Saturday, 2 April 2011

Thailand-Cambodia boundary meeting in jeopardy

Apr 1, 2011

THAILAND - HOUSE speaker Chai Chidchob said on Thursday that he might be unable to convene a parliamentary session to consider the minutes of previous meetings in time.

'We need to wait for official notification from the constitution court and notify members three days in advance of the meeting,' he said. 'I don't yet know when we will be ready for the meeting.'

Mr Chai initially called a session to consider the JBC's meeting minutes on April 5.

The issue was complicated as a group of lawmakers led by the ruling Democrat Party's Sirichok Sopha appealed to the constitution court to rule on the need for Parliament to consider the JBC documents. The court on Wednesday rejected the request. As the court did not rule, Parliament needs to carry on with consideration of the documents in accordance with article 190 of the constitution, Mr Chai said.

Article 190 requires all documents deemed to be treaties to pass parliamentary approval before the government signs agreements with foreign countries or international organisations.

The JBC met last in April 2009 in Phnom Penh. It cannot convene the next meeting until the Thai parliament approves the minutes of three previous meetings.

Thai-Cambodian general border meeting in Indonesia unlikely: Thai FM

via CAAI

BANGKOK, March 31 -- Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Thursday said there is a possibility that only the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Committee (JBC) meeting would be held in Indonesia, without convening a General Border Committee (GBC) meeting.

He said that until now the Thai Defence Ministry still hopes that Cambodia will host the 7th GBC meeting so that the JBC meeting would be the only meeting to be convened in Indonesia next month.

Indonesia called for both the GBC and JBC meetings to be held on March 24 and 25, but later postponed the dates to April 7 and 8 at Bogor, Indonesia.

The arrangement was part of an agreement to settle the boundary conflict between the two neighbours. The agreement included a plan to dispatch Indonesian observers to the disputed area adjacent to the ancient Khmer Hindu temple of Preah Vihear.

Mr Kasit said Thai and Cambodian officials were discussing the location for the observers to be stationed and the Thai ministries of defence and foreign affairs agreed that Thailand and Cambodia should decide the observers' location before the meeting.

He said Cambodia proposed 15 locations but some are in the contested area of 4.6 sq km near Preah Vihear temple, claimed by both countries, and at the heart of the dispute, so there was no solution to the matter.

The two sides were coordinating in an attempt to find the solution, Mr Kasit said.

Regarding the dismissal of the Constitution Court of the petition asking the court to decide if three Thai-Cambodian JBC meeting memos are international treaties needing parliamentary approval as stated in Article 190 of the Constitution, Mr Kasit said it would now be a matter of Parliamentary decision whether to approve the documents or not.

The Constitution Court Wednesday dropped the petition submitted through House Speaker Chai Chidchob by a group of 80 MPs, reasoning that now was the appropriate timestage for the court to have any injunction on the matter.

Meanwhile, the 'Yellow Shirt' People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) which opposes approval of the JBC documents, said the group believed that the MPs would not cooperate with the government to vote in favour of the memos after the court refused to rule on the three documents.

Prapan Khunmee, a key PAD leader, urged Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to withdraw the issue from the agenda. (MCOT online news)

Is China the new World Bank? .

via CAAI

Friday, 01 April 2011
Teresita Cruz-del Rosario & Phillie Wang Runfei

The Chinese are everywhere. Or, more accurately, Chinese money is everywhere, thanks particularly to the China Development Bank (CDB) and the China Export-Import Bank. As the two institutions responsible for all Chinese overseas financing, they are making waves around the world.

According to The Financial Times, Chinese lending in 2008-2010 surpassed World Bank assistance by approximately $10 billion. By the end of 2010, the CDB's reach extended to more than 90 countries, whose total indebtedness reached $141.3 billion.

So, is China reshaping the landscape of development assistance? In a nutshell, yes.

Consider the following: Chinese investment in Zambia's rich copper and coal reserves accounts for 7.7% of the country's GDP. In Saudi Arabia, the state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation built the Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugadassah light-rail project to ease traffic pressure during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. There are even said to be plans for an Arctic highway to facilitate trade throughout the polar region.

Closer to home, a Himalayan railway project to link Tibet to Khasa, at the border with Nepal, is currently under construction, with plans to extend the line all the way to Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital. In Cambodia, China contributed $260 million in assistance in 2009, replacing Japan as the country's largest aid provider and overtaking both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank's lending portfolios. Last year, China signed 14 bilateral agreements with Cambodia, totaling $1.2 billion, to finance every conceivable item, from irrigation canals to uniforms for the Cambodian military.

Recipient governments are reportedly pleased with China's aid approach. For one thing, there is a notable absence of expensive consultants folded into so-called "technical assistance" packages, a practice that has been a key focus of criticism directed at many funding agencies.

Second, Chinese aid does not require pre-project "missions" by bureaucrats who arrive from distant headquarters for a sort of development tourism that wreaks havoc on the routines of the local counterparts who must accompany them on their poverty excursions.

Third, Chinese aid is dispensed rather quickly and unceremoniously, lacking the burdensome fanfare of lengthy negotiations and voluminous project documents, a practice many scholars and practitioners term "checkbook diplomacy."

Fourth, China dispenses aid without compliance conditions such as environmental protection measures or community-participation exercises. Excruciatingly laborious "stakeholder" consultations - of the type that lasted nearly ten years to construct the World Bank-funded Nam Theun 2 hydroelectric power plant in Laos - are not required of Chinese aid.

China's unique aid model is one of the main pillars of what the Chinese scholar Sheng Ding calls the country's "soft power" strategy. Beyond the provision of cheap credit and concessional loans is the global export of China's way of doing business.

As economic relations deepen, cultural relationships develop. Confucius Institutes are sprouting from Sri Lanka to Nigeria to promote the study of Mandarin. Alongside these linguistic programs are seasonal performances by touring Chinese acrobats. Call it global courtship by an avid Chinese suitor.

But worrying signs about China's seemingly benign lending practices are emerging. Chinese financial assistance is tied to the extraction of natural resources, particularly oil and minerals. Environmentalists worry that without a more conscientious "green" component to Chinese lending, unchecked exploitation could lead to resource depletion.

Moreover, Chinese assistance packages often come with Chinese technology and laborers, implying limited employment opportunities and capacity-building for local people. For example, 750 Chinese workers were shipped to Indonesia, along with 630,000 tons of steel, to construct the five-kilometer Suramadu bridge linking Surabaya to Madura.

The need for disclosure and transparency mechanisms has been emphasized time and again. There is no Chinese counterpart to the Development Assistance Committee, which publishes annual reports on global aid flows from OECD member countries. Nor is there an overarching mechanism, as called for in the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, that would align Chinese aid with national development strategies, or establish a forum for coordination with other bilateral and multilateral donors. Fears abound that Chinese aid is beginning to run amok.

Concerns such as these are likely to increase as China emerges as a formidable development player. Yet, by and large, Chinese assistance is welcomed rather than feared.

Those who promote equitable and inclusive development wish to see Chinese aid as part of an integrated international community of providers that is governed by responsible co-ownership. This entails fair and open rules, mutual accountability practices, and sustainable development objectives, all of which require active Chinese participation.

In a world weary of the limited effectiveness of most development programs in curtailing endemic poverty, China's growing role in countries around the world provides ample opportunity to reconstruct the landscape of economic aid and financing. But reaching that goal requires a plan, and China must play its part in formulating it.

VINCI : Airports Celebrates 15 Years of Concession for the Cambodian Airports and Creates CAMBODIA AIRPORTS

via CAAI

The Vice Prime Minister, His Excellency Sok An, representing the Royal Government of Cambodia, Thierry Mariani, French Secretary of State for the Ministry of the Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, and Xavier Huillard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VINCI (Paris:DG), today celebrated the 15th anniversary of SCA (Société Concessionnaire des Aéroports), the VINCI Airports subsidiary that manages three Cambodian airports. At the same time Air France inaugurated the resumption of flights between Paris and Phnom Penh, 37 years after the last direct flight between the two countries.

CAMBODIA Airports now brings together the international airports serving the three major tourist and economic destinations in Cambodia, i.e.: the capital Phnom Penh since 1995, Siem Reap, the town adjacent to the Angkor archaeological sites, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, since 2001 and the seaside resort and deep-water port of Sihanoukville, since 2006.

Thanks to steady growth and the acknowledged quality of customer service, CAMBODIA Airports is today a major, long-term partner in Cambodia's development.

In 2010, Cambodia Airports welcomed slightly over 3.3 million passengers, compared to 2.8 million in 2009, or an increase of almost 17%. Freight traffic rose even more sharply, by around 50%. These figures reflect VINCI Airport's policy of opening up new airline routes, modernising infrastructure and optimising investment to drive development.

VINCI Airports has developed and operates nine airports in France, primarily under public service delegation contracts: Grenoble-Isère, Chambéry-Savoie, Clermont-Ferrand-Auvergne, Quimper-Cornouaille, Rennes-Saint-Jacques, Dinard-Pleurtuit, Nantes-Atlantique, Saint-Nazaire-Montoir, and the future Western France Airport, along with the Ancenis airport starting on 1 April 2011. VINCI Airports is also the concession company for the three international airports in Cambodia. Altogether, these 12 airports welcomed almost 8 million passengers in 2010, generating global revenue of ?150 million.

Air France's first flight to Cambodia in 37 years lands in capital

French Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani (C-R), attends a launching ceremony at Phnom Penh international airport, Cambodia, 31 March 2011. Air France resumes flights to Cambodia after a 35-year interval. The thrice weekly flights between Paris and Phonm Penh via Bangkok, will utilise an Airbus A340, then in May 2011 will replace the Airbus A340 with a Boeing 777, with a greater capacity. EPA/MAK REMISSA

via CAAI

Mar 31, 2011

Phnom Penh - Air France's first commercial flight to Phnom Penh in nearly four decades landed in the Cambodian capital on Thursday.

The arrival of flight AF274 marked the resumption of a service that the company terminated in 1974 as the Khmer Rouge was on the cusp of taking control of Cambodia.

The chief executive of Air France KLM, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, said the reopening of the service to Phnom Penh after 37 years was 'really emotional.'

'(Cambodia) is a country that developed (bonds) in the past very strongly with France,' he said. 'We feel we are in a French-speaking area. We understand the culture.'

Air France ended its service in mid-1974 because 'instability was worryingly high,' he said.

Within a year Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist movement had captured the capital. The Khmer Rouge held power for nearly four years during which as many as 2.2 million Cambodians died.

Gourgeon said Air France would run three flights a week between the two countries, and confirmed a future schedule could include Siem Reap, the country's tourism centre and home to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

'Siem Reap is very important, but as far as I understand it, it was easier from a commercial and diplomatic point of view to start in Phnom Penh,' he said.

The new service will add 40 tons of cargo capacity weekly between the two nations, which Gourgeon said should help to boost bilateral trade.

Air France said it would operate Boeing 777 aircraft on the route, with a one-hour stopover in Bangkok.

The new Paris-Phnom Penh route is part of Air France KLM's strategy to boost growth by adding 11 destinations this year.

Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in Cambodia, and one of the four pillars of the economy along with agriculture, construction and garment manufacturing. Around 2.5 million people visited the country last year.

Cambodia has strong ties to France, its former colonial power. It gained its independence in 1953 after 90 years of foreign rule as part of French Indochina, which also included Vietnam and Laos.

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

France Has Clear Documents Related to Preah Vihear Temple Issue

Phnom Penh, April 1, 2011 AKP – France has clear documents related to the Preah Vihear Temple issue, visiting French Secretary of State for Transport H.E. Thierry Mariani told Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen in a meeting here today at the Peace Palace.

He further said France has paid high attention to Cambodia’s three important fields – culture, politics and investment. For the cultural field, France focuses on temple restoration and it has clear documents concerning the Preah Vihear Temple issue, he affirmed.

Regarding the political field, H.E. Thierry Mariani recalled France’s support to Cambodia’s peace seeking. For the investment field, he said he will sign an agreement with the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Municipality of Phnom Penh on Apr. 1 to conduct a study on transport issue in Phnom Penh.

In reply, the Cambodian premier deeply thanked the French government for its attention to the Cambodia-France relationship, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Samdech Techo Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting.

Cambodia strongly hopes that the relationship and cooperation between the two countries will be closer and further developed, especially through the resumption of Air France’s Paris-Phnom Penh direct flight.

On the same day, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen also received Mr. Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Air France, and Mr. Xavier Huillard, Chairman of Vinci.

H.E. Thierry Mariani led a delegation to join the inauguration of flight resumption between Paris and Phnom Penh on Mar. 31. According to the Embassy of France, during his visit from Mar. 31 to Apr. 2, H.E. Thierry Mariani will be received in a royal audience by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk and he is also scheduled to meet with the French and Cambodian business community as well as representatives of ministries involved in economic exchanges with France. –AKP

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


PM Meets S. Korean Delegation

Phnom Penh, April 1, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen met here on Mar. 31 with a visiting delegation of South Korean Parliament led by H.E. Kim Jin Pyo, Parliament Member and President of Korea-Cambodia Parliamentary Friendship Group.

In the meeting, H.E. Kim Jin Pyo praised Cambodia for its rapid development in all sectors, especially the economic growth and political stability, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, told reporters upon the meeting.

He expressed deep thanks to Premier Hun Sen for his endeavors to strengthen and consolidate the economic and political relations between the two countries, adding that Korea will further help Cambodia in all sectors including the investment.

In response, Samdech Techo Hun Sen expressed profound gratitude to the government of Korea for its assistance to Cambodia in all domains, particularly in economic and political fields.

Earlier on Mar. 30, H.E. Kim Jin Pyo was received by Cambodian National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin.

On the occasion, H.E. Kim Jin Pyo invited Samdech Heng Samrin to visit the Republic of Korea.

In reply, Samdech Heng Samrin accepted the invitation to visit the Republic of Korea at his convenient time in the future. –AKP

By LIM Nary


Vocational Training Centre in Preah Vihear Province Inaugurated

Phnom Penh, April 1, 2011 AKP – A vocational training centre in Preah Vihear province was inaugurated Wednesday under the chairmanship of H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers; and Pham Dinh Thu, Standing Secretary of the Vietnamese Gia Lai provincial Party Committee cum Chairman of the provincial People’s Council.

The centre is situated in Phum Thorm Cheat (the Village of Nature)-Samdech Techo Hun Sen, in Chorm Ksan district.

In his remarks, Preah Vihear Governor Oum Mara presented a report on the situation and achievements of the province, especially on the vocational training centre, which, he said, it will provide short-term and medium-term skills training on the reparation of small machineries, radios, tape-recorders, TVs, and wood processing for items of souvenirs; and vegetables growing and fish breeding.

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An thanked the Party Committee and People’s Committee of the Vietnamese province of Gia Lai for their financial assistance to the building of the centre.

He said that the achievements reflected the Government’s attention and efforts in organizing the areas of the Preah Vihear Temples for socioeconomic development.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An reiterated the wise directions of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to have a special national working group established for organizing and developing the Preah Vihear Temples’ areas, including the construction of physical infrastructures – roads, bridges, water supply systems, schools, pagodas, health centres, museum, vocational training centre…and so on. –AKP

Article in Khmer by OUK Saphan
Article in English by Ravuth M.


H.E Chan Sarun Urges to Establish Animal Food Crop Research Centre

Phnom Penh, April 1, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Chan Sarun wished to establish an animal food crop research centre.

H.E. Chan Sarun has recently told the officials of Production and Veterinary Department to set up the centre and to promote local investors to invest in animal feeding.

The minister also asked the department to strengthen the veterinary service, information service as well as technical training. –AKP

By Théng


Paris-Phnom Penh Direct Flight Resumed

Phnom Penh, April 1, 2011 AKP –Air France’s Airbus A340 landed for the first time yesterday afternoon at Phnom Penh International Airport, after thirty-seven years of interruption.

The Airbus A340 carried some 100 passengers, including French Secretary of State for Transport H.E. Thierry Mariani, chairmen and managing directors of Air France and Vinci.

A welcoming ceremony was held at the airport in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers H.E. Sok An, Tourism Minister H.E. Thong Khon and Minister of Public Works and Transport H.E. Tram Iv Tek.

This ceremony marks Air France’s Paris-Phnom Penh flight resumption and the anniversary of the investment of Vinci in Cambodia, said H.E. Thierry Mariani.

The flight resumption reflects, he added, the French government’s will to promote the relationship between the two countries and it is also part of the harmonized integration strategy of the countries in the Great Mekong Sub-region.

For his part, Mr. Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Air France, pledged to encourage more tourists to visit Cambodia because he had confidence in the country’s tourism potential and its cultural and natural richness.

Air France is planning to replace in May 2011 the Airbus 340 with a Boeing 777, with greater capacity, he added.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok An said the flight resumption will play a key role in strengthening and developing the air transport services between Cambodia and France as well as between Cambodia and other European countries. It will also contribute to the civil aviation, tourism, economic and social development in Cambodia, he stressed.

According to him, Air France begun its direct flight to Cambodia in 1947 and it was halted in 1974 due to civil wars in Cambodia. –AKP


Villagers discover carvings of Buddha in Oddar Meanchey

Photo by: Photo Supplied
A 1-tonne statue of Buddha lies on the ground in Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district.

via CAAI

Friday, 01 April 2011 15:02Sen David

Villagers clearing forest to build a school received a history lesson when they accidentally uncovered two Buddha carvings in Oddar Meanchey province on Wednesday, which authorities suspect were looted and buried by thieves many years ago.

The two statues of Buddha sitting cross-legged in a meditative pose, one weighing close to a tonne, were disturbed by villagers digging in a forest near the Dangrek mountains, far away from their homes, said Oun Reoung, chief of Trapeang Prasat commune where the statues were found.

“They were surprised to see them,” he said.

“We think that they are Khmer artifacts. The carvings show beautiful workmanship,” he said.

Oun Reoung could not confirm the age of the carvings but said they had been sent to Oddar Meanchey provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts for expert analysis.

Hong Yeoun, director of the provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts, said the carvings would be kept with about 50 other artifacts that his department had so far recovered.

“Oddar Meanchey province is an area where almost all of the artifacts are trafficked across [the border] to be sold abroad because we’ve seen many articles in which villagers found artifacts buried underground.”

The discovery of the Buddha carvings follows an announcement early last month by the Australian government that it would repatriate 30 Iron Age artefacts that had been posted for sale on the internet auction site eBay.

The artifacts, which included human remains, were believed to have been looted from Cambodia’s northwest, and included earrings and wrist and ankle bracelets.

Looking ahead at the KR tribunal

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Clint Williamson, the UN special expert on the Khmer Rouge trials, speaks to reporters yesterday in Phnom Penh.

via CAAI

Friday, 01 April 2011 15:03James O’Toole

Clint Williamson was appointed United Nations special expert for the Khmer Rouge tribunal last year, tasked with liasing with donors and the government and ensuring that the process moves forward smoothly. With final hearings in the court’s landmark first case, that of former S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, having concluded this week, Williamson spoke to The Post about fundraising, future cases and the impact of the tribunal thus far. Interview edited by James O’Toole.

The tribunal currently faces a budgetary shortfall of roughly US$18.5 million for this year. What is the status of the fundraising effort at the moment?
The financial situation is always on our mind at the court. The Yugoslavia and the Rwanda tribunals are funded by assessed contributions through the UN. This court, the Sierra Leone court and some of the other things that are going on like the Bosnia court, these are funded by voluntary contributions, so it’s a constant struggle to make sure the money is coming in as it’s needed. Simultaneously, we try to be very mindful of keeping the court’s budget as low as we can and trying to economise where possible.

Japan has been the court’s most generous donor so far. How will the disaster there affect the level of funding that’s available to the court going forward?
I think that’s a real concern. The Japanese have really borne an undue burden in terms of support of the court – they’ve provided almost 50 percent of the overall budget. They have been saying for the last couple of years that they would not be able to sustain that level of support indefinitely. The recent events in Japan have only compounded that problem – we’re hearing that from the Japanese government and I think everybody understands that. They’re going to have huge rebuilding bills and I think it’s going to have an impact on their overall foreign aid budget. Exactly what that will translate into in hard numbers, it’s hard to say, but I think it’s something that’s going to be a factor going forward.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials have expressed opposition to the court’s third and fourth cases, which are currently in the preliminary investigation stage. Has this been an issue in your discussions with the government?
The dialogue that we’ve had with the government about this is just making sure that the judicial process is allowed to work, and we’ve gotten commitments from the government to that effect. These courts don’t operate in a complete political vacuum. You have political statements that are coming from governmental figures – sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes they’re not – but what you want to make sure is that what’s going on in the court is insulated as much as possible from that. You have to recognise that there are a lot of factors that the government considers, that the UN considers, that donor governments consider, but what you hope to do is not have those things overly influence the work of the court, and I think that’s the case, that it’s not doing that.

Decisions in relation to civil parties were clearly a controversial element of the first case, and in the second case, rule changes will see these people with a reduced role in the proceedings. Do you think implementing the civil party system in the first place was a good decision?
It’s a good question. This is the only one of these international courts that has included this civil party process. Obviously, the first time around, there were some hiccups, not only in the way that the proceedings were conducted, but admittedly, there was some unhappiness on the way that decisions were taken.

I think maybe it’s a little bit early to say right now whether it’s been a success or not. I think as other tribunals are established in the future, people are going to have to think about whether to include the civil party system or not. They’re going to have to look back and see how it worked over time, and I think the real test of it will be the second case, because it has a much bigger pool of victims. We’ll have to see how it turns out and whether it achieved the objectives it sought to.

What do you hope to see the court take from the experience of Case 001 as it moves forward with its work?
Well I think the fundamental achievement of Case 001 is that you’re going back, you’re looking at crimes that occurred 30 years ago, and you’ve got a lot of witnesses who are elderly and people that have suffered a lot, but the process worked. You were able to see something, I think, that had a huge positive impact on the country.

When you look at the fact that in a lot of ways, this whole area of history was sort of a taboo subject, what has happened in the court has opened that up – families are talking about it in their own homes, you now have it being taught in the schools. This is the sort of impact that the international community has hoped for for all these courts, but this is really the only institution that’s achieved that. I think as we go into Case 002, where you’re really getting into a comprehensive examination of the Khmer Rouge leadership, this is going to be a huge opportunity for this country to examine that period and to put it behind them.