Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cambodia starts military exercise

via CAAI

September 23, 2010

Cambodia began Thursday a military exercise in northwestern parts of the country, a senior military official said.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman of Ministry of National Defense, said the military exercise began Thursday morning at Phnom Veng, about 350 kilometers northwest of the capital Phnom Penh.

Deputy prime minister and minister of national defense Tea Banh is presiding over the drill.

It is the second military exercise in three months in Cambodia.

In July, Cambodia conducted a two-week multi-national military exercise with code name "Angkor Sentinel 2010" and involving about 1,000 forces from 26 countries and two international organizations.

Source: Xinhua

ADB to Help Cambodia Improve Water Management, Irrigation Systems

via CAAI


The FINANCIAL -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing loans, grants and technical assistance of nearly $34 million to help Cambodia improve the management of its water resources and to upgrade irrigation services to strengthen food security and cut poverty.

ADB’s Board of Directors on September 23 approved the funds for the $63 million Water Resources Management Sector Development Program, which includes measures to strengthen national water regulations and to improve the management of river basin resources. It also will help the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology rehabilitate small- and medium-sized irrigation systems within the Tonle Sap Basin. ADB will also administer a loan from the OPECC Fund for International Development, and technical assistance grants from the Government of Australia and Nordic Development Fund to support program implementation.

"Cambodia’s economy is highly dependent on water, and sustaining the water cycles in the Tonle Sap Lake and Lower Mekong delta is critical to the country’s agriculture and fisheries. With the onset of climate change, more frequent extreme weather events are likely, along with potentially worse seasonal water shortages and floods. To promote more effective water management, the Program will seek to strengthen existing legal and institutional frameworks," ADB says.

“The activities will result in improved management of water resources and more efficient and sustainable irrigation services, which will ultimately enhance food security and support government efforts to reduce poverty and stimulate economic development,” said Christopher Wensley, Lead Professional (Water Resources) in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The program component will support the government’s Strategy on Agriculture and Water, with outputs to include strengthening the policy, regulatory and institutional environment to improve coordination and collaboration on water resources among government agencies. It will also build the capacity of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to manage irrigation services. ADB will finance these activities through a program loan of $20 million equivalent from its concessional Asian Development Fund, which will be released in two tranches over a 24-month period. The loan has a 24-year term, including a grace period of 8 years. Annual interest is charged at 1% during the grace period, rising to 1.5% a year for the balance of the term.

The project component will rehabilitate and upgrade about 15,000 hectares of small- and medium-sized irrigation schemes within the Tonle-Sap basin provinces of Kampong Thom, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap. ADB will provide a loan of $10 million equivalent and a grant of $2.8 million from the Asian Development Fund. The project loan has a 32-year term, with the grace period and interest on a par with the program loan.

The OPEC Fund for International Development is extending a $12 million loan, along with $6.36 million from the Government of Cambodia, and $760,000 from beneficiaries, for a total project investment cost of almost $32 million. The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology is the executing agency for the project, which is expected to be completed by December 2017.

The technical assistance package of $11.2 million, including $1 million from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund, and grant contributions from Australia and the Nordic Development Fund, will be used to help implement agreed policy actions, to support training in water resources management and provide capacity building in target institutions.

Cambodia jails opposition leader in absentia

A rights group and supporters of exile Sam Rainsy, pictured, have slammed a conviction of the political activist

via CAAI

By Suy Se (AFP)

PHNOM PENH — A Cambodian court on Thursday sentenced fugitive opposition leader Sam Rainsy to 10 years in jail for forging and publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam.

A rights group and supporters of Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in Europe, slammed the conviction as politically motivated -- a charged denied by the government, which said the map depicted incorrect border markings.

In January, Sam Rainsy, the main rival of Cambodian premier Hun Sen, was already sentenced in absentia to two years in prison over a related conviction for uprooting border posts and inciting racial discrimination.

Hun Sen maintains close relations with Vietnam's communist regime but Sam Rainsy, 60, whose political party shares his name, has repeatedly accused the government of ceding land to Vietnam.

His new conviction for forging public documents and disseminating false information relates to claims that he posted a "fake map" of the border on his party's website to show Vietnam was encroaching on Cambodian territory.

"The acts of the suspect harm the good relationship between Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," said Ke Sakhorn, president of the judges' panel.

He added that the map was "manipulating" and aimed at "discrediting the government".

Former finance minister Sam Rainsy was also fined five million riel (1,100 US dollars) and ordered to pay the government compensation of 60 million riel, the court said.

There was a heavy police presence outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for fear of protests by supporters of Sam Rainsy, whose party spokesman Yim Sovann said the ruling party was using the court "to slow down the popularity" of the opposition.

"It is a huge setback for democracy in Cambodia," he told AFP.

Ou Virak, chief of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, slammed the verdict as "an obvious move by the CPP (the ruling party) to stop Sam Rainsy coming back to compete in the upcoming national elections".

The next polls are due in 2013.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied the sentence was politically motivated and said Sam Rainsy's own actions were "deeply about politics".

In the January conviction, Sam Rainsy and two villagers were found guilty of intentionally damaging temporary border posts in October last year.

No formal map has yet been agreed between the two countries.

Cambodia and Vietnam officially began demarcating their 1,270-kilometre (790-mile) border in September 2006 after decades of territorial disputes stemming from French colonial times.

Youk Chhang smashes Ieng Sary, defence team

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:00 Youk Chhang

Dear Editor,

I regret that yesterday the Phnom Penh Post misattributed its two letters to the editor, making it appear as if Ou Virak of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights had drafted a stinging criticism of me, and Ieng Sary defence lawyers Ang Udom and Michael Karnavas had drafted a well-argued plea for investigation of potential political interference in the work of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Yet, the mistake ultimately demonstrates the cohesion of Cambodian civil society, as Ou and I were immediately in touch to discuss the humorous error.

The defence team’s reprimand was in response to my statements for the article “Ieng Sary team seeks ECCC judge’s ouster” (September 20). There were two points I had hoped to make clear in my comments, a selection of which appeared in the article. The public must prepare itself to accept that Ieng Sary may pass away before trial, as he is old and his health is fragile. I certainly do not wish him death as we approach the Pchum Benh ancestor holidays. For that reason, it is imperative that the trial move forward without delay so that Ieng Sary may live to tell us why Khmer killed Khmer and be judged accordingly.

I seek the truth, and would thus be a fool to support corruption in Cambodia, including at the Extraordinary Chambers/Defense Unit. Constructive defense challenges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal benefit Cambodia, which suffers from a lack of fair trial standards in its national courts, but it is easy for the Ieng Sary defense to attack everything and themselves politicise the proceedings. Ieng Sary deserves better than to die and have his lawyers declare “victory”. He deserves to be tried.

Youk Chhang
Documentation Center of Cambodia

Send letters to:  or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader given jail term

via CAAI

23 September 2010

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been sentenced to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of altering public documents and disinformation.

Sam Rainsy was sentenced in his absence as he is living in self-imposed exile

The government accused Mr Rainsy of manipulating a map to show that Vietnam had encroached on Cambodia's territory.

His party has accused the Cambodian government of ceding territory to its larger and more powerful neighbour.

Mr Rainsy was sentenced in his absence as he has been living in self-imposed exile in France for the past year.

Unmarked border

The BBC's Guy Delauney in Phnom Penh says the only surprise was that Mr Rainsy's sentence was not longer. He could have faced up to 18 years in prison.

The opposition leader has been spending recent weeks trying to engineer a way of coming back to Cambodia, but now his return seems further away than ever, our correspondent says.

Mr Rainsy is paying a heavy price for his attempts to show that Cambodia is losing land to Vietnam - a sensitive subject, as many Cambodians make no secret of their loathing for all things Vietnamese, he adds.

The two countries officially began demarcating their contentious border in September 2006, in a bid to end decades of territorial disputes.

The 1,270km (790-mile) border has remained essentially unmarked and vague since French colonial times, with stone markers and boundary flags having disappeared, while trees once lining it were cut down.

When a new border line was agreed by the two governments, some Cambodians lost their land, and Mr Rainsy took up their case.

In January, he was given a two-year jail term for encouraging villagers to uproot border markings, in protest at Cambodia's government.

The following month, he was charged with manipulating a map to show that Vietnam had encroached on Cambodia's territory.

In his defence, Mr Rainsy said he had simply downloaded the document from Google.

The Sam Rainsy Party has accused the government of using the judicial system to silence the opposition. But the government insists that the courts are independent - and simply enforcing the law.

Temple hopping in Cambodia: Stories in stone

via CAAI

A 13hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap was just the beginning of an awe-inspiring trip for CNNGo reader Ara Charissa Sam

By Ara Charissa Sam
23 September, 2010

Phnom Bakheng -- Gear up with your most fashionable action shot, Lara Croft style.

A sigh of relief and excitement enveloped me as the plane touched down in Ho Chi Minh. I didn’t have a concrete plan other than getting to Siem Reap. But I knew I was going to have the grandest time.

I was with my friends and we were in search of a memorable adventure. We dropped the mainstream route of taking a plane to experience Cambodia -- so off to the bus stop we went, and bought our 13-hour bus ride ticket.

It was a great decision, because the intensely rich and picturesque surroundings kept us entertained the whole trip.

When we got to Siem Reap, we were tired but we were in awe.

Angkor Wat statues adorn the halls, each with it's own story

There are a lot of temples to see in Cambodia. So, armed with our digicams, water bottles and a thirst for adventure, we journeyed to where the action was, or at least where it used to be.

Guided by our local companion, Bon, who knew a ton of background information and insights we traveled to our heart’s desire. He gave us the opportunity to pick his brain and learn to better understand Cambodians as a people.

At Siem Reap we were transported into an architectural masterpiece from thousands of years ago.

The intelligence and sophistication of the masters that conceptualized the structure shows throughout. Power, might and light-heartedness emerge from the artworks on the wall telling tales and signifying depth in their own beliefs.

The symmetry of Angkor Wat is astounding. Imagining it during the time it was fully functional was overwhelming -- Apsara dancers illuminating the halls with their energy, lectures being passed on from one elder to another and kings sharing inspiring thoughts and knowledge with their people.

Another nearby temple we visited was Bayon in Angkor Thom. It’s beauty and look enticed us to come in -- a series of intricately made smiling facades invite tourists to revisit Jayavarman VII’s work of art. I really love this temple because positivity encapsulated the whole area and the massive stone faces shine on the spotlight.

Bayon Temple.

We continued to temple hop, and it was a blast. We got to understand and learn the transfer of power that transpired, hear stories that ruled the bonfires and best of all, we got to converse with monks as they still go to the wats and pray.

Inside the Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom.

A temple in Phnom Bakheng is considered to be a “hot spot.” They filmed the most exciting scenes of "Tomb Raider" in Phnom Bakheng where gigantic roots of old trees intrusively sweep the temple walls.

This is where we had fun trying out creative poses mimicking scenes from the movie.

Exploring Siem Reap with my friends proved to be one of the best experiences I had in Cambodia.

We consider ourselves privileged to have been able to experience the glory that once was. If only we could have teleported ourselves back in time -- but alas, pictures and journal entries will have to do.

Nonetheless, to see and touch the pieces is to witness that once there was a time when a genuine love for architecture and passion for their belief carried far across the land.

So, after a few days of exploration, we packed our bags and left Siem Reap, bidding farewell to a beautiful place that will be sure to stick with us for the rest of our lives.

Where to stay

Mandalay Inn: They can even customize the tour for you. Look for Kat (the manager.) Their place is filled with warmth and hospitality. Getting a good tour guide is the key. Ask for Bon. He’s well-read and knowledgeable. He can speak good English, too.

About the author: Ara Charissa Sam is a Filipino adventurer at heart -- in search of rich cultures and awe-inspiring tales from other countries. Her day job involves deadling with media marketing decisions within the telecommunications industry.

Ara Charissa submitted this piece as part of CNNGo’s CityPulse section. To find out what other stories we are looking for, go to our CityPulse page.

Taxi driver turned robber arrested

via CAAI

Thursday September 23, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: A taxi driver who robbed and stripped naked his two Cambodian women passengers has been detained by the police.

Police are looking for a friend of the taxi driver, believed to be involved in the robbery, Selangor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said.

In the incident yesterday, the two women boarded the taxi driven by the suspect at the Bukit Jalil bus terminal to go to Bukit Tinggi in Klang.

The women had just arrived from Johor Baru and were planning to return to their country after working as tailors for two years.

“Instead of taking them to Klang, the suspect drove to an oil palm estate in Felda Gedangsa, Hulu Selangor, before robbing them and stripping them naked,” DCP Khalid said in his Facebook as reported by Bernama.

The suspect then drove away, leaving the two women stranded.

Hulu Selangor district police chief Supt Norel Azmi Affandi Yahya said the suspect took the victims’ passports, suitcases, RM900, US$6,000 (RM13,800) as well as some jewelleries.

“The victims were returning to Cambodia and their visas expire tomorrow. They were assisted by the public who took them to lodge a report,” he said.

Cambodian Reconciliation Explored at Symposium

via CAAI

Contact: Patrick Verel
(212) 636-7790

Leng Sithul
Photo By Patrick Verel
Can theatre help a country overcome the mental anguish of mass murder?

That was the question explored on Sept. 20 and 21 at a symposium dedicated to the role of theatrical arts in healing Cambodia’s national psychological wounds.

“Theatre and Peace-Building in Cambodia,” was sponsored by Fordham Theatre at the Lincoln Center campus.

It brought playwright and actress Chhon Sina and actor/musician Leng Sithul from Cambodia to New York City. They collaborated with Fordham acting students and Dawn Akemi Saito, artist-in-residence at Fordham, on Sina’s new play, Phka Campei.

The collaboration began with an open rehearsal of the full play and finished the next day with a staged reading of a single scene. The play tells the story of a sex worker and victim of domestic violence who lives in a slum and struggles to come to terms with the evils her father exacted on her and her mother.

Afterward, Sina and Sithul discussed the unique responsibilities they bear as artists in Cambodian society, at a panel with three Fordham professors.

Sithul, who sang selections from a contemporary Cambodian opera, said many tensions still exist in Cambodia. An estimated two million of the country’s eight million citizens were killed from 1975 to 1978 during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and many former regime supporters still live with those who suffered its abuses.

Sina compared an artist on stage to a soldier on the battlefield who needs protection from above. Music and dance are largely left alone, but theatre productions are considered a “sharp weapon” in Cambodian society.

“We do not have the artist protector. So artists feel intimidated to do their work, because they are not the people who hold the power in the ministries,” she said through interpreter Rithisal Kang.

Still, she said, they persist even with little funding and occasional flare-ups from audiences, like when she played a killer in a play called Breaking The Silence.

“How can we overcome these challenges, and how can we, as the elder teachers of theatre in Cambodia, transfer our knowledge to the younger generation?” she said. “We don’t want to bring our knowledge to the grave.”

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College in the United Kingdom.

Interbank FX eyes Cambodia

via CAAI


In line with its overseas expansions, US online foreign-exchange broker, Interbank FX, is seeking Cambodian partners to expand to the Kingdom.

According to the Utah-based company, it will seek local partners such as banks, investment funds, securities brokerage and individuals in the kingdom.

The company provides online platforms for foreign currency trading.

Cambodia is an emerging market working towards the establishment of a stock market, it was the right time for the company to show its presence here.

Wing partners with Metfone for money transfers

via CAAI

Thursday 23 September 2010

ANZ's subsidiary Wing Cambodia, which provides mobile money transfer services, has partnered with mobile operator Metfone. Following the agreement, the service will be available for Metfone customers and the companies are discussing making Wing services available via Metfone's 190 stores, the Phnom Penh Post reports. Other Wing partners include Mobitel, Beeline, and Excell. Recently, Mobitel has launched its own mobile transfer service as well, following a USD 5 million grant from the GSM Association.

Clinton Foundation Helps Road Safety Program in Cambodia and Other Asian Countries

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 08:32 DAP NEWS / VISOT

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 23, 2010-The Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation announced Thursday onstage at the Clinton Global Initiative a commitment to implement road safety programs in 94 schools across 4 countries over the next 3 years.

Greig Craft, president of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation said that these programs will reach 357,000 students, parents, and teachers through direct interventions and 81 million people indirectly through public awareness education in Cambodia, Vietnam, India, and Uganda.

Craft said that In Cambodia, everyday 5 people perish and 19 people suffer severe injuries that remove them from the work force because of road traffic crashes. In response, the Cambodia Helmet Vaccine Initiative plans to launch a road safety public awareness campaign that will reach over 3 million people in addition to school-based education programming projected to reach almost 40,000 students and 1,000 teachers.

Earlier this year, AIP Foundation in co-ordination with the Ministry of Interior, the National Road Safety Committee, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, ANZ Royal Bank (Cambodia) Ltd. and Total Cambodge launched the “One Helmet. One Life.” helmet use campaign.

The AIP Foundation will implement these interventions acting as the lead NGO for the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative, an international coalition launched in 2009 with founding partners the FIA Foundation, and World Bank Global Road Safety Facility. Recently, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have joined this coalition. The Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative operates under the mission “a helmet on every head” in the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011 to 2020). Helmets have been proven to reduce the likelihood of serious brain injury by 70% and fatality by 42%.

“We are honored to have our work recognized by Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. This recognition highlights the importance of using helmets as a vaccine against the rising epidemic of traffic fatalities,” said Craft.

On September 21, Craft delivered a presentation on the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative during the Promoting Safe Roads Action Network at the Clinton Global Initiative. In addition, the FIA Foundation announced a multi-year financial commitment to the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative.

David Ward, Director General of the FIA Foundation, said:

“The Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative is the core element of our ten year, US $1 million a year, CGI commitment for improving road user behaviour during the Decade of Action. Ensuring motorcycle users always wear a helmet is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce death and injury. GHVI is delivering a vaccine that has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives.”

The AIP Foundation was pleased to receive an invitation to attend the Clinton Global Initiative, an international conference that promotes collaboration between the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other global leaders to effectively confront the world’s most pressing problems with an emphasis on tangible results. In 2000, Bill Clinton launched AIP Foundation’s signature Helmets for Kids program in Vietnam. Since then, AIP Foundation has donated over 500,000 helmets to children in developing countries worldwide.

Traffic fatalities are on par with the death tolls from the world’s major diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis, though they receive a fraction of the attention. The WHO predicts that traffic fatalities will rise from the current rate of 1.2 million per year to 2 million per year by 2020. Children account for 40% of traffic fatalities and developing countries bear 96% of the global burden of child deaths.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

U.S. Military Provides Pediatric Hospital Building in Banteay Meanchey Province

Phnom Penh, September 23, 2010 AKP -- A pediatric hospital building equipped with modern facilities was put into use on Sept. 21 in Banteay Meanchey province in the presence of Health Minister Dr. Mam Bun Heng, U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Mrs. Carol A. Rodley and Provincial Governor H.E. Ung Oeun.

The over-US$2-million building, located in Thmar Puok referral hospital compound in Thmar Puok district, is a humanitarian donation of the Alaska Army Corps of Engineers through the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.

“This is a humanitarian assistance to improve the children’s health in Cambodia as well as to further strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and the U.S.,” H.E. Ung Oeun said.

For his part, Dr. Mam Bun Heng said the donation is made in response to the need of people living in rural areas and to further improve the Cambodian children’s well-being.

U.S. Ambassador Mrs. Carol A. Rodley said the U.S. is planning to build more pediatric hospital buildings in other nine provinces. --AKP

(By CHEA Vannak)


Malaysian Experts Conduct Feasible Study on Import of Cambodia’s Rice

Phnom Penh, September 23, 2010 AKP -- The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Industry of Malaysia has sent its experts to conduct a feasible study on the import of Cambodian rice and the long-term investment in Cambodia’s rice sector.

The Malaysian technical team has recently conducted a study tour to Battambang province, the biggest rice stock in Cambodia, oknha Phu Puy, president of Rice Miller Federation of Cambodia said.

“We have exported from 300,000 to 500,000 tons of rice to foreign markets this year,” said oknha Phu Puy.

On Sept. 21, the group also met with H.E. Sun Kunthor, director general of the Rural Development Bank of Cambodia.

Cambodia is preparing to be a major rice exporter in the near future. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)


Hollywood Plans for a Movie in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, September 23, 2010 AKP -- Hollywood has planned to produce a film in Cambodia, announced Thomas Magyar, the movie’s project manager at a press conference held here yesterday at the Ministry of Information.

The film to be named “The Great Khmer Empire” will take three years, starting from Jan. 2011 and it will cost approximately US$70 million, he indicated.

World’s famous Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, wrestler Jonh Cena and South Korean actress Song Hye Kyo, etc. are expected to act in the movie with Cambodian actors, he said.

For his part, Tony Schiena, a project coordinator and a Hollywood star, said the film will feature the glorious period of Cambodia in 11th and 12th century under the reign of King Jayavarman the VII, considered as the great King of Cambodia even until today. It is during this time the famous Angkor Wat Temple was built.

This Hollywood’s movie project shows that Cambodia is in full peace and it will tell the world about the magnificence of Cambodia’s national heritage, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said at the press conference attended also by many well-known Cambodian movie stars. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)


Kan Ben To Begin Tomorrow

Phnom Penh, September 23, 2010 AKP -- This year, the 14-day Kan Ben Festival will take place from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7.

As usual, Cambodian people go to pagodas to offer foodstuff to the monks. They believe that the monks will then convey the offering to their late ancestors.

Kan Ben is part of “Pchum Ben” Festival or the Festival for the Dead, one of the biggest festivals in Buddhism. This religious festival, which falls on the fifteenth day of Kan Ben, is to celebrate this year on Oct. 8. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)


Phnom Penh Crown FC Establishes Elite Football Academy

Phnom Penh, September 23, 2010 AKP -- Phnom Penh Crown Football Club crowned the champion of C-league 2010 launched here on Monday the establishment of the Elite Football Academy.

Located on an area of 2.5 hectares, the academy will include a school building, a dormitory and an international-standard football field.

Mr. Rithy Samnang, president of Phnom Penh Crown FC said on Sept. 20 at a press conference that in October, the club will select 22 new young players in 18 provinces and cities across the country.

The club will spend each year US$120,000 for those 22 U-13 and 13-year-old players, he added.

Former Cambodian National Football coach Mr. Scott O’Donell became advisor to the club.

H.E. Bun Sok, secretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and H.E. Ouk Sethycheat, secretary general of the Football Federation of Cambodia called for support from all football clubs to Phnom Penh Crown Football Club Elite Football Academy. --AKP

(By Théng)

Good news and bad news

Photo by: Will Baxter

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Will Baxter

Construction workers rebuild a dormitory yesterday at Neak Von pagoda in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak 2 commune, where Prime Minister Hun Sen lived as a young “pagoda boy”. A March 8 fire destroyed 31 dormitories at the pagoda, as well as 178 houses. Dozens of families who have rebuilt their homes at the site have been ordered to dismantle the houses and move back 10 metres from the railway that passes through the commune.

Sam Rainsy gets 10 years

Photo courtesy of the Sam Rainsy Party
Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy (centre, in white shirt) helps villagers in Svay Rieng province's Chantrea district pull up border markers that he claims have been placed illegally by the Vietnamese. The incident, which took place on October 25, 2009, sparked a series of court actions that have resulted in Sam Rainsy being sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison.

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 12:32 Meas Sokchea

Cambodia’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for manipulating a map of Cambodia's border with Vietnam in an attempt to show that the Kingdom's eastern neighbour was encroaching on its territory.

Photo courtesy of the Sam Rainsy Party
Above: A map produced by the Sam Rainsy Party allegedly showing illegal border posts placed inside Cambodian territory by the Vietnamese. Below: A google map of the disputed area.

The embattled politician, who is in self-imposed exile in France, was also fined US$15,730 after being convicted of disinformation and falsifying public documents.

The charges were in connection with a series of press conferences that Sam Rainsy staged in an attempt to prove that the Vietnamese had been stealing land from Cambodian farmers in southeastern Svay Rieng province. Sam Rainsy has also been accused of posting the "fake" map on his party's website.

Court officials said the politician was trying to discredit the government. However, party members and rights advocates called the sentence a politically-motivated move aimed at preventing Sam Rainsy from returning to contest general elections to be held in 2013.

Thursday’s court decision is the latest in a protracted legal wrangle over Sam Rainsy’s allegations that Cambodia’s government is ceding land to its former political patron.

In January, Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for a protest during which he uprooted border markers along the Vietnamese frontier last year.

Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, declined to comment at length on the sentence, saying he would consult with his client on whether to file an appeal. the full story in tomorrow’s Phnom Penh Post or see the updating coverage throughout the day

We're rolling

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Action film star Tony Schiena (left) with Information Minister Khieu Kanharith following the press conference announcing the planned film.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:07 Brooke Lewis and Vong Sokheng

A NEW production company has begun pre-production on a feature film to be shot in Cambodia with an estimated budget of US$70 million.

Thomas Magyar, the film’s executive producer, said yesterday that the movie, The Great Khmer Empire, would be set in the Angkorian period and aim to rival historic epics such as Hollywood films Troy and Alexander.

“This is a big movie. The estimated budget is $70 million,” he said.

Producers planned to approach Angelina Jolie to play the female lead, and John Cena, a seven-time World
Wrestling Entertainment champion and actor, to play the male lead.

Magyar, who is also CEO of the International Bodyguard and Security Services' Association in South East Asia, said the film would be produced by the company Parable Studio Green Asia, a collaboration among filmmakers from Cambodia, Hungaria and Hollywood.

He said that although the company had not yet secured all of the necessary funding for the project, he expected the film to be completed within the next three years.

“We have already started the storyboard and the script,” he said, and added that Hungarian director Gabor Forgacs and Cambodian director Thourn Sinan had already “come aboard” the project.

Som Sokun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said yesterday that the ministry had not yet given official permission for the film, but that its general policy was to encourage foreign productions.

“We are happy to welcome the Hollywood film production,” he said.

Magyar said he planned to meet with officials at the ministry on Monday to discuss the project further.

The announcement came at a press conference held at the Ministry of Information and attended by American actor and world karate champion Tony Schiena.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Schiena is known as “the bad boy of karate” due to “his unorthodox training methods and aggressive fighting style”.

It was unclear exactly what role Schiena would play in the production of The Great Khmer Empire, but he said that he intended to “help in whatever way I can”.

Schiena said he also planned to work on environmental, anti-human trafficking and other projects during his stay in the Kingdom..

Action star on board

PM jets off for ASEAN-US talks

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Hun Sen is fare welled by US Ambassador Carol Rodley before leaving the country on Tuesday

via CAAI

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 21:45 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has left Cambodia to attend the second ASEAN-United States Leaders’ Meeting in New York, where regional security, economic cooperation and the upcoming elections in Myanmar are expected to top the agenda.
Sri Thamrong, a government adviser who is part of the Cambodian delegation to the US, said yesterday that American President Barack Obama and heads of state from ASEAN’s 10 member nations would use the meeting to discuss a wide range of issues.

“The leaders of ASEAN and the US will look into the issues of economics, climate change, natural disasters, power security, food security, counterterrorism and other regional issues,” he said at Phnom Penh International Airport.

According to a draft copy of a joint statement set to be issued at the meeting tomorrow, the US and ASEAN will pledge to “further enhance economic cooperation” with the aim of sustaining the recovery from the global economic downturn and boosting domestic job creation.

It noted that two-way trade between the US and the Southeast Asian bloc reached US$84 billion in the first six months of the year, up 28 percent over the same period last year.

The draft also addressed regional flashpoints, including the situation in Myanmar, which is scheduled to hold long-awaited but controversial elections on November 7.

It said that ASEAN welcomed the “continued US engagement” with the government of Myanmar, expressing hope that it would encourage the military junta to “undertake political and economic reforms”.

“We underscored the importance of a free, fair, inclusive and transparent general election on 7 November 2010 to the long term stability and prosperity of Myanmar,” it said.
Myanmar’s election plans have drawn censure from critics of the junta, who say they are a merely a fig leaf for continued military rule.

The draft weighed in on the Korean Peninsula, making a joint call for the North Korean government to honour previous agreements to “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes”.

It also called for the “peaceful settlement of disputes in the region, including [the] South China Sea”, where island territories are claimed by China, Vietnam and several other Southeast Asian nations.

On the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, the ASEAN-US draft statement reaffirmed the countries’ commitment to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, first established in 1995.

The treaty, the draft said, “contributes towards global nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation [and] the promotion of peaceful use of nuclear energy. We are committed to maintain the prevention of the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction and build a world free of their threat.”

Sri Thamrong said Hun Sen would take the opportunity to hold sideline talks with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in New York. He did not go into detail about the content of the talks, but said it would focus on “various issues” to do with the countries’ ongoing border dispute.

Rainsy to file complaint against PM

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks at a press conference in February 2009

via CAAI

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:47 Sebastian Strangio and Meas Sokchea

EMBATTLED opposition leader Sam Rainsy says he plans to file fresh complaints against Prime Minister Hun Sen in a US court accusing him of involvement in a 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally that left 16 dead and more than 100 injured.

The politician, who is currently living in self-imposed exile said he would unveil more details of the complaint at a videoconference from France at the Sam Rainsy Party’s headquarters on Friday.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Sam Rainsy promised to initiate “new judicial proceedings in New York against Mr Hun Sen and his subordinates in relation to a deadly 1997 grenade attack in Phnom Penh and an investigation by the US Federation Bureau of Investigation”.

On March 30, 1997, four grenades were thrown at a rally held by the opposition Khmer Nation Party – the predecessor to the SRP – killing 16 and injuring scores of bystanders.

Sam Rainsy has long alleged the involvement of Brigade 70, Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard.

The complaint came as Hun Sen departed for New York, where he will attend the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting on Friday.

It recalls a similar lawsuit filed in US and French courts in 2005, ahead of another of Hun Sen’s visits to New York

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that during the 2005 visit – also a period when Sam Rainsy was living in self-imposed exile – US officials served Hun Sen a subpoena, prompting negotiations that paved the way for Sam Rainsy’s return to the country.

Sam Rainsy could not be reached for comment in Europe, but in an interview with Radio Free Asia, he said the legal process had commenced. Hun Sen had “implored” him to withdraw the 2005 complaint, he said, but added that it could be re-filed to the courts at any time.

“If I want to file my complaint in the US and France at any time it is OK, and Mr Hun Sen will be scared again. It has already been started,” he told RFA.

Government officials said that they were unfazed by the plans to file a lawsuit, and predicted that it would only attract more complaints from the government.

“If he sues like this, it is easy since we can continue to file more complaints” against Sam Rainsy, said Information Minister Khieu Kanharith. He said the 1997 grenade attack had already been investigated by the FBI, and that the government was “not at all afraid” .

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Sam Rainsy was trying to turn his ongoing legal battles into a personal issue.

“This is not the first time – very often he has insulted the prime minister,” but Hun Sen, as a head of state, would be immune from any legal challenge, he said.

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said it was unclear whether the premier could be affected by a US lawsuit. “It’s not a reliable option, but it’s a last resort,” he said.

Despite the weight of charges facing Sam Rainsy, he said, the politician would rise again, since he was still vital to his party – and the government’s own democratic legitimacy.

“At the end of the day, we still need to have the opposition in the Cambodian political system,” he said. “I don’t think it’s done as far as Sam Rainsy is concerned.”

Ape song leads to discovery

Photo by: AFP
A female northern buffed-cheeked gibbon, a new species of primate discovered by German scientists in the rainforests of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:10 Thomas Miller

GERMAN scientists say they have discovered a new endangered ape species in the tropical rainforests of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos after identifying it by its distinctive song.

The new type of crested gibbon, one of the most endangered primate species in the world, is called the northern buffed-cheeked gibbon, or Nomascus annamensis, the German Primate Centre said in a statement.

In Cambodia, the gibbon lives in Virachey National Park in the northeast, according to Christian Roos, who led the three-year project. “An analysis of the frequency and tempo of their calls, along with genetic research, show that this is, in fact, a new species,” the statement said.

“The discovery of a new species of ape is a minor sensation,” Roos said.

“As a scientist, I am very excited, but as a conservationist, I am disappointed because of all the problems that come with this we need to solve.”

Roos credited Van Ngoc Thinh, a Vietnamese doctoral student at Göttingen’s primate centre, for doing “most of the real work in the lab and the field”.

There is “no real estimate” of how many buffed-cheeked gibbons there are, Roos said. He said that due to major threats such as illegal hunting, illegal logging and the construction of roads and dams – even in protected areas – he expected gibbon populations to “decrease dramatically”.

The DPZ noted: “Gibbons are kept as cute pets, or they are eaten, or they are processed into traditional medicines.”

Prior to the discovery, scientists had previously assumed there were six different species of crested gibbons. Gibbons belong to the family of apes, mankind’s closest relative. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

Corruption claim: State official accused of taking bribes

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

Corruption claim

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case against a former government official charged with accepting a US$200,000 bribe in 2008 from a woman on behalf of residents of Dangkor district involved in a land dispute.

Seng Yean, the former deputy general of inspection at the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations, has been accused of accepting the bribe from local businesswoman Di Prem on behalf of 120 families who were opposing a local woman, Huot Sarom, in a dispute over 6 hectares of land in Dangkor district’s Kakab commune.

Huot Sarom’s lawyer, Kao Ty, yesterday accused Seng Yean of accepting the bribe before signing a letter allowing the villagers to claim the land to sell to other businessmen for profit.

Both Seng Yean – who was fired because of the allegations – and Di Prem have denied the charges.

If found guilty, Seng Yean faces between three and seven years in prison, while Di Prem faces between one and three years. No date has been scheduled for the verdict.

Political veteran made anti-graft spokesman

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

KEO Remy, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers and deputy director of the council’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said yesterday that he had been appointed as a spokesman of the Kingdom’s new National Anticorruption Commission, headed by Om Yentieng, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Currently, the National Anticorruption Commission is preparing a policy document plan and other documents and we will make all our work activities public soon,” he said.

Keo Remy, a veteran of the political scene, first joined Funcinpec in the 1990s and served as a parliamentarian following the 1998 elections. He defected to the Sam Rainsy Party prior to the 2003 national elections and then to the Human Rights Party prior to the 2008 poll. After failing to win a seat with the HRP, he again defected to the Cambodian People’s Party and was given a post at the Council of Ministers.

Chan Soveth, chief investigator of local rights group Adhoc, said it was good that the commission had appointed a spokesman, but that he would wait and see how effective the body was in practice.

“We are awaiting their action and their willingness… and how many [graft] suspects the commission has recorded, and how they plan to take measures against them,” he said.

Tough times for fire families

Photo by: Will Baxter
A sugarcane vendor pushes his cart along train tracks in Tuol Kork district’s Boeung Kak 2 commune yesterday. District authorities have ordered 45 families to dismantle their homes and move them 10 metres back from the tracks.

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

TUOL Kork district officials have ordered 45 families living along the railway in Boeung Kak 2 commune to dismantle their newly built homes and move back 10 metres from the tracks.

Kith Vannak, a 31-year-old Boeung Kak 2 commune resident, said the affected families had been notified of the order via a September 21 letter signed by Tuol Kork district governor Seng Ratanak.

“We must disagree with his order to pull down our houses because we cannot become homeless,” he said. He said that the letter made no mention of a deadline or potential compensation.

In March, a fire destroyed 178 homes in the commune, as well as dormitories at Neak Von pagoda, leaving 257 families, 181 students and 90 monks homeless.

During a period of about three months following the fire it appeared that some – or all – of the families would be relocated to Dangkor district, where they would receive 5-by-12-metre plots of land. Then, in June, authorities announced that the relocation was cancelled, and said that families would be limited to rebuilding on 3.92-by-5.5-metre plots at the fire site.

This would have been a downgrade for most residents, so in defiance of the order, most families responded by rebuilding homes in Boeung Kak 2 commune equal in size to those destroyed by the fire. In many cases, families were forced to take out loans to rebuild.

“My family originally agreed to relocate, and then we struggled to survive for three months living in a temporary shelter with a ruined tent roof,” said Kith Vannak.

“Now, we have many debts ... totalling about US$2,500 because we had to construct a new home.”

Tuol Kork deputy district governor Thim Sam An said yesterday that the residents had been warned again and again not to build a “slum” at the fire site.

“We told them to refrain from building homes close to the railway and ordered them to rebuild their homes 10 metres back from the tracks to make way for an access road intended to reduce traffic jams,” he said.

“At present, we have not made any provision to pay compensation to those people, but we also will not abandon them.”

Long Thea, another resident affected by the announcement, said it was strange that authorities had only ordered those affected by the March fire to pull down their homes when many other people in Phnom Penh live within 10 metres of the railway tracks.

“It is an injustice for those of us who live at the fire site near Neak Von pagoda,” he said. “We cannot agree to do as they have ordered.”

State queries union leaders about threats

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear

OFFICIALS at the Interior Ministry yesterday questioned three labour leaders as part of an ongoing investigation into reports that they were threatened because of their involvement in last week’s large-scale garment strikes, officials said.

Chhay Sinarith, director of the Internal Security Department at the ministry, said yesterday that officials launched the investigation last week to identify two anonymous callers who had threatened Ath Thun, the head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation.

He said the first call came on August 28, less than two weeks after Ath Thun announced that more than 60,000 garment factory workers would strike in response to a July decision that set the industry minimum wage at US$61 per month.

He said one caller had told a colleague of Ath Thun’s to “tell your boss, don’t be so strong”, and had also threatened that the union leader would be arrested if he followed through on plans to organise the strikes.

Chhay Sinarith declined to name the CLC member who received the messages.

He said the calls had come from a private number, and that the ministry had not yet identified any suspects.

“I am searching with the phone company to find out the number and name of the callers who threatened Ath Thun’s colleague,” he said. “I will summon Ath Thun and his colleague who got called for questioning again.”

Ath Thun yesterday confirmed that he and two other labour leaders had spoken with officials at the Interior Ministry, but declined to comment further on the threats he received, citing the ongoing investigation.

The other two union leaders present were Mom Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, and Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre.

Mom Nhim said she had received threats via SMS text message, and that all three labour leaders had been harassed and followed by unidentified men on motorbikes during last week’s strikes.

Tanker explosion: Victims file for money after blaze

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

Tanker explosion

FOUR families that lost their homes after a petrol tanker caught fire in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on Tuesday filed complaints to the district hall demanding compensation yesterday, officials said.

District governor Som Sovann said the complaints would be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“It is ultimately the court that will decide which party will be responsible for paying compensation to the villagers because the case depends on the police investigation,” he said.

He said that it was unclear whether the truck was owned by Sokimex Company or Socheat, the petroleum station where it burst into flames, sending a plume of black smoke over the city at around midday.

The owner of Socheat was arrested on Tuesday, and police continued to question him yesterday, said Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth, who added that police were urging five other families that lost their homes to lodge complaints.

“We do not know the total cost of the damages yet,’’ he said.

Twisted Traveller deportee guilty in absentia

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun and Cameron Wells

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced an American man in absentia to 17 years in prison after finding him guilty of buying sex from three underage girls and producing child pornography during a trip to Cambodia in January.

Craig Thomas Carr, 59, was arrested on January 21, and the Municipal Court later charged him with purchasing sex from three 14-year-old girls in Phnom Penh and Kandal province.

He was deported in May to the United States through Operation Twisted Traveller – an arrangement by which Americans suspected of committing sex crimes overseas can be tried in the US – and charged in a US district court in Washington state.

But because court proceedings in Cambodia had begun at the time of his deportation, the domestic case went ahead.

Defence lawyer Dun Vibol said it was “illogical” for his client to receive what he called a heavy sentence in light of the fact that he faced similar charges in the US.

During a hearing in Washington state on July 27, Carr pleaded guilty to having sex with underage girls in Cambodia. He faces a sentence of 15 to 30 years in the US case if found guilty.

“According to the principle of law, it seems illogical for my client to receive two verdicts in Cambodia and America on the same case,” he said. “He should not have been deported to face trial in the US.”

But Samleang Seila, director of the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which provided lawyers for the victims, said he was happy with the verdict and sentence handed down yesterday, even though Carr was unlikely to serve time in Cambodia. He said that although the Cambodian sentence was not transferable to the US, it could “possibly be seen as evidence by the American courts, that he has been convicted of the crime here”.

The court also sentenced Mey Sovan and Sek Vy, both 37, to 12 years each in prison after finding them guilty of soliciting child prostitution and procurement.

Both were accused of finding the victims for Carr.

The court ordered them to pay fines of 8 million riels (US$1,900) each. In addition, all three accused were ordered to pay compensation to two victims totalling 8 million riels.

US media reports citing an affidavit in the case there said Carr published an online advertisement offering to purchase sex with girls who were around 12 years old.

People key to MDG success

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:01 Noeleen Heyzer

Noeleen Heyzer
DESPITE Asia’s incredible economic might – now leading the global recovery – and continued high rates of growth, the region still faces chronic challenges of underdevelopment: hunger, disease and far too many families living in poverty.
The economic growth of Asia is impressive. The region’s GDP has doubled since 1990. In this period, the jobs created in Asia have lifted 500 million people out of poverty – an incredible achievement unmatched in human history. This rapid economic growth has also resulted in the growth of a dynamic, globally connected and information-savvy middle class.
But Asia’s growth is uneven: Many countries, especially the least-developed and small island states, still face challenges in making the development leap. The task is far from complete. Asia is home to about a billion of the world’s most destitute people. Hunger is a daily threat to one out of five. Some 480 million do not have access to water, 900 million live without electricity, and one-third of the residents of Asia’s crowded cities live in precarious slums and squatter developments. Just to meet the basic needs of present and future generations – to prevent millions from sliding backwards – Asia will have to count on a phenomenal rate of economic growth.
Moreover, to rely so heavily on rapid economic growth has resulted in huge social and ecological costs. Across Asia, hundreds of millions have joined the decades-long migration from countryside to urban areas, and internationally, in search of employment. Income and access disparities have increased in almost every country, booming economies have depleted the region’s natural resources and polluted rivers mean that drinking water and basic sanitation are unobtainable for the poorest inhabitants.
It has also left many countries vulnerable to sharp rises in food and fuel prices and downturns in the global economy. Our crowded urban spaces with poor social and physical infrastructure are vulnerable to the increasing risks of climate-related natural disasters.
Asia cannot continue to rely on the quantity of economic growth alone. We need to focus on the quality of our economic and social development and on the sustainable use of our natural resources to ensure our place in the economic, social and ecological balance. Improving the quality of growth, including the ecological quality, requires a transformation of our current economic and social systems. Rather than solely relying on the cheap labor and ecologically costly export-driven economic model of the present, Asia can start a new regional interlocked economy of the future, based on greater eco-efficiency and social equity.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals, started by the world’s leaders 10 years ago, offers such a transformation at a global level – and a chance for Asia to share the benefits of economic growth with all its citizens. Meeting the challenges set by the MDGs – yardstick measurements of each country’s efforts to meet basic requirements of food, education and health for their people – are the responsibilities of both national governments and the international community, seeking to reduce poverty and advance human development in their respective countries and through a more just global economic order. Though progress has been seen over the past 10 years, with some countries moving faster than others, the final deadline of 2015 is now looming, and all the world, and Asia especially, have a long way to go.
To make good on the promises of the world’s leaders will require new solutions and new urgency, for a number of reasons:
  • Bringing women to the economic table. The MDGs push governments toward ensuring girls are in school in equal numbers with boys and that women are part of governance and decision-making. Tapping into women’s economic power and market role is essential in producing a smart economic model for Asia that generates the wealth of a regional economy based on its people.
  • Asia’s poor are a source of economic power. Asia’s 1 billion people living below the poverty line can become the consumers of tomorrow in a vast Asia regional market and economy. If Asia’s leaders can close the development gap, increase income security, promote better connections between their citizens and the trade of goods across the region, aggregate demand would increase. Closing the development gap and meeting the MDGs could create a new middle class – what every country wants.
  • Investing in social programs, investing in our environment. To transform the Asia economic model, the MDGs offer the way forward. Asia’s new workers and new middle class still lead insecure existences – affordable healthcare, schools, pensions and environmental sustainability are not optional, they are of urgent necessity.
 In 1990, the world’s leaders pledged to create a new world largely free of poverty by 2015. Today, Asia’s leaders have an unrivalled opportunity to meet that goal by relying on the region’s people and resources to create new sustainable and inclusive sources of wealth and development.
The final MDG story is yet to be told. All countries still have five years to seek the most promising path. Asia can tilt the balance to success.