Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Wat Botum protest broken up

Photo by: Pha Lina
Villagers from Kampong Cham gather at Wat Botum on Monday

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:01 May Titthara

DAUN Penh district police on Monday removed a group of about 100 Kampong Cham province villagers from the park near Wat Botum, where they had been camped out in a bid to draw attention to a land dispute with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers that has so far led to two arrests.

Chab Then, 35, said police came to his village in Memot district on Friday to inform residents that he and five others would be arrested for living illegally on a 225-hectare section of military-owned land, a move that prompted the protesters to travel to Phnom Penh. He added that the villagers hope to bring a complaint against the police and soldiers directly to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“If I had not come to ask the prime minister for help, I would be facing arrest and violence would happen,” he said. “I will not allow the authorities to arrest me. I have to fight them back.”

The families claim to have lived on the land – which currently holds cassava crops and rubber trees – since 1979, but an August 2007 provincial court decision handed it over to RCAF soldiers in Memot district.

Chres Yok, 53, who was among those gathered at Wat Botum, was arrested on May 12 along with 48-year-old Nang Phuon, who remains behind bars. Both have been called for questioning in connection with a complaint they filed against the RCAF soldiers.

“They use their power to take our land and threaten to arrest us,” Chres Yok said Monday.

Hun Sothy, the Daun Penh district police chief, said the villagers were sent home on Monday afternoon because their presence was creating a disturbance.

Military and court officials in Kampong Cham could not be reached for comment Monday.

Ros Sakhon, deputy governor of Memot district, said he can’t intervene to help the villagers because the land is registered in the name of Hem Khorn, who he said is an RCAF official.

Battambang labourers get $10k compensation

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

A GROUP of 500 construction workers in Battambang province agreed on Monday to accept US$10,000 in compensation from a contractor working for a Chinese hydropower company, representatives said.

At a hearing Monday, Battambang provincial court ordered the Chinese national to pay the money to workers to compensate them for a Cambodian subcontractor who disappeared last week, taking with him around $14,000 in workers’ salaries.

Representative Seng Samy said the labourers had agreed to accept the amount ordered by the court, despite its being lower than the total amount owed by the contractor.

“Even though we can’t get the full amount of our wages, we are happy to accept this payment because it is better than nothing,” he said.

Sok Pheap, another workers’ representative, said a Pursat-based Chinese hydropower company contracted a Chinese man named Siv Leng to construct 46 electricity poles linking Battambang town with Koh Kralor district.

He in turn subcontracted a Cambodian named Eung Chhun Leng to recruit Cambodian workers to construct the poles, but Eung Chhun Leng then cashed out the money and escaped, he said.

Siv Leng was arrested on Thursday after Eung Chhun Leng’s disappearance, but was freed on Monday after promising to compensate the workers. The police are still on the hunt for Eung Chhun Leng.

City Hall nixes ‘peace march’ to PM’s house

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

CITY Hall has rejected a request to hold a march today to draw attention to land disputes, the UN human rights office said.

On Sunday, Sen Sok Heng, who represents communities affected by land disputes across the country, said around 300 representatives planned to march from Wat Phnom to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in order to deliver a petition bearing the thumbprints of 60,000 villagers affected by land disputes.

But in a statement issued Monday, the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said permission for the march had been denied “without any reasons or justification”.

“We strongly regret the negative response by the Municipality,” UNOHCHR country representative Christophe Peschoux said in the statement.

“It is regrettable that the Municipality did not provide reasons for prohibiting the march or provide alternatives to the group.”

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment Monday. Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said he was not aware of the march and referred questions to Nuon Someth, chief of the Municipal Cabinet, who also could not be contacted.

PM’s lawyer to pressure court on Mu Sochua

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

A LAWYER for Prime Minister Hun Sen plans to submit a request to Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials today for the speedy collection of 8 million riels (US$1,904) owed by opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua in connection with a defamation case involving his client.

On June 2, the Supreme Court upheld the Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker’s defamation conviction, handed down by the Municipal Court last August, as well as an order that she pay 8 million riels in compensation and 8.5 million riels (US$2,023) in fines.

The Appeal Court upheld the Municipal Court ruling last October.

Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s lawyer, said the Supreme Court delivered its verdict to the Municipal Court on Monday, and that he plans to submit his request today.

The fine of 8.5 million riels, he said, is owed to the state, so the court can collect it whenever it wishes.

But because the compensation payment is intended for his client, he said, he has the right to ask that it be paid immediately.

“Since I am representing Samdech Prime Minister, I will make a request to prosecutors to demand the 8 million riels in compensation for mental damages,” Ky Tech said.

Mu Sochua was originally accused of defaming the prime minister after she filed her own defamation lawsuit against him, following remarks he made in a speech in April last year.

When contacted on Monday, Mu Sochua said she would wait to see what action the court takes, but echoed previous statements expressing her refusal to pay either the fine or compensation.

“My stance will not be changed. If I do not pay, I have already read the law, and I will not be imprisoned at once,” she said.

“I want to see whether the court follows Ky Tech or follows the law.”

Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutors Yet Chakriya and Sok Roeun, who are in charge of processing Mu Sochua’s case, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Korea seeks out investment

Photo by: Pha Lina
Workers process clothes at the Korean-owned Injae Garment factory in Tuol Sangke, Russey Keo district, in March.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

Delegation checks out garments, IT and telecoms for business opportunities

SOUTH Korean business leaders are looking to invest in Cambodia’s garment, telecommunication and information technology sectors, an official from the ASEAN-Korean Centre said Monday.

Representatives from 11 communication and technology companies – including multinational electronics giant LG – and three garment manufacturers are touring Phnom Penh to seek out potential investment deals.

According to the ASEAN-Korea Centre’s director of development planning and general affairs, Jae-hyun Cho, representatives hope to invest in their respective sectors.

At a Monday press briefing, held at the capital’s Sunway Hotel, he said: “The mission is focused on IT services and the garment industry in particular. It is aimed at providing opportunities for the investors to better understand these industries and to explore investment opportunities in Cambodia.”

South Korean business representatives who spoke to the Post pointed to a potential transfer of garment production to Cambodia from bases in China, in order to benefit from the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, which came into force in January.

Lim Jae Hyun, general manager of the production business team at In The F Co Ltd, a Korean fashion design firm, said he was impressed with the investment climate in Cambodia’s garment sector.

“Currently, our garment sourcing is in China, so this is an opportunity to possibly transfer from China to ASEAN countries, particularly Cambodia,” he said, and added that both labour costs and tariffs are on the rise in China.

He also pointed to a slowdown in the Chinese garment sector as the country shifts towards electronics manufacturing as a reason for his exploration into opportunities in the Kingdom.

However, he said the firm still needs to study the labour skills available and quality of production in Cambodia before making an investment.

Representatives from international electronics firm LG also confirmed it is eyeing the Cambodian market.

Huh Youngmahn, general manager of strategy and marketing unit at LG CNS Co Ltd, said he was investigating whether to build a data-management centre in the country. He also highlighted investment potential in national passport or immigration-control measures.

“It is still early to reveal the detail of any investment opportunities, but this is the starting point,” he said.

The delegation will meet with officials from both the private and public sector, Jae-hyun Cho said.

The business representatives are visiting the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, the Commerce ministry, as well as the Garment Manufacturing Association of Cambodia and a handful of IT and telco companies.

Ki Bong Moon, ASEAN-Korea Centre’s trade and investment manager, said the mission was also a chance for the Koreans to share experiences with local companies.

Trade volume between Cambodia and South Korea has almost doubled in the last five years from $150 million in 2005 to $291 million last year, according to Jae-hyun Cho.

Korean investment to Cambodia has also risen sharply from $111 million in 2005 to around $1.6 billion in 2009.

South Korea has emerged as the second-largest investor in Cambodia after China.

The delegation will leave Cambodia today for Myanmar.

Police Blotter: 15 Jun 2010

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Tha Piseth

A 21-year-old man was arrested on Friday after he allegedly struck a passing car while riding on his motorbike. Police said the traffic kerfuffle happened in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district. Witnesses at the scene said the motorbike driver somehow lost control of his machine and sideswiped the passing car, breaking off a side mirror in the process. The man has been brought to a local police station for questioning.

Two men were found dead in a pond full of wastewater in Siem Reap province Saturday. Police investigators said the two men, ages 32 and 33, were drunk when they drove a motorbike into the filthy pond. The families of the two men reportedly brought them to the local pagoda for a traditional funeral ceremony.

A 30-year-old clerk from Preah Sihanouk province is on the run after being accused of beating an acquaintance. Police said the man threatened his victim with a gun and ended up causing him serious injuries in a beating on Saturday. The victim, a 21-year-old man, told police that he knew his assailant, but that he did not know what prompted the brutal lashing. He said the clerk brought him to a room and started beating him without any provocation. Police have identified the suspect and are searching for him.

The body of a 39-year-old man has been found hanging from a tree near his village in Preah Sihanouk province, police reported. The man’s wife said her husband, who she believed had serious mental problems, had for some time thought of ending his own life. On Friday, she said, her husband had been drinking with friends in the village. Unfortunately, the next day, his body was found hanging from the tree.

The mother of a 20-year-old woman said her daughter was found in distress Friday, twisting her body around and writhing in pain after she returned from hospital. The Pursat province woman said she had just brought her daughter home from a round of treatment that included medicine for what was described as a mental disorder. The mother promptly took her back to hospital.

Don't blame it on the ball flight, blame it on the vuvu

A supporter of South African blows a vuvuzela as hundreds of colourful fans descend on the Fanfest in Durban to watch the World Cup opening match Friday. AFP

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Mark Bibby Jackson

A few days into the tournament and they are already flying around faster than names into a Mexican referee’s book. Excuses, that is, not tackles. The pre-tournament cop-out favourite was the ball. The latest model was denounced by all members of the goalkeeper’s union prior to the opening ceremony. Apparently it is “too round.”

Despite persistent leading questions, England’s keeper refused to blame his Saturday night horror show on the ball, holding his hands up to say that the goal was his and not the ball’s fault. Green was randomly tested for performance-enhancing drugs after the game. Needless to say the tests proved negative.

Apparently it is not the ball that’s to blame for the mediocre football meted out so far but South Africa’s musical horn, the vuvuzela.

Making a sound like a swarm of bees on acid, the “vuvu” has been roundly criticised by goalkeepers and non-goalkeepers alike. The Serbian players blamed their loss against Ghana on not being able to hear their fans due to the incessant hum, rather than due to giving away a needless penalty. If they carry on playing like they did against the impressive Africans, the Serbs might be tempted to take vuvus on the plane back home with them to drown out the hostile reception on arrival.

The Vuvus’ impact on the tournament to date has caused defenders to have sleepless nights. French left-back Patrice Evra put his team’s somnambulistic performance against the Uruguayans down to Vuvus waking them up at 6am. Clearly “just having an early night before the big match” doesn’t translate too well into French. Rumours that a group of Irish fans have stationed themselves outside the French team’s hotel with horn in hand each night in retaliation for Henry’s handball exploits have been strenuously denied by the Irish FA.

Vuvus might even end up being banned from stadiums according to World Cup supremo Danny Jordaan. Taking into account the speed that FIFA normally acts, the ban should come into effect some time towards the middle of the third millennium shortly before video technology is employed.

Maybe the French should take a leaf out of Ghana’s book and check out of their hotel. The Black Stars swapped their Pretoria hotel for one in Sun City prior to the Serbia clash, citing “unresolved technical issues”. Sun City is the gambling capital of the Rainbow Nation.

Letting their football do the talking on the pitch, the Germans had scant hearing problems during their 4-0 demolition of the hapless Australians. They proved yet again that the best way of drowning out the opposition’s fans is by playing their team off the park rather than relying on vuvus. At least the sorry Serbians, Germany’s next opponents, now have a genuine excuse for not getting any sleep ahead of their clash.

New casino set for Bavet

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

Proposed development to include flats, villas, hotels, malls and banks

CONSTRUCTION of a new US$4 million casino will begin next month on Cambodia’s border with Vietnam as investors bank on a growing gambling sector after the global financial crisis, officials said Monday.

Hong Kong-based Borey Samsoun Company plans to begin building a new gambling centre in Bavet town, Svay Rieng province, in July.

The Samsoun Casino and Resort will be located on 10 hectares of land, 1 kilometre from the Vietnamese border.

The proposed development includes flats, villas, hotels, shopping malls, banks and business centres and is expected to take three years to complete.

The firm intends to sell or rent the casino, marketed to the Chinese and Vietnamese, once it is complete.

“We will break ground for the casino in July after we finish a 172-unit housing project this month. Hopefully, the recovering economy will attract more clients to come,” said Chun Kheang, assistant to the Borey Samsoun's managing director.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s chief of Casino Management Chrun Theravath said Monday that although there have been signs of recovery in the sector, many firms are waiting for further signs of revival before beginning construction on planned developments.

“Some companies have already asked for licences but have yet to start operating,” he said.

Casinos in Cambodia’s border areas had seen profits slump in the wake of the financial downturn, he said, with one casino entering bankruptcy in Poipet and two more going under in Bavet.

He added there are 27 licenced casinos presently operating in Cambodia.

Two new casinos have already opened their doors in the Kingdom this year, with $100 million Titan King Resort and Casino beginning operation in Bavet City and the Top Diamond Casino launching in Kirivong district, Takeo province.

Last week, AFP reported that gambling industry experts believe Asia's gaming market is set to overtake the US.

Macau has already leapfrogged Las Vegas in gaming revenue and posts record-breaking growth, and Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations are building up their gambling sectors to cash in on its exploding popularity.

A recent survey of industry experts concluded that US casino revenue would be eclipsed by Asia in three to five years.

“The prospects for gaming in Asia are exciting, as there are many different roads growth and expansion could take,” stated Frank Fahrenkopf, head of the American Gaming Association, in a statement.

Macau’s gaming sales soared 95 percent year-on-year in May to 17 billion patacas ($2.1 billion), according to Hong Kong brokerage CLSA.

Garment investment approvals on the rise

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

ALL four investments approved by the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC) in May are within the garment industry, signalling the return of investor confidence in the sector, according to the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC).

The value of CDC-approved investment projects in the Kingdom totalled US$18.67 million last month, a 61.3 percent increase on 2009’s May total of $11.57 million, according statistics released to the Post on Monday.

Duy Thov, deputy secretary general of the CDC, said May’s approved projects all involved the construction of new garment factories and were funded by firms from Taiwan, South Korea, China and Thailand.

GMAC senior officer Cheat Khemara welcomed the data on Monday, stating that the health of the garment sector had improved in comparison to last year.

He said that more factories are now in operation, and that more clothes are being produced. He said he expects investment in the industry to continue to rise. “I believe that Cambodia will receive more investment in the garment sector in the future,” he said.

According the data, the largest scheme approved by CDC came from Taiwan which put forward a projected investment of $11.9 million.

“We hope that Cambodia will receive more investment projects in the future because the world’s economy, which had fallen into crisis, is now back to better shape,” Duy Thov added.

According CDC statistics, $45.63 million worth of investment has been approved for the garment sector over the first five months of 2010.

However, inflows are varied: $2 million in January, $4.35 million in February, $11.09 million in March, $9.52 million in April, and $18.67 million in May.

Mfone eschews pricing war

Photo by: Sovan Philong
An Mfone representative helps a customer with a new Serenade Mekong SIM card Monday at the company's head office on Monivong Boulevard.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

Mobile firm plans to target specific sectors of the marketplace

MOBILE provider Mfone has changed its strategy to target specific sectors of Cambodia’s population this quarter, rather than entering a telecommunications price war, its CEO said Monday.

Adisai Soonthornratanarak told the Post that the decision to move away from competing solely on price was made in the second quarter of 2010, following the implementation of a government prakas, or edict, which set minimum levels for tariff plans last year.

Admitting that the company “struggled” in the wake of government regulations, he said the firm has now rethought its approach to competing in the Kingdom’s crowded mobile sector.

“The price war is going nowhere. Even now, no one is admitting they lose money, but most of us do. If we just jump into the price war, we don’t know where it will end,” he said.

“Differentiating yourself is the key to success. We believe people have different lifestyles, different roles in life,” he added.

Mfone is now tailoring SIM packages to different segments of society. On Saturday, the company announced the soft launch of a new SIM card.

The Serenade Mekong SIM offers a flat rate of US$0.18 a minute for travellers roaming through Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand through agreements with other companies owned by parent firm Thaicom.

Marketed towards businessmen, it is slated to become available later this month. Mfone hopes to attract 50,000 customers to the premium SIM by the end of the year.Mfone has previously released a SIM focused on Cambodia’s 100,000-strong ethnic Chinese community and seperate SIMs targeted at teens and rural people.

“If we do this well, we can reach target of over a million subscribers by the end of the year,” the CEO said.

Mfone’s Cambodian subscriber base fell 28 percent for the first quarter of this year, compared to 2009, according to May statistics issued by majority owner Thaicom. Mfone lost US$1.01 million operating in the Kingdom during the first three months this year, compared to a $3.14 million profit for the same period in 2009, according to Thaicom.

Government figures released in May estimated that Mfone is Cambodia’s fourth-largest mobile provider by subscriber base.

Khon Reach upsets Pich Arun to win CTN welterweight title

Khon Reach (left) kept Puch Arun at a distance in the fifth round of their CTN welterweight championship final Sunday to clinch a decision victory.

Khon Reach receives his welterweight belt after beating Pich Arun in the final at CTN boxing arena Sunday.
Photos by: Robert Starkweather

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Robert Starkweather

Khon Reach ended Pich Arun’s winning streak, upsetting the odds makers and beating the hard-kicking Battambang southpaw, to claim the 65kg belt

KHON Reach and Pich Arun had more than 200 fights between them when they climbed into the ring Sunday at the CTN boxing arena to square off for the vacant welterweight title.

However, Pich Arun had claimed nearly all of them. With 170 fights, or so, the veteran from Bavel district, Battambang, entered Sunday’s title bout with more than a decade of professional ring time behind him.

But under the sweltering afternoon heat, experience gave way to youth. And Khon Reach, the quiet 20-year-old from a neighbouring Battambang district, staked an early lead on big knees and cracking elbows, then cruised through the final two rounds to upset the odds makers and win the 65-kilogram title.

The title bout concluded an 8-man tournament that began in March with Cheam Adam, Heng Samrang, Chea Samneang, Ai Kosal, Ty Bunhan, Him Saran, Khon Reach and Pich Arun.

Pich Arun was undefeated in four tournament bouts heading in for Sunday’s title bid. Khon Reach had lost only once, to Pich Arun.

Typically a slow starter, Pich Arun let the first two rounds slip away to a busier Khon Reach, who landed a skull-jarring uppercut in the first round and several elbows in the second to take the early lead.

In complete control in the third, Khon Reach protected his lead with flush, step-up knees and elbows to the face.

Pich Arun began moving with a sense of urgency in the fourth, stalking Khon Reach around with ring with hard roundhouse kicks and punches, likely winning the round.

But by then, only a knockout could alter the outcome, and Khon Reach knew it. He kept Pich Arun away with front kicks in the fifth, occasional landing a well-placed elbow or kick.

Khon Reach dropped to his knees and prostrated to the judges table when ring announcer Lao Vuthy announced the decision, then jumped to his feet and snapped a smart salute.

Ty Bunhan KOs Him Saran in fourth
In the co-feature, Ty Bunhan stopped Him Saran in the fourth to clinch third place in the tournament.

Ty Bunhan, 25, badly hurt Him Saran, 24, with two elbows in the opening seconds of round four, then chased him into the neutral corner with a series of devastating punches to the face.

Referee Sok Vichay intervened with what appeared would be a standing 8-count, but instead restarted the two fighters at centre ring.

Ty Bunhan blasted a dazed Him Saran with an overhand right, sending him drunkenly into the ropes, then kicked him in the head as he slid to the canvas.

For his losing effort, Him Saran, from Prey Veng, received 600,000 riels (US$143) and a new 14-inch color television. Ty Bunhan won one million riels, and also a 14-inch color television.

Khon Reach, the first place finisher, collected the keys to a new motorbike and 4.5 million riels. Pich Arun, who took second place, went home with a 21-inch JVC television and one million riels.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

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Labour Strife: Report finds repression of unionists

Tuesday, 15 June 2010 13:15 Brook Lewis

Labour Strife

Law enforcement officials frequently resort to violence when trying to prevent strikes and labour demonstrations, and employers are rarely prosecuted for anti-union policies, according to a new study. “In many factories, trade unionists continue to face repression of all kinds, including death threats, dismissals, blacklisting, false accusations to bring them before the courts, wage deductions and exclusion from promotion,” states the report, published Wednesday by the International Trade Union Confederation. Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said he had not yet read the ITUC report, but noted that a report from the International Labour Organisation, based on research conducted last year, had “clearly shown that unionised workers in garment factories received better benefits than other workers”. He said he did not believe violence was typically used to break up strikes or demonstrations, and that employers were often merely seeking to protect company property. Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, could not be reached for comment.

First beer made by Kingdom Breweries

Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

KINGDOM Breweries Ltd produced its first test batches of beer in Phnom Penh last week and plans to enjoy the results in four weeks’ time. CEO Peter Brongers said Sunday that three batches of pilsner will undergo taste-testing early next month. One batch is slated to provide the final recipe for its first Cambodian beer. “It’s simply a matter of tweaking the ingredients until we get it right,” Kingdom’s German brewmaster Peter Haupenthal said. KBL will eventually brew at least two more products, including a dark lager. The US$4 million brewery is 55.5 percent owned by Leopard Capital.

Thai fair aims to boost exports to Kingdom

Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

THE Thai Trade Fair kicks off Thursday in a four-day bid to boost exports to Cambodia, after fallout from Preah Vihear border clashes and the global economic crisis hit trade last year, Embassy of Thailand Foreign Trade Promotion director Jiranan Wongmongkol said Monday. Some 200 companies have confirmed their attendance at the event, to be held on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island.

Int'l delegations to arrive in Cambodia

Tuesday, 15 June 2010 15:00 Catherine James

AN Australian-New Zealand delegation is set to arrive in Cambodia today, with the backing of their respective governments, to assess development projects for partnerships and seek business clients, according to the Australian Trade Commission. Around 10 companies from the two countries will attend a showcase seminar on Thursday where Cambodian officials and business representatives will provide a snapshot of the Kingdom’s operating environment. American firms are also currently in the Kingdom as part of a US-ASEAN Business Council delegation.

Michelle Obama Asked for Humanitarian Visas for Cuban Wives


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Jun 14 (Prensa Latina) The only Cuban living in Cambodia asked Michelle Obama on Monday to intercede as a wife and mother for the relatives of five Cuban prisoners in the United States.

Osleidys Hernandez sent a letter to the US First Lady asking for her humanitarian intervention to allow Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva to visit their husbands in prison.

Demands for humanitarian visas for the wives of Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez have been supported by institutions like the World Council of Churches, among others.

The US government is violating the legal and human rights of Perez and Salanueva by considering them as threats to national security.

Based in Cambodia for years, Osleidys Hernández invoked Michelle Obama's status as a daughter, mother and wife, in a letter provided to Prensa Latina by diplomatic sources.

"You can understand how painful it is to be separated by force from our loved ones and how frustrating it is not to give them a sentence of consolation, a tender look or a touch of love," wrote Hernandez.

The International Commission for the Right to Family Visits wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, demanding such visas.

Cuban groups living abroad are also defending the right of these wives to see Hernandez and Gonzalez, who, along with Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Ramon Laba├▒ino, have spent a decade in US jails after thwarting terrorist actions against Cuba.

By: Glenda pardo

VN auditors meet Lao, Cambodian counterparts

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Leaders of state audit agencies of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on June 14, discussing the role played by state audit in public sector management.

The Vietnamese delegation was headed by State Auditor General Vuong Dinh Hue, while the Lao delegation was headed by Amphonnary Keola, Deputy President of the Lao State Auditing Agency, and the Cambodian delegation, by Uth Chhorn, General Auditor of the Cambodian National Auditing Agency.

They briefed each other about their works and advantages as well as challenges. They also shared experiences in state auditing, which have helped their respective governments in successfully implementing economic strategies.

The senior auditors discussed measures to boost cooperation in sharing professional experiences and personnel training.

Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese chief auditor Hue expressed his hope that cooperation between state audit agencies of three countries would be tightened. He also said Vietnam will exert more efforts to help audit agencies of Laos and Cambodia to raise their capacity.

Vietnam Plus

The Global Sex Trafficking Crisis, How the U.S. Stacks Up

Vietnamese sex workers wait for clients in Cambodia. Human trafficking extends to the U.S. (Photo: Chor Sokunthea/Reuters)


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For the first time, the U.S. is among the destination countries listed in the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report is an annual review of global efforts to fight human and sex trafficking. While the U.S. isn't among the nations that are listed as the worst offenders, the State Department recognizes that the U.S. has "a serious problem with human trafficking for both labor and commercial sexual exploitation."

Thirteen countries stack up as the worst, and are, according to the Associated Press, at risk of U.S. penalty. Among the offenders are North Korea, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Of 175 countries on the list, 58—including Russia, India and Lebanon—are on the "watch list."

The U.S. is listed among countries doing their best to comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a U.S. law.

Dan Rather recently reported in the Huffington Post that the child sex business in the U.S., "is booming. One of the worst areas for it runs roughly from Seattle to Portland, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Las Vegas. But no place in the country is immune."

Rather was shocked to learn of "Eighty-year-old men paying a premium to violate teenage girls, sometimes supplied by former drug gangs now into child sex trafficking."

Reported by Voices of America, Tim Whittman at the FBI states that 20 percent of the U.S. sex trafficking cases involve victims from Mexico. A common threat given to them is: "If you leave, I'm going to report you to immigration and you'll be arrested. You'll be kept in prison for a long time."

Ohio is another hub for sex trafficking. About 1,000 American-born children are forced into the sex trade annually, and about 800 immigrants are sexually exploited.

Regardless of the rank or location, human trafficking is a serious global problem. In 2009, 12.3 million humans were victims of trafficking. There were only 4,166 successful trafficking prosecutions and 335 successful prosecutions related to forced labor.

People Losing Land and Housing Plan to Protest in Front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Monday, 14.6.2010


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Posted on 15 June 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights activists said that many citizens who have land disputes and suffer from evictions without proper compensation plan to come from provinces and cities to protest and to express their difficulties to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, on Monday, 14 June 2010.

“The UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, is on a 10 days mission in Cambodia, starting from 8 June 2010. Mr. Surya did not intend to take up land disputes and the evictions of citizens as important topics to discuss them with the head of the Cambodian government. He mentioned only the judicial reform as the subject to be discussed, to find solutions during his third visit to Cambodia.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Uoch Leng, said that on 14 June 2010, many citizens who are victims of land disputes in several provinces and cities will come to protest in front of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia at House Number 4, Street 302, Boeng Keng Kang I commune, Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh.

“This activist said that the protest aims to express the difficulties of citizens losing land due to the activities of the rich and of the powerful, and due to the provision of economic concession land to private companies, which affect and make citizens lose the land on which they depend for their lives.

“Mr. Uoch Leng added that on 14 June 2010, there will be citizens from the Kompong Tralach district in Kompong Chhnang, the Kandal Stung district from Kandal, the Chi Kraeng district from Siem Reap, the Romeas Haek district from Svay Rieng, the Thpong and Oral districts from Kompong Speu, and the Srae Ambel district from Koh Kong, citizens from the Boeng Kak Lake area in Phnom Penh, and some other citizens involved in land disputes.

“According to ADHOC, since early 2010, 42 citizens were jailed over land disputes at different provinces and cities. 187 citizens were accused by courts relating to land disputes with private companies, officials, and the rich, such as in Svay Rieng, Takeo, Siem Reap, Kampot, Preah Vihear, Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu, Battambang, and Oddar Meanchey.

“About 150,000 citizens have been evicted from their homes on the basis of not transparent decisions by the courts.

“Regarding the plan of citizens from different areas to protest, an advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, considers that officials of some non-government organizations which tend towards the opposition, take the opportunity to benefit from the visit of Mr. Surya.

“Mr. Tith Sothea, an adviser of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, added that those organizations encourage the UN human rights Special Rapporteur to solve land disputes so that they can apply for more international funds for their own organizations.

“Mr. Tith Sothea said the government is conducting reforms on land disputes, and the concessions of many companies had been withdrawn by the Royal Government after it became obvious that there was no development. He added that the plan of citizens from provinces and cities to protest on Monday, 14 June 2010, is within their rights, and their demonstration will not be prohibited by the authorities.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 18, #5223, 13-14.6.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 14 June 2010

Nine Cambodians arrested for gambling on World Cup


via Khmer NZ News Media

Jun 15, 2010

Phnom Penh - Police arrested nine people for illegal gambling on the World Cup, local media reported Tuesday.

Eight men and one woman were held for 24 hours but released Monday without charge, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported, because the arrests had come early in the tournament.

'But if they commit illegal betting again, the court will charge them,' said Kao Ratana, the deputy police chief of Preah Sihanouk province in southern Cambodia.

Kao Ratana said police had seized notebooks listing wagers of up to 30 dollars at a time.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated a ban on all forms of gambling that was introduced last year, and specifically warned people against betting on the football World Cup.

Residents of Phnom Penh told the newspaper they have set up online betting accounts in order to circumvent the ban.

A single nest in Cambodia produces a bumper crop of rare crocodiles

This Siamese crocodile, which lives in a remote section of Cambodia, is part of a species that has greatly declined over the past century. (Fauna And Flora International Via Associated Press)

via Khmer NZ News Media

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Conservationists in Cambodia are celebrating the hatching of a clutch of eggs from one of the world's most critically endangered animals. Thirteen baby Siamese crocodiles recently crawled out of their shells in a remote part of southwestern Cambodia, following a weeks-long vigil by researchers who found them in the jungle.

Experts believe as few as 250 Siamese crocodiles are left in the wild, almost all of them in Cambodia but with a few spread among Laos, Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam and possibly Thailand. The crocodile has suffered a massive decline over the past century because of high demand for its soft skin. Commercial breeders also brought them to stock farms where they crossed them with larger types of crocodile, producing hybrids that further reduced numbers of the pure Siamese. In 1992 it was declared "effectively extinct in the wild" before being rediscovered in a remote area of Cambodia eight years later.

The nest, with 22 eggs inside, was discovered in the isolated Areng Valley. Volunteers from Fauna and Flora International, a United Kingdom-based organization for which conservation of this once-abundant species is a key program, removed 15 of the eggs to a safe site and incubated them in a compost heap to replicate the original nest. They left seven behind because they appeared to be unfertilized.

In early June the crocodiles began calling from inside the shells, a sure sign they were about to hatch. Within hours 10 emerged -- and a further surprise was in store. Three of the eggs left behind at the original nest also hatched. A field coordinator, Sam Han, discovered the squawking baby crocodiles when he went to recover an automated camera from the site. "When I first saw the baby crocodiles, they stayed and swam together near the near site," he said. "They were looking for their mother," which eventually returned.

The reptiles are being kept in a water-filled pen in a local village in the jungle-covered mountain range. The indigenous Chouerng people who live there revere crocodiles and consider it taboo to harm them. It's likely they'll be looked after for a year before being released into the wild. But the euphoria is tempered by hard-edged reality. This part of the Areng Valley has been earmarked for a major hydropower project. The conservation group is looking for areas of similar habitat for when the time comes to release the juveniles.

Siamese crocodiles take 15 years to reach sexual maturity.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Visits Cambodia for the First Time


via Khmer NZ News Media

Posted: 06.14.2010

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - At the invitation of the Government of Cambodia, the hospital ship USNS Mercy and JDS Kunisaki have arrived in Cambodia June 15 to visit Cambodia and cooperate with the Cambodian government on medical, dental, and engineering projects as a part of Pacific Partnership 2010.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships and increasing interoperability with host nations, partner nations, U.S. interagency groups, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

Pacific Partnership 2010 brings together military medical and engineering professionals from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Medical personnel from Cambodia will work with the PP10 team to provide medical care in partnership with their American and international counterparts.

Pacific Partnership 2010 participants for this visit also include volunteers from the non-governmental organizations East Meets West Foundation, International Relief Teams, Latter-day Saint Charities, Operation Smile, Project Hope, Vets Without Borders, World Vets, and University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society. In addition, Japanese NGO composition consists of HUMA, Civic Force, Operation UNIES, and Peace Winds Japan.

During the visit to Sihanouk province from June 15 - 28, the Pacific Partnership team will conduct surgery aboard Mercy, as well as numerous medical, dental, engineering, and veterinary civic action programs ashore. In addition to Sihanouk province, PP10 teams will be providing assistance in other provinces, specifically in the provinces of Ratanakiri, Kampong Cham, Kampong Spue, and Kampot. Engineers will be drilling three wells, one in Kandal province and two in Takeo province. The Pacific Fleet Band will give public musical performances in Sihanoukville.

One of Mercy’s primary missions is to provide mobile surgical hospital services for use in disaster or humanitarian relief missions and other peacetime operations. Mercy is currently deployed from its homeport of San Diego, Calif., and has been configured with special medical equipment and a multiple-specialty medical team of uniformed and civilian health care providers to provide a range of services both afloat and ashore during this deployment.

US puts Singapore, Thailand on human trafficking watch list

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called human trafficking a "terrible crime" as she presented the State Department's annual report on the issue in Washington, DC on June 14, 2010. The United States has put allies Singapore and Thailand as well as Vietnam on a human trafficking watch list, accusing them of failing to prevent women from being forced into prostitution.

A man hugs his son at a children's welfare centre in southwest China's Guizhou province after police rescued the boy, and dozens of other children, from human traffickers. China has remained on a US-compiled human trafficking watch list, unchanged from a year earlier.
A woman walks past a giant anti-human trafficking campaign poster displayed at an Immigration Bureau in Bangkok. A US report has estimated that 12.3 million people were the victims of trafficking in 2009-2010, including many women forced into prostitution.

Luis CdeBaca, pictured at a human trafficking event in New York, has said that Pakistan "has dramatically increased the number of convictions and prosecutions for human trafficking, undertaking creative efforts to prevent bonded labor".

via Khmer NZ News Media

By Shaun Tandon (AFP)

WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday put allies Singapore and Thailand as well as Vietnam on a human trafficking watch list, accusing them of failing to prevent women from being forced into prostitution.

The move opens the way for the United States to cut off some civilian assistance, although it usually functions as a symbolic means to pressure countries to take action.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has made women's and children's rights a signature issue, called human trafficking a "terrible crime" as she presented the State Department's annual report.

"All of us have a responsibility to bring this practice to an end," she said.

The report estimated that 12.3 million people were the victims of trafficking in 2009-2010, although it said there has been progress in the past decade.

The State Department added a number of Asian nations to its watch list -- Afghanistan, Brunei, Laos, Maldives, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Bangladesh, China, India, Micronesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka remained on the list, unchanged from a year earlier.

North Korea, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea remained at the bottom level of countries that do not even meet the minimum standards on human trafficking.

Explaining the downgrade for Singapore, the report said that some women from China, the Philippines and Thailand are tricked into coming to the city-state with promises of legitimate employment and coerced into the sex trade.

The report said that while Singapore launched "some significant new steps" against trafficking, there were no "quantifiable indicators" that the government was identifying more victims or prosecuting more culprits.

The State Department said that Thailand was a source, destination and transit point for trafficking, with ethnic minorities and citizens of neighboring countries at particular risk of sexual abuse or forced labor.

Senator Jim Webb, who heads the Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia, had made an unusually open appeal not to place Thailand on the watch list.

Webb visited Bangkok this month and said US embassy staff disagreed with the intended downgrade as it could curb assistance for democracy and human rights programs in the wake of the kingdom's political violence.

The downgrade occurs "at a time when this type of aide is desperately needed to bolster political reforms in Thailand and to promote political stability," Webb said last week in a letter to Clinton.

The State Department recognized improvements in Pakistan, which was taken off the watch list, and Malaysia, which was on the list but removed from the lowest category of countries that do not meet minimum standards.

Pakistan "has dramatically increased the number of convictions and prosecutions for human trafficking, undertaking creative efforts to prevent bonded labor," Luis CdeBaca, the US envoy on human trafficking, told reporters.

Malaysian authorities "have acknowledged and begun to tackle their serious human trafficking problem, including intensified engagement with foreign governments," CdeBaca said.

From other regions, Cuba, Iran and Saudi Arabia remained in the rock-bottom category and the Dominican Republic was newly added.

Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican who authored the law that requires the human trafficking report, said that more countries should have been assigned the lowest rank.

"If we are willing to hold the Dominican Republic to account, as we should, it's outrageous that China, Vietnam and India get a free pass," Smith said.

Taiwan was upgraded and listed as fully compliant in efforts against human trafficking after starting new services for victims, CdeBaca said.

Australia, New Zealand and South Korea were also listed as fully compliant.

For the first time, the United States included itself in the report. It ranked itself in compliance.

Royce Disappointed by Trafficking in Persons Report Designation of Cambodia

via Khmer NZ News Media

Publish Date: 2010-06-14

Today, the U.S. Department of State released its 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, a document that catalogues abuses of modern day slavery throughout the world

(From PoliticalNews.me)
Washington, Jun 14 -

Today, the U.S. Department of State released its 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, a document that catalogues abuses of modern day slavery throughout the world. The Report’s cataloging of abuses – and the categorizing of countries - can bring about change in some countries; the threat of sanctions on the most severe violators is also an important tool.

"While this report brings much needed attention to the plight of some of the world’s most marginalized women and children, I regret that it appears that some countries like Cambodia have gotten a pass," said Royce.

Citing it as a destination country for commercial sexual exploitation, the State Department had listed Cambodia as a "Tier 2 Watch List" country in its previous report. Despite an abundance of evidence that these problems still exist, Cambodia was upgraded one position. This will prevent automatic relegation to the lowest category (Tier 3) if next year it is once again listed as a Tier 2 Watch List country.

"The 2010 report cites Cambodian children being trafficked to Thailand and Vietnam for forced labor, the sale of virgin girls ‘continues to be a serious problem,’ and a significant number of Asian and foreign men ‘travel to Cambodia to engage in child sex tourism.’ Furthermore, the report cites that police and judicial officials are both ‘directly and indirectly involved in trafficking.’ And under these conditions, the State Department saw fit to upgrade Cambodia? We need to be sending a much stronger message that these forms of modern day slavery and unacceptable," said Royce.

Following a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing entitled "Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Cambodia" held last year, Rep. Ed Royce introduced a House Resolution – H.Res.820 - condemning Cambodian corruption and the role it plays in furthering human trafficking.

"Having heard scores of accounts from NGO’s and from eyewitnesses, the Cambodian government’s corruption often hampers trafficking investigations, and at worse, covers up the problem. Rewarding Cambodia, as the State Department Report does, only hampers efforts to curtail human trafficking. I’d like to see my colleagues join me in pressing this issue by cosponsoring my resolution, H.Res.820," said Royce.

Rep. Royce is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and is an active member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Iconic Cyclo Disappearing From Phnom Penh's Streets

Robert Carmichael | Phnom Penh
14 June 2010

via Khmer NZ News Media

Photo: VOA - R. Carmichael
Oum Sok began working as a cyclo driver when he was 18. He says the city has become very expensive over the years, making it much harder to earn a living.

The cyclo has been a distinctive feature of Phnom Penh's streets for 70 years, stretching back to the days when Cambodia was a French colony. But this form of transport has begun to fade away.

New York has its yellow cab. London has its red bus. But Phnom Penh has its cyclo - a three-wheeled bicycle with the driver perched on high above the rear wheel, and the passengers in a bucket seat slung between the two front wheels.

This iconic vehicle has proved a comfortable - if slow - way of getting around Cambodia's capital for the best part of a century. But that is changing.

Sharp decline

In the past decade the number of cyclos on the city's streets has declined sharply. Im Sambath heads the Cyclo Conservation and Career Association, which looks out for the interests of the drivers.

VOA - R. Carmichael
Im Sambath is the head of the cyclo association. He says tourism is the way forward for the city's embattled cyclo drivers

"Now we have around 1,300 cyclo drivers in Phnom Penh. But from our survey, in 1999 [we had] around 9,000 cyclos," he notes.

He estimates in five years, there could be only 500 or 600 cyclos left.

Why it's happening

Im Sambath says there are a number of reasons for the decline - from the changing travel habits of the Phnom Penh's citizens to the rise of the tuktuk - a motorized rickshaw.

"And tuktuks are quicker than cyclo, and can take their equipment from the market or something else easier than a cyclo," he says.

VOA - R. Carmichael
Im Sambath is the head of the cyclo association. He says tourism is the way forward for the city's embattled cyclo drivers

Cyclo drivers pay around 25 cents a month to join the Cyclo Association. The hundred or so members get washing facilities, HIV/AIDS education and other health benefits.

But most valuably, they get access to foreign tourists. Im Sambath says as local demand drops, foreign tourists are the future.

The association works with travel agents to arrange cyclo tours of Phnom Penh, in which tourists are pedaled around this flat city's compact array of sights.

Oldest driver

VOA - R. Carmichael
The association's oldest member, Oum Sok, 75, began working as a cyclo driver at age 18. He says the city has become very expensive over the years, making it much harder to earn a living.

The association's oldest cyclo driver is 75-year-old Oum Sok. He has been pedaling the city's streets since he was 18.

Like most drivers, Oum Sok is from rural Cambodia where there is little work. Like them, he parks his cyclo on the sidewalk each night in a gaggle of other drivers, and sleeps in the bucket seat.

Ferrying tourists provides a reasonable living. Oum Sok earns $8 from the association for a day's work, plus any tips.

But it is no fortune. While waiting outside the city's National Museum for the tourists to emerge, he talks about the changes in his half century of pedaling people around Phnom Penh.

Down, but not out

He says when he was young, he could earn a lot, but now everything is expensive. Another thing is that the customers do not want to take a cyclo with an old man like him driving.

But he acknowledges his age can prove a benefit. In a culture that respects age, Cambodians tend to tip better than the tourists.

But tourists may be the way forward for most cyclo drivers.

Australian Margie Edmonds has just spent the morning as part of a cyclo tour with about 20 tourists.

"Well I just thought it was the most amazing way to do it," she says. "Their [the drivers] understanding of the traffic, and their kindness. It was one of the best experiences I've had in Asia. Great fun, very safe and very comfortable vehicles too."

Back at the association, Im Sambath says the cyclo is down, but not out.

He is optimistic that targeting the two million tourists visiting Cambodia each year will allow the dwindling stock of drivers to provide for their families in the provinces.