Thursday, 17 February 2011

Thai group postpones investor roadshow

via CAAI

Thursday, 17 February 2011 15:00 Soeun Say

THAILAND’S Board of Investment has indefinitely postponed an investment road show in Cambodia over safety concerns, according to the Bangkok Post.

The newspaper reported yesterday the organisation had planned to take Thai investors looking for opportunities in Cambodia on a tour later this month, quoting BoI secretary-general Atchaka Sibunruang.

“The road-show plan has to be indefinitely postponed because Thai investors were worried about their safety,” she said, citing border issues.

A large number of investors had earlier expressed interested in the trip, particularly in the garment industry, she added.

Yesterday, officials at the Council for Development of Cambodia and Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh said they had not heard about the visit.

Jiranun Wongmongkol, commercial counselor at the Thai Embassy, said: “Normally, if [Thai investors] want to look for opportunities to do business here they must to cooperate with me.” Other business groups’ plans are still set. A Thai trade fair is set to launch in the capital today.

Building up a fishy business

Fish are seen for sale at a market in Siem Reap in November. A new saltwater fish reproduction centre will soon be launched near the coast. Photo by: Will Baxter

I have been waiting for this centre for six years ... the centre will produce young fish that will help raise my profits

via CAAI

Thursday, 17 February 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

SIHANOUKVILLE’S Nautisco Seafood Manufacturing Ltd plans to increase its international monthly exports by half, while the Kingdom prepares to launch its first saltwater fish reproduction centre near the coastal city.

Nautisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sam Peou said the expected rise comes after two new seafood export contracts were agreed with Japanese firms.

The firm will begin exporting to Honda Suisane and Kyokuyo companies beginning next month, enabling Nautisco’s total exports to rise by half to 76 tonnes per month.

“Shrimp exports will gradually increase in the coming years because Cambodia’s shrimp are popular among international buyers,” he said.

Located in Preah Sihanouk province’s Steung Hav district, the US$3 million Nautisco plant can currently process 15 tonnes of shrimp a day.

The company is seeking foreign investment to build a $15 million shrimp farm on 200 hectares of land to provide a source for future exports.

“We plan to sell more shrimp to international markets, if we can collect more shrimp from the community or establish our shrimp farm,” he said.

The firm’s current deals see it exporting 30 tonnes of shrimp per month to Hanwa Company of Japan, and 20 tonnes to South Korea’s Wooil PS Corporation.

Fisheries Administration Deputy Director Sam Nouv said there is increasing demand for Cambodian shrimp from international buyers, but added a constraint came as most fishermen caught shrimp in the shallow waters near the coast.

“In order to increase shrimp production to sustain exports, the fishery administration has encouraged farmers as well as private companies to establish more farms,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cambodia plans to launch its first saltwater fish reproduction centre in Preah Sihanouk province in June this year, according to Sam Nuov, deputy director of the Fisheries Administration.

Funded through Japanese government aid, the $10 million centre will raise sea bass and grouper, as well as shrimp, crab, and lobster, to sell to farmers in coastal areas, he said. “Under this project, we hope Cambodia will be able to double its current production of sea fish,” he said.

The centre will also reduce the cost of fish imports, he added.

“Farmers in the saltwater fishing community will generate more income by purchasing young fish from the centre.”

Angkor Shrimp Farming Company Manager Ung Puth Molika said she welcomed the centre’s launch, adding it would be easier and cheaper to buy locally sourced young than ordering from abroad.

“I have been waiting for this centre for six years ... I hope the centre will produce young fish that will help raise my profits, rather than importing young fish, which can be nearly half dead when they arrive.”

The firm currently imports its young fish from Thailand, she added.

Technology spreads in Kingdom’s rural areas

Nhek Kosal Vithyea speaks at an ICT workshop at NagaWorld yesterday. Photo by: Marisa Reichert

via CAAI

Thursday, 17 February 2011 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

ALTHOUGH telecommunication technology is spreading throughout Cambodia, rural areas are lagging behind the rest of the Kingdom, experts said yesterday.

“Cambodia has abundant use of mobile phones, particularly in Phnom Penh, but in rural areas there is not yet always a functioning telecommunication network,” said National ICT Communication Technology Development Authority board member Nhek Kosal Vithyea.

Speaking at a policy workshop on rural ICT development, held at Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld hotel yesterday, the former director general of Telecom Cambodia said the spread of technology was important for economic growth as well as supporting transparency and accountability.

The number of fixed-line telephones has long lagged the number of mobile phone phones in the Kingdom.

However, statistics showed rapid growth for fixed-line phones last year following several years of little growth.

In 2010, the Kingdom had 358,850 fixed-line subscribers, compared with 42,000 in 2009, and 45,000 in 2005, according to ministry statistics. Commentators said those living in rural areas contributed to this.

“So people in rural areas are using this [technology],” said Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the ministry’s Directorate of Telecommunications Policies Regulation. His name has appeared on emails leaked to The Post requesting Internet Service Providers to block certain websites.

Ministry officials added that growth in the number of fixed lines was due to increased popularity of a Viettel product – the Methome – that counts as a fixed line device in statistics but wirelessly runs off of mobile towers.

International Telecommunications Union ICT specialist Wisit Atipayakoon said some of the roadblocks to spreading ICT in Cambodia were well understood – including limited availability of electricity and low penetration rates of many technologies.

But the Kingdom’s young generation was keen to makes use of the latest technology, helping rural development, he said.

Ox races draw eyes to school

Racer Chab Ra trains his oxen for up to a month before each race. Photo by: ROTH MEAS

Plumes and carvings decorate carts. Photo by: ROTH MEAS

Teams of decorated oxen wait before the event’s start. Photo by: ROTH MEAS

via CAAI

Thursday, 17 February 2011 15:00 Roth Meas

FOUR hundred people gathered to celebrate the end of the rice harvest with an ox-cart race in a field near Prek Ta Ok village, Kampong Speu province, about 40 kilometres from Phnom Penh.

Besides the fun of seeing the beasts dressed up in embroidered headdresses, some sporting elaborate plumes and Cambodian flags, the event had a serious purpose.

Race organiser Pok Saoly says he wants the races to attract people to his village so they can see for themselves the problems that local children face.

The nearest public school is three kilometers across a muddy path that floods in the rainy season, he points out. So last year he established two unofficial classes in his village to teach local children about Khmer literature and basic English.

About 63 children from the age of four to 14 come to his classes, so he saw the ox-cart races as a way to draw attention to their efforts in organising an unofficial school.

“I don’t just plan to hold ox-cart races to attract more visitors to the village, but also stage other interesting events during the year. When outsiders come, they can see our children and help support their education,” he says.

About 20 oxen were dressed up in their finery for the races last Sunday, which coincided with the village’s rice harvest festival.

Cart racer Chab Ra, 39, says he loves racing his oxen, which he has taken to run in events all around Kampong Speu province. Races in his village started only in 2007, but he has taken part each year since.

“We train our oxen to run faster for about a month before the race, and we even sharpen up their horns a little to attract more interest from the audience.”

He sees the races as not just entertainment, but a boost to his income. “Now that we’ve held races in our villages for four years, the price of oxen has risen as people like to buy fast and healthy animals. One pair of oxen can cost up to US$3,000,” says Chab Ra.

Race committee member Phat Meas, 53, says that the race is reviving old traditions that disappeared during the Khmer Rouge period in the 1970s. “It’s a legacy handed down from our ancestors. We raise animals and we like racing them. My father and my uncles were always ox-cart racers.”

He says his village doesn’t have tractors yet, so oxen play a very important role in transport and farm work. Most families raise three or four cows, he explains.

After the weekend’s events, Prek Ta Ok’s ox racers can relax until it’s time to start training their animals for the next races in the village, scheduled for April 13, during the Khmer New Year holidays.

Carestream donates imager to Cambodian hospital

via CAAI

Rochester Business Journal
February 16, 2011

Carestream Health Inc. has donated a laser imager to a Cambodian hospital that provides free medical care.

The Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Phnom Penh received the Carestream Dryview 5850 Laser Imager, which provides affordable, laser-quality x-ray film printing, and is designed to serve radiology departments, imaging centers and small clinics, Carestream officials said.

The mission of the Sihanouk Hospital Center provides education and clinical training of medical professionals, while delivering 24-hour high-quality, free medical care for the poor and disadvantaged in Cambodia.

“We are moved by the tremendous generosity displayed by Carestream Health, in giving us a brand new laser printer to support our work,” said Kevin O’Brien, executive director of the hospital. “One third of the people of Cambodia live on a dollar a day or less. Thanks to Carestream Health, we are the first facility in the country equipped to provide high-resolution printed images, completely free of charge.”

Cambodia turns to Asean

via CAAI

Thailand sticks to line of opposing outsiders

Published: 17/02/2011

Thailand has rebuffed a plan by Cambodia to ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to send observers to monitor the shaky ceasefire along the border.

Hor Namhong: Thailand ignored UN

The move comes less than a week before foreign ministers from the Asean member countries meet in Jakarta where they will discuss the border spat.

There has also been an upturn in fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops at Phu Makhua mountain in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province, which is part of the area under dispute.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters in Phnom Penh yesterday on his return from the United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday night that Cambodia would lodge a request for Asean observers at the Jakarta meeting.

The meeting on Tuesday will be chaired by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who also attended the UNSC meeting on Monday along with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Hor Namhong said Thailand had ignored the Security Council's call on Monday for restraint and that it was necessary for Asean to step in to ensure peace on the border near the 11th- century Preah Vihear temple.

"We will ask Asean observers to come to the Preah Vihear area to make sure that a permanent ceasefire holds," he said. "Let's see whether the Thais accept or not."

Mr Kasit's secretary, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, dismissed Cambodia's call for Asean involvement. He said the plan would be shot down when it was put on the negotiating table.

"Mr Hor Namhong failed to convince the UNSC to send its observers to the [disputed] area," Mr Chavanond said.

"That's why he keeps trying to throw the matter to Asean to take it up."

Thailand was confident the regional grouping would not intervene in the dispute but would act as a facilitator in putting an end to the border conflict between Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

Thailand and Cambodia disagree on how the border conflict should be resolved. Thailand insists on bilateral talks while Cambodia envisages a role for outside parties.

Thailand has proposed that the problem be thrashed out at the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission meeting next Sunday. But Cambodia appears noncommittal.

"If Cambodia rejects the bilateral channel, I can't see any other mechanisms to replace it," Mr Chavanond said.

The two countries accused each other at the Security Council meeting in New York on Monday of instigating the fighting on Feb 4 and several more clashes after that. They are expected to trade accusations again at the meeting of Asean foreign ministers.

The UN security body has called for a permanent ceasefire and rejected Cambodia's call for UN intervention and peacekeepers to be stationed at the disputed frontier.

Mr Kasit, who will lead the Thai delegation to the Indonesian capital, will brief Defence Minster Prawit Wongsuwon on the outcome of the Security Council meeting.

Gen Prawit and Cambodian Defence Minister Teah Banh will decide whether there will be a permanent ceasefire in line with the call by the Security Council, Mr Chavanond said.

The UN has ordered its six staff to leave the Cambodian province of Koh Kong opposite Trat province because of the border skirmishes.

UN security officials told staff by email that travel to Koh Kong town was restricted "until further notice".

The UN email said up to 70% of the town's population had left because of the border tensions.

The UN has also evacuated staff from areas near Preah Vihear temple.

Refugees From Preah Vihear Temple Area Encounter Difficulties

Cambodia seeks Asean help

 via CAAI

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Nation
Published on February 17, 2011

P Penh wants association to dispatch monitors but Thailand rejects call as border clash drags on

Cambodia will request that Asean send observers to monitor and ensure a permanent ceasefire in the disputed border areas adjacent to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear, as border skirmishes with Thailand showed no signs of ending.

"I will ask for Asean observers in the area to control and ensure a permanent ceasefire," Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday upon his arrival from New York after the meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Cambodian-Thai border conflict.

"We will wait and see if Thailand accepts this suggestion or not, we will know the real ambition of Thailand," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Thailand immediately rejected Cambodia's idea, saying it was unnecessary as the border conflict between the two neighbouring countries was not so complicated.

Asean has called a meeting of its foreign ministers next Tuesday in Jakarta to discuss the border dispute between the regional grouping's two members.

The Security Council in its meeting on Monday urged the parties to establish a "permanent ceasefire" and fully implement it through effective negotiations. The UN body supported Asean's role in seeking a solution to end the conflict and urged Thailand and Cambodia to cooperate with the organisation in this regard.

It is not clear yet how the current chairman of Asean, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, will conduct the meeting next week.

Thailand expects the meeting will be an informal one to exchange views and information on the situation, said the foreign minister's secretary, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut.

"We have a very firm stance about solving this issue through bilateral mechanism and don't want to make the matter more complicated," he said.

"What the two countries need to do is just simply stop firing and sit face-to-face to solve the problem."

Thailand will not propose anything at the Jakarta meeting but merely present facts, listen to the views of members and create an atmosphere for reconciliation to pave the way for bilateral talks, Chavanond said.

However, Cambodia expects Asean to take some action to ensure peace in the disputed area.

"From now on, I will ask the Asean chairman or representative to join every meeting between Cambodia and Thailand," Hor Namhong said. "Even at the meeting of the Cambodia-Thailand Joint Boundary Committee, there must be a representative from Asean, because we have negotiated a lot with Thailand - from 2008 to 2010 - it was useless.

"The negotiations reach an agreement, but they don't implement it, making the excuse that it has not been passed by their Parliament," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the boundary at Preah Vihear for a long time. The current spate of violence erupted in 2008 when Phnom Penh managed to get the Hindu temple listed as a World Heritage Site despite Thailand's disagreement.

Cambodia has, since then, tried to raise the conflict at international forums, including the UN and Asean, seeking help from the organisations to ensure peace in the area.

The issue reached the UN and Asean after a heavy border skirmish from February 4-7, which killed at least 10 people, including three civilians on both sides. Both sides accused each other of starting the fire and invading the territory of the other.

"If Thailand accuses Cambodia of invasion and firing first, it should not reject observers to ensure a permanent ceasefire," Hor Namhong said.

The fighting has continued off and on. Another clash took place in the early hours of yesterday as troops from both sides exchanged small arms fire at Phu Ma Khua hill, a few kilometres west of Preah Vihear. There was no report of any casualties.

Cambodian troops failed at several attempts to break through the Thai front line at the area because of strong resistance, Army spokesman Sansern Kaeowkamnerd said.

Hor Namhong accused Thailand of aggression, saying that "despite the UNSC issuing a statement calling for a permanent ceasefire, Thailand still violated it and opened fire into Cambodian territory".

On Tuesday night, "they still shot ... It was strong, they fired mortars and threw many grenades into our land, and almost every night since before the meeting of the UNSC, they have opened fire and thrown grenades into our land," he said.

Meanwhile Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan is trying to engage in negotiations with his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh to forge a permanent ceasefire as suggested by the UN, Chavanond said.

Thailand should accept mediation to solve border dispute with Cambodia

via CAAI

by Sinfah Tunsarawuth

BANGKOK, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Thailand should accept a third- party mediation to help solve its border dispute with Cambodia as bilateral talks seemed to have failed to make any progress, a key academic has said.

"It has been proved that bilateral negotiation between the two countries doesn't work," Akkharaphong Khamkhun, who teaches Southeast Asian affairs at the Thammasat University, told Xinhua News Agency in an interview.

Akkharaphong said he saw Monday's meeting at the United Nations Security Council in New York on the dispute, which has recently raised global concern with the eruption of a series of deadly crossfire between Thai and Cambodian soldiers across the border, as already an intervention by a third party.

"For Thailand, I don't see any reason that we have to be scared of a third-party (mediation)," he said.

The government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has insisted that the border dispute be solved through existing bilateral mechanism while Phnom Penh seems to prefer mediation by the UN or the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, as the current ASEAN chair, has called a meeting of the regional grouping's foreign ministers in Jakarta on Feb. 22 to discuss the Thai- Cambodian border dispute, which is currently involved with a 4.6-square kilometer plot of land, claimed by both countries, around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Akkharaphong, who is attached to Thammasat's Pridi Banomyong International College, suggested an intervention as high as the world court.

He said if the Abhisit government believed it had strong evidence to argue for its case, it should not be afraid of having the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on the issue.

"Why don't we just bring it back to the ICJ again?" he said. "We need someone to be a mediator who can find out the truth."


Akkharaphong said the ICJ ruling in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple, straddling the two countries' common border, belongs to Cambodia was a "wounded history" for many Thai people.

"People always dream of getting it back," he said.

But he said the Thai government should not give Thai people a false hope that the 1962 ruling could be overturned.

Other academics and observers have also remarked that the Abhisit government should not let the Thai public believe that the enlisting of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site could be reversed either.

The Abhisit government disagreed with the enlisting as it was done unilaterally by Phnom Penh on July 7, 2008.

Phnom Penh is now trying to have the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and World Heritage committee to endorse its plan for the administering of the 4.6-square kilometer piece of land.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit said on Feb. 13 that the UNESCO could help alleviate the border tension between Thailand and Cambodia by not proceeding with any decision on the land administering.


Akkharaphong said the border dispute has been used by politicians of both nations as a nationalism ploy for political gains, though in different manners.

He said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has used the nationalism issue to fight Thailand as a foreign nation, while the issue is being fought domestically in Thailand between Abhisit and the nationalistic "yellow-shirt" People's Alliance for Democracy.

PAD leaders, calling for Abhisit to get tougher with Phnom Penh on the border dispute, wanted the government to scrap an existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the two countries in 2000 as the framework for settling the two countries' disputed border areas.

They also wanted the government to move out Cambodians who are occupying the disputed areas, and the government to pull out as a party to the World Heritage Convention.

Abhisit has rejected all the demands, saying that it would further complicate the conflict.

PAD supporters, who have been occupying a strip of the historical Ratchadamnern Road in the capital since Jan. 25, have reiterated that they would not retreat until their demands are met.

But Akkharaphong, 39, said younger Thai people were not as concerned about sovereignty over border land as their older nationalistic compatriots were.

"I think new generation of people like me .. does not really care about how many pieces of land we will lose," he said. "But they think about how we will cooperate or study each other."

Editor: Xiong Tong

Rights group condemns "online censorship" by Cambodian government

via CAAI

Feb 16, 2011

Phnom Penh - A human rights group on Wednesday condemned the apparent blocking of several websites critical of the Cambodian government, saying the move marked 'a significant milestone in the march toward a more oppressive media environment.'

Naly Pilorge, the director of the LICADHO rights group, said the denials by internet service providers that they were doing the government's bidding were 'not fooling anyone.'

The providers 'can play with words all they want, but at the end of the day, this still amounts to censorship,' she said.

The government has repeatedly said it has not ordered the providers to block access to websites, including KI-Media, a news aggregator and comment site that strongly favours the political opposition and is often critical of the ruling party.

But several websites critical of the government have gone offline in recent weeks. Service providers have officially denied blocking the sites or being asked to do so by the government.

However, this week, one provider carried a message stating that access to KI-Media had been blocked 'as ordered by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications of Cambodia.'

The Phnom Penh Post newspaper on Wednesday quoted So Khun, the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, again denying the government had issued any order to block KI-Media.

But the paper carried minutes of a February 10 meeting that showed So Khun had asked mobile phone operators to help block traffic to some websites.

'[So Khun] made a request to all operators to cooperate in curbing some websites that affect Cambodian morality and tradition and the government through using the internet,' the newspaper said, quoting the minutes.

Late last year, a senior official told Radio Free Asia that the government would shut down KI-Media by the end of the year. That statement came days after the website published articles that were critical of him and other members of the government.

KI-Media is a controversial and at times vitriolic site, listing opposition politicians as 'heroes' and a number of ruling party members, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, as 'traitors.'

The censorship row comes as the UN special envoy for human rights, Surya Subedi, started his fourth trip to Cambodia this week.

Official figures showed Cambodia had nearly 175,000 internet subscribers at the end of 2010, a rapid increase from 30,000 the previous year.

Thai-Cambodian Troops Clash Continue

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Feb 16 (Bernama) -- The Thai-Cambodian troop clashes at the border continued into the second day Wednesday, frustrating the aspirations of the Security Council for a permanent ceasefire.

Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Wednesday, the Thai base at Phu Ma Khua in Si Sa Ket province, near the disputed border area, was under attack by Cambodian troops about 2am.

"They used mortars and rocket-propelled-grenades, forcing the Thai troops to retaliate," he said.

He said they attacked again the same base using hand grenades at 3.50am and the clashes ended about 5.30am, adding that no casualties were reported in both clashes.

The Cambodian troops have been attacking the base since Tuesday with three clashes reported at 5am, 8pm and 10pm, leaving a Thai soldier seriously wounded.

The United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Monday, attended by foreign ministers from both countries, urged the two parties to establish a permanent ceasefire and resolve the situation through dialogue.

The four-day clashes at the disputed border area ended on Feb 7, when both sides agreed to a ceasefire after the loss of 10 lives from both sides.

The border dispute involved both nations claiming an area of 4.6sq km surrounding the 1,000-year-old Preah Vihear Hindu Temple as the area has yet to be demarcated, including access route to the temple.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple was located in Cambodia and it was listed as a world heritage site by Unesco in 2008.

Prior to this year's clashes, three clashes were reported - July 15, 2008, October 2008 and April 3, 2009 - since the inscription of the temple on the world heritage list.

Bangkok had wanted Unesco to reconsider the listing, citing it as the source of tension at the border as the area had yet to be demarcated.

Phnom Penh, on the other hand, claimed that Bangkok's claim of the area was based on unilaterally drawn map and had committed armed aggression.

Both nations inked a memorandum of understanding on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary in 2000, long before the listing took place.

The Thai-Cambodia Joint Border Committee (JBC) could not move its survey and demarcation task forward for areas adjacent to the temple since its last meeting in Phnom Penh in April 2009, because the Thai Parliament was still considering the minutes of the (JBC) meetings.

During the seven-day ceasefire recently, both nations built up their forces near the border with additional troops and heavy weapons.

Bangkok dispatched an additional 20,000 troops and dozens of tanks to the border while news reports from Phnom Penh also indicated the mobilisation of a similar size of additional troops.

Hope for a permanent ceasefire still exists as the Asean foreign ministers meet in Jakarta next Tuesday to discuss the latest development affecting their two members Thailand and Cambodia.

Accusations fly over new skirmish

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong speaks to reporters following his return from the United States today.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 20:22 Cheang Sokha

Cambodia and Thailand today accused each other of violating a permanent ceasefire proposed by the United Nations Security Council on Monday, both pointing the finger for a series of skirmishes late on Tuesday and early this morning.

Speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport after returning from New York, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong alleged Thailand opened fire on Cambodian positions with mortars and grenades.

“This is a violation [of the ceasefire],” Hor Namhong said.

“The shooting last night and this morning abused the recommendations of the UNSC.”

In its session on Monday, the 15-member council urged the two parties to “exercise maximum constraint” while continuing to work through bilateral and regional channels to solve the dispute.

It rejected Cambodia’s call to deploy UN peacekeepers and urged both sides to honour the ceasefire.

At least 10 people were killed and dozens injured on both sides during four days of clashes close to Preah Vihear temple during February 4-7.

The skirmishes were just the latest in a series of firefights that have broken out in the area sporadically since July 2008, when UNESCO listed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

In a statement today, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thai forces fired grenades and 81mm mortars into the Phnom Trop area close to Preah Vihear between 9:00pm on Tuesday and 5:00am yesterday.

It said Thai troops were injured when their grenades hit tree branches and bounced back towards their positions.

“This violation of the ceasefire by Thai armed forces clearly shows that the real intention behind Thailand’s insistence on resolving the matter bilaterally is to use its overwhelming superior military forces to take over Cambodian territory in the vicinity of the temple of Preah Vihear,” read the statement.

It added that Cambodian troops did not respond to the Thai “provocation”.

Thailand has also accused Cambodia of triggering the skirmish.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman for the Royal Thai Army, said today that Cambodian soldiers initiated a series of attacks against a Thai outpost at Phu Ma Khua but were repulsed, according to a report in the Bangkok Post. There were no casualties, he said.

The Nation reported that five Thai soldiers were injured during a skirmish that lasted from 5:00am to 7:30am this morning.

One of them was seriously wounded and was rushed to a hospital in nearby province of Ubon Ratchathani, the paper reported.

Hor Namhong said that at the upcoming ASEAN foreign ministers meeting, to be held in Jakarta on Tuesday, he will request that the bloc send observers to guarantee the ceasefire.

“When there is the meeting in Jakarta, I will request observers from ASEAN to monitor the ceasefire.

“Whether Thailand accepts or not we will see,” he said.

“Thailand accused Cambodia of invading them and opening fire first at them so why is Thailand afraid of receiving observers.”

Following the clashes today, military commanders from both sides met for about two hours at Phnom Trop, agreeing on seven points including a cessation of nighttime attacks, according to one soldier who gave his name only as Chamroeun.

“It is hard to believe the Thai side,” he said. “They are unfaithful.”

Following the recent border flare-up, the UN has withdrawn six staff from Koh Kong town, around eight kilometres from the Thai border, according to an internal email obtained today.

“Kindly be advised that travel to Koh Kong is currently restricted for all UN staff until further notice,” the email stated, adding that up to 70 percent of the town’s population had left due to recent tensions.

A UN spokesman said today that the organisation does not comment on staff security and safety.


Tangled web revealed

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 20:03 Thomas Miller

The government requested that 10 internet service providers block several sites earlier this month, according to a leaked email, despite claims from officials that no such order exists.

In the email, obtained today by The Post, Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the Directorate of Telecommunications Policy Regulation at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, wrote to 10 local ISPs to thank them for their efforts to block a series of sites.

“I am writing to extend my appreciation to you all for your cooperation with MPTC,” Sieng Sithy said in the email, which was sent to the ISPs Ezecom, Metfone, Citylink, Digi, AngkorNet, WiCam, TC, Camnet, Online and Camintel.

The email listed a series of popular antigovernment blog sites that were targeted by the MPTC, including KI-Media and several of its mirror sites, Khmerization and the website of several cartoonists including Sacrava.

“Again and again [sic], In case of not well cooperation is your own responsibility. Hightly [sic] appreciate for your cooperation,” the email stated.

He explicitly named three ISPs – WiCAM, TeleSurf and Hello – who had not yet blocked the sites and urged them to do so.

“We found that you are not yet taken an action, so please kindly take immediate action,” Sieng Sithy said.

The email referred to a February 10 meeting between ISPs and MPTC officials, during which Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun asked for “cooperation” in blocking access to several unnamed sites, according to official minutes.

“In the meeting, His Excellency said that the Royal Government did not have a principle of blocking some websites, but His Excellency made a request to all operators to cooperate in curbing some websites that affect Khmer morality and tradition and the government through using the internet,” say minutes kept by the ministry, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Sieng Sithy, who declined to comment today, also attached to the message a “report on observing the website KI”.

So Khun today maintained his position that the government has no policy to censor websites.

“We don’t have any policy to shut down, to close the sites,” he said. “Sometimes … there is a problem with the ISP.”

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the reported blockage was most likely a public relations strategy employed by the bloggers.

“I think this is the way KI-Media advertised their group or the strategy of ISP to be known,” he wrote in an email.

“It’s a nonsense that you ask only one ISP to block a website.

‘‘If the government decide to block it the order must be to all ISP.”

Internet users have reported that they could not access the site KI-Media through at least four ISPs: Online, WiCam, Metfone and Ezecom.

On Monday, WiCam users told The Post that they were unable to access KI-Media, which was replaced by a message, signed by “WiCam Tech Support” saying the site had been “blocked as ordered” by MPTC.

The message has since been changed and now states: “the requested URL could not be retrieved”.

Employees of two ISPs confirmed today they had received the email request from Sieng Sithy. Sok Channda, CEO of Cambodia Data Communications, which operates MekongNet and AngkorNet, said she had received the email, but no official letter from the government.

“We work on the letter, not email.

“If the government orders, they send us a letter,” she said.

“We do business under the government and the government allows us the license… We must follow but we cannot follow just email or phone call.”

Support staff at Online said they were not blocking any sites.

“We don’t block any websites but our ISP cannot access them. Maybe it’s related to authorisation from KI-Media,” she said.

Paul Blanche-Horgan, CEO of Ezecom, said today he had not seen the Ministry’s email.

He said the reported blockage was still a technical problem, as he has said previously, but didn’t know when it would be fixed.

“It’s still the same answer,” he said.

KI-Media is maintained by several domestic and overseas bloggers who aggregate Cambodia-related news articles with a mix of political commentary and satirical cartoons.

The human rights group Licadho issued a statement today condemning the “ongoing censorship of the Internet in Cambodia”.

“The internet was the only audio or visual media not fully controlled by the government.

“The censoring of controversial Web sites marks a significant milestone in the march toward a more oppressive media environment,” said Licadho president Pung Chhiv Kek.

Licadho said its staff had sent “repeated requests” to Ezecom once various websites became inaccessible starting February 10, but Ezecom had not resolved the issue as of Tuesday.

Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, said there was little effective difference for companies between an order and a request from the government, but that ISPs should choose to provide open access.

“It’s not up to the company to designate what its paying clients can view and cannot view,” she said.

“The company’s responsibility is to provide the service and that means a free internet.”


Curtain falls on Sambo

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 20:48 Adam Miller and Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Sambo, the aggressive bull elephant that rampaged through a Kampong Speu village in December, tragically died on Monday during a routine veterinary procedure at Phnom Tamao Zoo in Takeo province, said forestry officials and NGO representatives.

“I’m absolutely devastated by this loss … I was directly involved in all of it,” Nick Marx, wildlife rescue director at Wildlife Alliance, said today. “The Forestry Administration wanted to sedate him so that the chains around his legs could be readjusted.”

After Sambo was sedated by Forestry Administration veterinary personnel following a protracted illness, his weakened state proved to be more fragile than anticipated, according to a statement issued by WA on Monday.

The statement said he collapsed and was unable to stand up before a crane could be organised to assist him.

“In the end we did come in to try and help but by that point it was too late,” said WA spokesman John Maloy.

Jack Highwood, director of the Elephants Livelihood Initiative Environment NGO in Mondulkiri, was distraught after he heard of Sambo’s death.

“This is a huge loss and is really sad – a waste of an elephant. There are now 121 elephants in Cambodia, and every few months we have one less and one less,” he said today from Mondulkiri.

Highwood and his team played a central role in Sambo’s capture and transport to the zoo in December.

Nhek Ratanapich, director of the Phnom Tamao Zoo, said that though they were still assessing Sambo’s cause of death, he was buried at the zoo on Monday near his potential mate Srey Pao.

“So far, we have not completely figured out the reason for Sambo’s death, but according to our pre-examination, he died due to very poor health and an intestinal disease,” he said today. “However, we are now very regretful about his death.”

Terrorism verdict slammed

Photo by: Pha Lina
Rafiqul Islam attempts to speak to reporters after his conviction at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 20:11 Adam Miller

Bangladeshi authorities have strongly condemned the conviction of three men on terror charges at Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, in a case that has sent shockwaves throughout Cambodia’s South Asian community.

In a hearing today, Judge Sin Visal sentenced Bangladeshi nationals Rafiqul Islam, 42, and Miah Muhammed Huymayan Kabir, 62, an Nepali DP Paudel, 44, to eight years prison after finding them guilty under the Kingdom’s anti-terrorism law.

He added that Paudel will also be deported following his release from jail.

The three were arrested in April 2010, after letters allegedly bearing their names were sent to the British, American and Australian embassies in Phnom Penh threatening an impending terrorist attack.

Sin Visal said in court that the letter “threatened national and international security” and “proves a conspiracy of terrorism” by the three men.

He added that although the accused pleaded innocent, there was not enough evidence to disprove their involvement in the case.

Shahedul Haque, a minister at the Bangladeshi embassy in Bangkok, expressed his concern over the case today, saying he was “extremely disappointed” by the verdict.

“I don’t know what other evidence police could reveal, but if it is based primarily on an anonymous letter then that is very unfortunate,” he said via email.

“We certainly expected both the Bangladeshis would be released as there was no strong evidence in that letter. However, we have confidence in the court that if there is a chance of appeal then proper justice will be made.”

The men have 30 days to appeal the verdict and Islam’s defence lawyer Moun Sokun confirmed today that he has already put in motion a complaint to the Appeal Court.

“The judge sentenced him to eight years and I think that is not a fair decision, because the evidence is not strong enough to provide the judge [with the capacity] to make a judgment about this case,” Moun Sokun said today.

“But that is the right of the judge and my client and I will appeal the verdict.”

Islam’s wife Chum Bi, 37, was visibly distraught after the verdict, saying the outcome of the trial was clearly unjust.

Islam maintained his innocence after the proceedings, shouting to his family and members of the South Asian community that he was not involved in the case, before being ushered back to Prey Sar prison.

Chum Bi added that a number of vendors from Phnom Penh’s Phsar Kandal market, where the couple’s restaurant was located, thumb-printed a petition calling for his release.

“This is not real justice for my husband, he is innocent. I nearly died after the hearing. If my husband is wrong, give him a life sentence and I will not complain,” Chum Bi said today.

She also claimed she suffered a heart attack after Islam’s arrest, adding that he is in poor health with diabetes and that their restaurant was forced to close, which has jeopardised their family’s financial future.

“I will struggle so that Prime Minister Hun Sen and the King Father can hear this case,” she added.

Representatives of the British and Australian embassies in Phnom Penh declined to comment today.

A US Embassy spokesman said the government was working closely with Cambodian officials at all levels on these issues and that Cambodia remains a “key partner in the region to address terrorist threats”.

“While we do not think that terrorism is currently a problem in the country, issues such as porous borders have been linked to terrorist acts in the past,” embassy spokesman Mark Wenig said today.


Five charged over triple homicide

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:16 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Five people were charged with murder today in connection with a gruesome triple homicide that occurred on January 10 in Siem Reap province, said Nhim Sila, deputy chief of the Siem Reap military police.

Following a lengthy police investigation, the suspects were arrested on Tuesday in Siem Reap town.

“All five were charged with three counts of premeditated murder,” Nhim Sila said.

“According to the Cambodian criminal code, if found guilty each will face at least 20 years in prison.”

He added that the victims – Eng Ly, female, 71, Eng Mouygech, 60, and Oak Sreyneang, 20 – appeared to have been brutalised before the murders.

Two were raped and all three had their throats cut with a cleaver.

The murder weapon was the only evidence found at the scene.

At the time of the murder, Siem Reap town police chief Thoeung Chantharith described It as “the most cruel murder” he had seen in 10 years on the job.

Nhim Sila said police believed the murders were the result of a property dispute.

“According to our investigation, the suspects and victims had been arguing over land and property ownership in Sala Kamroeuk commune before the murders took place,” he said.

The five suspects detained at Siem Reap provincial prison pending trial are Chorn Cheat, 30, Heng Bunsom, 21, Nhanh Bunheang, 16, Tong Thnoat, 22, and Prom Sothy, 33.

A sixth suspect, Neng Moeun, 25, was arrested by police on January 18, but has since been released.

Brutal acid attack

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:14 Chhay Channyda

A 24-year-old man was today transferred to a hospital in Vietnam after he was injured in an acid attack in Meanchey district on Tuesday, said the victim’s family members.

Seang Bouleng, a teacher at an IT training centre, was attacked at about 8:30pm as he drove his girlfriend to her home in Stung Meanchey commune.

Seang Bouleng’s brother, Seang Sunly, said today that he did not know the motive of the attack and requested that the authorities arrest the perpetrators.

“My brother is a gentle teacher who is liked by his students,” he said.

Stung Meanchey commune Police Chief Mao Saroeun said the victims were not present when police arrived at the scene and no report or complaint had yet been made, but that the police were searching for the perpetrators.

Seang Sunly said his brother was doused with acid on his face, the right side of his body and had some injuries on the left side of his body.

“His eyes are closed all the time and we see his terrible face full with burns, his right chest and right leg were burned,” he said.

Ziad Samman, project manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said today via email that Seang Bouleng was the third person to fall victim so far this year, following an attack on two women in Phnom Penh in January.

He said CASC recorded 19 cases of acid attacks resulting in 40 victims in Cambodia last year.

TrainForTrade seminar on sustainable tourism for development for Cambodia and Lao PDR

via CAAI

Programme Events

Event: TrainForTrade seminar on sustainable tourism for development for Cambodia and Lao PDR
Date: 21–25 February 2011
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Venue: Hotel Intercontinental
Description: Tourism is recognized as a high-potential sector and a priority both by Cambodia and Lao PDR, which rank among the leading LDCs in terms of international tourist arrivals.

To further assist Cambodia and Lao PDR in reaching socio and economic development gains through the generalized implementation of sustainable tourism practices, the TrainForTrade programme of UNCTAD is organizing a training seminar on sustainable tourism for development.

This event, jointly organized with the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia and with the support of the French government, will be held in Phnom Penh from 21 to 25 February 2010.

This event is expected to benefit more than 30 Cambodian high level officials, including at the provincial level, and 5 government officials from Lao PDR.

TrainForTrade is a programme of the UNCTAD Division on Technology and Logistics.

Co-organized with: Ministry of Tourism Phnom Penh
Language(s): English

Related sites:  

Montagnards return to Vietnam from Cambodia

via CAAI

By Agence France-Presse
Updated: 2/16/2011

Ten ethnic Montagnards returned to communist Vietnam from Cambodia on Wednesday, authorities in Hanoi said, rejecting concerns that the group could be mistreated.

They were among more than 1,700 Montagnards who fled to Cambodia in 2001 and 2004 after security forces crushed protests against land confiscations and religious persecution.

Members of the largely Christian Montagnards backed US forces during the Vietnam War.

The 10 -- who did not qualify as refugees -- had been in a group of 75 Vietnamese Montagnards living at a United Nations refugee centre in Cambodia, which decided to close the facility. Phnom Penh gave the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) until Tuesday to shut it down.

Hanoi's foreign ministry, which does not refer to the minorities as Montagnards, said in a statement that on Wednesday "Vietnam received the last 10 Tay Nguyen ethnic minority people and brought them back to their localities safely. Local authorities are proceeding with measures to support these people in their reintegration."

UNHCR staff accompanied the Montagnards to their village, the agency's spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey said.

Most of the 75 have gone to Canada as refugees, while a few others were accepted by the United States, she said.

The closure of the centre appeared to signal the end of a 2005 deal between Vietnam, Cambodia and the UNHCR under which Montagnards could choose whether to resettle in a third country or return home. Cambodia has refused to allow them to stay in the kingdom.

Human Rights Watch said Montagnards "will continue to try to flee Vietnam as long as the Vietnamese government systematically violates their basic rights".

But Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said that "ethnic minority people" returning from Cambodia had not been mistreated.

The government has been trying to improve socioeconomic conditions in their native Central Highlands region, she said.

McKinsey said that of the 1,734 Montagnards who fled and went through the UNHCR process, 986 were resettled as refugees in third countries, 256 returned voluntarily to Vietnam, and 492 were deported to Vietnam without UNHCR's involvement.

She said UNHCR would in future check on the well-being of the last 10 who returned to Vietnam.

Supreme Court Again Delays Decision on Unionist Murder

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 16 February 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
U.N. special rapporteur Surya Subedi walks through a Cambodian national flag upon his arrival in a conference room at the U.N. headquarter in Phnom Penh, in 2010.

"The Supreme Court was “too busy” to present a decision."

The Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed a verdict against a man accused of murdering a labor activist, putting off a decision as the UN’s special envoy for human rights is in Cambodia to assess the courts.

Surya Subedi, the human rights special representative for the UN secretary-general, is on a 10-day mission that began Tuesday. He arrived at the Supreme Court early Wednesday morning, only to witness a decision delayed for the second time.

Judges said they would announce a decision on March 2 in the case against Thach Saveth, who is accused of the 2004 murder of Ros Sovanareth, the head of a factory union.

Rights group say Thach Saveth’s case lacks evidence and that he is likely not the killer. Thach Saveth has said he is innocent and has an alibi.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers in the Kingdom of Cambodia, said Thach Saveth had not received a fair trial and that the postponement of the decision was due to the arrival of Subedi at the court.

No judge announced the reasons for the decision on Wednesday morning. Instead a court clerk appeared to announce to the courtroom that the Supreme Court was “too busy” to present a decision.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the delay was not due to Subedi’s visit. The court has its own “priority” in issuing a decision or not, he said.

Huon Phall, the 49-year-old mother of the defendant, told VOA Khmer she believed her son to be innocent and wanted the court to “finish this case.”

Am Sam Ath, head investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the case echoed that of Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun, two men who were jailed for five years for the murder of Chea Vichea but who were widely considered innocent. They were both released on bail after a Supreme Court decision in 2009 that requires a retrial by the Appeals Court.

Ros Sovannareth, a factory representative for the Free Trade Union, was killed in May 2004, less than three months after the murder of Chea Vichea, the president of the same union.

Cambodia To Seek Asean Monitors at Border

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Wednesday, 16 February 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
The stone remains of Preah Vihear, built nearly 1,000 years ago, are supposed to be a protected U.N. World Heritage site. Instead they are at the heart of a dangerous tug-of-war between Cambodia and Thailand.

“I will request Asean observers to the border dispute area between Cambodia and Thailand to monitor a ceasefire and ensure that a permanent ceasefire is implemented.”

Cambodia will seek Asean monitors near Preah Vihear temple and in subsequent border talks, when regional foreign ministers meet in Jakarta next week, a senior official said.

Returning from an address to the UN Security Council this week, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters Wednesday he will ask Asean to send monitors to ensure no more clashes occur between Cambodia and Thailand on the border.

The Security Council on Monday encouraged Thailand and Cambodia to enter a permanent ceasefire after heavy fighting on the border earlier this month. It also encouraged Asean arbitration in the longstanding border feud.

Cambodian officials have said seven people were killed, including two civilians, in clashes that also damaged Preah Vihear temple between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7.

“I will request Asean observers to the border dispute area between Cambodia and Thailand to monitor a ceasefire and ensure that a permanent ceasefire is implemented,” Hor Namhong said Wednesday.

He also said Cambodia must discuss the dispute with Thailand but that those discussions now need a third party mediator such as Asean. When foreign ministers meet in Jakarta on Feb. 22, he will request that an Asean representative be present for all border discussions between the two sides.

“We will wait and see if Thailand accepts this suggestion or not,” he said. “We should know the real ambitions of Thailand.”

Thai officials have said they want to resolve the dispute bilaterally.

Cambodian officials have meanwhile accused Thailand of firing mortars and machine guns at Cambodia in recent days. Thailand says Cambodian soldiers have been shooting at Thai troops. Neither claim has been independently verified.

Industrial development vital to ensure sustainable growth: Cambodian PM

via CAAI

February 16, 2011

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday the promotion of industrial sectors will be necessary to ensure the sustainable development of Cambodian economic growth.

"There is an urgent need for Cambodia to modernize its economy through promoting the development of industrial sector in order to achieve a sustainable growth," he said during opening the fourth Cambodian Economic Forum.

Cambodia's economic growth was 5.5 percent in 2010 thanks to garment manufacture, tourism and agriculture, he said, adding that the growth this year could be more than 6 percent.

The premier said that the development of the industrial sectors should be focused on capturing more value added of existing core sectors such as in garment industry through establishing raw material factories such as a buttons manufacturing factory and in agriculture via building processing plants.

Also on Cambodia's emerging industries such as furniture, handicrafts, paper/recycled paper, construction materials, household appliances, simple electronic equipment, oil and gas, mineral ores and fertilizer, he said.

"These industries need to be closely studied to assess whether they can be competitive in the domestic and export markets," he said.

"I am confident that Cambodia now has appropriate favorable conditions to move forward to the next higher development stage," he said.

Qimiao Fan, Country Manager of the World Bank-Cambodia, said during the opening ceremony that Cambodia has abundant land favorable for agriculture, tourism development, mining biodiversity conservation, housing, urbanization and infrastructure.

"With these potentials, Cambodia still lags in terms of skills - - both soft skills like attitude to work and technical skills," he said.

The two-day forum was under the theme "Cambodian Economy in post-crisis environment: industrial policy -- option toward a sustainable development".

It was attended by some 500, who are government's policy makers, economists, development partners, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and United Nations Development Program.

Source: Xinhua