Thursday, 21 October 2010

Lights, camera, action

Uruphong Raksasad's Agrarian Utopia screens at 2pm on Thursday at the Lux Cinema

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 17:23 Thomas Miller

Session Times for the first Cambodian International Film Festival
Thursday, October 21.

Friday, October 22.
Saturday, October 23.

Google map

The world premiere of Cambodian filmmaker Chhay Bora’s Lost Loves will take centre stage at Chenla Theatre on Saturday as part of the first annual Cambodian International Film Festival, which will showcase global cinema to audiences in the Kingdom from October 21 to 23.

Cedric Eloy of the Cambodian Film Commission said that it was also important to show Cambodian films from the 1990s “as they demonstrate the will of Cambodians to make their own, to produce their own films”, despite a lack of resources.

He lamented a lack of interest amongst contemporary Cambodian producers, “who do not see the direct benefit of participating in a film festival, as a film festival doesn’t bring back money directly”.

But, he contended, festivals can open up access to an international audience.

He and other organisers said they hoped that the festival would demonstrate the benefits to local filmmakers and encourage them to participate in future years.

By showcasing Chhay Bora’s Lost Loves, organisers hope to do just that – and pave a way for local filmmakers to show their work beyond Cambodia.

Festival screenings will be held at Chenla Theatre, French Cultural Centre, Lux Cinema and Bophana Audiovisual Centre, as well as outdoor screenings at Golden Sorya and Diamond Island. Three-day passes cost $5, or $1 for each film....

Read the full story in Friday's Seven Days or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Child labour arrests unlikely

Photo by: Pha Lina
A 9-year-old former domestic worker who was relocated to a shelter in Phnom Penh yesterday displays wounds allegedly inflicted by her employers.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:22 Brooke Lewis and Mom Kunthear

A 9-year-old girl who was allegedly tortured while working as a housemaid for a family in Pursat province has been moved to a shelter in Phnom Penh, with officials saying her former employers were unlikely to face charges.

Chrin Sothy, communications coordinator at the NGO Hagar International, said the girl – who had been sheltered in an orphanage in Pursat’s Krakor district since Saturday, when she reportedly fled the Anlong Thnout commune home where she had been living and working – had arrived at the organisation’s Phnom Penh shelter on Wednesday morning.

“She seems fine, but we noticed she has some scars on her face, her hand and her back,” he said, and added that she would “for sure” need medical treatment for her wounds.

He said the girl was expected to stay at the shelter indefinitely, and that she would receive counseling and education.

“We are committed to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore her broken life,” he said....

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Former PM rules out return

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Former Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh announces his departure from politics at a press conference at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh in October 2008.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:05 Vong Sokheng

Former Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh has rebuffed a request from the Funcinpec and Nationalist parties that he resurrect his tumultuous political career.

Chea Chanboribo, Ranariddh’s spokesman, said the prince was content to fulfill his role as an adviser to his half-brother, King Norodom Sihamoni, and to spend his free time pursuing charitable projects.

“Samdech Krom Preah Prince Norodom Ranariddh has reaffirmed that he will not return to politics, despite the request from the officials of Funcinpec and the Nationalist Party,” Chea Chanboribo said, using Ranariddh’s honourific.

“He has to play an independent role at the Royal Palace.”...

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Bangkok to vote on border

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:17 Cheang Sokha

Thailand’s parliament is set to approve the latest round of border negotiations with Cambodia, a move that could bring the neighbours closer to resolving long-standing differences over their shared boundary.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told a delegation of visiting Cambodian journalists in Bangkok that debate on the minutes of three Joint Border Committee meetings would likely open at the Thai parliament next Tuesday.

Negotiations of the bilateral JBC have been stalled since April of last year pending the Thai parliament’s approval of the latest agreements.

“We’re just hopeful that the endorsement of the agreed minutes will pave the way for the future work of the JBC, which should help address the border issues in a comprehensive manner,” Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said.

At the previous three JBC and foreign minister meetings, Thailand and Cambodia agreed to undertake joint demining and demarcation projects along the border near Preah Vihear temple, and to redeploy troops in the area in a bid to ease tensions.

At least seven soldiers have been killed in clashes in the area since 2008.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech last week that the approval of the JBC negotiations and the withdrawal of Thai troops near the temple would yield a swift resolution of the countries’ disagreements.

“If the troops are redeployed from that area, it is finished,” Hun Sen said.ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE...

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Fine wine line

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:14 May Titthara

Police released a man suspected of distilling rice wine that is thought to have killed at least 17 people in Kampong Cham province’s Oraing Ov district since Friday because the man said he “didn’t believe his wine caused fatalities”.

District police chief Keo Seanghorn said the suspect, Kim Roeun, 63, was released after questioning.

“We allowed him to go home because he said that he was in the wine business for more than 20 years,” he said.

“He didn’t believe that his wine caused fatalities, so we let him return home after we received permission from the provincial police chief.”

Keo Narith, the director of the provincial hospital, said that no further deaths had been reported, and that three people who were not expected to survive were still receiving treatment.

He said methanol levels in the wine were “abnormally high”.

Methanol is a simple form of alcohol that can cause blood circulation problems and death if ingested by humans....

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Man charged over grisly death of girl, 6

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:11 Chrann Chamroeun

Pursat provincial court has charged a 20-year-old man in connection with the murder of a 6-year-old girl, drawing on a confession in which he described raping her after killing her with blows to the neck and stomach, officials said.

But a provincial court prosecutor said three relatives of the suspect were released despite their role in a foiled bid to cover up the crime.

“We have charged only the perpetrator, Chen Seyha, with intentional murder, rape and robbery because he confessed to killing the girl, then raping her, then taking her ring and bracelet,” Top Chan Sereyvuth said.

Under the UNTAC criminal code, intentional murder alone carries a potential prison sentence of between eight and 15 years....

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Land grabs increasing

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 22:02 Chhay Channyda

The government has allocated more than 1 million hectares of land to private companies in the form of economic concessions, many of which were illegal, resulting in forced evictions, lost livelihoods and lost natural resources, a rights activist has said.

“Natural resources, such as forests, mines and rivers play an important role in providing nourishment to millions of Cambodians. If they are mismanaged, it can negatively affect these people’s environment, livelihoods and rights,” said Chhith Sam Ath, director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia.

He said economic land concessions also frequently resulted in loss of farmland and loss of food security for the rural poor and ethnic minorities.

Thun Saray, president of rights group Adhoc, said that according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 146 private companies had been granted economic concessions.

During the past five years, Adhoc documented more than 100,000 people affected by development projects, he said.

In the first nine months of 2010, Adhoc received 270 complaints related to land rows, which surpasses the 2009 year-end total of 265 complaints....

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Groups Warn of Abuse Increases in Land, Resource Deals

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 20 October 2010
via CAAI
Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
Villagers in the provinces of Koh Kong and Kampong Speu have alleged that sugar plantations operated by Ly Yong Phat have pushed them off their land.

“Now we have moved the houses to a near area, and we lost villages and the land, the farming fields and our ethnic culture.”

Government land concessions and the exploitation of natural resources are creating an increasing number of rights violations and other pressures on villagers, a group of local non-governmental organizations said Wednesday.

“Land concessions are affecting Cambodian villages and communities in some provinces,” said Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, speaking at a national conference for advocacy in Phnom Penh.

The number of land issues has increased over the last nine months, he said, leading to an increase in rights abuses.

An Adhoc study of land issues in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Speu, Koh Kong, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng and Banteay Meanchey found 272 ongoing land disputes. As a result, it found 128 people had been arrested and more than 100 had evaded detention. Fifty-five people remain in custody, facing criminal charges related to protests in the disputes.

Wednesday's conference brought together hundreds from across Cambodia, some of whom were representatives of villages feeling the strain of land concessions.

“Now there are 31 families with land issues with the Heng Houy [sugar plantation],” Phoa Ngeng, a resident of Chi Kar Krom commune of Koh Kong province's Sre Ambel district, said.

People there live in fear, she said, with at least one or two people summoned to provincial court every day. She called on the national government to stop providing land concessions to private companies to prevent rights violations.

Heng Houy, the head of the company, has said he obtained the concession legally and had purchased land legitimately from villagers.

Ongoing disputes create the loss of farmland for villagers and other livelihoods, villagers at the conference said. Meanwhile, minority villagers have been pushed from homes and forests that are an important part of their culture.

Meanwhile, exploitation of resources, including for hydropower, have increased the burdens on some villagers.

For example, the Srepok and Yali hydropower dams in Vietnam have created poor living conditions for people downstream.

Kong Chanty, a resident of Stung Treng province's Sesan district, said Wednesday that the dams have pushed more than 1,000 families from 18 villagers from their homeland.

“Now we have moved the houses to a near area, and we lost villages and the land, the farming fields and our ethnic culture,” he said.

Prosecutors Seek Lifetime in Prison for Duch

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer

Phnom Penh Wednesday, 20 October 2010

via  CAAI
Photo: AP
A photographer takes pictures from a television screen of Kaing Guek Eav, while on trial awaiting a verdict, July 2010.

"So I think, without a doubt, the crime is serious enough to warrant the life sentence."

Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have issued an appeal seeking a minimum 45 years in prison without parole for the torture chief Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch.

In an appeal made public Tuesday court prosecutors Andrew Cayley and Chea Leang pushed for life in prison commuted to 45 years for the illegal detention Duch underwent before the tribunal was established.

If accepted by the Supreme Court Chamber, the sentence would be a large increase to the 19 commuted years Duch received in sentencing in July and an effective life sentence for the 68-year-old, who oversaw the deaths of more than 12,000 people are Tuol Sleng prison.

The UN-backed tribunal found Duch guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in July, following months of testimony and hearings.

In their appeal, posted on the tribunal's website on Tuesday, prosecutors said the original sentence had been “unfair and inadequate.” The Trial Chamber had failed to separately convict the accused for extermination, murder, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, torture and other inhumane acts, they wrote.

“They murdered over 10,000 people in that place and tortured many others,” Cayley said. “There were a handful of survivors. So I think, without a doubt, the crime is serious enough to warrant the life sentence.”

Bou Meng, one of those survivors, said Tuesday he would gladly accept a life sentence for his former captor.

Ban Ki-moon Expected Later This Month

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Wednesday, 20 October 2010
via CAAI
Photo: AP
Ban Ki-moon, right, Secretary General of United Nations meets with Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Cambodia, left, at United Nations, September 2010.

"The impression about this trip is that it is to focus on the Khmer Rouge tribunal."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to make an official visit at the end of the month, and observers say they hope he will address human rights issues as well as the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“The impression about this trip is that it is to focus on the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” said Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

However, if Ban is traveling with the vice chairman of the UN's Human Rights Commission, rights abuse could be on the agenda, he said.

The UN may be pushing for more funding at the tribunal, which has struggled financially all year, while it must also push for independence at the court, he said. The court also needs a proper mechanism to fight allegations of corruption, Ou Virak said.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Ban was expected Oct. 26 through Oct. 28, but he did not outline details for meetings.

Earlier this year, Ban made an appeal to donors to fund the UN-backed court, which has tried one former Khmer Rouge, and is preparing a case for four more.

Further indictments have proven difficult, and critics say the government has hampered the work of the court, especially with the refusal of six senior government officials ignoring summonses from the international investigating judge.

A diplomat in New York said donors are waiting to see a strategy for winding down the court before they commit to more funding.

Seng Theary, founder of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation and a participant in the trials so far, said she hoped Ban's visit would relieve the pressures of funding, as well as political interference, for the court.

South Korean Military Shipment Adds to Arsenal

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer

Phnom Penh Wednesday, 20 October 2010

via CAAI
Photo: AP
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, second right, shakes hands with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak after they ended their summit in Phnom Penh, October 2009.

“This donation is in the interest of security and humanitarian affairs.”

A South Korean shipment of military vehicles and materiel arrived in the port of Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday, adding to the increased military aid the country has welcomed in the past few years.

The shipment included 100 vehicles, three utility boats, and engineering and medical equipment, military and port officials said.

The equipment came at the request of the Cambodian government, to help bolster its maritime defenses, Chao Phearun, a lieutenant general in charge of equipment for the Ministry of Defense, said.

“This donation is in the interest of security and humanitarian affairs,” he said. The boats would help patrol the seas and the vehicles would be used to help in disasters and emergencies, he said.

“We can use the engineering equipment to build roads, dams and canals to avoid disasters,” he said.

Defense Minister Tea Banh said South Korea had donated the equipment without charge, and officials said the shipment was a reflection of deepening ties with South Korea.

The donation comes as Cambodia's armed forces are growing and as a border standoff with Thailand continues.

Last week, the Council of Ministers approved a $445 million increase in defense spending. In September, Cambodia bought 100 tanks and armored personnel carriers from the Ukraine, adding to several shipments of military equipment received from China.

Colombia and Cambodia join efforts to fight landmines .

via CAAI

Fifteen members who compose the Presidential Program for Comprehensive Action against Anti-personnel Mines (PAICMA) are taking a course directed by the Center for Mine Action in Cambodia (CMAC) in Battamburg, Cambodia, one of the regions disproportionately affected by land mines.

Natalia Perez, a program development consultant in Colombia said, "When the CMAC decontaminate an area, they simultaneously educated about risk, assist victims, and collect information. In Colombia, these actions are split by several organizations. In Cambodia, we see the importance of comprehensive action, and how to do everything at once in order to be more efficient."

In Cambodia, CMAC performs plays, sings songs, and leads drawing activities to teach children what to do in the event that they encounter a mine.

Camilo Benitez, the international cooperation advisor said "Up until now, land mines have been a human rights issue in Colombia. Like in Cambodia, we are interested in now linking action and community development."

While there is much in common between the two countries, Colombia is still suffering from ongoing violence, whereas Cambodia is peaceful. In Colombia, alerting authorities may sometimes carry a risk for the informant.

Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, has a poor health system, and hopes to learn more about victim assistance from Colombia.

Colombia maintains the record for the most land mine victims in the world.

Severe flooding kills 20 in Thailand and Cambodia

A woman walks through a flooded street in Ayutthaya, 80 km (50 miles) north of Bangkok, October 20, 2010.  Credit: Reuters/Sukree Sukplang

(Reuters) - The worst floods in decades in Thailand and severe flooding in neighbouring Cambodia have killed 20 people, authorities said on Wednesday, as rescue workers braced for more rain and possible flooding in Bangkok.

Rescue teams evacuated stranded villagers by boat in some provinces, including the old Thai capital Ayutthaya where flood waters swelled to about 1.5 metres (5 ft) in some districts, cutting off roads and inundating homes, shops and farmlands.

"The water usually comes and goes very quickly but this time, there is so much," said Sabai Maingam, 48, wading through chest-high water in her wooden shophouse.

Thailand's Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said 12 people had been killed since Oct. 10. In neighbouring Cambodia, eight have died, according to Cambodia's National Committee for Disaster Management.

The erratic weather coincides with a strengthening typhoon heading for southern China after wreaking havoc across the northern Philippines, destroying thousands of homes and killing at least 11 people.

In Thailand, flooding has hit 17 provinces, swamping tens of thousands of acres of farmland and damaging at least one major northeastern road, said Vibul Sanguanpong, director-general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

"We are watching the situation closely to see whether the flooded area will expand," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters.

Authorities said the swelling Chao Phraya River that winds through Bangkok and nearby provinces could overflow its banks in the coming week, causing flooding in the city of about 15 million people. Bangkok sits only 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) above sea level.

The cabinet on Tuesday doubled a provincial emergency budget to 100 million baht ($3.3 million), said government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

He said it was too early to estimate crop damage. Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter.

In neighbouring Cambodia, floods have caused an estimated $70 million in damage, destroying roads, irrigation systems, bridges and homes, said Nhim Vanda, vice chairman of the government's National Committee for Disaster Management.

"Around 10,000 hectares of rice paddy fields in nation wide were completely destroyed," he told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Prak Chan Thul; Writing by Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Jason Szep and Alex Richardson)

Travel Indochina Congratulates Heroic Cambodian

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Travel Indochina, Australia’s leading Asian travel specialists, has congratulated Cambodia’s Aki Ra with his naming as one of the Top Ten CNN Heroes for 2010.

Managing Director of Travel Indochina, Paul Hole, says Aki Ra’s life story is an inspiration to people around the world.

“The award is well deserved, and the Cambodian Landmine Museum established by Aki Ra in Siem Riep is a place all travellers to the country should visit,” says Paul.

CNN’s Hero awards are given annually to individuals nominated by viewers for their sacrifices and accomplishments.

“To be nominated by the public and selected as a finalist is a very special achievement. It’s an indication of the esteem in which Aki Ra is held for the valuable work he is doing in Cambodia.

“To come full circle from being recruited at the age of 10 as a child soldier planting landmines, to a man who is helping make his homeland a safer place by clearing landmines, is a testament to the character of Aki Ra. He is a remarkable individual.

“We are proud to support Aki Ra’s Landmine Museum by including a visit to the museum on most of our Cambodia itineraries,” says Paul.

Aki Ra and his team, the Cambodian Self Help Demining Organisation, have cleared about 50,000 landmines and unexploded weapons since 1993. The panel that selected Aki Ra and the other finalists included distinguished leaders and humanitarians such as Sir Richard Branson, Muhammad Ali, and renowned musician, Yo Yo Ma.

“We are encouraging travellers to vote for Aki Ra so his team can continue to make Cambodia a safer place. To vote, visit

For more information about Travel Indochina’s Responsible Travel itineraries, call 1300 365 355, or visit

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

New Government Cabinet Building Inaugurated

Phnom Penh, October 20, 2010 AKP -- The new office building of the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister’s office and the International Conference Center building were officially inaugurated on Tuesday and bubbled the “Peace Building” and “Friendship Building”, respectively.

The inauguration ceremony were presided over by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia; National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin; Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and his wife Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen; Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Mr. Pan Guangxue, senators, lawmakers, senior government officials as well as foreign diplomatic corps to Cambodia.

In his keynote speech, Prime Techo Hun Sen highly valued the special character of the “Peace Building” and considered it a new historic Cambodian achievement as it built by the national budget and Cambodian local companies.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen expressed profound thanks to the Chinese government for the donation of the office building of the Council of Ministers “Friendship Building” saying that the seven-storey building with some 40-meter high was first initiated and achieved through the visit of Her Excellency Mrs. Wu Yi, then deputy prime minister of the People’s Republic of China in March 2004.

For his parts, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Mr. Pan Guangxue said that the project was a realization of one of the aid pledges made by Chinese Premier H.E. Mr. Wen Jiabao during his visit to Cambodia in April, 2006.

King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, who were now in Beijing, China for the medical treatment, have also extended their warm congratulation to this historic inauguration ceremony.--AKP

(By KEO Chandara)


WB Predicts Cambodia’s GDP Growth to 4.9 Percent in 2010

Phnom Penh, October 20, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will reach 4.9 percent in 2010, according to the WB’s report issued on Oct. 19 in a press conference here.

According to the above-said report, Cambodia’s economy is recovery and predicted that the country’s GDP will reach 4.9 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2011 due to the increasing demand of garment exports, tourism and agriculture-products.

The report also indicated that the garment exports have increased 15 percent in the first six months of this year and it is expected to increase 14 percent in 2010 and tourism field to increase 9 percent in 2010.--AKP

(By CHEA Vannak)


Cambodian National Football Team to Leave for Suzuki Cup in Laos

Phnom Penh, October 20, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia’s national football team will leave for Suzuki Cup in Laos on Wednesday, an official from the country’s Football Federation said Tuesday, according to Chinese News Agency Xinhua.

Ouk Socheat, secretary general of Cambodia’s Football Federation said 18 footballers and seven others who are coaches and the federation’s member will leave for Laos on Wednesday.

He said, as planned, Cambodia’s football team will compete with Laos on Oct. 22, with East Timor on Oct. 24 and the Philippines on Oct. 26.

According to Ouk Socheat, of the four countries, two of them will be selected for the next competing with other two groups A and B.

However, he said, for the rest of two that will not be selected will return home and will have no chance for next competing stage.

The current Group A: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Group B: Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar.

The tournament is organized by ASEAN Football Federation.

Ouk Socheat said when Cambodia was a host for the same even in 2008, Cambodia won Laos with 3-2, while this time Laos is a host.

With the same experience in 2008, Cambodia drew East Timor 2-2, but lost to the Philippines 3-2.

Ouk Socheat said he hopes Cambodian team will be selected because more training was conducted by a South Korean coach.--AKP

Camfood industry fair opens tomorrow

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:00 Ou Mom

THE heat is on to find Cambodia’s best bartender, barista, waiter, fruit carver and cake decorator during the first Camfood and Camhotel 2010 industry show in Phnom Penh, which opens tomorrow.

“Hotels, restaurants, culinary institutions, airlines, cafes, bistros, or catering organizations are eligible to participate in these competitions,” said Luu Meng, president of the Cambodia Hotel Assocation.

“Candidates need to bring along all relevant items for their chosen competition,”he said.

The industry fair, which runs through Saturday at Diamond Island Convention Centre in Phnom Penh, brings togetherabout 200 companies for the three-day event.

One of the highlights will be a decorated cake that stands 2.2 metres high and is covered with lotus flowers and vines.

Ruth Larwill from Bloom Cakes and Cafe in Phnom Penh is in charge of making the giant cake, which took about 1,000 hours to bake and decorate.

A team of about 22 pastry chefs worked on the giant cake, she said.

Bartenders will be showing their skills in making drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, with the aim of finding a national cocktail that best expresses the spirit of Cambodia.

“These competitions will choose cocktail experts both international and national in order to find Cambodian recipes to compete on the international stage,” said Jeroen Van Daalen of wine importer Celliers d’Asie.

Waiters’ races should prove plenty of fun for spectators as well as competitors. In addition, there will be bed-making contests for housekeeping staff in hotels.

Cambodia commodity exchange remains shelved

via CAAI

October 20, 2010

PHNOM PHEN (Commodity Online) : More than three months after its scheduled opening date, Cambodia’s only commodity exchange remained shelved as authorities failed to draft regulations to govern the exchange.

The privately-owned Cambodian Mercantile Exchange was due to launch on July 30 and begin online trading of 11 commodities by mid-August.

CMEX officials have repeatedly declined to comment on the reasons for the delay.

However, Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (ECC) said the exchange could not open until the regulations to govern it were in place.

In a statement ECC said it asked the CMEX not to operate because we need the regulations to be set up first and they need to apply for the regulation.

Once regulations were created, it said, related ministries, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, would need to be consulted before a final draft was available.

Analysts said despite the apparent delay, the CMEX would have a positive impact once established.

“Cambodia has never had a commodities exchange before, and it’s getting by without it, but it would be good to have one at some time in the future as the agriculture market develops,” they said

A mercantile exchange helps to monitor and regulate the price of the goods being traded by setting a market price for goods based on broader supply and demand.

Commodity traders usually use futures contracts, which can help farmers because they can hedge the cost of their produce when they know the future price they will receive for their goods on delivery.

CMEX said in July that, initially, 11 commodities would be listed on the Kingdom's exchange.

These were gold, silver, cotton, crude oil, heating oil, natural gas, soya-bean oil, soya beans, wheat, copper and coffee.

Floods cause 70 mln USD in damage in Cambodia

via CAAI

October 20 2010

Storms that drenched 13 provinces over the past 10 days caused an estimated 70 million US dollars in damage, destroyed thousands of hectares of rice paddy and killed at least eight people, local media reported on Tuesday, citing local officials.

"The first cost estimate may be almost half of last year's destruction caused by typhoon Ketsana, which was 131 million US dollars," the Cambodia Daily quoted Nhim Vanda, vice chairman for the National Committee for Disaster Management as saying.

He added that the 70 million US dollars would go toward rebuilding roads, irrigation system, bridges and villagers' homes.

"The most affected areas are Pursat province, Phnom Penh municipality and Banteay Meanchey province," Vanda said.

He estimated about 10,000 hectares of rice paddy fields across the country were also destroyed.

Deaths attributed to recent storms climbed to eight after a 5- year-old Preah Sihanouk boy was confirmed drowned at sea during heavy winds on Saturday, Stung Hav district governor Ban Sarun was quoted as saying.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that floods that affects the country in recent weeks has caused more damage than Typhoon Ketsana last year.

In Cambodia, Creating a Simple Home Full of Personality

After globe-trotting for more than four years, Marie Fabre and Frédéric Escudier settled in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where they built this two-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home for around $300,000. (Kevin Miller for The New York Times)

via CAAI

Published: October 19, 2010

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA — Settling down was the last thing Marie Fabre and Frédéric Escudier had in mind when they visited Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2003. They were in the middle of a four-year globe-trotting trip that took them from Cuba to China to Morocco and India.

But this picturesque town here near the Angkor Wat temples lured the French couple back again and again, until they finally made it their permanent home in 2007.

“Siem Reap was so tranquil,” said Mr. Escudier, 48. “We liked the temples, the countryside, the cows and water buffaloes. It seemed like an easy place to live.”

Initially, the couple moved into a basic wooden house. But in 2008, after opening a boutique, the Wa Gallery, where they sell colorful Buddha heads and precious jewelry picked up from their travels, Ms. Fabre was ready for a more comfortable place.

“I told Frédéric, ‘If you want to stay here, we’re going to build a house,’ ” said Ms. Fabre, 53.

Down a dusty, unpaved road a few miles from the town center where they set up their shop, they found a 14,000-square-foot plot filled with palm, mango and tangerine trees. They leased it for 25 years at $200 a month (United States dollars are the de facto currency in Cambodia).

“The tangerines reminded me of Perpignan, where I grew up in the south of France,” Ms. Fabre said.

Though the land came with a house — a traditional Cambodian home on stilts — Ms. Fabre and Mr. Escudier said they wanted something that was more modern, airy, light, and simple, yet full of personality. They decided to leave the original home intact and hired an architect to build an adjacent structure.

“We had a general idea of what we wanted, but we needed someone to put our ideas down on paper,” Ms. Fabre said.

To ensure the result matched their vision, Mr. Escudier was on site during much of the 11-month, $300,000 construction, which was completed last November. “The plans changed everyday,” he said. “Often, I would have things redone after I saw them built.”

The long, narrow house of 3,000 square feet is divided over two stories, with the couple’s bedroom occupying the upstairs and one large area for the kitchen, living room and a guest room on the ground floor.

Glass walls accomplished their goal of creating an airy space and take advantage of Cambodia’s abundant sunshine. “Sometimes I have to wear sunglasses indoors,” Ms. Fabre said. The glass walls also create the illusion of bringing the garden inside the home.

Ceilings are 10 feet high and there are few walls and doors — even the two baths are only partially enclosed in semi-circular columns made of glass blocks.

“I don’t like doors,” Mr. Escudier said. “They are like a jail, and I wanted to feel free.”

Nor does he like angles and straight lines. Wherever possible walls bend and the flat, two-tiered roof juts out in curves over the striped, skinny swimming pool, dubbed the “couloir de nage,” or swimming corridor.

Uninspired by the glossy floor tiles used in most homes in Cambodia, Mr. Escudier turned the floor into a huge, white cement canvas, laying circular plastic molds of various sizes and filling them with pink, red and blue pigments.

Other bursts of colors can be seen in neon accent lighting, cherry-red and lime-green Pantone-inspired chairs, and glass vases in a myriad of shapes and hues displayed on vintage cupboards coated in streaks of paint. Fuchsia-and-gold speckled tiles line the 16-foot-long concrete kitchen counter.

“I need to have color everywhere,” Ms. Fabre said. “I can’t live in all white.”

The couple brought their unconventionality to their furniture as well, fashioning a couch from a six-inch thick plank of wood and two flowerpots, while locally purchased glass display cases that Ms. Fabre painted chartreuse, orange, and turquoise stand in for storage.

Though Ms. Fabre and Mr. Escudier have no immediate plans to move, they haven’t forgotten the sense of adventure that brought them here to begin with. “For the moment, this is our place,” he said. “But tomorrow? Well, you never know.”

Ban to Visit Asean countries and China

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gives a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on October 19. (Photo: Getty Images)

via CAAI

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WASHINGTON—Days ahead of the Nov. 7 Burmese election, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to China and other key Asean countries, during which the election will be a topic of his discussions with the political leaders.

The secretary-general will depart on Oct. 26 for official visits to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China to discuss UN relations, regional and global issues, as well as UN-Asean cooperation.

Diplomatic sources said Burma, in particular the post-election scenario in the country, would be an issue of deliberations during the entire trip.

Ban, who has been trying hard to push for reform and restoration of democracy in the country, is expected to impress upon Asian leaders the need to forcefully urge the newly elected government in Burma to start a process of true political reform in the country.

Officials said that the new special UN envoy for Burma could be announced after the elections are over. The new government would be consulted before the new appointment is made. The post has been vacant for 10 months.

Ban will begin his trip from Bangkok, where he will meet with the prime minister. With Thailand being host to a large number of Burmese refugees, he is also expected to meet with representatives of the Burmese community living in exile in the country.

He will then travel to Phnom Penh, where he will meet with the prime minister. In Vietnam, he will attend the Asean-UN Summit and meet with Vietnam leaders. The current situation in Burma will be a topic of discussion with the Asean leaders, including a common strategy after a new government in Burma is formed.

From Vietnam, he will travel to Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing where he will meet with the Chinese president, the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and other senior government officials.

Rift with Cambodia goes beyond Thaksin

Kanharith: Media links needed

via CAAI

Published: 20/10/2010
The relationship between Thailand and Cambodia has improved since ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra resigned as economic adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the two governments returned their respective ambassadors. THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL talks to Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, the first minister from the country to visit Thailand since ties have improved, to discuss how the countries' relations can move forward.

What is the main factor that has caused misunderstanding between the two countries?

It's not just a businessman. When you talk about the misunderstanding, we need to talk about the root of the problem. Many people perceive the problem to be the appointment of Thaksin as an economic adviser, but the real problem has to do with the border and Preah Vihear.

When we appointed Thaksin, we did not do it to tease the Thai government. Cambodia is very new to international trade and Thaksin is a businessman who understands how to conduct international business. That's why we appointed him as a government adviser. But now he has many engagements and he decided to resign. For Cambodia, the source of the problem is the border, not Thaksin.

Are you confident the improved relationship will now be sustained?

We need a long-term solution to border issues. But we should start with the personal relationships between the prime ministers, information ministers and the journalist associations. We can leave border demarcation to specialists in that job and we have a joint border commission. Do not rub salt into the wounds. Prime Minister Hun Sen agrees with this.

What is your policy governing Cambodian media reporting on neighbouring countries?

Many in the Cambodian media feel that the Thai people look down on Cambodia. Thailand just acts like a big brother. But when one Cambodian reporter came to Thailand on Saturday night, he wrote on my Facebook account that the Thai people were treating them like colleagues. They changed their opinions in one night. Media from the two countries should work together and promote understanding. I discussed with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday how trade volumes went down whenever we had wars of words or political tension.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) accused us of training red shirts. That's nonsense. You can't train people in one or two months - it takes closer to one or two years. There was no reason they needed to be trained in Cambodia either - they could have been trained anywhere.

Did Prime Minister Hun Sen provide any specific guidance for the Cambodian media regarding this issue?

No. He just said that we have to make people understand by checking the sources of information on the other side.

Last time, when the DSI held a press conference about the red shirts and the training camp claims, Prime Minister Hun Sen sent an SMS to Thai Prime Minister's Office Minister Ong-art Klampaibul saying that it was not true. This is personal contact and it might be more effective than other means. I suggested to Mr Ong-art that before talking to the press, we should clarify the news to avoid problems and we can remain in contact 24 hours a day. We are friends and we have joined the military group too. The two countries need a professional relationship.

What did you discuss with Prime Minister Abhisit?

I told him that Prime Minister Hun Sen hopes to see him again in Hanoi and hopes he overcomes the economic crisis. We will have more fruitful discussions in Hanoi and they will meet again during the ACMECS (Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) summit set for Phnom Penh in November. They might talk about trade, military and media mechanisms.

Labour minister to talk strikes with NA

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:02 Uong Ratana

MINISTER of Labour Vong Soth is set to appear before the National Assembly on Thursday to answer questions about last month’s strikes by garment workers and lingering discord in the industry.

“We are happy to appear and answer the questions that the National Assembly members have about what we’re doing,” said Oum Mean, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour.

Oum Mean said staffers from the Ministry of Social Affairs were holding meetings this week with officials in Kandal province, Kampong Speu province and Phnom Penh to find resolutions at factories where garment workers had been suspended or dismissed.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he had submitted a list of questions to the Labour Ministry last week inquiring about reports that factories had prevented unions from organising on their premises and asking what the government was doing to resolve disagreements between unionists and their employers.

“I want him to answer all the questions that I’ve already sent to him, and if his answers do not fit with my questions, then I will ask him again,” Son Chhay said.

Ken Loo, the secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said government officials were working “to try to arrive at a compromise in order to allow the workers back to work as per the prime minister’s recommendation”.

In a speech last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for factories to drop complaints against workers related to the strikes.

A report from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union released on Friday said there were 94 union representatives who remained suspended in connection with last month’s strikes, organised to protest the minimum wage for garment workers. A total of 683 workers have been dismissed after protesting the suspensions of these representatives and subsequently failing to heed court orders requiring them to return to work, CCAWDU said.

But Loo said just 358 workers had been dismissed, with 67 union representatives suspended.

He said employers would drop their complaints in exchange for apologies from the workers involved in the strikes, an offer CCAWDU has rejected.

“There must be an apology, firstly... there must be an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, and there must an agreement not to repeat those same mistakes again,” Loo said.

CCAWDU Vice President Kong Athit said last week, however, that there was no need for union leaders to apologise for anything.

“We cannot do that because we are not wrong and the government did not accuse us of being wrong,” Kong Athit said.


Man queried over deadly wine

Photo by: Pha Lina
Son Chanthy, 24, drinks rice wine in Phnom Penh yesterday.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:02 May Titthara

AT LEAST 17 people have been confirmed dead in Kampong Cham province’s Oraing Ov district after drinking rice wine that health officials now believe contained an “abnormally high” concentration of methanol.

Deputy district governor Nuon Song said the death toll was expected to rise, as three villagers receiving treatment yesterday were unlikely to

He added that the fatalities had occurred in three separate communes – 10 died in Preah Theat commune, four in Prek Tapoak commune and three in Mean commune.

District police chief Keo Seanghorn said police had detained wine seller Krin Reoun, 63, and confiscated a litre of rice wine from each commune.

“The suspect told us that he has been in the wine business for more than 20 years,” Keo Seanghorn said. “He said if he followed normal procedure, he did not believe the wine could cause fatalities.”

He said the suspect believed something might have gone wrong because villagers had mixed the wine in Black Panther beers. Keo Sanghorn said he would ask for permission from provincial police officials to release the suspect.

On Monday, provincial police chief Nuon Samin said officials suspected the rice wine might have been contaminated with pesticides, and speculated that the person who purchased it “may have incorrectly poured the wine into a nearby pesticide bottle”.

But Keo Narith, the director of the provincial hospital, said investigations had confirmed that the rice wine was contaminated with methanol.

“We have since discovered that the methanol mix-up rate is abnormally high in the wine,” he said.

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol as it is often distilled from wood, is a simple form of alcohol and is dangerous to humans if ingested, as it can cause blood circulation problems and death.

“Despite the fact that they live far from each other, we can conclude that they died from drinking the wine because the wine seller had mobilised his business,” he said. “Thus, they may have bought wine from the same seller, and brought it to their own villages to drink.”

Provincial police chief Nuon Samin could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Parcels to be developed in six provinces

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:02 Rann Reuy

MORE than 35,000 hectares of land, including territory within a national park, have been set aside for privatisation and development, according to seven recent sub-decrees.

The government intends for the land to be used for rubber plantations, agriculture and ecotourism, and has earmarked territory in Kratie, Pursat, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kampong Speu and Preah Sihanouk provinces, the sub-decrees say.

Kratie provincial governor Kham Phoeun said he was unconcerned about the privatisation because of the abundance of forest in his province. “We conserve some parts and we develop other parts, because there are tens of thousands of hectares in land here,” he said.

The first three sub-decrees, published on September 27 in the palace’s Royal Work Book, privatised 1,950 hectares of land in Pursat, 8,320 hectares in Preah Vihear and Kampong Thom, and nearly 10,000 hectares in Kratie.

Four additional sub-decrees were contained in a Royal Work Book published on September 30. These directives privatised about 16,000 hectares of land, including roughly 600 hectares in Kampong Speu province’s Kirirom National Park.

Kham Phoeun confirmed that some people lived on the development sites in Kratie. The sub-decrees did not say if any of the land had already been sold.

Tek Vannara, advocacy programme manager at the Culture and Environment Preservation Association, a local NGO, said the government needed to study how development projects would impact local populations.

“We are concerned if the government has given development rights to companies without the active participation of local people,” Tek Vannara said.

He added that the sub-decrees could greatly impact the living conditions of locals within the development areas, and that rubber plantations could take a destructive toll on indigenous wildlife.

Officials at the Ministry of Environment declined to comment yesterday.

Omlaing villager free after testifying

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Villagers gather outside Kampong Speu provincial court yesterday morning.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:02 May Titthara

KAMPONG Speu provincial court officials allowed a villager from Thpong district’s Omlaing commune to walk free yesterday after questioning him in a case linked to an ongoing dispute that involves a Cambodian People’s Party senator.

Chhon Chuon, 60, has been accused of living illegally on land owned by the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is headed by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat.

Yesterday marked the second time Chhon Chuon had been questioned over a complaint filed against him by Nget Sarun, director of the Thpong district land-management office.

“They asked me why did I buy land that the company legally owned, and who did I buy the land from.” said Chhon Chuon.

“I answered that I bought the land from a former Khmer Rouge, and that the land was received by the original owner from Prime Minister Hun Sen after the reintegration on October 19, 1999.”

He said that after the questioning, Judge Men Rotha told him he would have to report to the court every two weeks.

“In fact, they wanted to detain me ... but after seeing many villagers come to support me at the court, they decided not to,” said Chhon Chuon, referring to the more than 100 supporters who had gathered outside the court.

Judge Men Rotha declined to comment yesterday.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said the company was “using the judiciary to force people to accept less compensation”.

He said that at first the company tried to low-ball Omlaing residents, offering them just US$500 and a small plot of land at an undeveloped site near Pis Mountain in exchange for their land plots in Omlaing. When residents refused, the company began filing complaints against the villagers.

Chheang Kimsruon, a representative of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, said that “the conflict is not related to the company”.

She declined to elaborate further.

Rights groups say that more than 2,000 families will be affected by the 8,343-hectare land concession awarded to the company.

Drunken driver faces prison

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

A 21-YEAR-OLD man yesterday confessed in a hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court that he unintentionally killed another man in Dangkor district while driving drunk on October 2, as a prosecutor refused to comply with a request by police that charges against him be dropped.

Seng Vuthy was arrested after he collided with and killed Leng Sovanara, 28, while riding on his motorbike in Dangkor district’s Kabab commune at around 9pm. He said yesterday that prior to the incident he had consumed “up to five cans of ABC”, a brand of beer.

He was charged with causing unintentional death under Article 82 of the Land Traffic Law, which calls for jail terms of between one and three years and fines of between 2 million and 6 million riels (US$1,425).

Defence lawyer Neang Hay said yesterday that the charges should be dropped because his client had carried the victim to hospital and offered to help cover funeral expenses.

“I requested that the court free my client, because he had acknowledged his fault and showed his good will for not escaping from the scene, and he had already paid compensation to the victim’s family for the funeral,” Neang Hay said.

A court clerk also read out a note from a brother-in-law of the victim, who also asked that the charges be dropped on account of the fact that the death was accidental.

A statement from traffic officer Nhjem Sam Ol that was also read during the hearing said the accident “had been reconciled at our police station with civil compensation after the accused agreed to pay for all fees for completing the victim’s funeral on October 3, following his confession and acknowledgement of his fault”.

But Hing Bunchea said the confession provided the evidence needed to secure a conviction, and that he would “require the court to punish the man according to the law”.

“Following his confessions and acknowledgement of his fault at all levels of investigation, this really proved him guilty,” he said.

Presiding Judge Chang Sinat said a verdict would be announced on November 15.

Chev Hak, deputy chief of the municipal traffic police, said yesterday that most traffic accidents were settled out of court, but that police routinely filed reports to the municipal court in cases of death or injury. He said he did not know how many actually went to trial.

The accident involving Seng Vuthy occurred one day after traffic police launched nighttime checkpoints in the capital to curb drunken driving. The checkpoints were closed during the Pchum Ben festival and have not been reopened because of heavy rains and flooding, Chev Hak said.

Nevertheless, he said the checkpoints had been effective in reducing traffic accidents and “other such penal crimes”, because drunk people are more likely to commit “rape, murder, and robbery”.

Sam Rainsy’s lawyer finalises court appeal

Photo by: Pha Lina
Choung Choungy, a lawyer for opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, walks outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 23, the same day his client was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison

via CAAI

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

SAM Rainsy’s lawyer said yesterday that he was putting the finishing touches on an appeal against the opposition leader’s September conviction for disinformation and falsifying public documents.

The 10-year prison term handed down by Phnom Penh Municipal Court was the second sentence Sam Rainsy received this year, after the Svay Rieng provincial court in January ordered him to serve two years behind bars in connection with a protest in Svay Rieng province against alleged Vietnamese border encroachment.

Last month’s ruling – which also called for Sam Rainsy to pay 5 million riels (US$1,187) in fines and 60 million riels in compensation to the state – stemmed from his attempts to vindicate his border claims by publicising maps of the territory in question in press conferences and on the Sam Rainsy Party website.

Lawyer Choung Choungy said yesterday that his client’s actions were not against the law, and that an appeal would be filed at the end of the day today at the latest.

“I will appeal today or tomorrow against the September 23 verdict,” he said yesterday.

Describing the substance of the appeal, he said, “According to my study this should not be a penal offense. My client wants to have the resolution against planting border posts on Khmer land. The second thing he wants is to defend territorial integrity. What he wants are these points, and they are very important.”

Ky Tech, the government lawyer handling the case, said he welcomed the appeal, and trusted the court to make a fair ruling.

“I would like to indicate that Sam Rainsy’s guilt is up to the court, because we, the plaintiffs, have filed a complaint to the court and we have evidence included in the filing already,” he said. “The guilt has been found, and there has been a conviction.”