Saturday, 12 March 2011

Lacking Education, Women Face Limited Opportunity

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Friday, 11 March 2011

via CAAI
Photo: AP

“We do not want women to take over the roles of men, but to be equal or very much the same.”

Women face few prospects in the economy or politics, highlighting a need for better education and opportunities, a leading rights advocate said Thursday.

Pung Chhiv Kek, founder of the rights group Licadho, told “Hello VOA” that women here are limited in what they can do, with many finding their way to labor in the garment sector.

“We do not want women to just be garment factory workers,” she said. “If women have work to do, it’s better than nothing. But we want to see women becoming the presidents of companies, leaders of large or medium-sized companies. We want women to obtain very high levels of education in order for women to be incorporated in all sectors of societal leadership.”

“We do not want women to take over the roles of men, but to be equal or very much the same,” she said.

She noted that Tuesday marked the centennial of International Women’s Day, which began 100 years ago when women worldwide began standing up for their rights.

Cambodian women face a wide range of obstacles in their educational development. Most drop out before university, and only one about 1 percent of key leadership roles in the government are held by women, Pung Chhiv Kek said.

That includes 27 parliamentarians, one deputy prime minister, two ministers, 19 secretaries of state and 28 undersecretaries of state.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan acknowledged the shortage, saying women face an educational problem and poverty in post-conflict Cambodia.

“That does not mean the men of Cambodia, or the government, do not value women,” he said. Within the Cambodian People’s Party there are many women, he said.

The government has in its five-year development plan goals to develop women through better training and education, but despite such plans, women face an uphill struggle.

Pung Chhiv Kek said she has watched the government’s agenda for women since 1993, from the first election, and noticed more women in government positions. But she also noted that women face domestic violence, rape, trafficking, poverty, poor education and a culture of impunity that does little to bring justice for violence acted against them.

A country with greater development priorities for women will remain more stable, she said.

Australia Hands Seized Artifacts Over to Cambodia

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Friday, 11 March 2011

via CAAI
On June 17, 2010, the United States returned seven sculptures from the great Angkorian era that had been smuggled out of Cambodia.

“Illegally removing human remains and cultural property deprives countries of their ancestry and history.”

The Australian government has returned a collection of stolen prehistoric artifacts to Cambodia that were smuggled out of the country and seized by Australian authorities last year.

The collection of 30 artifacts included earrings and ornamental leg and wrist bangles, along with human remains. They were handed over to the Cambodian government at its embassy in Canberra on Thursday.

The jewelry had been brought into Australia and were being sold on the website E-Bay through an Australian art gallery, Australian Art Minister Simon Crean said in a statement.

“Illegally removing human remains and cultural property deprives countries of their ancestry and history,” he said.

Dougald O’Reilly, director of the Cambodian conservation NGO Heritage Watch, said in an e-mail the jewelry was likely looted from northwest Cambodia, where in recent years villagers have begun to raid ancient burial sites. The jewelry could date back to 100 AD to 300 AD, he said.

“The return of these artifacts demonstrates the cooperation and understanding between Cambodia and Australia in protecting cultural heritage and combating the illegal trade of cultural property,” Cambodian Ambassador to Australia Chum Sounry said.

Hat Touch, director general of the Ministry of Culture’s heritage department, in Phnom Penh, said he was in contact with the Cambodian Embassy and was working to bring the artifacts back “as quickly as possible.”

Lake Talks Fail Between Residents, City Officials

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 11 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
In late 2010, Shukaku, Inc., continues to pump fill into Beoung Kak lake, inundating occupied homes as it moves towards building a residential and business district.

"The development of the area requires them to remove their houses so that new ones can be built, after which they can return."

City officials and residents fearful of eviction failed to reach an agreement on Friday over the Boeung Kak lake development, living families in continued doubt over whether they will eventually be evicted.

Seven Phnom Penh officials led by Deputy Governor Noun Someth sat with 35 lake residents to discuss options, following multiple demonstrations in recent weeks and the findings of a World Bank investigation that faulted a land-titling program for failing the residents.

Lake residents say they want to stay on 15 hectares of land in the 133-hectare commercial development by Shukaku Erdos Hongjun rather than take buyouts or move to an inferior location—or to leave the area at all while it is developed.

City officials say the development of the area requires them to remove their houses so that new ones can be built, after which they can return. However, residents say they will not leave their current homes in the area until new ones are built they can move into.

The core disagreement left both sides at loggerheads on Friday, despite increased calls from city officials that residents settle with the developer or face penalty of law and the destruction of their homes without compensation.

The meeting follows the release of investigation results from the World Bank on Wednesday that found the Bank’s Phnom Penh office had failed to follow a land-titling plan that could have prevented many evictions from the lake area.

In a statement Friday, the Ministry of Land Management reiterated the government’s position that the lakeside residents were not among those who should have received titles under the World Bank program.

Thailand and Cambodia agree to meet at UNESCO on temple dispute

via CAAI

Mar 11, 2011

Bangkok - Cambodian and Thai officials are to meet May 25 at UNESCO's Paris headquarters to discuss the Preah Vihear temple, which sparked a deadly border clash this year.

The meeting is the outcome of a visit by UNESCO special envoy for Preah Vihear, Koichiro Matsuura, who travelled to Bangkok and Cambodia late last month, UNESCO said in a statement issued in Paris.

'I am very pleased with the success of Mr Matsuura's mission, and I am very encouraged by his talks with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand and Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, which have helped open the way for further dialogue on the effective conservation of Preah Vihear,' UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said. 'This will be the main aim of discussions in Paris on May 25.'

Bokova did not specify who would represent Thailand and Cambodia at the May meeting.

The 11th-century Hindu temple was put on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites in 2008 despite objections by Thailand that the land adjacent to the site was still the subject of a border dispute.

Thailand has asked UNESCO to postpone the world heritage listing process of the temple on its border with Cambodia until the territorial dispute was settled.

Thai and Cambodian troops clashed February 4-7 around Preah Vihear vicinity, killing at least 10 people.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia but stopped short of determining the border demarcation in the contested area.

Both countries claim a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land near the temple, which has been included under Cambodia's management plan for UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Both sides have beefed up their forces near the temple, 450 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, since July 2008, leading to several border skirmishes over the past two and a half years.

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

Japan To Provide US$94 Million To Support Three Development Projects

Phnom Penh, March 11, 2011 AKP – Cambodia and Japan will sign an Exchange of Notes on the extension of a Grant Aid up to the amount of ¥7,758,000,000, approximately US$94 million for the implementation of three development projects.

The Exchange of Notes will be signed here on Mar. 15 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation between Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong and Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Masafumi Kuroki, under the presidency of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Around US$45 million will be used for the Project for Flood Protection and Drainage Improvement in Phnom Penh Capital City (Phase III); and some US$33.66 million for the Project for Replacement and Expansion of Water Distribution Systems in Provincial Capitals, said a press release of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated today.

The rest, around US$15.83 million will be used for the Project for Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities (Phase VI), the press release added. –AKP


Cambodia Clarifies World Bank’s Concern over Boeung Kak’s Eviction

Phnom Penh, March 11, 2011 AKP – Cambodia’s Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has in a press release clarified World Bank’s concern over Boeung Kak’s Eviction, stressing that the area is not legally linked to Land Management and Administration Project implemented by the ministry.

The following is the ministry’s full press release:

“The Royal Government of Cambodia would like to declare that Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), a Project implemented by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), has never been involved with the Boeung Kak area. To support this claim, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction would like to clarify this as follow:

According to the Environmental and Social Safeguards of the LMAP (dated December 12, 2001), the Social Safeguards shall be implemented to protect people who may have been negatively impacted by the three possible sources:

(i) Eviction from unregistered state land of individuals who occupied the land prior to August 30, 2001, enactment of the new land law, following registration of such a land in the name of state,
(ii) Eviction from registered state land of individuals who occupied the land prior to enactment for the new land law (August 30, 2001), because the need to use such a land for the carrying out of civil works under the project, and
(iii) Extension by the stage of right of way (ROW) claims which adversely affects possession rights.

Disputes referred to the Boeung Kak area concerns the Status of the Land as State Public Land. According to the Land Law 2001, areas considered as state public land cannot be a subject of private possession and occupant can be punished by law. However none of those areas have been registered as a state land by LMAP. Therefore it is under the conditions set for social safeguards in the Credit Agreement and they have not been triggered.

The reason the above-mentioned areas have not been registered as state land is because LMAP has followed the requirement of the Project Appraisal Document (PAD) (dated January 29, 2002) which clearly states that disputed areas shall be excluded from the registration. P.24 of this PAD states that: “the project will not title lands in areas where disputes are likely until agreements are reached on the status of Land” p.24. This means that the land can be titled only until a dispute has been resolved. The Sras Chak commune was declared as an adjudication area on March 31, 2006 by the Phnom Penh Administration Committee. The excluded area (the Boeung Kak area, being part of Sras Chak commune) was shown in a transparent, 30 day Public Display, according to Sub-decree 46, from January 4, 2007 to February 2, 2007. It is during this 30-day period where any complaint received, will bring the dispute into an appeal process which would start with the Administration Committee, and could be appealed to the Cadastral Commission, and up to the court in the event that the dispute is not resolved. During this 30-day period; however, no complaint was received. Therefore, LMAP followed the PAD to exclude the area from title, and the legal process of sub-decree 46 for public display.

If the area of discussion above was legally not in a registration area, then any complaints about this area cannot be linked to LMAP. In any event, application of the Resettlements Policy Framework (RPF) was not triggered, for the fundamental reason that the excluded area was not titled to the state by LMAP.

The LMAP has followed this excluded approach which is fully consistent with the Development Credit Agreement (DCA), and the Project Appraisal Document. The target of 1 million registered parcels could not have been achieved with the different approach. Discussions to revise the approach should have been conducted according to agreed proceedings. The approach, however, has not been questioned or even discussed during any of Supervision Missions which happens every 6 months. Neither did the Mid Term Review held in October 2004 raise the issue.” –AKP


Cambodian Premier Presides Over an Inauguration of Achievements in Battambang Province

Phnom Penh, March 11, 2011 AKP – Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen presided over an inauguration ceremony of achievements at a pagoda in Maung Russei district, Battambang province on Mar. 10.

The inaugurating achievements, including temple, school buildings and others, were constructed at a total cost of over US$279,120 and 50 million riel (Cambodian currency roughly US$12,500) funded by charities.

Speaking at the event, Samdech Techo Hun Sen said the achievements realized reflected the Cambodian nation on the way to the national development with prosperity and happiness in the world’s globalization and the advanced technology and telecommunications.

He attributed all the achievements gained to the full peace of the country, the end of Pol Pot genocidal regime and the national reunification in conformity to the “win-win” policy of the royal government.

The achievements and the glorious victory are an inseparable and meaningful pre-condition to the national development in all fields of the country, he said.

However, he said, the challenge faced by the royal government is combating the poverty being affected to the Cambodian people.

The royal government’s perspective on the national development is to create a Cambodian society with the people of high standard of living, good education, happiness and peace of mind, strong health, high national conscience, strong national unification and equal rights to those in the region and the world, he stressed.

Cambodia made a great effort to link the stability and peace with the economic growth to enable the Cambodians to live in the better lives, he said. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul


Information Minister Khieu Kanharith Meets VOV General Director

Phnom Penh, March 11, 2011 AKP – Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith met in Siem Reap Wednesday with a Vietnamese delegation of Voice of Vietnam (VOV), headed by its General Director Vu Van Hien for a bilateral talk.

In his welcoming remarks, Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith said the delegation’s visit reflected the progress of good friendship and cooperation between the radio voices and especially between the information ministries of the two countries.

He thanked the VOV for having provided the National Radio Kampuchea (NRK) with 8 sets of FM Radio Transmitters, with a total value of more than US$1 million, to increase radio transmission capacity in the provinces across Cambodia, and said that the equipments helped expand the broadcast to nearly all parts of the country.

Cambodia will host a conference of the signatories to the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention later this year with the participants from more than 100 countries. The country will hold the Senate representative election and the Sangkat/Communal Council election in 2012 and the national election in 2013, he said while speaking of the importance of expanded transmitting capacity and of the material assistance given by the VOV.

Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith requested the VOV delegation to consider the possibility of assisting Cambodia with high-capacity AM radio transmitters, capable of reaching people in the remote areas, especially in the northwestern border provinces.

He also asked the Vietnamese side to provide technical training to the NRK personnel and hoped to get continued technical and material assistance and support from the VOV.

For his part, General Director Vu Van Hien said his delegation would take the requests by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith into consideration, which also included the supply of high-capacity AM radio transmitters and the television relay transmitters.

He affirmed his delegation’s position in further assisting and improving the media in Cambodia, especially in promoting and consolidating the cooperation and friendship of the two nations. –AKP

Article in Khmer by HUN Yuth Kun
Article in English by Ravuth M.


Regional Leaders Agree on Southern Economic Corridor Growth Potential

Phnom Penh, March 11, 2011 AKP – Private and public sector stakeholders in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) agreed on practical actions which will enhance the business climate along the corridor as they closed a two-day symposium here.

The specific measures agreed upon address the continued need for infrastructure development along the corridor areas and provinces, including rural and feeder roads; speed up transport and trade facilitation measures along the corridor, including the GMS Cross Border Transport Agreement; disseminate information to the private sector to facilitate business decisions in the SEC; convene regular dialogues among the public and private sectors and other SEC stakeholders; and establish a systematic monitoring system for actions to promote SEC development, according to a news release of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) dated today.

Provincial authorities, led by the governors of the 43 provinces along the SEC in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Thailand, and Viet Nam emphasized the importance of greater cooperation and closer coordination between them and the private sector, the development partners and donor organizations, and other stakeholders to promote and facilitate the development of the SEC.

Private sector participants, led by the secretary general of the GMS Business Forum, stressed the importance of addressing the procedural barriers to cross-border trade and disseminating information on trading along the SEC. They echoed the provincial governors in calling for strengthened dialogue between the public and private sectors.

At the opening of the symposium on Wednesday, H.E. Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister, Minister of the Ministry of Commerce and GMS Minister of Cambodia emphasized that the private sector is the primary driver of economic growth in the SEC, with the public sector establishing a conducive policy and regulatory environment. He referred to the SEC as the main platform or “runway” for the development of the Mekong region, extending to the rest of ASEAN, South Asia and the People’s Republic of China. SEC is truly a regional corridor that has much wider geographical significance than the areas it covers. He further recommended that pragmatic and results-oriented efforts are necessary to ensure that less developed areas of the SEC share in the benefits of SEC development, with geographic priorities established.

The two-day symposium, which had the theme “Synergizing Private Sector Dynamism and Public Planning” – brought together some 200 participants, including provincial government officials, private stakeholders experts, and development partners from the GMS. It was organized by ADB and funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

“This symposium gave us the opportunity to jointly take stock of the state of SEC development, addressing trade and transport facilitation, logistics development, and promotion of value chains, industrial clusters and economic links in manufacturing, agro-business and tourism,” said Thomas Crouch, Deputy Director General in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The GMS countries envision the SEC as an engine of economic growth and social development, creating jobs, increasing incomes, reducing poverty, and improving the living conditions of the people in the corridor and surrounding areas, ensuring that its development is inclusive and sustainable.

The ADB has been promoting the private sector-driven economic corridor approach to the development of the GMS, aiming to extend the benefits of improved transport links to remote or landlocked regions in the GMS, which have been disadvantaged by their weak linkages with more prosperous neighboring areas.

Australia is a key partner in the development of the SEC and the GMS. Through AusAID, Australia is providing USUS$43.5 million to upgrade the Southern Coastal Corridor in Cambodia and Viet Nam. Australia is providing more than $302 million for other critical infrastructure and trade projects in the GMS. This will help increase economic integration, access to markets and basic services, as well as providing employment opportunities for poor people in the subregion.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2010, it approved a total of US$13.8 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees, equity investments, and technical assistance projects. ADB also mobilized cofinancing amounting to US$3.7 billion. –AKP