Saturday, 13 November 2010

Children Take Risk To Cross The Road

Cambodia Marks 57th Anniversary of Independence Day

Cambodian KIng Proposed to Pardon 558 Prisoners

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, 12 NOVEMBER, 2010: The Ministry of Interior has asked Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni to grant pardons for 558 prisoners on the occasion of the upcoming water festival, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Gen. Heng Hak, director general of the general directorate of prisons at the Interior Ministry, said that he has proposed to King Norodom Sihamoni, while municipal and provincial prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice have already agreed to grant amnesty to 558 prisoners nationwide.

"We suggest it to the king for amnesty and jailed term commutation because we have inspected that they behave well and are willing to correct
themselves while in jailed term," he said.

Among the 558 prisoners, 89 prisoners are proposed to release from prisons and 469 are asked to commute their jailed terms.

He said that he is not sure yet if the amnesty proposal reaches the King.

Heng Hak said that every year, the amnesty for prisoners in Cambodia will be conducted on four special occasions -- Water festival, former King Norodom Sihanouk's birthday, Khmer New Year and Visak Bochea Day -- the birth, enlightenment and death day of the Buddha.

Since January to now 2010, 1,231 prisoners have been asked for amnesty, he added.

Gen. Khieu Sopheak, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that prisoners who have chances to be granted amnesty only if they have already served two thirds of their jailed term.

The water festival will be on Nov 20-22.

According to the Committee for Organising National and International Festivals, there will be 420 boats joining the regatta this year, which is expected to attract around 2 million visitors.

UK to clear landmines 'in areas where it can do most good'

 via CAAI

Department for International Development hoping to help nations follow Rwanda's example and become mine-free

Share Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday 12 November 2010

A female de-miner places a disarmed explosive device in the safety area at a minefield in Sri Lanka. Photograph: Julia Drapkin/AP

Britain is to fund landmine clearance in Iraq and step up operations in Sudan, Mozambique and other countries in a shakeup of how its £30m budget for the work is spent over the next three years.

Andrew Mitchell, the government's international development secretary, said today after visiting Juba in southern Sudan that the new focus would be on tackling mines where it would have the biggest impact on communities and local economies – for example by clearing fertile areas that could be used for farming.

UK-funded projects would release 250 hectares of land, destroying at least 30,000 explosive remnants of war, his officials said.

Countries that would benefit from Britain's project include Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laos, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

The international development department (DfID) said the latest figures showed about 100 people a week were maimed or killed by mines and other explosives left over from wars. Improved surveying techniques meant it was now easier to target areas where mines potentially could do the most damage.

Mitchell said: "Mines are the scourge of ordinary people trying to make a living in post-conflict countries. It is particularly distressing that children are the second most likely group of people to be maimed or killed by mines as they may not be able to read danger signs and their natural desire to play takes over."

He added: "We can look to Rwanda, which was officially declared mine-free in 2010, as an example of what can be achieved through the bravery and diligence of skilled de-mining experts."

In south Sudan Mitchell opened a joint DfID/Foreign Office outpost ahead of next year's independence referendum.

The UK's moves were welcomed by the Mines Advisory Group, (MAG), an independent humanitarian organisation.

An estimated 4.8 million people are internally displaced in Sudan.

"Increasing numbers of these people – and the hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighbouring countries – are returning to their ancestral homelands, moving through contaminated areas as they do so," an MAG spokesman said.

'America's Most Wanted' Airing Special Exposing American Pedophiles in Cambodia

 via CAAI

By Hollie McKay

Published November 12, 2010

John Walsh and child rescuer Somaly Mam. (FOX/AMW)

In a special episode of “America’s Most Wanted” airing on FOX this Saturday, host John Walsh will take viewers to the front lines of the international battle against child predators in Cambodia, a nation frequented by pedophiles.

“We’re profiling American pedophiles who have fled to other countries. Westerners go over there primarily to have sex with small children, 6-8 year old boys and girls,” Walsh told Pop Tarts. “I took a small crew with me and went undercover with a British cop and infiltrated brothel nightclubs. It was really heartbreaking to see it.”

Walsh said that within two minutes of being in a Cambodian bar, they were approached by a madam offering them very young children, and believes audiences will be shocked at how easy and how prevalent it is that Westerners involve themselves in such acts.

“It is our garbage that goes to Cambodia and preys on these young children. It is our garbage from America, England, the West that goes to the East and preys upon their poverty,” he said. “People are going to be surprised about how easy it is to do, and how many Westerners fly there just to solicit and have sex with children.”

The episode also provides a rare exploration of a Cambodian prison, and an interview with two British men arrested for their illicit involvement with young children.

“They [the British prisoners] were very arrogant and blaming society for getting caught. There is also this concept that people can pay off the police or even the judges if they get caught,” Walsh explained.

But among the devastation, the veteran TV host was overcome by the strength of one woman in particular, Somaly Mam, a tireless advocate who has dedicated her life to rescuing Cambodia’s children from the sex trade. A sex-crime victim as a child, Mam operates a center for other victimized children, offering them hope for the future.

“Somaly Mam herself had been kidnapped and forced into sex trade when she was 14; now she goes and rescues the poor children one at a time, at great risk to herself. In fact her own 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped by pimps and brutally sexually assaulted, but this didn’t deter her,” Walsh continued. “She is still going in and trying to save these boys and girls from a life of prostitution.”

Walsh also believes it is in our nation’s best interest to assist in tracking down the American pedophiles profiled on the broadcast.

“The number one thing is awareness. These guys will go over there and come back and function as pediatricians, scout masters, school teachers. We need to tell our officials,” he added. “People may ask ‘why should what’s happening in Cambodia affect me?’ Well, the guys that go over there and molest Cambodian kids come back and molest American kids. I’ve been to Haiti, Katrina, Ground Zero and seen some rough things… but the trip to Cambodia was really, really life-changing.”

Cambodia Hotels, Kampot Hotels, Knai bang chatt

via CAAI

Knai Bang Chatt is owned by two Belgians, Boris Vervoordt and Jef Moons. They believe in the values of restoring and maintaining Cambodian architecture styles of historical, cultural and...

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 12, 2010 – Kampot City 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.

Knai Bang Chatt is owned by two Belgians, Boris Vervoordt and Jef Moons. They believe in the values of restoring and maintaining Cambodian architecture styles of historical, cultural and social significance, especially modern architecture of the 60s and 70s. Using Knai Bang Chatt and its expansion project as the flagship, the company is in the plans to procure two more properties, one in Phnom Penh and the other in Siem Reap.

One of the owners started a private boutique equity investment fund for multiple conservative investments in Cambodia. To enquire more about investing in our concept in cambodia

Hotel Address: Phum Thmey Sangkat Prey, Thom Khan Kep, Kep 9809, Cambodia.

Hotel Region: | Drive time from Phnom Penh International Airport to the Knai Bang Chatt Resort, Kep is just over 3 hours.

Cambodia Hotels, Pailin Hotels, Hang Meas Hotel

via CAAI

Hang Meas Hotel Pailin is in a good peaceful location, quite suitable for all guests coming to Pailin. Either you come here for business purpose or sightseeing, you can relax in this comfortable hotel....

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 12, 2010 – Pailin (Khmer: ក្រុងប៉ៃលិន) is a province at the northern edge of the Cardamom Mountains, in the west of Cambodia near the border of Thailand. This province is surrounded by Battambang Province, and was officially carved out of Battambang to become a separate administrative division after the surrender of the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge in 1996. Pailin is known to much of the world for having long been a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, remaining under their control long after they were defeated in 1979.

On 22 December 2008, King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree that changed the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as adjusting several provincial borders.

Hang Meas Hotel Pailin is in a good peaceful location, quite suitable for all guests coming to Pailin. Either you come here for business purpose or sightseeing, you can relax in this comfortable hotel. A warm greeting, a welcoming smile and dedicated reception at the hotel lobby offer you an experience of visiting and staying at a place.

Information about the Hotel Hang Meas:

- Hotel Address: Phum Outapok, Sangkat Toul Lvea, Pailin, Cambodia
- Hotel Region: | The Hang Meas Pailin hotel of Pailin is situated in the heart of Pailin with a very pleasing view of the surrounding mountains. The hotel is intentionally located close to all the business and entertainment destinations in and around Pailin. The Phum Outapok region of Sangkat Toul Lvea in Pailin is the exact location of Hang Meas Pailin Hotel of Pailin. The Location of Hang Meas Pailin Hotel at Pailin is very strategically planned.

Cambodia's first gay town

Sok Somnorb stands in the doorway of his room in Beoung Kak 2 community, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Vinh Dao/GlobalPost)

via CAAI

By Terry McCoy — Special to GlobalPost

Published: November 12, 2010

Make no mistake: This is not a place to celebrate sexuality. This is a place for survival.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Along the train tracks in one of Phnom Penh’s ubiquitous slums, the noise never stops and everything is changing. Longtime residents are fearful that they’ll soon have to move. This place isn’t safe anymore, they say. It isn’t moral anymore.

Along these same tracks, roughly 100 new residents, in search of asylum and community, have trickled in over the last several years and now lead lives of shocking desperation. Most of them only sleep during the day. Some perform acts of prostitution. Others dress as women. Almost all of them are homosexual men. And this place, Beoung Kak 2, has become a home: Cambodia’s first gay town.

But this isn’t Boystown in Chicago, nor the Castro in San Francisco. This isn’t a place where homosexuals can celebrate sexuality, individuality, love. Make no mistake: It’s a place for survival.

Every month more newcomers arrive, and as this community expands and supplants longtime residents, it represents both a burgeoning confidence among Cambodia’s gay population, as well as the difficulties that lie ahead for homosexuals here struggling for acceptance and equality.

As two worlds converge and clash in Beoung Kak 2, each seems allegoric, as though re-enacting a bigger national issue. The young, radically sexual newcomers stand juxtaposed against a traditional set of neighbors that are baffled, and sometimes frightened, by the swelling number of openly gay Khmer down the road.

“We’re scared that more [homosexuals] will keep coming here and make more terrible activities back there,” said Srey Oun, 48, who lives behind her now-defunct hair salon in Beoung Kak 2. “Everyone is scared like me. Khmer culture isn’t changing, but the people are.”

Since 2004, the number of “out” homosexuals in Phnom Penh has exploded from around 900 to approximately 10,000 today, according to nongovernmental organizations that track the city’s gay community. Other provinces have seen such staggering growth among their gay communities as well, census records show.

For years, the ever-growing number of openly gay Khmer had scattered themselves, meeting socially, but living separately, NGO workers say. Last March, however, Prime Minister Hun Sen castigated Cambodia’s reputation as a destination for sex tourism. Soon after, police shuttered brothels and karaoke bars across the capital, where many transgenders worked and lived. Destitute and homeless, some staggered to the slums of Beoung Kak 2.

“If we’re not with each other, we’re scared everyone will look down on us or beat us,” said Kong Chan Rattna, 24, amid eight fellow transgender homosexuals inside a hut stilted above a stream. “Together, we can have happiness — we can go anywhere. Nothing’s a problem.”

Cambodia’s definition of homosexuality and gender challenges Western notions. In Cambodia, there’s a third gender — frequently called “lady boys” — that falls somewhere between male and female. By all appearances and mannerisms, they’re female and identify as such though born male; most haven’t undergone any sex-change operations, they say.

Transgender homosexuals inhabit the shadows of Khmer society. Though they’re emphatically proud of their lifestyles and sexuality, such proclamations might come out stilted or forebode some admittance of shame. Don’t tell my parents. Don’t use your real name. Don’t go home. Don’t.

Of the many narratives that have taken Beoung Kak 2’s homosexual residents into this fetid and cramped place, the story of a slight, curly-haired transgender named Srey Pisey seems emblematic. Pisey, gregarious and bright despite little formal education, has always had a secret inside her.

Pisey, now 28, was 13 when she realized she was different. Living in rural Kandal just outside Phnom Penh, she couldn’t stop the thought that she wasn’t right in this body, that she couldn’t relate to her family or anyone in her village. She felt alone. She felt scared. She said she knew she was supposed to be a woman, and the recognition was tortuous.

“I tried to kill myself twice when I was a child,” she said at home in Beoung Kak 2. “I took too much medication. I was very upset and disappointed that I was gay and my parents beat me and wanted me to go away from my home. I tried to change myself into a boy, but I couldn’t. Because, me as a woman, it’s natural.”

In 2002, Pisey’s parents disowned her and kicked her out, she said. So, without any skills, she came to Phnom Penh. She hasn’t been home since and says she misses her family every day though not sure what they would think of her now, a homosexual prostitute in Phnom Penh.

“I don’t know how to read,” Pisey said, echoing a theme in many stories here. “I don’t know how to write. I only know how to be a prostitute.”

Meanwhile, around 100 meters down the tracks, longtime resident Kaulap Kho sat inside her wooden shack rocking her 5-month-old son in a hammock. While she talked and her baby slept, Kho became angrier and angrier. This squat woman, with her husband, Tho, has lived here selling clams for 10 years. It has become their home. Where they want to raise their four children. But soon, she said, they’ll have to move back to the provinces to find work.

Kaulap’s profits selling clams have recently plunged 50 percent from $5 per day to $2.50, and the homosexuals, she spat, are to blame. Good Khmer folk don’t come to shops near such “sinful” people, she said. And so Kaulap broods as she rocks her baby, hatred in her eyes.

“These people are not the same as the general people; they talk and act very differently” said Meas Chanthan, executive director of Cambodia’s Corporation for Social Services and Development, one of Phnom Penh’s dozen non-governmental organizations that study and assist the country’s homosexual population. “They talk loudly, they scream and they’re not afraid of their neighbors.”

Meas continued, “These homosexuals think they’ve become isolated and that they have no one. They don’t like the general people either so they have no choice but to live together and so the homosexuals are so sad.”

Isolation seems an insurmountable and profound thing for some transgenders in Beoung Kak 2. At 9 a.m. on a recent Friday, while most residents here were already thinking about lunch, five transgender homosexuals slept inside their shack on a wooden floor. They had gotten back late the night before. No one had purchased them, and now they didn’t have enough money for rice.

Yet deep into midmorning, despite the light, the hunger, the noise spilling inside, the transgender homosexuals snuggled together, eyes closed: The rest of the world firmly outside.

Travel Picks: Top 10 destinations by boat

via CAAI

Fri Nov 12, 2010

LONDON Nov 12 (Reuters Life!) - For those who want to try a more adventurous holiday in 2011, but do not want to leave their home comforts behind, a cruise could provide the solution.
Cruise Critic ( -- a leading online source of cruise reviews and information -- offers its top 10 destinations by boat. Reuters has not endorsed this list: 1. Australia

Australia is a huge country and most of the popular tourist spots Down Under are hundreds of miles apart. However, you can avoid long coach tours, time-consuming drives and expensive internal flights, by sailing lazily along the East Coast, stopping at all the best tourist spots -- from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney harbour. 2. Vietnam/Cambodia

Hot destinations for 2011, Vietnam and Cambodia offer beautiful scenery and vibrant cultures but making your own travel arrangements to tour these exotic destinations can be a daunting task. Taking a cruise along the Mekong River is an excellent way to enjoy an organized tour through these two countries, without foregoing too many home comforts. 3. Middle East

For a first trip to the Middle East, a cruise offers a gentle introduction to the region and an easy way to explore this part of the world. A cruise lets you experience the sights, cultures and traditions from a number of countries during your trip, while also allowing you to retreat to more familiar surroundings each evening onboard ship. 4. Alaska

Unless you have the constitution of a husky dog, a cruise is simply the easiest and most relaxing way to enjoy this beautiful, but uncompromising region. The views from the water are spectacular and often the best way to see wildlife and reach the coastal towns and villages. Optional shore excursions allow you to be as adventurous, or sedate, as you like. 5. South America

For those with a sense for adventure, a South American cruise is the perfect way to explore ports in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and beyond. Travellers get a taste of the rugged, natural beauty, vibrant cities and wonderful cultures which South America has to offer, all while enjoying the comfort, safety and ease of travelling by ship. 6. Northern Europe

Viewing the Norwegian Fjords or Russia's St. Petersburg by ship is not only a great way to enjoy the landscape, but as these countries are notoriously expensive the inclusive pricing offered by cruise lines -- which includes meals, accommodation and transportation -- can make the trip much more affordable. 7. Western Mediterranean

The ever popular Med is a top choice for Brits looking for a value-packed holiday in the sun. A cruise, however, not only offers a new way to experience this region while enjoying similar inclusive deals to many resorts, but takes you along the coast to enjoy a new town, and new beaches, every day. 8. British Isles

Traffic and over-priced accommodation are reason enough. Brits will get an entirely new perspective on their own country, as well as the opportunity to visit out-of-the-way places such as the Orkney Islands. Also, you are likely to share a British Isles cruise with Americans, South Africans, Australians and Europeans who will delight in many aspects of British culture. 9. Europe's Rivers.

If you never took a year out to travel through Europe as a student, or you did and would like to repeat the experience -- only in more comfort and with a bigger budget this time -- then you might like this option. River cruising has brushed up its image, added some wonderful new ships and more active excursions, which means that it now offers excellent value compared to going it alone in the Eurozone. It's a great option for visiting a handful of countries in a single trip. 10. Caribbean

If there's one thing better than spending a day on a beautiful Caribbean island, it's spending the next day (and the day after that) on another. It's expensive and time-consuming to fly between islands, so take a Caribbean cruise and let someone else worry about the travel arrangements while you relax by the pool until you reach your next port of call.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Myanmar PM to attend regional summits in Cambodia

via CAAI

November 12, 2010

Myanmar Prime Minister U Thein Sein will attend the 5th CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) Summit and the 4th ACMECS ( Ayeyawaddy-Chaophraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) Summit to be held in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, an official announcement from Nay Pyi Taw said Friday without specifying the date of his attendance .

Thein Sein is invited by his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen for the attendance.

CLMV are the lesser-developed countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar, along with Laos, joined the regional grouping in July 1997.

Aimed at strengthening friendship among CLMV countries, uplifting good neighboring spirit, ensuring cooperation among member countries, holding culture exchange, enhancing cultural preservation and boosting tourism sector through cultural cooperation, ministers of culture and fine arts of CLMV held a roundtable in Myanmar's new capital of Nay Pyi Taw in January this year, vowing to maintain cultural connectivity among CLMV member countries in a Nay Pyi Taw Declaration-2010.

The declaration called for preservation of cultural heritage in the member countries, prevention against illegal trading of cultural heritage through borders, establishment of sister cities among the member countries and promotion of tourism industry.

Meanwhile, in November 2003, four countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand held their first ACMECS summit in Myanmar's ancient city of Bagan, laying down ACMECS program which provides for cooperation in five main strategic areas of agriculture, industry, trade and investment, transport, tourist and human resources development.

Vietnam joined the ACMECS in 2004.

In May 2007, ACMECS foreign ministers met in Myanmar's Mandalay, pledging to work for greater competitiveness, narrower economic disparity and promoting socio-economic development in the subregion.

Calling for realization of their 2003 Bagan Declaration efficiently and effectively, the foreign ministers also expressed their desire to strengthen the aims and objectives of the declaration and work for attaining prosperity in the subregion through enhanced solidarity, mutual respect, goods neighborliness and active cooperation among the member countries.

Source: Xinhua

Malaysia can claim pride of place in Cambodia

via CAAI

MALAYSIAN ambassador to Cambodia Datuk Pengiran Hussein Pengiran Tahir was kept busy with official duties at the end of last month, hosting a visiting Malaysian minister and receiving international dignitaries to the country, including the United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, even as he found time to meet this writer over breakfast and then dinner in Phnom Penh.
Pengiran Hussein noted a flurry of visits of late by presidents and high officials from many countries to this small and still impoverished country of 14 million people tucked between Thailand and Vietnam.

The same week also saw United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropping by. In the growing contest for global influence between the US and China, a key player in Cambodia, smaller nations suddenly have added significance once again.

It was, of course, the contest for global supremacy of another era that first saw a hapless Cambodia sucked into the Vietnam war, with disastrous consequences for the country that only now are healing.

The Cambodian capital today is a vibrant city, its low-rise buildings bustling with activity and its French-era wide boulevards teeming with people day and night, hustling, strolling, jogging and enjoying group dancing to music.
Sitting in a restaurant veranda by the Mekong as tourists-laden river cruise boats stream up and down, one can be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu about a Bangkok of a bygone era.

Pride of place in Phnom Penh today easily goes to the sprawling NagaWorld resort and casino complex, the Hong Kong-listed flagship of Tan Sri Dr Chen Lip Keong, strategically situated, fronting the expansive confluence of four rivers and the graceful outlines of the historic Cambodiana Hotel.

The resort complex is also perhaps an appropriate emblem of the long, deep-seated and surprisingly broad-based Malaysian presence in Cambodia. Malaysian business interests in Cambodia run from the commanding heights of the Cambodian economy downwards.

Four of its leading banks are Malaysian-owned, with CIMB about to join in as the fifth. Axiata is among nine telecommunications companies active in Cambodia. A unit of Leader Group has been a long-term local power-industry player. Limkokwing University operates a pioneering local campus.

Malaysian garment manufacturers are a strong contingent among the 60-odd industry players in the country. Property developer Sunway Group and Holiday Villa Hotels and Resorts are among other Malaysian businesses with a presence in Cambodia.

The Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King-owned global media conglomerate runs the leading and only profitable Chinese-language daily, the Cambodia Sin Chew Daily, in a fiercely competitive field of five such dailies.

Unsurprisingly, the 3,000-strong Malaysian expatriate community in Cambodia commands respect and influence in the high councils of the Cambodian government. Dr Chen of NagaWorld, for example, serves officially as an adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia.

A religious dimension lends a wholesome picture to the Malaysian-Cambodian relationship. According to the head of chancery of the Malaysian Embassy, Syed Farizal Aminy Syed Mohamad, growing numbers of Malaysian Muslims troop to Cambodia each Aidiladha season with offers of sacrificial cows and other acts of charity to the Cham Muslim minority centred around Phnom Penh.

Cambodia has been refreshingly open and liberal with foreign businesses; its laissez-faire ethos perhaps without parallel in Asia outside Hong Kong. Malaysian players are only now enjoying the fruits of patient trials and tribulations within the last two decades, as the economy powers ahead with near double-digit growth most of the decade before the global downturn moderated it the past few years.

Most Malaysian residents in Cambodia that this writer talked to attribute our strong presence in the country to the vision of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and respect accorded him by Cambodian leaders. The former leader is still accorded deference due a serving head of state each time he visits the country.

As Pengiran Hussein busied himself with all the attention showered on Cambodia last week, he was also supervising the move of the embassy to its new chancery and residential complex along Phnom Penh’s embassy row. It will be a stately new perch from which this business-savvy Sabahan plots the next step of the Malaysian footprint in Cambodia.

UMass senior Sadi Thann first Cambodian Miss. Massachusetts contestant

Courtesy Sadi Thann

via CAAI

By: Simone Shenney

As most college students do, Sadi Thann was struggling to find ways to pay for college. One day in early September, Thann was researching scholarships and found herself looking into the Miss Universe Pageant.

Before long, Thann was accepted. The 21-year-old University of Massachusetts senior will compete in the 2011 Miss Massachusetts Pageant on Nov. 26-28 at Lowell Memorial Auditorium as the first 100 percent Cambodian woman, and the first ever UMass student, to compete in the pageant.

“I was having a bad day, and I realized there were very few Cambodians in the pageant. It’s time for one of us to be in it,” said Thann.

The primary application was simple, requiring a headshot or photo. “There are a lot of myths of who can’t be in a pageant; for example, you have to be tall, ten out of ten in a bathing suit, or a certain age and weight. Pageants rate you on who you are as an overall woman,” Thann said.

Eva Longoria started her career in a pageant and is only 5’1’’, Thann noted.

Thann was born in Cambodia and was rescued from a refugee camp in Thailand when she was just an infant. She eventually found a home in Amherst, Mass. where her adoptive parents live.

The pageant will be held in Lowell, Mass., which happens to have the second largest Cambodian population in the country.

The first day of the competition is the interview. The judges learn about the success and talents of the delegates, and focus on the women’s poise and communication.

The second day is the swimsuit competition. The judges focus on self-confidence and the beauty of the women’s face, body and overall physical fitness.

The third and final day is the evening gown competition. The women choose a gown, and the judges focus on the ladies’ self-confidence and the beauty they bring forth. Overall, the judges will be looking for women who can be role models and learn from a year in a position of leadership.

In the time leading up to the pageant Thann has a lot of preparing to do. She hired a personal trainer to get in shape and has made appointments with pageant “gurus.”

Some of Thann’s interests are dancing, fishing, camping, hiking and knitting. Thann volunteered at the Survival Center in Amherst and the Series Community Center. She is also part of Project 2050 and has been since age 11. She was also a dancer on her high school dance team.

Currently, she is involved in the Cambodian Students Association and will be participating in community service activities leading up to the pageant. If she were to be crowned, there would be a lot more charity work to do. She would have to take a semester off and she would also move onto the Miss USA pageant.

Thann’s two sponsors for the pageant are and Hypnosis Works.

A legal studies major as well as BDIC for Class, Gender and Sexuality, Thann wants to become a professor – but if she is successful in the pageant, she said that she might pursue a career as a television hostess.

Thann, who has no prior background in pageants, plans to compete again if she does not make it this time.

Simone Shenny can be reached at .

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

Cambodia to Ratify ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement

Friday, 12 November 2010 10:55 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 12, 2010-The Cambodian government on Friday approved the three agreements under framework of ASEAN- Indian Free Trade Agreement. The statement from the Cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen said that it will send the three agreements to ask for ratification from the national soon.

It will help expand the trade, and economic integration into the region,” He said in meeting.

The Hindu Time. Indian media said that the mutually agreed tariff liberalisation would “gradually” cover 75 per cent of the two-way trade, beginning from January 2010. India-ASEAN trade was of the order of $40 billion in the 2007-08 accounting year. The regional bloc was now India’s fourth largest trading partner. It added that the accord, India’s first with a trade bloc, will cover 11 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product of over $2 trillion. The combined population is of the order of 1.6 billion.

It said: The ASEAN’s expectation was that the agreed tariff cuts under the FTA, as now signed, would be fully implemented by the end of 2013 and 2016 in respect of two “normal tracks.” A timeline had also been agreed upon for the “sensitive list” of items.

Under the trade pact, India has included 489 items from agriculture, textiles and chemicals in the negative list, meaning these products will be kept out of the duty reduction. Addressing concerns of domestic planters, black tea, coffee, pepper and rubber have been included in the sensitive list, which could mean duties will be cut by 2019 only. .

Cambodia Protects Gray Crane and other Birds

Friday, 12 November 2010 10:40 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 12, 2010-Cambodian government on Friday approved the sub-decree on establishment of area management for protecting the gray crane and other birds in reserve region of Along Prieng area in Kompong Trach district of Kompot province, southwestern part of the country about 140 km from Phnom Penh.

And we need to turn the conservation region of 217 hectares into eco-tourism in the future and it also will contribute the family farming for fishery for all seasons for local people living around the area,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said in the cabinet meeting.

He added that it will help local people and conserve the lake for protection of biodiversity and that bird species is rare one in the country. The law has 4 chapters and 8 articles.

Cambodia Owes World Bank with over 733 million US dollar Since 1993

Thursday, 11 November 2010 11:45 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Nov 11, 2010-Cambodian economic minister Keat Chhon said on Thursday that Cambodia owed to world bank over 733.5 million US dollar under concession loan and the bank also provided the over 365 million US dollars grant aid for Cambodia to restore rural developments and other infrastructure both soft ware and hardware in the country.

“In total, both concession loan and grant aid, World Bank handed over 1.099 million US dollar since 1993,” he added. The late project is worth 40 million US dollar, and 20 of 40 million is concession loan to restore the areas suffering from Ketsana typhoon last year.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

His Majesty King Presides Over Closing Ceremony Marking National Independence

Phnom Penh, November 12, 2010 AKP -- His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni put out a symbol flame, while presiding over a closing celebration to mark the 57th anniversary of National Independence from France at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh yesterday.

National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and First Vice President of the Senate H.R.H. Sisowath Chivoan Monirak as well as other Cambodian high-ranking officials participated in the ceremony with a crowd of Phnom Penh residents and students in attendance.

Foreign Ambassadors to Cambodia were also present at the event. --AKP


U.S. War Ship To Visit Cambodia in December

Phnom Penh, November 12, 2010 AKP -- U.S. Commander of the Pacific Air Force Gen. Gary L. North, representative of U.S. Pacific Commander Willard, has affirmed that a U.S. war ship will arrive in Cambodia next month.

Gen. Gary L. North said here on Nov. 10 during the meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Gen. Tea Banh.

The American marine will cooperate with the Cambodian marine in the fields of defense, offshore stability strengthening as well as engineering, he said.

In reply, Gen. Tea Banh highly valued the successful cooperation under the U.S.’ support and thanked the U.S. armed forces for their successive assistance to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

He also recalled the success of the multinational military exercise GPOI-10 and the joint military exercise CARAT hosted by Cambodia, which he said is inseparable from the support of the U.S. armed forces.

On the occasion, Gen. Tea Banh announced the departure of the Cambodian blue-beret troops on Nov. 17 for the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon at the UN’s request. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)


WB Provides US$40 Million for Typhoon Ketsana Recovery in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 12, 2010 AKP -- The World Bank (WB) has extended US$40 million – US$20 million in concession credit and US$20 million in grant – to Cambodia for the Ketsana Emergency Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project (KERRP).

The credit and grant agreements were inked here on Nov. 11 by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon, and WB Country Manager Qimiao Fan.

According to a press release of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, KERRP is aimed at supporting emergent response to the government’s expenses, rehabilitating and reconstructing 920 kilometers of rural roads, providing technical assistance to the project’s agents, and strengthening the capacity of government institutions in preventing and responding to disasters.

In September 2009, 14 Cambodian provinces were hit by typhoon Ketsana, of them the most affected were Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Battambang and Kampong Chhnang. --AKP

(By CHEA Vannak)


DPM Tea Banh Meets New Singaporean Ambassador to Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 12, 2010 AKP -- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Gen. Tea Banh met here on Nov. 10 with newly-appointed Singaporean Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Premjith Sadasivan.

In the meeting, the Singaporean ambassador said his diplomatic mission is aimed at strengthening the existing cooperation between Cambodia and Singapore and at seeking for other fields of cooperation for the mutual interests of the two countries.

Regarding the Cambodia-Thailand border dispute, the Singaporean diplomat congratulated the two neighboring countries on the restoration of their relations, stressing that not only Singapore, but also other regional countries have paid attention to this issue.

In reply, the Cambodian defense minister briefed H.E. Premjith Sadasivan of the border conflict with Thailand, explaining that the dispute started when the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008.

Gen. Tea Banh further reiterated Cambodia’s stance in solving the issue by peaceful means. --AKP

(By Théng)


Cambodia Hosts International Conference on Investment Opportunities

Phnom Penh, November 12, 2010 AKP -- A two-day international conference on Opportunities for Investment in Cambodia was opened here on Nov. 10 in the presence of H.E. Aun Poan Monirath, chairman of the Supreme National Economic Council.

Addressing the conference, H.E. Aun Poan Monirath, who is also secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said this is a good opportunity for foreign investors and Cambodian relevant authorities to exchange information with each other.

The event was jointly organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia and OSK Investment Bank of Malaysia, and attended by foreign investors from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Vietnam. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)

Unionist barred from work

via CAAI

Friday, 12 November 2010 15:02 Sen David

SACKED unionist Mao Piseth was barred from returning to work yesterday following negotiations with representatives of the Sihanoukville garment factory that sacked him, an event that triggered strikes at the factory last week.

Yov Kemera, director of the provincial labour department, said yesterday that provincial authorities brokered the meeting in an attempt to resolve the stand-off, but that the results were “unsuccessful”.
“Factory officials did not agree to accept Mao Piseth’s return,” he said after the meeting.

He said, however, that the representatives of the PY Garment Factory agreed to adopt workers’ 12-point resolution demanding better working conditions for the striking workers, and that 240 workers returned to their jobs yesterday.

He said he hoped more would return tomorrow, saying the strike was “illegal”.

About 600 workers from the factory had planned to protest at Preah Sihanouk provincial hall yesterday morning.

Local authorities demanded that they shift protests to Sihanoukville City Hall, where yesterday’s meeting took place between the PY Garment Factory Director Preah Sihanouk, provincial Governor Sboang Sarath and Mao Piseth.

Mao Piseth said before the meeting that the day’s planned protests had been unsuccessful because factory representatives were uncooperative and did not come to meet with workers.

“[The protests] were unsuccessful because the representative of the factory did not come to negotiate,” he said.

“There were representatives of workers, the deputy governor and the director of the labour department.”

Mao Piseth could not be reached for comment following the meeting.

On November 4, garment workers protested in front of the factory, demanding better working conditions and calling for Mao Piseth to be reinstated.

Striking factory worker Chhay Kon said yesterday that the factory had abused the rights of workers.

“We can’t stand the continued abuse of workers at the factory site,” he said. “We will not be patient about it. We must strike until the factory site agrees to let the fired unionist Mao Piseth return.”

The factory’s director could not be reached yesterday.

Lakeside families request fresh cash

via CAAI

Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

ABOUT 20 villagers set to be displaced by the controversial Boeung Kak lake development have issued fresh calls for compensation after the authorities and the project’s developer told them to direct their demands to the firm refurbishing nearby rail lines.

The families live in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, close to both the 133-hectare lakeside development and the railways currently being renovated by Australian firm Toll Holdings.

Forty-two-year-old Phorn Kimsan, from Village 1 close to the lakeside, said yesterday that 26 families in the village had been granted US$8,000 and 2 million riels in compensation in line with a longstanding city policy.

After repeatedly requesting payment from the city authorities, he said, the villagers were now being directed to the rail company.

“Now, both the authorities and the company say they are no longer responsible for the compensation. They pushed us to demand the compensation from the railway development company,” he said.

Srah Chok commune chief Chhay Thirith said the railway development firm had confirmed it would compensate any families ordered to relocate from within 10 metres of the railway lines. Compensation for families affected by the lakeside development was the responsibility of the developer, Shukaku Inc, he said, but did not know how much the families were entitled to.

Rights groups estimate that more than 4,000 families are set to make way for the controversial housing and commercial development.

Kingdom near bottom in budget transparency

via CAAI

Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

In Southeast Asia, only Vietnam provides its citizens with less information about how the government spends its money than the Kingdom. Without a transparent budget process, it is “virtually impossible” for Cambodians to hold their government accountable.

This is according to a new report released by the Open Budget Initiative, a project of the United States-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The NGO Forum on Cambodia sponsored a workshop on the subject with about 100 regional economic experts yesterday in Phnom Penh.

“I would like to appeal to the Government of Cambodia to continue to do more in improving our budget transparency ranking as well as encourage more public participation in the budget process,” said Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum.

Cambodia-specific research in the report led by Chea Kim Song, development issues program manager for the NGO Forum, concluded that “the government provides the public with scant information on the central government’s budget and financial activities assessed by the survey” and gave the CPP-led government a score of 15 out of 100.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranked highest with 55. Thailand earned a 42, and Vietnam was the least transparent at 14. Laos, Myanmar and Singapore were not rated.

The survey of 94 countries found “poor transparency and accountability” around the world, with an average global score of 42, and 74 countries failing to meet “basic standards”.

A number of factors led to Cambodia’s abysmal ranking, according to the report, including the limiting of important budget documents such as the draft budget law and the mid-year review to internal circulation.

The government also does not release a non-technical version of the budget that would allow citizens to better understand spending priorities.

Chea Kim Song said Cambodia lacked proper budget oversight.

Neither the National Assembly nor the National Audit Authority has adequate authority, time or resources to act as effective checks on the budget process.

Minister of Information Khieu Khanharith dismissed the criticism.

“We do not care about Cambodia’s score ranking”, he said, and claimed that NGOs “are lazy because they did not read Cambodia’s budget reports, which had been published by our government every year”.

Industry action too harsh: report

Garment workers hold a strike at the Sunly Fong garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district in August. Photo by: Pha Lina

via CAAI

Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 James O’Toole and Chhay Channyda

EMPLOYERS have taken disproportionately harsh measures against garment workers who participated in September’s industry-wide strikes, according to a report released yesterday by the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

Thousands of workers took to the streets in September to agitate for increased wages following a July decision from the Labour Advisory Committee, a body of government officials and industry representatives, to increase the industry’s minimum wage by US$5. In the aftermath of the strike, employers pursued lawsuits against union representatives involved, a move CCHR said was unjustified.

“While [the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia] is entitled to raise questions about the unions’ compliance with the law, the reaction ... was not proportionate and in most cases could not be justified even if their claims that the strike was illegal were accurate,” CCHR said in a statement.

GMAC Secretary Ggeneral Ken Loo rejected the contents of the CCHR report.

“I don’t know what lawyers are advising them, and if they are lawyers, they ought to be shot,” Loo said.

Ninety-four workers remain suspended pending court rulings on the legality of September’s strike, according to the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union. A total of 683 workers who later protested the suspensions of these representatives were dismissed after they failed to heed injunctions requiring them to return to work, the coalition says.

GMAC disputes these figures, saying that just 358 workers have been dismissed, with 67 still suspended.

CCHR said the unions gave ample notice of the strike, well clear of the seven working days’ notice required by the Kingdom’s Labour Law.

An August 19 letter threatened strikes in the absence of negotiations on the minimum wage, while a September 10 letter called for talks on a “living wage”. GMAC contends that this change represents a new set of demands and, coming just three days in advance, rendered the strikes illegal.

“GMAC’s argument that this [additional] letter re-started the notice period … is not persuasive,” the CCHR report says. “In both letters the actual wage being sought [US$93] was specified quite clearly and did not change. Nor did the dates or nature of strike action being threatened.”

Loo said, however, that the change of demands from minimum wage to living wage was “a significant change”.

“It’s not a slight change or a change of wording,” he said. “The difference for us is that the minimum wage had been decided by the [Labour Advisory Committee], and as such, we will not negotiate a new minimum wage outside the scope of the LAC.”

“When I read this, especially this part, it’s just a joke to me that they can claim that this is a slight amendment.”

In a September speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for factories to drop their complaints and allow workers to return to their jobs.

“There has been no proper solution for the workers who are suspended,” coalition president Ath Thun said. “The government has tried to negotiate to help the workers return to work, but GMAC and the factories will not listen to them.”

CCHR accused employers of trying to intimidate union representatives by filing complaints against them, and said complaints should have instead been filed against the unions as a whole. Loo said GMAC had declined to pursue complaints against the unions generally “as a sign of good faith”, but that individual factories had acted at their own discretion.

Japanese man charged with child sex abuse

via CAAI

Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

SIEM Reap provincial court yesterday charged a Japanese tourist with purchasing sex from two boys aged 15 and 16 on Wednesday night.

Oi Nobuyuki, 33, was arrested on charges of sexually abusing the two boys along the Siem Reap river in Siem Reap town, after locals informed police that he had paid the boys a total of US$20 to perform sex acts on him.

He was arrested five minutes later, according to Sun Bunthrong, chief of the provincial Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau.

“The suspect confessed to ordering the boys to [perform sex acts] and giving them $10 each,” he said. “These things have proved his guilt of purchasing child prostitution under article 34 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.”

If found guilty, Nobuyuki faces two to five years in prison for abusing a child over the age of 15, and a further seven to 15 years for abusing a child under the age of 15.

Samleang Seila, country director for child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said yesterday that the NGO would provide lawyers for each of the two victims in any upcoming trial following a complaint lodged by the victim’s parents.

“We believe they have been sexually abused by the suspect, and there is relevant evidence from both victims and the suspects testimony,” he said.

Visa exemption for Thais and Cambodians

via CAAI

Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha and Cameron Wells

FOREIGN Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday Cambodia and Thailand would sign an agreement next week allowing nationals from each country to cross the border without having to obtain a visa.

He said the agreement would be signed during the two-day Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit in Phnom Penh, which begins November 16.

“At the ACMECS meeting we have planned to sign this exemption for ordinary passport holders,” he said.

Thani Thongpakdi, deputy spokesman for the Thai foreign ministry, said he hoped the agreement would be signed “as soon as possible”.

“Thai nationals and Cambodian nationals [currently] need to get visas [to cross],” he said. “This agreement is about exempting that.”

He said procedures for crossing the border remain in place, stating that nationals must still pass through designated border gates.

Koy Kuong said yesterday Cambodia has signed similar pacts with ASEAN members Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the Thai newspaper The Nation yesterday quoted Thawatchai Samutsakorn – commander of the Thai troops stationed near the Preah Vihear temple – as saying that he would push for the Preah Vihear border gate to be reopened before the New Year so that tourists could visit the temple from the Thai side.

But Koy Kuong said the gate would only be opened when Thai troops withdrew from the temple.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] stated clearly that if Thailand made the situation normal again, the border gate can open anytime,” he said. “It was closed when Thailand sent troops to invade Cambodia.”

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia soured in July 2008 when the temple was listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Both countries claim a 4.6-square-kilometre zone adjacent to the temple.

Thai parliamentarians are set to meet next month to discuss agreements made between the two countries to undertake joint demarcation and demining projects and to redeploy troops in the area.

“The Preah Vihear issue will have to be discussed,” Thani Thongpakdi said.

Kingdom's lenders should take responsibility for rates

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Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Steve Finch

THE call for lower interest rates this week by Cambodia’s SMEs points to an enduring concern within the Kingdom’s immature financial sector, but there are currently few opportunities for lower borrowing rates unless the government and financial sector motivate themselves to address the issue.

While the likes of Japan and the United States maintain base rates close to zero in a bid to stimulate economic activity, Cambodia has retained among the highest interest rates in the world with few mechanisms for lowering the cost of borrowing.

Given the highly dollarised economy, the National Bank of Cambodia has few options for lowering the base rate, which means the private sector will remain in charge of dictating interest rates for the foreseeable future. And, unfortunately, banks and microfinance institutions will see few incentives to reduce rates.

With more MFIs receiving deposit-taking licences, in theory, there would appear to be an opportunity for lower borrowing rates in Cambodia – given the likes of Amret and AMK can now draw on client savings rather than international lenders to finance loans.

But most have opted instead to offer extremely high savings rates in a bid to raise their competitiveness in attracting deposits rather than passing on these lower operating costs to borrowers.

AMK offers a staggering 12 percent per annum on 18-month fixed-rate deposits, which ranks as one of the most attractive savings products on the planet in an age of rates in the low single digits.

Cambodia remains a country where many people still consider deposit accounts as counter-intuitive. Many people in rural areas remain reluctant to hand over their life savings for what essentially amounts to a piece of paper with a number on it – a savings book – preferring instead to horde money under the mattress where it cannot be used to fuel borrowing and in turn the economy.

The absence of both a credit agency and land titles on many properties that could offer all-important collateral means borrowing remains as expensive as ever.

Cases such as Choice Taxi Company’s collateral-free US$300,000 loan from ABA Bank this year remain the exception rather than the rule. In this case, ABA Bank considered the attractiveness and future growth of the metre-taxi market sufficient security – but this model is not realistic in the case of most lending packages. Cambodia remains a risky prospect for international lenders.

The onus is therefore on the government and financial sector to offer a solution. The government must improve regulation of the financial sector and improve transparency to then improve the country’s standing in the eyes of the global financial market. Addressing dollarisation and establishing a credit agency in the Kingdom would help assert greater control of monetary policy and offer lenders improved security.

But lenders themselves have to take the responsibility. More sensible rates would help pass on lower financing costs to borrowers and stop the current race within the banking sector that has seen deposit rates go through the roof. By encouraging people to save courtesy of high interest rates the sector is only hurting Cambodia’s recovery.

Rice partnership inked

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Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

A CAMBODIAN association has signed a deal worth US$22.4 million with a Vietnamese firm to plant 20,000 hectares worth of paddy rice for export.

The Community of Takmoa Agricultural and Industrial Development yesterday signed an investment deal with Vietnam’s Thai Thinh Company.

Lim Kimkhun, head of the Takmoa association, said that the cooperative agreement between his community and the company would help to boost yields of the grain in Cambodia.

Thai Thinh will be responsible for both technical planting and rice production in an area of Kampong Cham province’s Bateay district and Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district.

“We expect our community will have more rice to supply the international demand in the future,” said Lim Kimkhun.

Next January, both sides will develop irrigation systems for the area and construct a rice mill, set to be capable of producing 500 tonnes of rice per day.

“We hope to plant paddy twice per year, yielding seven tonnes per hectare, and be able to export 100,000 tonnes [of rice] per year from 2012,” he said.

Nguyen Lam Duy, general director of Thai Thinh, said during the signing that his south Vietnam-based company would supply fertiliser and seeds to the community.

“The sole purpose for which we are here is to help [the]community to produce many tonnes of rice.

“The government’s policy aims to boost rice exports to up to 1 million tonnes by 2015,” he said.

Ponh Kosal, advisor to president of Cambodia’s senate Chea Sim, who was present at the signing, said both companies could double the amount of rice produced in the area.

Around 280,000 farmers would profit from the cooperation between the Kingdom’s company and Vietnamese firm, according to estimates provided at the signing.

Two Vietnamese men jailed for drug dealing

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Friday, 12 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced two Vietnamese men to two years each in prison after finding them guilty of attempting to sell 40 ecstasy pills in May.

Ly Heng and Ngieng Yong Fong were arrested on May 20 on suspicion of drug dealing, after 40 ecstasy pills were confiscated as they attempted to sell the drugs to a third party, known to the court as Yoeung.

Both suspects denied the charges during testimonies delivered to the court at the hearing yesterday, but later acknowledged their guilt following questioning by prosecutors.

Ly Heng, a motorbike taxi driver, told the court that he had purchased one pill for personal use at a cost of US$5, “in order to empower my energy and not feel sleepy”.

Ngieng Yong Fong told the court that he had ordered the supply for the unknown third party from a drug dealer named David, and that he was simply acting as a middle man between the two parties.

“Yoeung counted on me to buy the drugs for him,” he said.

But prosecutor Hing Bunchea rejected both denials, claiming the testimonies conflicted with previous statements made by the accused to police officials that they “bought the ecstasy pills for $5 per pill and sold them for a $7.50 profit at a night club, because the ecstasy drug is a drug that makes happy and wavy feelings”.

“You don’t have any hard evidence to support your testimonies,” he added.

Judge Din Sivuthy also ordered the pair to pay a fine of 2 million riel (US$492) each.

Mfone affected by baht's power

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Friday, 12 November 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

MFONE faces a “price war” and intense competition among the Kingdom’s nine mobile operators, according to results from parent company Thaicom, released yesterday.

The mobile provider now claims 569,472 Cambodian subscribers, a 30.2 percent decline on 815,363 for the third quarter 2009. Mfonwe was pegged as the third largest provider in Cambodia in statistics from June, with 782,073 active subscribers, according to data complied by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Revenues suffered at the provider during the most recent quarter. Thaicom claimed a loss of 102 million baht (US$3.5 million) in the Kingdom, compared with a loss of 25.3 million baht in the same quarter last year. Currency fluctuations in the most recent quarter hit its Cambodian revenues as Mfone reports its domestic revenues in US dollars, which are then converted to baht for reporting statements, Thaicom says.

“The appreciation of the baht [against the dollar] has caused lower revenue from the telephone business in Cambodia,” it said.

But drops in electricity costs and interconnect charges, as well as the baht’s appreciation, had decreased total costs. Thaicom holds 51 percent of Shenington Investments, which operates Mfone.