Sunday, 7 March 2010

UN set to boost ICT capacity of Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

Bangkok, 07 March,

( Cambodian human resource capacity in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for socio-economic development is set to make a great stride with the launch of a United Nations ICT capacity building programme.

High-level officials are to attend the inaugural National Workshop of the “Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders” (Academy), a core ICT for development curriculum developed by the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP), in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 9 to 12 March.

The event is co-organized by APCICT and the National Information Communications Technology Development Authority (NiDA) of Cambodia.

Leewood Phu, Secretary General of NiDA, and Dr. Hyeun-Suk Rhee, Director of APCICT will preside over the signing ceremony. Over fifty participants are expected to attend, including senior government officials responsible for ICT and or e-Government projects, officials from over twenty government ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Rural Development, and the Ministry of Women, as well as academics from numerous universities, and representatives from international development agencies based in Phnom Penh.

In identifying ICT for development as a national objective, Cambodian officials have targeted ICT human resource capacity building as a key priority. Equipping policy-makers and project managers with the necessary ICT skills and knowledge to develop and deliver effective public services is the primary objective of the Academy. The Academy includes a comprehensive curriculum on ICT for development, currently with eight standalone but interlinked modules.

The Academy has been adopted and institutionalized into national ICT human capacity building frameworks in a dozen countries in Asia and the Pacific since its official launch at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy in June, 2008. More partners are working with APCICT to roll out the Academy at the national level throughout Asia and the Pacific.

The launch event in Phnom Penh will be immediately followed by a four-day Academy training workshop. Three Academy modules will be delivered throughout the workshop: Module 1 – The Linkage between ICT Applications and Meaningful Development; Module 2 – ICT for Development Policy, Process and Governance; and Module 3 – e-Government Applications.

The workshop comes at a time when Cambodia’s recently established e-government system, the Provincial Administration Information System (PAIS) has grown to serve 10 out of the country’s 24 provinces. In coordination with ACPICT, NiDA will continue to implement and disseminate the comprehensive Academy training curriculum in order to increase ICT human resource capacity at various levels of the Cambodian government, secure sustainable funding for future training and ICT related projects and programmes and enhance e-governance capabilities.


The United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT) is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), established with a membership identical to that of ESCAP and is located in Incheon, Republic of Korea. APCICT aims to strengthen the efforts of the member countries of ESCAP to use ICT in their socio-economic development through building human and institutional capacity for ICT.

Son Chhay Said that the Draft Anti-Corruption Law of the Government Seems to Protect Corrupt People – Saturday, 6.3.2010

via CAAI News Media

Posted on 7 March 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“The government already sent an anti-corruption draft law to the National Assembly, after Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians had sent a request to the National Assembly to establish an Anti-Corruption Board – a proposal which was rejected by the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin, saying that the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly had decided to accept the anti-corruption draft law of the government for discussion.

“Copies of the government draft were distributed to all parliamentarians, and the National Assembly plans to hold a meeting on 10 March 2010, where it is assumed that to discuss the anti-corruption draft law will be on the agenda.

“The leader of the group of Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, Mr. Son Chhay, who had requested the creation of an Anti-Corruption Board, said on 5 March 2010 in a press conference at the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh, that the draft of the government does not have clear goals to prevent corruption or to prosecute those who commit corruption.

“He said that 16 years ago, as a parliamentarian of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party of Mr. Son San, he once had requested an anti-corruption law, and then, under the next governments, he requested it again and again that the National Assembly should create such a law.

“The draft of the government limits membership in anti-corruption institutions to persons, to any individual, from various institutions who will be suggested by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the King, to be appointed.

“Regarding the suggested candidates from various institutions to be appointed, Mr. Son Chhay said that it is difficult that those officials to be investigated are in the same institution that suggest candidates, and he claimed that candidates appointed by the Prime Minister cannot be considered to be independent.

“The draft speaks also about the declaration of assets, saying that it has to be made confidentially, requiring that those who declare their assets have to keep one document for themselves, and another document has to be kept at a secret place by the anti-corruption institution, and if they will be prosecuted within five years, the confidentiality is lifted.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that the draft of the government does not clearly define the punishment for persons who commit corruption, and the punishment is based on different types of corruption, like minor corruption just for small thefts to eat ['for the stomach'], and big corruption.

“Mr. Son Chhay raised the example that some custom officers get a salary of only about US$100 per month, an amount that cannot meet their daily needs. Therefore they make their fellow officials collect money for them every month, and they may get about US$20,000. Mr. Son Chhay asked, ‘Is this kind of corruption “just for the stomach” a minor, or is it big corruption?’

“Mr. Son Chhay said that if the draft law of the government is approved by the National Assembly without making some changes, it will not serve the national interest and the citizens, as this draft does not explicitly determine punishment for ‘corruption.’

“He added that this law seems to serve those who commit corruption.

“The Sam Rainsy Party, civil society, and donors have encouraged to approve an anti-corruption law, and finally a draft was sent by the government to the National Assembly, after it had been approved by the Council of Ministers in early December of 2009. This draft has been kept confidential and was delayed until now, and if Mr. Son Chhay had not sent in another draft request to the National Assembly, the government would likely not have released their draft now to the National Assembly. Anyway, regarding the rejection of the draft [presented by the Sam Rains Party] by Mr. Heng Samrin, Mr. Son Chhay considers it to be his success, because if he had not sent it to the National Assembly, the government would not have released the draft to the National Assembly.

“When journalists asked, ‘On 10 March 2010, during the meeting of the National Assembly, will the National Assembly approve the draft?’ – Mr. Son Chhay said that if the National Assembly does not discuss it in detail, it will be strange, and he will be more suspicious that this law does not serve the national interest and the citizens, but it will serve corrupt people, partisans, and powerful people.

“There are different opinions about a final rush to approve an anti-corruption law, as donor countries stay quiet and have not set a date for its discussions, unlike in previous years, where discussions started early in the years.

“Corruption in Cambodia is strongly criticized locally and internationally. Corruption exists from lower levels to the top, making Cambodia lose about US$500 million each year. This is figure was used by the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol Rodley.

“Nevertheless, there is also praise from various sides that the government wants this law to be approved by the National Assembly, as it can create some obstacles for corrupt people to continue to commit corruption.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #619, 6.3.2010
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Saturday, 6 March 2010

JETRO to open office in Cambodia
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Sunday 07th March 2010

PHNOM PENH — The Japan External Trade Organization will open an office in the Cambodian capital next week to promote trade and business ties between Japan and Cambodia, the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh said.

The JETRO office, which is slated to open for business on Wednesday next week, is the ninth outlet JETRO has set up in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. JETRO, a Japanese government-backed organization, was initially set up to promote Japanese exports. After Japan became a major exporting country, the organization changed its charter and now helps Japan’s trading partners to tackle the Japanese market.

Cambodia drug-resistant malaria stirs health fears

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Thin Lei Win
PAILIN, Cambodia
Sat Mar 6, 2010

(Reuters) - In a dusty village near the Thai-Cambodia border, 24-year-old Oeur Samoeun sits on a dark green hammock recovering from a strain of malaria that has resisted the most powerful drugs available.

Ravaged by days of fever and chills, he is considered lucky: the parasite has left his body. But for many others, the potentially deadly disease never quite disappears.

His province of Pailin is the epicenter of strains of malaria that have baffled healthcare experts worldwide, raising fears a dangerous new form of malaria could already be spreading across the globe.

"The fear is what we're observing right now could be the starting point for something worse regionally and globally," said Dr. Charles Delacollette, Mekong Malaria Program Coordinator at the World Health Organization.

A New England Journal of Medicine study last year showed that conventional malaria-fighting treatments derived from artemisinin took almost twice as long to clear the parasites that cause the disease in patients in Pailin and others in northwestern Thailand, suggesting the drugs were losing potency in the area.

That is echoed by U.S. development agency USAID, which says artemisinin-based combination therapy is "now taking two to three times longer to kill malaria parasites along the Thai-Cambodian border than elsewhere." The agency has helped to monitor the situation in the area for years.

The disease transmitted via mosquito bites kills more than 1 million people worldwide each year and children account for about 90 percent of the deaths in the worst affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.

The studies shine a spotlight on the remote province of Pailin, a former stronghold of ultra-communist Khmer Rogue rebels and once renown for blood-red rubies and lush forests.


Pailin is the origin of three drug-resistant malaria parasites over the past five decades. Thanks to prolonged civil conflict, dense jungles and movement of mass migrants in the gem mines in the 1980s and 90s, the strains multiplied and dispersed through Myanmar, India and two eventually reached Africa.

Few can say why it is a hotbed for drug-resistant malaria but experts point to a combination of sociological factors and a complicated history spanning the Khmer Rouge era when 1.7 million people, nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population, perished from execution, overwork or torture during their 1975-79 rule.

Driven from the capital, the rebels waged an insurgency from western Cambodia with Pailin one of their last holdouts until their defeat in the late 1990s.

"During the Khmer Rouge era, people came here illegally and when they get malaria, they go to the market, buy pills and self-medicate," Sophal Uth, a Pailin-based field officer for non-profit Malaria Consortium said. "It was difficult for the government to control."

With weak public health infrastructure and rising malaria cases, Cambodia made malaria drugs available over the counter more than a decade ago. Most Cambodians don't have access to public health services and rely on private medical centers.

The strategy carried risks. Easy access reduced the number of cases but also led to incorrect dosages and substandard or counterfeit medicine, which instead of killing the parasites only make them stronger.

For some like Oeur, a migrant worker who likely caught malaria on a logging trip or while sleeping in his rickety shed without a mosquito net, artemisinin-based medicine still works.

Artemisinin, derived from the sweet wormwood, or Artemisia annual plant, is the best drug available against malaria, especially when used in artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) medicines made by firms such as Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG and France's Sanofi-Aventis.


After three days of ACT, Oeur is weak but parasite-free.

The Mekong River region of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos use ACTs against the "falciparum" parasite, the most severe form of malaria, as suggested by the World Health Organization.

"Artemisinin is the most effective antimalarial we have left," Dr. Chansuda Wongsrichanalai of USAID's office of public health in Bangkok said. "We don't have any ideal alternatives available and ready to for use in a control programme right now."

Pailin's gem mines are gone and so are most foreign migrants and the troops. Severe deforestation has left most hill tops barren. Yet the parasites are as virulent as ever. Most of its inhabitants have had malaria at least once in their lives.

Malaria experts, weary of being called alarmists, are quick to point out ACTs still work -- they are just taking longer. The WHO isn't even calling it drug-resistance, they preferred to use the term "altered response" or "tolerance to artemisinin."

"From a public health perspective, I don't think it really matters much if it's resistance or something else given that at the end of the month, patients are returning to the health facility with the same malaria," Dr. John MacArthur, chief of the President's Malaria Initiative at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Potential fallout from ACT resistance led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a $22.5 million containment programme. Cambodia will also receive $102 million from The Global Fund to fight malaria in the next five years.

The Gates Foundation programme aims to use screening, bed nets and grass-roots muscle to contain the parasites along the border area and eliminate them before they can spread further.

Last November, Malaria Consortium said studies show artemisinin resistance already may be present in Myanmar, China and Vietnam, where between 12-31 percent of patients still had the parasite in the system after three days of treatment.

Beijing's moneyed advance on Southeast Asia

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Friday, March 5, 2010
By Brendan Brady, special to CBC News

Cambodia-based journalist Brendan Brady. (Courtesy Brendan Brady)
Brendan Brady is a journalist currently based in Cambodia, where his main subjects of interest include the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, human rights abuses, diplomatic disputes and religious tensions. His writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, and World Politics Review, among other publications.

Two men row their fishing boat along the Mekong River near Phnom Penh. The industrializing area has become a tug of war between China and Japan in recent years. (Reuters)

A few days before Christmas, Cambodia hastily deported 20 ethnic Uighur asylum-seekers back to China over the strong objections of Western nations.

Two days later, Beijing followed through on a planned $1.2 billion infrastructure investment in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's most impoverished nations.

The two governments denied any quid pro quo but, for many observers, the coinciding moves were just another sign of China's ability to leverage its giant economy to enforce self-serving diplomatic priorities in what is essentially its backyard.

Chinese authorities believe the Uighurs, ethnic Muslims native to the restive Xinjiang province, were involved in violent protests last year and Cambodia was not the only pressure point.

China's Vice President Xi Jinping toasts with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen after signing an agreement on cooperation in Phnom Penh on Dec. 21, 2009. (Reuters)

Courting friends

To feed its booming economy, China has expanded its presence in many Southeast Asian countries with projects for roads, dams, mines, oil, irrigation and telecommunications.

In Cambodia, for example, China has become that country's leading foreign investor as well as one of its leading donors.

On the heels of the Uighur deportations, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping signed 14 pacts worth $1.2 billion related to infrastructure, construction, grants and loans in Cambodia.

A few days earlier, Xi was in Burma with senior general Than Shwe, the leader of the reclusive state's ruling junta, to sign a deal for a 1,240-kilometre pipeline to bring crude oil from western Burma to southern China.

The groundwork for many of these initiatives was laid years ago, particularly during the Asian financial crisis in 1996-97, when Beijing stepped up its presence in the region to fill the void left by slumping domestic economies and the flight of foreign investment, notably Japan's.

Beijing's primary tools have been aid disbursements, new trade agreements, cultural diplomacy and military ties.

"Part of their diplomacy is that they say they don't want anything" in return, says Joshua Kurlantzick, a Southeast Asia expert at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington and author of Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power is Transforming the World.

"But that's not accurate," he goes on. In return, Beijing has demanded diplomatic loyalty on certain core issues such as Taiwan, Tibet and, latterly, the Uighurs — often at the expense of good governance and human rights in the reciprocating nations.

'No strings'
What distinguishes China's economic aid in Southeast Asia is that, unlike Western countries, it hasn't tied democratic or human rights stipulations to its contributions — demands that are seen by many governments in the region as impediments to their rule.

"There are no conditions," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said about the aid his country has received from Beijing. "We talk back and forth directly."

Trade giant
In 2008, China surpassed the U.S. to become ASEAN's third largest trading partner, after Japan and the European Union. China is now looking to further entrench its regional economic role by pledging to create a free-trade zone with countries belonging to ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It recently sweetened the deal by offering a $10 billion China-ASEAN Investment Corporation Fund and $15 billion in credit to support ASEAN nations.

But it is precisely this direct conversation, away from public scrutiny, that has Western countries and rights groups worried.

Since 2007, China has strongly outspent the U.S. in Southeast Asia, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, and the effect of this aid can be seen on a variety of fronts.

In the 1990s, for example, when most of Cambodia's aid came from the West and Japan, Phnom Penh worked closely with multilateral aid agencies and the UN.

But, with Chinese patronage, Hun Sen has become emboldened to publicly lash out at these organizations, tossing out a UN human rights rapporteur for his criticisms and banning the group Global Witnesses for a report that was critical of his family's business operations.

China's support has also helped sustain the insular, single-party rule in Laos and Burma.

China's investment in Laos's transportation and hydropower projects vastly outstrips the money the Communist government there receives from the U.S. As does the nearly $5 billion in loans and investments Beijing has made in natural gas-rich Burma since the military junta took power in 1998.

And just as China can dish out the money, it can also withhold it when it feels an affront. Beijing reportedly halted $200 million in aid to Vietnam after the country invited Taiwan to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi a few years ago.

Not so fast

While China's bolstered presence in Southeast Asia has set off alarm bells in some circles, Robert Sutter, a professor at Georgetown University and author of several books on China's rise, says its role in the region has been more calming than many are making it out to be.

Chinese aid workers treat a stricken Acehnese man in Indonesia following the tsunami in 2005. China's aid, humanitarian as well as economic, has been growing in the region for decades. (Reuters)

"What you see in China's approach to Southeast Asia is a desire to keep the atmosphere peaceful, take advantage of economic relationships, and reassure countries that might be concerned about China's growing power — it hasn't been a blitz," he says.

"Southeast Asia still isn't the most important place for them — places like Korea and Japan are more important. But it's where they have been most successful in recent years."

In fact, these countries that border China's southern flank have been pulled almost entirely into the economic orbit of their bigger neighbour, with their roads — and businesses — pointed towards Beijing.

Clearly, China wants the region's raw materials to fuel its manufacturing centres. But just as clearly, there are many developed countries in the region — such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand — that will buck this model and want to keep their ties to the West.

Indonesian manufacturers are already complaining about the flood of cheaper Chinese goods while some Laotians and Vietnamese have voiced criticism over Chinese land acquisitions, dams and bauxite mines.

Even in isolated Burma, China's dominance seems to have stirred the junta's interest in engagement, albeit limited, with that seemingly passé power, the United States.

Though here, as elsewhere in the region, aid tied with pesky preconditions of enhanced democracy will appear a tough bargain compared to what China is offering.

Quashing dissent in Cambodia: Opposition leader faces prison
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March 06, 2010

The leader of the main opposition party in Cambodia, Sam Rainsy, is facing an eighteen-year jail term in relation to a symbolic protest carried out at the Vietnamese border last year.

The Sam Rainsy Party has accused the Prime Minister, HUN SEN, of misusing the court system in order to block their leader from standing in the 2013 elections.

Cambodian human rights observers say the new charges are a further example of how the ruling Cambodian People’s Party is seeking to rid the country of opposition dissent.

The indictment follows a series of cases that have shed light on Cambodia’s rapidly shrinking political space, as the People’s Party seeks to tighten its grip on power.

Ambassador Julio Jeldres is the official biographer of the King Father of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk and a research fellow at Monash University.

He spoke to 2-SER’s Joel Robert Keep.

Your Scene: Catch of the day in Cambodia

Paul Prewitt /
As Paul Prewitt of Laguna Beach watched from the shores of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, a woman and her children floated by with this reptilian passenger. “I wasn’t sure whether the kids were playing with their pet snake or with their dinner,” Prewitt said. He captured the scene on this lake, which is better known for its harvest of carp, with a Nikon D-70.

A Large Scale Raid Was Held to Stop the Selling of Military Materials at the Tuek Thla Market – Friday, 5.3.2010
via CAAI News Media

Posted on 6 March 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“Phnom Penh: Hundreds of military police of the municipality, in collaboration with the Sen Sok district authorities and court officials, raided the Tuek Thla market at around 12:00 noon on 4 March 2010 and seized a lot of military materials, which had been displayed for sale. As a result, the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them.

“The operation was led by the Phnom Penh Military Police commander, Major General Ya Kim I, with the participation of the Sen Sok military police commander, the Sen Sok district governor, Mr. Khuong Sreng, and a Phnom Penh court official, Mr. Ek Chheng Huot.

“What the authorities confiscated most were military uniforms, and it is said that those uniforms had been sold by military generals to the traders; in some cases, the names of those who had provided them were still attached to the supplies of uniforms, which actually were to be distributed to soldiers at the Preah Vihear Temple.

“According to the authorities, there were not only military uniforms at the Tuek Thla market, but there were also many kinds of pistols and ammunition for pistols for sale. But they were not displayed openly for sale like the uniforms; they were sold and bought secretly.

“This was not the first raid at the Tuek Thla market to stop the selling of bullets and of police and military uniforms. There had been several raids before, but these activities could not be eliminated, as many heads of police units and military commanders do not distribute the materials to the fellow police and soldiers under their command, but keep them and sell them to traders. Therefore, the fellow personnel under their commmand lack uniforms and have to seek and buy these things by themselves. Thus, the sellers are not the ones to be blamed, because some heads of police units and military police commanders benefit personally by taking their troops’ belongings, and transport them by car to sell them to traders – everyone knows this problem.

“Besides some heads of police units and military commanders, who sell a large number of uniforms, it is also seen that some police, military police, and military personnel sold their uniforms there, as they have low and insufficient salaries. As for hammocks for the military, almost 90% of the soldiers do not get them from their leaders, but they can get their hammocks by buying them at the Tuek Thla market.

“In addition to uniforms, hammocks, and hats, about 90% of police and military police have to buy also their pistols themselves, because their leaders do not release them to them, as they are expensive, and the leaders can benefit by selling them secretly. They order their closest subordinates to contact traders, doing it as a secret business.

“Therefore, the suppression at the Tuek Thla market is just an action that looks good, as sooner or later, such operations will start again because persons in the armed forces, who do not have sufficient materials, since their leaders take these things and do not distribute them as required, need to buy them from the Tuek Thla market.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2193, 5.3.2010

It is not clear whether one expected part of the whole affair is only missing from the report, or whether it did not happen. The report says: “the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them… the sellers are not the ones to be blamed.” Was anybody also punished for these illegal actions? The traders were educated – but what about those who supplied the illegal merchandise? – “…everyone knows this problem.”

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Friday, 5 March 2010

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Japanese Scientists Seek Cambodian Officials to Attend the Science Forum in Japan

Saturday, 06 March 2010 12:15 DAP-NEWS/ Ek Madra

Japanese delegation met with the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on late Friday in which Japanese scientists sought Cambodian officials to attend the forum of Science and Technology in Society (STS) which will be held in Kyoto in October, 2010.

The Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum, which is a non-profit organization, inaugurated in November 2004 and hold an annual meeting started in October every year, in Kyoto, Japan.

The meeting is aimed at creating a global human network based on trust and providing a framework for open discussions regarding the further progress of science and technology for the benefit of humankind, while controlling ethical, safety and environmental issues resulting from their application.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An received Koji Omi, is a founder and chairman of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum with the aim of building a worldwide network among scientists, policymakers and business people.

Mr. Omi, in the bilateral talk, sought Sok An to send the Cambodian delegation to attend the forum which is to be held from 3 to 5th October.

Omi was seeking to have between 10 to 20 Cambodian officials, of the different institutions, to take part in the coming forum.

“Last year the forum received 85 countries, but so far there are not many from ASEAN block especially from Cambodia,” he said referring to 6th Annual Meeting, which was held in October 6, 2009 in Kyoto, Japan.

The forum received more than 800 including scientists, policymakers, business executives and media leaders from the region and international organizations.

The forum agreed the needs for more support from the developed countries to strengthen their capacities and human capital for science and technology.

They also agreed to maintain investment in the field of science and technology and continued to promote the said field as the driving force for economic recovery and sustainable growth. Nuclear power is crucially important to decrease carbon emissions, they agreed.

They also agreed how to handle the population growth and climate change in the wake of the food crises and the issue of the clean water.

For ASEAN block, where an estimated 500 million population lived, needed more developments to meet the growing demands in the long run, which intrigued the Japanese scientists to see the participations from the block is crucial in exchanging their views for the sustainable developments. “It is very important to have more participants from ASEAN,” he told Sok An.

ASEAN, which is the 10 member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, consists of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“There is huge potential development for ASEAN countries, so there is need cooperation among the countries to exchange views,” he said.

In respond, Sok An said Cambodia is considering the request given the Cam-bodian government’s budget is slim. “We are highly appreciated your comment the importance of the participations, but I do not expect that I can get much budget from our government since we have cut spending a lot already,” Sok An told the group.

“I agreed with Your Excellency that the more participations the more we will be motivated, but our problems is we do not have much budget available,” Sok An, who is also the Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, told the delegation.

Japanese officials, however, said they are “very much appreciated with the Cambodian officials listened to their explanations about the main goal of the forum”.

PM Hun Sen meets with Kalmykia President

Saturday, 06 March 2010 03:34 DAP-NEWS

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday met with Kirsan Ilyumzi-hinov, the president of the autonomous Kalmykia state of Russia. The two discussed investments in mines and energy.

Ilyumzihinov told Hun Sen that he aimed to strengthen bilateral cooperation, and Kalmykia wants to invest in mine exploration, the energy sector and telecommunications in Cambodia, Eang Sophallet, assistant to the PM, told reporters after the meeting.

Next month, Kalmykia will send researchers to Cambodia.

Hun Sen recommended Kalmykia cooperate with Suy Sem, Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy and So Khun, Minister of Telecommunications and Post, Eang said.

Ho Vann’s Immunity Returned

Saturday, 06 March 2010 03:33 DAP-NEWS

A Cambodian National Assembly Committee on Friday decided to return criminal immunity to opposition party lawmaker Hor Vann after a Justice Ministry request.

Ho Vann’s immunity was removed after complaints filed by high-ranking army officers over degrees awarded by a military university Vietnam.

Son Chhay Criticizes Anti-Corruption Draft

Saturday, 06 March 2010 03:33 DAP-NEWS

Cambodian opposition party MP Son Chhay on Friday criticizes the draft of the long-awaited Anti-Corruption Law, saying it was not specific enough to tackle corruption.

His remarks were made before the National Assembly (NA) were during a session to talk about the Anti-Corruption Law draft on March 10, 2010.

Speaking at the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) main office in Phnom Penh, Son Chhay welcomed to the government’s sending of the draft to the NA said it lacks no specifics.

“The draft of anti-corruption does not contain the corruption meaning, as the draft just only advise the citizens to understand the corruption,” Son Chhay explained to about 30 reporters. “The declaration of assets is done in hidden way.”

Om Yentieng, the government’s Anti-Corruption Committee president, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Cheam Yeab, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker, said Son Chhay could use his freedom of expression but must “not affect others.”

Anti-Corruption law has been delayed since 1994, much to the frustration of the Cambodian public, the political opposition, donors and development partners, civil society and the international community. Endemic corruption is consistently cited as one of the most serious problems in Cambodia, a country that by most measures is among the world’s most corrupt.

The government sent the draft to the NA on February 24, 2010.

Soy Sopheap Visits Takeo to Test Fertilizer

Saturday, 06 March 2010 03:31 DAP-NEWS

Secretary General of Golden Rice Association (GRA) and General Director for the Deum Ampil Media Center visited testing at Takeo with AZOMITE-Organic experts on Wednesday, a GRA official said.

A GRA official told DAP News Cambodia that Soy Sopheap was helping investigate natural fertilizers. It is hoped chemical fertilizers can gradually be replaced.

One farmer participating in the testing, Khi Vannak, said that the ZOMITE-Organic fertilizer “is better than the chemical used in the same field.”

Diamond Group Manager Khut Chantha told DAP News Cambodia the organic fertilizer is made in the US, but is imported and distributed by a German company.

Nightclubs Closed, At Least 120 Detained

Saturday, 06 March 2010 03:32 DAP-NEWS

After Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen warned he would close all illegal clubs, especially those involved in the sex trade, Chamkarmon authorities in Phnom Penh detained at least 120 people during raids, including 51 women.

Ya Kim yi, one military officer involved in the raids, said 200 officers were involved. An AK47 with 40 bullets, narcotics and other illegal materials were confiscated during the crack down.

Featuring “sex dancers,” the clubs operated Sunday to Thursday for Khmer teenagers, and mostly foreigners on Friday and Saturday, Ya said. He warned other such establishments would be targeted.

Amnesty Appeal for Rape Victims

Saturday, 06 March 2010 03:31 DAP-NEWS

Amnesty International on Friday urged the Cambodian government to take action to protect victims of sexual violence as it saw reports of rape increase.

Survivors of rape in Cambodia face limited access to justice, medical services and counseling, Amnesty International said in a report issued on Friday as rapes of women and girls appear to be increasing.

Breaking the silence: Sexual violence in Cambodia, issued to mark Internat- ional Women’s Day, exposes how corruption and discrimination within the police and courts prevent survivors of rape from receiving justice and required assistance, while most perpetrators go unpunished, the Amnesty International added.

“Dozens of survivors told us that they face extortion, ignorance and disbelief from officials whose job it should be to assist them and protect their rights,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty Interna-tional’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director. “For too many survivors of rape, the pursuit of justice and medical support adds further distress to the initial abuse.”

Amnesty International researchers found sex workers and women living in poverty faced serious obstacles in seeking justice and medical services.

They were unable to pay bribes which were often required of them from the police and others, and could not afford legal or medical services.

Three-year-old boy fighting for life after being hit by car in Chadstone
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Herald Sun
March 06, 2010

A THREE-year-old boy is fighting for his life after being hit by a car while pushing a trolley near Doveton.
The Cambodian boy, staying in Melbourne with his uncle for a holiday, pushed a laundry trolley onto the road when he was struck.

Seven paramedics worked on the boy, including the advanced life support team, before he was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital with chest injuries.

The boy's 20-year-old sister was taken to the Dandenong hospital with shock.

The boy arrived in Melbourne on Friday and was due to go back to Cambodia to see his parents in a few days, according to his uncle Hongly Un.

Sen Constable Allen Inderwisch said the female driver was coming over a crest in the road when the boy ran out in front of her.

Watchdog slams Cambodia's military funding plan
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Agence France-Presse
First Posted 16:32:00 03/06/2010

PHNOM PENH – A corruption watchdog on Saturday condemned a Cambodian government plan to use private businesses to sponsor the country's military units.

London-based Global Witness said the plan announced by Cambodian premier Hun Sen last week, in which 42 private businesses will partner with individual military units, "threatens to undermine the legitimacy of international aid".

"This fire-sale of military units represents an appalling breach of governance standards and threatens to undermine the country's future stability," said Global Witness campaigns director Gavin Hayman.

The group called on international donors to denounce the scheme, saying it would undermine aid from the US, EU, Japan, China and others.

"Donors should send a firm and decisive message that Cambodia's military exists to protect the people, not the financial assets of a privileged few," Hayman said.

International donors pledged nearly $1 billion in development aid to Cambodia for 2009, and the US spent more than $1 million on Cambodian military financing and training last year.

The strongly-worded statement by Global Witness, which also accused Cambodia's military of being "a vast organized crime network", called the government plan "tantamount to sanctioning a mercenary force".

"It is unacceptable for private companies to be financing a military renowned for its corruption and involvement in illegal activities and human rights abuses," said the statement.

Cambodian cabinet spokesman Phay Siphan denied Global Witness accusations that there was graft among the country's armed forces.

"The watchdog doesn't know the culture of sharing among Cambodians... The donation is an issue of humanitarianism, there is no mixing between the private sector and the military," Phay Siphan told AFP.

The Cambodian government has banned past reports by Global Witness, which accused donors of ignoring graft among elites, who have allegedly been involved in illegal logging as well as shady oil and mining deals.

Hope remains for ailing Cambodian toddler

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By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/05/2010

Phin Ken holds his daughter, Socheat Nha, 3, the at Sophy's Restaurant in Long Beach on Feb. 20, (Jeff Gritchen/Press-Telegram)

LONG BEACH - Unwilling to give up just yet on the future of a young patient, representatives from a local nonprofit are hoping a period of rest and recuperation will make the young girl healthy enough for surgery.

Four days after Socheat Nha, brought to the United States for life-altering heart surgery, was turned away from a Las Vegas Hospital over fears she would not survive the operation, the 3-year-old was seen by the cardiologist in San Diego who initially examined the girl in Cambodia.

Dr. Paul Grossfeld from Rady Children's Hospital examined Nha for the first time since he saw her in Siem Reap.

In an e-mail, Grossfeld described what he learned. "We performed an echocardiogram today, and found that although, as expected, the cardiac anatomy was exactly the same as what we saw three months ago in Cambodia, there has been a dramatic change in her physiology. We found today evidence that the pressures in her lung arteries have increased significantly from the time I evaluated her in December in Cambodia."

Socheat suffered a bout with pneumonia and other respiratory ailments since then which have affected her lungs. What the future holds is uncertain.

"Because of this unexpected change, her prognosis is guarded. Right now she would not be a good candidate for surgery, which could do more harm than good. Time will determine whether her current condition is reversible," Grossfeld wrote. "We are hoping that the elevated pressures in her lung arteries will return to the lower levels that we saw in December."

Socheat will return to be examined again in a month-and-a-half, when she will be re-evaluated.

Peter Chhun, founder of nonprofit Hearts Without Boundaries, was clinging to the hope that the girl will recover enough for surgery to be successful.

Socheat suffers from a congenital heart defect that has left her with two holes in her heart. The condition causes high pressure in her lungs from oxygenated blood flowing back into the lungs rather than to the rest of the body. The long-term effect of the ailment is shortened life expectancy and increasing fatigue, breathing difficulty and cyanosis, or turning blue.

Socheat, the daughter of a rice farmer in Southern Cambodia, is the third child Hearts Without Boundaries brought to the U.S. for open heart surgery not readily available in their home country.

The first two, Davik Teng, now 11, and Soksamnang Vy, 1, had successful surgeries and are living normal, active lives.

Mu Sochua: anticipating jail

The Cambodian activist and politician sees a jail sentence as the next step in her struggle.

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By William Dowell - GlobalPost
Published: March 6, 2010
Mu Sochua in Geneva, Switzerland. (William Dowell/GlobalPost)

GENEVA, Switzerland — Mu Sochua, one of the more impressive speakers at “Courage to Lead,” a recent gathering here of more than 40 women involved in human rights, is not a woman to be taken lightly.

After spending the last 20 years fighting for women's rights and against both human trafficking and general corruption in Cambodia, the deputy in Cambodia's leading opposition party has embroiled herself in a head-on clash with the country's perennial Prime Minister Hun Sen. The spat now seems likely to land her in jail.

At a superficial glance, the furor seems slightly silly. It began last spring when local tensions began to mount after Cambodian army soldiers burned several villages in an apparent land grab.

The army was not exactly popular in Mu Sochua's district, which includes Kampot, about two hours drive south of Phnom Penh. When Mu Sochua protested against a Cambodian army officer using official government vehicles during a political campaign, a scuffle ensued and Mu Sochua's blouse was accidentally ripped open. Hun Sen mentioned the incident in a speech, casually dismissing Mu Sochua as a hustler, who liked to expose herself and had a tendency to grab at men.

Mu Sochua has also accused the prime minister of calling her "cheung klang," which means "strong legs," in Khmer and is considered an insult.

If Hun Sen expected Mu Sochua to roll over, he was wrong. Mu Sochua promptly sued him for defamation in a Phnom Penh municipal court, demanding 500 Cambodian rials, or roughly 12 cents in damages along with an apology. Instead of apologizing, Hun Sen, who likes to go by the rather ungainly honorific “Samdach Akkak Moha Sena Padey Dekjo” promptly countersued.

Not surprisingly Mu Sochua's case was thrown out of court, while Hun Sen's stuck. Repeating his earlier slurs, Hun Sen went on to challenge Mu Sochua to take her case to international courts if she wanted, and to see how far that was likely to get her. Mu Sochua's parliamentary immunity was stripped away. An appeals court confirmed a lower court's verdict against her for libel, and the case is now headed for the Cambodia's Supreme Court, which Mu Sochua also expects to rule in favor of the “Samdach.” The penalty for losing the suit is a fine of roughly $4,100, but Mu Sochua refuses to pay it, and insists that she will go to jail for six months instead.

It may all seem like much ado about not very much, but Mu Sochua insists that there is a lot more at stake. Hun Sen, who was propelled into his current position after Vietnam ousted Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in 1979, has held onto power ever since by making sure that his party hand picks Cambodia's 13,000 village chiefs.

“This nation has to be built on the rule of law and not just one man,” says Mu Sochua. “These people are afraid of democracy. The way they maintain control is by not allowing the people to elect their village chiefs. The Cambodian people live in fear of the village chiefs. At the same time the country has opened itself up to a market economy, which brings in a lot of money that is not managed well, which is why there is so much corruption.”

Hun Sen, who at 57 shows no signs of planning an early retirement, has plenty of reason for wanting to take on Mu Sochua's party. In November 2009, he had Sam Rainsy, who leads the opposition, stripped of parliamentary immunity for the second time that year because Sam Rainsy had removed several posts marking the border with Vietnam. Rainsy contends that the Vietnamese, who were responsible for Hun Sen's rise to power in Cambodia, have been engaged in a land grab for themselves based on questionable treaty arrangements.

Mu Sochua insists that her spat focuses on Hun Sen's vulgar use of language and the corruption of Cambodia's legal system. “What is at stake,” she said, “is democracy. The space for democracy is narrowed by the power of the ruling party, and mainly by the power of Hun Sen, who has his hands in every institution, including the parliament and the courts. He didn't just insult me as a woman. He insulted the parliament as an institution. I am actually taking the justice system itself to court.”

The story gets a bit more complicated since Mu Sochua received a 2005 leadership award from the Vital Voices Global Partnership, a Washington, D.C.-based foundation.

“This is also a challenge for the international community,” Mu Sochua says. “They invest $1 billion a year in Cambodia, but they never fulfilled their responsibilities by making it a condition that the government fulfills its obligations towards human rights.” Hillary Clinton delivered a brief address via satellite at the end of the Geneva meeting, but it was not clear what her take as Secretary of State would be on Mu Sochua's case.

Even more potentially troublesome for Hun Sen is the fact that Mu Sochua, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology at San Francisco State University and a masters in Social Work at the University of California, Berkely, is married to an American who runs a major project on decentralization for the United Nations in Cambodia. “My husband is completely separate from my political life,” she explains. Her three children now live abroad, but both her husband and children are emotionally supportive. “I told my family that I am going to jail. Please don't talk me out of it. It has come to that point, Mom is going to jail,” she says. “It gives me peace in heart.” Whether it gives Hun Sen or his supporters peace of mind is another matter.

Angkor: How can a UNESCO site keep tourist temple raiders in check?

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By Sarah Dowdey | Fri Mar 5, 2010

It only takes a quick Google image search to understand why Angkor, the Khmer empire's ancient seat, makes plenty of "must-see" travel lists. Its ruined temple complexes pop out through the forests, and its sprawling reservoirs offer a testament to the city's impressive engineering.

When I podcasted on Angkor a while back, my co-host and I talked a bit about the possible role of environmental degradation in the city's downfall. Deforestation may have caused silting, something that could damage the complex waterworks that kept the city running so efficiently.

Another hypothesis, this one from National Geographic's Richard Stone, centers more on plain old environmental bad luck: an El Niño cycle beginning exactly when the delicate water management system was showing its age. Deprived of the mechanical wizardry that kept dramatic seasonal changes in check, the city may not have been equipped to face a long dry period.

But since Angkor's fall could have had as much to do with war, religion or rivalry among feuding Khmer royal offspring, I'll focus here on the present-day site's environmental woes. The ruined complex, situated near Siem Reap, has been one of Cambodia's tourist cornerstones since the country opened as a safe destination after years of war and internal strife.

And while Angkor has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, and spent 12 years on the group's "threatened" list, such a designation requires some trade-offs. With international protection comes international exposure and a flood of new visitors. According to the non-governmental organization Heritage Watch, Angkor saw 7600 visitors in 1993; by 2006, the number was 1.6 million; by the time 2010 is up, the complex will likely draw 3 million. Tourists of course bring in money for the developing country, as well as help assure a certain degree of protection for cultural sites. But they also walk everywhere. They touch things. They require hotels, resorts and transportation. The development of Siem Reap may even be sucking Angkor dry, drawing out its groundwater and weakening the temples' foundations.

Fortunately, groups like Heritage Watch are advocating for a more sustainable type of tourism. Working with the Cambodian government, they've started a "heritage friendly tourism campaign" to save antiquities, discourage looters and encourage visitors to fan out, spread their wealth and take a little heat off of Angkor.

Image credit: Angkor Wat (Workbook Stock/Thomas Kokta/Getty Images)

Vietnam, Cambodia provinces to jointly fight malaria

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The Central Highlands province of Dak Lak is coordinating with Mondulkiri province of Cambodia to fight malaria in border districts of the two provinces.

Almost 100,000 people at high risk of contracting malaria living in Ea Sup and Buon Don in Dak Lak and Koah Nheak in Mondulkiri were provided with insect repellent and medicine to prevent and fight against the disease.

They were also provided with knowledge on malaria: how to avoid contracting it and how to treat it.

The two provinces plan to reduce the rate of people contracting malaria in the area by 20 percent in 2010.