Wednesday, 16 March 2011

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

Permanent DPM Leaves for Vietnam

Phnom Penh, March 16, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Mrs. Men Sam An left here yesterday for Vietnam for a five-day official visit at the invitation of the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Parliamentarians Group.

Mrs. Men Sam An, also Chairperson of the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentarians Group will meet on Mar. 16 with her Vietnamese counterpart Mr. Pham Minh Tuyen to discuss about the work of both countries’ Friendship Parliamentarians Groups and set strategic objectives to enhance women’s value, especially the well-being of mothers, according to Mr. Chap Sotharith, head of cabinet of Mrs. Men Sam An.

On the same day, she will hold a talk with Vietnamese Standing Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Nguyen Sinh Hung, said Mr. Chap Sotharith, adding that she will also visit development areas and the capital city of Hanoi. –AKP

By OU Sokha


Cambodia Sets Up Working Group Dealing with ICJ‘s Clarification of Preah Vihear Temple

Phnom Penh, March 16, 2011 AKP – Cambodia has announced the setting up of a working group to prepare relevant documents to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, asking it to clarify the 1962 ruling that awarded Preah Vihear Temple to Cambodia.

The working group is composed of Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Hor Namhong, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Senior Minister H.E. Var Kim Hong, of Border Affairs at the Council of Ministers’ Office; Aun Porn Moniroth, Delegate Minister Attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance; H.E. Long Visalo, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; and H.E. Uch Kim An, Cambodian Ambassador to France.

The group is entrusted with selecting and hiring foreign lawyers, as well as taking necessary actions to achieve success in the above-mentioned tasks.

It shall also make a relation with ICJ in conformity with the court procedure until the court’s explanation is completed.

A head of the working group is entitled to nominate competent officials of specific jobs to assist it.

The group has to make a report to the prime minister on the work in progress and ask recommendations from him. –AKP

By THOU Peou

Municipality to expand road around a busy roundabout

Photo by: Hong Menea
Motorists drive past the Neang Kong Heang roundabout near the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh yesterday. City Hall has announced a 90-day project to expand the road around the roundabout .

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:02Chhay Channyda

Phnom Penh Municipality will start a 90-day construction project today to expand the roads around a heavily trafficked roundabout near the Olympic Stadium in Prampi Makara district.

According a statement from the municipality’s website, traffic around the Neang Kong Hing roundabout has drawn the ire of local motorists.

City officials say they have received “so many complaints from [the] public about its current condition”.

City Hall approved a plan on March 3 that would see several changes to the current location.

The plan calls for expansion of Street 169 and Street 182, and the relocation of the roundabout to the corner of Wat Preah Put.

New traffic lights are also to be installed, along with the addition of new driving lanes.

A municipality letter signed yesterday and issued to residents living near the project site in the Prampi Makara district’s Veal Vong commune, asked them “to be patient during disturbances from the construction activities”.

The letter further requested that “residents who live near the construction site cooperate in moving and removing all affected buildings in order for the construction process to run on time”.

Som Sovan, Prampi Makara district governor, said yesterday that the road expansion project would pose no threat to area residents’ homes but would only affect pavements.

“The construction only affects state land, and we’ll expand the road four or five metres into the Olympic Stadium [grounds],” he said.

The municipality statement said the intersection had been “under adjustment” by the Asian Development Bank in 2003, but that its directions had now become difficult for motorists to follow.

Police Blotter: 16 Mar 2011

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:00Sen David

Cockfighting ring in Kampong Cham busted
Police in Kampong Cham’s O’Reang-ou district arrested four men for cockfighting on Saturday after seizing five cocks, cages and money. Neighbours reported the street they lived on hosted cockfighting for many years but no authorities would arrest them due to a lack of evidence. After the arrest police said there were more suspects but they could only catch four while others escaped. The suspects admitted that they are addicted to cockfighting because it made them happy and was an easy way to win money. Police have sent them to court.

Gold seller robbed in broad daylight
A 55-YEAR-OLD gold seller was robbed of 20 damlung of gold after a masked woman staged a daring daylight robbery in Battambang city on Friday. The owner said that the suspect came to exchange money at his shop and while he was changing her money, the woman snatched his bag of gold and escaped with a motodop. Police are still investigating the crime but said that the motodop is a friend of the suspect, and the two had planned the robbery in advance.

Drunken beating leads to three arrests
THREE men were arrested after beating a victim in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district on Saturday. Police said that the suspects were drinking alcohol outside of the victim’s house and disturbed him. The victim started shouting at them to drink elsewhere, which angered the suspects. They then threw rocks, attacked the victim and escaped, but police managed to apprehend them after the family reported the crime, and the suspects have been sent to court.

Factory lorry kills man and injures woman
A 32-YEAR-OLD man was killed after a lorry crashed into him and his girlfriend in Kampong Speu’s Samrong Tong district on Monday. Police said the man died immediately while his girlfriend was seriously injured, as the two were driving to work. A lorry carrying factory workers crashed into them and the two were sent to hospital, while the lorry driver escaped.

Frustrated teenager takes his own life
A 16-YEAR-OLD boy hanged himself after an argument with his sister in Pursat’s Krakor district on Sunday. The victim’s sister said that she had forbid her brother from going for a walk and he became angry and refused to go to school. Their mother became upset and the sister scolded the brother, who disappeared. On Sunday, as the victim’s sister walked through a field she found him hanging from a tree.

Nhek Bun Chhay to fight graft complaint

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:02Meas Sokchea and James O’Toole

A former member of the Funcinpec Party has launched a complaint with the Anticorruption Unit, accusing Deputy Prime Minister Nhek Bun Chhay of accepting bribes from a Chinese telecommunications company.

Bun Tha, publisher of the Khmer Amatak newspaper and a member of the central committee for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, filed the complaint with the ACU yesterday.

Bun Tha’s complaint is based on contract documents circulated earlier this year that detail an alleged transaction between Nhek Bun Chhay, who also serves as secretary general of Funcinpec, and an anonymous Chinese firm.

The documents, copies of which were obtained by The Post, include a contract dated June 7, 2008 stating that Nhek Bun Chhay and a company acting on his behalf obtained a 3G telecommunications license from the government that they agreed to transfer to a Hong Kong-based firm.

This firm was apparently created as a joint venture between Funcinpec and the unnamed Chinese company, according to the contract.

The alleged contract states that Nhek Bun Chhay agreed to “bring into full play of [his] influence and power as General Secretary of Funcinpec Party and deputy prime minister of [the] Kingdom of Cambodia to ensure [the Chinese company] will obtain license and approval” in the telecoms sector and in a variety of other business endeavours.

A separate receipt document, dated August 12, 2008 and allegedly signed by Nhek Bun Chhay, says Funcinpec received US$5.8 million in the transaction.

“This can be a basis for the ACU to investigate, research and raise other issues relating to corruption,” Bun Tha’s complaint reads.

Earlier this year, Bun Tha published articles on the documents on his newspaper, prompting Nhek Bun Chhay to file a disinformation complaint against him last month. Municipal court deputy prosecutor Hing Bun Chea said Bun Tha had been summoned to face questioning on Friday in relation to the case.

Nhek Bun Chhay denounced the contract as a forgery and denied having accepted bribes, though he acknowledged signing the receipt document.

“I am just a witness of the company,” Nhek Bun Chhay said. “I don’t know why [Bun Tha] filed a complaint to the ACU.”

Also appearing on the receipt document is the business card of Joe Heng, an associate partner at the auditing firm Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng, which has offices in Phnom Penh. Heng said yesterday, however, that he had never seen the document and had not been involved in the transaction.

“To be honest, I’m actually quite shocked. I have no idea what this in relation to,” he said. “I’ve never heard of any of these people.”

An experienced observer of the telecoms sector, who asked not to be quoted directly, also raised questions about the documents in the complaint. He noted that while it would not be unusual for foreign companies doing business in Cambodia to be asked to make payments to government officials, it would be extremely unusual for this arrangement to be enshrined in a contract, as contracts for illegal activity cannot be ruled on by courts.

Bun Tha said yesterday that he was unconcerned by the disinformation case against him and was confident that he had the evidence to prove Nhek Bun Chhay’s guilt.

“I am not afraid to appear [in court], so please go ahead and do this,” he said.

Funcinpec has been wracked by divisions since the return to politics last year by Prince Ranariddh, who has vowed to lure defectors from the party to his NRP. Last month, the NRP’s Phan Chantha, formerly a Funcinpec central committee member, accused Nhek Bun Chhay of improperly mortgaging Funcinpec headquarters in Phnom Penh and later selling the property for $3.85 million without consulting the rest of the party’s leadership.

Ratanakkiri villagers say water shortages reaching critical level

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:02Khoun Leakhana

Residents in the Banlung district of Ratanakkiri province say they face severe water shortages because of drought conditions that have persisted since last year.

Bun Ly, 43, from Labansiek commune, said residents are concerned as wells and water reserves dry up.

He said that in previous years residents could deepen their wells to find water but that measures taken this year have not helped.

“Last year’s drought hit in April and May, but this year the drought has continued since late last year.”

Another resident, Song Thy, 50, said villagers have appealed to authorities for assistance but to no effect.

Ratanakkiri Governor Paov Ham Phan said he could not address the issue yesterday.

Chhay Thim, a provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said 70 percent of residents in Ratanakkiri province get their water from Boeung Kanseng lake through the provincial water authority.

The rest, he added, get the majority of their water from private wells.

“The drought has caused water prices to rise,” Chhay Thim said.

“So we have called on the authorities to monitor the problem and find an immediate solution to the shortage.”

Ratanakkiri provincial Governor Paov Ham Phan said he could not address the issue yesterday because it was the result of natural causes.

“I think that the responsibility for this problem is with the Water Resource Department, because only they can tell when we have water and when we don’t.”

Mao Saray, director of the provincial Rural Water Supply Department, said he has not yet received a detailed report on water shortages in Ratanakkiri.

He added that he would act once he received the necessary information.

“We will ask our officials to investigate the situation,” he said yesterday.

New restrictions issued on foreign marriages

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:02Uong Ratana

The government has announced new regulations for marriages between Cambodian women and foreign men, stipulating that prospective husbands must be younger than 50 years old and earn more than US$2,550 per month.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed local embassies and consulates of the measures in a diplomatic note dated March 1, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.

“Marrying a man over 50 years old seems like a grandfather and a granddaughter,” he said.

“We want people getting married to look like proper couples.”

The salary minimum, Koy Kuong added, had been instituted to ensure that Cambodian women enjoyed a decent standard of living and were not victimised by labour trafficking.

“We want them to live decently, not to live like slaves,” he said, adding that the Foreign Ministry had yet to receive any response from local diplomats to the note.

United States embassy spokesman Mark Wenig confirmed that American officials had received the note but declined to comment further.

“We received information that the rules regarding marriages between Cambodians and foreigners were changing,” he said.

Officials at the British, French and Australian embassies did not respond to requests for comment.

While he was unsure of whether the note would be followed by a new law or sub-decree, Koy Kuong said the regulations listed in the diplomatic note carried legal force as of this month.

“We can say it is legally binding,” he said. “It is a kind of advice, and legally binding also.”

Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said the Foreign Ministry was handling the issue and declined to comment.

Last year, the government instituted a temporary ban on marriages between Cambodian women and South Korean men after officials broke up a human trafficking ring facilitating such unions.

In 2008, a temporary ban was instituted on all foreign marriages, again in relation to concerns about the trafficking of Cambodian women to South Korea.

Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua said the new directive was unnecessary and violated the right of women to freely choose their husbands.

“I am concerned about marriages that are not consented by women, when it’s more a marriage of opportunity,” she said, though she added that the Penal Code and other existing laws were enough to deal with this issue.

“The country has enough laws,” she said. “I’m afraid that it’s one more law after the other.”


Magic healer: Child sex trial ends for fortune teller

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:02Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Magic healer

The trial of a 60 year-old “magic teacher” on charges of purchasing child prostitution and committing indecent acts against minors concluded in Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

Presiding Judge Suos Sam Ath said Lim Chanthan, 60, a magic healer and teacher of the Three Vedas, an ancient Hindu form of magic, was arrested last year in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district.

The popular fortune teller was accused of purchasing child prostitution and committing indecent acts against eight under-age girls between 2008 and 2010.

He was charged on the testimonies of eight minors aged between 7 and 13, who said they had been lured by Lim Chanthan to his home, where he had sex with them, Suos Sam Ath said.

“Through today’s long hearing, and based on the testimonies of the victims, witnesses and conclusions of the participating prosecutor and the suspect’s lawyers, the court will issue the verdict of Lim Chanthan on March 24, 2011.”

Stock exchange boosts Canadia Tower rentals

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Canadia Tower has seen office rentals increase since it was confirmed as the initial home of the stock exchange.
via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:01Soeun Say

Canada Tower has benefited from the Cambodia stock exchange naming it as the bourse’s first home, an official said yesterday, with new clients including multinational giants drawn to the Phnom Penh skyscraper.

Around 80 percent of office space available at the nation’s tallest building has now been rented, according to Pen Phyrun, marketing manager of Mega Asset Management Co, the property unit of tower owner Overseas Corporation Investment of Cambodia.

This marks a rise on the 60 percent occupancy record in December, the same month that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia agreed to rent the tower’s 25th and 26th floor to temporarily house the exchange.

“After the SECC came to our place, we got a lot of clients to rent here and we also has confirmed a lot of clients [wanting] to book the space,” he said, declining to reveal how long the contract is set to last.
The bourse’s long-term home is touted to be in Camko City, Phnom Penh.

“Our client came from local and international company such as Cambodia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, USA, Australia and China,” he said.

Among the firms which have signed contracts to move into the building are Sojitz Corporation from Japan, a construction consultant from the UK, British accountancy body ACCA Cooperation with Cambodian accountancy trainer CamEd, and French communications giant Alcatel-Lucent.

The Bank of China is already stationed in the skyscraper.

“We’re going to sign more contracts with our clients soon as they already confirmed to rent our place.

“Our office space almost full, we hope that our place will full for next few months,” said Pen Phyrun.

Canadia Tower, which opened in November 2009, has put 10,724 square metres of work space up for rent at around US$25 per square metre. Keuk Narin, general manger of the Bonna Realty Group and secretary of the National Valuers Association, said yesterday that Canadia Tower benefitted from its prime location and good pricing.

“In only one year they can get clients [to rent] between 70-80 percent of their space - it is not a problem, they are successful,” he said.

Canadia Tower is currently Phnom Penh’s only Grade A office space.

But it is set to be joined by the Phnom Penh Tower which is scheduled to open next month in the capital.

Of the14 Grade B buildings in the capital, occupancy lies at around 75 percent, according to the National Valuers Association.

“In this year, we noted that occupancy rate increased because a lot of investors came here,” said Keuk Narin.

Canadia Tower is also home to the headquarters of Canadia Bank.

MFIs feel downward pressure on rates

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:01May Kunmakara

Competition among Cambodia’s microfinance institutions continued to put downwards pressure on interest rates, Cambodia Microfinance Association Chairman Chea Phalarin said yesterday.

Stable politics and a growing economy have led to increased demand for loans, but MFIs have also been rapidly increasing supply, he added.

Amret MFI – of which Chea Phalarin is president – has reduced its lowest interest rates on loans from 1.6 percent to 1.5 percent per month this year. He added that the move was necessary to attract borrowers.

“It will give customers the choice to select an institution which they think will give them good rates,” he said yesterday.

Other MFIs claim to have lowered rates from the beginning of 2011, also pointing to heavy competition among the association's 23 members. Participation in the group is mandatory for licensed MFIs in Cambodia.

Hattha Kakeskar Limited General Director Hout Ieng Tong said the firm had reduced its interest rates slightly in a bid to keep up. “The industry is getting very competitive,” he said. “We think cutting interest rates will draw new customers.”

The firm had reduced its lowest rate to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent per month, which he said was low but supported longer-term borrowers.

Seilanithih Limited MFI Chief Executive Officer Kuch Setha said it had reduced interest rates by 0.25 percent since the beginning of the year. He claimed that lowered interest rates were not the only factor in attracting customers.

“The best things [to attract customers] are offering good service, locations close to the demand, and duration of loans,” he said.

The sector faces strong growth potential this year, according to Chea Phalarin.

MFIs could increase total lending by as much as 30 percent this year on the back of growth in agriculture, tourism, and exports, which will lead people to expand their businesses, he said. Many of the newer market entrants focus on larger cities, while older MFIs spread out in rural areas.

Microfinance loans rose 33 percent last year to US$647 million in 2010, from $485 million the year previous, according to CMA data. It also claimed the Non-Performing Loan rate declined to 1.29 percent, from 2.86 percent in 2009.

Like father, like son in Cambodia

via CAAI

By Sebastian Strangio

PHNOM PENH - On May 29, 1999, Hun Manet, the eldest son of Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, mounted the dais at the United States Military Academy at West Point to collect his diploma from General Dennis J Reimer, the US Army's former chief of staff. Clad in a traditional grey jacket and red sash, then 21-year-old became the first-ever Cambodian alumnus of the prestigious academy - one of just seven foreign cadets to graduate that year.

During the ceremony, television news cameras followed Hun Manet up to the podium, eager for a glimpse of the son of Cambodia's war-tested strongman. His presence at the graduation had prompted controversy. Congressman Christopher Smith of New Jersey said in congress before the ceremony that Hun Sen was a "mass murderer" and that the US government "should be handing him an indictment, not a visa".

While most of the graduates posed for photographs with their families in a nearby stadium, the New York Times reported that Hun Manet met his father and his entourage beneath shaded bleachers under close guard from US Secret Service agents.

In the years since, Hun Manet completed a PhD in economics at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Throughout his time in the West, he maintained a low profile and rarely made public appearances. Recently, however, his inconspicuousness has masked a rapid rise through the country's military ranks.

In September, Hun Manet was promoted to deputy commander of his father's powerful personal bodyguard unit. Four months later, in January, he was appointed to the rank of two-star general and as deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) infantry. He also serves as director of the Ministry of Defense's counter-terrorism department, which works closely with the US.

Hun Manet's rapid rise has led to widespread speculation that he is being groomed to eventually succeed his father, one of Asia's longest-serving leaders who has been in power in one form or another since 1985. Cambodian officials including Hun Sen have denied any hint of nepotism in Hun Manet's meteoric ascent, frequently pointing out that his academic credentials are sound. At the age of 33 - the same as his father when he was first appointed prime minister - Hun Manet's political star is only beginning to rise.

"If you have power, you try to maintain that power and you have to have someone you trust to continue [it]," said Son Soubert, a political commentator and former member of Cambodia's Constitutional Council. "In the human sphere it's quite natural, though not in a democratic system."

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), said that though he is unlikely to take over from his father any time soon - Hun Sen has said he wants to remain in power for at least the next decade - further promotions were a "distinct possibility" for Hun Manet.

Those signs grew clearer last month when deadly clashes broke out between Cambodia and Thailand close to Preah Vihear temple, an 11th century Angkorian temple perched on a cliff along the countries' border. Hun Manet reportedly played a prominent role during four days of armed skirmishes in a disputed area adjacent to the temple, which killed at least 10 people and injured dozens on both sides.

The exact nature of his involvement remains unclear. Thai media carried unsourced reports that said he took a "leading role" in the fighting on the night of February 6. Hun Manet has since been credited with helping to negotiate ceasefire arrangements with his Thai counterparts, according to Thai media reports.

Some experts believe the appearance of Hun Manet, who has two brothers and three sisters, during the border skirmish could be part of a bid to boost his public profile. Carlyle Thayer, an analyst based at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Sydney, said Manet was clearly being prepared for a military career to provide Hun Sen with assurance that the army will remain loyal - a key concern in Cambodia's highly-personalized political system.

The Preah Vihear fighting, one of the first times Hun Manet had emerged onto the public stage, was likely intended to establish his credibility as a military commander - whatever his exact role during the clashes.

"I see his emergence as part of a process of taking responsibility for defense matters first, demonstrating competence, and then embarking on a political career all the while under the tutelage of his father who will remain as prime minister," Thayer said.

Western reform hopes
Hun Manet's education at West Point symbolized the tentative resumption of ties between the US and Cambodia following years of Cold War estrangement. Barely two years earlier, Hun Sen had ousted his main rival, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, in a series of pitched battles in the streets of the capital Phnom Penh.

Dozens of members of Ranariddh's royalist Funcinpec party were butchered in a July 1997 coup, which brought international opprobrium down on Hun Sen's regime and strained Phnom Penh's nascent relations with Washington. So, too, did a grenade attack against an opposition rally in Phnom Penh that same year, which killed at least 16 people and injured 100 more, including a US citizen. The incident was later investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Since Hun Manet received his PhD and returned to Cambodia, however, relations with Washington have blossomed. In August 2005, restrictions on US military assistance to Cambodia were lifted and the following year Defense Minister Tea Banh paid a visit to the US Pacific Command to request American military support.

In 2007, the US resumed direct foreign assistance to Phnom Penh, making it the third-largest recipient of foreign assistance in East Asia after Indonesia and the Philippines. The blossoming relationship was capped off in June 2009 when the US removed Cambodia and Laos from a Cold War-era blacklist of Marxist-Leninist nations, paving the way for US Export-Import Bank support for American companies to do business with the two countries.

At a time of rising Chinese influence in Southeast Asia - Cambodia has received billions of dollars in aid and investment in recent years - all this raises the question of whether an increasingly prominent Manet, well connected to the US through his West Point connections, could help cement Cambodia's relationship with Washington. Others wonder whether Hun Manet would in a leadership role prompt some liberalization of the country's ossified political system, which his father has presided over in authoritarian fashion.

At the time of Hun Manet's graduation, the New York Daily News quoted an unnamed government official as saying granting West Point educations to the children of foreign leaders gave Washington "an automatic in" with those nations. Hun Manet's recent promotions have also prompted calls for him to act as a fifth column of reform within the Cambodian armed forces.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told Radio Free Asia after Manet's promotion in January that his group would welcome any attempts to reform the military - especially Hun Sen's bodyguard unit, which has been accused of complicity in a range of rights abuses, including the bloody grenade attack of March 1997.

Other observers say it is unclear how much influence Hun Manet will be willing or able to wield. Thayer believes defense ties with the US will likely continue to improve, with Manet's West Point education acting as "a conduit" for the development of a more robust military relationship. As his career progresses, however, Hun Manet is expected to be more attuned to the vagaries of domestic politics than to any external loyalties, heading off the possibility of significant reforms.

"West Point teaches civilian control over the military, which is not the case in Cambodia," Thayer said. Getting too close to the US could also "expose" Hun Manet in the event of a cooling of bilateral relations. "He is likely to be a more professional military commander but Cambodia's political culture and existing political system will mitigate against rapid liberalization," he added.

Though he is believed by some to be more sympathetic to Western-style liberal democracy and human rights than the stalwarts of his father's ruling Cambodian People's Party and the armed forces, CCHR's Ou Virak discounted the potential for Hun Manet to enact deep-reaching structural or political change. He compared Hun Manet to the sons of Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and North Korea's Kim Jong-il, neither of whom has shown signs of departing from their fathers' authoritarian ways.

Son Soubert said that he witnessed a previous generation of enlightened, French-educated Cambodians - including many members of the Funcinpec party - cast democratic ideals aside and willingly engage in the corruption of Cambodian politics once they returned home. "I think the whole atmosphere of the country is what is at stake," he said of Hun Manet's chances of engineering reform. "If he can maintain his credibility and what he has learned in the US then that would be the best for Cambodia."

Sebastian Strangio is a journalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He may be reached at

Talking Finance: Hedging investments

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Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:01Anthony Galliano

Anthony Galliano, chief executive officer of Cambodian Investment Management, tackles derivatives in the latest of his weekly columns explaining financial terms.

Derivative have historically developed a severely tarnished reputation.

They have been allegedly been responsible for such catastrophic financial disasters such as the bankruptcy of Barings Bank in 1995, the loss of US$7.2 billion by Societe Generale in 2008, and most recently, the Financial Crisis of 2008.

George Soros, the famous hedge fund manager and financier, claims he really doesn’t understand derivatives. The world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffet, called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

However, it is the misuse of derivatives that has substantially been the underlining cause of financial tragedies.

A derivative is a financial instrument, which is an agreement or contract between two parties, whose characteristics and value is nearly always linked to the price movements of an underlying asset.

The most common forms of derivatives are options, futures, and forwards which can be linked to assets such as shares, bonds, currencies, and commodities.

They are generally traded in two ways. Over-the-counter derivatives are privately negotiated contracts between two parties. Exchange-traded derivative contracts are traded through either a specialised derivatives exchange or other exchange.

Their primary uses are for hedging, a form of risk mitigation or insurance, or speculation, for the purpose of making a profit.

Derivatives can provide leverage in that a small movement in the underlying asset can result in a large difference in the value of the derivative.

Admittedly derivatives are complex and in explaining them it is best use a basic example.

In Cambodia, our largest agricultural commodity is rice. If a farmer wishes to lock in a price for his harvest he can enter into an agreement or contract with his buyer today, to sell the rice at a specific price, at a future date.

The farmer may wish to mitigate his risk that the price of rice may decline at harvest time and therefore prefer to have certainty of price now rather than be exposed to future price movements.

The buyer may also wish to lock in a price now from the farmer, and speculate that the price will be higher in the future, therefore earning a profit, as the buyer can sell the rice above the price agreed with the farmer.

In this case a derivative is created, an over-the-counter futures contract with the underlying asset being rice and the characteristics being the price agreed and the time of delivery.

The farmer is committed to deliver the rice to the buyer on that date and at the price agreed in the contract.

If this contract can be traded on an exchange, then it would become an exchange-traded derivative.

Derivatives allow businesses to protect themselves against risk such as commodity price movements, increases in interest rates, and adverse movements in exchange rates, therefore having a stabilising and positive effect on the economy.

However, their misuse can result in enormous losses that have a severely damaging effect on the party involved, and possibly the whole economic system.

Phnom Penh readies itself for Earth Hour

Miranda Kerr is the face of Earth Hour

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:00Stuart Becker

Business and people in Phnom Penh are gearing up to support Earth Hour, the world’s biggest environment campaign, by switching off their lights for one hour on March 26.

Bopha Phnom Penh restaurant on Sisowath Quay is one business welcoming the gesture. Operations Manager Muth Sareth said his restaurant will turn off the lights for an hour on the date at 8.30pm.

“Introducing a candlelit dinner during the Earth Hour event can be attractive because it fits well with my restaurant atmosphere,” he said.

Phnom Penh resident Moeun Samang is another who plans to raise awareness of energy use by turning off her lights during Earth Hour.

“I will continue to adopt sustainable practices, such as turning off lights and unplugging devices when they are not in use, walking or riding the bike wherever possible as opposed to driving,” she said.

Earth Hour was first launched in Australia in 2007, and has since grown to a worldwide event marked by millions of people.

In partnership with WWF, people turn off their lights for one designated hour at 8:30pm local time to celebrate the positive actions they are taking for the planet.

“It’s all about taking action on climate change and working together to create a better future for our planet because, no matter how big or small, together our actions can make a difference,” said WWF Cambodia Director Seng Teak. Fashion model Miranda Kerr has been named a global ambassador for Earth Hour.

Fresh-baked business rises in the city

The automated bun production line at M California Bakery's new factory.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:00Stuart Becker

A new Malaysian-owned bakery has opened in Phnom Penh, the M California Bakery, on Street 598, Sangkat Toul Sangke in the Khan Russei Keo district.

On hand for a speech on Monday was the Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia, Datuk Pengiran Hj Mohd Hussein, bakery owner Dato Mashood Wahab and his family and friends.

The new factory employs 25 people and uses the latest automated equipment from the United Kingdom. Owner and Managing Director Dato Mashood Wahab is a third-generation baker who owns Malaysia’s oldest bakery in Kuala Lumpur, opened by his grandfather in 1906.

“Now I am branching out in Cambodia and this is my first venture overseas,” he said.

Mashood Wahab described himself as “very positive” about Cambodia’s future and said he planned to sell a range of products including sandwich bread and filled buns – with red and green beans, chocolate and custard – to supermarkets, convenience stores and for delivery. “My bread should reach every household at a very affordable price,” he said.

Clinic offers hope to mothers

The new Svay Chek health centre can treat more than 5,000 patients a year.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 15:00Thik Kaliyann

The operators of a new health centre in Siem Reap’s Angkor Thom district say it can provide medical treatment to more than 5,000 patients in the town’s northwest each year.

The result of a joint project between Plan International Cambodia and the Siem Reap Provincial Health Department, the Svay Chek commune health centre will provide general medical services with a focus on special care for pregnant women and children under the age of five.

Plan International Cambodia communications manager Mom Chantara Soleil told The Phnom Penh Post the organisation decided to construct the Svay Chek health centre following the publication of a report by the Siem Reap Provincial Planning Department which found up to half of the 28 deaths of women and children in the area last year were due to preventable causes.

“After seeing an increase in the number of deaths during 2010, Plan International decided to build a health centre to provide specialised medical treatment to the groups most affected,” he said.

“Last year 10 children were stillborn and14 died before the age of five in Angkor Thom district alone. The mortality rate for children under the age of one month is concerning. We will try to do our best to save as many as we can.”

The Svay Chek health centre is now the second supported by Plan International Cambodia, following the construction of the Prey Health Centre in Srei Snam which opened in June 2009.

The Prey Health Centre has previously won national recognition from the Cambodian Ministry of Health which recently named it as the best performing health service in Siem Reap. The centre beat more than 60 other health clinics to win the title, which the ministry awarded on the basis of its user-friendly facilities and effective round-the-clock service.

Dr Chey Dara, the Ministry of Health technical coordinator for Siem Reap province, told The Post that Cambodian health authorities are engaged in ongoing projects to reduce the mortality rate of children and pregnant women in the area.

“Firstly we would like reduce number of women and children dying in the area each year by ensuring they receive timely and inexpensive medical services in their home district rather than travelling long distances to the city for treatment.”

According to a 2010 profile of Siem Reap Province published by the Provincial Planning Department, the mortality rate for pregnant women in the region is 151 for every 100,000, and 8 in 1,000 for children under the age of one month.

Plan International’s Mom Chantara Soleil told The Post that reducing the child mortality rate in the district was an important goal of the health centre, which opened last Friday.

“The Svay Chek health centre has the resources to treat 5,575 patients each year including 2,749 children and we estimate around 49 percent of deaths each year in our target group of pregnant women and young children are preventable.”

Mom Chantara Soleil said the health centre will also focus on HIV/AIDS prevention as well as provide treatment for illnesses including respiratory infections, malnutrition, dengue fever and diarrhea.

Soleil added that the centre will also provide counseling and neo-natal monitoring services for expectant mothers as part of its mission to provide affordable quality care.

The Svay Chek commune health centre is 22 kilometres from Siem Reap, and was constructed over a one-year period from December 2009 to 2010 at a cost of roughly US$100,000.

Funding for the centre was provided by Plan International Cambodia and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in cooperation with the Siem Reap Provincial Health Department.

Cambodia to invest $500 million for power transmission line

via CAAI

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 03:42 DAP-NEWS/VIBOL

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, MARCH 16, 2011-Cambodia will invest $ 500 million for power transmission line to bring the power from hydropower to households, senior officials said on Tuesday.

“We will invest some $500 million during the next five year in transmission line. Power transmission lines is under master plan in 2021,” Dr Hang Chuon Naron, secretary of state for economy ministry said in a seminar of 2011 Cambodia outlook conference.

He added that the power will help poverty reduction and expand the business transaction in the country. In his speech, he explained that the country need electrify with cheap prices of electricity to develop country and it need other sources of future growth , and Cambodian needs human resources development, agriculture development, processing industry, new industry, soft and hard infrastructure, expand tourism from culture to beach tourism.

“Cambodia will become a major regional exporter of rubber rice. The country needs electricity with cheap price to expand those fields,” he stresses. Those fields need electricity demand.

Report from ministry of energy and industry in 2015, Cambodia needs 5,000 gwah. And fuel mixed generation in national grid and in Phnom Penh. It added annual electricity demand growth rate in country 19 per cent while in Phnom Penh. The electricity demands growth rate high as 25 per cent. The annual electricity demands per capital increased from 138.4 kwh in 2009 to 159.2 kwh by 2020.

It said: the peak capacity supply increased from 472 Mw in 209 to 538 mw in 2010, at that same time, the capacity supply in Phnom Penh was 300 mw. Policy of electricity target, 70 per cent for rural households have access to quality to quality electricity services by 2030. And 100 per cent villages have aces to electricity services by 2020.

“In 2010, the national electrification just reached to 29 per cent while in the household in urban areas were almost 100 per cent electrified and only 12 .3 per cent of the total household in rural areas. Besides supply, Cambodia imported electricity from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam with total capacity about 225 mw in 2010,”it said, adding that Cambodia imported electricity mainly from Vietnam 67 per cent, Thailand about 32 per cent and Laos about 1 per cent.

It increased about 48 per cent from 2009. Cambodia has good potential of hydropower about 10,000 mw. At the present, about 10 percent to the potential has been under construction. Cambodia signed already MOU for 2200 mw with foreign companies from Vietnam at northeastern region of the country. Under construction about 1,000 mw is about 27 per cent at the southeastern provinces. And 10,000 mw hydropower needs at the western region of the country.

PM: Japan To Be Able To Rehabilitate the Situation Soon

via CAAI

Phnom Penh, March 16, 2011 AKP –

Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, strongly hoped that Japan will be able to rehabilitate the situation soon.

The Cambodian premier also wished that the missing people due to the recent massive earthquake and Tsunami will be found alive, H.E. Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told reporters here on Tuesday after the signing ceremony of an Exchange of Notes on the extension of Japan’s grant aid up to the amount of approximately US$94 million for the implementation of three development projects in Cambodia.

On the occasion, on behalf of the Cambodian government and people, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen expressed his deepest sympathy and profound condolences to the Japanese government and people.

He further deeply thanked the government and people of Japan for their assistance to Cambodia despite the current difficult situation, H.E. Koy Kuong said.

Concerning the grant aid, he indicated, 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.

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

The Exchange of Notes was signed 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 Premier Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen. –AKP


Peace will only prevail if both sides compromise

via CAAI

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on March 16, 2011

Unless Thailand and Cambodia come to a compromise on the management of the much-contested Preah Vihear, the border area near the temple will never be peaceful.

The international community, including the United Nations and Asean, is working hard to try and settle this boundary conflict.
Last week, Indonesia, in its capacity as the chair of Asean, called a meeting between both sides' Joint Boundary Committee (JBC) and General Border Committee (GBC) to discuss boundary demarcation and security arrangements at the border.

Jakarta is also preparing to send observers to assess the border situation and monitor a "permanent cease-fire" in the disputed area. However, it would take Asean a long while to bring this complicated conflict to an end.

Since the temple was named a World Heritage Site in 2008, Thailand has been doing its best to derail Cambodia's management plan, which will be considered by the World Heritage Committee this June.

Technically, Thailand should not have anything to do with Preah Vihear because a 1962 ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) says the temple is situated on territory that is under the sovereignty of Cambodia. However, Bangkok fears that Phnom Penh will absorb some of the disputed area and use it as a buffer zone for the temple's management.

Conflicts over Preah Vihear have been going on since the last century. Even though Thailand accepted the ICJ verdict about the temple being under Cambodia's sovereignty, it has always had territorial claims over the area adjacent to it.

Legally, the boundary issue has nothing to do with the World Heritage Committee and should instead be dealt with by the JBC. Yet, Bangkok continues to mix it all up.

The 1972 Unesco Convention's Article 11 says: "The inclusion of a property situated in a territory, sovereignty or jurisdiction over which is claimed by more than one state shall in no way prejudice the rights of the parties to the dispute."

Indeed, Cambodia is not using any of the so-called disputed areas as a buffer zone for the temple. In its plan submitted to the World Heritage Committee in January last year, Phnom Penh confirmed that the disputed area was not included.

Yet, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government did not feel comfortable about Cambodia putting its plan of running Preah Vihear into action, and is doing what it can to block it. Prime Minister Abhisit used the February 4-7 border skirmish as a pretext to have Unesco further delay consideration of the plan.

Though the temple was partially damaged during the clash, the Thai government is stopping a Unesco team from inspecting it. Unesco's special envoy Koichiro Matsuura recently spent time shuttling between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, trying to seek a proper solution, but nothing concrete has been produced so far.

Unesco is meeting Cambodia and Thailand on May 25 in Paris to explore ways of safeguarding the Preah Vihear temple. Yet, ideas of safeguarding the temple are extremely different where the two parties are concerned.

Bangkok wants Unesco to suspend the management plan until the two countries are able to settle the boundary conflict, while Phnom Penh wants to go ahead with this management plan for the temple.

Neither side wants to compromise. At the border area, troops from both sides are prepared for a confrontation, and a military clash can break out any time if the differences are not solved.

Funds raised for Cambodian school

A fund-raising lunch will be held next week to raise money for a Cambodian school in Tanop Village.

via CAAI

16th March 2011

A FUND-RAISER will be held next weekend to benefit a school in Tanop Village, Cambodia.

Funds raised will go towards the building of a library.

Two years ago Toowoomba woman Lyn Hotchin visited Cambodia and was inspired to build a school.

“Many People from Toowoomba and south-east Queensland have visited the school in the last two years and helped with teaching and medical assistance for the children and their families,” Mrs Hotchin said.

“The ripple effect of this school in the community has been unbelievable.

“The funds raised to build this school (and keep it going) have been
through fund-raisers and generous donations of many local groups.

“With 1200 students attending the school each day the next stage is building a library.”

The fund-raising luncheon will be held on Sunday, March 27 from 11am at Angelo’s House.

Tickets are $49 each or $450 for a table of 10.

Contact Frances Holmes on 461 34000 or email  to secure tickets.

Child's surgery depends on fundraising by Hearts Without Boundaries

via CAAI

LONG BEACH: Local group appeals for help for an impoverished Cambodian boy.

Posted: 03/15/2011
Three year-old Bunlak Song is comforted by his sister, Bunkek Song, after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport of Cambodia on March 6, 2011. Bunlak Song was brought to the United States by Hearts Without Boundaries, a Long Beach, Calif.-based non-profit group, to help repair his heart. (Jeff Gritchen / Press-Telegram)

LONG BEACH - Supporters of an adopted, impoverished Cambodian boy have learned he may get a chance at having his heart repaired. All that remains is to find the money to pay for the procedure.

Bunlak Song arrived in the United States this week with Peter Chhun, the head of a Long Beach nonprofit that helps arrange surgeries for poor Cambodian children with heart defects, who cannot receive treatment in their home country.

On Thursday, Chhun learned that the International Children's Heart Foundation is willing to perform the surgery during one of its upcoming missions, either in the Dominican Republic or Honduras.

However, Hearts Without Boundaries, the nonprofit with about $200 in its account, must raise about $15,000 to $20,000 to cover hospital costs, travel and lodging at either of the locations.

The International Children's Heart Foundation performs surgeries for poor children worldwide, donating the services of surgeons and staff and charging only for hospital costs.

Chhun was overjoyed to get approval from Dr. William Novick, who heads the international program, and Dr. Rodrigo Soto, the surgeon who performed a similar procedure in the Dominican Republic on Sochat Nha, a Cambodian girl Chhun helped save last year.

Chhun continues to negotiate with U.S. hospitals, which would be far more affordable for the fledgling nonprofit if services were donated.

"We are so lucky there is a group that will do this," Chhun said of International Children's Heart Foundation. "It costs some extra money, but (Song's) life is in danger so we have to move quick. We'll do whatever it takes."

Song is the fourth child Hearts Without Boundaries has helped. The first two, Davik Teng and Soksamnang Vy, were treated in the U.S. by Los Angeles Childrens Hospital and Sunrise Children's Hospital in Las Vegas, respectively.

Nha, whose surgery and condition were deemed too high a risk by U.S. surgeons, was operated on by Soto.

All three children are living healthy lives in their home country.

Cambodia's growing dispossessed

 via CAAI

As the country's economy booms, thousands of people have been evicted from their homes to make way for developments.

Jonathan Gorvett
15 Mar 2011

Boeung Kak Lake, a 90 hectare expanse of water, has already had three-fourths filled in, while residents around it are being forcibly evicted [CC - Save Me Jebus]

When armed construction workers turned up at dawn to start pumping thousands of gallons of sand and water into Ly Si Moan's home, her terrified scramble for safety had her joining thousands of others who have recently had to flee developers in Cambodia.

"They started pumping during the night," she says, "while we were sleeping. I think they wanted to eliminate all trace of us."

Indeed, all that remains of the village where Ly Si Moan's house and business once stood is a long sandbank, covering three-quarters of what was once a lake at the heart of Phnom Penh.

Ly Si Moan is also just one of some 20,000 people who have been evicted from their homes either on or around the historic, 90-hectare Boueng Kak Lake during the last few months.

And according to Surya P Subedi, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, what is happening is also "representative of the problems of this nature that exist in the country. Land grabbing by the rich and powerful is a major problem in Cambodia today".

An 'escalating problem'

Indeed, Cambodian rights group Adhoc says that last year alone, 12,389 families in the country became the victims of forced evictions.

Another rights group, housing advocates STT, estimates that around 10 per cent of the population of Phnom Penh has faced eviction in the last decade.

At the same time, the Cambodian Human Rights Foundation (LICADHO) director Naly Pilorge says that in their survey of half the country's provinces "between 2005 and 2009 some 250,000 people were evicted. Last year alone we dealt with 94 new cases of land grabbing involving approximately 49,280 people".

"And the problem is escalating," she adds.

The residents of Boeung Kak are being moved as developers fill in the lake with sand and silt scooped out of a nearby river. Where this lake once spread, a new, residential, commercial and entertainment complex is due to be constructed.

Economic boom

As Cambodia's economy booms, land is becoming more valuable, particularly in the capital, Phnom Penh.

"Cambodia has so much land available for concessions," says Ngnon Meng, the director-general of the Cambodian chamber of commerce. "The government is very willing to do things for foreign investors too … when they come in they don't want to leave."

The economy grew by 5.5 per cent last year, according to government figures, with last year seeing a new law allowing foreign ownership of property. It also saw another new law allowing the government to expropriate land for developments it deems to be in the public interest.

The Cambodian ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries says that the government granted more than 1.38 million hectares of land in concessions to 142 different private companies between 1993 and June 2010.

"When land belongs to the government, they can do what they like with it," says Ngnon Meng. "Although some people are just trying to hold back our country's development with their protests."

Yet Cambodia has some very unique issues when it comes to land and the people who live on it.

Rooted in war

"It all goes back to the war," says Sung Bonna, the vice-president of the Cambodian Real Estate Developers Association. "Everything got completely mixed up back then."

In 1975, the notorious Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, after years of fighting and US bombing.

One of their first acts was to evacuate the entire population of Phnom Penh. Forced into the countryside, this was the beginning of the horror of the Killing Fields.

Around 20 per cent of the country's population died in that carnage, while the Khmer Rouge also abolished private property, destroying land titles and records.

In 1979, Vietnam invaded Cambodia. Many Cambodians fled to neighbouring Thailand, with conflict then continuing into the 1990s. This left an enormous displaced population, with many survivors moving to areas because they were safe and offered a chance of survival.

Boueng Kak Lake was one such place. Many of those there now were born in refugee camps in Thailand, or remember all too well the horrors of that era.

"In 1979, the Khmer Rouge shot my husband in front of me, by the roadside, as we tried to get back into Phnom Penh," says 67-year-old Ngin Savoeun. Her house was flooded with sand and water last November. "I've lost everything now," she says. "I had no time to take anything away when they started flooding my home. I survived the Khmer Rouge and now this."

Land denied

In 2001, the Cambodian government issued a new land law recognising the problem of land title. If you could show you had lived in a place for five years continuously, and there were no challenges, you could apply for a title.

Many at Boeung Kak, who had been there since the early 1980s, applied.

Yet, "in early 2007, the residents were denied title en masse," according to a January 2011 report on the issue from Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, an NGO advocating for the residents. "In the same month, the Cambodian government entered into a 99-year lease agreement with private developer Shukaku Inc.," the report continues.

A representative of Shukaku declined to comment on this story when contacted.

While this was going on, the World Bank - along with the German, Canadian and Finnish national overseas development organisations - was cooperating with the Cambodian government in a project to assess and award land titles across the country.

Too little too late

Last week, the Bank announced the results of an internal inquiry into this project. The inquiry found that "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".

The Bank admitted failings in the project and called on the government to stop the evictions.

The Cambodian ministry of land management then responded in an official statement that Boeung Kak had been outside the remit of the project and thus was "not under the conditions set for social safeguards".

Now, residents are calling for the Bank - and other international agencies - to take stronger action.

"Only foreign pressure can help us now," says resident and local organiser Tep Vanny. "We believe the companies are tied to the government and when we protest, we are threatened and no one listens. Please, see what is happening here."

Time may also be running out. Last week, Vanny says the remaining residents were given seven days to accept the company's offer of $8,500 compensation and demolish their homes, or get nothing.

"We would rather die here," says Vanny. "People must also understand this. This is our home and we will not leave."

Tuol Sleng Survivors Await Final Duch Verdict

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 15 March 2011

via CAAI
Photo: AP
A tourist takes a photo of a painting depicting how Tuol Sleng prisoners were tortured by Khmer Rouge soldiers.

“I will be consoled if Duch is sentenced to life.”

Three former survivors of the Khmer Rouge prison Tuol Sleng, are anxiously awaiting a final hearing on its chief administrator, Kaing Kek Iev, later this month.

The Supreme Court Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal will have a final hearing in the case of Kaing Kek Iev, 68, the former regime cadre better known as Duch, beginning March 28.

“I’m impatiently waiting for this hearing,” said Bou Meng, one of three survivors of the torture center where more than 12,000 people were tortured and sentenced to execution. “I will be consoled if Duch is sentenced to life.”

One question Supreme Court judges will face in the three-day hearing is whether a commuted sentence of 19 years handed down by the Trial Chamber of the UN-backed court is appropriate.

“He killed thousands of people,” said Chhum Mey, another survivor of Tuol Sleng. “How can he be sentenced to 19 years?”

Like Bou Meng, Chhum Mey wants to see a life sentence from the Supreme Court’s decision.

“A life sentence will set an example for the history of Cambodia, for the next generation, no to repeat the horror,” he said.

Chhum Mey said he would like to see the court order reparations for victims by commissioning a memorial stupa to be built within Tuol Sleng, now a genocide museum.

Van Nath, who survived Tuol Sleng by painting portraits of Khmer Rouge leaders, said, “Whatever the condemnation against Duch, it will be justice for him.”

Unions Meet Over Worries in Draft Law

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 15 March 2011

via CAAI
Photo: AP
Cambodian garment factory workers travel together in motor carts to get home from work at the Sala Lek Pram village, Kampong Chhnang province.

“The current draft law is a strong restriction on the rights and freedoms in the establishment and participation of trade union activities.”

Trade unions say they are concerned that a draft law under consideration by the government will be used to attack or dismantle group’s that do not follow the government line.

A coalition of factory unions met Tuesday over the draft law, currently under consideration at the Ministry of Labor.

Concerns over the draft law echo similar worries by NGOs on a draft law to further regulate that sector.

Among their concerns are provisions in the draft that requires a request for registration, a list of dues-paying members or other leaders, and report requirements of an action plan to the government.

The law also allows for unions to be dissolved by court order following complaints by a third party or the government. It also allows for fines of between $500 and $2,500 and jail sentences as high as three years for union leaders in breach of regulations.

“The current draft law is a strong restriction on the rights and freedoms in the establishment and participation of trade union activities,” Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting. “If the draft is passed without the recommendations of the trade unions, non-government unions will not have a presence in Cambodia.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union, said the draft would silence union leaders and seriously restrict the rights of unions. He called the draft in contravention to the International Labor Convention and the Cambodian constitution.

Moeun Tola, an official at the Community Legal Education Center, said the draft law provides a system of permissions for trade unions and hands more power to the Ministry of Labor in approving unions.

However, Huy Han Song, undersectary of state for the Ministry of Labor, said the draft was aimed at “social harmony” and not to pressure any certain group.

Cambodia’s sometimes unruly garment sector has 62 different unions, though some of those stand by government and factory owners, according to union leaders.