Monday, 14 June 2010

DAP News - Fire Sangket Steung Meanchhey Phnom Penh (In Khmer)

Emirates SkyCargo appoints Asia GSA in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ News Media

by Robeel Haq
Jun 14, 2010

Emirates SkyCargo has expanded its operations to Cambodia after a surge in demand for reliable air cargo services from the southeast Asian nation. The Dubai based carrier has appointed Asia GSA as its sales agent in Cambodia.

In recent years the Cambodian garment industry has grown exponentially as an increasing number of manufacturers, including brands like GAP, Old Navy, Wal-Mart and Kmart, look to the country to produce quality clothing at cheaper rates than in Europe, the US or even some other Asian countries. It is now the biggest industry in Cambodia, accounting for a whopping 70 per cent of the country’s exports.

As Emirates does not yet operate its own flights into Cambodia, cargo – predominantly garments, textiles and shoes – will be flown to nearby Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, from where Emirates SkyCargo operates 28 and 21 flights a week to Dubai respectively. From Dubai goods are shipped onward to more than 100 destinations around the globe.

Ram Menen, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President Cargo, said, “Emirates SkyCargo’s frequent connections to Cambodia’s key export markets such as the US, UK and Germany means producers can rest easy in the knowledge that their goods will reach their customers swiftly and securely. And our new partnership with Asia GSA has just made it even easier for them to capitalise on our extensive network.”

Simon Ang, Asia GSA President, said: “Emirates SkyCargo is renowned the world over for the quality of its service. We are proud that, through our new affiliation, Asia GSA is able to bring the services of this much-lauded airline to Cambodian shippers.”

Cambodia: Srey Neth


Srey Neth is a young Cambodian victim of human trafficking. In this story she speaks of her experience transitioning from victim to survivor. At 14 she was sold by her mother to a pimp for $300; a week later he sold her virginity for the same price then he forced her to serve 10-20 men per night afterwards. Her refusal was met with beatings or electrocution. Srey Neth was later rescued by police and a non governmental organization. During her recovery, which unsurprisingly has taken more than five years, she was diagnosed with HIV.

This is not just a story about the darkness in humanity. Srey Neth is a victim who has found her voice and become a survivor; I see her as a figurative Cambodia, her home country. It is culturally permissive of human trafficking after struggling through thirty years of genocide, occupation, and civil war. From a trauma and victimization standpoint, Cambodian society is still finding the voice it needs to end the exploitation.

Srey Neth has been given guidance and the opportunity to find her own path. She has learned forgiveness, found self worth, received an education, worked hard to succeed, and been given life through anti-retroviral drugs. Many in Cambodia do not have this option; Srey Neth knows this and hopes that her story of pain and healing can help. It is why she is now working in the same slum where she was sold, to help the younger children find their voice and avoid the victimization she faced. Her story is one of hope and an example for those working in the field of anti-human trafficking. Her story is also a parallel to my incomplete project on the transition Cambodia, the country, is making from victim to survivor.

Drunk Driver Causes Another Fatal Accident in Pattaya

via Khmer NZ News Media

June 14, 2010  

An intoxicated man is responsible for the death of an innocent Cambodian gardener in a car accident along the Sukhumvit Road on Sunday. The incident occurred in broad daylight with several vehicles also damaged as a result of the accident.

Pattaya, the 13th of June 2010 [PDN]: At approximately 12:00pm on Sunday, Major Kriangkraiwut Buakla (Pattaya Police Investigator) was notified of a fatal car accident on the Sukhumvit Road in Central Pattaya. A team of officers along with the Sawang Boriboon Foundation were dispatched to the incident to investigate.

Mr. Somjai Ngernjaturan [58], the driver of the involved vehicle, was observed by police to be in an intoxicated state and as such was immediately arrested and taken to the Pattaya Police Station for interrogation. He is expected to be charged with negligent driving occasioning death and driving whilst under the influence of alcohol.

A witness and driver of one of the involved vehicles parked at the scene, Mr. Soron Wongsakun [51], stated that Mr. Ngernjaturan had been driving erratically along the Sukhumvit Road when he swerved across into the right-hand lane and crashed into the drainage ditch killing Mr. Chuan. Mr. Wongsakun explained that he had managed to avoid a similar fate by braking heavily as Mr. Ngernjaturan cut in front of his car, he revealed that he had hit Mr. Ngernjaturan’s car slightly as the vehicle cut across the road.

Once all evidence was collected and the involved Toyota Wish sent to the police impound for examination, officer requested that all involved drivers proceed to the Pattaya Police Station to file incident reports and deal with any requests for compensation.

Generations weave together

Photo by: Pha Lina

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 Pha Lina

Mao Chanthon, 30, and his 62-year-old mother Mao Thavy weave traditional mats in Sa’ai village, in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district, on Friday.

Reassuring the Khmer Krom

Photo by: Courtesy of Rothany Srun/Access to Justice Asia
Khmer Krom residents of Pursat’s Bakan district listen to a presentation about the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s second case on Sunday.

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 James O’toole and May Titthara

KRT prosecutor holds meeting with group worried about being overlooked

Pursat Province

KHMER Rouge tribunal co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley addressed a group of Khmer Krom residents of Pursat province on Sunday, intent on assuring them that the suffering inflicted upon their community under Democratic Kampuchea will not be overlooked by the court.

In speaking to a group of around 200 in Pursat’s Romlech commune, Bakan district, Cayley made the uncommon move of reaching out and explaining the status of the court’s investigation to survivors who have voiced concern that attacks and alleged genocide against them have yet to be acknowledged.

“I know there is a feeling amongst some of your community that you haven’t been properly considered by the court,” Cayley told the audience, speaking in the dusty courtyard of the Wat Romlech pagoda.

“But I want to say to you today, sincerely, why I’m here is because I do recognise what happened to you as a people.”

“Khmer Krom” is a term for ethnic Khmer with roots in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam.

In January, the court’s co-investigating judges ruled that genocide charges and other offences would not be brought against the Khmer Rouge

leaders currently in detention based on the regime’s treatment of the Khmer Krom.

This decision, court officials emphasised at the time, was based not on a historical judgment that the Khmer Krom were not victims of genocide and other crimes, but on procedural factors: Such offences had not been properly listed in evidentiary submissions by the prosecution.

As a result of this decision, a number of Khmer Krom civil party applicants from Pursat who had been provisionally accepted in Case 002 were rejected, as their claims were deemed to be outside the scope of the court’s investigation. An April ruling from the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber reversed the decision against several of these applicants, though only on the basis that their claims could be connected to crimes in other provinces that had already been established as part of the court’s investigation.

“The rules are ridiculously complicated on the acceptance of civil parties,” Cayley told one woman who approached him after the event to ask about the process.

Assistant prosecutor Dale Lysak explained that although the deadline has passed to add crimes against the Khmer Krom in Pursat to the list of alleged offences being investigated in Case 002, evidence related to the group will nonetheless be utilised in supporting the case for existing crimes under investigation; namely, forced relocations from Eastern Cambodia and genocide of the Vietnamese in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and across the border in Vietnam.

“This area is very important to both of those, because we have to prove that there was a policy of the Khmer Rouge with respect to the Vietnamese,” Lysak said.

Cayley said that the complexity and the volume of evidence in Case 002 would stretch the trial for “at least two years”. Were the court to properly account for all crimes committed under Democratic Kampuchea, the trial “would go on for 20 years”, Cayley said, though he promised those assembled that the Khmer Krom will not be forgotten during the proceedings.

“We will seek to have evidence from witnesses heard in that trial in respect to crimes committed against the Khmer Krom, so that the judges and the world can hear what happened to you as a people,” he said.

Meas Chanthorn, a Khmer Krom man who was chief of Romlech commune at the time the Khmer Rouge took power, called Cayley’s visit “a historic day” for his community.

“The co-prosecutor came to talk to villagers in this area to show that the court is paying attention to the Khmer Krom case,” Meas Chanthorn said. He called Romlech a “genocide area”, and urged the court to reconsider investigating the charge in the context of the Khmer Krom.

In December, the court announced that the four Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting a first round of indictments were facing genocide charges in connection with the regime’s treatment of Cham Muslims and Vietnamese.

Historians such as David Chandler have argued, however, that Khmer Rouge killings do not fit within the legal definition of genocide: criminal acts committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Photo by: James O'toole
Members of the Khmer Krom community review materials distributed by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia concerning the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s second case.

A number of Khmer Krom who gathered in Romlech said they were singled out for persecution under the Khmer Rouge because of their perceived connection to the regime’s enemies in Vietnam.

At a meeting organised in the commune last week by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), 42-year-old Peou Sophy recalled an incident in which cadres gathered local residents together and separated them into two groups: “pure” Khmer and Khmer Krom, who were taken away from the village and killed.

“They said they had to kill everyone with Khmer bodies and Vietnamese heads,” said Kim So, another Romlech resident.

John Ciorciari, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and a senior legal adviser with DC-Cam, said in an email last week that it was unfortunate that the popular and legal uses of the term genocide “have diverged so widely”.

“Many people have come to use ‘genocide’ as a generic label for the most serious mass crimes, which tends to suggest that other similarly heinous crimes are lesser offenses,” he said. Analysis of targeted attacks on the Khmer Krom, however, could help explain the animus that drove Khmer Rouge atrocities, Ciorciari added.

“One important fact for the court to shed light on is the motives for the alleged Khmer Rouge genocide,” he said. “Were victims targeted due to their ethnicity, their perceived nationality, politics, or all three?”

It is this sort of explanation that 51-year-old Pao Sinoun, another Romlech resident, said she hoped to get from the tribunal.

“We want to know the reason why Pol Pot killed the Khmer Krom – they did this for what?” she said.

Forestry changes planned for Siem Reap

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 Thet Sambath and Chrann Chamroeun

FORESTRY officials plan to carve out three new administrative zones in the northwest in a bid to ramp up efforts against illegal logging, the director of the Forestry Administration said Sunday.

Chheng Kim Son said he has asked the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for permission to split the existing Siem Reap cantonment into three separate jurisdictions covering Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Oddar Meanchey provinces. Currently, oversight in the three areas falls under the same umbrella, leaving officials struggling to cover one of the administration’s largest cantonments, Chheng Kim Son said.

“We will change it from one large jurisdiction into three smaller ones,” he said. “[Officials] can move and monitor their jurisdictions faster and more effectively with a smaller area.”

He added that the potential change was part of a broader strategy to implement an ongoing crackdown on illegal logging.

“We will reform our work in order to govern well and make it easier to control illegal logging activities, because in the past, it was very difficult for us to govern” such a large area, he said.

Chheng Kim Son said he was unsure when the change would be enacted, and that he had not received a response to a proposal sent to the ministry. Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun could not be reached for comment Sunday.

If approved, the move would increase the number of forestry cantonments – subdivisions falling under the administration’s four broad
inspectorates – to 17.

Under the spotlight
Chheng Kim Son was thrust to the forefront of the government’s public campaign against illegal logging in April, after Prime Minister Hun Sen sacked his predecessor, Ty Sokun, over concerns that insufficient steps had been taken to eradicate the practice. Since then, it has been unclear what specific changes Chheng Kim Son planned to implement in the role.

On Sunday, some observers working in the affected areas said the decision to split the Siem Reap cantonment into more manageable jurisdictions was a good move.

“[Forestry officials] will be closer to the ground, and they can communicate faster with each other,” said Srey Naren, the coordinator in Oddar Meanchey for local rights group Adhoc.

“When their main office is in Siem Reap province, officials have to spend more money and more time to get from one place to another. When they stay in one smaller jurisdiction, their effectiveness will be better.”

Srey Naren went on to say that several much-publicised crackdowns on illegal logging across the country appear to be having some effect.

“Logging is still continuing, but it is less than before along the border” with Thailand, he said.

However, he warned that some local government officials are among those profiting from corrupt logging practices. “Local authorities are deforesting a huge portion of the forest area,” he said.

“We are concerned about this. It is reported in meetings, but so far there has been no action to punish these officials.”

Few prosecutions
Court officials in other parts of the country say they are making efforts to prosecute those implicated in illegal logging.

In Ratanakkiri, the provincial court director said Sunday that he had summoned various forestry officials for questioning with regard to roughly 45 illegal logging cases. Lu Susambath said he plans to ask the officials why no arrests have been made in connection with any of the cases.

“We have only seen wood taken as evidence sent to the courthouses, while no wood vendors or businessmen have been arrested,” said Lu Susambath, who declined to name the officials he had called for questioning.

In Preah Vihear province, court officials reported last week that authorities had enacted 20 illegal logging raids so far this year, but that none of the cases had led to prosecutions.

Court officials in Koh Kong last week said they plan to question two forestry officials who are suspected of involvement in an illegal logging operation.

Observers such as Bunra Seng, the country director of the NGO Conservation International, say the crackdowns still appear to be having some effect, even if few prosecutions have resulted from them.

But he also said that authorities need to focus on addressing the fact that a robust consumer demand for illegal timber is helping to drive the covert industry.

“The government has to find a way to reduce or stop market demand” for illegal timber, he said.

“In this case, people find many ways in order to transport the timber because the price is very high.”

Inside Cover: 14 Jun 2010

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 Roger Mitton

BANGKOK – Two recent announcements, though evoking a sense of foreboding, could also inspire a solution to a longstanding curse.

The first announcement, at the start of this month, was that international donors have pledged US$1.1 billion in aid to Cambodia this year.

The second item was an Asian Development Bank survey of 900 bank stakeholders, including bureaucrats, development partners, private businessmen, civil society leaders, journalists and academics.

The survey found that corruption is rated far ahead of all other issues as the most serious threat to development.

That perception is strongest in Southeast Asia, where 68 percent of respondents agreed that “because of corruption, foreign development assistance is mostly wasted”.

My God, that means nearly seven out of 10 bank stakeholders believe most of Cambodia’s $1.1 billion in aid will be lost to corruption. It will end up in the accounts of bent officials and businessmen.

That is why Transparency International’s corruption index lists Cambodia down at number 158 out of 180 countries.

Singapore is number three.

Which inspires an idea: Cambodia should emulate Singapore and bring corruption under state control.

Let me explain. When posted there 20 years ago, I was told Singapore was so efficient you could get your telephone hooked up in 24 hours.

Naturally, when I sought to arrange this and the woman said my line would be activated in three weeks, I was stunned.

“What happened to the 24-hour service?” I spluttered.

She calmly told me I could get connected in one week if I paid a $35 express service fee.

Hang on, I replied. If I’m in “corrupt” Bangkok or Phnom Penh, I can pay $35 under the table and get it connected immediately. What’s the difference?

That is the Singapore system – bring corruption under official administration.

It is brilliant, and it extends right to the top. Ministers have no need to skim 30 percent of contracts that pass over their desk because they receive the highest salaries of any ministers in the world.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gets $2.7 million a year; plain, ordinary ministers get more than $1.8 million.

Singapore thus ensures that its civil service is staffed with the best, and that they are not tempted by illicit backhanders.

Of course, given human nature, even some Singaporean officials transgress – but they are punished severely if caught.

And that is why, although it is laudable that Cambodia’s Anticorruption Law has now been passed, unless and until it is robustly enforced, it will merely be shallow window-dressing.

Now, you may argue that the high ministerial salaries and the myriad fees like those for the express phone service are merely institutionalised corruption.

And you may be right. But the fact is it works. And it could work in Cambodia, too.

Then this year’s $1.1 billion might actually be used to aid the Cambodian people, and not to buy another SUV for the nephew or a holiday in Paris with the girlfriend.

correspondent for Asiaweek and former bureau chief in Washington and Hanoi for The Straits Times. He has covered East Asia for the past 25 years.

Takeo border visit blocked

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana

POLICE in Takeo province on Sunday prevented about 10 members of the Cambodia Watchdog Council from visiting border posts that villagers say have been planted on their farmland, a representative of the group said.

Rong Chhun said the group had been told by Chey Chauk commune police that they needed permission from the government to visit the site.

“None of my members were allowed to see the location where they planted the poles,” he said.

“The police said they had been ordered by high-ranking officials to do this,” Rong Chhun added.

On June 3, 20 Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers and around 100 supporters attempted to visit the same posts, but were confronted in Chey Chauk commune by around 30 provincial and military police and about 50 local residents who prevented them from going farther.

The two sides exchanged words heatedly before the SRP delegation turned back.

Rong Chhun said Sunday that “five or six” commune police had confronted the CWC group, and that he had peacefully accepted their decision not to allow them to see the posts.

“We wanted to see the real situation, and we were sorry that we could not reach the place,” he said.

Tuon Vanhorm, the chief of Chey Chauk commune, said officials there could not allow the group to visit the site without permission “from the government”.

“They entered our territory without informing us, and without any official confirmation from the government at all,” he said.

Takeo provincial Governor Srey Ben said earlier this month that the posts in question were only temporary markers.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, said last week that Cambodian and Vietnamese officials met in Phnom Penh to endorse a plan that will see 185 more border posts put in place by 2012, bringing the total to 375.

Fire victim resettlement plan axed

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A resident of Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak 2 commune, where hundreds of homes were destroyed in a March 8 fire, stands by a stake marking her land soon after the blaze.

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

TUOL Kork district officials have announced the cancellation of a plan to relocate 170 families made homeless by a March 8 fire in Boeung Kak 2 commune, saying they will instead need to rebuild on smaller plots at the site of the blaze.

At a meeting between families and district officials on Friday, Thim Sam An, Tuol Kork’s deputy district governor, said that because an additional 67 families had refused to move, the city had scrapped the relocation altogether. Distribution of replacement plots will begin “soon”, he added.

Until Friday, officials had promised to move 170 families to 5-by-12-metre plots of land in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune.

Meanwhile, the 67 families that refused relocation were told they could rebuild in the commune as long as they accepted smaller plots and left sufficient space for new access roads.

Thim Sam An’s announcement was not well-received by families that had already agreed to leave.

Seang Hai, a representative of the 170 families, said that the authorities should stick to the original relocation plan.

“We have been waiting for three months for the authorities to prepare the relocation site. They should still build infrastructure there and fill in the land, so it can be distributed to us,” she said. “I can’t live at the fire site on such a small plot.”

Sok Heng, another resident, said that before the blaze, her family of eight had lived in a 5-by-7-metre home.

“If the authorities cannot relocate us I must ask to rebuild a house on my old land because we cannot accept only a 3.92-metre by 5.5-metre plot,” she said.

Buth Ngim, a representative of the families that refused to move initially, called for the distribution of plots at the fire site as soon as possible.

“We cannot stay in tent shelters anymore. The roofs are wrecked. If the authorities cannot distribute land to us this month, they must let us build better temporary shelters,” he said.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that the announcement was good for the victims of the fire, since they have been spared the loss of income that has faced many residents evicted to the city’s outskirts.

Govt to launch policy protecting migrant labourers

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 Will Baxter

THE Ministry of Labour will launch a new comprehensive labour migration policy next month as a means of improving the safety of migrant workers and setting up a framework to monitor agencies that recruit Cambodians to work overseas, officials and representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said.

Pracha Vasuprasat, chief technical adviser at the ILO/Japan Project on Managing Cross Border Movement of Labour in Southeast Asia, said Cambodia lacks a concrete framework to regulate migrant labourers, but that the ministry is in the process of formulating a new sub-decree that will be made public next month. He said the sub-decree will focus on improving labour migration governance, the protection of migrant workers and utilisation of the migrant workforce to aid development.

The new policy “will be the first for a country in Southeast Asia”, Pracha said. “It will definitely have impacts on the lives of Cambodian migrant workers, their families and the overall national development goals”.

Cambodia’s current labour migration laws do not contain any mechanisms for monitoring private recruitment agencies and make no provisions for sanctions or fines against agencies found to be responsible for mistreating migrant workers.

“In the new sub-decree, there will be some articles that cover the monitoring of recruitment agencies,” said Chuop Narath, deputy director of the Department of Employment at the Labour Ministry. “They must respect their contract with the ministry; otherwise they could be fined or their licences could be revoked.”

Any companies found guilty of human trafficking, he added, will be punished under the 2008 Anti-Trafficking Law.

Tales of abuse are common among Cambodian migrant workers. In May, a group of eight men returned to Cambodia and reported escaping last year from a fishing vessel on which they had been forced to work like “slaves”. This month, a group of 34 labourers were freed by police from a meat-processing plant in Thailand, where they had been abused by their employers.

Chuop Narath said migrant workers need protection when they are recruited, while they are employed and after they complete their contract and try to “reintegrate” into Cambodia.

“We hope that when the new policy is enforced it will better protect our migrant workers abroad,” he added.

Pair accused of acid plot freed on bail

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

TWO women suspected of plotting an acid attack in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district last week have been released on bail, though they are still being investigated on assault charges, a deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court said Sunday.

Military police arrested Nou Sosineth, 35, and Roeun Mom, 20, on Tuesday, and they were charged with assault on Friday, Heang Sopheak said.

He added that there was insufficient evidence to charge the women – who were in possession of more than a litre of acid at the time of their arrest – in connection with an acid attack plot, despite the fact that one of them reportedly told a military police official last week that they had intended to douse a young woman with acid.

“We have a reason to release the suspects on bail,” Heang Sopheak said. “The suspect did not yet douse the victim, and they have four small children to support, so I discussed the matter with the prosecutor and we decided to release them on bail.”

Thorng Piset, a district military police commander, said last week that Nou Sosineth confessed to planning the attack because she believed the target, a 20-year-old student, was having an affair with her husband.

Nou Sosineth and Roeun Mom began beating the student on Tuesday evening while she was walking alone in Chaktomuk commune. Passersby alerted police after overhearing one of the women order the other to “please bring me acid to pour on her”, Thorng Piset said.

Heang Sopheak said that the women had since determined that the student was “the wrong person”.

“The suspects beat the victim by using shoes, but a bit later the suspects knew that they had beaten the wrong person and said sorry to the victim,” he said, adding that they had also agreed to pay her US$1,500 in compensation.

Chhun Sophea, programme manager for the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said Sunday that the decision to release the two suspects on bail could send the message that laws in Cambodia are “too loose”.

Arrest made in Koh Kong abuse case

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Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear and Khuon Leakhana

A KOH KONG woman accused of beating her 12-year-old stepson was questioned at the provincial court on Friday after her arrest one day earlier, a police official said.

Tat Koynor, the police chief of Khemarak Phoumin town, confirmed Sunday that the woman had been taken into police custody. “This woman did not beat the boy to make him be a good child. She beat him like he was her enemy,” he said.

“I think it is better if this kind of person is sent to prison to make a point that other people should not follow her example.”

The boy’s stepmother forced him to earn money for the family by collecting rubbish and selling the scraps. When he didn’t earn enough money, he was beaten, and when he earned too much, the stepmother also beat him, accusing him of stealing, said Chhin Chamroeun, a provincial monitor for rights group Adhoc.

“It is a good lesson for other mothers not to beat their children seriously,” she said.

Tob Chhun Heng, Koh Kong provincial prosecutor, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district, an Adhoc monitor filed a complaint to police on Tuesday, alleging that a 16-year-old girl has received similar abuse from her aunt since age 10.

“The police, local authorities and I called the girl in so that we could check over her body, and we found more than 20 wounds, both old and new, on her body,” said Sim Sorphea, head of Adhoc’s women’s rights programme in Kampot.

She added that the girl has also been kept from attending school.

Soun Toeng, Lob village police chief, said the girl’s aunt told him she beat the girl “because she did not work quickly enough”. He said that the woman had agreed to cease the beatings, but that he will file a complaint to the provincial court if she mistreats her niece again.

60,000 sign land-dispute petition

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Yin Yan, 77, a resident of Russey Keo district’s Boeung Chhouk village, walks towards her home on Friday. Thirty-five families in the village are facing eviction.

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha and Chhay Channyda

AROUND 60,000 people have thumbprinted a letter calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene and resolve a rash of land disputes that have put their homes, farms and livelihoods at risk, community representatives said.

Seng Sok Heng, who represents communities affected by land conflicts across the country, said that about 300 representatives of different villages plan to march from Wat Phnom to Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh residence on Tuesday to submit their petition.

“We have submitted a letter of request to the Phnom Penh Municipality seeking permission for the peace rally, but we have not yet received information from them,” he said.

He added that villagers involved in land disputes have also urged Surya Subedi, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights, to address the issue in talks with government officials this week. Subedi is focusing on the judiciary during his third mission to Cambodia, a 10-day affair that ends Thursday. “Although we know he is focusing only on judicial reform, land disputes are linked with the judicial system,” Seng Sok Heng said.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for local rights group Adhoc, said Subedi should make sure that the concerns of villagers affected by land disputes are communicated to the government.

“This issue was raised by Mr Surya Subedi in his previous mission, but still we have not seen any improvement,” he said in a statement last week.

“He has to follow up his recommendations and push the government to solve this issue without delay.”

Residents facing eviction in the capital’s Russey Keo district have also issued appeals for Subedi to intervene in their case. On Friday, villagers delivered a written request to the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying they were seeking help to forestall their eviction from land in Boeung Chhouk village, which authorities say is owned by a local businesswoman.

“I want Mr Surya to help us while he is on his mission in Cambodia, to talk with the government about land issues and human rights,” Seng Sna, a village representative, told reporters at the village on Friday.

On May 12, a letter signed by Russey Keo district Governor Khlaing Huot ordered 35 families from Boeung Chhouk to relocate within 14 days, saying they are living on a 163-metre-by-60-metre plot of land owned by businesswoman Lao Tong Ngy. But villagers remain confused, since the letter accuses them of living in Tuol Sangke commune’s Tuol Kork village. Sok Khim, chief of Kilometre 6 commune, on Friday said the families live in his commune.

But Russey Keo district Deputy Governor Koub Sles maintained that they live in Tuol Sangke commune, and that there was “a verdict from the court” granting the land to Lao Tong Ngy.

Villagers said UN officials accepted their petition on Friday, but Tuoch Huan, a spokesman for the UN human rights office, said he was not yet aware of the complaint.

Poor hygeine blamed for M’kiri deaths

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Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

THREE men in Mondulkiri province died on Friday after contracting acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), and five others have been sent to hospital, officials said.

Len Vanna, head of the Keo Seima district council, said another death had been recorded last Wednesday.

He said the five hospitalised patients – including his 39-year-old brother – had been sent to hospital in Vietnam.

“The five other villagers were sent to Vietnam, which is close to the border, including my brother, whose life probably can’t be saved because his situation is very critical,” he said.

The three men who died on Friday were all in their 50s, he said, and added that their illnesses were likely the result of poor hygiene and a lack of sanitation among villagers when consuming food and water.

Meanwhile, officials in Pursat province said Sunday that a separate outbreak of AWD in Koh Andeth district led to the hospitalisation of 24 people, 18 of whom are in critical condition.

Keo Sangphalbon, the director of the referral hospital in Pursat’s Bakan district, said officials there planned to test samples from the deceased.

“We haven’t taken their tests yet, but provincial health officials have been to the place and concluded that it is a serious [type of] diarrhoea which is similar to cholera,” he said.

The latest reports continue an ongoing spate of AWD outbreaks in a handful of provinces across the country, including one that claimed two more lives in Ratanakkiri last week.

Hoy Vannara, head of Ratanakkiri’s Communicable Diseases Control Department, said Sunday that the latest deaths brought the toll for the year to 22 in that province, and that there had been 700 reported cases.

Dr Nima Asgari, public health specialist for the World Health Organization, said Sunday that the government has taken significant steps to curb diarrhoea outbreaks, but noted that there are significant challenges to ensuring the campaign’s success.

“At the moment [the most important thing] is to get the right messages to the write people at the right time and that is always the problem with health campaigns,” he said.

“The government is doing a lot, and when people actually get to health centres, very few die. The problem is making sure they get to the health centres early enough,” he added.

Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Health, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Kiwi lawmaker criticised for spa expenses in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Irwin Loy

A PROMINENT politician in New Zealand is taking heat after racking up hefty expenses on his government credit card, including charges for spa treatments while staying at an upscale hotel in Phnom Penh, according to media reports.

Chris Carter, an opposition parliamentarian and former cabinet minister, tallied a bill of NZ$2,336 – roughly US$1,600 – during a five-night stay at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in 2008, according to The New Zealand Herald.

That sojourn included a “spa treatment” priced at NZ$204 (US$140), which was charged to a ministerial credit card, then reimbursed, the report stated.

Carter, who stayed at the hotel in 2008 when he was a cabinet minister in the former Labour government, told the newspaper he purchased the massage treatments “to help cope with the 40C heat of Phnom Penh”.

The hotel’s in-house spa, Amrita Spa, offers clients a range of relaxation and therapeutic massage services priced between $35 and $60 for 55 minutes, according to staffers there. When asked if there was a service that would help guests adjust to the city’s hot weather, a receptionist who answered the phone Sunday said the spa is offering a special that includes a massage and a choice of coconut, coffee or sesame body scrubs.

“The coconut scrub makes your skin soft and smooth,” said the receptionist, who declined to give her name. “The coffee cleans the skin’s pores.”

Either way, the expense issue appears to have rubbed some in New Zealand the wrong way.

Media reports Sunday suggested that Carter and other politicians facing criticism for their expenses could be demoted to the backbenches.

Carter, New Zealand’s first openly gay cabinet minister, was also quoted in a Herald story Sunday suggesting he was considering leaving his job because he was tired of being portrayed as a “luxury-loving gay boy”.

New dollar sale to boost riel

Photo by: Pha Lina
An ACLEDA ATM offers the choice to withdraw money in riels or dollars Sunday. NBC is selling off seven lots of US$1 million this month.

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

NBC to off-load additional US$7 million to stabilise struggling local currency

AN additional US$7 million will be put up for sale by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) this month in the organisation’s latest attempt to stablilse the value of the riel, it was announced Friday.

Banks, private companies and money lenders will be able to use riel to buy seven separate lots of $1 million from NBC.

Bidding on the first sale begins today with the last sell-off scheduled for June 30, according to an announcement signed by the bank’s Secretary General Sum Saniseth and released Friday.

The intervention, aimed at taking supplies of local currency out of the real economy thereby increasing demand for the devalued riel, follows the sale of $10 million carried out by NBC over the last three weeks.

So far, its attempt to revalue the riel has had a small but positive affect.

According to Ly Hour Exchange, the largest money changer in Phnom Penh, one greenback was worth 4,252 riels Sunday, a slight improvement on the 4,265 riels per dollar recorded a week earlier.

This strengthening interrupts a slide that has seen the riel depreciate to record lows.

Its value has fallen 1.47 percent over the past two months, from 4,190 riels per US dollar in mid-April, according to Ly Hour.

The riel “has gradually begun to appreciate after the central bank’s interventions”, said Sieng Lim, the owner of Ly Hour Exchange, on Sunday.

She believes the riel will stabilise when the harvest season begins in September.

It is the NBC’s policy to intervene when the riel depreciates to more than 4,200 riels per US dollar by dipping into its foreign reserves to buy in riel currency.

As of May, according to NBC data, the bank held $2.5 billion worth of foreign reserves.

According to last year’s annual report, in 2009 the NBC put 32 lots of currency worth $54 million on the market to ensure that the riel remained valued at between 4,000 and 4,200 per US dollar.

Cambodia has an estimated $500 million worth of riels in circulation.

Last week, Kang Chandararot, president of Cambodia Institute for Development Study, praised NBC’s interventions.

He said that the riel’s depreciation was the result of a strengthening US dollar – which has been affected by the weakened euro – and a reduced inflow of dollars into Cambodia through trade and investment.

Tal Nay Im, director general of the NBC, and Secretary Genearl Sum Saniseth did not reply to repeated calls for comment Sunday.

Battambang labourers to demand back pay

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana and Tha Piseth

REPRESENTATIVES of 500 construction workers in Battambang province hired to work for a Chinese hydropower company say they will file a complaint to the provincial court today, claiming their employer owes them more than US$14,000 in back pay.

Local police say the head of the unnamed local sub-contractor, which hired the workers to build 46 electricity poles for the Chinese firm, had disappeared without paying the workers’ salaries.

“The head of the construction escaped as the construction was finished, as it was time to pay the workers,” said Ouk Sovath, chief of the crime unit of the Battambang provincial police. “Local police are now investigating and plan to arrest the head of the [company].”

Yin Mengly, a provincial monitor for local rights group Adhoc, said the group had received word of the case, but was not closely involved in the investigation.

Tourism Ministry applies for coastline award

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Monday, 14 June 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

CAMBODIA has applied for 450km of coastline, stretching from Koh Kong to Kep, to be recognised by an international organisation in a bid to increase visitor numbers, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has told the Post.

At a meeting held in Preah Sihanouk province late last week, the Minister said that the Kingdom has applied for membership to an organisation called the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches Club.

The club was established in Berlin in 1997 and has certified 30 beaches in 22 member countries so far.

Cambodia's application, which was made on April 30 and is backed by the private sector, has been made to support tourism and to provide an ongoing means of income to the local population.

“We hope Cambodia’s beach[es] will be officially recognised as a member of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches Club next year because our coastal area has protected natural resources which are a big attraction,” Thong Khon said.

Club membership “also has the potential to develop the national economy”, he added.

To become a member, a country must fulfill requirements, which include requiring its beach to have projects in place to protect natural resources, be an attractive natural area and have the potential for economic development.

“We will act vigorously to implement environmental protection in all coastal provinces to ensure our beach is a beautiful area for both local and international visitors,” added Environment Minister Mok Mareth.

Government officials met with provincial authorities and business owners in Sihanoukville on Thursday to draft a strategic plan to prevent coastal areas from being polluted.

Thong Khon said the Kingdom’s coastline could become the second-most important attraction for international tourists after Angkor Wat, if it achieved official Club recognition.

Representatives from the beach body are expected to visit Cambodia to examine and evaluate its coastline in November this year.

According to a Ministry of Tourism report, only 7.15 percent of last year's 2.16 million international tourists visited the Kingdom's beaches.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that if Cambodia’s coastline was recognised by the Club, the country would be able to increase tourist numbers by 50 percent over the next five years.

Officials applied for the award following encouragement from the Apsara Authority and UNESCO.

Stock Roundup: Gold reaches a record global high

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Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 Catherine James

ASIAN markets were not spared last week’s global rout after unexpectedly poor US job data and new fears over Hungary’s sovereign debt levels.

Monday saw MSCI Asia Pacific Index slide 3.3 percent, its biggest decline since March 30, 2009, as economists scrambled to re-evaulate forecasts following fears of economic instability, Bloomberg reported.

However, the index recovered 1.2 percent on Friday on the back of a Wall Street rally. The Dow Jones had risen by 2.76 percent on Thursday on news of Japanese economic growth, soaring Chinese exports and falling Australian unemployment.

Gold rose to record levels across the world Friday, reaching US$1,254.50 an ounce in New York, as investors sought a safe alternative to currencies such as the euro.

Gold’s popularity may explain the rapid rise of non-NASDAQ over-the-counter stock Elray Resources, the gold and copper explorer behind Angkor Wat Minerals Ltd, which owns a 100 percent interest in Porphyry Creek – a 90-square-kilometre gold and copper claim around 290 kilometres north of Phnom Penh. The company’s share price rose 263 percent during the week.

It opened on Monday at US$0.033, and closed Friday at $0.12. However, shares remained almost $0.30 off its 52-week high of $0.41.

Australian Stock Exchange-listed Toll Holdings, one of the region’s largest logistics providers, which is currently renovating Cambodia’s railway network, said Monday that it was buying DPAX Group, an independent express air-freight operator, from Qantas Airways.

Although the price remains confidential, Toll said it expected the new business to make AU$30 million (US$25.5 million) in revenue in its first year.

The company opened AU$0.15 lower on Tuesday at AU$5.5 before closing at AU$5.86 – 1.38 percent higher than its Monday open.

Regional telecom company Axiata Group, owner of Cambodia’s Hello brand, solidified operations in Malaysia with a memorandum of understanding signed between its Malaysian subsidiary Celecom Axiata, and DiGi Telecommunications – the Malaysian arm of Norway’s Telenor Group.

Axiata said the MoU was “among the first such collaboration[s] in the world”.

Axiata said the MoU will see the two networks consider “extensive collaboration” of resources, including base station sites and equipment in order to cut costs by cutting “escalating” rental fees, utility bills and transmission costs.

Axiata’s price per share closed Friday at 3.85 ringgit (US$1.17). This was 0.9 ringgit higher than its Monday opening.

Police Blotter: 14 Jun 2010

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 Tha Piseth

Two 12-year-old boys have been accused of raping a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl living in Russey Keo district’s Svay Pak commune after watching pornography late last month. The girl’s parents filed a complaint to the local authorities immediately after finding out that she was raped on May 30. The two perpetrators confessed to police, saying that before raping the girl they watched pornography on a mobile phone. The police released the boys after “giving advice” to them, and said that since they were below the age of 14, they could not be charged. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Two burglars were arrested one day after a gang of 10 broke into a house in Samrong Snou village, in Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district, and terrorised its owners before fleeing from the scene empty-handed. Police said that the group broke into the house immediately after consuming alcohol with their dinner on Thursday. They attempted to stab a man who was in the house using a long knife, but they were unsuccessful and ran away.

A 46-year-old man has recovered after he attempted to hang himself with nylon cord from the roof of a mezzanine in his Prampi Makara district residence. Police said the man, who suffered from regular high blood pressure and had high glucose levels in his urine, had attempted to take his life as a way of escaping from his recurring illnesses. The man was quickly found by his family, who freed him from the wire and took him to Calmette Hospital for treatment.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday issued a citation authorising the detention of a group of three thieves who were seized by villagers on Monday last week after unsuccessfully trying to snatch the bag of a woman travelling along a road in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune. At first, villagers captured only two of the men, but police found the third after the villagers brought the first two to the police station.

Japanese photos capture life in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ News Media

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 Ou Mom

Phnom Penh

THE work of eight young Japanese photographers, depicting everyday life in Cambodia, is on display at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre in Phnom Penh until June 17.

The photographers, all of whom are university students, were part of a Japanese delegation of 10 people – also including two professors – that visited Cambodia from June 3 to 10 under the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths programme.

The 24 photographs on display at the centre, located at the Institute of Foreign Languages on the campus of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, were taken by the students during their stay in Cambodia.

Their tour of the country included visits to “sites related to social, economic and cultural affairs, as well as local communities and Japanese official development assistance projects,” according to a statement released last week by the Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh.

One member of the delegation, photography professor Momose Toshiya from Kyushu Sangyo University, said he had never visited Cambodia before and was happy to see what life was really like in the country.

“Before visiting, I had heard more bad things than good things about Cambodia through the media, but it was a great relief to find that the country is more developed and peaceful than I expected,” he said.

“When I go back to Japan, I will tell everyone all the good things about Cambodia at the festivals where the photos will be displayed,” he said.

According to the embassy statement, “the students will exhibit [their] photos at various events in Japan, including an exhibition at the ASEAN Centre in Tokyo and university festivals” later this year.

The exhibition consists of three photographs from each student. One of the photographers, 19-year-old Tanaka Mayuko from Kyushu Sangyo University, said she was interested in capturing the bright sunlight of Cambodia, as well as different aspects of the country’s modernisation.

“I was really interested in Sorya Shopping Centre because we’ve heard a lot about genocide and traffic accidents in Cambodia, so I didn’t expect to find this kind of supermarket here,” Tanaka said. One of her photos shows the escalators at the shopping centre.

Baba Anomi, 21, from Nihon University, said she was interested in documenting smiling faces, life in the countryside and development in Cambodia “because war ended here only a short time ago”.

“I like to shoot pictures of smiling people because they can express many different feelings with their smiles. I find the smiles of Cambodians are pure, generous and friendly,” she said.

Professor Momose said he thought it was difficult to compare photography in Cambodia and Japan because Cambodia suffers from a lack of university programmes that teach the artform.

“In my observation, in Cambodia photography is used more for business than for the arts. But I have met many Cambodian photographers who are working very hard, so I hope photography will develop quickly in Cambodia,” he said.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

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Archery tourney begins

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

THE 2010 Cambodian National Archery Championship takes flight today at Olympic Stadium. The annual event will see 95 participants from six clubs compete over five days.

Beverage sector leads ad spending

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 Ellie Dyer

THE beverage sector spent the most on advertising in May, shelling out an estimated US$1.3 million on promotion, according to a new survey. Indochina Research Ltd’s (IRL) monthly ad spending poll, released late last week, found the drinks sector to be Cambodia’s highest-spending sector. It pipped spending from telcos, estimated at $900,416, and personal care businesses, measured at $770,609, to take first place. This year, the beverage industry has spent almost $6 million to date on advertising, IRL says.

Promoters must be licenced

Monday, 14 June 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

THE Ministry of Information has called for companies which promote and print advertisements to register their businesses or face legal action. “Some companies have not registered or requested a licence, while others have done so,” said Ouk Prathna, chairman of public billboard committees and the ministry’s secretary of state. An announcement, issued Wednesday and signed by Ouk Prathna, requires all the companies to register by November 30. Ouk Prathna, said that all the companies which don’t comply will face the legal action from the ministry.