Tuesday, 17 August 2010

ASEAN calls for solution to border dispute


via Khmer NZ

Phnom Penh, Aug 17 (VNA) – ASEAN General Secretary Surin Pitsuwan has called for a peaceful solution to a border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand.

The ASEAN leader talked with the media after meeting Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong on Aug 16 in Phnom Penh.

Deputy PM Hor Namhong reaffirmed Cambodia ’s stand in solving the current border dispute with Thailand by peaceful means. However, he stressed that Cambodia is ready to defend its territorial integrity against any act of aggression.

The disputed ancient Preah Vihear temple is located in the mountains on the border between the two neighbouring countries.

The International Court of Justice decided in June 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the boundary through the surrounding grounds includes an area of 4.6 sq. km that has been in dispute since the temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008. (VNA)

Workers to go on mass-strike for hike in minimum wage

via Khmer NZ

August 17, 2010 (Cambodia)

Reports say that, over 60,000 workers engaged in the garment industry, have undertook to observe a week-long strike next month, as the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia have refused their demand to renegotiate the new minimum wage structure devised for the industry.

Ath Thun, Head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, recently at a meeting held at Meanchey district said that, the workers’ leaders got thumb impressions of over 60,000 workers who pledged to be part of the week-long strike to be held next month.

He further said that, though they had obeyed the rules, the authorities have rebuffed to get into any further discussions with them. Thus, they have resolved to go on a week-long strike since September 13. Thun further added that, they seek justice for workers who although, work hard but are paid too little for their work.

Labour Advisory Committee, a body of government officials and industry representatives, last month opted to hike the minimum wages for garment workers by US $5 per month to $61 and decided to implement the new wage structure from October this year. But the worker’s leaders called this wage to be inadequate and demanded to raise it to $93 per month and that too with additional allowances.

Thun constitutes of a part of a group of 13 trade leaders who passed on a letter to GMAC and the Ministry of Labour at the start of the month, demanding them to carry out fresh negotiations for wages.

However, there has been no response from the side of the authorities. If discussions are carried out by the Ministry, then the due strike could be avoided.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

Suthep: Thailand didn't send ASEAN head to talk with Cambodia on Preah Vihear dispute

via Khmer NZ

BANGKOK, Aug 17 - Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Tuesday denied that Thailand had anything to do with dispatching Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to talk with Cambodia on the Preah Vihear dispute, saying the border row should not be raised in regional level.

Mr Suthep said Thailand has made it clear that its position on the issue is to resolve the problem at the bilateral level and that it will not be raised in ASEAN.

He made his remarks a day after the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency reported the ASEAN chief said on Monday after meeting Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Numhong in Phnom Penh that he must wait for a decision by ASEAN foreign ministers before responding to Cambodia's request for regional help in resolving the row.

Cambodia earlier had written to the Vietnamese foreign minister, in his capacity as ASEAN chair this year, seeking the bloc's intervention to help solve the border dispute, as well as seeking a United Nations' role in the matter to avoid possible "bloodshed" caused by the dispute.

Meanwhile, activists of the Thailand Patriot Network led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong on Tuesday rallied at Parliament during the current joint parliamentary session, asking that it not consider any documents concerning the border agreements reached by the Thai-Cambodia Joint Border Committee (JBC) on its agenda.

Mr Chaiwat said his group demanded that Thailand revoke the Memorandum of Understanding made with Cambodia in 2000 and to remove all agenda items concerning Thailand-Cambodia border dispute from the parliamentary session.

The activist said the protest will end only if the issue is withdrawn from the agenda of the joint parliamentary session.

Mr Suthep reaffirmed that the negotiation framework in demarcating the land boundary under JBC will not be discussed on Tuesday session, but he refused to explain the reason.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob added no new agenda on JBC has been proposed for discussion today, except the pending case since 2008 in which the House committee has already completed its consideration.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the 11th century temple belongs to Cambodia. UNESCO accorded its status as a World Heritage site in 2008 after Cambodia applied for the privilege while the dispute on the contested 4.6 sq km area of land near the cliff-top temple by Thailand and Cambodia remains unsolved.

Tension flared up when Bangkok objected to Phnom Penh submitting a management plan for the temple which required map of the area late last month to UNESCO's World Heritage Commission (WHC). The agency decided on July 29 to defer the decision until it meets next year. (MCOT online News)

Military ties of Cambodia, Thailand remain good: Thai Army Chief

via Khmer NZ

August 17, 2010

The military ties between Cambodia and Thailand have remained good, Thailand's national Army Commander-in-Chief General Anupong Paochinda said on Tuesday, according to the Thai News Agency(TNA).

"There is no report that Cambodia reinforces the Thai-Cambodian border," General Anupong said.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thailand did not ask ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan to discuss the border dispute with Cambodia on Thailand's behalf.

Suthep said he did not know that a meeting between ASEAN secretary-general Surin and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, which was held on Monday evening.

The Thai deputy premier has also reiterated that the Thai government wants bilateral talks with Phnom Penh to settle the border conflict.

The two neighboring countries, Cambodia and Thailand, have been at loggerheads over the Preah Vihear temple, which in 1962 was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice.

On July 29 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC) decided to reschedule its discussion on Cambodia's management plan for the Preah Vihear temple to its 35th annual meeting in Bahrain in 2011.

The WHC decision of rescheduling its discussion on Cambodia's management plan for the Preah Vihear temple was made at the 34th WHC annual meeting in Brazil.

On Aug. 11, the Bangkok Post's website reported that Cambodia asked Thailand to postpone indefinitely the General Border Committee (GBC) meeting scheduled for Aug. 27-28 in capital Bangkok,Thai defence spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsaeng said.

The GBC meeting was planned to be co-chaired by Thailand's Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon and his Cambodian counterpart General Tea Banh.

Thailand and Cambodia have historically laid claim to the site, which is located on a mountain top on the Thai-Cambodia border. The disputed area of 4.6 square kilometers has not been demarcated.

Source: Xinhua

Prosecutors at Cambodia tribunal seek genocide indictment

via Khmer NZ

Published on : 17 August 2010
By International Justice Desk (Photo: RNW)

Prosecutors at the UN-backed Cambodia tribunal on Monday requested the indictment of four ex-Khmer Rouge leaders on genocide and war crimes charges.

International prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) formally requested the indictment of Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and violations of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code.

In the nearly one thousand page document, the prosecution summarises the evidence collected during a two-year investigation and describe how it supports the allegations against the accused.

The prosecution alleges that the former Khmer Rouge leaders committed crimes through a joint criminal enterprise, which was aimed at igniting a political revolution in Cambodia and to destroy any opposition of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK).

Through this joint criminal enterprise, the accused allegedly enslaved the Cambodian population and deprived them of their fundamental human rights and freedoms.

They also organised mass killings of potential enemies of the CPK.

The judges in Phnom Penh must now either dismiss the charges, or indict the accused persons and send the case to trial. They may also choose to indict the four on different charges. This decision may in turn be appealed by the prosecution.

However, if the judges fail to file a formal indictment by September 19th, Nuon Chea, or brother number two, must be released, due to the expiry of his three-year pre-trial detention limit.

(Source: ECCC)

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ

Cambodia Launches Policy of Paddy Production and Rice Export

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 10:09 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 17, 2010-The Cambodian government on Tuesday launched the policy of paddy production and rice export in a move to enlarge the rice production and strengthen the strategy of growing rice production with high production and set up long term of agricultural infrastructure in the country.

“The policy paper on the promotion of paddy production and rice export aims at promoting agricultural development at a new pace and in a new scale that broaden and strengthen the foundation of economic growth while accelerating poverty reduction and improving the people’s live hoods,” Prime Minister Hun Sen told the launching ceremony that joined by hundreds of participants from private sectors, governmental officials and foreign diplomats.

The main and sole purposes of this policy paper us to increase paddy production and rice export, “he added. This is first important step towards the promotion of the production and export of other agricultural products, he stresses.

The potentials for rice production in the country is to increase seasons of growing rice and dry soil during dry season that our farmers did not plant rice, “he said, adding that we need private sectors and foreign investors to join to enlarge this rice production to export to foreign markets with high standards for their international markets.

This document will help local farmers through buying the rice products and techniques of growing rice, rice seed selection with high product, he noted.

Last year, Cambodia harvested with over 7 million tons of rice production with a surplus of 3 million tons of rice for export. Cambodia plans to export one million ton of milled rice product to foreign markets. Usually, Cambodian rice product exports to Vietnam and Thailand without recycling. That led the country to lose benefits from husks and barns for feeding animal stocks and force labor. 80 percent of Cambodians grow agricultural crops.

In a year, Cambodia lost about 600 million US dollars from rice production that exported without recycling, PM Hun Sen said, adding that if we could export 3 million tons of milled rice product to foreign markets with high standard, we could earn about 2100 million US dollars per year.

Cambodia could be in fourth country for exporting rice product in the world after Vietnam and Thailand and Burma. We are trying to be world’s largest rice export. Currently, in average a hectare of land, it provided about 2.6 tons of rice. And the government is trying to push to 3 -6 tons per hectare to. Cambodia has about over one million of hectare of land for grown rice. In Cambodia, a ton of simple rice is worth about 6-700 US dollar.

Mekong Nations Gather to Chart Regional Cooperation for Next Decade

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 07:26 DAP NEWS / Soy Sophea

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 17, 2010-Phnom Penh-Ministers from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) will meet in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 20 August for the 16th GMS Ministerial Meeting to discuss broad directions for the GMS long-term strategic framework covering the next ten years (2012-2022), according to ADB’s press statement on Tuesday.

With the theme, "GMS in the Next Decade: New Frontiers of Cooperation," representatives from Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, along with officials from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), are expected to also
endorse a plan of actions for improved transport and trade facilitation in the GMS, which will help bolster economic growth in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Since 1992, the six GMS countries have participated in a comprehensive program of economic cooperation covering transport, energy, telecommunications, human resource development, environment and natural resources management, trade facilitation, private investment, tourism, and agriculture with the support of ADB and other development partners.

"In just one generation, Mekong nations have moved from conflict to economic cooperation, making dramatic progress in fighting poverty and fostering greater prosperity,” said Kunio Senga, Director General in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “With the foundation being established for the next decade, we expect the GMS countries to move their regional cooperation to even higher levels, encompassing second-generation initiatives in software issues related to infrastructure connectivity.”

The ADB official hopes that the GMS countries, through their respective ministers, will chart measures to strengthen physical infrastructure, streamline cross-border transactions and transport costs, improve business environment, and ensure social and environmental protection in the subregion.

ADB promotes regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific to help developing countries address regional challenges and opportunities through collective actions. Such multi-country economic development efforts contribute to increased trade and investment and overall economicgrowth while also improving regional stability.

ADB supports GMS nations’ efforts to modernize through the construction of international standard roads, ports, railways, power generation facilities, clean water and sanitation services.

ADB also provides support for 'soft sector' enhancement, including trade and transport agreements, and works with Mekong nations to enhance environmental protection measures, support clean energy solutions, and bolster climate change mitigation efforts. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via Khmer NZ


NA President Highly Values Singapore's Contribution to Cambodian Development

Phnom Penh, August 17, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin has highly valued Singapore for its precious contribution to Cambodia’s development.

Samdech Heng Samrin made the remarks here on Aug. 16 during a meeting with out-going Singaporean Ambassador to Cambodia Mrs. Tan Yee Woan.

The Cambodian NA president also expressed thanks to the government and people of Singapore for their assistance to Cambodia in all domains.

For her part, Mrs. Tan Yee Woan told the NA president of her endeavors during her three-year mission here in strengthening relations between both countries.

She also pledged to continue to promote the relationship between the two countries even though she concluded her mission here and will take up a new assignment. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)



Cambodian-Thai Border Issue: PM, ASEAN Secretary General Stress on Patience

Phnom Penh, August 17, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and visiting ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan have shared the same idea on the need of patience regarding the current Cambodia-Thailand border dispute.

During their two-hour meeting here on Aug. 16, both sides also stressed on avoiding further armed clashes, refraining from war of words and resolving the border conflict peacefully, H.E. Sry Thamrong, minister attached to the prime minister, told reporters upon the meeting.

Cambodia has followed closely the Thai government’s attitude showing that it would submit the last three border agreements signed with Cambodia to the Thai Assembly for approval, he said.

Cambodia is determined to settle [the border issue with Thailand] by existing mechanisms, H.E. Sry Thamrong underlined.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan arrived here last Sunday to join an international exercise to prepare for severe pandemics. He also led a 30-member Muslim delegation to strengthen relations with Cambodia’s Muslim community.

Earlier on the same day, the visiting ASEAN secretary general also met with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong who reaffirmed Cambodia’s stand in solving the border dispute with Thailand by peaceful means.

The Cambodian deputy prime minister further stressed that Cambodia is ready to defend its territorial integrity against any act of aggression.

Cambodia has recently sent letters to UN General Assembly President H.E. Ali Abdussalam Treki, UN Security Council President H.E. Vitaly Churkin and ASEAN President H.E. Pham Gia Khiem, seeking their mediation to Cambodia-Thailand border conflict. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)



Vietnamese Military Delegation Visits Cambodia

Phnom Penh, August 17, 2010 AKP -- A Vietnamese Military delegation led by Gen. Le Van Dung, secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, began yesterday its four-day official visit in Cambodia.

The visit is aimed at boosting the military cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

Gen. Le Van Dung, also director of the General Political Department of the Vietnam People’s Army, is scheduled to attend today a meeting at the Defense Ministry and hold talks with Defense Minister H.E. Tea Banh.

He will pay courtesy visit to Cambodian Premier Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and visit Ream naval base in Preah Sihanouk province. --AKP

(By OU Sokha)



Cambodia Holds Table Top Exercise for Managing the Impact of Pandemics

Phnom Penh, August 17, 2010 AKP -- Foreign officials gathered here on Aug. 16 to hold Southeast Asia Regional Multisectoral Pandemic Preparedness and Response Table Top Exercise for Managing the Impact of Pandemics on Societies, Governments and Organizations.

The table top exercise, which runs through from Aug. 16 to 20, was presided over by Senior Minister Dr. Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management of the Royal Government of Cambodia with the participation of Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of ASEAN, Dr. Pieter Johannes Van Maaren, representative of the country United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) and Mr. Flynn Fuller, mission director of U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID).

The foreign officials, who participated in the 5-day forum, are from the 10 ASEAN member countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

In his remarks at the function, Senior Minister Dr. Nhim Vanda stressed the value of the event to the region.

“Cambodia was one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to focus its preparedness efforts on non-health sectors. This event provides the opportunities to bring the multi-sector preparedness focus to a regional level and set an example that can be followed on a global front,” he said

“We are all aware that the global pandemic which is in critical form is surely affecting the lives of the human beings, and socio-economic status of our nations,” he added.

He also suggested “there is only one strategy to deal with the issue, that is, to prevent and reduce the impact to a minimum level through which all of us shall set an advance planning before a critical moment by such pandemic arises.”

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of ASEAN, said “a pandemic’s disastrous nature lies in its ability to cause massive morbidity, disability and loss of human lives that could lead to severe social and economic disruptions due to discontinuity of essential services, operations and businesses.”

“The readiness of countries and the entire region to manage a highly disruptive pandemic is of prime regional and global concern. Thus, the promotion of the whole-of-society or multi-sectoral approach is something that ASEAN wish to direct the support of its partners and all stakeholders,” he said. --AKP

(By THOU Peou)



S. Korea Provides Ambulances to Cambodian Health Ministry

Phnom Penh, August 17, 2010 AKP -- The Dong Kwang Pharm Co., Ltd. of the Republic of Korea has provided here on Aug. 16 three ambulances to the Ministry of Health of Cambodia.

The handover ceremony was held in the presence of Health Minister Dr. Mam Bun Heng and President of Dong Kwang Pharm Co., Ltd. Mr. Byung Kil Yu.

On the occasion, Dr. Mam Bun Heng highly appreciated the donation, stressing that it does response to the ministry’s needs and planning.

He further said that the ambulances will be distributed to rural hospitals. --AKP

(By CHEA Vannak)



Food Security and Nutrition Training for Journalists Concluded

Phnom Penh, August 17, 2010 AKP -- The training course on Food Security and Nutrition for Cambodian Journalists was concluded here on Aug. 13 under the presidency of Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith and UNESCO Country Representative Mr. Teruo Jinnai.

On the occasion, Mr. Teruo Jinnai said that the food security and nutrition program will contribute to achieving the millennium development goals on poverty and starvation elimination, child mortality rate reduction and mother’s healthcare improvement.

For his part, Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith attached much importance to the training course on Food Security and Nutrition, praising UNESCO and the Council for Rural and Agriculture Development and Rehabilitation for running the course to promote the knowledge of journalists and their reporting skills on food security and nutrition.

The Ministry of Information has also planned to conduct more refresher courses for the ministry’s officials for their respective skills in 2010-2011, he added.

The five-day (Aug. 9-13) course drew 30 trainees from 25 media units in Cambodia. --AKP

(By Théng)

Drawing a line

Photo by: Sovan Philong

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:00 Sovan Philong

Workers begin marking a pedestrian crossing near the corner of Street 5 yesterday, as part of a City Hall project to renovate a section of Street 130 and promote tourism in the capital. City Hall officials unveiled the US$150,000 project in April.

Duch prosecutors appeal against ‘inadequate’ term

Photo by: ECCC POOL
Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:03 James O’Toole and Cheang Sokha

PROSECUTORS at the Khmer Rouge tribunal will appeal against the jail sentence handed down last month against Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, joining the chorus of victims who believe the 35-year term is unacceptably short.

In a statement released yesterday, co-prosecutors said the judgment against the accused, better known as Duch, gave “insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch’s crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes”.

Mitigating circumstances, including Duch’s expressions of remorse during the trial and his cooperation with the court, were given undue weight in the sentencing, the prosecutors said.

“The co-prosecutors submit that the sentence imposed on Duch is arbitrary and manifestly inadequate and fell outside the range of sentences available to the Trial Chamber in the circumstances,” the notice said.

International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley yesterday asked for patience from those upset by the brevity of Duch’s sentence.

“We are listening to them and we are doing everything we can within the limits of the law to express their desires before the court,” Cayley said.

Prosecutors requested during closing arguments in November that Duch be given a 40-year jail term.

Chum Mey, 79, a civil party in Case 001 and one of the few survivors of Tuol Sleng prison, said he was thankful that the prosecutors were pursuing a longer jail term for Duch. With credit for time served, the Khmer Rouge jailer stands to spend just 19 more years in prison, and could walk free if he survives to age 86.

“I applaud the prosecutors for filing an appeal on behalf of the victims.... Nineteen more years in jail for Duch cannot be accepted.”

Because prosecutors have appealed, the 66 civil parties whose claims were accepted in the judgment can now appeal against the court’s decision on reparations. The judges granted requests from the accepted civil parties that their names be included in the final judgment and that the court compile and publish all statements of apology made by Duch during the trial.

Other requests, such as calls for a memorial stupa or monetary compensation, were rejected because they either lacked specificity or were beyond the scope of possible reparation options available under the court’s jurisdiction.

“We are still in the process of examining the judgment, [and] if there are grounds for appeal against the reparation order,” said Silke Studzinsky, one of a number of civil-party lawyers.

Duch’s attorneys also plan to challlenge the judgment, though they have yet to formally file an appeal notice.

Defence lawyer Kang Ritheary said yesterday that his team would make its filing soon and argue that Duch’s relatively low rank within the regime put him outside the court’s mandate.

Under court rules, the prosecutors now have an additional 60 days to formally file their appeal.

Cayley said he expected that the appeal hearings, to be held before the Supreme Court Chamber, would be open to the public.

Leopard targets $50m for new fund

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:03 Catherine James

Private equity fund manager Leopard Capital is in talks with investors to launch a $50 million Cambodia-Laos investment group by the first quarter of next year.

It will be the second Cambodia-centred fund for the firm, which manages a $34 million Kingdom-only fund it expects to have fully invested by the end of the year.

However, the new fund will have about a 30 percent tilt towards Laos and a stronger development mandate, according to Leopard’s chief investment officer, Scott Lewis.

“I think it will be more targeted than our first fund,” he said. “It won’t change focus materially – it will still be agriculture, food products, light manufacturing, financial services, renewable energy – but we expect to have investors [such as development institutions] in the second fund that
have more requirements for industries they want to avoid, such as extractive industries, mining, forestry, gaming, alcohol.”

The new fund would avoid real estate, unlike its first, which invested in Siem Reap residential property development Angkor Residences before the global financial crisis, he said.

Leopard’s first fund has six investments, also including stakes in processing plant Nautisco Seafood, micro-brewery Kingdom Breweries, and indirect ownership of 1.47 percent of ACLEDA Bank, as well as outstanding loans to CamGSM and Greenside Holdings power transmission.

The development focus of its second fund might lower its returns, although targets for the new fund had not yet been established, Lewis said.

“It may be different to the first fund [which targeted 25 to 30 percent returns] given it’s going to have more emphasis on different industries where it’s difficult to achieve those returns,” he said.

“Laos is too small to have a fund by itself, but it’s a priority country for certain investors, so it makes sense to put Cambodia and Laos together – there’s a lot of parallels between the two.”

The fund will have a larger target size per investment – upwards of $5 million – than the first, which had an average goal size of $3 million, starting at $1 million.

Lewis does not expect Leopard to face the same challenges in fundraising that it did when it launched a potential $100 million fund in 2008, only to close with $34 million.

“I think we had some difficulty not only because it was a challenging time for fundraising [during the global financial crisis], but also it was a first-time fund – a lot of investors are reluctant to invest in a fund where the managers are yet to establish a track record.”

ASEAN chief calls for calm

Photo Supplied
Prime Minister Hun Sen greets ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan at his Phnom Penh villa yesterday afternoon. Earlier, the Thai head of the 10-member bloc called for a “peaceful” solution to Cambodia’s ongoing border dispute with Thailand.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:03 Cheang Sokha

ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan has called for a “peaceful” resolution to the border spat between Cambodia and Thailand.

“We certainly would like to see a peaceful resolution to any problem in ASEAN,” Surin told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

“I will have to wait for the decision of the ASEAN foreign ministers and His Excellency Hor Namhong will certainly consult with his colleagues.”

Surin’s visit to Cambodia, where he is also attending a regional health summit, came just two days after Hor Namhong wrote to current ASEAN chair Vietnam, proposing that the 30-member bloc mediate in the border conflict in order to avoid “large-scale armed conflict”.

In a speech earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that bilateral discussions had stalled and called for an international solution to the issue.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Hor Namhong said he had discussed the Thai-Cambodian border issue with Surin during his meeting, but that ASEAN’s foreign ministers had not yet responded to his letter.

“Whatever resolution is taken has to be done through peaceful means,” Hor Namhong said.

“We have already prepared for all outcomes so the people should not be worry; the government has already prepared for both discussions and military [action].”

In a statement issued Sunday, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the current dispute “should best be resolved peacefully through existing bilateral mechanisms”, including the two countries’ 2000 memorandum of understanding on border demarcation.

The current dispute ignited in July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both countries claim a 4.6-square kilometre area adjacent to the temple.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that Thailand, which has consistently opposed a multilateral solution to the crisis, was pushing for a fresh meeting of the two countries’ Joint Boundary Commission.

Chawanon Intharakomansut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister, was quoted as saying the outcome of previous JBC meetings would be brought up in the Thai parliament today.

Surin also had a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday afternoon, during which the pair agreed that both parties to the dispute should remain patient.

Sri Thamrong, an advisor to Hun Sen, told reporters after the meeting that Surin and Hun Sen had a “common vision” for the solution of the border dispute.

He said that Cambodia had welcomed Thailand’s initiative to submit previous JBC meetings for approval by the Thai parliament.

“We have been patient for quite a long on this matter, so that is why we want to have international intervention. But right now we see signs that Thailand is pushing its parliament to adopt the previous foreign ministers’ talks,” Sri Thamrong said.

Thais arrest Cambodian for ‘spying’ in Sa Kaeo

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha

THAI military officials allegedly arrested and beat up a Cambodian migrant worker who they suspected was spying on a military installation in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, government officials said yesterday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said consular officials had identified the man as Yean Vuth, 46, who was arrested on Saturday in Sa Kaeo, just 8 kilometres from the Poipet border crossing.

He said Thai military officials arrested Yean Vuth while he was walking near a military base, as they suspected he was spying on the facility. “The Thai military did not completely accuse him of being a spy, but they were wondering why he went close to their base,” Koy Kuong said.

He said a Thai investigation was under way, and that consular officials in Sa Kaeo expected that Yean Vuth would be released either late last night or today.

Ly Then, chief of the Thai-Cambodian Border Relations office in Poipet, said that Yean Vuth was beaten by Thai officials after his arrest, and confirmed that the man had yet to be released.

“We have already informed consular officials in Sa Kaeo province and asked for intervention,” he said.

Thai foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said yesterday that he “hasn’t heard anything” regarding the arrest.

Yean Vuth’s arrest follows the detainment of Cambodian villagers Suon Veasna, 32, and Lay Dav, 20, on suspicion of drug trafficking in separate incidents in July. Touch Ra, deputy chief of the Thai-Cambodian Border Relations office, said both had been released on bail, but that it was not known what charges they would face.

Prosecutors file final Case 002 submission

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:02 James O’Toole

PROSECUTORS at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have filed their final submission for the court’s second case, paving the way for the indictment and trial of four senior regime figures currently in custody.

The prosecutors requested that the four suspects – former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and minister of social action Ieng Thirith – be tried for an array of charges for which they have been investigated since 2007, including genocide and crimes against humanity.

“The Co-Prosecutors believe that the evidence collected in the judicial investigation demonstrates that the Charged Persons committed these crimes through a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was to enforce a political revolution in Cambodia and systematically destroy any opposition,” the court said in a statement yesterday.

The charged persons committed these crimes ... [to] systematically destroy any opposition.

Anne Heindel, a legal adviser for the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said joint criminal enterprise, a form of liability in which suspects may be convicted for offences committed as part of a common plan, would be key to the prosecution’s strategy.

“They certainly are making that the centrepiece of what they plan to allege, that [the suspects] acted together and they all agreed, so they’re going to try to link them all to each other,” Heindel said.

Although former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was also a subject of the Case 002 investigation, prosecutors asked yesterday that the case against him be dismissed.

The Khmer Rouge jailer, better known as Duch, was convicted last month of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the tribunal’s first case.

“The Co-Prosecutors believe that the removal of Duch from Case 002 would assist in securing the fair and expeditious trial of Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith, whose criminal responsibility ... is yet to be determined,” the court’s statement said.

Heindel said Duch would likely be brought in as a witness when the case goes to trial.

With the filing of the final submission, the court’s co-investigating judges are now set to issue the “closing order”, at which time final decisions on indictments and on the admissibility of the almost 4,000 people who have applied to participate in Case 002 as civil parties will be made.

The judges have said they expect to release the closing order in September, prior to the September 19 deadline by which Nuon Chea will have served three years in pretrial detention. Defendants held without indictment for more than three years are required to be released on bail under court rules.

United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen said there are “no timelines in the rules” for the time lag between indictments and the start of trial proceedings, though appeals to the closing order must be handled within four months.

Substantive hearings in the Duch trial began roughly eight months after the closing order, so if the court hews to a similar time frame in Case 002, hearings would open around May.

The process could be expedited, however, by the fact that the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber now sits full-time in Phnom Penh and may dispense with appeals more quickly.


Officials call for cross-sector response to future pandemics

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Ben Rany wears a mask to protect against infection from avian influenza as he cleans poultry at his home in Chamkarmorn district yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:02 Brooke Lewis

CAMBODIA and other ASEAN member countries needed to look beyond the health sector in preparing for future pandemics, authorities said yesterday, during the opening ceremony of a workshop touted as a global first.

The five-day Southeast Asia Regional Multisectoral Pandemic Preparedness and Response Tabletop Exercise, which started in Phnom Penh yesterday, was expected to bring together around 170 high-level government, UN and civil society participants.

During a speech to open the event, ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan said it was important to develop preparedness plans that went beyond the scope and responsibilities of the health sector in order to mitigate the damage a pandemic could cause.

“A severe pandemic would require an emergency re-sponse beyond what the health sector is organised and able to provide,” he said.

Surin said a severe pandemic with high death rates “could lead to severe social and economic disruptions due to discontinuity of essential services, operations and businesses; in other words the breakdown, the meltdown, of entire societies”, and that it was realistic to expect and be prepared for such events.

“We are here today because we all realise that the occurrence of a devastating pandemic is not science fiction,” Surin said.

He saud seven additional sectors – food, energy, water and sanitation, telecommunications, finance, public security and public transportation – could all play key roles in the event of a pandemic.

Dr Pieter van Maaren, country representative for the World Health Organisation, said that in addition to developing a multi-sector response to pandemics, it was important to develop cooperation between ASEAN countries.

“A pandemic, by its nature, will affect all countries to a varying extent, and individual countries will respond to it as they see fit, but the response will be stronger if a regional coordination can support individual countries,” he said.

He said that the WHO had announced last week that globally the A(H1N1) virus, commonly known as swine flu, had entered its post-pandemic phase.

That does not mean swine flu has been eliminated: Figures from the Health Ministry’s Communicable Diseases Control Department show that the number of diagnosed cases continues to rise in the Kingdom, with 49 identified over the two-week period between July 29 and August 12.

As of August 12, a total of 740 cases had been diagnosed since the virus was first identified in the Kingdom in June last year.

Representatives from nine out of the 10 ASEAN member states were expected to participate in this week’s event, with delegates from Myanmar unable to attend because of administrative difficulties.

Recruitment director on run

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Ly Yan wipes away tears as she tells reporters how she was barred from visiting her daughter at a VC Manpower recruitment and training centre in Sen Sok district yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

THE director of a labour firm accused of mistreating its trainees is on the run after evading an arrest attempt by city police yesterday, an official said.

Police began investigating the head of the VC Manpower training centre in Sen Sok district after a woman filed a complaint against the man on August 2, saying he had prevented her daughter from leaving the facility during a three-month training period.

Pol Khemra, deputy director of the Department of Police at the Interior Ministry, said yesterday that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant for the man’s arrest last week, but that police officials had wanted more time to investigate and had been “too busy” to make the arrest until today, when they discovered they were too late.

“The ministry officials and the authorities planned to go to the company in order to arrest the company director, but he escaped,” he said.

He said that police did not have any leads as to the man’s whereabouts, but would continue to investigate the case.

VC Manpower, which trains young women to work abroad as domestic servants, first came under scrutiny last month when a woman fled one of its training centres and said she had been held against her will. Days later, authorities announced they had found 24 underage girls being trained by the company. The Labour Ministry initially barred the firm from recruiting clients, but then absolved it of wrongdoing soon after.

At the centre yesterday, two women said they also planned to file complaints against the company for not allowing them to have contact with their daughters.

Ly Yang, 43, said she went to visit the centre yesterday after receiving a distraught phone call from her daughter.

“My 15-year-old daughter Min Habtas called me and begged me to take her home because she is living in a very difficult situation and she is not allowed to go out to buy something to eat,” she said, and she was very concerned about her daughter’s health.She said a VC Manpower
official had shouted at her when she asked to see her daughter.

“I saw my daughter from the ground – she was on the balcony of the company building – she looks thin and pale,” she said.

Kob Eysas, 51, said she had gone to visit the centre after her daughter and niece told her that workers had been given spoiled food during their 10-week training period.

“I will try my best to take my daughter out from this company because they broke a promise with us,” she said, and added that the company had an obligation to take care of its trainees.

Sen Ly, the overall director of VC Manpower, said yesterday that he was unaware of the mothers’ concerns.

“I am busy travelling to Preah Vihear. I don’t have time to talk with reporters,” he said.

There are 28 organisations licensed by the Labour Ministry to train and send workers abroad.

Last month, officials also investigated two other sanctioned recruitment firms after trainees said they were subject to illegal detention.

Auto panel discusses mandatory insurance

via khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

VEHICLE insurance could become compulsory under amendments to the Land Traffic Law currently under consideration by an inter-ministerial working group, officials said.

Preap Chanvibol, director of the land transport department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said in June that his working group had finalised the amendments to the law, and was planning to send them to the Minister of Public Works later in the month.

But he said that the group reconvened last Wednesday to make additional changes after he received an “official letter” from Minister of Finance Keat Chhon requesting that all vehicles be insured.

“Our final draft did not have articles about insurance, but the finance ministry wants to include the articles,” he said.

He said the Finance Ministry’s proposal to introduce compulsory insurance was rejected when the working group began amending the law in March, on the grounds that “normal Cambodian people like moto-taxi drivers will not have the money to buy insurance”.

But In Meatra, head of the insurance division of Ministry of Finance’s financial department, said yesterday that the amendments were meant to protect road users against “risks happening accidentally”.

“Our target is to require cars to have insurance first,” he said, whereas compulsory insuring of motorbikes would come later.

Youk Chamroeunrith, general manager of Forte Insurance, said he welcomed the potential changes, since insurance companies could help protect the victims of hit-and-run traffic incidents.

More families cleared to farm disputed land

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:01 May Titthara

OFFICIALS in Battambang province’s Samlot district met yesterday with local military officers to ask that around 20 families be allowed to resume farming on land that in recent months has been the subject of a violent dispute.

Deputy district governor In Savrith said that officers from Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 5 had allowed 21 families to resume cultivating their crops yesterday, though a final agreement would not be reached until later this week.

“I don’t think there will be a problem because Military Region 5 has already agreed to accept the return of another group of farmers,” he said.

On July 8, 58 families were given permission to resume farming on a 390-hectare plot in Samlot’s Kampong Lpov commune.

A total of 78 families claim that they have farmed the land since 2005, and that since 2009 soldiers from Military Region 5 have been trying to force them off the land.

The dispute came to a head on July 1 when 10 soldiers opened fire on a group of 60 farmers planting corn in the area. Although none of the farmers were hit by bullets, two were later injured when soldiers reportedly beat people who refused to stop farming.

In Savrith said yesterday that villagers had the right to plant crops on the land because they had farmed it for several years.

He said that any decisions made on land titles were “up to the government because it is forest land”.

Khieu Nak, 45, a villager from Kampong Lpov commune, said that her husband had been able to tend to his crops yesterday for the first time since
the shooting incident.

“We are not afraid that the military will open fire on us again because they said they will allow us to plant our crops again,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tuy Bunly, deputy commander of Military Region 5, said yesterday that the situation was still “complicated”.

“Villagers have made overlapping claims in some areas, so I would like to ask the district governor to make clear for us which villagers have the right to get that land,” he said.

Governor backs NGO on abuse allegations

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:01 Vong Sokheng

THE governor of Preah Vihear province yesterday moved to quash allegations that a local NGO was guilty of ongoing human rights violations in the province.

Last week, local rights group Adhoc deployed human rights monitors to Preah Vihear to investigate complaints filed by 57 villagers, who say that employees of an NGO identified as the Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation had committed acts of rape, land-grabbing, violence and intimidation.

Chan Saveth, a senior monitor for Adhoc, said the government had granted DARPO a 556-hectare social land concession in Choam Khsan district in 2007, in a move intended to aid poor families in the area.

Chan Saveth said yesterday that he could not disclose information about the investigation because it was ongoing, but that Adhoc would “continue to consult with local authorities” on the issue.

But Provincial governor Sar Thavy yesterday denied that such violations would occur in Preah Vihear.

“There is nothing like that here, and we, the local authorities, would not allow such serious human rights violations to happen in this modern age,” he said.

“We are waiting to see the faces of the victims and waiting for their official complaints before proceeding with our work and investigation.”

Interior Ministry Spokesman Khieu Sopheak urged any victims to file complaints in order to ensure that they are properly investigated by the authorities.

Police chief warns on use of his name

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

PHNOM Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth has warned those who run afoul of the law to stop invoking his name in hopes of escaping punishment under the law.

In a letter dated Sunday, Touch Naruth said he plans to take legal action against anyone who claims to be his relative in order to circumvent the law. It comes after three recent cases emerged in which suspects claimed to have been related to the powerful police chief.

“I won’t pardon any criminal because I am the person who enforces the law,” Touch Naruth wrote in the letter.

“If I don’t abide by the law, who will? If my nephews commit crime, they must be punished, too.”

Recent incidents in which suspects have claimed to be the police chief’s relatives have weakened his reputation, Touch Naruth said.

“The three suspects are not my relatives, and I have never known them before,” he said. “They just defame me.”

In one instance, a 29-year-old woman who was in a car that slammed into a road divider at a traffic intersection told police she was Touch Naruth’s niece. She was sent to court late last month.

On August 3, three policemen also invoked the police chief’s name after one of them allegedly brandished his gun when employees at a Chamkarmon district massage parlour refused to serve them.

And last Thursday, a reporter with Kampuchea Thmey newspaper who was arrested after three teens on a motorbike crashed into his car, said the trio masqueraded as Touch Naruth’s nephews in order to avoid any legal repercussions. Police are looking for the three suspects.

Without fear or favour
Pen Khun, the municipality’s deputy traffic police chief, said there have been no recent accidents caused by suspects who claim to be related to rich and powerful people, but said that such claims would deter officers from carrying out their duties.

“If such a case occurs, we will enforce the law without any fear,” he said.

Construction workers protest

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Employees of local construction firm KC Gecin Enterprises protest in front of the company’s head office in Meanchey district yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

MORE than 100 disgruntled workers staged a protest along National Road 2 in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Leu commune yesterday, after local construction firm KC Gecin Enterprises allegedly dismissed 27 employees last week for attempting to form a union.

Chum Yean, 27, who was among the group of workers fired by the company last Friday, said colleagues had demanded they be reinstated immediately.

“It is an injustice that we were fired. The company discriminated against us because we were planning to set up a union,” he said.

The protest lasted into the evening, but participants said 10 commune police officials tore up their banners.

Chak Angre Leu commune chief Keo Sareoun, who accompanied the police, justified the destruction of the banners by calling the protest illegal.
“They are not allowed to rebel here,” he said.

“It causes traffic jams and is against the law because they did not ask authorities for permission to protest.”

Meoun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said it was within the workers’ rights to stage a strike and called the police destruction of their banners a “human rights violation”. He also said the workers were “committed to continuing the strike tomorrow”.

“The authorities should understand Cambodian labour laws better,” he said.

Sok Sovandeth, president of the Cambodian National Federation of Building and Wood Workers, called the firings “discrimination against unions” and “a violation of Cambodian labour laws”.

Touch Sam Ul, head of administration at KC Gecin Enterprises, declined to comment.

Corrupt officials: Drivers told to report tax extortion

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear

Corrupt officials

A civil society organisation will today begin distributing 10,000 leaflets designed to advise people of how to blow the whistle on corrupt road-tax collectors, an official said yesterday.

San Chey, a network fellow for the Cambodian branch of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said the leaflets, to be distributed nationwide, would encourage people to provide information to assist investigations into complaints from drivers, who say they are routinely overcharged by tax collectors from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“We do this because there are some tax officials who charge more than the cost of the road tax,” he said.

According to ministry guidelines, he said, motorbike drivers should be charged between 3,000 and 4,500 riels (US$0.70 to $1.05) in road taxes each year.

He said that in the last week alone, he had recieved at least 15 complaints from motorbike-taxi drivers who claim to have been charged too much by tax officials.

Ministry officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Police Blotter: 17 Aug 2010

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:00 Veng Rachana

Police have arrested a man in Kandal province after he allegedly tried to swipe a motorbike last week. The motorbike’s owner said he parked his bike near a stream on the day in question with the aim of pumping water to irrigate his parched rice fields. While he was away, the suspect leaped onto the vehicle and reportedly rode off into the distance. However, the motorbike’s owner saw his vehicle being stolen and shouted loudly. After 15 minutes, local police were able to track down the suspect, who later said that it was the first time he had committed such a robbery. Other local villagers, however, claimed the suspect had stolen bikes on more than one occasion; several, in fact. Police are investigating.

Police in the capital’s Daun Penh district arrested 40 suspected vagrants Friday in street roundups aimed at “regulating society”, officials said. Those arrested included nine prostitutes, 15 homeless boys and girls and 11 beggars. Five of the boys were found with knives; police suspected them of carrying out robberies on passers-by in local parks. Officers said they had started an investigation focusing on the five boys and any potential accomplices they may have had in enacting their theoretical crimes.

A mother and her 13-month-old child were killed instantly following a tragic accident in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district Saturday. Witnesses reported seeing a car speeding down the road before crashing into a motorbike. The bike’s driver was seriously injured, and a mother and child seated on the bike were killed. The car then veered off and crashed into the wall of a house and a tree, injuring three people in the car. Police said that the crash was caused by the car’s driver, who was allegedly drunk and careless.

Police arrested a man in Takeo province on Friday, roughly two years after he was first accused of stealing gold from a vendor in Prey Veng province. The suspect was first arrested in 2008 but then mysteriously released by the court. The suspect said his release came as a result of his family providing the court with a handy payment of US$10,000. Police, meanwhile, claim that the suspect was responsible for a variety of robberies around the country, including some in Phnom Penh. Officers say they are investigating the case further to see if the suspect may have had any accomplices.

Employer in ‘torture’ case faces charges

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 17 August 2010 15:01 May Titthara

A PHNOM Penh woman accused of severely abusing two teenagers who worked as domestic servants in her home has been charged with battery, court officials said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday laid the charge against Sao Chanthy, 38, following her arrest on the weekend, according to deputy court prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot.

Rights workers and local police have accused the Sen Sok district woman of torturing a 17-year-old boy and his 14-year-old sister, after both were found with scars on their bodies following a tip-off from neighbours earlier this month.

But rights advocates have questioned the charge, saying that it does not reflect the severity of the crime.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor with rights group Licadho, which brought the case to police attention last week, said he believed the charge was inadequate compared with the abuse inflicted on the two children.

“If they said that the case was intentional battery, that implies it happened only one time,” he said. “But in this case, [the abuse] continued for a long time.... It was torture.”

Part of the problem, Am Sam Ath said, is that the Kingdom’s revised penal code has not yet come into force. He said he hoped the court would take into account the severity of Sao Chanthy’s alleged actions when the case comes to trial.

In an interview yesterday, the 17-year-old victim said he had worked in Sao Chanthy’s home since he was 11, but that the abuse did not start until 2008.

In a high-profile case earlier this year, a Phnom Penh woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of abusing a domestic worker. The court had charged her under human trafficking laws.

But Ek Chheng Huot said yesterday that court officials could not charge Sao Chanthy with a more serious crime.

“We could not find any evidence to show that this was related to torturing,” he said.

Battery is a misdemeanour under the existing UNTAC criminal code and carries a penalty of one to five years’ jail, depending on severity.