Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Lessons from genocide must be taken seriously

via Khmer NZ

The Cambodian genocide occurred between 1975 and 1979, but it was not until last week, some 30 years later, that a United Nations-backed tribunal convicted Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Incredibly, he is the first major Khmer Rouge perpetrator sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Duch had been in charge of the notorious prison Tuol Sleng, where 14,000 Cambodian victims were routinely photographed, tortured and killed.

In a letter to the editor published Aug. 11, 1997, I seemed hopeful that the new Cambodian government "would bring to justice all major criminals, starting with the key perpetrator of the Killing Fields, Pol Pot. Preferably, he would be brought before an international tribunal."

This never happened. His savage Khmer Rouge followers had engaged in monstrous crimes of human destruction. It is estimated that about 1.7 million people perished due to starvation, slave labor, disease, torture and execution. Their violent deaths were contrary to Pol Pot's own peaceful end. He was never brought to justice and died of natural causes in 1998.

Yet no pursuit of justice will return the tens of thousands of victims whom Primo Levi called the "sommersi," the submerged, the drowned, the annihilated. Levi warned the world that new genocides might happen again. His warning must be taken seriously.

Thai PM Abhisit Sends Letter UN over Cambodia’ s Claim

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010 08:36 DAP NEWS

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Cambodia Rejects Abhisit Vejjajiva Denial Not to Use Military Means to Settle Border Dispute

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010 11:09 DAP NEWS

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PM affirms Thailand's adherence to peaceful principles on Preah Vihear dispute

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BANGKOK, Aug 10 - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he signed a letter to the United Nations (UN) to clarify Thailand's position regarding its border dispute, affirming that the kingdom adheres to peaceful means in resolving the border dispute with Cambodia.

The letter counters Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's telling the world body that Thailand is threatening to use force to settle the altercation, and affirming that Thailand will continue to practice peaceful principles and intentions in resolving the dispute.

Mr Abhisit said that what the Cambodian leader quoted him as saying in the letter to UN was actually not his own words, particularly when he was quoted as threatening to use military force to settle the border problem with Cambodia and that he would revoke the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia.

The Thai premier said the letter to the UN was aimed to affirm to the world body that Thailand and Cambodia are both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and even though the two kingdoms' relations did not run smoothly, but bilateral cooperation remains sound.

Thailand adheres to the principles of the world body by trying to address problems peacefully through talks and Bangkok would use the 2000 agreement with Cambodia as the framework to solve the problem, Mr Abhisit said.

Under the terms of the MoU between Thailand and Cambodia on the survey and demarcation of land boundary dated June 4, 2000, both sides agree not to carry out any work resulting in changes of environment of the frontier zone, pending the survey and demarcation of the common land boundary.

"In the letter to the UN, Thailand affirms that the country always respects the International Court of Justice's ruling that the temple belongs to Cambodia, even we do not agree with the verdict. But the problem now is that the Cambodians intruded into Thailand's territory, we, therefore, have to protect our sovereignty but under the UN ways -by peaceful means," he said.

Mr Abhisit said that Defence and Foreign Ministries would jointly cooperate to push Cambodians from the contested area under the 2000 MoU back to Cambodian soil.

However, the premier said he would not say when the process will begin and how.

He added that it was not necessary for any third country to intervene in the dispute between the two countries as there is an existing framework to solve the problem.

The Thai premier's move came after Mr Hun Sen sent a letter earlier this week to the UN General Assembly and Security Council in which he accused Thailand of threatening to use its forces to settle the dispute.

Mr Hun Sen's letter, which was also sent to the media, said statements by Mr Abhisit when he addressed the civil society groups on Saturday represented "a clear threat to use military force" to settle the border problem and therefore in violation of UN rules.

The Cambodian premier reaffirmed his country's policy not to use military means to settle disputes with its neighbours but that it reserved its legitimate right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in case of deliberate acts of aggression.

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said ambassadors of the eight member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam -- were briefed on Thailand's position to adhere to peaceful means in solving the temple row with Cambodia through talks and that Thailand urged the neighbouring country to adhere to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two countries in 2000.

Mr Kasit also said that Thailand and Cambodia jointly agreed that it was necessary to hold a new round of the Joint Boundary Commission as soon as possible. Details regarding agenda and venue of the meeting are now being discussed.

Tensions between Thailand and Cambodia intensified after the Thai government delegation objected to Cambodia's unilateral management plan for the historic Preah Vihear temple as the neighbours could find no common ground to settle the disputed 4.6 sq km of land adjacent to the temple which was granted world heritage status in 2008.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through its World Heritage Commission (WHC) consequently early this month postponed its discussion of the plan until next year when it meets in Bahrain.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia. (MCOT online news)

Cambodia's drug rehab system decried

Rights groups and former detainees say it's rife with unlawful detention and physical abuse that masquerades as rehabilitation. The government denies the charges.

Drug addicts shoot heroin in a slum of Phnom Penh. Human Rights Watch called Cambodia’s approach to supposed rehabilitation “sadistic,” and said addicts, the homeless and sex workers are rounded up wholesale to be removed from public view. (Paula Bronstein, Getty Images / August 11, 2010)

via Khmer NZ

By Brendan Brady and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
August 10, 2010

Reporting from Phnom Penh, Cambodia — He meanders through a city park with friends, sniffing glue out of a plastic bag. Many nights he passes out on the sidewalk nearby.

It's a bleak routine, but this 17-year-old prefers it to his stints at Choam Chao, one of the Cambodian government's controversial drug rehabilitation centers, where he was twice detained.

"At night, when they got drunk, sometimes they'd beat me," he said, referring to older detainees deputized by the guards to enforce discipline. His tormentors were rewarded, he said, with occasional trips out of the center's compound, when they could buy their liquor.

"When I stopped doing the [enforced physical] exercises, they'd kick me in the stomach," said the teenager, who, along with other former detainees, requested anonymity because he feared official retribution.

Although his account could not be independently verified, it is consistent with what human rights groups and other detainees say is a widespread pattern of unlawful detention in Cambodia that masquerades as rehabilitation. Those unfortunate enough to be unwillingly caught inside this harsh system are often subject to physical and emotional abuse and deprivation.

The teenager said he started using drugs at age 8, soon after his father died. He lived for a few years with his mother, who scraped by scavenging garbage, then struck out on his own, earning money watching parked cars for tips.

His first "rehabilitation" detention, at age 11, lasted six months after he was picked up in a police sweep of his neighborhood. That was followed, at age 13, by 21/2 years of incarceration, during which guards and their stooges attacked him with braided electrical wire and belt buckles. He said he was never officially charged with any crime or allowed to see a lawyer.

The teen, who said he has lost touch with his mother, said the only pretense of therapy while in detention was an occasional medical checkup, by officials from a visiting charity, and three hours of daily military drills designed to "sweat out" the drugs. New arrivals suffering severe withdrawal symptoms were lashed down to their beds at night, he added.

Civic groups said the boy's account is hardly unusual.

"Human rights abuses are intrinsic to how these centers operate," said Joe Amon, a New York-based director of Human Rights Watch, which has released a report on the issue. "Arduous physical exercise and military drills appeared to be happening everywhere, as were beatings and whippings by center staff or detainees … for disciplinary purposes."

The watchdog group characterized this approach to supposed rehabilitation as "sadistic," adding that wholesale detention of drug users, homeless people, sex workers and beggars in holding centers out of public view is common, with street sweeps occurring especially before holidays and visits by foreign dignitaries.

"This practice takes its roots from [Cambodian] history," said Mathieu Pellerin, a consultant with Licadho, a Cambodian human rights group that has campaigned against forced detentions. "It's very deep in their DNA. To this day, the government denies that it's unlawful detention."

In mid-2008, Pellerin got word of a wholesale roundup of "undesirables." He went with a team to a government detention center, where he found the director drunk.

A member of his team lured the official aside as others went inside and photographed the dire conditions being endured by entire families, the mentally disabled, epilepsy patients without medicine and pregnant women who were hauled off the street by police and government workers, most without their family's knowledge.

When Pellerin and his team presented their evidence to the government, he said, officials denied wrongdoing and said the disclosures were politically motivated.

Human Rights Watch said it has also received reports of police and Social Affairs Ministry officials making money by leasing out detainees as laborers or selling their "donated" blood.

The so-called rehabilitation system's real aims appear to be social control, profit and retribution for perceived moral failure, watchdog groups said. More than 2,000 people were detained in 11 Cambodian facilities nationwide in 2008, the vast majority involuntarily. For drug users put through the state rehabilitation system, the relapse rate was nearly 100%, according to one World Health Organization report.

Pellerin blames the Cambodian government for the alleged abuses, but he also points a finger at United Nations agencies and countries that donate aid but don't use their money or leverage to force change.

"Donors seem unwilling to draw conclusions that should be drawn after two decades," he said. "Maybe they don't want to admit their own failure."

Cambodian authorities have denied the charges of abuse. At an anti-narcotics conference in March, Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged that the centers were not "medically appropriate," but he accused human rights groups of "blindly attack[ing] without seeing the government's charity."

Drug users should appreciate the food, shelter and training they receive, Cambodian officials say. Although some facilities may be substandard, they add, that only reflects the limited resources of a nation still recovering from decades of war.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime is discussing a $9.7-million project to create voluntary, community-level drug rehabilitation in Cambodia as an alternative to the government program.

"Research tells us empathy is key to the effectiveness of drug-dependence treatment," said Juana Tomas-Rossello, a drug treatment advisor with the office who is working on the plan.

Cambodia is not alone. China, the regional powerhouse, reportedly holds half a million drug abusers in compulsory rehabilitation at any given time, civic groups and academics said. Thailand, Laos and Vietnam have recently embraced or long resorted to compulsory detoxification and punitive detention amid concern over a recent, sharp rise in methamphetamine use.

Some former detainees in Cambodia note glimmers of humanity in the system. The 17-year-old glue sniffer was instructed in traditional drums and hair cutting. And a recently released 15-year-old said his term was "easy" and included English lessons, although he was forcibly detained without charges and saw others beaten.

The basic problem, say critics and detainees, is that Cambodia's system focuses more on punishment than rehabilitation.

"Those places will harden you," said a 22-year-old former detainee, sipping moonshine in a vacant lot where he was preparing to spend the night.

Magnier was recently on assignment in Cambodia. Brady is a special correspondent.

After the rain, before the eviction

Photo by: Will Baxter

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 Will Baxter

Residents from the Boeung Kak lakeside in Phnom Penh gather at a small grocery shop along railway lines on Saturday evening. Last month, large portions of land surrounding the lake were reclassified as state private property under the joint control of City Hall and Shukaku Inc, which is behind the controversial development of the area.

Titanium treasure trove

Titanium has many medical applications, such as use in artificial hips.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:04 David Boyle and Vong Sokheng

A TITANIUM mine, estimated by its owner to contain deposits worth up to US$135 billion, is set to begin production in Koh Kong province next year. The 20,400-hectare mine, set 10 to 40 kilometres from Chi Pat village, would become the biggest in Cambodia to date, a government official said yesterday.

Chief executive officer of mining firm United Khmer Group, Chea Chet, said that the project had received approval from both the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy and the Cambodian Development Council.

“We are going to process titanium slag and shift it to Japan, the United States, China – any market we can sell it to” he said. Titanium slag is a semi-processed form of the element. It is treated further to produce titanium – used in a wide range of products ranging from toothpaste, to lasers and aircraft engines.

Chea Chet said that in every 100 million tonnes of ore, 45 percent was slag. This could be sold at between $700 to $2,500 per tonne, depending on market fluctuations, he said.

At his upper estimate, the 120- million-tonne mine would be worth $135 billion.

Chea Chet said the 51 percent Cambodian-owned company would invest hundreds of millions of dollars during the next 50 to 100 years. About 20 percent of investment would come from China, 15 percent from the US and 15 percent from Japan, he said. Production was due to start in mid-2011.

Pech Siyon, director of the Koh Kong provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, confirmed the mine would be largest in Cambodia, but that exploration had been delayed by rain and disputes over its environmental impact.

In July, Vann Sophana, in charge of the Forestry Administration’s Coastal Inspectorate, met villagers to discuss concerns that the mine overlapped a protected forest. He said yesterday that the issue had been discussed at a meeting of the CDC, which had issued recommendations about the mine to Prime Minister Hun Sen. He declined to comment further.

Industry commentators have had a mixed reaction to the scheme.

Cambodian Association of Mining and Exploration Companies President Richard Stranger said yesterday that the scheme “would be a significant financial benefit” to Cambodia.

But Robert Porter, general manager of investor relations and corporate affairs at Australian miner Iluka, said that companies such as BHP Billiton had abandoned titanium mines because of capital expenditure blowouts. He estimated that the price of slag was closer to $400 per tonne.

Sowanna Gauntlett, country director of NGO Wildlife Alliance, said her organisation had observed that exploration had not been sufficient to see if such large deposits existed.

State clamps down on labour recruiters

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

THE Labour Ministry announced yesterday that an inter-ministerial panel had been created to amend rules governing firms that recruited and trained workers to be sent abroad.

The move follows a spate of complaints accusing government-sanctioned training centres of mistreating and abusing recruits.

Speaking at the launch of a new set of industry guidelines yesterday, Hou Vudthy, deputy director of the ministry’s Employment and Manpower Department, said a 1995 sub-decree would be amended to ensure that “the workers have more rights and more understanding” of their rights.

“We are rewriting Sub-decree No 57 on the sending of Khmer workers to work abroad ... and it is an important thing,” he said.

Last month, officials investigated three sanctioned recruitment firms after trainees said they were illegally detained. Officials reported finding more than 60 underage girls in facilities run by the three and accused one of housing trainees in overcrowded and squalid conditions.

An Bunhak, chairman of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said yesterday that the old sub-decree had been too broad to be effective. “We have had a lot of problems, and we had no regulations to help us,” he said. “The last sub-decree is two or three pages; the new one is about 30 or 40 pages.”

Whereas the old sub-decree merely required firms to register with the Commerce Ministry, he said, the new one would regulate conditions at training centres, occupancy limits and recruitment practices.

An Bunhak said the new committee hoped to send a draft of the new sub-decree to the Interior Ministry by “the end of this year”.

Labour Minister Vong Soth said yesterday that the new regulations would be strictly enforced. “We will do inspections of the recruitment firms often, and we will punish them if we find them doing wrong,” he said.

Vong Soth said there would be incentives, such as “honour certification”, for firms complying with the rules. There are 28 groups licensed by the ministry to train and send workers abroad.

Abhisit set to ‘clarify’ Preah Vihear stance

Photo by: AFP
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva addresses a Yellow Shirt rally in Bangkok this week.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:03 Cheang Sokha

THAI Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will write to the United Nations today in order to clarify Bangkok’s stance on the country’s long-standing border dispute with Cambodia.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said yesterday that the foreign ministry was expected to submit the letter to the UN after Abhisit signed his name.

The letter addresses allegations contained in letters that Prime Minister Hun Sen sent to the UN Security Council and General Assembly on Sunday, in which he accused Thailand of “flagrant” violations of the UN Charter.

The letters referred to comments by Abhisit, who reportedly told a rally on Saturday that he would use “both democratic and military means” to settle the dispute over a 4.6-square-kilometre area adjacent to Preah Vihear Temple.

In a speech Monday, Hun Sen also called for international adjudication of the dispute, saying existing bilateral mechanisms had failed.

The Thai response came as a survey undertaken by the Thai national institute of development administration showed that 70 percent of respondents wanted the government to “push” Cambodians from the disputed area. NIDA surveyed 1,133 people from across the country.

Cambodian officials dismissed the results yesterday, denying that Thailand had any claim over the area.

“Cambodia will not allow Thailand to do whatever they wish,” said Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit. “We will reserve the rights to defend against any act of aggression.”

Rare tiger may not be prowling Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:03 Cameron Wells

THE endangered Indochinese tiger has not been spotted in Cambodia in the past three years, sparking fears that the species may be all but extinct in the Kingdom, according to a new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The soon-to-be published report also says there is no evidence that breeding tiger populations exist in Cambodia.

WCS Director Mark Gately said yesterday that there was no guarantee any tigers were still alive in Cambodia.

“There’s an estimate of between zero and 10 tigers in the eastern plains,” he said, referring to an area spanning Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces in the northeast.

“Information across Cambodia isn’t complete, but the general consensus is that there isn’t a breeding population in Cambodia.”

According to the report, the last confirmed tiger sighting was in a protected forest in Mondulkiri. Photo “traps” captured pictures of two tigers in 2007.

Since then, no photos or sightings have been reported despite the placement of similar photo traps in other known tiger habitats, including the eastern plains, the Cardamom mountains, Kulen mountain in Siem Reap and Virachey National Park in Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces.

The last tiger “tracks” were discovered at the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in the eastern plains in 2009.

Lesley Perlman, programme manager at Wildlife Alliance, said the government’s Wildlife Rescue Team, which the organisation supports, had not seen any evidence of the presence of tigers since 2006, when it confiscated a tiger skin.

She said, however, that WA had difficulty monitoring Cambodia’s wildlife trade.

Omaliss Keo, deputy director of the Forestry Administration’s department of wildlife and biodiversity, dismissed suggestions that the number of tigers in Cambodia could have fallen to zero.

“We don’t accept this figure,” he said. “But it is hard to predict how many tigers [are] in the wild.”

He said the FA was working on creating more appropriate habitats for tigers to repopulate. “The government is trying to increase protected forest for the [tiger] habitat,” he said, and officials were working on a Tiger Action Plan, which is due to be finished by the end of the year “or early 2011”.

Emma Stokes, regional tiger monitoring coordinator at WCS and a co-author of the report, said every effort was being made by the Cambodian government to increase the Indochinese tiger population.

“At the [Global Tiger Initiative] meeting in Bali in mid-July, the [Forestry Administration] presented that there is no tiger breeding population in Cambodia,” she said. “They have been a very productive part of the process.”

She said the Global Tiger Initiative – involving 13 countries with known tiger ranges – was considering “translocating” tigers from nearby areas. “But there is a long way to go for translocation to happen.”

She said poaching was most likely the major reason for the rapid decline in tiger numbers across Cambodia.

“Conservation efforts in Cambodia began quite late. By the late 1990s and early 2000s the first surveys were taken, and by then the numbers were already small,” she said. “It’s probably a good guess that [the decline] is from poaching and the illegal trade business.”

But she said that hope remains for tigers in the Kingdom if translocation occurs, since Cambodia “has a lot of good tiger habitat remaining”.

New park to displace locals

Photo by: Pha Lina
Homes line the Tonle Sap riverfront in Daun Penh and Russey Keo districts. Hundreds of families in the area could be displaced by a public park project funded by petrol conglomerate Sokimex.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

HUNDREDS of families living along the Tonle Sap river will be evicted to make way for a public park, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said yesterday.

Speaking at a ceremony in Russey Keo district to inaugurate construction of the park, Kep Chuktema said he had ordered municipal officials to spread information about the impending relocation, the latest in a string of large-scale evictions in the capital in recent years.

“Local authorities who control the territory in this area must post announcements about this immediately so that the people are ready to pull down their homes,” he said.

Chan Samang, chief of Russey Keo commune, said roughly 500 families in his jurisdiction would be displaced by the project, planned for the western shore of the Tonle Sap near National Road 5. Tuol Sangke commune chief Soy Kosal said more than 200 families in his commune would be affected, and Srah Chak commune chief Chay Thirith put the total in his commune at more than 100 households.

“These structures were built without permission from the authorities,” Kep Chuktema said, gesturing towards homes on the river’s edge in Russey Keo commune. “If those people do not pull down their houses themselves, City Hall will consider dismantling them.”

Kim Sreang, 26, a resident of Russey Keo commune’s Klaing Saing village, said she would comply the with the city’s plans, provided that she was offered reasonable compensation. “I will accept the order to pull down my house if [Kep Chuktema] agrees to pay us the fair, market price for our homes,” Kim Sreang said. Commune officials had yet to announce the plans for her community, she said.

Heu Heng, general director of Sokimex Company, said at the event that the park would be roughly 250 metres long and 100 metres wide, and would likely be completed in six months. Sokimex, which has a petroleum depot on National Road 5 near the proposed park, is providing US$700,000 to support the project, Heu Heng said.

“We expect that people will be happy when they come and visit this park and take in the fresh air,” Heu Heng said. “It will beautify our city and make it more attractive for locals and international tourists.”

Kep Chuktema praised the “social responsibility” Sokimex had exhibited in taking on the project.

“This shows goodwill that we must recognise and try to follow ourselves,” he said.

To the west of the proposed park, more than 4,000 families living on the Boeung Kak lakeside are set to be displaced by a firm owned by Senator Lao Meng Khin of the Cambodian People’s Party.

Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree designating the land as “state private property” and clearing the way for its development.

Public heath: City to host meeting on pandemics

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:03 Cheang Sokha

Public heath

CAMBODIA is to host the first international conference on pandemic preparedness and response, which will focus on managing the impacts of severe pandemics in Southeast Asia.

According to a joint statement issued Tuesday by the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United States Agency for International Development, the exercise will take place in Phnom Penh from August 16-20 and is expected to attract more than 170 high-level participants.

“The unprecedented event aims to improve the capabilities of ASEAN member states, both individually and collectively, to prepare for and respond to a severe pandemic with potentially devastating effects on the region,” the statement said. Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, emphasised the importance of the event.

“Cambodia was one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to focus its preparedness efforts on non-health sectors,” he said in the statement. “This event provides the opportunity to bring the multi-sector preparedness focus to a regional level.”

Ministry advocates migration

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Workers trained by a local employment agency look back at relatives in December last year as they leave Phnom Penh International Airport for jobs in Malaysia.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

DESPITE expressing concerns over a recent spate of reports concerning the alleged mistreatment of migrant worker trainees, Labour Ministry officials yesterday extolled the benefits of working abroad as they launched a report detailing a new set of guidelines designed to bolster worker protections.

The report, which outlines the ministry’s new labour migration policy, states that youth unemployment levels are “becoming critical”, and points to foreign labour markets as “a cornerstone for alleviation of unemployment, income enhancement and poverty

About 250,000 young job-seekers will enter the labour market annually over the next few years, according to estimates in the report, which notes that employment opportunities in the Kingdom have become limited because “economic growth and employment in Cambodia have been narrowly concentrated in the agricultural, garment, construction and tourism sectors”.

The authors of the report, dated June, conclude that expanding the migrant workforce can benefit young workers by providing more opportunities, so long as more stringent protections are in place. “Thus, the current Ministerial Strategic Plan sets out the following main interventions: improved management of foreign employment; expanded protection of migrant workers; strong inter-ministerial coordination; and intimate international cooperation,” the report says.

Among other things, the new policy guidelines require that labour attach├ęs be posted to Cambodian embassies to support workers in foreign countries, that a list of placement and documentation costs payable by migrant workers be established, and that vocational training courses be improved.

The report also underscores the need for new “comprehensive” legislation governing the labour-migration process and the protection of migrant workers.

Labour officials said yesterday that amendments to an existing sub-decree were expected to be finalised by the end of the year, and that the amendments would set out stricter guidelines for migrant recruitment companies.

According to the report, the legislation should include “provisions for the suspension or withdrawal of recruitment and placement licenses in cases of violation”.

The new regulations would support what appears to be a rapidly expanding workforce, with twice as many Cambodian migrant workers finding jobs in Malaysia through recruitment firms during the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, according to figures provided by the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies earlier this month.

Seng Sakada, director general at the Labour Ministry, said yesterday that migrants stood to gain both individual and social rewards.

“The workers who go to work abroad get many benefits such as earning money to help their living standards and professional skills for their lives,” he said, and migrant workers were often able to send money home to their families.

Hou Vudthy, deputy director of the ministry’s Employment and Manpower Department, said yesterday that he believed that the sub-decree would enable migrant workers to experience these benefits without fear of the potential drawbacks.

“Now we have more experience after we practiced sending the workers to work abroad since 1998,” he said, referring to the year workers were first sent through the ministry.

“We have 12 years’ [experience] with this, so we have enough experience to make our sub-decree strong and good.”

Police arrest fugitive sought in land row

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara

POLICE in Battambang province arrested a village representative on Monday night after the man and three other fugitives came out of hiding to lend support to their community in a long-running land dispute with a Phnom Penh military police official.

Nha Mak, 40, was arrested at 5.30pm by Kors Kralor district police at his home in Doun Ba commune, said Luong Sokha, a village representative.

After the arrest, police and military police forces were deployed in Doun Ba commune to prevent villagers from going to their representative’s aid, he said.

Luong Sokha said villagers were able to prevent the arrest of the other three representatives by patrolling the area with machetes and gathering the entire village to sleep overnight in a central location.

“Police and military police have threatened villagers and told us that if anyone dares to leave the village they will be arrested,” he said.

In August 2008, Nha Mak and four other villagers were sentenced in absentia to five years in prison for robbery and destruction of public property.

One villager, Hun Sengly, was arrested immediately following the verdict. The four others, including Nha Mak, went underground and did not surface until Sunday, when they helped stage a protest in Phnom Penh to draw attention to their row with Long Sidare, a military police officer.

Villagers say that since September 2008, Long Sidare has attempted to evict 415 families from 1,672 hectares of land to make way for a rubber plantation.

Van Dy, 42, one of four fugitives who returned home Monday after a two-year absence, said she feared that her arrest was imminent.

“Now I dare not live in my house or let the police see my face,” she said.

Lay Nang, Kors Kralor district police chief, said that about 10 police officers had been deployed near the village to “prevent violence” following the arrest. “But we are not trying to hunt down any other villagers,” he said.

Pour Prong, director of the Battambang provincial cabinet, said Nha Mak’s arrest was justified because of the verdict handed down in 2008.

“We have tried to find a resolution for the villagers, but they have not come to negotiate with us. Both [the villagers and Long Sidare] have taken over land that is state public property,” he said.

But Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said that local authorities had failed to make sufficient efforts to resolve the land dispute.

Land conflict: Soldiers hold NGO workers

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara

Land conflict

SOLDIERS in Kampong Speu province detained 13 members of the Cambodian Disabled Survivors’ Association yesterday after accusing them of trying to construct roads on land belonging to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, officials said.

Touch Seouly, the NGO’s director, said the workers were taken into custody at 8am and transferred to the RCAF Stung Chral Development Centre. Upon their release four hours later, he said, some claimed to have been beaten and shocked with electric batons.

“They took our members’ hands and tied them behind their backs, and then they used their electric batons,” he said.

He also accused the soldiers of firing shots into the air outside the centre in an attempt to disperse a crowd of 50 NGO staffers who had gathered to protest the arrests.

Mom Chheang, commander of the RCAF unit stationed at the centre, denied the abuse allegations and said the NGO members had been arrested for impinging on military land. RCAF and the CDSA have previously clashed over the land, which the CDSA says is part of a 1,500-hectare concession it was awarded in 2000.

City man attacked with acid

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:02 Kim Samath

RUSSEY Keo district police are searching for two suspects who attacked a 55-year-old man with acid after the man finished work at a local Coca-Cola bottling plant on Monday night, local officials said.

Son Kannareth, Russey Keo district police chief, said yesterday that the victim, Noun Bunthoeun, had been sent to Calmette Hospital after a pair of men riding a motorbike doused him with approximately half a litre of acid.

“We do not yet know the suspects’ identities, but we are investigating so that we can make arrests,” Son Kannareth said. He said that he did not know the motive for the attack.

“We tried to ask the victim if he knew the reason for the attack so we could include it in our report, but he did not tell us anything,” Son Kannareth said.

We have been deficient in broadcasting information about the law to people and warning them....

Chhun Sophea, programme manager of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said the victim had suffered considerable injury.

“I went to meet the victim at the hospital and saw that he had been seriously injured on his body, head, face, ears, back, chin and legs,” she said.

She said that the victim would be transferred to CASC’s treatment facility in Kandal province today.

Chhun Sophea said that there had been 25 people injured in 20 cases of acid attacks so far this year, and she called on government officials and community leaders to raise awareness about the problem.

“We have been deficient in broadcasting information about the law to people and warning them about the serious dangers of acid,” she said.

A government committee has been tasked with drafting a law on acid crimes, though this legislation has been subject to repeated delays and has yet to be sent to the Council of Ministers.

The committee was formed in February after a spate of attacks that began late last year, and committee members originally said that they expected their draft law to be completed shortly after Khmer New Year.

A May survey of acid attack survivors by CASC found that 47 percent of victims were male, and that just 9 percent of victims believed they had been attacked as a result of extramarital affairs.

Nineteen percent of victims included in the survey said they either did not know why they were attacked or declined to specify what they believed the reason was.

Court denies bail request for tycoon’s wife

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Seng Chanda, the wife of businessman Khaou Chuly, leaves Phnom Penh Municipal Court with her lawyer after questioning in June.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Appeal Court yesterday upheld the Municipal Court’s decision to deny bail to the wife of a prominent Phnom Penh businessman accused of plotting to kill her stepdaughter.

Last month, Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Seng Chenda, the wife of construction and engineering tycoon Khaou Chuly, with attempted premeditated murder under Article 3 of the Law on Aggravating Circumstances of Felonies.

The charges came after she was fingered as the mastermind of a plot targeting Suv Chantha, the wife of Sun Chanthol. Sun Chanthol is vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works and transport.

On June 16, Suv Chantha, Khaou Chuly’s daughter, filed a complaint accusing two men and two women of attempting to rape and murder her and her daughter in the family’s Sen Sok district villa.

The lawyer for the foursome, Dun Vibol, said after their subsequent arrest that three of his clients had told police that Seng Chanda hired them to carry out the crime.

Seng Chanda’s lawyer, Lim Vanna, said yesterday’s Appeal Court ruling had left him “disappointed”.

“We tried our best to present reasons to judges for their consideration, for my client has a blood disease, and she has vowed not to escape while on bail,” Lim Vanna said.

He said that he had not yet consulted with his client on whether to take the bail matter to the Supreme Court, but that the decision would rest with his client. No trial date has been set for the case.

Climate yields rice concerns

Photo by: AFP
Farmers plant rice in a field in Kampong Speu province, about 60 kilometres south of Phnom Penh.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 Jerermy Mullins and Sun Mesa

TROPICAL Asia’s rice yields are at risk because of climate change, as evidence suggests higher temperatures have already cut growth rates as much as 20 percent in some areas, according the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation.

A report produced by the body analysed six years’ worth of data from 227 sites in Asia, including in Thailand and southern Vietnam.
“Temperature trends are becoming more influential [on rice yields],” the report said.

“Looking ahead, they imply a net negative impact on yield from moderate warming in coming decades.”

Sar Ratha, the owner of a Battambang province rice mill, agreed yesterday that higher-than-average temperatures that could come with climate change made rice-growing difficult in the Kingdom.

“Rice yields decline with increased temperatures,” he said. “In cooler weather, farmers can grow more rice with less chemical fertiliser.”

Sar Ratha said the year to date had seen yields decline, and blamed the phenomenon partly on hot weather.

Cambodian Economic Association director Chan Sophal estimated at least 50 percent of Cambodians were dependant on agriculture, and said that any decrease in rice yields would significantly affect the Kingdom’s economy.

“There can be droughts and floods, but climate change could makes things worse,” he said, but he emphasised that the association had not directly studied the issue.

Warmer weather could affect both buyers and sellers of Cambodia’s “white gold”, said Yun Viden, owner of Tong Viden rice mill in Battambang province.

“Every year the weather becomes hotter, both sides will be affected.

“Farmers will have less to sell, and buyers will face higher prices,” he said.

He said that the problem could affect the Kingdom’s economy if the population grows further when crop yields are in decline.

The government is currently trying to improve rice yields to help fuel exports, by improving infrastructure and irrigation systems.

Cambodia aims to produce as much as 15 million tonnes of paddy by 2015 Next week, the government is scheduled to produce its updated rice policy, as the Kingdom attempts to transform itself into a regional player on the rice market.

Police Blotter: 11 Aug 2010

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 Kaing Menghun

A 21-year-old masseuse told police that she decided to leap out of a car on Monday night in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district because she suspected that the driver might rape or torture her and not pay for her sex service. The girl agreed to sex with the man for $30. However, he said he only had $10 after she got in the car. She stayed in the car until he proposed driving her to a place other than the one they had agreed upon. She started to feel that the man was not reliable and jumped out of the car. The man drove off in panic and overturned the vehicle. It was later reported that he was penniless, and that the car belonged to a Korean company.

A police officer was severely cut in the face by a 16-year-old “gangster” last Saturday at a birthday dance party in Dangkor district. Police said the “gangster” was dancing, smoking and behaving inappropriately. When the victim told him to smoke outside, the “gangster” became furious and cut him. The officer died from his injuries two days later. The assailant reportedly fled the scene on foot.

One person died immediately in a crash that took place last Thursday in Ratanakkiri province’s Banlung town. The land transportation office reported that the victim was Sar Korn, a 32-year-old moto-taxi driver. The driver of a car, 26-year-old Sok Panha, crushed the motorbike while going in the opposite direction. The car was reported to be severely damaged, but Sok Panha escaped. Witnesses said they were confident they would recognise him.

A moto-taxi driver was spotted hanging from a tree close to a pond last Friday in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune. No one could identify the 40-year-old victim. It was thought at first that the man was killed and left hanging, so police didn’t do anything with the body while they waited for an expert assessment. Following input from the court and a hospital, it was revealed that the man hanged himself.

Three women from Kampong Cham province were robbed and injured in Chamkarmon district on Friday. Two robbers with handguns stole the women’s money and purses as well as a necklace and fled on foot. The victims said they had wanted to purchase an electric sander to clean up a wooden board. The lost items were valued at more than US$1,000.

Sharp decline for new electronics

Photo by: Pha Lina
The Sunsimexco showroom on Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh, yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

SALES of new consumer electronics have declined by between 20 to 30 percent so far this year, as rising secondhand sales dampened demand, according to importers.

Consumers were not spending on electronics, despite other sectors rebounding as Cambodia’s economy improved, according to Sunsimexco marketing manager Taing Sothearith.

Sunsimexco is the Kingdom’s oldest electronics distributor in operation, and imports the products of eight brands including Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic.

“Restaurants are opening everywhere with lots of customers – I don’t know why our sales are still not good,” he said yesterday.

Pi Meng Leang, a senior salesman at K-Four, said that an increase in secondhand products was damping sales of new electronics.

The firm has three Phnom Penh branches and one in Siem Reap, and presently imports brand-name electronic equipment from Singapore.

“K-Four’s sales have declined by 30 percent so far this year, despite us discounting prices by 10 percent,” said Pi Meng Leang.

“Buyers are getting clever. Before they come to us, they are checking with secondhand shops that sell good-quality products.”

Vendors of used electronics generally claimed stronger sales so far this year compared to the first six months of 2009, as attractive pricing brought increased spending from the Kingdom’s middle and lower income families.

“Our sales are strong this year, especially from ordinary people such as farmers,” said Sok Chea, owner of a self-named electronics store on Phnom Penh’s Kampuchea Krom Boulevard.

“Now, the quality of secondhand products is comparable to brand-new items, while the price is completely different,” he said.

Sunsimexco’s Taing Sothearith said that despite a poor start to 2010, he expected sales to be in line with last year’s figures when high season ramped up next month.

However, he said the availability of counterfeit goods may also be partly to blame for falling demand.

“People are using our brand names on fake products – this contributes to the drop in sales,” he said.

The Kingdom is planning to establish a sub-committee on intellectual property rights enforcement, said Intellectual Property Rights Department Director Var Roth San.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

via Khmer NZ

Drugs in the mail: Two charged with mailing heroin packs

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Drugs in the mail

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged two Cambodian men with cross-border drug trafficking after police arrested them on suspicion of mailing 3 kilograms of heroin packaged as chocolate to Australia, court officials said.

An Interior Ministry official who asked not to be named said police arrested the men on August 7 after receiving a tip from Australian police, who said they had received the package in May. The package was mailed from Siem Reap province and bore Mao Sokha’s name and contact information, the official said.

Te Sam Ang declined to provide details of the case, citing the ongoing investigation, but said the men had been placed in pretrial detention. He said that they each faced up to 30 years in jail if convicted.
Construction: Materials rise slightly in first half

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 Soeun Say


THE value of construction material imports increased a modest 3.14 percent in the first six months of the year, compared to 2009, according to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce yesterday.

According to a CamControl report, 254,839 tonnes of construction materials worth US$92.9 million entered the country in the first half, up from 233,586 tonnes worth US$90.1 million in the first half of 2009.

General Manager of Khmer Construction Building Materials, So Chandara, said yesterday that sales had improved, as some construction projects had restarted after a difficult year.

Lao Tip Seiha, director of construction department at the Ministry of Land Management, emphasised that smaller developments of less than 3,000 square metres were seeing growth.

OSK province roll-out

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 Jimmy Ellingham

MALAYSIA-owned OSK Indochina Bank is to open branches in Battambang, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville by December this year. Sivkim Sent, secretary to the chief operating officer for Cambodia, said OSK already had four branches in Phnom Penh. The bank was recruiting workers for the new locations, she said.

Thai Airways’ contract extended at airports

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:00 Ellie Dyer

THAI Airways’ contract to handle air maintenance services at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports has been extended by four years, according to a press release. A previous contract had been signed in 2004. The airline offers handling services to 10 international carriers, including technical checks, refueling and provision of spare parts.

The Prime Minister Encourages Officials to Care about the National Interest – Tuesday, 10.8.2010

via Khmer NZ

Posted on 10 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 |
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Prime Minister Hun Sen advised high ranking officials yesterday [9 August 2010] that their positions cannot be passed on to their family members of the next generation, but he suggested to focus on creating contributions in the national interest rather than to maintain their positions.

“In a speech during a forum on questions of national development held by the government in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that government officials should respect and act according to their roles to serve the public.

“He added, ‘Do not forget that the positions of minister, deputy prime minister, secretary of state, and under-secretary of state in all institutions are not permanent ones or can be passed on to your children.’ He went on to say, ‘It is the same for the provincial governors. You cannot keep your positions forever or pass them on to your children. What we do is for the future of the whole nation.’

“A son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Mr. Hun Manet, 32, is a general of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces; he has earned a degree from the US West Point Military Academy and a senior degree in economics from Bristol University of England. However, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he does not want Mr. Hun Manet to enter politics.”

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #233, 10.8.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Abhisit: No help needed

via Khmer NZ

Aug 10, 2010

BANGKOK - THAILAND'S Prime Minister said on Tuesday he would strive to peacefully resolve a bitter border dispute with Cambodia, and outside mediation, as Cambodia has sought, was not needed.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Cambodia's recent appeal to the United Nations to help negotiate is unnecessary because a 2000 agreement between the countries provides the framework for a solution.

He accused Cambodia of causing the problem by moving people onto 1.8 square miles (4.6 square kilometres) of disputed land around the Preah Vihear temple. Both countries have a heavy troop presence in the area, and have had several small but sometimes deadly clashes in the past few years.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the 11th century temple belongs to Phnom Penh.

UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. The country submitted a management plan for the temple recently to UNESCO's World Heritage Commission, which deferred a decision until next year.

Mr Abhisit is under pressure to move aggressively because Thai right-wing nationalists have protested that Cambodian actions there threaten Thailand's sovereignty. They also want Thailand to revoke the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding as jeopardising Thai territorial claims, which Mr Abhisit denies. -- AP

cotsuratThailand wants border talks with P. Penh

via Khmer NZ

Published: 11/08/2010
Thailand has proposed talks with Cambodia to settle the dispute over the border area claimed by the two countries.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday said a Joint Boundary Committee meeting should be held soon to put the issue on the negotiating table. Thailand was arranging the date and venue of the meeting, he said.

Vasin Teeravechyan leads the Thai delegation to the JBC set up to resolve the unclear boundary dividing the two countries. The forum used the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2000 as a framework for negotiations.

Thailand yesterday also made diplomatic moves to counter Cambodia on the Preah Vihear temple issue.

Mr Kasit explained the Thai position to the envoys of eight members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called on international involvement in the issue to solve the problem of the disputed area.

The minister has also sent a letter approved by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to the presidents of the United Nations Assembly General and the UN Security Council to explain the Thai stance.

The main thrust is that Thailand wants the disputed border to be resolved bilaterally through negotiation.

The prime minister will hold talks with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon during his visit to the UN headquarters from Sept 20 to 27 to attend the General Assembly, government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said.

The prime minister told reporters at Government House that Thailand would not allow any country to intervene in the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

"There is no need for any foreign country to worry about our problem because we will solve it under the MoU," he said.

Mr Abhisit said Cambodia had violated the memorandum by relocating people to a community set up inside the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area .

He expressed confidence the problems would not escalate.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia soured again after the World Heritage Committee meeting on July 29 in Brazil delayed approving the management plan for the temple and surrounding area sent by Cambodia. Thailand protested that the area covered by the plan intruded on the overlapping zone.

First Army commander Kanit Sapitak said he and Cambodia's 5th military region commander Bun Seng held talks and shared the view that the two countries should settle the border conflict through negotiation and peaceful means.

Lt Gen Kanit said he and Lt Gen Bun Seng had agreed both armies would avoid armed confrontation and not use force.

Iran, Cambodia pledge to expand ties

via Khmer NZ

Tehran Times Political Desk
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TEHRAN – Iran and Cambodia are determined to increase all-encompassing relations particularly in economic sphere.

In a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in Tehran on Tuesday, the two sides called for expansion of ties in all areas.

Mottaki said Cambodia is a friend of Iran and that the expansion of ties will benefit both nations.

He also said that everything is ripe for developing trade ties, doing joint projects and investment.

Mottaki also said that the two countries could trade agricultural products including rice.

Namhong expressed hope Phnom Penh and Tehran promote relations in the future.

Thai PM Abhisit tries to clean hands with Yellow Shirts

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 10 August 2010 13:41 DAP-NEWS

Thai PM Abhisit who came to power through the support from military and yellow shirts in Bangkok and now he has tried to clean his hands and words which involved in the last demonstration, blocking Sovannaphoum Airport.

Why do we clearly understand about cleaning hands? Because today he was quoted by The Bangkok Post, “Thailand was committed to solving the border conflict under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Thailand and Cambodia in 2000.

If we look the stand of yellow group, the yellow group has always opposed the MOU. it was shown clearly that Thai PM Abhisit are trying to clean his hands from that yellow group.

“Thailand respected the World Court's 1962 ruling on the ancient temple, but has the right to protect its sovereignty if Cambodia intrudes into the disputed land,” Thai PM Abhisit was also quoted by the Bangkok Post.

As Thai PM, Mr. Abhisit understood clearly about international law on this point. In 1962, the international court of justice awarded the temple to Cambodia after Thai troops invaded in 1954 -1962 when Cambodia got independence from France in 1953 and Cambodian troops still was weak at that time.

Furthermore, Mr Abhisit said the MoU is still in effect so it should be used as a framework to settle the border dispute. On this point, he is very clear. We (Thais and Cambodians) should remember that MoU 2000 was organized by this PM because at that time in 2000, Mr. Abhisit was secretary general of Democrat party led by PM Chuan Lee Pai. Mr. Abhisit very clearly understood that MoU. Mr. Abhisit is one of top officials that set up the MoU.

Everything on MoU is known very well by this PM. One point of these things in MoU talks about border deal and other exchange prisoners but all political prisoners will not be extradited.

Now, Thai PM has tried to ignore about yellow but his blood from yellow group and therefore, he could not forget his alliance. Sometimes, he spoke one way that could survive his government before upcoming general election to seek the support from yellow group in general election and put away the MoU. But today he said MoU is still effective. This is his trick for his government to win in all battles.

Today he also revealed that he will send a letter to UN to explain about Preah Vihear temple. The letter will rebut Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's claims that the Thai government has threatened to use military force against Cambodia, Mr Abhisit said. He has tried to show his muscle to his people before election.

Even though Thai PM said “International assistance is not needed.”. He wanted to do it bilaterally but his government always speaks unworthily. The ways how to clean hands, he should do is to terminate all his alliance with yellow group and turned to continue border deal to reach to plant the border posts with Cambodia.

One more thing, why Thailand are so fearful when Cambodia plan to sumbit the case to the International communities, this is matter that Thailand is afraid of. Thailand will lose his face and dishonor from the border deal at world class.

Clean hands with all former alliances with saving his government and his party.