Tuesday, 12 May 2009

PM lawyer vows to continue lawsuit

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

THE lawyer for Prime Minister Hun Sen has said his client will proceed with the defamation lawsuit filed against Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, claiming he has not received a formal notification that she is withdrawing her own lawsuit.

In a radio broadcast Thursday, Mu Sochua offered to drop her lawsuit against the prime minister - filed for comments he made in Kampot on April 4 - if Hun Sen promised to do the same. But Hun Sen's lawyer Ky Tech said he had heard nothing from Mu Sochua's own lawyers.

"Based on the law, we cannot regard the information heard by media as official information. So I cannot report it to Samdech [Hun Sen]," he said.

No surrender
When contacted Monday, Mu Sochua said the idea to drop her suit had come about after a caller to Voice of America's Hello show asked her to drop the case and focus on resolving national issues.

But she denied that she was giving in to the prime minister by offering a mutual withdrawal of lawsuits, saying she would hold firm against the PM.

"I am maintaining my stance on my case. I am not admitting defeat and raising the white flag. I am just offering an olive branch to Hun Sen," she said.

Municipal court prosecutor Hing Bun Chea, who is in charge of Mu Sochua's case, said Monday he knew nothing about her case being dropped and that the suit was now in motion.

"We have been taking action on the case, and we will summon the plaintiff to clarify again after [the King's birthday]," he said.

Victims seek graft documents

Photo by: Sovann Philong
A Cambodian man is interviewed as others enter the Khmer Rouge tribunal last month.

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A group of civil parties at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have added their voice to calls for judges to release report on allegations of corruption at the court

LAWYERS for civil parties at Cambodia's war crimes court have filed a motion requesting access to the results of a UN inquiry into allegations of corruption at the tribunal.

They join four defence teams and the prosecution in urging judges to take action on the issue, after talks between the government and the UN last month failed to reach agreement on how best to deal with graft accusations.

"The existence of the [UN report] is directly relevant to the proceedings in the Duch trial, as its publication after the close of the proceedings may expose the trial judgment to claims ... that corruption within the ECCC rendered the trial unfair," a press statement by lawyers representing the civil parties, known as "group one", said Monday.

The lawyers asked judges to make a formal request to the UN secretary general to make the report accessible to the parties. But they also pointed out that they had no evidence themselves that pointed to graft at the court.

The corruption row arose after staff members on the Cambodian side of the court accused their superiors of taking a percentage of their salaries.

Court officials have denied this practice occurred, saying several audits have failed to uncover any wrongdoing.
"This court does not exist in a vacuum.... It's an international criminal court, it's serious," Alain Werner, a lawyer for the group, told the Post Monday.

"We were hoping that there would be an anti-corruption mechanism in place by now, but the government and the UN have decided against this. We are now in the position where we are four weeks into the first trial and the allegations we are reading about are actually getting worse ... it's a ticking bomb," he added.

"The victims know that it is not closure if the verdict is tainted," he said.

Richard Rogers, chief of the defence section of the tribunal, told the Post last week that the situation was becoming an embarrassment to all involved.

"There is a report sitting in someone's drawer in New York that details corruption allegations at the court and judges would prefer not to look at it," he said.

"There is only one thing worse than the court collapsing, and that is a court going forward with trials that are not fair."

Former KR minister to remain in detention

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

CAMBODIA'S war crimes court Monday rejected an appeal by former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith against her pretrial detention, with presiding Judge Prak Kimsan saying that her continued imprisonment was "still a necessary measure".

He warned that, if freed, the regime's "first lady" could try to pressure victims and witnesses, or fail to show up at court hearings.

Ieng Thirith did not appear at Monday's hearing because she had a headache and was unable to get out of bed, her lawyer said.

The 77-year-old was arrested in 2007 and is charged with crimes against humanity.

Stranded workers to pack bags following company agreement

Chinese migrant workers protest outside the Chinese embassy last Wednesday.

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Police say 110 Chinese labourers stuck in Cambodia will receive six months’ back pay, 500 yuan compensation and a flight back to China

ORE than 100 Chinese migrant labourers whose employers failed to pay them for six months before stranding them in Cambodia will go home today after successfully negotiating their return with their company, according to police officials.

Hy Prou, Phnom Penh's deputy police commissioner, said that Canadia Bank, which owns the Tonle Bassac City development project where the workers were employed, has been in negotiations with the Jiangsu Province First Construction Installation Co over the payment of the workers.

The company was contracted by Canadia Bank to work on the Tonle Bassac City project, but the contract was cancelled on April 30 after the company allegedly failed to follow its agreement.

"This is an issue between the two companies and we have urged them to resolve the problem," Hy Prou said Monday.
"The authorities have asked [the workers] to stay in a group together at their work site in order to maintain order."

Stranded without pay
About 110 construction workers employed by Jiangsu rallied outside the Chinese embassy last Wednesday and Saturday seeking diplomatic intervention after their employers fled the country, saying it took their passports and did not pay six months' worth of wages.

One security guard fired several shots into the air to disperse the protesters Wednesday as they tried to enter the embassy gate.

A Cambodian police officer who was present at the dispute resolution meeting said that about 70 percent of the workers have agreed to the company's offer to pay them their back salaries and an additional 500 yuan (US$73.20) compensation.

"The company had already bought the air tickets for them," he said. "The company is responsible to pay for them, and I think the remaining workers will also agree to accept this."

Hem Bunny, director of the Department of Employees and Manpower in the Ministry of Labour, said that any company employing foreign workers in Cambodia was required to send a copy of its employees' contract to the ministry, which was then responsible for monitoring their adherence.

"In the case of Jiangsu, the company had not yet registered with the Ministry of Labour," he said, adding that the government was therefore unable to monitor the company's alleged breach of the contract.

Chinese embassy officials declined to comment on the issue Monday.

Attacks on beer girls persist

A billboard at a beer garden in Phnom Penh calls on patrons to show respect to the women who serve them. The message is part of a new campaign to improve safety and security of female staff members.

Written by Mom Kunthear and Robbie Corey-Boulet
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A new initiative to reduce incidents of sexual harassment against beer girls aims to alter customers’ behaviour and encourage victims to file reports

DESPITE efforts by the government and NGOs to curtail sexual harassment, beer girls in Cambodia continue to be targeted by intoxicated customers who all too frequently resort to violence, the NGO Care in Cambodia noted in a press release issued last week announcing the launch of a new campaign against violence in the workplace.

"We still hear through all forms of media about incidences of sexual harassment and violence against beer promoters in working hours and on the way home," states the release announcing the Non-Violent Workplace Initiative, an effort spearheaded by Care and the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

The campaign, currently being piloted in six entertainment establishments in the capital, was designed to draw on Care's past experiences advocating on behalf of Cambodian beer girls - or, as Care refers to them, beer promoters.

Its goals include promoting a general "social behaviour change" among clients who frequent beer-selling establishments and also encouraging beer girls to report all incidents of violence and sexual harassment.

Slogan promotion
Six establishments have begun displaying the slogan "No violence in the workplace", said Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who said she hoped efforts to popularise the slogan would help make the campaign a success.

"We have to spread this message in the workplace," she said. "I don't believe this slogan alone can reduce violence in our society or in the workplace, but we will use it along with other efforts to reduce violence."

Kong Lakhena, secretary general of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre, which is helping to promote the slogan, said it would be displayed on walls and on boxes of tissue.

"There are still many guests who don't understand beer girls' work and think they can do whatever they want to beer girls," she said.

Meas Lin, 32, a beer girl for Angkor Beer Co at Singapore Night restaurant on Russian Boulevard, said the restaurant's decision to display the slogan had given her an added sense of security at work.

"I felt good when I saw this slogan because I am less afraid that guests will look down on me or use violence against me when they are drunk," she said.

Seng Nora, 23, a beer girl at Kampong Cham 111 restaurant in Prampi Makara district, said that restaurant was not participating in the slogan campaign, adding that she wished the message was on display.

She said she believed the slogan would encourage guests to respect beer girls as opposed to treating them "as their slaves because they have money and they can do whatever they want".

She described an incident last month in which a customer tried to grab her breasts.

"I turned away and told him not do to that, and then he put his gun on the table," she said. "I was scared then."

Though the incident did not escalate further, she said it had left her rattled.

"I want to suggest to all guests that they should please not use their power and money to threaten beer girls and other people who are weaker than them," she said.

Conservation continues at Preah Vihear temple

A woman and her daughter sit outside Preah Vihear temple earlier this week.

Written by Sam Rith
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Part of conservation efforts promised to UNESCO could result in the eviction of 792 families from two villages: government officials

NEITHER the ongoing border dispute with Thailand nor protests from Cambodian villagers will delay Cambodia's effort to preserve the Preah Vihear temple complex, officials say.

"We are working in places that are not related to the disputed areas on the border. We are working in the east and south that are located in Cambodian territory," Chuch Phoeung, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said Monday.

He said that the Bayon Foundation is repairing roads and steps at the eastern entrance of the temple, while the Preah Vihear Temple Authority is doing the daily maintenance of the temple and steering clear of contested land.

In order to fulfill promises Cambodia made to UNESCO for the granting of Preah Vihear's World Heritage site status, Cambodia has barred construction within 30 metres around the temple complex and designated a "prohibited area" 3 kilometres around the temple.

But Cambodia also agreed to a third zone - a "development area" - that stretches from 3 to 10 kilometres away from the temple.

The zone is to be administered by the Preah Vihear Temple Authority and will house a museum.

Ko Muoy, a village largely destroyed by Thai rocket fire in April, and Prasat village stand in this third zone, and the towns' residents are being evicted by the Cambodian government to make way for an ecotourism area that will fulfill Cambodia's obligation to UNESCO, said Suos Yara, an undersecretary of state at the Council of Ministers.

Suos Yara said the government's conservation efforts will require the relocation of 792 families in Ko Muoy and Prasat villages to Sa Em, 10 kilometres away.

Phay Siphan, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said Monday the families that have agreed to compensation will be moved gradually and will receive 2 million riels (US$484.73), a plot of land 50 metres by 100 metres and a new house as compensation.

But last week, Hun Sen's Cabinet of Ministers, the National Assembly and the Senate received a complaint with 209 thumbprints from Ko Muoy villagers, and later from about 20 villagers who said they were from Ko Muoy protesting the proposed compensation.

Preparing for predictions

Photo by: Sovann Philong

Written by Sovann Philong
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A man carries baskets of fruit past a pavillion constructed in front of the National Museum on Monday, ahead of today’s Royal Ploughing Ceremony, during which the King’s oxen are used to predict the success of the forthcoming harvest.

Local producers to display wares at Royal ceremony

Photo by: Sovann Philong
Stall owners preprare their goods Monday ahead of today’s Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Farmers from across the Kingdom descend on Phnom Penh in rare chance to showcase provincial produce at today’s Royal ploughing festival

THIS year's Royal Ploughing Ceremony, which marks the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season, will provide an opportunity for farmers from all 24 provinces and municipalities to show off a range of goods in a display organisers said will underscore progress made in the agriculture sector.

The ceremony, a three-day event that starts today, will be attended by King Norodom Sihamoni and top government officials.

A total of 41 booths will be set up at the site near the Royal Palace, said Chea Kean, deputy director of the organising committee.

Chea Kean said he believed participating farmers were eager to show King Norodom Sihamoni and other officials how they were working to improve the sector.

"This is an opportunity for farmers and producers to demonstrate progress made in the last year," he said.

Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture, said Cambodian farmers have few opportunities to publicise their products, particularly to prospective consumers in Phnom Penh.

Kep Vutha, who handles exhibitions for the Ministry of Commerce, said large-scale farmers were able to get around this obstacle by spending money on advertising, but that small-scale farmers relied on the ceremony to drum up interest in their products.

Though officials said considerable progress had been made in the past year, Yang Saing Koma said the products on display would also demonstrate the extent to which farmers need to improve in certain areas - notably presentation and the production of a diverse range of goods for international markets.

"We are not good at producing and diversifying from raw materials into many different products, especially compared to Thailand and Vietnam," he said.

Kandal set for $8.6m ecotourism project

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

LOV Houeng Construction Co plans to spend US$8.6 million to develop an ecotourism site in Kandal province that will feature rice paddies and fish farms, provincial Governor Chhun Sirun told the Post Monday.

Nao Thuok, director general of the Fisheries Administration, said he believed work would begin on the project - which was approved by the government earlier this year - at some point before the end of 2009 and would take 20 years to complete.

The construction company received the rights to the land for 70 years as part of an environmental land concession. Lov Houeng, the head of the company, could not be reached for comment Monday.

An environmental impact assessment report on the company's plans, released in February, concluded that construction of the 7,600-hectare ecotourism site would pollute the Mekong River and damage animal habitats.

In addition, the assessment predicted villagers in four communes in three separate districts would lose the ability to supplement their incomes by fishing, and cutting and selling trees.

Nao Thuok said Monday that he did not think development of the site would cause considerable environmental damage because plans had been approved by the Ministry of Environment.

He said bamboo would be planted on 1,000 hectares, which he said would facilitate growth of the fish population.

"The bamboo will benefit fish a lot by giving them shelter where they can lay eggs," he said, adding that tourists would also benefit because the additional plants would "make the air fresh".

He said the construction company would be able to plant 120 bamboo plants on each of the 1,000 hectares.

The Council for the Development of Cambodia declined to comment on the ecotourism site.

The promotion of ecotourism has been a key pillar of the government's "Kingdom of Wonder" tourism campaign.

Thok Sokhom, deputy director of the international cooperation and the ASEAN department at the Ministry of Tourism, told the Post in October that ecotourism accounted for nearly one-third of all tourism in the Kingdom, adding that it was concentrated largely in the northeastern provinces.

"About 30 percent of the total number of tourists in the country [last year] went to the northeastern provinces to see dolphins, forests and ecotourism villages," he said. "The development of ecotourism in Cambodia has no limit," he added.

Mobile promotions heat up

A billboard advertises the Cellcard Mobitel network in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Companies complain that too many mobile-phone licences means excessive competition as mobile advertising campaigns gear up to win over customers

FROM free airtime to multimillion riel cash prizes and sales staff clad in bee costumes, Cambodia is being inundated with mobile-phone promotions as the nine operators struggle to carve out a share of the country's 14 million potential customers.

Up for grabs is one of the world's few unsaturated markets, offering double-digit growth where more than two-thirds of the population still does not own a mobile phone. Operators are turning to price cuts, glitzy publicity campaigns and generous prizes to lure customers and build client loyalty.

But while customers cash in on some of the best mobile phone offers around, companies complain that too many operators are competing for too few customers.

"Cambodia is ridiculously competitive. It's like the Olympic Games, but even the Olympic [sprint] has eight tracks - Cambodia has nine players competing," said Pasi Koistinen, CEO of Star-Cell, which has 100,000 users.

Star-Cell cut its prices and is offering 500 extra minutes with every US$5 prepaid phone card, with additional campaigns planned.

"There are too many players in Cambodia. It is normal to have three, perhaps four [phone companies]. But nine? It's too many," said Koistinen. "The government has issued too many licenses ... the prices are driven too low [for companies]. Everybody in the industry will suffer," said Koistinen.

The government has issued too many licenses … the prices are driven too low.

Thailand, for example, has three major mobile phone companies, as does Vietnam.

Industry experts say that Cambodia's low mobile penetration rate is a major attraction. "Everyone wants to see their stake in the market grow - Cambodia's penetration rate is still low," said Koistinen.

Cambodia's mobile phone sector grew by around 50 percent in 2007 and 2008, according to industry figures. Thailand is expected to pass 100 percent mobile penetration in 2009 up from 91 percent as of September 2008, according to the Bangkok Post, and operators expect slow growth.

In Cambodia's largely untapped market, companies are offering special benefits to their clients.

The assistant brand manager of Hello said her company is giving away 1 million riels ($242.37) every day to customers that top up. "We would like to repay our existing customers as well as gain more market share," said Solitaire Mok.

She concedes that her company is feeling the heat in Cambodia's crowded mobile market. "Yes, it is very competitive.... There are too many [mobile phone] companies," she said.

The most recent big player, Metphone, owned by the Vietnamese military-run company Viettel, has given away thousands of free SIM cards, and is offering mobile services to Cambodia's military.

With so many companies fighting for market share, brand building and cost-cutting have become key, said an advertising expert.

"Every mobile company is offering some sort of advertising or promotion - either to retain customers or add to their customer base," said a source at Riverorchid advertising company who requested anonymity.

"When you have nine companies in the market, then price and strategy becomes very important," said the spokesman. "If you look at the size of the market and the penetration rate, you really have to be out there - it's a very active market."

But the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications says that fierce competition only benefits customers. "Competition is making services cheaper for normal people. A lot of people are starting to use mobile phones," said Mao Chakrya, director general at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

He added that the sector continues to grow, despite the economic crisis, which makes Cambodia a good place for mobile-phone companies to invest. "The market is getting much bigger here and the crisis has not impacted us at all," said Mao Chakrya.

Gay pride festival aims to raise awareness

Photo by: Sebastian Strangio
A performer entertains patrons last month at Phnom Penh’s Blue Chilli bar.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Zoe Holman
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Organisers of the fifth annual Cambodian Pride Festival say the five-day event celebrates the normalcy of the Kingdom’s gay and lesbian communities

On any night of the week, ostentatious displays of gender can be witnessed on stages in a number of girlie and lady-boy bars across Phnom Penh. Yet beyond these performative roles and the clandestine urban venues to which they are confined, it seems that discussions of sexuality, no less homosexuality, remain the stuff of taboo in Cambodian society. This week, however, a five-day-long festival aims to bring a more realistic and nuanced picture of gay and lesbian identity in Cambodia into the public domain.

Through an array of workshops, discussion forums, exhibitions and parties, the fifth Cambodian Pride Festival aims to enable gays and lesbians from across the country to express themselves, or as Pride organiser and artist Chat Pier Sath says, "talk about their sense of self and identity", in an uninhibited community forum.

"[The Pride festival] isn't about stereotypes. It's not really even about sex. It's about showing that gay people are intelligent and normal, that they are just people with different faces and colours who participate in society in the same jobs and social roles as everyone else," Chat Pier Sath said.

More than an isolated celebration of sexuality, then, the festival is part of an ongoing educational campaign for both the gay and broader community.

"This year, [Pride] is not only about a party but also about raising awareness within the community," fellow organiser Srun Srorn said. "We want people to open their minds and talk about themselves and really hope government and the Ministry of Health will start to think about the difficulties faced by gay and lesbian groups."

Regional outreach
An active member of the gay community and employee of health organisation Marie Stopes International, Srun Srorn is well-versed in the difficulties Cambodian gays and lesbians confront, particularly those in regional Cambodia.

"In Phnom Penh, [gays and lesbians] can be more open about their sexuality, but in the provinces discrimination runs very deep," said Srun Srorn.

This year, [pride] is not only about a party but also about raising awareness within the community.

Through a rural outreach program sponsored by NGOs Marie Stopes, Men's Health Social Services and Bindauk Chatomuk, Srun Srorn has been working to engage isolated gay and lesbian individuals, often at risk from social and economic ostracisation.

Over the past two years, Srun Srorn has succeeded in establishing contact with over 300 lesbians from five provinces, around 70 of whom he hopes will attend Pride this year to connect for the first time with a national gay and lesbian community.

"It's amazing the number of lesbians I've met in the provinces," he said. "I think it will be a real surprise for them to come to Pride and see so many other gays and lesbians."

Yet Srun Srorn also remains realistic about the ability of lesbian women to embrace gay pride and make their sexuality public.

"A lot [of them] have said they won't come because they still don't want anyone to know," he said.

The conservative character of Cambodian society means that the barriers to social inclusion for lesbians are even more daunting than those faced by often alienated gay and lesbian individuals in the West.

"No NGOs run programs for lesbians like they do for gay men," explained a Cambodian organiser from the Women's National Unity who wishes to remain anonymous. "If women start to expose themselves, it's really difficult. They often have to leave their family as they're seen as giving them a very bad image, judged by society and considered undignified."

In this context, secrecy is often the safest option.

"I never talked to anyone about my relationship with another woman until it was over. Sometimes you feel stupid talking about it because you don't always know exactly what you want, and it takes time to understand your own sexuality. But it is also difficult to hide desire," she said.

This means that for Khmer lesbians, the kind of "double life" of same-sex relations or experimentation that is so often the reality and survival strategy of their gay counterparts is not an option.

"It's much more like pre-feminist times here," said expat Pride organiser and Voluntary Services Overseas volunteer Collette. "First, women have to fight for rights as women, and then for extra rights as lesbians."

Yet although there may be less room for overt statements of sexuality in traditional Cambodian society, it seems that so, too, for some this more reserved cultural paradigm may permit more scope for ambiguity in same-sex intimacy.

"On many levels, people don't really care about each other's sexuality [here], and we're allowed to be more physical with people of the same sex. A lot of people marry and have kids for social and economic reasons, but still quite easily have gay sex for pleasure," said Chat Pier Sath.

Grey area of sexuality
It is this grey area of sexual multiplicity that British Pride artist and organiser Alan Flux has tried to capture in his portraits, inspired by stories related by everyday Cambodian acquaintances.

"In England we're obsessed with labels, but here there's a lot less angst about sexuality. People might sleep with male friends sometimes or use sex to get what they want, but they would never call themselves gay," Flux said.

And for Flux, this less-definitive Cambodian paradigm is preferable.

"Pride here is not the gross parade that it is in England, which I felt completely alienated from. It's about being broad and inclusive," he said.

Pride runs from today through Sunday at various venues. For full program details, see:

An olive branch of hope

Written by Mu Sochua, MP
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Dear Editor,

I am writing to clarify the meaning of "olive branch", a term used in the article "Mu Sochua offers olive branch to PM Hun Sen over lawsuits" (May 11).

On April 23, 2009, I took a very bold step to sue a man who is greatly feared by the people of Cambodia, and this symbolic legal pursuit has served as a message to the public that fear is only a mental block that will continue to paralyse us unless we look at it straight on and deal with it. The people of Cambodia are still traumatised by the legacy of the Khmer Rouge. It is because of this trauma that we are willing to live through injustices that control our daily lives and even the fate of a nation. If we continue to live in fear, then we will pass it on to our daughters and sons, and thus become part of the web of unchallenged power.

My lawyer presented all the evidence to the prosecutor when he was summoned. I am forever grateful to my lawyer, who is a very brave man, who believes in building justice for our people despite the fact that he is facing a lawsuit filed against him by the prime minister and a complaint by the lawyer of the prime minister with the Cambodian Bar Association for "defaming" the prime minister, but mainly because he dares to defend me. My lawyer could be disbarred as every decision made in this country is controlled by one central system. The price my lawyer might have to pay is too great. The public as well as the international community, who have been part of this process through their statements and watching eyes, should continue to monitor with great vigilance.

Last week I responded positively to an appeal by a war veteran who asked that both lawsuits be withdrawn and for both sides to put the interests of the nation first. I was so moved by his plea, I felt and heard the wisdom in his words. He made that appeal when I was on the Hello VOA call-in program on Voice of America.

I suppose that my response is labelled as an "olive branch" and I feel honoured by this comparison, as in Western culture the olive branch is a symbol of peace or good will, or at least a sign of hope for peace in time of war, and it is handed over by one side of the parties in conflict to the other side. It is far different from defeat or fear. I can only hope that we Cambodians who have long been in conflict with one another will consider the "olive branch" as the lotus flower that we bring to the pagoda to pray for peace.

Although the fight is far from over, I remain hopeful that there shall be justice. I rest in peace now because I know that millions of women the world over fight the same fight and that our networks are more powerful than the power of leaders who control their people through fear.

Mu Sochua, MP
Sam Rainsy Party

Police Blotter: 12 May 2009

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Man questioned in prostitute attack
A Nigerian man accused of severely injuring a prostitute on Saturday has been detained by immigration police for questioning in connection with the incident. The man alleged that the woman stole US$1,000 from him while he slept at Angkor Meas guesthouse in the capital's Sen Sok district.

Chief accuses man of raping child
A village chief in Banteay Meas district, Kampot province, has accused a man of fathering a child with his 16-year-old daughter. The chief said he noticed that the girl was pregnant and did not know of anyone else with whom she could have had sexual relations. All parties spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police fail to catch necklace thief
Chung Thimikeuv, 35, a coffee shop owner from Samrong commune, Chantrea district, Svay Rieng province, reported that her necklace was stolen while she was clearing dishes on Thursday. Police said they fired three shots into the air when they arrived at the scene but failed to capture the thief.

Police have accused Kim Chhoen, 25, who lives in Boeung Basak village, Kampong Cham province, of raping his ex-wife on Saturday after breaking into her house while intoxicated. The suspect was found hiding in a nearby forest. Since the accusations were made, the couple has reportedly agreed to get back together.

Tun Vannak, 22, has been arrested in connection with a robbery on Wednesday in Samlot commune, Battambang province. Police said they received a noise complaint from the victim's house and caught the suspected robber while responding to the complaint.

Van Sorn, 47, was charged with possession of an illegal weapon on Thursday. The former soldier allegedly confessed that he and a friend had decided to keep their military rifles.

Day in picture

A farmer ploughs a rice field in Kampong Speu province, 50 km (31 miles) west of Phnom Penh, May 11, 2009. Cambodia will host the annual ploughing festival on Tuesday during which royal oxen will have to choose between seven bowls including rice, corn, green beans, grass, sesame, water and wine to predict the future of the farming season. The tradition, which is hundreds of years old, is followed closely by the nation's estimated 14 million people, the majority of whom are farmers.RUETERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA ANIMALS AGRICULTURE)

GE expands developing health globally program to Cambodia

11 May 2009

GE has announced that it is expanding its Developing Health Globally program to include six sites in Cambodia. In addition, GE announced that the program is donating GE Healthcare ultrasound equipment, mobile x-rays and patient monitors to Cambodia’s Ministry of Health, for distribution to 23 public health facilities throughout the country.

The Developing Health Globally corporate citizenship program is aimed at improving access to quality healthcare by addressing critical gaps in existing developing-world healthcare facilities by providing products and expertise.

Kampong Speu and Phnom Penh Municipal Regional Hospitals and Kossamak National Hospital in Cambodia will be completed first, with commissioning expected to occur late this summer. Each commissioning marks the completion of the product installation and training and provides each hospital the opportunity to share the news of the upgraded facility to the community.

In addition, the 23 sites to receive products, determined by the Ministry of Health in Cambodia, will have proper training for the people using the donated products. Each site will also have a GE employee ambassador assigned from the GE Asia Pacific American Forum (GE’s Asian-America employee networking association) to ensure that improvements are sustained.

“This is a great opportunity for the Developing Health Globally program to provide access to healthcare in a new region — Southeast Asia, through GE businesses’ expertise and products,” said Bob Corcoran, vice president of corporate citizenship at GE Corporation. “This is a tremendous example of how GE is using its knowledge and leadership to tackle a large issue — the delivery of healthcare globally.”

The Developing Health Globally program is also commissioning its last two hospitals in Honduras. Last year, GE announced the program’s expansion from two to six sites in Honduras, including these last two sites in San Lorenzo and Santa Barbara.

GE partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health to complete these sites, impacting more than 100,000 people. Each site has a GE employee ambassador assigned from the GE Hispanic Forum (GE’s Hispanic American employee networking association) to ensure that improvements are sustained.

GE tackled San Lorenzo’s power and lighting challenges as well as its lack of maternity and delivery equipment by donating significant electrical upgrades, 100 lamps and fixtures, incubators, infant warming systems, foetal monitors, colour ultrasound machines and other equipment. In Santa Barbara, GE configured a solution to provide an uninterrupted power supply to remedy power outages multiple times a week and donated equipment focused on mother-infant care.

GE leaders attending the commissioning include Bob Corcoran, vice president of corporate citizenship, Mark L Vachon, president & CEO Americas, GE Healthcare, Juan Corsillo, senior vice president and commercial leader for Commercial Finance, and Alfredo Arguello, general manager of sales. In addition to attendees from GE, leaders from the Honduran Ministry of Health will be in attendance.

GE’s Developing Health Globally initiative (formerly called Africa Project) began in 2004 with a US$20-million product donation investment in rural African communities and later expanded to a five-year, US$30-million commitment. In 2007, the program expanded into Latin America with two hospital sites in Honduras and a further four hospitals in 2008.

The GE Developing Health Globally program directly impacts 4.8 million people globally through its US$40 million commitment in 14 countries throughout Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. In addition, the GE Foundation has made US$8 million in grants to support girls’ education, equipment training and health workers skill-building in many of these areas. The program offers solutions comprised of products form GE Water, Energy, Healthcare and Consumer and Industrial businesses.

More information on the GE Developing Health Globally program

To Be a Judge, Be Ready To Bribe: Students

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 May 2009

To be eligible for positions as judges in Cambodia’s court system, students say they must pay tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. There is even an expression among the students: “Without $20,000 or $30,000, one shouldn’t dream of becoming a judge.”

In numerous interviews with VOA Khmer, students at the new Royal Academy for Judicial Professions in Phnom Penh described in detail a corrupt practice that critics warn compromises the entire justice system.

Cambodian officials said they would investigate the accusations, and wrongdoings would be prosecuted. But the revelations of judicial bribery come as a hybrid Cambodian tribunal faces mounting allegations of corruption and kickbacks. Half of the tribunal’s judges are Cambodian.

Outside the tribunal, in courts across the country, the best posts cost the most money, students said. Phnom Penh and Kandal provincial seats, for example, cost between $70,000 and $150,000. The Phnom Penh court receives two judges and two deputy prosecutors from the academy each year.

Numerous students described the following process. First, a student must ask around for advice, especially from graduates who have already bribed their way into a position and can identify the proper officials to bribe. The amenable government official is then approached and a sum of money is agreed upon. The student prepares the cash, which must be paid up front without a receipt before final exams.

“If it is someone with good knowledge, the amount of $30,000 can be reduced a little bit,” one student told VOA Khmer, requesting anonymity for fear of personal safety.

The fifth class of judicial students graduated the academy May 3. In recent interviews, students said they were warned not to leak information about corruption.

The Royal Academy for Judicial Professions opened in 2003 and has graduated five classes between 55 and 65 students. Five students are appointed by the Council of Ministers, led by cabinet minister Sok An, who is also on the board of the Academy. These five seats are normally reserved for children of senior officials, students said.

Through a spokesman, Sok An declined to comment on this report. The academy’s directory, Tep Darong, could not be reached for comment.

The academy, which is supported by the donor community, has seen a large fall in enrollment, from 2,000 in the beginning to about 200 last year.

Students say this is a reflection of the “hopelessness” of prospective judges who can’t afford the bribery requirements awaiting them on graduation.

Those without money for bribes who remain in the program face a disadvantage at exam time, students said. If a student has paid for it, he will be given a test to learn ahead of the exam. If he doesn’t know an answer, he can leave the question blank and will face easier oral exams than students who haven’t paid.

Bright students who haven’t paid for a position will face oral questioning until they fail, students said. This takes place right under the noses of donors and diplomats, students said.

Judicial reform is one of the main goals of many donors, but students said this was unlikely to succeed in what they see as a systemic problem.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Watana said he was not aware of the process and only dealt with judges once they left the academy. Until the academy was opened, the Justice Ministry was responsible for training judges.

In an interview with VOA Khmer in March, Om Yentieng, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and head of the government’s anti-corruption office, said there had been a smooth examination of judges so far.

He declined to make a judgment on the students’ accusations, but he warned that legal action would be taken after an investigation. If true, the accusations would mean judges are not being selected for quality, a goal of the government, he said.

He encouraged students to come forward.

“We can protect the sources and whistleblowers,” he said. “When they cooperate with use, it will not be dangerous for them. If we find obvious evidence, we can ask the courts to punish [perpetrators].”

Students say they are too afraid to expose themselves. Exam time at the academy can bring up to $1.5 million in bribes to top officials, making it dangerous to divulge details of the practice.

“How can we report this?” one student said. “It’s dangerous to our life.”

“Until there is a regime change or a credible institution, we cannot disclose this,” another student said. “For the time being, we’d rather not, as we would be killed if we did.”

Lawyers, court and justice officials say the practice is a major obstacle for judicial reform, especially in a system where corruption is rooted so deeply.

“One, the leaders themselves have to be clean,” said Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project. “Two, there must be a credible system to control corruption. And three, enforcement of the rules must be strictly held in accordance by individual institutions.”

He noted, however, that no substantial evidence of corruption at the academy has emerged.

Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development, said a corrupt judiciary impacted rule of law, balance of power and people’s confidence.

“The court system right now is corrupted from the inside, from training, students and procedures,” she told VOA Khmer by phone. “In all the procedures we see, there is corruption in an unbelievable way. Sometimes it’s exhausting to respond to, because it happens up to that level, systemically and culturally. For people who are poor, they don’t have money to pay the bribes and are disappointed, hopeless, and hate so much the process, the court system.”

Seng Theary blamed donors for tolerating judicial corruption.

“Money is given but a corruption law has not yet been passed,” she said.

Yong Kim Eng, president of Citizen Center for Development and Peace, said he was concerned the corruption would weaken the chances for justice to be dispensed by the courts.

“How can they find justice for people if they pay a bribe?” he said of judges. “They will need to get their money back when they become a judge.”

Examples include recent land-grabbing cases, where the rich and powerful act with impunity, while landowners are jailed. As a consequence, confidence in the courts erodes, he said.

“If people do not have confidence with the court, there will be violence and instability,” he said.

Long Beach Rapper Probes Wars of the Mind

Cambodian rapper PraCh Ly.

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
11 May 2009

Cambodian rapper Prach Ly has released his third album, “Memoirs of an Invisible War,” a compilation of songs in Khmer and English that range in subject from Pol Pot to modern Cambodian politics and the problems of the next generation.

“Everyone has their own invisible war inside their mind,” Prach Ly, 30, told VOA Khmer recently. “This album is about mine.”

“Hells Gate” is a powerful track that recalls the Long Beach rapper’s family experience in refugee camps at the Thai border.

“Lucky for us we were all OK,” he said in an interview. “Not like the others, losing arms and legs and stepping on bombs or grenades.”

This album has 19 songs in Khmer and 25 in English on two CDs, a broad expansion from his first album, which he produced in his parent’s Long Beach garage in 1999.

A copy of that album made it to Phnom Penh and took Cambodia by storm. Prach Ly has since garnered national US media attention, putting out a second album in 2003.

In the third album, also called Dalama 3, he said “the music is more mature than the previous two albums. The lyrics are more fierce.”

“The last two Dalamas were more about the ‘killing fields’ and my past,” he said. “This Dalama is more about the present and future.”

Tribunal Rejects Bail for Former Rebel

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 May 2009

Khmer Rouge tribunal judges on Monday rejected an appeal from former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith that she be released on bail as she awaits an atrocity crimes trial.

None of the five jailed leaders of the regime has been allowed out of detention since their arrests. Echoing similar findings with other defendants, judges said Monday Ieng Thirith would not be released to ensure she did not tamper with evidence or seek to intimidate witnesses against her.

“The request of the release on bail is inadmissible,” said Judge Prak Kim Sam, head of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the tribunal.

Ieng Thirith, 77, was arrested in November 2007 and is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. She was not present at her hearing Monday. Lawyers said she “could not get out of bed” and had a headache.

Defense attorney Phat Pouv Seang told reporters at the tribunal the team was not satisfied with the decision, but would raise the issue again as trial approached.

Cambodia demands compensation from Thailand for losses caused by Thai troops in Preah Vihear


PHNOM PENH, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian government presents its complaints to Thailand on Monday, demanding compensation for the damage and losses caused by Thai troops' attack early April on its market located in front of the Temple of Preah Vihear.

"The attack with heavy weapons by Thai troops against Cambodian territory in the area close to the Temple of Preah Vihear on April 3 caused numerous damages and set a blaze the Cambodian market located in front of the temple," a note from Cambodian foreign ministry to Thailand foreign ministry said.

"A total number of 264 stands within this market were completely destroyed, causing great hardship and misery to 319 Cambodian families who have lost their livelihood," it said, adding that "the material loss incurred on these families amounts to 2,150,500 U.S. dollars."

"The Royal Government of Cambodia demands that the Royal Thai Government take full responsibility for these damages caused by Thai soldiers and to appropriately compensate the above losses," the ministry statement said.

The Preah Vihear temple became a World Heritage Site of UNESCO in July 2008. Although the International Court in Hague decided in 1962 that the temple and its surrounding area should belong to Cambodia, Thailand has been claiming its archeological value and sovereignty.

Both troops built up within the border area since July 2008, and brief military encounters in October 2008 and April 2009 have sparked concern of possible war between these two countries. Gunfire exchange during the armed clashes also led to bullet pits and other slight wound of the temple.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Cambodia, S Korea to sign bilateral co-op agreements


PHNOM PENH, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and South Korean governments will sign six agreements during the official visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to the South Korea in late May, national media said on Monday.

The six agreements will include grant to Cambodia, loans for Cambodia's road rehabilitation, waste water treatment, Siem Reap River's development and cooperation in the fields of construction, energy, mines and communications, according to Cambodia's state-run news agency AKP (the Agence Kampuchea Presse).

Premier Hun Sen will also attend the ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit and make a speech on the occasion during his stay in South Korea.

According to Lee Youn-joon, South Korean deputy minister of foreign affairs, the South Korean foreign minister will visit Cambodia in July, while the South-Korean president will pay a state visit to the country in October.

South Korea became the largest foreign investing country in Cambodia in 2007, according to official statistics.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Riverorchid Cambodia appoints GM

by Anita Davis 11-May-09

PHNOM PENH - Riverorchid Cambodia has appointed former GM of TBWA Beijing Anthony Polovineo (pictured) as general manager, effective 1 June.

Polovineo will be based in Phnom Penh and replaces You H Ang, who recently assumed the role of non-executive chairman of the Riverorchid Group in Cambodia.

According to Riverorchid account planner and partner Warwick Olds, Polovineo will drive the agency's creative, production and activation initiatives for clients including telco StarCell and KFC.

"Anthony's appointment reinforces our commitment to our clients and the Indochina region, where we are continuing to recruit in growing numbers both senior people with international experience as well as the best of local talent," said Riverorchid CEO Santiphong Pimolsaengsuriya.

50 tonnes of mouse meat imported into Vietnam a day


VietNamNet Bridge – More than 35 tonnes of mouse meat per day is imported from Cambodia via the Khanh Binh border gate in An Phu district, the southern province of An Giang, said the chief of the An Phu district Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Van Thao.

At the border gates of Khanh Binh and Tinh Bien (Tinh Bien district) in An Giang province, there are over 30 traders who buy mouse meat from Cambodia for wholesale in Vietnam.

A mouse meat trader in Khanh Binh, Nguyen Van Tam, said that hundreds of Cambodians bring mice to Khanh Binh to sell. Now is the rice harvest season in Cambodia, when field mice abound.

According to Vietnamese mouse buyers at the two above border gates, around 50 tonnes of mice is transported via the Vietnamese-Cambodian border in An Giang a day.

A kilo of raw field mice is priced between VND35,000 to VND40,000 ($US$2-2.3). The price is VND50,000 ($2.9) for a kilo of processed mice. The prices for brown rats are VND50,000-VND60,000 per kilo for whole rats depending on size and VND75,000 to VND80,000 per kilo of processed meat.

Mice are processed in An Giang and sold to traders from HCM City and Can Tho city. Mouse meat has become a favourite food of many people in the south, particularly HCM City.


Entrance to Preah Vihear on Thai side to be accessible to tourists next week

May 11, 2009

The entrance to Preah Vihear Temple on Thai side will be reopened to tourists next week, Second Army Area Commander Lt Gen Wibulsak Neepal said Monday.

He said the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border has improved since the latest clashes between troops of the two countries so the Thai troops will allow tourists from the Thai side to visit the Mor Idaeng Cliff, which is next to the entrance to the Preah Vihear Temple.

The Nation

Khmer Krom make themselves heard on the United Nations doorstep

Place des Nations (Geneva, Switzerland). Vien Thach, president of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation in Europe, co-organiser of the demonstration attended by Khmer Krom who came from all over the world to make themselves heard© Laurent Le Gouanvic

By Laurent le Gouanvic

Coming from Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, New Zealand or Australia, among others, over 200 natives of Kampuchea Krom, a region located in the Mekong delta, in Southern Vietnam, and once Cambodian territory, gathered on Friday May 8th in front of the United Nations Palace, in Geneva, Switzerland. The exceptional event was organised by the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) on the occasion of the very first hearing of the Vietnamese government by the United Nations Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, a new mechanism meant to assess the human rights situation in each of the 192 member states of the United Nations. Interview, at the heart of the demonstration, with one of the main organisers, the president of the KKF in Europe, Vien Thach, who rejoices at a “historic day”.

On the morning of May 8th, the sky was favourable to the Khmer Krom cause, with an exceptionally sunny day in Geneva, Switzerland, and just enough wind for the blue-yellow-red flags of Kampuchea Krom to flap, along with the banners demanding the “right to self-determination”, “freedom of religion, expression and the press”, and the end of persecutions by Vietnam against “the indigenous Khmer Krom people”. The weather was also ideal to lay out mats on the Place des Nations, just in front of the eponymous palace, and make the demonstration a friendly gathering, with noum pang (sandwiches) being distributed and traditional dance shows. If some bemoaned having had to share the enormous square with another group of demonstrators, Vietnamese also calling for the respect of human rights and freedom of religion in Vietnam, the co-organisers – U.S. president of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) Thach Thach, his counterpart for the European representation of the KKF Vien Tach, and representatives of NGO UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) rejoiced that they were able to bring their message to this international stage. Before going to the Palace of Nations, to attend Vietnam's hearing before the Human Rights Council, Vien Thach explained to Ka-set his expectations and the goal of the demonstration.

Ka-set: What are the violations of Khmer Krom's human rights you want to denounce with the United Nations?
Vien Thach: To give you the gist: First, the persecutions against Khmer Theravada Buddhism [practised by Khmer Krom as well as in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos most notably]; secondly, the grabbing of land belonging to Khmer Krom farmers; and thirdly, the falsification of Khmer Krom history by Vietnam. Our goal is to raise awareness in the international public on these issues and support the NGOs who support us, such as Human Rights Watch, whose January 2009 report on Vietnam focuses largely on this issue.

K7: What do you mean by “falsification of history”?
VT: The Vietnamese government refuses to acknowledge that we are an indigenous people in this territory. They write in official documents and manuals that we are refugees who came from Cambodia and settled in Vietnam, whereas we have been there and occupied these lands for a long time, even before the Vietnamese. The Khmer Krom are indigenous people. You must not forget that 21 provinces in Southern Vietnam actually used to be Khmer territory. But in 1949, France gave our territory to Vietnam instead of returning it to Cambodia. From then on, we have been persecuted because Vietnam has a culture that is very different from ours, different religious practices... We have a lot of trouble living with the Vietnamese.

K7: The demonstrators gathered today live in Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand... Where does the information you report on persecutions and human rights violations against Khmer Krom come from?
VT: Our correspondents, compatriots who live there [Editor's note: in the Mekong delta], communicate information to us. That is one of the reasons why Vietnam does not dare to do us as much harm now. They have signed international human rights conventions, but that was first to receive money from donors... Until 2001, the Vietnamese government was not concerned in the least about Khmer Krom's fate. But the community of Khmer Krom throughout the world asked the international community to react and help these poor populations.

K7: Then, are you hoping to attract the attention of Vietnam's donors by demonstrating on the Place des Nations?
VT: Yes. Governments giving aid to Vietnam as well as international institutions, like the World Bank, must pressure the government of Hanoi. We are pursuing our efforts in that direction. The European Parliament, for instance, knows the situation quite well now. The deputies have even voted with a very large majority to condemn human rights violations in Vietnam.

K7: You have mentioned the period when Kampuchea Krom was officially part of Cambodia. This historic reference features heavily on the banners and signs brandished during this demonstration. Does that mean you are hoping for this region to be integrated back to Cambodia?
VT: No, that is not really the issue today. Cambodia has never supported us. So, we want to manage by ourselves. Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn, although he was the head of a pagoda, had taken refuge in Cambodia... And the Cambodian government defrocked him and sent him back to Vietnam, while it is absolutely contrary to the Cambodian Constitution to extradite a compatriot. We do not count on Cambodia. Our fellow citizens cannot take refuge in Cambodia without fearing to be sent back to Vietnam, to the police, in the conditions you can imagine...

K7: Would you be ready to call for the independence of Kampuchea Krom?
VT: It is a very important question. But there are still many things to do before thinking about it. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves. Our compatriots are poor and most of them live in the countryside. First, we have to give them education, improve their living conditions, ensure that they know human rights.


The Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new mechanism established in 2006 with the creation of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UPR is meant to review the human rights situation in the 192 member states of the United Nations every four years. The ongoing process, under which Vietnam is currently being reviewed, is scheduled for completion by 2011. Ultimately, the goal is to equip the Human Rights Council with a universal mechanism recognised by member states, which will give it extra weight to enforce respect for human rights.

RoK's largest bank launches in Cambodia

Mon. May 11, 2009

Phnom Penh May 09, May 09, 2009 (Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX) -- Kookmin Bank, the biggest lender in the Republic of Korea (RoK), opens first outlet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to boost regional presence, a local newspaper said on May 9.

"Kookmin Bank Cambodia is the fifth commercial bank from the RoK [in Cambodia], whose total share capital is 100 percent held by Korean shareholders," Chea Chanto, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, was

quoted by the Phnom Penh post as saying at the launch on May 7.

He added that Kookmin's entrance reflects returning confidence in Cambodia's

banking sector among Korean investors.

"We are the lender in Korea, and we plan to extend the unit's customer base from local companies to Cambodian investors by introducing private banking and other retail services," Sohn Young Hwan, senior executive vice president

of Kookmin Bank, was quoted as saying.

"We'll focus our loans on small and medium enterprises," he said, adding that Kookmin Bank Cambodia is a joint-venture between Kookmin Bank Korea and Khmer Union Bank of Cambodia, with Kookmin holding a 51-percent stake. The venture was set up in July last year and changed its name to Kookmin Bank Cambodia. The rest of the shares are held by the Republic of Korean manufacturers including KTC Kyung An Cable, Taihan Electric Wire and Posco Engineering and Construction.

Cambodia court rejects bail for Khmer Rouge 'First Lady'


PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal on Monday rejected an appeal by the former "First Lady" of the hardline communist Khmer Rouge government to be released on bail.

Ieng Thirith, 77, the regime's one-time social affairs minister, is one of five top cadres in the sights of the tribunal over atrocities committed during the regime's 1975-1979 rule.

"The appeal is dismissed. The request to be released on bail is inadmissible," said Judge Prak Kimsan, the president of the tribunal's pre-trial chamber.

"There are well-founded reasons to believe that the charged person may have committed crimes with which she has been charged. There is reason to show that people were arrested from her ministry," the judge said.

The judge also cited Ieng Tririth's furious outburst when she first asked for bail in February. She told members of the court that they would be "cursed to the seventh circle of hell."

Ieng Thirith did not appear at Monday's hearing as she was not well enough to get out of bed, her Cambodian lawyer Phat Pouv Seang said.

"We do not agree 100 percent with the court decision and will try to pursue this issue in the trial," he said.

Ieng Thirith has denied her involvement in the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, saying that "everything was done by Nuon Chea," the regime's ideologue, who was denied bail last week.

Her husband, former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary, also faces trial by the tribunal.

Up to two million people died of starvation or overwork or were executed under the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its effort to forge a radical agrarian utopia.

The leader of the regime, Pol Pot, died in 1998. Ieng Thirith's sister Khieu Ponnary was married to him.

The ongoing first Khmer Rouge trial began in February, when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court.

The genocide tribunal was convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of fractious talks between the government and United Nations over how to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders. (AFP)


Teacher sends former student grenade as wedding present

May 11, 2009

Phnom Penh - Cambodian police arrested a 37-year-old high school teacher after he allegedly sent a homemade hand grenade as an anonymous wedding present to a former student, local media reported on Monday.

Police said Moung Chhavry admitted to sending the grenade to the bride, who he claimed to have had a relationship with when he was her grade 10 teacher, the Phnom Penh Post reported.
But the 21-year-old bride told police she had rejected his advances and was shocked to see her former teacher after he was arrested.

Moung faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Britain garment manufacturer moves operations to Cambodia


PHNOM PENH, May 11 (Xinhua) -- A major garment manufacturer will move its product development center from the United Kingdom to Cambodia, a sign, according to some experts, that despite the effects of the economic crisis, the Cambodian garment sector continues to remain internationally competitive, local media reported on Monday.

Britain company New Island Clothing is setting up "a high level standards product development center," making the company one of the first to conduct the whole garment-production process -- from development to the placement of orders -- in Cambodia, New Island General Manager Kevin Plenty was quoted by the Cambodia Daily as saying.

The company, which has been in Cambodia for nine years and produces up to 75,000 men's shirts per week, had decided to set up the center here because it makes "the whole production process quicker for our customers," as the majority of materials come from the ASEAN region, said Plenty.

Kaing Monika, external affairs manager of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said New Island's strategy showed the factory's "long-term vision and commitment in Cambodia," adding that most Cambodian factories only do "cut, make and trim" -- a production formula in which raw materials and designs are supplied and factories only really stitch the clothes together.

Tuomo Poutiainen, chief technical adviser for the International Labor Organization's garment sector program Better Factories Cambodia, said New Island's decision was "very positive for industry" and showed there was "enough confidence in the Cambodian garment sector to invest even in bad times."

Hundreds of factories have constituted the backbone of the garment sector of Cambodia, which used to generate above 70 percent of its total annual export volumes.

However, due to the global financial crisis and rising labor disputes, at least 60 garment factories have been closed and more than 50,000 garment workers lost their jobs since late 2008 and the sector's export volumes have also seen an obvious slide in the first quarter of this year.

But Plenty said he believed that the industry will see an economic turnaround within six months, and that he is not the only one within the garment industry to feel that way.

Editor: Zhang Xiang