bissoon found out about it.

A surrogate court, and later an appellate division panel, agreed to vacate the New York adoption, based in part on expert testimony regarding Cambodian laws. On Tuesday, New York's highest court agreed.

"We are satisfied that, under Cambodian law, (Bissoon) validly adopted (the boy) in June 2004," the state Court of Appeals stated in its 7-0 decision. Because of international law in which countries respect the acts of other countries, Bissoon also was recognized as the father under New York law.

Johnson argued that granting her the adoption is in the best interest of the child, who has lived with her almost all his life and who the court noted "no doubt thinks is his mother."

"The best interests of a child, important though they are, do not automatically validate an otherwise illegal adoption," wrote Judge Robert Smith. "The parental rights of a child's father cannot simply be ignored because a court thinks it would be in the child's best interest to be adopted by someone else."

Bissoon, who sought to force Johnson to accept that he's the child's adoptive father, doesn't plan to take him away from Johnson. The court, however, didn't have to decide how extensive Bissoon's rights may be if he were to try.

"That question," Smith wrote, "is academic, and we hope it will remain so."

City student travels to Cambodia
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Rob Daniel • Iowa City Press-Citizen
February 16, 2010

Katharine Marshall has been sponsoring a Cambodian child since she was 11 years old.

On Feb. 4, the 16-year-old City High senior got to meet that child, Mom Chinda, now 16 years old herself, when she and her father, Jeffery Ford, traveled to Cambodia.

Marshall said that five years ago, she and her family got involved with Friendship with Cambodia after a representative of the group spoke at a Rotary Club meeting in Champaign, Ill., where Marshall and her family were living at the time. Friendship with Cambodia is a non-profit group that, according to its Web site, promotes cultural understanding of Cambodia and supports humanitarian projects in the southeast Asian nation that is still reeling from the mass killing of about 2 million people, roughly a quarter of its population, in the late 1970s.

It was after that Rotary Club meeting that Marshall began to sponsor a child through the organization, sending $360 a year to them to help cover a girl’s education, uniforms, textbooks and school supplies.

“Lots of times, their education is pushed back because of income,” Marshall said.

A recent newsletter from Friendship with Cambodia prompted Marshall and her father to decide to travel to Cambodia and meet Chinda in person.

“My family likes to travel a lot, so my dad and I decided to go,” she said.

Leaving Jan. 25, the pair flew into Siem Reap in northern Cambodia. They visited the ancient temple at Angkor Wat as well as the capital city of Phnom Penh and Kampot in the southern part of the country. Marshall said she was happy that they were among those who were taking a “socially responsible” trip that did not involve the thriving sex trade in Cambodia, but was amazed at the poverty she saw.

“It was amazing how poor it was and how hopeful everyone seemed,” she said. "They were really welcoming and it was great to see.”

After a three-hour taxi ride from Kampot, they arrived in Chinda’s village, where she met Mom and her extended family. Despite the language barrier, they got along well during the four-hour visit.

“She was really shy and quiet, but you could see she was really intelligent,” Marshall said of Mom. “She was very pulled together. It was like meeting a sister almost. (Her family was) proud that she was getting an education.”

Marshall and her father returned home to Iowa City on Feb. 6, and Marshall said she plans to continue to sponsor Mom as far as she goes in her education, even through college if the opportunity arises. She said she was impressed that the country was coming together after years of war and severe poverty, with hope for the future.

“There’s no way out for some people,” Marshall said. “Their programs are becoming self-sufficient, so that’s great to see.”

Cambodia - More animal feed to be produced

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17 Feb 2010

Cambodia’s biggest animal feed producer CP Cambodia announced that it would increase production 20 percent this year in a bid to respond to farmers' demand.

Wittaya Kreangkriwit, Vice President of CP Cambodia, a subsidiary of its Thai parent firm, said that his company would produce 144.000 tonnes of animal feed to sell throughout the country at US$ 500 per tonne.

"We want to encourage more and more farmers to raise animals in order to reduce meat imports from other countries into Cambodia," he said.

In 2009, the company, which is located in Phnom Penh, sold 120,000 tonnes of feed to its customers at US$ 460 per tonne, according to company data. Total sales were worth $55.2 million. This year, sales are expected to reach $72 million, the firm estimates.

According to Wittaya, in 2010 the company expects to buy 100,000 tonnes of red corn, 6,000 tonnes of cassava and 1,500 tonnes of soybeans.

Rising domestic production
Kao Phal, director of the Department of Animal Health and Production at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Thursday that increasing animal feed production would lead to a rise in domestic meat production.

He added that many farmers are raising pigs, chickens and ducks on both subsistence and commercial farms because of high demand.

"Animal feed will, in the future be used more and more as a basis for expanding animal farms to meat exports support needed by international markets," he added.


RBA set to begin Cambodia flights soon

Cambodia's Minister of Tourism, Dr Thong Khon, speaking to local and foreign media, during the Asean Tourism Ministers meeting at The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Jerudong, earlier this year. Picture: BT/Rudolf Portillo

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Goh De No Feb 17th, 2010


FLIGHTS from Brunei to Cambodia may begin this year which shows Asean’s tourism framework plan on further improving connectivity and transportation to facilitate intra-region travel.

Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism Dr Thong Khon told The Brunei Times in a telephone interview yesterday that they are indeed pushing for more flights going into Phnom Penh starting from Borobudur in Java, Indonesia in April, followed by flights from Brunei.

“It will take time for this to happen of course but to have Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) fly into Phnom Penh once a week will be very good for now, we need to start slow,” he said.

Dr Thong also mentioned that he had spoken to Brunei Tourism Chief Executive Officer Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed about the possibility and “the people of Brunei say it’s possible”.

The Cambodian minister mentioned that Brunei is currently flying Vietnam a few times a week and a transit from Vietnam to Cambodia is another possibility.

“It’s definitely in our policy to set up these flights (Java and Brunei),” he confirmed.

When asked whether a Cambodian airline would be entering Brunei’s airspace, Dr Thong said that on his side, they have just set up and there are not enough flights yet to do so.

During the Asean Tourism Forum held last month in Brunei, Dr Thong said if Asean had the correct flight and facilities for travel like visa exemption travelling intra-region will increase more and more.

“We need this to push for a four to five per cent increase next year. The strategic plan plays a big part for this, we have already agreed on and support the structure of it,” he said, hoping the structure would be adopted by next year in Cambodia, where they will host the Asean Tourism Forum.

He said that based on the structure, Asean tourism will yet improve. “Cooperation between airlines, roads, air and cruise ships … are going to be an important part. Flights are not coming into Cambodia from Brunei, Indonesia or the Philippines, why? It should not be delayed, there needs to be more connectivity for figures to increase. Tourism cannot be developed without transport, it is very important,” he added.

In a report from Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post newspaper last week, it said that air links between Brunei and Cambodia are set to start.

In its website, the newspaper quoted ranking officials from Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism as saying international flights will also link Cambodia with Indonesia to boost tourism.

Tith Chantha, director general of the ministry, was quoted as saying that Cambodia would launch connections with Indonesia in April, while the Brunei flights will follow later.

“If the plan is successful, we believe that more and more tourists will come to visit Cambodia. We hope that tourist numbers will increase around 10 per cent in coming years.

“We are now discussing technical matters in order to facilitate the flights,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Titan King Casino To Open In Cambodia On February 26th

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There is no part of the world that is being left without casino gambling in the latest effort to create a global industry. The latest country to receive a new casino will be Cambodia, where the Titan King Casino will open at the end of the month.

The casino will be located in Bavet on February 26th. The casino will employee over 6,000 workers, and will be located near the border of Vietnam. It is expected to draw thousands of tourists to Cambodia.

"Most gamblers will be Vietnamese but my goal is also to attract people from other countries," said Kith Thieng, the owner of the new facility, to Reuters, "I want to promote the fact that Cambodia has enough places for entertainment."

Cambodia is just the latest of many countries that is expanding their casino industries. Singapore had their first casino open last weekend when Resorts World Sentosa was opened by the Genting Group. The Group is based out of Malaysia, and has expressed interest in buying casinos in the US.

Macau has become the biggest gambling destination in the world in a period of less than a decade. They opened up the industry from a monopoly that Stanley Ho held, and have brought some of the top developers from the US. Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, and MGM Mirage all have properties in Macau.

In the US, the casino industry is growing, but its most storied gambling destinations are struggling. Las Vegas and Atlantic City have both been hurt by increased competition and a struggling economy.

February 17, 2010
Posted By Terry Goodwin
Staff Editor,

Sniffer dogs chase tigers in Cambodia's jungles (Feature)
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By Christiane Oelrich
Feb 17, 2010

Sen Monorom, Cambodia - Labrador mongrels Sadie and Scooby leap through the thick undergrowth of Cambodia's jungle, chasing their prey.

Finally, success. Scooby barks excitedly and marks his target. An exceptionally big and smelly pile of tiger droppings.

The two dogs have been trained in the US to hunt down the big cats' traces in Cambodia's huge tropical forest. They were hired, together with their handlers, by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The droppings are to help biologists determine how many tigers and leopards are still left in this wilderness region.

Environmentalists from across the globe have started a campaign to save the great cats from extinction, timed to coincide with the start of the Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Only about 3,200 tigers are believed to roam the jungles worldwide - down from more than 100,000 a century ago - a trend the activists hope to start reversing in Cambodia's forest nature reserves.

'This region has huge potential,' says Nick Cox, head of WWF's tiger programme in South-East Asia. 'The tropical forests are still intact, and if they are properly protected and there are enough prey animals, they are perfect tiger territory.'

'We want to bring tiger numbers back to the level from 50 years ago,' he says.

The 540,000-square-kilometre forest area - which is almost the size of France - ranges from Laos to north-eastern Cambodia and neighbouring Vietnam.

In the thick undergrowth, tigers can stalk their prey without being seen, creating perfect conditions for the big cats.

Indochina's colonial masters, the French, drastically reduced the wildlife in the region, as did the subsequent civil wars and Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime.

But what almost killed off the tigers was the insatiable demand from the market for traditional Chinese medicine, boosted by the long-disproved belief that tiger parts increase a man's sexual potency.

A dead tiger can earn a poacher up to 14,000 dollars.

Lean Kha says he killed 14 tigers in his poaching career. Now, he is a gamekeeper and hunts poachers.

'I know that it was a mistake,' he says. 'I have done much damage, and Buddhism demands that I make amends.'

For the past five years, patrols in the nature reserve have been stepped up. 'We have reduced the number of poachers and illegal loggers, by 95 per cent,' says nature reserve chief Sopheak Keo.

'Our gamekeepers only rarely find sawdust or animal innards, which hint at illegal goings-on.' Twenty poachers and loggers are imprisoned right now, he says.

Tigers living in their natural habitats are the best guarantee for an intact ecosystem, environmentalists argue. They want to convince governments that tigers are more valuable alive then dead.

A good tiger population in the wild can bring in a steady stream of safari tourists, they say, leading to governments preserving their forests and stopping them being turned into plantations.

'Forests conserve water resources, and tigers live near waterholes,' says US biologist Eric Dinerman. 'If governments protect their forests as tiger habitats, they also protect the water resources for millions of people.'

However, raising tiger numbers is not easy.

Releasing tigers bred in captivity is risky as they might introduce diseases. Also, for a forest to support a tiger population, there has to be enough prey. A grown tiger needs about 50 prey animals per year, says Omaliss Keo, an ecologist with Cambodia's forest authority.

'We need enough prey animals, then the forest could sustain two to three tigers per 100 square kilometres,' he says.

Some 350 tigers are believed to live in the forest area covering parts of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, says Omaliss Keo. There are probably 30 of them in Cambodia.

Former poacher Lean Kha thinks there may be more. Two months ago, he again found scratch marks on the forest floor.

This is where Scooby and Sadie come in. The poo sniffers and their handlers have set up camp at the Mereuch Ranger station.

Every find is awarded with games, while helpers measure the excrement heap and take samples. 'Every day we find 10 to 15,' dog handler Elizabeth Seely says. But only the lab can finally determine if the sample is from a tiger or leopard.

'We think that we found four tiger-heaps in the past eight weeks,' she says.

Cambodia still strewn with landmines

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February 17, 2010

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says it will take years to clear the once war-torn nation of landmines that endanger lives in nearly half of the country's villages.

An estimated four to six million landmines and other unexploded ordnance from more than three decades of armed conflict continue to maim or kill Cambodians each year.

Speaking to some 1,000 deminers at the handover of demining equipment from the Japanese government, Hun Sen said that some 670sq km of the country, or 46 per cent of its villages, still needs to be cleared of the explosives.

Since the setting up of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre 17 years ago, Cambodian and foreign deminers have destroyed 2.7 million mines and unexploded ordnance over about 520sq km.

Hun Sen said the number of mine casualties has dropped significantly but the explosives remained a major threat.

A report from Cambodian Red Cross said in 2004-2005 the number of victims was as high as 800 people per year but in 2008-2009, this number dropped to just over 200 victims annually.

At the ceremony, the Japanese government donated 588 mine detectors, 44 deep-search detectors, spare parts for mine clearance machines and a mobile repair unit. The equipment is worth about $US5.5 million ($A6.1 million).

Breaking the Silence

Photo by: DC-CAM

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:03 DC-CAM

An audience watches a dramatisation of the documentary Breaking the Silence earlier this month at Kraing Ta Chan, the site of a former security centre in Takeo province where an estimated 10,000 people were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The site has been included in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s second investigation.

Break from business

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:00 Rick Valenzuela

International Watch, a store on Phnom Penh's Street 130, remains closed Tuesday for the Chinese New Year, which ends today.

Lock and load

Photo by: AFP

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:04 AFP

An Afghan soldier loads his machine gun before leaving a camp in Lashkar Gah in Helmand province on the third day of Operation Mushtarak (“together” in Dari) on Monday. Afghanistan’s military said that coalition troops were close to controlling a key Taliban bastion.

UN to scale up drug services

Photo by: Pha Lina
The front gate of the “My Chance“ centre in Phnom Penh, a government-run drug treatment facility. Rights groups say physical and mental abuse is a regular part of state run rehabilitation centres’ regimes.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:04 Irwin Loy and Chhay Channyda

UN agencies plan to scale up investments in drug-treatment services in an effort to boost alternatives to the controversial “boot camps” that now serve as drug rehabilitation centres for hundreds of Cambodians each year, officials said Tuesday.

The plan comes in the wake of a scathing Human Rights Watch report that accused 11 government-run facilities of subjecting drug users to violence and forced confinement while delivering ineffective treatment.

In a press conference Tuesday, Gary Lewis, the regional representative for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the international community must work together with Cambodian authorities to replace the controversial centres.

“While we have to take stock of the observations of the report … we now have to figure out what to do about it,” Lewis said. “Pointing fingers is good to a point. But people responsible for managing a country … need to take decisions on how to improve the quality of services for the citizens.”

The UN’s role, he said, is to use its “limited resources” to point out more effective ways of treating people who are addicted to drugs.

To this end, UN officials are working on expanding a community-based treatment model to 350 communes in the Kingdom. Drug users, it is hoped, will be able to access treatment and rehabilitation services where they live, rather than face confinement in regional rehab centres.

Moek Dara, secretary general of the government’s anti-drugs bureau, the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), said the UN effort would be vital in expanding treatment options.

“The UN’s support on community-based treatment is to push us to a battlefield of reducing the danger of drug use,” Moek Dara said.

‘Debatable’ treatment, counselling
The UN plan, which is still in development, builds on a previous pilot programme that was subject to false starts and lengthy delays.

The H83 project, run by the UNODC in Cambodia, was originally aimed at showing authorities “a viable alternative to the jailing of apprehended drug abusers”, according to project documents.

The results, however, have been mixed. The US$1.14 million project’s chief outcome has been to establish grassroots “commune counselling teams” in 10 communes.

An independent evaluator brought in to assess the project praised the teams for providing an “innovative” and “valuable” approach, effective in dissuading some young people from using drugs, according to a midterm evaluation of the H83 project obtained by the Post.

Other key goals aimed at establishing alternatives to what the report’s author calls “boot camps”, however, were not achieved.

“What is currently being delivered does not constitute treatment and rehabilitation,” the evaluation reads. “It is even debatable whether it is counselling.”

The evaluation notes that a series of delays saw the project not being implemented until February 2009 – almost four years after authorities first signed off on it and only one month before its original end date.

After extending the project for another year until March 2010, however, the pilot programme managed to reach 376 drug users out of 462 identified in the communes as of June 2009, according to the evaluation.

“The very engagement of drug users in this positive, non-penal way has provided the Cambodian state with an opportunity for exploring an entirely different set of policy options,” the report states.

“…In the immediate future, however, the basic challenge that was facing the country at the outset of the project remains. There are still no high-quality drug treatment facilities able to provide a service to the growing number of Cambodian drug users.”

Looming deadline
In the meantime, UN officials are faced with a deadline: 2015. The NACD has set a goal to close most of the existing centres and create the country’s first national drug treatment facility by that date.

Later this month, it is expected that 20 hectares of land will be cleared in Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district to make way for the facility’s eventual construction, said Neak Yuthea, the NACD’s director of legislation, education and rehabilitation.

“What the NACD and government is doing here is to help society, not to play politics with anybody,” said Neak Yuthea, who rejected allegations of abuse in the facilities. “Having drug centres is to help society.”

UN officials say the closure of most of the existing centres would be a positive development, but some questioned that treatment in the planned facility would be voluntary and evidence-based.

The Stung Hav location has a projected capacity of 2,000 people – more than the number of people now detained in all existing rehabilitation centres combined, according to recent statistics.

Effectively, the 2015 date leaves UN agencies with five years to help develop an alternative to the current model.

“We’re encouraged” by promises to close most centres, said the UNODC’s Lewis. “But at the same time we are sufficiently cognisant of reality to know that unless there are credible alternatives to the treatment centres that are currently in place, it may be difficult for that goal to be obtained.

For this reason, our job is to help support the establishment of those alternatives.”

Man charged with raping and killing 9-year-old girl

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:04 Chhay Channyda

KAMPONG Speu provincial court has charged a 29-year-old man with raping and killing a 9-year-old girl in Samrong Tong district’s Sendey commune, police said Tuesday.

Hun Cheub was arrested Sunday and sent to prison on Monday after he confessed to raping the victim, who was his second cousin, district deputy police chief Hem Phan said, adding that the incident took place on February 13 as the victim walked home alone from a village dance.

“It was a secluded area on her way home, prompting the suspect to take the opportunity to rape her,” he said. “The suspect knew the girl would try to escape from his hands, and he held her neck tight under his armpit so she could not resist. She died instantly.”

The victim’s face was pierced with barbed bamboo as she was dragged to a nearby forest, where police later found her body, he said.

The suspect has been convicted of previous violent crimes, for which he spent time in Kampong Cham province prison, Hem Phan said.

“He was in a gang and had committed many crimes – once he was sentenced to three years in prison,” he said.

But An Phin, a monitor for the rights group Adhoc in Kampong Speu, said his organisation is still investigating the case because he believes there might have been more than one person involved in the attack.

In its annual report released early this year, Adhoc found that the percentage of reported rape victims who were children had increased in 2009 compared with the previous year – climbing to 78.2 percent from 67 percent in 2008.

Out of the 460 rape cases received by Adhoc last year, 66 were mediated at local police stations and concluded with the payment of compensation, resulting in an absence of criminal charges.

Hem Phan said there had been only one rape case in Samrong Tong district in 2009. The victim in that case was 18. “For many cases of rape, suspects are relatives or neighbors of victims,” he added.

Adhoc could not provide statistics on reported child rapes for the month of January.

Hun Cheub’s trial date has not yet been set.

Thais return beggars and labourers

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:04 Tep Nimol

ABOUT 700 Cambodian beggars and migrant labourers were repatriated from Thailand through Koh Kong and Banteay Meanchey provinces on Monday, government officials and rights workers said.

Provincial monitors from the local rights group Adhoc said Thailand deported 357 Cambodians via Koh Kong province, and between 300 and 400 through Banteay Meanchey province.

“They sent back the workers and beggars because they want to clean up Bangkok and maintain social order,” said Ouk Vantheth, an Adhoc monitor in Koh Kong. “Our beggars in Thailand affected their social order.”

Khun Mara, deputy director of the immigration office at Koh Kong’s Cham Yeam border gate, said the group had been detained for one week in Thailand before being returned to Cambodia.

“They transported them like animals in the cages and threw them away at the border,” Khun Mara said of the Thai authorities, adding that Cambodian officials had the deportees thumbprint a statement vowing that they would not return to Thailand.

Soum Chankea, Adhoc provincial coordinator in Banteay Meanchey province, said a similarly large group of migrants had been repatriated through the Poipet border gate.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the deportations were a normal implementation of Thailand’s immigration law, and unrelated to recent diplomatic tensions between Thailand and Cambodia.

“It’s similarly applied to all countries and nationalities,” Panitan said, adding that Thailand had received “very good cooperation” from Cambodia in the repatriation process.

Thai officials say the deportations aim in part to reduce human trafficking, though some rights advocates say deportees are not being properly screened to determine whether they are eligible to stay in the country.

Chhea Manit, director of the Poipet Transit Centre, said Tuesday that Thailand had deported 16,253 Cambodians via the Banteay Meanchey border thus far in 2010, after returning 91,268 in 2009. She called on the Cambodian government to address the issue by developing employment opportunities within the Kingdom.

The deportees “migrated to Thailand because they could not find domestic jobs and they don’t have land for farming or capital for business”, she said. “The government should encourage investment in factories along the border to prevent the migration of people to neighbouring countries.”

Chan Sambath, director of Koh Kong’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office, said the government was doing its best to help poor migrants but had limited resources.

“We do not have the budget to give them vocational training, but we have cooperated with NGOs in providing taxi fees to send them back to their hometowns,” he said.


Dredgers in Preah Sihanouk operate despite export ban

Photo by: Sebastian Strangio
A sand-dredging boat, the Ulan Bataar, shown off the coast of Sihanoukville earlier this month.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:04 Sam Rith and Sebastian Strangio

AT least five sand-dredging boats have begun mining operations off the coast of Koh Seh (Horse Island) in Preah Sihanouk province, an official said Tuesday, in an apparent violation of a sand-export ban ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen on two occasions last year.

One local source, who did not wish to be named, said the boats belonged to a China-based company and began dredging in the area in November. Sboang Sarath, Preah Sihanouk provincial governor, confirmed on Tuesday that a Chinese company had received a licence from the government to dredge and export sand close to Koh Seh.

“It is true [that there is a Chinese company dredging sand], but the company has a legal licence from the government, which was issued by the Ministry of Water Resources,” he said. He added that he could not remember the name of the company, which is operating in cooperation with local firms.

But Mao Hak, director of the Department of Hydrology and River Works at the Ministry of Water Resources, said that only 21 local companies were licenced to dredge in Cambodia’s coastal areas, and that foreign companies were not involved.

“We allow [companies] to export sand dredged from [sea] areas where it can replenish naturally,” said Mao Hak, who is also a member of the Sand Resource Management Committee, an inter-ministerial committee set up in the wake of a sand-export ban ordered by Hun Sen in May and July last year.

Local rights activists said they were not aware of the Chinese company operating off Koh Seh. However, Cheap Sotheary, Adhoc representative in Preah Sihanouk province, said that dredging could seriously impact marine ecology, since the best sand is often buried 10 or 20 metres below the sea bed.

Mom Noron, director of the Stung Hav district Coastal Area Association, said Stung Hav was so far free of dredging operations, but he also raised concerns about their impact, saying they hurt biodiversity and fisheries resources. “We will stage protests if there is sand-dredging in our area,” he said.

Thomas J. Goreau, president of the US-based Global Coral Reef Alliance, said he was not familiar with Cambodia’s coastal ecology, but added that dredging very often has a deleterious effect by stirring up silt and mud that is then carried “enormous distances” by the current.

“This directly smothers marine organisms that can only clean themselves of a limited amount of sediment,” he said by email.

“Eventually they die of exhaustion because the amounts exceed the energy they have to keep themselves clean.”

HRP president to visit inmates in Svay Rieng

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:04 Meas Sokchea

HUMAN Rights Party (HRP) President Kem Sokha said Monday that he intends to visit two villagers jailed in Svay Rieng province, and organise the payment of fines levied against them for the destruction of temporary border markers in October.

On January 27, Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced the two villagers – Meas Srey, 39, and Prom Chea, 41 – to one year each in prison on the charge of destroying public property along with Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) head Sam Rainsy, who was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison.

The three were ordered collectively to pay 55 million riels ($13,253) in compensation for the removal of the six border markers.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Kem Sokha said that on a recent visit to the United States, Khmer immigrants had asked him to help the two villagers, promising to put up the money to pay the fines. He said his visit to Svay Rieng was set for Thursday.

“I will go to meet with the victims’ families to aid them and help resolve the issue for both victims. The HRP will be paying for lawyers and all compensation payments – the HRP will be responsible for everything,” Kem Sokha said.

Kem Sokha told the Post on Tuesday that he would travel to Svay Rieng alone, and that his visit would conform to prison regulations. “If anyone prohibits me from entering the jail to visit [the jailed villagers], it means that he does not respect the law,” he said.

Prach Rim, Svay Rieng provincial police chief, confirmed Kem Sokha had every right to visit the villagers.

Meanwhile, Kimsour Phirith, acting spokesman of the SRP, lauded Kem Sokha’s kindness towards the jailed villagers, saying his visit would demonstrate that democratic opposition parties were willing to help each other out.

“I think Kem Sokha does not seek to profit from his action,” he said. “I would like to appeal to more generous people to help because this is also an idea that the SRP has had for a long time.”

Riverfront renovation on schedule

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Chan Youkto, 55, who lives near Kandal Market, fishes Tuesday off blocks placed along the Tonle Sap riverbank near Street 118.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:03 Kim Yuthana and Cameron Wells

DEVELOPMENT of Phnom Penh’s Tonle Sap riverfront, in particular a flood-prevention system, is proceeding on schedule, according to officials from the city’s Department of Public Works and Transport.

“We can almost say that we completed the project before the deadline,” Department Deputy Director Meoung Sophan said, adding that, so far, everything had gone to plan.

“Our remaining job is just to renovate the parks.”

The project was begun to help protect Phnom Penh against flooding, as well as reduce any residual damage, including erosion, caused by seasonal deluges. The banks were built over and covered with concrete cubes, which bear the brunt of waves and prevent the soil below from being washed away. Gardens are also being landscaped to beautify the riverfront.

According to the plan, the construction – contracted to Japanese company Kubota – started in October 2007 and was set to be completed by March 15 this year at a cost of 2.15 billion yen (around US$2.4 million).

Som Samoth, chief of the Parks and Plants Unit of the department, was unable to specify a date when the gardens would be completed.

The manager of Cadillac Bar and Grill on Sisowath Quay, But Reaksha, said the nearly complete developments were improving her business and would be worth the wait.

“It’s very good for our business because customers, they sit out in the front and they can see the garden. It’s more beautiful than before,” she said.
“Before, they couldn’t sit outside because there was [only] dirt.”

She said the restaurant opened in April 2008, just six months after the riverside development began. The construction had not affected the number of customers, she added, as only Cambodian street vendors had been relocated by the development.

“Before [construction] our business was so-so; now it is good,” she said. “It’s a good idea at night because more families that stay here can go [to the riverside] and bring their kids.”