Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Hun Sen to ask World Court to settle border conflict

via CAAI News Media

Published: 10/02/2010 at 04:58 PM
Online news: Local News

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday he sees no reasons why Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen would seek the International Court of Justice's help to settle the border conflict with Thailand.

Mr Abhisit's statement came a day after Hun Sen said he would file a complaint to the International Court at the Hague to settle the disputed border near the Preah Vihear ancient temple.

"Cambodia has reached the limits of its patience," Hun Sen was quoted as saying during a visit to the disputed border.

"Cambodia wants to solve this territorial dispute by filing a complaint to the international court at The Hague," he said, adding that he would also ask the United Nations to help solve the border issue.

Mr Abhisit said he believes this issue could not be settled at the International Court because it has already ruled on the Preah Vihear temple and settled the boundary in a map, which Thailand did not accept.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to cambodia.

Mr Abhisit also vowed that the government would try its best not to loose the area of 4.6 square kilometres around the temple and would do all it can to protect Thailand's territory.

The Foreign Ministry and related agencies have been assigned to work on legal matters in preparation for Hun Sen's attempt to push the case to the court.

Government spokesman Pinithan Wattanayakorn said it takes a consent from both sides to file a case with the International Court.

The matter could be settled bilaterally, he said, adding that it is part of the Cambodian government's plan to push the matter to the International Court.

Meanwhile, internet giant Google has promised Cambodia it will review a map of an ancient temple at the centre of the country's border dispute with Thailand, Google said in a letter.

Cambodian authorities accused Google of being "professionally irresponsible" in a letter sent last week, because its Google Earth map depicts nearly half of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as being in Thailand.

The Southeast Asian neighbours' troops have been in a standoff in the disputed territory since 2008, with occasional gunfights claiming several lives.

"We are carefully reviewing the Government of Cambodia's objections regarding the depiction of Cambodian borders in Google Earth, and we plan to respond to your letter more fully in the very near future," said Google.

The letter, dated Tuesday, was signed by Google's head of government affairs in Asia Pacific, Ross LaJeunesse, and sent to Cambodian cabinet officials.

It added that its map data was provided by Tele Atlas, an international mapping company.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their border for decades, however tensions spilled over into violence in July 2008, when the Preah Vihear temple was granted Unesco World Heritage status.

Cambodia made its complaint to Google as its premier Hun Sen visited areas near the disputed border, making fiery speeches that accused Thailand of invading his country.

Four soldiers were killed in clashes near the temple in 2008 and three more in a gunbattle last April. Smaller flare-ups continue to be reported between troops in the area, with the most recent exchange of fire on January 29.

The border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Relations between the neighbouring countries deteriorated further in November after Hun Sen appointed ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives abroad to escape a jail term for corruption, as an economic adviser.

Images of contentment

Images of contentment

via CAAI News Media

By Dr. Eduardo Go
February 10, 2010

Siem Reap, which means “Defeat of Siam,” is a proud city of Cambodia – the land where “Khmers” or Cambodians fought hard to defeat and drive away Thai invaders centuries ago. The Angkor Wat (Capital of Pagodas) is a major tourist attraction here, a reminder of the country’s great heritage and the gallantry of its people carved on the walls, pillars, and roofs of these pagodas.

One could easily view the vastness of Angkor Wat while on top the Bakheng Hill, as if one is using a wide-angle lens of the camera. One amazing thing that I discovered was how the ancient Cambodians meticulously constructed the main north gate – directing exactly at 0° north. As I confirmed it with my portable cell phone compass and as we moved closer to the complex, this grand structure was painstakingly laid out to its precise distances and angles revealing the extensive architectural flair of the people during that era.

As history books and museums literally impart to us the normal lives, religious rituals, political dominions, wars, and social norms of the locals, Sengy Chea (our kind interpreter and guide) shared to us those important facts just like chapters in a novella. He walked us through and took us to the best spots where we could capture those perfect images according to lighting, reflections, color matches. Also, it was a wonder to photograph the sunset on one side and hot air balloon on the other with superb backdrop of the magnificent Angkor Wat. It was well worth the walk and the long wait.

We then proceeded to the Kuk Trung nook where one could just tap lightly on the chest and the echo would reverb back to you, as though they were answers to your prayers from heaven. In Angkor Thom, the four-faced Buddha statue is one of the remarkable attractions symbolizing the universal understanding of patience, conscience, forgiveness, and Buddhist principles.

The next day, we toured the rural areas where locals live and exist closest to the dictates of nature. But through their sheer innovation and strong desire, ingenuity is strengthened as they live in harmony with nature.

While we were trekking, an ox-pulled cart caught my attention – a diorama of exhausted human lives unreeled before my eyes. I then realized that it was more than a trip or an out-of-town photo shoot. It was a humble experience which opened my eyes that this was more than what we aimed to captivate. Upon reviewing my images, it dawned on me to veritably define what “contentment” really means.

Hun Sen Wants Abhisit to Swear that His Whole Family Would Die in a Plane Crash if Siam Claims that It Does Not Encroach on Khmer Territory – Tuesday, 9.2.2010

via CAAI News Media

Posted on 10 February 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

“The Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, wants the Siamese [Thai] Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva, to swear that his whole family would die in a plane crash if it is true that Siamese [Thai] troops are not invading Khmer territory. This he said in an angry speech, made during his trip to visit the Cambodian troops stationed at the Khmer Ta Moan Thom temple.

“Wearing a military uniform and Five-Star-General insignia during the three days of visiting troops and army commanders at the border region, yesterday, on 8 February 2010, Mr. Hun Sen did not show a smile like during the first day because of wrong publications in the Siamese press and [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva’s irritating remarks.

“At 8:15 a.m. on 8 February 2010, nine helicopters, including one of Mr. Hun Sen and his wife, landed in an area close to the Ta Moan temple to visit troops of Battalion 422 and Brigade 42. During that visit, Siam [Thailand] immediately set up a satellite system to capture the activities and the speech of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Mr. Hun Sen stated, using [rough] military words, as he always did when he previously criticized an English language newspaper in Siam, The Nation, ‘If you are stupid, do not be journalists that provide wrong information about this visit.’

“Relating to the Siamese troops stationed at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda, Mr. Hun Sen stated, ‘As long as you do not withdraw, I still call you ‘invading troops.’ – Mr. Hun Sen severely blasted Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva, saying, ‘Though you are criticized like that [like Prim Minister Hun Sen did criticize the Thai Prime Minister before], you do not agree to leave your office. My Five-Star-General insignia were given to me by the King, but not by the Thai King… I blasted you like this, whether it hurts or not – if you responded, I will add more… I would like to send a message to the Thai people that there was never any time where the Thai society was as fractioned as it is in your, Abhisit Vijjajiva’s, era, and the foreign relations are so bad… You used the yellow-shirt demonstrators to help to make a coup [in September 2006. Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva became prime minister much later, in December 2008] and to control the airports…[Bangkok airports were occupied by demonstrators in November 2008]. I ordered the Council of Ministers as well as the Quick Response Team to record my speech properly and to translate it into English.’

“Mr. Hun Sen added his doubt whether Abhisit Vijjajiva would dare to swear that his whole family would die in a plane crash if he would deny that Siamese troops are invading Cambodia. Hun Sen said also that he is not only a militant, but also a creator of militants. He went on to say, ‘I hold the ID 00002, and not fake rank insignia, I would like to tell Abhisit Vijjajiva… you are stupid…You do not have family roots [a despising expression]… Does it disturb your head if I would wear a military uniform for my whole life?… Any clothes I wear, it should not disturb Abhisit Vijjajiva’s head… I wear the Five-Star-General insignia that the King gave me, not the ‘chicken egg-yolk stars’ of Abhisit Vijjajiva. It is not the first time that Hun Sen wears a military uniform. According to my biography, I am originally a militant. Please know Hun Sen well… It has been in 20 speeches that I did not attack you in response to what you said, but you always attack me. Therefore, I will attack you back. If tomorrow you attack me again, I will respond.’

“Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva became the prime minister after big demonstrations held by yellow-shirt demonstrators [supporters], whose color is like the color of chicken egg-yolk. Mr. Hun Sen’s words imply that his Five-Stars-General insignia are not from chicken egg-yolks, which simply means to say that the prime minister position of Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva is the result of the yellow-shirt demonstrators, with the color symbol like chicken egg-yolk.

“A high ranking official of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Thach Setha, commented on Mr. Hun Sen’s speech, saying, ‘It is the personality and attitude of our Prime Minister that he frequently uses to attack his enemies. Thus, we are not surprised with his reaction.’

“A day ahead of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to the border region, there was also a war of words between Phnom Penh and Bangkok, where Siam declared that if Mr. Hun Sen intended to visit the 4.6 square kilometer [contested] area, he must discuss it with Thailand. But officials of the Cambodian government responded that the area is located in Khmer territory, and it is not necessary to discuss it with Siam to visit this area. Anyway, according to published images and to broadcasts of his activities in the local press and in television, Mr. Hun Sen seems not to have appeared inside of the 4.6 [contested] square kilometers.

“But an official of the Council of Ministers had been quoted by a foreign newspaper as saying that for Sunday, it was planned that Mr. Hun Sen would to visit some parts of the 4.6 square kilometer area.

“Based on previous speeches by Mr. Hun Sen and by government officials, Cambodia will not allow even one millimeter of the territory to get lost. But yesterday, Mr. Hun Sen stated repeatedly that Siamese troops encroach on Khmer territory, and he asked Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva whether he dares to swear that his family would die in a plane crash, if it were true what he claims: that Siamese troops do not invade Cambodian territory.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #601, 9.2.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 9 February 2010

PM takes Hun Sen's outbursts in his stride

via CAAI News Media

Wed, February 10, 2010
By The Nation

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday he was not bothered by Hun Sen's outbursts, saying the Cambodian prime minister simply wanted to give vent to his frustrations.

"I don't want to retaliate but if anything affected the country, the Foreign Ministry would take care of it. The most important thing is that we have to prevent invasion of territory under Thai sovereignty," Abhisit told reporters.

Hun Sen launched a verbal attack against Abhisit on Monday during his border tour in response to the Thai stance over the disputed area adjacent to the Hindu Preah Vihear Temple.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Hun Sen was angry as he was not allowed by Thai authorities to visit Ta Moan Thom temple on his last leg of the border tour.

However, Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told local media on Monday that Hun Sen had no plan to visit Ta Moan Thom from the beginning.

Hun Sen's border tour over the weekend was blown out of proportion by Thai politicians and the media, he said.

"Why were they really surprised about the visit of Samdech Techo? The reason is that they want to take Cambodian land," Hor Namhong was quoted as saying by Phnom Penh Post.

Supreme Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatara said the border situation and relations with Cambodia were normal. "News [by media] made the normal thing to appear abnormal," he told reporters.

The military did not boost forces to confront the Cambodians but worked on their usual routine, he said.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said his ministry would not issue any more reaction against Hun Sen beyond what his secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut had made on Monday which said Thailand regretted and was disappointed with Hun Sen's harsh statement.

"All 65 million Thai people have already seen what is what and I don't need to explain. Thailand continues to have good wishes for the Cambodian people. We want them to be developed, be happy and have good relations with Thailand," he said.

Kasit said what Hun Sen had done over the past days was an act to help former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to create chaos in Thailand to mount pressure on the court which will rule on the assets case later this month.

Abhisit wants to take the land under your house

Photo by: Bloomberg
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva speaks during a panel discussion at the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:02 Sam Sok

Dear Editor

It has been more than one year since Pheah Vihear temple was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in Cambodia on July 7, 2008.

Since then, I have been reading different online news in order to learn more about the situation along the Cambodian and Thai border.

While I am struggling to make sense out of the Thai media, the Abhisit government has been using the Bangkok Post to manipulate and confuse the local and international communities in relation to its neighbouring country, Cambodia. In an article titled “Abhisit counters Hun Sen’s claim” on
www.bangkokpost. com, “the Thai government will use Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comment to explain to the World Heritage Committee that the area around Preah Vihear temple clearly belongs to Thailand”, Abhisit was quoted as saying. Such a statement has confused some people who do not know the history of Preah Vihear, especially the verdict by the World Court in 1962 in which Preah Vihear temple was determined to belong to Cambodia.

To make it easy to understand, I am going to translate Abhisit’s statement, and here is what he is trying to explain: The land underneath your house belongs to your neighbour.

Although there are people struggling to make sense out of Abhisit’s statement, I admit that my translation also does not make sense – that is
because what he said was nonsense.

Therefore, in order to clarify the confusion, I am willing to have a direct debate with Abhisit. But first please ask yourself a question: Does the land underneath your house belong to your neighbour? If your answer is a “yes”, let’s open a debate.

Sam Sok

Send letters to: 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.

Vietnam Rubber Group speeds up rubber planting in Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday,Feb 10,2010

The Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) will invest US$55 million in growing an additional 20,000 hectares of rubber trees in five Cambodian provinces this year, said its Phnom Penh chief representative Leng Rithy.

The investment is part of VRG’s efforts to fulfill its target of growing 100,000 hectares of rubber trees in Cambodia by 2012.

The group will grow the crop on 8,900 hectares of land in Kampong Thom, 7,500 hectares in Kratie, 1,500 hectares in Ratanakiri, 1,100 hectares in Stung Treng, and 1,000 hectares in Preah Vihear.

According to Leng Rithy, the rubber plantations are expected to begin producing in 2017 with a total output of 150,000 tonnes and 250,000 tons in 2020.

Cambodia welcomed Vietnam’s rubber plantation in Cambodia, affirmed President of the Cambodian Rubber Association Mork Kim Hong, saying that it will help promote Cambodia’s economy and generate more jobs for local workers.

By the end of last year, Cambodia had 123,000 hectares of rubber trees, 50,000 hectares of which are yielding 50,000 tons of dry latex for export.

Source: VNA

Google to reexamine map of Thai-Cambodia border temple

via CAAI News Media

Wed, Feb 10, 2010
PHNOM PENH - Internet giant Google has promised Cambodia it will review a map of an ancient temple at the centre of the country's border dispute with Thailand, according to a letter obtained by AFP Wednesday.

Cambodian authorities accused Google of being "professionally irresponsible" in a letter sent last week, because its Google Earth map depicts nearly half of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as being in Thailand.

The Southeast Asian neighbours' troops have been in a standoff in the disputed territory since 2008, with occasional gunfights claiming several lives.

"We are carefully reviewing the Government of Cambodia's objections regarding the depiction of Cambodian borders in Google Earth, and we plan to respond to your letter more fully in the very near future," said Google.

The letter, dated Tuesday, was signed by Google's head of government affairs in Asia Pacific, Ross LaJeunesse, and sent to Cambodian cabinet officials.

It added that its map data was provided by Tele Atlas, an international mapping company.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies in Thailand. The exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their border for decades, however nationalist tensions spilled over into violence in July 2008, when the Preah Vihear temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

Cambodia made its complaint to Google as its premier Hun Sen visited areas near the disputed border, making fiery speeches that accused Thailand of invading his country.

Four soldiers were killed in clashes near the temple in 2008 and three more in a gunbattle last April. Smaller flare-ups continue to be reported between troops in the area, with the most recent exchange of fire on January 29.

The border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Relations between the neighbouring countries deteriorated further in November after Hun Sen appointed ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives abroad to escape a jail term for corruption, as an economic adviser.

Google enters fray in Thai-Cambodia border dispute

via CAAI News Media

February 10, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Google Inc. said Wednesday it would look into a complaint from Cambodia that an online map showing the country's border with Thailand was wrong, though it stopped short of saying it would change the document.

The Internet giant was responding to a request last week from Cambodia to replace a Google Earth map that the government said was "devoid of truth and reality, and professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious."

Cambodian-Thai relations have been strained by competing claims to the border area near an 11th-century mountaintop temple called Preah Vihear. The world court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over the surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Several gun battles in the area since 2008 have killed at least seven Thai and Cambodian soldiers, and both sides have refused to back away from their positions, each saying it has the rightful claim to the land.

Cambodia complained in its letter to Google that the map features a border that would put half the temple in Thailand.

Google, in a letter sent to the government and provided to reporters Wednesday, said it was "carefully reviewing" Phnom Penh's objection but also suggested that it contact Tele Atlas, a mapping company it says provided the border data to the company.

"We understand that the governments of both Thailand and Cambodia are pursuing bilateral negotiations to clarify the existing borders between the two countries and we would be happy to review any authoritative border data which the government of Cambodia can provide," said the letter, dated Feb. 9 and signed by Ross LaJeunesse, Google's head of public policy and government affairs for Asia Pacific.

A spokeswoman for Tele Atlas could not immediately be reached for comment.

The border issue has been used by politicians to stir up nationalist sentiment in both Thailand and Cambodia for decades.

Thai nationalists consider the 1962 ruling on the temple an injustice. Last year, Thai-Cambodian relations soured when Bangkok first backed, then opposed Cambodia's bid to have the temple declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Some Thais believe the designation undermines their claims to a small area of surrounding land, despite denials by the U.N. cultural agency.

Tensions were stoked again over the weekend when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited the area. On Tuesday, he vowed to bring the entire border dispute to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Cambodia wants Google to replace its current map with one the government says was accepted in 1908 by Thailand.


Associated Press writer Michael Casey in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cambodia's debut in the Bocuse d'Or

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The resurgence of contemporary Khmer cuisine continues apace with the news that Cambodia will enter the prestigious Bocuse d'Or - described as the culinary equivalent of the Olympic Games - for the first time ever this year; an unprecedented opportunity to showcase and celebrate the country's flourishing culinary scene to a global audience. At a press conference at Hôtel de la Paix in Siem Reap, Minister of Tourism His Excellency Dr. Thong Khon confirmed that Mr Prom Mear Yeat, master chef of culinary arts at the nearby Paul DuBrule School, had been selected to represent Cambodia at the Bocuse d'Or Asia Qualifying Round, which takes place in Shanghai from 17 - 20 March 2010.

The selection of Mr Mear Yeat is a great honour for the Paul DuBrule School. Inaugurated in 2002 by Paul DuBrule, co-founder of the Accor Hotel Group, following an eight-month bicycle trip from Fontainebleau in France to Siem Reap, the school is a charitable NGO providing young Cambodians with world-class training and practical experience in a real working environment, preparing them for dynamic careers in the hospitality and tourism industries. More than half of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and the school is reliant on charitable donations and a sponsorship programme, yet 90 per cent of its students secure employment after graduation.

Hôtel de la Paix's pioneering executive chef Joannes Riviere was also confirmed as Cambodia's Bocuse d'Or president, reaffirming the hotel's position at the cutting edge of contemporary Khmer cuisine. Since relocating to Cambodia for voluntary work in 2003, French-born Riviere has immersed himself in Khmer cuisine and culture, founding the Siem Reap Chef Association and writing the first ever French language Khmer cookbook. As well as identifying and helping to prepare the Cambodian candidate, Riviere will sit on the judging panel at the Bocuse d'Or Asia event.

Brainchild of celebrated chef Paul Bocuse, the Bocuse d'Or was established in 1987 and was the first professional culinary competition to take place in front of a live audience. Having established itself over two decades as the world's pre-eminent chef championship, the Bocuse d'Or launched regional competitions for Europe and Asia in 2008, extending the opportunity to qualify for the global finals to many more nations.

For further information on the Bocuse d'Or visit: For further information on the Paul DuBrule School visit: For further information on Hotel de la Paix visit or call tel: +855 63 966 000.

The editorial team .

Google says it will look into complaint from Cambodia that border map with Thailand is wrong

via CAAI News Media

February 9, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Google Inc. says it will look into a complaint from Cambodia that a map of a disputed border with Thailand is wrong, though it stopped short of saying it would change the document.

The company is responding to a complaint last week from Cambodia about the Google Earth map that it called "devoid of truth and reality, professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious." Cambodia is calling on Google to replace the map with one that is internationally recognized.

The border area near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple just across the border in Cambodia has been the focus of a long-running dispute between Cambodia and Thailand. The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over the surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Experiencing life in Cambodia

Line of poverty: Thousands live in appalling conditions below the poverty line in this slum community on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The community has built dwellings along a roadside and over a large drain so that effluent and rubbish drops into the drain and is periodically flushed out following rain

via CAAI News Media

Published: 14 February 2010

After an invitation from the Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, Caritas Australia, a group of Queensland educators along with Caritas representatives travelled to Cambodia last November for 10 days to see the work of Caritas first hand. QCEC executive officer for communications Gerard Delaney reports

CARITAS is a Latin word for love, and love was clearly evident in the work that Caritas Australia is doing to support some of the poorest of the poor in Cambodia.
Our group flew into Phnom Penh on a rainy afternoon last November.

The bustling capital city of about 1.3 million people, despite pockets of obvious affluence, is clearly "developing world".

Rubbish and powerlines are strewn between the shacks and sheds that pass for houses and shopfronts.

Motor scooters are everywhere and many have three, four or even five people crammed onto them.

On the day we arrived, people were huddled together beside the road under whatever shelter they could find to wait out the storm.

A police officer asked our driver for money in order to be allowed to pass through an area of the city that was closed off due to the annual water festival, but the driver declined, refusing to be part of the corruption.

Despite the obvious challenges, people seemed to be happily going about their business.

Happy, peaceful and dignified were qualities we found consistently among the people we met during our 10 days in this intriguing nation.

An estimated 36 per cent of Cambodia's 14.2 million people live below the poverty line and about 85 per cent of these live in rural areas.

The average daily income of Cambodians is less than $1.20 per day.

Among other health issues, about 170,000 Cambodians live with HIV/AIDS and more than 60,000 children are orphaned by the disease.

Caritas Australia, known in Cambodia as Australian Catholic Relief (ACR), has been working there since 1979 when the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime collapsed.

The dictator Pol Pot seized power in mid-1975 with the aim of returning Cambodia to a purely agricultural-based society. He forced city dwellers out to rural areas to work on farms and labour projects.

Over the next four years, the combined effects of slave labour, malnutrition, poor medical care, torture and executions resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 million people or about 20 per cent of the Cambodian population.

In many ways the country is still recovering from this horrific chapter in its history.

From 1979-1987 Caritas focused on providing emergency relief support and from 1988-97 on reconstruction work through the government ministries of agriculture, primary health care and education.

Since 1998 Caritas has worked in partnership with several local non-government organisations (NGOs) and has focused its energies on two main areas of support - integrated community development projects in both rural and urban settings, and HIV/AIDS care and prevention.

The partnership approach is central to the Caritas philosophy that local people are best placed to make decisions about their own needs and priorities.

The approach also helps ensure that improvements are sustainable as local people are empowered to design and manage their own development programs in a way that is culturally appropriate and therefore "owned" by the communities.

Caritas provides assistance to 560 Cambodian families with 2746 members in 73 villages and one urban slum area.
Support is also provided to 114 people living with HIV/AIDS and 162 orphaned and vulnerable children.

Caritas' community development work includes construction of school buildings and water wells and the provision of small loans to increase income generation capacity and food security through small businesses or growing vegetables and livestock.

Education about hygiene and health care is a high priority, along with HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support.

The positive impacts of the community development programs are obvious when comparing the villages working with Caritas and those nearby that are not.

The project villages are much cleaner, the poultry and other animals look healthier and gardens are thriving.

The people are engaged in meaningful activity such as weaving, handicrafts and farming, and the children have the opportunity to attend school.

The role and dignity of women in the communities is also a focus of self-help group meetings along with emotional health and well-being in general. In some communities a "Happy Happy Club" has been formed for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS to come together to play and talk about their hopes and aspirations for the future.

Seeing children in circumstances of such poverty was, for me, the most challenging aspect of this immersion experience.

In each of the rural communities we visited, we met the children at their school, which consisted of a concrete slab and an iron roof. There were no resources and the availability of a teacher was sporadic.

Despite the circumstances, the children were happy and vibrant. They beamed with delight and some joined in as we did impromptu performances of the Hokey-Pokey and I'm a Little Teapot. It was hard not to be moved by their joy, but equally difficult not to ponder what their future might hold.

In addition to its community empowerment programs, Caritas also provides funding support for programs for people living with HIV/AIDS, education programs for deaf children and adults, and a youth-for-peace project that are implemented by partner aid organisations Maryknoll, Caritas Cambodia and Catholic Relief Services (Caritas USA).

Caritas Australia maintains an office in suburban Phnom Penh. The team of six staff are all local people and the professional, dedicated way they go about their work is highly impressive. The support projects are all carefully planned and outcomes are measured and documented right down to the number of chickens in each village.

The office is headed up by 49-year-old Lay Sothy ("So - tee") who as a teenager in 1975, like hundreds of thousands of others, was forced out of Phnom Penh and separated from his family under the Pol Pot regime.

Sothy returned to the city in 1979 and his involvement with Caritas happened by accident. He was working two jobs as a taxi driver and government factory worker and secretly learning English at night.

In 1990 he delivered a Caritas visitor to the office in his cab and at the time the religious sister in charge was looking for a driver and offered him a job.

He soon became the office book keeper and the rest as they say is history. Caritas encouraged and supported Sothy to study and he graduated with a masters degree in development management from the University of Cambodia in 2007.

This immersion program has been particularly important in helping strengthen relations between Cambodia and Catholic education. ACR program officer Sothun Nop will visit Brisbane as a guest of Brisbane Catholic Education from April 14-25 to work with students and staff in the archdiocese including a presentation at BCE's "Powerhouse of Leadership" event on April 19.

While there are indicators that things are improving, there is still a long way to go before all Cambodians can live with an acceptable level of human dignity.

Caritas Australia is committed to working with the poor and striving to empower them to improve their quality of life.

I believe the Australian Catholic community, in supporting Caritas, can be extremely proud of the contribution it is making to this challenge.

Caritas' annual Project Compassion Appeal will be officially launched by Governor Penelope Wensley on Shrove Tuesday, this week, at the Australian Catholic University at Banyo.

Group condemns treatment of Khmer Krom

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:04 David Boyle and Tharum Bun

A STATEMENT issued Monday by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) condemned the treatment of Khmer Krom, Uighur and Hmong refugees by several nations, including Cambodia, after a conference on refugees in Rome last week.

The statement expressed “deep concern at the total disregard” for the principle of non-refoulement – which protects refugees seeking asylum from being returned to their home countries – by the governments of Cambodia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Myanmar and Nepal.

Maggie Murphy, programme coordinator for the UNPO Secretariat, expressed specific concerns on Monday about the conduct of Cambodian authorities in dealing with Khmer Krom refugees who have been unable to secure identity documents since arriving in Cambodia on December 5.

“The Khmer Krom case is extremely complex due to Cambodia’s gesture of granting asylum seekers citizenship without granting full citizen rights. Indeed, names must be changed or adapted, and places of birth modified,” she said.

“The granting of an identity document often only occurs once a bribe has been secured from the asylum seeker,” she said, adding that the Khmer Krom Federation, which attended the Rome conference, had received numerous complaints that authorities had requested prohibitively large sums of money for identity documents.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Tuesday that it was standard practice to require a small fee for legal documents.

“It’s normal that the authorities might ask for a little fee to buy cigarettes or for breakfast. In Western countries or the United States, if you want to see a doctor, you need to pay a lot of money,” he said.

Thach Soong, a Khmer Krom representative who has previously argued that the refugees need legal documents to secure housing and employment, said they could not afford to pay any sum.

“I’m sure they will not provide us any legal documents because we don’t have any money,” he said.

The UNPO statement also criticised what it described as the “weak response” of the broader international community and called on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to reverse its decision to hand over responsibility for refugees to state authorities.

Reporter for Radio Free Asia speaks in disinformation suit

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Radio Free Asia reporter Sok Serey has been charged with disinformation in Takeo provincial court. The charge stems from an October 2008 broadcast. A verdict is expected on February 19.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:04 Meas Sokchea

Takeo Province

RADIO Free Asia reporter Sok Serey and four other men stood trial on Tuesday for disinformation charges, and judges said they would hand down a verdict on February 19.

The charges against the five men stem from an November 2008 radio report by Sok Serey about a dispute between Cham Muslim community leader Rim Math and 206 members of his mosque.

The report featured comments from the four other accused – including two activists from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and two representatives of the mosque – concerning allegations that Rim Math misspent 10 million riels (US$2,406) that had been earmarked for a local community project.

In court on Tuesday, Sok Serey said he had merely been reporting information provided to him by his sources, adding that he had passed on the story two times before finally airing it because he considered it to be in the public interest.

“I received this information three times,” he said. “The first and second times I did not broadcast it. But the third time, the sources told me that it was a big story that would affect many people in their community.”

Prosecutor Say Nora seemed sympathetic to this argument, telling the court that he believed Sok Serey had “done his job right”.

But he said the October 2008 broadcast included incorrect references to a “demonstration” that had never occurred.

“Sok Serey aired a report about a demonstration, but there was no source talking about the demonstration. In fact, the demonstration did not happen. I told Sok Serey to correct this broadcast, but Sok Serey did not correct it. That means he wanted to broadcast something bad about someone,” Say Nora said.

Rim Math, who filed the complaint against the five men, said Tuesday that he now believes only two of them had been in the wrong, and that Sok Serey was not one of them.

He demanded 10 million riels in compensation from the two mosque representatives, who he maintained were guilty.

Four of the five accused appeared in court, including one who has been held in pretrial detention.

Muong Sokun, Sok Serey’s lawyer, said he hoped that the court would find his client not guilty “because my client has enough witnesses and evidence in his broadcasts to prove that he is not guilty”.

Am Sam Ath, technical superviser for the rights group Licadho, said he believed that the hearing had been conducted in accordance with proper court procedure, but he said the charges against the five men were baseless.

“The disinformation charges should never have been brought,” he said.

“Journalists and human rights activists should not be accused of this, even if there was no demonstration, because it was an important conflict that was happening as well,” he said.

Media treads fine line in border row

Photo by: Heng CHivoan
Prime Minister Hun Sen greets children dressed in military fatigues during his visit to Preah Vihear temple last weekend.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:03 Irwin Loy

Coverage, rather than rhetoric, can lead in igniting Thai-Cambodian tensions, analysts warn

THERE was no shortage of border rhetoric this weekend. Knowing the media would scrutinise a high-profile visit to Preah Vihear temple, Cambodian officials threw jabs at Thailand’s leader, its claims to contested land and the Thai press.

In an unusual move, the government attacked one of Thailand’s English-language newspapers, accusing the Bangkok Post of publishing a “distorted” view of the weekend visit.

When the newspaper reported that a Thai army official led a delegation that welcomed the premier to the temple – it was Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodian officials said, who welcomed the Thai officer – the reaction was swift.

“Such [an] untrustworthy report clearly shows that the Bangkok Post is perfidious and falsely reporting to blindly mislead the public,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release stated.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said the volley had been unexpected.

“This is a very rare instance in which the Cambodian prime minister has attacked the Thai media directly,” he said.

“I think the media plays an important role in bringing the message to the public. Maybe he thinks that by attacking the media, he can also at the same time attack the Thai government.”

Heightened media attention
Meanwhile, Thai media reports have been heavily fixated on Hun Sen’s various jabs at Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

There were several to choose from during Hun Sen’s speech on Monday, delivered after he skipped a visit to the disputed Tamone Thom temple in Oddar Meanchey province.

“Do you dare to swear on magic that could break your neck, on a plane crash or a dissolution of the countries, that your soldiers did not invade Cambodia’s territory on July 15, 2008?” Hun Sen said before accusing Abhisit of having “no family honour”.

A story published Tuesday in the Bangkok Post dealt almost exclusively with the remarks, declaring: “A fresh onslaught of insults by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen directed at Abhisit Vejjajiva is widening the diplomatic gulf between the two countries.”

The story featured a graphic listing English translations of Hun Sen’s comments.

“Diplomatic tensions did not ease despite Hun Sen not turning up at the temple,” the story concluded.

This was a more severe approach than the one adopted by the state-run Thai News Agency, which ran a headline Monday that read: “Thai-Cambodian border tension eases as Hun Sen returns to Phnom Penh.”

Regional media have a history of igniting controversy, said Chris Roberts, a lecturer of international relations and Asian studies at the University of Canberra.

When it comes to hot-button issues that define national identity, reporters may find themselves balancing patriotism with journalistic objectivity, he said. And sometimes the line is crossed.

“It can almost have a snowball effect, where the media responds on each side,” said Roberts, who was speaking generally. “Sometimes it’s hard to know whether the politicians themselves are leading the debate.”

Cambodian media, including the Post, have also reported extensively on Hun Sen’s remarks. A Tuesday report by Deum Ampil, a Khmer media organisation, cited an unnamed Cambodian military source suggesting that Thai troops planned on “invading” a disputed border area.

“The Cambodian army is prepared to face any invaders who want to swallow Khmer land,” the story stated.

Given the sensitivity of the issue, said Moeun Chhean Nariddh, media outlets must reconsider how they cover the border conflict.

When Hun Sen speaks, local TV stations broadcast and rebroadcast his messages largely unedited, he said.

“By reporting on these kinds of attacks, I don’t think that helps solve the problem. It may just be like pouring gasoline into a fire,” Moeun Chhean Nariddh said.

In 2003, a mob burned down the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh after a Cambodian media reported – falsely – that a Thai actress had said Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand.

The border “is a very delicate issue in terms of national pride and professionalism. Sometimes Cambodians maybe have crossed the line”, Moeun Chhean Nariddh said.

“So far there has not been a big problem yet. But if we continue to report on the situation the way we have done so far, we may in the end make the situation get worse instead of better.”


Loggers say they were promised impunity

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear

TEN men facing charges of illegal logging in Preah Sihanouk provincial court say they were hired to do the work by businessmen, a local human rights group official said Tuesday.

Se Raksmey, prison researcher for the rights group Licadho in Preah Sihanouk province, said the 10 workers were officially charged on Friday with illegally cutting down trees in Stung Hav district.

They were arrested on February 3.
He said on Tuesday that the loggers were impoverished and had no choice but to accept the job offer.

“Prak Rith, a 23-year-old logger who was among those arrested, told me at the prison that they were arrested even though they were hired to do the work by two people,” he said.

He added that the loggers had agreed to do the work only because they had been assured they would not be arrested.

“They said, ‘No one will be arrested because you have been hired, don’t worry,’” Se Raksmey said.

He said the loggers had been offered a rate of 150,000 riels (US$36) per cleared hectare.

“I think they are victims because they were hired and they worked for money,” he said.

Bou Bunhand, the court’s chief prosecutor, said the loggers had been placed in pre-trial detention, adding that an investigation into the case was ongoing and that a hearing had not yet been scheduled.

Victim of alleged acid attack appears in court

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear

A 22-YEAR-OLD man who was doused in a liquid that may or may not have been acid appeared for questioning on Monday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where he demanded that criminal charges be brought against his assailant, and that he receive US$30,000 in compensation along with $1,000 to cover his medical expenses.

Hor Tin had previously failed to appear for a series of court appearances since the January 4 incident. Lim Soma, a 41-year-old dentist, has acknowledged pouring a liquid on Hor Tin but has repeatedly said that it was a tooth whitener used in her dental practice and not acid, a claim she reiterated Tuesday.


I don’t believe the court will drop the case ... and I will try my best to punish her.


The court has not brought any charges against her in the case, and Ek Chheng Huot, the deputy prosecutor who questioned Hor Tin, declined to comment when reached by phone on Tuesday.

Hor Tin and Lim Soma had previously been asked to reach an out-of-court settlement, but Lim Soma rejected the $10,000 compensation suggested by Hor Tin’s employer, Kea Sokheang, whose personal dispute with Lim Soma prompted the attack.

Kea Sokheang said Tuesday that Hor Tin was accompanied by two lawyers in the courtroom, but he declined to elaborate on his testimony.

Last week, he said the lawyers would “bring video footage and photographs taken after the attack as well as doctor’s prescriptions” in order to prove the veracity of Hor Tin’s claims.

He said on Tuesday that he hoped the court would pursue criminal charges against Lim Soma.

“I don’t believe the court will drop the case this time, and I still try my best to punish her,” he said.

Lim Soma said Tuesday that the ever-increasing compensation and other demands from Hor Tin were becoming unreasonable, and stood by her original assertion that she had not done anything wrong.

She has said that she poured the liquid on Hor Tin to break up an argument between him and her sister. The attack took place in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district.

“How can I pay them? I did not do anything wrong. I think they keep accusing me because they want to see me sleeping in prison,” she said.

National bank grants AMK deposit licence

Photo by: Svoan Philong
An employee of AMK at the entrance to a Phnom Penh branch of the microfinance institution last month.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

MFI says it plans to begin accepting deposits later this month

MICRO-FINANCE institution (MFI) AMK was granted a licence to take deposits by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on Friday, a year and a half after it first applied.

It is now the third MFI to be granted a deposit-taking permit. The first two were Amret and Sathapana, which were both granted licences last year.

Paul Luchtenburg, chief executive officer of AMK, said Tuesday that it will begin to put the deposit service into effect in Phnom Penh and the other five main provinces in mid-February.

In May, AMK will formally launch the service across its entire network and will set up a money-transfer system. He said that the licence comes at an ideal time, since many banks have excess liquidity and have lowered, or are set to lower, interest rates.

Interest rates at AMK will be much higher than commercial banks, he added, because of the current high costs of gaining funds from international lenders.

“We will offer very attractive rates for term deposits: 11 percent for riel currency and 8 percent for dollars. Current account rates will be lower but competitive,” he said. “This creates a win-win situation where we can afford to give high rates to our clients and at the same time reduce our cost of borrowing.”

He said that the primary reason AMK applied for the licence is that people, especially the poor, need to have safe access to savings services.

“This allows them to have funds available for emergencies and to accumulate funds to expand their businesses. Accepting local deposits also gives us an affordable source of local currency, which in turn allows us to offer small loans in rural areas.”

The positive outlook comes despite AMK’s recording a 53 percent drop in profits last year, to US$423,897 from $903,929 in 2008. Luchtenburg put this down to increases in tax provision due to changes in the law. He added that loan disbursements were down slightly to $30.5 million in 2009 from $31.5 million in 2008, while non-performing loans rose to 2.8 percent from 0.36 percent.

Chea Phalarin, general manager of Amret, said Tuesday that customers’ confidence to deposit in MFIs has increased gradually because of higher interest rates.

“Deposits at our MFI rose to $3 million last year, from just $700,000 in 2008,” he said, adding that he expects deposits will double this year thanks to increased promotion.

He said that his MFI offers interest rates of 10 percent and 8.5 percent for riel currency and US dollars respectively on one-year deposits.

To gain a licence, an MFI must prove it has carried out operations for more than three years, is in good financial condition and has capital of at least 10 billion riels (US$2.4 millon), among other requirements.

Trade with Malaysia fell 6.4pc last year

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

BILATERAL trade between Cambodia and Malaysia declined more than 6 percent in the first 11 months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, figures released by the Malaysian Embassy showed Tuesday.

Recorded trade from January to November 2009 was US$156.1 million, down from $166.8 million in 2008 – a decline of 6.4 percent. Of this, Malaysia’s exports to Cambodia fell by 8 percent, to $142.1 million in 2009 from $154.4 million in 2008. Cambodia’s exports to Malaysia rose 22.8 percent, to $14 million from $11.4 million, representing a 10.4 percent decline in Cambodia’s trade deficit with its ASEAN partner.

Syed Farizal Aminy Syed Mohamad, chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Malaysia in Phnom Penh, said: “The main reason for the drop is the economic crisis. Secondly, I think the decline is because Cambodia trades in US dollars. When the economic crisis arrived, the dollar became very expensive.”

He said that Malaysia’s main exports to Cambodia were chemical products, machinery, appliances and electrical products. Malaysia imports textiles, clothing, raw rubber, and logs from the Kingdom.

The Republic of Korea’s Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) also released its annual figures. Bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea declined 5.51 percent year on year in 2009, to $291 million from $308 million in 2008.

Exports to South Korea rose 28.6 percent to $18 million from $14 million, while South Korean exports declined 7.2 percent to $273 million last year from $294 million.

Chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (KOCHAM), Nam-Shik Kang, said Tuesday that trade barriers between the two countries include the cost of electricity and the expense of importing and exporting in Cambodia.

Koh Pich project set for $3.6m expansion

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

FOLLOWING its opening in October, Koh Pich Island’s wedding and exhibition centre will be expanded with a further US$3.6 million investment, the developer Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) told the Post on Tuesday.

Touch Samnang, project manager and architect for the sight under construction by OCIC, whose owners are the same as those of Canadia Bank, said demand had been strong at the wedding centre.

“A lot of customers have come to book our centre, but we don’t have much space,” he said. “So, we decided to build one more wedding centre to respond to demand from our clients.”

The second centre is to open in May, said Touch Samnang, adding that the site has already hosted 200 ceremonies since opening at the end of October. Construction began on the latest project at the end of last month.

A separate exhibition centre on Koh Pich, with stands for 300 people, will be ready even sooner – in two months, according to its General Manager Prak Chan Long. The site will include parking for 2,000 cars.

The 6-hectare Diamond Island Convention Exhibition Centre is part of a much larger $200 million OCIC development that will occupy 75 hectares next to the Bassac River, he added.

The Koh Pich development was slated for completion by 2016 when it was approved by the government in 2006, ahead of the subsequent economic crisis that has halted or delayed a considerable number of construction projects in Phnom Penh.

Use your language

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:01 Touch Yin Vannith

While a majority of people in Cambodia say that Khmer literature is in a bad way, few people are doing anything to stop its demise.

In order to fill this void, the Nou Hach Literary Association, the Association of Nagn Sab Brus and the Association of Vocational Training of Rural Poets have created the “Competition Poetry Programme” to strengthen literature and literacy in the Kingdom.

Khem Chan So Ah Haing, director of the Nou Hach Literary Association, said that the number of entrants in the annual competition has been increasing, and that entries are diverging from traditional styles of poetry.

“Old poets liked to write only about love. In contrast, today’s generation of poets write more about theory and innovative methods to resolving societal problems,” he said.

Por Savorng, who has won second prize in both the poetry and short story writing contests, is now a coordinator of New Sun Printing House.

“I entered my poem in the competition because I wanted to show my great achievement to humanity and reveal to young people the social impact they can have through poetry,” he said.

Khem Chan So Ah Haing said that the competition receives 400 poems and 200 short stories each year, adding that entries should expose personal views, show a strong vision and have an effective conclusion.

This year’s competition will be open for poetry and short story entries until March 1. Stories should be brought to the second floor of the Buddhist Institute, which is located next to NagaWorld Casino. Each candidate can submit one short story and one poem. Short stories should be limited to five pages and poems should be under 15 pages.

Cup quarterfinals set to begin

Wat Phnom’s Khieu Vibol charges during their match against Mekong Kampuchea University.Photos by Nick Sells (

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

The weekend will see teams face off at Olympic Stadium for the chance to play in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup semifinals, with intriguing matchups on offer

TWO of the eight teams that have qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup are in uncharted territory, with the remaining six sides – unsurprisingly, all Cambodian Premier League clubs – having previously made the grade.

Wat Phnom, who last year plied their trade as Spark FC and successfully avoided relegation from the top tier, made the quarterfinals for the first time in their history, and Kampong Chhnang outfit Rithi Sen also broke new ground and surprised everyone by beating the favoured Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 4-2 in the last-16 knockout stage.

Spectators at Olympic Stadium over the past two weeks have also been treated to fine displays by provincial sides Chhma Khmao (Svay Rieng), Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey, who couldn’t quite handle the quality of their experienced opponents. Here is a breakdown of quarterfinal matches to be played this Saturday.

Phnom Penh Crown’s Srey Veasna hits a half volley during their match against Phouchung Neak.

Phnom Penh Crown v Wat Phnom
A late solitary strike from substitute Heng Sok Ly against his former team Phouchung Neak on January 30 helped the two-time winners Phnom Penh Crown advance to the last eight of the tournament. They now face Wat Phnom, who the same day destroyed Mekong Kampuchea University 10-1. Though both teams have met in the CPL, this will be their first Cup tie against each other.

Last year, Wat Phnom were knocked out in the preliminary round, but this year’s tournament saw them finish second after Koh Kong in group F, played in Kep. Fortune was clearly on their side, as they were drawn against a shell-shocked college team who were easily dispatched to make the next round.

Vann Dara, Wat Phnom’s manager, knows his team has their work cut out in the quarterfinals. “Phnom Penh Crown will be our big challenge,” he said. “We need to strengthen our squad. However, I’m so happy with the results from the previous matches. My players did their job well; they had good communication between each other to manage the ball.”

In last year’s CPL season, Phnom Penh Crown took all six points from Wat Phnom, winning 2-1 and 6-3.

“On the basis of history, we have better results than Wat Phnom,” stated Crown manager Be Makara. “But what they did against Mekong Kampuchea University in the knockout stage impressed me too much. Their players gave a great performance with a good one-to-one passing network. So we need to be careful for the upcoming match.”

However, the Crown boss was not satisfied with their game against Phouchung Neak. “We might have scored more than one goal if my players had shown good cooperation,” he opined. “Some of them liked keeping the ball without passing to other teammates. I want them to avoid this attitude.”

Build Bright United’s Hy Sok Veng plays during their match against Prey Veng January 31.Photos by Pha Lina

Naga Corp v Build Bright Utd
Current CPL champions Naga Corp have failed at the final hurdle in two previous Cup campaigns. In the inaugural cup in 2007, they lost to Khemara 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation time. In 2008, they were knocked out by Phnom Penh Crown in the last-16 stage, but reached the final once more last year, where Crown again beat them 1-0.

Build Bright United (BBU) also boast a promising Cup record, having qualified from the preliminary rounds of all three previous tournaments and making the semifinal stage twice. In 2007, they won the fair play award after losing 4-1 to Phnom Penh Crown in the third-place playoff. They went one better in 2008 to claim third after beating Khemara Keila. However, in 2009 they came up against Crown in the last-16 round, losing 1-0.

In five CPL meetings between the sides, the tally stands at 3-2 in favour of Naga. Last year, Naga thrashed BBU 5-2, but the university-backed side took revenge in the reverse fixture, winning 3-2.

In the knockout stage, BBU trounced provincial side Prey Veng 7-0, while Naga ploughed in four in the last 14 minutes to win 6-2 over Chhma Khmao.

“I respect the opponents who reached this step,” expressed BBU coach Meas Sam Oeurn. “The only thing that we must do is train up our squad. I believe in my young boys, they will try their best for victory.”

However, the coach revealed some injury troubles. “Now we have problems with two midfielders, Oum Chandara and Chhun Sothearath. I hope Chandara will recover quickly because he has only a small ankle injury, but Sothearath, who is also a midfielder for the national team, may be absent because he has a severe problem with his ankle and knee. Doctors have recommended he stay home for a few months. Maybe I’ll use striker Prum Puthsethy to play in the central position, but it’ll be a big problem for us in attack.”

Nov Vuthy, newly-appointed coach of Naga Corp, said he hoped his team could go all the way this year, but showed respect for his opponents. “We have many experienced players. I think that everything will be okay for us. However, we must learn our weakness, and we will reinforce ahead of the upcoming match. BBU is not an easy team – we were beaten by them in the past.”