Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Unchecked Water Pumping Around Angkor Wat Threatens Temple Complex

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(Photo: Getty Images)

The world's largest religious monument, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, could crack or crumble if authorities don't clamp down on the opportunists pumping water from underneath the ancient city.

Hotels and other private developments that cater to the tourists flocking to the awe-inspiring site are sucking the groundwater beneath Angkor's temples to keep their facilities lush and green for the paying customers.

But the Angkor temples are built on a base of sand, and if the natural rise and fall of groundwater which keeps that base firm is disrupted, the towers on the site could become unstable.

The number of visitors to the UNESCO world heritage site near Siem Riep in northern Cambodia is approaching 2 million per year, which has increased the demand for water in the area. The population of Siem Riep has doubled in the past 10 years to 200,000.

The Guardian reports that "thousands of illegal private pumps have been sunk across the city [of Siem Riep], pulling millions of litres of water from the ground each day."

At the moment, the local government and water utility in Siem Riep don't have the capacity to service the rapidly-growing city. They are investigating the prospect of transporting water from other locations, and have commissioned a Japanese firm to investigate future options for the municipality.

Prosecution for an old crime puts Cambodian refugee at risk

JULIETTE LYNCH / Staff Photographer
Members of the city's Cambodian community surround Kong Iv, whose son faces deportation over an assault in 1998. Mout Iv's lawyer calls it "unfair" to let people develop ties to the community while on supervised release, "and then to rip them away."

via CAAI

Posted on Wed, Sep. 29, 2010
By Michael Matza
Inquirer Staff Writer

After he was convicted of assaulting a Philadelphia man in 1998, Cambodian refugee Mout Iv knew he was in the United States on borrowed time.

As it turned out, quite a lot of borrowed time.

He was freed from a Pennsylvania prison after four years, but paperwork snafus prevented his immediate return to Cambodia, as required by law. So immigration agents put Iv on "supervised release," allowing him to open a barber shop in Olney

The government kept tabs on him with scheduled interviews, random phone calls, and unannounced visits.

Last week, at an ostensibly routine appointment, Iv, 33, was fingerprinted, photographed, and arrested. He's now in prison being readied for deportation.

It "was always in the back of my mind," said his fiancée, CJ Vonglaha, 26. "But I didn't think in my wildest dreams it would be like this."

Nor did many of the thousands of other noncitizen refugees being rounded up nationwide because of crimes largely committed years ago. In Philadelphia this month, the heat has been on the Cambodian community, which has protested deportation proceedings against at least six of its members.

Behind the rash of detentions and expulsions is the Obama administration, which is attempting to win public and congressional support for immigration reform.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is on track to deport 400,000 people this year - a 10 percent increase over expulsions in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, and more than double the number in 2005.

In the last five years, the increases in deportations have largely been the result of federal campaigns to catch illegal border crossers and visa violators, according to a February report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, an independent research center at Syracuse University.

Another TRAC study released this month, however, documented a "shift in targeting."

"Focusing just on aliens who have committed crimes in this country, the number . . . removed by ICE has already broken all previous records," the authors wrote. They wrote that the number of undocumented immigrants removed for overstaying visas or entering illegally had dropped for the first time in five years.

In a June 30 memo to staff, ICE assistant secretary John Morton told agents to focus on felons and repeat offenders, but reminded them not to neglect other categories of illegal immigrants.

"Politically, [the administration has] focused on the low-hanging fruit," said Steve Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that advocates strict immigration control.

Those who support targeting noncitizens convicted of felonies or multiple misdemeanors say it's only logical to pursue them as a matter of public safety.

Defenders of refugees with criminal records generally do acknowledge the seriousness of their crimes.

Iv was 21 when he and two or three other men took part in a May 1998 mugging on the 4900 block of Old York Road in which the victim was stabbed in the side. Convicted of aggravated assault, he was sentenced to 31/2 to seven years in prison and paroled after serving the minimum.

As a noncitizen, he went immediately into immigration detention in prison. For reasons not specified in his criminal record, Cambodia did not issue travel documents so he could be returned. After a year, he was released under supervision.

In 1996, Congress enacted two laws expanding the categories of deportation and largely eliminated judges' discretion in deciding who stays and who goes.

Immigrant advocates such as Mia-lia Kiernan, of the group Deported Diaspora, say the system fails to credit the importance of rehabilitation and community ties.

Both figure in her defense of Iv, who survived the genocide of Pol Pot's Cambodia in the 1970s, lived with his mother and a sister in a Thai refugee camp, came to Philadelphia at 7, "did a crime, did his time," and turned his life around.

Now he sits in ICE detention at a jail in York, where he and the other Cambodian detainees were interviewed last week by a Cambodian consular official handling their return to the country they fled as children.

Iv's lawyer, Steven Morley, is trying to win a stay of his deportation with a last-ditch motion to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

It is "unfair" to allow people to develop ties to the community while on supervised release, "and then to rip them away," said Morley, of Philadelphia, who advocates for more discretion by immigration judges and ICE officials.

"The solution is to examine people's backgrounds on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Responding to an e-mail blast after Iv's arrest, about 350 demonstrators swarmed the intersection of Front and Champlost Streets near his three-chair shop.

His fiancée, a nurse's aide, held their 3-month-old daughter, Sarai. Deportation will shatter their family, she said, leaving her unable to pay the $1,400 monthly mortgage on their rowhouse. Her job pays $700 every two weeks.

"He has changed for the better," said demonstrator Shappine Servano, 27, a real estate agent. "He has his own home, his own business. He is paying taxes."

Except for a 2009 guilty plea and suspended sentence for impaired driving, Iv appears not to have had other troubles with the law.

"I have known him since 2001," said Rorng Sorn, executive director of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, a service agency for the region's approximately 20,000 Cambodians. "He is a responsible, respectful, positive influence on the children who come to his shop."

Iv's childhood friend Will McClinton, 32, a union laborer, said he loved him like a brother.

"He's been cutting my hair since we were 12. He ran into a little bit of trouble. . . . He started his life over," McClinton said. "If they could put up a poster of someone who reformed himself, his face should be on it."

Vietnam’s First Tour Operator Seduces ASEAN Tourists at ATF Cambodia 2011

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Luxury Travel Ltd ( ) to Search Luxury Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Partners ATF 2011 in Phnom Penh Cambodia from 19 to 21 Jan 2011.

Hanoi, Vietnam, September 29, 2010 --( Each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the member countries. ATF 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of this event since its inauguration in Malaysia in 1981. Cambodia will host ATF 2011 ( and is all geared up to welcome over 1,600 delegates which includes 400 international buyers and 100 international media.

Luxury Travel Group Ltd will participate in the ATF 2011 as Exhibitor. The aim is to promote the Vietnamese tourism product in the leisure luxury segment, which is addressed to people who want to live a unique experience, with personalized service, privacy, tranquility and simplicity.

Different destinations combining history, culture and cuisine or an exotic destination with an excellent service and unique experience.

Ha Pham, founder and CEO of the Luxury Travel Company ( ) believes the time is ripe for high-end travelers worldwide. Last year, Luxury Travel Vietnam Company served 10,000 satisfied discerning travelers and many of them are VIP and High ranking officials.

Luxury Travel Co., Ltd is Vietnam's first luxury tour operator founded in 2004 to catch this new trend and promote niche tourism products to high end travelers. The company's depth of experience and large infrastructure enable it to create unique itineraries with the operational confidence to fulfill client expectations.

"Based in Vietnam, with our management offices in the kingdom of Cambodia, ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011 is a chance for us to establish our business relationship with all of you who look for a reliable full travel service agency and a luxury tour operator," Ha adds.

The company is promoting five countries in one destination. For further business discussion with Luxury Travel representatives, book an appointment in advance at, check website at or visit the company booth number in Vietnam Section at ATF 2011 Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodia Pays $ 1,500 for Abhisit-Hun Sen Meeting in New York

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 04:45 By Sorn Sopheak

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, SEPTEMBER 29,2010-Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen hinted on Wednesday that his government paid 1,500 USD for 2-hour room rent in New York where he and his Thai PM Counterpart Abhisit Vijjajiva met to discuss bilateral cooperation including border spate.

His remark was made during his presidency of a Cambodia’s university graduation.

Local monk mourned

Photo by: Pha Lina

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

Mourners gather around the body of Yoeun Sin, formerly the head of the Khmer Krom Monks’ Association and abbot of the Samaky Rainsey pagoda in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune. A long-time Khmer Krom advocate, Yoeun Sin died of an asthma attack yesterday at the age of 75. His body is scheduled to be cremated at the pagoda in a ceremony on October 29.

Rape incident: Police seek warrant for RCAF officer

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Thet Sambath

Rape incident

ODDAR Meanchey provincial police have requested that Siem Reap court officials issue a warrant for the arrest of a soldier accused of raping his 8-year-old sister-in-law, after receiving a forensic examination report of the victim.

The suspect, a 25-year-old low-ranking officer in Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Brigade 8, is accused of raping his sister-in-law on September 14 in Trapaing Prasat district’s Preah Pralay commune.

Roth Savon, provincial police chief in charge of serious crimes, said yesterday that an arrest warrant was needed for the suspect because he had refused to come to the police station for questioning.

“He hasn’t come out of his military base, so we have to request a warrant so we can take action against him,” he said, and added that he could not reveal the results of the examination as the investigation was ongoing.

Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said yesterday that he hadn’t yet received the report. “I’ve ordered the arrest of the suspect since the beginning, but someone is intervening,” he said.

Report to examine status of human rights in ASEAN

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Thomas Miller

THE recently established Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN has announced that it has embarked on a study analysing the legal framework supporting human rights in ASEAN’s 10 member states, an early step in the efforts of human rights activists to spell out the bloc’s – and Cambodia’s – commitment to human rights.

The report’s lead author, Mahdev Mohan, an assistant professor of law at Singapore Management University, said the centre’s report would seek to give clearer meaning to the principles of “rule of law and good governance” and “respect for and protection of human rights”.

Mohan said the ASEAN Charter did not define the two concepts, nor “explain how they are [or should be] implemented in ASEAN”, and that the study would be a good first step in finding consensus within ASEAN member states as to their meaning.


We hope that the report will be viewed as an academically sound baseline report ... not one that plays to anyone’s politics.


The researchers will meet in Jakarta next month to determine appropriate methodologies, and the complete report will be presented in March 2011 at an ASEAN-wide human rights conference, according to a statement issued by the HRRCA last week.

Researchers will first set out to define the rule of law according to “minimum international standards” and determine how each state understands these concepts, Mohan said.

Then, they will evaluate the extent to which member states meet those standards and “consider ways in which these countries can improve their adherence to these standards going forward”.

The study will include country-specific reports on all ten ASEAN member states, put together by lead researchers with legal expertise from at least eight ASEAN countries, Mohan said.

Phun Vidjia, a professor of law at Phnom Penh’s Pannasastra University, will play that role for Cambodia.

The report will “highlight what ASEAN member states are doing right and identify issues where there is room for improvement”, Mohan said. “We hope that the report will be viewed as an academically sound baseline report designed to assist ASEAN human rights processes, not one that plays to anyone’s politics.”

HRRCA board member and rights activist Theary Seng said that this would provide an objective evaluation of Cambodia’s progress on the rule of law and human rights issues, “first as a matter of a linear perspective set against Cambodia’s individual historical backdrop and legal framework, and second, as a matter of regional comparison”.

Clash of principles
Observers have long been skeptical of ASEAN’s commitment to human rights, which have remained vague, unenforced and distorted by ASEAN’s principles of mutual “non-interference” and consensus-based decision-making.

When ASEAN created the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights in October 2009, some human rights activists walked out in protest, arguing that these principles would give any member state an effective veto over decisions they might not approve of.

Chris Roberts, assistant professor in international relations and Asian studies at the University of Canberra, said that he viewed these core principles of ASEAN as “contradicting” its commitment to human rights.

He wondered, for example, how far an investigation into human rights in Myanmar could really go.

Josh Kurlantzick, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said he did not hold out much hope that human rights could become a “core value” of ASEAN.

But David Cohen, a professor of humanities and director of the War Crimes Centre at UCLA Berkeley, who was involved in the creation of the HRRCA, wrote in March that it took civil society groups from ASEAN states 15 years of work to create the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission, which was “only the beginning”.

The best way to make the Southeast Asian human rights commission effective, he said, was “through supporting and strengthening the kind of regional civil society initiatives that contributed to its creation”.

Police Blotter: 29 Sep 2010

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

Police arrest alleged rapist after five years
A 26-year-old man was arrested in Kandal province on Monday in connection with a rape that happened more than five years ago. Police said the man escaped to Thailand following the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old victim in Kandal in May 2005. Two men were arrested at the time of the incident. The suspect denied the allegations on Monday, saying that it was his friends who committed the rape.

Man kills himself with booze and pesticide
A man killed himself by imbibing a deadly cocktail of alcohol and insecticide in Kampong Thom province’s Santuk district on Saturday. The victim’s wife said he took his own life following an argument between them, in which she blamed her husband for neglecting their rice fields due to his excessive drinking. The implication that he drank too much drove the man to drink more, this time laced with a toxic chemical used to kill insects. The man began violently convulsing not long afterwards.

Five arrested following brutal cleaver murder
Poipet town police arrested five men wanted in connection with a brutal attack on two men on Sunday, which left one man dead and the other severely injured. Police said the five suspects and several others caused an argument with the pair, before unleashing an attack with pipes, axes and cleavers. One man was killed, and the other suffered severe head wounds. Police sent the suspects to Banteay Meanchey provincial court for questioning, and are on the hunt for several suspects who fled the scene. No motive has been established.

A trim was requested, not an armed robbery
Police are on the hunt for two men suspected of robbing a man while he was getting a haircut in Phnom Penh’s Srah Chak commune on Sunday. The victim said he was getting a standard trim when two men stormed into the barber shop and fired a gun, before they threatened him and his stylist. The victim said the thieves stole a diamond ring, a gold necklace, a mobile phone, US$180 and some important documents.

Beer promotion woman found dead from AIDS
A 28-year-old beer promotion woman was found dead in a rented room in Kampot town on Sunday. According to the owner of the house, the woman had lived with AIDS for many years, before she fell seriously ill about 10 days ago. She was forced to take time off work and was found dead by the owner. Police concluded that the death was caused by the disease.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

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Hun Sen set to attend Asia-Europe meeting

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen will attend the Asia-Europe Summit in Belgium on October 4-5, where he will deliver remarks as a country coordinator for the ASEAN group, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday. During the summit, Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva are likely to hold further bilateral talks over the two countries’ ongoing border dispute. Foreign Minister Hor Namhong is also set to meet with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mamood Qureshi for bilateral talks, the statement added.

PM meets Thai envoy

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen met yesterday with Thailand’s ambassador to Cambodia, Prasas Prasasvinitchai, about a month after his return to the Kingdom. Eang Sophalleth, a personal assistant to Hun Sen, said that the meeting between the premier and Prasas aimed to strengthen cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. The ambassador returned to Phnom Penh in late August, nine months after Bangkok withdrew him during a diplomatic row.

Khmer Krom deserve justice as well

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Mahdev Mohan and Laurel E Fletcher



Mahdev Mohan and Laurel E Fletcher

This month’s indictment of four former senior Khmer Rouge leaders is a historic step forward in Cambodia’s search for justice. After three years of investigation, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has brought charges of mass atrocity crimes against Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Thirith, who occupied key positions in the Democratic Kampuchea government, which ruled Cambodia in a bloody reign of terror from 1975 to 1979. However, the prosecution’s success is far from assured. To help convict defendants for the “ultimate” crime of genocide, the court will need to hear from a neglected Khmer minority group, the Khmer Krom.

Defendants face charges of carrying out genocide against the Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese, but are not charged with genocide against the Khmer Krom. Nevertheless, the prosecutors should give Khmer Krom survivors their day in court. Doing so will provide a measure of justice for this victimized group. It will also help prosecutors prove their case against the defendants.

Originating from Vietnam’s lower Mekong Delta region, fluent in Vietnamese, and maintaining their own cultural practices, the Khmer Krom were targeted for elimination because the Khmer Rouge perceived them to be associated with the ethnic Vietnamese population. As tensions flared between the DK and Vietnam in 1977, the DK turned against its neighbour. The regime persecuted the Khmer Krom for being Youn (a derogatory term for Vietnamese) spies, despite their Khmer ethnicity.

Our independent investigations reveal that in their heartland areas throughout Cambodia, such as Bakan district in Pursat province, most of the Khmer Krom were singled out and slaughtered en masse by the DK for having “Khmer bodies but Vietnamese minds”. Their perceived identity was all that mattered. Tellingly, in cases of mixed marriage, the Khmer Krom spouse was taken away to be killed, and the widow or widower was forcibly remarried. Yet, the persecution of the Khmer Krom has, until recently, been a blind-spot for the Tribunal. Crimes against the Khmer Krom were not initially investigated by the court.

But survivors of mass violence do not take kindly to being silenced. Over the past two years, more than 100 of our Khmer Krom clients from five provinces have come forward to tell their story. Through us, they have submitted investigative requests, provided audio-visual data, filed appeals against the Tribunal’s decisions, engaged in media advocacy and otherwise sought to have their voices heard.

The Khmer Krom’s sustained efforts have produced results. The Court has granted more than 80 of our Khmer Krom clients “civil party” status, which means they have the right to participate in the proceedings.

In June in Bakan district, Co-Prosecutor Andrew Cayley met with a group of 200 Khmer Krom survivors – the first time a prosecutor has done so. Speaking in the grounds of Rumlech pagoda, which was once the site of mass Khmer Krom executions, Cayley acknowledged the need to present to the court the atrocities committed against the Khmer Krom people. He pledged to these survivors that their evidence would be heard at trial.

Keeping his promise at the upcoming trial will not only help vindicate the Khmer Krom’s desire to see justice done, but also help Cayley’s team secure convictions. Evidence from Khmer Krom survivors illustrates the context, reach, and evolution of the DK’s policy toward those it viewed as disloyal. By testifying about how they and their families were singled out for elimination in Cambodia and Vietnam because the DK treated them as Vietnamese, Khmer Krom witnesses will help prosecutors prove that the defendants carried out a policy to destroy ethnic Vietnamese, an essential element of the crime of genocide.

Of course, putting the former Khmer Rouge leaders in the dock poses particular challenges. It is impossible to prosecute these octogenarians for all the possible crimes for which there is evidence. Seen in this way, the charges are emblematic rather than exhaustive of the regime’s misdeeds. Nonetheless, prosecutors should not shy away from including evidence at trial that illustrates criminal activity beyond the charges, especially when doing so will also support convictions.

Law is our ultimate recourse when mass violence has occurred. For our Khmer Krom clients, including their testimony in the legal record may become the only formal acknowledgment they will receive of the atrocities they endured under the DK regime. History and justice demand they be heard.


Mahdev Mohan is an international civil party lawyer at the ECCC. Laurel E Fletcher is a clinical visiting professor of law at Yale University.

No quarter can be given to judicial corruption

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:00 Ang Udom and Michael Karnavas

Dear Editor,

We thank The Phnom Penh Post for the correction in today’s issue to the misattribution of our letter from last week to Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“Youk Chhang sending mixed signals about tribunal corruption”, September 22).

Further, we write to express our disappointment with Mr Youk Chhang’s letter, written under the title: “Youk Chhang smashes Ieng Sary, defense team” (The Phnom Penh Post, September 23).

When asked about the Ieng Sary defence application to disqualify Judge Nil Nonn on the basis of Judge Nil Nonn’s admissions to have taken bribes, Mr Youk Chhang originally noted – rather dismissively – that the problem of bribery and petty corruption at provincial courts was “publicly known” in Cambodia (“Ieng Sary team seeks ECCC judge’s ouster”, The Phnom Penh Post, September 20).

Our initial reaction on reading Mr Youk Chhang’s remarks was one of dismay; he appears to accept corruption in the Cambodian judiciary as a given. Corruption in the Cambodian judiciary should not be accepted or tolerated.

In his response to our letter, Mr Youk Chhang regrettably not only misses the point, but defensively engages in deflective tactics by attacking the Ieng Sary defence team.

Contrary to Mr Youk Chhang’s assertions, we have neither advocated a delay in the trial nor have we engaged in delay tactics at any stage of the proceedings so that our client dies and we can declare a “victory”. This is an outrageous and offensive attack on the integrity of the members of the Ieng Sary defence.

We filed our application to disqualify Judge Nil Nonn as soon as the Rules of the ECCC allowed us to, so that the matter could be addressed expeditiously at this stage without delaying the proceedings. This is fully spelled out in the application. We trust Mr Youk Chhang appreciates our diligence and obligations to our client and Mr Ieng Sary’s right to be tried fairly before a truly independent, impartial and corrupt-free judiciary.

Ang Udom and Michael Karnavas
Co-lawyers for Mr Ieng Sary

Foreign Minister meets Ban Ki-moon

Photo by: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets H.E. Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Cambodia.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 17:12 Cheang Sokha and Thomas Miller

FOREIGN Minister Hor Namhong met United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting in New York on Monday, seeking help in securing funds to address the US$44 million Khmer Rouge tribunal budget shortfall.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong confirmed the meeting, saying: “Cambodia has made a request about [the budget shortfall] to Japan and Ban Ki-moon.”

Chan Tani, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, reported this month that the tribunal faced a combined budget shortage for 2010-2011 of $44 million. This included $6.4 million for 2010 and $29.8 million for 2011 on the international side of the court, and $1 million for 2010 and $7.7 million for 2011 on the Cambodian side.

Cambodia met with donor countries on September 7 to discuss the issue.

According to the Foreign Ministry statement, Hor Namhong also spoke with Ban about the country’s progress toward its Millennium Development Goals, which the Cambodian representative described as “remarkable”.

The UN recently presented an award to Cambodia for reducing the country’s HIV/AIDS infection rate, and has recognised its progress in reducing child mortality.

Other UN statements, however, indicate that Cambodia is “off track” in efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, improve maternal health and ensure environmental sustainability.

According to a statement issued by the secretary general’s office, the pair also discussed Cambodia’s border dispute with Thailand, which flared up following the July 2008 listing of Preah Vihear temple as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Also on the agenda, it said, was the issue of Myanmar, where polls were scheduled for November 7.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said last month that Ban Ki-moon would visit Cambodia in October. The UN has not confirmed the meeting.

Court investigates Sam Rainsy again

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to reporters during a press conference in March 2009.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 17:10 Meas Sokchea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has held an abortive hearing into a two-year-old defamation charge facing embattled opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

The move comes just a week after the court sentenced him to 10 years prison on unrelated charges.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party leader was summonsed to answer questions relating to a lawsuit filed by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in connection with a 2008 speech made by Rainsy.

During the speech Sam Rainsy accused Hor Namhong of running the notorious Khmer Rouge prison at Boeung Trabek.

The opposition leader is living in self-imposed exile in Europe. SRP representatives said the politician and the party were “uninterested” in any case that was not heard fairly.

“Excellency Sam Rainsy and the party are not interested in the courts, because the government is using the courts to destroy the Sam Rainsy Party,” SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said.

In a summons issued on September 9, investigating judge Duch Kimsorn said that if the politician failed to appear at the hearing, the court would issue a warrant for his arrest.

Sam Rainsy has already been sentenced to 12 years prison on a number of charges stemming from his claim that Cambodia has ceded border territories to Vietnam – the country’s eastern neighbour and former political patron.

Yim Sovann said the SRP would survive the current legal offensive, because it was based on “real principles” and had pledged to defend the country’s territorial integrity.

Sam Rainsy’s lawyer Choung Choungy declined to comment in detail yesterday, and Duch Kimsorn could not be reached.

Deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot said no new date had been set in the case against SRP lawmaker Chea Poch, who was originally summoned to appear in court today in relation to another old defamation suit.

The lawsuit, filed in August 2004 by former royalist heavyweight Prince Norodom Ranariddh, was apparently dropped after a political settlement was reached between the SRP and the government, but a September 2 summons unexpectedly put Chea Poch’s case back on the court’s agenda.

Thousands told not to come back to work

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 17:14 Mom Kunthear

Representatives of two factories in Kandal province have said they will not comply with a government request to reinstate thousands of workers suspended for participating in illegal strikes.

The announcements came a day after Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng called for factories to reinstate suspended workers, and urged unions to refrain from any further strike action pending negotiations to be conducted by a new bipartite committee.

Lim Phengsam, a representative of the Winner Garment Factory, said his plant had no immediate plans to reinstate or replace more than 200 workers who were suspended on Saturday.

“The Minister of Social Affairs suggested that the factories allow those workers to return to work if we can, but to allow this or not is dependent on each factory’s decision,” he said. “We don’t have jobs for them.”

The workers were suspended after participating in strikes seeking the reinstatement of union representatives who had been suspended following a large-scale strike that began on September 13. Thousands of workers continued striking for about a week after they were notified of a court injunction ordering them to return to work.

A representative of the Goldfame Enterprise factory, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that some 3,000 workers who had been told on Friday that they had been suspended had since been informed that they were free to turn up for their shifts, but were not guaranteed work.

“We don’t have work for them,” he said, but declined to comment further.

Union representatives said last week that they would protest if workers were not reinstated following a meeting at the Ministry of Social Affairs on Monday. Yesterday, however, union leaders at both factories called for calm.

Un Sokrith, a union representative at the Winner Garment Factory in Kandal province, said around 200 suspended workers had rallied outside the factory gates yesterday morning to agitate for their jobs.

He said the bid had been unsuccessful, but that the group had disbursed at the request of union leaders after about an hour.

“They want to strike again, but we asked them to wait and see the solution from the ... negotiations,” he said.

Chea Thida, a union representative at the Goldfame Enterprise factory, said yesterday that about 2,000 workers were sitting idle.

“They just sit in the factory without any work to do,” she said. She said, however, that she urged the workers to “calm down” and refrain from protesting the lack of work pending the negotiation process.

The new committee, announced on Monday, will be formed of five union representatives, five from industry and two government officials.

Vong Sovann, president of Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions, said prominent union leaders, including Cambodia Labour Confederation president Ath Thun, had been nominated to sit on the committee.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said industry representatives had not yet submitted their nominations for the committee but noted that they would “all be members of GMAC”.

Smack in the post

Photo by: Pha Lina
Cambodian Seng Sokha, 59, covers his face as he is led from Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He is charged with buying 402 grams of heroin for a Chinese woman who allegedly sent the drugs through the postal service to Taiwan. Both are denying drug-trafficking charges.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 17:07 Chrann Chamroeun

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has heard a case against a Cambodian man and Chinese woman accused of sending 402 grams of heroin through the post to a man in Taiwan in April last year.

Chinese national Chen Dan Dan, 25, was arrested in May after Jin Bin Jean, a resident of Taiwan, was apprehended while trying to pick up a package containing 402 grams of heroin at a Taiwanese airport.

Jin Bin Jean told authorities that the package was sent through the post by Chen Dan Dan.

Seng Sokha, 59, was arrested in July after a Taiwanese police report was sent to Cambodian anti-drug trafficking officials at the Ministry of Interior.

The report said Jin Bin Jean received up to 20 packages from Chen Dan Dan from April 13-29 last year.

Seng Sokha is accused of buying the drugs for Chen Dan Dan.

Presiding Judge Sous Sam Ath lambasted the Taiwan police report, saying it looked “like a love letter”.

“It is just a private letter,” he said. “It cannot be deemed legal, nor can the detention of the two accused without any evidence. Their arrest is based only on this unofficial report.”

During the hearing yesterday, Chen Dan Dan acknowledged sending a package to Jin Bin Jean in Taiwan, but said the package contained paintings.

“I was going to receive a US$500 commission for the paintings,” she said.

Seng Sokha said yesterday that there was no evidence that he was involved in drug trafficking, and claimed that Jin Bin Jean fabricated the story “to make problems for me”.

If found guilty on the charge of illegal cross-border drug trafficking, the pair face at least two years in prison, with the exact sentence dependent on the purity of the drug.

ADB revises up GDP growth forecast

Photo by: David Boyle
Construction at full tilt earlier this year on the US$280 million, 180 MW Kamchay hydropower dam project being built by Chinese firm Sinohydro Corporation.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 13:48 Nguon Sovan and Jeremy Mullins

THE Asian Development Bank has raised its 2010 economic growth forecast for Cambodia to 5 percent, thanks in part to strengthening garment exports, but experts warned that further labour disruptions may hurt the sector’s momentum.

The updated Asian Development Outlook 2010, released by the ADB in Hong Kong, predicted that gross domestic product would rise by 5 percent this year – up from a previous estimate of 4.5 percent.

GDP growth for 2011 remained at an estimated 6 percent, while the expected inflation rate was revised downwards from 5 percent to 4 percent for the year, helped by stabilising international petrol prices.

The report said higher growth in Cambodia would be underpinned by strengthening exports, particularly garments and tourism.

“The key challenges [for countries such as Cambodia] are how to sustain the level of textiles and garment exports in an increasingly competitive global market,” it said.

ADB’s chief country economist, Peter Brimble, said that strengthening international markets for Cambodia’s garment exporters were one factor that led the bank to revise its forecast upwards.

He also acknowledged that recent labour strikes – which led multinationals Adidas, Gap, Walt Disney Company, H&M, and Levi Strauss to pen a letter expressing concerns last week – could negatively affect growth rates into the second half of the year.

“It’s been a one-time shot at the moment. But [if the strikes] happened regularly it would impact growth rates,” Brimble said. However, he said strikes had been less disruptive than previous ones, and that many buyers had placed orders earlier in the year, minimising fallout.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia Secretary General Ken Loo said strikes had negatively impacted the sector, but the extent remained to be seen.

The industry grew 18 percent in the first half of the year compared to 2009, but had been boosted by temporary, unsustainable demand, he said. GMAC expects the annual growth rate to be 10 percent by year’s end.

ADB’s revised forecast is in line with government expectations, according to Ministry of Economy and Finance Secretary of State Hang Chuon Naron.

He said that although the garment and tourism sectors were on the rise, construction remained in a downturn. He added, however, the agricultural sector was on track to expand 5 percent this year, despite concerns about late rains.

Kang Chandararot, president of the Cambodia Institute for Development Study, said Cambodia’s GDP would grow next year thanks to a government policy to diversify exports and seek investment in a wider range of sectors, rather than focusing on garments.

Foreign direct investment was also highlighted by ADB. Intra-regional FDI increased substantially during the past few years, most notably from China, according to its report.

“China’s outward FDI to ASEAN has accelerated during the global crisis, expanding almost threefold between 2007 and 2009 alone,” it said.

Approved investment from China in Cambodia increased 119 percent in the first six months of 2010, compared to the same period of 2009.

Stakes too high

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A casino worker passes the Winn casino in early 2009

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 17:16 Vong Sokheng and Soeun Say

All bets are off at Winn Casino in Svay Rieng province after its bankruptcy was announced to provincial police authorities, leaving 300 workers jobless.

Officials said Winn was the first casino casualty in the border town of Bavet, after the global economic crisis led to a decline in visiting gamblers.

With some 14 casinos in operation in the town, which lies close to the Vietnamese border, Winn was shuttered due to a drop in custom, according to Svay Rieng provincial police chief Prach Rim.

Laid-off employees were promised compensation from the owner as mandated by labour laws, he said.

Gambling in Cambodia is restricted to holders of foreign passports.

“We have deployed police officials to keep guard at the casino, but so far there has been no information regarding a protest from employees,” he said.

“The local authorities welcome the casino’s closing because it will cut down on security complaints, but we are not happy that hundreds of Cambodian people have lost their jobs.”

Khmer Real Estate Co has been charged with selling Winn Casino, along with two more in Bavet, the firm’s marketing manager Kim Heang said.

He declined to name the other two enterprises up for sale.

The three casinos were worth between US$3 million and $20 million each and ranged in size from 20 to 60 gambling tables and 22 to 170 rooms in attached hotels, he said.

Chrun Theravath, chief of casino management at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said he was aware of the closure of Winn Casino, but that the company had not officially declared bankruptcy.

“I know that the casino has shut down, but so far, there is no written official letter to inform the ministry,” he said.

He said that the casino – which began business in early 2010 under ownership of an unnamed Vietnamese-Canadian national – was likely built with the intention of renting or selling the property, but was unable to find a buyer.

Another Ministry of Economy and Finance official confirmed that the business had shut down, and said profits at casinos near Thailand in Poipet and Bavet on the Vietnam border had slumped in recent months.

Some 27 casinos have licences for operations in Cambodia, but tax revenue from the sector declined US$17.5 million from 2008 to 2009, representing a 7 percent or 8 percent drop overall, said Ros Phearun, deputy director of the finance industry department at the Ministry.

The Post was unable to contact Winn Casino officials Tuesday.

State targets crowded prisons

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
A guard peers out of a watchtower at the Pursat provincial prison.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:03 Tep Nimol and May Titthara

OVERCROWDING is the main cause of death in Cambodian prisons, a government official said during a workshop on health in prisons yesterday.

Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said 64 inmates had died nationwide in the first eight months of this year, and that the deaths had mostly been the result of health problems including high blood pressure, liver disease, cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and heart attacks.

Most of these health problems, he said, were exacerbated by overcrowding in the country’s prison system.

“The narrow space in the prisons can cause all the problems,” he said, adding that there were currently 13,957 inmates in Cambodian prisons, well beyond the system’s official capacity of 8,000.

There are 96 doctors working in prison healthcare centres, representing a ratio of approximately one doctor per 150 prisoners, according to a ministry report released at the workshop.

Heng Hak said inmate health and living standards were at the centre of government prison reform policies. “Preventing the health [problems] of prisoners is very important for the process of prison reform,” he said.

Improving health went hand-in-hand with reducing overcrowding, Heng Hak said, and added that the government “has to resolve the narrow space problem”.

To achieve this, the government will focus on building new prisons to ease overcrowding and work in partnership with the Ministry of Health to provide better healthcare for prisoners, Heng Hak said.

Christian Brunen, head of the regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which co-organised and supported yesterday’s workshop, said efforts to relieve overcrowding had so far not been proportionate to the increase in prisoners.

He said that there had been a 10 to 15 percent increase in the number of prisoners over the past few years and that Cambodia had “not been able to expand the prison system widely enough” to accommodate the growing numbers.

Tuberculosis was a particularly common cause of death in prisons, he said.

‘Step by step’ progress
Eang Huot, secretary of state at the Ministry of Heath, yesterday acknowledged that healthcare services for prisoners were limited and pledged greater inter-ministerial cooperation to improve the situation “step by step”.

He also called on others to increase their focus on the issue. “I would like to request that the National Centre against tuberculosis increase their services to prevent the spread of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS to prisoners,” he said.

Jeff Vize, a consultant for the rights group Licadho, said yesterday that a lack of properly trained health workers was at least as problematic as overcrowding. “For sure, overcrowding can lead to spread of disease, but the big problem is that there really isn’t any serious health service in place for prisoners,” he said.

He noted, however, that the shortage of properly trained medical workers was a problem that extended beyond the prison system and did not have a simple solution.

“Maybe an easier step would be the reduction of overcrowding,” he said, and added that a “holistic” overhaul of the justice system was required to address the “staggering” spike in inmate numbers in recent years.

He said sending fewer people to prison, especially for pretrial detention, and instead utilising alternatives such as non-custodial sentences would help ease overcrowding.

“There are close to 4,000 people in pretrial detention,” he said. “Do they all really need to be there?”


Minister backs media for the Khmer Krom

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophak Chakrya

MINISTER of Information Khieu Kanharith said yesterday that he would support local Khmer Krom activists in establishing media outlets to publicise their community’s interests, so long as these efforts did not damage the Kingdom’s relationship with Vietnam.

Khieu Kanharith met yesterday with Thach Sang, president of the Cambodia-based Khmer Kampuchea Krom Friendship Association.

The minister said he would support funding to allow the group to publish a magazine and receive one hour of free airtime per day on state radio stations in Takeo and Svay Rieng provinces. He added, however, that the government opposed activities that “draw objections from the Vietnamese government or argue for the liberation of Khmer Krom land from Vietnam”.

At a meeting in Phnom Penh last month, Vietnamese Vice Minister of Public Security Tran Dai Quang praised the cooperation of Cambodian authorities in halting anti-Vietnamese “plots”.

This cooperation, Tran said, had prevented Khmer Krom activists from “hiring state and private radio broadcasting with the aim of propagandising against the traditional relationship and the alliance of the two countries”.

Thai market blaze: Cambodian vendors displaced

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:02 Phak Seangly and Thet Sambath

Thai market blaze

A fire at a market in Thailand’s Surin province destroyed 610 stalls predominantly owned by Cambodian migrant workers yesterday, with initial damage costs estimated at US$3 million.

Phem Somath, chief of O’Smach commune, in Oddar Meanchey’s in Samrong district, said yesterday that the fire was caused after a gas refiller lit a stove at a house near the market while he was changing the gas tank, which caused an explosion.

He said the Thai market, located just 3 kilometres from the O’Smach border gate in Surin province’s Kat Cheung district, immediately caught fire.

“The market is in Thailand, but some 90 percent of the vendors there are Cambodian,” he said, and added that 10 fire trucks from both sides of the border were needed to extinguish the blaze. Vath Paranin, chief of the O’Smach border gate, said yesterday that Thai officials were providing food to people who lost property during the fire, and would continue to do so until the market was reconstructed.

Men die in Kratie well

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

TWO brothers and a cousin have died of oxygen deprivation in a well in Kratie province’s Sambor district, officials said yesterday.

The men perished on Saturday while attempting to retrieve a diesel-powered water pump from inside the well, Sambor district governor Heng Sotha said. Villagers were unable to recover their bodies until Sunday, he added.

“They died one by one when they went down to help the first man, who had already died. The second and third man went down after the first man, but then they died as well,” Heng Sotha said.

“They died on Saturday evening, but the villagers did not take their bodies out until Sunday because the pump was spitting smoke out of the well until then.”

An uncle of the brothers attempted to follow them down the well, but villagers held him back, Heng Sotha added.

Rubber firm agrees to back pay after protests

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:02 May Titthara

ETHNIC Phnong workers employed by a Franco-Cambodian rubber company in Mondulkiri province said yesterday that the company began paying workers an agreed day wage, a day after 2,000 villagers protested, saying they had been short-changed.

Seoun Sentra, 16, who joined Monday’s protest outside the Socfin KCD rubber firm in Pechreada district’s Bousraa commune, said that a company representative had met with the protesters late that evening and agreed to uphold promises to pay new employees a day wage of about 15,000 riels (US$3.57), while more experienced employees would receive 20,000 ($4.76).

Employees began receiving back wages owed to them yesterday, she said.

She said the company had agreed to pick employees up for work at 6am instead of 4am, and stop marking workers absent on days when they commuted on their own.

During Monday’s protest, about 2,000 workers complained that although the work day normally started at 7am, the company’s trucks arrived to pick them up at 4am.

Any worker who did not board the trucks was listed as absent, and not paid, even if they travelled to work of their own accord. Workers said that their weekly wages had dropped from 75,000 to 100,000 riels per week to between 30,000 and 40,000 as a result.

Worker Ho Vaneth, 41, said yesterday that the company had an obligation to pay the agreed-upon wage. “During one day, the company will order us to clear trees or bamboo from about 2 hectares of land, so that rubber trees can be planted,” she said.

Socfin KCD, which is a joint venture between French rubber giant Socfin and the Khaou Chuly Group, was granted its first 2,500-hectare rubber concession in late 2007 and began clearing land in early 2008.

The plantation, which is now expected to cover 10,000 hectares, has long been opposed by local residents, who say that more than 800 families have been displaced in Bousraa commune.

In April 2009, Philippe Monnin, general manager of Socfin KCD, said that Phnong workers employed by the plantation would receive a wage of 20,000 riels per day. Khaou Phallaboth, president of Khaou Chuly Group, said yesterday that the resumption of work was beneficial for both parties.

“Villagers need jobs, the company needs workers, and … working for our rubber plantation is a long-term job,” he said.

Monk rape claim: Pagoda boy accused of abusing girl

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:02 Sen David

Monk rape claim

BANTEAY Meanchey provincial police have arrested a pagoda boy accused of raping an underage girl with a novice monk at a pagoda in Poipet town, though authorities will have to wait for the monk to be defrocked before taking him into custody.

Phan Sila, 20, a worker at Kosna Ream Srah Trach pagoda, was arrested on Monday following a complaint filed by the father of the 14-year-old victim. The complaint accuses the suspect and a novice monk of raping the victim up to five times at a room in the pagoda earlier the same day.

Poipet police chief Oum Sophal said officials were waiting for the chief abbot at the pagoda to officially defrock the monk before they will be able to arrest him. “We have asked the abbot to defrock the monk, but so far we have not received a reply,” he said.

He added that the pagoda boy had agreed to meet the victim near a stupa, but she told him that he was afraid of ghosts. The pagoda boy then changed the venue to the novice monk’s room, where the alleged rapes took place.

Phan Sila was sent to court yesterday for further questioning.

Lake eviction fears remain

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A market vendor carts food through her neighbourhood near Boeung Trabek lake yesterday. Residents fear eviction from the site, although an eviction deadline passed without incident on Monday.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana

RESIDENTS from at least five villages around Boeung Trabek lake in Chamkarmon district remain concerned about their future living situation, although an eviction deadline passed without incident on Monday.

District governor Lo Yuy issued a letter on September 17, ordering 500 families to dismantle their homes and leave the lakeside’s Phsar Doeum Thkov commune by Monday.

“If they don’t move away by the deadline, the authorities will take measures through the law, and we won’t be responsible for any destruction or loss of their property,” the letter stated.

But community representative Suos Samy said the deadline had passed without any reported incidents.

“Even though the deadline has passed, we are still concerned because we do not know when the authorities will take measures against us,” he said.

Authorities say that residents need to leave the area so that drainage can be improved to ease the threat of flooding.

Resident Khiev Sinoeun said that no compensation had been offered despite claims by many residents that they had lived in their homes for over 10 years.

“I am very concerned because the authorities plan to renovate the drainage ditch where we reside at the lake,” he said.

Naeb Ly, a community empowerment officer for the Housing Rights Task Force, said the authorities should “pay reasonable compensation, so families will be able to afford suitable replacement houses and look for jobs before they move”.

KRT releases demographic survey results

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:02 James O'Toole

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday released a demographic survey conducted as part of the investigation in its second case that offers new estimates of the death toll under Democratic Kampuchea.

In their 143-page report, researchers Ewa Tabaeu and They Kheam estimated that Cambodia’s population was between 7.84 million and 8.1 million as of April 1975. Of those, they said, between 1.75 million and 2.2 million perished under Democratic Kampuchea: Between 800,000 and
1.3 million died violently and the remainder succumbed to starvation, overwork and other causes.

The researchers relied in part on previous academic and government surveys, though they noted that the dearth of official statistics from the period created a significant degree of uncertainty in any estimate.

“Statistical sources on the population of Cambodia during or around the period from April 1975 to January 1979 are non-existent,” the report says. The most recent census conducted prior to 1975 was done in 1962; the next was not completed until 1998.

Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, social action minister Ieng Thirith, head of state Khieu Samphan and Brother No 2 Nuon Chea were indicted earlier this month on charges including crimes against humanity and genocide of Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese.

The genocide charges in particular have been the subject of debate among academics, some of whom say it will be difficult to prove that minorities were singled out when so many killed by the Khmer Rouge were ethnic Khmer.

The figures in the survey, however, may aid the prosecution in proving the genocide charges. About 36 percent of Cham Muslims and nearly 100 percent of Vietnamese in Cambodia under Democratic Kampuchea perished, the report said, compared with 18.7 percent of ethnic Khmers.

“You just have to show that there was an intent to destroy in whole or in part” to prove genocide charges, international Co-Prosecutor Andrew Cayley said. “The figures ... speak for themselves in that respect.”

US pledges support for economic growth

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 Ellie Dyer and May Kunmakara

THE United States has pledged a further US$17 million to support Cambodia’s economic growth, including aid for small and medium-sized businesses.

Cambodia and American representatives will today sign an amendment to an existing agreement, with the US Agency for International Development agreeing to provide extra funding for economic growth, food security and climate change initiatives.

The Cambodian Government will provide $425,000 of support in-kind.

Some of the funds will be used to support micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in a capacity-building programme that has already helped 3,800 business owners, according to a US embassy press release yesterday. The programme – implemented by aid organisation Development Alternatives Inc – has helped teach businesses about quality-control, established dialogue between the public and private sectors and linked small communities with suppliers, according to its website.

It has helped increase sales by 100 to 340 percent for MSMEs, the release said.

Meng Saktheara, director general of industry at the Secretariat of Small and Medium Enterprise sub-committtee at the Industry Ministry, welcomed the funding yesterday.

“I hope that the funding will be one more step to help build better MSME capacity,” he said.

“Our policy and strategy is to try to find more funding to support and improve competency to compete with neighbours and promote exports.”

The funding will also go towards enhancing agricultural production, post-harvest management and climate change.

The US ambassador to Cambodia, Carol Rodley, is set to attend today’s ceremony at the Council of Ministers’ building, along with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and USAID mission director Flynn Fuller.

Hong Kong council calls for more trade

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

THE Hong Kong Trade Development Council has called for Cambodian companies to take note of Hong Kong’s business and trading expertise to further develop the Kingdom’s business potential.

Tina Phan, director of HKTDC, told delegates at a forum yesterday that only 50 Cambodian companies were conducting business in Hong Kong, but that the market was ripe for more.

“I don’t know a lot about Cambodia’s business potential, but I believe Cambodia is one of the emerging markets [in Asia],” she said.

“So definitely there will be a lot of opportunities for both Cambodian and Hong Kong companies,” she told representatives from more than 200 local companies at the business forum, which took place at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel.

More companies should leverage Hong Kong’s business platform to go global, she said. Of the approximately 50 Cambodian companies in Hong Kong most were operating in the areas of jewellery, entertainment, film-makers or music, or handicrafts.

She said that Cambodia would not have any difficulties in doing business in Hong Kong, but that more information on supply and demand needs was required.

“I don’t see any difficulties – just that we don’t know what you have and we don’t know what you need. That’s a key point,” she said.

Trade between the Kingdom and Hong Kong rose 15 percent in the first half of 2010, compared to the same period of last year, official data released by HKTDC showed.

The value of trade increased to US$287 million in the first six months of 2010.

Of this, Hong Kong’s exports to Cambodia increased around 16 percent to $279 million. Hong Kong’s imports from the Kingdom rose around 6 percent.