Thursday, 11 November 2010

Cambodian politician works from ground up

By Madeline McMahon
Contributing Reporter
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Almost 40 years after she fled her native country under the threat of war, activist and politician Mu Sochua is fighting her own battle for women’s rights in Cambodia.

At the Pierson College master’s house Wednesday afternoon, Mu Sochua — a member of the Cambodian parliament and former Minister of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs in the Cambodian prime minister’s cabinet — promoted tolerance and grassroots activism to an audience of about 15. Sochua said her aim was to educate students and faculty about her work to create a corruption-free government which represents women as fairly as men.

“I want to make my party committed to putting women on the ballot,” she said. “We want to make people ask all of the political parties, ‘Do you have women candidates?’”

Mu Sochua began by discussing how she came to be involved in Cambodian politics. When she was 18, Mu Sochua left Cambodia for France to avoid the Vietnam War, which was threatening to spill into Cambodia. Soon after, in 1975, the communist Khmer Rouge regime took control of the nation. Mu Sochua moved to America and spent several years helping Cambodian refugees integrate into American society, but returned to her home country in 1989 and ran for elected office. In 1998, she finally won a seat in the Cambodian national assembly.

“Whatever topic fell into my legislation, I went into it fully,” she said. “I disguised myself as a sex slave, I marched with workers. I needed to know this in order to draft a bill.”

Mu Sochua is a prominent advocate for placing female members in Parliament. Her strategy, she said, is to identify intelligent and outspoken women while on her own campaign trail. Then, she trains these women to become legitimate candidates and sends them back to their rural villages to communicate with their fellow citizens and gather enough support to be elected.

Domestic politics can only go so far in the fight against corruption, Mu Sochua said. To this end, Mu Sochua presented a four-point plan to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 during her visit to Cambodia last week that would engage the United States in Cambodian government reform. Under the plan, the United States would protect Mu Sochua’s opposition party by monitoring the security of its members, funding judicial reform, ensuring free and fair elections and supporting civil society programs.

Sochua believes that this plan would combat corruption and give citizens the chance to effectively participate in a representative government.

“If there is more transparency and visibility, there is less corruption,” Mu Sochua said. “In Cambodian, the word ‘corruption’ means ‘broken and rotten to the core.’”

“If we all speak against one thing we know is bad, then we will have the courage to speak,” she added.

Pierson College Master Harvey Goldblatt GRD ’77 said he enjoyed the talk, adding that he was greatly concerned with human rights in Cambodia as a youth growing up in the 1970s. He also said he found her grassroots approach to reform appealing.

“What I particularly liked was that she wasn’t discussing lofty ideals, but rather dealing with people in the villages and combating their distrust of government,” he said.

Daryl Hok ’14 and Martin Shapiro ’14, both children of first generation Cambodian immigrants, said they appreciated the lecture because of its hopeful message.

“This was a different view that wasn’t as well known as the negative aspects of Cambodian government,” Hok said. “It was also really enlightening because she has been there, fighting a war against corruption.”

The discussion was sponsored by Vital Voices, a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C.

Dead cow "arrested" for accident

via CAAI


Phnom Pehn - The corpse of a cow that caused a crash in western Cambodia was confiscated and held at a police station for several hours in an unsuccessful bid to flush out its owner, local media reported on Thursday.

Chhoeum Sophun, who heads the traffic police in Banteay Meanchey province, told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that police had hoped the cow's owner would come forward and compensate the two vehicle owners.

But the uninjured drivers gave up after waiting two hours on Sunday, and decided to pay for repairs themselves.

"They took the dead cow with them," he said. "I don't know what they will do with it."

Chhoeum Sophun speculated that the cow's owner stayed away because the damage would have totalled thousands of dollars, far more than the animal was worth dead or alive.

The country's wandering bovines made the news in September when police arrested a dozen "anarchic" cows that were roaming the streets of Phnom Penh and disrupting traffic.

The herd was taken to the My Chance drug rehabilitation centre, and are still being held there because the owners did not come to claim them.

In March, police confiscated 15 bulls and cows in Phnom Penh after concerns their amorous antics might cause accidents.

In recent years, Cambodia's once-dire national roads have been upgraded, but it remains common to see livestock wandering across highways and on the outskirts of towns and cities.

AmeriCares, AstraZeneca extend Cambodian agreement

via CAAI

Richard Lee, Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Before Stamford-based AmeriCares and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals arrived three years ago at Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, women suffering from breast cancer had little chance of survival.

Doctors at the hospital were unfamiliar with breast cancer treatment, and women often arrived at the hospital with advanced stages of the disease, too late for life-saving procedures.

"The hospital was seeing 20 patients a year for breast cancer," said Ella Gudwin, vice president of strategic program development at AmeriCares, noting that for the 12 months ending March 31, the number had increased to 123. "The program has exceeded most of its targets. This is the only successful breast cancer program for poor Cambodian patients. The average patient is earning $2 a day. Chemotherapy would be the equivalent of four years of income."

Based on the results, AmeriCares and AstraZeneca, based in Wilmington, Del., have made a three-year commitment to expand early breast cancer detection and treatment in the Southeast Asian country. The renewed commitment expands a program that provides free cancer screenings, medications, patient education and medical staff training at the charity hospital involving the two partners.

"By expanding the program, we will provide the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope with the vital resources necessary to treat women diagnosed with breast cancer who would not otherwise be able to afford treatment. We will also broaden our efforts to reach thousands more with breast cancer education, as studies have shown the importance of education and early detection in increasing survival rates," said Dr. Frank Bia, medical director for AmeriCares.

The program goal is to treat 600 women annually by 2014.

"This collaboration with AmeriCares makes it possible for AstraZeneca to get critical medications to the women who need them in Cambodia and helps ensure cancers are detected and treated earlier," said Jennifer McGovern, director of patient assistance programs at AstraZeneca, which began its relationship with AmeriCares in 2005 to support Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.

An alarming number of Cambodian women die every year because of a lack of public awareness, limited cancer screening opportunities and the high cost of treatment. At the Phnom Penh hospital, cancer patients are given anti-hormonal treatment, lab testing and surgery at no cost.

AstraZeneca provides its Arimidex and Faslodex drugs for various treatment programs, some of which take five years. It also gave $105,000 for the first three years of the program and has pledged $276,297 for the ensuing three years.

AstraZeneca also provides AmeriCares with products for its clinics in El Salvador, Tanzania and Haiti, said McGovern.

She added that AstraZeneca started its patient assistance program in the United States 30 years ago, and is extending a similar effort to those in other countries through AmeriCares.

Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $9 billion in humanitarian aid to 147 countries. In fiscal year 2010, it delivered more than $850 million in program services and medical assistance to 97 countries.

VRG builds school in Cambodia

via CAAI

The Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 9 to build a primary school and a medical clinic in Kadia commune, Khoun Touk district of Cambodia’s Kompong Thom province.

Covering five hectares of land, the school and the clinic are being built at a cost of US$96,000 and are funded by the VRG’s Tan Bien, Ba Ria, Phuoc Hoa and Chu Xe companies. Of the funding, US$26,000 will be used to build a 4km road section connecting the school with another province and construction is expected to be completed in five months.

Addressing the ceremony, VRG General Director Tran Ngoc Thuan said the project is a symbol of friendship and solidarity between the Vietnamese and Cambodian people, he said.

VRG will build more schools with the assistance of Vietnamese rubber businesses in Kompong Thom province, he added.

Mayor of Kompong Thom province Chhon Chuol thanked the VRG for its valuable practical gift for Kadia commune and Khoun Touk district. He also highlighted the work of VRG affiliates which have generated more jobs for locals and contributed to local social activities.

Cambodia Hotels, Kampot Hotels, Champey Inn Hotel

via CAAI

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 10, 2010 – Kampot City (Khmer: ក្រុងកំពត, Khmer name for "Tetraodontidae") is the capital city of Kampot Province in southern Cambodia, with a population of 39,186.

The city is a quiet riverside town just a few kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand. Before the war, Kampot was best known for its famous black pepper, which is still widely available in Cambodia.

Kampot town is the base for daytrips up the Dâmrei Mountains in general, and Bokor Mountain in particular, in either a truck or a dirt bike. Stunning panoramic views over Cambodia and Vietnam can be enjoyed from the mountain tops. Waterfalls, boating and rafting on the river can be enjoyed in town, and popular attractions are the Kompong Trach caves with their ancient ruins and the durian and pepper farms. The little island of Koh Tonsay can be visited from Kampot City by boat. Visitors can enjoy long stretches of golden sand and tasty local crab curry

Kampot is an up and coming tourist destination and the town has recently undergone many changes. There are a number of charming hotels, guesthouses and resorts in the towns of Kampot and Kep, while home stays can be found in the rest of the province. The province is connected to the rest of the country and Vietnam by well-maintained road.

The Champey Inn Hotel in Kep, Cambodia This is one of Kep’s flashest digs near the shore, boasting a pool and spacious, tasteful rooms. The 16 bungalows are all duplex and have large open air bathrooms almost as big as the bedroom. Each room is equipped with all of the amenities and comfort to make your stay as pleasurable as possible. Whether you are visiting for business or pleasure, the hotel sure you will find accomodations more than satisfying.

China, India in promotional sights

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:02 Post Staff

THE Kingdom is targeting continued promotion of Cambodia to expand into big worldwide population markets as the latest figures show foreign tourist numbers have increased in every quarter of 2010.

The number of tourists has increased by 14.56 percent in the first nine months of the year and Tourism Minister Thorng Khun said 2010 was the year of recovery for Cambodia’s tourism and numbers were expected to hit 2.4 million by the end of the year.

Tourism has been considered as a primary sector among 10 important sectors for developing the nation’s economy and society because the sector contributes about 12 percent of GDP.

Thorng Khun said that with the open strategy for foreigners by not charging for visas with some countries and the improving air flight links between Cambodian and other countries there was an expectation that the number of tourists visiting Cambodia would increase even further.

“We are optimistic about the growing number of tourists under the strategy, and we will continue to boost our targets by more active promotion,” Thorng Khun said.

He said the Kingdom would put its tourism focus on promotion into big population markets such as China, India, Russia, and the Middle East in order to attract more tourists because there was still only a low number visiting Cambodia from those nations.

According to the ministry’s data, 127,829 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia in the first nine months while 9,646 came from India, 20,343 from Russia, and 5,994 from the Middle East.

The minister said the ministry had spent more than US$2 million on promotion in order to attract foreign tourists to visit Cambodia and he wanted more tourists from those countries so that profits would increase and new jobs would be created for Cambodians.

He said there had been a boost to the linkage flight between other nations and Cambodia, with some flights from China, but there were no flights from India, Russia, and the Middle East.

As the world’s economy recovers from recession the number of tourists has increased by 14.56 percent in the first nine months year on year with 1,803,180 flowing into Cambodia, including 68.07 percent from the Asia Pacific region , and 21.84 percent from Europe, America, Africa and the Middle East.

According to figures obtained from the Ministry of Tourism, 613,138 (20.61 percent) of tourists from countries in the Southeast Asia bloc visited the Kingdom, with most visitors from Vietnam which is up to 341,113 or 49.16 percent of the total visitors in the first nine months.

Beside the regional visitors, there are 335,619 European visitors or 18.61 percent of total tourists visiting Cambodia and 76,629 French visitors coming into the Kingdom, both up less than one percent on last year.

There were 142,580 American visitors, 8 percent, a decline of 2.76 percent compared to the same time the previous year, and 3,457 African tourists, a decline of 12.20 percent.

Efforts by the government to counter the drop in tourists from the West by reducing traffic restrictions with Vietnam have been successful, but have also contributed to a shift in the visitor demographic towards lower-spending, shorter-term visitors.

The average international visitor spent about US$1 less per day in 2009 compared to 2008 – just under $112 – which resulted in a fall of around $2 million across the industry. The average visitor also stayed for a briefer period. Cambodia’s tourism industry remains heavily reliant on its two major attractions – Angkor Wat and the capital, Phnom Penh. The major obstacle for the tourism industry is encouraging visitors, Western in particular, to venture beyond these hotspots and explore more of the country.

Ho Vandy, co-director of Team for Private Tourism, said with the new policy and strategy relating to tourism made by the Cambodian government more tourists would be attracted. With the linkage flight with other countries and developing islands and linkage of Siem Reap’s Angkor to the coastal provinces as well ecological tourism sites in northeastern provinces he said he could see an increase of 50 percent in future tourism numbers.

“Cambodia has a strong potential attraction because there are a lot of ancient temples and it is rich in natural resources,” he said.

The Cambodian government has installed a policy to change tourism into culture and nature because it believes there are a lot of wonderfully historical shrines such as Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear, Asia’s largest mangrove, and biodiversity in Tone Sap Lake, that are main tourism attractions for international visitors.

With these potential sources, the Kingdom’s ministry estimated the number of tourists visiting Cambodia will be up to 2.4 million, a 12 percent increase compared to last year, and the revenue from the sector is expected to be about US$1,631 million.

There were 2,161,577 foreigners visiting the nation last year, a 2 percent increase compared to 2008, earning up to US$1,595 million.

Forum feast for the capital

ATF 2011 TRAVEX will last for three days of the Forum with the Ministry of Tourism for Cambodia hosting the event’s opening and closing ceremonies.

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:02 Post Staff

PHNOM Penh is gearing up to host the 30th ASEAN Tourist Forum (ATF 2011) with more than 1,600 delegates including 400 international buyers at the capital’s newly completed Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre in January.

Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the ATF 2011 Inter-Ministerial Organising Committee, Sok An, said it was a great event for ASEAN and ASEAN + 3 (India, Australia and Russia) and other partners to help promote the development of the tourism industry.

He said the forum theme would be ASEAN – A World of Wonders and Diversity which would reflect the region’s rich culture, abundant natural resources and high quality services in the tourism industry.

Minister for Tourism Thong Khon said it would be held from January 15-21 and would include travel exchange TRAVEX providing the venue for ASEAN’s package tour sellers and potential buyers from the region and the world.

“Cambodia is proud to host ATF for the second time – the first was in 2003 – which proves the development in all sectors in Cambodia, particularly infrastructure development, potential cultural and historical tourism, and abundant natural resources, together with the natural smiles of Cambodian people, deserved to be recognized as Cambodia – Kingdom of Wonder’” he said.

The Minister added that “the ATF will give the greatest opportunities for both buyers and sellers to enhance business communication, operation and networking in a close and friendly manner.”

TRAVEX said it had recorded strong interest and a rapid take-up rate by exhibitors for the travel trade event which would showcase the largest contingent of ASEAN destination products and services and have 25 percent more booths space than last year.

More than 70 percent of the 450 available booth spaces have already been secured by last month by some 240 exhibiting companies from across the 10 ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Buyer registrations have been overwhelming with more than 600 applications received from across the world. Only 400 of the best buyers will be selected to attend the event under a privileged hosting program.

With regards to the buoyant interest for ATF 2011, Ooi Peng Ee, general manager of TTG Asia Media’s exhibition and events explained: “Improving market optimism aside, a significant part of this year’s interest also has to do with the appeal of Cambodia as a destination. Our international delegates are motivated to experience the country’s rich cultural, natural, and historical heritage.”

Host country Cambodia began its marketing efforts to tantalise the industry’s travel professionals at the last ATF 2010 closing ceremony by pulling out all stops to deliver a sumptuous and entertaining evening complete with a gastronomic and cultural showcase.

Bikers’ belief – two wheels good

For more information you can visit the website at:

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:02 Post Staff

WHILE Angkor Wat tourists still reign supreme in those coming to our shores looking to past and ancient civilisations, our visitors are developing their interests and venturing out to the many villages and provinces, national parks and rainforests for some extra excitement.

Adventure tourism can mean anything from hang gliding to white- water rafting, trekking to offroading.

But Cambodia Enduro Adventures believes that if you are looking to see this beautiful and diverse country there is no better way than on a motorcycle.

“You can visit remote temples amidst the jungle rarely seen by others and visit traditional rural villages. We can provide customers with everything needed including bikes, lodgings, and support vehicles. Nearly 70percent of our clients are novice riders so anyone can enjoy these tours,” said Enduro’s Graham Burbidge.

The company’s tours encompass the whole of the country as well as southern Laos but the most popular destinations are the north, northeast and the south.

“In the north we travel through the provinces of Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Kratie. Southern provinces include Kampong Spue, Koh Kong, Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville while another popular route is the Pursat – Cardomon Mountains – Koh Kong,” said Graham.

“These are the most popular places but we vary our tours to meet the customer’s needs. The tours generally take place all year round but the most popular time is the dry season – November to April .

“Tour times are based on individuals and group needs. We usually like to keep groups to a maximum of 15 but that can be increased based on bike availability, guides and other factors.” The customers of Cambodia Enduro Adventures come from all over the world with about 60 percent Australian, 10 percent French and the remaining 30 percent from other mixed nations.

“We have been in operation since 2006. Only recently we began marketing ourselves through the internet as we see a developing market in this area,” said Graham.

Biodiversity a valuable resource

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:02 Post Staff

PRIME Minister Hun Sen believes that ecological biodiversity is “an invaluable resource treasure”, serving and sustaining tourism development, and has called on international tourists and investors worldwide to visit the rich, diverse tourist destinations across Cambodia.

Talking during Cambodia’s worldwide participation in the celebrations of World Tourism Day recently, he said that a wide variety of rich and perfect ecosystems played an attractive role as a tourism product for millions of tourists every year.

He said the tourism movement of environment lovers was rapidly increasing in the world, mainly in Asia, and that meant the biodiversity system really had value and played a catalytic role in sustaining the stability of the long-term increase of tourists.

“As a result tourism development plays a role as a central source for a substantial generation of jobs and income in local communities, in which it is an encouragement for them to involve and participate in the conservation of the environment, biodiversity and biosphere in the region,” said the prime minister.

He said that to foster the conservation of natural resources required education and the strengthening of public awareness of people in local communities, local authorities, the private sector and all key stakeholders about the essence of the natural asset and the impacts of their action.

With the recreational travels of millions of tourists to various areas, the tourism sector was seen as a highly efficient means for further awareness promotion of challenges related to the environment as well as to draw public attention towards the preservation of the environment and biodiversity.

While making his comments at the government’s participation in the celebration of World Tourism Day 2010 on September 27, he took the opportunity to congratulate the achievements of Cambodian tourism in poverty alleviation, macroeconomic stability and its contribution to the development of the green economy in Cambodia consistent with current global trends.

He said the theme of that day, tourism and biodiversity, was consistent with the 2010 celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity determined by the United Nations in order to mirror the importance of the biodiversity system for the future of human-beings through recognition of the close interrelationships of natural resources and socioeconomic development. The prime minister said this year’s theme would identify the prime role of sustainable tourism development contributing to natural resources conservation and responsible environment protection.

“Recently, the entire world has been challenging a number of global problems including climate change and global warming, which require special attention. This urgent challenge requires all of us, including the Royal Government of Cambodia, the international community, private sector and the citizens to hand-in-hand actively resolve it with a sense of high responsibility,” said Hun Sen.

“At present, the development of green responsible tourism at local communities such as community-based ecotourism, agro tourism and nature-based tourism would really contribute to the protection of the environment and biodiversity; cope with the world’s endlessly increasing demographic pressure including irresponsible human actions which have caused the continued loss and destruction of biodiversity.

“In this sense, the tourism sector and biodiversity have an undeniably evident close interrelationship; namely the tourism sector can never disconnect from the environment in forming a catalytic force to accelerate the socioeconomic growth, poverty alleviation and contributing to expedite the growth of various cross-sectoral industries.

“Having seen the vital role of the tourism sector in the contribution of socioeconomic growth, the Royal Government has determined it as one of the priority sectors in the Rectangular Strategy Phase II in this fourth term; and the tourism sector has been considered as green gold because it plays a vital role in improving the livelihood of locals, mainly local communities at the tourist sites.

“I would like to appeal to all citizens, royal government ministries, institutions, relevant-line authorities, private sector, national and international NGOs, to continue supporting and actively contributing to the development of the Cambodian tourism sector by participating actively and with a sense of high responsibility in the preservation and protection of cultural assets and the environment; promoting the improvement of quality tourism and service; maintaining peace, tourism safety and security,” said the prime minister.

He called for strong participation in the competitive movement of “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service” in order to suitably develop Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder, and become a very attractive world-class tourist destination in the region and worldwide.

He invited international tourists and investors “from every corner of globe” to come to the Kingdom of Cambodia and to visit the rich diverse tourist destinations across the country and participate in the promotion of tourism development.

Community-based ecotourism

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:02 Post Staff

THE Chambok community-based ecotourism site, which lies at the border of Kirirom National Park in Kompong Speu province, serves as a model for best practice in community-based ecotourism in Cambodia.

The Chambok site, which features some of Cambodia’s unique natural biodiversity, is an initiative developed in 2001 by a local environment organisation called Mlup Baitong, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment. The aim was to address the issues of deforestation and community livelihoods for villagers in the area, who depend on the forests to produce charcoal to make a living. Through community education programmes, they were shown the benefits of protecting the forests for future generations.

Since then, the Chambok ecotourism project has been developed to provide an alternative income to the villagers. Managed by the villagers of Chambok commune, all revenue from tourism stays in the community and helps them to protect the forest and manage it in a sustainable way.

Trained local guides are available to share their knowledge of nature, history and cultural aspects of the area and the site also has a visitor centre and a restaurant where local youth stage dance performances and Khmer food is served.

Chambok Eco-tourism Resort, about 70km from Phnom Penh in Kampong Spue province, is just a few kilometres away from Kirirom Hillside resort. But while Kirirom is an upscale luxury retreat, Chambok is a successful and sustainable community project.

Fun and adventure in a friendly environment

“Unlike many similar schemes, Chambok is run with definite and realistic aims in mind. Conservation that benefits local communities through tourism. Ecotourism is very important for community development,” explained Chan Sokha, KCD’s director.

“Chambok is managed by the community, which benefits from it. The project supports families and the community.”

Situated next to Kirirom National Park, Chambok has many attractions and activities to offer both local and international tourists who are strongly interested in nature. It is well known for its three streams, including the biggest with more than 40 metres of beautiful waterfall.

Tourists can take guided tours to one of those streams and enjoy the views while hiking through the forest. The English-speaking guides will tell you a lot about both animals living in the forests and plants growing there and there is a unique opportunity to experience a bat cave and its hundreds of inhabitants.

Next to the Chambok ecotourism site the Kirirom National Park has a basic guesthouse and restaurant while the Kirirom Hillside resort is a hotel containing several bungalows, a restaurant, theme park and swimming pool at the border of Kirirom National Park.

The small town of Treng Trayeung with its market and restaurants is close by.

Students protest charges of fraud by Education Ministry

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A police officer speaks to teacher trainees during their protest in front of the National Institute of Education near Independence Monument yesterday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana

MORE than 40 trainee teachers protested yesterday in front of the National Institute of Education after they were removed from their course following accusations of fraud from the Ministry of Education.

A letter, signed by the ministry’s secretary of state Pith Chamnan on November 5, asked the NIE to remove the 42 education students – who were attempting to take a one-year course to become university teachers – because they were already primary and secondary school teachers and were trying to take an easier entrance exam.

The examination, which took place on September 30, is administered to recent high school graduates and former teachers who are trying to upgrade their credentials.

The Ministry of Education said the fraudulent students purposely didn’t indicate their prior teaching experience in applications as a way of taking an easier entrance exam.

Ang Tith, 26, a representative of the protesters, said the ministry was taking actions against them “without any advanced announcement”.

“The Ministry of Education should have dealt with us before the entrance exam and start of classes,” he said. “This is not proper for us.”

Ang Tith said the protests were aimed at drawing the attention of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who he thought could intervene and bring the students back to their studies. The premier has spoken at multiple graduation ceremonies at the NIE in the past year.

But Roth Huot, deputy director of the National Institute of Education said the decision was made by the ministry “who found these students and ended their studies”.

He said the course started on November 2 with 900 students who passed the examination. One week into the course, the Ministry of Education discovered the 42 students who faked their background information and were currently looking for others.

A treasure trove in our many islands

Rabbit Island has some beautiful beaches.

Islands await only a boat ride away.
via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

THERE are dozens of islands in the waters off Cambodia and more are becoming both accessible and popular with tourists.

Some you can only visit and some have accommodation and many are easy and quite quick to get to from coastal resorts such as Sihanoukville.

These are some of the most popular.

Koh Ta Kieu: A jungle-covered island with nice beaches. Bungalow accommodation is available.

Koh Tang: Some of the best dive sites in Cambodia are located in the vicinity of this distant island quite far off the coast. The island is remote, has nice beaches and clear waters. It can be reached in a two-day liveaboard diving trip.

Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island): A pretty island just off the shore of Kep, Koh Tonsay has nice beaches and lots of trees as well as basic accommodation.

Koh Thmei: Located in the protected zone of Ream National Park, Koh Thmei is surrounded with mangroves. Offshore coral reefs hold lots of marine life and are good for snorkeling.

Koh Rung: One of Cambodia's largest islands, Koh Rung has great beaches, mountains and jungle as well as a few small fishing villages.

Koh Rung Somloen: A large island with a pleasant fishing town and nice beaches, Koh Rung Somloen is one of Cambodia's nicest islands. Beach bungalows are available.

Koh Pos (Snake Island): A small island close to Victory Beach in Sihanoukville, it can be reached easily by sea kayak.

Koh Prins: An island with clear waters, nearby reefs and shipwrecks four hours from Sihanoukville.

Koh Kong: A large island located near Koh Kong town in the Western part of the country.

Defence support head at KRT steps down

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 James O'Toole

THE head of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Defence Support Section announced his resignation yesterday, leaving a warning about the threat of political interference in the work of the court.

DSS head Richard Rogers said in a statement that he would be moving on from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as the tribunal is formally known, to go to the Hague, headquarters of the International Criminal Court. As the tribunal moves forward with its work, the Briton stressed the importance of making proper recourse available to defence teams concerned about political interference.

“The ECCC does not exist in a vacuum; it functions within a country where the institutions of justice and respect for rule of law are still developing,” Rogers said.

“In this context, the greatest challenge for the defence remains the threat of political interference that may undermine the independence of the Court. Whilst there are judicial voting mechanisms in place to guard against this possibility, they may yet prove to be inadequate.”

The DSS is not associated with any particular defendant, but rather provides legal and administrative assistance to the court’s five defence teams. United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen said yesterday that a successor for Rogers, due to step down this week, had not yet been appointed.

“There will be a replacement recruited as per normal procedures,” Olsen said.

Staircase completed at Preah Vihear temple

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Thet Sambath

THE construction of a 1,630-metre wooden staircase to the summit of Preah Vihear Temple has been completed, the latest development in the effort to draw tourists to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Preah Vihear National Authority began the project last year, building the wooden steps alongside the ancient stone stairs at the cliffside temple. Authorities say the new stairs will allow visitors to explore the complex more easily.

“I hope the stairs will help attract more tourists to visit the temple, because we have more ways of accessing it now,” said Om Phirom, chief of the PVNA’s heritage police.

In the first half of this year, nearly 50,000 tourists visited the temple complex, compared with fewer than 6,000 for the same time period in 2009. Local officials said better infrastructure and reduced tensions along the border with Thailand has contributed to the significantly higher turnout.

As the development has expanded, however, government officials and preservation workers have come into conflict with local residents.

Villagers in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district were told to leave their homes by the end of last month to make way for the construction of UNESCO and PVNA offices.

More than 250 families in the district’s Svay Chrum village have been offered 2 million riels (US$475) and plots of land in the Thamacheat Samdech Techo Village, which has already taken in hundreds of relocated families in the area, though many say this compensation is insufficient.

“The villagers were asked to leave by the end of last month, but they haven’t moved from their houses or settled in the new area,” Mol Mab, chief of Kantuot commune said yesterday.

Song Saa: launch pad for Koh Rong

Visions will become reality next year at Song Saa

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

THE Koh Rong archipelago can boast 22 islands off Cambodia’s south-west coastline and as the area is talked up as the “Indochinese Riviera”, the first test of its allure is taking shape on the private island of Song Saa with development due for completion in about 12 months.

Targeting foreign investors, Phuket was the launch pad for the island units to upmarket investors by developer Brocon Investment in December last year, not co-incidental in that the Cambodian islands would like to emulate the Thai island resort, although perhaps in a more low key way without the teaming tourists and over-the-top development.

Last month the developers put the last six over-water villas on the market for potential investors in the Song Saa resort, which when opened will feature 25 rainforest, beach and over-water villas.

The resort spans two islands, Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve which has been established to safeguard the islands’ reefs and marine life.

The two islands are known locally as Song Saa, about a 30-minute speed-boat ride from Sihanoukville, which itself is hoped to provide a gateway to Cambodia’s southern coast and its islands.

That gateway is dependent on an operational international airport and is a critical catalyst to the long-term development goals of the mega-rich Royal Group, which wants to develop the pristine island of Koh Rong, the largest of the archipelago’s islands, over the next five years.

Tourism industry resurgent in Asia

Angkor Golf Resort, one of three courses in Siem Reap

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

THE world is rising from the slump brought about by the economic crisis experienced not only in Western countries, but most especially in Southeast Asia and East Asian countries.

The resurgent tourism industry within Asia is fostering this rise through the power of regional consumers in their patronage of the regional markets and tourism within the area.

Tourism generally represents a relatively small share of a country’s economic output, but the influx of tourists in a certain area or region signals the willingness of consumers to spend. This willingness is brought about by the governments’ stimulus spending as well as subsidies.

These incentives from the government encourage consumers to not only purchase cars and appliances, but the shift of interest and spending on travel is seen as perhaps the next stage for recovery.

Yuwa Hedrick Wong, Chief Economist for Master Card, explained that many Asian consumers, not burdened too much by debt compared with their Western counterparts, put away money during the economic downturn and are now spending some of those savings on travel.

Tourism is a spending multiplier. It puts money in the hands of a diverse set of people in the economy from the airline pilots to taxi drivers and hotel staff. It is a growth stimulus in itself, for the economy of destination countries as purported by Yuwa Hedrick-Wong.

The increase in intra-Asian tourism may pave the way for the realisation of one of the long term goals sought by many policy makers around the world: a rebalancing of the global economy in which consumer spending becomes a bigger driver of Asia’s growth.

High-spending Americans and Germans, for example, are critical sources of demand in places like Thailand and Indonesia. Malaysia attracted 22 million tourists in 2009, a 7 percent increase from the year before. Tourism spending helped boost the country’s fourth quarter growth rate to 4.5 percent. Overall Southeast Asia experienced a 2 percent increase in international visitors in 2009. Taiwan credited unexpected growth to an outpouring of tourists.

Tourism spending made up 13.6 percent of Cambodia’s gross domestic product, 9.5 percent in Malaysia and 8.4 percent in Thailand.

Visitors from South Korea, China and Taiwan have begun to stream in again after the slump in 2009. Small businesses like travel agencies, transportation agencies and people like tour guides, motor taxi drivers, and owners of small to medium scale businesses are getting busy again because of a tourist influx.

Korean-owned hotels and Korean barbecue restaurants are the main attractions in Siem Reap. Three new golf courses are also attracting visitors, especially Koreans, like a magnet.

This recovery in travel spending is a great indication of better things to come for the growth of the Asian markets.

Villagers freed over land violence

Photo by: ADHOC
Chem Sarum, 43, talks to journalists yesterday after being questioned by officials at the Kampong Speu province court relating to a long-standing land dispute with the Phnom Penh Sugar Company.

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 May Titthara

AFTER hours of questioning yesterday, Kampong Speu provincial court officials decided not to detain three villagers summoned to appear in connection with the burning of a sugar company office earlier this year.

“We decided not to detain these people because they have many small children and another woman is a widow,” Judge Keo Mony said after the hearing yesterday.

But he said the villagers would have to present themselves at the Omlaing police office each month until further notice.

In March, angry villagers torched a makeshift building belonging to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, a firm owned by Cambodian People’s Party’s Senator Ly Yong Phat. Local anger has been stoked by the company’s claims on 9,000 hectares of land in Thpong district’s Omlaing commune, a dispute that remains ongoing.

More than 300 villagers travelled to the court on Tuesday and waited outside the courthouse as yesterday’s questioning took place.

Three villagers – Chim Srey Mom, 41, Sar Than, 43, Dul Leang, 28 – were summoned for questioning in relation to the burning of the office. A fourth, Puth Yoeun, who is accused of living on company land, did not appear at court.

Suspect Sar Than said he denied the accusation that he and the other villagers were in any way involved with inciting a mob to destroy the office.

“I have been ordered and required to present myself at the Omlaing police post every month and in case I am absent, I will be arrested,” he added.

Chim Srey Mom also said she expected some sort of “trick”.

Ouch Leng, a land dispute officer at local rights group Adhoc, said that despite letting the accused villagers go free, the court had not provided justice to the Omlaing people.

“The court has not found any mistakes and it should drop all accusations against them. This land is part of an economic land concession, so the government has to solve [the dispute],” he said.

Chheang Kimsruon, a representative of Phnom Penh Sugar Company, could not be reached yesterday.

Visionary plan for 'Indochinese Riviera'

Koh Rong, a pristine island with unspoilt beaches, is on its way to becoming a major attraction.

Unspoiled Koh Rong is set to become Asia’s first environmentally planned resort island.

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

CAMBODIAN tourism and foreign investment continue to grow as momentum gathers pace for The Royal Group of Cambodia’s visionary plan to develop what they term Asia’s “first environmentally planned resort island”.

The country’s biggest business conglomerate, The Royal Group, with substantial interests in property and infrastructure development, is now at the forefront of developing the country’s coastal tourism, with a bold plan to transform the pristine island of Koh Rong, 30 minutes by speedboat from Preah Sihanouk province, into an eco-resort island aimed at rivaling established destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Bali.

Royal Group chairman and CEO Neak Oknha Dr Kith Meng recently unveiled a master plan to create an ecologically sound resort paradise. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment has been completed by Scott Wilson and a detailed master plan developed by MAP Architects. The first phase is set to be rolled out over the next five years.

The group’s plan for sustainable tourism development of Koh Rong – the largest of 22 islands in an archipelago off the coast – is based on a 99-year lease in perpetuity on the 78 sq km island granted to the company by the Cambodian government.

The unique lease means the island is under the control of a single owner unlike elsewhere in Asia – providing an attractive proposition to foreign investors of hotels, residential developments, marinas and golf courses and other tourism infrastructure services.

Extensive and diverse business interests with reach into so many areas of Cambodian society and its economy have established The Royal Group as Cambodia’s premier strategic gateway for serious international companies seeking to invest in this fast developing country. As Cambodia becomes more integrated into the global economy, Australian-educated Kith Meng has emerged as a key player in promoting the country to potential foreign investors as a profitable and desirable place to do business.

Now tourism is poised to play an ever increasing role in Cambodia’s economy.

“The Royal Group is now continuing its contribution to Cambodia’s tourism growth with the vision for development of Koh Rong our latest project aimed at lifting the economy by developing coastal tourism which, as Thailand has demonstrated, contributes enormously to overall tourism revenue for a country,” said Neak Oknha Dr Kith Meng.

“Tourism to Siem Reap Province is well developed with world famous Angkor Wat, but the potential of the country’s beautiful coastline is the missing link in the overall development of Cambodia’s tourism.”

Only 7.15% of international visitors in 2009 visited the Kingdom’s undiscovered beaches – even though O’Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk Province, Ream Beach and Koh Rong are ranked in the top 22 of “Asia’s Best Beaches” by Forbes Magazine.

With Vietnam, Korea, China, Japan, USA and France as the biggest markets, Cambodia now sees a golden opportunity to develop tourism along its relatively untouched coast – and persuade visitors to extend their holidays in the country, rather than proceeding to beach destinations elsewhere in Asia.

“Cambodia is conveniently located within two hours of Singapore and Hong Kong, and an hour out of Bangkok, so a vast tourism market remains untapped,” said David Simister, Chairman of CBRE Indochina, the exclusive advisor and sole agent for developing the island.

“International travelers are already showing early interest in the concept of luxury tourism on the ‘Indochinese Riviera’ and Koh Rong stands out as one of the region’s most beautiful assets, with the benefit of having a sufficient size for critical mass, an airport, infrastructure and to evolve in the same manner as Phuket, but without the mistakes found in established resort destinations,” said Simister.

In the Koh Rong archipelago, Song Saa Private Island is already taking shape and is due for completion in late 2011. The project’s success in the first phase of villa sales last year proved there is interest in tourism and real estate in Cambodia’s coastline.

In Preah Sihanouk Province itself, a number of villa projects have emerged since 2007, but the city now only boasts a limited number of high-end hotels, compared with Siem Reap province which offers a range of three- to five-star hotels, with high-end groups such as Raffles, Aman and Orient Express all having a presence in Siem Reap and commanding rates which can reach US$1,000 a night.

More information: . Sources Tourism Cambodia and traveldailynews.

Hygiene in Dangkor: Residents blame dump for flies

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Residents in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday launched an official complaint over poor hygiene in the area caused by thousands of flies drawn by the nearby rubbish dump. Sao Kunchhon, director of the capital’s water-management department, said authorities had sprayed pesticide at the dump and that there were minimal flies. This picture belies that statement.

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Chhay Channyda

Hygiene in Dangkor

Residents in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday complained to local officials about poor hygiene in the area, which they claim is caused by thousands of flies drawn to the area by the nearby rubbish dump.

Villager Vit Chea, who lives near the dump in Chhoeung Ek commune, said “countless” flies had infested her confectionary-selling business.

“If we eat rice, we use one arm to fan the flies away or they will rest on our food and we cannot eat it,” she said.

But Sao Kunchhon, director of the Phnom Penh water management department, said authorities had sprayed pesticide at the dump, and that there were minimal flies.

“Spraying is effective for three months, so flies cannot stay at the dump,” he said.

National parks: gateway to a rich environment

A magnificent Koh Kong waterfall.

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

IT was 17 years ago on November 1 that Cambodia resurrected its commitment to developing a national system of protected areas following decades of civil conflict.

The Royal Decree provided for the management and protection of national parks selected as "natural and scenic areas of significance for their scientific, educational and recreational values".

Today the national parks are in areas scattered throughout the country and are not only part of its rich heritage, but are attracting more and more adventurous tourists looking for new “Wonders of Cambodia”.

From the far north to near the south coast and little more than 100 kilometres from the capital the national parks cover tens of thousands of hectares and include everything from untouched jungle and forests to secluded beaches and havens for animal habitats. A rich environment.

Bokor National Park. KamPot.
The Bokor National Park spans 1,400sq km at the southern tip of the Elephant Mountains near the Cambodia-Vietnam border and was first accessed in 1916 and developed later as a famous altitude resort during the French Protectorate.

The panoramic view from Bokor Hill, a 1,000m plateau, is stunning and the hill station has been abandon twice in its history, once when the Vietnamese overran it in the late 1940s while fighting for independence against the French and then again in 1972 when it was overran by the Khmer Rouge.

The national park was founded in 1993 and consists of untouched jungle, waterfalls, rivers and is home to a variety of animals and plant species and gives wonderful views of both the Cambodian and Vietnamese coasts and islands from the highest points above sea level.

The hill station has only been open to tourists since 1997 and consists of a collection of French colonial buildings, including a hotel and church, built in the 1920s.

Virachay National Park. Ratanakiri.
Virachay National Park, which starts about 45 kilometres north of Banlung in Cambodia’s mountainous north-eastern corner, has a massive land area of 332,500 hectares with a diverse environment, forests, many animals and birds.

There are jungle walks and ranger-guided tours and there are many varieties of plants and trees and many different species of animals and birds to be spotted in the forest.

Kirirom National Park.
Koh Kong
The park is situated 120 kilometres west of Phnom Penh in Kampong Speu province and covers an area of 35,000 hectares. The park is a mountain resort about 800 metres above sea level known for its pine tree covered hills, water falls and lakes.

It was a favourite retreat for King Sihanouk in the 1960s, although the king’s villas, roads and other infrastructure were all destroyed during the Khmer rouge era.

The park has only been open to visitors since 1997, mainly Khmer people coming at the weekend or for holidays and it is easy to arrange day trips to the park from Phnom Penh through travel gents.

It is the only Cambodian park that can be visited on a one day return trip from the capital or as a stop-over on the way to the coast. The Kirirom landscape includes mountains and hills and the pine tree forest, which is peculiar to the park and only found between 600m and 800m.

The best time to visit the park is just after the rainy season, which ends around October, and since opening in the late 1990s facilities have improved to attract more visitors, including accommodation from a luxury resort to a simple guesthouse.

Ream National Park. Sihanoukville.
Ream National Park, open since 1993, is a 21,000 hectare coastal park, which includes two islands and has everything from tropical jungles to secluded beaches.

Less than 20 kilometres east of Sihanoukville, it has a rich diversity of flora and fauna including more than 150 species of birds and monkeys and a place where visitors come to see the white fresh water dolphins.

You can enjoy everything from boat tours down the Prek Tuk Sap River, through the mangrove forest, to jungle walks, swimming, snorkeling and bird watching.

Leaders to meet again

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Thomas Miller

PRIME Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva will hold face-to-face talks for the fourth time this fall, on the sidelines of a regional summit in Cambodia next week.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the two would meet following two days of regional talks to be held November 16-17 at the new Peace Building in Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen met with Abhisit for the first time in nearly six months during the United States-ASEAN Summit in New York in September. They met again last month during international summits in Belgium and Hanoi.

The two also exchanged text messages to clarify allegations made by Thai security forces that Cambodia had provided safe haven for Thai antigovernment activists. Hun Sen said the accusations were

Koy Kuong said the three meetings between the two premiers had created “more confidence” in the two countries’ often prickly relationship, but was not aware of exactly what would be on the agenda during the upcoming talks.

Little known ruins are temples in the forest

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Post Staff

KHIRI Reach and GTZ have launched a community tourism website to promote the little known 8th-10th century Khmer ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk in central Cambodia.

The website,, was jointly funded by Khiri Reach, the not-for-profit arm of Khiri Travel, and GTZ (German Development Cooperation), which is financed by the German government.

The objective of the site is to stimulate tourism in the Sambor Prei Kuk area, which has more than 150 easily accessible pre-Angkor temple ruins in a forest setting reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie.

“Sambor Prei Kuk has magnificent temples,” said Frans Betgem, co-founder of Khiri Travel. “We just need a flow of tourists to the area to help ease poverty. The website is a step in the right direction.”

Many of the villages in the area still rely on car batteries for electricity after dark.

On the website, visitors will find information about how to get to Sambor Prei Kuk from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Plus, information about the temples, simple village attractions, local villagers who act as guides, local festivals, how to book a visit and an extensive reading list of recommended books.

Visitors to Sambor Prei Kuk can inspect the ruins on foot or by bicycle. There are ox cart rides, a homestay project and a simple handicraft and souvenir shop and restaurant built by the villagers.

In At Sou village near Sambor Prei Kuk there is a memorial building to a young Japanese UN peacekeeper who was killed in the area in the early 1990s when the UN was there to oversee nationwide elections. Despite the tragedy, the father of the peacekeeper returns each year to pay homage to his son and donates funds to support local health and education in the village.

Inspecting the ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk can be combined with visits to other community-based attractions in the province. These include Santuk Mountain, the holiest in the region, Tonle Sap protected area and bird sanctuary, the Santuk Silk Farm and an inspection of villages specialising in stone carving and making rice noodles.

Since 2005 GTZ has worked with the Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation Project to establish craft training courses for seven villages in the area. Community funds now go towards temple conservation, supporting home businesses, maintaining signage and the upkeep of the craft hut and information centre.

Betgem said: “The whole community tourism set-up at Sambor Prei Kuk is very charming. It has been made possible due to the great efforts of people such as Linda Oum of Khiri Cambodia and Visal Prom and Ngin Hong of GTZ.”

Activist fears arrest after court bungle

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

AN opposition Sam Rainsy Party activist from Prey Veng province says he fears arrest after accidentally missing a court appearance last week in connection with charges of defamation and disinformation.

Un Sam Oeun said yesterday that a summons ordering him to appear at the provincial court on November 4 did not reach him until the following day.

“If police provided me with the citation as scheduled, I would have gone, but police gave it to me on November 5,” he said.

The defamation and disinformation charges were filed against Un Sam Oeun by Hem Hon, the chief of Phdao Korng commune, in Ba Phnom district, after he made comments to the media last year claiming that a local road project was set to affect around 10 families’ homes.

“He sued us for defamation and spreading disinformation. He accused me of being the protest leader,” Un Sam Oeun said, adding that he now feared arrest and did not have a lawyer to defend him against the charges.

He said the case was motivated by politics, and that many opposition activists had been imprisoned in similar circumstances.

Hem Hon said the SRP activist had led people to protest against the construction of the road and said his comments to the media had affected the authorities’ reputation.

“He made exaggerations about the authorities. The road construction did not affect anyone’s land; we did it according to the plan,” Hem Hon said.

Chea Poch, an SRP lawmaker representing Prey Veng, said the court should conduct a clear investigation before summoning any suspects, adding that Un Sam Oeun was innocent of wrongdoing.

“I intervened with the court to end the accusation. I would like the court to make a clear investigation because he is an activist whether he helps people or not,” he said.

When contacted yesterday, Prey Veng provincial court deputy prosecutor Say Nora declined to comment on the case.

Colonial traces

Photo by: Sebastian Strangio

via CAAI

Thursday, 11 November 2010 15:00 Sebastian Strangio

Motorbikes pass a strip of 1920s-era shophouses in Chhlong district, Kratie province. Chhlong town, a former Mekong River port around 30 kilometres south of the provincial capital, contains some of the best-preserved colonial buildings in the province.