Monday, 25 April 2011

Border closure costing traders dearly

via CAAI

Published: 25/04/2011
Online news: Local News

Trade worth 15 to 20 million baht a day is being lost due to the closure of the Chong Chom border checkpoint in Kab Choeng district of Surin because of the renewed fighting on the border with Cambodia, a local business leader said on Monday.

A large quantity of good, particularly fuel, was held up on the Thai side of the border unable to cross to its usual destination in O-Samet in Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province, said Nanthawat Kijsakulpaisarn, secretary-general of Surin Chamber of Commerce.

Cross-border trade at this checkpoint was worth some 800 million baht annually. The closure was costing between 15 and 20 million baht a day in lost revenues, he said.

He called on the Thai and Cambodian governments to urgently hold talks to end the conflict.

The border crossing has been closed since Friday.

Thailand seeks talks with Cambodia after deadly clashes

Cambodian soldiers gesture as they ride a truck in Oddar Meanchey province, 20 km (12 miles) from the Cambodia-Thai border April 25, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

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Apr 25, 2011

By Martin Petty

PHANOM DONG RAK, Thailand (Reuters) - Thailand's foreign minister called Monday for one-on-one talks with Cambodia after three days of jungle clashes that killed at least 12 people and sent thousands into evacuation centres in the bloodiest border conflict in nearly two decades.

Thailand's renewed push for bilateral talks followed the cancellation of a visit to both countries by a top Southeast Asian envoy who brokered a U.N.-backed peace deal on February 22 to send Indonesian military observers to the border.

Thailand has resisted international observers, but Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya declined to rule them out when speaking to reporters at an evacuation camp.

"It's not something we are opposed to. This is a sensitive issue," he said in a briefing about 30 km (19 miles) from the scene of recent fighting.

The fighting near two disputed 12th-century Hindu temples followed a four-day clash in February that claimed 11 lives near Preah Vihear, a temple about 150 km (90 miles) to the east.

Guns were mostly silent Monday but Thai fighter jets roared over the area.

At the centre of the latest dispute are the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey Hindu temples in a heavily mined jungle area claimed by both sides. Thailand says the ancient ruins are in its Surin province but Cambodia insists they fall in its territory.

Fighting has been heaviest around Ta Moan, a complex that contains three temples nestled into a mountain pass. Both sides are also positioned around Ta Krabey, where fighting first erupted Friday and where Cambodia has been accused of building military bases.

A clash late Sunday killed a Thai soldier, bringing the death toll since Friday to five killed and 31 wounded. Cambodian authorities said a Thai sniper shot dead a Cambodian soldier early Monday, bring its death toll to seven with 17 wounded.

The Cambodian Defence Ministry said Thai shelling had "damaged the temples," without elaborating, and that civilian villages had been shelled about 20 km (12 miles) inside Cambodian territory. About 17,000 people had been evacuated, it said, and a school and 10 houses destroyed.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said "some Thai nationals" were taken into custody for "spying."

He did not provide details.


Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Thailand and Cambodia are members, had been expected to visit Thailand and Cambodia separately Monday.

Although his trip was cancelled, Natalegawa told reporters in Jakarta a trilateral meeting could still take place.

"The possibility is not closed for a direct meeting among the three of us, but the date has not been decided. The important thing is that communication continues," he said.

The conflict and fierce rhetoric from both sides has been a setback for ASEAN, a 10-member bloc modelled on the European Union that plans to become a regional community by 2015.

"Thailand and Cambodia have to show that they really want to promote diplomacy and not violence," said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged "serious dialogue" to produce an "effective and verifiable" cease-fire.

Although on the surface the renewed fighting appears to be a dispute over sovereignty, many experts are sceptical and suggest either government may have started the clashes to discredit the other or to appeal to nationalists at home.

The conflict could boost support for Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government ahead of an election due by July. Cambodia's government, which has had a series of bitter quarrels with Abhisit's administration, could stand to gain if his ruling Democrat Party is voted out of office.

The two sides battled for more than three hours from late Sunday morning and pounded each other with mortars and artillery, sending hundreds of villagers fleeing or into hiding in makeshift bomb shelters.

Ban Nongkana, a village 7 km (4 miles) from Ta Moan, was almost deserted Monday after three days of shelling. Dogs roamed dirt tracks and rustic wooden houses were abandoned after troops urged people to leave, fearing another escalation.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said 30,000 Thais were evacuated from border areas.

The dispute over jurisdiction has persisted since the 1950s, when colonial power France pulled out of Cambodia.

"Without a third-party observer, we will just point fingers at each other about who fired first," Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.

An international court ruling awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia in 1962, but Thailand has tried to thwart its attempt to list the temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it still lays claim to the 4.6 sq km (1.8 sq miles) of scrub around it.

(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul in Phnom Penh, Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok and Telly Nathalia in Jakarta; Editing by Jason Szep and Alex Richardson)


Vietnam, Cambodia agree to increase bilateral trade

Vietnamese Prime Minster Nguyen Tan Dung (L) and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen signing a commemorative board at the inaugural ceremony of the Vietnam-Cambodia Securities Company in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 24 (Photo: SGGP)

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Monday ,Apr 25,2011, Posted at: 16:00(GMT+7)

Vietnam, Cambodia agree to increase bilateral trade

Vietnam and Cambodia sort to raise the bilateral trade turnover to US$6.5 billion by 2015 during the second Vietnam-Cambodia investment promotion conference in Phnom Penh on April 24.

At the conference, co-chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and his counterpart Samdech Hun Sen, the two sides discussed ways to further boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation, including the opening and upgrading of several border economic zones and border markets.

The Vietnamese leader praised the outcome of the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries attained after the first conference, describing it as a foundation for the two sides to further cooperate and tap their potential effectively.

PM Dung stressed that the second Vietnam-Cambodia investment promotion conference had an important and necessary significance in the current period, as the event will serve as a channel for regular information exchanges between the two countries and within business circles.

He said Vietnamese enterprises operating in Cambodia should not just care about profit alone but create more jobs and improve social welfare along with preserving a good image of Vietnamese enterprises in Cambodia.

The PM hoped the Cambodian Government would create favorable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to further boost investments in Cambodia.

Taking the floor, PM Hun Sen underlined the importance and significance of the conference. He believed that the conference would contribute to strengthening the traditional friendship and ties between the two countries.

Vietnam has prioritized selling of power to Cambodia as the country faces a power shortage, he added.

He said that the Cambodian Government is pressing ahead with its fight against corruption and in administrative and legal reforms. Construction, power, mining and the tourism industries are awaiting foreign and Vietnamese investors.

PM Hun Sen said the economic road on which Cambodia is going is similar to the one that Vietnam went on, so this is an advantage for Vietnamese enterprises to make bigger investments in the Cambodian market.

Bilateral trade rising

Over the past years, the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia has deepened.

The two countries have signed over 60 legal documents for bilateral cooperation in almost all fields and created necessary cooperative mechanisms to fit their current development requirements.

As a result, economic and trade ties between the two countries have grown steadily. The two-way trade has risen year on year, from US$950 million in 2006 to over US$1.8 billion in 2010.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the number of Vietnamese investment projects in Cambodia increased from 57 in December 2009 to 87, with a combined capital of over US$2 billion in April 2011.

These projects are mostly in telecommunications, aviation, agriculture, rubber plantations, energy, hydropower, mining and banking and they have created stable jobs for over 6,000 Cambodian workers.

Cambodia is ranked second amongst 55 countries and territories where Vietnam has investment projects and Vietnam is ranked third amongst foreign investors in Cambodia.

Vietnam beat South Korea to head the list of countries with the most visitors going to Cambodia with 316,000 Vietnamese visitors going to the country in 2009.

The number soared by 18 percent to over 460,000 in 2010.

At the end of the conference, the two PMs witnessed the signing of seven cooperation agreements and memorandum of understanding for investment promotion and management between ministries and enterprises of the two countries, of a total value of nearly US$1 billion.

They also witnessed the hand-over of investment licenses to the Lower Se San 2 hydropower project and the iron ore mining project between the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining.

Earlier, the two PMs cut the ribbon to launch the Vietnam-Cambodia Securities Company, the first Vietnamese securities company licensed to implement all securities operations in Cambodia, with a chartered capital of US$10 million.

Sources: SGGP, VNA - Compiled by Hoang Chuong

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

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Statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense

Phnom Penh, April 25, 2011 AKP –

The following is the statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense over Thai aggression against Cambodia released this morning:  


Vietnamese Premier Concludes Visit to Cambodia

Phnom Penh, April 25, 2011 AKP –

Vietnamese Prime Minister H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung and his delegation have concluded successfully their working visit to Cambodia.

Before leaving for Vietnam, the Vietnamese prime minister co-chaired, with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, the second Cambodia-Vietnam Investment Promotion Conference held on Apr. 24 to boost the bilateral trade and investment ties between the two countries.

Speaking at the conference, the Cambodian premier appreciated all achievements in all fields gained by government and people of Vietnam in the national development of Vietnam.

The Cambodian royal government stood shoulder to shoulder with private sectors, considering them as a vital role in the national growth for the national progress in Cambodia, the Cambodian premier said.

He asked the Vietnamese businesspersons to hold talks with Cambodian investors with the aim of joining together for the success of the investment project in pattern of bauxite exploitation project and Cho Ray Hospital project.

He also said the Cambodian government is making every effort to create a transparent investment environment for the Vietnamese business by simplifying administrative procedures and combating corruption. He called on them to increase their investment in Cambodia.

For his part, the Vietnamese prime minister proposed that the two governments maintain an effective dialogue mechanism to help businesses in the two countries iron out snags and promote business activities.

The Vietnamese government and related ministries and agencies have created incentives for Cambodian businesses to invest in Vietnam and encourage Vietnamese investors to expand business in Cambodia, the Vietnamese premier said.

He also asked Vietnamese businesses operating in Cambodia to comply with the country’s laws, manners and customs, and pay attention to ensuring employment and social welfare as well as reducing poverty.

In 2010, trade revenues between Vietnam and Cambodia hit more than US$1.8 billion, up more than 37 percent from the previous year. Vietnam also invested over US$2 billion in nearly 90 projects in Cambodia. Almost 470,000 Vietnamese tourists visited Cambodia in 2010.

During his two-day stay in Cambodia, H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung was received in a royal audience by His Majesty King-Father Preah Bat Norodom Sihanouk; paid courtesy calls on Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, Acting Head of State, and H.E. Nguon Nhel, Acting President of the National Assembly; and held official talks with Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

The Vietnamese prime minister also co-presided over with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen the Opening Ceremony of the Headquarters of Cambodia-Vietnam Securities. –AKP

By THOU Peou


First South Korean Volunteers Arrive in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, April 25, 2011 AKP –

An 18-member group of Korean volunteers have arrived here recently to fulfill their two-year mission in Cambodia.

According to Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Korean volunteers have been now attending a two-month Khmer language as well as Khmer food and tradition training courses in Phnom Penh.

Once the courses completed, the Korean volunteers, the first group to arrive in Cambodia in 2011, will play important roles in helping training human resource in Cambodia’s educational institutions in the provinces of Koh Kong, Takeo, Kampong Chhnang, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Rattanakiri, Kampong Thom, Preah Sihanouk and Mondulkiri. –AKP

By LIM Nary


Cambodia’s “Kingdom Beer” Wins Le Monde Selection Gold medal

Phnom Penh April 25, 2011 AKP –

Kingdom Breweries (Cambodia) Ltd. has announced recently that “Kingdom Beer” won a gold medal from the International Institute for Quality Selection, Le Monde Selection, in Brussels, Belgium.

The announcement was made by Mr. Peter Brongers, CEO of Kingdom Breweries (Cambodia) Ltd., during a press conference held here last Friday.

It is the first time for Cambodia’s brewery to get such a prestige and award, he said, adding that the excited achievement is not only for Kingdom Breweries (Cambodia) Ltd, which has just started its business in the country six months ago, but for the entire Cambodian people.

People know that Cambodia is one of the best world’s tourist destinations, but they have never heard about Cambodia’s products and trademark, he said, stressing that this reward will reflect that Cambodian products and trademark can compete with other good products over the world.

The Awards Ceremony will be held in Brussels on May 24 in the presence of various ambassadors and many distinguished guests.

“Kingdom Beer” was among 100 different beers to join the international competition held in Brussels to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Independence Committee of the International Institute for Quality Selection.

Le Monde Selection was founded in 1961. Its mission is to test consumer products – beers, wines, soft drink, etc; – and grant them a bronze, silver, gold or grand gold quality award. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by Noeu


Vietnam Leading Fertilizer Maker to Expand its Activities in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, April 25, 2011 AKP –

Activity expansion of Petrovietnam fertilizer maker PVFCCo will significantly contribute to the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia to export one-million-ton rice to the international markets by 2015, said Deputy Director of Cambodian Rice Production Department (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) Mr. Pich Rumnea.

Mr. Rumanea made the remark in Apr. 23 official gathering of PVFCCo or Petrovietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals Corp. at Cambodiana hotel to scale up its technical rice growing training activities for Cambodian farmers after one-year presence in Cambodia.

PVFCCo has so far been technically supporting a number of Cambodian farmers in various provinces, including Battambang, Kampong Chhnang and Takeo to increase their rice yield using the fertilizer made by the company as high as 7-8 tons per hectare.

According to PVFCCo Vice President for Sales and Distribution Mr. Nguyen Hong Vinh, if the company can sustain its success in another three expanded provinces of Cambodia, it will formalize its office as the company’s division in the country by second quarter of 2011.

PVFCCo is a leading fertilizer maker whose supply covers almost 50 percent of Vietnam’s fertilizer demand.

Despite the difficulty and complication of the world’s economy, PVFCCo could still make appreciatory profit in the recent years.

Vietnamese Trade Counselor in Cambodia Vu Thinh Coung perceives the scale-up plan of PVFCCo as opportunity that will go beyond commercial tie to a further improved relationship between the two countries and peoples. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil


More U.S. Support for Mine Action in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, April 25, 2011 AKP –

A United States funded building for the repair of Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) based in Kampong Chhnang province’s Cambodian Mine Action Center Training School was officially inaugurated on Apr. 23 under the chairmanship of CMAC Director General Heng Ratana.

“The provision of the new building with high technology is another humanitarian assistance of the United States as its contribution to mine clearance in Cambodia”, said Mr. Heng Ratana with profound thanks to the funder.

According to Program Manager at the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Sean Burke, the U.S. is the only country with modern mine clearance facilities. HSTAMIDS is the latest facility that possesses high capacity in demining brought in to Cambodia since 2006.

The new building well equipped with all necessary facilities to repair the HSTAMIDS plays a key role to ensure efficient work of CMAC to clear mines in Cambodia.

The U.S. is a leading supporter for mine clearance action in Cambodia. The country has been supporting Cambodia in this action since 1993 with the total of almost US$21 million. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil


Statement of the Council of Ministers over Thai Aggression against Cambodia

Phnom Penh, April 25, 2011 AKP –

The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers has issued a statement over the Thai latest aggression against Cambodia.

The full statement dated Apr. 24 reads as follows:

Boeung Kak meet set today

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Monday, 25 April 2011 15:01Chhay Channyda

Phnom Penh officials have agreed to meet with representatives of Boeung Kak residents today, following the release of 11 villagers who were beaten and arrested on Thursday during a protest against their impending eviction.

About 100 villagers were outside Phnom Penh City Hall when police violently broke up the protest, reportedly beating demonstrators with electric batons and taking away villagers as young as 11.

Daun Penh District Governor Sok Sambath said on Friday that villagers had thrown stones and bottles of urine at police.

“We did not want to use violence because we are also Khmer, but they disrupted order,” he said, adding that Municipal Deputy Governor Nuon Sameth would meet with villagers today.

Ly Mom, a representative of Boeung Kak residents, said on Friday that she and eight other villagers were forced to plead guilty to using violence in exchange for their release.

She added that the upcoming meeting was arranged by district officials and unlikely to achieve a favourable result for villagers because decisions about the project were made at municipal level. Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth declined to comment on Friday.

Rights groups say more than 4,000 families will ultimately be displaced by a 133-hectare real estate development at Boeung Kak, a joint venture project between a Chinese firm and a company owned by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin.

Residents have been offered on-site relocation, housing in Dangkor district and two million riel (US$495), or cash payments of $8,500. Many believe this is far below the market value of their homes.

Forest in new sugar concession

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Monday, 25 April 2011 15:01May Titthara

An economic land concession encompassing 9,053 hectares and belonging to the wife of Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat has been extended by 4,700 hectares and now includes part of a protected forest, according to a government document obtained by The Post late last week.

The sub-decree, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 21 this year, reclassifies land that includes a portion of the protected Phnom Aural forest in Kampong Speu’s Trapaing Chor commune in Oral district as an economic land concession granted to Kim Heang’s Kampong Speu Sugar company.

“The minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Minister of the Environment, all ministries and the governor of Kampong Speu province have to implement this sub-decree effectively starting from the date of signage,” the sub-decree read.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer at the rights group Adhoc, yesterday claimed studies on how such concessions impact communities often aren’t made.

Pen Sambou, Kampong Speu deputy governor, claimed the environmental impact of the concession had been studied.

"Many bombs landed ... we are living in fear"

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A damaged wooden chair sits at a house that was destroyed yesterday by a 155mm shell fired from Thailand into Banteay Ampil district, in Oddar Meanchey province, near the Thai-Cambodian border. SOVAN PHILONG

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Monday, 25 April 2011 15:02Cheang Sokha and James O’Toole

Oddar Meanchey province
At least 10 soldiers lay dead yesterday following a third straight day of clashes along the Thai-Cambodian border near Oddar Meanchey province, as simmering tensions between the two countries once again spilled over into bloodshed.

Six Cambodian soldiers have been killed – three on Friday and three on Saturday – while another remains missing and 16 have been injured, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said four Thai troops had been killed and 25 injured, with thousands of civilians evacuated on both sides.

The latest hostilities follow four days of fighting along the border in February, about 150 kilometres away near Preah Vihear temple. There, at least 10 troops were killed and dozens injured in clashes that led the two sides to appear before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations Security Council in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

As in February, both sides accused one another of touching off the fighting. Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said on Friday that Thai troops had opened fire first, while Thai Lt General Thawatchai Samutsakorn said Cambodia had “started attacking our temporary base with artillery fire”.

Clashes yesterday began near Ta Moan temple with gunfire that quickly escalated into exchanges of artillery, troops of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces said. The thumping of shells was clearly audible 20 kilometres from the border in Oddar Meanchey’s Banteay Ampil district yesterday, as military trucks sped along the dirt road to the frontline.

Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, another temple along the border located roughly 10 kilometres away, are claimed by both Cambodia and Thailand and have been flashpoints for the latest fighting.

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Cambodian villagers displaced by fighting along the Thai-Cambodian border receive donations of rice and other supplies from the Red Cross in Samrong town, in Oddar Meanchey province yesterday.

During a weekly television programme yesterday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva accused Cambodia of deliberately provoking the clashes in order to “internationalise” the dispute.

Thailand has argued that the conflict must be solved bilaterally, and a deal brokered in February that would see teams of Indonesian military observers dispatched on either side of the border has been stalled pending Thai approval.

Thailand “focused only on the military targets” during the clashes, Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper quoted Abhisit as saying. Some 21 kilometres from the border in Banteay Ampil district’s Kokmon commune, however, local officials claimed at least 18 shells had landed in the vicinity of civilian homes on Saturday.

One house in the village had been reduced to a shell after being hit by what officials said was a pair of 155mm Thai rockets.

A mangled satellite dish sat amid a pile of debris in the front yard yesterday morning as RCAF troops pieced through the wreckage, displaying a piece of silver shrapnel as evidence of the attack.

“We have never experienced a war like this and there have never been bombs dropped in this area,” Kokmon Commune Chief Oun Vy said yesterday, adding that no villagers had been injured in the shelling.

“There should not be fighting around here because it’s a civilian area and the people are unarmed.”

Panitan said Thai officials had identified “seven locations” in civilian areas of Thailand that had been hit by Cambodian artillery fire and were in the process of gathering further information.

Observers are on the scene analysing munitions used by Thailand. During the clashes near Preah Vihear in February, Thailand deployed 155mm Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, a form of cluster bomb. Such weapons scatter bomblets over a wide area – explosives that often lie dormant for decades – and are widely condemned for their devastating effects on civilian populations.

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre deployed personnel in Oddar Meanchey province this weekend to investigate whether Thailand had again used the controversial weapons, though CMAC director general Heng Ratana said yesterday that his organisation had discovered “no sufficient evidence to confirm” that cluster munitions had indeed been used.

Cambodia’s Defence Ministry claimed Saturday that Thailand had used rockets equipped with “poisonous gas”, though Thai Army deputy spokesman Veerachon Sukhondhadpatipak called this accusation “groundless” and Heng Ratana said it had not been verified.

Conventional artillery, however, appears to have been heavily used. Roth Sopheaphal, an RCAF soldier stationed in Banteay Ampil’s Kork Kpos commune, said “nearly 1,000” shells had been exchanged between the two sides since the fighting began on Friday, including roughly 160 yesterday morning.

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement yesterday that during the fighting, Thai troops had “showered gunfire” around Ta Moan temple in an attempt to seize control of the site.

The road to Ta Moan from the Cambodian side winds up a hill that is exposed to fire from Thai positions, Cambodian troops said.

Lab Hak, an ambulance driver from RCAF Brigade 42, said shells had landed both in front of and behind his vehicle yesterday as he sped away from the battlefield.

“It felt a bit shocking to see it just 15 metres in front of the car,” he said.

As of yesterday evening, Roth Sopheaphal said, Thai and Cambodian troops remained stationed around the perimeters of both Ta Maon and Ta Krabey, with neither side having taken control.

Back in Oddar Meanchey’s Samroang town, about 45 kilometres from the border, dozens of evacuees gathered outside the RCAF provincial commanding office to receive rations of 20 kilogrammes of rice, cookware and blankets from the Cambodian Red Cross.

Thun Nol, governor of Oddar Meanchey’s Samroang district, said 18,000 Cambodian civilians had been evacuated from their homes near the border; Uy Sam Ath, director the disaster management department at the Cambodian Red Cross, put the total at 9,867, but called this “an estimation” and said the figure could go up.

Thai spokesman Panitan said roughly 25,000 Thai villagers had been evacuated.

Sitting in the dust outside the RCAF office in Samroang, 53-year-old Nang Pheap said she had fled yesterday morning from her home in Banteay Ampil’s Por Thivong village, about six kilometres from the border.

“I arrived here just a few hours before the clashes started again,” she said.

“Many bombs landed close to my village and we are living in fear.”


Indonesia steps into diplomacy

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International reaction
“Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said he is troubled by reports of renewed fighting …
He urged Cambodia and Thailand to
take immediate measures for an effective
and verifiable ceasefire.”
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman

“We urge Thailand and Cambodia to
exercise maximum restraint, take
necessary steps to reduce tensions and
fully commit to a peaceful resolution.”
United States embassy spokesman

“Indonesia, as current Chair of ASEAN, strongly calls for the immediate cessation
of hostilities between Cambodia and Thailand; for the two sides to continue to resolve their differences through peaceful means as has been reflected in addressing the border
dispute between the two countries.”
Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“We urge Cambodia and Thailand to resolve their differences through negotiations. Singapore supports the efforts by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.…
This is important for the long-term relationship of Cambodia and Thailand, as
well as in the broader interests of ASEAN.”
Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“Now, ASEAN is encountering the most
difficult part: How to influence Thailand and Cambodia to adhere to the rules and regulations [of a non-violent solution].”
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at the
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore
The question of placing third-party observers along the contentious Cambodian-Thai border has been thrust into centre stage, after three days of fresh clashes sparked renewed international concern.

Following deadly fighting along the border near Preah Vihear temple in early February, Cambodia and Thailand agreed later that month to allow neutral observers from Indonesia to monitor a ceasefire on both sides.

The proposal stalled after Thailand failed to sign a terms of reference agreement. Thailand stated this month that it would not allow observers into the 4.6-square-kilometre area, which both sides claim, adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa will arrive in Phnom Penh today before travelling to Bangkok this evening to meet Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, officials said yesterday.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Natalegawa wrote to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong to say he was making the trip in order to finalise the proposed terms for the observers.

Amid claims by both countries that the other side initiated the fighting, analysts and Cambodian officials argue that neutral observers could play a critical role.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said in an email yesterday that third party observers were a “necessary” part of ensuring a ceasefire between the two countries.

“A group of observers could help tone down the tension along the border. It is also crucial to be able to pinpoint who exactly started the gunfire,”

Pavin said. Cambodia also argues that that the presence of observers could have prevented the fighting over the weekend, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

“It should be noted that Thailand has, until now, not yet accepted the draft terms of reference for the deployment of Indonesian observers, which could have helped to prevent military clashes at the Cambodia-Thailand border,” the statement read.

“Cambodia, on its part, has given its acceptance of the draft TOR four times already after its revision to accommodate Thailand’s position.”

Yesterday Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said that at the meeting with Natalegawa, Kasit would likely “reaffirm that we are committed to solving the problems peacefully and bilaterally with the help of Indonesia as facilitator as agreed previously”.

He would not say whether Thailand would agree to terms that would make way for Indonesian observers, saying they were waiting for them to be finalised.

The Thai military, which has consistently opposed any sort of third-party intervention into the dispute, cast doubt on the proposal yesterday.

“As the chair of ASEAN, [Indonesia] ... can talk to both countries, but I don’t think they have any direct involvement on the ground,” Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman for the Thai Royal Army, told The Post.

Pavin said the conflict was politically convenient for the Thai military because it could be used as a pretext to co-opt control over foreign policy from the civilian government.

“I can understand why Thailand has all this time insisted on dealing with the issue bilaterally. Especially from the viewpoint of the Thai army, the longer the conflict is the longer it can prolong its involvement in politics,” Pavin said.

“The delay of the election is in the military’s interest,” Pavin said, adding that a coup could be an “attractive solution” for the Thai army.

Meanwhile, the United Nations, the United States, China, Russia, Indonesia and Singapore have all called for an immediate end to the fighting.

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said he stood by the role of Indonesia to facilitate a bilateral solution, according to a statement from his spokesman released on Saturday.

“[Ban] said he had been encouraged by the initial signs of progress in regional efforts to strengthen bilateral mechanisms for dealing with the dispute between the two neighbours and called on both sides to exercise maximum restraint,” he said.

Hor Namhong and Kasit have discussed a meeting, following a request from Kasit made on Saturday.

Koy Kuong said Hor Namhong had not responded yet, and had ruled out a purely bilateral meeting.

“Hor Namhong may meet Kasit with Marty Natalegawa in Indonesia – the three of them may meet, not one by one,” Koy Kuong said.

King's wedding 'snub' denied

Photo by: Reuters
A young girl waits to see Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive at the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, in northern England, earlier this month. The young couple’s wedding is set for April 29.

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Monday, 25 April 2011 15:02Adam Miller

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday denied press reports that King Norodom Sihamoni was the only royal in the world who had not replied to an invitation to the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton.

United Kingdom newspaper The Sun reported on Friday that the Cambodian King was “the only Royal out of dozens worldwide who has failed to respond” to the invite to the nuptials, to be held on Friday.

The newspaper also described the King as “a shaven-headed former ballet dancer” who had “snubbed” the invitation.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that the newspaper had been mistaken in their assessment of the situation and that the King had indeed replied to the invitation more than two weeks ago.

“The newspaper is wrong, in fact the King responded on the eighth of April and cannot attend,” Koy Kuong said.

A spokesman for the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in London reportedly told the Daily Mail newspaper that the King “has another important engagement” in Cambodia and could not attend.

Koy Kuong denied this was the case, citing the King’s “heavy work schedule” and a recent trip to China as a factor in the refusal.

“Right now he is in Beijing for healthcare and I’m not sure if he will be back in Cambodia or still in Beijing during the wedding,” he said, adding that he did not know any more details about the King’s schedule.

The British press alluded to a connection between the King’s recent refusal to attend with claims that King father Norodom Sihanouk declined to attend the wedding of Princess Alexandra and Sir Angus Oglivy in 1963, when he was reportedly denied accommodation at Windsor Castle and a guard of honour.

“As I said before it is due to his royal work schedule that he cannot attend,” Koy Kuong said in reference to the UK press allegations, which he stated were merely a coincidence.

Other royal attendees to Prince William’s wedding include the King of Bhutan, the King and Queen of Malaysia, the Crown Prince of Dubai, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, the Aga Khan and the Sultan of Brunei, out of a total of about 40 royals from around the world set to attend, according to The Sun.

A spokesman for the Cambodian Royal Palace was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Scrutiny for petrol stations

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:02Khouth Sophakchakrya

The governor of Phnom Penh has banned the construction of new petrol stations in the city centre and imposed a two-week ultimatum for existing stations to produce letters permitting their operation.

According to a report on the Phnom Penh municipality’s website on Friday, Governor Kep Chutema urged officials to inspect and take legal action against petrol stations that did not have licences from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

The announcement followed the closure and dismantling of a petrol station owned by Thai firm PTT on the corner of Monivong and Russian Boulevard in Daun Penh district on Friday, because it reportedly did not have legal permission to operate, the report stated.

Chhay Rithysen, the director of Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said that of the 210 petrol stations in Phnom Penh, only 131 had legal permits. Kep Chutema also urged all eight district governors to consult with officials to inform petrol station owners with no licences to write letters requesting permission to operate, giving them a deadline of two weeks before they face inspection.

ACU to probe provincial graft

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:02 Meas Sokchea

A complaint accusing the director of the Kampong Chhnang department of agriculture of siphoning millions of riel from state coffers while driving the department into debt has been lodged with the Anti-Corruption Unit.

The complaint, dated March 23 and obtained by The Post yesterday, accuses Ngan Nany of taking more than 1 million riel [US$246] per year from slaughterhouses and government projects for more than four years. It also claims that Ngan Nany admitted in a meeting on January 11 that he had borrowed millions of riel from the private sector to keep the department afloat. The complaint called for an audit of his assets.

“This corruption has made the department director become a young millionaire in Kampong Chhnang province with many spots of land and houses in the province and houses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in Phnom Penh,” it said. Ngan Nany said yesterday that the allegations were exaggerated though he acknowledged his performance as the departmental director had not been perfect.

“People who work are never 100-percent correct,” he said. “It is an exaggeration made by one small group of people who are not happy that they cannot do what they want.”

ACU deputy president Sean Borath said the department would examine the case.

Large Vietnam deals inked

A man walks through a sugarcane field. Sugarcane was one area targeted by Vietnamese investment yesterday. Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:01Soeun Say

VIETNAM Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung yesterday urged Vietnamese investors to look to Cambodia for increasing opportunities, as the two nations signed nine Memorandums of Understanding worth nearly US$900 million.

Although Vietnamese investments in Cambodia currently total more than $2 billion – excluding yesterday’s MoUs – Nguyen Tan Dung said: “It is still not enough to harness the huge potential that Cambodia has.”

“So I would like to encourage more Vietnamese investors to consider ventures in Cambodia, and I urge Vietnamese investors already here to strengthen and expand their capital investments to build closer economic cooperation...” he said at the 2nd Cambodia-Vietnam Conference on Investment Promotion held at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace yesterday.

The largest MoU signed yesterday was for a hydroelectric plant on the Lower Sesan River, which has been pegged at $700 million by Royal Group, a partner in the joint venture, though a number of other deals were signed.

MoUs were also inked for a $32-million iron ore project by Hoang Anh-Ratanakiri, part of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group conglomerate, a $20-million cassava plantation by Cam-Viet Rural Development Ltd in Ratanakkiri province, and $75-million investment by Star Premier International for sugarcane farming in Kampong Speu province.

Agreements for investments in rubber plantations and a carbon credit project by Indochina Green JSC Company were also signed yesterday, though dollar figures were not announced at the conference.

Nguyen Tan Dung said the latest investments join significant Vietnamese projects ongoing in Cambodia, in areas such as telecommunications, banking and finance, mineral resources, and rubber plantations.

Prime Minister Hun Sen pointed to Cambodia’s open business environment and investment laws as important in attracting outside investment – with agriculture in particular offering opportunity.

“Cambodia has abundant potential in the agriculture sector, and with preferential law and economic incentives, it is a good opportunity for investors to grow rice, corn, cassava, bean, rubber and agro-industry, as well as in food-processing plants.”

“Beside the agriculture sector, we have some others sectors with strong potential. Infrastructure, industry exports, oil and gas, mining and tourism are waiting for investment from foreign investors, including those from Vietnam,” he said.

University of Cambodia professor of business and economics Chheng Kimlong said yesterday’s agreements were a positive sign for bilateral trade between the countries, which has been increasing year to year.

“The deal shows the very strong trade relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia, which has been building up for a long time,” he said, adding that Vietnam investors have been able to take market share in the agriculture and agri-business sectors.

Peter Brimble, Senior Country Economist for the Asian Development Bank, said that while he hadn’t reviewed the MoUs, the Vietnamese government was serious about promoting investment in the Kingdom.

“There’s no question that Vietnam is going to play a bigger role in Cambodia,” he said.

Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam increased by nearly 50 percent in the first quarter of the year compared the same period last year, according Vietnam Trade Office figures released last week.


Sesan dam to proceed this year

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:01Tom Brennan

CAMBODIA’S Royal Group announced yesterday that it would proceed with its Vietnamese partner on a US$700 million hydroelectric plant along the Lower Sesan River, with construction due to start by the end of the year.

The 400 megawatt Sesan hydro plant will be located 40 kilometres northwest of the town of Stung Treng and is expected to enter commercial operations in 2017, a Royal Group statement said.

“This power generation project will contribute greatly to the continued economic development of Cambodia, ensuring a reliable, moderately-priced supply of electricity,” said Royal Group Kith Meng in the statement.

The joint venture – called the Cambodia-Vietnam Hydropower Company - is 51 percent owned by EVNI Joint Stock Company of Vietnam, with the remainder held by Royal Group, officials said earlier this year. The venture was officially established yesterday at the 2nd Cambodia-Vietnam Conference on Investment Promotion at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace, where a number of deals were signed.

Negotiations for the supply of electricity are presently underway, Kith Meng said yesterday, adding they were “about 90 percent finished already.”

Royal Group said in the statement that project studies are complete.

The impact of large-scale hydroelectricity projects has been a contentious issues in the Kingdom.

Chith Sam Ath, Executive Director of NGO Forum, urged the joint venture to learn from what he saw as the problems caused by other dams. One in particular, the Yali Falls Damn in Vietnam, “created a lot of negative impact for the people who live downstream,” he said.

Kith Meng declined to discuss the venture's environmental impact assessment yesterday and referred questions to government officials.

Officials from the Environment Ministry declined comment yesterday. EVNI had valued the cost of the project at $806 million in a 2010 statement on its website.


Rising oil prices begin to take toll

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:00Steve Finch

FOR an economy expected to grow by about 6.5 percent this year, news last week that traffic through Sihanoukville Port – by far the country’s largest – grew by an annualised 14.4 percent in the first quarter was to be expected. However, a 3.1-percent fall in imports of oil products served as a reminder that Cambodia’s robust recovery could be held back by surging fuel costs amid crude prices that again neared recent highs at the end of last week.

Ernst & Young in its quarterly oil and gas review warned on Thursday that rising fuel prices driven by demand as a result of the global economic recovery and unrest in the Middle East could hurt the world’s economy.

“Higher prices are expected to impact the global economic recovery and restrain oil demand growth,” it said.

In Cambodia, these effects are already being felt. Premium fuel prices climbed more than 14 percent between March 31, 2010 and the end of the first quarter this year in riel terms, according to Trade Promotion Department data. On the back of a strong local currency in recent weeks, this translated to an even bigger jump for those paying in United States dollars at about 17 percent. Diesel, which fuels lorries and therefore much of the country’s land freight, soared 25 percent in riel terms and about 30 percent in dollars over the same period.

These huge price rises have been the driving force behind the drop in oil imports at the start of this year, said Bin May Malia, marketing division manager at fuel retailer PTT of Thailand. Sales have “dropped a little bit because of the high prices in quarter one”, he told The Post yesterday.

At PTT, retail fuel sales fell for both diesel and gasoline, he added, although a rise in sales of oil products to the energy and aviation sectors meant company sales were up overall during the first quarter of the year.

The latest figures from Sihanoukville Port – through which PTT imports all its oil products – suggests other fuel retailers in the Kingdom saw a downturn in sales during the first three months.

How will the decreasing appetite for fuel translate within Cambodia’s economy?

At the moment this remains mostly unclear. But disposable incomes for many will decrease as fuel costs take up a larger percentage of household income, while consumers will shy away from some purchases. When consumers buy less fuel we can normally expect generator usage to drop, domestic travellers to take fewer trips, and higher earners to think twice before upgrading vehicles or indeed purchasing a car or motorbike altogether, among other knock-on effects.

Falling demand for fuel can therefore only have a negative impact on Cambodia’s economy over the coming months. In terms of the country’s energy problems, the situation serves as yet another reminder that fuel remains among the key challenges for the Kingdom’s economy. And it’s a problem that is only getting worse.

Camera capture: Distributor for Canon opens outlet

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

PHOTOGRAPHY firm i-Qlick Cambodia opened an outlet in Phnom Penh on Saturday, with the Prime Minister’s son in attendance.

The three-storey outlet on Sihanouk Boulevard distributes Canon cameras, as well as other imported electronics for sale.

Andy Lee, Country Director for i-Qlick, said his company was attempting to capitalise on a rising demand for photography products, as well as bring consumers the latest in technology.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Manet, said at the launch the country’s political stability and business-friendly environment make it attractive for investors.

Closed crossings to hit local commerce

via CAAI

Monday, 25 April 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

TWO international border crossings with Thailand have been closed in northwest Cambodia following violent clashes nearby, which local merchants complain has disrupted trade.

Neth Dara, director of the Choam international border crossing in Banteay Meancheay province, said yesterday the gate had been ordered closed by Thai authorities, with nothing moving in or out following nearby clashes on April 22.

“Closing the gates has severely affected Cambodians and Thais who do business with each other, and blocked the transportation of goods,” he said.

Oddar Meancheay province’s O’smach border crossing has also been closed, according to Dy Phen, Director of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office located in Poipet.

“The conflict not only hits Cambodians, but also Thais, because Thailand imports more goods to Cambodia than Cambodia to Thailand,” he said.

He raised the possibility of Cambodia searching for other export markets if the crossings stay shut.

Seng Rorng, an Oddar Meancheay province merchant who imports fruits from Thailand, said she has been forced to suspend her business following the closing of the border.

“I ask for mutual reconciliation from both countries, because it would be very difficult for people from the two areas to move away,” she said.