Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Journalists accused of extortion

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

POLICE have questioned four journalists accused of extorting money from supposed illegal loggers operating in Kampong Chhnang province.

Deputy provincial Police Chief Prak Vuthy said yesterday that the men were questioned on Monday following orders from a provincial court prosecutor, who requested that police probe a complaint from two timber sellers from Teuk Phos district.

“[The men] were accused of stealing money from two people who claimed that they had paid US$600 [in total] to them to not report or publish about their illegal wood carrying activities,” he said.

He claimed the bribes were procured in relation to a November 29 incident in which the two businessmen were allegedly caught transporting logs.

Provincial prosecutor Penh Vibol said a total of eight journalists are currently under investigation for allegedly extorting money from illegal loggers in Teuk Phos district.

“I am now still working hard on these journalists’ cases,” he said. “I’m not happy because some of these journalists have also used my name and functions to intimidate wood smugglers.”

Penh Vibol said he had no intention of investigating the complainants to discern whether or not they had been engaged in illegal logging.

According to figures provided by the Press Council of Cambodia, at least 10 journalists were arrested and jailed on charges of defamation, extortion and other related crimes in 2010.

Suspected traffickers arrested in drug raids

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

AT least five people have been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking following raids in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, officials said yesterday, though initial accounts of the details of the busts differed.

Mau Saroeun, the police chief of Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune, said five suspects were arrested during raids in two villages in his commune yesterday and on Monday.

But Kirt Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police, said seven people had been arrested during raids on two houses on Monday night.

He said officials had also seized nearly 7 million flu tablets containing the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which can be chemically altered to produce methamphetamine.

The amounts seized were enough to produce around 400 kilogrammes of the drug, he said.

Moek Dara, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said that suspects arrested during the busts were being detained for questioning. However, he declined to give detailed information, citing ongoing investigations.

“Right now, I can’t talk in detail about the arrested people and the exact number of drug supplies that were confiscated,” he said. “I am now working hard on this.”

He added that authorities were also investigating a series of people thought to be involved with the suspects, and that a press conference would be held today to announce more details.

Protest over giant land concession

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 May Titthara

ABOUT 40 families from Ansar Chambak commune in Pursat province’s Krakor district protested yesterday against the clearing of forest and farmlands for acacia and cassava plantations, villagers said.

One protester, Ny Norn, said that villagers may soon resort to drastic measures to halt the clearing, part of a 315,028-hectare economic land concession held by Pheapimex Group.

“If we still don’t get a resolution, we’ll lead our cattle onto National Road 5 and take our beds and sit in the middle of the road for half a month. Will the authority still evade finding a deal with us?” he said.

He added that 12 residents had received court summons in the last month in connection with complaints from the company, which has accused them of inciting protest and destroying property after protesters barred the company from clearing the community’s forest and farmland.

The Pheapimex land concession, which spans Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces, was granted to the company in January 2000.

The firm, owned by Choeung Sopheap, the wife of Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, has come under fire because its concession far exceeds the legal limit of 10,000 hectares.

Krakor district governor Im Sarith said it was important to note that Pheapimex has received a concession licence from the government.

“Our authority does not have capacity to solve the problem, besides coordinating with the residents,” he said yesterday.

Ty Kimtong, Pheapimex’s provincial representative as well as Pursat’s deputy governor, declined to comment on the issue yesterday.

Nget Theavy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said national-level authorities should resolve the issue if the protests do not end, adding that if the plantations did not affect people’s land they would not resort to such actions.

“To the residents here the farmland is their lives. If they lose their land, they have nothing to depend on so they have to rally,” she said.

Officials set for retirement

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 Thet Sambath

TWENTY-NINE senior officials from the Ministry of Interior who have reached retirement age have been ordered to step down in a decree signed by King Norodom Sihamoni.

The decree states that the retirement order came from Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was to go into effect from the day of its signing, December 8. Men Bunrith, a staffer at the Ministry of Interior’s administration department, said yesterday that the ministry had received the decree on Friday last week and was still in the process of implementing it.

“I don’t know whether those officials have received the decree yet, because the administrative process is still in progress,” he said.

The Kingdom’s 1999 Co-Statute on Civil Servants lists 60 as the mandatory retirement age for all government employees and civil servants, though the law has been implemented selectively.

Last year, the Council of Ministers requested that the Ministry of Interior allow five provincial governors – including Hun Sen’s older brother, Kampong Cham governor Hun Neng – remain at their posts past the retirement age.

A royal decree from September of last year authorised 19 officials past the retirement age – including Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun, Minister of Health Mam Bunheng and Minister of Environment Mok Mareth – to stay in their positions.

Pich Bunthin, a secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Public Affairs, said at the time that “for those with political status, there is no mandatory retirement age”.

Political positions are defined as those holding the position of prime minister, government adviser, government assistant, minister, secretary of state, undersecretary of state and all members of the National Assembly and Senate, he said.

Sok Sareth, the deputy general director of the National Police Academy and one of the 29 officials listed in the decree earlier this month, said he had received word of the retirement order yesterday.

“I don’t know what I will do next, but if the government needs me to do any work, I will continue,” he said.

Also listed was Heng Hak, director of the general department of prisons, who said he had not yet received word of the order but would be happy to comply.

“I know it is time for me to retire because I’m old,” he said.

“Let the new generations continue their work to help develop the country and make government policies successful.”

Impersonation: ‘Relative’ of police chief arrested

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 Philip Bader


POLICE in Dangkor district have arrested a 24-year-old university student for impersonating the nephew of Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth. Dangkor district police chief Born Samnang said yesterday that district traffic police arrested the student on Russian Federation Boulevard after he tried to avoid a traffic fine by passing himself off as a relative of the city’s top cop.

“The student was not wearing a helmet while he was riding his motorbike, which did not have a rear mirror or licence plate number. He also showed bad behaviour with our police,” he said.

When traffic police attempted to confiscate his vehicle in line with national traffic laws, Born Sam Ath said the student told officers that they would have to return the motorbike because of his privileged relation with National Police Chief Touch Naruth.

Born Samnang said late yesterday that the student, along with his motorbike, has been detained temporarily at the Dangkor district police station and that officials were currently preparing to send him to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“[He] was accused of defaming Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth, who has called for police to arrest anyone who defames him,” he said.

Police Blotter: 28 Dec 2010

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Sen David

Malaysian tourist found dead in guesthouse
A 47-year-old Malaysian man was found dead in a guesthouse in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on Monday. The man’s body was found by a cleaner working at the guesthouse. Police said they suspected the man died of a drug overdose. The Malaysian Embassy had collected the body which would be soon be repatriated, police said. RAMSEY KAMPUCHEA

Man arrested for killing dogs in Preah Sihanouk
A 23-year-old man was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of killing dogs and selling their meat in Preah Sihanouk province. Police said the suspect was arrested after he and an accomplice returned to collect the carcasses of two dogs that they had allegedly poisoned. The suspect was taken to the provincial police station for questioning, and officials said they were seeking to arrest his accomplice. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

CMAC collects 2 mines from Battambang farm
The Cambodian Mine Action Centre has collected two mines from a farm in Battambang province’s Thma Koul district, months after the property owner reported the discovery of the mines to local officials. A CMAC official said it was “lucky” that the farmer had reported the mines to the authorities because they “could have exploded at any time”. The farmer said he reported the mines to CMAC after months of inactivity from local authorities. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Policeman’s son attacked by ‘gangsters’
A 19-year-old policeman’s son was seriously injured after “gangsters” attacked him with a knife during a concert in Pursat province. The victim said he had never seen his assailants before and suspected that the attack was related to his father’s work. The suspects fled after the attack, evading arrest. The victim was sent to the provincial hospital with five stab wounds to his body and limbs. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Suspected drug dealer arrested in Prey Veng
A 29-year-old man was arrested and sent to court accused of dealing drugs in Prey Veng province’s Prey Veng district on Monday. Police said local residents had tipped them off, complaining that the suspect had been dealing in the area “for years”. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Motorcyclists injured in collision with lorry
Two men were seriously injured when a lorry crashed into their motorbike in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Monday. The lorry’s driver, who had been speeding and was also injured in the crash, was detained by police. The two victims were sent to hospital. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Oil import tax under fire from opposition

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

CAMBODIA’S tax on oil imports came under fire from opposition members as too high yesterday, but government officials maintain the duties are a necessary source of income for the national budget.

The Kingdom will have difficulty competing with its neighbours if it does not cancel or reduce rates on the oil import tax, said Sam Rainsy Party senator Yim Sovann.

High import taxes have caused oil prices to increase on domestic markets compared to countries like Thailand and Vietnam, which encourages illegal smuggling, he said.

“The cancellation of this import tax will result in a loss for the national budget,” he said. “But we will gain benefits for our economy and people because we can produce more finished products at low prices for exports to international markets.”

The government collects 1,200 riel (US$0.30) per litre of import oil, according to Yim Sovann. Higher oil prices increased the costs for Cambodia’s goods, making it challenging to compete with products from other countries.

“We cannot compete with products from other countries as long as we cannot reduce the difficulties stemming from [high] oil and electricity prices,” he said.

However, government officials said the revenue was crucial for the national budget.

Kong Vibol, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, told the National Assembly yesterday that oil import revenue increased to US$250 million this year, a 19 percent increase on 2009.

“We will lose about $250 million if we cancel the full oil import tax as requested by Senators from the opposition party,” he said.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

via CAAI

Prakas for valuation firms completed

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

THE Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia has set out the guidelines for firms to be accredited as valuation companies for the Kingdom’s planned stock exchange, in a prakas, or edict, obtained yesterday. Valuation companies will be required to have operated in Cambodia for three years before the application date, and have total assets of 8 billion riel (US$1.97 million) and 0.5 million riel (US$123,000) capital, among other criteria.

Cambodia ratifies ASEAN-India agreement

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

THE National Assembly ratified an agreement yesterday made between India and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, of which Cambodia is a member. The agreement sought to establish broad economic collaboration, goods trading, and dispute mechanism between ASEAN nations and the subcontinent. The Assembly vote passed with 92 votes to 86.

State sends notes on Thai, Lao shootings

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Cheang Sokha

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent diplomatic notes to Thailand and Laos yesterday, relating to the recent shootings of three Cambodians this month, which they said “abused the brotherhood” between the Kingdom and its neighbours. Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said one note was sent to Laos on Friday after Than Sarat, a villager from Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district, was shot dead by a Laotian soldier on December 22 while entering the jungle for fruit. The note to Thailand was dispatched in response to the shooting and killing of two Cambodian loggers by Thai soldiers on December 20.

Boeung Kak residents protest at City Hall

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Khouth Sophakchakrya

EIGHTEEN families set to be displaced by the construction of an access road to the Boeung Kak lakeside area protested outside City Hall yesterday. Residents said they have refused to accept compensation plots of land in Dangkor district, stating that they lack proper infrastructure, and demanded market price compensation of US $1,000 per square metre of their land.

Registrations increase for foreign business

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

FOREIGN business registrations rose 59 percent in the first 11 months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, according to official statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

The figures, obtained yesterday by The Post, showed a total 2,629 businesses registered between January and November this year, compared with last year’s 11-month total of 1,850.

Foreign registrations accounted for almost half of the total with 1,161 registrations – a 59 percent increase on last year.

The remaining 1,468 registrations were Cambodian companies – an increase of about 31 percent from last year.


Those business people and investors trust the government's policy


Commerce officials said the increase in registrations could be attributed to the government’s encouragement of a good business climate and political stability, giving investors and business owners more confidence.

“Those business people and investors trust the government’s policy on keeping the country stable as well as improving the economy – that’s why they are more confident to do business here,” said Tous Sapha, deputy chief of business registration bureau of the MoC.

The figures also showed that a total 1,940 companies have had amendments to their name during this period, while a further 33 companies have been dissolved completely.

The foreign businesses registering were primarily from Vietnam, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Most of the foreign companies registered for businesses operating in the agriculture industry, especially rubber plantations and processing plants. Other notable industries popular with foreign companies were construction, securities and import-export and services industries, Tous Sapha said.

“With the government’s policies on keeping political stability and encouraging economic growth, I hope that the number of both local and foreign business registration will continue to get even better and better,” he said.

Cambodia to open new border crossings

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

CAMBODIA plans to open three more border crossings with Vietnam as part of a plan to double the number of vehicles passing through the bilateral border, according to an official from the Ministry of Public Works.

With four international gates already open between the two nations, the three new crossings will assist with tourism from the Kingdom’s eastern neighbour, according to Va Sin Sorya, general director of the ministry’s Department of Administration.

“These border [crossings] are mostly opening for transporting tourists and Vietnamese nationals across the border to visit Angkor Wat,” he said.

“We have agreed with Vietnam to open seven border gates. We’ve already opened four – now, we’re opening three more for transportation,” he said.

The three new border gates include a crossing between Ratanakkiri and Vietnam’s Gia Lai province, a crossing between Kratie and Binh Phuoc provinces, and a crossing between Mondulkiri and Dak Nong provinces.

Cambodia’s Deputy General Director of the Department of Transport Chan Dara had lead a delegation to an annual conference in Vietnam on December 27, where the two sides agreed to open the three new gates.

The move to open more crossings would prove beneficial for both countries, but would likely be quiet at first, according to Sok Chanmony, president of the Cambodia Bus Association and owner of Paramount Tours.

“We welcome both governments agreeing to open the crossings – but at the moment, we will not cross there,” he said.

Paramount had tried crossing through Takeo and Kampong Cham borders, but had attracted few passengers, he said.

“Now, we only bring our passengers through Bavet International border [in Svay Rieng province],” he said.

The association would wait for the market to develop, and planned to beginning crossings as soon as was possible.

The Post could not obtain comment from Vietnam's Embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday.

5 Cool Things by Keng Keolakena

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Keng Keolakena

Boading Balls

Like a baby’s giggle, the sound that emanates from these Chinese souvenirs symbolise harmony, fun, peace and joy. OK, so they don’t sound quite the same, but they both make you happy, and that’s the point. The point is that Baoding balls, or chime balls, are like a massage for your ears, and living in Phnom Penh, where sounds are usually more like a boxing match in your head, carrying a pair of chime balls with you is a particularly good idea. If you can’t be bothered to make the chime balls ring yourself, you can hang them in a doorway and let the breeze blowing through the room do the work for you. Do what works for you; just trust me and find a way to get chiming.

Lucky Burger
Quick greasy snacks from places like Lucky Burger might be the most popular thing to hit Cambodia since we were kids. It seems like there are always more fast-food places, and what a great thing! With fairly inexpensive and tasty food as well as amenities like WiFi and an attractive interior, it’s no wonder that many young people seem to have made their home inside of their favourite fast-food joint. Just writing about this right now makes me think of the undeniable pleasure of crispy fried chicken washed down with an ice cold cola. It really is like the Khmer phrase; delicious food when you are hungry is like a beautiful girl when you are looking for love. I’ll take the food. You can make your own decision.

Home gardening
Cultivating spices and other plants at home is only a small investment of your time, but it will bring major improvements in the food you eat. Planting a few spices doesn’t require hectares of land or a shed full of tools,  all you need is a pot or a small piece of unused land, some work gloves, a few gardening tools and you’re ready to rock!  After an hour or so of tending to your green patch you will feel a connection to the earth that most people have forgotten. Sure, it takes some of your time every day to prepare the soil, water the plants and keep them fertilised, but surely you have a few minutes to spare. I’m not forcing your hand here, I’m just giving you a push in the right direction: toward the earth.

Shorts & t-shirt
Simple is special. Perhaps this isn’t always true, but I am a firm believer that the tried and true combination of shorts and a t-shirt has maintained its popularity over the decades for a reason; there is no other outfit that combines comfort with attractiveness as well this classic combo. I realise that both items have appeared on this page before, but what previous writers failed to realise is that celebrating one or the other is failing to recognise their unparalleled camaraderie as a clothing couplet. My personal preference is for a v-neck shirt and knee- length shorts, but that is your call. If you aren’t already donning t-shirt and shorts  regularly, I beg you to start taking an interest in life and slip into some variation on the coolest outfit out there.
Have you ever been in a meeting with other English speakers and you reach a point where you just don’t know the word for what you want to say? If so, this site is for you, since it is suited for people who are both serious about learning English and serious about business. There is no translation or anything to help you understand, but they do offer understandable definitions for technical terms that you may have never heard in your life. Regardless of what sector or field you want to work in, they have searchable vocabulary that will give you confidence next time you are in the spotlight at work or in life.

Youth of the Week: Phoung Sophanit

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Tang Khyhay

Can you think of a connection between being a veterinarian and reducing poverty? While many people would choose to do something else rather than healing animals, Phoung Sophanit, 22, left home to pursue his dream to be a veterinarian at the age of 18.

Born in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district and raised in a single parent family, Phoung Sophanit has been a vet since he was in grade 12 due to the influence of his uncle and to help his personal expenses. This initiative of working early in life made him even more interested in animals and eventually led him to study the subject at the Royal University of Agriculture.

For Sophanit, working as a veterinarian not only helps support his family, but also improves society as a whole. He said: “At a first glance being a vet seems to have nothing to do with the development of society, but if closely looked at, there are chances to help people.” He explained that once people get educated about the proper methods of raising and caring for animals, their living standards improve due to the good yields they get.

Sophanit has started to conduct workshops in his local communes and many more will soon follow. He said he was happy to teach his villagers and help increase their incomes. “After conducting many workshops, villagers always stop by to ask me questions about veterinary issues,” he said.

To encourage older people to trust him and follow his methods, Sophanit suffered some failures and faced many challenges. “I once had animals die after my vaccination. Sometimes I was so afraid that I did not even dare to walk past those villagers’ houses where their animals died,” he said. But he added that his experience taught him a good lesson and made him improve. He said without those failures, he would not be where he is today.

After gaining experience with some NGOs as a volunteer and a workshop organiser, he is now planning to go on a study tour with other student vets to reach some remote villages and educate people about veterinary skills. He hoped this will help reduce poverty. “People need to know those skills for their own good.”

With much determination and high self-esteem, this young man looks optimistically to the future. He hopes to run his own business selling animal-related products and help educate people on how to use them effectively with animals.

“When people learn some skills, they will try to raise more animals which can improve their earnings and improve their living standards,” he said, adding that helping people was also like helping himself because more people would come to buy his products when they know how to use those products correctly.

Makin' music but not money

Illustrations by Sao Sreymao: see more of her work at

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Ngo Menghourng

Cambodia once had a good music scene with lots of original compositions, but the industry completely disappeared during the Khmer Rouge regime.

However, after the collapse of KR the Cambodian music industry started to boom again due to modern technology and globalisation.

Although Cambodian music has gained popularity among the country’s youth, it has been noticed that most of the music production companies plagiarise music from other countries instead of making their own.

There are 17 music production companies in Cambodia, but very few compose music themselves, according to Sen Chan Saya, director of the Department of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion.

This has raised concerns that Cambodia may lose its identity if the government, especially the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art, does not take action to stop music companies copying the work of other people and encourage them to compose their own music.

BIGMAN is a new music production company created in 2008 and it copies music from other countries.

Hout Borith, the general manager of BIGMAN, claimed his company had to copy music from other countries to survive because it cannot make a profit composing its own music.

“It is impossible for me to compose music on my own because Cambodia’s laws against piracy are still weak,” he said. “I will compose music on my own if the government reinforces the laws against piracy more effectively.”

Another music production company called Svang Dara also copies music from other countries. It was started in April 2009 by Meng Sok Virak.

Meng Sok Virak said copying music from other countries helps his company cut costs.

He said it takes only one or two days to produce an album of copied music, but it would take one month to produce an album of locally composed music.

However, he said his company makes more profit from sponsors during concerts than selling music disks.

Sok Virak has also formed a group called Cartoon Emo which composes its own music.

“The music which is composed by the Cartoon Emo team has gained popularity from both foreigners and Cambodians who live in Phnom Penh,Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap” he said.

Sann Sondan, 24, a team leader of Cartoon Emo, said he and his teammates learned to compose music at the Royal University of Fine Art and through other short courses and so far they have made one album for Svang Dara productions.

Not only small local music production companies copy music from others. Even Raksmey Hang Meas, one of the biggest music companies in Cambodia, copies music from other countries.

Eng Songleap, general manager of Raksmey Hang Meas, says that what makes his company different is that it buys licenses from the original owners of music.

“If the government wants all music production companies to compose music on their own, the government has to eliminate piracy,” he said.

Although Raksmey Hang Meas copies music, it also has a singer who has the ability to compose his own music.

Sapoon Midada, one of the most popular singers in Cambodia and a former singer for Raksmey Hang Meas productions, said he started composing music in 2004 and learned the skill at the Royal University of Fine Art.

Although Sapoon Midada composes his own music, he admits that some of his music is also copied from foreign countries.

“I find it crucial to adopt what is good from foreign cultures in order to make our culture more advanced,” he said.

Fearful of losing our Khmer identity, Oknha Kith Thieng invested a lot of money creating a music company called Rock Production in 2007, with the aim of making its own music.

Sam Videth, the general manager of Rock Production, said the company’s aim is to boost Khmer culture, Khmer creativity and Khmer identity. That’s why this company never copies music from other countries.

“Oknha Kith Thieng loves Cambodia and wants to give an opportunity to talented young people to produce what they have in order to boost Khmer culture,” she said.

However, Rock Production faces several challenges.

Sam Videth said it is very difficult to compose a new melody and create a good performance style, especially if there is a lack of good composers.

“We used to spend about two months producing one album, but after we gained more human resources who graduated from music universities in Canada, Australia, the US and Russia, we now only spend one month producing one album,” she said.

This has made the company a success with some Rock singers invited to perform in oversea countries such as Canada and Australia where they had a lot of support from Cambodians living there, according to Sam Videth.

Since several music productions companies complain that piracy is the main barrier, blocking them from composing music themselves, Sen Chan Saya said that the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art, cooperated with local authority, has burned for 126902 pirated CDS, VCDS and DVDS in 2010.

The Constructive Cambodian

via CAAI

The Constructive Cambodian
Lift's senior writers comment on key issues in the Kingdom
Tong Soprach explains how immmigration reform and improved employment must go hand in hand.


At any given time at the Phnom Penh International Airport or the Kingdom’s borders with Thailand and Vietnam, young Cambodians can be found streaming out of the Kingdom to find work abroad. Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam are but some of the places that Cambodian youth depart for seeking employment opportunities not available in Cambodia, in order to support their families back home.

One explanation for this exodus, espoused by people of a protectionist persuasion, is that there are too many illegal immigrants; many from the same countries Cambodians are going to, who are living and working in the Kingdom. This argument suggests that foreigners are snatching up jobs that would otherwise employ young Cambodians.

There is an immigration law and labour law in place that threatens illegal workers with deportation if found out, but as with many laws in the Kingdom it’s enforcement is inconsistent. But if employment is a priority of the government, why aren’t they cracking down in the same way that Thailand and Vietnam have recently done to Cambodians illegally working in their countries?

Instead of serving its intended purposes, the immigration law, which was approved in 1994, serves the ruling party’s political agenda. For example, when 20 Uighur refugees seeking asylum in Cambodia were deported back to China by Cambodian authorities last December, the aforementioned law was used to support the decision, despite the fact that human rights groups and international agencies said that Cambodia was violating international law when they sent the refugees back to their homeland. Two Red Shirt activists suspected of involvement in a bombing attack in Bangkok were sent back to Thailand in July this year, and just last week the Cambodian government announced the closure of a UNHCR shelter where 62 Vietnamese Montangard refugees are waiting for asylum. The immigration law has proven useful in these high profile situations, but the number of immigrants involved is somewhat insignificant when compared with the number of illegal workers who go unnoticed.

The laws most important purpose, to ensure that Cambodians are first in line for any job openings, is not happening. One field where this trend is particularly alarming is in manufacturing, where the cost of training, quality control, utilities, salaries and taxation make it very difficult for entrepreneurs to generate employment opportunities. Although the government has stepped in to support some sectors, rice producers being a recent example, the state rarely provides assistance to people in the private sector, and therefore investors are often unable to get their business off the ground before they have to shut it down.  

A friend of mine was doing quite well with a paper production plant that employed 30 of his fellow countrymen, however; the costs he had to incur each month to keep the business afloat were simply too much and now, he runs a tourism business with two employees. He had to tell the other 28 people who relied on his business for their livelihood that they were out of a job. Not an easy reality to face given the difficulty reentering the workforce in the current economic climate. 

There is some hope, though, for young Cambodians. For those who wish to pursue further education but miss out on government scholarships, a few banks and microfinance institutions are now offering low interest loans to students. An increasing number of the wealthy owners of private universities are also giving loans from their own pocket to be paid back upon graduation. With luck, this will help reduce youth unemployment in Cambodia. Especially because, according to World Bank estimations, the Kingdom’s economic growth is only able to generate about 30,000 new jobs each year, when the number of young people entering the work force has increased to about 300,000 per year.

If nothing is done to address this issue, further nationwide youth unemployment and internal unrest will ensue. Therefore, while there are existing measures to curb this problem, they need to be expanded upon. The government should look to enforce the immigration law more rigorously to curb illegal foreign workers in Cambodia. This will help reduce the number of young Cambodians who are forced to make the migration in the other direction. It is not only the job of the government however, domestic businesses and banks must also ensure that they are creating as many jobs as possible for Cambodian workers. One job may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it is a chance for a struggling Cambodian to get on their feet, and that is truly something worth standing up for.

Q: Are illegal immigrants stopping Cambodians from getting jobs?

Men in the middle

Tivea Koam noticed that looking feminine is quite cool among many young men in Cambodia. In this article he finds out why.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Koam Tivea

Posters of Korean pop stars and their hairstyles adorn the walls of the beauty salon while people wait to have their hair done. The hairdressers work quickly, cutting and styling their customers – mostly teenagers – hair.

With a broad smile on his made-up face, Sok Chamreoun, the 29-year-old owner of the Chea Styles Beauty Salon for almost 10 years, said men and especially teenagers have changed their look and styles in recent years.

“In the past, men did not care much about their style and the way they looked, but since the Korean influence men now like to be stylish and fashionable,” said Sok Chamreoun. “They order new hair styles. They have their hair dyed and straightened. They even wear make-up. They are following Korean styles.”

He added that men nowadays are obsessed with style and are extremely metro sexual since they exposed themselves to music videos and television featuring Korean and some western stars.

What Sok Chamreoun said was echoed by Ing Vanni, a trainer and social worker at Social Services of Cambodia, who graduated in psychology. He said that influences from the outside world through television and the internet, especially singers or movie stars, have affected the way men think about how they look.

“What men are changing is themselves – their styles and looks are to attract the attention of others. When they watch television and see the stars getting a lot of attention, they try to change their looks by going to beauty shops to make themselves elegant and attractive,” Ing Vanni said.

He added that if these men live with others who are stylish and care about beauty, their looks will start following the trends to stay fashionable.

Nineteen-year-old Theok Chantorn, a sophomore of law at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said he likes making himself stylish and fashionable because it makes him look cool and handsome to other teenagers.

“T-shirts, mini jeans, sportswear shoes and watches are stylish possessions I use. I also like having my hair dyed, I had my ear pierced, I apply lotion and go to spar to make myself look more fabulous and stylish,” he said. “I see stylish people who look awesome and I want to be like them. So I follow what they are doing.”

Sok Keang, the 33-year-old owner of Guitar Men Shop which sells men’s clothes and shoes, said that about six years after opening her shop she noticed that men had developed their own styles. “Men like Korean and Hong Kong styles a lot recently and they seek mini jeans that make them look really slim,” she said. “They probably follow people on TV and the internet.”

Men nowadays make themselves look good by not only changing styles and buying new things, but also by having plastic surgery, which is popular in South Korea.

According to an expert on chin augmentation at the Pkay Prak Beauty Salon Shop, there are more men than women having plastic surgery. He added that men aged from 18 to 50 have come to have plastic surgery at the shop.

“Men come here to do reshaping of noses, chin augmentation, blepharoplasty, cheek augmentation or a whole set on the face,” he said, adding that they have plastic surgery because their faces are not beautiful and attractive, making them feel uncomfortable when they join any events. Some believe they will get lucky and amass a fortune after having plastic surgery.

After having his nose reshaped one year ago, a third year student of law at Build Bright University who asked not to be named said he had a nose which was not attractive and he wanted to make his face more beautiful, so he had it done.

He said he spent about US$300 to get his nose reshaped at a shop near Ou Ruessey Market. “I just wanted to beautify myself more; I did not care how other people talked about me as a man having nose reshaped,” he added.

Even though having dyed hair, plastic surgery and the latest styles matter to some, many older people are not comfortable with what some young men are doing.

What's New?

What really interested me was the traditional Korean clothes as this was the first time I could see them up close.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 Mak Kuleka

If you want to buy imported Korean products, the place to go is the Gyeongsangbuk-do trade center. It’s in the Phnom Penh-Daegu, Gyeongbuk Culture, Tourism and Trade Promotion Centre, or PGCT, beside the north part of the Phnom Penh Centre.

The Gyeongsangbuk-do trade centre was a new discovery for my friend and I on the weekend. On Sunday my friend and I we went into the PGCT to see what products and services the place could provide for Cambodians who really enjoy everything Korean. At the beginning we could not decide on which place we should enjoy first from the two places we decided to explore at PGCT.

The one on our left side was a shop where we could buy any kind of Korean product, and the other one was a culture centre where Korean and Cambodian cultural products were put on show.

My friend grabbed my hand and dragged me toward the shop on our left, which was called the Gyeongsanbuk trade centre, and we went in to see what interesting things were there. The place was similar to a medium-sized shop and contained lots of products. Just inside something attracted our attention. It was a display of Korean cosmetics on a shelf. Many different kinds of Korean cosmetic products were there such as masks, facial foam, facial cream, hand cream and so on.

Further on in the middle of the shop we were surrounded by all kind of Korean products such as Andong Yang Ban Rice, Cheongsong apples, Yeongchun pears, Ulleung-do herbs, Yeongyang powdered red pepper, sea-weed, snacks, drinks, more cosmetics, traditional Korean clothes, handbags, kitchen utensils, ginseng, handicraft gifts etc. They were all easily recognisable by the Korea characters on the products. For a while it seemed like we were shopping in Korea.

What really interested me was the traditional Korean clothes as this was the first time I could see them up close and touch them with my hand. Surprisingly, when I looked at the price, it was US$85 for a set, and I thought: “Wow, I could not afford this.”

Next, we explored the area towards the 3D movie theatre beside the Gyeongsangbuk-do shop, inside the Gyeongsangbuk-do trade centre. “It was free,” said one guide who worked there. “You should take up this special free offer,” he added, then gave us some 3D glasses and guided us to the door of the theatre where they show 3D movies every day.

We were guided to our seat and another guide who told us about the theatre. “The movies screen three times per day, and each time two movies are provided and they run for 15 minutes each,” the guide said.

The first movie was The Khmer Great Empire and it was about the history of Cambodia since the beginning until the Angkor period or Jayavaraman VII. The second movie was a Korean fairy tale called The Hero Horse, which was about the love of two angels who were given a mission from heaven to fight against the devil who had tried to control the world. Their job was to make the earth live in peace.

They were awesome movies because the 3D glasses and movie made it seem like the action was happening right in front of us. My friend was amazed how good the movies were and said he would watch them again.

When the movies ended, we went to the culture centre in front of the Gyeongsangbuk-do trade centre. There we were entertained by an exhibition of Cambodian and Korean culture and local products. All the products made by the two countries are in this exhibition and also some traditional stuff such as musical instruments, ornaments made from silver and bronze, Lakhoun masks and a photo of Phnom Penh taken during the French colonisation.

The Koreans also had displays in similar categories which identified their traditional culture and their home-made products.

Welcome to LIFT issue 51

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:01 Post Staff

This is issue number 51 for us here at lift, and while we aren’t doing anything to celebrate this week, we are gearing up for out one year anniversary issue next week, which will feature photo spreads with many of Cambodia’s most impressive youth, unique insight from our writers into the difficulties and successes they face as journalist’s, comments and feedback from out readers and our writers for the contructive Cambodian tell us how they think we can improve int he year to come. Please help us get your voice in the action by responding to our survey on the next page.

You will notice that you don’t need to go to a computer to talk to us this time. We are starting LIFT LINE, a cell phone number that you can text to let us know what you think about our questions of the week, reader surveys, or anything related to Cambodia, young people and life. Try it out and then check out your SMS in our issue next week!

Our stories this week are about the state of Cambodian music and young men who are seriosuly concerned about their style. Happy New Year! See you again in 2011.

A flowery blessing

Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Sovan Philong

Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema and his wife throw flower petals during a blessing ceremony for the capital’s second flyover bridge over Russian Federation Boulevard yesterday. Construction is scheduled to begin today.

Sparks fly in Battambang

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 15:00 Heng Chivoan

A pair of blacksmiths forge knives and axes from iron in Kors Kralor district, Battambang province, yesterday.

China firm in lake deal

Photo by: Will Baxter
A young barefooted boy looks pensive while behind him workers employed by Shukaku Inc pump a mixture of sand and water into the northeastern edge of Boeung Kak lake.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 20:59 Vanessa Ko

A Chinese company has invested tens of millions of dollars in the controversial development of the Boeung Kak lakeside, in connection with firms linked to a powerful ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin, according to Chinese-language news reports.

The reports from September say that the involvement of the state-owned Inner Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co dates back to July, when it signed an agreement with two local companies to develop the lake.

According to the reports, the Boeung Kak development – known in Chinese as wanguhu, or “10,000 Valley Lake” – was included in a US$3 billion package of investment deals that also included a 750-megawatt power station in Sihanoukville and the exploration of bauxite in Mondulkiri.

The announcement of the deals followed a September 8 meeting between Wang Linxiang, the company’s chairman, and Prime Minister Hun Sen. At the time, Eang Sophalleth, a personal adviser to Hun Sen, told The Post that the meeting was to discuss the power station project and real estate developments, but did not identify Boeung Kak lake as one of the projects.

The Chinese reports reveal that Hung Jun’s lake development agreement involved both Shukaku Inc – which is owned by Lao Meng Khin – and the Cambodia International Investment Development Group.

The latter firm also appears to be linked to the senator. According to an undated government investment publication available online, the firm runs a special economic zone in Sihanoukville, with Lao Meng Khin listed as the “zone developer”.

Also present at the September 8 meeting between Hun Sen and the Hung Jun representatives, Eang Sophalleth said at the time, was Lao Meng Khin’s wife Choeung Sopheap, the head of local conglomerate Pheapimex.

The reports confirm longstanding suspicions of Chinese involvement in the 133-hectare housing and commercial development.

In January, The Post revealed a long history of Chinese links to the project, following the signing of a US$79 million lease agreement between City Hall and local developer Shukaku Inc in February 2007.

It remained unclear, however, whether Chinese firms were still linked to the project after one Kunming-based company withdrew from the project after undergoing restructuring.

Chinese news reports state that Inner Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co was registered in Inner Mongolia in June and has two parent companies, each holding a 50 percent stake.

One of the companies is Erdos Holding Group, based in Inner Mongolia, whose primary businesses are cashmere and energy investment. The other is the Qingdao-based Dezheng Resources Holdings Co Ltd, an aluminium and energy development firm.

The Chinese articles also reveal that the joint venture between Hung Jun and Cambodia International Investment Development Group, which was not named, had registered capital totalling $72 million.

Hong Jun owns 51 percent of the company, contributing cash and equipment, while the Cambodian company owns 49 percent and provides the land and resources.

It is unclear what role Shukaku plays in the deal, though it has been in charge of the Boeung Kak project since work began in 2008.

Since then, the project has come under fire from housing rights groups, who claim as many as 4,000 families will be forced to make way. Protests by lakeside residents have become a weekly occurrence in Phnom Penh, fuelled by complaints of inadequate compensation, the lack of transparency and the flooding of homes due to the filling of the lake.

“It has been difficult for the residents to figure out who they should appeal to,” said Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force. “The government tells them to go to Shukaku, Shukaku tells them to go to the government. They just throw them back and forth.”

Sia Phearum said the Chinese involvement will likely have a negative impact on the residents’ plight. “[The Chinese] care about business more than human rights,” he said.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said there should be tough laws on loans from abroad. “We have to be very careful of those who only look at their own benefit and exploit Cambodian natural resources,” he said. “I don’t know if the Chinese investors have considered the reputation of their company name ... or if they just want to invest in a poor country.”

Chinese Embassy spokesman Qian Hai had not responded to queries as of press time. A Shukaku official declined to comment.

PM lashes out at environmental activists

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 20:52 Cheang Sokha

Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out at unnamed environmental activists yesterday at the groundbreaking of a 338-megawatt hydropower dam in Koh Kong province.

Speaking at the site of the Stung Russey Chrum Krom dam, which will span the eponymous stream in Koh Kong’s Mondul Seima district, Hun Sen said environmental impacts were a natural consequence of economic progress.

“Is there any development that happens without an impact on the environment and natural resources? Please give us a proper answer,” Hun Sen said. The premier said society inevitably exacts a toll on the environment, making a bizarre allusion to proposed taxes on carbon emissions in other countries.

“Only the wind that we breathe comes without a fee, but in other countries, they have to pay,” he said. “Even with farts, there is a tax, and though they do not say the tax comes from farts, it is implied when they talk about the value of biodiversity.”

The dam is set to be completed by 2014 and is being constructed by China’s Huadian Corporation at an estimated cost of US$495 million, one of the largest foreign investments in Cambodia to date. The government has granted Huadian a 38-year lease under a Build-Operate-Transfer agreement.

Um Serey Vuth, environmental team leader at local NGO Sawac, said his organisation conducted a preliminary environmental impact assessment on the project last year.

Because the area around the site is sparsely populated, he said the dam would have little impact on local livelihoods, though he noted that it would require some clearing of forest in the surrounding area.

In November, Cambodia and China inked a deal that will allow Huadian and another Chinese state-owned firm, China Guodian Corporation, to conduct feasibility studies for four proposed hydropower projects. The four include another dam in Koh Kong, two in Stung Treng province and the Sambor dam on the Mekong River in Kratie province.

A report commissioned by the Mekong River Commission earlier this year said more than one million fisheries-dependent Cambodians could be affected by dams on the Mekong, recommending a 10-year moratorium on construction pending further study.


‘Sick’ jailed prosecutor to request bail

via CAAI

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 18:10 Mom Kunthear

A lawyer for a provincial prosecutor awaiting trial on corruption charges said yesterday that he was preparing to file documents to request that his client be released on bail on the grounds of ill health.

Pursat provincial prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth and two personal bodyguards were apprehended on November 29 in the first high-profile arrests made by the recently established Anticorruption Unit.

The following day, all three were charged with corruption, extortion and false imprisonment and were imprisoned at Pursat provincial prison, where they await trial.

Defence lawyer Kea Chhay said yesterday that the decision to seek bail had come after Top Chan Sereyvuth was rushed to hospital upon falling ill on Sunday evening.

“He is sick and he was sent to hospital immediately for help because he had high blood pressure,” he said. He said his client had been “saved in time” and was returned to prison on Monday evening.

Kea Chhay said Top Chan Sereyvuth’s health was in danger of deteriorating while he was in custody, and that he would request his client be released on bail. He said he would be willing for him to remain under police supervision.

“We don’t want him to stay in the prison because his health is not so good. We want him to stay in the hospital, but under control of the police,” he said.

Kea Chhay noted that a trial date had not been set and that Top Chan Sereyvuth was being held during investigations that would be hindered if he became seriously ill.

Sun Sao, deputy director of the provincial prison, confirmed Top Chan Sereyvuth was seriously ill and required close medical attention. He said the prosecutor’s wife visited the prison almost every day to help take care of him.

“He has high blood pressure, diabetes and pain in his right leg,” she said, adding that Sunday’s emergency showed the extent of his illness.

“He is lucky to have been sent to the hospital in time,” Sun Sao said. “If he wasn’t, he could be dead.”

Pang Chan Yutheara, deputy provincial prosecutor, said he did not know whether or not the request for bail would be granted.

“I haven’t seen the request letter from the lawyers yet and I don’t know if he can be released on bail because his case is under investigation,” he said.

Ouch Leng, land programme officer for rights group Adhoc, said it was plausible that the bail request was justified.

“If he has that disease, he could be released on bail, or a doctor could follow up his illness in the prison,” he said, adding that even if Top Chan Sereyvuth was corrupt, “he is also a human being so he needs to be taken care of”.

ACU head Om Yentieng, and the body’s spokesman Keo Remy, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Cambodian national assembly passes ASEAN-India cooperation agreement

via CAAI

December 28, 2010

The Cambodian National Assembly on Tuesday adopted the draft law on the framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India.

"The agreement aims at strengthening and improving the cooperation on investment, trade and economics between ASEAN and India," Kong Vibol, secretary of state for the Minister of Economy and Finance, said during the assembly floor on Tuesday. " The key elements of the agreement cover Free Trade Area in goods, services and investment, as well as areas of economic cooperation."

Also, the National Assembly on Tuesday passed the agreements on goods and on dispute resolution mechanism under the framework agreement of comprehensive economic cooperation between ASEAN and India.

Kong Vibol said that bilateral trade between Cambodia and India is still small. Cambodia's exports to India are palm oil, grain oil and garments, while India's exports to Cambodia are mostly medicines and textile accessories.

The framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation between ASEAN and India was signed by the Prime Minster of India and the Heads of the Governments of ASEAN members during the Second ASEAN-India Summit on Oct. 8, 2003 in Bali, Indonesia.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodian economy grew 5 pct in 2010 - deputy PM

via CAAI

Reuters - Wednesday, December 29

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH, Dec 28 - Cambodia's economy grew 5 percent this year thanks in large part to a recovery in garment exports, a deputy prime minister said on Tuesday, and an industry official forecast further growth in garment shipments in 2011.

"Our economy grew more than 5 percent in 2010 due to more exports of garments and the increase in tourists, following GDP growth of 0.1 percent in 2009," Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly said at a ceremony at the Rural Development Ministry.

The contruction sector was still in the doldrums, however. It contracted 42 percent in 2009 and Yim Chhay Ly said it had still not recovered, citing delays to big projects in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia , told Reuters that garment exports had risen about 20 percent this year, helped by the economic recovery in Europe and the United States.

"The outlook for next year, I think, remains positive overall," he said, adding that Cambodia would benefit from the European Union's Everything But Arms initiative, which lets some poor countries ship certain products tariff-free to the EU.

According to data from the GMAC, the country exported garments, textiles and shoes to the value of $2.3 billion in 2009, down from $2.9 billion in 2008. More than half of its exports go to the United States.

Kong Sopheareak, director of statistics at the Tourism Ministry, said 2.5 million tourists visited Cambodia this year, an increase of 16 percent from 2009.

"They have spent about $1.7 billion on food, accommodation, local transport and souvenirs," Kong Sopheareak said.

Yim Chhay Ly said economic growth had helped reduce the poverty rate to 26 percent of the population this year from 27.4 percent in 2009.; +855 2 399 2102; Reuters Messaging: