Friday, 19 November 2010

French-Cambodian Surgical Team Perform Humanitarian Work to Repair the Faces and Spirits of Impoverished Cambodian Children Living with Malformation

via CAAI

Released: 11/18/2010 

Source: American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)

Newswise — Frontoethmoidal meningoencephalocele is a type of facial malformation that is rarely seen in developed countries, but is quite common in many Southeast Asian countries, occurring in 1 of every 5,000 live births. Most children affected by this condition do not have neurological complications or congenital brain anomalies, and are mentally normal. The malformation, however, often carries with it a social stigma, with many children experiencing ridicule by their peers. The etiology of this condition is not clearly defined and studies have not yielded a consensus, although most have suggested that it is linked to poverty. Past patient studies have suggested that genetic predisposition, higher paternal age, kindred relationship parentage, vitamin B deficiency (due to malnutrition), and drugs may be contributing factors. In Cambodia, more than 75 percent of people live on less than $2 a day and surgery is not affordable without the intervention of humanitarian efforts.

A compelling article published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, entitled Frontoethmoidal meningoencephalocele: appraisal of 200 operated cases details the experiences of a cross-cultural surgical team from France or Germany and Cambodia who performed humanitarian work from 2004-2009 at Children’s Surgical Centre at Kien Khleang, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While there, they provided no-cost surgery to impoverished children with frontoethmoidal meningoencephalocele (fMEC). Authors are Ngiep Oucheng, MD, (Children’s Surgical Centre), Frédéric Lauwers, MD, PhD (Médecins du Monde, Paris, and Maxillofacial Surgery, Hôpital Purpan, Toulouse, France), Jim Gollogly, MD (Children’s Surgical Centre); Louisa Draper, MBBS, MA (Children’s Surgical Centre); Bruno Joly, MD (Médecins du Monde, Paris); and Franck-Emmanuel Roux, MD, PhD (Médecins du Monde, Paris, and Neurosurgery, Hôpital Purpan, Toulouse, France). The article is published online at:

Children’s Surgical Centre is an international non-governmental organization registered in the state of Alaska. In collaboration with the National Rehabilitation Centre at Kien Khleang Hospital, free ophthalmic and reconstructive surgical care is provided to disabled people who would otherwise not be able to get help. A program has been developed to encourage specialist surgeons from overseas to visit the center. Médecins du Monde provides two teams of visiting surgeons (from France and Germany), including a craniofacial surgeon, a neurosurgeon, an anesthetist, and periodically, nurses. The surgical teams visit Cambodia 2-4 times per year with stays of 1-2 weeks per visit to carry out clinical work. “The purpose of this program is twofold – promoting humanitarian efforts in which specialist surgeons perform much-needed surgeries at no cost to patients; and providing training to local medical providers so that they can help patients on a continual basis,” said Pr. Roux.

While the authors have published previously on a smaller patient group, they believe that this fMEC case series is the largest published to date. This study analyzes the efficacy of a combined neurosurgical-craniofacial procedure performed in 200 of 257 patients seen over a 68-month period between 2004 and 2009. Of the 57 patients not operated on, intervention was refused or postponed in 51; one went to Singapore for treatment, and five were treated for various reasons via a small transfacial approach. Additional key patient demographics:

•Gender: 108 male, 92 female
•Age: 0-5 (48), 6-10 (44), 11-15 (63), 16-18 (23), older than 18 (22)
•Familial history: two patients
•Forty-six percent (92 patients) had at least one ophthalmological problem

Key operative details and outcome:

•Mean operative time: 2 hours, 35 minutes (range 45 minutes-5 hours)
•Mean hospitalization: 20 days (range 10-60 days)
•Mean follow-up: 11 months (range 2-29 months)
•Most common postoperative complications: CSF leaks and wound infection – 12 percent (24 patients)
•Mortality: three patients, ages 2, 6 and 11 died as a direct result of the surgical procedure; a 14-year-old boy died two days post operation due to malaria with major hyperthermia; and a 12-year-old girl died two months post operation due to acute meningitis.
•Cost: operations were free to patients, estimated overall cost per patient (funded by Médecins du Monde) was $380
•Cosmetic results: utilizing the subjective methods criteria, as judged by surgical team: 145 patients – good, 27 patients – average, 7 patients – poor, and 6 patients – worse. Of the 42 patients in whom no facial incision was required, 38 had good results. Patients and parents tended to be more satisfied with the surgical results than the surgeons.
•Social results: of 182 patients, 25 percent (45 patients) – improved social life, 23 percent (33 patients) – improved educational experience

In the study, the authors noted several points that warrant further discussion. Although there is no recent scientific evidence that shows increased mortality in children with untreated fMEC, most agree that it should be treated as soon as possible to avoid damaging effects on facial growth. Delaying treatment to 8-10 months of age may minimize complications, but in developing countries, since many children are malnourished, treatment should probably be postponed until at least age 1. It is very important to take into consideration local resources and experience with regard to anesthesia.

“Since this condition is generally not considered fatal, extra care must be taken when selecting patients for surgical treatment. Comprehensive information must be provided to patients and their parents about the condition, as well as the risks and benefits of treatment. One of the most rewarding aspects of our humanitarian work was being able to provide these children with an improved social life and educational experience, free from the derogatory name calling so many of them endured. In conclusion, our experience has demonstrated that fMEC surgery can be performed successfully by local surgeons after proper training, with limited surgical materials and a simple infrastructure. This should enable a larger number of patients in developing countries to undergo this surgery,” said Pr. Roux.

Founded in 1944, the Journal of Neurosurgery, the official scientific journal of the AANS, has been recognized by neurosurgeons and related medical specialists worldwide for its authoritative and cutting-edge clinical articles, laboratory research papers, case reports, literature reviews, technical notes, book reviews, and more. Each successive editor-in-chief – from Louise Eisenhardt to the current editor, John A. Jane, Sr. – has played a key role in shaping a publication that stays on the cutting edge of a constantly advancing specialty. Each manuscript is reviewed by at least three editorial board members, in addition to the Editor and occasionally one or more expert reviewers.

Cambodia: Ten tips on visiting Angkor's temples

Ta Phrom is one of the most photographed temples

via CAAI

Michelle Jana Chan reports on how to see the Cambodian temples at Angkor at their best, in spite of the crowds.

By Michelle Jana Chan
18 Nov 2010

Angkor Archaeological Park is home to hundreds of temples as well as villages, schools and farmland. Just as a millennium ago, Angkor is a vast area where people live and work. Glimpses of rural Cambodian life – immaculately uniformed children walking to school and their parents working the fields – offer humble interludes between temple visits.

Its centrepiece is Angkor Wat, Cambodia's best-preserved and beloved temple. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it has remained a place of worship since its foundation. Thought to be a miniature replica of the universe, its towers, moats and concentric walls reveal an architectural sophistication, and the bas-relief with their plump figures and triumphal battle scenes reflect a healthy, wealthy period of history.

Elsewhere, in the park, some of the most elegant carvings can be found at Banteay Srei temple, decorated with sensuous celestial dancers. Ta Phrom is one of the most photographed temples, deliberately left mostly unrestored, and tangled and strangled by undergrowth, branches and roots.

The perennial favourite is the Bayon temple at Angkor Thom whose towers – like at Banteay Chhmar – are etched with enlightened bodhisattva faces. The Bayon is also decorated with enchanting bas-relief depicting ordinary Khmer life rather than the Hindu mythology seen at most other temples.

Aside from these landmark temples, there are smaller but equally moving sites like Ta Nei (resembling a diminutive Ta Phrom), Ta Som (with a four-faced tower like at the Bayon) and Banteay Samre (like a petite Angkor Wat). Built on a more human scale, they can offer some respite from their grander cousins.

Here are 10 tips on how to visit Angkor well:

1 High season runs from November to March, when the weather is usually fair. Late October and November, the country is still lush after the rains and there are fewer tourists.

2 Wear comfortable shoes with good soles; the paving at the temples is uneven and slippery when wet. Take an umbrella against the rain/sun. A torch is useful for windowless rooms.

3 Have a basic understanding of Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism. Most guidebooks have a section on this subject. A good map is available at local bookshops in Siem Reap (they do not have one at the ticket office).

4 Most tourists follow a well-trodden route: sunrise at the west gate of Angkor Wat before returning to the hotel for breakfast; late morning, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom and Banteay Srei; after lunch, exploring more fully Angkor Wat; sunset atop Phnom Bakheng hill. Avoid this itinerary to beat the crowds.

5 This is the way I would do it. Early to bed, early to rise. Angkor opens at 5.30am and this is the best time to start exploring. After sunrise, most tourists head swiftly back to their hotels for breakfast. Instead, stay out until 9am when the temples are remarkably peaceful. Plan on a late lunch, or ask the hotel to pack a picnic. Between noon and 2.30pm, many temples are empty. The afternoons are best spent at the smaller temples. I love sunset at the fiery-red Pre Rup or East Mebon temples.

6 Ask your tour operator to assign you their best private guide. Touring temples can be wearying unless you have someone bringing the history to life.

7 At some temples children sell souvenirs and employ emotive language about how they need money for school. Buying from them will encourage them to work in this way. Most tour operators and hotels have links to NGOs, and visits can often be arranged to schools and orphanages; donating to these organisations might be a wiser way to support the local community.

8 Try to visit the National Palace Museum in Phnom Penh. This stopover works best after visiting the temples. The newly opened Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap is poorly curated but is worth an hour with a good guide.

9 A visit to the British Museum is worthwhile; it is currently hosting Images and Sacred Texts: Buddhism Across Asia, which includes artefacts from Cambodia (until April). The world's most comprehensive collection of Khmer artefacts is in Paris's Musée Guimet.

10 It is not uncommon to hear tourists say they are "templed out". Pace yourself, take breaks and visit smaller, less busy temples.

Malarial drug resistance spreads in Asia

Anti-malarial drug resistance at the Cambodian-Thai border was confirmed last year

via CAAI

GENEVA — The World Health Organisation warned Thursday that resistance to malaria drug artemisinin appeared to be spreading in the region from the Cambodia-Thailand border, where it was first detected.

"There is some early evidence that resistance to artemisinins may also be emerging on the Myanmar-Thailand border," said the WHO in a statement.

"There is also concern that resistance could spread from the Cambodia-Thailand border to Africa, as it did with anti-malaria drugs such as chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in the 1960s and 1970s," it added.

Pascal Ringwald, who co-authored a WHO study into the issue, said the WHO is undertaking "complementary studies to confirm that it is indeed drug resistance. That should take a year."

In February 2009, anti-malarial drug resistance was confirmed by the WHO at the Cambodia-Thailand border.

But the latest WHO study found that some 10-20 percent of patients at the Myanmar-Thailand border continued to show signs of malarial parasites in the blood after a three-day treatment with artemisinin combination therapy.

Likewise, at the China-Myanmar border, studies show that a quarter of patients who took oral artesunate monotherapy remained parasitaemic on the third day of treatment.

Similar signs were observed in a a province in Vietnam.

The WHO called for "careful monitoring" on the issue, and said that only 34 percent of malaria-endemic countries are complying with recommendations to monitor the efficacy anti-malarial drugs.

Half of the world's population is exposed to malaria which kills 860,000 people every year, according to the WHO.

Cambodia prepares to hand out 450,000 condoms during water festival

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia is preparing to hand out 450,000 condoms during annual water festival that will kick off on Saturday, an official from National Aids Authority said.

Sim Kimsan, director of communication of National Aids Authority said Thursday that 450,000 condoms will be handed out to happy goers during the three-day water festival that will start from Saturday until Monday.

He said the main target for condoms hand outs will be the boaters, their companions, and other considered risk people who are flocking into the city as happy goers during the festival.

The government report showed that as of June this year, there were 40,039 people living with HIV/AIDS who received the anti- retroviral drugs, among them 3,881 were children.

Cambodia has been recognized in the region as a success story for having significantly reduced its HIV prevalence rate.

New estimates show that HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 to 49 has decreased to an estimated 0.7 percent in 2009 from 2 percent in 1998.

According to the government report, in 2002, there were 250 Cambodians received ARV, 1,700 people in 2003 and 8,500 in 2005.

Nearly everyone who is HIV positive is receiving the AIDS treatment they need due the efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its development partners.

Water Festival is the biggest and annual event which every year millions of Cambodians, especially, those from rural areas are coming to the city to enjoy the boat race.

For this year, 420 boats were registered for the boat race and the boaters are numbered at 27,734, according to National Committee for National and International Festivals.

The 1,700-meter boat race is held on the four faces of Mekong River and other two rivers in the capital.

Editor: An

Cambodian PM insists Chinese dam not be blamed for low Mekong level

via CAAI

November 18, 2010

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday that disasters or floods are not caused by Chinese dams, but due to the global climate change.

"Floods in Takhmao district and Phnom Penh, is it caused by the hydro-power dam Storms in Thailand? is it caused by the hydro power? Water rises and drops along the Mekong river, is it caused by the hydropower?" asked Hun Sen in response to the question from a reporter in a press conference.

The question is about hydro power dams in China that is threatening the low Mekong River and a concern about recent approval in principle of the Cambodia to a Vietnamese firm to construct a hydro power dam along Mekong River.

The press conference was held after the conclusion of a series summits held among the heads of government of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

Hun Sen said that in 1998, the Mekong river water was only 7.5 meters high, the lowest level of water, at that time the Chinese dams were not built, but in 2000, the water in the river in front of the Royal Palace rose to more than 12 meters that threatened the flood in Phnom Penh.

"But this year the water is small, is the issue caused by the hydro power?" Hun Sen asked, adding that "it is not like that you have to think, this irregular rainfall maybe caused by the climate change in the world."

He said that for Mekong river and other rivers, less or more water is dependent on rainfall.

"I do not defend China and I also do not defend Laos that built hydro power dam, I also do not defend the hydro power dam that the Cambodian government allowed to build," the premier stressed. "But you should think when strong rains come, it cause floods, when no rain, it is draught."

Source: Xinhua

Thai, Cambodian PMs hold talks to iron out Preah Vihear dispute

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Nov 18 - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he had talked with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen about the Preah Vihear dispute and they mutually agreed that they did not want to see any border clash or relations to deteriorate.

Mr Abhisit met Mr Hun Sen on the sidelines of the 4th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

He said the 40-minute talk focussed on a wide range of problems on Preah Vihear and its surrounding area in talks which were the third round of follow-up talks for the neighbouring leaders but is considered the first time that the two leaders themselves have straightforward talks over the issue.

"The atmosphere is very smooth and both sides acknowledge the differing ideas and express mutual views that they do not want to see any tense situation, no more border clashes between the troops and do not want the relation to deteriorate," he said.

Both leaders tried to explore ways to enable the people of the two countries see the positive side of the relations and the problems should be solved in accordance with the existing agreements, said the Thai premier.

Mr Abhisit said he has explained that the all existing mechanisms are working including the General Border Committee (GBC) and Joint Boundary Commission (JBC). The GBC and JBC at the provincial and military levels have regular contact to avoid misunderstandings and tension.

However, he said, the JBC did not run smoothly as the Thai Parliament has yet to approve the minutes of the border agency's meeting which could further delay negotiations on the border settlement near the Preah Vihear Temple.

The Cambodian premier knew that the minutes of the meeting have to be approved by Parliament as required by the Constitution, he said.

Mr Abhisit said he told the Cambodian leader that the tension stemmed from the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)'s World Heritage issue and the contested area where a market, communities and temple were set up.

Thailand would like to see the area back to its previous status in 2000 with Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be fully observed by both sides while Cambodia wanted the 2008 generality, he said.

According to the MoU between Thailand and Cambodia on the survey and land boundary demarcation signed in June 2000, both parties agreed not to carry out any changes in the environment of the frontier zone, pending completion of the survey and border demarcation.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over Preah Vihear since the World Heritage Committee added it to the World Heritage List of 2008. The listing has nothing to do with the boundaries, but Thailand feared Cambodia would use the disputed areas adjacent to the temple as a buffer zone particularly the 4.6 square metres area which contested by both countries.

Since the conflict started, military standoff has been on and off along the two countries' border and several military clashes with recorded small casualties from both sides.

Mr Hun Sen earlier said that as long as Thailand redeploys its troops just like the time before July 15, 2008, the border issue will be solved peacefully and smoothly.

The International Court of Justice on June 15, 1962 ruled in favor to Cambodia, saying Preah Vihear Temple is belonged to Cambodia.

Mr Abhisit said from now on the cultural exchange activities between the two countries would be promoted to boost ties between the people of the two countries.

AJoint Thai-Cambodian concert will take place on Nov 28 at the Indoor Stadium at Hua Mark to promote economic, cultural and social co-operation between the two neighboring countries. (MCOT online news)

Cambodian students leave for Japan on exchange visit program

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Twenty Cambodian students left for Japan on Thursday on exchange visit program being provided by Japan.

In a statement released by the Embassy of Japan, it said the 20 students from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) left for Japan on a 9 day stay under Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths Program (JENESYS).

During their stay in Japan, the students will visit universities, technological companies and project sites related to advanced technology.

The students will also have the opportunity to attend the ROBOCON; a robot contest held among various technical colleges in Japan, according to the statement.

All students will receive home-stay with a Japanese family in order to experience Japanese culture and tradition from the first hand.

Since 1992, the Government of Japan has been providing scholarships to Cambodian students, with over 600 Cambodians being accepted to study in Japan so far.

It is hoped that the success of various programs such as the JENESYS program, will interest Cambodian students especially in the fields of science and technology, to apply to study in Japan and support Cambodia's development upon their return, the statement said.

Editor: An

RM28.1 Million Franchising, Retail Business Identified In Cambodia & Vietnam

via CAAI

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 (Bernama) -- A recent Malaysian delegation to Cambodia and Vietnam has identified RM28.1 million worth of franchising and retail business opportunities in the two countries.

In Cambodia, joint-ventures opportunities were earmarked in retail businesses and franchising for beauty products, body care training centres, education, food and beverage products as well as the distribution of food products, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) said in a statement on Thursday.

It said franchise business in body care training centres, food and beverage products, English language education, joint ventures in retail outlets for shoes and handbags as well as the distribution of food products were identified in Vietnam.

MATRADE led a Specialised Marketing Mission on Franchising and Retail Business to Cambodia and Vietnam between Oct 31 and Nov 6, in collaboration with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, Malaysia Franchise Association and Perbadanan Nasional Bhd.

A total of 25 representatives from 12 companies, government agencies and associations were in Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City to promote Malaysian franchise and retail businesses.

The statement said this was the first mission to promote franchise business to Cambodia and the second to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's 86 million consumers and rapid economic growth has seen growing demand for fast and convenient Western lifestyles.

This is evident by the annual retail sales growth of 23.3 per cent in 2007, 31 per cent in 2008 and 18.6 per cent in 2009 based on figures from Vietnam's General Department of Statistics.

Mekong Countries Consider Rice Coalition

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 18 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Prime Ministers, from left, Thein Sein of Myanmar, Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Hun Sen of Cambodia, and Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, shake hands during an opening ceremony of the 5th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam summit in the Cambodia's Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

Cambodia and its four Mekong River neighbors are considering a regional rice agreement that would help in the manufacturing and export of rice globally.

Cambodia, along with Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, would not seek to “haggle” prices, such as OPEC, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday, following a summit of the five Southeast Asian nations.

Instead, the association would create food stability, he said, following the end of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy summit.

“The aim of ACMECS to create the Association of Rice Export is to ensure the stability of food in the world and at least in the region, which is suffering from climate change,” Hun Sen said.

The establishment of such an organization would take time, however. Hun Sen said ministers from each of the countries should further discuss the proposal a reach a compromise.

Thailand is the world's largest rice exporter, sending out approximately 8 million tons per year. It is followed by Vietnam, with around 6 billion tons per year. Cambodia meanwhile exports about 100,000 tons per year, but the government has made rice export a top priority and is seeking to reach the 1 million ton mark by 2015.

Economists here say that will require a major improvement in rice quality and other export factors.

Cambodian, Thai Premiers Hopeful on Border Resolution

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 18 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Abhisit told Hun Sen during the meeting he expects the minutes to be approved.

“Both sides have hope for passage by Thailand’s joint parliamentary committee on the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Committee's three-document meetings, led by both foreign ministers in 2008 and 2009.”

Cambodian and Thailand may have broken a deadlock in a three-year border dispute, officials said Thursday.

The hope comes amid expectations that Thai parliament will approve the minutes of three joint border commission meetings early in December, despite an expected protest in Bangkok of the People's Alliance for Democracy.

In a bilateral meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Abhisist Vejjajiva, in Phnom Penh Wednesday night, the two discussed reducing tensions along the border near Preah Vihear temple, officials said.

Abhisit told Hun Sen during the meeting he expects the minutes to be approved, Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

“Both sides have hope for passage by Thailand’s joint parliamentary committee on the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Committee's three-document meetings, led by both foreign ministers in 2008 and 2009,” Koy Kuong said.

Both sides have troops amassed along the border in Preah Vihear province, along a disputed strip of land near the ancient temple complex, which was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site under Cambodian management in 2008.

Efforts to reconcile the dispute stalled when Thai parliament failed to approved the meeting minutes, which outline steps leading to border demarcation, including the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple.

In US Ship's Visit, a Commander's Homecoming

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Thursday, 18 November 2010

via CAAI

Photo: Courtesy of US Navy
U.S. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz serves as a commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin.

“The purpose of the trip to Cambodia is to develop and further the relationship between the United States and Cambodia...and it’s a special trip because the Mustin is commanded by a Cambodian-American.”

When the US naval ship USS Mustin docks in Cambodia next month, it will be a homecoming for the the destroyer's commander.

Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz was adopted by an American woman in 1973, as Cambodia fell to the war and the oncoming Khmer Rouge. He was raised in the US and has not returned home in 37 years.

“The purpose of the trip to Cambodia is to develop and further the relationship between the United States and Cambodia...and it’s a special trip because the Mustin is commanded by a Cambodian-American,” Misiewicz told VOA Khmer by phone from aboard his ship. “We'll help train some of the Royal Cambodian Navy and military, and we're also going there to do community relations projects.”

The USS Mustin, based in Yokusuka, Japan, is a guided missile destroyer, carrying 300 sailors onboard. The December visit to Cambodia comes on the heels of a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this month.

“I know it's going to be very emotional,” said Misiewicz, who was born in Kandal province but was adopted by an American woman whom his aunt worked for.

Misiewicz, whose given name is Vannak Khem, went to school in the US, not knowing what became of his family after the Khmer Rouge came to power. He graduated high school, joined the US Navy, and later went on to the Naval Academy, earning his officer's commission in 1992.

When he returns to Cambodia, he will be reunited with his aunt. His father was executed by the Khmer Rouge in 1977, but his birth mother now lives in Texas with her family.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

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Germany To Provide Financial Assistance to Cambodia for Organizing APA

Phnom Penh, November 18, 2010 AKP -- The Federal Republic of Germany has pledged to provide US$200,000 to the National Assembly of Cambodia to organize the 2011 ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (APA) hosted by the Kingdom.

German Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Wolfgang Moser told Cambodian National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, during their meeting held here on Nov. 17.

The German diplomat highly appreciated Samdech Heng Samrin’s role in strengthening democracy as well as the ties of friendship between the two countries during these past ten years.

He further recalled Germany’s assistance to the Cambodian National Assembly in human resource training, and on the occasion, he sought Samdech Heng Samrin’s support to his mission in Cambodia.

For his part, the Cambodian national assembly president was convinced that through H.E. Wolfgang Moser’s mission, the diplomatic relations as well as the bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and Germany will be further boosted and expanded.

Samdech Heng Samrin profoundly thanked the German government and people for their assistance to the peace establishment, national reconciliation and development of Cambodia. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)


Myanmar and Thai Prime Minister Leave Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 18, 2010 AKP -- Prime Minister of Myanmar H.E. Thein Sein left here Wednesday evening after attending the two-day (Nov. 16-17) Summits of the 5th CLMV and the 4th ACMECS in Phnom Penh.

H.E. Thein Sein and his accompanied members were seen off at Phnom Penh International Airport by H.E. Ouch Borith, Cambodian Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and other senior officials.

Myanmar Embassy representatives were also present on the occasion.

Besides, Myanmar Prime Minister H.E. Thein Sein together with his Cambodian, Lao and Thai counterparts as well as the Vietnamese minister of Planning and Investment, were received in a royal audience by His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

He also held a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

Following on the same day, Thai Prime Minister H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva also left here after attending the 4th ACMECS Summit.

During his one-day stay in Phnom Penh, the Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva held a close-door meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen on the sidelines of the 4th ACMECS Summit and the two leaders also witnessed the signing ceremony on the Visa Exemption Agreement for Holders of Ordinary Passports between the two Kingdoms. --AKP

(By KEO Chandara)


Cambodia Marks 9th World Philosophy Day

Phnom Penh, November 18, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia marked here on Nov. 16 the 9th World Philosophy Day under the presidency of Mrs. Khlot Thida, president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

The World Philosophy Day, aiming at preserving, developing and enhancing the value of philosophy as well as encouraging people worldwide to share mutual philosophy legacy, was held under the theme “Philosophy, Different in Culture and Peaceful Culture”.

Philosophy in Cambodia has long risen since the Nokor Phnom era, Mrs. Khlot Thida said.

The ceremony was organized by Cambodian Philosophy Association and Philosophy Department of the Royal University of Phnom Penh with the support of UNESCO. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)


Japan Provides More Equipment to Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 18, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian rescue team RRC 711 of military brigade E-70 on Monday received four ambulances and seven firefighter trucks and some rescue equipment from Japan Paramedical Rescue (JPR) under the witness of Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

The rescue equipment was handed over after the seven-month training of the Cambodian rescue team by JPR has finished.

Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, Gen. Pol Saroeun thanked JPR for the training course and the equipment, stressing these valuable assistances reflected the good ties of friendship, fraternity and cooperation between Cambodian military brigade E-70 and JPR. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)


Departure of ITC Students to Japan under the JENESYS Program

Phnom Penh, November 18, 2010 AKP -- Twenty students from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) are leaving today for Japan on a nine-day stay under the JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) Program.

During their stay in Japan, the students will visit universities, technological companies and project sites related to advanced technology, while also having the opportunity to attend the ROBOCON; a robot contest held among various technical colleges in Japan, said yesterday a press release of the Embassy of Japan.

All students will receive home-stay with a Japanese family in order to experience Japanese culture and tradition from the first hand, it added.

Since 1992, the Government of Japan has been providing scholarships to Cambodian students, with over 600 Cambodians being accepted to study in Japan so far. It is hoped that the success of various programs such as the JENESYS program, will interest Cambodian students especially in the fields of science and technology, to apply to study in Japan and support Cambodia’s development upon their return. --AKP


Cambodian-American Destroyer CO To Return to Birth Country after 37 Years

Phnom Penh, November 18, 2010 AKP -- A Cambodian born commander of the U.S. navy will visit his birth country next month, according to a press release of the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh dated Nov. 16.

U.S. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz has visited dozens of ports over the course of his career, but none has ever evoked the emotions that will come when his ship USS Mustin visits Cambodia in December, marking the first time in 37 years that he has returned to the land of his birth.

As a young Cambodian boy born and living in the rice fields outside of the capital Phnom Penh in the late 1960’s / early 1970’s, Misiewicz – whose birth name was Vannak Khem -- wasn’t aware of the political tension building up around him. When his country plunged into turmoil, his family reluctantly gave him up for adoption to a young American woman who worked at the U.S. Embassy, allowing him to escape before the Khmer Rouge regime took over the country, eventually causing millions of deaths in what is known as the “Killing Fields.”

“I know it’s going to be very emotional,” said Misiewicz. “I was the lucky one in the family.”

Raised by his adoptive mother, Misiewicz enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school in Lanark, Illinois. He was selected for the Navy’s Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program, and attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received his commission in 1992. His service as a Navy Surface Warfare Officer ultimately brought him to command the guided missile destroyer USS Mustin, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

As commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), Misiewicz and the more than 300 Sailors under his charge will conduct community service projects and interact with the Cambodian Navy. USS Mustin’s port call comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit earlier this month, and the first-ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with Cambodia.

“It brings a lot of happiness to see my country – the United States – establishing a positive relationship with the country of my heritage,” Misiewicz said.

“America is truly the land of opportunity,” he said. “It’s the one country on earth where you start from the rice fields of a war-torn country and rise to command a U.S. Navy destroyer. It doesn’t get any better.”

For more than 16 years after moving to the U.S. in 1973, Misiewicz did not know what happened to his family in Cambodia.

“As a child I would cry almost every night, thinking about my family and what had happened to them,” Misiewicz said. “I had no idea at that point in my life whether they had survived the Killing Fields or not.”

“Quite honestly, it was less painful as I got older to not think about it,” he said.

While Misiewicz was pursuing his naval career, he did not know that his surviving Cambodian family had immigrated to the U.S. and was looking for him.

Sponsored by an American family and church, his surviving siblings and birth mother moved to Austin, Texas, in 1984. With the help of a college student, they started researching Misiewicz’s footsteps, and in 1989 they were reunited. But he also learned the devastating news that his father had been executed by the Khmer Rouge in 1977.

Misiewicz says the most emotional part of returning to Cambodia will be reuniting with his living blood relatives, especially an aunt who played a large part in his adoption and an uncle who hoped for a better life for Misiewicz. As a child, Misiewicz was very close to his aunt and often accompanied her at work as a maid for the American woman who later became his adoptive mother.

“My aunt got sick, so some arrangements were made between my adopted mom, my dad and my aunt to find a better life for one of us children, and my adopted mom found a liking toward me,” Misiewicz said.

While his aunt carried out her cleaning duties, Misiewicz’s future mother would let him watch movies and play games at her home. So in 1973, when she was scheduled to leave Phnom Penh, the only way she could bring the little boy she had grown fond of was to adopt him.

“I went [to the U.S] and I think the initial thought was for me to get a better education, live a better life and eventually return to Cambodia,” Misiewicz said.

Misiewicz was very young when he immigrated to the U.S. After arriving in Alexandria, Va., in April of 1973, his adoptive mother, Maryna Lee Misiewicz, who raised him as a single parent, enrolled him into the 1st grade the following fall. Misiewicz received extra English tutoring for the next three years and eventually continued his education in Lanark, Ill., which was his mother’s hometown.

“Lanark was and still is a population of 1,500 and I think I was the only non-Caucasian at my school,” Misiewicz said.

Nearly four decades later, Misiewicz believes the Navy has given him an incredible amount of opportunities that he would have never experienced had he remained in Cambodia. Although his ship’s upcoming visit has tremendous emotions attached for Misiewicz, he is also focused on his mission as Mustin’s commanding officer and hopes his background will help accomplish it successfully.

“I really feel privileged and blessed to be able to return with this crew to where I was born and to do so with the ability to promote American goodwill and share with Cambodians the success stories, not only mine, but a lot of success stories within our crew,” he said.

Misiewicz is not the only commanding officer of a forward deployed ship to visit his birth country in a U.S. Seventh Fleet ship. Korean-American Cmdr. Jeffrey Kim, USS John S. McCain’s (DDG 56) commanding officer took command of his ship in a ceremony held at Busan, Republic of Korea, in May, 2009. In November of 2009, Vietnamese-American Cmdr. H.B. Le, commanding officer of USS Lassen (DDG 82) made a port call to Da Nang, Vietnam, as the first Vietnamese-born American citizen to command a U.S. warship and visit the country. He escaped with his family from Vietnam near the end of the war in 1975.

Misiewicz says he is proud of his background and even more proud that the growth of diversity in the Navy has given him and others a chance to excel in life.

“When you think about all the things that could’ve gone wrong, I think I’m truly blessed to have so many opportunities and certainly the different miracles that have occurred just for me to reunite with my family.” --AKP

Union Commercial sees its deposits soar

via CAAI

Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

DEPOSITS at the Union Commercial Bank increased more than 50 percent over the first nine months of the year, according to chairman Yum Sui Sang.

Some US$159 million had been deposited with the bank by the end of September, from $106 million at the beginning of the year, he said yesterday at the launch of the bank's new branch near Phnom Penh’s Olympic stadium.

The bank – which was the Kingdom’s seventh largest lender last year, according to National Bank of Cambodia statistics – had also extended $74 million in loans at the end of the third quarter. This marks a 19.3 percent increase from $62 million at the start of the year.

Its new Olympic branch represents UCB's fifth in the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia Neav Chanthana said deposits at the Kingdom’s 28 commercial banks had increased more than 20 percent in the first nine months.

Speaking to The Post at the opening of the new branch, she added that developing a sound financial sector and banking system required the utmost trust from customers and investors.

“This definitely reflects the key success of the bank, as well as building confidence in the Cambodian banking system,” she said yesterday.

According to the NBC’s annual supervisory report, total deposits in the Kingdom grew 32 percent to $3.3 billion in 2009 compared to a year earlier.

Rice seed project to start early next year

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

THE United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation is supporting the Cambodian government in motivating private companies to produce rice seed.

FAO official Tim K Ekin told a seminar on agro-business, held at the Phnom Penh Hotel this week, that a program to study rice seed production in Cambodia will begin early next year, with the aim of boosting domestic seed production.

It is hoped the project, funded by the European Union, will help private firms to provide “pure” rice seed, rather than hybrid types.

According to Ekin, the move would enable farmers to increase yields by approximately 15 percent.

He said: “We are calling for private companies to get involved in pure rice seed production. If there is no involvement from the private sector, Cambodia will face difficulties when increasing production.”

Srun Sokhom, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, said further sector engagement would be good for farmers.

But Mong Reththy, Chairman of Mong Reththy Group, a large agricultural company, said that producing pure rice seed was not easy.

He warned that such projects required participation from technicians.

Money matters: City water signs deal with bank

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

ACLEDA Bank inked a deal yesterday to allow users of its mobile banking service to make payments to the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority.

The bank has conducted a similar service with Electricite de Cambodge since August 2009, according to its President and Chief Executive Officer In Channy.

“It’s another great achievement,” he said in a press release.

The bank also launched its ACLEDA Unity mobile banking service in July.

Ek Sonn Chan, head of the water supply authority, said: “The use of the commercial banking system to manage payment transactions for water supply is designed to enhance the financial accountability of PPWSA.”

The authority is one of at least two state-owned firms set to float on the Cambodian stock exchange, when it launches next July.

Police Blotter: 18 Nov 2010

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:00 Sen David

Sitting soldier knifed by pair of “gangsters”
A 30-year-old soldier was attacked by two “gangsters” in Kampong Cham province’s Ponhea Krek district on Monday. Police said that while the victim was sitting in front of a school, the two gangsters came to attack him with a knife. The victim was sent to the hospital. The victim said that on the day of the incident he and a friend were sitting in front of the school, when the two gangsters came to ask them why they were sitting there. The victim said the pair seemed to be drunk. He did not answer them, after which the two gangsters attacked him. The two gangsters are now in police custody. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Moto-thief arrested after homeland dash
A 20-year-old man was arrested after he stole a motorbike in Dangkor district on Tuesday. The owner of the bike said she had parked it in front of her house and while she was inside, the bike was stolen. The victim filed a complaint with the police, but then saw the suspect as he attempted to drive the motorbike to his homeland. Police caught the suspected man, who admitted that he did, in fact, steal it. Police detained him and sent the man to court. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

40 workers injured by careless driving
About 40 railway workers were injured in a traffic accident in Kampot’s Teuk Chhou district Tuesday. Police said the 40 workers were riding home from work on the railway in a single vehicle, but that the driver was not paying attention to the road. Swerving to avoid an oncoming vehicle, the driver braked suddenly and the car toppled into a pond. The workers sustained a range of minor injuries, and police said it was lucky that no one died in the accident. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Fisherman falls from boat, sleeps with fishes
A 52-year-old fisherman drowned after he fell into the water while he was sleeping on a boat in Pursat province’s Krakor district on Tuesday. Police said the man drowned in the water and his body was found close to another village. The victim’s friend, also a fishermen, said the pair drank wine because they had fished so many fishes that day, and then went to sleep on the boat. When the victim’s friend woke up, the victim was nowhere to be seen. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Illegal fisheries bust in Battambang province
Police seized illegal fishing tools and 18,500 illegally caught fish in Battambang’s Ek Phnom district on Tuesday. The suspect escaped custody, but neighbours say they frequently see him fishing illegally. They filed a complaint to the police, saying the man’s illegal activities were putting the fishes at risk. The police released the fish back into the river.RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Smart Mobile in Star-Cell merger talks, qb claims

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

SMART Mobile is in talks to merge with rival provider Star-Cell, according to the head of rival company qb.

“We understand Smart is in discussions over a proposed merger [with Star-Cell],” said Alan Sinfield, qb’s chief executive officer, yesterday.

Mobile operator qb had also eyed Star-Cell, he said, but had proposed a 100-percent purchase rather than a merger.

“If we are unsuccessful, or even if we are successful, we will pursue other acquisitions or mergers,” he said.

Star-Cell had been widely viewed as being on the market in recent months. Its Sweden-based owner TeliaSonera AB announced it had “written down” its value by more than US$100 million late last month, claiming “no goodwill” in a market it said was characterised by fierce competition and high churn rates.

Star-Cell was the seventh largest of the Kingdom’s nine mobile operators, with 503,000 active subscribers at the end of September, TeliaSonera said in its third quarter results.

According to research by The Post, the companies behind Smart and Star-Cell – Cyprus-based Timeturns Holdings and TeliaSonera respectively – already cooperate in other markets.

Star-Cell first launched in Cambodia in October 2007, according to the industry body GSMA. It was 100 percent acquired by TeliaSonera in September 2008.

That deal also saw TeliaSonera acquire 80 percent of Spice Nepal. Timeturns is the founder and part owner of Spice Nepal, according to the firm.

It claims to have begun operating Spice Nepal in 2005 as the first privately owned mobile provider in the country, on its website.

Smart Mobile Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hundt declined to comment on the claim yesterday.

Officials from Star-Cell had told The Post to contact TeliaSonera representatives, who claimed to be “unable to comment”.

Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Director General Mao Chakrya was unavailable and other ministry officials declined to discuss the alleged merger.

Earlier this year, Alan Sinfield targeted extending qb’s coverage to 100 percent of Cambodia’s population by the end of 2010.

“It’s going to be hard to achieve but certainly that’s our main goal,” he said, though he declined to disclose the cost of the expansion or the number of towers targeted.

Charges for two men for artefact smuggling

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:00 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

TWO men in Banteay Meanchey province have been charged with smuggling ancient artefacts after attempting to cross into Thailand with statues of the Hindu deity Vishnu and the Buddhist bodhisattva Lokesvara. Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean said the men were charged yesterday after being arrested on Tuesday evening in Banteay Meanchey’s Thma Puok district. He identified the suspects as 42-year-old Each Sopheak and 24-year-old Kong Sarith, both of Banteay Meanchey’s Sisophon district, and said they had purchased the sculptures at a shop in Siem Reap province. Thma Puok district deputy police chief Chea Chhlong said the pair were arrested at the Boeung Krakuon border checkpoint, and that the artefacts had been taken to Banteay Meanchey provincial court as evidence.

Siem Reap court to hear case against Chi Kraeng villagers

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy

SIEM Reap Provincial Court officials would hold a hearing today in the case against nine villagers from Chi Kraeng district’s Chi Kraeng commune following a two-month delay, the villagers’ lawyer Ham Sunrith said.

He said the villagers have been accused of robbery in connection with a long-running land dispute with residents from a neighbouring commune, but declined to comment ahead of the hearing.

The charges stem from a March 22, 2009, altercation in which police opened fire on a group of protesting residents from Chi Kraeng and neighbouring Anlong Samnor commune.

The two communes have been embroiled in a land dispute that dates back to 1986, and has resulted in a series of altercations since officials ruled last year that the land in question belonged to Anlong Samnor.

On September 15, presiding Judge Ith Samphos said the hearing would need to be rescheduled because one of the presiding judges had also conducted investigations into the case, and consequently could not rule on the proceedings.

Touk Ponloek, a Chi Kraeng villagers’ representative, said yesterday that Chi Kraeng district police had stopped a truck carrying about 50 villagers who were travelling to Siem Reap town in advance of the court hearing.

“It is very unjust for the villagers because we just wanted to listen to whether the hearing is fair or not,” he said, adding that the people had been forced to proceed on foot.

Chi Kraeng district police chief Touch Sakal denied the accusations, saying his officials had just asked some questions because the villagers’ truck was overloaded.

All nine suspects were acquitted of robbery charges in a related case last year, but have remained behind bars pending the prosecutor’s appeal.

On September 14, the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh postponed its hearing in the appeal, also because presiding judges had participated in the investigation. A date for the appeal hearing has not yet been announced.

Judge Sous La, who will preside over today’s hearing, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

NGO questioning postponed

via CAAI

Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

PHNOM Penh Municipal court has postponed the questioning of a staff member of an international NGO accused of illegally detaining a 17-year-old girl, officials said yesterday.

Va Tong, operational director at World Hope International, was due to appear for questioning late on Tuesday afternoon following a complaint filed by 46-year-old mother Va Ang. She claims that Va Tong has refused to release her daughter from the shelter.

Va Tong declined to comment yesterday, but WHI country director Kristin Wiebe said the prosecutor had “agreed to postpone the date. No further date has been set”.

The municipal Department of Social Affairs sent the girl to the WHI shelter after police arrested her on suspicion of selling sexual services in a public place on September 21.

Va Ang said that when she tried to collect her daughter from the shelter two days later, Va Tong told her she needed a letter of support from the village chief. She said, however, that when she returned to the shelter with the letter, Va Tong accused her of forgery and, as of Monday, had continued to refuse to allow the girl to leave.

Kristin Wiebe said yesterday that she was unable to provide information about the girl’s whereabouts or other details, citing concerns for her “safety, privacy and protection”.

She added via email that declining to comment on the specifics of an individual’s case “is also required and in line with Cambodia’s National Minimum Standards of Care and Article 49 of the Anti-human Trafficking Law protecting victim confidentiality and privacy”.

She said WHI works closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs to ensure that minors are released into a safe environment.

“To just release the girls into the care of just anyone who walks through the door would be negligent,” she said, adding that WHI and ministry officials would conduct a “full family assessment” before releasing a minor into their care.

“If we figure out that a family is complicit in her trafficking, we would look into longer-term care,” she said.

Va Ang could not be reached for comment yesterday, but her lawyer Yorn Synal said she had appeared for questioning at the municipal court on Tuesday.

Cheat Khmera, Municipal Court deputy prosecutor, could not be reached for comment.

Court hears counterfeit-note case

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Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard a case against a Nigerian man and a Filipino woman charged with the possession of about US$4,500 worth of counterfeit United States currency.

Okafor Samuel Chukwue Meka, 33, and his girlfriend Catalan Genelie, 37, were arrested on March 21 after a vendor at the Russian Market in Chamkarmon district told police the couple had attempted to pay with a fake US$100 bill. Police said they later confiscated a further 44 fake $100 notes from the couple.

Both defendants pled not guilty to all charges yesterday, claiming that they did not know the money was counterfeit.

“I did not know they were fake notes because I borrowed all this money from my Nigerian friend from Malaysia,” Meka said.

Genelie said she had been with her partner for two years and was shocked when they were arrested. “I didn’t know that he possessed fake dollars,” she said.

The pair’s defence lawyer Kong Tylin asked the court to drop the charges against his clients, who he said had no illegal intentions. Presiding Judge Duch Kimsorn, however, said there was evidence to suggest the couple was guilty.

Deputy court prosecutor Chek Khemara requested that the court allow more time to prepare evidence. “There is enough evidence, such as the fake dollars confiscated from the pair, but we would like to request the court to … order police to examine the money at a national bank,” he said.

The couple faces a sentence of between five and 10 years in prison if found guilty. Duch Kimsorn said a verdict would be handed down December 8.

Petition received for Otres case

via CAAI

Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

A REPRESENTATIVE of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet accepted a petition yesterday submitted by villagers from Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district who say they have unjustly lost their homes in a land dispute.

Villager representative Mon Sina said Kong Chamroeun, a cabinet official, had collected the petition in front of the capital’s Wat Botum after the villagers were prevented by local police from delivering it to Hun Sen’s villa on Sihanouk Boulevard.

Kong Chamroeun “told the villagers to return to their homes and await a solution, and he promised to check on the case after receiving the complaint”, Mon Sina said.

Following a Supreme Court order last Friday, local officials destroyed 78 homes in Stung Hav district’s Commune 1. Residents have been ordered to destroy an additional 43 homes within the next month.

Military police have since surrounded the community, which spills over into neighbouring Otres commune, and have forced residents to register as they move in and out of their homes. Commune 1 residents claim that local authorities have incorrectly enforced the court order, and that it is meant for homes in Otres commune.

Three stand trial for 2009 kidnapping

via CAAI

Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court heard a case yesterday against three Cambodian men charged with the kidnapping of a 5-year-old boy last year.

The three suspects – Morm Sophoan, 20, Kim Horng, 25, and Phat Varak, 19 – were arrested in November last year in Kampong Cham province, where they were allegedly waiting to collect a US$4,000 ransom from the boy’s parents.

They stand accused of taking the boy from the city’s Sorya Mall and spiriting him to Kratie province’s Snuol district and holding him there for three days.

Morm Sophoan claimed in court that, as the boyfriend of the victim’s sister, he had permission to take the boy to the mall and then to Kratie.

“I didn’t hold the boy illegally,” Morm Sophoan said. “I let him walk free with other children, and I didn’t attempt to ransom him and extort money from his parents when we where in Kratie.”

Fellow defendants Kim Horng and Phat Varak claimed Morm Sophoan had told them that he had permission to take the boy.

“I knew nothing about plans to use the boy for ransom, because Sophoan told me that he had only brought him for a visit,” Phat Varak said.

This testimony contradicted confessions read out by a court clerk yesterday that were allegedly given to police following their arrests.

“Sophoan confessed that after arriving in Snuol district on the evening of November 4, he kept calling the boy’s parents and asking them to bring him $5,000 to get the boy back,” the clerk said.

“The figure eventually dropped to $4,000, and on November 7, the men travelled to Kampong Cham province to collect the money and were arrested.”

Phat Varak and Kim Horng confessed to being in on the scheme and said they were in line to receive cuts of $700 and $500, respectively, the clerk said.

Municipal Court Prosecutor Chek Khemara said the three men’s in-court denials were unconvincing and that there was enough evidence to convict them. Judge Duch Kimsorn said a verdict would be announced on December 8. If convicted, the men face between three and five years jail.

Regional declaration issued

Regional heads of state and the secretary general of ASEAN hold round table talks at the ACMECS summit meeting yesterday. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Thursday, 18 November 2010 15:01 Thomas Miller and Vong Sokheng

REGIONAL leaders adopted an agreement, dubbed The Phnom Penh Declaration, yesterday in a bid to help improve economic coordination across five nations.

Signed at the five-nation Ayeyaway-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) summit held in Cambodia’s Peace Building, the declaration was signed by the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The statement recognised “the need for the ACMECS countries to redouble their efforts individually, bilaterally and collectively to move ACMECS forward for the prosperity and well-being of our peoples”.

It stated support for investment and trade facilitation, the agricultural sector, the industrial and energy sector, transport links, tourism, human resource development, public health and the environment.

It also set out a two-year “plan of action” to implement projects related to the development of such sectors.

Agricultural development was singled out as a priority sector by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who pushed for increase cooperation on rice production and exports.

“It is important that our cooperation in rice production and exports be strengthened further. ACMECS countries can be considered a ‘rice bowl’ of the world”, Hun Sen said, in his opening speech at the summit.

Organisation members –Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - export 45 percent of rice to world markets, Hun Sen said, while Thailand and Vietnam currently lead the world in exports.

Cambodia aims to increase domestic annual rice exports to 1 million tonnes by 2015.

During talks, the five prime ministers agreed to establish a “rice cooperation mechanism” within the regional bloc to further coordinate agricultural production.

“I hope that the agricultural production sector, especially rice production, will become an important element of our cooperation in the future,” Hun Sen said.

“I believe that more efforts will be required in order to elevate cooperation to a level that we wish to be” he said.

However, financial constraints – raised by Hun Sen yesterday – have limited the number of projects on the table in Cambodia, Loas, Myammar and Vietnam (CLMV).

The Prime Minster said financial constraints had forced the countries to reduce its planned projects – under the CLMV – grouping from 58 to 16, and urged his colleagues to engage other development partners, such as Japan, China, South Korea and India.

Members also stated support for ridding visa requirements for 30-day visits by citizens within the five countries. Cambodia and Thailand, represented by foreign ministers Hor Namhong and Kasis Piromya, also signed an agreement exempting Cambodian and Thai citizens holding ordinary passports from visa requirements to facilitate the flow of businesspeople and tourists.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the visa exemption would become effective in 30 days and would allow visitors to stay 14 days.

“The signing of the visa exemption is part of the effort to integrate an ASEAN community by 2015, and to boost tourists and trade”, he said.

ACMECS leaders also addressed recommendations brought by the joint business council, after several hundred business leaders from the region met in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Hun Sen said ACMECS had agreed to: expedite contract farming within ACMECS, promote the use of local currencies, review possibilities to implement the single visa scheme, strengthen the business council, and accelerate a “sister city” programme amongst border towns.

He also called upon the private sector to meet governments half-way.

“The business community also has the same mutual responsibility – reform cannot be implemented just from one side”, he said.

“So we have a two-way relationship. There must be reform from both sides.”