Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Grand Finale is not final yet

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The Nation
Posted by Thanong , Reader : 183

March 10, 2010

The latest assessment from the Abhisit government is that the Red Shirts' attack of Bangkok between March 12-14 or longer will not succeed in toppling the government.

"I don't think this rally will bring about a government downfall. For the military is now in charge. It might come close though," one of my friends in the political scene has just told me.

Bangkok is now living under an atmosphere of fear. My former staff now working in the Silom area called in to ask for consultation. How should she told her boss who would be welcoming the foreign guests staying at the Centara Grand Hotel over the weekend.

I told her to keep it cool. "Just stay in the hotel room with a pair of binoculars and watch the reality show," I said.

She was not impressed.

The Red Shirts' gathering of force is not smooth for the big ambush, however. Another well-informed source told me that the Red Shirts protestors have not got the money they are promised to so the rally might not be as grand. Their leaders just take away too much commission, leaving only the bones for the Red Shirts infrantry.

The other day a younger brother of a big-time politician dug Bt10 million into his pocket to pay for the core leaders of the Red Shirts from the Northeast. They were asking for Bt30 million. Not everybody was happy then. Where had all the money gone?

But the Red Shirts will still try to push hard in spite of the government's imposition of the internal security law between March 11 and 23. At the moment, many of them have already infiltrated into Bangkok. They are sleeping over in the temples in Bangkok. In the day time, they go out to survey the locations and try to get acquainted to the areas. In the evening, they return to the temples to take a rest.

There would certainly be some clashes. The Red Shirts will be subdued by the security forces. But they would try to regroup the rally again in April. The final of the final battle will be delayed until then when former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has no other card left to play. At that time, we may see a reshuffle of the military at the top and the decisive battle.

Things at the Government House have been rather quiet. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva must feel stressful. He is upset that he has to cancel his trip to Australia and New Zealand. Rough and tumble Thai politics is not his style.

Many Democrats MPs are complaining that if Abhisit is not decisive enough, they could all end up in the Opposition bloc again.

Newin Chidchob is wavering. He has run away to London. Maybe he is not sure which side will win. But the other Bhumjai Thai MPs are worried that they are left alone to face the Red Shirts wrath in Bangkok.

He is now in London

The big business groups such as banking, beer or chickens are making some direct contact with red camps -- just in case.

Cambodia poised to rush through anti-graft law despite delay pleas

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Posted : Wed, 10 Mar 2010
By : dpa

Phnom Penh - The United Nations' Cambodia office said Wednesday that the government should allow extra time for interested parties to examine an anti-corruption law that has been criticized as flawed. The parliament, which is dominated by the ruling Cambodian People's Party, began debating the draft law Wednesday, one day after a coalition of civil society groups called for more time to study its provisions.

"[The UN country team] notes with concern that an extraordinary session was convened only days after the draft was shared publicly with parliamentarians," the UN said, adding that the lack of public input into legislation had become standard practice in recent years.

Cambodia is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and donors and civil society have been calling since 1995 for a law to tackle graft.

The UN said the draft law ought to be debated openly by all interested parties "to ensure that it is consistent with international standards as required by the constitution" as well as making sure that it protects the rights of all Cambodians.

The cabinet approved the 25-page bill in December, releasing it to legislators only on March 4. The opposition condemned the haste, saying four days to study the draft legislation prior to parliamentary debate was inadequate.

Yong Kim Eng from the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, a group of civil society organisations advocating anti-corruption reform, said it was unclear why the government was moving so fast.

He said the draft presented last week was substantially different from a 2006 version, in which civil society did have input.

Yong Kim Eng said one of the draft's weaknesses was a stipulation that most members of the two anti-corruption agencies would be handpicked by the ruling party or Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"I don't think this can be independent," he said. "The anti-corruption unit would be appointed by the prime minister and would be accountable to him. That means fighting corruption would be the responsibility of the prime minister and not of parliament."

The proposed law would require politicians, military personnel, police, judges, civil servants and the heads of civil society organizations to disclose their wealth.

The international corruption watchdog Transparency International placed Cambodia in 158th place last year in its Corruptions Perceptions Index, on par with the Central African Republic and Laos. Just 19 nations were ranked as more corrupt.

The US ambassador to Phnom Penh outraged the government in 2009 when she cited studies suggesting corruption cost the impoverished nation up to 500 million dollars annually.

CAMBODIA: War crimes court juggles public demands

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10 Mar 2010
Source: IRIN

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

PHNOM PENH, 10 March 2010 (IRIN) - Competing pressures in Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal could work against the victims it is supposed to represent, human rights groups warn.

Since its establishment in 2006, the UN-backed tribunal has sought to provide a greater voice to victims of the regime, while at the same time expediting a legal process bogged down by delays. As a result, the court decided last month to filter the representation of all victims through two lawyers because of the high number of applicants seeking to participate in the second case.

Known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [], the tribunal includes a "civil party" system designed to give lay people an official role to provide testimony, question suspects and request reparations.

More than 4,000 people applied and about 250 had been accepted by the end of last year. By contrast, just 90 civil parties participated in the tribunal's first case.

Court delays

In the tribunal's first case last year against the regime's most notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, civil parties were represented by four legal teams, giving victims a strong presence in the courtroom.

But participation was often muddled by repetitive and irrelevant questions from some lawyers that steered testimony away from the core issues of the trial and slowed proceedings.

This, coupled with the ballooning number of civil parties, prompted the tribunal to seek victim participation reforms for its remaining case.

Still awaiting trial in the second case are four ageing leaders, widely considered the architects of the Khmer Rouge's vision to transform the country into an agrarian utopia. Some 1.7 million Cambodians died in the process, according to estimates.

In a 9 February ruling, the court said victims would be represented in the second case by two lead lawyers, one Cambodian and one international, whose strategy and views are supposed to reflect a consensus among the individual civil party lawyers.

"The number of Civil Party applicants, combined with the complexity, size and other unique features of the ECCC proceedings, make it necessary to adopt a new system of victim representation during the trial and appeal stage," the court said in a statement. []

But while most observers recognize that the original system of individual legal representation would be impractical in the much larger second case, they warn that their diminished role could make victims feel disenfranchised.

"A lot of people's stories will be lost," says Thun Saray, president of the local rights group Adhoc. "The victims have an important role to play and this gives them a smaller role."

Applications limited

The charges against the suspects in detention are restricted to particular crime sites, which means prospective cases pertaining to other sites will not be able to participate in the trial.

"It's common in all courts dealing with crimes of this magnitude to limit the investigation to a representative sample of all the crimes committed because of time and resource constraints," court spokesman Lars Olsen told IRIN.

While the court's investigation into the second case began in 2007, the public was not told which sites were involved until last November – leaving them little time before the deadline in January.

"I think it will be a very big problem when many of the victims who want to be civil parties are told the crimes against them don't apply [to the trial]," said Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defender's Project [see:] , a legal aid group. "Many didn't know about the guidelines until very late."

The court, in turn, says victims should not regard their status in the court as an official judgment of their suffering.

"It's a technical decision as to how they relate to the particular cases," Helen Jarvis, head of the court's Victims' Support Section, told IRIN.

"Even if they're not designated a civil party, their information is valuable to the court's investigation of the systematic nature of the crimes. There is bound to be some disappointment but they should not feel there are first-class victims and second-class victims."

Cambodia to preserve Khmer Rouge sites for tourism

In this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2006, Cambodia children gather to play around the cremation site of Pol Pot, in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, along the Thai border. Cambodia will preserve 14 sites at the last bastion of the murderous Khmer Rouge, including the home of their leader Pol Pot, as tourist attractions, an official said Wednesday, March 10, 2010. Anlong Veng, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north from Phnom Penh, finally fell to the government in 1998 aftern nearly 20 years of fighting. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, March 4, 2009, Cambodian school children make their way past the tomb of former Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok in Anlong Veng, Cambodia. Cambodia will preserve 14 sites at the last bastion of the murderous Khmer Rouge, including the home of their leader Pol Pot, as tourist attractions, an official said Wednesday, March 10, 2010. Anlong Veng, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north from Phnom Penh, finally fell to the government in 1998 after nearly 20 years of fighting. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

In this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2006, Cambodia children gather to play around the cremation site of Pol Pot, in Anlong Veng, Cambodia, along the Thai border. Cambodia will preserve 14 sites at the last bastion of the murderous Khmer Rouge, including the home of their leader Pol Pot, as tourist attractions, an official said Wednesday, March 10, 2010. Anlong Veng, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north from Phnom Penh, finally fell to the government in 1998 aftern nearly 20 years of fighting. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia will preserve 14 sites at the last bastion of the murderous Khmer Rouge, including the home of their leader Pol Pot, as tourist attractions, an official said Wednesday.

Following Cabinet approval last week, the sites at Anlong Veng will be protected from destruction by local people and illegal encroachment, the area's district chief Yim Phana said.

Anlong Veng, about 185 miles (300 kilometers) north of Phnom Penh, fell to government forces in 1998 after nearly 20 years of fighting.

The Khmer Rouge regime, under which an estimated 1.7 million people died from execution, disease and malnutrition, was toppled in 1979 but its guerrillas fought on in the jungles, with Anlong Veng becoming their last stronghold.

Yim Phana said the 14 sites include homes belonging to Khmer Rouge leaders, an ammunition warehouse and the grave of Pol Pot, who died in 1998.

Once a remote town, Anlong Veng is now connected by good roads to nearby Thailand and Cambodia's greatest tourist attractions, the temples of Angkor.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Opposition, NGOs Ask for Draft Anti-corruption Delay

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:58 DAP-NEWS

The Cambodian opposition and some NGOs on Tuesday sent to a letter to National Assembly leaders asking for a delay to discuss of the draft anti-corruption law to enable more discussion.

The National Assembly (NA) looks set to hold the discussion today.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Kim Souphirin asked to delay the session to let all have enough time check this important law.

Cheam Yeab, a ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Opposition Human Rights Party (HRP) lawmakers said they would boycott the NA session where the draft Anti-Corruption Law will be discussed.

A HRP statement of March 5 said the timeframe for consideration proposed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CCP) is too short. The statement explained the NA boycott does not mean the HRP does not support the adoption of the anti-corruption law, “but we want all lawmakers to check out all draft importance before approval.”

The statement noted that, when the NA Committee revealed the date of the session, the draft had not been circulated to lawmakers. HRP lawmakers suggested delaying the session, ensuring enough time for consideration.

Court Denies Rainsy Adjournment

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:38 DAP-NEWS

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday declined to adjourn the case of Cambodian opposition leader’s Sam Rainsy as per his lawyer’s request in a letter. The found the letter did not have enough evidence proving the necessity of his client’s mission overseas.

Sok Roeun, a one of the judges, said that the request was rejected because the letter had been sent to the court only on the same day Rainsy was to be summoned for questioning.

Chuong Choungy, Rainsy’s lawyer, said he rejected the court’s verdict as unfair as Rainsy was summoned on March 3, receiving the summons letter on March 4. On March 5, Rainsy sent a letter to his lawyer and then March 6, 7, and 8 was a public holiday, so that on March 9, he sent the letter asking for a postponement to questioning.

“The rejection was different from my previous clients’ cases, in which the court agreed to a delay before summoning for questioning a second or third time,” he told DAP News Cambodia on Tuesday.

Tith Sothea, an official at the Council of Ministers, said that the court will follow legal principles without pressure.

“The court will follow its legislative procedures. If the evidence is enough, the judge will send the case to prosecutors to investigate further so that no any person can pressure the court,” he told DAP News Cambodia.

Labor Ministry Threatens Social Security Action

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:38 DAP-NEWS

The Ministry of Vocational Training and Labor has asked all enterprises, institutions, and employers that have over 8 staff to join the social security scheme with the ministry, a directive from the ministry seen by DAP News Cambodia on Tuesday said.

All enterprises in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces must register for the social security fund, and labor employers must list at their provincial Office Vocational Training and Labor, it said. The ministry said it would implement the law after the 45 days of the declaration. “We will implements our law and take action after that day,” said the directive signed by Minister Vong Suth. “The social security system will help guarantee any risk from work, and it contributed helping social wealth fare in the society and help implement the law of labor of Cambodia,” the statement claimed.

GRA Urges Gov’t Support in Dry Season

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:37 DAP-NEWS

The Director of the Golden Rice Association asked on Tuesday for the Cambodian government to support farmers during the dry season when rice prices fall.

Lim Bunheng told DAP News Cambodia that rice is down to CR700 a kilo gram from CR 900-1,000.

Last year, the GRA exported about 3,000 tons of rice, but plans to export about 15,000 tons this year, said the GRA director.

Yaing Saing Komar, director of local agriculture organization CEDAC, said prices are actually up from a previous low of around CR700 per kilogram.

The current price could fall when other farmers harvest, or if Vietnamese buyers do not show interest in Camb- odian rice, CEDAC’s director stressed.
DAP’s attempts to contact government officials for comment were unsuccessful.

In early March, Soy Sopeap, the Deum Ampil Media Center General Director and General Secretary of GRA, visited Takeo province to test fertilizer imported from Germany.

New Provincial Radio Stations Planned

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:36 DAP-NEWS

Cambodia will have more radio stations in provincial areas later this year, the Information Minister said on Tuesday.

Khieu Kanharith told DAP News Cambodia Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng, Takeo, and Siem Reap would get radio stations.

“Now, the government is trying to talk with overseas investors to open the media centers soon,” he said.

The plans depend on the state FM allocation, he added.

Gov’t Will Provide 74,000 ha Retired Soldiers

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:35 DAP-NEWS

Around 74,000 hectares in land concessions will be handed out to retired soldiers, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction on Tuesday.

MoUP Minister Im Chhunlim said the land will be spread across 22 areas by 5 experts. Committees will determine at the end of March which sites, he added.

The move, Chhumlim said, is “a grateful thank to all ex-Cambodian soldiers who involved in defending the sovereignty of the Kingdom.” It will also help alleviate poverty and promote social harmony, he claimed.

The Letters Sent to PM Hun Sen, FM Hor Namhong by Surin Pitsuwan

Tuesday, 09 March 2010 16:09 DAP-NEWS

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Relocation may be offered to victims of Tuol Kork fire

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A victim of Monday night’s blaze in Tuol Kork district that destroyed hundreds of dwellings stakes out the plot where his home once stood, as residents of the Boeung Kak 2 commune neighbourhood devastated by the fire began trying to put their lives back together on Tuesday.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:06 Khouth Sophakchakrya

FAMILIES were assessing the damage on Tuesday after a fire ripped through Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak 2 commune on Monday evening, as local officials offered to relocate the displaced to plots of land in Kandal province.

Nuov Pheak, a commune official in Boeung Kak 2, said the blaze had left hundreds homeless, including 257 families, 181 students and 90 monks, with 178 homes and 31 dormitory rooms destroyed.

Local authorities are still unsure of how the fire started, he added.

“Currently, we are distributing food, tents and other materials to them for temporary living around the pagoda and the surrounding area,” Nuov Pheak said.

Gnith Khim, abbot of the commune’s Neak Von pagoda, said Tuesday that flames had spread from an area near the edge of the community into the dormitory rooms near the pagoda. He called for donations from the government and the private sector to support the dozens of residents who were gathering at his pagoda in the aftermath of the fire.

Photo by: Nick Sells (
A man on Tuesday surveys the damage wrought by a fire that officials said left hundreds homeless in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district.

Speaking at the pagoda, Tuol Kork district Governor Seng Ratanak said he had been distributing food, water and tents to local residents. He said he was preparing for a meeting with community representatives in the near future in the hope of convincing them to move to Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district – an offer that has sparked questions about future development at the site.

“Phnom Penh authorities plan to provide 6-metre-by-12-metre plots of land ... for residents who volunteer to move there,” Seng Ratanak said.

Kong Keang, 48, who lost his home in the fire, said he had heard of plans to develop the area, but that he did not believe residents were being offered sufficient compensation.

“The authorities want us to volunteer to receive more than US$8,000 per family or agree to receive a 6-metre-by-12-metre plot of land in Kandal province,” he said. “Now, we are very concerned because the authorities can use [the fire] as an excuse to evict us to another place.”

Despite their reluctance to leave their homes, some residents may have few options.

Sen Sareth, 31, said she had operated a store in the community, but that it had been destroyed along with her home in the blaze on Monday night.

“The fire destroyed all of my property and my house,” she said tearfully, with her 7-year-old son at her side. “Now I need food and some money to reopen my business and support my family.”

NGOs call graft proposal flawed

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:06 Sebastian Strangio and Vong Sokheng

AS lawmakers prepare to debate the draft of the government’s anti-graft law today, rights groups have called on the National Assembly to delay the session in order to address key concerns about the long-awaited but controversial document.

On Tuesday, a coalition representing more than 200 local NGOs petitioned parliament for a one-month delay of the debate, saying the current draft offers whistle-blowers few protections and would do little to combat graft.

“The law is not sufficient to serve the Cambodian people, and we hope that the government and the National Assembly will consider our request for a month to study the law and consult with the people,” Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, told reporters on Tuesday.

“The anticorruption bodies will not work with full effectiveness if the principles and points of view of civil society are not included in the draft law.”

If passed this week, the draft Anticorruption Law will create a National Anticorruption Commission and an Anticorruption Unit. The commission, which would consist of 11 members chosen by the King, Senate, National Assembly and eight other government institutions, would be responsible for the government’s overall anticorruption strategy and would report directly to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The Anticorruption Unit, which would operate separately under the Council of Ministers, would be responsible for the day-to-day investigation of corruption inside the public and private sectors.

In their list of recommendations to the National Assembly, the NGOs called for political party operatives to be banned from sitting on the proposed commission and requested stronger protections for whistle-blowers under Article 41 of the law.

“This law should encourage people to provide information related to corruption,” the document stated.

The groups also called for officials’ assets to be declared publicly.

Speaking on a radio talk show on Tuesday evening, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he doubted the law would be effective in reducing graft, and that a 2006 draft composed by international experts had apparently been “thrown out” by the government.

“The Anticorruption Law that will be approved by the National Assembly tomorrow will be useless, and people should focus on electing a leader who can curb corruption,” he said.

The government has thus far dismissed concerns raised about the draft, and Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said this week that the National Assembly debate would allow for sufficient discussion of it.

Lessons from the region
The experiences of other countries in the region suggest that the passage of the Anticorruption Law will do little to erode Cambodia’s endemic graft.

A World Bank paper published in 2004 noted that for poor, aid-dependent countries, anticorruption commissions may represent efforts “to satisfy international donors and placate domestic calls for reform” rather than eradicate corrupt practices.

The paper argued that such commissions fail “in all but a few special circumstances”, resulting in “minimal” reforms and toothless institutions.

In Indonesia, where anticorruption laws are implemented by law enforcement agencies and a corruption eradication commission (KPK), local activists say powerful officials continue to undermine the campaign against graft.

“In general, the performance of the police and the attorney-general’s office are still below expectation,” said Illian Deta Arta Sari, an activist at the Jakarta-based Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW).

She said that since its establishment in 2004, the KPK, which reports to the legislature rather than the president, has been subject to various attacks by “corrupt bureaucrats and legislative officials”.

These culminated in the arrest last year of KPK deputy commissioners Bibit S Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah on charges of abuse of power and extortion, a move Sari described as part of a deliberate campaign to muzzle the KPK.

Alan Doig, an anticorruption expert at the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in Bangkok, said conflicts between agencies, as in Jakarta, would be just one of the potential challenges for Cambodia.

“Passing the law is not an end in itself – it’s the beginning of an incremental process,” he said.

Doig said that, as in neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia’s anti-graft law has been framed much too broadly and does not take into account the sheer amount of bureaucratic resources it will likely absorb.

He noted that the anticorruption commission in Bangkok has a staff of 600, and that its Malaysian counterpart has around 2,000 employees operating across the region.

There is also the issue of how widely to cast the asset-disclosure net, which Doig flagged as a potential bottleneck for Cambodia’s new institutions.

“Unless you have a large amount of money, you could have a difficult time deciding what your priorities are,” Doig said. “I can’t see any real capacity in Cambodia.”

Overall, Doig said the government has not given itself enough time to address these sorts of logistical concerns.

“I think that they missed a good opportunity to shape the law to cover the priorities they want to address,” he said.

“The real problem is: what do they want to do with this law? And I don’t think they’re very clear about that.”

UN faces dilemma on drug centres

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:05 Irwin Loy

THE United Nations Children’s Fund is continuing financial support for a controversial state-run rehabilitation centre, highlighting a split among rights groups and international organisations over how to engage with compulsory drug treatment centres accused of abuse.

Though acknowledging there are “issues” with the Youth Rehabilitation Centre in the capital’s Choam Chao district, UNICEF believes its support of the facility is also beneficial, representative Richard Bridle said in an interview.

“We are not going to advocate for its closure,” Bridle said. “What we are doing is we’ve raised the issues with the government.”

A January report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged that drug users detained in 11 government-run rehabilitation centres, including the Choam Chao facility, are subjected to forced confinement and physical abuse while receiving ineffective treatment.

UNICEF has come under criticism from rights groups as the only UN agency to directly support any of the centres financially. In 2009, UNICEF funded the Ministry of Social affairs with US$615,000, including $28,440 for the Choam Chao facility. This year, the agency is supporting case-management, monitoring and reintegration services.

Weeks after the HRW report’s release and six months after its staff members met with UNICEF privately on the issue, Bridle said the agency cannot conduct its own investigation into the claims because doing so is not within its mandate. Instead, UNICEF has asked authorities to investigate the abuse claims themselves.

“These are allegations that have been raised by Human Rights Watch. It’s not within our vocation to confirm or deny those,” Bridle said.

Like other UN agencies, Bridle said UNICEF does not support the compulsory treatment model practiced at the rehabilitation centres.

“We agree that there are better ways of dealing with people who have drug problems. Nobody who has not been given due judicial process should be incarcerated,” Bridle said.

However, UNICEF has also drawn a distinction between the forced treatment centres spread across the country and the Choam Chao facility, which the government and UNICEF define as “open” or voluntary.

“We need an open centre as a means of moving towards a more open treatment of kids who are in conflict with the law,” Bridle said. “If we remove the open centre, then that’s kind of encouraging the authorities to round up children, lock them away, throw away the key and forget about them.”

Rights groups, however, believe that is exactly what is happening at Choam Chao.

“Choam Chao is neither open nor voluntary,” Joe Amon, HRW’s director of health and human rights, said in an email.“Children who try and leave are beaten, given electric shocks and abused.”

Different views of consent
In interviews with the Post earlier this year, people who said they were detained at Choam Chao also reported having been arrested off the streets and held without charges.

Comments from the government, which has denied engaging in abuse at any of the centres, suggest that authorities and UN agencies have different interpretations of voluntary treatment.

In a February statement defending the centres, the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) said drug users are allowed to “voluntarily access” treatment. If drug users refuse, however, “those persons shall be forced to obtain the treatment”, the statement read.

Bridle acknowledged there are problems pertaining to how consent is administered. Not everyone may understand “consent procedures”, and children who want to leave the Choam Chao facility may not be allowed to in a timely manner, he said.

“By law, for everybody who is there, there should be a consent form for them to be there, but we do acknowledge there are going to be issues of implementation of such systems,” he said.

Though UNICEF has chosen to offer services at Choam Chao, other UN agencies have decided against funding any of the centres. The World Health Organisation, for example, discussed the issue of compulsory treatment centres in the region last year and made a collective decision not to participate in such facilities.

“There’s no evidence that they are effective in detoxing, treating or rehabilitating people with drug-dependence issues,” said Graham Shaw, the WHO’s technical adviser on drug use. “The fundamental line is if it’s not evidence-based, then we will not support it.”

Still, that line appears to have been crossed, even by other UN agencies who say they aren’t involved.

UNODC ‘refresher course’
Officials with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have said they are not funding services at any of the 11 facilities – in line with an overall position not to assist compulsory treatment centres directly if the government won’t commit to ensuring voluntary access across the board.

But the UNODC used 36 drug users institutionalised in at least one facility as subjects for a “refresher course” during training for a pilot outreach programme it led last year, according to project documents and UNODC officials.

“There have been occasions where in order to train the [outreach workers] that are working at the community level we have needed to have access to those centres where a number of drug users are in place,” Gary Lewis, the UNODC regional representative in Bangkok, told reporters at a press conference in February.

Surin clarifies his comments

Photo by: Bloomberg
Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) sits with ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan during the ASEAN summit held in Thailand last year.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:05 Irwin Loy

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said Tuesday that quotes attributed to him in media reports that have caused anger among Cambodian officials were “taken totally out of context”.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, Surin said he was misquoted in a March 5 media report that suggested he was “very concerned” with recent Cambodian military exercises.

Instead, Surin said he was expressing concern over ongoing border tensions between Cambodia and Thailand.

“The question directed at me was of a general nature, and my responses were with specific reference to the prevailing situation along the Cambodian-Thai border which I have expressed on many occasions before,” Surin said in the statement.

The original media report from Bernama, the Malaysian news agency, used Surin’s comments to suggest ASEAN fears last week’s rocket tests “may send a wrong signal”.

“We are very concerned with such development,” the report quoted Surin as saying, noting that he declined to elaborate on the issue: “I have no details. I have to look into the details first.”

The comments provoked accusations from Cambodian officials that Surin had overstepped his role by commenting on a member country’s internal affairs. Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested Surin had “abused” his role as secretary general and was “not suitable” for the position.

In Tuesday’s statement, Surin said he had no knowledge at the time of the rocket tests. The statement said Surin expressed his “deep regret” the issue had sparked “a very unfortunate and unwarranted effect”.

A government spokesman, however, said the ASEAN secretary general should not even be discussing the border issue with Thailand, let alone last week’s military exercise.

“He’s not supposed to do any statement or communicate with the media to show his position at all,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said. “He has to be neutral and professional. That’s what we wanted.”

Phay Siphan suggested Surin knew what he was discussing when he was quoted in the media report last week.

“He’s supposed to be professional and know what kinds of words, what kinds of quotations to use,” he said. “I understand the media. If he did like this, then he takes advantage of the media.”

Though Surin went out of his way to clarify the reported comments, he has generally been part of a trend towards a more vocal ASEAN, said Chris Roberts, a lecturer at the University of Canberra.

“There has been a pattern over the last 10 years of the secretariat being more assertive in commenting on internal matters that are a problem to the region,” he said in an interview before Surin’s statement was released last night.

Roberts suggested ASEAN was in the middle of “an identity crisis”, with states including Cambodia pushing for traditional non-interference and “quiet diplomacy”, and others advocating for more open discussion on regional issues.

“We are seeing a push for change. The problem with those [traditional] values is that ASEAN hasn’t been able to address controversial issues. There will always be one member willing to object,” Roberts said.

Hearing on Sam Rainsy to proceed as planned

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:05 Meas Sokchea

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday rejected a request to delay the scheduled questioning of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who had been summoned to appear pending charges of falsifying public documents and spreading disinformation.

Choung Chou Ngy, Sam Rainsy’s defence attorney, said the court had rejected his request for a delay after ruling that Sam Rainsy did not have a valid reason to miss the hearing, and that Choung Chou Ngy had been late in applying for a delay. Sam Rainsy is currently in France avoiding a two-year prison term handed down in absentia by the Svay Rieng provincial court in January.

Choung Chou Ngy said that after receiving the summons last Friday, the three-day weekend prevented him from applying for a delay until Tuesday morning.

“I could not do anything on time,” he said. “The time for the summons is very short.”

Deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun declined to comment. Should the prosecution press charges, a failure by Sam Rainsy to appear before the investigating judge could lead to a fresh warrant for his arrest, said Sok Sam Ouen, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.

The new complaint against Sam Rainsy came after he revealed maps in January which he said prove that the Vietnamese have encroached on Cambodian territory. If convicted, he could face up to 18 years in prison, though no date has yet been set for a possible trial. He was convicted in January of racial incitement and destruction of public property in connection with an October protest against Vietnamese encroachment in Svay Rieng.

Plans unveiled for tourist area in Anlong Veng

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:05 Thet Sambath

OFFICIALS in Anlong Veng, the last bastion of the Khmer Rouge regime, on Tuesday unveiled details of their plans to develop the district into a tourist attraction, an initiative that was given formal approval by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen late last week.

Peuy Saroeun, the deputy governor of Anlong Veng, said officials had submitted a plan to the Council of Ministers calling for the refurbishment of 21 homes belonging to Khmer Rouge leaders and other cadre, as well as warehouses where munitions were stashed.

He said the homes identified in the plan belonged to regime leaders such as Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan and Ta Mok, the Central Committee member whose former compound in Anlong Veng is currently an attraction administered by the Ministry of Tourism.

“We have plans to transform 21 houses and also the warehouses where the Khmer Rouge stored munitions into historical tourist sites,” Peuy Saroeun said.

He added that all of the homes were located within 1 kilometre of the Chom border crossing with Thailand.

Hun Sen’s Cabinet on Friday signed a sub-decree giving a green light to the development of the former stronghold, saying it would allow “national and international guests to visit and understand the last political leadership of the genocidal regime”.

The premier has asked Cabinet officials to compile a guidebook to the area that includes a description of his “win-win policy” to defeat the Khmer Rouge.

Peuy Saroeun said the specifics of the plan from the Anlong Veng officials had not been approved, and that he could not provide information about how much the plan would cost, or where the necessary funds would come from.

Kong Sophearak, director of the Ministry of Tourism’s Statistics and Tourism Information Department, said he did not know about the plan and could not say when it might be approved, but said that the development of Anlong Veng would serve to diversify Cambodia’s tourist attractions.

“We do not just have temples for them to visit – we have other things,” he said.

Thai govt to discuss policy on migrants who missed deadline

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 Cameron Wells

THE Thai government will meet today to discuss the fates of more than 500,000 migrant workers who face deportation after missing a deadline to reapply for work permits and initiate participation in the controversial nationality-verification process, the Human Rights and Development Foundation said Tuesday.

Andy Hall, director of the foundation’s Migrant Justice Programme, said he hoped the meeting would address the problems faced by migrant workers in the aftermath of last week’s deadline.

“The [Thai government] has to accept that the nationality-verification policy, although potentially workable, is failing because of its poor implementation,” he said.

March 2 was the deadline for the roughly 1.3 million registered migrants in Thailand to reapply for work permits and enter the process of nationality verification, wherein they were to submit forms to their home governments in order to secure new work permits in Thailand.

Bangkok has said it plans to deport any workers who are unregistered or who missed the deadline. Some 51,449 of the 124,092 registered Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand failed to reapply in time, along with 506,035 workers from Myanmar and Laos.

Hall said Thai officials meeting today needed to consider whether their country could afford to lose such a large amount of labour.

“Thailand needs these migrants, as they are crucial to the Thai economy, making up at least 5 percent of the workforce,” he said, adding that migrants do some of the country’s most dangerous and demanding jobs while making significantly less money than most Thais.

Meanwhile, Thailand will imprison and hand out heavy fines to any migrant workers who attend mass antigovernment rallies in Bangkok this weekend, Thai labour minister Phaitoon Kaeothong said Tuesday.

Migrants would be subject to five-year jail terms and fines of up to 100,000 baht (US$3,100) if found among Red Shirt protesters loyal to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Demonstrations are due to begin in the capital on Sunday.


Eight pharmacies still lack licences

Photo by: Pha Lina
Staff members at a pharmacy in Phnom Penh sell drugs late last month. Health officials said Tuesday that eight pharmacies had failed to meet a February 28 deadline to apply for licences and could face court action.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 Khuon Leakhana and Sen David

AT least eight illegal pharmacies in Phnom Penh have failed to apply for licences in time to meet a deadline set by the Ministry of Health and could face court action, officials said Tuesday.

Pharmacies operating illegally were given until February 28 to apply for licences from the ministry or face closure as part of a government crackdown.

Sok Sokun, director of Phnom Penh’s health department, said that although most of the 116 pharmacies previously operating illegally had either applied for licences or closed by the end of last month, eight had ignored repeated warnings.

“We will still continue to warn these pharmacies. If they do not obey the law, we will complain to the court,” he said.

Health officials have pursued similar complaints against other “stubborn business owners” in the past, he added, forcing compliance in those cases.

“We will adopt strict measures and take the eight unlicenced pharmacies to court if they do not agree [to apply for licences],” he said.

This warning follows a Monday raid on a pharmacy in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, where authorities discovered 15 drugs later found to be fake, Sok Sokun said.

Even with the closure of illegal pharmacies, however, preventing the distribution of fake and unregulated medicines remains a challenge.

Ly Rosamy, deputy governor of Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, said that despite the fact that at least 23 owners of pharmacies had thumbprinted promises to halt the sale of illegal or fake drugs, traffickers were still buying the banned substances from the businesses and distributing them to factory workers in the district.

Pharmacy owners “obeyed because they are smart people, but we are still concerned that [others] are selling the drugs to factory workers”, she said.

Clinic blamed over road death

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 Tep Nimol

THE family of a man who died as a result of injuries sustained in a road accident has filed a complaint with the Interior Ministry against the private clinic that transported him to hospital, saying he died because of negligence on the part of the clinic’s staff.

Ty Somala, 49, died on Sunday after an accident in Stung Meanchey commune in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.

His brother-in-law, San Borith, said Ty Somala did not die at the scene, and blamed employees of the Cambodian Virtuous Professional Association clinic for failing to treat him.

“My brother did not die instantly at the accident,” San Borith said. “He was conscious because he asked the ambulance crew to call his son to inform him about the accident.”

Phorn, a medical professional from the clinic who spoke on the condition that his full name not be used, said that Ty Somala had in fact died at the scene of the crash.

“The victim died instantly in the accident. We did not want to take the body [to hospital], but the police and villagers asked us to take him, as they suspected he might still be alive,” he said.

The complaint was delivered to the Interior Ministry on Tuesday.

Wounded villagers fear arrest

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Tuot Chanka, 37, who was among three evictees shot by police on Sunday, displays his bandaged wounds at a district hospital.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 May Titthara

THREE men shot by police on Sunday in connection with an ongoing land dispute in Kampong Thom province have fled the hospital where they were seeking treatment, citing fears they will be arrested.

Luon Bunthy, who brought the three men to Santuk district hospital after the shootings on Sunday afternoon, said 40 other villagers who joined them in Sunday’s attempt enter land which was granted to a Vietnamese rubber company last year had fled their homes.

“We heard that the district authorities would try to find and arrest those of us who tried to enter our old farmland and accuse us of persuading villagers to rally against the authorities,” he said.

The altercation occurred after the 40 villagers approached the 8,100-hectare concession in Kraya commune, from which they were evicted in December. In 2007, the government granted the concession, home to about 1,700 families who began settling there in 2004, to the Vietnam-based Tin Bien rubber company.

More than 600 families have been relocated to a site 7 kilometres away, though some residents say authorities have failed to honour a promise to provide each family with a hectare of farmland.

During Sunday’s altercation, 37-year-old Tuot Chanka and his younger brother, 35-year-old Tuot Veasna, sustained gunshot wounds in their legs, and 59-year-old Chhum Chhorn was shot in the stomach.

All three sought treatment in Kampong Cham provincial hospital after a short stay in Santuk district hospital.

Tuot Chanka said Tuesday that he had fled Kampong Cham provincial hospital despite the fact that the swelling in his thigh had not gone down.

“Today I will move from this hospital to another place for my safety even though my thigh still hurts. I am not sure where I will go,” he said.

Ouch Leng, land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said the 40 villagers had no choice but to flee because they had been threatened.

Santuk district governor Pich Sophea said the authorities would only arrest former Kraya residents – or those posing as former Kraya residents – if they approached the concession again.

“We will arrest them if we see them in that area, because many of them are not Kraya villagers. They are from outside and want to persuade new villagers who received land [at the relocation site] to take over company land,” he said.

Santuk district police chief Ek Mat Muoly could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Pich Sophea said villagers at the relocation site, Thmor Samleang, would receive farmland, adding that the location had not yet been identified.

Salons may close after skin-whitening death

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 Mom Kunthear

THE Banteay Meanchey provincial health department is likely to temporarily close beauty salons that sell skin-whitening creams following the death of a 23-year-old woman who reacted violently to a cream she had purchased in the province, a health official said Tuesday.

Chhuon Sovann, 23, began vomiting after she began using a skin-whitening cream on March 2, and she died on Sunday after falling unconscious, her family members said.

Chhuon Manet, the victim’s 20-year-old sister, said she had been taken to a private clinic in Banteay Meanchey and a hospital in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, where doctors said she had suffered a bad reaction to the cream, and that they could do nothing for her.

“The doctors told us that my sister was reacting to the cream that she used, which had absorbed into her skin,” Chhuon Manet said.

Although Chhuon Manet said she did not know where the cream had been made, Chhum Sovanrith, director of the provincial health department, said he suspected it had been imported from Vietnam.

The Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that the cream was one product in the Vietnam-based Bao Dam brand of skin-whitening products, adding that their products had previously been found to contain mercury and had been banned.

The article noted, though, that the Thai food and drug administration was still conducting tests and had not officially determined that Bao Dam products killed Chhuon Sovann.

“As far as I know, it is a Vietnamese product,” Chhum Sovanrith said, adding that he planned to temporarily close any salons selling skin-whitening products in his province.

“I will close any beauty salons selling this type of product, which has a bad impact on the skin and health,” he said.

The death of Chhuon Sovann came less than one week after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Health Ministry to strictly monitor the use of beauty protects containing toxic chemicals, which he said could cause cancer, among other health problems.

Locals seek to cast out ‘witch’ in Prey Veng

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 May Titthara

AROUND 400 residents of Chea Khlang commune in Prey Veng province’s Svay Anthor district have requested that local authorities either imprison or relocate a woman they say is a sorceress, villagers said Tuesday.

Yoek Sovanna, a local villager, said people had enlisted the help of a “master magic man” to identify the alleged witch after a string of mysterious illnesses and deaths. He added that villagers had destroyed the women’s property after learning that she was a sorceress.

“Now our villagers are scared and would like to ask district authorities to bring her to another province or imprison her, otherwise she will order her ghost spirit to kill our villagers,” he said.

Village chief Sorn Meng said he had made a contract with the alleged witch in December 2009 and that she had agreed to stop using magic to kill people. “She confessed with us that she is a sorceress, and we have a document with her thumbprint. I don’t yet know how to take measures against her,” he said.

Commune chief Ob Seab said, there have always been witches in Khmer culture, and that they are often difficult to identify. “In our country we have [witches] everywhere in the remote areas,” he said. “Because we haven’t got evidence, we cannot accuse people.”

Israeli did not engage in sex, he and girl say

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

A 69-YEAR-OLD Israeli national charged with soliciting sex from a minor professed his innocence during a hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, and his alleged victim denied that the two had ever engaged in a sexual relationship.

Yehuda Aharon Zvi was arrested in December last year as the result of an investigation launched by the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which became suspicious after learning that Zvi had been spending time at the Asia Hotel in Russey Keo district with the woman he says is his girlfriend who was accompanied by the alleged victim, who officials believe is 17.

“I have never had any sexual intercourse with the 17-year-old girl,” Zvi told the court. “She just paid casual visits to my room at the Asia Hotel, along with my girlfriend. I sometimes gave her 5,000 to 10,000 riels (US$2.40), because of my passionate feelings. That is not an exchange of money for sex.”

After the 17-year-old said Zvi’s story was accurate, prosecutor Chek Khemra accused her of lying, saying she had previously claimed Zvi had paid her for sex.

Zvi’s defense lawyer, Oeung Chakrya, requested that the court free his client, saying that there was no substantive evidence for the charge.

“I ask the court to lift the charges against my client and release him from prison,” he said.

Under Article 34 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, which regulates the purchasing of prostitution involving minors, Zvi faces between a two-year and five-year prison sentence if found guilty. Presiding Judge Sin Visal did not specify when a verdict would be handed down in the case.

Zvi was arrested in Thailand in 2002 on charges of engaging in sexual activity with two underage male prostitutes and possessing child pornography, according to the Associated Press.

CITA blasts intimidation of teachers who talk to media

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:03 Phak Seangly

THE Cambodian Independent Teachers Association on Tuesday called on the Ministry of Education to stop reprimanding teachers for speaking to the media, accusing officials in four provinces of impinging on teachers’ freedom of speech.

CITA said in a statement that, so far this year, officials from education departments in Prey Veng, Pursat, Kratie and Kampong Chhnang provinces had all called teachers in for questioning after they were quoted in news reports.

CITA president Rong Chhun said in an interview Tuesday that the frequency of such questioning sessions was on the rise, adding that they were blatant attempts at intimidation.

“Threats like this happen only in communist countries. If our country follows democracy, there should be no reason to call [the teachers] in like this,” he said.

“It is unusual this year compared to last year, because just in the early part of 2010 there have been four cases of calling in teachers who have complained to the media about supplies and salaries,” he added.

Kim Darany, the head of CITA in Pursat province, said she had been called in for questioning in January after giving a radio interview in which she discussed the lack of textbooks in the province.

“I think that what I said shouldn’t affect them,” she said, referring to the officials. “I just said that students have difficulty studying because of the lack of textbooks.”

Suong Sophy, chief of the education department in Pursat, said the purpose of the meeting was not to threaten or intimidate, but rather to discuss the issues Kim Darany had raised.

Chin Rithy, the Prey Veng CITA chief, said he too had been called in by education department officials in January after giving an interview about salaries. In November, Prey Veng provincial court found him guilty of defamation after he accused an administrator of selling land belonging to a secondary school, a verdict he has appealed.

The Prey Veng education department could not be reached Tuesday.

Expert says hub plans are a 'backwards step'

Customers use computers at an Internet cafe in Phnom Penh. Government plans to restrict Internet exchanges have come under increasing criticism from analysts and the private sector in recent weeks.

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:03 Ellie Dyer

Govt hub control would hurt ISP industry, Gartner analyst says

AN international expert at Gartner Inc has poured doubt on the potential effectiveness of a state-run Internet hub, calling the planned consolidation “a backwards step” as private sector representatives met with officials Tuesday to discuss the controversial decision.

Former editor of the Financial Times’ Asia telecoms section and author of the book Telecommunications Development in Asia, Nick Ingelbrecht is an analyst for Gartner Inc – an international technology research and advisory company.

On Tuesday he emailed the Post his analysis of government plans to create a domestic Internet exchange (DIX) and a single international Internet exchange (IIX), both to be run by state body Telecom Cambodia (TC). If implemented, all domestic and international Internet traffic would have to flow through the government, rather than private companies who currently run network links.

TC told the Post last month that this would enable it to control Internet access, while providing companies with cheaper connections to international lines through wholesale buys.

However, Internet service providers (ISPs) and domestic commentators have warned that potential increased costs involved – as the nation’s two DIXs are currently provided without charge – and potential for unreliable service would cripple the fledgling ICT industry.

Both parties were set to discuss the issue at a Government-Private Sector Forum meeting on laws, taxation and government, an invitation-only event held at the Ministry of Finance late Tuesday afternoon.

When quizzed on the effect of the government’s proposed model, Ingelbrecht said: “In practical terms, mandatory use of a central Internet exchange as the only international link usually results in under-provisioning and the quality of use [of the] experience drops. It represents a pretty big backward step. It also means that ISPs have few ways to compete.”

He added that the country that resembles the Cambodian proposal most closely “would appear to be China, which filters content at the international gateways”.

Ingelbrecht said that independent, commercial ISPs “don’t really exist” in China.

He concluded by saying that the future of the development of the Internet in Cambodia “ultimately depends on the government’s overriding policy objectives – social control/individual choice versus economic development”.

The analysis coincided with the start of a four-day course run by UN’s Asian and Pacific Training Centre for ICT (ACTICT), intended to educate government about the use of technology in governance.

It prompted discussion from officials about the importance and challenges of ICT development within a political system containing interlocking ministerial departments.

At the launch of the scheme at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel Tuesday morning, National ICT Development Authority (NiDA) Secretary General Leewood Phu read a quotation from the course book, which said: “Policy makers are often unfamiliar with technology needed for national development.”

It went on the say that many policy makers have shied away from implementing change for that reason.

Phu continued by saying to the packed audience of government officials: “As many of you are aware, in the Cambodian government we are having that problem.

“For example, in the appointment of a relevant official to work with ACTICT for some reason NiDA was overlooked. They appointed someone from within the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to work with ICT.”

However, following the meeting, he confirmed NiDA’s stance on the Internet plan, saying that a centralised hub should be hosted by the government in “initial stages” of ICT development.

Police Blotter: 10 Mar 2010

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:03 Phak Seangly

An elderly monk has died after he downed two cans of beer before hopping into a taxi to head to the local pagoda, police in Kampong Speu said. The taxi driver told police the 80-year-old monk drank two cans of brew before hitching a ride. When he reached the pagoda, however, the taxi driver was shocked to discover the monk was dead. The driver reported the incident to police, who examined the monk’s lifeless body and declared the man had fainted and died while in the car. The death was definitely not related to any crime, police said. There was no word on which beer the monk drank.

A 49-year-old Prey Veng man was hospitalised in Phnom Penh on Sunday after his neighbours allegedly pushed him from an upper floor of a house and left him for dead in the forest. The man’s wife said that the four neighbours pushed her drunken husband after he “interfered” with them during a karaoke party sing-off. The suspects then allegedly dragged the unconscious man to a nearby forest, thinking he was dead. Now the victim’s family is suing the neighbours. Police, however, have yet to arrest any suspects.

A 27-year-old man in Kandal province was arrested after he allegedly attacked another man and his wife with a cleaver over a long-simmering land dispute. Police said the man critically injured the pair after the male victim, drunk on alcohol, cursed the suspect furiously over the land feud. The victims were sent to hospital, and the assailant has been questioned by police and sent to court.

Military police in the capital’s Chamkarmon district have arrested at least three men accused of causing a series of traffic accidents Sunday. Police said the three reportedly drunken men sparked a chain reaction of traffic blunders when they left a local nightclub and crashed their car straight into a wall. Then, the suspects allegedly tried to flee the scene, accelerating off even though the car had a flat tyre, while a small mob chased the trio on foot. The car then struck another vehicle and skidded to a stop on Mao Tsetung Boulevard, where onlookers tried to attack the suspects, police said. But police intervened, putting an end to the melee. Police said no one was injured, but that some property was destroyed. Two people have filed complaints.