Wednesday, 24 November 2010

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

Cambodia’s Appeal for National and International Contributions to Help the Victims

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- The Royal Government of Cambodia has appealed to charitable people, both national and international, for their financial or material contributions in order to help and share the difficulties of the victims of the recent Water Festival Tragedy.

The full appeal dated today reads as follow:


The Royal Government of Cambodia is very sadden and regretful of the incident which caused the loss of hundreds of lives and other hundreds injured, occurred on 22 November 2010 on Pich Bridge, Koh Pich Area- Phnom Penh, during Water and Moon Festival.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has set up committee and subcommittees to handle this unfortunate and regretful event and decided to hold the official mourning day nationwide on 25 November 2010 for those who lost their lives.

To share the condolences to the family of the victims, the Royal Government would like to make an appeal to the national and international charitable contributors for their financial or material contributions in the spirit of the solidarity in order to help and share the victims' difficulties.

Your kind contributions can be made through the Royal Government's newly opened Relief Funds Account of National Bank of Cambodia as-follows:

- Account number 000000007298, Account name COM: Koh Pich Victim Rescue (USD), Swift Code: NCAMKHPP

- Account number 000000007297, Account name COM: Koh Pich Victim Rescue (KHR).

If there are any queries, please contact the Officials of the Council of Ministers through phone numbers: 023 677 7540, 017 556 535, 012 445 050. The name of the contributors will be displayed on the screen of the local TVs.” --AKP


Friendly Countries Express Condolences for Cambodia Water Festival Tragedy

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- The U.S. has shared its condolences with the Cambodian people for the Water Festival tragic event.

“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I offer our deep condolences for the tragic loss of life and the injuries in Phnom Penh during Cambodia’s annual Water Festival,” U.S. Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement dated Nov. 22.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and with all the people of the Kingdom of Cambodia. I have seen their strength and resilience first hand, including during my recent visit, and I am confident that they will pull together and persevere through this difficult time,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam, Singapore, France and Pakistan also extend their deepest condolences to Cambodian leaders and people as well as to the victims’ families.

Hundreds of people were killed and injured in a stampede on Monday night on a bridge at Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center, Phnom Penh when Cambodia were celebrating the last day of Water Festival, the country’s most popular festival.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has announced Nov. 25 as the national mourning day to commemorate the people killed during this incident and recommended all state institutions, public and private establishments to hoist the flag at half mast.

According the latest figures, the death toll has reached 375 with about 755 people injured. --AKP


Religious Ceremony To Be Held at Koh Pich Tomorrow

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia is observing a religious ceremony in memory of those killed in the human disaster at Koh Pich in the night of Nov. 22, 2010, according to an announcement of the Ministry of Information.

The ceremony will be held on Nov. 25 at 16:00 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, it said.

The contact numbers for further information are 012 914 242 and 012 926 011, added the announcement.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has announced Nov. 25 as the national mourning day to commemorate the people killed during this incident and recommended all state institutions, public and private establishments to hoist the flag at half mast.

According the latest figures, the death toll has reached 375 with about 755 people injured. --AKP


Enhancing SME in Cambodia’s Economy

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- “Sustainability of small and medium enterprises through credit provision to support their production is vital to enhance competitive advantage of Cambodia’s economy, especially when the world is recovering from the economic crisis”, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon.

The deputy prime minister made the remark while presiding over the 7th International Forum for Chief Executives of Development Finance Institutions held in Siem Reap province on Nov. 18.

The development of small and medium enterprises in Cambodia with the link to financing institutions does not produce satisfactory result yet. To grease the process, the Royal Government of Cambodia has created supporting development framework and institutional structure, improved commercial governance, formulated legal framework, and bettered communication between the government and small and medium enterprises.

Findings show that the small and medium enterprises have difficulty to seek funding support from the banks due to their limited “property deposit” and capacity in developing business plan.

Hosted by Cambodia, the International Forum was committed to identify strategic response to challenges for sustaining financing institution service that supports small and medium enterprises. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)


Cambodia Signs Contract with S. Korean Company on National Road 56 Project

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia and a South Korean company have signed a contract allowing the company to examine the construction project of the National Road 56, as part of the Cambodia Northwest Provincial Road Improvement Project.

The contract was signed here last week by H.E. Tram Iv Tek, minister of Public Works and Transport, and Mr. Park Tae Dong, director of Korea Consultant International.

The construction of the 84-kilometer National Road 56 linking Svay Chek district of Banteay Meanchey to Samrong district of Oddar Meanchey will take four years with a concession loan from the Asian Development Bank. --AKP

(By Khan Sophirom)


Cambodian Experts To Attend Conference on the Environments of the Poor in India

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- Seven Cambodian experts will attend Conference on The Environments of the Poor: Responding to Climate Change and the Green Economy - Making Sustainable Development More Inclusive, according to an ADB’s news release.

These experts are from the Ministries of Economy and Finance; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Environment and some research institutions, it said.

The International Conference will be held in New Delhi, India, from Nov. 24 to 26 and attended by experts and scientists from approximately 30 countries and international organizations, indicated the news release.

The purpose of the International conference is to encourage the participants to discuss and find out solutions to cope with climate change issue and finalize strategies to help the poor people in the region, it said.

About 130 to 150 participants are expected to attend the international conference, including 80 regional government experts, and 20 to 30 experts from related institutions, said the news release. --AKP

(By Noeu)


Japanese Electronic Factory To Be Operational in Early 2011

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- An electronic factory, being built in Kambol special economic zone by Minebea (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., will be operational in early 2011.

For the first step, the company has planned to recruit some 280 workers through Cambodia Victory Corporation (CVC).

This is the first Japanese investment in the electronic devices production in Cambodia.

Minebea (Cambodia) Co., Ltd. is a subsidiary of Minebea Co., Ltd., a Japanese giant manufacturer of miniature ball bearings, precision motor and electronic devices. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)


ADB To Improve Dengue, Disease Monitoring in Three Mekong Countries

Phnom Penh, November 24, 2010 AKP -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending US$49 million to expand surveillance response systems to help control dengue outbreaks, and prevent the spread of communicable and tropical diseases in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam, said an ADB press release dated Nov. 23.

The Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, which is an offshoot of the first GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, will also target improvements in the capacity of health services and communities involved in disease control in border districts of the three countries.

Infectious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian influenza, and swine flu, have had major economic impacts on productivity, trade, and tourism in Asia and will continue to pose a public health threat. In addition, dengue continues to spread, and communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and HIV/AIDS, as well as tropical illnesses such as Japanese encephalitis and schistosomiasis, pose a major disease burden.

“Preventing these diseases requires better local participation and much more intensive regional cooperation,” said Vincent de Wit, lead health professional in ADB's Southeast Asia Department. He emphasized the necessity of a quick response system and that bringing communicable diseases under control requires cross-border cooperation.

The community-based communicable disease control systems funded by the project are aimed at around 1.7 million people living in 116 border districts in the three countries. About one-third of the population in the target areas belong to ethnic minority groups.

The earlier GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, initiated in 2005 in partnership with the World Health Organization, came at a timely moment, coinciding with the outbreak of avian influenza, an escalation of dengue, and an emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Lao PDR. It helped strengthen provincial surveillance in the three Mekong countries and gave provinces greater capacity and emergency funding to respond swiftly to disease outbreaks resulting in reduced deaths, medical costs and economic losses.

The new project will build on earlier successes to strengthen surveillance and response mechanisms. Financing will come from ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund with a loan of US$27 million for Viet Nam and grants of US$10 million for Cambodia and US$12 million for Lao PDR. The three countries will provide counterpart support totaling US$5 million equivalent.

The Ministry of Health in each country will be the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in June 2016. The regional coordination unit will be based in Vientiane. --AKP

Adhoc official summoned to provincial court

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

Ratanakkiri provincial court yesterday summoned a local rights group official to answer questions about a complaint filed against Electricity du Cambodge in the province’s Bokeo district over allegations workers from the company illegally cut down private cashew groves to install electricity poles.

Chhay Thy, a provincial investigator with Adhoc, accused the state company’s workers last Thursday of illegally clearing cashew trees belonging to thousands of villagers along National Road 78A in late October.

“The deputy prosecutor will investigate the case after questioning me,” Chhay Thy said.

Deputy prosecutor Mam Vanda said the Adhoc investigator had been summoned to “allow him to show his evidence in the case”.

Samrith Hot, manager of the Samrith Ly Company, said he had been authorised by the EDC to connect villagers’ homes to power lines but had nothing to do with the destruction of the cashew groves.

“My company is not responsible for the damage because the [EDC] did these actions,” he said, Officials from EDC could not be reached for any comment yesterday.

Hem Vanthorn, director of the provincial Office of Mining in Ratanakkiri, said the EDC was erecting power lines in Ou Ya Dav, Bokeo and Banlong districts to carry electricity from Vietnam.

He added that the legal issues in the case focused on whether the land was considered state-owned or private.

“According to the Land Law, if the cashew trees were on villagers’ land, the authorities have to pay compensation,” he said, but acknowledged that he did not know the status of the land.

Man charged in NagaWorld murder

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court charged a Chinese national with being an accomplice in the murder of another Chinese man in NagaWorld Hotel and Casino last week.

Kom Sam Ath, a police officer with the National Security Department at the Ministry of Interior, said the suspect, 44-year-old He Ming Chai, was arrested on Monday following the murder of his friend Zoujian Chang, 44.

The victim’s body was discovered by a cleaner in the room the victim was staying at on Friday.

He said the suspect has denied murdering the victim, claiming that a third Chinese man Wu Wenshing and an unknown Cambodian man were responsible.

“[He Ming Chai said] Zoujian Chang borrowed US$3,000 from Wu Wenshing over several days to gamble at NagaWorld, but he escaped and refused to return the money,” Kom Sam Ath said. “So Wu got angry and went to kill Zoujian Chang at his hotel room.”

Phnom Penh Deputy police chief Pen Rath said He Ming Chai was officially charged with being an accomplice to murder.

“He was charged with accomplice to murder a day after his arrest,” he said. “He has now been sent to Prey Sar prison for further investigation.”

Kong Sam Ath said the suspect had entered Cambodia as a tourist in 2006 and later gained employment at the E Zang Garment factory in Phnom Penh.

He added that police are “now working hard to seek the arrest of the other suspects in order to bring them to justice”.

Police Blotter: 24 Nov 2010

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:01 Sen David

Knife-weilding dancers die on escape route
Two men died and another was severely injured following a knife fight in Kampong Cham city on Sunday. Police said the trio were dancing the night away at a village, when an argument erupted and knives and bats were drawn. One man was injured in the fight and the other two fled the scene on a motorbike, but crashed into a large tree and died instantly. The village chief said his intention was to have a party for the festival, but instead the trio began fighting, and the neighbours “were so afraid”.KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Moto driver killed after collison with tourist
A man was killed after crashing his motorbike into a turning vehicle in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district on Saturday. Police said the victim crashed directly into the car of a tourist as it attempted to make a right-hand turn. He was killed immediately in the collision. Police said it was the victim’s fault, as he was “driving very fast” and was not taking care when the car began its turn. Police also suspect the victim was drunk at the time. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Good samaritan stabbed by drunken friend
A 35-year-old man almost died after being stabbed by his friend in Kampong Cham city on Sunday. Police said the suspect was drinking all day, when he began his boozy walk back home. On the way, he ran into his friend who tried to help him back, but the suspect repaid his kindness by stabbing him seven times with a knife. Neighbours called police and the suspect was immediately arrested. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Teenager detained after robbing house
A teenager was arrested after robbing a house in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Sunday. The victim said he left the house to take his wife on a dinner date and locked all three locks on the door. However, when he returned the door was wide open and the property “was so messy”. They searched the house and found the 15-year-old boy perched on the rooftop. Police detained him and sent him to court. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Woman tries suicide over husband’s ban
Police in Phnom Penh’s Meanchy district said a woman tried to kill herself because her husband wouldn’t let her go out. Police said the woman, who is three months pregnant, had attempted to overdose on an unknown drug after her husband stopped her from going out during the Water festival. Neighbours sent her to hospital, but the husband refused to care, saying that “if she wanted to die, don’t send her to hospital”. She survived, but lost her unborn child. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

via CAAI

Angkor preservation meeting begins today

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:00 Vong Sokheng

ABOUT 200 local and international conservation groups will meet with delegations from donor countries in Siem Reap tomorrow to review their assistance and work in safeguarding and developing the historic temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Seang Kong, deputy director general of the Apsara Authority, who are in charge of managing the site, said countries such as China, Italy, Japan and France will meet to discuss if any further funding is needed based on the review of the conservation of the site in the past year. “We do not know how much our budget and assistance will be,” he said. “It will depend on the individual donor countries who have been active in the preservation and development projects at the site.”

Border troops leave front line for harvest

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:01 Thet Sambath

Troops from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces stationed along the Thai-Cambodian border near the Preah Vihear temple have been recalled to harvest rice. “We sent some of our soldiers to harvest rice to secure our military’s supplies for the following year,” Sem Yo, commander of Battalion 404 said yesterday. He added that since the rice paddies were within 7 kilometres of the border, the soldiers would be ready to return to the front lines if security deteriorated at the border and Thai soldiers were to pose a threat to Cambodian security. Ten Navun, an officer in Battalion 404, said yesterday that the situation with Thailand has improved and that the military was focusing on making sure the army had sufficient stores of food.

KFC owner in takeover bid

Photo by: Pha Lina
Diners gather outside the KFC on Norodom Boulevard yesterday.

---------------------------------------------------------QSR has done well for good reason, both the pizza and KFC businesses are doing well, and they're expanding rapidly.
via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

QSR Brands – 55 percent owners of the Cambodia’s KFC outlets – fell the most in almost three years in Kuala Lumpur trading, after a takeover bid worth more than US$500 million disappointed some investors.

Idaman Saga, a company part-owned by prominent Malaysian businessman Halim Saad, made an indicative offer for the firm at 5.60 ringgit (US$1.80) per share, QSR said in a statement.

That is less than the 5.76 ringgit closing price on Friday, after its shares surged on speculation of a bid.

Listed in April 2004, QSR controls KFC Holdings (Malaysia), the largest fast-food operator in Malaysia with 540 stores, as well as other regional businesses.

Cambodia’s KFC outlets are 55-percent owned by QSR, with 35 percent held by Cambodian conglomerate The Royal Group and 10 percent by Hong Kong-registered Rightlink Corp. QSR also owns the Pizza Hut chain of restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore

The offer is “pretty low and the upside is limited”, said Ang Kok Heng, who oversees $292 million as chief investment officer at Phillip Capital Management in Kuala Lumpur.

“QSR has done well for good reason, both the pizza and KFC businesses are doing well, and they’re expanding rapidly in India, so people should pay a premium for that,” he added.

There are plans for 10 KFC restaurants to operate in Phnom Penh and one more in Siem Reap by the end of the year. A total of 22 outlets are expected to be open by 2014, according to QSR.

Earlier this year, the firm detailed plans to open 25 chicken farms in Cambodia to supply meat to its outlets.

The $300,000 farm venture is 51-percent owned by QSR and 49 percent by The Royal Group, QSR Deputy Chairman Ahamad Mohamad told The Post.

In February, QSR chairman Tan Sri Muhammed Ali Hasim announced his intention to open Cambodia’s first Pizza Hut by the end of 2010 in an interview with the Malaysia Star newspaper.

Ali said the Pizza Hut outlet is slated for Phnom Penh’s riverside area.

QSR slid 6.4 percent to close on Monday at 5.39 ringgit, its steepest drop since March 10, 2008.

It shares gained slightly to close at 5.40 ringgit each on the Kuala Lumpur exchange yesterday.

The Kuala Lumpur-based company gained 7.7 percent over two days last week in anticipation of an offer.

“The company is prey for corporate raiders because of its coveted asset, the KFC franchise,” Norziana Mohd Inon, an analyst at CIMB Investment Bank, said in a report released before the details of the bid were made public.

The bid for QSR represented a premium of 22 percent over the volume-weighted average price for the firm over the last six months, QSR said in a statement.

“The board of QSR will deliberate on this preliminary proposal and make further announcements in due course,” the statement added.

The 5.60-ringgit bid values QSR at 1.62 billion ringgit (US$519 million), based on the company’s outstanding capital of 290 million shares.

Idaman Saga's part-owner Halim Saad was formerly chairman of Renong, a firm which was once Malaysia’s biggest industrial group.

The government took over the company in 2001 after it floundered during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, becoming the country’s biggest corporate debtor with borrowings of 30 billion ringgit.

Renong was then reorganised, its debt trimmed and later renamed UEM World Bhd.

In November 2008, UEM Land Holdings Bhd was listed on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange in place of UEM World, focusing on property development.


Market heats up for Pop Ice maker

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Khim Nary standing at her Pop Ice factory in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district. The firm is said to be the first ice factory in Cambodia recognised to meet hygiene guidelines.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

Business Focus
IT is a common question asked by many at the Kingdom’s restaurants and bars – is the ice safe to consume?

Poor quality ice, made with suspect water and using unhygienic handling measures, often leads to illness such as stomachaches, undermining trust in the product, according to Khim Nary, owner of Pop Ice Enterprise ice manufacturers.

Although patrons at the Kingdom’s eateries often skip out on ice cubes, suffering the results of lukewarm sodas and unpleasantly warm beers, Pop Ice aims at producing quality ice to cool consumers’ drinks.

Pop Ice claims to be the first ice factory recognised by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy for the quality of its ice, meeting hygiene guidelines laid out to protect consumers’ safety.

“We have the ability to make ice at the standard used in Vietnam and Thailand,” she said.

Still a small-scale enterprise, presently with nine employees earning US$50 to $60 per month plus accommodation and food, it first opened its doors in 1990 in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district.

With its two ice-making machines presently operating at about half their total capacity of 10 tonnes per day, Khim Nary said the goal was to sell quality ice sold at strong prices, but Cambodians had to get used to trusting domestically produced ice in order to boost sales.

“The Ministry of Industry and GTZ helped us organise our products to become a model to the industry – but we are still improving,” she said.

Dang Heng, business service coordinator for private sector promotion at GTZ, said earlier this month that there were 650 ice and drinking water enterprises in Cambodia, but only 5 percent met GTZ’s quality standards.

Khim Nary has called for improved professional skills to further the products’ quality – such as keeping ice at lower temperatures for longer amounts of time to prevent melting, when the product is sold on to customers.

“We need more professional skills and advice from the government and NGOs to improve our business,” she said. As a wholesaler, Pop Ice vends its wares at supermarkets, restaurants, clubs, shops and hotels in Phnom Penh.

The firm currently produces some 3,000 to 4,000 kilogrammes of ice per day, fetching between 150 and 200 riel per kilogramme. The ice is made on demand, as it is costly to store for longer periods, she says.

Khim Nary called for lower electricity and water costs in a bid to boost sales and allow it to keep more ice in stock.

Electricity costs are one of the main expenses of the company, she says. It also purchases 600 to 1,000 cubic metres of water per month from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority.

High interest rates for loans had also proved a barrier to expanding the business, she said.

The economic downturn had hit ice orders, with current business levels just returning to par compared with pre-crisis levels.

“We lost a lot of clients,” said Khim Nary. “Clubs and karaoke bars closed because of the world economic crisis.”

Competition is growing fiercely in the domestic ice industry, with new manufacturers opening their doors every year.

“The number of ice makers is increasing – it’s a very difficult market to sell in,” she said. The firm aims to compete by forming strong ties with customers and competitive pricing, but particularly by strengthening the quality of its brand so that it can be trusted by Cambodians in search of a cool drink.

Wrestlers lose grip on medal hopes in Asian Games

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

It took exactly nine minutes and 52 seconds for Kazakhstan powerhouse Nurmakhan Tinaliyev to humble Cambodia’s Chum Chivinn by way of a fall in their men’s 120kg Greco-Roman wrestling bout at the Huagong Gymnasium in Guangzhou yesterday.

The Kazakh wrestler’s superiority was driven home in the first period, when he reeled off four technical points to Chum Chivinn’s none. With the pressure from strong holds piling up, the Cambodian’s fall was inevitable as Tinaliyev set out on his way to the final, where he beat China’s Lui Deli to grab the gold medal.

Later yesterday, Chum Chivinn suffered his second disappointment, when he went down 3-0 to India’s Dharmender Dalal in the first round of the Men’s Greco-Roman 120kg Repechage event.

The Kingdom’s top heavyweight wrestler, who claimed silver at the SEA Games in Laos last year, has one last shot at a medal in the men’s 120kg freestyle tomorrow.

There was also no cheer for Cambodia’s other male wrestler Kang Dan Pisteth in the men’s 60kg freestyle last 16 round. Yemen’s Abdulrahman Farfhan dominated the first two periods with better techniques to run up seven technical points as Kang Danpiseth struggled to break the ice.

Approaching the 10-minute mark, the judges were clearly swayed by the Yemeni man’s mat-craft to award him the bout on points.

Cambodia’s female wrestlers are also set to take the mat, with Try Sothavy competing in the 48kg freestyle qualifiers tomorrow and teammate Chov Sotheara vying in the 55kg freestyle section on Friday.

Elsewhere at the track of Aoti Main Stadium in Guangzhou, Cambodia’s Sar Churpveasna will line up for the men’s 200m heats today in an attempt to erase the painful memories of his narrow miss in the 100m heats, where his personal best performance fell agonisingly short of qualification into the semifinals.

Students to screen films in Thailand

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:00 Sarah Macklin

THREE young Cambodian filmmakers will take part in the Southeast Asian Student Documentary Film Competition this week in Bangkok.

After a one-week workshop in Phnom Penh, Tha Piseth, Tith Chandara and Chum Sophea, all media students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, were selected as national winners to compete in Thailand.

The Southeast Asian Student Documentary Award (SEADocs) is a competition to encourage the art of documentary filmmaking in the region, using the medium to engage with pressing environmental issues. Funded by the Goethe Institute in Thailand, the competition has a scientific focus. All films address issues of climate change and biodiversity.

The award is open to students aged between 18 and 25 from Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, each making a short documentary up to 15 minutes long.

Opening in Thailand tomorrow and running until November 30, all will join an intensive workshop in documentary filmmaking, after which an international jury will award a prize of US$500 to each of three winners. The grand prize will be a US$5,000 budget for a documentary to be screened at the Science Film Festival in 2011.

Director of Meta House: German Cambodian Cultural Centre Nico Mesterharm, who organised the national workshop and was part of the selection committee, said that the outcome of the international competition was too early to tell.

“I don’t know whether any of the Cambodian films is a winner due to the fact that I haven’t yet seen the other pieces.”

Chum Sophea, 23, one of the three student filmmakers to go to Thailand, says that he hopes to represent Cambodia well. “I had submitted my film My River, My Fish, My Life and I cannot say anything about my chances to win, but I hope to represent Cambodia well at this big international event.”

His film deals with the increasingly difficult lives of fishermen living along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. The number of fish in the Mekong was not only limited, but dwindling as changes in water level by upstream development altered fish migration patterns, Chum Sophea said. This drastically threatened the livelihood of fishermen that depend on the river.

Shot in the arm for health funding

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:00 Emilie Boulenger

CAMBODIANS suffering HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria will benefit from a three-year commitment to UNITAID, the United Nations organisation set up to purchase drugs to combat the diseases, of US$150 million a year by France, according to France’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

The multi-year pledge – the first since UNITAID was founded in 2006 – was made possible because of a €4 (US$5.44) levy on international economy-class flights from France.

The tax, which has been collected since 2006, has been well accepted by the public and did not have any impact on tourism, the ministry said. And it raised 172. €9 million (US$235.16 million) in 2008 towards aid for people living in the world’s poorest countries, including Cambodia.

UNITAID funds long-term programmes to promote access to health products (treatments, diagnostic tests and prevention tools) to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. African countries are the main beneficiaries of UNITAID, as 85 percent of funding targets low-income countries. The body funds programmes in 27 Asian countries.

In four years it has funded antiretroviral treatment for more than 800,000 patients, distributed anti-malarial treatment for more than 18 million people and anti-tuberculosis treatment to 1.5 million people.

France, which provides 60 percent of UNITAID’s funding, urged “all potential donors throughout the world to start implementing this innovative financing mechanism in order to make further progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis”.

Several other donor countries, such as Korea, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Norway, have also confirmed their support for UNITAID.

‘Auntie’ lends a hand to children at Anjali

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:00 Nicky McGavin

“SHE’S been wonderful,” said Sam Flint, responding to questions about Fran├žoise Callier, programme coordinator for the Angkor Photo Festival and board member of Anjali House, the children’s NGO created by the festival back in 2005. Sam has been the director of Anjali since 2007, when he first met Callier.

“She’s definitely been very active finding funds and she always finds time for the kids. She’s very much an auntie for them, in the Khmer sense,” he added. Anjali was created by the festival founders back in 2005, with the support of Caritas and an initial intake of just 18 children.

Today, almost 80 children come to the colourful centre six days a week, where they receive supplementary education, in addition to their schooling, which Anjali supports, two good square meals a day, health support and an active arts curriculum.

In addition, Anjali provides rice and social welfare support to the children’s families, to make sure they don’t end up back working on the streets of Siem Reap. A vital part of Anjali’s ethic is the emphasis on the arts and creativity, especially photography.

Belgian-born Callier’s first involvement with the festival goes back to 2006 when she was invited to exhibit images from her own series of children’s books about a young penguin named Lila. “They asked me to come, and then I asked to help, and they said yes,” she said. Since then, she has been a key feature of the festival, and of life at Anjali.

“Each year almost, I come to Cambodia for four months,” Callier said. While here, she’s working on the festival, and also in running photography workshops with the children from Anjali. “She’s been a real mentor for some, like Try Sophal,” said Flint. Sophal is the young student who recently won a national photography prize.

There’s a solid warmth about Callier. She’s not sentimental about the children and not given to gushing. But her commitment is real. “I love children and I love photography. I’m not a professional photographer, but I do know enough to teach something.”

According to Flint, the workshops are vital for developing the children’s confidence. “It gets them out there, interacting with the world around them, and creating something that people value. It’s great for their self-esteem,” he said.

An important part of the confidence building comes from the series of postcards on sale over the past year, and the new book, Cambodia, our Vision, launched on Monday this week. Callier edited more than 100,000 photos down to 350 for the book. “It was a huge job,” she said.

Callier’s own granddaughter Marie Werner has also spent a month volunteering at Anjali. She and her friends had raised US$7,000 for the project, and brought invaluable medical supplies with them too. This year, she did it again. “I think they raised even more money this time,” says Callier.

As for her charges at Anjali, she adds: “As long as they are at Anjali, they have a chance.”

Festival blowup as Blindboys arrive

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 15:00 Craig Miles

THE Blindboys are in town to BLOWUP Angkor as part of Siem Reap’s Angkor Photo Festival, and yesterday they were involved in a bit of blow up about where they were posting photographs.

The Blindboys, who describe themselves as an “online, community-driven photo commune”, are engaging in what they call “a photographic intervention on the streets of Siem Reap”.

Cutting through the jargon, they are a group of young photographers who act similarly to graffiti artists – but instead of painting, they post photos at locations across town. And this, they said, got them into a spot of bother yesterday.

They said they were putting up photos in the small lane, which houses Miss Wong Bar, when an influential resident phoned the police.

They said the situation was sorted by police, however and the posting of photos was still going ahead. Akshay Mahajan from The Blindboys said despite this, there were not a lot of problems with venues declining to have work on display. He said more had cooperated than not.

Beginning yesterday, The Blindboys posted pictures on various walls around town. The pictures will be left there and at more locations until Sunday.

Mahajan said there were more than 700 photographs that would be displayed over the week-long period with about 31 photographers involved so far.

He said submissions were still open and hoped more Khmer locals would enter. There are no set criteria for photographers to submit their work to be put up.

BLOWUP is a concept that returns to Siem Reap. According to Mahajan, it all started during the 2008 Angkor Photo Festival, when late-night discussions were held about problems facing young Asian photographers, including lack of funding and not enough places to showcase their work.

Mahajan said the aim of BLOWUP was to start something new and fresh. He said it was the first of its kind in the region and was easy to set up.

He said they were not worried if the pictures were taken away by onlookers and expected this to happen, because the displays were generally unmanned.

It was just important to have everyday people looking at the photos and commenting on them in a less formal forum, such as in an art gallery, he explained.

BLOWUP Angkor is not an official part of the Angkor Photo Festival, but Mahajan said the photo festival organisers loved the idea and people gave positive responses in general.

Angkor Photo Festival assistant coordinator Amber Maitland had her work was displayed yesterday in Old Market near D’s Books, saying she was very excited about the display. She said her work was a travel journal of her trip around India.

Maps of where to find the photos are distributed around Siem Reap.

The mourning after

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Monks line the bank of an arm of the Tonle Bassac river yesterday next to the northern Diamond Island bridge, where hundreds died in a stampede. About 400 monks led a blessing ceremony for the deceased.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 22:55 POST STAFF

THE death toll from Monday night’s stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge continued to rise yesterday, with officials confirming more than 350 people were killed and a similar number injured in the tragedy.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng, a member of the commission coordinating the response to the stampede, said yesterday that 351 people died and 395 were injured. “That is the figure we have at this time,” he said.

Unconfirmed reports from police sources yesterday put the death toll at as many as 378 and 755 injured in the disaster, which Prime Minister Hun Sen compared to the ravages of the Khmer Rouge regime.

“With this miserable event, I would like to share my condolences with my compatriots and the family members of the victims,” he said in a televised address yesterday.

The premier declared tomorrow a national day of public mourning in honour of the victims.

Hospital officials across Phnom Penh have reported that no foreigners were among the dead or injured.

The stampede began about 10pm on Monday, when an exuberant festival crowd – crossing the bridge to reach concerts, food stalls and ice sculptures on the island – turned to a desperate crush of human bodies. It is unclear what caused the stampede, though government officials said it resulted when tightly packed crowds on the bridge began to panic after rumours spread the bridge was unstable.

“It was too crowded and they had nowhere to run,” Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.

Many of the deaths were caused by suffocation and internal injuries, he said, adding that about two-thirds of the fatalities were women.

Yesterday, about 400 saffron-clad Buddhist monks and some 600 civilians converged on the bridge to pray for the souls of those killed in the incident.

At the scene, hundreds of brightly coloured sunglasses, shoes and clothing remained scattered across the four-metre-wide bridge – a grisly reminder of the past night’s events. Dozens of police prevented onlookers from reaching the bridge, saying they were still looking for the bodies of those who may have perished after jumping into the shallow water below.

“At the moment, we are searching for the reason that caused the people in the crowd to stampede,” said Prum Sokha, head of the commission investigating the incident.

“We are collecting all the information and we need time to work on the issue.” He said that so far nobody was suspected of wrongdoing.

Khieu Kanharith said the government had called on survivors and witnesses to come forward to aid in the inquiry.

The government will contribute five million riels (US$1,250) to the family of each victim, amid criticism of its planning and response to the crisis, Officials estimate more than 2 million people converged on Phnom Penh for the annual Water Festival, one of the largest events on the Cambodian calendar. The last time the festival was marred by tragedy was in 2007, when five Singaporeans were killed after their dragon boat capsized.

Condolences pour in after tragedy

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010 14:32 POST STAFF

Condolences have begun pouring in for the victims of Monday night’s lethal stampede, as families grapple with the shocking loss that capped the Kingdom’s annual Water Festival.

King Norodom Sihamoni, King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Monineath Sihanouk issued a letter yesterday, expressing condolences for those who died and were injured in the disaster.

Prime Minister Hun Sen called the event “the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime” and called for an investigation via videoconference early on Tuesday morning.

At least 351 people lost their lives and another 395 were injured late on Monday night on Diamond Island’s northern bridge, according to Minister of Health Mam Bunheng, who chairs a government committee investigating the matter.

Regrets for the victims of the tragedy also flowed in from abroad late yesterday.

“On behalf of President [Barack] Obama and the people of the United States, I offer our deep condolences for the tragic loss of life and the injuries in Phnom Penh during Cambodia’s annual Water Festival,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims.”

Clinton said she had seen the “strength and resilience” of the Cambodian people first hand during her recent visit. “I am confident that they will pull together and persevere through this difficult time,” she added.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was ready to provide financial support to help Cambodia deal with the aftermath of its worst disaster in years.

“On behalf of the Thai government and the people of Thailand I wish to extend my sincere condolences and sympathy to you and through you to the bereaved families of the victims in this tragic incident”, Abhisit said. Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said Thailand would offer an initial US$30,000 in emergency aid.

Stampede death toll rises

Photo by: Thomas Miller
Government-supplied caskets are set out at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh on Tuesday for bodies of the victims of Monday night's water festival stampede. The government have already begun carting the coffins out to the provinces for relatives of the dead on.

" There were too many people coming from different directions and that made chaos. People weren’t able to breathe."

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 21:03 Sebastian Strangio

CONCERNED relatives swamped Phnom Penh’s main hospitals yesterday, hoping for any news about relatives lost or injured in last night’s tragic stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge.

At Calmette Hospital, hundreds of frantic relatives scoured a makeshift morgue set up at the rear of the hospital, while others consulted notice boards where dozens of photos of the victims were posted.

Onlookers covered their mouths and stood on the tips of their toes to get a glimpse of the rows of bodies covered in white sheets. Some burst into sobs and averted their eyes. Inside the hospital, patients could be seen resting on mats lining the corridors.

While the grisly task of identifying the victims was carried out, survivors shared fearful stories of how and when the lethal crush occurred.

“I was stuck in the middle of the bridge among nearly 1,000 people on the bridge for about two hours,” said Loeung, a young woman from Svay Rieng province whose 24-year-old sister was crushed by the panicking crowd.

“We had a lot of difficulty breathing and we couldn’t move, and our group had scattered on the bridge.”

She said her sister, a factory worker from Sen Sok district, was knocked out by an electric shock from the bridge railing and then was trampled by the panicking crowds.

“I saw she was about one metre from me, and I tried to help,” she said from her makeshift bed at the hospital.

Chan Chhai Reoun, 25, a law student from Cambodia Mekong University, passed out during the stampede and awoke to find himself in a trailer with dead bodies being ferried from the site. Two of the three friends he was with also died in the crush.

“We couldn’t run because it was so crowded,” he recalled. “It was too crowded to even breathe – that’s why some people died.”

Chheng Sony, a 20-year-old from Prey Veng province who came to Phnom Penh to sell fruit during the festival, was in the middle of the bridge during the stampede and recalled the confusion that reigned.

“There were too many people coming from different directions and that made chaos. People weren’t able to breathe,” he said.

Beyond capacity
Dr Thou Sophany, a doctor at Calmette Hospital, confirmed 138 people arrived dead yesterday morning, and a further one died on arrival.

Dr Chhauoy Meng, who headed up the hospital’s response to the event, said dealing with the corpses had stretched the hospital’s resources “beyond our capacity”, but insisted there was enough space to care for survivors of Monday’s tragedy.

Chhauoy Meng said the incident was unprecedented in its scale. The next largest disaster in memory, he said, was a Vietnam Airlines plane that crashed at Phnom Penh International Airport in 1997, killing 65 people.

As of noon, around 40 bodies were yet to be identified, while relatives and friends of the deceased clamoured around several tables where government officials signed forms authorising a 5 million-riel (US$1,250) government compensation payment.

Several large military flatbed lorries pulled through the north entrance of the hospital, which officials said would be used to transport corpses back to the provinces.

A similarly grisly scene prevailed yesterday at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, where the hospital’s director, Dr Say Seng Ly, said 139 dead bodies arrived in the wake of the stampede. A further death was recorded yesterday morning, he added.

Lim Huy, a doctor and service quality monitor with GRET, a health group attached to the hospital, said many of the victims were between 15 and 25, most of them from out of town.

“I think most of the people were from other provinces. People from Phnom Penh knew that the bridge was crowded and unsafe,” he said.

He added that no foreigners were recorded as being among the dead or injured.

Mam Daro, an officer with the Cambodian Red Cross, said the organisation was active at each hospital, helping families match lost relatives with the bodies in the hospital’s possession. He added that the Red Cross had not yet tracked down any of the missing persons.

Phnom Penh struggles to cope with tragic stampede

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 12:40 POST STAFF

Cambodian officials today were struggling to cope with the aftermath of last night’s tragic stampede on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh that left more than 300 people dead and several hundreds more injured.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced early this morning via video conference that 339 were confirmed dead.

Nhim Vanda, deputy director of the Department of Disaster Management put the figure today at 349, while unconfirmed reports from police officials said 375 had been killed.

The Prime Minister also pledged that the families of victims would receive 5 million riels ($US1, 230) in compensation.

City hospitals have begun posting photographs to help identify the dead, while government trucks have been tasked with returning identified victims to their home provinces.

A press conference has been scheduled for later this afternoon, during which officials are expected to announce details of their investigation into the cause of the stampede and ongoing efforts to care for survivors and the families of those who lost relatives in the stampede.

Monks farewell the deceased

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Monks and Mourners gather at Diamond Island bridge this afternoon to farewell at least 349 people who died in last night's tragic stampede on the crossing.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 17:26 POST STAFF

About 500 mourners and 400 monks congregated at the base of the Diamond Island bridge in Phnom Penh yesterday, the site of last night's stampede that killed at least 349 people, to offer blessings to the deceased.

The incident, which Prime Minister Hun Sen described as the "biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime" has shaken Cambodian people during the final stages of their annual water festival and overwhlemed emergency services stuggling to cope with the deluge of bodies and injured victims that began pooring into hospitals after panic erupted into a stampede on the overcrowded bridge about 10 o'clock on Monday night.

Monks burned joss sticks during the buddhist mourning ceremony and wished a safe trip into the next life for the souls of those who perished during the tradedy.

The exact cause of the panic that set off the stampede remains inconclusive.

Hundreds die in tragic end to water festival

Photo by: Pha Lina
A mourner weeps amid several covered bodies at Calmette Hospital early this morning following a stampede that killed hundreds on the northen Koh Pich bridge during the water festival.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 02:48 Post Staff

Hundreds died and hundreds more were injured last night in a stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge, bringing a tragic close to the final day of water festival celebrations in Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced via video conference at 2:30am that 339 people had been confirmed dead and 329 injured.

“With this miserable event, I would like to share my condolences with my compatriots and the family members of the victims,” he said.

“This needs to be investigated more.”

“This is the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime,” he said, adding that Cambodia would hold a national day of mourning on Thursday and that a committee would be set up to investigate the incident.

The cause of the stampede has not yet been confirmed, but Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said it happened because “one million people”, many of whom were leaving the island, became “scared of something.”

Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth also could not confirm the series of events that led to the disaster.

“People were afraid and began to trample each other and some jumped into the river,” he said at the scene.

Bedlam ensued as the frenzied crowd began to push its way off the bridge, causing a jam that made it nearly impossible to breathe, according to witnesses.

With no other escape route, hundreds of people began jumping off the suspension bridge.

Sirens started to awaken city residents minutes later as ambulances, police cars and emergency vehicles began rushing to the scene, where they had to clear away the crowd before reaching victims.

Boats were called in to pull people out of the water and ferry others across the narrow Bassac River to the shore in front of the Royal Palace, where emergency workers fought through the crowd of frantic onlookers to care for the injured.

The bodies of victims were taken away in ambulances, flat-bed trucks and motor-bikes to area hospitals as police struggled to clear away the crowd by shouting, pushing and beating them back with their belts.

As the scene cleared, many bodies remained on the road, which was littered with shoes, shirts, pants and other objects dropped in the mayhem. Pieces of cardboard were placed over the heads of those obviously dead, while bystanders fanned people thought to be still alive.

Area hospitals confirmed that hundreds were either dead on arrival or died soon after, with witnesses on hand giving various explanations for the initial cause of the stampede and the actual cause of deaths.

A doctor at Calmette hospital, who declined to give his name, said after a preliminary assessment the principal causes of death among the victims he had examined were suffocation and electrocution.

Ouk Sokhhoeun, 21, was at the scene with his sister, 23-year-old Ouk Srey Mom, who was left unconscious and taken to Calmette hospital, said that military police started firing water cannons into the crowd on the bridge after the stampede had already caused scores of people to fall unconscious.

He said the water caused many people on the bridge to receive electric shocks from the cables lighting the bridge, at which point “some police also received electric shocks”.

Pictures from Stampede by Radio Free Asia

Letter of condolences to the victims of stampede

Dear Compatriots,

The CAAI's team and members of CAAI, would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family of the victims from the stampede in Koh Pich island. Please accept our deepest sympathy in your time of loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this hard time.

Love & Respect

CAAI's Team

Son Dambi spreads happiness in Cambodia

via CAAI

by jeshicaa
November 23, 2010

Cable channel tvN will air a new episode of ‘LOVE‘ featuring Son Dambi. The episode will show the beautiful singer traveling to Cambodia and meeting with a young boy named Sakun, who despite his young age, had to act as the head of the family.

In Cambodia, Son Dambi taught the children music and even gave Sakun a desk to study on.

Many other well known celebrities appeared on ‘LOVE’ since the show’s inception three years ago. Ryu Seung Bum, Bae Doo Na, Kim Ha Neul, Lee Junki, Song Ji Hyo, Han Ji Min and many more actors were featured, however, Son Dambi will be the first singer to appear on the show.

This episode of tvN’s ‘LOVE’ will air on December 4th.

With the stench of death in the air, Phnom Penh hurries along

via CAAI

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

by Trevor Simons, an Australian travelling in Cambodia

This morning the sun rose on Cambodia just like every other day. People began their business just like every other day. Today is not like any other day.

In the early hours of this morning at least 300 people were killed in a stampede on Diamond Island’s north bridge. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called the event “the biggest tragedy since the Pol Pot regime”.

Last night I ventured into the warm air planning to attend the water festival. Sharing a tuk-tuk with three others we made it only as far as closest major road. For an hour we inched painfully along a swarm of motos, tuk-tuks, buses, cars and people. The heat from the engines was unbearable. Motos climbed footpaths, tuk-tuks scraped cars and horns saturated the air. Young, well-dressed Khmer looked bright-eyed and excited. Drunk men frantically forced their motos forward where there was no room. Overheating tuk-tuks blew black smoke as their hapless drivers waded against the surging traffic. It was chaos. We abandoned the tuk-tuk and carefully walked home.

This morning I awoke to several calls inquiring about my well-being. It wasn’t until I read the news did I understand. My heart sank.

People were already busy at work as the sun spread across the city. From a cafe I watched yellow uniformed cleaners sweep rubbish with straw brooms, construction workers dismantle stages and rusted tug boats manoeuvre floating stages against the Mekong banks. Everything was carrying on as usual.

A small TV sat above the counter. It was locked on a Khmer channel. Gruesome images of the tragedy were being shown over and over as a panel of Khmer news readers discussed the event. A young waitress handed me a menu. I inquired about her family and friends. She smiled and assured me everything was OK and that she had enjoyed the weekend festivities. After some moments reading the menu I turned back to the television. The channel had been changed.

Several other tourists entered the cafe and asked about the young woman’s well-being. She politely smiled and said that everything was fine. The tourists returned to discussion about the event, heat, overcrowding, future travel plans and other related subjects.

The cause of the stampede is of some conjecture. Several newspapers report that sections of the crowd, upon hearing the bridge was collapsing, panicked. Others report police began firing a water cannon into the crowd in an effort to keep them moving, which not only created panic but also caused electrocution as the bridge was festooned with electric lights.

Reading the articles sparked my curiosity to see the site itself, but then I recalled reading that Phnom Penh experiences an influx of 2 million people during the water festival. I decided to take a trip just out of town to watch the masses return to the provinces. One after another obscenely filled vehicle passed by. A handful of trucks towed dragon boats. Groups of men sat atop vans and flat bed trucks singing loudly, beating drums. Occasionally a vehicle would run off the side of the road kicking dust onto the following motos. People waved and yelled hello. Everybody was smiling.

It grew hotter. I wondered if they had even heard about the stampede. Even if they had, would it have made a difference? I have not known a people to be as gracious, open or resilient as the Khmer.

I believe resilience is the reason life in Phnom Penh continues today as normal. I continue to be totally and utterly astounded by my time in Cambodia. Each new experience gives me further insight into the Khmer psyche. Even following the tragic event this morning and although in private morning the Khmer show astonishing strength and unbreakable will.

This evening the sun will set on Cambodia just like every other day. People will retire to their homes just like every other day. But today is not like any other day.