Thursday, 16 September 2010

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Cambodian Information Ministry Bans Video Program of CTN TV Channel

Thursday, 16 September 2010 10:04 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010-Cambodian Information Ministry on Thursday issued a statement to ban the Khmer soap opera series TV program “strange love” or strange love partner” which broadcasted on CTN channel.

The issue was signed by secretary of state for information ministry Ouk Prathna. Ouk asked the TCN to ban that program, citing that affected issues on society.

the video series featured about the beautiful Khmer girls who was bidden by the wealth men. That manner compared the Khmer women like animals or objects that had opposed with valued Khmer culture. And the manner affected to the Khmer culture, dignity and honor of people. That TV story also got reaction from the publics, the statement from information ministry said.

The experienced writer, Mrs Phon PongPha said that she did not get any informed letter from the information ministry on prohibition of broadcasting the TV program. She added: the art is something strange and new. But that story also attracted the audiences. I did not know how to deal because the information ministry followed up news.

In story, Khmer girls were put for bidding for wealth men, but those men did not choose those girls for themselves. Actually, they bid to choose those girls for their oldest sons, who did not think about the love partner instead of catching Dharma.

The ministry of culture, and fine and art, secretary of state Sin Chansaya said that before playing the TV production, all involved agencies need to ask the ministry for granting the licensing but for that story, CTN did not ask any permission. “We have never granted any requirement from CTN,” He said.

Cambodian Garment Workers Stops Strike, Government’s Intervention

Thursday, 16 September 2010 06:06 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010-210,000 garment workers on Thursday agreed to stop strike temporarily after the intervention from the government are seeking the helps and the deal with employers on demanding the salary’s increase.

“The government asked us to delay the strike temporarily and wait for the deal soon. From this suggestion, we think it is an appropriate reason and we accepted to do so,” Mr. Ath Thon, president of Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC) said in his statement to the crows of workers at hub of garment workers in outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Ath added that on September 16, 2010 at about 9:45 Am, we received a statement from the representative of the government. The government accepted our requirements to deal with employers on September 27, 2010.

Ath added that so from that, we asked all garment workers to delay the strike temporarily and we required all workers to go back to work as normal from this time. Ath also appealed to our workers to wait for the result from negotiation’s day.

We all strike voluntarily from 13-16 September, 2010 and about 210,000 worker participated the strike from 95 garment factories across the country to demanding appropriate living conditions and other benefits. We noted that the workers took part large amount.

On September 8, 2010, the ministry and labor and vocational training and council of labor, and employers agreed to pay the garment workers with minimum 61 US dollar per month but the some union of labor agreed to accept that deal but some unions did not agree because that payment could help their living condition. They demand between 73-93 US dollar per month for minimum, citing that price of food, and daily commodities are high inflation too.

the stability of labor is very important, and we are trying for better jobs for all workers, and garment sector is just recovering from global crisis, the statement from ministry of veteran and youth rehabilitation said, referring to the strike.

UN and WB Fifth Global Progress Report A Framework for Sustaining Momentum

Thursday, 16 September 2010 04:25 DAP NEWS / Soy Sophea

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010-The United Nations/World Bank 5th Global Progress Report on Animal and Pandemic Influenza provides a comprehensive analysis of avian influenza and other animal and pandemic diseases, analyzes financial and technical assistance, draws lessons from preparedness campaigns and explores the One Health approach for improved coordination between the animal, human and environmental health disciplines, according to a press statement of UN and WB on Thursday.

The report presents a ‘Framework for Sustaining Momentum’ which identifies streams of work and suggestions for future efforts at national, regional and global levels. The report also incorporates a record of discussions and key outcomes from the April 2010 International Ministerial Conference on Animal and Pandemic Influenza (IMCAPI) in Vietnam.

This 5th Global Progress Report should serve as a useful resource for national, regional and global efforts to sustain momentum with animal and pandemic influenza.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

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PM To Participate in the Second ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Meeting in New York

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, will lead a high delegation to participate in the Second ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Meeting on Sept. 24 in New York City, at the invitation of U.S. President H.E. Barack Obama.

The leaders will exchange views on important regional and international issues of common interest and concern, as well as cooperation between ASEAN and U.S., said a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated today.

The delegation will include Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong and other high-ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen will also hold bilateral meeting with his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva on the sidelines of the Second ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Meeting.

Besides, Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Hor Namhong will lead a delegation to participate in the High Level Plenary Meeting on MDG’s and the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly to be held from Sept. 20 to 22 and from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1 respectively, in New York City.

During the meeting, H.E. Hor Namhong will deliver speeches at the High Level Plenary Meeting on MDG’s on Sept. 21 and at the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28. --AKP


Indian Investors Learn More about Cambodia’s Investment Opportunities

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- A delegation of the Indian Trade Association has been in Cambodia since Monday to learn more about the country’s investment opportunities.

The Indian delegation was received here on Sept. 14 by Senior Minister and Commerce Minister H.E. Cham Prasidh.

In the meeting, the Cambodian commerce minister told the Indian delegation of the prioritized domains for the development of the country, including agriculture, irrigation system, water resource, infrastructure, transport, electricity, human resource, export industry, tourism, oil, gas and mine resource.

The forum between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the private sector is held every six months in order to settle the private sector’s concerns, he said.

The delegation of the Indian Trade Association is accompanying the President of the Republic of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to pay a state visit in Cambodia from Sept. 13 to 18. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)


Chinese Company Donates ECV System to Cambodia

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- Huawei Technologies (Cambodia) Co. has donated Emergency Communication Vehicle System (ECV System) to the Secretariat of the Cambodian Anti-Terrorism National Committee through the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

The handover ceremony was held here on Sept. 15 in the presence of the Secretariat Deputy Director H.E. Om Yentieng, and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Pan Guangxue.

According to Chen Rui, deputy director-general of Huawei Technologies (Cambodia) Co., the ECV System facilitates emergency communication in any emergency state even though the electricity and telephone systems are all cut off.

This system was used in the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in 2008, he recalled.

On the occasion, H.E. Om Yentieng deeply thanked Huawei Technologies as well as the Chinese government for the donation, which he said contributes to strengthening the secretariat’s capacities to ensure the national security as well as to prevent and combat more effectively global terrorism.

Gen. Hun Maneth, permanent deputy director of the secretariat, highly appreciated the humanitarian aid of Huawei Technologies. He said the Anti-Terrorism National Committee was established in response to the changing of world and regional security situation, which urges the Royal Government of Cambodia to take severe measures to prevent any eventual disaster. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)


Cambodian Government and UNDP Discuss 2011-2015 Action Plans

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian government officials and officials of the resident United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had a gathering on Sept. 15 for discussing the action plans of the country 2011-2015 UN millennium development program to be implemented as of next year.

The meeting was presided over by H.E. Chheang Yanara, delegate minister attached to the Cambodian premier and general secretary of the Committee for Rehabilitation and Development of Cambodia and Ms. Elena Tischenko, UNDP country director, said an official of the Council of the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

The action plans of the country 2011-2015 UN millennium development program is a main core for a detail agreement on the support of UN millennium development program to be carried out in Cambodia next year, he said.

The meeting is aimed at reaffirming the support for the four main sectors of UNDP including the poverty reduction, democratic governance, environment and climate change, and inter-sector issues including gender equity, he said.

H.E. Chheang Yanara said the royal government was now working closely with UNDP to build the country 2011-2015 action plans, adding that the meeting concentrated on the opportunity of ensuring each of the sectors for reflecting the relative supremacy of UNDP and promoting the effectiveness as a development partner. --AKP

(By THOU Peou)


Cambodia Welcomes Mine Action Delegates from Eritrea

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- Delegates from African nation of Eritrea are visiting Cambodia this week and will meet the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) for a series of training workshops and information exchanges, Chinese News Agency quoted a CMAC statement as saying.

Eritrea, like Cambodia, is one of the world’s most heavily mined countries and CMAC will share experience and lessons learnt over 18 years of mine action in Cambodia to assist the development of mine action in the African country, said the statement released Wednesday.

The delegation consists of seven key experts from Eritrea, including experts from the Eritrean Demining Authority (EDA), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Information and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) Eritrea.

During their visit, which runs from Sept. 11 to 18, the delegates will be visiting UNICEF Cambodia, the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) and CMAC’s headquarters in Phnom Penh and Training Center in Kampong Chhnang.

They will also visit CMAC’s mine action operations and mine risk education teams in Battambang province.

During the visit, the Eritrean delegation will be exposed to all areas of mine action, from mine clearance operations to the administration of the mine action sector as a whole.

The delegation will also undertake training and workshops in areas such as land release and landmine area reduction, gender mainstreaming in mine action, the application of mine action technology, mine action accreditation and the mine risk education and reduction approach.

CMAC Director General and Advisor to the Cambodian Prime Minister, H.E. Heng Ratana said that this was a great opportunity for Cambodia and CMAC to show the international community their capacity and achievements in mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) clearance.

Research shows that more than 650,000 people in Eritrea are now living in landmine contaminated communities.

CMAC believes that international knowledge sharing is the key enabling innovative solutions to the landmine and ERW problem that is still threatening the lives of so many people around the world. CMAC welcomes all delegations nationally and internationally to share experience in the mine action. --AKP


Cambodia, Vietnam Act to Protect Aquatic Species

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian and Vietnamese National Mekong Committees on Sept. 15 jointly held a ceremony in southern Dong Thap province of Vietnam to release 50,000 baby Giant Barb, a rare fish species, into the headwaters of the Mekong river, reported Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The ceremony was aimed at raising people’s awareness on the importance of preserving endangered species in the Mekong basin, particularly protecting local fish species, increasing the population of Giant Barb and boosting cross-border fishing, VNA said.

Representatives from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Mekong River Commission agreed that growing Giant Barb would contribute to economic development in the Mekong basin region. The ceremony to release Giant Barb marked cooperation in fishing between communities and authorities of localities along the two countries’ border.

Giant Barb is the biggest freshwater fish species in Southeast Asia. The released baby fishes will have a weight of 1kg each after a year and 7kg after three years. --AKP


Phnom Penh Municipality Constructs Building for Woman Drug Addicts

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- Phnom Penh Municipality has begun to construct a new building for woman drug addicts in “My Chance” Center’s compound.

The ground-breaking ceremony was held in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Sept. 15 in the presence of Phnom Penh Governor H.E. Kep Chutema.

The construction of the two-storey and ten-room building will cost US$183,793 financed by the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia Plc and it will last seven months.

The “My Chance” Center was established in 2006 on the initiative of H.E. Kep Chutema.

Up to now, “My Chance Center” has rehabilitated and cured some 3,227 victims, both men and women, according to the center’s report. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)


Japan Grants US$85,807 to Improve Healthcare Services in Kampong Thom Province

Phnom Penh, September 16, 2010 AKP -- The government of Japan has provided US$85,807 in grant to PH-Japan Foundation for the Improvement of the Maternal and Child Health Services Project in Kampong Thom province.

The grant contract was signed here on Wednesday between Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Kuroki Masafumi and Country Representative of PH-Japan Foundation Ms. Nakata Yoshimi.

The Improvement of the Maternal and Child Health Services Project will provide training to midwives and health officials as well as health volunteers in four health centers of Baray and Santuk operative districts.

Speaking on the occasion, H.E. Kuroki Masafumi said for the second phase, PH-Japan Foundation will focus on health education for local people so that they understand the importance of maternal and infant health.

More than 48,000 local people will benefit from better maternal and infant healthcare services, he added.

The Japanese ambassador hoped that through this project, the ties of friendship between the Japanese and Cambodian peoples will be further fostered. --AKP

(By Théng)

Living language

Photo by: Sovan Philong

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Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Khouth Sophakchakrya

Iv Chan, director of the Institute of National Language at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, presides over a meeting yesterday addressing possible changes to the Khmer dictionary produced by Chhuon Nat. Those in attendance were tasked with considering the addition of new words and the deletion of words that have fallen out of use.

Police Blotter: 16 Sep 2010

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Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Sen David

Food vendor accuses customer of rape
A 21-year-old woman was allegedly raped by three men in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Monday. The victim told police that the three men accosted her while she was walking to visit her uncle, and that they took her to an unknown location and assaulted her. She said she knew one of the suspects because he always bought food at her market stall. Though she fainted during the attack, she managed to shout for help soon afterwards. Police are now on the hunt for the suspects.

Man held after booze session turned batty
Police arrested a 21-year-old man accused of being involved in a fight that left four people seriously injured in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town on Tuesday. A witness reported seeing the accused drinking at a restaurant with a group of friends. After a few rounds, an argument broke out over money. The pugilists reportedly smashed each other with bats, with one man threatening another with a gun before police came and broke up the scuffle. The owner of the restaurant said the group constantly fought and used nasty language.

Drunkard beats wife for questioning his lifestyle
Police in Pursat province’s Bakan district are on the hunt for a man who beat his wife nearly to death on Monday because she pointed out that he was jobless. A neighbour reported that on the day of the incident, the wife raised the issue of her husband’s unemployment and his reluctance to help on the farm. The neighbour said the husband then drank all day and stayed out late before returning in a drunken stupor. He then beat her within an inch of her life, he said. She has been sent to hospital.

Late door-locking ends in fatal shooting
A 44-year-old man was shot dead by an unknown assailant at his home in Kampong Cham’s O’Rang Oav district on Monday. The wife of the victim told police that her husband had gone to lock the front door of their abode on Monday night when the perpetrator shot him three times. The victim died instantly, and the suspect escaped. Police are investigating the attack, which they said was caused by “rancour”, though the wife said her husband never fought with anyone.

Police nab speeding traffic-light dodger
A motorbike driver was seriously injured in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on Tuesday after he was sideswiped by a car. Police said the car was speeding and had run a red light before hitting the motorbike. The driver of the car tried to flee the scene but was nabbed by police. The victim was taken to hospital.

Road to justice

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 08:20 Post Staff

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Thursday announced the indictment of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, paving the way for the most significant and complex trial concerning crimes committed by the regime during the late 1970s.
Investigations of the four accused – former Brother No 2 Nuon Chea; head of state Khieu Samphan; foreign minister Ieng Sary; and his wife, social action minister Khieu Thirith – date back to their arrests in 2007.
Tribunal judges had been coming up on a September 19 deadline to hand down indictments. That date marks the three-year anniversary of the beginning of Nuon Chea’s pre-trial detention, the maximum amount of time permitted under court rules.
The court has decided to “send forward these four accused for trial”, judge You Bunleng said at a press conference, before listing a long series of charges against the former top regime members, including torture, murder and rape.
All four accused have also been charged with offences pursuant to the 1956 Cambodian penal code, which was in effect during the regime’s 1975-79 rule, which represented one of the worst human tragedies of the 20th century.
An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians – or a fifth of the population at the time – lost their lives through starvation, disease, exhaustion from overwork or execution.
Hundreds of thousands of more fled their homeland, becoming refugees.
Those left behind still struggle today with the trauma caused by their experiences under the regime – the constant fear, deprivation and loss of family – as Khmer Rouge leaders sought to dismantle completely modern Cambodian society, returning the country to “year zero” in one of the most radical and, ultimately, misguided social engineering experiments in history.
On July 26, the tribunal announced the verdict in its first case, that of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, finding him guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentencing him to 30 years in prison. Duch had also been implicated in the investigation of Case 002, but the court announced Thursday that he would not face additional charges.
Unlike in the Duch case, the accused in Case 002 have disputed the charges against them and have refused to cooperate with investigators. UN officials have predicted that the case will get underway by the middle of next year.
Those to be placed on the dock are:
  • Nuon Chea, Brother No 2 to the Khmer Rouge's leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998. The now fragile 84-year-old, who defected to the government in 1998 and was granted a pardon by Prime Minister Hun Sen, is believed by researchers to have been a key architect of the regime's death machine. Since surrendering in a deal that ultimately doomed the communist movement, Nuon Chea has acknowledged the deaths that took place under the regime but denies that he was in a position to stop the disaster that unfolded.
  • Ieng Sary, 84, who served as minister of foreign affairs under Pol Pot, and was also his brother-in-law by marriage. Ieng Sary was a young university radical in Paris before he emerged as one of the few public faces of the Khmer Rouge. Ieng Sary was found guilty of genocide in a Vietnamese-backed trial of former leaders in 1979, but was granted a royal pardon in 1996 after he defected to the government. He has suffered from deteriorating health since his arrest, highlighting the fragile condition of the tribunal's elderly defendants and fears that they might die before going to trial.
  • Ieng Thirith, 78, who is Ieng Sary's wife and was Pol Pot's sister-in-law. Sometimes described as the "First Lady" of the Khmer Rouge, she acted as social affairs minister and is held responsible by some researchers for the regime's drastic re-ordering of traditional Cambodian life. An intellectual who studied English literature in Paris, Ieng Thirith plunged into radical politics after becoming involved with Ieng Sary in France and remained a staunch defender of the Khmer Rouge long after the regime's demise in the late 1990s.
  • Khieu Samphan, another French-educated radical who served as head of state for Pol Pot's regime and was one of the regime's few diplomats who had contact with the outside world. The 79-year-old has never denied the bloodletting suffered under the Khmer Rouge but has also never admitted to a role in the regime's brutal excesses. He has instead styled himself as an intellectual and nationalist who claims he knew little, until long afterwards, of the devastation that was wrought during the Khmer Rouge's nearly four years in power. Khieu Samphan defected with Nuon Chea in 1998.

Strikes face legal hurdle

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Garment worker, Chan Pheakdey, nurses her foot after it was run over by a company van at a strike outside Pine Great garment factory in Stung Meanchey district on Wedmesday.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 22:40 Mom Kunthear and James O’Toole

LEGAL action by garment industry representatives may curtail the weeklong strike that continued for a third day yesterday.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said “more than 10” factories had sought injunctions yesterday that would require workers to return to their jobs within 48 hours if the strikes were deemed illegal.

He said “23 or 24” GMAC factories had been affected by the strike.

“We sought some intervention, and we trust that the authorities will step in to ensure public order, and also to ensure the rights of the workers who want to come to work,” Loo said. “The police have not stepped in so far, but we believe that all this will change significantly tomorrow.”

Kong Athit, secretary general of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said yesterday that 201,770 workers had taken part in the third day of the strike.

The CLC said roughly 144,500 workers had joined the strike on Tuesday and 68,000 on Monday.
“The number of workers joining the strike keeps increasing each day,” Kong Athit said.

But Loo said just over 30,000 workers had failed to show up to work yesterday; of this number, he guessed that fewer than 10,000 were actively participating in the strike.

“The workers want to come to work, but [protesters] stopped the workers from coming to work,” Loo said. “It’s ridiculous.”
Six workers were injured yesterday as they attempted to block cars from exiting their factories, Kong Athit said.

Growing hoarse as he addressed workers outside Phnom Penh’s Pine Great factory, CLC president Ath Thun vowed to file a complaint on behalf of the two women who were hurt at that site.

“I think the drivers got orders from their bosses, so these people must get punishment by the law,” he said.

Loo said GMAC, too, was considering filing complaints related to the work stoppage.

“We, as an industry representative of employers, are considering suing the unions or the leaders of the unions for possible disruption and causing harm to the industry,” Loo said.

The strikes have been organised to protest against a July decision by the government and industry representatives setting the minimum wage for garment workers at US$61 per month. Protest leaders are demanding an increase to $93 per month.

Also yesterday, Ath Thun said he and two other unionists would meet next Wednesday with officials at the Ministry of Interior to discuss a series of threatening phone calls he and his colleagues had received.

“The Interior Ministry officials need to meet with us to know more information about the threats to us and to the workers in order to do an investigation,” Ath Thun said.

More military muscle

Photo by: AFP
Cambodia is looking to expand it's existing fleet of tanks and armoured personnel carriers.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 20:25 Cheang Sokha

THE government has purchased nearly 100 tanks and armoured personnel carriers from an Eastern European country, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Koy Kuong said yesterday that the vehicles were expected to arrive at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port some time next week, and that additional vehicles would arrive at a later date.

“As far as I know, the numbers will be higher than that, and will arrive soon,” he said, referring to the figure of 94 vehicles cited in local media reports yesterday.

He declined to provide further details about the purchases, or to disclose the name of the country that provided the vehicles. “I think this is a normal procedure for a country to buy such weaponry to protect its territory from any intentional encroachment from foreign countries,” he said.

Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, also remained tight-lipped when asked about the purchases.

“I cannot comment,” he said. “Just wait and see next week, whether this is true or not.”

He said that approximately 800 military officials conducted tank and armoured personnel vehicle exercises last month to strengthen the country’s military capacity and learn how to use heavy artillery weapons.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Tea Banh and a delegation of other senior officials left for China to examine factories specialising in weapons production, and to learn about modern war technologies, Chhum Socheat said. The visit is set to last for about one week.

“The trip is to extend military ties,” he said. “It is not for purchasing weapons, or to sign any contracts with China.”

Migrant labour law finalised

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Heng Bunnarin, 27, describes conditions of her employment in Malaysia during a press conference on issues confronting migrant workers on Tuesday

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010 21:24 Chhay Channyda and Brooke Lewis

A DRAFT sub-decree designed to protect migrant workers and better regulate the labour recruitment industry has been finalised, a Labour Ministry official announced yesterday.

Speaking at a workshop in the capital that focused on strengthening migrant workers’ rights in the ASEAN region, Nhem Kimhuoy said Labour Minister Vong Soth had recently signed the sub-decree, which he said improved and expanded on regulations first introduced in 1995.

“We have to protect migrant workers like other workers,” he said. “This afternoon, I will send a sub-decree that helps to promote workers’ rights to the Council of Ministers.”

Though he did not spell out all of the sub-decree’s stipulations, he said it would require recruitment companies to deposit US$100,000 with the ministry that could be used to assist workers sent abroad “when problems occurred”.

The workshop, which was attended by government officials and representatives of about 20 NGOs, came one day after the rights group Adhoc said it had received 28 complaints from women who claimed to have been abused while working as domestic servants in Malaysia, a figure that activists said marked a sharp increase over previous years.

The workers said they had experienced violence, poor working and living conditions, and illegal detention.

Raja Saifful Ridzuwan, minister counsellor at the Malaysian embassy in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that he had been “very surprised” to hear of the complaints.

“Reports of abuse of Cambodian workers in Malaysia is quite new to us,” and Malaysian officials would investigate the issue, he said. “We are not taking this matter lightly.”.

He said the embassy intended to find ways to work with Cambodian recruitment agencies to ensure that migrant workers were informed of their rights before leaving their home country, and that they were informed about ways they could seek help while abroad.

“They need to be aware that when they are in Malaysia they are not alien to the country, they can always find assistance in many ways if they have a problem. If not to their embassy in Kuala Lumpur, they can always go to the local authorities in Malaysia, either the police or the immigration, or the ministry itself in charge of the workers,” he said.

He added that there were also many outside organisations doing a “good job of assisting” migrant workers.

He said the number of Cambodian workers in Malaysia had increased this year compared to previous years, though he did not have exact figures at hand.

“Every month we receive quite a big number of applications from Cambodian workers to Malaysia,” he said. “Most of them are domestic aids.”

He said there was a high demand for migrant workers in the domestic aid sector, and that the Malaysian government was committed to protecting those employed in it.

“They are contributing something to the country, so of course we have to take care of them,” he said.

Nhem Kimhuoy said yesterday that migrant workers were important contributors to the Kingdom’s economic growth, and that the new sub-decree was a sign that the Cambodian government, too, was committed to protecting them.

Cambodian workers can earn up to $300 per month in Thailand and Malaysia, or $200 per month in Korea, and remit a total of about US$300 million annually, he said.

Portions of the new sub-decree published in a local newspaper last month stated that recruitment firms would be prohibited from detaining trainees or loaning them money.

Nhem Kimhuoy said yesterday that he expected the sub-decree to be approved by government “at the end of this year or early next year”.

Four wounded in acid attack

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010 22:51 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

A 25-year-old woman faces battery charges in Kampong Cham province after an acid attack in which a mother and two children were seriously injured, police said.

Deputy provincial police chief Chhim Seng Hong said Oun Sreymab was arrested on Sunday night after she poured half a litre of acid over 21-year-old Choy Theary, whom she suspected of having an affair with her husband.

“The perpetrator admitted in front of the court officials that she did it because she was jealous,” he said.

The acid also splashed on Choy Theary’s daughters – Phouk Sombo, 6, and Phouk Minea, 2 – who were sleeping nearby. Chhim Seng Hong said Oun Sreymab, who was also burned in the incident, has been released on bail of 4 million riels (about US$948).

Chhun Sophea, programme manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said yesterday that her organisation was providing medical treatment for Choy Theary and her two children.

She said Choy Theary had received serious burns to the left side of her body, that the eldest child received light burns to her body and that the youngest received serious burns to her face and could not open her left eye.

A report released by CASC last month said that 41 percent – by far the greatest portion – of 236 acid-attack cases recorded by the group between 1985 and 2009 took place in Kampong Cham, and linked that figure to the high number of rubber plantations there.

“In Kampong Cham province, where acid is widely available due to its use in the process of making rubber, there is a relatively high rate of acid related crimes compared to other provinces,” the report said.

Chhun Sophea said she could not give a precise figure of the number of attacks that had taken place in Kampong Cham this year.

Nationwide, she said, the latest incident brought to 18 the total number of attacks tallied by CASC so far this year, and to 36 the number of burn victims – four of whom had been injured in accidents rather than attacks. Last year, CASC recorded a total of 28 attacks and 33 victims.

The figures suggest that, especially this year, innocent bystanders make up a significant fraction of acid attack victims.

Chhun Sophea said the number of bystanders harmed in the latest attack underscored the need for the government to regulate acid sales.

“It is a violent weapon compared with a gun; so many innocent people get hurt,” she said.

“If a gun is considered a violent weapon and they regulated the sale of guns, they should consider acid a dangerous weapon, too.”

She added that such cases were all too common.

“Often the majority of people who get burned in an attack are innocent bystanders,” she said. “We had one case that happened in August where eight people got burned.” That attack targeted just one woman.

Ouk Kimlek, undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry and deputy director of a government committee tasked with drafting legislation to curb acid violence, said yesterday that a draft law would be finalised by the end of the month.

“We will complete the draft law at the end of this month and send it the [interior] minister,” he said. “We will send it to the Council of Ministers at the end of this year.”

The committee was formed in February following a spate of reported attacks that began late last year. Committee members originally said they expected to finalise the legislation shortly after Khmer New Year.

Early drafts of the new law called for harsher punishments for perpetrators of acid crimes, including life sentences for the most serious attacks.

Chhun Sophea said yesterday that she had not seen the latest draft, but emphasised the importance of also including preventative measures, particularly the strict regulation of sales, in the new law.

“It’s OK to prosecute people and put them in jail, but the damage is already done,” she said.

Credit war

via CAAI

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 21:59 Nguon Sovan and Jeremy Mullins

LEADING bankers are concerned that a new offer from Cambodia’s largest lender will undercut market rates, raising the possibility of a price war that could hit profitability.

Cambodian Public Bank (Campu Bank) is set to offer 6 percent interest on loans for customers now financed by other institutions, according to documents obtained yesterday. The offer would not be available to its current customers.

A Campu Bank document said that under the deal a borrower refinancing a US$100,000 loan would save $25,561.34.

Company officials claim the programme is both financially sustainable and common in other countries.

But competitors said yesterday the action could unleash a situation in which banks offer reduced rates in a bid to win back customers. The market rate for loan interest is now 10 to 12 percent, bankers say.

Hwang-DBS country head, Han Peng Kwang, said: “This is definitely below what the market is charging now. If there is a lot of activity, lending rates will be affected.

“Other banks will take protective action to retain customers, and lower interest rates will put pressure on profitability.”

Stephen Higgins, CEO of ANZ Royal, said: “I don’t see how it is sustainable to be lending at rates that are not much higher than they are offering on deposits. Banking is not like the airline business, where price discounting is a viable long-term strategy.”

Higgins also raised questions about why Campu Bank’s existing customers would not be offered the rate.

Canadia Bank vice president, Dieter Billmeier, called the move “a concern”.

“We cannot lower to 6 percent because it’s against market price. Customer deposit rates are high, from 3 to 5.5 percent already,” he said.

He speculated that Campu bank had access to funding from its Malaysian headquarters.

However, a Campu Bank official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the offer would only be available to select customers, and that although the programme was a new initiative in Cambodia, it was widespread in other countries.

The firm’s 6 percent interest rate was “definitely sustainable”, he claimed, adding it was intended as compensation for those suffering losses incurred by moving banks.

National Bank of Cambodia director general Tal Nay Im said yesterday the central bank did not restrict lending or deposit rates. “It’s a free market,” she said.

Committing to Cambodia’s children

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Eng Huot

Eng Huot

When any child dies from diarrhoea, it is a tragedy. But when diarrhoea is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 5 in Cambodia, it is an atrocity. Even though the child mortality rate in Cambodia has improved over the last two decades, far too many of our children still die unnecessarily from diarrhoea and other preventable diseases.

This is one of the reasons why the United Nations brought world leaders together 10 years ago to focus on the issues faced by the world’s developing countries. At this meeting, the Millennium Summit, unprecedented commitments and pledges were made to reduce poverty, advance human development and better integrate all countries into the global economy.

The fourth Millennium Development Goal calls on the global community to reduce the deaths of children under the age of 5 by two-thirds by 2015.

This week, world leaders will meet once again at the MDG Summit in the United States to discuss commitments and progress towards achieving those goals. Only five years remain to reach them.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Health has a national strategic plan to work specifically towards MDG 4, and through close collaboration with development partners and sheer determination, Cambodia is making progress. In fact, since 1990, we have seen a [2 percentage point] reduction in the country’s child mortality rate.

Part of our strategy to reduce child mortality has been to focus on immunisations. Between 2000 and 2005, national immunisation rates among Cambodian children increased dramatically from 39 percent to nearly 67 percent. In Cambodia, where almost 85 percent of the population lives outside of urban centres, the introduction of vaccines has had a great impact, helping to slash the country’s infant mortality rate in half. This significant shift has come through partnerships between government, donors and nongovernmental organisations and has resulted in improvements of the health system in Cambodia.

As with our immunisation efforts, we are working aggressively to defeat diarrhoeal disease. Our approach is based on an integrated model that includes oral rehydration therapy, exclusive breastfeeding, zinc supplementation, and improved hygiene, safe water and sanitation.

With increased access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (outlined in MDG 7), Cambodia has seen a threefold increase in the percentage of people with access to improved sanitation facilities. This comprehensive approach is working to combat severe diarrhoea, save the lives of our children and protect them against other deadly diseases.

Rotavirus vaccine may soon provide us with another opportunity to save more lives from the most deadly type of diarrhoea. Recent data published in The Lancet demonstrated the effectiveness of rotavirus vaccine in Asia specifically, with clinical trial data from Bangladesh and Vietnam indicating that rotavirus vaccine can reduce severe diarrhoea cases by nearly half.

This news, coupled with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for the vaccine’s use globally could help to accelerate another lifesaving tool for Cambodia’s children.

Eng Huot is a secretary of state at the Ministry of Health.

Free speech: Government silences its critics: NGOs

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Vong Sokheng

Free speech

THE election monitor Comfrel yesterday held an event marking the United Nations International Day of Democracy, during which civil society representatives criticised government actions that they said were impinging on free speech.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, said the criminal code passed by the National Assembly last year had enabled the court system to be used “to silence individuals that criticise the government”.

But Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, said the criticism was a thinly veiled attempt on the part of the groups to secure more donor funding.

Court detains NGO director

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Meas Sokchea

THE head of a conservation NGO in Kampong Speu province who has been accused of illegal logging and extortion was detained by the provincial court yesterday after a two-hour questioning session, his lawyer said.

Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation, was summoned in response to a complaint filed by Chhun Chhea Heng, the head of the Oral Mountain Animal Refuge in Oral district.

In total, nine members of the NGO have received summonses, and one was questioned on Monday before being released.

Ke Chamroeun, Chea Hean’s lawyer, said yesterday’s questioning session had been carried out by Judge Iv Borin, who could not be reached for comment. Chhun Chea Heng also could not be reached.

Chhun Chea Heng is one of 241 officials accused by Chea Hean of turning a blind eye to illegal logging in Kampong Speu. All 241 officials were named in a complaint filed by Chea Hean to the government’s newly established Anticorruption Unit on August 30.

Ke Chamroeun said he was surprised that his client had been detained, and called the court’s action unfair.

“This detention is unjust for my client, because the court did not take into account my client’s explanation,” he said after the questioning session. “They only accepted the answers from the police and from the Oral Mountain Animal Refuge director.”

He said the detention had come as a surprise because the questioning had been conducted in a civil manner.

“As I listened to the points the parties raised, it seemed that my client would be acquitted, but then he quickly decided at the end of the session that he would detain my client,” he said.

Ek Sothea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Licadho, said yesterday that there was longstanding enmity between Chea Hean and Chhun Chhea Heng. Chea Hean had previously filed three complaints accusing Chhun Chhea Heng of illegal logging – one in 2007, one in 2008 and one in 2009.

In addition to the August 30 ACU complaint, Chea Hean recently filed a complaint to the Appeal Court asking that Chhun Chhea Heng and six other officials be sentenced to 22 years in prison and fined 200 million riels (US$47,393) for their involvement in illegal logging.

Chea Hean said earlier this month that he had taken that complaint to the Appeal Court after his provincial court complaints drew no response.

The Kampong Speu provincial court summons calling Chea Hean to the court indicated that Chhun Chhea Heng had accused him of illegal logging in 2008.

“This case carries a lot of rancour, and at last the complaint from the animal refuge director has been processed by the court,” Ek Sothea said.

Om Yentieng, the head of the ACU, could not be reached yesterday to answer questions about the status of Chea Hean’s complaint to the body.

Muth Dara, the prosecutor handling the case, could not be reached for comment.

Lakeside families say threats were made

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Khouth Sophakchakrya

SIX families living near Boeung Kak lake in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune said yesterday that their village chief and representatives of the development company Shukaku Inc had threatened to demolish their homes early next month, regardless of whether they accepted compensation offers of US$1,000.

“They told me that they will use the machinery to destroy my home if I refuse to accept only $1,000 in compensation,” said Pich Sorphear, a 28-year-old resident of Village 24. She added that the group had said the homes would be destroyed in early October.

Five families in Srah Chak agreed on Tuesday to move in exchange for $8,500.

Meanwhile, other residents said local authorities and Shukaku had donned masks in a bid to intimidate them into accepting the same amount of money and leaving their homes.

Pong Heng, the chief of Village 24, yesterday denied the villagers’ allegations. “I led the company’s representative to meet them,” he said. “I have no right to force [anyone to leave] or demolish anyone’s home.”

Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, who heads Shukaku, acquired rights to develop 133 hectares of the lakeside in 2007.

Housing rights groups say the project will displace about 4,000 families.

Chi Kraeng hearing postponed

Photo by: Rann Reuy
Residents of Siem Reap province’s Chi Kraeng commune who have been charged in connection with a land dispute leave the provincial court after a hearing earlier this month.

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap province

SIEM Reap provincial court yesterday postponed a hearing in the case against nine Chi Kraeng commune villagers who have been charged with robbery in connection with an ongoing land dispute.

The charges stem from a March 22, 2009, altercation involving armed forces and the residents of Chi Kraeng and neighbouring Anlong Samnor commune. The two communes have been embroiled in a land dispute that dates back to 1986, and that has resulted in a series of altercations ever since officials ruled last year that the land in question belonged to Anlong Samnor.

Presiding Judge Ith Samphos said yesterday that the hearing would need to be rescheduled because some of the judges had investigated aspects of the case, and consequently could not rule on the hearings.

“There are five to six different Chi Kraeng cases, and some judges are investigators, and some judges are conducting hearings, so there is some confusion,” he said. He did not announce a new date for the hearing.

All nine suspects were acquitted of robbery in a related case last year. They have remained behind bars pending an appeal. On Tuesday, the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh postponed a hearing in that case, also because judges that were to preside over it had participated in investigations.

Tiger report suggests more-focused effort

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Keeley Smith

A REPORT released this week calls for a more targeted approach to preserving the global tiger population, identifying 42 sites where the animals might be bred most effectively, none of which are in Cambodia.

The report, produced by the Wildlife Conservation Society and published on Tuesday in the online journal PLoS Biology, draws mainly from data provided by researchers and conservation groups, and contends that broad-based conservation efforts currently in place have failed to prevent the tiger population from decreasing.

“Current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers, which has continued unabated over the last two decades,” the report states.

The report estimates that there are 3,500 tigers worldwide, and lists sites in India, Indonesia and Russia as the best places on which to focus efforts to bolster this figure.

There is no evidence that breeding tiger populations exist in Cambodia, according to the report.

Right now, how can you say there are no more tigers?... Some of the places you can’t access....

But Emma Stokes, regional tiger monitoring coordinator for Wildlife Conservation Society Asia, said that even though none of the 42 target sites listed are in Cambodia, the Kingdom could still play a role in preserving the species.

“The report does not say that Cambodia is not a feasible place to reproduce tigers,” Stokes said yesterday.

“On the contrary, Cambodia is fortunate in having large areas of good tiger habitat remaining, most of which is protected, that can potentially support important tiger populations.

“What the report says is that Cambodia does not currently meet the criteria that the authors set out for a source site in this paper.”

Last month, WCS country programme director Mark Gately said estimates of Cambodia’s tiger population ranged from “zero to 10” tigers in the eastern plains, an area spanning Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces in the northeast.

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

But Sun Hean, deputy director of the Environment Ministry’s Forestry Protection Department, said yesterday that he believed the tiger population in Cambodia was “at least 100”.

“Right now, how can you say there are no more tigers?” said Sun Hean, who is also a legal adviser to the conservation NGO Wildlife Alliance.

“Look at the landscape – there are almost 200 million hectares, some places you can’t access, there are waterfalls.... I think more research should be conducted before we conclude that there are no more tigers in Cambodia.”

Suspect at large: Construction worker slain in Kratie

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Chrann Chamroeun

Suspect at large

KRATIE provincial police have identified a soldier wanted in connection with the murder of a construction worker who reportedly begged for his life before he was shot in the head on Monday in Snuol district’s Svay Chras commune.

Chuong Seang Hak, the provincial police chief, said the victim, 20-year-old Or Bun, was shot in the head while working at the Phou Rieng rubber plantation site. He said police are on the hunt for Yun Sina, a 37-year-old soldier who was moonlighting as a security guard for the firm.

He said police had not pinned down a motive for the shooting, but noted that the victim had been involved in a dispute with his father earlier in the day. It was unclear how Yun Sina might have got involved, he added.

Witnesses said they saw the soldier carrying a rifle while driving his motorbike, which he stopped outside the victim’s home. He shot one bullet into the ground, forcing the victim to his knees. Or Bun then reportedly begged for his life before he was killed.

“We are now burning our hands and legs trying to apprehend the suspect,” he said.

US congress: Cambodian-American loses bid


Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 James O'Toole

US congress

SAM Meas, the first Cambodian-American to run for state or federal office in United States history, has failed in his bid to secure the Republican Party nomination for the house of representatives in Massachusetts’ Fifth District.

The Boston Herald reported on Tuesday that Meas was defeated by John Golnik, a former currency trader and reseller of Boston College merchandise. Meas, an investment analyst from Haverhill, Massachusetts, came to the US in 1986 and graduated from Virginia Tech University in 1996. He and a cousin left Cambodia for a Thai refugee camp in 1983.

Meas’s time in Cambodia “shaped my own understanding of freedom and liberty”, he says on his website.

Pilot project to produce organic rice

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A clerk arranges bags of rice at a CEDAC organic store on Street 13, Phnom Penh.

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

A PILOT project for growing organic rice has been launched in Battambang, with the aim of helping farmers take advantage of the grain’s low production costs.

The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture is cooperating with 60 farmers in the Banan district of Battambang province to produce organic Jasmine and Phka Khnhey rice for export.

CEDAC president Yang Saing Koma said yesterday that the project, which takes up 90 hectares of land, was primarily focused on increasing profit margins.

“This rice growing cooperation aims to help communities increase their income through selling paddy for a suitably higher price while also reducing production costs,” he said.

CEDAC says growing organic rice will help to cut costs by using up to 60 percent less seed and saving on chemical fertilisers and poisons.

Yang Saing Koma said farmers in Banan district and other parts of Battambang liked to produce rice using a method that required significant amounts of seed and chemicals to purge unwanted grass.

“We will continue to expand the plan to grow organic rice in this province in the future if this pilot project is successful,” he said, and the plan is to eventually expand cultivation to 1,000 hectares or more.

Ngin Chhay, director of the Department of Rice Crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said he supported the project, as organic rice sold for around 15 to 20 percent more than simple rice and was in demand in Europe and the United States.

His only concern was that the project would struggle with the amount of organic fertiliser needed, which according to his department was roughly between five and 10 tonnes to one hectare of rice.

“I think that the plan to expand the growing of this rice on such a huge land area is difficult, because this kind of rice needs a lot of organic fertiliser to help it yield well,” he said.

Last year, CEDAC exported 32 tonnes of organic Jasmine rice.

Legal debate: China Asean settles long dispute

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

Legal debate

CHINA Asean Resources Limited will receive a 4-million- yuan (US$593,000) settlement following an ownership dispute over its Chinese medical equipment subsidiary.

The firm – which owns two logging concessions in the Kingdom – will receive the settlement in two stages, expected by September 31, ending an ownership dispute which began some three years ago, according to a company report.

China Asean claims its 65 percent share of subsidiary Sinnowa Medical Science and Technology was sold off to Innova Science and Technology Company and Great Profits Enterprises Limited without permission in November, 2007.

“The company has denied that the execution of the two unauthorised sale and purchase agreements was duly authorised,” it said.

The 2007 sale price of the 65 percent stake had been 14 million yuan, but China Asean chairman Alan Leung said the firm’s lawyers had advised the firm to accept the 4 million-yuan settlement offer.

“To continue with the case, we could be waiting for an outcome for years to come, as well as incurring significant additional legal costs,” Leung wrote yesterday.

Meanwhile, China Asean’s shareholders will decide at a special general meeting next month whether to proceed with the acquisition of a third forestry concession in Cambodia’s Kratie province. Under the deal up to 73.77 percent of the firm could come under control of two British Virgin Islands enterprises, in order to shore up its finances after suffering an approximate 99 percent decrease in turnover in 2009 compared to 2008.

Originally operating as Medical China Limited, the firm changed its name one day before the date of the “unauthorised sale” on 10 November 2007, to China Asean Resources partly to reflect its entry to Cambodia, according to a previous statement.

“The change of company name is to signify the Company’s future business expansion in the resources business in Cambodia and the PRC,” it said previously.

India’s president positive about future trade

Photo by: Uy Mousereimony
Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, India’s President Pratibha Patil, and business tycoon Kith Meng lead an Indian-Cambodian business conference yesterday at the Hotel InterContinental.

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 September 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

INDIAN president Pratibha Devisingh Patil encouraged Cambodia to transform itself into a “rice basket” and increase use of preferential trade tariffs with her country.

Cambodia consolidated its relationship with one of the world’s largest economies at the InterContinental Hotel, where more than 140 businesspeople gathered to hear the Indian president, who has undertaken a six-day state visit to the Kingdom.

Around 70 Indian businesspeople were in attendance, and Cambodia’s minister of commerce, Cham Prasidh, led a roughly equivalent local
delegation to discuss and exchange ideas.

“India and Cambodia are at a modest level [of trade], but there exists a much greater scope for expansion,” said a transcript of the president’s speech.

Highlighting potential for Cambodia’s agricultural development, she recommended that the government find ways to improve productivity and developed the Kingdom into a “key exporting country in the world” while utilising trade incentives. She added that the agricultural sector had drawn “a lot of interest” among well-regarded Indian companies that she hoped that would eventually bear fruit as business transactions.

Nguon Meng Tech, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) director, said the meeting was an important step in solidifying business relationships, adding that he hoped India’s expertise in the fields of medicine and information technology, as well as agriculture, would benefit the

Kith Meng, president of CCC, said in a speech that Cambodia was an “economic star of Asia” and that Cambodia's competitiveness would continue to improve.

Rivher Prasad, Cambodia country director of Indian trading company PPS Group, which specialises in pharmaceuticals and water pumps, said before the meeting that he thought the Kingdom’s potential was growing day by day.

“I can say there is a lot of development, as the situation is very stable and controlled here,” he said.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and India increased more than 23 percent to reach more than US$22 million in the first six months this year, up from $18 million for the same period last year.

The vast majority of trade consisted of Indian exports to Cambodia, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Such exports included medicines and medical instruments, textiles, leather, and machinery.

The two countries are preparing to ratify a free-trade agreement on agricultural products as part of a raft of measures that have been undertaken to boost trade between members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and India.

The deal will see tariffs lifted on 90 percent of agricultural products, with around 4,000 product lines expected to have tariffs eliminated by 2016.

India’s gross domestic product expanded 8.8 percent last quarter from a year earlier, the most since 2007 and the third-fastest pace among major economies after China and Brazil.