Tuesday, 7 September 2010

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

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Slovak President Arrives in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- President of the Slovak Republic H.E. Ivan Gasparovic arrived here today to begin his three-day state visit in Cambodia from Sept. 7 to 10, at the invitation of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

He was welcomed at Phnom Penh International Airport by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Royal Palace H.E. Kong Sam Ol and other high-ranking officials.

The official welcoming ceremony will be held tomorrow at the Royal Palace.

According to a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Slovak president will be received in Royal Audience by His Majesty the King.

Besides, he will respectively receive courtesy calls by Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, President of the Senate, Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, and Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister.

H.E. Ivan Gasparovic is also scheduled to visit Angkor temples in Siem Reap province, the press release added.

The visit is aimed at strengthening and expanding the existing friendly ties and the bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Slovak Republic, it said. --AKP


Indian President To Visit Cambodia Next Week

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- President of the Republic of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil will lead a high delegation to pay a state visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia from Sept. 13 to 18, at the invitation of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

The Indian president will be received in Royal Audience by His Majesty the King at the Royal Palace, said a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated today.

Besides, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil will respectively receive courtesy calls by Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, President of the Senate, Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, and Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister.

During the visit, the Indian president and the Cambodian premier will preside over the signing ceremony of two documents including the Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between the National Audit Authority of Cambodia and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and the Agreement for Stung Tasal Water Resources Development Project (Phase 2) between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Export-Import Bank of India, the press release added. --AKP


Cambodia, Australia Satisfied with Their Cooperation

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and out-going Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Margaret Adamson have shared the same view over the good cooperation between Cambodia and Australia.

They agreed that the two countries’ cooperation has started since Australian contribution in Cambodia’s peace seeking and its assistance to different domains in the country.

During the meeting here on Sept. 6, the Cambodian premier also thanked Ms. Adamson for her endeavors in strengthening the cooperation between both countries, said Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

The prime minister further highly appreciated Cambodia-Australia cooperation in combating human trafficking, cross border crimes and terrorism.

For her part, Ms. Margaret Adamson expressed her satisfaction with her diplomatic mission in Cambodia. She also thanked the Cambodian officials for their cooperation and the Kingdom for its support to Australia’s role in ASEAN community and other international institutions. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)


Samdech Techo Hun Sen Honored Mentor of CNS

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- The 2nd General Assembly of the Cambodian National Scouts (CNS) has decided unanimously to name Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and his wife, Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen, president of Cambodian Red Cross, as CNS mentors.

The General Assembly, held here last Thursday at the Council of Ministers with the participation of about 174 representatives of a 70,000-strong membership meeting, also named H.E. Sok An, deputy prime minister, minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, chairman of the national council and national executive committee of CNS and his wife, Madam Any Sok An, vice president of Cambodian Red Cross as CNS higher advisors.

In the event, Mr. Phan Sokim was elected as a chairman of national commissioner of CNS; Mr. To Chhoeun as national commissioner of adult human resources; Mr. Tuon Siphan as national commissioner for foreign affairs; and Mr. Lim Bora as national commissioner of youths program.

The 2nd General Assembly also decided to change the name of the organization from “National Association of the Cambodian Scouts” to “Cambodian National Scouts”.

In addition, 2010-2020 strategic plan of CNS is set up to educate and train the youths to join Cambodian Scouts Movement (CSM) and have each member of CNS become the next generation of the national society development. --AKP

(By THOU Peou)


Japanese Ambassador Wishes to See More Potential Development from Irrigation System in Banteay Meanchey

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Masafumi Kuroki wanted to see more potential development from Trapaing Thmar irrigation system.

The Japanese diplomat made the remarks while he and H.E. Ing Kantha Phavy, minister of women’s affairs visited recently the irrigation network in Banteay Meanchey province, some 360 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh.

H.E. Masafumi Kuroki said it is a potential irrigation system to develop Cambodian agriculture, eco tourism and conservation project in the area as well.

Located some 66 kilometers from Banteay Meanchey’s provincial town, Trapaing Thmar irrigation system was rehabilitated at the total cost of over US$2 million financed by Japan’s grant and the budget of the Royal Government of Cambodia. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)


CRC Distributes Relief to 1,037 Vulnerable Families

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- The Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) has distributed relief to 1,037 vulnerable families including people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, disabled, aged and poor people from Phnom Penh's Russey Keo and Meanchey districts.

The relief was handed over on Sept. 5 by CRC President Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen.

The donation includes rice, food, household utensils at the total cost of US$25,374, and wheel chairs from Australia's ABC Tissue Production PTY Ltd.

On the occasion, Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen called upon to all vulnerable families to take care of their health, especially the pregnant women and not to use domestic violence.

This was the fourth time that CRC donated relief to poor people after Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen was reelected as CRC President in Aug. 2010. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)


Cambodians Take First Chinese Language Test

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- More than 80 students on Sunday took the first Chinese Proficiency test known as HSK in Cambodia, Chinese News Agency Xinhua reported.

The test was held in two examination places, one was in Confucius Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia in capital Phnom Penh and the other was in a university in Banteay Meanchey province, about 360 km northwest from the capital of Phnom Penh.

These exam students were from all walks of life in the country, including government officials, university students and members of the public.

Dr. Khlot Thyda, rector of the Royal Academy of Cambodia and the Confucius Institute, presented at exam hall and encouraged students to have a self-confidence and a good test.

A student called Zhou Shengli told reporter that he has learn Chinese language in local Chinese language school when he was very young, and now he works in a Chinese-funded enterprise. “I want to know which level I have achieved in learning Chinese, so I came here and sat for the test today,” he said with full confidence.

Another student, Hu Yongqiang, said that he learned Chinese language from local Duanhua School and have worked for three years. “When I learned there was a Chinese language test, I signed up at once. I want to improve my Chinese language level through the examination.”

The growing number of learners for Chinese language over the past decade in Cambodia was attributed to the development of the friendly relationship between China and Cambodia, especially to the further strengthening of the economic and trade relations in recent years.

The Confucius Institute in Cambodia was established on Dec. 22, 2009 and was jointly run by the Royal Academy of Cambodia and China’s Jiujiang University in Jiangxi province.

On Dec. 22, 2009, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping unveiled the first Confucius Institute in Cambodia during his visit in Phnom Penh.

HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) is a national-level test of Chinese proficiency for non-native speakers. HSK is seen by many people as an equivalent to TOEFL in worldwide. --AKP


2010 Theatre Festival To Begin This Week

Phnom Penh, September 7, 2010 AKP -- Six forms of Khmer theatre – Ape, Yike, Ken, Beb Bot, Sramortey and Sbek Toch – will be performed to the public with free of charge in the 2010 Theatre Festival scheduled to take place from Sept. 10 to 17.

The purpose of the festival is to show to the Cambodian people different forms of the Khmer theatre, and learn about foreign theatre, Kor Borin, an official at the French Cultural Center in Phnom Penh, who is in charge of cultural affairs, told a press conference last Thursday.

About nine different theatre groups and the foreign group Parnas will perform in the festival, the fourth of its kind, at Chenla Theatre, Meta House Cultural Center, Café du Centre, Reatrey Bopha Phnom Penh restaurant, Chinese House and Suon Rikreay restaurant, he pointed out.

The Theatre Festival has so far shown to the public 21 forms of Khmer theatre, he said.

The tickets are available at the French Cultural Center in Phnom Penh. --AKP

(By Noeu)

Gillard back as Australian PM

Photo by: AFP

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 12:48 David Boyle

After 17 nerve-racking days of back and forth negotiations Julia Gillard emerged as victor in the Australian federal election by the most slender of margins this afternoon.

With the opposition Liberal/National coalition and Gillard’s incumbent Labor party effectively deadlocked on 74 seats each after the election, the fate of the country’s election was left in the hands of three independent members of parliament.

Two of those, former National party members Rob Oakenshott and Tony Windsor, sided with the government at about 12.45 Phnom Penh time today, handing Gillard’s labor party the 76 votes required to form government.

The third undecided, colorful Queensland MP Bob Katter who is also a former National Party member, broke a previous agreement with his other former party members to vote as single block when he sided with the coalition this morning.

Another independent, former Australian Greens member Andrew Wilkie, and first time Greens MP Adam Bandt, had already committed their support to a minority Labor government days before.

The victory ends a tumultuous election campaign that saw near unprecedented support for the government dwindle following the Labor party's decision to replace Kevin Rudd with his deputy, Julia Gillard, just months before the latter called an election.

Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott seized on this opportunity to make up ground in the polls, after taking over the helm of the embattled opposition party from his more moderate predecessor Malcolm Turnball.

Key election issues included Labor’s introduction of a 40 percent mining tax - which many observers believe spelled the downfall for Kevin Rudd - climate change and immigration.

Abbott gained strong public support during the campaign pursuing an election strategy that reflected the more traditional conservative values of former PM John Howard.

This included opposing Labor’s “big new carbon tax” – the government’s proposed carbon reduction pollution scheme – and ramping up public opposition to asylum seekers.

The government lead by Gillard sought to mend relationships with the mining sector by granting concessions to the controversial mining tax and pushed forward with their plan to build a superfast new broadband network.

But both parties were criticised during the campaign for failing to show any clear vision for the country's future or coherent election campaign strategy.

The tenuous victory leaves Gillard’s Labor party with an uncertain future as every piece of legislation they propose will be the subject of furious negotiations between strongly conflicting narrow interest groups.

Student tracking scrapped

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Education officials say they are dropping a “high-level” curriculum option due to logistical difficulties.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:03 Sun Narin

THE Ministry of Education says it is removing the “high-level” option from the Kingdom’s national high school curriculum, putting all students on the same 10-subject courseload.

First implemented in 2008 with Grade 10 students, the high-level curriculum allowed students to focus their 24 class hours per week on five priority subjects: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and Khmer literature. Students in the “basic level” track study these subjects in addition to geography, history, earth science, English and morality.

Uo Eng, director general at the General Department of Education, said yesterday that the decision to jettison the high-level track was because of the difficulty of reflecting the high-level material on the Kingdom’s national Grade 12 exam.

“We would have to prepare differently designed tests, and it would be difficult for students if we implement this new curriculum,” Uo Eng said. Keeping all students in the basic curriculum will allow education authorities to administer a single exam to all students, Uo Eng said.

The high-level programme was developed beginning in 2005 to help students target subjects that they hoped to focus on at university; incoming Grade 12 students would have been the first to see it reflected on their exit exams.

Nhim Saroeun, a maths teacher at Phnom Penh’s Sisowath High School, said the high-level curriculum covered a good deal of useful material, but was a challenge for teachers and students to complete during the alloted class time.

“It’s too long for students and they find the tests difficult,” Nhim Saroeun said.

Chab Pheananimul, a Grade 12 student at Sisowath High School, said students had been apprehensive about how the high-level material would be tested on the exit exam.

“I don’t know what form the exam will take or how they will calculate grades for students if the ministry continues with the high-level programme,” Chab Pheananimul said.

Im Samrithy, executive director of the NGO Education Partnership, said selecting students for the high-level curriculum could allow them to focus in greater depth on their best subjects as they prepare for university. He noted, however, that classroom divisions could prove discouraging for students who were not doing high-level coursework.

But whatever the merits of the tracking system, Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said the change in policy showed that Ministry of Education officials had not thought clearly about the system’s implementation.

“The ministry did not have a precise plan,” Rong Chhun said. “How can students have confidence in them?”

Despite the fact that the high-level track will no longer be available to students, Uo Eng said the Ministry of Education had no plans to remove a high-level mathematics textbook introduced as part of the curriculum reforms in 2008. Students and teachers have complained that the new maths lessons are overly challenging and time-consuming.

“The ministry is still discussing how to put this book into practice, but we will try to make it easier for students to understand,” Uo Eng said.

NGOs unite in call for rights probe

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:04 Chhay Channyda

A COALITION of 21 NGOs yesterday urged the government to investigate an organisation that has been accused of a raft of human rights violations – including rape and unlawful forced eviction – targeting residents of Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district.

According to Adhoc, the government granted the Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation a 556-hectare social land concession in Choam Khsan district in 2007, and the organisation was tasked with supporting economically disadvantaged families in the area.

But at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee accused DARPO of claiming more land than it was entitled to, and of forcing families who have lived there since 2002 to leave their homes in response to “threats, rape and torture”.

The press conference was attended by about 10 representatives of 57 families from two villages in Choam Khsan.

Ny Chakrya, head investigator for the rights group Adhoc, which began monitoring the site in July, said at the press conference that the land claimed by the NGO was being run like an autonomous state.

“For people living there it is like living in a separate area because the area is under the control of the NGO director without cooperation with local authorities,” he said.

Adhoc first raised concerns about DARPO at a press conference last month.

Ny Chakrya said yesterday that Adhoc had on Friday filed a complaint about the group to four government ministries – Interior, Justice, Defence and Land Management – that called for official intervention.

“We urge the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the activities of the NGO, which has committed serious human rights violations,” and Adhoc had also called on the government to suspend the NGO’s activities, he said.

DARPO director Pen Loem, a one-star general with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and an adviser to Senate President Chea Sim, said yesterday that the accusations against him were “too exaggerated to believe”, and said he had the support of the majority of Choam Ksan residents.

“Only several of them arrived at Phnom Penh for the press conference, but my 500 families still support me,” he said.

He denied all accusations levelled against DARPO, and said he had only ever tried to help the residents in the district.

“This is a Techo [Hun Sen] period, so there will be no rape or violence; those allegations were not true,” he said. “My NGO is legal and recognised by the government. There is no reason for me to abuse villagers’ rights. Instead, I helped them to build wells and a school for their children. I spent up to US$1 million to help them.”

He also denied that the NGO operated autonomously. “We have four police officials stationed near the village, so if we did something the police would know,” he said, and the “Ministry of Interior will not believe” the accusations against him.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the allegations against DARPO yesterday, saying he had not yet received the complaint from Adhoc.

World Bank chief economist visits

Justin Yifu Lin, senior vice president and chief economist for the World Bank, delivers a lecture in Singapore. Bloomberg

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

THE chief economist and senior vice president of World Bank, Justin Yifu Lin, began a three-day fact-finding mission in Cambodia yesterday.

The visit from one of the organisation’s top global officials was billed as a chance to learn about the Kingdom’s development and its challenges as part of a regional visit, according to Bou Saroeun, communications specialist at World Bank-Cambodia.

During the first day of the mission, Justin Yifu Lin met with ACLEDA Bank’s top management to discover more about the progress of the bank and the finance sector as a whole in Cambodia.

In Channy greets Justin Yifu Lin. Supplied

He was taken to the bank’s Monivong Boulevard headquarters by a motorcade, reportedly provided by the government, with sirens blaring. The delegation was accompanied Hang Chuon Naron, secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who represented the government.

“His visit to our bank was to learn of our successful experiences in order to share them with other institutions in other countries,” ACLEDA President and Chief Executive Officer In Channy told reporters after the meeting.

In Channy said he told Justin Yifu Lin that ACLEDA’s lending had steadily grown in the last six years, from US$65 million in 2004 to $538 million last year.

It was expected to hit $632 million at the end of July this year, with 70 percent of the loans lent to rural borrowers, he said. The bank’s total assets reached $1.06 billion at the end of August.

“The banking sector has shown good signs of recovery this year as the economy has also gradually recovered,” In Channy said.

“Agriculture is one of the main sectors contributing to the growth in our bank,” he also told the economist.

“We trust in the agriculture sector and have increased our lending to it in the last few years. There is a broader market for agricultural produce due to the development of processing plants, especially rice mills and effective insect curbs.”

ACLEDA lent $3.6 million to the agricultural sector in 2004, and increased the amount to $85 million last year and $99 million at the end of July.

During the three-day visit, Justin Yifu Lin is scheduled to meet with senior government officials, representatives from the private sector, and development partners. Yesterday, he also visited a rice mill in Odong.

Justin Yifu Lin was born in Taiwan in 1952 and has a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

He is also a former vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. He was appointed to his role at the World Bank in March 2008.

The government has forecast that GDP will rise 5 percent this year thanks to growth in the agriculture, tourism and garments. All sectors expect growth, with the exception of construction, which needs time to recover.

The World Bank has forecast GDP growth of 4.4 percent for 2010 and expects a 6 percent increase in 2011.

Stephane Guimbert, senior country economist at the World Bank-Cambodia, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Hang Chuon Naron was also unavailable.

Runaway croc caught in Poipet

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:02 Tha Piseth

POLICE in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town yesterday praised the efforts of 11 men they said contributed to the capture of a runaway pet crocodile.

Kong Kuon, police chief in Poipet commune, said that the 20-kilogram reptile had dug its way out of a dirt-floor cage and escaped following heavy rains on Wednesday. It was not caught until Friday.

“The owner kept it in a wooden cage where the crocodile could scratch the ground, and it ran away,” he said.

He said that the owner would not be punished, and that he had been keeping the crocodile as a pet for his children.

“We did not fine the owner. We just told him to be careful if he plans to keep on raising crocodiles,” he said.

But the man, who could not be reached yesterday, has apparently decided to sever ties with the runaway crocodile.

“The crocodile owner came to our station yesterday to see the crocodile,” Kong Kuon said. “The station is going to keep it because the owner is not going to take it back.” He said the crocodile had been chained in a pond on the grounds of the commune police station, where it was expected to stay for the foreseeable future.

Mean Chanthy, 31, said he joined in the attempt to catch the crocodile in the hope of receiving a financial reward.

“We were thinking of getting a tip from the owner after giving it back to him,” he said.

“We thought we should get at least 250,000 riels (US$59), but I got nothing because the police took the crocodile.”

Heng Sovannara, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, said yesterday that it was illegal for crocodiles to be kept as pets.

“If people are caught with crocodiles they should be fined according to the law,” he said.

Briton accused of sex crimes

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

MUNICIPAL police have arrested a 50-year-old Briton they believe paid to have sex with two underage girls, officials said yesterday.

The suspect was arrested at a guesthouse in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district on Sunday night.

Police also arrested a 46-year-old tuk-tuk driver who allegedly arranged for the suspect to have sex with the girls, aged 11 and 12.

The owner of the guesthouse and the mother of one of the girls were also arrested.

Keo Thea, director of the municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau, said yesterday that the arrest followed several days of investigation.

“He was staying in the room with the two girls whom he had sex with for six days, and whom he paid US$1,500 each for a weeklong contract before we arrested him on the last day,” he said.

“We suspected him of also having sex with many other girls, whom he always paid $100 to have sex with.”

He said the four suspects were being held at the police station for further questioning, and would be sent to Municipal Court today.

“The British national is under primary charges of purchasing child prostitution, while the other three face primary charges of being accomplices to the purchase of child prostitution,” he said.

Samleang Seila, director of child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said yesterday that his organisation had informed police of its suspicions of the British national prior to his arrest.

“We saw him with several underage girls, buying them underwear and candy,” he said.

“We will provide lawyers for the victims, and vow to cooperate with police as we suspect him of sexually abusing another 15-year-old girl, but we don’t know her whereabouts.”

According to a statement released by APLE yesterday, the suspect was previously arrested in 2005 and charged with similar child sex offences.

However, he was acquitted after two of his alleged victims dropped their complaints against him.

In that case, he allegedly posed as a doctor at an orphanage in Kien Svay district’s Prek Pra village in order to gain access to the victims, but his “unusual treatment methods and limited medical knowledge” began to raise suspicions among staff members there, according to the statement.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court found him not guilty for lack of evidence, as did the Appeal and Supreme Courts, according to the APLE statement.

Employee of sugar firm sues villagers

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:02 May Titthara

A REPRESENTATIVE of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company has filed a complaint accusing five villagers in Kampong Speu province of illegally detaining her for several hours last month during a confrontation related to an ongoing land dispute.

Chheang Kimsruon said yesterday that she had filed the complaint with the provincial court last Friday, though she refused to provide the names of the accused.

The complaint stems from an incident that took place on August 23, when about 300 villagers from Omlaing commune, located in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district, blocked National Road 52 for about 10 hours.

More than 2,000 families from Omlaing commune have been affected by a 9,000-hectare concession granted to Phnom Penh Sugar, which is owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat.

Following the incident, Chheang Kimsruon claimed that her health had been at risk during the incident because she is diabetic.

“It is my right to protect myself, so I have filed a complaint against five village representatives,” she said. “I did not file the complaint on behalf of the company. I filed it on my own.”

Villagers say that they blocked the road in an effort to prevent the company’s employees from tearing down homes in O’Thmar Chruok village, and to force the company to negotiate. They contend that their intention was never to “detain” Chheang Kimsruon.

Phal Vannak, a village representative, yesterday said again that the villagers “just wanted to negotiate”.

Meanwhile, two other villagers involved in the same dispute are due to appear at the provincial court today to answer to allegations that they are living on the company’s land.

Chhuon Chuon, a 60-year-old teacher and one of the two men summoned, said yesterday that he planned to ask the court for a delay because he had been unable to find a lawyer.

Villagers face incitement allegation

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Khim Khon, 50, shows an injury she says she suffered during a scuffle with workers for an NGO in Preah Vihear province.

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

VILLAGE representatives speaking at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday said that three people accused of inciting protests against an NGO in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Khsan district had been summoned to appear for questioning at the provincial court this week.

Villagers said the legal action was part of a campaign of intimidation by the Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation, an NGO that was granted a 556-hectare social land concession in 2007 and charged with aiding disadvantaged families in the area.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 21 NGOs, issued a statement yesterday urging the government to investigate DARPO, saying the organisation had forced families who had lived in Choam Ksan since 2002 to leave their homes under fear of “threats, rape and torture”.

Local rights group Adhoc, which has been investigating the NGO since July, filed a similar complaint to four government ministries on Friday.

Sath Savoeun, a village representative who attended the conference yesterday, said she was among three villagers summoned to appear at the court on Thursday. “I am afraid of being arrested,” she said.

DARPO director Pen Loem, a one-star general and adviser to Senate President Chea Sim, said yesterday that the villagers had been accused of inciting protests against him.

“Those small groups tried to incite my people to thumbprint documents to accuse me,” he said. He added, though, that the complaint against the three villagers had not been filed by him, but by Choam Ksan residents who had benefited from his organisation.

Village representative Kim Sophal said that the NGO charged villagers up to US$4,000 for plots of land, and then used the threat of legal action to prevent them from complaining.

“We are living in fear,” and villagers who had travelled to Phnom Penh to attend the press conference expected retribution, he said. “When we return back, they will threaten us by all means.”

Eight from Chi Kraeng back in court

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:03 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap province

EIGHT villagers from Chi Kraeng commune are scheduled to appear in Siem Reap provincial court today to answer to an array of charges related to a long-running land dispute with residents of neighbouring Anlong Samnor commune.

Meanwhile, representatives from the two communes met yesterday in an attempt to find a resolution to the dispute, which intensified last year when the court ruled that all the disputed land belonged to Amlong Samnor.

On August 13, the eight accused appeared in court to face charges of incitement, causing injury and destruction of private property during a November 2008 altercation. But the trial was postponed so the men could seek legal representation.

At the time, defendants Sin Noeun, Chea Noeun, Chan Lorm and Sin Sam Lei were released on bail, said Oeun Sam Ath, a court clerk.

But Chheng Savoeun, Sin Leap, Khlin Eang and Chan Leap were kept in pretrial detention because they faced additional charges or had already been convicted in other cases, he said.

Sor Sitha, a village representative from Anlong Samnor commune and one of the plaintiffs in the case, said he and the other plaintiffs – Vann Kin, Kang Noy and Chea Im – would withdraw their complaints if a fair solution could be found at yesterday’s meeting.

He said they would also “propose that the government give the Chi Kraeng side an economic land concession”.

Suos Narin, an investigator for rights group Adhoc, said today’s hearing would be “more serious” if no agreement was reached.

If the two communities reached a resolution, they could file documents detailing the agreement to court officials for “consideration”, deputy prosecutor Sok Keo Bandith said.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said local authorities were not handling the Chi Kraeng case fairly.

“These villagers have been accused on multiple charges ... but they are the victims in this land dispute,” he said.


Opposition case: Kem Sokha could lose immunity

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea

Opposition case

NATIONAL Assembly President Heng Samrin yesterday raised the prospect of Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha’s being stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

Kem Sokha has been accused of breach of trust and using false documents during his time as head of the NGO Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

“I will have regret if this people’s representative would be suspended,” Heng Samrin said during a meeting at the assembly. “We cannot do anything but respect the legal procedure.” A questioning session in the case is scheduled for next month.

Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said it was too early to discuss Kem Sokha’s immunity because he had not yet testified.

Cop and accomplice guilty on drug charge

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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced two Cambodian men – one of them a police officer – to 10 years in prison after convicting them on drug smuggling charges.

Presiding Judge Kor Vandy, who handed down the verdict, also ordered the pair to pay 30 million riels (US$7,142) each in fines to the state.

Lut Serey Both, 34, a police officer from Daun Penh district, and his accomplice, 39-year-old Thae Seth, were caught in possession of 498 grams of crystal methamphetamine when they were arrested in January in Daun Penh’s Boeung Raing commune. Their arrests led to the apprehension of a third man, 38-year-old Sim Bunsan, who was convicted yesterday of operating as a middleman and sentenced to three years’ jail.

Following yesterday’s hearing, Chea Meth, the deputy court prosecutor in charge of the case, applauded the verdict.

“The court’s decision was just and legal in accordance with the law, finding the three men guilty on charges of drug smuggling under Article 33 of the anti-drug trafficking law,” he said.

The three men appeared at court yesterday without defence counsel.

Takeo villagers to file sand mine complaint

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:03 Kim Samath

RESIDENTS of five villages in Takeo province said yesterday that they planned to file complaints in a bid to bar a local company from mining sand from the banks of the Porpel River, and accused the company of cutting off access to sand quarries.

Srey Touch, a representative of Trapaing Kok village, located in Tram Kok district, said residents had demonstrated against the Prak Borin Company, a local sand company, and were planning to lodge a complaint with the local authorities on an unspecified date.

He said the company had claimed to have an exclusive licence to dig sand from the banks of the river, but noted that villagers had long benefited from small-scale trade from the quarry.

“We are all writing a letter and thumbprinting it so the authorities can solve this problem.... None of us have enough money to get a license, and we can earn a small profit from [the sand] business,” he said.

Hor Neath, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the company seemed to have temporarily halted its operations, but that the conflict with villagers still remained unresolved.

Prak Borin, president of the Prak Borin Company, said the villagers engaging in small-scale trade were merchants executing “anarchic” business deals without paying tax.

“My company has a licence, so I can buy sand from the people, and the merchants can’t, but they have to buy the sand from my company, so they complain,” he said.

But Prak Borin vowed to suspend his operations to allow time for mediation.

Upcoming polls: NEC issues call for voter enrolment

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:03 Kim Yuthana

Upcoming polls

AROUND 310,000 people will be eligible to register to vote when the National Election Committee conducts its annual voter registration drive next month, election officials said yesterday. The annual registration period, which runs from October 1-20 and comes ahead of the 2012 commune elections, seeks to enrol young people and those who have moved to different communes since the last poll.

“Please, all citizens who have reached election age, prepare documents like citizenship ID cards, nationality certificates and residency certificates to register for voting rights,” said Tep Nitha, secretary general of NEC.

Tep Nitha said those who had moved were required to register at the commune office at their new locations to have their names deleted fro old lists.

Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor COMFREL, said some Phnom Penh residents who had been evicted and forced to move had previously had problems registering to vote. He said that NEC should issue special guidelines to communes that are home to urban evictees, requesting that they be particularly accommodating of the newcomers.

Lakeside construction looms

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Residents of the Boeung Kak lakeside villages present a police officer with documents concerning their current homes during a protest yesterday.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:04 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Sun Mesa

MUNICIPAL officials are set to break ground on a 30-metre-wide road at the city’s Boeung Kak lakeside this week, stoking residents’ fears that development at the site will force them from their homes.

According to this week’s City Hall schedule, municipal officials – including Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema – will open the construction site for a road designated Road 5 (R5) on Wednesday.

A total of 12 access roads are set to be built as part of the controversial 133-hectare housing and commercial development project planned for the lakeside.

Local developer Shukaku Inc began filling the lake with sand in August 2008, and land rights activists say more than 4,000 families will eventually be relocated for the project.

In May, City Hall approved three of the 12 roads, which will link the Boeung Kak area with Street 106 to the east (R5) and Street 169 to the south via a US$7 million overpass (R6). The third road (R8) will connect the lake’s western side, close to Neak Von pagoda, with Streets 608 and 616.

However, lakeside residents say they have not been informed of the plans, and fear the new road could force them out.

Kwann Khem, 37, one of more than 100 residents who gathered outside City Hall yesterday to demand land titles to their lakeside properties, said she was very concerned when she heard officials would commence construction on the road this week.

“We are very worried about becoming homeless, because the authority plans to start constructing a road tomorrow according to the master plan for the development of the Boeung Kak lake area,” she said.

“We asked the city authorities to cut our homes from the development area and then asked them to provide land titles to us, but they ignored our offers.”

City Hall officials said residents should not worry about the impact of the road project.

“Establishing the road R5 will not affect people’s homes,” said Ty Dory, chief of the municipality’s Office of Land Management Affairs. Other officials, however, said they had not yet received information about the new road from City Hall.

“If City Hall wants to build new roads or expand roads in my commune, I would certainly know. But I think that those people are making overstatements to distort the authorities,” said Chay Thirith, chief of Srah Chak commune, which encompasses many of the lakeside’s communities.

Title fight
Villagers living in the area, meanwhile, continue to request land titles for properties many claim to have occupied since the 1980s.

Vann Ny, a 52-year-old resident of Village 1 at the Boeung Kak lakeside, said she had been greatly concerned since she saw that her home fell within the development zone.

“I do not want to relocate – I want to live in my home close to the Boeung Kak lake development project like the other people,” she said.

45-year-old Ly Mom, a community representative from Village 24, said yesterday that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet and the National Assembly had both accepted the residents’ complaints and urged Kep Chuktema to resolve the issue for the people as soon as possible.

She said City Hall officials told villagers yesterday that they would receive word on the issue by next Monday.

“We want to know when the city authorities will respond to our offer,” she said.

Police Blotter: 7 Sep 2010

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:00 Sun Narin

Fowl argument leads to knee-stabbing, death
A Kampot province man died on Thursday after being slashed in the knee three days earlier in an altercation that was apparently prompted by an argument about ducks. The chief of the village in which the attack occurred said the victim, 42, had drunkenly accused his neighbours of killing his ducks, an allegation that did not sit well with them. He was sent to hospital after being slashed, but died a few days later as a result of his wounds. Police said the accused were still on the run.

Two suspects arrested in abduction case
A 19-year-old female was kidnapped and robbed by up to four assailants in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Friday. Police said the victim was abducted from a petrol station, and that the perpetrators transported her in her own car to Kandal province, where they beat her before stealing her jewellery, phone and money. Villagers in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district reported finding her on the side of the road with handcuffs on her arms and legs and a gag in her mouth. Police have since arrested two of the suspects in Takeo province’s Kirivong district.

Talk of marriage ends in woman’s demise
A 19-year-old man was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Saturday for allegedly strangling a woman he had sex with and then refused to marry. Police said the man entered the woman’s room and talked her into having sex with him. When she then asked him to marry her, he responded by strangling her to death with a towel. A witness reported that the two were neighbours and were not involved in a romantic relationship.

Mystery surrounds motive for suicide
A woman hanged herself with an electrical wire in a rented room in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Friday after undergoing an abortion procedure. The boyfriend of the 23-year-old said he had gone looking for her after she didn’t answer his phone, and that he had found her dead in her room. Police said the woman killed herself because of “mental issues”, but a neighbour reported that she hanged herself after arguing with the boyfriend about whether to go through with the abortion.

Widow drowns after coining from neighbour
A 48-year-old widower was found dead in a pond in Siem Reap town on Friday after being coined by a neighbour. Police said the widower, a police officer, had asked his neighbour to coin him, after which he went to a nearby pond to reflect. Police concluded that the victim then fainted and drowned. He is survived by three children.

Leading edge: Red corn for a food-secure future

Johnny Ong is chairman of HLH Agriculture (Cambodia), a firm that has invested in Cambodian red corn and plans to inject another US$400 million in the future. Photo by: PHA LINA

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

Johnny Ong is chairman of HLH Agriculture (Cambodia), a Singaporean firm that has invested in red corn production in the Kingdom since 2008.

You have been operating Cambodian projects for nearly for two years, could you tell me about your initial capital investment?
We invested US$40 million in a project that covers 10,000 hectares in the Oral district of Kampong Speu province and another 450-hectare site in the province’s Omlaing district.

Of this land, 10,000 hectares is a concession, and the other 450 hectares is freehold. Our company is 100-percent owned by a listed company in Singapore.

Why were you interested in investing in corn production in Cambodia?
One reason is because there is a lack of food security in the world now. We have foreseen that it is a good opportunity for the industry to grow.

The agriculture sector is a long-term investment, and a lot of people ask me why I choose [to invest in] corn and not rice or cassava.

We are investing in the corn industry because it can help Cambodia by attracting more processing companies to come here.

Corn can also be processed into a few thousand kinds of products – not only for people but also for animals.

What is your company’s production capacity?
We have just planted 5,000 hectares of corn and completed some factories. This year we will plant on another 2,000 hectares, which we will harvest twice.

We need to clear the land and set up water irrigation systems and warehouses. Last year, we could produce between 3 and 4 tonnes of corn a hectare, but now we get about 5 to 6 tonnes per hectare because we have tried to improve our planting process.

Our objective in the next five years is to produce between 8 and 10 tonnes per hectare.

Next year, we want to build another warehouse, and we also intend to build another drying plant.

We currently have two types of planting machines, some from the United States and some from Spain, and have the biggest high-tech harvesting machine in Asia. Our processing plants are from China.

Do you have any plans to increase your investment?
Our main target for Cambodia is to have 100,000 hectares for corn plantations to produce more than 1 million tonnes per year.

We plan to inject US$400 million to increase corn plantations by 50,000 hectares in the next five years. We hope we can succeed. We will also consider building a corn-starch a nd corn-oil processing plant.

We also plan to go into rice and cassava plantations, maybe over the next year, as we want to fully utilise our land even though some of it is low-lying.

Do you sell corn in the local market or do you export to other countries?
Actually, we export our entire yield to Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Do you have any plans to export to Europe?
We cannot make exports to Europe because they mostly buy from United States at a cheaper price. If they want to buy from us, they will spend more.

But the fact that Asian countries are planting corn, rice and cassava to cover Asian needs is enough because we have got a huge population, and they have to have food to eat every day.

What about corn demand in the global market?
Following studies, I see that the whole world has a shortage of corn. That’s why we see that this year the corn price has been going up.
Last year, we sold crops for about US$100 per tonne, and now it’s more than $200 per tonne.

China is the largest corn- producing country in Asia, and they have a lot factories, which need about 1 million to 5 million tonnes of corn to produce oil, medicine, fibres and many other kinds of products. The corn market is bigger than cassava.

The whole world is changing. There are less farmers because everybody wants to seek jobs in the cities. So, how are we going to produce enough food for rising populations?
I think Asia’s demand minimum is about 50 million tonnes of corn [a year]. How can Asia produce this huge amount? This is a very big volume.

It is a good opportunity for us. We just want to make exports.

Also, the weather is changing, and some other agricultural land that has already produced cannot be planted every year.

We came to invest in this country because it has a lot of land with potential to plant any kind of agricultural product.

What about the local market; do you buy from farmers?
Cambodia has four processing plants that need corn to process into animal feed. I think one company maybe requires 5,000 to 20,000 tonnes every month. So far I have not seen any foreign investors come to invest in corn production here – we are the first one.

We have bought just a few hundred tonnes from farmers, because most of them sell directly to local buyers for export to Vietnam or Thailand. Sometimes, we can not compete with the price because the direct buyers offer a bit more.

Do you have any difficulty in exporting?
Well, export for us is very challenging because the domestic costs are high. We also need to have documentation.

As Cambodia does not have a quality-checking laboratory, we need to go to Vietnam or Thailand. We hope that Cambodia will set up a lab to test all the kinds of agricultural products for companies working in the sector.

What do you think about the country’s agriculture sector?
I have been here for the last two years. I think the sector is improving because of the government.

It is encouraging farmers and offering tax-free imports on farming machines. It also facilitates us in term of export process. Customs services and the ports are improved.

Tough computer launch

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:00 Sun Narin

TE Aik Hong Ltd has launched a newly imported ‘hard and tough’ notebook computer in Cambodia.

The Panasonic Toughbook, a product launched by Japan’s Toughbook Asia Group, was launched at Phnom Penh’s Naga World.

William See, general manager of Toughbook Asia Group, said all the notebooks were water-resistant and could survive bumps and bangs.

“Though you drop it on the floor, it does not break and will still work. Though you drop water on it, it does still work,” he said.

Seven kinds of notebooks were displayed to the audience at the exhibition event.

The Toughbooks have been made and designed for use in healthcare, construction, engineering, transportation, government, and police and military sectors.

They have been developed over 15 years.

New server to speed domestic internet

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

CAMBODIA’S first root server is expected to increase speeds for domestic internet users by conducting a vital part of internet information flow inside the Kingdom, according to Mekong Net official Meng Leang Keuk.

There are currently 49 F root servers distributed around the globe, of which Cambodia is the owner of the newest, Meng Leang Keuk said.

Mekong Net began operating the server in the last two months and has since encouraged all of Cambodia’s Internet Service Providers to join free of charge, he said.

The hardware was provided by nonprofit internet consortium Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, a bill which he said could total around US$20,000.

A root server operates like a mapping service for internet queries, according to a presentation provided by the firm.

“Most root name servers are in the US, because the internet started in America. Normally when a request is made it goes to the United States if there is no [local] root name server, but it is not a quick response,” he said.

Now that flow of information can take place inside the Kingdom.

Sihanoukville shopping mall set to boost tourism

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

SIHANOUKVILLE’S first significant shopping complex is scheduled to open early next year, its project manager said yesterday.

Construction on the US$10 million Mittapheap Shopping Centre will be completed over the next three months, according to Tous Saphoeun, project manager of the Pearl City Asia development.

“We have completed 70 percent of the whole project, and we will open doors for our clients early next year,” he said.

“We are the first international-standard shopping complex in Sihanoukville.”

The mall will lie on 62 hectares of Sangkat Number One Commune, Mittapheap district, by Sokha beach. It will contain 800 shops and have parking space for 150 cars.

Tous Saphoeun said that the second floor could be used for exhibitions and wedding receptions.

The Pearl City Asia development project is owned by tycoon Khaou Sambath, managing director of Thai Boon Roong Co.

The company has also built 20 percent of the $40 milllion 17-storey five-star Mittapheap Hotel, set to be completed in two years.

Tith Chantha, director general at the Ministry of Tourism, said yesterday that the ministry welcomed the developments as a driver for visitors.

“We really support the development of a shopping mall and hotel. We hope it can attract tourists to visit more and more in the future,” he said.

In the first six months of this year, 20 new hotels in Cambodia were granted licences, according to a report from the Tourism Ministry.

The Ministry of Land Management’s construction director Lao Tip Seiha said yesterday that the Ministry approved the Pearl City licence in 2009.

“We’re proud to have the first new shopping mall in Sihanoukville, we really do support them,” he said.

“Sihanoukville has great potential for economic growth."

The developments would create more local jobs and boost the Sihanoukville economy, he said.

Slovakian delegation on the way

via CAAI

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

A SLOVAKIAN business delegation is scheduled to travel to Cambodia this week to coincide with the first state visit of President Ivan Gasparovic.

Gasparovic's four-day trip, thought to be the first visit to the Kingdom by a Slovakian premiere, is due to begin today.

Tomorrow, about 15 Slovakians, lead by their finance minister, Juraj Miskov, will meet with more than 120 Cambodian business representatives to discuss trade and investment opportunities across the Kingdom.

The Cambodian representatives will include Commerce minister Cham Prasidh, a delegation from the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, and members of the business community.

Keo Nimet, international relations manager of CCC, said the two sides would mainly exchange ideas.

“In fact, our trade levels with Slovakia are very low. We are just beginning to build our trade relations,” said Keo Nimet.

“We plan to introduce [them] to the agricultural, tourism, industry and services sectors,” Keo Nimet said.

“Significantly, we want them to take a look at agricultural investment because the sector has a lot of potential.”

In the latest available figures from the Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between Cambodia and Slovakia rose about 52 percent in 2008 to US$2.25 million from $1.482 million in 2007.

Slovakia is located in central Europe and has a population of more than 5 million.

It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west.

Cambodia has had diplomatic relations with the country since 1997, after Slovakia and the Czech Republic separated in 1993.

India's President, Pratibha Patil, is due to visit the Kingdom later this month. A free-trade pact between the nations is anticipated.

Bheut Kam begins title chase

Bheut Kam began a quest for his sixth career boxing title on Saturday with a win over Chan Ratana in the light-middleweight tournament at the Bayon TV arena.

via CAAI

Monday, 06 September 2010 15:00 Robert Starkweather

With small sheets of Christian scripture wrapped across his knuckles, Bheut Kam dropped Chan Ratana with a right-left in the fourth round on his way towards earning a victory decision on Saturday in the opening bout of the light-middleweight tournament underway at the Bayon TV boxing arena.

Just one fight short of 200 career bouts, Bheut Kam joins seven others who are battling for a title shot against defending light-middleweight champion Outh Phouthang.

A heavy underdog heading into the fight, Chan Ratana is widely known for his Bokator background. He often wows crowds with flashy spinning elbows and back kicks. But against a smiling Bheut Kam, who swept him to the canvas several times in every round, it was all Chan Ratana could do to stay on his feet.

23-year-old Bheut Kam (blue shorts) is the bookies favourite to top group A of the Bayon TV light-middleweight tournament, which started Saturday.
All Photos by: Robert Starkweather

Chan Ratana had his moments. He landed a hard right elbow in the first round, and he wobbled Bheut Kam with an overhand right in the third. But otherwise, Bhuet Kam, one of 10 siblings from a large Christian family, showed little trouble outmaneuvering The Bokator Kid.

Bheut Kam, who started fighting in 2004 at the age of 17, has previously owned five different titles in three weight divisions – one at 48, one at 57, and three at 60 kilograms.

He is the favorite in Group A, which includes Chan Ratana, Tuot Reachesay and Kao Lek.

Group B comprises Chey Kosal, Yok Yakill, Ven Sovan and Soy Phireak.

Bhut Kam and Chey Kosal are both widely expected to win their respective divisions, making the group stage mostly a battle for second place. The top two finishers from each group will advance to semifinals.

In yesterday’s group B match, a bloody Yok Yakill survived a second-round cut over his right eye to score a third-round knockdown on his way toward earning the victory decision over Soy Phireak.

Over the next five weeks, Group A fights will headline the Saturday card at the Bayon TV boxing arena. Group B matches will headline on Sunday cards.