Friday, 21 January 2011

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen receives here on Jan. 19 a delegation of Australia’s ANZ Bank led by its director Mr. Mike Smith.On the occasion, the Cambodian premier says that the Royal Government’s need is the brain resources which the Bank could take part in sharing some ideas or initiatives through the Government and Private Sector Forum.

Photo: Chey Phum Pul.

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen warmly receives visiting Foreign Minister of Colombia Ms. Maria Angela Holguin in Phnom Penh on Jan. 19.On the occasion, the Colombian foreign minister thanks Cambodia for taking part in mine clearance in her country, and for his part, the Cambodian premier thanks the Colombian government for sending its troops to join the peacekeeping mission in the UNTAC framework in Cambodia in 1992-1993.

Photo: Peou Kim Chan Rath.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Hor Namhong, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation meets here on Jan. 19 with his Colombian counterpart Ms. Maria Angela Holguin.The Cambodian deputy prime minister told reporters after the meeting that the release on bail of six Thai detainees is purely the court’s procedure, and it had nothing to do with his recent meeting with his Thai counterpart H.E. Kasit Piromya in Indonesia.

Photo: Chim Nary.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance presides over on Jan. 18 the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Sugar, Ethanol and Electricity Power Factory in Kratie province’s Sambo district.

Photo: Hun Yuth Kun.

Senior Minister H.E. Nhim Vanda, first vice chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management presides over on Jan. 18 a meeting to review the work on disaster management of Banteay Meanchey province in 2010 and set forth new objectives for 2011.

Photo: Chhun Sarath, AKP-Banteay Meanchey.

After four-day of meetings, the Tourism Ministers in a press conference held here on Jan. 18 highlight the key outcomes, including the adoption of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015 that would contribute to the overall goals of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

Photo: Chim Nary.

Cambodian Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith meets with Mr. Keith Jeddere-Fisher, MSc-MIC for People and Trees in Phnom Penh on Jan. 19.

The meeting touches on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor (2nd phase) in Cambodia.

Photo: Hun Yuth Kun.

H.E. Im Sethy, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of Cambodia gives scarves to 1,200 scouts Youth in Preah Sihanouk province on Jan. 19.

Photo: Ngo Somony, AKP-Preah Sihanouk.

Development aid: UK agency to shutter local office

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:02 Uong Ratana

Development aid

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development will close its Phnom Penh office on January 31, in line with a new global review of the agency’s operations, representatives said yesterday.

Natalie Acton, DfID’s deputy director for Asia, stated the office is closing after a global review of financing showed the agency should “focus money globally to areas with greater concentrations of poor people and fewer funders”.

She said the agency cannot release information about where new offices will open or where DfID is redirecting funding until the review is complete. UK Ambassador Andrew Mace said the closure of the office was not an end to development aid from the UK, noting that several programmes will continue through DfID partners and through UK NGOs that work with Cambodian organisations.

Existing local partners, the World Bank, AusAID and USAID will administer ongoing programmes in health and poverty analysis. DfID’s office in Vietnam will also provide some oversight. DfID expects to disburse US$16 million to ongoing programmes in Cambodia in 2011.

“I am proud of the important contribution that DfID’s office has made to improving the lives of Cambodians through better healthcare, secure livelihoods and accountable local governance,” Mace said.


Complaints filed in prison release case

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:02 Tep Nimol

A localL rights group filed a formal complaint to Ratanakkiri provincial court yesterday, calling for investigations into a case of a jailed former provincial police chief who allegedly injured three people in a drunk-driving crash while he was temporarily released from prison.

Yoeung Baloung – who was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006 after being convicted of involvement with illegal logging – was allegedly released from Ratanakkiri provincial prison on Friday so he could attend a party.

Provincial traffic police have disputed reports that Yoeung Baloung caused the traffic accident, which injured three people, claiming that the driver involved was Katreng Lounh, the 33-year-old husband of Yoeung Baloung’s niece.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that he had called for prison officials and traffic police to be investigated along with Yoeung Baloung, describing their actions as “absolutely illegal”.

“We will work on two cases at same time,” he said.

“The first case is related to the involvement of the provincial prison officials in releasing the offender outside detention, and the second is the car accident caused by the offender, Yoeung Baloung.”

Pen Bonnar said he also planned to file complaints to the Interior Ministry and the Anticorruption Unit within the next few days.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said yesterday that he had issued a letter earlier this week asking the provincial prosecutor to investigate the case, but had not yet received the results of the investigation.

“I don’t know yet, now we let the judge check the case [regarding] why the offender was released and caused a car accident,” he said.

“I haven’t got a report from the provincial prosecutor.”

Ros Saram, deputy prosecutor at the court in Ratanakkiri, said prison officials and traffic police had already been summoned for questioning, and that a report on the incident would be sent to the Ministry of Interior today.

Murder plot case continues

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

More than a dozen witnesses gave testimony at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday in an alleged attempted murder involving members of two prominent families.

During the fourth day of hearings, the defence called 14 witnesses. Several police also testified, including Chheang Mony, a penal police official at the Ministry of Interior who headed the case’s investigation.

Seng Chenda, who is married to businessman Khaou Chuly, is accused of masterminding the attempted murder of Khaou Chuly’s daughter from a previous marriage, Suv Chantha, with the aid of four accomplices.

Suv Chantha is married to Sun Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works.

Chheang Mony said he sought permission from the court prosecutor to investigate a complaint lodged by Suv Chantha, who suspected thieves had entered her home in the early morning of June 13.

“[She said] the door was left open and marks were left by the [people who entered] near the window, and the condition of her two dogs was unusual, like they had been poisoned,” he said.

Suv Chantha told police she was suspicious of her housemaid, Neang Sinath, when she “seemed uninterested” in suspicions that people had entered the house, Chheang Mony said.

Confessions by Neang Sinath after her arrest, he said, implicated Chan Sokha, a housemaid for Khaou Chuly. Chheang Mony said Chan Sokha was suspected of purchasing sleeping pills to poison Suv

Chantha’s two dogs, and helping two male defendants, Yin Sophearith and Khorn Lak, to enter the house.

In testimony on January 5, Chan Sokha said police had taken her to a pharmacy to purchase sleeping pills used as false evidence.

Chheang Mony said police had taken her to a pharmacy “to buy medicine as a model for what kind of medicine she bought, following [Neang] Sinath’s confession”.

Chheang Mony denied allegations that police tortured or threatened defendants during interrogations. Four defendants have testified that both police and Sun Chanthol were involved in coercing false confessions.

Kim Thai, 22, a security guard at one of Khaou Chuly’s apartments, testified that he had noted down everyone who entered or exited the complex the night of the alleged murder attempt, and he was certain that Khorn Lak was at the same apartment building that night.

Khaou Chuly said his wife has “never had any dispute” with Suv Chantha or his 11 other children.

“Sun Chanthol told me to leave my wife ... or [my wife] would kill me and rob my property, but I didn’t believe she would,” he said.

Khaou Phallaboth, a younger brother of Suv Chantha, said Seng Chenda had no motive to murder his sister.

“She would not be so foolish to do that, she is a millionaire’s wife who had everything she wished,” he said.

The case is due to continue on Monday.

Court indicts three over city acid attack

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:02 Mom Kunthear

Two men and a woman accused of involvement in an acid attack that left two women hospitalised with serious injuries were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, a police official said.

The victims were attacked by two men on a motorbike in Meanchey district at about 9pm on Tuesday, in an assault that was allegedly ordered by the wife of one of the men.

Kong Samon, deputy district police chief, described the attack as an “attempted murder” and said the suspects had been detained at the district police station since their arrest on Tuesday.

“Those suspected acid attackers were sent to the court this evening and the police charged them with attempted murder,” he said yesterday, though he declined to comment further, saying he was in a meeting.

Municipal court officials with knowledge of the case could not be reached for comment yesterday evening.

The victims, 24-year-old Rin Soklim and 26-year-old Seng Touch, were allegedly attacked “over a small rivalry” with the woman who ordered the assault.

Seng Touch was most seriously injured in the attack, receiving severe burns to her face and body.

Jail scam men charged

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Friday, 21 January 2011 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Kandal Provincial Court yesterday charged three men with embezzling money from an 18-year-old girl who wanted to free her mother from jail, officials said.

Provincial police chief Iv Chamroeun said the three men – 33-year-old Kin Sin, 43-year-old Sin Try, and 48-year-old Chea Sim – were charged with cheating the girl out of US$9,000 and remanded in custody at the provincial prison.

Sin Sengly, chief of the provincial criminal police department, said the three men had told 18-year-old Ly Sochea that they could influence the courts to free her mother – who was imprisoned early last year after she was accused of running a brothel – in exchange for $9,000.

He said the three men were arrested in Lvea Em district on Tuesday when they went to collect a final sum from Ly Sochea, who had been paying in installments. Ly Sochea filed a complaint against the men after her mother was found guilty and sentenced to five years.

Ieng Sary wants shorter days in court

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Friday, 21 January 2011 15:02 James O'Toole

Lawers for former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary have requested that Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal limit hearings in their client’s upcoming case to half-day sessions due to the 85-year-old’s fragile health.

In a filing dated Wednesday, the defence said Ieng Sary’s “age and ill health” would make full-day sessions unacceptably arduous.

“The defence team has been unable to meet with Mr Ieng Sary for more than approximately an hour at a time, and not more than two hours a day, because he has difficult sitting for longer and finds the intense concentration required to be quite draining,” the lawyers wrote, adding that their client’s urological problems necessitate frequent bathroom breaks.

Ieng Sary is set to be tried within the next six months for a raft of offences including genocide and crimes against humanity along with three elderly co-defendants: 79-year-old former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, 84-year-old Brother Number 2 Nuon Chea, and 78-year-old social action minister Ieng Thirith. A start date has not yet been set for the trial.

United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen said yesterday that the defendants “have health conditions normal for people of their age, and they get regular medical check-ups”.

During a courtroom appearance in February to appeal his pre-trial detention, the court adjourned several times over the course of its morning session for Ieng Sary, who appeared with the aid of a cane and a back brace, to take breaks. He declined to speak at length during the hearing, delegating that task to his attorneys.

His wife, Ieng Thirith, may also be feeling the effects of her advanced age and has been given to unpredictable behaviour in the courtroom. In a 2009 hearing, she warned that those who accused her of murder would be “cursed to the seventh level of hell”.

In the court’s first trial – that of former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav – the court typically operated at most four days a week from 9am to noon and from 1:30pm to 4:00pm.

Eviction day to be remembered

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Staff prepare for the dinner crowd at the iBBQ restaurant on the site of the former Dey Krahorm community in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district yesterday.

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Kim Yuthana

About 200 former residents of Phnom Penh’s Dey Krahorm community will return to the site for a ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of their violent eviction by police and construction workers employed by developer 7NG.

Chan Vichet, a Dey Krahorm representative, said the gathering would remind people about the 2009 eviction and also allow villagers to convey the hardships they have suffered since their relocation.

On the morning of January 24, 2009, Dey Krahorm was bulldozed by police and construction workers hired by 7NG. Its residents were relocated to Damnak Trayeung, a site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh that lacked basic services and infrastructure such as shelter, sewage systems and fresh water.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that while service provision had improved at the Damnak Trayeung relocation site, a recent study found 70 percent of residents had moved back to the city so they could work and earn money.

“Income generation is a problem for people in Damnak Trayeung,” Sia Phearum said. “It is hard for them with their future, many own small businesses and have to rent rooms in the city.”

He said the quality of services was also lower than that in the city, with some children abandoning their studies because of the poor quality of the schools in the area.

Scant development
According to a billboard posted outside the 3.6-hectare Dey Krahorm site in June, 7NG said it had plans to build luxury apartments, as well as offices and retail space on the site.

To date, however, the site has not been significantly developed by 7NG: It holds a company building, soccer ground, some multi-purpose sporting facilities and a restaurant.

7NG’s Executive Director Srey Chanthou has said development of the site was set to begin in 2011 and 2012, but no definite start date has even been given.

“We don’t have a plan for what we will do with the rest of the land after we finish building the fitness centre. We don’t know what we will do in the future,” he said in June.

Vuthy Tung, supervisor of the 7NG sports areas, said the football fields were rented out for US$70 per match.

Khun Pov, 36, a former Dey Krahorm resident, now living in Damnak Trayeung village, said he was disappointed 7NG had not heeded residents’ request for proper compensation, and that there had since been so little development at the site.

“I feel pain when I’m reminded that 7NG forced us to leave and used machines to knock down our homes under the tears and protests of residents and under the watch of rights groups,” Khun Pov said.

7NG chairman Srey Sothea could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Fraudulent broker charged

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Mom Kunthear

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered an illegal broker to serve pretrial detention after charging him with cheating seven people out of thousands of dollars by claiming he would find them work in South Korea, an official said yesterday.

Mok Chito, director of the Ministry of Interior’s department of penal police, said the suspect, who he declined to name, was arrested on Monday after his victims filed a complaint, and was charged and sent to prison on Tuesday.

“The offender cheated more than US$10,000 from the victims and the victims filed the complaint to Interior Ministry police,” Mok Chito said.

The suspect allegedly told his victims he would find work for them in South Korea in exchange for a fee, but then “ran away” with their money, Mok Chito said.

He added that the victims had all been poor people who could not find work domestically and had borrowed money to pay the broker to find jobs for them in South Korea.

Mok Chito said he did not know if a trial date had been set. Municipal Court officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Protective measures
Last month, officials announced that agents working for licensed labour recruitment firms will from January be required to wear uniforms and carry identity cards in a bid to differentiate them from unlicensed brokers.

Officials said the move – a joint initiative of the Labour Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the ACRA – came in response to a recent spate of cases involving trafficked or abused migrant workers.

Yesterday, An Bun Hak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said 4,000 official recruitment staff shirts had been made. He said he planned to organise a two-day training seminar by the end of the month, during which recruiters would be given job training including information on labour laws and “morality”.

“We have started to register the recruitment firm staff members and we will train them about the importance of the uniform and to understand about their work during this month,” he said.

“We do that in order to protect workers and so they can decide carefully before they go to work [abroad] and protect them from being cheated by someone.”

Also last month, the Labour Ministry announced plans to crackdown on private companies recruiting Cambodian labour for work in South Korea from January 1, in a bid to prevent any potential human trafficking and exploitation that might discourage others from seeking work there.

Officials said South Korea paid some of the highest migrant labour wages in the region, and that – after a spate of recent trafficking and abuse cases involving migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand – the government wanted to ensure the country remains a safe option for Cambodian workers.

According to Labour Ministry figures, about 7,000 Cambodian workers have been sent to South Korea since 2006, mostly to work in the garment or agriculture industries, where they can earn a basic monthly salary of between $800 and $1,000 per month.

By comparison, similar jobs in Thailand or Malaysia pay around $150 to $200 per month.

Police Blotter: 21 Jan 2011

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Sen David

Man kills sibling in fight over motorbike
A 24-year-old man beat his 22-year-old brother to death with a wooden bat during an argument over a motorbike in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Rieng town on Monday, the mother of the siblings said. According to the woman, a fight broke out after the victim asked to borrow his sibling’s motorbike to travel to the market, and his brother refused to lend it to him. The victim was sent to hospital after the fight, but was declared dead upon arrival.

Attempted murder case sparked by deaf taunt
Three men were arrested and detained on suspicion of attempted murder in Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district on Monday. The target of the alleged murder plan said he had passed the trio drinking in the street and had called out to them. When they didn’t reply, the man said, he had yelled to them “you are deaf”, at which point the three men chased and tried to stab him with a knife. After the intended target ran away, police said, the angry trio stabbed the man’s buffalo instead.

Robbery suspect on run from Poipet police
A 26-year-old man who was arrested and detained on suspicion of a robbery escaped from Poipet police station in Banteay Meanchey province on Monday. Police said the suspect was arrested after he was caught in the act by a homeowner whose house he had broken into. Police said it was the first time a suspect had escaped from the Poipet station.

Four in hot water after meeting in quiet place
Four men were briefly detained on suspicion of intention to rob residents in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district on Sunday. Police said villagers had become suspicious and filed a compliant accusing the men of plotting to rob them, stating as evidence the men’s habit of “meeting in a quiet place”. The suspects denied any robbery plans, claiming they had been forced to find a quiet public place to drink wine together because they were “not allowed to drink at home”. Police said one of the men had in fact stolen a chicken from a villager, but all four men were released after promising “not to drink in a quiet place and make confusion for the villagers”.

Woman hangs herself in front of her children
A 29-year-old woman hung herself in front of her two young children in Battambang province’s Battambang town on Monday, the deceased’s husband said. The man, who is a farmer, said his wife had constantly worried about how poor they were.

Property-related tax revenues rocket

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Chun Sophal

Government tax revenue from transferring, leasing and selling property increased 60 percent in 2010 over the previous year, according to figures from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction.

An increase in activity in the property sector had generated growing revenues, Ministry spokeswoman Nun Pheany claimed yesterday.

“We hope tax revenue will gradually increase in 2011 due to people’s confidence in today’s economic stability, which will allow them to expand their property businesses such as transferring, leasing, and selling property,” she said.

The figures show that US$19.51 million, or 78 billion riel, was collected in 2010, an increase on $12.16 million in 2009.

Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuers Association of Cambodia, said he agreed with the ministry that property transactions were on the upswing.

Further agricultural development would likely create more activity in the property sector through increased buying and selling in 2011, he said.

“We are seeing growth in property business actively starting from January, and this is a positive sign indicating that our property business is recovering,” said Sung Bonna.

Many claim the Cambodian property sector has been slow to recover from the global financial crisis.

Cheng Keng, director of Phnom Penh-based property company CPL, said lingering declines in values of property offered opportunities for Cambodians to purchase and lease property – as prices had hit bottom.

“Now is a good time for Cambodian people to invest in the property business,” he said, adding this may increase property prices.

Property prices have not returned to pre-crisis levels, according to the National Valuers Association.

Pumpkin deal sprouts growth

Photo by: Will Baxter
Employees of a Blue Pumpkin café in Siem Reap wait on customers in November of last year.

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Craig Miles

The Blue Pumpkin café empire is rapidly expanding in Cambodia, targeting growth in Phnom Penh on the back of a new partnership.

In a deal brokered in August, chain owner Arnaud Curtat, sold a share of the firm to Belgian businessman Alain Dupuis for an undisclosed sum.

Dupuis is chief executive officer of Ream Resort Development, which is planning a five-star hotel and luxury villa complex near Sihanoukville, according to the company’s website.

“Alain is someone who trusts us and we will have a long relationship with him,” Curtat, who started his business in the tourist hub of Siem Reap, said.

“At some point we had to expand but we couldn’t do it on our own. We had to get fresh ideas.

“My wife and I, however, are still the directors and running it.”

The chain is now targeting growth with a ninth Siem Reap restaurant set to open on Sivutha Boulevard in two weeks.

“Since we have a new business partner, we feel more confident to be able to expand,” he added.

Another Blue Pumpkin is planned for Siem Reap International Airport – taking its presence in the city to 10 restaurants.

Recently, The Blue Pumpkin launched in Phnom Penh. Its first café opened at Monument Books on Norodom Boulevard last month.

A second café is set to open on Sisowath Quay on the capital’s riverside late this month or early next, with yet another scheduled for Phnom Penh’s airport in one month’s time.

Curtat said he did not think there was the capacity to open any more outlets in Siem Reap, but rather aimed for expansion in Cambodia’s capital, where there were more potential customers.

“We can open more shops in Phnom Penh. We could open 10 to 20 more,” he said.

The Blue Pumpkin, which makes its own baked goods and ice creams, plans to offer a delivery service and catering for events in Phnom Penh.

Last year, Blue Pumpkin closed a branch in Siem Reap’s Lucky Mall as it was not generating enough foot traffic to be profitable.

World conference: Ecotourism event set for Sihanoukville

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Soeun Say

World conference

Director General of the Ministry of Tourism Tith Chantha has signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia-based consultancy firm Discovery Mice to co-organise the 2011 World Ecotourism Conference in Sihanoukville.

“Our country has a lot of ecotourism areas and a lot of potential for tourists,” said Tith Chantha at the Wednesday signing. “We want to do this event because we want Cambodia to become strong in ecotourism.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Mice, Lee Choon Loong, said: “We think that WEC2011 is very important and strategic in promoting Cambodia as a leader in tourism and a leading community-based ecotourism destination in the region.”

Tith Chantha said that conference dates were unconfirmed, but the two-and-a half-day event would coincide with World Tourism Day on September 27.

Tour companies are optimistic about the event.

Kong Sangvar, managing director of Orchestra Travel and Tours in Phnom Penh, said yesterday he hoped it would help promote Cambodia “to the world”.

Oum Linda, branch office manager of Khiri Travel in Phnom Penh, said: “It will promote our ecotourism activities and bring income to rural areas.”

Mobile numbers don’t add up

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Stephane Devos

How many mobile phone users are there in Cambodia?
According to Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun this week there are now some 9.8 million subscribers, a figure that is publicly supported by the majority of the Kingdom’s eight operators. After all, they provided the numbers.

But privately, every mobile phone executive in Cambodia knows there is nowhere near this level of penetration.

If Cambodia does indeed have 9.8 million mobile users, or 66 percent penetration, then the Kingdom would currently rank above China (64 percent) and India (60 percent).

There is no doubt Cambodia’s level of mobile penetration is growing but the reality is clearly a lot more sober than the government and private sector would lead us to believe.

Based on reported active user numbers supplied by each mobile phone company, the official calculation becomes hugely distorted as operators continue to try to convince everyone including themselves they have an elevated level of user growth and market share.

Calculations are usually based on there being one activity on any given SIM in a given timeframe, and usually this is defined as a paid-for rather than a free promotional call.

The problem is that some companies set this time frame at one month and others at up to three months, meaning the definition of an active mobile user in Cambodia is often anything but.

In reality, of course, Cambodians are simply switching out multiple SIMs to get the best deals.

Last year, Vimplecom Ltd reported significantly different numbers for the second quarter to its shareholders, when compared to those submitted to the government by its Cambodian operation Beeline.

When asked yesterday: How many mobile users are there in Cambodia? Beeline, qb, Viettel and Smart Mobile all failed to respond.

Based on the definition of one revenue-generating event on any one SIM in the last 30 days, Hello Chief Executive Officer Simon Perkins estimated there are currently between 4.5 million and 5 million “active users” in Cambodia.

But this definition hardly represents mobile penetration in terms of the total number of people actually using a mobile phone in Cambodia today.

In reality, an average mobile user makes multiple calls on a daily basis.

A calculation that can capture this truth – however difficult – would represent the real level of mobile penetration in Cambodia.

In the meantime, Vietnamese-run operator Viettel claimed it had some 2.84 million active users in November making it number one in Cambodia.

When you cut through the PR, this figure is probably closer to the total number of mobile phone users in the whole of the country on all networks.

Net users on the increase

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

Cambodian are increasingly using the internet, but pricing and penetration levels lag behind much of ASEAN, according to experts.

The Kingdom had some 173,675 internet subscribers in 2010, compared to 29,589 in 2009, according to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

“Cambodian citizens have been receiving more chances to obtain fast internet access,” said Minister So Khun on Wednesday.

Still, internet costs are expensive compared with the average price in ASEAN nations, although prices are dropping year by year, Pily Wong, president of the Information and Communication Technology Business Association wrote yesterday.

But Cambodian officials are linking up with their regional colleagues to talk over the future of the internet.

So Khun and other Cambodian delegates travelled to Kuala Lumpur last week to attend a meeting of ASEAN telecommunications ministers.

The meeting formally adopted the ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2015, which aims to better ICT among ASEAN member nations – largely through increasing broadband access.

“Much has been said about the correlation between higher broadband penetration rates and the increase in GDP. ASEAN very much subscribes to this,” the text of the plan said.

It added that for every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, GDP grows by 1.3 percent.

The plan pledged lowered intra-ASEAN mobile roaming charges and increases in the level of peering among ASEAN internet service providers, among a number of other initiatives.

However, Pily Wong said he would like to see more pragmatic details explaining how the plan was to be implemented.

“What is the real action plan? What are the real measures? That’s what the ICT businesses really want to know,” he wrote.

“Let’s note that the private sector is the source of jobs and innovations.”

According to a Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications presentation dated earlier this month, Cambodia has 37 licensed internet Service Providers, of which 16 are in operation.

Chevron set for new gas extraction in Gulf

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Boomberg/ Ellie Dyer

Chevron Corp, the second-biggest United States oil company and operator of Cambodia’s off-shore Block A, may start producing natural gas at a new project in the Gulf of Thailand by the year-end, said Jim Blackwell, president for Asia-Pacific exploration and production.

The US$3.1 billion Platong Gas II will produce about 330 million cubic feet of gas a day, said Joseph Geagea, managing director for Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China.

That will boost Thailand’s gas output by more than 10 percent, he said at an event in Indonesia, to announce the completion of a gas-processing platform.

In 2009, Chevron produced 794 million cubic feet of gas a day in Thailand, about 27 percent of the country’s output, according to the company’s annual report.

The Platong Gas II project has an output capacity of 420 million cubic feet a day.

“The Platong gas project will significantly increase Thailand’s gas production to meet demand in the coming years,” said Norkun Sitthiphong, permanent secretary at Thailand’s Ministry of Energy. Cambodia’s Chevron-operated block in the Gulf is generally thought to be the Kingdom’s first chance at producing oil, with the government aiming for production to begin in 2012.

Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to take away Chevron’s licence if the 2012 production deadline was not met.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief

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Cellcard tuk-tuk advert complaint is driven off

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Samoeurn Sambath

A Cellcard television advertisement has raised the ire of Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association. The advert shows two foreigners travelling in a tuk-tuk, but Vorn Pao claimed the tourists were shown to be scared by the driving abilities of the tuk-tuk driver, who failed to abide by Cambodian traffic laws. However, the Ministry of Information has sent a document to Vorn Pao claiming the advert was beneficial for society, as it showed the improvements to standard of living brought by information and communication technology.

New exploration area set for OZ Minerals

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

Australian miner OZ Minerals has reached an agreement to explore the Mesam licence which adjoins its Okvau tenement in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province, its quarterly report released yesterday stated. Last year, OZ announced an inferred resource of 605,000 ounces of gold on the Okvau tenement. “Should results warrant it, OZ Minerals has an exclusive right to enter into a full joint venture to explore and develop the Mesam area,” it said in the results. OZ did not release the name of the owner of the Mesam licence.

Man About Town: 21 Jan 2011

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Peter Olszewski

McDermott goes to Beverly Hills
Siem Reap’s iconic Arkansas-reared temple photographer John McDermott returns to Los Angeles in triumph next month. McDermott worked for four years in the movie industry in LA before departing to Bangkok in 1993 to pursue a career as photographer.

Now he’s returning to LA briefly for an exhibition of his work from his book, Elegy: Reflections on Angkor, at the trendy Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Beverly Hills.

The gallery, which also has outlets in New York and Hong Kong, was established in 2000, and has a mission statement of “examining the exchange of ideas between Western and non-Western cultures”. It focuses “on developing exhibitions and hosting not-for-profit events that engage in spiritual, social and aesthetic dialogues”.

The Beverly Hills exhibition kicks off with a cocktail reception on February 17 and runs through to March 10.

It’s a gas
SOFITEL Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort is holding a launch with a difference on Monday morning.

The hotel is unveiling a new addition to its environment protection program – a waste recycling biogas machine, which it says is unique in Siem Reap and in line with the Accor hotel group’s “Earth Guest program”.

Call for books
GRACE House Community Centre in Kor Kranh village has opened a library and is raising funds to stock it with Khmer books, in preparation for eventually opening it as a lending library for the wider community.

The Siem Reap Book Centre, next to U-Care Pharmacy in the Pub Street precinct, has a list of books needed and the NGO hopes people will buy books from this list for the library.

Grace House has also expanded its vocational training service and is now teaching disadvantaged young men to be electricians. It’s also started a woodcraft school teaching wood-turning and scroll work
to villagers.

Cow bank swells
RONNIE Yimsut, US-based coordinator of the Cow Bank Project in Siem Reap, reports good news and bad news. The bad news is that one much-loved cow was killed by lighting late last year.

The good news is about good karma “interest earned” through the agency of copulating cows – about thirty calves are expected to be born shortly and entered into the Cow Bank’s ledger.

At present, the bank has 20 cows at Teukville, and 23 at Bakong.

Booze and pop thaw Korean tensions

Photo by: Peter Olszewski
The North Korean gals rock the stage at the Pyongyang Friendship Restaurant.

--------------------------------------------------------------There’s nothing like lashings of grog and beautiful gals to break down barriers

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Peter Olszewski

Siem Reap’s controversial North Korean Pyongyang Friendship Restaurant lived up to its name on Sunday night, in a bizarre, colourful buzz of boozy bonhomie.

This despite South Korean news reports that the restaurant, and a sister establishment in Siem Reap, were under siege and being boycotted in the wake of Korean political strife.

Earlier this month South Korean newspaper The Chosunilbo, reported: “The mood in Siem Reap is now desperate.”

The paper said a placard outside a South Korean restaurant criticising North Korea’s attacks had been torn down by seven people “who appeared to be North Korean agents”. It said the restaurants are suffering and “it seems that even the performances have stopped now there are no customers”.

That certainly wasn’t the case at the Pyongyang Friendship Restaurant on Sunday night, where the performance was in full swing, attended by a sizable contingent of South Koreans and two Cambodian tour guides.

It was with trepidation that I ventured to the restaurant with my partner, fearful that we were entering a far flung outpost of the Evil Empire peopled by diabolical secret agents.

The Vancouver Sun, reporting on the “Cambodia Restaurant Wars”, warned: “Here’s advice for anyone hankering for Korean food in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh or the tourist mecca of Siem Reap. Sit close to the door and with your back to the wall.” Holy mackerel!

Most web posts and articles about the North Korean restaurants are ominous, referring to them as “hard currency” establishments that “funnel” funds to keep the Evil Empire buoyant, with staff who are possibly “agents”.

The Washington Post’s online magazine Slate last year carried a sinister review of a sister restaurant in Phnom Penh. The article was dotted with disturbing descriptives such as “cold flood-lighting”, “no-camera policy”, “Orwellian tinge” and “authoritarian mood”.

This may have been accurate in Phnom Penh, but it certainly wasn’t so in Siem Reap.

The Pyongyang Friendship Restaurant was just plain friendly.

But it is a difficult restaurant for westerners in that the menu is in Korean only and none of the staff speak English or Khmer.

Photo by: Peter Olszewski

Musically talented waitresses.

However, a friendly manager appeared. He was quick to introduce himself as North Korean and waited for an instant to gauge the reaction. Then he produced a high-tech electronic dictionary, punched it with a little pointer, and informed my partner that the pictured fish dish she queried was the humble flatfish, sole.

My selection translated into seafood pancakes and, with the food choice out of the way – $30 for two including South Korean Cass beer – it was on with the show. And let’s face it, most foreigners, including myself, are not here for the food. We’re here for the experience, a vicarious thrill-seeking peek into a hidden world.

The show itself is fascinating albeit, from a western point of view, somewhat daggy. It revolves around the bevy of ivory-skinned North Korean beauties who double as waitresses. Indeed, according to Open Radio for North Korea, some may even be, gulp, agents.

The radio station said the waitresses were selected for family background, appearance, ability to dance and play a musical instrument, and university degree. Most are graduates of Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce and come from the ruling class.

Last July the radio station reported that one of the Siem Reap waitresses gained “near-celebrity” status in South Korea after a picture in which she resembles popular actress Kim Tae-hee featured on the internet.

The Friendship Restaurant show morphs through two phases: the girls stop waitressing duties and troop on stage performing a variety of dance and song numbers on a variety of instruments, including two electric guitars and an accordion.

At first the show is a photo fest – South Koreans rush to the edge of the stage to click away furiously.

Then they settle back in their seats and as their grog takes hold, the gals belt out anthemic ditties and pop songs which have a transformative effect.

Enmities are clearly set aside amid the rousing pop tunes – men rush on stage to grab a microphone to sing along while others come and bow and humbly offer money or flowers, eyes brim with nostalgic tears of unification, and it becomes a “hands across the sea” performance.

There’s nothing like lashings of grog, lilting melodies and beautiful gals to break down the barriers between people. While the governments come perilously close to mass slaughter, the people themselves reach out as if to say: “We are all one, we are all Koreans.”

The show is a quaint and sentimental goodwill mission, as south meets north in Siem Reap, and is one of those must-see-once occasions.

For us, a highlight of the evening was asking for a doggie bag. Three gorgeous gals from the Evil Empire stood looking at us and we sat looking at them, viewing each other like creatures from different planets. I said: “For dog, for dog,” making hand gestures of putting food in a bag. My Khmer partner said: “Woof, woof” making hand gestures of putting food in a bag. The North Korean gals said: “Oo gerdunk? Oo gerdunk?”

Suddenly a connection was made. A plastic bag appeared. Smiles and laughs and titters all around, and for one brief moment, before you could even say Dear Leader, we were at one with the universe. Or maybe it was just the booze.

Last 16 Cup ties kick off

Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Preah Khan Reach forward Khuon Laboravy is in the running for the Golden Boot award with 13 goals so far.

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

The 2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup competition welcomes the last 16 teams to Phnom Penh for the knockout rounds starting tomorrow. We preview the first four clashes at Olympic Stadium set for this weekend.

Prek Pra Keila v Battambang
Saturday January 22 - 2pm
Both teams see the best chance of claiming their first quarterfinals berth this year after previous defeats at this stage against top names. Battambang’s only appearance in the last 16 saw them concede an embarrassing 10 goals to no reply against Post Tel Club in 2009.

Prek Pra manager Sith Roset is confident his team will advance despite the suspension of defender Sos Hanafi. “Battambang won’t be a difficult obstacle [for us] because we know their tactics well after observing their last match against Build Bright United,” said Roset.

Midfielder Sen Soukey has been in sparkling form during the group stage, and will be a key player for Prek Pra.

Meanwhile, Bun Borann, general secretary of Battambang asserted that his young squad wouldn’t give their opponents an easy ride. “If Prek Pra play like they did against Banteay Meanchey, we could overcome them,” he said. “We have many young players with great speed.”

However, Battambang’s first choice goalkeeper will miss the tie after being sent off in the previous match.

Build Bright United v Rithy Sen
Saturday January 22 - 4:30pm
Progression to the quarterfinals seems a formality for Build Bright United, having done so on each of the four previous occasions, while Kampong Chhnang outfit Rithy Sen surprised everyone last season by eliminating Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 4-2.

BBU coach Meas Sam Oeurn is happy with the performance of his news recruits Keo Chea and Heng Sok Ly, with the latter leading the team’s scoring charts on 8 goals. “When I can not use Nuth Sinoun, Sok Ly is my best choice in the attack,” said the coach. “I won’t underestimate Rithy Sen, but I believe that we will win.”

Best goalkeeper award winner in 2009, Hem Simay, has recovered from a shoulder injury but the coach has voiced concerned over his weight.

Rithi Sen coach Tam Matt is hoping his side can produce another memorable upset.

“We will try to win the game, even if we are not 100 percent sure of victory,” he said, adding that midfielder Ouk Channarith was their star man.

San Osman will not feature against BBU tomorrow after suffering a injury to his left hand.

Preah Khan Reach v Neak Khiev
Sunday January 23 - 2pm
Things certainly haven’t been made easy for Neak Khiev as they are pitted against three-time Cup finalists Preah Khan Reach.

The Kampong Cham side showed potential in the first half of their group match against heavyweights Phnom Penh Crown before letting the floodgates open to lose 4-0.

“We did well in the group stage, so we will repeat it against Preah Khan Reach,” said Neak Khiev coach Vorn Vibol. “If Preah Khan Reach use their young squad against us, we will win the game.”

PKR General Secretary Ork Samnang said that the tie posed little problems for them. “We don’t worry at all about Neak Khiev,” he said. “We know well their weakness in attack and defence.”

More goals are expected from national team striker Khuon Laboravy, who amassed 13 in the group stage.

“He will be top scorer of the tournament if he keeps up his strong commitment,” added Samnang.

Phnom Penh Crown v Chhlam Samuth
Sunday January 23 - 4:30pm
Chhlam Samuth (formerly Phouchung Neak) will hope to claim sweet revenge over Phnom Penh Crown, who ousted them 1-0 in the exact same fixture last year.

In 2009, the Navy side reached the semifinals in their best Cup run to date, while reigning league champions Crown have yet to fail to make the last 4 in a Cup campaign.

Crown’s newly appointed head coach Bojan Hodak has returned to the Kingdom after missing all of the group matches while taking a coaching course in his homeland of Croatia. He offered a note of caution ahead of Sunday’s tie.

“We have to be careful. [Chhlam Samuth] gave Preah Khan Reach a hard time, only losing two-nil in the group stage. This is the Cup, and we all know that anybody can beat anyone else in a one-off game.”

However, the coach assured that everyone in his team were “fit and raring to go.”

There still remains some doubt over the eligibility to play of former National Defence Ministry players Khim Borey and Suong Virak, who were forced to sit out of the group games due of a Cambodian Football Federation enforced ban.

Tieng Tiny, Sun Sopanha and Chan Chaya will rejoin the squad on Sunday after serving one-match suspensions in the previous match. Hitman Kouch Sokumpheak will be looking to add to his eight-goal personal tally.

Chhlam Samuth coach Chay Sangha recognised his side faced a formidable challenge in overcoming the two-time Cup winners, especially considering they will be without three key players – two with injury and one suspended.

“However, I expect a 50 percent that we can win,” he said. “We’ve worked hard. My striker Pov Samnang, who has now seven goals, will make it difficult for Phnom Penh Crown.”

Basketballer from Austria shoots for Cambodian national team

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:00 Ken Gadaffi

Austrian-based Cambodian basketball player Steffan Doll-Therro Sao arrives in Phnom Penh this weekend in an attempt to break into the national team ahead of the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia.

Dolli, as his friends call him, currently plays for Neustadt team FCN Baskets in the Austrian 1st Division and said he would relish the opportunity to represent his fatherland in international competitions.

“It will be great for me to come back and play for my country,” said the Austrian born 29-year-old, who plays as a guard.

Sao is hoping to impress national team selectors while on a vacation to the Kingdom, where he will also help his parents provide wells for the less privileged in the provinces.

He plans to spend three weeks in Cambodia before returning to Austria, where he hopes to sign a new deal for newly promoted side Vorchdorf Giants.

“I have been playing team league for 16 years, and I am really hoping I can represent my country one day,” he stated.

“I heard about the SEA Games and I have been told that basketball will be staged this time around [after being pulled at the 2009 tournament in Laos]. I am so excited, and I hope to meet the national team selectors to see if they consider me good enough,” added the 1.79-metre tall prospect.

Meanwhile, national team coach Austin Koledoye said that the basketball camp is open for all Cambodians, home and abroad, who can prove themselves on the court.

“We are not shutting the doors to any player. We welcome any one who can make the team stronger,” he said.

One ride, one dollar

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Will Baxter

A horse looks on as two tourists converse in the evening near a pond at Angkor Wat.

On his mettle

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Heng Chivoan

Chhim Sarath, a 30-year-old jeweller, uses a blowtorch to shape a platinum bracelet in Borey Sopheak Mongkol 2 market, in Damnak Trayeung village, in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district.

Call of the wild

via CAAI

Friday, 21 January 2011 15:01 Heng Chivoan

A monkey scurries along a telephone wire near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

Monk accused of sexual assault

via CAAI

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A local monk is facing some serious charges, accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl. Investigators believe the man knew the girl from the Buddhist temple where he practices.

Wat Angkorchum, Por Venh, 41, of Spring, is accused of sexual assault of a child. According to court documents, a 16-year-old girl told a Harris County Sheriff's deputy that Venh had sex with her from mid-June to mid-September of last year.

The girl reportedly told authorities that she was in love with Venh, and she's become depressed because he is believed to be involved with another woman.

Bail for the case has been set at $20,000, but Venh is not in custody. His attorney reportedly told authorities Venh has left the country and is believed to have returned to his native land of Cambodia.

Cornell grad envisions hospitality home for orphans

via CAAI

20 January 2011 7:24 AM

By Jeff Higley
Editorial Director

If Ben Justus has his way, underprivileged children around the world will help the hospitality industry fill its growing need for employees.

Justus isn’t your average 25-year-old Cornell Hotel School graduate. He has devoted a good chunk of his time after graduating in 2008 to establishing EGBOK Mission. The organization’s goal is to give children around the world the training and tools they need to work in the hospitality sector so they can support themselves and their native communities. The EGBOK acronym stands for Everything is Going to Be OK.

Ben Justus, a 2008 graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, teaches students during one of the sessions of EGBOK Mission’s hospitality program aimed at underprivileged children in Cambodia.

Justus has spent the last 18 months in Cambodia—he’s living at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phenom Penh—getting the mission stabilized.

The roots for the mission started when Justus was a junior at Cornell and went to Cambodia for the first time as a part of the school’s Semester at Sea (cruise ship) program.

“I’ve seen all of these hospitality cultures around the world and most of them, particularly in Cambodia, weren’t hiring local people,” Justus said by phone from Cambodia. “Cambodians are naturally gracious people and hospitality comes natural to them, but hospitality companies were still hiring workers from outside the country.”

The mission originally was going to be a short-term project in Cambodia, but as awareness and results have grown, Justus is looking to take it to Peru this summer. In addition, he is hoping to launch a program in inner-city Chicago sooner than later.

Putting hotel knowledge to work

The ambitious young philanthropist worked for a commercial real-estate company upon graduation, but said he felt unfulfilled.

Veasna, one of the students participating in EGBOK Mission’s hospitality program.

“Many Cornell (Hotel School) grads leave their passion because doors open in other industries,” Justus said. “I wanted to use my skill and education to help others.”

Most of the volunteers he utilizes are recent graduates from or current students at Cornell, but he is reaching out to other hospitality schools. There are no paid employees for EGBOK Mission.

The mission teaches its own hospitality curriculum during a three-month period. It currently has 75 students involved in the program.

The curriculum includes a month of teaching hospitality related English terms and two months of industry-related curriculum that covers a broad number of topics.

“We want the students to find something that interests them, that’s why it’s so broad,” Justus said. “There’s a lot of hands-on learning to expose them to as many potential jobs as possible.”

The students listen to more than two dozen guest speakers, visit tourist sites and hotel and other facilities to help understand the broad spectrum of the industry.

“Once you start working with the students, you really understand how you are helping,” he said. “(All the volunteers) get personally invested in the project.”

EGBOK Mission students come from a variety of fractured backgrounds. “We work with students that come from the streets, students whose parents were murdered or are in jail or whose parents have HIV or AIDS,” Justus said.

That 70% of the mission’s students are orphans creates the need for housing, which the mission provides. It partners with other established organizations to help get what it needs.

The mission’s work doesn’t end when the three months are over: Students who finish the course will earn funding to attend a hospitality vocational school.

“Once they graduate, we will fund them for a year to live,” Justus said. “From there we will supplement their work with more education so they can advance and become managers.”

Funding source

The money for the mission currently comes from individual donors in the United States. The group also conducts fundraisers and a large amount of its funding comes from silent auctions.

“Our money goes so far here,” Justus said. “We’re able to help a huge number of students with not a lot of money.”

Chharan, one of the students participating in EGBOK Mission’s hospitality program.

He knows the mission will eventually have a payroll, which is why he’s trying to spread the word now.

“In Cambodia, tourism is one of the few growing industries,” he said. “The students can make decent livings.”

Justus’ long-term plans are as ambitious as his early ones.

“We want to start a domestic program in Chicago to work with at-risk students there,” he said. “We want to ultimately create restaurants and possibly a hotel in the U.S. as learning centers. We’d like teaching facilities so we can bring students in to train, and then help place them into internships and jobs.”

Justus is quick to downplay the personal sacrifice he has made to get the mission off the ground. He left a good job with medical benefits and a 401(k) plan to live in an orphanage with 100 children.

“Sometimes I think I am crazy for doing it, but when you work with the students and see what they’re doing, it’s worth it,” he said.

If you’re interest in hearing more, you can catch up with Justus when he speaks at the annual Hotel Ezra Cornell event in April.