Thursday, 4 November 2010

Activist spreads green message through Cambodia

Activist Yuji Miyata on a tree-planting project in Cambodia. Photo by: Ou Mom

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:00 Ou Mom

A JAPANESE man is aiming to alter perceptions of the environment among Cambodians by walking through the country and planting trees until the end of this month.

Political science graduate Yuji Miyata, 28, is spreading the message about pollution and living in harmony with nature during his two-month trip.

Already, he has covered thousands of kilometres since 2007 by walking through countries planting trees and spreading his message.

He said his trip has shown him the value of nature, and has given him the chance to talk to many people about living in harmony with the environment.

“Peace not only exists between people in other countries but it also exists between people and nature,” he said.

“We are all created by nature and need to drink water, to eat fruit and other food produced by nature. So tree planting is a good start to find peace for us,” said the activist.

“If we can’t make peace between people and nature, we will not be able to make peace between people and

Last weekend, Yuji Miyata planted 15 trees along with members of the Khmer Youth and Social Development programme and students of the Royal University of Agriculture.

After planting some trees, Professor Dok Chhang of the Royal University of Agriculture said: “This is the first time for my university to take part in such an event with a non-government organisation, as we have only planted trees with agriculture students before.

Dok Chhang said: “Due to increasing climate change, I think that this small event can also be a symbol of the sky opening for organisations and other partners to protect the environment in Cambodia.”

Yuji Miyata worked for Peace Ambassador Paul Coleman of the United Nations between December 2007 and August 2008, walking 2,200 kilometres and planting 234 trees in that time.

His travels have taken him through South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Cambodia to spread the message of environmental peace among governments, NGOs, media and ordinary people. He plans to stay in Cambodia until the end of November, and his next target country is Thailand.

“Since I first stepped foot on Cambodian soil in Bavet and walked through to Phnom Penh, I’ve seen beautiful Cambodian views of nature. What’s unforgettable about this country is the smiles of Cambodian people,” he said.

Cambodia: Access to Drugs a Lifesaver for People With HIV

via CAAI

November 3, 2010

Rural HIV patients in Cambodia face unique challenges compared to their urban counterparts. In remote villages, people with HIV often lack basic medical care and encounter disease-related stigma and ignorance from neighbors. There are no HIV/AIDS counselors to talk to about living with the virus.

Cambodia offers free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to those who need it. But in remote rural areas, extra measures are required.

"HIV and AIDS is the big issue, the big challenge in Cambodia, especially in rural areas like Kampong Cham," said Thorn Vandong, a monk and executive director of the non-governmental group Buddhism and Society Development Association. BSDA links rural HIV patients with counseling, provides them with monthly stipends so they can afford transportation to clinics, and offers health education to communities.

"People who live in the village are very poor," said Pheaktra Lansamrith, a BSDA project coordinator. "If they don't have money, then some of them just won't get the help they need."

Kampong Cham is one of the country's most populous provinces; its capital is a 125-kilometer drive from Phnom Penh. HIV programs have yet to reach some parts of Kampong Cham. "We just started our program last year," said Thorn. "So you can imagine what happened here after 20 years with no HIV programs in the community."

However, Cambodia has made significant strides in tackling HIV/AIDS. It is currently ahead of its target of cutting the HIV prevalence rate among adults to 1.8 percent by 2015, with current estimates at 0.7 percent. And in 2002, just 3 percent of those in need of ARVs were receiving them. That figure now stands at roughly 86 percent, government data show.

Raw video: Hillary Clinton greeted with powhiri

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US, New Zealand mend ties after nuclear dispute

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, meets with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the Parliament Complex on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, meets with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the Parliament Complex on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, meets Rose Parae, Elder of New Zealand Parliment, after arriving at the Parliament Complex on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

Dancers put on a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton after arriving at the Parliament Complex Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

via CAAI

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The United States and New Zealand moved Thursday to fully restore relations that have been strained by a lingering 25-year nuclear dispute that has hampered military cooperation.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully signed the "Wellington Declaration," a broad statement of principles that lays out parameters of expanded U.S.-New Zealand cooperation on counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, transnational crime and climate change.

The document "makes it clear that we want to cooperate across the board in every aspect of our civilian efforts and our military as well," Clinton told reporters at a news conference with McCully and New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key.

She commended New Zealand for a defense strategy it released Monday, noting it emphasized "the U.S. and New Zealand will continue to be close security partners over the next 25 years," and that it said the two states "want to do more" in the area of military cooperation, from joint exercises to training and officer exchanges.

"In my view, we have turned a very important page in the history of U.S.-New Zealand relations," McCully said.

The declaration establishes a "strategic partnership" that includes enhanced political-military discussions that had been curtailed due to the nuclear row. One goal of those talks will be to resume full military-to-military cooperation.

"It sets the stage for a deeper and more regular dialogue on everything from regional security issues to clean energy to our response to natural disasters," Clinton said.

Despite a long history of friendship, and previous attempts to put the contentious issue behind them, New Zealand's 25-year-old "nuclear free" status, which includes a ban on nuclear-powered vessels and those carrying atomic arms, has continued to be problematic.

Clinton used the opportunity to plug President Barack Obama's desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons, a move aimed at pleasing the New Zealanders.

She noted that Key had attended last year's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. That meeting was aimed at "effectively limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, which is in line with President Obama's vision of a world free of nuclear weapons," she said.

Since 1985, U.S. warships have been denied entry into New Zealand ports because the Pentagon refuses to declare if they are carrying nuclear weapons. As a result, New Zealand has been effectively dropped from a joint security treaty with the U.S. and Australia.

Both Clinton and Key hailed U.S.-New Zealand relations as being the best they have been in 25 years. On her arrival for meetings at New Zealand's parliament, she was treated to a colorful traditional Maori welcome ceremony. Her movements around Wellington were covered in detail by local media.

Clinton is in New Zealand as part of a marathon, two-week, seven-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific region. She has already visited Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. After spending Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand, she will head to Australia, where she and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will meet their Australian counterparts on Monday.

Associated Press writer Ray Lilley contributed to this report.

Cambodia to borrow $591m from Chinese banks

via CAAI

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing

Published: November 4 2010
Cambodia’s largest mobile phone company will borrow $591m from Chinese banks to help pay for a contract with Chinese telecom group Huawei Technologies.

The loan, which will be the biggest financing project of its kind in Cambodia’s history, underscores the growing influence of China and its companies in the country’s economy.

CamGSM, the wholly-owned telecom subsidiary of Royal Group, Cambodia’s largest private conglomerate, will sign a financing package arranged by Bank of China, and a five-year $500m equipment and services contract with Huawei in a ceremony scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The signing ceremony in the capital Phnom Penh will be attended by Wu Banguo, one of the nine most powerful men in China’s communist hierarchy. A number of other agreements, including large electricity deals involving Chinese state power producer Huadian, will also be signed during Mr Wu’s visit.

The flurry of Sino-Cambodian deals comes just three days after Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, said during a visit to Phnom Penh that Cambodia should maintain a foreign policy that was not “too dependent” on China.

Chinese companies have built much of Cambodia’s infrastructure and Beijing is one of the country’s biggest aid donors.

Diplomats and analysts say China’s influence over the country’s internal and external affairs is growing, as evidenced by Cambodia’s decision to repatriate 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China last year following intense pressure from Beijing.

Two days after the deportations China signed $1.2bn worth of investments and aid agreements with Cambodia.

The Uighurs were seeking refugee status because of fears they would be tortured or executed on their return to China.

At the time, the US government called the deportation decision a “violation of Cambodia’s international obligations” and later suspended some military agreements with the country.

The finance and procurement deals to be signed on Thursday between CamGSM, Bank of China and Huawei are not unusual for Chinese companies, which are increasingly looking for growth overseas, especially in emerging markets.

Chinese state-controlled banks regularly provide cheap financing for offshore expansion and Huawei has a $35bn standing credit line from China Development Bank. Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Royal Group will use part of the $591m Chinese bank loan to refinance a $421m bridging loan from Standard Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, according to Mark Hanna, Royal Group’s chief financial officer.

That loan helped Royal Group last year to buy the majority stake in CamGSM held by Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular, giving it 100 per cent control of Cambodia’s largest mobile telecom company.

Additional Reporting by Kathrin Hille

Drivers prepare last tickets for Cambodia's flying carpets (Feature)

via CAAI

By Robert Carmichael
Nov 4, 2010

Pursat, Cambodia - Legions of children worldwide know flying carpets as a magical way to travel from one place to another, but in Cambodia they have been a way of life for decades.

Cambodia's flying carpets, of course, are substantially different from those found in fairytales. For a start this version is a lot noisier. But they have long proved a convenient way for people to travel with their goods along the decrepit national rail system.

To get from one village to the next, locals pay 50 cents and tourists a few dollars. There is no first class, and there are no seats or sides. Passengers hop onto a bamboo platform the size of a double bed, which sits on two sets of steel wheels.

Next, the driver attaches a small motor, connects a fan belt between the engine and the rear wheels, and within minutes you are clattering along buckled tracks at 40 kilometres an hour, enjoying an uninterrupted view of rice fields, sugar palms and water buffalo.

It is a scenic and unusual way for hardier tourists to see rural Cambodia, but for locals the flying carpet has proved a lifeline.

There are dozens of these flying carpets, or norries, running along stretches of the battered railway, but within a year they will be gone, brushed aside as the country's once-defunct national railway is brought back to life.

The railway rehabilitation project is expected to cost 142 million dollars. Just over half will come from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Australia and the Cambodian government will provide most of the rest.

The railway shut down completely a year ago, and fixing it is an important step in improving the country's infrastructure, which was devastated by years of war and neglect.

Ten years ago many roads were so bad that speeds between the main towns and cities could be as low as 10 kilometres an hour.

So those lucky enough to live near the railway were happy to pay small sums to be transported at much quicker speeds on flying carpets.

Veteran norrie driver Prak Phea has been driving this stretch of track outside Pursat town for 17 years. He has a wife and child, and this job nets him up to 50 dollars a week, a decent wage in rural Cambodia where jobs are very limited.

The railway upgrade is meant to ensure that the local government pays compensation to those affected. In the case of norrie drivers, who are self-employed, that sum is set at 250 dollars.

But 11 of the 15 norrie drivers operating out of Prak Phea's village received nothing.

He says government officials turned up unannounced one day and wrote down the names of only those drivers who happened to head down the line. Prak Phea was not one of those, and he is annoyed.

'It is not fair, because they could have just asked local officials here who could have provided a list of norrie drivers to pay money to,' he says, adding that he tried to complain but got nowhere.

Back in Phnom Penh, the ADB's country head Putu Kamayana promises the bank will take that up with the government.

Then turning to the broader topic, Kamayana explains this project will rehabilitate 600 kilometres of track from Poipet on the Thai border through to Phnom Penh and on to the southern port of Sihanoukville.

The upgraded railway will take cargo off the roads, particularly bulk cargo and dangerous loads such as fuel.

'That will reduce the damage to the highway network and also improve the safety on the roads,' he says.

The first stretch, running from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, officially re-opened to container traffic in late October.

And once the upgrade of the existing network is completed in 2013, the sole missing link between Singapore and China will be the railway between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.

Earlier this month China announced it would fund the Cambodian stretch, which ought to be finished by 2015.

But long before that Prak Phea will have worked out his next step.

'Perhaps I will plant rice - I have a half-hectare of land,' he says, before adding hopefully, 'Or perhaps I will get a job on the railway.'

And with that he starts the engine and heads for home, his flying carpet skittering west along the rickety track, back to Pursat.

'Freedom Park' opens

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema (right) greets well-wishers as he arrives for the inauguration ceremony of Democracy Square in downtown Phnom Penh, Cambodia. -- PHOTO: AP

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA unveiled its first designated protest site in the capital on Thursday, in the face of rights groups' fears that Democracy Square is designed to keep dissenters isolated and out of sight.

'We are furthering democracy in Cambodia,' Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema said at the opening ceremony of the site, which is nicknamed Freedom Park and modelled on international examples such as Speakers' Corner in London.

He appealed to would-be protesters to freely voice their concerns at the 60 by 200 metre open space near the US embassy and the capital's famed Wat Phnom temple, which historically marks the centre of the city.

But rights activists fear the new square will keep protesters off the streets and away from government offices and legislative buildings - traditionally the focus of rallies.

'I will not applaud this freedom park because it is a signal that Cambodia is limiting... the people's freedom,' said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions.

While protesters can still apply for a permit to demonstrate in other parts of the capital, Rong Chhun fears authorities would use the park as an excuse to withhold permission. -- AFP

China's top legislator says to enhance parliament links with Cambodia

via CAAI

November 04, 2010

Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo said here Thursday that he is aimed at enhancing parliamentary ties between China and Cambodia and elevating the ties to a new high during his visit.

"One of the key purposes of my visit is to strengthen high- level exchanges with Cambodian parliament, broaden friendly communications between various committees, deepen exchanges of experiences in legislature and upgrade parliamentary ties between the two countries to a new high," Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said during a meeting with Senate Chairman: Chea Sim.

Wu arrived here on Wednesday for a four-day official visit, the first of its kind to the Southeast Asian country by a Chinese top legislator in nearly 10 years.

With joint efforts of the two countries' leaders and the two peoples, the traditional China-Cambodia friendship turns ever stronger as time goes by and cooperation in various fields has blossomed, bringing tangible benefits the two peoples, Wu said.

Deepening and broadening the China-Cambodia all-round cooperative partnership remains China's unswerving policy, he said, adding that China is willing to join efforts with Cambodia to further bilateral friendly exchanges, deepen strategic coordination in multilateral mechanism.

Wu also called for mutual understanding and support for each other's core interests and major issues. For his part, Chea Sim thanked China for its long-time support and assistance to Cambodia, saying Cambodia is ready to further enhance cooperation with China in international affairs.

Wu also held talks with Cambodia's National Assembly President Heng Samrim on Thursday. He is scheduled to hold talks with King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen later in the day.

Source; Xinhua

China, Cambodia reaffirm to cement all-round partnership

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PHNOM PENH, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- China and Cambodia on Thursday underscored their commitment to developing their all-round cooperative partnership.

The pledge came out of the hour-long talks between top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo and President of Cambodian National Assembly Heng Samrin in Phnom Penh Thursday morning.

Heng Samrin first extended a warm welcome to Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China, the country's top legislature.

Heng Samrin hailed Wu's four-day visit to Cambodia as important and far-reaching for bilateral all-round cooperative partnership.

Wu said China-Cambodia relationship had withstood the test of changes in international arena and taken on vigor and vitality since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1958.

We characterized China-Cambodia relationship as a paradigm of how countries can sincerely work together, citing strong political trust, rapidly-growing economic cooperation, increasing exchanges in all fields and close coordination on international issues.

Looking to the future, Wu proposed the two countries maintain exchanges between high-ranking officials, deepen political trust and consolidate traditional friendship.

He called for the two countries to step up trade and economic cooperation and seek joint development on the principle of equality and mutual benefit.

Wu said China encouraged its businesses to work more closely with Cambodian companies, play their part in Cambodian infrastructure construction, agricultural development and economic development zones.

He appealed for both sides to explore new ways of cooperation and provide quality services in a bid to bring trade and economic ties to a new high.

On the international front, Wu urged the two countries to step up coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues, promote the relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), work more closely in combating cross-border crimes and terrorism.

Wu and Heng highlighted the stronger cooperation between the NPC and Cambodian National Assembly.

Wu proposed more exchanges among legislative leaders, specialized commissions and working bodies of both legislatures on state administration, legislation and supervision.

Heng Samrin agreed with Wu's proposal, saying Cambodian National Assembly would keep close exchanges with the NPC at all levels and make positive contribution to bilateral relations.

Heng said Cambodia would adhere to the one-China policy and support China's peaceful reunification.

Later Thursday morning, Wu also met with Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim on bilateral relations.

During his stay in Cambodia, Wu will also call on Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen. A package of deals on China-Cambodia economic cooperation will be signed during Wu's visit.

Cambodia is the first leg of Wu's three-nation visit to Southeast Asia, which will also take him to Indonesia and Thailand.

Editor: Fang Yang

Protest park opens in Cambodia

By Sopheng Cheang, The Associated Press

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The Cambodian government, widely criticized for quashing dissent, opened a small park Thursday to accommodate demonstrators. But opponents said the park's isolated location would render any demonstration useless.

Officials say that Democracy Square, more commonly known as Freedom Park, would facilitate full security for protesters and prevent general public disorder. The park, once a public garden, has no special facilities except for 10 public toilets.

"The creation of this Democracy Square allows us to easily provide good security and public order but it is a site where people can express their opinions freely and legally," said Nhem Saran, chief of Phnom Penh's Transportation Office, at the official opening ceremony.

The 60-by-200 metre (200-by-650 foot) site is close to the U.S. Embassy and Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple that marks the city's centre, but is not near any major government offices. Its isolated location makes it nearly useless as a place to voice dissent, opponents said.

Chea Muny, president of Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, a prominent workers leader who has been active in staging demonstrations, says the creation of the park is aimed at muffling the voices of protest.

He said the protesters want to rally in front of the government institutions and other places where their demands can be heard by those in power.

The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen is democratically elected but tries to limit dissent, often through legal means such as lawsuits. Journalists, human rights activists, opposition lawmakers and other critics have been convicted or jailed for defaming Hun Sen and his allies.

Last year, Cambodia's Parliament approved a bill banning demonstrations by more than 200 people. The law also requires protesters to seek official permission five days ahead of a planned rally. Lawmakers from the country's main opposition party, the Sam Rainsy Party, have described the law as a clear setback for Cambodia's democracy.

NY Review of Books on ECCC

Duch at the tribunal last year with defense lawyers Francois Roux (left) and Kar Savuth (ECCC).

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:22 James O'Toole
The New York Review of Books had a blog post last week on the ECCC by Stéphanie Giry, editor-at-large of Foreign Affairs. Giry writes about Case 001 and the extent to which Duch was able to exert his influence over the proceedings:

For his part in overseeing the torture and execution of at least 12,273 prisoners, Duch was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to a 35-year prison term, with 19 years left to serve. But after spending much of the 77 days of court hearings expressing remorse, he is now appealing the sentence and asking to be released, claiming that he was neither one of the regime’s leaders nor among those “most responsible” for the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities, the only people the special court in Phnom Penh is entitled to try. This request reflects a dramatic last-minute shift in the defense’s strategy, from cooperating with the court to disputing its authority to judge Duch. That Duch could undermine the trial and its outcome in this way highlights its central flaw: all along, he was allowed to dominate the telling, and so influence the judging, of his own crimes.

Duch's shock bid for acquittal, Giry suggests, is part of a strategy by defense lawyer Kar Savuth to "[set] the stage for an early release a few years into Duch’s sentence". As the case moves to the Supreme Court Chamber, however, prosecutors are hoping to close off this possibility - in their appeal brief filed last month, they asked that Duch receive 45 years in prison "without the possibility of a parole".

Giry also notes in passing that "two army generals" are among the five suspects who are being investigated in advance of Cases 003 and 004 (and whose identities remain confidential). UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said, however, that "any names or positions figuring in the media are pure speculation".

Also last week, the American magazine The Nation had a lengthy piece on the International Criminal Court and the changing face of international justice. The ECCC is mentioned only briefly, but the article provides a nice overview of the progress of contemporary war crimes prosecutions around the world.

Khmer art - Cambodian paintings - Khmer artist sponsored by the Cyberspace Ashram

Khmer art - painting by Vi Nin Vannak, Cambodia
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New online Khmer art gallery is dedicated to the Cambodian painter Vi Nin Vannak from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Vi Nin Vannak has studied 5 years art at the university in Phnom Penh and now works in his small gallery in Siem Reap.

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 04, 2010 – Khmer art and paintings are quiet different from most other South east Asian countries. The colorful history is reflected in most artists work. Many paintings show varieties of the many different Angkor temples and sculptures decorating the ancient temple city.

A new Khmer art gallery has been published in the Cyberspace Ashram for Kriya Yoga, God and Love to promote a young Cambodian artist's work. By sponsoring outstanding artists with free online galleries - artists find new clients and may thus improve life and work their way out of war induced poverty.

The new online Khmer art gallery is dedicated to the Cambodian painter Vi Nin Vannak from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Vi Nin Vannak has studied 5 years art at the university in Phnom Penh and now works in his small gallery in Siem Reap.

The online Khmer art gallery at ... shows a small collection of different styles of paintings made by Vi Nin Vannak. While he makes - like all artists in Siem Reap - a large variety of paintings from various Angkor temples for tourists. He also has his very own unique style of inspired pictures.

Many of his paintings are in brilliant colors, yet he also has almost have of his gallery with black and white paintings. Motives of his paintings include farmer or fisherman scenery, elephants in a wide variety, apsara dance, fighting monkey, Khmer king, sunsets and many more paintings from his colorful imagination or the beautiful Kingdom of wonder: ... - a beautiful nature paradise of ancient farmer and fishermen culture with huge rice fields and rice plants up to 6 feet high!

Kings always have been playing a major role in the life of Khmer and thus many artists are inspired to paint scenery with Khmer king and war scenery from ancient war times with the Kingdom of Siam.

The variation of apsara, recognized by their full breasts - are memories of ancient heavenly times when mankind still was in astral worlds and humans were more perfect than now on earth. In those ancient times before our time on earth, we all had more perfect body forms reflecting God given aspects of love. Yet during these ancient times we were already far from God and developed more and more ego resulting in wars between humans. Falling from heaven step by step down toward hell on earth. Many of these steps are reflected in various paintings of Khmer art as well as other artists work.

The photo shows my favorite painting by the artist with husband and wife. The painting is called: "Hamuman and Sovanmadha".

Bank of China and Malaysia CIMB to Invest in Cambodia

Bank of China and Malaysia CIMB getting close to licenses for Cambodia

The Bank of China and CIMB of Malaysia are close to get licenses for business in Cambodia, a central bank official said Wednesday.

“The Bank of China has nearly completed all criteria, and now they are preparing the location and staff for the operations,” Thai Saphear, deputy director of the Cabinet and Head of the Governor’s Office at the National Bank of Cambodia, said Wednesday.

The main criteria for a bank for the license are the bank’s registered capital, statutes, board of directors, office location and staff, he said, adding”and for CIMB, it has met all requirements in the NBC’s law, it’s expected to be granted the license soon. So does the Bank of China.”

He said that as everything is almost in place, if the 2 banks want to launch their operations this month or by the end of this year, it will be possible for them.

Both the Bank of China and CIMB were granted the approval-in- principle in June by NBC to open branches in Cambodia.

Currently, there have been 28 commercial banks in the Kingdom. As the two new banks come, the total number will be 30.—Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.

According to NBC’s regulation, by the end of this year, all the Cambodia’s commercial banks will be required to triple their registered capital from now 13 million U.S. dollars to 37.5 million U.S. dollars, except banks with at least one influential shareholder as a bank or financial institution with a rating investment grade, provided by a reputable rating agency.

Hun Sen Likes a Political Brawl

Image credit:World Economic Forum

via CAAI
November 4, 2010

It’s been quite a couple of weeks on the South-east Asia diplomatic circuit. Julia Gillard toured the region for the first time as Australian prime minister, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton popped in for the odd summit, and old wounds festered—and in some cases were re-opened.

This was certainly true in Phnom Penh. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has never been a great friend of the United Nations, particularly given the decades of international recognition the world body once afforded his old nemesis Pol Pot and his dreaded Khmer Rouge.

Of course, the UN did make some amends by stepping in and sorting out the country’s first democratic elections back 1993, which provided Hun Sen with the foundations for his future power base. However, even UN support for the current Khmer Rouge tribunal—more a product of the personal patronage of former Secretary General Kofi Annan than any sense of justice within the UN legal system—has failed to elevate the body to any level of respect in his eyes.

The relationship between Hun Sen and the UN has always been a marred by internal politics, with a wily and always combative prime minister ruling an uncompromising roost.

His critics would like to portray him as a third world despot, while outside the country in particular the opposition leader Sam Rainsy is seen as some kind of political saint—a virtuous lone voice of reason in a political wasteland.

Neither is true.

The critics fail to understand that Hun Sen actually loves opposition because it legitimizes his position. At the same time, Rainsy just isn’t very good at opposing, winning less than 22 percent of the vote at national elections two years ago.

And Hun Sen is also addicted to political brawling. That’s one reason why his latest flare-up with the UN over the deportation to Thailand of opposition red shirts in July should be seen in the broader context of Cambodian politics.

Hun Sen told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was recently in Cambodia to look in on the tribunal process, to remove the local head of the UN human rights group in Cambodia, Christophe Peschoux. The prime minister is annoyed with Peschoux, saying he was acting as a spokesman for opposition groups after he criticised Phnom Penh for deporting the two red shirts. If Ban Ki-moon doesn’t do what he’s told, then the UN human rights office will have to go, according to Hun Sen.

Of course in reality he cares little about Thailand and even less for the UN. But he understands Cambodians deeply and they share long memories.

Cambodian resentment over UN support for the Khmer Rouge, and the atrocious behavior of some UN troops here in the early 1990s, can’t be understated. When people in high places flinch and grimace at the thought of a UN leader being held to ransom by an alleged tin pot dictator they should remember Cambodians generally aren’t like Rainsy but more like Hun Sen—they really don’t care what outsiders think.

Hun Sen bobbed and weaved when Ban Ki-moon paid his visit. He fended off allegations of political interference in the tribunal because he has refused to support prosecutions outside the current remit. He then went on the attack over UN dabbling in Cambodia’s own internal affairs.

The next elections are still three years away. But the prime minister, in need of a boost, is already warming-up.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Phnom Penh Airport and Malaysia Airlines stepped up their partnership

Thursday, 04 November 2010 08:21 By Soy Sophea

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 4, 2010--Malaysia Airlines has extended its regular operations to Cambodia as growing market demands.

With the addition of 2 new weekly flights to its scheduled daily operations between Kuala Lumpur and Phnom Penh, Malaysian Airlines is showing its confidence in the traffic growth potential between the 2 countries.

Passengers on board of the B737-800 (166 seats) were received and greeted by representative from both SCA & Malaysia Airlines. The additional flights operate on Wednesday and Saturday, with arrival time at 16:10 and departure time at 17:10

Nicolas Deviller, CEO of SCA, the developer and operator of Cambodia’s international airports said “Malaysia Airlines is the first airline that started operating at Phnom Penh International Airport when the country just reopened to the world in 1992. We have built very strong relationships since then and they keep on growing. Today is a significant evidence of them.”

Abdul Karim Md. Isa (Area Manager Cambodia) at Malaysia Airlines declared, “the growing market demand for the route prompt the airline to introduce additional frequency from 7 x weekly to 9 x weekly.”

Malaysia Airlines also operates 3 weekly flights between Siem Reap and Kuala Lumpur on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Cambodia Officially Opens Freedom Park

Thursday, 04 November 2010 04:59 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 4, 2010-The Phnom Penh Authorities on Thursday officially opened the freedom park which located on national garden in Phnom Penh downtown in front of the railway station and near Mahatha Gandhi statue.

Ke Chuptema, Phnom Penh governor told the opening ceremony that “please use this place effectively and we take care of the rights and freedom".

The protesters need to inform local authorities about five days ahead of demonstration or rally, and number of protester should not be over 200. “please understanding the situation, “he added. .

World Bank Assists Cambodia's Poor Affected by Typhoon Ketsana

Thursday, 04 November 2010 01:18 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 4, 2010-The World Bank approved a US$40 million grant and credit today to help restore the losses and damage from typhoon Ketsana in Cambodia, the statement from WB said on Wednesday.

It added that the Ketsana Emergency Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project (KERRP) aims 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. 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,”said the World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia, Qimiao Fan.

It noted: 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 US$20 million. This four-year project will focus on four main components like The rehabilitation, reconstruction and improvement of 920 km of existing rural roads, including bridges, culverts and drainage facilities.

It added: 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 and 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 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,”the statement said.

Ketsana storm killed 48 people and over 120 people injured.

Japan Donates Fund to Develop Cambodian Disabled Persons

Thursday, 04 November 2010 01:15 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 4, 2010-Japanese embassy on Wednesday donated over 111,000 US dollars to help develop Cambodian disabled person at the rural areas.

This fund is crucial for helping local disabled persons in the country to integrate in society and they will assist the country,” the statement from Japanese embassy said.

Cambodia set up law on protection of disabled persons and protect their rights to live without discrimination. .

Summonses continue in Omlaing row

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:03 May Titthara

KAMPONG Speu provincial court has summoned four villagers from Thpong district’s Omlaing commune in two cases related to an ongoing land dispute with a sugar company owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat.

Chim Sarum, 41, Sar Than, 43, and Dul Leang, 28, have been accused of inciting arson in connection with the March 18 torching of a makeshift office of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is owned by the senator.

The company has been granted an 8,343-hectare land concession that rights groups estimate will displace more than 2,000 families in Omlaing commune.

Meanwhile, another villager, Puth Yoeun, stands accused of living illegally on land owned by the company.

All four men have been ordered to appear in court on November 10.

Sar Than said yesterday that the summonses had made the accused men fearful.

“I am frightened and do not know what answers to give to the court since I did not do what they have accused me of,” he said.

“I only participated in the protest to demand justice from the company because it has grabbed our land.

“This [summons] is meant to intimidate me so I will not continue to protest against the company.”

On March 24, two other Omlaing community representatives – You Tho and Khem Vuthy – were held on charges related to the incident. The pair were later released from jail.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said that since March a total of 14 villagers had been accused of breaking the law in connection with the Omlaing dispute.

Judge Keo Mony, who issued the summons, said yesterday that “the reason [the court] is just taking action now is because we were busy with other cases”.

Chheang Kimsruon, a representative of the company, declined to comment. Thpong district governor Toun Song could not be reached.

Chinese lawmaker arrives

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Chinese nationals gather at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday to await the arrival of Wu Bangguo, chairman of China’s National People’s Congress.

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:03 Vong Sokheng

CHINA’S top legislator arrived in the Kingdom yesterday for a four-day visit on the heels of United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s two-day stay earlier this week.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress, arrived yesterday, leading a delegation of approximately 100 Chinese business and government officials.

“The most important thing for this visit ... is to improve ties and the relationship between Cambodia and China’s national assembly,” Cheam Yeap said.

Chinese embassy spokesman Qian Hai described the trip as an “official, friendly visit”.

“[Wu] will meet all the top leaders of Cambodia and sign some cooperation agreements,” Qian Hai said. He did not elaborate on what these agreements might include.

Cheam Yeap, who serves as chairman of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee, said Wu would meet with King Norodom Sihamoni, Senate President Chea Sim, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen. In the meeting with the premier, Cheam Yeap said, Wu would discuss the possible cancellation or restructuring of the Kingdom’s debt to China.

Cheam Yeap was unsure of how much debt might be cancelled, but said that Beijing had forgiven roughly US$200 million in Cambodian debt in “the last couple of years”.

On Monday, Clinton said she would dispatch a “team of experts” to resolve the long-standing issue of Cambodia’s Lon Nol-era debt to the US. With interest, the debt stands at roughly $445 million.


Defendant ‘too ill’: Ex-official’s murder trial postponed

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

Defendant ‘too ill’

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday postponed a hearing against a former police official accused of killing a subordinate with poisoned beer, after he submitted a letter to the court stating that he was unable to answer questions due to his high blood pressure.

Neang Sokna, former deputy police chief of the Phnom Penh Minor Crimes Bureau, was charged in February with unintentional murder after 37-year-old Tim Satya, also of the bureau, died from the consumption of poisoned beer allegedly served by the accused. Four other police officials were hospitalised in the incident but eventually recovered.

Presiding judge Ker Sakhorn said the hearing would be postponed to an unspecified date in response to the request. Deputy court prosecutor Sok Roeun said Neang Sokna faces between one and three years in prison if found guilty.

In December of last year, Neang Sokna was also accused of pistol-whipping a 25-year-old mechanic in the head. Fifty witnesses thumbprinted a legal complaint against him.

PM criticised for stance on rights office

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

A FRANCE-based NGO has condemned comments by Prime Minister Hun Sen during a meeting with visiting United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week in which he threatened to shut down the UN rights office and called for the removal of its chief.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong later said Christophe Peschoux, the long-time head of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, had acted as a “spokesperson for the opposition”.

The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, called the remarks “another example of the government’s growing intolerance” and “the restrictive measures it uses to silence constructive criticism and peaceful dissent”.

“These baseless accusations against the OHCHR office emanating from the highest levels of government are indicative of the increasingly authoritarian tendency of the current regime,” FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen was quoted as saying.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, yesterday dismissed the FIDH statement. Phay Siphan also emphasised that Cambodia was not obliged to host the OHCHR.

“Cambodia does not have any mandate forcing it to have a human rights office,” he said.

He added that Peschoux had not adhered to his UN mandate, and had used the office “to attack, insult or oppose the government”.

Peschoux said via email yesterday that the OHCHR was “working with the government in a spirit of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation”.

“In this spirit, in the past three years, we have developed our cooperation to unprecedented levels, and have provided technical assistance to the correctional reform, to the legal and judicial reform, the land reform and housing rights, the establishment of a national mechanism to prevent torture, Cambodia’s reporting obligations under the treaties it has ratified, and support to Cambodia’s preparation to the Universal Periodic review,” he said.

Police block lakeside protest

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Police stand guard near sand-pumping equipment during a protest yesterday by Boeung Kak lake residents, who say around 30 homes were inundated with sand Tuesday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

ABOUT 50 civilian and military police were deployed yesterday in the Boeung Kak lake area to prevent residents of Village 1 from protesting against the filling of the lake by Shukaku Inc after about 30 houses were inundated with slurry on Tuesday night.

“My home was completely flooded, and the level of sand has increased to as high as my knees,” said Sok Hour, a resident of Village 1.

“They pumped sand throughout last night while I was sleeping.... The waters entered under my bed and rose up to hit my back,” she said.

She said more than 10 houses had been filled to the roof with sand, and that the owners had been forced to sleep along the railway that skirts the lake.

In 2007, Shukaku Inc, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, signed a lease with the municipality giving it the right to develop the lakeside. The following year, the company began filling in the lake to make way for a 133-hectare housing and commercial development, which housing rights advocates say will displace more than 4,000 families.

Ung Navy, a village representative, said the company and municipal authorities should examine and resolve the residents’ complaints.

“Now we are protesting to stop the company’s sand-pumping and make them think about our compensation first because our houses are completely flooded,” she said.

Srah Chak District Governor Chhay Thirith said about 70 percent of the families living in floating or stilt houses had already dismantled their homes and left the lakeside. He put the total number of these families at around 2,000.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said the remaining residents were holding out for adequate compensation.

“We want to see the company buy the peoples’ land at a fair market price,” he said. “But the government considers the people its enemy.”

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong declined to comment yesterday.

Old anti-tank mines kill one, injure three

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:02 Phak Seangly

ONE person died and three were severely injured after a tractor they were riding ran over several concealed anti-tank mines in Battambang province’s Phnom Prek district on Tuesday afternoon.

Rith Sophorn, a police official in Chak Krey commune, said the mines exploded when the driver, a soldier, swerved to avoid a pothole. The other three casualties were bean farmers who were hitching a ride home on the tractor.

“The tractor was completely damaged, and the people lost legs, hands and suffered head injuries. One of the bean farmers died on the way to hospital due to serious injuries,” Rith Sophorn said.

Two of the casualties were taken to a hospital in Thailand, while the third is currently being treated at the local referral hospital in Chak Krey commune and will soon be taken to Battambang provincial hospital for further treatment, he added.

Phnom Prek district governor Soun Kien said that two other concealed anti-tank mines were found around four metres from the scene of the accident.

“There are many land mines in this area because it used to be a theatre of war. People know that but it is very hard for them to avoid farming on the land,” he said.

In a separate case on Monday, a farmer died after detonating unexploded ordnance in Svay Rieng province. Prach Rim, the provincial police chief, said the man wanted to remove the gunpowder from an unexploded shell in order to poison animals, when it detonated.

Health scare: Tea Banh returns to Cambodia

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Health scare

MINISTER of Defence Tea Banh has returned to Cambodia after a brief health scare following talks in Thailand, and resumed his daily work yesterday, ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said.

“General Tea Banh returned home on November 2 after staying several days for health checks and treatment in Bangkok. He is better now, and he is going to work today,” Chhum Socheat said yesterday.

On Saturday, Tea Banh was hospitalised in Bangkok because of pain caused by gallstones, after he helped to lead a meeting of the General Border Committee with his Thai counterpart, Minister of Defence Prawit Wongsuwan.

Protesters appeal to city court

Photo by: Pha Lina
Employees from the Sun Ly Fong garment factory gather outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, to protest against lawsuits filed against workers in connection with an August demonstration.

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana

ABOUT 200 garment workers from the capital’s Sun Ly Fong factory gathered in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to protest lawsuits filed against workers in connection with an August protest at their workplace.

In August, roughly 160 Sun Ly Fong workers took to the streets to agitate for increased pay and improved working conditions at the Meanchey district factory.

Three union representatives were dismissed for allegedly inciting the strike, and the rest were ordered to return to their jobs in an injunction signed by Municipal Court Judge Kim Dany.

Ien Pov, one of the dismissed union representatives, said outside the court yesterday that he had played no role in inciting the strikes.

“The workers agreed to hold the strikes themselves because their rights were always abused by the factory owner,” he said.

Sun Ly Fong management could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Kim Dany said that she had not yet ruled on the legality of the original strike.

The work stoppage at Sun Ly Fong came several weeks prior to the September strikes that involved thousands of workers and affected factories across the Kingdom.

Unionists say that 94 union representatives remain suspended in connection with these strikes, and that 683 were dismissed. The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia maintains, however, that only 67 representatives are suspended and 358 workers dismissed.

In a September speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on factory owners to drop their complaints and reach a settlement with workers that would allow them to return to their jobs.

During their strikes in August, the Sun Ly Fong workers submitted a list of eight requests to factory management, including a demand that they receive US$80 in severance pay for every year they had worked at the factory.

Police arrest suspect in triple murder

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

POLICE in Kandal province said yesterday that they had made one arrest in connection with a triple murder that occurred on the final day of the Pchum Ben festival in Takhmao town, though two other suspects remained at large.

Iv Chamroeun, the provincial police chief, declined to disclose the identity of the suspect for fear of compromising the investigation.

“We have arrested one suspect, but we don’t want to talk right now because the other two suspects are still at large. We are now burning our hands and legs to work on this case,” he said.

The three victims, all women, were found shot dead on the morning of October 9 in a café adjoining their home.

They were identified as 47-year-old Sok Ky; her daughter, 24-year-old Seng Muoy Kea; and a 17-year-old waitress whom police would not name.

Deputy provincial police chief Chan Savoeun said at the time that the bodies – which appeared to have been shot several times before being dragged into a bedroom and laid on a bed together – were discovered after a neighbour reported hearing gunfire at about 3.30am.

He said police did not believe the motive was robbery because jewellery was left at the scene.

He also noted that the Bopha Kampoul Phnom Restaurant and Coffee Shop, where the murders took place, was owned by Sok Ky’s sister, and that police were investigating any “internal issues” that might have led to the killings.

Roeun Nara, the deputy provincial police chief, declined to give a detailed update on the case, but did confirm that an arrest had been made.

The kite fantastic

Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:01 Sovan Philong

Ravat, 8, flies a kite made of notebook paper, bamboo and tape on the riverfront in Phnom Penh as a cooler season and its winds begins. The making and flying of Cambodian kites dates back many centuries and the craft and recreation are popular throughout the country. The wind racing past a bow attached to many Khmer kites makes whistling musical sounds.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

via CAAI

Poison claim queried

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:01 May Titthara

MORE than 100 villagers in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district staged a protest yesterday at the provincial court, demanding the release of a woman suspected of poisoning her husband. Phuong Sothea, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the victim died on July 25, and that his parents filed a complaint against the suspect on August 27. “It is over one month, and then they filed a complaint against her,” he said. “The police did an autopsy already. They did not find any poisonous substance.” The prosecutor handling the case could not be reached yesterday. Noun Sokha, a neighbour of the suspect, said the victim had not been poisoned because his children ate the same food and were fine. “In fact, her in-laws want to take over her property, so they filed a complaint against her,” he said.

World Bank promises $40m in Ketsana aid

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

THE World Bank has pledged US$40 million towards the recovery from Typhoon Ketsana, which tore through the Kingdom in September last year and left 43 people dead. The Ketsana Emergency Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project is intended to provide “affected people who are mostly poor and live in rural areas” with transportation and water and sanitation services. “Typhoon Ketsana devastated the lives and livelihood of tens of thousands of Cambodian people, particularly the poor,” World Bank Country Manager Qimiao Fan said in a statement. “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.” The four-year project is also intended to strengthen emergency-response mechanisms.

Police Blotter: 4 Nov 2010

via CAAI

Thursday, 04 November 2010 15:01 Sen David

Drug-addicted stabber strikes again and flees
A 28-year-old man was stabbed by a drug addict as he left work in Stung Treng on Monday. Police said this was not the first instance of the suspect stabbing someone, and that he “always stabbed the villagers” when he needed a drug fix. The victim said he was leaving work when the suspect stabbed him. The victim was sent to hospital, and police are hunting for the suspect.

Rival gangs do battle with rocks and swords
Six “gangsters” were briefly detained when they resorted to using swords and rocks to settle a drunken argument in Battambang on Tuesday. Police said two groups were drinking wine in separate places when an argument broke out within one group. Curious, the other group went to intervene, but soon found itself embroiled in the scuffle. Before long, members of each gang produced swords and picked up nearby rocks to use as weapons. A neighbour called police, who detained the gangsters and shaved their heads. Police released them after they promised “to stop doing that”.

Old woman hit by motorbike in Poipet
An 80-year-old woman was hit by a 16-year-old rider on a motorbike as she crossed the road on Monday in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town. Police said the girl was driving very fast when she collided with the elderly woman. The woman was sent to hospital, where a doctor declared that she had suffered serious injuries “because she is old and she did not have enough power”. Police said people under the age of 18 cannot drive motorbikes, so they kept the motorbike.

Police nab arrogant serial bag-snatchers
Police arrested two men for snatching a bag from a woman in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Monday. Police said the victim was riding her motorbike home from work, when the two men grabbed at her bag and forced her to lose control. After the bike fell, police raced over and arrested the two men. The suspects later bragged about their bag-snatching abilities, claiming they “did this so many times”. Police returned the bag to the victim.

Mob retaliates against alleged motorbike thief
A Vietnamese man was arrested after he stole a motorbike on Tuesday. The victim said he locked his bike outside his house in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, and went inside for dinner. During the meal, he heard “a strange sound”, so he went to investigate and found the suspect stealing his bike. Nearby residents banded together and fought the accused, before police intervened.