Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Raw Video: Red Shirts Protest Thai Government

via Khmer NZ

Several hundred Red Shirt protesters defied a state of emergency in Bangkok to stage a symbolic anti-government protest on Sunday. About 90 people have died and many more have been hurt in clashes with government forces earlier this year. (Aug. 1)

Cambodian Migrant Labourers To Malaysia And Thailand Up 2 Folds In Six Months

via Khmer NZ

PHNOM PENH, Aug 3 (Bernama) -- Cambodia's migrant workers to Malaysia and Thailand increased two folds in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year, China's Xinhua news agency quoted the Cambodia Recruitment Agency (CRA) as saying on Tuesday.

The statistics showed that Cambodia has sent 5,776 legal workers (3,543 female and 2,233 male) to Malaysia from January to June this year, up two folds from only 1,925 in the first half of 2009.

In Malaysia, female workers are employed as maids and shop assistants, while male workers are for working in manufacturing industry.

While, Thailand received 2,409 labourers (1,124 female and 1,285 male) in the first six months of this year, up two folds from only 803 workers in the same period last year. Most of them are working in factories and tourism industry.

President of CRA An Bun Hak said that the increase of migrant workers to Malaysia is due to the high demand for housekeeping following Indonesia's decision to stop sending their workers into the market concerning about poor labour condition.

"Our workers in house keeping sharply increased because our workers have worked very well and the demand of labor forces in Malaysia is on the rise," he said.

"As for Thailand, the increase is because of some illegal Cambodian labourers working in Thailand have returned to Cambodia last year during the crisis to fill up for legal status and go back to work in Thailand legally," he added.

Cambodia, Vietnam meets to discuss on border development

via Khmer NZ

August 03, 2010

Cambodia and Vietnam opened talks on Tuesday in Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh to discuss border cooperation and development.

The meeting, co-chaired by Sar Kheng, deputy prime minister and minister of interior of Cambodia, and Pham Gia Khiem, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Vietnam, is the 6th of its kind that focuses on border cooperation and development between the two countries.

The meeting is called "Meeting on cooperation and development between border provinces of Cambodia and Vietnam," and is focused on many issues of cooperation and development including the building of infrastructure, investment, trade and services, markets development, health, tourism, education, border demarcation, security and public order.

At the opening of the one-day talk, Sar Kheng said, "The existing mechanism for cooperation is becoming an effective way for actual implementation between the two governments which is aimed at fostering and strengthening solidarity, friendship and brotherly cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam."

He added, "Our countries have cooperated well and supported one another in the struggle against the global economic crisis for the purpose of reducing the impact from this crisis."

Pham Gia Khiem echoed Sar Kheng's speech and expressed his confidence that the meeting will further promote the bilateral cooperation in various fields.

In addition to the border cooperation and development between Cambodia and Vietnam, Laos, another neighbor of the two nations also has joined in another forum known as CLV which represents Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The forum has its own format of CLV Triangle Development Zone which binds all the three nations to consider developing their joint borders together.

Such forum was last held on March 12-18 in Cambodia's northeastern province of Rattanakiri.

Meeting on cooperation and development between border provinces of Cambodia and Vietnam is held annually and last year it was held in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

Thailand: No justice for Red Shirt detainees

via Khmer NZ

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Internationally recognised legal standards are being flagrantly ignored in the treatment of political prisoners from the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement. The prisoners have been detained by the Abhisit Vejjajiva military government since the bloody crackdown against unarmed demonstrators in May.

The elite refer to Thai citizens as ‘dust beneath the feet of the King’.
Photo: Sokheounpang.wordpress.com

According to reports by Prachatai, a web-based newspaper that the junta has repeatedly tried to close down, Red Shirt detainees in the north-east provinces of Ubon Rajatanee, Kon Kaen, Mahasarakarm, Mukdaharn and Udon Tanee have faced the following problems (and there is no reason to believe other Red Shirt detainees are any better off elsewhere):

• Police evidence used for arrest warrants is unclear and doesn't meet legal standards. People have been arrested and held under appalling conditions when there is a lack of clear evidence.

• Those issued with arrest warrants are sometimes unaware of the warrants. This means they could face further charges of “resisting or avoiding arrest”.

• Some of those who have been detained were assaulted by police while being arrested, despite not resisting arrest.

• Police use threats and coercion to obtain “confessions”. It is standard practice to tell defendants their punishment will be less severe if they confess, regardless of whether this is true and whether they are guilty.

• Many defendants are denied proper legal representation.

• Judges have decided to deny bail to Red Shirts, without using standard legal rules. The judges claim they will all try to escape court proceedings, despite having no evidence to prove this. The judges obviously see them as political prisoners who are already guilty.

• Prison conditions are brutal and prisons are overcrowded.

• Defendants' families are suffering financial consequences. There is no welfare state in Thailand and the fabulously wealthy conservative elites are fiercely opposed to state welfare for citizens.

• Those defendants who were shot or injured by security officers and those with long-term illnesses are denied proper medical treatment.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) believes defendants are guilty before being tried in a court of law.

Recently, the DSI website published the name and pictures of a person whom it accuses of lese majeste (insulting the monarchy). Beside the pictures the DSI wrote that “this person will rot in hell”. Clearly the DSI does not believe trials are necessary and considers that witch-hunts against government critics are “legal”. The DSI is even flouting the junta’s own constitution. All this meets with the military-backed government’s approval.

DSI head Tarit Pendit has issued so-called “terrorism” charges against 26 government opponents associated with the peaceful pro-democracy protests, without the slightest evidence that terrorist acts took place or that these people were involved.

hese charges are similar to “terrorism” charges issued by Hitler’s Nazis against the Free French and similar charges issued by the Israeli government to justify killing unarmed civilians on the relief ships to Palestine.

The DSI is not pursuing any terrorism charges against the royalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) gangs who took over Bangkok’s international airports in late 2008. This put a stop to international flights for over a week.

The PAD also occupied and trashed Government House and caused a riot outside parliament that same year. No one has been punished or detained. The present Abhisit military junta has PAD members and supporters in the cabinet.

Nor is the DSI pursuing any murder charges against the junta's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the generals for ordering the cold-blooded shooting of innocent civilians this year.

The Abhisit junta has maintained a “state of emergency” in Bangkok and other provinces. Many Red Shirts have been detained for breaking the emergency law.

Yet when the royalist PAD recently came out to protest and whip up ultra-nationalism over a pointless border dispute with Cambodia, none of the PAD leaders or their supporters were arrested. Instead, Abhisit and his PAD foreign minister made a point of meeting the PAD protesters and agreeing with them.

The royalists hope to create a diversion by whipping up anti-Cambodian sentiment.

Innocent defendants awaiting trial are shackled in chains while going to court. This barbaric practice is designed to take away the humanity of detainees, not to prevent them escaping.

Many of the Red Shirt leaders, who are political prisoners, gave themselves up to the police voluntarily. Yet they are chained when attending court hearings.

This is yet another indication that the conservative elites regard Red Shirts and ordinary Thai citizens who want democracy as sub-human. Thai citizens are referred to as merely “dust beneath the feet of the King”.

The entire criminal justice system in Thailand is compromised and corrupt. There is no freedom and democracy, and basic standards of justice are not being met. Yet Abhisit’s junta claims to be setting up committees for “political reform” under former military junta prime minister Anan Panyarachun and conservative doctor Prawes Wasi. Academics are flocking to these committees like flies to shit.

There can be no serious “political reform” without freedom and democracy, without scrapping the lese majeste law, and without punishing the politicians and generals who gunned down innocent pro-democracy demonstrators.

Serious reform would need to look into reducing the size, wealth and power of the military, reducing or scrapping the monarchy, totally culling the judicial system and the police, and ending all censorship. Serious reform can only take place after genuine democratic elections for a new government.

But Abhisit’s junta shot dead more than 90 people in March, April and May to avoid such elections. All the so-called “reform process” can amount to is an expensive public relations exercise to try to whitewash the crimes of the present junta.

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009, he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lese majeste for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. He is a member of Left Turn Thailand, a socialist organisation. His latest book is Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy.]

Thailand Allows `Brief' Peaceful Protests in Sign Emergency Law May End

via Khmer NZ

By Daniel Ten Kate - Aug 3, 2010

Thailand’s government said it will approve peaceful protests that are short in duration in a sign it’s preparing to lift a state of emergency imposed four months ago in Bangkok and several outlying provinces.

A nationalist group called the Thai Patriot Network plans to gather 10,000 people in front of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s office on Aug. 7 unless authorities clarify the status of a border dispute with Cambodia, the Bangkok Post reported today, citing Veera Somkwamkid, the group’s leader.

“We don’t see that as a violation of the decree as long as there are clearly established guidelines,” government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said by phone today. “In the past few weeks, demonstrations have been allowed briefly.”

An end to emergency rule might extend investor confidence in Thailand after deadly street protests in April and May claimed 89 lives. The stock market today entered a technical bull market as the SET Index completed a 20 percent rally from its May low.

Political groups can demonstrate provided they don’t block traffic, carry weapons, create disturbances and “disperse within a few hours,” Panitan said. The decree is necessary for authorities to prevent prolonged protests, shut down media outlets that make death threats and investigate financial transactions from protests earlier this year, he said.

“In the next few weeks, investigators will be more confident that they have enough evidence to forward these cases to a normal court of law, and they won’t need this decree anymore,” Panitan said.

10 Provinces

The emergency decree, in force in 10 of 76 provinces, gives authorities, including the army, immunity and lets them close media outlets, freeze bank accounts and detain suspects for 30 days without charge. It also prohibits gatherings of five or more people.

The SET rose as much as 0.6 percent to 867.94, headed for its highest close since May 23, 2008.

Last week, Bangkok was hit with two grenade attacks that killed one person and wounded a dozen others. A court also granted bail to Veera Musikapong, a protest leader who was jailed on terrorism-related charges.

Abhisit has faced demonstrations since taking power in a 2008 parliamentary vote after a court dissolved the ruling party linked to ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra for election fraud. The fugitive billionaire and his allies have won the past four elections.

Abhisit must call a vote by the end of next year. He withdrew an offer for a November vote and ordered a military crackdown after demonstrators failed to disperse by a May 12 deadline, leading to arson attacks around Bangkok.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

Heartfelt plea to the government

Photo by: Rann Reuy

via khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:00 Rann Reuy

Victims of cluster munitions were among the roughly 600 people who joined a rally in Siem Reap yesterday urging the government to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which came into effect this week.

Bokator fighters give lionhearted performances

Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

Participants of the 2010 National Bokator Championships perform routines with a wooden staff and as a pair during yesterday morning's finals at the National Sports Complex Wrestling Hall. The 4-day competition concluded yesterday with 11 performance categories decided in the morning, while the afternoon combat session saw four men's weight divisions fight out for podium places. In the 52-kilogram event, Sovann Chamna claimed the gold medal, while Tong Bati triumphed in the 56kg class. Savin Vichet won at 60kg and Say Tevin took top spot in the 65kg division.

Cloud with silver lining

Photo by: AFP

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:03 AFP

No, it’s not a fire – pedestrians walk through a cloud of insecticide during a fumigation drive in Mumbai yesterday. City officials are producing a videa to spread awareness of malaria, which has claimed 41 lives since January. The disease is a major issue along the Cambodian-Thai border, where a drug-resistant strain has emerged.

Forestry, fisheries crimes lost in red tape: minister

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

AGRICULTURE Minister Chan Sarun has accused courts of dragging their feet on forestry, agriculture and fisheries crimes, claiming 70 percent nationwide have not been to trial.

In remarks delivered to Forestry Administration workers in Phnom Penh, a copy of which was obtained yesterday, Chan Sarun attributed the backlog to “a lack of cooperation”.

“Roughly 70 percent of agriculture, forestry and fisheries crimes have not been tried in the courts because there is a lack of cooperation with court prosecutors, and staff do not continue observing these cases,” he said.

Earlier this year, the government launched a high-profile crackdown on illegal logging prompted by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who told military commanders in January that he would no longer tolerate their involvement in such crimes.

In April, the premier removed Ty Sokun from his position as director of the Forestry Administration, citing a failure to curb illegal logging.

But conservation experts have criticised the crackdown as “toothless”, saying officials complicit in illegal logging have rarely been made to stand trial.

Chan Sarun’s remarks, delivered on Friday during a meeting assessing the Forestry Administration’s performance through the first half of the year, also criticised low-level administration officials for a lack of diligence. A list of recommendations called on those officials to “take urgent and strict action to crack down on all illegal logging and to prevent it from happening within the boundary of their authority”.

“We must gather the luxury wood that we have cracked down on and confiscate, and auction it to the public,” he said. “The income from the sales should be put into the state budget.”

His speech did not include the number of forestry, agriculture and fisheries crimes referred to the courts, and Chan Sarun could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Chiv Keng, head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said yesterday that he believed the figures quoted by Chan Sarun were “old”, though he acknowledged that provincial courts could to much to speed up the process of trying illegal logging cases.

“The courts have tried almost all the cases, including the Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” he said. “I have urged the provincial courts to try all of the [illegal logging] cases.”

However, Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said yesterday that his court did not have any outstanding illegal logging cases. He said he did not know exactly how many had been tried.

Tim Sypha, director of the ministry’s Law Enforcement Department, said yesterday that, in response to Chan Sarun’s comments, he had ordered officials to cooperate further with prosecutors. “We have already urged the courts, but sentencing is the responsibility of the courts,” he said.

“Currently, we cooperate with prosecutors to investigate some cases to collect more evidence.”

City police seize motorbikes

Photo by: Janos Kis
Traffic police load confiscated motorbikes onto a lorry on Street 310 last week.

If they want to teach them about the law, they can teach them where they are fined.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:03 Tang Khyhay and Cameron Wells

TRAFFIC police in the capital have resumed seizing the motorbikes of helmetless drivers and those who lack side mirrors, despite the fact that the Land Traffic Law does not list vehicle confiscation as a possible punishment for such offences.

Heng Chantheary, head of the Phnom Penh Traffic Police, said he did not know when the recent crackdown began, but that confiscations had been occurring periodically since August 2009.

The Post has received multiple reports of motorbikes being confiscated en masse at various checkpoints in the past week.

“This has not happened for a long time,” Heng Chantheary said in reference to the confiscations.

“For drivers who break traffic laws, such as having no helmet and driving in the wrong direction, we take their motos to the land traffic office, where the owners must learn the traffic laws before they can get their vehicles back,” he said, although he could not provide figures detailing how many vehicles had been confiscated in recent weeks.

He said drivers who wish to get their motorbikes back must pay all relevant fines.

Under the Land Traffic Law, motorbike drivers caught without helmets must pay fines of 3,000 riels (US$0.71), and those caught without mirrors face fines of 4,000 riels.

Sann Socheata, a road safety programme manager for the Cambodian branch of Handicap International Belgium, said there was no mention in the Land Traffic Law of confiscations related to either transgression.

“Motorbike confiscation is not mentioned in the traffic law,” she said.

She noted, though, that Prime Minister Hun Sen has occasionally suggested that traffic police confiscate the motorbikes of offending drivers.

She went on to say that she did not oppose the measure, and that it would give drivers more incentive to obey the law.

But she said authorities should also spend time making sure drivers know exactly what the law stipulates.

“I think what we should spend time doing is convincing people to respect the traffic law,” she said. “Then there won’t be any confiscation

Kong Chhorn, a 36-year-old motorbike driver, said yesterday that he was less concerned about the confiscation of motorbikes than he was about the seemingly erratic application of fines.

“I was once asked for 5,000 riels for not wearing my helmet belt,” he said. “Some police even use offensive words when they are talking to me. They should use good words to educate people about the traffic law.”

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport in June finalised amendments to the Land Traffic Law that would increase fines and require passengers on motorbikes to wear helmets.

If the amendments, which have not yet been sent to the Council of Ministers, are eventually approved, helmetless motorbike drivers will be required to pay fines of 21,000 riels (about $5).

Court set to investigate abortion complaint

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has launched an investigation into a complaint filed by a man who says his wife died as a result of an abortion performed by an unregistered and untrained midwife, a court official said yesterday.

Heng Rami, a court clerk, said he had questioned the complainant, Hiv Leng, yesterday, and that the accused was expected to attend questioning later in the week.

“I will summon the suspect on Friday this week to respond to this case,” he said. Heng Rami said he would not know whether or not the suspect would face charges until after that meeting.

Hiv Leng, 50, said yesterday that he had reiterated his original complaint, filed over the weekend, in which he accused a neighbour of performing an illegal abortion on his wife, 40-year-old Khem Tha, who had been three months pregnant at the time of the procedure.

He said his wife had died on July 20, one month after the abortion, because “her placenta and some parts of her stomach were rotten in her uterus”.

“I told the court clerk that I did not withdraw the complaint, and that I wish the suspect to be sentenced through the law,” and he requested “at least” US$10,000 in compensation, he said.

He said he had refused an out-of-court settlement that had been offered by the suspect’s husband and father after they learned of his complaint.

Under the 1997 Law on Abortion, untrained abortion providers who perform a procedure that results in a woman’s death can face up to 10 years in prison.

Labour firm says it’s law-abiding

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Led Ngai, 21, speaks with relatives yesterday during their visit to a VC Manpower Co centre in Sen Sok district. The Pursat province native is training to work as a domestic worker in Malaysia

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Kim Samath

THE director of a recruitment agency accused of illegally detaining trainees has defended his business practices two weeks after Labour Ministry officials began an investigation of the firm.

Sen Ly, the director of VC Manpower Co, said yesterday that the firm treats clients well.

“They came here because they need us to help them find a job, so when we accept them we have to take care of them because their parents come to meet us and ask us to look after their children,” Sen Ly said in an interview at the company’s Sen Sok district training centre.

The firm, one of at least 28 licensed by the Ministry of Labour to train and send workers abroad, was thrust into the public spotlight last month after a 24-year-old woman leaped from the second storey of the centre. She later said that she and other women had been corralled into tiny rooms and prevented from leaving.

Days later, authorities said that they had discovered 24 underage girls at the centre, along with seven at a separate facility operated by a different company. However, VC Manpower Co insisted that the girls had used false identification to claim they were at least 18.

Though the Ministry of Labour temporarily barred the company from recruiting new clients that week, those restrictions were lifted within days.

On Monday, roughly 400 women were still being trained in the centre. Clients who spoke with the Post yesterday reported good conditions at the centre.

“There are no problems with this company,” said Sum Phanna, who has stayed at the centre for more than two months in hopes of finding work as a domestic assistant in Malaysia. The company, she said, offers food, accommodation and English lessons. Yeoun Phalla said she felt well cared-for by the company staff. She acknowledged that the company barred her and others from leaving the compound, but said she did not mind.

“They are afraid we will have problems,” she said.

Meas Beoun said she had gone to the training centre on Monday to visit her daughter, who was preparing to leave for Malaysia. She said she had never heard her daughter complain about conditions at the company.

“I hope that my daughter can earn more money to send me to help our family because we are poor,” she said.

But Leng Sokleap, the woman who escaped the training centre in July, insisted yesterday that she and other women had been mistreated.

“I used to stay there,” she said. “The room is small with many people, and I was not allowed to go out and visit my family.”

In the meantime, allegations are still surfacing about conditions at the centre.

In a story Sunday, local news website Deum Ampil alleged that more than 100 workers had run out of the training centre, and that some had fainted.

Sen Ly, the VC Manpower director, denied the report. Keo Thea, director of the municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau, said officers visited the centre Sunday night and found no evidence to support the report.

Raid reportedly nets 35 underage labourers

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea

A POLICE raid on a recruitment firm in Kandal province found 35 girls being trained to work as domestic assistants in Malaysia, officials said

Pa Sam Eth, the police chief in Kien Svay district, said the Sunday raid was triggered after villagers in Prek Eng commune’s Robors Angkanh village reported seeing several girls detained in a building.

“Leaving people like this is an illegal action,” Pa Sam Eth said. “This is an illegal human detention.”

Pa Sam Eth said many of the girls told police they were at least 18 years old. But he said they lacked any proper documentation to prove it.

At the moment, the firm’s owner, a 51-year-old man, has not been charged, Pa Sam Eth said, and police could not say yesterday whether the firm was licensed to train and send workers abroad.

Kien Svay district governor Heng Theam said four people were arrested as part of Sunday’s raid, including the owner.

He suggested that the suspects could be accused of holding an illegal gathering.

“The gathering of crowds like this is illegal because they have not informed the authorities,” Heng Theam said.

Ouk Kimsith, the provincial court prosecutor in Kandal, said the court had yet to charge anyone involved because it was waiting for a police report.

Under the 1995 sub-decree that permits authorised companies to train and send workers abroad, all prospective workers must be at least 18.

Thais slash jail terms for 16 Cambodians

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha

A THAI court has halved the jail terms of 16 Cambodians convicted of entering Thailand illegally to destroy forests a year ago, the foreign ministry said.

The 16 loggers, from Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces, were arrested in July last year after entering Thai territory to cut down trees.

In September, a court in Ubon Rachathani province sentenced 15 members of the group to nine years and three months in jail, and a 16th man – 18-year-old San Kros – received a lesser sentence of six years and two months.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Ubon Rachathani provincial appeal court ruled yesterday that the 15 would have their sentences slashed to four years and nine months, and that San Kros would serve only three years and two months.

“Of course, our purpose is for them to be released, but we see that the appeal court gave them more justice than the lower court,” Koy Kuong said. “Our consular officials in Thailand and lawyers are in discussion to find a way for their release so that they can return home.”

He said consular officials based in Sa Kaeo province have not yet decided whether to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, since Thailand often reduces the jail terms of prisoners if they behave well in custody.

Café staff accused of running a brothel

Photo by: Pha Lina
Un Samnang leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. He was charged with procuring prostitution after police raided a coffee shop rented under his name.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Two Vietnamese nationals appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on charges of procuring prostitution for allegedly running a brothel out of a coffee shop in the capital’s Daun Penh district.

Chang Ty Hok, 35, and 23-year-old Un Samnang were arrested on Street 63 in Daun Penh’s Chaktomuk commune in October by police who discovered 25 Vietnamese prostitutes at the scene.

Un Samnang, who also holds a Cambodian identification card, told the court that although he had accepted US$80 to allow the coffee shop’s proprietors to rent the facility under his name, he was not involved in the sale of sex. An elderly Khmer Krom woman named Ky Nang was responsible for the criminal activity, he said.

Judge Suos Sam Ath swiftly rejected this testimony.

“Don’t deny this and put the blame on another person called Ky Nang when there’s no one with this name,” he said.

“Based on the confessions of more than 20 Vietnamese women, it was you who served as the boss of this coffee shop and who collected half the money when the women served sex to customers for $5.”

Chang Ty Hok also denied the allegations against her, saying she had only worked as a cleaner at the coffee shop. Suos Sam Ath, however, said these statements were not credible.

“Don’t deny this, because several prostitutes told police that you always collected 10,000 riels from them on behalf of Un Samnang every time they had a customer,” Suos Sam Ath said. “You were their madam.”

In written testimony read out by a court clerk yesterday, one Vietnamese woman said she had been lured to Cambodia by the promise of a job at the coffee shop earning $50 per month. She said she was then forced to become a prostitute, serving four to five customers each day and giving half her earnings to the shop’s owners.

Another woman said in her written testimony that she had come to the shop voluntarily to work as a prostitute.

Suos Sam Ath said a verdict would be announced on August 12.

Illness delays hearing of Chi Kraeng villagers

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:02 Rann Reuy

SIEM Reap provincial court has delayed for one week the trial of nine villagers from Chi Kraeng commune accused of trying to kill military police as part of a long-running land dispute in the area.

Sous Narin, an investigator for rights group Adhoc who observed yesterday’s proceedings, said Judge Chea Sok told the court that the hearing had been delayed because Chhay Kong, his fellow judge, was ill.

Hundreds of observers gathered outside the courthouse yesterday, which was under tight security and was closed to all but a few rights workers and local residents. The trial opened with a four-hour hearing last Tuesday in which the defendants pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted intentional manslaughter under Article 4 of the Law on Aggravating Circumstances of Felonies.

Bin Noeurn – the 56-year-old mother of Sek Soy, one of the nine accused – complained that the protracted nature of the case was putting a financial strain on villagers who had to pay US$5 to travel from their homes to the courthouse.

“I came to encourage my son and the other villagers,” she said. “My son has been in prison for more than a year, and I can’t imagine how difficult that is.”

The case is part of a dispute between villagers in Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes. Tension erupted in March of last year, when military police fired on Chi Kraeng villagers attempting to harvest rice on the disputed land, injuring four. No charges have been filed against any of the officers involved, but the nine villagers were charged after police accused them of threatening officers with machetes.

On Saturday, the nine Chi Kraeng villagers – and three others who have been arrested for separate offences related to the land dispute – wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking for his intervention in the case.

Municipal Court: Nigerian national faces four charges

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Municipal Court

ANIGERIAN man appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on charges of robbery, drug possession, damaging police property and living in Cambodia illegally.

Charles Uy, 27, was arrested at his rented house in Meanchey district on March 1 after a complaint was filed against him by three other Nigerian men.

Uy said that the complaint had been filed as revenge after he warned the men about fighting in the house the previous evening.

“I was very surprised that one day after the dispute on February 28, the police came to arrest me,” he said.

None of the three complainants appeared at the hearing.

Defence lawyer Tith Sovuthy requested that all charges against Uy be dropped, except for his visa violation. Judge Suos Sam Ath said a verdict would be announced on August 12.

Jailed journalist reports graft

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Freelance journalist Ros Sokhet is led out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing in October last year.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

A JAILED journalist whose Appeal Court hearing is scheduled for later this month said yesterday that he had been asked to pay US$1,000 before court officials would tell him the exact date.

Speaking from Prey Sar prison, freelance journalist Ros Sokhet said his lawyer, Sam Sokong, who was provided free of charge by the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, had told him the court had requested the money in exchange for information about the hearing.

“My lawyer said that the court wanted my family to pay $1,000 for telling me the exact date of the hearing,” he said. However, the journalist said he had refused to pay.

“I have no money to pay so I did not get the hearing summons,” he said. “I will not pay. I’ve been in prison for nine months.”

In November, Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Ros Sokhet guilty of spreading disinformation after he sent a series of text messages to well-known commentator and news anchor Soy Sopheap. He was sentenced to two years in prison. His appeal was filed later that month.

Eang Nakry, a clerk at the Appeal Court, said yesterday that Ros Sokhet’s hearing was scheduled for August 18. He declined to comment on Ros Sokhet’s statements about the alleged payment request.

Ros Sokhet said yesterday that it was possible the request had not come from the courts, and that his lawyer might have been trying to collect money to be used as a bribe to secure his release.

“I am wondering if the court ordered it, or it is just from my lawyer who wanted to help me out of prison,” he said.

Sam Sokong could not be reached yesterday, nor could CDP president Sok Sam Oeun.

Duong Sovan, CDP project coordinator, said Sam Sokong would not have asked his client for money because CDP lawyers never ask clients for money in “fee-free” cases.

Soy Sopheap, former publisher of Deum Ampil News and a commentator for Bayon TV, said yesterday that he would not testify at the Appeal Court hearing, and that he had never filed a complaint against Ros Sokhet.

“I have had no involvement in this case since the beginning,” he said. “I did not file a complaint against Ros Sokhet, but against an anonymous person who sent text messages to threaten me.”

During the trial in November, the court heard that the text messages accused Soy Sopheap of demanding money from a woman arrested for firing a pistol illegally in exchange for keeping her story out of the press.

Ros Sokhet told the court that he had sent the messages, but said he was only alerting Soy Sopheap to rumours already in circulation.

Wildlife Crime: Man nabbed for keeping two bears

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana

Wildlife Crime

A KOREAN man working for an agricultural firm in Kampong Speu province has been arrested and detained for illegally keeping two bears at his residence, officials said.

Eoun Chantha, deputy head of the Forestry Administration triage in Phnom Sruoch district’s Traeng Trayeung commune, said yesterday that Kong Wou-ki, a representative of CJ Cambodia Co Ltd, a South Korean manufacturer of tapioca starch, was arrested Thursday for keeping two black bears without permission.

“According to the Forestry Law, raising any wildlife without permission from the Forestry Administration is illegal, and the animals will be confiscated and kept at the state zoo,” he said.

Eoun Chantha said Kong Wou-ki confessed to police and forestry officials that he had kept the two bears, which have now been taken to Phnom Tamao Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Centre in Takeo province.

Kampong Speu provincial court director Khlaut Pich, who is in charge of the case, could not be reached for comment. Judge Keo Mony said Kong Wou-ki had been freed on bail, but did not state the charges.

US senate bill would slash aid to military

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:01 Sebastian Strangio

THE United States senate appropriations committee has approved a bill that could suspend military aid to Cambodia in response to the government’s deportation of 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers last year.

The foreign assistance appropriations bill for 2011, approved on Thursday, states that funding for multinational peacekeeping exercises should be withheld from Cambodia unless the government provides “credible information on the whereabouts and welfare of the 20 Uighur nationals”.

Cambodia deported the Uighurs on December 19, a month after they arrived in Cambodia and applied for political asylum through the UN refugee office in Phnom Penh.

Two days later, China signed US$1.2 billion worth of economic investments and aid agreements with Cambodia, fuelling speculation that the Uighurs had been returned under Chinese pressure.

In March, the US suspended a shipment of about 200 military lorries in retaliation for the deportation. Two months later, Beijing filled the breach with a similar shipment.

Although it has not been passed by the US congress, the bill shows that the deportation rankled with lawmakers.

In May, two congressmen submitted a separate bill that sought to block the relief of more than US$300 million in Cambodian debt and the extension of duty-free status to Cambodian garment imports.

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, one of the bill’s sponsors, stated at the time that its passage was less important than “drawing attention to the misdeeds of the Cambodian dictatorship”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong downplayed the appropriations bill, saying the US and Cambodia had “very good” relations.

“The United States of America have the right to implement their laws and foreign policy,” he said yesterday. He also said the government did not know the Uighurs’ whereabouts.

“It is not our affair anymore. When they were in Cambodia, they were under our sovereignty, but now they are back to their home,” he said.

Police Blotter: 3 Jul 2010

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:00 Sen David

Police in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district have shut down a coffee shop after it was caught showing sex videos in a brazen attempt to attract customers. Police raided the coffee shop on Sunday, arresting the owner and sending its customers to “get educated”. Officers reported seizing stacks and stacks of sex videos. Neighbours said they have long complained that the coffee shop was stimulating its customers with more than just freshly brewed coffee, but authorities failed to look into the complaints for months. Now that police have stepped in, the neighbours reported being extremely happy.

Police have arrested a 20-year-old man accused of swiping a woman’s necklace during a high-speed motorbike chase in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district Saturday. The victim said she was minding her own business, driving her motorbike down a street, when she noticed two men on a motorbike following close behind her. She sped up in order to lose them, but they remained on her tail. She increased her speed until she was driving “very fast”, but the suspects matched her velocity. Then they pulled up beside her and allegedly snatched her necklace as she drove, causing her to fall from her motorbike. The victim shouted for help. Police caught one of the suspects, but the second is still missing. The arrested man allegedly admitted to the robbery.

Police in the capital say they have been left puzzled after discovering a dead man’s body with a gun lying nearby Sunday. Investigators say there are two possible explanations for the gruesome finding: Either the man killed himself, or he was the victim of a homicide. The man’s son told police that he believed his father, 59, killed himself because he had a terminal illness. But police aren’t so sure, hence the need for a thorough investigation.

A 25-year-old man was arrested Saturday after he allegedly ploughed his motorbike into two other vehicles along a road in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. Police said one student was killed instantly and another seriously injured. The suspect allegedly tried to escape, but onlookers detained him and sent him to police. One witness said the suspect was drunk and drove extremely fast. Residents reported feeling a great deal of pity for the two victims.

Kampot villagers to see lawyer

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

TWO village representatives in Kampot province who fled their homes late last week fearing arrest in connection with a land dispute have agreed to meet with a lawyer today in the hope that they will be able to return.

Four representatives left on Friday after Teuk Chhou district police descended on their homes in Dop Sralao village, located in Trapong Pring commune, and arrested representative Yav Run, who was transferred to provincial police and questioned for six hours.

The four men represent 26 former Khmer Rouge families who claim to have lived on 58 hectares of disputed land since 1983. In 2005, Phnom Penh businesswoman Heav Lon accused villagers who were farming the land of destroying her private property.

Heav Lon filed a criminal complaint against the four representatives after a June 16 altercation in which villagers accosted some of her employees and tried to stop them from clearing the land.

Lawyer Sao Kanha said yesterday that she would meet with representatives Cheam Sorn and Phan Saveth, though she declined to say whether they would agree to meet for questioning with provincial police.

“We cannot give any answers now because I have not learned the real reason why police are hunting for them,” she said. “I will meet and ask them to find out the truth first.”

Provincial police chief Phlang Pherin denied having arrested Yav Run, saying he had only been called in for questioning. He said, though, that the families had no claim to the land because they had already sold it to Heav Lon. “We do not understand why they still cause trouble over that land,” he said.

Prince asks Thai PM to show restraint in Preah Vihear dispute

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

A REPRESENTATIVE of the Royal Cabinet wrote to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday in a bid to resolve the ongoing standoff over the status of Preah Vihear temple and other disputed areas along the border.

In a letter from Beijing, Prince Sisowath Thomico, an adviser to King Norodom Sihamoni, stated that the two countries had an interest in putting aside territorial disputes for the “harmony” of the region.

“Raising territorial claims is a futile attempt that flies in the face of history, and that harms our people by diverting significant resources that could otherwise be invested in development,” he wrote.

“My dearest wish, Your Excellency, would be to see Preah Vihear standing as the enduring symbol of the reconciliation between our two nations, of the harmony of our relationship, and a model of fruitful cooperation between the two neighbours.”

The letter comes as a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s World Heritage Committee concludes in Brazil today.

On Thursday, the WHC acknowledged receiving Cambodia’s management plan for Preah Vihear, but deferred its consideration until a meeting set to be held in Bahrain in 2011.

Thai officials had vowed to oppose the plan, and threatened to withdraw from UNESCO if they were not appeased.

The annual meeting has become a flashpoint between Cambodia and Thailand ever since the WHC listed Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site in July 2008. Bangkok opposes the listing, claiming a 4.6-square-kilometre area adjacent to the 11-century temple.

In a weekly address on Sunday, Abhisit said Thailand had obtained the Cambodian management plan and would look to see if it violates “Thai sovereignty” in the border area.

But Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said yesterday that since Cambodia’s plan had been submitted to the WHC, Thai attempts to raise the matter were meaningless.

“I think Abhisit’s knowledge on heritage issues is limited – he does not understand the facts, the work of heritage and its progress,” he said. “His manner is to provoke nationalism and [give out] misleading information to gain politically.”

Tith Sothea said Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who headed the Cambodian delegation to Brazil, would return to Cambodia on Saturday.

Petrolimex targets Cambodia

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem shake hands at a ceremony to celebrate Petrolimex’s new office.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

PETROL wholesaler Vietnam National Petroleum Corporation launched its first representative office in Phnom Penh last night, as part of its international expansion policy.

The state-owned firm, also known as Petrolimex, supplies at least half of the Kingdom’s petrol, according to high-ranking officials – including Vietnam’s deputy prime minister – attending the event.

Petrolimex’s newest office would be tasked with promoting the corporation’s image and conducting market research, as well as seeking out business opportunities in the oil and gas sector, the firm’s Director General Bui Ngoc Bao said.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch, held at Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld, he said: “The new office marks an important step in our expansion strategy by developing operations in foreign markets, especially the Cambodian market.”

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem estimated the firm met half of Cambodia’s annual demand for petroleum, worth some US$700 million each year, at yesterday’s launch.

Cambodia’s minister of commerce, Cham Prasidh, welcomed the firm’s increased presence and called for further expansion.

“I encourage the company to open [a full] branch of Petrolimex in Cambodia soon,” he said.

“The new representative office cannot sign any business contracts. It can just run promotional advertisements.”

The minister estimated the company supplied about 80 percent of Cambodia’s total petrol demand of 1 million tonnes per year. Cham Prasidh said the wholesaler sold petrol to a number of firms with bases in the Kingdom, including Sokimex, Tela, Price Victory and Chevron.

In turn, the domestic firms sold products to the public at the pumps.

The minister said that Petrolimex’s petroleum products were highly regarded by the Kingdom’s domestic vendors.

Representatives of several such companies at yesterday’s launch said they welcomed Petrolimex’s presence.

Heu Heng, deputy director general of Sokimex Group, said the firm had purchased Petrolimex goods since 1993, but that its increased representation in the Kingdom would simplify communications between business partners and increase market understanding.

Heu Heng said Sokimex controlled about 30 percent of local market share, but that “the petroleum market in Cambodia is very competitive. There are more than 10 vendors operating here.”

State-owned Petrolimex was founded in 1956.

IFC programme to aid millers in cutting costs

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:01 Catherine James

THE International Finance Corporation has thrown its weight behind the government’s bid to increase rice exports with the launch of a five-year programme to help the rice-milling industry.

Backed by a US$15 million multi-donor trust fund, the IFC programme is aimed at developing energy efficiency in the sector by promoting rice-husk gasification technology – which generates power from organic materials – and effective waste- and equipment-management.

The measures will run alongside in-depth training courses for millers.

IFC resident representative in Cambodia Julia Bricknell said that reducing energy costs would ultimately help milers’ bottom line.

“Energy efficiency is a relatively new area for our support, but it is increasingly important for us and will continue to grow as a priority,” she said.

“We were already working in the rice sector on a number of issues, and it is such an important [sector] for Cambodia.”

An initial assessment on the current energy-consumption situation found that “most rice millers do not follow good practices in waste management, energy use and clean technologies”.

“Most rice mills are operating with obsolete machinery, consuming excessive energy ... using high-capacity diesel engines available at the time of installation of these mills,” she said.

The IFC held four one-day workshops in Battambang this June to raise awareness, and they were attended by more than 100 rice millers.

Meng Saktheara, Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy's director general of the industry department, said the government was backing the IFC’s work, as rice was a “top-priority sector”.

“Firstly, it is linked to the development of the rural economy. Secondly, rice has great market potential, and, thirdly, it has the competitive advantage in the country because we are an agricultural country,” he said.

“We have to compete with very big rice exporters like Thailand and Vietnam.

“We’re working with many different partners to get this domestic capacity up and to meet the market requirements for quality and efficiency.”

Brickell said she expected the impact of the current programme to be significant.

This week, Ministry of Commerce data showed that exports of milled rice rose by 2,356 percent in the first half of this year, compared to 2009.

Global retailer to launch

Photo by: Julie Leafe
A billboard advertises the new branch of Mango set to open in Phnom Penh this November. Sihanouk Boulevard could become a major shopping destination, retailers said.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:00 Jimmy Ellingham

SOVEREIGN Retail Group is to bring a fourth international fashion brand to Phnom Penh’s Sihanouk Boulevard – an area that a representative said yesterday was set to become Cambodia’s equivalent of Singapore shopping destination Orchid Road.

Marketing manager Ly Souden said yesterday that the Cambodian-owned company planned to open a branch of Mango, a world-famous women’s clothing franchise, on Sihanouk Boulevard in November.

It plans to open next to an Axara Paris, an upmarket women’s clothing store that originated in France, which the Sovereign Retail Group also owns.

Along the boulevard are two more Sovereign-owned shops, shoe retailer VNC and womens' clothing shop E.pse.

Both those labels originated in Malaysia, and Sovereign has also opened a branch of VNC in Siem Reap.

Despite Cambodia’s status as a hub of the global garment industry, its first branch of Mango – a Spanish brand with franchises operating across the world – would not sell any domestically manufactured clothes.

Ly Souden said he thought the brand used to have a clothing factory in the Kingdom, but that it no longer operated.

However, he said that Sihanouk Boulevard could soon become a draw for shoppers seeking retail paradise.

It would not be long before more well-known brands set up on the street, he said.

“I’m sure [other brands] will be doing that. Currently we’re the largest fashion retail company in Cambodia. We own most of the famous brands,” he said.

The company, established in 2003, also plans to bring more stores to the Kingdom, but he would not yet reveal which ones.

Ninety percent of customers at Sovereign’s Phnom Penh shops were Cambodian, he said.

Another to compare Sihanouk Boulevard with well-known shopping destinations was Gloria Jean’s coffee shop Managing Director Michael Albert.

He said yesterday that the area of the boulevard around streets 51 and 57, was becoming a retail high street, a trend that had “accelerated” during the past year.

“It’s looking like more high-end brands are starting to set up in that area,” he said.

Phnom Penh’s Gloria Jean’s, a franchise of the Australian-based company, opened on Street 51 three months ago.

Mango’s public relations team, based in Spain, did not respond to questions yesterday regarding the company’s regional presence.

Cambodia IT: AngkorOne launches phone app

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

ANGKOR One has launched a mobile-phone application that will allow mobile users with internet connections to access its website on their phones.

The IT company’s new application is free, but will be supported by advertisement revenue, spokeswoman Athana Nou said yesterday.

Founded less than two years ago, the firm is presently operating at a loss, she said, though she declined to comment on the size of its deficit.

The mobile-phone application was designed “from the ground up”, said Angkor One CEO Steven Path in a press release. “AngkorOne Mobile offers valuable content for Khmers … who have limited or no access to an internet computer.”

Discussions are under way with Smart Mobile to send the application to its subscribers, Athana Nou said.

The application does not require a 3rd Generation (3G) phone and is available to any mobile phone user in Cambodia regardless of service provider.

The application, which can be downloaded from the company website, is available in English or Khmer. It gives users access to the firm’s mobile-specific web page, which provides a news page and a social networking site.

Outh Phouthang outpointed

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Outh Phouthang (right), among the most experienced fighters in the game, had no answers for Bheut Kam’s speed Sunday at TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 15:00 Robert Starkweather

With all the effortless grace for which he is both famous and feared, Bheut Kam soundly outclassed Koh Kong fighting legend Outh Phouthang Sunday at the TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao.

Working behind a sneaky left hand, 23-year-old Battambang southpaw Bheut Kam began scoring with clean, hard low kicks early in the second round and was landing elbows at will by the end of the third.

Judges do not make their scorecards public, but their sums could not have tallied anything less than a shutout.

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Long dominant in the lighter divisions, Bheut Kam (right) has grown in recent years, and he now threatens to reorder the ranks of the sport’s heavier weight classes.

“He killed me,” said Outh Phouthang, who blamed fighting at 69 kilograms for his lackluster performance. “I am too slow at this weight,” he said. “I would have preferred to fight him at 67.”

The difference in speed and strength became evident early.

In the second round, Bheut Kam landed several head-snapping straight left hands and clean jab-low kick combinations, once kicking Outh Phouthang off his feet.

By the third, Bheut Kam was in complete control. He opened the round punching hard to the body, picking his shots and showboating with flying elbows.

The crowd, overwhelmingly behind the Battambang boy in the blue corner, roared with applause and waved their hands in the air.

By the end of round three, with a Bheut Kam victory all but assured, the only question that remained concerned the durability of 30-year-old Outh Phouthang. And test it Bheut Kam did.

He pounded away at the body with hard punches and low kicks throughout the later rounds. He landed half a dozen or more elbows in the fourth, and he cut Outh Phouthang on the head with an elbow in the fifth.

With the fight coming to a close, Bheut Kam capped the bout with a final flurry of combinations, and for a fleeting moment, a bloodied and beaten Outh Phouthang looked in danger of going down.

But when the final bell rang, Outh Phouthang smiled humbly in defeat and put his arm around the winner.