Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cambodia agrees to GBC meeting

via CAAI

Published: 9/03/2011
Online news:

Cambodia has agreed to attend a General Border Committee meeting with Thailand in Indonesia on Mar 24-25, Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said on Wednesday.

The GBC is co-chaired by defence ministers of the two countries.

Mr Thani said that on this occasion Thailand could consult with Cambodia over the terms for Indonesia to send observers to the Thai-Cambodian border.

A source at the Thai Armed Forces Command said the Border Affairs Department had sent a letter to notify Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon about the meeting, which has been set to be held in Bogor, Indonesia.

If all sides agree to attend the meeting as proposed by Indonesia, it would be the first GBC meeting to be held in a third country, the source said.

Gen Prawit last week called Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Banh on the telephone asking him to move forward from April to March the 8th GBC meeting which was originally to be hosted by Cambodia in Siem Reap.

"But Gen Tea Banh has not yet replied. This is because Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen does not want the meeting to be held bilaterally," the source said.

The source said the Thai side in fact wants the GBC to be a forum for military leaders of the two countries to meet and talk without the presence of a third person.

However, since Cambodia and the Foreign Ministry have agreed to the proposal from Indonesia, the Thai military is expected to also agree, the source said.

Constructive Cambodian: 9 Mar 2011

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 Tharum Bun

Tharum Bun talks about the profound significance of something that might seem small: sharing ideas.

The conference of ideas worth sharing called TEDxPhnom Penh that was held early this month marked a milestone for the capital city’s communities opening to a new culture of how we acquire new knowledge and perspectives. More than 100 people showed up at Northbridge International School (Cambodia) where legendary artist Kong Nai, who was paired with Japanese painter and illustrator Keeda Oikawa, kicked off the day-long conference featuring some of the Kingdom’s most amazing speakers.

As LIFT writers have already jointly discussed the enthusiastic talks and presentations by some great speakers, I’m going to take a further look at the significance of how such event contributes to how we learn and share our diversities in our fast-paced society.

Too often we’re more familiar with our dependence of learning new ideas through our formal education system. This is a necessity that has shaped how we perceive the world we live in today. But during the past few years, annual conferences like TEDx and BarCamp have introduced a completely different way of meeting and talking to people and have become an essential part of every one of us who doesn’t want to stop learning new things.

Weeks after the first TEDx in the Cambodian capital, the TEDxTalk videos have been made available online, making it possible for those without tickets to view, think and start an ongoing conversation over the theme of mapping out the Kingdom’s future. It’s probably these materials on the internet that will bring about the large significance of the event.

While some of the TEDxPP speakers touched and moved the audience with their stories and ideas, technology glitches caused frustration for many in other parts of the world who were staying awake to watch the live feed video from Phnom Penh. But the idea of sharing doesn’t stop there. The ability to deploy video technology to document the event for further distribution offline and online is a model that’s been used in many countries, aimed at serving and preserving our access to useful resources. This is probably one of the most remarkable approaches in the TEDx event, which can spark the use of video and internet tools to disseminate the content for a worldwide audience.

Digital video technology has been around for years, but when paired up with the internet and sophisticated web services, it’s now becoming many people’s favourite choice.

I believe this is the next big thing as we’re able to spread messages, news and ideas. For passionate self-learners, it’s easier than ever sitting before their computer screens at home watching a YouTube video teaching them cooking or gardening. But it doesn’t end there. This year sees the explosion of mobile internet services provided by major network service providers, making it more convenient for mobile phone users to capture and share what they witness on the street to share with the wider world on the web.

I expect more videos and stories will come from bloggers and internet users who are witness to the scene, just like Casey Nelson, an expatriate who took out a mobile phone to capture a government employee’s Land Cruiser running over a police motorcycle on Phnom Penh’s Monivong Boulevard. The video, posted on YouTube, and described in his blog post in October last year became a news story for the media, and was covered by The Phnom Penh Post. This shows how we can catch up with what’s happening in this capital city or anywhere in the Kingdom.

When local rights group Cambodian Center For Human Rights (CCHR) announced last week that its website,, reached 100,000 visitors since it officially went online in July last year, it proved to be a successful online site dedicated to human rights issues facing Cambodia. The site is collaboration among rights groups working in most parts of the country, but it hasn’t been open to reports and submissions from individual citizens who wish to raise their concerns​​.​​​​​

Vietnamese nationals in Cambodia hold congress

via CAAI


(VOV) - The Vietnamese Residents Association in Cambodia has held its first congress in Phnom Penh to review activities and elect an executive board for the 2011-2015 term.

Present at the opening ceremony on March 6 were Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Le Anh Dung, Cambodian Minister of Cult and Religion Min Khin, diplomats and 250 representatives from the Vietnamese community in Cambodia.

The association’s chairman Chau Van Chi said the congress was held in the context of growing relations between Vietnam and Cambodia in various fields, including politics, economics and trade. The two countries’ traditional friendship and effective cooperation have contributed to strengthening the unity bloc of the Vietnamese community in Cambodia, he added.

Since its establishment in 2003, the association, with more than 5,700 members, has helped the Vietnamese community in Cambodia improve their living standards, both materially and spiritually.

The association has closely worked with Cambodian agencies and authorities at all levels to protect the legitimate rights of Vietnamese people in Cambodia.

World Bank says land titling project failures caused "grave harm"

via CAAI

Mar 9, 2011

Phnom Penh - The World Bank said Wednesday that a land titling programme it funded in Cambodia has failed thousands of people living in central Phnom Penh.

The bank's mea culpa follows the government's forced eviction of thousands of people from the area around Boeung Kak lake in the capital over the past two years.

The bank said the evictions had caused 'grave harm' to residents.

Thousands more residents are under imminent threat of being evicted with little or no compensation in a controversial development deal of the 133-hectare site that is linked to a prominent ruling party politician.

Few if any of Boeung Kak's residents have been able to get land title documents from the local authorities, despite legal experts saying that many are entitled to them.

The World Bank assessment was carried out by an independent inspection panel, which examined the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) that began in 2002 and received 24 million dollars from the organization.

Cambodia's land tenure system was destroyed during decades of conflict, and the LMAP project was designed to ensure people could get land title documents.

The panel pointed out that more than a million households around the country had benefited from LMAP and received land title documents.

But its investigation into complaints filed in 2009 by residents of Boeung Kak lake showed key failings by the bank's management, including being too slow to respond to evictions.

'Management did not adequately follow up on strengthening public awareness and community participation, and there were delays in implementing dispute resolution mechanisms and the assistance to improve state land management,' it said.

The panel added that residents had been denied due process in assessing their claims and had been evicted by the government in violation of agreed procedures.

'The claims of Boeung Kak lake community are serious. The issues raised involve fundamental questions of their land rights tenure security,' said Roberto Lenton, who headed the inspection panel.

'The panel found that the evictions took place in violation of the bank policy on involuntary resettlement and resulted in grave harm to the affected families and community,' Lenton said.

Around half of the area's residents have so far been evicted, and last week the government warned the remaining 2,000 families to accept compensation ahead of their pending evictions or face legal action. Residents and land rights activists have long said the compensation on offer is far too low.

World Bank president Robert Zoellick said the organization had 'repeatedly called on the (Cambodian) government to end the evictions' and was 'seeking a positive government response.'

'We are deeply troubled and frustrated about the people who are being forced from their homes,' Zoellick said.

The Cambodian government cancelled LMAP in late 2009 after the World Bank asked it to suspend the land titling project in light of complaints about evictions.

In recent years land prices have rocketed across Cambodia as the economy strengthened, with tens of thousands of people driven off their land by the powerful and well-connected.

Thai PM hopes Thai-Cambodian talks to ease border tension

via CAAI

March 09, 2011

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva hoped Wednesday the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Commission (JBC) meeting to be held in Indonesia later this month will ease tension on the border between the two countries.

"I hope the forthcoming talks will be the starting point in easing tension between both countries," the premier said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Tuesday that Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa had informed Thailand that Cambodia had agreed to attend the JBC meeting.

The meeting was earlier scheduled for Feb.27 but it was postponed after Cambodia said it wanted intervention by the international community.

The prime minister reaffirmed that the dispute should be settled by bilateral talks as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) suggested. However, he has no objection if the talks are observed by representatives from Indonesia, the current rotating chair of ASEAN.

Following the latest deadly border clash on Feb.4-7, the UN Security Council meeting in New York on Feb. 14 urged Thailand and Cambodia to establish "permanent ceasefire" and asked Indonesia to facilitate talks.

The ASEAN informal foreign ministerial meeting on Feb. 22 agreed that Thailand and Cambodia should hold talks in a third country in order to settle their long-running border dispute.

Source: Xinhua

Bangkok set for Thailand-Cambodia JBC meeting in Indonesia March 27-28: PM

via CAAI

BANGKOK, March 9 -- Thailand is ready for this month's Thailand-Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting in Jakarta in just three weeks time, March 27-28, as proposed by the Indonesian government and expects the meeting to ease border tensions between Thailand and Cambodia, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said here Wednesday.

Mr Abhisit said Thailand has always been ready to hold bilateral negotiations with Cambodia and if Phnom Penh agrees to resume talks it would be considered a good sign as related bilateral issues could move ahead toward solution.

Thailand and Cambodia will discuss in detail the format of the talks, he said, adding that to invite anyone to witness the bilateral talks would not be a problem.

The premier said Indonesia, in its capacity as current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and playing a facilitator’s role for the bilateral meeting would only acknowledge the meeting but would not involve the details of the discussion.

It would be considered beyond the framework of the JBC, which is in a bilateral talk format, if a third party joined the discussion, he said.

Mr Abhisit said that he hopes that the JBC could be a first step to ease tensions between Thailand and Cambodia.

Regarding the invitations by Thailand and Cambodia to Indonesia to send observers to their respective sides of the border, Thani Thongphakdi, Director-General of the Department of Information and Foreign Ministry spokesperson said earlier that Indonesia has sent the draft Terms of Reference of the observation mission to both Thailand and Cambodia.

He sad the Thai government, in principle, has no objection to the Indonesian proposal.

Nevertheless, Mr Thani said, Thailand and Cambodia would need to discuss details of the proposal's implementation in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion.

He added that It is hoped in this connection that the issue could be brought up at the next the General Border Committee (GBC) meeting chaired by the two defence ministers, to be convened as soon as the Cambodian side is ready. (MCOT online news)
via CAAI

By The Nation

The Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh is waiting for permission from Cambodia to send a doctor inside the prison to check health of a convicted Thai nationalist or bring him out to see the doctor, Thai Foreign Ministry's spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said Wednesday.
Veera Somkwamkit, jailed on spying charges, is reportedly very ill. His mother had sought help from the Thai government to help Veera, a leader of Thai Patriots Network.

Veera and another TPN member, Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, were jailed on spying charges after being arrested in December along with five others, including Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, during an inspection in Sa Kaew province.

The five were freed after being sentenced to the suspended jail terms.

Veera's mother, Wilaiwan met Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House on Tuesday to seek ways to help the high profile nationalist plus his aide Ratree.

Wilaiwan told reporters that her son was very sick. She quoted him as telling her during a visit in Prey Sor Prison last week that he was so sick that he fainted in the prison.

"Mother, don't you know that I am very sick. I am so ill that I fainted. Prison wardens had to assist me to the doctor's room," Wilaiwan quoted Veera as saying.

Earlier Mong Kimheng, the chief warden of Prey Sar Prison, however had said Veera was in a good shape and in good care.

"He just caught a cold these days due to the change in climate, but he is in good health," Mong Kimheng was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

Cambodian PM Hun Sen’s Key speeches at Inaugurating New Port Construction of Phnom Penh Autonomous Port

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 07:48 BY TOL SOPHAN

PHNOM PENH, March 9--Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday called for all people and relevant authorities to contribute in building a new port that is very crucial in transportation sector.

He added that in the future, Cambodia truly would need to import many goods and it’s exports will also be increased as a result of its membership of World Trade Organization.

Once again, PM Hun Sen praised the role of China and India in recovering the world economy while US and European countries was facing the same problem seriously. He added that if China and India whose population are about 2.5 billion facing the economic crisis, the word would be mess up.

He added more that China’s investment in Cambodia does not decrease and major projects which account for a large amount of money would not be delayed. Obviously, just two hydroelectric projects in Koh Kong province, worth 1,000 million dollars had been constructed.

He added more that at this time China rose as the world’s second-largest economy and would be able to rank number 1 soon. Although there are countries opposing against China, they could not compete with China because of the economic growth of China.

Although Cambodia is capable of exporting rice about 2,5 million tons, that amount could not compare with a province of China whose population is about 80 or 100 million.

All countries around the world should cooperate each other, and although China gets angry US of selling weapons to Taiwan, both countries still do business with each other, he added.

The premier said that China’s tourists increased more than 50 per cent in January 2011 compared to 2010.


Cambodia starts to build container terminal with Chinese support

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 07:47 administrator

KANDAL, Cambodia, March 9 -- Cambodia broke ground for the construction of the Kingdom's second largest new container terminal of Phnom Penh Autonomous Port on Wednesday in order to meet the growing demands of shipments.

The ground-breaking ceremony was presided over by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue. It was also attended by 2,000 participants, including top government officials, diplomats, locals and students.

According to the master plan, the 10-hectare terminal is being constructed by the China-based Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company with a soft loan of 28.2 million U.S. dollars provided by the Chinese side. It will take 30 months to be completed.

The terminal will have a total capacity of 120,000 TEUs (20- foot equivalent unit) per year and it will consist of a wharf platform enabling two 5,000 tones of container berths.

The terminal is located along the Mekong River in Kean Svay district, about 30 kilometers east of Phnom Penh.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hun Sen said that the new terminal is a new achievement of numerous ones under bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and China and expressed thanks to China for its constantly financial supports to Cambodia.

"I strongly believe the new container dock will increase the loading/unloading capacity of the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port," he said, adding that "The new dock will become a main hub for distributing goods across the country that can push the internal integration, international trade and regional trade a step further, especially to realize our rice export target of 1 million metric tons per annum."

The terminal will not only connect Phnom Penh Autonomous Port to Vietnam's Cai Map port, but also help to ship goods directly to Singapore, Malaysia, and China's Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as other neighboring countries and regions without ship transfer, the prime minister said.

"In the coming years, Cambodia will have more goods for export, besides garment exports, we will have agricultural products and we have already opened market with China on rice, cassava and other products, so it will facilitate Cambodia's exports to China and other countries," said Hun Sen.

The new terminal will add more capacity to its existing Phnom Penh Autonomous Port of only 80,000 TEUs, said Hun Sen.

Pan Guangxue said that the construction of the terminal is a new symbol of closer cooperation between the two countries.

"China sees that the construction of the new container terminal is vital to keeping up with the increasing demands of Cambodia's imports and exports," he said.

"It will be essential to boost more activities of enterprises, the manufacturing industry and agricultural sector."

He reiterated that China is committed to helping Cambodia in all sectors including waterway transportation, roads, bridges, irrigation system, and electricity so as to boost the development of Cambodian economy.(Xinhua/sp) .


Cambodia's exports worth of 3.3 bln USD in 2010

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 07:46 administrator

PHNOM PENH, March 9 -- Cambodia's exports worth a total of 3.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, according to a government's statistic data received Wednesday.

The statistic data filed by Ministry of Commerce showed that the ministry, in 2010, permitted licenses for exports of products produced in Cambodia to international markets worth a total of 3, 326,698,599 U.S. dollars, an increase of 27 percent compared to a year earlier which recorded at 2,598,639,765 U.S. dollars.

The statistic also indicated that approved licenses for exports were granted to 298 factories producing garments and footwear, and additional of 70 factories producing other materials.

It said the garment and shoes factories employed 376,026 workers, among them 345,159 were women.

Those workers absorbed about 372 million U.S. dollars in wages for the whole year of 2010, it added.

The major markets for Cambodia's exports are America and European Union.

The total exports to America in 2010 stood at 2,188,609,076 U.S. dollars, an increase of 24.85 percent compared to a year earlier that recorded at 435, 670, 640 U.S dollars while to the EU markets valued at 842,514,567 U.S. dollars, an increase of 28.53 percent compared to 655,461,015 U.S. dollars a year earlier.

According to the statistics, the main products exporting to American markets were: garment, footwear, bicycle, bag, pet food, and rice, while to European markets were garment, footwear, rice and raw sugar.

Other products and materials for exports included crude palm oil, natural rubber, tobacco, and fabric.

Garment sector is the biggest income earner for the country.(Xinhua/sp) .


WB Report on Cambodia Land Management and Administration Project

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 07:45 By Soy Sophea

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors met on Tuesday to discuss an Inspection Panel investigation of the Cambodia Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) and the proposals of World Bank Management responding to the findings of the Inspection Panel.

The Board considered the Panel report and approved Management’s Action Plan for addressing the issues raised by the Panel, according to the WB press release.

The Panel Investigation report notes that the Project “undoubtedly benefited about one million households,” and recognizes “this important achievement of LMAP.” The project provided 1.24 million predominantly poor Cambodians with land titles and its goal was to provide fair and transparent access to land in a country where property rights were destroyed through decades of conflict. The report agrees with the view that securing land rights is critical to sustained poverty reduction in Cambodia.

The release added the the Panel also found there were problems, many of which Management identified in an earlier report in 2009. Residents in the Boeung Kak Lake area were denied access to due process of adjudication of their property claims and were displaced in violation of the policies the Bank agreed with the Government for handling resettlement. Management did not adequately follow up on strengthening public awareness and community participation, and there were delays in implementing dispute resolution mechanisms and the assistance to improve state land management. The Panel also found management was too slow to respond to the evictions.

“We are deeply troubled and frustrated about the people who are being forced from their homes. We have been working hard to try and help them, with an action plan offering the Government financing and technical advice to find practical solutions. We are open to other ways to help these people. We have repeatedly called on the Government to end the evictions. We are seeking a positive Government response,” said World Bank President, Robert Zoellick.

The Panel Investigation was conducted in response to a Request for Inspection submitted on September 4, 2009, by NGOs on behalf of residents in the Boeung Kak Lake area of central Phnom Penh, who have been forcibly resettled by the Phnom Penh Municipality and a private developer to make way for a new development. The Inspection Panel Report focused on whether the Bank has complied with its own policies including Resettlement Policies during the design, implementation and supervision of the LMAP.

The residents of Boeung Kak Lake alleged that evictions were being carried out in violation of the agreed Resettlement Policy Framework established under LMAP, and applicable to the eviction of people from state land in project titling areas.

An IDA credit for LMAP was approved by the Board on February 26, 2002, in an amount equivalent to US $24.3 million. The project was designed to support the first phase of the Government of Cambodia’s long-term plan to build a modern land administration system, by improving land tenure security and promoting the development of efficient land markets. Canada, Finland and Germany provided co-financing to the project. Cambodia’s land administration system was largely destroyed during the Khmer Rouge era.
The Government canceled financing for the project on September 7, 2009 after the Bank suggested joint suspension of the project pending discussions on the application of its safeguard policies for handling resettlement issues.

"The claims of the Boeung Kak Lake community are serious. The issues raised involve fundamental questions of their land rights and tenure security. In assessing Bank Management compliance, the Panel found that the evictions took place in violation of the Bank policy on Involuntary Resettlement and resulted in grave harm to the affected families and community. The Panel notes the fundamental importance of actions to address the harm suffered by people in project areas and of compliance by Bank Management with Bank policies, including on Involuntary Resettlement," said Roberto Lenton, Inspection Panel Chairperson.

Going forward, the Bank seeks to pursue high-level engagement with the Government of Cambodia and Development Partners to support affected communities in a manner that responds to their development and livelihood needs. Management proposed to report back to the Board on the implementation of the Action Plan within 60 days.

“We call on the Government to stop the evictions and to find a way to help the people. Over the last decade Cambodia has experienced high levels of economic growth, leading to increased pressure on land. The development of a fair and just land administration needs to keep pace with rapid economic development. We will ensure that lessons learned from this project are applied more broadly,” said Annette Dixon, Country Director for Cambodia.

Indochine Mining Limited (ASX:IDC) Announce High Grade Gold Discovery In Cambodia

via CAAI

Sydney, Mar 9, 2011 (ABN Newswire) - Indochine Mining Limited (ASX:IDC) has discovered a new area of gold-bearing quartz veins within the Kratie North Project in central Cambodia.

Multiple sets of outcropping quartz veins have been sampled over 50-100 metre strike length in two locations approximately 500 metres apart. The veins trend east-west, dipping 45 degrees to the south and are exposed in numerous pits and shafts recently opened by local prospectors, where the highest grades appear to over 20-30cm in width where the veins are currently exposed.

Seven grab samples were collected from the veins and host rocks and assayed for gold. The best result returned 42 grams per tonne gold.

The Kratie North Project is a key focus of the expanded exploration program as outlined in the announcement on 11 February 2011. An IP geophysical survey is underway within the gold target areas, together with a detailed mapping and detailed sampling program.

A drill program will commence in mid April, initially for 2000 metres of diamond drilling to test and observe the mineralised structures from the geophysics and geochemistry. RC drilling will follow in the best areas identified. Targets include large scale high grade vein deposits, like Pogo in Alaska.

Indochine has the largest package of gold/copper leases in Cambodia. Final results from the helicopter sampling in the Ratanakiri area are expected soon, where gold and copper targets have already been identified.

For the complete Indochine Mining announcement including figures and tables, please refer to the following link:

Detained Thai patriot's family seek help from PM

via CAAI

March 09, 2011

Mother and elder brother of Veera Somkwamkid, a key figure of Thai Patriots Network who has been imprisoned in Phnom Penh, went to see Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday at the Government House to discuss help measure.

Wilaiwan Somkwamkid, the mother, and Preecha Somkwamkid, the elder brother, arrived at the Government House at about 1.30 p.m. before having meeting with the prime minister.

They said they would like to discuss the concrete plan on help measure for Veera whom they said is seriously ill with infection.

Preecha said he would also ask the PM about the amnesty for Veera.

"The prime minister should be able to negotiate with the Cambodian leader because he is the country headman," Veera's brother responded when asked if he had high expectation from the premier.

Veera Somkwamkid was among the other seven Thais, including Democrat member of the parliament for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, who were arrested December 29, 2010 by the Cambodian authorities for illegal entry in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Five others returned to Thailand after the Cambodian court on Jan 21 ruled that they were guilty of illegal entry and intentionally trespassing into Cambodian territory. However, on top of illegal entry charge, Veera and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, his secretary, were convicted by the Phnom Penh court for espionage. An eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel (450 U.S. dollars) fine were handed down on February 1 for Veera and he was put in jail without granting bail.

Source: Xinhua

Anti-tank mine kills farmer

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:02 Sen David and Phak Seangly

A 51-year-old farmer was killed when an unexploded piece of ordnance was set off while he was ploughing his farmland in Banteay Meanchey province on Saturday.

Mey Saman, chief of Malai district police, said yesterday that the victim was killed immediately when his tractor ran over the anti-tank mine in his plantation.

“His tractor was completely damaged because of the explosion of the anti-tank mine, which was left after the war,” Mey Saman said.

Siem Hak, the deputy director for Cambodian Mine Action Centre’s Demining Unit 1 in Banteay Meanchey province, confirmed that this is the first death caused by an anti-tank mine explosion in the province this year.

He added that on February 24 a man was seriously injured and his tractor destroyed by a similar situation with a UXO explosion, but he survived the blast.

A 52-year-old farmer was killed on Sunday in Battambang province’s Samlot district, when he stepped on an anti-personnel mine while he and his wife were clearing land in their corn and cassava fields.

Last year Cambodia recorded its first annual increase in casualties resulting from UXOs since 2005.

Road safety a growing concern: NGOs

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A man walks past the site of a traffic accident in Phnom Penh last year.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:01 Tep Nimol

A group of 13 Cambodian NGOs issued a joint statement on Monday expressing concern over a rise in deadly traffic accidents, particularly along National Road 4 connecting Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.

The Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific said in a statement that accidents in Cambodia are most often caused by drunken driving, speeding, unsafe transportation of goods, unlicensed motorists, drivers falling asleep at the wheel and general carelessness.

The group suggested five steps the government could take to bring about a reduction in road accidents.

The recommendations included the installation of cameras along national roads to monitor speeding, sobriety checkpoints at toll booths along National Road 4 that would also distribute safety leaflets, a reduction in the shift schedules for transportation lorry drivers, multiple drivers for lorries and better monitoring of auto licences.

The statement followed an accident on National Road 4 last week that left 19 dead and 8 severely injured when a lorry transporting steel collided with a minivan in Preah Sihanouk province’s Bit Trang commune.

Preap Chanvibol, director of the Land Transportation Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said the department would meet with officials from the Ministry of Interior today to discuss strategies for reducing traffic accidents in the country.

He added that data from January to March shows 33 percent of traffic accidents were caused by carelessness, 30 percent by speeding and 15 percent by drunken driving.

In 2010, more than 1,600 people died from traffic accidents, down from 1,717 in 2009, according to government figures.

A recent study by Belgium NGO Handicap International showed that traffic accidents in 2009 cost Cambodia more than US$248 million.

Family of dead labour trainee to file complaint

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:01 Mom Kunthear and Thet Sambath

The family of a woman who died last month at the IIS labour recruitment company in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district said yesterday that they will file a complaint against the firm with local rights group Licadho to seek additional compensation.

Chea Pov, the mother of the deceased, said she has received US$4,000 in compensation from the firm but is now seeking a total of $10,000.

“I accepted the money for my daughter’s funeral and now I demand more after the funeral,” she said. “Do you think that $4,000 is enough for my daughter’s life?” she said.

Chheam Sopheap, 36, died at the IIS office on February 26 after battling a month-long illness during which the company did not allow her to go to hospital for treatment, the family said.

Chheam Sopheap’s husband, Heng Saroeun, 52, said yesterday the family had filed the complaint in order to find justice for his wife.

Thach Sotharath, director of IIS, said on Monday that he is not concerned by complaint because his company had already paid compensation in front of police officials and the family had agreed to drop its complaint against the firm.

“It is their right to file the complaint, but they are breaking their promise with me and police officials,” he said, adding that he has the option of counter-suing the family.

“We already gave them $4,000 to help them because we see they are poor. We cannot pay what they are requesting,” he said, adding that the woman’s death, which he said was the result of a heart attack, was not the fault of ISS.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for Licadho, said yesterday that the group would help the victim’s family when the complaint was officially filed.

“They have a right to file a complaint against the firm even though they received compensation, but now it is just civil compensation,” he said.

Pair held in child porn case

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea and Phak Seangly

A Frenh national and his Cambodian wife arrested on Sunday and Monday respectively in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district were charged in Municipal Court yesterday for producing and distributing child pornography.

Mathias Cassar, 35, a French designer and photographer, was arrested on Sunday morning at his rental house in Russey Village, Stung Meanchey commune. His Cambodian wife, Duong Davy, 25, was also arrested and accused of serving as an accomplice in producing child pornography and selling the images online, according to Keo Thea, director of the municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection office at the Ministry of Interior.

“This Frenchman was arrested while he was photographing three girls aged less than 13 years old in his house on Sunday. He was officially charged yesterday with producing child pornography and selling the images of children online,” Keo Thea said, adding that the suspects will be sent to Prey Sar Prison soon for pre-trial detention.

Three years after a series of tip-offs from the suspects’ neighbours and a subsequent investigation, the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants alerted the police about the case. Eight underage girls were identified at the suspects’ home, Keo Thea said.

Photo equipment and a computer containing pornographic images of children were found during the arrest, police said, adding that the male suspect had admitted to selling the images online. If convicted, he could face between 10 and 20 years in prison.

In a separate case, a 60-year-old French tourist was charged on Monday with sexual harassment of three boys aged between 12 and 14 in Preah Sihanouk province.

Bernard Bouillier was arrested at a guesthouse on Saturday in Sihanoukville’s Commune 4 after his alleged victims made complaints to police, Preah Sihanouk deputy police chief Chor Heng said.

Samleang Seila, director of APLE, said that according to his organisation’s most recent figures, seven foreigners have faced charges for sex crimes since January in Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk.

“To crack down on child abuse and human trafficking in Cambodia, I would like to ask the police and the court the strengthen the law and strongly punish all offenders involved in these crimes,” he said.

Police Blotter: 9 Mar 2011

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 Sen David

Drunken husband sets house ablaze in rage
A 29-year-old man was arrested for setting fire to his house after he became angry at his wife in Kandal’s Sa’ang district on Saturday. His wife said that the man came home from drinking wine with his friends and physically attacked his wife and children because his wife refused to cook dinner for him. He then set his house ablaze and completely destroyed it. Police arrested him and he claimed he was angry with his wife who had a gambling problem and neglected her familial duties.

Accused drug dealers busted in Kandal raid
FOUR men suspected of drug trafficking were arrested in Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district on Sunday. Villagers filed a complaint to police accusing the men of frequently using and trafficking drugs. Police seized two packages of yama and various other drugs from the men during a raid on Sunday, in which one of the suspects attempted to escape but was apprehended. After their arrest, the suspects admitted to selling drugs to young people in the village.

Stabbing victim found murdered in Poipet
POLICE in Poipet city found a man murdered in a field on Friday. Police said that the man had been stabbed with a knife several times by an unknown assailant. The victim’s father said that his son sold eyeglasses for a living, but on the day of the murder, he drove his motorbike to sell his glasses as usual but did not return home. On Saturday, he filed a report to police who are now investigating the case to arrest the murderer.

Rival fishermen attack was out of line
A FISHERMAN and his son were seriously injured by a group of rival fishermen who attacked them in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district on Monday. Police said the altercation started when the two accidentally broke another fisherman’s fishing rod, causing the group of rival fishermen to immediately attack them. They were sent to the hospital, while the group of suspects escaped.

Traffic accident kills one, injures three
A MAN was killed and three people injured in a traffic accident in Svay Rieng on Sunday. Police said that a couple were travelling to Svay Rieng city when a motorbike heading in the opposite direction crashed into their motorbike. The driver was killed and his wife seriously injured, while two of the passengers on the other motorbike were also seriously injured and sent to hospital. Police said that accident occurred on a curved road and they will investigate further.

City Hall announces new Hun Sen road

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:01 Kim Yuthana

Phnom Penh Municipality plans to construct a boulevard named after Prime Minister Hun Sen that will link Kbal Thnol roundabout to National Road 2 in Kandal province, according to a statement on its website.

The 60-metre wide, 9,150-metre-long Samdech Akka Mohasena Padie Techo Hun Sen Boulevard will link to National Road 2 at Damnak Sangke village in Takhmao district’s Prek Hou commune and take three years and US$36 million to complete.

Ean Narin, acting director of Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said Monday that construction was not yet under way as local company ING Holdings Co Ltd was studying the project’s impact.

“This is Cambodia’s first large boulevard to help facilitate all Phnom Penh residents to travel safely and peacefully,” said Ean Narin.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said in the statement that the boulevard would play an important role in settling traffic jams on National Road 2.

“[The boulevard] will be a circulatory system in the south of Phnom Penh,” Kep Chuktema said.

The statement confirmed that two roads will be constructed across the boulevard in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Krom commune at a combined cost of US$31.1 million, linking Road 371 to National Road 2 at Toul Roka village and Choeung Ek Road to National Road 2 at Prek Talong village.

US investment poised to increase

Photo by: Marisa Reichert
Lawrence Spinelli, director of public affairs at Overseas Private Investment Corporation, speaks to reporters this week.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

Cambodia is poised to see an increase in United States investment as the world financial crisis recedes, according to Overseas Private Investment Corporation director of public affairs Lawrence Spinelli.

The world’s economic downturn had hit the Kingdom particularly hard, while restricting access to credit for American firms planning to expand abroad, he said on Monday.

“We were starting to see an increase of potential US investors when the crisis hit. Some took their plans and their ideas and sort of kept them on the shelf for the moment,” he said.

“With the global economic recession diminishing, I think more and more businesses are looking for expansion, and I think there are great opportunities here in Cambodia."

Spinelli is touring Southeast Asia in advance of a May conference in Jakarta aimed at promoting the OPIC to potential investors, both American and international.

OPIC – which is a United States government agency - provides longer-term financing for American investors locating in emerging markets, particularly when the projects cannot receive financing through traditional lenders such as the banks.

It also provides long-term risk insurance.

OPIC claims to have a current portfolio totalling US$13 billion. It can operate in 155 countries worldwide with exceptions such as developed countries and North Korea, Cuba and China - from which Congress had barred it from operating to voice its displeasure with the handling of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

The US has been increasingly targeting Asia since the election of Barack Obama as US President, he said, adding that in the prior four to eight years “I don’t think Asia was regarded as much of a priority for the US government”.

OPIC currently does not yet finance an investment in Cambodia, but is in talks with several US companies regarding ventures in the Kingdom’s tourism, infrastructure, energy, and financial services sector, he claimed, but declined to provide a timeline.

Spinelli said OPIC is required to follow stringent regulations government concerns such as environment, labour law, and the extraction industry, but downplayed concerns following these rules gave US business a disadvantage compared with other economies.

“In the longer term, I don’t think it does put us at a competitive disadvantage, because it is the right thing to do,” he said.

Spinelli met with officials from the government and the American Chamber of Commerce during his Phnom Penh visit, partly to introduce the OPIC and encourage attendance at the conference.

Kampong Speu sugar in new deal

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture is set to sign an agreement to buy palm sugar with Geographical Indicator status from local producers, with the aim of conducting international exports to Singapore.

CEDAC’s enterprise manager Lang Seng Haung said the organisation is set to ink a deal tomorrow with Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Improving Farmer Association to buy 15 tonnes of palm sugar each year. The price would be set at around US$1,000 per tonne. “We hope that CEDAC will get palm sugar products of high quality that can be exported into the international markets,” he said.

Kampong Speu palm sugar was granted GI status last year, under a World Trade Organisation agreement. It brands products based on the areas for which they are famous, such as champagne from France and Cambodia’s Kampot pepper.

Sam Saroeun, president of Cambodian Sugar Association in Kampong Speu, said that the organisation had already inked a new contract this year to sell 10 tonnes of sugar to a company called Development & Appropriate Technology. He added that the association has 172 producers in Samraong Tong and Odong districts.

Talking Finance: Underwriters bear risk

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 Anthony Galliano

In the third of his columns explaining financial terms, Anthony Galliano, chief executive officer of Cambodian Investment Management, talks about investment banks and underwriting.

Corporations or governments that make the decision to sell ownership in their company through an initial public offering generally engage the services of an investment bank to assist in structuring the transaction and to raise capital.

Investment banks differ from commercial banks in that commercial banks take deposits from customers and use these deposits to provide financing to individuals and corporations through loans.

Investment banks assist corporations and governments in raising capital by underwriting the issuance of securities.

The services of investment banks include the promotion and trading of securities, known as the “sell-side” and distribution to individuals and institutions, known as the “buy-side”.

The investment bank will work with the company in deciding the amount of financing required, percentage of the company to be sold, the type of security to be offered, the offering price, and may assist with the filing and registration with the relevant exchange and regulatory body.

Once this is achieved the company or government issuing the securities, the issuer, appoints an investment bank to underwrite the offering.

Underwriting is the process whereby an investment bank bears the risk of being able to sell the securities and the cost of holding them on its books, until they are sold.

The most common form of the underwriting of securities is a firm commitment, also known as a bought deal. In this scenario the investment bank will buy the new securities for an agreed price and resell to the public at a mark-up.

The company issuing the securities is guaranteed the funds whether the underwriter is able to sell the securities or not.

For larger issues, a syndicate of underwriters may be formed involving several investment banks who share joint responsibility at an agreed ratio. This is known as a syndicate underwriting. In this case a syndicate manager selects members, determines the allotment of shares for each member, and manages the overall process.

The members may further have selling groups, consisting of other investment banks and broker-dealers. The underwriters sell the securities at a higher price than the issuer receives.

This mark-up is known as an underwriting spread and is usually divided into a management fee for the syndicate manager and an underwriting allowance for the members of the syndicate, who can further compensate the selling group with a selling concession.

Another form of underwriting is a best-efforts underwriting.

This usually occurs for issues which may be considered risky or difficult to sell.

In this case the investment bank will not will not guarantee the sales of securities and the company bears the risk if the full issue is not sold, which would result in less monies being received.

Underwriters play a critical role in bringing securities to the market which involves a web of players before the securities are purchased by the end investor – a role with significant risk and compensation.

Sex-slave rescuer in top 100 women

Anti-sex trafficker Mam Somaly estimates she has helped more than 7,000 women escape the sex trade in Cambodia and elsewhere over the past 16 years.
via CAAI
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 THE GUARDIAN

Cambodian anti-sex trafficking campaigner Mam Somaly was yesterday named in a Guardian newspaper list of top 100 women for International Women’s Day.

Named for her work as founder of AFESIP, rescuing women from brothels and supporting their recovery, Mam Somaly grew up in extreme poverty under the Khmer Rouge regime.

She was sold into sexual slavery when she was 12, eventually ending up in a Phnom Penh brothel where she endured unimaginable daily torture and rape. After being made to watch as another girl, her best friend, was murdered, Mam Somaly escaped and was helped out of Cambodia by a French aid worker.

Instead of trying to rebuild her life in France, where she married, Mam Somaly returned to Cambodia to help girls who hadn’t been so lucky. In 1996, she set up her organisation AFESIP (Action for Women in Distressing Situations), to rescue girls and women from brothels and support their recovery.

She has already helped more than 4,000 women and children, some as young as five, escape sexual slavery in south-east Asia and in 2007 set up the Somaly Mam Foundation, to raise awareness, campaign for change and fund projects to rescue and rehabilitate women and children sold into slavery.

Her work has come at a terrible personal cost. Her life has been threatened by pimps and brothel owners, and in 2006, her 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped and raped as retaliation for the work her mother does. Mam has given microloans to former slaves to finance craft work and agriculture ventures.

“It’s so beautiful to see the girls come sad and then after a few months and years and years to see them get married to see them go to school,” she told Australian TV channel SBS in an interview during a tour there last month.

About 7,000 women in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have been helped since she started her organisation over the past 16 years, she estimated.

But with 2.5 million women and children sold in the trade each year, she was on a tour of Australia in February to raise awareness of sex trafficking and seek help from luckier young people who have the power to do something.

When asked why she persists in the face of such adversity and periods of desperation, she has said: “I don’t want to go without leaving a trace.”

Her work has been mentioned by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a recent address to a US anti-trafficking committee. “I recently was in Cambodia, and it is just so overwhelmingly heartbreaking and inspiring to see these young girls,” said Clinton.

“One girl lost her eyes – to punish her, the owner of the brothel had stabbed her in the eye with a nail,” Clinton continued. “She was the most optimistic, cheerful young woman, just a tremendous spirit. What she wants to do when she grows up is help other victims of trafficking, so there is just an enormous amount of work to be done.”

In this week’s issue of Newsweek, Mam Somaly credits Clinton’s visit with making her work more respectable in the eyes of her government. “She protects our lives,” she told the magazine. Many of the shelter’s children now keep photos of Clinton on their walls. “Our people never paid attention. Hillary has opened their eyes, so now they have no choice; by her work she has saved many lives in Cambodia – our government is changing,” Mam Somaly told Newsweek.

Room for mushrooms

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00
Pha Lina

Teap Srey Nith, 13, walks through a mushroom patch, which is covered with straw to create a moist environment for the funghi, in Krung Svay village of Prek Kampoes commune, in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district.

It must be spray day

via CAAI

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 15:00 Sovan Philong

Pen Lay, a 67-year-old farmer, sprays water on cabbages yesterday at his vegetable farm in Svay Tany village of Prek Koy commune, in Kandal province's Sa'ang district. Pen Lay said that his cabbage crop takes about two months to grow from the planting season to harvest.

Activist's mother meets PM to speed up help for imprisoned Veera

via CAAI

BANGKOK, March 8 - The family of Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkwamkid, whose health is deteriorating as he serves his jail term in a Cambodian prison, met Tuesday with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to seek more vigorous government help in gaining the release of the detained activist.

Wilaiwan and Preecha Somkwamkid, Mr Veera's mother and brother, met for 45 minutes with the premier Tuesday afternoon at Government House, seeking concrete government assistance to help her son.

Mr Veera and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon were convicted by a Cambodian court on Feb 1 for espionage, illegal entry, and trespassing in a military zone. Mr Veera was sentenced to an eight-year jail term and a 1.8 million riel (US$450) fine, while Ms Ratree was handed a six-year jail term and a 1.2 million riel (US$300) fine.

Mr Abhisit commented that his government will explore possible means to help Mr Veera, who is now suffering severe health problems, and inform Cambodia about the matter.

We still don't know how long it will take to help the pair but we must speed up the help as soon as possible, Mr Abhisit said, adding that at least the health of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree were a matter of concern.

The premier said the detainees' families are now proceeding with a request for a royal pardon.

Mr Veera's brother earlier said the 53-year-old activist is in weak condition as he has congenital diseases and has not been given appropriate medical treatment and nutrition while in Preysar Prison.

Mr Preecha said the Somkwamkid family decided not to appeal the Cambodian court verdict and is now waiting for the Thai government to seek a royal pardon from the Cambodian king. He also urged the Thai Patriots Network not to appeal the ruling.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier said it is impossible for a royal pardon for the detained Thai nationals as inmates are required to serve at least two-thirds of their jail terms first. The Thai premier conceded the renewed Thai-Cambodian border tension has affected legal proceedings to help the two detainees. (MCOT online news)

Accelerating the Global Health Initiative: Cambodia's HIV/AIDS Efforts Put Women in the Driver's Seat

via CAAI

February/March 2011


credit: Staff
U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), center left, visits a SmartGirl Club and interacts with beneficiaries in a Karaoke parlor in Phnom Penh during a recent visit to Cambodia.

The exchange of sex for money remains a major driver of the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Southeast Asia, but the karaoke bars, massage parlors, beer gardens, and other settings where these transactions are brokered remain some of the most viable employment venues for vulnerable women.

In Cambodia—where more than 10 percent of female entertainment workers are infected with HIV, and more than 25 percent of these women and girls report having no education—USAID programming supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is implementing a new approach to reducing HIV risk by focusing on the central principle of the Global Health Initiative: that the health and well-being of women is key to the health of all.

Instead of exclusively focusing on distributing condoms and conducting risk-reduction education for high-risk women, the SmartGirl program aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health of its beneficiaries more broadly through linkages to personal counseling, voluntary family planning services, clinical care, savings schemes, and legal services.

Late last year, the program received a PEPFAR Heroes award from the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator for its efforts to reduce the risks associated with entertainment work, while also supporting women in the pursuit of other employment.

"We're committed to having women in the driver's seat," said Michael Cassell, the coordinator of the PEPFAR initiative in Cambodia. "SmartGirl is largely designed and run by entertainment workers to address their own felt needs. And the skills they acquire in the process help many of them to consider and pursue other careers, including ones in HIV and reproductive health service delivery."

Avoiding "Message Fatigue"

Previous HIV/AIDS programs have focused on raising awareness of HIV, and educating people about how to avoid getting infected. But by demonstrating that staying healthy is key to the pursuit of education, wealth, happiness, and other personal objectives, SmartGirl strives to engage beneficiaries while sidestepping some of the "message fatigue" and monotony associated with more didactic approaches. Education sessions are run by peers, cover a broad range of topics that are updated regularly, and offer referrals to free HIV testing, family planning, and other services.

During a recent visit to a SmartGirl club in Phnom Penh, U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) was inspired to join program beneficiaries in a rousing karaoke rendition of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," noting her appreciation for the leadership of club members in providing health education and referrals to health care, vocational training, and legal services to other entertainment workers.

"I am so proud of you," Richardson told the club members.

The SmartGirl program, which is implemented by USAID-partner Family Health International, currently provides services to 12,600 of the estimated 35,000 women working in clubs and night spots in Cambodia. The program is funded by PEPFAR but is consistent with the overarching objectives of the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. government's six-year, $63 billion commitment to help partner countries strengthen their health systems, with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns, and children.

"Almost 30 percent of entertainment workers in Cambodia report having an abortion in the past year, suggesting inconsistent condom use and unmet needs for family planning," said Cassell. "By linking these women to sexual and reproductive health services, we stand to prevent new HIV infections while also reducing maternal mortality—the latter arguably being Cambodia's biggest public health challenge."

A Model Approach

Cambodia is home to one of the most renowned national success stories in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Late last year, the country received international recognition in the form of a Millennium Development Goals country award for cutting adult HIV prevalence in half, from 2 percent to 0.9 percent between 1998 and 2006, while extending HIV-related care to more than 70 percent of HIV-infected adults, and HIV treatment to more than 90 percent of eligible individuals.

The estimated proportion of sex workers infected with HIV is down to around 10 percent from over 21 percent in 2003, according to the 2006 HIV Sentinel Surveillance (HSS). However, the maternal mortality ratio in Cambodia remains the second highest in East Asia.

"We're particularly excited about the potential of this program to serve as a model for the scale up of higher quality and more holistic approaches to address the needs of populations at high risk for HIV infection," said Cassell. "Many of the service delivery and referral protocols pioneered through SmartGirl are now being implemented as part of Cambodia's national program with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria."

In the past decade, the U.S. government has invested more than $150 million in HIV/AIDS programs in the Southeast Asian nation, providing almost 40 percent of the resources available to the national response.

The playing fields

via CAAI

March 8th 2011

RELEASED in 1984, “The Killing Fields” was an unforgettable glimpse into the ghastly hell of Cambodia under Pol Pot. For many moviegoers, it illuminated a largely unknown genocide that killed an estimated 1.7m people and ended only with Vietnam’s invasion in 1979. Even then another decade of civil war was to follow. The film won a slew of awards and lots of acclaim for its British director, Roland Joffe.

Pol Pot and the murderous Khmer Rouge are long gone, but the legacy of war lingers in Cambodia. Look no further than the ranks of amputees in towns and villages. Some are the victims of landmines, of which rival armies scattered at least 4m, along with other unexploded ordnance, during and after the Vietnam’s war of independence. The toll continues to rise. Last year, 71 people died and 215 were injured by leftover munitions, according to the Mines Advisory Group, a charity.

In recent years Cambodia has tried to turn this handicap to its advantage with a disabled volleyball league. The league has thrived, making heroes of its amputees, who also compete for their country on the international stage. This year’s World Cup for disabled volleyball will be held in Phnom Penh in July, for the second time in four years. North Korea and Egypt are among the contenders.

Mr Joffe wants to bring Cambodia’s sporting triumph to the big screen. Having plumbed its tragic depths, with his new film he would put a more cheerful spin the country’s story by concentrating on what happened after the fighting ended. He calls the project a “living postscript” to “The Killing Fields”, and laments that Cambodia “keeps getting forgotten” by the rest of the world. An uplifting movie about disabled athletes punching their way out of poverty might be just the ticket. Unlike “The Killing Fields”, which was mostly filmed in Thailand, the volleyball picture would be shot on Cambodia’s own playing fields—provided Mr Joffe can pull together the necessary financing.

These days, there is plenty of money sloshing around Cambodia, which averaged over 9% GDP growth between 2000-2007, before the world’s financial crisis struck. The economy is now revving again. Last year, Chinese investors promised to spend billions of dollars on power and agricultural projects. South Korean firms are also increasingly active. This means more potential sponsors for the disabled volleyball league. The 13 teams it fields currently all depend on corporate largesse for their kit, fields and salaries.

Chris Minko, a bluff Australian, runs the league on a tight budget. He says more teams are waiting in the wings, mostly in rural towns bereft of sponsors. He hopes that the release of a hit movie by Mr Joffe might bring a raft of new donations and help put the league on a firmer footing. It would also, naturally, shine a spotlight on Mr Minko, a longtime resident of Cambodia: his is one of the current script’s lead characters (“a cynical, 40-something alcoholic”).

As for Mr Joffe, a cinematic return to Cambodia, where he still does charity work occasionally, would mark a change of pace. His latest film, “There Be Dragons”, concerns the Spanish civil war and the founder of Opus Dei. Perhaps it is a sign of the times that his second Cambodian movie could be a more hopeful affair.

World Bank project tied to forced evictions in Cambodia

via CAAI

Complainants won their case at the Inspection Panel

8 March 2011

The World Bank’s Inspection Panel found that the Bank breached its operational policies by failing to properly design and supervise the Cambodia Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), contributing to the forced eviction of some 4,250 families.

On all counts, the World Bank’s Inspection Panel found that the Bank breached its operational policies by failing to properly design and supervise the Cambodia Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP). These failures contributed to the forced eviction of some 4,250 families living around Phnom Penh’s iconic Boeung Kak Lake. Residents were unfairly denied the right to register their land ownership shortly before the government leased the area to a private developer and began a campaign of intimidation and pressure to force families living in the area to leave.

Today, the Bank Board of Executive Directors are meeting to decide what action to take in light of the findings of the Bank’s Inspection Panel that a $28.8 million land titling project in Cambodia flagrantly disregarded Bank policies, leaving more than 20,000 people facing forced eviction from their homes in central Phnom Penh.

The outcome of the Board meeting will signify how the Bank will demonstrate its accountability to some 2,000 families who have already been evicted and forced to accept a fraction of the market values for their property. As the deliberation on the Panel Report and Management Response is happening today, the remaining 10,000 people living around the lake are served with a seven-day deadline to accept the compensation offer or face bulldozers and get nothing.