Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Floods in Kampot province, Cambodia

Thailand in Picture

Policemen inspect the bodies of military rangers after an attack by suspected Muslim militants in Thailand's Yala province, about 1,084 km (674 miles) south of Bangkok, September 13, 2009. Five military rangers were killed in Thailand on Sunday, police said, when an armed group attacked their base in Yala, a province in the far south that has seen an upsurge in separatist violence. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

Policemen inspect the bodies of military rangers after an attack by suspected Muslim militants in Thailand's Yala province, about 1,084 km (674 miles) south of Bangkok, September 13, 2009. Five military rangers were killed in Thailand on Sunday, police said, when an armed group attacked their base in Yala, a province in the far south that has seen an upsurge in separatist violence. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

The bodies of military rangers are seen after an attack by suspected Muslim militants in Thailand's Yala province, about 1,084 km (674 miles) south of Bangkok, September 13, 2009. Five military rangers were killed in Thailand on Sunday, police said, when an armed group attacked their base in Yala, a province in the far south that has seen an upsurge in separatist violence. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

Securing the scene : The shadows of Thai soldiers and police officers stretch across a wall as they secure the scene where military rangers were shot dead in an attack by suspected Muslim militants in Thailand's restive southern Yala province.(AFP/Muhammad Sabri)

Soldiers walk inside Government House in Bangkok September 15, 2009. The Thai government agreed to impose the Internal Security Act in Dusit district between September 18 to September 22 to ensure peace and order during a red-shirted rally on September 19.REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Thai Muslim villagers prepare for the burial of five military rangers in Thailand's Yala province, about 1,084 km (674 miles) south of Bangkok September 14, 2009. Five military rangers were killed in Thailand on Sunday, police said, when an armed group attacked their base in Yala, a province in the far south that has seen an upsurge in separatist violence.REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

Thai Muslim villagers prepare for the burial of five military rangers in Thailand's Yala province, about 1,084 km (674 miles) south of Bangkok September 14, 2009. Five military rangers were killed in Thailand on Sunday, police said, when an armed group attacked their base in Yala, a province in the far south that has seen an upsurge in separatist violence.REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

A soldier guards as villagers prepare for the burial of a Buddhist military ranger in Thailand's Yala province, about 1,084 km (674 miles) south of Bangkok September 14, 2009. Five military rangers were killed in Thailand on Sunday, police said, when an armed group attacked their base in Yala, a province in the far south that has seen an upsurge in separatist violence.REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

Princess Bajrakitiyabha of Thailand addresses the Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Pojaman Damapong, former wife of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, center, accompanied by her daughter Pintongta Shinawatra, left, and her son Phantongtae Shinawatra arrives at the Supreme Court to ask the court not to freeze assets belonging to the former premier and his family, in Bangkok on Tuesday Sept. 15, 2009. Thaksin, who was ranked as Thailand's fourth-richest billionaire in 2006 before the coup, is now worth $400 million after Thai authorities froze more than $2 billion of his family's assets pending the corruption cases against him.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra speaks to Reuters in Dubai April 16, 2009. Thailand passed a tough security law on Tuesday, giving the military broad powers to control a planned street rally this weekend by supporters of exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro/Files

Labour conditions not deteriorating

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Garment workers protesting earlier this year

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dear Editor,

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which represents all garment export-oriented factories, has read with grave concern The Phnom Penh Post’s article “Cambodians testify in US” (September 11).

In it, Mr Moeun Tola, the labour programme head of the Community Legal Action Centre, was quoted as saying that Cambodian labour conditions have deteriorated sharply in the last few years.

He went on to express concern for the security of union organisers in Cambodia and lack of minimum wage in the garment industry.
GMAC would like to totally object to the statement and consider it as publicly misleading.

Cambodia is the only country which has implemented a labour-linked trade policy, particularly in the garment industry.

With this, the labour conditions in the industry have been under strict monitoring by the International Labour Organisation-Better Factories Cambodia Project (ILO-BFC). BFC is a programme of the ILO, which is a specialised agency of the United Nations and is led by a Project Advisory Committee comprising representatives from the government, GMAC and Cambodian trade unions. Monitoring reports on all factories are posted on the ILO-BFC’s Web site, and synthesis reports on labour conditions in Cambodia are published every six months.

The allegation is baseless with no proper system to measure and is absolutely in contrast to the ILO-BFC’s monitoring reports, which have proved otherwise.

Over the past few years, labour conditions in the Cambodian garment industry have been constantly improving as clearly indicated by the reports, as well as statements made by the Project Advisory Committee, where the tripartite representatives sit.

As for union activities, Cambodia boasts full freedom of association in compliance with the international convention No 87 and guaranteed by our constitution.

Unofficial figures from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training suggested there are more than 1,000 unions in the garment industry of less than 300
factories where, on average, there are four unions per factory and some would have up to 10 unions.

The number is massive. Regarding wages, the industry currently has a minimum wage of US$50 (per month) plus other compulsory payments, ie: $6 cost-of-living allowance; $5 attendance bonus (provided there is no absence/tardiness during the month) and $5 cap seniority bonus ($2 after the first year and $1 additional every subsequent year). We now hope the public is informed.

Phnom Penh

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

US congressional panel one-sided

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:02 Nuth Un Voanra

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article in The Phnom Penh Post, “Cambodians testify in US” (September 11).

First of all, three individuals are not enough to represent Cambodia. I question the composition of the so-called “panel of Cambodian witnesses” that testified at a hearing in Washington.

A good panel should be a combination of representatives from different backgrounds, not just those that oppose the Cambodian government.

How could one expect the hearing to give the fair view of the current situation in Cambodia when those who testified are only those who have strong views against the government? Constructive criticism is crucial to the strengthening of democracy in Cambodia, but a common Cambodian like myself could tell that one negative angle of Cambodia could do more harm than good. The truth should be heard at the hearing, unless the hearing only wants to hear otherwise.

Unfair views of this country would repel quality investors who are the crucial catalyst in reducing poverty in this country. Not everyone can see it, but democracy and justice can only be achieved after poverty in this country is reduced.

Poverty reduction will take longer without quality investors who get driven away by the wrong investment climate reflected in inaccurate reports.

The world deserves to hear the facts about this country, and, clearly, the report from the hearing could at most produce only one angle.

If the United States wants to teach Cambodia about democracy and justice, the United States shouldn’t show Cambodia the opposite.

Nuth Un Voanra
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

University scholarships pave way for future leaders

September 15 2009

PHNOM PENH : An NGO under the auspices of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions is providing vital access to higher education for young Cambodians, who belong to the next generation of leaders in their country.

New Humanity, whose mission statement envisages a society where everyone has the same chance for education, is plugging a gap in the Church's educational mission in the country.

Many Church resources are funneled into basic education, but fewer go toward tertiary studies.

"Cambodia is trying to develop, but it lacks expertise, especially specialists in sociology to tackle social and development issues," says Khan Sophirom, a New Humanity beneficiary. He earned a master's degree through a scholarship program the Italian NGO runs in collaboration with Royal University of Phnom Penh.

The scholarships "are very necessary and important," he affirmed.

New Humanity and the university set up the two-year Master of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology in 2004. Sixty students have graduated from the program since then, in three groups. Sophirom, now 29 and a journalist, was among the 25 graduates in the first group.

"It was a good chance to study with good equipment and materials, and especially to have been taught by lecturers from many countries such as Australia, Italy and Thailand," he said.

He added that he understands social issues more in depth because of the program.

"If we talk about development in the country, we must not only consider how to make people live happily and in harmony but we must also think about what effects development has on local people," he commented. The question that must be asked, he said, is: "Do development programs have sustainability and participation from local people?"

According to Rene Ayala, who coordinates the program, it emphasizes understanding of the fundamentals of sociology and anthropology in relation to language, literature, history, geography and psychology. It aims for the students to reflect critically and analytically about the evolution of social issues in Southeast Asian culture, especially Cambodian culture.

The initiative contributes toward rebuilding human resources lost by decades of civil war that ended in the 1990s, he explained.

"We prepared workshops about culture, directly visiting people in villages, study tours, research and other activities," Ayala said. "In addition, we invited international professors who have deep experience in the context of Cambodia to teach."

Ayala added that air-conditioned rooms, computers, projectors, printers and Internet access are part of the initiative and enhance its effectiveness.

"Quality is the priority," stressed Herve Roqueplan, executive director of New Humanity in Cambodia, "so we select the best teachers." Their criteria for admitting students are also strict.

"Before students can get a scholarship, they have to show their background of education, take the exam and be interviewed to show they have the capability and ability to study this course."

New Humanity has been working in Cambodian education since 1994 when it set up the Department of Sociology at Royal University of Phnom Penh, which offered bachelor's degree programs. It now operates in three other areas apart from its work with the university.

In the province of Kandal, which surrounds Phnom Penh, it runs an education and development project for the disabled. Just to the northwest, in Kompong Chhnang province, it has a community education program that focuses on agricultural development and food security among other things.

The NGO also has a community education pilot project in Mondolkiri, on of the two provinces covering the easternmost part of the country.

Courtesy : UCAN

Survivors' stories sought for trials

CAMBODIA: The testimony could be used against alleged perpetrators of Khmer Rouge.

Greg Mellen
Staff Writer
Posted: 09/14/2009

LONG BEACH - There are still a few chances for local Cambodian residents who were victimized by the Khmer Rouge to have their stories heard.

The Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia, in partnership with several organizations, is talking to survivors and families of victims of the 1970s genocide at several events this week.

Participants have the opportunity to provide testimony that may be used in proceedings against alleged perpetrators in the ongoing war crimes tribunals in Cambodia.

For decades, a debilitating fallout for survivors of the genocide has been feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.

Dr. Leakhena Nou, a professor at Cal State Long Beach, has led the effort to get victims' testimony from the Cambodian Diaspora in the U.S.

Nou says by speaking out, victims are able to regain a sense of power and justice.

"It's a matter of human rights," Nou told the Press-Telegram in March. "They have a right to be part of truth and reconciliation for their suffering and for their own healing."

Kaing Geuk Eav, also known as Duch, is the first alleged war criminal appearing before the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, which is conducting the tribunal.

Duch is charged with overseeing the mass torture and execution in prison camps, including Cambodia's notorious Tuol Sleng, or S-21.

Between 1975 and 1979, an estimated 2 million Cambodians died from executions, starvation, illness and deprivation under the Khmer Rouge.
A second trial is slated for alleged Khmer Rouge leaders Noun Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

More trials and defendants are possible.

Victims and families affected between April 17, 1975, and Jan. 6, 1979, have the right to file complaints that will be brought to the ECCC.

Law students from UCLA's International Justice Clinic and translators will help victims fill out official information forms.

The sessions to provide possible testimony are:

Thursday at McBride Park, 1550 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Friday at United Cambodian Community, 2201 E. Anaheim St., from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday in Santa Ana at Cambodian Family Inc., 111 E. Wakeham Ave.

Similar efforts are being organized in Northern California, Lowell, Mass., Portland, Ore., Virginia/Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Other sites are possible.

People interested in testifying are asked to RSVP by Wednesday by e-mail to apa.asric-khmer.justice@nyu.edu.

greg.mellen@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1291

Kasit assigned to negotiate with PAD

Writer: BangkokPost.com
Published: 15/09/2009

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has been assigned to negotiate with the People's Alliance for Democracy and ask it to call of its plan to rally near the Preah Vihear temple for fear it could harm the relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.

The PAD planned to rally near the temple on Saturday to demand that Cambodian people and troops be withdrawn from the 4.6-square-kilometre area still under dispute.

Mr Abhisit said the governement has tried to seek understanding with the local people who still held different opinions over the issue. Mr Kasit has been assigned to talk to PAD leaders to call of the rally which could affect the Thai-Cambodian relations, he added.

The government has no hidden agenda in its handling of the border dispute and is duty-bound to protect the country's sovereignty.

He said the government will resort to negotiations to bring about peaceful co-existence without clashes.

PM Warns over Weight Transportation

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Mon- day strongly verbal warned overweight transport run by some private firms. He said such vehicles destroyed roads and damaged bridges.

The premier also said that road blocks on the streets are not effective, as small payments did nothing to mitigate the expensive damage to roads and bridge infrastructure.

“We don’t need to blow the flames and cloud of the fire, but we must distinguish fire,” said Hun Sen during a ceremony to celebrate a new at Prek Kdam, Kandal province.

“I warn the public I will close all companies if they continue over weight transport. Scales are not effective at all; they just pay money and are let go,” he said. “One measure to ensure the quality of the bridges and roads is to stop over weight transportation, such as the transport of metal, cement, sand and especially cattle transport.”

The premier said that some private company directors attended the Government and private sector forum, and themselves realize the problem but have done nothing. The Prime Minister asked the Transportation and Public Works Minister and Minister for Trade to cooperate to address the issue.

The premier noted that recent crackdowns on illegal lotteries, football betting and slot machines had resulted in effective progress.

Chea Poch, an opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) lawmaker, also supported the premier’s remarks, but said the problem is that lower officials sometimes ignore the premier’s instructions.

“The premier’s sayings are very good and I support them as a benefit, not only to the premier, but also to all Cambodians,” Chea Poch told DAP News Cambodia.

“However, do lower officials follow and implement the premier’s saying and warnings? I often see that, in some cases such as deforestation and roadblocks, those officials are still active and do not follow and practice the premier’s sayings.”

One expert explained that over weight transportation can seriously damage briges.

“Structures bearing weight have two parts; the upper structure and the lower structure. Sometimes, we cannot see damage to the upper structure destroyed, but the lower structure has damage due to overweight transport,” the expert told DAP News Cambodia on Monday.

Some roads in Cambodia have rapidly suffered major damage due to over weight transport.

Robbers Paraded for Press

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief showed the faces of robbers involved in a recent spate of armed robberies of jewelry vendors in July, local police said on Monday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Vice Police Chief Po Phithey wrote in a press release that police noticed robbery activities up in July.

“In July 2009, there were 11 cases,” he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police cooperated with others, including the Police Headquarters Office, to solve these problems, with the result that arrested for four groups of robbers.

Crimes “such as a foreigner robbed at night for money,” had been closed he said, as well as “a second robbery in Dangkor district where a group of robbers robbed a motorcycle; three of them were arrested, and there were 8 cases, two in the provinces, where local police made arrests, too.”

Firearms—an AK47, handguns and 180 bullets—were recovered, he added.

“Some robbers are now hiding in the provinces after we arrested some associates,” Po Pithey said. “May be they will try to recreate a new team.”

Some sources alleged that the gangs were also involved in the killings of two high-ranking Govern- ment officials, Keo Iv and Sok Chan Sophal.

Eighteen robbers were arrested after taking gold and other jewelry to sell at the Heng Ly market, he said.

Cambodian jewelry vendor at Heng Ly market Sao Sophea said that “If I knew it was illegal I would not buy.”

At the end of the press conference, Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naroth said that “We managed our members to destroy and arrest all robber groups, not only in the city, but in other provinces as well.”

The robbers apparently planned to rob Kandal, Kampong Cham and Skun markets, he said.
He pledged to continue to arrest robbers and send them to court.

Hun Sen to Visit China Next Month

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 15 September 2009

To promote better cooperation between Cambodia and China, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday confirmed that he will pay an official visit to China in October, attending the upcoming China-Asean expo to be held Naning.

The premier also hinted that any agreement related to building infrastructure will be made during his official visit as Chinese government to increase and China has provided Cambodia more than US$6.7 billion in all fields.

“In October, I will visit and attend China exhibition in Sichuan as present making effort, I hope that some agreement will be made then,” said the premier during the ceremony at Prek Kdam bridge. The premier note that so far Chinese the Government has donated and supported Cambodian Govern-ment a total of US$6.7 billion, inclu- ding US$1.7 billion for hydropower.

Related to electricity generation, the premier said that “6 hydropower projects have been undertaken by the Chinese Government.”

The premier said that the long period of cooperation between Cambodia and China has stretched since the rule of former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk.

Relations between the two nations seem to improved recently, with Chinese leaders saying they regard the Cambodian Prime Minister as a close friend.

China inVests US$1.7 Billion in Cambodian Hydropower

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 15 September 2009

PM Hun Sen on Monday said that China side is investing US$1.7 billion to develop 6 places electric hydro-power projects to supply 700MKW to the kingdom.

China will help Cambodia end shortages and become an electricity exporter, he said at a ceremony to mark the construction of a new bridge in Kandal province, another Chinese project worth nearly US$28 million, with over US$3 million supplied by the Cambodian Government

Phnom Penh city needs 300 MKW of power in the daytime but at nighttime the requirement drops to 100 MKW because many factories, he said.

“I will go to open one electric power project soon and hydropower will provide 210 MKW,” the premier added. “We will not lack electricity soon. We are also seeking investment from China to develop other hydropower besides the Kirirom, Atay, Aray, and Areng projects.”

Culture Ministry Welcomes UNESCO Registration of Toul Sleng

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 15 September 2009

UNESCO’s registration of Toul Sleng as a documentary heritage was welcomed by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA), according to an MCFA official on Monday.

MCFA Secretary of State Som Sokun said in a press conference at Sunway Hotel to mark World Memory Day on September 14 that “Cambodia will receive funds from donors for the registration of the Toul Sleng documents into Global Documentary Heritage.” “All the nations over the world named this as our national soul, [and it is useful] especially to educate to the new generations as well,” he added.

“We were very proud to be happy that Cambodian Government included both the MCFA and the Ministry of Justice to cooperate with UNESCO to take this task seriously,” Som Sokun added.

UNESCO will help protect the archives and other members of the international community will support the site, he said. UNESCO Vice Presidential Secretary Yours Ang said that “Since 1975-1979, all documents from the Pol Pot regime have been held as evidence at the definite archive site at the well-known Toul Sleng Genoc- ide Museum.”

Yours Ang added that Toul Sleng, used as a detention centre 1975-79 and designated as S-21, holds 4,186 prisoner ‘confessions’, 6,226 biographies of prisoners and 6,147 photographic prints.

There are also 5,000-6,000 documents relating to prisoner torture and a lot of other notes, he added.

The Cambodian Government has been asked to participate in caring for this heritage.

Philipe Delanghe, UNESCO’s expertise programmer for Cambodia, said that “This registration was recognized and valued into the Global Documentary Heritage already.”
“We must save and keep it in order to extend information, according to the UNESCO’s program.”

Global Documentary Heritage are said by UNESCO to be a “world mirror to reflect to human language, national culture and the world memory for people.”

Thailand Promises Training for High-ranking Cambodian Military

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Cambodian Royal Armed Force Chief Commander Pol Saroeun discusses bilateral military affairs with visiting Thai Air Force Chief of Commander Ithaporn at Cambodia’s Army Headquarter in Phnom Penh

The Thai Air Force Chief Com-mander on Monday vowed to continue training high-ranking members of the Cambodian military in order to boost both parties’ cooperation and development.

During the talks between Thai Air Force Chief of Commander, Ithaporn Subhawong, and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Chief Commander (RCAF) Pol Saroeun in Phnom Penh, Thailand said that “Thailand still continues training of Cambodian high -ranking militaries, especially the air force.”

However, Thailand suggested that the Cambodian officers should study the Thai language to improve their ease of study in Thailand. In response, Pol Saroeun promised that Thai language could be included in the school curriculum as early as 2010.

“At the present, we do not have any Thai programs and curriculums to be included in the school program, but maybe it will be included in 2010,” Pol Saroeun said during the talks.

Cambodia urged to cooperation and development at the border near Preah Vihear temple to promote security and peace. “We should forget the past events in order to streng- then the future cooperation in all fields,” Pol Saroeun told the Thais.

Airspace violations by Thailand were also discussed at the meeting. Thailand blamed the incursions on clouds and new training. Thailand suggested Cambodia not regard these events as serious.

After the discussions in Phnom Penh, the Thai delegation visited Siem Reap province and the temples of Angkor Wat.

Cambodian news editor settles suit with apology

COURTS: Weekly's harsh criticism of New Year parade committee prompted legal fight.

By Greg Mellen
Staff Writer
Posted: 09/14/2009

SAN PEDRO - A Cambodian news editor being sued for defamation agreed Monday to publish an apology in his newspaper to the offended parties in exchange for having the suit dropped.

Narin Kem, editor and publisher of Serey Pheap, a Cambodian weekly newspaper, agreed to apologize for statements made in the newspaper between 2005 and 2006 without admitting whether the statements were defamatory.

Bill Shibley, the attorney for Kem, said his client would be hard-pressed to bear the cost of a protracted trial and the settlement allows Kem to continue operating his publication.

Kem was unavailable for comment.

In the apology, Kem wrote "I made numerous statements which (the defendants) claim impugned their character and integrity by charging them with misconduct."

The complainants were Danny Vong, Sweety Chap, Kundy Kol, Thommy Nou and Sereivuth Prak.

In their suit, the five had asked for $300,000 each.

In 2005, when the Cambodian community was racked with dissension over the proposed date for the inaugural Cambodian New Year Parade, Kem was a vocal critic of the parade and members of its organizing committee.

The event was initially scheduled for April 17, the 30th anniversary date of the rise of the Khmer Rouge to power in Cambodia.

Many, like Kem, believed it wrong to celebrate on a day that marked the official onset of the Khmer Rouge reign, which ended 44 months and about 2 million dead later.

As the New Year dispute escalated, so did the rhetoric with Kem harshly criticizing parade organizers.

Those on the parade committee contended the attacks were personal, while Kem's defense was that the pieces were opinion and protected as freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Paline Soth, who has written occasional pieces for Serey Pheap, says it is important for those like Kem to have a voice in community discourse.

"I believe it's our way of exercising our freedom of speech," Soth said. "We're voicing our opinion and it's a plus."

PAD border protest 'not helpful'

Writer: BangkokPost.com
Published: 15/09/2009

The planned yellow-shirt protest on the Thai side of the disputed border near Preah Vihear temple might only add fuel to the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Tuesday.

The yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) plans to gather near the border area this Saturday, demanding that the 11th century Khmer temple be "returned" to Thailand. The PAD protest will coincide with the red-shirt rally of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship in Bangkok.

"I don't know what the PAD's intentions are. They can gather and express their feelings but they should be careful of being at odds with the Cambodian side," Mr Suthep said.

The deputy premier, who oversees security affairs, said the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Border Commission (JBC) was looking into the ownership of 4.6 square kilometres of disputed land next to the ancient temple.

He called on people not to interfere with the JBC's work.

"Everyone loves their country and I would like everyone not to exacerbate the situation," he said

Asked about the PAD protesters who might try to drive Cambodian villagers and traders out of the disputed area, Mr Suthep said both governments had been looking at ways to solve this problem.

"The tension between the two countries has eased," he added.

Cambodia inflation down for sixth consecutive month

People's Daily Online

September 15, 2009

The price of consumer goods dropped in August by 2.9 percent compared to the same month last year, marking the sixth consecutive month that inflation decreased compared to figures from last year, local media reported on Tuesday, citing the August Consumer Price Index.

The reduction in prices follows record-high inflation that reached a peak of 25.7 percent in May 2008, the local English newspaper the Cambodia Daily reported.

The figures released Monday show that in June inflation was in negative territory at minus 5.7 percent compared to the same month last year, and in July it fell to minus 3.9 percent, according to the CPI, which is published by the Planning Ministry's National Institute of Statistics.

The Monday report shows major decreases in fuel prices, including a 37.5 percent decrease in cooking gas prices and a 25.4 percent drop in gasoline costs, comparing August 2008 to August 2009. Overall prices, however, increased from July to August by 0.7 percent.

"Prices this year are quite stable and the inflation just reflects peak prices last year," the Cambodia Daily quoted Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association, as saying.

With global food and oil prices stable compared to a year ago, the problem consumers face the most is falling incomes, he said, adding that fewer jobs and lower profits have restricted the ability of Cambodians to spend.

TaI Nay Im, director general of the National Bank of Cambodia, said without last year's high inflation to explain August's figures there might be cause for concern, but there is nothing to worry about in the falling prices.

"It's not a concern because last year there was very high inflation and this year this inflation is normal," she said.


Minister who baptized Khmer Rouge defendant says conversion genuine

The Earth Times

Posted : Tue, 15 Sep 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The Christian minister who baptized Comrade Duch, not knowing he was the former head of the Khmer Rouge's S-21 execution centre, told a war crimes tribunal Tuesday that Duch's conversion from Buddhism was sincere rather than a pragmatic decision to gain forgiveness in this life. "I am proud of him for his willingness to accept his crime and punishment," Christopher LaPel told the court in Phnom Penh.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, is on trial for crimes against humanity and breaches of the Geneva Convention before the UN-Cambodian tribunal. At least 15,000 people were tortured and executed at S-21 in the 1970s. Just a handful survived the prison.

LaPel, a Cambodian-American, said he met Duch in Cambodia in 1995 and baptized him into his Protestant church two weeks later.

At the time, Duch was using the name Hang Pin and hiding from his Khmer Rouge past. LaPel said he had no idea of Duch's history but recalled him saying that what he had done in his life "couldn't be forgiven."

LaPel said baptism had changed Duch from a man with "no joy, no peace, no purpose in life."

"After he got baptized, he was a completely different person," LaPel testified. "His heart wanted to share the word of God to his friends and family."

It was not until 1999 that LaPel learned his convert had been the Khmer Rouge's chief torturer.

LaPel told the court that several of his own friends had been killed at S-21 and his parents and two siblings also died during the Khmer Rouge regime.

But he said he had forgiven Duch for his actions as head of S-21.

"I hate the sin, but I love the sinner," LaPel said.

The prosecution asked LaPel whether he felt Duch was sincere about his conversion, pointing out that psychologists who assessed him felt the defendant, who was once a mathematics teacher, had converted because of pragmatism and logical deduction.

The prosecutor explained that while Christianity brings the possibility of instant forgiveness, Buddhism - the predominant religion in Cambodia - would require numerous cycles of rebirth to undo Duch's crimes.

LaPel, who has been allowed to visit Duch in detention and pray with him, agreed that true converts are entitled to forgiveness but said he is convinced Duch's conversion is genuine.

"On one occasion [in 2008], Mr Kaing Guek Eav told me he was sorry for the crimes that he did in the past and that he did not rejoice for what he had done," LaPel said. "And that he felt sorry for me and for the Cambodian people."

Duch's trial was expected to end this month with sentencing due to be handed down in 2010. Cambodia does not have the death penalty, so Duch, 67, faces a maximum term of life in prison.

He has admitted guilt and apologized for his crimes, but his attorneys have sought to prove his role in the torture and executions was minimal because, they said, he was only acting on orders.

Four other former Khmer Rouge are in detention awaiting trial, and judges are investigating a further two.

Around 2 million people are thought to have died from execution, overwork and starvation under the Khmer Rouge regime, known as Democratic Kampuchea, which ruled Cambodia during 1975-79.

Vietnamese firm to build large fertiliser plant in Cambodia

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hanoi (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) - Vietnam's Five Star International Group is planning to build a US$65 million fertiliser plant in Cambodia, Vietnam's trade mission in Cambodia said.

The project has been submitted to the Council for the Development of Cambodia for approval. If approved, construction of the factory would kick off in October and be completed after 20 months.

The planned location is Kien Svay district, 20 km to the east of Phnom Penh. The plant is designed to produce 350,000 tonnes of product a year.

Lim Sokun, Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, applauded the plan, adding that his country might supply up to 80 per cent of the materials needed for the project.

Source: Business in Asia Today - Sept 15, 2009

Wet weather still lethal

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:04 Tep Nimol and Chrann Chamroeun

Flooding across the country killed at least seven people last week, officials said. Four people were killed in Kampong Thom province, Governor Chhun Chhorn said. Two men from Prasat Balaing and Kampong Svay districts drowned when their raft overturned, and two children from the province’s Stoung district also died. Three were killed in Ratanakkiri province, where local authorities discovered a boy who had drowned in a hole in the province’s Seda district, and two at Boeung Yeak Loam Lake Resort, where a man died trying to save a woman from drowning. Flooding had declined in Kratie province as of Monday, when the Mekong River receded to its normal water level of 19.05 metres, and also in Preah Vihear province, where Khuoy Khun Ho, active head of Preah Vihear provincial hall, said that no evacuations would be necessary despite continued rainstorms.

Democracy celebration questioned

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:04 Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio

OPPOSITION parties have cast doubts on the government’s commitment to democratic reform ahead of a parliamentary event designed to discuss the strengthening of democracy and political tolerance in the Kingdom.

The National Assembly is to mark the second annual International Day of Democracy with an all-day seminar at parliament today, including politicians from five political parties, human rights activists and diplomatic officials.

But opposition officials say they fear the event, designed to “raise awareness and commitment to democracy and political tolerance”, may paper over the government’s weak commitment to democratic principles.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said his party was still unsure whether to attend the event, saying the published schedule did not include strong representation from the opposition.

“This issue involves democratic principles, [so] the discussion must be divided equally. If it is just going to propagandise for the government and the ruling party, it will be difficult for us to participate,” he said.

Ou Chanrith, a lawmaker from the Human Rights Party, doubted the discussion would bear much fruit, saying that the ruling party has never tolerated opposition criticisms.

“In the past, I have seen that the ruling party does not understand the role of opposition parties, or understands but pretends not to understand,” Ou Chanrith said.

“We have not done anything wrong. We have just critiqued the construction of [Cambodia’s] democracy.”

The Democracy Day celebration follows an escalating government offensive against outspoken critics, two of whom have been sentenced to prison terms on defamation and disinformation charges since June.

SRP parliamentarian Mu Sochua, who was stripped of her immunity in June after she was sued for defamation by Prime Minister Hun Sen, told a US congressional panel in Washington on Thursday that Cambodian democracy was experiencing “an alarming free fall” due to the

Civil society representatives said that despite the recent crackdown, there was much that could be gained from an open discussion in a forum such as the National Assembly.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, who is scheduled to speak at the seminar, said the event would allow civil society a good chance to engage progressive government officials.

He said one of the main challenges in Cambodia was an institutionalised paranoia among certain officials, who were acting as a bulwark to further democratic reforms.

“There are still a lot of these fears of the unknown. There’s a feeling [among some officials] that if things change, they would not be in the position they are currently in,” he said. “The best thing is to understand these fears and try to address them.”

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said the event was important for promoting “democracy and political tolerance” and that he appreciated the effort to hold the discussion now.

One CPP official set to speak at today’s event dismissed the opposition’s complaints, pointing out that the ruling party had gained power through a popular vote.

“Tolerance for one another is the policy of the CPP,” said Khuon Sudary, president of the National Assembly’s First Committee.

Mu Sochua fights back
Following her congressional testimony on Thursday, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday, discussing Cambodia’s human rights situation in greater detail.

Mu Sochua said that during the meeting, Clinton “made it very clear that she does not wish to see further deterioration” of the right to free expression in the Kingdom.

Mu Sochua added that Clinton promised to send a US delegation to monitor the Cambodian human rights situation within the next few months.

“To be practical and to be effective, there has to be an on-the-ground assessment,” she said.


Burned villager’s dad vows revenge

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:04 Thet Sambath

THE father of a young man said to have been killed Friday by Thai troops near the border at Oddar Meanchey province said he has no doubts his son was deliberately burned to death and wishes for revenge against those responsible for the murder.

In a conversation with the Post on Monday, Saing Yon said he had visited the scene of the killing and was devastated by what he saw there.

“It is difficult for me to tell you in detail about my son’s suffering before he died because I saw my son’s body and it is very tragic,” said the father of 16-year-old Yon Rith, who was found dead after reportedly being arrested by Thai forces on Friday.

“They burned my son to death. I will remember this, and I want revenge on the Thai soldiers, but I won’t tell anyone what I will do to them.”

Saing Yon said that, judging from his son’s remains, he was lashed to an ox cart with ropes before being set alight by the soldiers. “I saw ropes holding his arm bones and the many footsteps he made at the site as he tried to escape from the flames,” he said.

He added that he planned to build a small Buddhist stupa at the site to commemorate his son and to mark what he termed the “cruel” deeds of those responsible.

“Please, other people, tell your children and relatives not to do anything along the border to avoid my son’s fate.”

Meanwhile, officials have vowed to get to the bottom of the incident, comparing the reported killing to the cruelties of Cambodia’s recent past.

“The Thais’ action was similar to the Khmer Rouge,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong. “Their actions make them seem like wild and inhuman people.”

Koy Kuong said that government officials received a report of the incident from provincial authorities on Monday and would make a formal request for an explanation from the Thai government.

“We will send a diplomatic note to the Thais to get their explanation for burning the Cambodian man alive,” he said. “The ministry was very disturbed to get this report.”

Officials at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Don’t try just Duch: witness

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:03 Robbie Corey-Boulet

Defence witness says directors of other prisons should face war crimes charges.

AN expert witness told Cambodia’s war crimes court Monday that the directors of other Khmer Rouge-era detention facilities that claimed more lives than the notorious Tuol Sleng prison were still alive and suggested they be prosecuted for war crimes.

“There were nine centres where there were more victims than [Tuol Sleng], and from those centres no one is before this court,” said Raoul Marc Jennar, a Belgian academic who testified at the request of defence lawyers for former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch.

“My concept of justice is not to have scapegoats. It’s to treat everyone the same way,” Jennar said.

He said some of the directors were still alive and “living peacefully”, though he declined to identify them, saying only: “It is known, but please don’t ask me to name names.”

When questioned on his sources, he cited research from the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), though he said he was not able to point to specific documents.

Officials discuss graft

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Civic leaders head home after attending a meeting on how to tackle corruption.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:03 May Titthara

PHNOM Penh Governor Kep Chuktema addressed a gathering of city, commune and district leaders from across the capital on Monday, urging them to discharge their duties reponsibly and be on the lookout for corruption.

“We should think that people are our bosses, not that the authorities are the bosses of the people,” the governor told the gathering at the Royal University of Agriculture.

Kep Chuktema urged whistleblowers to use City Hall complaint boxes if they know of any commune chiefs or district authorities who are “not helpful”.

“City Hall has 100 complaint boxes to welcome any complaint,” he said.

Prak Narunn of Stung Meanchey commune said she thought bribery was endemic among local officials.

“It’s very difficult when we need help,” she said. “When I applied for a wedding party for my daughter, [officials] made it seem very difficult. But when I paid them some money, everything was faster.”

Toxic plant runoff takes toll on villagers’ wallets

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:03 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Sam Rith

TOXIC waste from a bio-ethanol plant that was shut down – and recently given the green light to reopen – killed more than 63 tonnes of fish worth more than US$100,000 to local villagers, officials told the Post Monday.

At least 57 families in Duong and Krous villages in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district were impacted by pollution from the MH Bio-Energy Group plant, said Seng Thim, Tonle Bassac fisheries office chief.

The total cost of the pollution could change, he suggested. “We have not yet included the impact on the fish resources inside the river itself,” he said.

The government has already given the South Korean-owned plant the go-ahead to reopen, although officials still don’t know exactly what chemical caused the damage.

Preliminary results from tests of the water found increased levels of ammonia and lower levels of oxygen.

Khlaing Vanthol, director of the Chaktomuk Fisheries Administration office, said his officials had taken the water to be tested in Belgium, but that it was unclear when final results would be ready.

But villagers impacted by the pollution are demanding compensation. “We want the company to pay compensation to us soon, after Pchum Ben at the latest,” said Sau Ly, one of the affected villagers.

Sar Peov, head of MH Bio-Energy’s administration office, said Sunday that his company is waiting to receive final statistics of the pollution in order to assess compensation levels.

The plant, which refines dried cassava to produce bio-ethanol fuel, was closed in late August following complaints from villagers that toxic waste discharged from the facility was killing fish in the nearby waterway.

Officials dismiss Thai protest

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Chief Thai air marshal Itthaporn Subhawong (left) sits with RCAF Commander in Chief Pol Saroeun.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:03 Vong Sokheng and Cheang Sokha

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Commander in Chief Pol Saroeun met with Itthaporn Subhawong, Thailand’s chief air marshal, on Monday in Phnom Penh, as officials from both countries dismissed the significance of Thai protests at the border reportedly planned for this Saturday.

Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper reported on Monday that members of the Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a Thai political party, plan to hold a rally on Saturday near the Preah Vihear temple complex to protest the supposed loss of Thai sovereignty in the disputed area.

The Thai military, however, discouraged the protesters from following through on their plans. “We should be careful about the protest, as such an activity, despite its good intentions, could affect operating strategy on the ground,” The Nation quoted Thai Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaeowkamnerd as saying.

Cambodian Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat told the Post that should the protest take place, the PAD protesters will not be permitted to enter Cambodian territory.

“We are not concerned about the protests planned for September 19,” he said. “We will not allow [the protesters] to enter Cambodian soil, and we will exercise our right to self-defence if the situation warrants it.”

In a meeting at RCAF headquarters in Phnom Penh on Monday, Pol Saroeun and Itthaporn reaffirmed the warming of Thai-Cambodian relations that has taken place over the past few weeks.

“This visit is meant to promote understanding and good relations between our two countries and to facilitate training of Cambodian air force members by Thailand,” Itthaporn said. “[Thai air force representatives] have been very warmly received here.”

Pol Saroeun cited Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s visit to the border area this past weekend, where he was hosted by Cambodian officials, as an example of cooperation that he hoped to see continue.

“We should forget the conflicts that have happened between us and look forward to improving our relationship,” he said.

Pair accused of raping multiple boys and girls

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

Group says families initially were intimidated by the two, but finally decided to report the crimes.

TWO men, one Cambodian and the other Vietnamese, have been arrested on suspicion of raping one young girl and attempting to rape another in Russey Keo district, police told the Post Monday.

An official with an anti-human trafficking group added that the pair are thought to be behind numerous sexual assaults against children in the same neighbourhood.

Keo Thea, director of Phnom Penh’s Municipal Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau, confirmed the arrests but declined to identify the suspects.

“My men arrested a Vietnamese man who is over 20 years old, along with a Cambodian man who is over 40,” Keo Thea said. The victims are two Vietnamese girls, ages 13 and 15, he added.

Samleang Seila, country director of Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), a child rights group, told the Post on Monday that his organisation had tipped off the anti-human trafficking police after hearing complaints from villagers in Russey Keo district.

“We learned about the [suspected] child sex abuse and urged the victims to be brave enough to complain to the police,” he said.

Samleang Seila added that he believes this is not the first time the two suspects have abused local children.

“[We are] prepared to provide more witnesses to press charges against the men,” he said. “We believe that the men not only abused these two victims, but that there are many other girls and boys out there who are now afraid to speak up against the men.”

Samleang Seila said the men are suspected of numerous abuses, including rape, in the same small fishing village during the past three years.

He said the suspects are believed to have struck when the children’s parents were away fishing on the river.

Up until now, however, the villagers have been afraid to speak out, he said.

“Victims’ parents were not brave enough to dare complain about the men,” he said, adding that the suspects threatened the families with injury or death if they contacted the police. However, the most recent alleged rapes were a turning point.

“Villagers could not tolerate this any longer and decided to bring their cases to my organisation,” Samleang Seila said.

PM seeks more Chinese aid

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks Monday at a linking ceremony for the Cambodia-China Prek Kdam Friendship Bridge. Cambodia is seeking $600 million from China for similar projects, he said.


The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha

Hun Sen announces push to secure up to $600 million in funding for projects including national road upgrades and hydro-projects ahead of a visit in October.

The government is negotiating with China to secure funding for infrastructure projects in Cambodia worth $600 million, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Monday.

Projects include upgrading 11 national roads and building several hydropower dams. The prime minister said that the length of the road expansion project will total 1,500 kilometres.

“China will be the country responsible for building the longest roads in Cambodia,” he said during a linking celebration at the Cambodia-China Prek Kdam Friendship Bridge.

The bridge, which spans the Tonle Sap River in Kandal province, is replacing a ferry service and should save travellers both time and money, the premier said. It is due to be completed before the Khmer New Year in April 2010.

If the agreement comes to fruition, the prime minister will travel to China to take part in an official signing ceremony in October, he said.

Earlier this year, China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao pledged $15 billion in funding for members of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN). Cambodia is asking for $400 million for the road-expansion projects and a further $200 million for hydropower projects.

“Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon had already submitted the proposed plans to China.… China is leading in the development of infrastructures and hydro-projects in Cambodia,” Hun Sen told a crowd of hundreds on Monday.

In 2007, China pledged around $600 million to Cambodia for the construction of two bridges – Prek Kdam and Prek Tamak – as well as National Road 8 and the road that connects Kratie province with Mondulkiri province.

Cambodia has so far spent a total of $6.7 billion of Chinese capital, including $1.4 billion on infrastructure, $4 billion on tourism and about $300 million on agriculture.

Koh Kong families face eviction

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:02 May Titthara

FORTY-THREE families from Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district are to be forced from their land this week following a provincial court ruling Sunday in favour of two real estate tycoons who have plans to develop the land.

Community representative Khao Nherng said Monday that the court had a set a deadline of today for the villagers to voluntarily tear down their houses or face forced evictions.

“We have lived here since 1980, but the tycoons say we are living on their land because they have held a land title for it since 1993,” she said.

Nhem Ann, another resident affected by the verdict, demanded to know where the two businessmen – Sok Hong and Heng Huoy – had secured the rights to the land.

“Where did they get their land title? We have been here since 1980, and we don’t have one, so we want to see their land title in the Supreme Court,” she said.

Yuth Puthong, the Koh Kong provincial governor, said that he had requested that Prime Minister Hun Sen provide land to the displaced families, but that he had not yet received “clear information” about the case.

Sok Hong and Heng Huoy could not be reached for comment, nor could Mean Vattana, the Koh Kong deputy prosecutor who handled the case.

Kampot port grievance

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda

VILLAGERS affected by ongoing development of the international port at the Kampot Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) have met with provincial authorities to voice concerns.

Doung Kheang, 47, a representative of the villagers, said the pumping of sand into the sea to create the port is depriving around 1,000 families of valuable fishing grounds. “They want us to support the project, but we depend on finding seafood for our living,” he said.

Heng Vantha, deputy governor of Kampot, insisted not all villagers were against the port because the SEZ is expected to create jobs. He is due to meet villagers later this week to discuss the development again. KSEZ President Vinh Huor could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Costing around US$80 million, the 1,000-hectare KSEZ is expected to open in mid-2011 in Koh Toch commune in Kampot.

PM tells transport firms to follow weight limits

A truck waits to offload its cargo at Phnom Penh Port. Prime Minister Hun Sen warned the logistics industry Monday that illegal practices would lead to company closures.

Any companies that still violate [the rules], shut them down.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:01 Nguon Sovan

Companies that overload trucks beyond legal limits damage roads and bridges and will be shut down, Hun Sen says

PRIME Minister Hun Sen ordered senior transport and public works officials Monday to close down logistics firms that violate weight limits for trucks.

Speaking at the launch of the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge across the Tonle Sap River at Prek Kdam in northern Kandal province, the premier said overloaded trucks damaged the country’s roads and bridges, putting life and property at risk.

“There is only one way to ensure our roads and bridges, to ensure our people’s safety,” he said.

“If we advise [transport companies] and they don’t listen, we will shut down their companies.”

Under Cambodia’s laws, trucks may carry up to 40 tonnes of cargo, but Hun Sen said some trucks transported up to 100 tonnes. He ordered Minister of Public Works and Transport Tram Iv Tek and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh to work together to ensure that companies repeatedly guilty of overloading were closed down.

“Any companies that still violate [the rules], shut them down,” he said. “We shouldn’t fan away the smoke, we should put out the fire.”

Corruption a problem
He noted that the ministries concerned would also need to take account of low-level corruption, saying that simply weighing trucks would not be sufficient, as drivers could avoid the measure by giving money to officials.

So Nguon, the president of the So Nguon Group of Companies, which includes So Nguon Transportation and Service Import Export Co, said Monday that unlicensed truckers and companies were to blame for road damage due to overloading.

So Nguon, a permanent member of the Cambodian Transport Association, which has around 20 member companies, said that his company and other association members stayed within weight limits.

“Road destruction and bridge collapses are caused by those unlicensed transport trucks,” he said.

“Those unlicensed transport operators also compete dishonestly with us because by overloading, and by not paying taxes to the government, they can charge a cheaper fee to customers,” he added.

So Nguon said the association had already asked Tram Iv Tek to assist it in persuading transport companies to join the association.

Touch Chan Kosal, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, agreed Monday that the licensed transport companies were not at fault of overloading.

“Soon, we will begin to take action against trucks or lorries that connect additional compartments and overload,” Touch Chan Kosal said.

“Step-by-step, we are advising unlicensed transport operators to open up their companies to legalise their services.”

ACLEDA to open more institutions across Laos

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:01 Nhem Rethy

ACLEDA Bank plans to open a new branch and two more service posts in Laos by the end of this year, Yin Virak, a vice president and the head of international cooperation, said Monday.

ACLEDA Bank’s Laos subsidiary operates a headquarters in the capital, Vientiane, three branches and five service posts.

Yin Virak said the bank had already received the licences and would open the two service posts in Vientiane – one in October and the other in November. The new branch would be opened in Khammouan province, in central Laos, in November.

“The expansion is part of our planned strategy to meet the financial needs of Laos, and our expansion will cover Laos nationwide soon,” he said.

Strong growth in Laos
Deposits in ACLEDA’s Laos subsidiary had more than doubled since the end of June, and new loans had also grown rapidly due to the bank’s promotion effort and the expansion of branches, Yin Virak said.

ACLEDA figures show 4,958 customers in Laos have now deposited a total of $8.4 million at the bank, up from 3,224 customers and $3.9 million worth of deposits at the end of June.

Lending at the bank’s Laos institutions increased from $5.5 million disbursed to 1,498 customers to $8.2 million extended to 2,516 borrowers as of the end of June.

ACLEDA, Cambodia’s largest bank in terms of deposits at the end of 2008, according to figures from the National Bank of Cambodia, opened its first overseas subsidiary in Laos in July last year.

SKorean president's visit set to include trade agreement

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is scheduled to visit Phnom Penh for two days in October, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday. BLOOMBERG

The [PACT] is very important ... to exchange trade information.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:01 May Kunmakara

SOUTH Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak will make a two-day visit to Cambodia in October, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Monday, on official business that will include the signing of trade deals.

Spokesman Koy Kuong said the exact date was still to be confirmed.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce Director General Nguon Meng Tech said he had been told the visit would likely take place October 6-7.

He said the chamber would use the visit to sign a memorandum of understanding with the South Korean Chamber of Commerce on trade.

“The MoU is very important for both countries to exchange trade information and to help boost trade links between the two countries,” Nguon Meng Tech said.

Nguon Meng Tech said the trade relationship was one-sided, with Cambodia importing significant quantities of goods from South Korea but exporting little of its own goods in return. He said he did not have trade figures on hand Monday.

The deputy director general of the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Lee Hyoung-seok, also said he could not access trade data Monday. The South Korean Embassy in Phnom Penh was not available for comment.

The most recent trade data seen by the Post, which was released by KOTRA early last month, shows bilateral trade dropped 22.6 percent year on year in the first five months of 2009 to US$114 million.

Figures released by the South Korea Embassy in March show that Korea exported $294.4 million worth of goods to Cambodia in 2008, including $117.5 in textiles, $54.8 million in car machinery and $43.2 million in textile goods.

South Korea imported just $14.3 million in goods from Cambodia, including $8.8 million in textile goods, $2.4 million in non-ferrous metals and $1.6 million in agricultural goods.

The figures also show that Korean firms transferred $472.89 million to Cambodia to invest in 2008, down from $629.49 million a year earlier.

Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) figures show Korean companies won approval to invest $1.24 billion in Cambodia in 2008. The CDC approved just $109.2 million worth of investments from South Korea firms in the first half of 2009.

Trade union calls for salaries before holiday

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:01 May Kunmakara

THE director of one of Cambodia’s largest trade unions has called on garment manufacturers to pay salaries for September before the three-day Pchum Ben national holiday, which begins Friday.

Free Trade Union of Workers of The Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) head Chea Mony wrote the letter, which has been obtained by the Post, to his counterpart at the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), Van Sou Ieng, on September 8.

It followed a letter from Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Vong Sauth dated September 7 and sent to the owners of industries, factories and other institutions asking them to give employees three days leave from Friday, and to pay an advance on their salaries.

Chea Mony said he hoped GMAC would talk to its members to ensure they complied with the request from the minister so that workers could afford to be with their families during the Cambodian festival.

GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo responded that any salary advance was up to the discretion of factories, although he said he urged owners to pay at least part of the month’s salary in advance.

Contracts law set for Council of Ministers

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE long-awaited law on contracts will go before the Council of Ministers for consideration in mid-October, Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Mao Thora said.

Legal experts from the Commerce Ministry are currently doing last edits on the final draft of the law, he said, adding that he hoped the new legislation would boost confidence in the Kingdom’s legal environment among the business and investment community.

“We hope that the law’s approval will help build up trust in trade and business in Cambodia,” he said.

The proposed law, which consists of 10 chapters and 240 articles, will replace an existing law on contracts, known as Decree 38, that has been in place since October 1988.

Mao Thora said the new law would make it easier for the court to rule on cases involving breach of contract and would also determine appropriate penalties.

Cambodia is required to pass 42 trade laws, including the law on contracts, under the terms of its 2004 admission to the World Trade Organisation.

Mao Thora said Cambodia had so far approved half of the required laws, with the remainder at various stages of completion.

The ministry was scheduled to meet with the International Monetary Fund today to review progress made to date and determine priorities for action, he added.

SRP says Decree 38 not enough
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said Decree 38 was insufficient for the needs of the Kingdom’s commercial environment but added that an overhaul of the country’s judiciary was also needed, as it was not sufficiently independent to hear cases fairly.

“I think that the new law is of vital importance, but the government must also make sure that the law is practised fairly in its justice system in order to build up confidence among businessmen and traders,” he said.

The World Bank has also noted the lack of certainty in dispute resolution in Cambodia.

In a 2009 country memorandum, it wrote that many firms took measures to avoid having to enter dispute-resolution processes, such as insisting on payment up front for sales and maintaining high inventories of key inputs.

Eang Sopheak, a lawyer at the Asia Cambodia Law Firm in Phnom Penh, said the absence of many laws made it difficult for judges to make accurate and fair decisions.

“Once we have a law on contracts, judges will have a legal framework to depend on when judging business cases,” he said.

Smart Mobile in ACLEDA top-up deal

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:01 Steve Finch

CAMBODIAN mobile service provider Smart Mobile announced Monday it will cooperate with ACLEDA Bank to offer credit top-ups at ATMs.

The provider, which has already signed a deal with ANZ Bank’s WING to offer electronic top-ups, said in a press release the system would be based on a pin-code access service to add to the scratch card credit system offered by Smart Mobile.

The deal with ACLEDA was signed in February , said Smart Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer Kiril Mankovsky.

“In the near future top-up through ATM will be available at other banks as well,” Monday’s statement said without elaborating.

Mankovsky said Monday that Smart Mobile was in the “the final stage of negotiations” with other banks in the Kingdom, but that it was not ready to make any formal announcements until the deals are signed.

He declined to name the banks but said further announcements would likely be made within the next two months.

Making the hard sell to Cambodia's soft targets

Photo by: NOU VASSAN
Eun Elit browses footwear at Jolly Baby Kids on Street 128.

We can get good advice about baby products, as well as how to raise our children.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:00 PRUM SEILA

Stores and shopping centres in the capital are increasingly targeting children with specialty stores for toys and clothes as well as child-oriented marketing

SINCE the year 2000, Phnom Penh's newest potential customers have been tempting marketeers.

The children of the new urban middle-class – the nouveau riche – have spurred the growth of businesses specialising in baby products, toys and children’s clothes.

Shopping centres, fast food restaurants and supermarkets are also trying to add some fun to the shopping experience, in order to hook both young customers and their rich parents.

Often colourful and decorated with cartoons, the new children’s stores stock all manner of products and are easily identifiable – almost all of their names are prefixed by baby, kid, toy or suchlike.

These vivid emporiums are usually found along the main boulevards of the city centre and cater mainly to middle-class and expatriate families.

Photo by: NOU VASSAN
Srey Leao feeds her young daughter fast food at Phnom Penh's Sydney Shopping Center.

“That’s why I import these products: to make such customers’ lives more convenient,” he says.

“It was very difficult to find a local baby shop that stocked a sufficient range. If customerss were looking for a gift for a friend’s baby, they had to try many different places before they found a suitable present.”

Of course, items for children have always been available in Phnom Penh’s markets, but they are now beginning to focus more on quality, says Bu Chanpiru.

“Rich people don’t really care about the price – but they do care about the brand name and quality of the products,” he says, before proudly adding that most of his shop’s products are made in Denmark and Germany, with recognisable brand names like NUK and Lego.

However, Sok Piseth, owner of a toy shop named Toys and Me on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, had a different reason for getting into the business.

After noticing a local deficit of educational toys, he consulted a relative who is also a kindergarten director before seeking to fill that gap in the market.

On the other hand, Sun Sodeth, operations manager for Jolly Baby Kids on Street 128, which imports KIKO-branded garments from Malaysia, feels children’s clothing is more important for parents.

“The two priorities for parents are obviously food and education, but their children’s appearance is becoming an increasingly important point,” she says.

“People cannot find certain products in the traditional shopping areas like Psar Orussei.”

The children’s market is still in its infancy, with most stores opening in the past few years.

Yet it is an undoubted growth area, with ever more shops springing up.

Bu Chanpiru claims that, although Kid World originally decided to target expatriates, increasing numbers of Cambodians are browsing his shop’s wares:

“I have been doing okay so far because Cambodian customers are beginning to understand about quality products,” he says.

“In fact, I’ve recently expanded my business into a wholesaler, as the demand is increasing all the time,” he continues.

But what of the consumer? Van Rattana, mother of a 5-year-old son and newborn daughter, often visits specialist children’s shops.

“Contrary to what you might expect, the prices are very competitive; sometimes it’s a bit cheaper than in the markets.

“Moreover, we can get good advice about baby products, as well as how to raise our children. The staff in the baby shops are so friendly,” she says.

However, Van Rattana adds that Cambodians also like coming to such places because they can easily park their flashy cars; it’s another way way of showing off their improved affluence – while they are conspicuously consuming.

From shops as status symbols to shopping centres and fast food restaurants as playgrounds, the capitalist trend has certainly caught on.

Some of the bigger retailers in the Kingdom, such as Sydney Shopping Center, the Lucky Burger fast-food chain and one of the four BB World outlets are introducing toys, games and playgrounds to make themselves more child-friendly.

BB World, as well as other fast-food restaurants, has taken to running special promotions for kids, in the time-honoured tradition pioneered by global powerhouses such as McDonald’s.

Celebrating birthday parties at a junk-food superstore and giving toys away to children with meal deals has long been a tactic in the West. Now Cambodia is following suit.

“It is a marketing strategy – and a way to add some fun for the kids,” says Khieu Channa, marketing manager for BB World.

“If children come and enjoy themselves, we are sure they will ask their parents to return. And when they do, they will surely eat at the restaurant in addition to their kids.”

Police blotter: 15 Sep 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear

One man was injured on his head during an argument with his wife last week. Sam Sreyleap, 44, asked her husband Soum Sophal, 43, for US$2.50, which he refused, inciting her to throw a big rock at his head. The police said that the couple, who live in Dangkor district, drank alcohol nearly every day and always argued with each other. Soum Sophal told the police to arrest his wife to educate her and stop her from fighting with him.

Police in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district arrested a gold vendor couple accused of buying gold from robbers at Heng Ly market on September 11. Seller Chea Chantha, 38, and his wife Choa Sothea, 30, were arrested after police received a tip-off from a group of robbers arrested earlier. Police said they are preparing documents in order to send the couple to court.

Four people were arrested on suspicion of selling illegal drugs in Battambang province’s Thamor Koul district on September 11. Police said that they arrested the group and confiscated nearly 2,000 tablets. “We spent two days prior to their arrest, and now we are sending them to court,” one police official said.

Hean Sang, 13, was sent to the hospital immediately after she was hit on her head by a young man on Saturday in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet district. Oul Oeun, 22, who fought the girl, said that he and the girl argued with each other verbally, but he could not control his anger because she called him a cowardly man. The police arrested the offender and sent him to the police station.

A woman died Saturday after hanging herself in the bathroom in Chak Angrae Leu commune, in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Police identified the woman as Man Bopha, 37, and said that before she killed herself, she and her husband had a serious argument with each other. Police added that her daughter found her mother hanging in the bathroom and that they tried to save her, but the doctor told them that she had already died.

Eagles book grand finals berth

Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Phnom Penh Dragons captain Chuoy Kimhorn (right, jumping) spikes the ball at the Battambang Tigers side during their CNVLD match Saturday at Olympic Stadium.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 15:00 Dan Riley

Third-round matches of the Cellcard National Volleyball League witnessed the Siem Reap Globe Eagles claim a place in the grand finals, with others in pursuit

THE third round of the Cellcard 2009 National Volleyball League at the weekend served up some of the most competitive matches in the history of the league, with Siem Reap Globe Eagles swooping to an unassailable position at the top of the table, booking their place in the grand final.

The five-set rule – put in place since the end of the first round – separated the men from the boys in terms of fitness, stamina and determination.

Marathon rallies were punctuated by spectacular net work, seemingly impossible defensive manoeuvres, and fiery spikes that had the crowd on its feet in loud appreciation. Four matches stretched into five-set thrillers, and most sets were decided by only the slimmest of margins.

Announcement of details for the impending 2009 WOVD Cambodia Volleyball World Cup in December also fired up the form of the league’s best athletes, who are desperate to be selected by national team coach Christian Zepp to represent their nation in the bid to become World No 1 in front of their adoring home fans.

With only eleven matches remaining in the league, a new dynasty of elite young teams has emerged thanks to an exceptional rise in the quality of training and court play. A stunning eight wins from eight matches sees Siem Reap Eagles perching proud at the head of the table, with only Kratie Nike Changemakers Dolphins left to play.

With coach Chat Samouen stepping to the courtside to direct play, young hotshots Choeum Kong and Prep Artit dominated the net. They were backed by national team captain Chheam Chhandy, who provided typically strong leadership and team spirit to ensure the Eagles stayed hovering above the pack.

Hot on their heels, Kampong Speu Global Giving Scorpions and Battambang MOSVY Tigers, along with legendary league stalwarts Kampong Speu CTN Koupreys, all played out of their prostheses at the weekend, to stake their claim on the other three grand final spots available.

The wily skills of Koupreys coach Cha Hok, and the explosive form of national team spiker Yem Buntheoun, have seen the 2008 National League Champions recover their form to lie in third place after wiping the court with Prey Veng Kingmaker Cobras in straight sets and narrowly defeating Kampong Speu Global Giving Scorpions 3-2 Saturday.

The demise of six-time national league champions Phnom Penh ANZ Royal Dragons was the hottest news from the third round, after their shock defeats to Battambang MOSVY Tigers on Saturday and Kampong Speu Global Giving Scorpions on Sunday left them in a previously unimaginable fifth spot, forcing coach Chem Kim Horn to radically re-evaluate his ageing, once-invincible team. Expect a rebuilt Dragons team to walk out of the tunnel for the start of the 2010 National League.

With Takeo ISPP Templestowe Falcons and Kratie Nike Changemakers Dolphins holding strong mid-table, still with an outside chance of making the third-place playoffs, the final three places for the Grand Finals still remain open in the closest league finish in nine years of consecutive competition.

At the bottom of the table, spirited performances by Kampong Cham Bartu Bulls couldn’t stem their slide down the rankings to ninth, though their position doesn’t do them justice after pushing Takeo ISPP Templestowe Falcons to a five-set epic Saturday. They narrowly lost out to Kratie Nike Changemakers Dolphins on Sunday in tense late match in which only Kratie coach Nuong Piroth’s “hairdryer” halftime team talk forced them to step up their play.

Prey Veng Kingmaker Cobras’ win over Pailin Stadt Frechen Lions remains their only taste of victory in 2009, though with three matches to play in the final round, they retain a chance of creeping up the table in a late push. Pailin remain rooted to the bottom of the table, having lost all seven of their matches so far. With Kampong Speu Koupreys and Kampong Cham still to play, Pailin’s prospects for 2009 look bleak. Since their establishment in 2006, Pailin have traditionally been a team to fear, so, as with Phnom Penh, expect a radically new crew to step onto the court in 2010.

CNVLD referee team Chanthou Han, Hok Veng Ly, and Sophie Smith from the ISPP Sports Department, continued their outstanding work, ensuring that all competitions are played to an international standard.

The Grand Final will be played at 7:30pm October 18 at Olympic Stadium, with the top two teams from the league ladder playing for the championship trophy, whereas third- and fourth-place teams will play for third overall earlier in the afternoon, at 4pm. Cash prizes include US$3,000 for the winner ($500 for each player), $2,000 for the runners up, and $1,000 for the third team.