Saturday, 6 November 2010

Cambodian PM meets with Chinese bank presidents

via CAAI

November 05, 2010

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday welcomed Chinese banks to open branches in Cambodia and encouraged more Chinese banks to operate in Cambodia and support the country's agriculture development.

Hun Sen said that his country has a great potential in agricultural resources, and which is the priority to development by the government. He added that Cambodia has already signed agreement with China on supplying rice, corn, and cassava. Therefore, he hoped that China's banks to help and support Cambodia's agriculture, in order to accelerate the pace of economic development.

The premier made the remarks during his meeting with two Chinese banks' leaders -- Li Lihui, president of the Bank of China and Jiang Jianqing, president of the ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), respectively.

Eang Sophaleth, spokesman of the Prime Minister told reporters after the meeting that Jiang Jianqing said his bank is considering to open a branch in Cambodia after it is now presence in several countries in Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

According to Eang Sophaleth, ICBC has their branch in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The loans provided by the Bank are covering mainly on energy, construction, and hydro-power.

Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed the Bank and urged Jiang Jianqing to open a branch in Cambodia as soon as he can so as to provide loans for Cambodia's agricultural purposes.

Also, on Friday, the prime minister welcomed Li Lihui, president of the Bank of China which has already set up its branch here and ready to open its business.

According to Eang Sophaleth, Li and Jiang expressed their confidence and optimistic with the current Cambodia which is joyful with complete peace and stability while is in a good process of development.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia is back on rails...

via CAAI

By Luc Citrinot, eTN | Nov 05, 2010

PHNOM PENH (eTN)- Two weeks ago, Cambodia officially reopened its rail network, a first step into an ambitious trans-Asian rail network which is due to connect in the future Singapore to the city of Kunming, in China's Yunnan Province. Cambodian rail networks was built during the French colonial time and was in used for 75 years. All lines were discontinued last year due to their poor condition.

The reopened section is 110 km long and links Phnom Penh to the town of Touk Meas in the southern part of the country. Once fully completed in 2011, the Southern Line will again be able to see trains circulating between Phnom Penh and the resort city of Sihanoukville, distant of almost 250 km.

The first phase in the overall rehabilitation and modernisation of Cambodia's raitracks was completed at an estimated cost of US$ 141.6 millions,including US$84 million financed by the Asia Development Bank (ADB) as well as various grants from Australia, France and Malaysia. The Cambodian Government invested also over US$20 million into the project.

Speaking at the opening at Phnom Penh's central railway station, Minister of Finance Keat Chhon said rehabilitating the country's railways, devastated after decades of conflict, also marked an important step in the drive to boost the economy. 'This will improve and develop Cambodia's economy by integrating it better with the region and the world, and will ensure greater competitiveness in transportation within Cambodia and outside,' Keat Chhon said.

In a first step, Cambodia will only have freight rail services in operation. The Northern Rail Line from Phnom Penh to Poipet/Battambang up to the Thai border is due to reopen by 2012/2013 (390 km length). Cambodian State Railways will then look at the possiblity to relaunch scheduled passengers services on all its lines. A new rail link is also planned from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City as part of the Trans-Asia rail network and has already received the backing of the Royal Government which declared the project " a priority". According to ADB Southeast Asia Department Director-General Kunio Senga, railways in Cambodia should by 2013 return to its full, original state and reconnect Cambodia with its neighbors. Concession to the line has been granted for 30 years to Toll Royal Railway, a subsidiary of Australian firm Toll Holdings.

China funds Cambodian mobile network rollout

via CAAI

Published: Friday 5 November 2010
Region: Asia Pacific

Cambodia’s largest mobile operator has secured over half a billion dollars in loans from Chinese banks to help fund a network contract with Huawei, reports the Financial Times. The deal is understood to be the largest financing project of its kind in Cambodia’s history, and has led to questions over the levels of Chinese influence in the country. CamGSM, a subsidiary of Royal Group (Cambodia’s largest private conglomerate) and owner of the MobiTel and Cellcard mobile brands, has borrowed US$591 million in loans arranged by the Bank of China, and will enter a five-year US$500 million equipment and services contract with Huawei. The contract is part of a package of China-Cambodia deals - ranging from energy exploration to agriculture and infrastructure construction – reported to be worth around US$6.4 billion in total. According to the report, the flurry of deals comes days after Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, said during a visit to Cambodia that the Asian country should maintain a foreign policy that was not “too dependent” on China.

CamGSM is Cambodia’s largest mobile operator with almost 2.5 million subscribers in Q3, according to Wireless Intelligence data. Royal Group, its parent, will use part of the US$591 million Chinese bank loan to refinance a US$421 million bridging loan from Standard Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, notes the Financial Times. That loan helped Royal Group last year to buy the majority stake in CamGSM held by Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular, giving it 100 percent control. Although it has not commented on the latest deal, Huawei often offers financing deals to secure contracts. It is understood that the vendor has a US$35 billion standing credit line in place with the China Development Bank.

Look to neighbours, says institute

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:02 Chun Sophal

WASHINGTON DC-based Institute of International Food Policy Research urged Cambodia to catch-up with Thai and Vietnamese experience to increase rice production and ensure food security yesterday.

Bingxin Yu, a researcher for Washington DC Institute of International Food Policy, said in the round table meeting on agriculture and food security in Cambodia that the Kingdom should look to its neighbours.

“Cambodia is known [as] a country of rich water and agricultural fertilising lands, but it still has a low harvest yield comparing to Thailand and Vietnam,” she said.

“Cambodia can follow good experience from those countries in promoting development and agricultural research to strengthen quality and test types of rice,” said Bingxin Yu.

Rice yield could be slightly increased by better farming, including intensifying technology use, according to Yu’s policy and discussion document.

Based on the document, Vietnam uses 324 kilograms of chemical fertiliser per hectare and gets a rice yield of 4.89 tonnes per hectare. Thailand, which uses 133 kg, gets 2.74 tonnes per hectare.

Cambodia uses between 72 and 105kg per hectare and sees its rice output reach 2.54 tonnes per hectare.

“Cambodian farmers can gain more rice yield if they use more fertiliser,” said Yu.

But Mak Soeun, chief of Agricultural Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that the ministry does not encourage farmers to use more fertiliser on farmlands.

“Utilising fertiliser on farmland is just a minority factor in increasing rice output, not the main factor,” said Mak Soeun.

“Our stand is to urge farmers to follow proper planting technology such as natural intensification because we don’t want farmers to spend much and cause damage to environment of using chemical fertiliser,” he said.

Theng vuthy, a coordinator for the Poor Agricultural Program and Rural Development of Institute of Training and Research for Cambodian Development, said that increased rice output was crucial for Cambodia.

He recommended the governemnt boost its water resource budget.

Fundraiser to help HIV-positive

photo courtesy Pierre Lefebvre
Children in Cambodia draw water from one of the wells funded by Pierre Lefebvre’s last fundraiser in 2007

via CAAI

November 5, 2010
Glenn Cook

A St. Albert man is hoping that a fundraiser here in the city will help bring hope to people suffering from HIV and AIDS half a world away in Cambodia.

Pierre Lefebvre, who owns and operates PJL Garage Door Services out of his home in Lacombe Park, is putting the finishing touches on a dinner and dance fundraiser in support of the Cambodia Hope Centre, a hospice that houses HIV-positive families in the southeast Asian country.

Lefebvre hosted a similar fundraiser in 2007, collecting $11,500 to drill water wells in the country — more than three times what he had hoped.

“It was a month from the time I came up with the idea to the time we had the party, so I never would have thought of raising $11,500, that’s for sure,” he said, adding that he is hoping for a similar total this time around.

After the 2007 fundraiser, Lefebvre travelled with McCaffery to Cambodia to see the money he had raised put into action.

“He showed me the poorest of the poor areas,” Lefebvre said, adding that those who come to this year’s fundraiser will be treated to a photo slideshow from his 2007 trip. “I had never been to a third-world [country] or anything; it was definitely an eye-opener.”

“It made me pretty proud of how everyone in St. Albert came together to support this,” he added. “It wasn’t me; it was the people … just know how generous people are knowing I couldn’t give them a tax receipt or anything. They gave from their heart, and it’s amazing.”

The Cambodia Hope Centre is run by Brandon McCaffery, a fellow St. Albertan and Lefevbre’s long-time friend.

Lefebvre said he got involved raising money for the centre after McCaffrey, who has been in Cambodia since 2000, returned to Canada in 2007 to help his mother after she had a stroke.

“We were going to the gym, working out, and he was telling me about all the things he sees there,” he said. “I said to my wife, ‘What do you think if I have a fundraiser for Brandon?’”

While the initial estimate for each well was $1,400 US plus labour, Lefebvre and McCaffrey were able to stretch those dollars a lot further and do many more projects.

“We did 15 water wells, we did a dugout — one town wanted a dugout — and we [installed] solar power [panels] on the hospice that Brandon has there,” he said. “We also sponsored a teacher for six months to teach English; that cost $300.”

This time around, the money will go towards food, staffing and basic operational costs for the hospice.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, having been ravaged by a civil war that raged from the late 1960s to the late 1990s.

Families are allowed to stay at the hospice for six to 12 months at a time. While there, treatment drugs are provided by the Bill Gates Foundation, and the women are learning to sew toques that are sold in New Zealand, but Lefebvre and McCaffrey hope to bring them to Alberta soon as well.

“To take someone that was begging on the streets and make them self-sufficient, you can’t say enough about that,” he said, adding that McCaffrey hopes the money the women earn from the sale of the toques will help the hospice pay for itself within a year.

“They’ll be able to make the decision on what they are helping with,” he added. “These ladies with HIV will be helping out villages and might bring them a better understanding [of the disease].”

While the need is great, Lefebvre said he couldn’t see himself putting on a fundraiser more often than every three years, because he doesn’t want to wear down businesses with requests for sponsorships or donations.

“Every three years would be more comfortable for me. Then you’re not knocking on the doors of people constantly,” he said. “I think they appreciate it — I know I sure would, as a business owner — not getting bugged by the same person every year for a good cause.”

The Cambodia Hope Centre fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Kinsmen Banquet Centre (47 Riel Dr.) in St. Albert. Cocktails are at 5:30 p.m., with dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by classic rock band The Tomatoes.

Tickets are $25 each and are available by calling Lefebvre at 780-975-4895 or by visiting D’Arcy’s Meat Market (#118, 205 Carnegie Dr.).

There will also be a silent auction at the event, and Lefevbre is still looking for donations for that. Anyone who can donate items is asked to call him at 780-975-4895.

Business friendliness in Cambodia declines

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:01 Matthew Backhouse

CAMBODIA’S business friendliness has declined in world rankings despite gains for exporters and entrepreneurs, according to a World Bank report.

The Making a Difference for Entrepreneurs report, which compared business regulations across 183 economies, ranked Cambodia 147th place for the ease of doing business, down from 145th place last year.

The drop came despite improved rankings in the ease of foreign trade and starting new companies.

Cambodia was the seventh most improved economy for trading across borders, climbing nine places to 118th. That was due to a reduction in the amount of paperwork for importing and exporting goods.

“Cambodia eliminated pre-shipment inspections, reducing the time and number of documents required for importing and exporting,” the report said.

Despite the change, the amount of paperwork needed to export goods remained the eighth highest in the world.

The ease of starting a business in Cambodia climbed three places over last year’s low base, to 170th.

However, the time needed to start a business still ranked poorly, at an average of 85 days – measured as the third longest in the East Asia-Pacific region.

Cambodia was also the third slowest country to issue construction permits, with an average wait of 709 days.

Vietnam listed among top ten investors in Cambodia

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The Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association has co-ordinated with the Vietnamese embassy to hold talks in Phnom Penh on investment and business activities of Vietnamese businesses in the Cambodia market.

Representatives from more than 50 local and overseas businesses in Cambodia have exchanged ideas on investment, laws, payment methods, and consumers’ habits in Cambodia.

Currently, Vietnam ranks ninth among the top ten foreign investors in Cambodia. According to Cambodia’s consul general in HCM City, Sam Samouth, on November 5, economic relations between Vietnam and Cambodia have increased strongly over the past ten years with trade turnover in the first half of this year reaching US$862 million.

In the first seven months of 2010, Vietnam’s investment in Cambodia reached US$150 million, focusing on such fields as transportation, aviation, banking, trade, agriculture, hydroelectricity, rubber, oil and gas, and health.

Franklin & Marshall College student raising funds to build school in Cambodia

Local restaurants helping in fundraising campaign

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Franklin & Marshall College student Jessica Fuhrman hopes she and some of her classmates can take a big step this weekend toward their goal of $25,000 to fund the construction of a new school in Cambodia.

This weekend, with help from the college's International Women's Outreach Committee and the Human Rights Initiative and several local restaurants, Fuhrman is kicking off a fundraising campaign for the Cambodia School Project.

"We are having a restaurant week, where people from the community can dine at several local restaurants and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to the American Assistance for Cambodia," Fuhrman said.

AAC is a non-profit organization that has built more than 400 schools across the country in Southeast Asia.

Taking part Friday is Tropical Smoothie Café, 15 E. King St., from 4-8 p.m. Thomas Campus Deli, 430 Harrisburg Pike, will participate Saturday from 5-9 p.m. and Carmen & David's Creamery, 25 N. Prince St., will take part Sunday from 1-7 p.m.

The restaurants will donate percentages of their sales during those hours to the project.

Earlier this week, several other restaurants participated in the fundraiser. They included Sugar Bowl, Rosa Rosa, Prince Street Café, Isaac's and Rachel's Creperie.

Fuhrman and her team hope to raise $25,000 this year. It costs $13,000 to build the school, and the rest will be used to supply books, computers, solar panels for energy, a water filtration system and a teacher.

A portion of the money collected will be donated to the Girls Be Ambitious program of AAC, which provides an incentive for girls to enable them to attend school preventing their trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation.

A government major at F&M, Fuhrman, 20, said her effort stems from the idea that the most useful tool in ensuring stability within a nation is education.

"Most poor families in Cambodia live under the poverty line in rural villages where there are no schools," she said. "Children are kept at home because even the nearest school is just too far.

"After the genocide by the Khmer Rouge regime 30 years ago, Cambodia is still struggling and has a serious problem educating its people," she said.

So Fuhrman tracked down AAC and decided to partner with it.

"She is doing this in a very responsible way in the sense that she is working through an organization that has done this before and knows how to do it," said Lisa Gasbarrone, director of international studies at F&M.

"The students are taking a look at the wider world and getting involved in a humanitarian effort," said Gasbarrone.

So far the group has received $2,500 in pledges. All donations are tax deductible.

For information or to make a donation, call (516) 617-7178 or e-mail

Star-Cell writedown a reality check for Cambodia's telecommunications sector

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Friday, 05 November 2010 | Steve Finch

The only surprise related to TeliaSonera’s Monday announcement of a US$100 million writedown at Star-Cell was that the Swedish mobile firm announced its lack of goodwill in Cambodia at all.

Within the sector as a whole, this has been obvious for some time. The high level of competition in the Kingdom and extremely low level of income per user – reported to be as low as $3.5 per month – means that smaller players like TeliaSonera’s Star-Cell have struggled to hold value. At a time when the sector should be looking to consolidate, given that nine players is simply too many, this situation promises dire consequences for investors looking to get their money back.

Few of the current operators as they stand offer the opportunity for long-term profits, meaning they are, in a sense, worth the value of their assets at most – TeliaSonera is effectively admitting that the Star-Cell brand and all of the intangibles that go with it are absolutely worthless.

For any theoretical buyer of the smaller players in Cambodia’s mobile market, it is difficult to see where potential value for money lies.

A buyer already in the market would effectively be purchasing two main assets – infrastructure and the brand name – which, given the huge overlap of towers in Cambodia and the headache of accommodating old brands into new ones (especially when they are essentially worthless anyway), means the strategic reasons for an acquisition evaporate.

No doubt that is the precise reason why consolidation has not happened – no one wants to buy. Excell, the smallest operator by subscribers in Cambodia, has explicitly been seeking a “strategic investor” since around mid-2009. How many other operators in the Kingdom would sell up tomorrow if they were offered a price that reflected the value of their assets? Probably half the sector, but then there doesn’t appear to be anyone willing to buy.

That TeliaSonera publicly acknowledged its lack of goodwill is surprising because many in the sector would be afraid to admit just how little their companies are actually worth to potential buyers.

On the flip side, TeliaSonera’s announcement of a write-down is refreshing for investors given the move offers greater insight into the real value of Star-Cell.

Accounting rules FAS 141 and FAS 142, which relate to the allocation of goodwill and therefore company value, are by their very nature open to artful interpretation. How exactly do you assign monetary value to a commercial intangible? Companies can assign any value they like and in reality most usually avoid the truth.

By issuing a large number of licences, the government has effectively created a race to the bottom. Whoever has the deepest pockets will last the longest. We are still in the wait-and-see stage, but the end result is not in doubt.

Many of the remaining companies in the sector may not have been as transparent as TeliaSonera yet, but they are only kidding themselves.

This article originally appeared in the Phnom Penh Post, and is republished here with permission.

Weston Middle School play takes 'Journey into Cambodia'

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By Joanna Tao
GateHouse News Service
Posted Nov 04, 2010

WESTON — On Sept. 1, school had just started, but the students were already looking ahead with excitement to the fall play. To many students in the Middle School, the only questions that mattered were, "Do you know what the play is?" and "when are auditions?"

Now, eight weeks, 40 rehearsals, two auditions, and many hours of painting, typing, researching and improvising scenes later, the 45 cast members and large stage crew have created a stirring play about the history of Cambodia.

The play, "Kampuchea: A Journey into Cambodia," was researched and written by the cast, and opens Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Weston Middle School.

With rickshaws, elephant rides, Cambodian dances, and a judge-psychiatrist rabbit, this will be one show you won’t want to miss.

Performances are Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Amy Potter Center at Weston Middle School. Tickets are available at the door.

"Kampuchea" was inspired when the director of the show, Abraham Mills, took a trip to Cambodia over the summer. As a recipient of the Schoen Travel Fellowship, Mills, a history teacher at Weston Middle School, traveled to seven countries in 57 days.

He worked his way from west to east, from Italy, Israel and India, to China, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

"Our last flight continued east through L.A. and that made it an around-the-world trip, which was pretty exciting," he said.

This trip inspired Mills to bring an untold story to the Weston school community.

"Of all the countries I visited, Cambodia inspired me the most," he said. "The people are warm and welcoming, and they have a fascinating culture."

He added, "What surprised me the most was their resilience and their positive attitude. They went through such dark times under the Khmer Rouge that it is great to see the country rebounding."

Mills thought this was the perfect time to have the cast research and write a play on Cambodia.

"There is so much to learn, and I knew we had a great group of curious and talented actors to work with," he said. "The story of Cambodia is complex, and it is worth telling. It is really important that we learn from our past."

Despite this, "Kampuchea" does not take place only in the past. The play has ties to current events in Cambodia, such as the trial of Commander Duch in August of this year.

Although it includes stories of Cambodia’s tragic past, "Kampuchea" is not a tragedy. There is plenty of cultural comedy, such as when the main character (played by Donya Potter), a typical American teenager, does not get along with her parents.

The play opens with the trial of Commander Duch (William Anderson), and then we follow the journeys of two teenagers through Cambodia. One girl (Jacqueline Morris) must survive the reign of the Khmer Rouge; the other visits Cambodia, the place where she was born, with her adoptive parents (Katherine Binney and Michael Brown).

"The students have been wonderful," continues Mills.

"They have researched survivor stories, read articles, and created scenes through improvisation. They have done simulations to capture the mood of the scenes.

"We were lucky enough to get a grant to bring choreographers Channa and Bun from the Angkor Dance Troupe in Lowell to work with the cast, teaching them traditional dances such as the coconut dance and the monkey dance. We also had a special guest volunteer his time to talk to the cast about growing up in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge."

All proceeds from the show will be donated to an orphanage in Cambodia (The Sharing Foundation) and to Light of Cambodian Children. Cambodian crafts will be on sale during the show.

This will be a thought-provoking and hopeful story, about families coming together, created by the students. This is a show not to be missed.

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults and are available at the door or by e-mailing Meg Kelly (

Joanna Tao is in the eighth grade at Weston Middle School and is one of the stage managers for this production.

China's top legislator highlights sound ties with Cambodia during meeting with King

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PHNOM PENH, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo said here Thursday that his three meetings with the Cambodian King this year reflect the sound bilateral ties between the two countries.

"I have met your majesty three times this year, which reflects the high level of bilateral ties and the royal family's special friendship with China," Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said during a meeting with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

Wu said the Cambodian royal family has long attached high importance to the development of its ties with China and established sound personal relationship, as well as sound working relationship, with Chinese leaders of generations, making outstanding contributions to the development of bilateral ties.

As a good neighbor, friend and partner, China will, as always, support Cambodia's efforts in maintaining national unity, developing economy and improving people's lives, Wu said.

China respects the path Cambodia has chosen based on its realities and thanks Cambodia for its precious support for the issues related to China's core interests, Wu said.

"The purpose of my visit to the country is to enhance traditional friendship, deepen practical cooperation and upgrade legislative communications in a bid to push the all-round cooperative partnership for further development," Wu said.

Recalling his visit to the Shanghai World Expo on Oct. 1, King Norodom Sihamoni extended his warm congratulations to the great success of the Expo.

He said Wu's visit plays a significant role in enhancing and developing China-Cambodia friendship and cooperation.

Cambodia attaches high importance to its ties with China and is willing to further promote bilateral ties, the King said.

Wu arrived here on Wednesday for a 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. He will also visit Indonesia and Thailand.

China, Cambodia sign 6.4-billion-USD deals on top legislator's visit

 via CAAI  
Wu Bangguo (L), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 4, 2010. China's top legislator held talks with Hun Sen in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Xinhua/Li Tao)

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- China and Cambodia on Thursday inked 6.4-billion-U.S. dollars deals ranging from infrastructure construction to energy exploration.

A total of 16 deals were signed after the hour-long talks between top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen late Thursday afternoon.

The package of deals covered such key areas of bilateral cooperation as infrastructure construction, water resources development, telecommunication technology and energy exploration among others.

In earlier talks, Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, reviewed the smooth growth of China-Cambodia ties since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1958.

"Particularly in recent years, bilateral relations have developed rapidly," Wu said, highlighting strong trust, sincere cooperation and mutual support.

Wu underlined China's commitment to developing ties with Cambodia, labeling the southeast Asian country as a reliable neighbor, friend and brother.

Hun Sen said China's rapid growth benefited the people and helped lift the regional and world economy out of the downturn.

On the economic front, Wu said growing economic cooperation would add continuous momentum to bilateral relations.

Wu Bangguo (2nd L, sitting), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd R, sitting) attend a signing ceremony of documents on bilateral economic and technical cooperation and government-related cooperation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 4, 2010. (Xinhua/Li Tao)

Wu proposed the two countries deepen agriculture cooperation, encouraging Chinese businesses to expand agricultural products trade with Cambodia and supporting Cambodia to upgrade its inspection and quarantine capability on agricultural products.

The top legislator called for stronger infrastructure construction cooperation, urging Chinese businesses to play a bigger part in Cambodian transportation, electricity and telecommunications construction.

Wu said Chinese financial institutions would like to provide financial support, calling for both sides to explore new ways of finance.

He also pinned hope on stronger investment and industrial cooperation, appealing for faster construction of a special economic zone at Sihanouk Port, which Chinese businesses got involved in building.

Hun Sen agreed with Wu, saying the two countries should work more closely in agriculture, infrastructure, economic zone construction and resources development.

Hun Sen reaffirmed Cambodia's adherence to the one-China policy, saying Cambodia banned any forces from separating China.

Both Wu and Hun Sen agreed that the international situation was undergoing profound changes, saying the two countries should step up cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and east Asian cooperation.

Earlier Thursday, Wu also met with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and legislative leaders.

Wu arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday afternoon. Cambodia is the first leg of Wu's three-nation visit to Southeast Asia, which will also take him to Indonesia and Thailand.

Wu Bangguo (4th R, front), chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, holds talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (5th L, front) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 4, 2010. (Xinhua/Li Tao)

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

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Cambodia and China Become Strategic Partners

Phnom Penh, November 5, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia and China have expressed their congratulations on the rapid development over the bilateral relations and all-round cooperation in recent years, Cambodian Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith told the media upon the meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and visiting Chinese top legislator H.E. Mr. Wu Bangguo at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

H.E. Khieu Kanharith who is also spokesman for the Royal Government of Cambodia further told the press that H.E. Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, has underlined China’s commitment to developing ties with Cambodia, labeling Cambodia as a reliable neighbor, friend and brother.

H.E. Wu Bangguo proposed the two countries to further deepen on agriculture cooperation, encouraging Chinese business to expand agricultural products trade with Cambodia and supporting Cambodia to upgrade its inspection and quarantine capability on agricultural products.

The top Chinese legislator called for stronger infrastructure construction cooperation, urging Chinese businesses to play a bigger part in Cambodian transportation, electricity, telecommunications construction and expressed his hope on stronger investment and industrial cooperation and appealing for faster construction of a special economic zone at Preah Sihanouk Port, which Chinese businesses got involved in the construction.

H.E. Wu Bangguo also thanked Cambodian government, particularly Premier Techo Hun Sen’s stance over the South China Sea crisis, in which Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has opposed to any attempt for the internationalization of the issue.

In reply, Samdech Techo Hun Sen agreed with H.E. Wu Bangguo, saying that the two countries should work more closely in agriculture, infrastructure, economic zone construction and resources development.

The Cambodian premier also reaffirmed Cambodia’s adherence to the one-China policy, saying that Cambodia banned any forces from separating China.

Following their meeting, the two leaders have also witnessed a singing ceremony for 16 deals between the two countries.

Earlier Thursday, the Chinese top legislator was also granted a royal audience by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, and met with Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim and National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin.

H.E. Wu Bangguo who is accompanied by his spouse and other entourages arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday afternoon for a four-day official visit to Cambodia at the invitation of Cambodian National Assembly President Samdech Heng Samrin. --AKP

(By KEO Chandara)


PM Receives ICBC and BOC Chairmen

Phnom Penh, November 5, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, received here today Mr. Jiang Jianqing, chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

In the meeting, Mr. Jiang said his bank has been conducting a study to open an ICBC’s branch in Cambodia because, he explained, Cambodia is China’s good friend and neighbor, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the Cambodian premier told reporters after the meeting.

ICBC has so far established its branches in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, Mr. Jiang said, adding that the upcoming ICBC’s branch in Cambodia will provide credits to hydro-power field, in which many Chinese companies have invested and to other fields as well in order to contribute to Cambodia’s development.

In reply, the Cambodian prime minister welcomed and encouraged ICBC to open a branch in the country because, he said, Cambodia-China cooperation in the future as well as now will advance incessantly.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen further asked ICBC, once being present in Cambodia, to consider providing support to companies investing in agricultural field.

On the same day, the Cambodian premier also met with Mr. Li Lihui, chairman of the Bank of China (BOC).

Samdech Techo Hun Sen thanked BOC for providing loans to Royal Group, a private company. He said private sector is a major force pushing Cambodia into development. He thus urged BOC to continue its support to other private companies, particularly those investing in agricultural field. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)


Spouse of China’s Top Legislature Chairman Appreciates Cambodia’s CRC President

Phnom Penh, November 5, 2010 AKP -- Mrs. Zhang Ruizhen, the spouse of H.E. Mr. Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, expressed strong appreciation and compliment at the work and merit in humanitarian activities of Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen, president of Cambodian Red Cross (CRC).

Mrs. Zhang made the expression during a talk with the Cambodian CRC president on Nov. 4, 2010 in Phnom Penh.

In reply, Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen expressed deep thanks to the Chinese people and government for their assistance to Cambodia, especially in improving and building many kinds of infrastructures including roads, schools, bridges, etc.

The CRC president attributed the achievements to increasing, good cooperation between both countries.

Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen also extended profound thanks to the Chinese government for providing medical and health cares for the Cambodian King-Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen-Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. --AKP

(By Théng)


Cambodia Hosts 6th Meeting of Anti-Corruption Body under ASEAN Framework

Phnom Penh, November 5, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia hosted on Nov. 4 the 6th annual meeting of the ASEAN member countries, the signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding on “Preventing and Fighting Corruption” at Apsara Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap province.

The meeting, scheduled to be concluded today, is aimed at sharing mutual experiences in fighting corruption among nine ASEAN member countries (Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), according to a spokesman for the National Council of Anti-Corruption. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)


Malaysia Airlines Steps Up Partnership with Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 5, 2010 AKP -- Malaysian airlines has increased its routine flights to Cambodia due to higher demand from passengers, Chinese News Agency Xinhua quoted a statement released Thursday by Société Concessionnaire des Aéroports (SCA), which overseas airports in Cambodia.

“When flight MH 762 touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport on Nov. 3 at 15:59, it marked a new milestone in the partnership between the airport and the Malaysian carrier,” it said in the statement.

With the addition of two 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 two countries, it added.

Passenger 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 pm and departure time at 17:10 pm.

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,” he added.

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

Malaysia Airlines also operates three weekly flights between Siem Reap and Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. --AKP

Logger trio detained in Thailand

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:04 Tep Nimol

THREE Cambodian men have been arrested in Thailand on charges of illegal logging after crossing into Thai territory with logging equipment and guns.

Dy Phen, chief of the Thai-Cambodian Border Relations Office in Banteay Meanchey province, said the men were arrested on Wednesday in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, adjacent to Thmar Pouk district in Banteay Meanchey. Four men travelling with the trio subsequently escaped back to Cambodian territory, he added.

“Thai authorities found them with about 50 AK-47 bullets, no passports and equipment for cutting wood in Thailand,” Dy Phen said.

Dy Phen said Cambodian officials had attempted to negotiate the release of the three men yesterday, but without success.

“It is because of their poverty that they are forced to go to Thailand to cut wood without thinking about their security,” he said.

More than 20 Cambodians have been injured or killed by Thai troops since 2008 while logging across the border, according to local rights group Adhoc.

Meanwhile, five Cambodian men from Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district were arrested by Laotian authorities for illegally crossing the border, Siem Pang district governor Sy Soun said yesterday.

“They did not do any illegal logging in Laos, but they walked past the Cambodian border to Laos while they were looking for fish and taking care of their buffaloes,” Sy Soun said.

The men have been detained at a prison in Laos’s Champasak province so that Laotian authorities can “reeducate them and wait for a resolution between Laotian and Cambodian authorities to release them”, he added.

Charges laid over multiple murders

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:04 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea  

KANDAL provincial court yesterday charged two suspects in connection with the murder of three women on the final day of Pchum ben festivities in Tahkmao district last month.

The three victims, all women, were found shot dead on the morning of October 9 in a the Bopha Kampoul Phnom Restaurant and Coffee shop adjoinging their home.

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

Provincial prosecutor Ouk Kimseth said yesterday that the court had officially charged Sok Koeu’s 44-year-old nephew Sok Seng, and former soldier Toan Sarom, 30, with intentional murder. Both men are serving pretrial detention at Kandal provincial prison.

“Our investigations are ongoing,” he said.

Iv Chamroeun, the provincial police chief, said that police were still on the hunt for a third suspect: Bun Vuthy, 27.

He said Sok Seng was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, and Toan Sarom was arrested in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district. Both men were arrested on Wednesday.

“According to our investigation and from the testimony of the suspects, Sok Seng killed his aunt, her daughter and the waitress after Sok Koeu did not give him US$2,000 to borrow,” he said.

He said, according to the confession from Sok Seng, that the trio went to visit his aunt to request the loan on October 8, which was approved by her daughter, but who said she would have to wait for her mother to return from the markets. However, when Sok Koeu returned to the house she refused the loan.

“Sok Seng then asked his colleagues, who were waiting outside, to rob her,” he said.

They then tied up all three victims and demanded the money, but Sok Koeu refused though she had $10,000 hidden under her mattress.

Sok Seng then used Toan Sarom’s gun to shoot all three women in the head, before the men fled the scene on motorbikes and making off with “some cash and jewellery”.

“We already know Bun Vuthy’s identity, and we are continuing to seek his whereabouts,” Iv Chamroeun said.

He said Sok Seng had previously served a total of 15 years in prison after being found guilty of murder in Kampong Speu province. He was released from Prey Sar prison last year.

NEC dismisses vote-list deceit case

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea

THE National Election Committee ruled yesterday that three people accused of being illegal Vietnamese immigrants have the right to vote, rejecting a complaint from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party their names were fraudulently placed on voter lists.

In a two-hour hearing at NEC headquarters, Tep Chan Sokheya, an SRP councilor in Prampi Makara district, said the three – named as Phang Mifan, Kang Tong and Kang Seng – were placed on voter lists despite being illegal migrants.

She alleged the trio had rented a house from her for around 10 years, during which time they spoke Vietnamese among themselves.

“At that time, I knew that their family was Vietnamese,” Tep Chan Sokheya told the NEC. “I then told the commune chief not to allow them to register to vote.” Their names were registered on the electoral roll in 2006, she added.

After her attempt to have their names removed was ignored by O’Russey III commune authorities in 2007, she filed a complaint to the NEC last month seeking further action.

However, NEC president Im Suosdey threw the complaint out, arguing that the three had enough documents to prove they were Cambodian citizens.

“The argument of Phang Mifan, Kang Seng and Kang Tong, who said that they have the right to register to vote, conforms to the argument of the [district] council president, so the NEC must consider it,” he said.

“In fact, the three individuals have enough documentation, especially birth certificates showing that the three individuals are Khmer.”

O’Russey III commune chief Buoy Kosal testified that the authorities allowed the three individuals to register to vote based on their nationality documents. “When they have birth certificates, the clerk must register their names. We can’t sleep and consider it,” he said.

Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor Comfrel, said the authorities had mistakenly issued Cambodian birth certificates to Vietnamese immigrants in order to give them the right to vote.

“The NEC and the authorities should control this properly,” he said. He recognised, however, that a significant number of ethnic Vietnamese had a legitimate right to vote, though Comfrel did not have a specific number.

Court charges woman with fraud and forgery

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case against a 39-year-old businesswoman charged with fraud and forging private documents, after being accused of cheating the daughter of a CPP official out of more than US$1 million.

Oeung Rithea, was detained in April following a complaint filed to the Ministry of Interior by Chea Chamroeun, a Cambodian People’s Party representative in Kandal province and the dean of the Chamroeun University of Poly-Technology.

The complaint accuses Oeung Rithea of not repaying the $1,090,500 they lent to her to invest in six markets in Takeo, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot and Kratie provinces.

It also accuses her of spending an unspecified amount of the funds on purchasing a house and other items for herself.

The accused told the court that she had borrowed money from Chea Chamroeun’s wife, daughter and relatives to make investments, but claimed the amount was closer to $450,000.

“I didn’t receive all of the money, and it was not the $1,090,500 as it is claimed,” she told the court.

But Chea Chamroeun’s lawyer Touch Chhay told the court that a contract thumbprinted by the defendant proved that she borrowed the entire amount.

“The sum dates back to 2007 and is hard evidence that has already been copied for court officials,” he said.

Oeung Rithea later acknowledged the contract, but claimed that she falsified the amount to fool her husband during divorce proceedings.

She also acknowledged forging the thumbprint of Chap Bun Ravy, Chea Chamroeun’s daughter and co-director of a new market in Kratie, in a letter which stated that Chap Bun Ravy would attend a meeting regarding the market and which she submitted to the director of the provincial financial department.

“I forged the document out of fear that the [Kratie] market would face closure,” she said.

The complaint letter requests repayment of the amount in full and $3 million in compensation “for repairing our reputation, dignity and for wasting our time”.

Oeung Rithea faces between one and five years in prison for each charge and a fine of between 1 million riels (US$237) and 10 million riels if found guilty of forging private documents.

A verdict is scheduled for November 18.

Garment protests hit Sihanoukville factory

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Sen David

More than 600 factory workers protested in front of the PY garment factory in Sihanoukville’s Number 4 district yesterday, demanding better working conditions and approval for their fired union leader to return to work.

“We won’t come back to work until our union leader is allowed to work and the company has to obey the job conditions,” he said.

Workers asked the company and the provincial department of labour to guarantee 12 basic working conditions in addition to allowing their union leader to return.

Moe Piseth, the union leader, said the garment company “discriminated and abused” his and other workers’ rights, and fired him without cause.

Yov Kemera, director of the provincial labor department, said the company had agreed to some of the working conditions in talks with worker representatives but “could not accept” the return of the union leader, who they say was fired for cursing the manager.

Meanwhile, in Kampong Chhnang province, five workers from the M&V garment factory say they plan to file a complaint against the factory owner for the unwarranted loss of their jobs.

One of the workers, Chan Sovan, said the five met yesterday to discuss complaining to the director of the provincial Labour and Vocational Training Department because the owner “called us in for thumbprints … and told us we were fired from work”.

Sok Samphorn, director of the factory’s computer section, said the workers elected to quit on their own after getting angry with their boss.

“I told them to think before they decided to stop, but they did not listen to me or the factory owner,” he said.

Suspected activists in Pursat return home

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Sen David

Two village representatives in Pursat province returned home yesterday after spending three days in the wilderness to evade police over their role in a protest against a local developer.

Heng Pai and Bi Born said they returned to Sangkum Thmey village, in Veal Veng district, after a local rights group said they wouldn’t be arrested for their suspected role in the organisation of a protest against the MDS development firm.

Heng Pai said that 40 police officers arrived at his home earlier this week, and accused him of “persuading the residents” to protest on Monday against the company. Out of fear, he and Bi Born fled for three days.

Heng Pai said that the development firm’s encroachment would affect 85 families and up to 950 hectares of land, and that the firm was planning on building a casino and potato factory.

Chhin Ly, a deputy governor of Veal Veng district, said that authorities would “negotiate with the company over whether the affected families must be displaced or not”.

Sambok Chab evictees in Dangkor receive 25 houses

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Wun Hak, 56, does chores yesterday in her new house at Andong Thmey village, Korkroka commune, Dangkor.

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:03 May Titthara

RESIDENTS of Andong village in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district – who were evicted from their homes in Chamkarmorn district in 2006 – received 25 additional houses from a local NGO during a ceremony yesterday.

Hay Hoeun, president of the Andong Thmey community, said this was the eighth such instance of relocated residents receiving homes, and that more than 50 homes in total had been built to date by the People for Care and Learning, a United States-based NGO.

“We are working step by step; we cannot give all the families new homes at one time,” he said. “Other people have to wait for the next step.”

He said that there were a total of 1,554 families who were evicted from their houses at the Sambok Chab community in Chamkarmorn district’s Tonle Bassac commune.

Of those, only 224 families have received houses, and that local authorities have so far set lots for 444 families in total.

“We have three hectares of land set aside for those families, and each family gets a plot of land measuring four-by-six metres,” he said. “Other people are waiting for land.”

Andong village chief Sok Cham said people in the area were facing difficulties and had only been able to build temporary homes as they waited to accept housing from municipal authorities and local NGOs.

“We are very glad our people have received suitable houses for living,” he said.

Jennifer Tollefson, a representative of People for Care and Learning, said the NGO planed to build another 50 homes for the community.

“We are very excited about this project and the opportunity to help serve the families in this community,” she said by email.

More than 1,000 police officers, many of whom were armed and wearing riot gear, descended on the Sambok Chab slum, known as the “birds nest”, in June 2006 to evict the families, who were sent to Andong village in Dangkor’s Trapang Krasang commune, located some 25 kilometres from the city centre.

They were removed by Phnom Penh authorities on behalf of local developer, Sour Srun Enterprises, who bulldozed the area for re-development.

Villagers allege firm worsened flooding

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:03 Chhay Channyda

AROUND 100 families from Banteay Meanchey province are demanding compensation from a business they have accused of closing flood-prevention gates during torrential rains last month, resulting in widespread damage to villagers’ crops.

The complaints come from residents of Tuol Pongro commune in O’Chroy district and Poipet town’s Nimit commune. They have been levelled against Anco Brothers Co Ltd, a company that runs a water treatment facility in Poipet.

Saing Ban, a villager from Tuol Pongro commune, said the floodwaters haven’t yet drained away because the company has shut the water gates to a drainage system. He said the company is trying to retain the water for its water treatment facility.

“I need compensation for the damages done to my rice fields, either in the form of rice crops or cash,” said Saing Ban.

He said five water gates had been closed for four days, locking in floodwaters and damaging around 100 hectares of rice fields in Toul Pongro.

Anco Brothers could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Toul Pongro’s Commune Chief Tim Monn said that while rice fields had been damaged by heavy rains, water levels had receded 10 days prior, and that the company was not responsible for any damages.

“The flood was caused by simple rainfall,” said Tim Monn. “No company has touched the water gates.”

The affected villagers say they plan to file a complaint against the company with local rights group Adhoc.

Controversial NGO granted three new villages

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:02 Tep Nimol

Preah Vihear provincial authorities plan to register three new villages on land granted via social concessions to a local military battalion and an NGO that has been accused of an array of rights violations.

Provincial Governor Om Mara said on Tuesday that he had submitted a letter to the Ministry of Interior earlier this year that sought permission to register the new villages.

“It is nothing strange for this area to be divided into small villages,” he said, adding that such policies “strengthen the national administration system” by bringing remote villages under provincial governance.

Two of the villages – which are to be renamed Phum Koul 8 Bun Rany Hun Sen village and Phum Stoeung Kheuv Decho Hun Sen village – had already existed unofficially on land granted to Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Battalion 82.

Meanwhile, a village to be renamed Phum Vihearthor Samdech Decho Hun Sen already existed within a 556-hectare area of land granted to the Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation, a local NGO that has been accused by local residents and rights groups of ongoing abuses including land-grabbing, rape, violence and intimidation.

Om Mara said the naming of the villages was a common way to “show love and respect” to the prime minister, but noted that the Interior Ministry had not yet officially approved a sub-decree recognising them.

Moul Mab, Kantuot commune chief in Cham Ksan district, said that Battalion 82 had conducted a census of more than 500 families in the two villages on its land, while DARPO officials had conducted a census of more than 400 families in Phum Vihearthor Samdech Decho Hun Sen village.

Pen Loem, a one-star RCAF general and director of DARPO, said that 498 families had been registered during the census, which was forwarded to the provincial authorities on Monday.

However, Sam Duong, a villager from the future Phum Vihearthor Samdech Decho Hun Sen village, said he had not been questioned for the census, but said that local officials had informed him of the new village name.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator at the local rights group Adhoc, welcomed the establishment of the new villages, which he said could mitigate land disputes in the area, but warned that ongoing protests and complaints against DARPO regarding rights violations would likely continue.

Create some flower power

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:02 Post Staff

THE use of flowers and bouquets for the bride and bridal party, the reception and even the bridal car are becoming more and more important in Cambodian wedding planning and one of the main thoughts is to carry a theme throughout the entire day with the floral arrangements.

There is nothing lovelier than a reception venue decorated in the same theme as your bridal bouquets. Many reception venues will include flowers in their packages and make sure they will fit in with what you are having in your bouquets and that they will suit the style of wedding you have selected.

Your reception venue will be happy to arrange all your floral needs and follow your ideas and stay within a budget that will provide colour and creativity to your special day.

Flowers and floral arrangements can be quite a large part of the wedding budget so look at cost effective options and there are some which still have a stunning effect such as adding floating candle bowls with the accompanying flowers from your bouquet at the reception; vases filled with your favourite blooms; the simplicity but romance of rose petals scattered over the tablecloths or placing an individual flower next to each table place card setting.

Be creative, colourful and romantic and if you choose wisely you can keep within a reasonable budget.

Oar and order

Photo by: Pha Lina

via CAAI

Friday, 05 November 2010 15:02 Uong Ratana

Rowers of Dangkor commune boat Komsan Choulasa put their all into a practice session yesterday on a Choeung Ek pond using stationary split logs in place of their racing craft. Previously, the Water Festival, or Bon Om Tuk, drew two million visitors to Phnom Penh for the boat races and festivities but due to the global economic crisis last year, official estimates put the number at a million. Expect that figure to balloon in 2010.