Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Teach in a floating school

A floating school in Cambodia

via CAAI

3rd November 2010

THERE'S volunteering. There's volunteer teaching. Then there's volunteer teaching afloat.

Real Gap is calling for volunteers who like their travel with a twist, with a new project teaching Cambodian kids in a school that floats on Ton Le Sap Lake, moving according to the seasons.

With land in short supply, Cambodians have established floating villages on the lake, collections of houses that move as the lake fills and drains with the monsoon rains.

No previous experience is required, and volunteers have the option of undertaking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course before leaving home.

Half of each day will be spent at the floating school, the other half with a different group of students at a school, housed in a Buddhist pagoda. Traditionally – prior to French colonisation – temples were centres of education. With a lack of government funding to build new schools, communities are reverting to the old ways.

The pagoda school is attended by about 20 children between six and 12 years of age, and volunteers are needed in a similar capacity to the floating school.

The daily routine will see volunteers working from about 8am until 11am at the pagoda school and 2pm to 4.30pm at the floating school. Weekends are free to explore the local Siem Reap area, which is close to the temple complex at Angkor Wat. Further afield, volunteers can visit Phnom Penh or relax on the beaches of Sihanoukville.

The Cambodia Floating School near Angkor Wat project can be undertaken for between two and 12 weeks. Two weeks costs $1529 per person, while 12 weeks costs $4829.

For details, visit  or call 1300 844 270.

Cambodia tribunal future uncertain

 via CAAI

Published on : 1 November 2010

By International Justice Tribune

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said last week it would be up to Cambodia’s UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to decide whether or not to start a third trial.
Ban’s statement came a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen told him in Phnom Penh that a second Khmer Rouge war crimes trial, due to start early next year, would be the last and “case three is not allowed” because it could plunge the country back into civil war.

Hun Sen was once a mid-level Khmer Rouge member before turning against the movement.
“The UN will discuss this matter with international community members, particularly donors,” Ban said.

Also speaking in Cambodia this week, US foreign minister Hillary Clinton hailed the court’s work. She said the tribunal “is bringing some of the people who caused so much suffering to justice. The work of the tribunal is painful but it is necessary to ensure a lasting peace.”

In its first case, the court in July sentenced former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, a 30-year jail term for overseeing the deaths of more than 12,000 men, women and children in the late 1970s.

In September, the court indicted four regime leaders for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They are charged in connection with the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, overwork and execution between 1975 and 1979.

Exotissimo Gm For Cambodia Talks To Asialife Guide

via CAAI

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 03, 2010 – In a recent interview with AsiaLIFE Guide, General Manager for Exotissimo Cambodia – Olivier Marchesin talked about Exotissimo’s business in Cambodia and gave insights on how to improve it.

Olivier, who became the GM for Exotissimo Cambodia in 2008, faced a lot of challenges as soon as he joined. He mentioned how the financial crisis went global just about a month after he joined followed by the fighting at the Thailand-Cambodia border and the closure of the Bangkok airport.

He pointed that instead of taking a step back, Exotissimo decided to further strengthen them by sending its sales people to look into newer opportunities and develop new markets and products. As a result, Exotissimo managed to steadily grow its turnover and customer base in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam in 2009, although there was a small dip in Cambodia. However, since August 2010, Marchesin has seen things turn around for Cambodia, “we are in the right segment of the market today,” he says, referring to Exotissimo’s position as a niche travel agency. “People want to experience new things. We are constantly creating new products, coming up with new ideas.”

Exotissimo offers some very well designed tours under luxury, adventure, responsible and classic travel categories. Few of these tours are ‘Treasures of the Mekong: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap Cruise’, ‘Cycling the Mekong: An Eco-experience from Pakse to Siem Reap’, and ‘Cambodia Charitable Tour’.

Olivier mentioned that while Exotissimo serves its client with some of these unique experiences, what’s missing is the coast. It’s very important for the coast to be developed so Cambodia can get the repeat tourist and families with kids. Costal development has been a no-win situation in Cambodia. In it, the development of infrastructure is only taking place when the tourist are coming, but tourists can only come once the infrastructure is built.

Exotissimo Travel was established in 1993 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was the first foreign company to be granted a tourism operating license in Vietnam. Today Exotissimo is one of the longest established inbound tour operators in Indochina, Myanmar and Thailand and one of the best known. They have a team of more than 500 staff and 16 offices, including sales office in North America, Europe and Australia

Cambodia Aims To Uplift Women's Role In Public Institutions

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Nov 3 (Bernama) -- Cambodian government has affirmed its commitment to uplift women's status in society, especially, the women's role in serving public institutions, reports China's Xinhua news agency.

Delivering a speech at the closing forum on "Uplifting Women' s Leadership Role at the Sub-national Level"on Wednesday, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government aims to increase women's participation in serving public institutions as high as 50 per cent.

"Secretariat of Public Service has announced and disseminated instruction information on selecting government officials serving public institutions as women from 20 per cent to 50 percent," he said.

Hun Sen, however, said the proportion of women government officials has increased from 32 per cent in 2007 to 34 percent in middle of 2009.

In particular example, the premier said the proportion of women elected to the National Assembly has steadily increased, from 5 per cent in 1993 to 11 per cent in 1998, to 19 per cent in 2003, and to 22 per cent in 2008.

While the proportion of women holding positions as secretary of state and undersecretary of state has also increased from 7 per cent and 9.6 per cent in 2003, to 7.7 per cent and 14.6 per cent in 2008, respectively.

At present, 10.1 per cent of municipal and provincial council members are women, and 12.6 percent of city, district and commune council members are women as well.

China's top legislator starts visit to Cambodia

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislator Wu Bangguo arrived here on Wednesday, kicking off his 4-day official visit to the Southeast Asian country.

Wu's arrival is the first of its kind in nearly 10 years for a Chinese top legislator to visit the country.

Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People' s Congress, China's top legislature, is scheduled to hold talks with King Norodom Sihamoni, National Assembly President Heng Samrim, Senate President Chea Sim and Prime Minister Hun Sen, and they will exchange views on issues of further developing the all- round cooperative partnership between the two countries and promoting bilateral cooperation.

The two countries are expected to sign a series of cooperation agreements on economic cooperation and trade during Wu's stay here. Wu's visit is aimed at "enhancing mutual trust, consolidating friendship, deepening cooperation" between the two countries, China's Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue told Xinhua prior to Wu's arrival.

On economic cooperation, Ambassador Pan said along with the establishment of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the China-Cambodian economic and trade cooperation enjoys new and bigger opportunities. Trade volume between the two countries for the first half of this year has topped 627 million U.S. dollars, up 37 percent from the same period last year.

Cambodia is the first stop of Wu's three-nation Southeast Asia tour, which will also bring him to Indonesia and Thailand.

Editor: An

WB assists Cambodia's poor affected by typhoon Ketsana

via CAAI

November 03, 2010

The World Bank has approved 40 million U.S. dollars in grant and credit to Cambodia to help restore the losses and damage from the typhoon Ketsana in Cambodia.

In a statement released Wednesday by the World Bank Office in Cambodia, it said the grant and credit will be used in the form of the Ketsana Emergency Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project ( KERRP) aimed to restore transportation and water and sanitation services to the affected people who are mostly poor and live in the rural areas, as well as to strengthen the capacity of the government in disaster preparedness and management.

"Typhoon Ketsana devastated the lives and livelihood of tens of thousands of Cambodian people, particularly the poor," said the World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia, Qimiao Fan.

"This project will help to restore the damaged infrastructure such as rural roads and provide basic services such as water and sanitation facilities, to the affected people in mostly rural areas," he said.

The International Development Association -- the division of the World Bank that helps the world's poorest countries -- is providing a grant and an interest-free loan for the project, each valued at 20 million U.S. dollars.

This four-year project will focus on four main components such as the rehabilitation, reconstruction and improvement of 920 km of existing rural roads, including bridges, culverts and drainage facilities.

Second, the construction of 1,400 community-based wells with hand pumps, and the building of 32,000 units of pour-flush latrines for the affected households.

Third, Supporting Emergency Response by providing retroactive financial support for specific eligible expenditures for emergency response works and supporting project implementation agencies by providing technical assistance in project management such as detailed surveys, engineering designs, procurement, financial management, construction supervision, monitoring and evaluation, and community outreach.

And fourth, strengthening the capacity building of institutions by supporting the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) in increasing its capacity for disaster preparedness and management.

This will be achieved through the development of national and provincial risk maps, emergency management information, and early warning systems, as well as the development of housing and building codes.

The World Bank's program in Cambodia is designed to provide support to the poorest segments of the population, within the overarching goal to improve governance.

Source: Xinhua

Leonard Cohen postpones Cambodia gig indefinitely

Leonard Cohen returned to the stage in 2008 after a 15-year absence

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH — Fans of Canadian singer Leonard Cohen reacted with disappointment after the artist delayed a plan for his first-ever concert in Cambodia indefinitely.

The musical and literary giant known for songs such as "So Long, Marianne" and "First We Take Manhattan" was to perform at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium on November 27 in the only scheduled gig in Asia on his world tour.

The concert "has been postponed to a date to be announced due to logistical issues insurmountable in the given time prior to the performance," organisers said in a statement on the Mekong Sessions website on Tuesday.

"Leonard Cohen remains committed to performing in Cambodia," the statement added, without specifying a date. It said all ticket holders would receive full refunds.

Following the announcement, dozens of Cohen fans flooded online message boards to voice their dismay.

"I can't find words to express my disappointment and anger," wrote an Internet user by the name of Gibbons on the Leonard Cohen Forum.

Before the postponement, the concert had come in for criticism for its expensive tickets.

Single tickets started at 282.50 US dollars -- an eye-wateringly high price in a country where around 30 percent of the population lives on less than 50 cents a day.

Proceeds of the concert were due to go to local charities.

"I wonder whether having set ridiculously high prices and therefore not selling enough tickets is the main insurmountable logistical issue," wrote Internet user Sok Poupe on Khmer 440, a popular website for expats in Cambodia.

Cohen returned to the stage in 2008 after a 15-year absence during which he spent time in a Buddhist monastery in California.

More than 1,000 renditions of Cohen's work have been recorded by artists as diverse as R.E.M., Elton John, Willie Nelson and Tori Amos. Cohen is also a published novelist and poet.

The postponement of the Phnom Penh concert is not the first upset of Cohen's tour. Promoters AEG Live recently announced the cancellation of his December 4 performance in Honolulu, Hawaii, also citing "logistical issues".

Thai Protesters Rally Against Thai-Cambodia Border Agreement

via CAAI


Ten thousand yellow-shirt protesters gathered outside Bangkok's parliament on Tuesday. They’re rallying against a possible border agreement between Thailand and Cambodia regarding a controversial temple.

The ownership of the controversial Preah Vihear temple was awarded to Cambodia in a 1962 international court ruling.

[Sondhi Limthongkul, Protest Leader]:
"Thailand is losing its land. So we might lose about a thousand square miles.”

Thailand and Cambodia both have troops along the border. Deadly clashes have occurred there in the past three years.

However, many Thais have never fully accepted the decision. And the temple has been used by both countries to fuel nationalist emotions.

Last year Thailand withdrew its pledge of support for Cambodia to list Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World Heritage site, arguing that the ownership of land around the temple has never been settled.

Calls for US to cancel Cambodian debt

via CAAI

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Campaigners have called on the US to cancel millions of dollars of outstanding debts owed by Cambodia - money that was given to the country when it was a part of Washington's Cold War alliance in south-east Asia.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Cambodian officials this week agreed to continue negotiations over $445m accumulated by the US-backed regime of Gen Lon Nol in the early 1970s. The regime was eventually ousted by the Khmer Rouge and its senior officials and US advisers were forced to flee the country.

Mrs Clinton suggested the current Cambodian government could repay some of the debt while a portion of it could be "swapped" for investment in education or the environment."There are things that the government of Cambodia could do that would satisfy the need to demonstrate some level of accountability but, more importantly, to invest those funds in the needs of the people of Cambodia," she told Cambodian students while on a seven-nation tour of Asia.

But campaigners say the US should write off the money. Nick Dearden, head of the advocacy group Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "We think there is no question - it should be written off. We see no reason why Cambodia should be repaying debts that should never have been leant in the first place and which were only leant for the benefit of the lender."

He added: "Also, it's in no place to repay the debt. Cambodia is a very poor country and simply to try and meet its Millennium Development goals and to grow, it is in no position to pay off this money."

The money was given to the regime of Lon Nol as the US sought to stop the advance of both the Khmer Rouge rebels in Cambodia and the forces of North Vietnam in Vietnam. In both cases if failed, while its massive military operation in south-east Asia, including a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia, left hundreds of thousands dead and maimed. Cambodia and Laos were among the most heavily bombed nations on the planet.

"In 1970-1975, the Khmer Republic as it was then known, was a client state of the United States," said David Chandler, an expert on Cambodian history.

"Gen Lon Nol, who had overthrown [the government of Prince] Sihanouk, was pro-US and anti-Vietnamese, and the US used him to draw Vietnamese troops into Cambodia so as to ease the US withdrawal from Vietnam."

Analysts say there is little prospect of the money being repaid to the US by the current Cambodian government, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sun. Rather, Mrs Clinton may have raised the issue as part of a process of greater leverage as it tries to counter growing Chinese influence there.

Indeed, asked about the role of China, which has invested heavily in Cambodia and provided millions of dollars in aid as the Phnom Penh government seeks to rebuild the country after years of war and turmoil, she said: "You don't want to get too dependent on any one country. There are important issues that Cambodia must raise with China."

Mrs Clinton also visited the Tuol Sleng jail, where more than 14,000 prisoners were questioned and tortured by the Khmer Rouge before being dispatched for execution at killing fields on the edge of the city.

Earlier this year, the prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, was sentenced to 19 years in jail at the conclusion of the first trial completed by the UN-sponsored tribunal.

A second trial involving four other senior leaders is due follow soon. Prime minister Hun Sen has said he will not tolerate further trials as it could damage the fabric of the country but Mrs Clinton, who said her visit to Tuol Sleng had been a "very disturbing experience", said the tribunals were crucial.

"Countries that are held prisoner to their past can never break those chains and build the kind of future that their children deserve," she added. "Although I am well aware the work of the tribunal is painful, it is necessary to ensure a lasting peace."

Festival plans streaming ahead

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Rowers repaint their boat along a bank of the Tonle Sap yesterday, ahead of racing practice for vessels competing in the upcoming Water Festival.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

MORE than 4,000 police will be deployed to maintain security in Phnom Penh during the annual Water Festival holiday later this month, officials said.

“We are busy holding meetings to discuss about providing security during the Water Festival ... and we have prepared more than 4,000 police officers to maintain the safety of our people, who will come from all the provinces to attend the boat races,” said Phnom Penh deputy police chief Pol Pithey.

He said fire trucks and ambulances would also be placed on standby in case of any emergencies.

The Water Festival, one of the Kingdom’s biggest holidays, falls on November 20-22 and will see a massive influx of visitors from the countryside, drawn by the iconic boat races on the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers.

The holiday marks the reversal of the waters in the Tonle Sap, which changes direction twice a year because of the inundation of the Tonle Sap lake to the northeast.

Pol Pithey said he expected an unprecedented number of people to descend on Phnom Penh for this year’s holiday.

“More and more people come from year to year during the Water Festival because they have better living standards, good transportation and our country has especially good security and is peaceful for them,” he said.

Chea Sokhom, vice president and secretary general of the government’s Festival Committee, said yesterday that he did not know the number of boats that would race during the festival, but that it would be known a week ahead of the holiday. A total of 391 boats registered to compete in last year’s races, according to the committee.

Kingdom may meet rice goal despite floods

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

CAMBODIA is on pace to exceed its rice-production targets for 2010, despite torrential rain and flash floods that inundated large parts of the country last month, Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a rural development forum in Phnom Penh, Chan Sarun said he was “optimistic” this year’s output of paddy would top last year’s total by some 70,000 hectares.

“I am pleased to say that although Cambodia has been affected by the floods recently, it has not affected our rice. Instead, the number of our rice products will be higher than last year because we have been planting more rice fields than we planned to,” he said.

He said the ministry had originally planned to plant roughly 2.28 million hectares of rice fields, but had actually planted 2.39 million hectares.

The recent flooding, which began on October 10, affected 70,000 hectares of rice fields and completely destroyed 6,000 in 13 cities and provinces, he said, citing a preliminary report received by his ministry.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, also said yesterday that the effect of the flooding on this year’s rice crop had been small.

“I think that the floods have not seriously affected Cambodia’s rice paddy. So I agreed with the Minister of Agriculture that rice will be good and its production will increase this year,” he said.

Keo Vy, director of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said unofficial statistics indicated that 4,553 hectares of additional crops – including cassava, sesame and soybeans – had been affected, and that some 10,000 hectares of rice fields had been destroyed, a figure higher than that offered by Chan Sarun.

He added that the report including the statistics had not been finalised.

In addition to crops, the floods had affected 30,355 homes, and six people had died, he said.

A total of nine deaths have been recorded unofficially.

Union still mulling new strike

Photo by: Pha Lina
Employees at a garment factory in Meanchey district raise their hands in unison during a strike in August. Union leader Ek Sopheakdey says CCAWDU workers have not decided whether to renew their strike.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

A LOCAL garment workers union that was at the centre of strikes in September says it has made no final decision about whether to stop work in re-sponse to the suspensions of union representatives.

Ek Sopheakdey, secretary general of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said last week that the union would stage a new round of strikes if the cases of representatives suspended in connection with the September work stoppage were not resolved.

Yesterday, however, CCAWDU president Ath Thorn said that the plan was still under consideration.

“I haven’t discussed this plan yet, but I will do so this week or next week to see what we can do if the union representatives and the workers cannot return to work,” Ath Thorn said. “We are waiting for information from the government officials who went to the factories to help solve the problems.”

Officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs could not be reached for comment.

Ath Thorn said 94 union representatives remained suspended in connection with September’s strikes, and that 683 workers were fired after they protested these suspensions and then failed to heed court orders that they return to work.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia says, however, that just 67 union representatives are suspended and 358 have been dismissed.

The factories involved will drop their cases against workers if they receive apologies from the unionists, GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said, a request that has thus far been rebuffed.

Phin Sophea, a union representative currently suspended from the River Rich garment factory in Kandal province, said he would be “happy to protest again” in the event of a new round of strikes.

Land dispute: Villagers evade arrest in Pursat

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:02 May Titthara

Land dispute

TWO village representatives in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district evaded arrest yesterday by running into the wilderness after protesting against the encroachment of a developer, local residents said.

Heng Pai, 53, one of the representatives, said more than 40 police officers had arrived at his home in Sangkum Thmey village yesterday to arrest him and fellow representative Bi Born, 32, for “persuading the residents” to protest against the company.

Roughly 60 people reportedly protested on Monday against the MDS development firm when company representatives arrived in the area to clear land.

Heng Pai said the representatives had done nothing to incite the villagers, who were protesting against the development because it “affected their farmland”.

Bi Born said the company, which wants to build a casino and potato factory on 950 hectares of land currently occupied by 85 families, “does not care about residents, who have a right to eat”.

Pursat Provincial Deputy Police Chief Sarun Chanty said he had not yet received information about the issue.

Jailed man blocked from visitors

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 May Titthara

FAMILY members of a man shot last month by one of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguards and then imprisoned in Koh Kong say prison officials have not allowed them to visit their relative, despite his worsening health condition.

Twenty-three-year-old Luk Lykea was shot in the shoulder during an argument at a restaurant in Koh Kong province’s Khemarak Phomin town on October 20, said Ou Lymom, the victim’s older sister. The man who shot him, Uy Mao, one of Hun Sen’s bodyguards, was detained briefly following the shooting and then released, she said, whereas Luk Lykea was kept in custody.

“It is an injustice for my wounded brother, who has been detained in the prison without any allowance for his relatives to visit,” she said.

She added that her brother, a blacksmith, was not a gangster and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. “It was his out of luck day eating at a problem place,” she said.

“I am worried about my brother’s health. He does not have enough medicine to treat his wounds in the prison, and it is the cold season, which makes him suffer even more.”

Neang Boratinou, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the case was strange, since the apparent perpetrator was released while the victim was thrown in prison.

“We don’t know how the case is progressing because [it] is still under investigation,” he said.

Samol Thearith, chief of Koh Kong provincial prison, said he was not aware of the issue, but that the authorities might not have allowed the relatives to visit because the case was under investigation by the court.

Tub Chunheng, the provincial prosecutor, declined to comment on the case, saying he did not wish to speak on the phone. Hing Bunhean, commander of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Police Blotter: 3 Nov 2010

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

Two men fall foul of sword-wielding gang
Two men have filed a complaint against seven men whom they have accused of attacking them with samurai swords and knives in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town last week. One of the victims claimed the seven men jumped his friend after they had been drinking. He intervened, but was immediately stabbed in the face and thigh. The assailants escaped, leaving the two men unconscious at the scene. The victims are worried because the suspects have yet to be caught.

Hungry drunkard burns down foodless home
A 28-year-old drunkard set his wooden home on fire because there was no food in it. Police said the man returned to the abode in Kampong Thom’s Kampong Svay district two weeks ago after a night of heavy drinking, and picked a fight with his wife after realising the cupboards were bare. Enraged, he set fire to his house, and his wife and three children escaped to a neighbour’s home. The man fled the scene but was arrested two days later. He was released after “getting education” from authorities.

Woman kills herself after mystery call
A 19-year-old woman killed herself after receiving a mysterious phone call in Ratanakkiri province on Sunday. According to a neighbour, the woman was involved in a conversation on her mobile phone while her parents were out farming. She then locked the door and downed some unknown pills. “Love” is suspected to be the reason for the suicide, but the neighbour said that “no one knew” who was on the other end of the phone call.

Student suspected of trafficking narcotics
Police arrested a student at her house in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Sunday on suspicion of trafficking illegal drugs in the capital. District police said they followed the suspect “several times” before making the arrest. They confiscated three packages of drugs from the student, who said she was consuming them with her buddies. She said she forked out around US$200 for the drugs.

Jewellery vendors lose $10k, gold in robbery
Four men made off with around US$10,000 cash and nearly half a kilo of gold after robbing two jewellery sellers in an armed holdup on Monday. One of the victims said the men followed them to their market stall in Kandal’s Kien Svay district, when one of the men fired three shots in the air, and demanded the money and the gold. The suspects fled, and reportedly made their way to Phnom Penh, where they abandoned their car on National Road 1. Police said they were working to arrest the men.

Time out from Buddha’s work

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Heng Chivoan

Two monks sit on the promenade along the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Office rental prices decline as supply rises

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

PRICES for Phnom Penh’s office space have fallen by as much as 25 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, as some building owners say they are having difficulty reeling in tenants despite decreasing rates.

Top-quality “Grade A” office space is averaging between US$20 to $30 per square metre, down from $25 to $35 a square metre last year, according to a report released yesterday by the National Valuers Association of Cambodia. Keuk Narin, secretary of the NVA, said prices for office space had been on the decline all year, with most buildings offering space some 10 to 25 percent cheaper at the end of September from the same time last year.

The supply and demand balance was highlighted as a factor. Seng Sopheak, manager of property valuation at Cambodia Property Limited, said yesterday that supply had risen by 20 percent in Phnom Penh during the first nine months of the year and was set to rise further. But added that he believed prices had stabilised in the third quarter.

Some landlords yesterday expressed pessimism about the state of the office rental market. Bayon Building Centre general manager Chheang Meng said he had nearly halved his asking price to $10 per square metre. “I’m at my last price – but still nobody is interested,” he said.

The NVA report showed that although some big buildings stood well below full occupancy, others were doing well.

Canadia Tower claimed 70 percent occupancy in October, while the Attwood Business Centre was 65 percent full.

However, the Delano Business Center was 94 percent full with a starting price of $10.50 a square metre.

David Simister, Chairman of CB Richard Ellis Indochina, said that while there were noticeable vacancies in some buildings, foreign companies were increasingly coming to the Kingdom, which would push up demand.

Paddlers set out for Phnom Penh

Photo by: Mike Baird
Paddle boarding ... eight Americans are travelling downriver along the Mekong to Phnom Penh for the Water Festival.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Laura Hodges

EIGHT intrepid canoe explorers set off for the adventure of a lifetime through Cambodia yesterday.

Accompanied by a translator and local guide, these American explorers will be travelling for 20 days, from O’Svay on the Cambodia-Laos border, along a 400-kilometre stretch of the Mekong River to Phnom Penh.

They plan to arrive in the capital just in time for the start of the Water Festival on November 20.

Their boats will be no ordinary boats. Instead they will be the first group to journey down the Mekong on paddle boards.

Paddle boarding is one of the fastest-growing water sports in the United States; due to its popularity amongst celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and the combination of balancing and paddling as a good core muscle-building activity.

It involves standing up and paddling on an oversized surfboard, which is usually 3 metres to 5 metres long. One British journalist said there was “something surreal about being so connected with nature” during the experience.

Annie Pizey, one of the eight boarders, commented that she was excited at the thought of being so close to the natural habitats of the vastly diverse Mekong, including the ability to get near the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, which is only found in specific pools along the Mekong River.

Pizey also said she felt that many locals along the riverbank might be somewhat surprised to see a group of eight foreigners standing up and paddling down the waterways.

The trip has been organised by staff members of a local NGO, Cambodian Rural Development Team, who were approached by the group for their assistance.

The journey will include stopping in the towns of Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham, but will also feature home stays on the islands of Koh Pdao and Koh Preah; the two ecotourism sites established in 2004 by CRDT.

The group of eight are journalists and photographers from the US state of Colorado, who are no strangers to the issues concerning rivers around the world.

One group member said that he had worked in South America and that he was interested in being able to draw comparisons between the two regions.

There has been a growing concern among Cambodian NGOs about the problems of maintaining conservation sites, such as the dolphin pools or the Ramsar Wetland Areas in Stung Treng province, but also with the noticeably increasing environmental problems associated with pollution, waste management and threats to natural resources.

The group's blog will keep interested readers updated on the adventure. It will also aim to draw attention to issues which surround the sustainable use of the Mekong, while simultaneously letting others enjoy the tranquillity and peacefulness of paddling down the river.

For more information or to follow the group's progress, go to .

Musical vision for talented kids

Photo by: Ou Mom
So Sronos has set up a music school for children in Phnom Penh

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Ou Mom

A NEW private music school opened by So Sronos, who gained a master’s degree in music in Japan, aims to help gifted young Cambodian musicians flourish.

He explained that the Sronos Music School hoped to set up scholarships to help poorer musicians to learn a Western-style repertoire, and planned a charity concert to help orphans in the near future.

So Sronos, 28, aims to work with non-governmental organisations to help Cambodians appreciate classical Western music, which he said could boost mood and intelligence.

He said he had noticed that the number of students studying music at the Royal University of Arts dramatically decreased since he studied there, leading him to believe this was the right time to open up a private music school in Phnom Penh.

“We plan to set up 50 percent scholarships for those who have genius and love music in the near future,” he said.

He started learning music at about 12 years old while he was studying in grade five. He devoted himself to studying the piano for 11 years and won a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in music in Japan.

“Since I did not try hard to study when I was young, my father was angry because he wanted me to choose one among the many skills to find a bright future in life,” he said.

“First, I found the piano hard to learn since I did not like it, but when I was strongly criticised by friends in year two, I determined to study hard to be the best in class,” said So Sronos.

“In Cambodia today, Cambodian people who are patricians are interested in sending their children to learn music or serious music such as piano, violin or clarinet. They believe that children who learn or play these musical instruments are smart, although they are also learning other subjects and more patient than those who don’t, according to science,” he added.

As well as the music school, So Sronos indicated that he was interested in helping budding composers pursue their work to help develop Khmer culture.

He said he would try to find the best Khmer musicians to work with Western musical instruments to create a universal sound that could be accepted by any audience.

According to So Sronos, who won the first piano prize at the ASEAN Musical Competition in Thailand, his school will create a study programme based on the English university curriculum.

Children sketch their view of the world in Lotus Blanc display

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:00 Emilie Boulenger

ABOUT 50 drawings representing how the children of the NGO Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant see foreigners will be displayed at the Lotus Blanc training restaurant on Street 51 for one month starting on Friday.

As part of French Culture Week, 300 of the 2,500 children, aged from 6 to about 20 who are learning at PSE’s centre were initially asked to draw a picture illustrating their vision of French people.

The drawings, which often depict foreigners in the broadest sense, represent varied scenes.

Whereas some show tourists in Angkor Wat riding on elephants or archaeologists restoring temples, others portray people wearing swimsuits at the beach, or offering gifts to children at play.

The captions, which were written in Khmer, will be translated and promise plenty of charm – for example, one child explains that his drawing of people extending hands in the roadway illustrates how people are polite in France and help each other crossing the road.

“Children were really happy to participate in this project and we feel like organising more and more artistic activities,” says Benjamin Pecqueur, restaurant relations officer at Lotus Blanc.

The opening of the exhibition will be all the more pleasant as it will be included in a food and art party on Friday night.

For US$15 each, an unlimited French-style buffet will be laid out and entertainment will be provided by Déborah and Sébastien, who will be playing gypsy jazz featuring influences from the works of French writer Boris Vian.

Bun Kenny makes first point

Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Cambodian No 1 tennis player Bun Kenny earned his first ATP ranking point at an ITF Men’s Circuit Futures event in Vientiane

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Cambodia’s top ranked player Bun Kenny overcame months of frustrating narrow misses to finally earn his first precious ATP point yesterday. Bun Kenny also gained a base world ranking when he defeated Laotian wild card Vitaya Lasavady 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the US$10,000 ITF Men’s Circuit Futures tennis event in Vientiane yesterday.

The Battambang-born 20-year-old, who had spent most of his formative years in France before returning to the Kingdom early this year to beef up the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, is only the second local player after double SEA Games bronze medalist Tan Nysan to get an ATP ranking.

“It is a great moment for all of us,” said TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit yesterday. “We never had two players with ATP rankings before. We have been waiting for this good news for months now, and it sets Bun Kenny’s career on a whole new path.”

Senior Commerce Minister and TFC President Cham Prasidh said the Federation was “walking into history” after yesterday’s breakthrough.

National tennis coach Braen Aneiros, who was courtside in Vientiane, also gave credit to the Kingdom’s No 1 ranked player. “[Bun Kenny] stayed well focused and weeks of tough conditioning regimen really stood by him in this event. We really hope he can build on it,” he said.

The recent winner of the 2010 Cambodian Open found the going to his liking in the first round of the qualifiers over the weekend when he took on Thailand’s Grittaboon Prahmanee. After staying solid on his baseline play, Kenny took the first set for the loss of just one game and never slackened his grip on the second set after an early break to emerge a 6-1, 6-3 winner.

In the second round of the qualifiers, he was pitted against a tough South Korean rival in Seong Hyeon Im, who had the pace and the skill to slug it out from the baseline. Kenny’s consistency on ground strokes and his overall court coverage stood him in good stead when it came to the crunch in a tight first set. With the first set in the bag, Kenny ran into rough weather when the Korean took a 4-2 lead, but the Cambodian rallied back by winning four games in a row to wrap up the contest in just under two hours.

Sports science and medicine two faces of the same coin

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

In a riveting presentation on the Olympic Movement Medical Code yesterday in Siem Reap, the Chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia’s Medical Commission Dr M Jegathesan made a strong case for the application of best practices for medical care and services while insisting that medical decisions be left to the health professionals and not dabbled with by other officials.

The subject ought to be dealt with in the true spirit of the Olympics, argued Dr Jegathesan, who also heads the medical commission of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Touching on the intricacies of the Medical Code, the revised version of which was adopted by the International Olympic Committee in 2006, the medical commission chief said: “It protects rights and health of athletes, recalls basic rules of best medical practices in sports, and reflects general principles recognised in the international codes of medical ethics.

“Sports science and medicine are two faces of the same coin,” he added. “The science deals with a methodical and well researched approach to better training methods and nutritional values, which lead to better performances. The medicine will deal with the consequences, sports related niggles, injuries, side effects, prevention and elimination of recurrences.”

Dr Jegathesan admitted that Cambodia has been a “late comer” to the international sporting scene, but said he was “glad that a beginning has been made.”

“It is an expensive affair to build a full-fledged sports medicine centre and any progress for a country like Cambodia has to be incremental,” he said. “You cannot set a time frame on this, it is a gradual process, and I am glad to note that the Kingdom is displaying the zeal and fervour to move forward in this sphere.”

German sports therapist Joerg Teichman, who has spent nearly three decades in the Asian region and is currently with the National Institute of Sports Medicine in Malaysia, is of the firm belief that an emerging country like Cambodia has to get into sports sciences and medicine for the sake of creating a sound sports culture as much as to build a healthy society.

“It definitely leads to mass health awareness,” he said. Teichman will join hands with Cambodia’s Dr Suy Ravuth to conduct a three-part workshop for the participants of the four-day sports medicine course at the Hotel Cozyna Angkor, including a demonstration segment tomorrow when the course draws to a close.

Yesterday, Dr Danish Zaheer, Vice President of the Asian Federation of Sports Medicine representing Brunei Darussalam, took the participants through three different aspects - children and adolescents in sports, sports biomechanics and performance, and also anterior cruciate ligament deficiency in women’s knees.

Two of Cambodia’s top sports medicine experts, Dr Srey Vantha and Dr Sdoeung Chea, are scheduled to share their knowledge and expertise during today’s scientific sessions. Dr Srey Vantha will take up an overview of ankle injuries, as well as touching on knee pain and shoulder injuries in sports. Dr Sdoeung Chea will draw insights into nutritional needs for aspiring young athletes.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

via CAAI

Axiata roaming rates

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

HELLO subscribers will receive discounted rates when roaming in other countries serviced by parent company Axiata until February 28. Hello marketing manager Gary Foo said pre- and postpaid users would not require a new SIM card to access the new rates. For example, he said, postpaid Hello users would be charged at US$0.31 a minute to call the Kingdom while roaming in Malaysia, as compared to $2.00 for the next-cheapest telco.

Indonesian firms ready for Koh Pich trade fair

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

INDONESIAN firms plan to showcase their wares at a trade fair in Phnom Penh beginning this week. As the global economy was in recovery mode, “it is a very good time for us to increase our bilateral trade and investment in the region", said Soewano Angela, third secretary of the Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh. Sponsored by the embassy, the 60-booth event is to take place from November 4 to 7 on Diamond Island.

Soldier sorry for shots

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy

A SOLDIER who allegedly tried to shoot Forestry Administration officials in Siem Reap province’s Varin district over the weekend has written a letter of apology in a bid to keep the case out of court. Forestry officials on Sunday accused Rom Sa Eam and Roeun Sarim of firing a K-54 pistol and breaking the side mirror of a Toyota Camry driven by their targets. Rom Sa Eam said he had written the letter of apology on Monday, and that it had included an offer to pay for the broken car mirror. “We have softened our behaviour and apologised to the official for the problem,” he said. Provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said he did not know about the letter of apology, but that he had ordered the arrest of the soldiers. “I will follow the law,” he said.

Extradited American guilty of killing mother

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Cameron Wells

AN American man captured in Cambodia in March and sent back to the United States to face charges in connection with the stabbing death of his mother has been sentenced to 10 years to life in prison, US media reported this week. Nathan Helburn, 34, reportedly stabbed his 61-year-old mother 17 times on or around March 5 before fleeing to Cambodia. The Associated Press reported that the victim Mary Helburn was discovered on her kitchen floor on March 9 “with stab wounds to her head, back and neck”. Nathan Helburn was captured on March 18 and returned to the US state of Idaho five days later, where he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Charge in rape-murder

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

TAKEO provincial court has charged a 22-year-old man in connection with last week’s rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in Traing district’s Smorng commune, officials said yesterday. Prosecutor Meas Sopheak said Ly Mynin had been charged with premeditated murder, which carries a possible prison term of between 10 and 20 years. The victim’s mutilated body was found in her village on October 25, with each breast skinned, her skin swelling and her left shoulder burned, commune officials said last week.

Cambodia 'most exposed' to dams threat

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Men retrieve fish from a tank on their boat yesterday on the Tonle Sap river. The pair act as middlemen, buying fish from fishermen along the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers and selling them in the capital.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 13:48 Will Baxter

Cambodia will have a difficult time coping with the enormous loss of fish and fisheries-based livelihoods if a proposed set of hydropower dams is constructed on the lower Mekong River – according to a recently released impact study, even if it adheres to expert recommendations.

According to the strategic environmental assessment authorised by the Mekong River Commission and released last month, “Cambodia is the country most exposed to fish losses” among the MRC’s member countries, which also include Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The document says “more than 1 million fisheries-dependent people could lose their livelihoods” in Cambodia due to impacts from mainstream Mekong dams, and that the country would have difficulty generating alternative protein sources to make up for the loss of an estimated 300,000 tonnes of fish per year.

“The implications of these [fish] losses could be severe for many fishery-dependent families and for the whole food security of Cambodia, since more than 50 percent of all protein consumed in the country are from Mekong fish,” said

Eric Baran, senior research scientist at the WorldFish Centre in Cambodia, a key consultant on the environmental assessment.

A total of 12 dams have been proposed for the Lower Mekong River in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. In Cambodia, the government has mooted two dams for construction on the Mekong: the Sambor Dam in Kratie province’s Sambor district, and another in Stung Treng province.

Due to the potential negative effects of the projects, the SEA recommended that the MRC countries delay any decisions about initiating hydropower projects on the lower Mekong for a period of up to 10 years to allow for further research.

Speaking to reporters in Hanoi on Friday, visiting United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the study’s recommendation, saying there should be “a pause” before further study of the issue.

Mekong campaigners, however, have gone further, saying the construction of any dams on the river would undermine the region’s work towards reducing poverty and hunger – imposing formidable adjustment costs on Cambodia.

Ame Trandem, a Mekong campaigner at International Rivers, called for a “regional moratorium” on the construction of mainstream dams, saying any such projects “alter the river’s natural pulse and serve as a barrier to vital fish migration routes”.

Attempting to replace the protein gained from fisheries with other protein sources, she added, would be extremely expensive and complicated.

“While the dams may produce some revenue for a few, benefits are unlikely to ever reach the poor,” she added.

Alan Brooks, director of the WorldFish Centre in Cambodia, said initiatives to reduce the negative impacts caused by the dams would require “substantial investment”.

“Even if fish supply is substantially increased through aquaculture or relatively cheap imports, the fishery-dependent poor may still not benefit,” he said.

“The Mekong basin is one of the most productive aquatic systems in the world, providing essentially ‘free’ fish,” said Brooks. The depletion of fish as a protein source would require the affected population to adapt to alternative, agriculture-based livelihoods such as raising livestock, he added.

Chhith Sam Ath, director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, said it would be “difficult to find alternative livelihoods for the rural poor”, many of whom have limited education.
Scaling back

Among its specific recommendations for Cambodia, the MRC’s assessment states that the proposed Stung Treng and Sambor dam projects would “create a situation of extreme crisis for the populations of affected provinces and could provoke an emergency food security situation for the poor”.

Two options for the Sambor dam – one that would produce 2,600 megawatts of power and a smaller 460-megawatt version – have been proposed so far. As a partial solution, the report suggested the Kingdom consider the 460-megawatt option, which would see the scaled-down, partial damming of the Sambor Rapids.

But even this might not alleviate the effects on local populations. “The option to build Sambor so that it does not block the entire channel may help avoid some impact, but is likely to still result in devastating fishery impacts,” Trandem said.

She added: “The loss of even a small percentage of [fisheries] represents tens of millions of dollars’ worth of fish and thousands of tonnes.”

Officials said they were taking the MRC report seriously. “We have seen the MRC reports and Cambodia has established a working group to study the overall impacts in Cambodia,” said Nao Thouk, director of the Fisheries Administration.

He said the government would hold a meeting to discuss the impacts of the projects.

Chea Narun, chief of the hydropower planning office at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said the government would try to “minimise the negative impacts” of the mainstream Mekong dams, though he did not give any more details.


Leonard Cohen postponed

via CAAI

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 15:37 Post Staff

Music legend Leonard Cohen’s long-awaited concert in Phnom Penh has been postponed until an unspecified date, the concert’s Cambodia-based promoter has said in a statement on its website.

The statement said the cancellation of the show, scheduled for November 27 at Olympic Stadium, was due to “logistical issues insurmountable in the given time”, but committed to rescheduling the event.

Local ticket holders will be eligible for a full refund from the promoter’s office starting on November 10, whereas online bookings will be refunded through entertainment partner AEG, said Chris Minko, the CEO of Mekong Sessions.

Minko said that he expected the show to be rebooked for 2011, and that Cohen also planned to play a second concert in Phnom Penh that would be free and open exclusively to Cambodians.

He said the concert was postponed because of a lack of available equipment, in addition to the unwillingness of some companies to supply Cambodia and “Mafia-style monopolies on supplies in the region”.

Minko said that he was working through these challenges in the hope of developing a local music scene that would support several major shows per year.

In addition to garnering excitement from fans, the show has drawn criticism for its ticket prices, initially priced between US$300 and over $600.

Minko defended the high costs, saying they were the result of the small venue and the quality of the show.

He said he was “pleased at the level of regional interest” in the show, and also added that organisers were considering “new price categories” for the rescheduled event.

According to Cohen’s website, the musician cancelled a show in Honolulu last month stating nearly identical reasons. Minko said he thought the Hawaiian organisers faced a similar challenge.

It is “very important to understand that we are talking highest quality international concerts here – nothing less is acceptable,” he said.

Leonard Cohen will finish this world tour, which spans Europe, Australia and North America, on December 11 in Las Vegas. He plans to hit the recording studio afterwards, according to his website.

Parking fees hit Phnom Penh

via CAAI

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 12:25 Chhay Channyda

A Malaysian company has begun administering fees to motorists parking along a stretch of Monivong Boulevard, marking the first step of an initiative that is set to be expanded citywide in a bid to combat congestion and reclaim pavement for pedestrians.

Moeung Sophan, deputy director of the municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said the paid parking scheme had begun on Monday and was in effect from Street 217, or Charles de Gaulle Boulevard, to Street 120, near Central Market.

“It is in order to create good public order and to avoid traffic congestion,” he said.

He said the scheme called for motorbike drivers to pay 500 riels, wheres car drivers would be charged 1,000 riels (US$0.25) for one hour and 500 riels for every additional hour.

An announcement issued by City Hall on October 25 said the administration of parking fees would be handled by the Cambodia office of Edisijuta Pte Ltd, a Malaysian firm.

Moeung Sophan said the company had five years to implement the scheme, during which time it would be expanded along Kampuchea Krom and Sihanouk boulevards.

The Post was unable to contact Edisijuta yesterday.

The October 25 announcement also said that municipal officials were “spiritually hopeful that with understanding and good cooperation from local people and authorities we can contribute to making the capital have better security and order”.

Some business owners affected by the first phase of the initiative yesterday expressed concern that it would deter customers.

Lu Meng, the owner of a Café Sentiment branch on Monivong, said he had been informed of the parking fees about one month ago, and that workers had since been busy demarcating parking spaces and pavements.

“In front of my shop it is the public sidewalk, so it is for the city officials to do what they want, but my guests will have to pay the city officials for parking,” he said. “There will be an effect.”

Licences granted for Kingdom’s bourse

via CAAI

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 19:37 Nguon Sovan

Fifteen companies have been officially granted licences by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia to act for the Kingdom’s first stock exchange.

Commission chairman and Economy and Finance Minister Keat Chhon said granting the licences was a key step towards the bourse, scheduled to launch in July next year “at any cost”.

The 15 companies were selected from a shortlist of 22 applicants compiled by the SECC in March. The number of permits granted reflects the initial requirements of the Cambodia Stock Exchange, according to Keat Chhon.

Commentators have expressed conflicting views on whether an appropriate number of licences had been granted, while others have voiced concerns over the readiness of the twice-delayed exchange.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said that while the number of licences granted was reasonable, the timeframe for the stock market to launch was too hurried.

“The government could open the stock market if they commit to opening it, but I think there would be no listed firms because of a lack of public confidence and knowledge among local investors” at the launch date, he said.

“It will need at least another three years to launch the stock market in Cambodia.”

Han Kyung-tae, chief representative of Korean-owned Tong Yang Securities Inc-Cambodia, said that the number of licences had been

“But it will be tougher competitions for us as there are up to seven underwriters at the first stage,” he said.

Project Manager Inpyo Lee, a representative of the exchange’s minority owner, Korean Exchange, said: “The number [of licences] is more than my expectation.” He declined to comment on what he felt would be an appropriate number of pemits for the beginning stages of the stock market.

Other players contemplated ways to aid the launch of the exchange.

The concept of a stock exchange was still a new one for Cambodia, said Pung Kheav Se, president of Canadia Bank, which owns approved underwriter CANA Securities

He said the licensed firms had a duty to educate people about the market.

“Even our bank, we don’t have any experience with this task, but we have employed an expert from Singapore,” he said. “If we don’t start [the exchange], we won’t know the way to go,” he added.

Three state-owned enterprises have been ordered by the government to prepare themselves for listing on the bourse: Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority and Telecom Cambodia.

“We may try to approach the three firms for IPO preparation,” said Pung Kheav Se.

Keat Chhon said that SECC officials were reviewing and evaluating application documents for market operators, transfer and paying agents, and accountants.