Cambodian FM to visit Thailand in early August on border issues

Friday, July 31, 2009

PHNOM PENH, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand will have a meeting of multi-committee in Bangkok to push the measurement for border demarcation, a senior official said on Thursday.

"I will go to Thailand for the meeting of multi-committee on August 3 and 4," Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation told reporters after the signing ceremony of receiving over 33 million U.S. dollars grant aid from Japanese government at his ministry.

"I will require Thai side to continue discussion on the border issues and the Border Committee from both countries will meet soon to discuss on the measurement of the border to plant border posts," he added.

"The situation at areas near Preah Vihear temple is calm now, and Thai troops are deployed on there soil," Hor Namhong said. "There are no tension at the border, not like the media reported," he stressed.

At the same time, Hor also thanked Thai government cabinet for its approving on Tuesday to provide 41.2 million U.S. dollars for road improvement projects in Cambodia. The fund will be used to build Road 68 near border with Thailand, which will help facilitate the trade and tourism between the two countries, he noted.

Moreover, Cambodia and Thailand will open more border gates to push and facilitate the trade and tourism, he said.

Cambodia and Thailand share over 800 km-long borders. The troops from both sides have some confrontation since July 15, 2008, mainly near 11th century Preah Vihear temple.
READ MORE - Cambodian FM to visit Thailand in early August on border issues

Sex slave tells story to stop trafficking

Woman on campaign to end global child prostitution

31st July 2009

TORONTO -- In the years after Somaly Mam was stolen from the streets of Cambodia and sold into the sex trade, she ran to several people for help but got none.

More than two decades later, she hopes that by sharing her tale around the globe, others will be moved to give the countless faces of the flesh trade the help she so desperately needed.

Mam doesn't know her birth name -- she was orphaned as a young child.

She doesn't know her exact age, but figures she is about 39 and was "12 or 13" when she was sold by a man posing as her grandfather into years of slavery.

During an interview yesterday in front of Metropolitan United Church, where she, The Body Shop and Beyond Borders launched a campaign to stop sex trafficking, Mam said she didn't know what a brothel was either -- before she was forced to work in one.

Mam, who has rescued thousands of children from the sex trade in Cambodia, is travelling the globe with The Body Shop, which promises to donate a chunk of money from every bottle of Soft Hands Kind Heart cream sold in Canada to the Somaly Mam Foundation and Beyond Borders, the Canadian affiliate of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes).

"We are also human beings, even if we are victims," Mam said. "Who wants to be a victim? Who wants to be sold in a brothel? Who wants to have all the clients rape you every night? Who wants it? No one wants it."

Beyond Borders president Rosalind Prober said she hopes the Stop Sex Trafficking campaign will spread "the message of hope" for the countless victims within our borders.

"We have always said that we were a country of freedom, a country of growth and prosperity, but you can't have that when our most vulnerable group, our children, are being exploited and that's being accepted," said Winnipeg MP Joy Smith, who is pushing the federal government to create a national strategy to combat human trafficking and pass a bill that will mean minimum five-year sentences for child traffickers.

"We don't want to launch a campaign that upsets people so much that they just switch it off," The Body Shop spokesman Shelley Simmons said. "We want them to know that with Somaly's organization and ECPAT, there are solutions."

READ MORE - Sex slave tells story to stop trafficking

Boby Hor's letter was more evidence that the CPP never admitted its faults: Yim Sovann

UK Embassy Upset by Financial Times Report

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
30 July 2009

Cambodia’s British Embassy sent a letter to the Financial Times Wednesday, criticizing the daily paper’s reporting earlier this week on a government crackdown on dissenters.

In an article headlined “Cambodia Cracks Down on Dissenters,” the London paper reported on an opposition newspaper’s closing, following the threat of a government lawsuit, as well as defamation cases against two opposition lawmakers.

“I think the internal affairs of a sovereign country cannot cause concern to other countries in the region,” British Ambassador Hor Nambora wrote the editors.

Regarding a legal suit brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen against opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, Hor Nambora said the prime minister was within his legal right to “defend and protect his reputation.”

Koy Kuong, a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Wednesday he considered the publication of the Financial Times story an attack on “the honor of Cambodia.”

However, Yim Sovann, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman, said Wednesday the letter and statements were more evidence the ruling party Cambodian People’s Party never admitted its faults.

“I call on the government to recognize the truth and improve the situation of the country, to avoid the condemnation of international and Cambodian people,” he said.
READ MORE - Boby Hor's letter was more evidence that the CPP never admitted its faults: Yim Sovann

Cambodia will receive 33000000$ from Japan for 3 projects

READ MORE - Cambodia will receive 33000000$ from Japan for 3 projects

CPL matches reshuffled

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

PHNOM PENH - After a full round of Cambodian Premier League matches that left the order completely unchanged, round 13 fixtures have been rearranged to accommodate teams missing squad members at the U-19 competition in Vietnam. Phnom Penh Crown can go top for the first time this season with a win over Post Tel Club, although Preah Khan Reach can regain their throne after playing their game in hand next week. Meanwhile, Build Bright United and Spark FC could momentarily break into the Super 4 with victories before Naga Corp's game Wednseday.
READ MORE - CPL matches reshuffled

CBF announces its events calender

Photo by: Cambodian Baseball Federation
Young Cambodians practice playing baseball with donated equipment at the Baribo ballpark near Kampong Chhnang town in 2007.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

Cambodian Baseball Federation publishes a complete schedule including annual league and province tournament as well as dates for national team training and tryouts among events

CAMBODIAN Baseball Federation (CBF) President Joe Cook, who lives and works as a chef in Alabama and who makes establishing baseball in Cambodia his life pursuit, has emailed the Post an extensive calendar listing upcoming events organised by the Federation.

First up was the return of the Cambodian national teams to training July 25 that saw 118 baseball hopefuls turn up at Baribo ballpark, near Kampong Chhnang Saturday to tryout for squads.

Of the players that attended, 57 were chosen to stay on for further training, although this number is likely to drop to 20-30 over the few next weeks as funds run low.

Coaches bring technology
A big boost for the development of the national league is the August 1 arrival of five American coaches from Oregon, who will stay in Baribo village for five days, or possibly more, bringing technical equipment such as laptops and digital cameras to help players improve their hitting, pitching and fielding.

Also planned is to send Cambodian coaches and umpires to different schools to help train students and popularise the game. Currently, the federation has 11 former players that have retired. Five are to be chosen to become national team coaches, while the remaining six will take up other roles in the federation, such a management staff.

Players divide into three
The players will keep training until September 14, when they will be drafted into three separate teams of 15, based in either Baribo, Kampong Thom or Kampong Speu.

The Baribo ballpark has received significant upgrades such as extra batting nets, dugout and pitching mound renovation, replacement roof for the clubhouse and a grass-trimming for the entire field, not an simple task without a mower.

Kampong Speu ballpark is the newest addition to the baseball setup, with owner Kevin Kim promising completion in early November.

Photo by: Cambodian Baseball Federation
Joe Cook poses with his beloved baseball equipment in front of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat temple.

Pakistan event 80 percent
From August 23-28, the Asian Baseball Federation (BFA) are scheduled to hold a South and West Asian Cup competition in Lahore, Pakistan. Nations slated to participate in the event include Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, as well as the hosts. However, in light of the recent terrorist attacks there, the BFA have yet to decide whether it is a safe venue, and Cook suggested the competition has around an 80 percent chance of going ahead.

October 5 sees exhibition games in prelude to the start of the Major league season on October 12, with the Little League and Youth League seasons also starting two days later. Cook has stressed an emphasis on developing these leagues to develop future talent for the national team and major league. All games are to be played at Baribo, although it is unclear if they will follow a regular schedule, and the season ends next February.

A trip to Vietnam and an invitation to the Malaysian team, whom Cambodia historically beat 20-8 in the Asian Baseball Cup May 28, has been discussed for October, although not confirmed.

Biggest-ever tournament
The CBF's event of the year is the province tournament, held November 23-27. Cook declares this year's competition, now in its sixth edition, as the biggest in the federation's history, which conincides with the CBF's seven-year anniversary.

Despite the Baribo team's having won all of the previous tournaments, a team from Banteay Meanchey are apparently set to steal the crown.

The federation are yet to decide upon the exact details of the tournament, although an August 12 meeting in the residence of Nhem Thavy, the Kampong Thom-based federation official, is set to help clarify rules and regulations amongst the teams. The meeting will also be attended by members of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the National Olympic Committee.

Not safe to visit, says Cook
Cook mentioned briefly by phone about the contempt that meets him when he travels to Cambodia, citing animosity from other sports federation officials over his occupancy, rather than a Cambodian's, of the CBF presidency. "There are many people that really hate me," said Cook, hinting that his life is in danger each time he visits his homeland. "But I will die for my love of baseball," he declared.

Cook stated that he will not allow corruption to plague his federation by allocating a Cambodian dignitary as president, although he said the reason officials are so angry with him is that they believe he is using the federation to extort money himself. "Why would I do that?" complained Cook. "Its my hard-earned money in the first place that funds the federation."

One hopes Cook would consider relinquishing his position as president to a suitable candidate to appease the federations and ministries, and thus allow him to concentrate on daily happenings as a general secretary.

With the CBF desperate for sponsorship and funding in what has proved to be an expensive pastime, Joe Cook needs to attract all the help he can get.

"People can donate anything," he said eagerly. "Even a hundred dollars will buy an advertising spot on the shirts. Everything helps [our cause]."

Currently, the CBF rely on Cook's private funding and various donations from baseball federations around the globe, including the US Major League and the Japanese Baseball Federation.
READ MORE - CBF announces its events calender

Siam Cement sees profit drop in Q2

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Steve Finch

SIAM Cement Group, which owns 90 percent of Kampot Cement, has announced a 21 percent drop in profits for the second quarter to 1.553 billion baht (US$45.6 million) in its cement division.

In a statement Wednesday announcing financial results up to the end of June, the publicly traded company said net sales fell 11 percent in the second quarter to 11 billion baht "due to lower cement prices and sales volume".

However, first-half net profit was still up 10 percent year on year in the division due to "various energy savings programs", the statement added.

Siam Cement Group's overall results were more healthy - consolidated net profit increased 32 percent in the second quarter compared to the first to 6,837 billion baht, decreasing 5 percent year on year.

As the major shareholder in Kampot Cement - which has a domestic market share of about 50 percent - Siam Cement has a strong presence in the Cambodian cement market, which has seen declining sales on the back of the downturn in the construction sector.

Kampot Cement said this month that sales had fallen about one-third in the first five months of the year. The company added that it was unlikely to meet its 2009 sales target of 3 million tonnes.

The $127 million joint venture was established in January 2008, with Cambodia's Khaou Chuly Group holding the remaining 10 percent stake.
READ MORE - Siam Cement sees profit drop in Q2

Insurers urged to offer cross-border coverage

Photo by: Holly Pham
Vehicles cross the border between Cambodia and Thailand at Poipet. The Ministry of Economy and Finance has instructed the Kingdom’s seven insurers to pool together to insure vehicles at the border.

It doesn't need much capital, but the problems lie with logistics.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Nguon Sovan

Ministry of Economy and Finance instructs insurance association to create pool for nation’s 7 firms to cover vehicles crossing borders

THE Ministry of Economy and Finance has instructed the Kingdom's seven insurance companies to contribute to a pooled insurance scheme that will cover vehicles crossing Cambodia's borders.

The government issued a directive establishing cross-border transport insurance in March this year.

In Meatra, the ministry's head of insurance in the finance industry department, told a tourism conference Wednesday that the pooling scheme is necessary because no single insurer is willing to take on the expense and risk of providing insurance.

"Each company is reluctant to sell insurance at border crossings because it will cost a lot to set up ... and they are worried there will be no profit because of the small number of vehicles crossing," he said.

The ministry instructed the General Insurance Association of Cambodia, an industry body, to set up a joint pool with the seven firms contributing.

"If [the pool] loses, they all lose, and if it profits, then they all profit," In Meatra said. "The agreement to establish the pool will be signed in early August."

He said the scheme would be operational by early 2010, once negotiations with the country's neighbours are completed.

"The insurance laws of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos are different from ours - their firms don't sell third-party liability insurance, only insurance for individuals and passengers," he explained. "So if a Cambodian vehicle crashes [abroad], the passengers can leave, but the vehicle will be impounded."

In Meatra said the owners of foreign vehicles coming to Cambodia can buy insurance for both the passengers and the vehicle.

"So [in an accident], we would release the passengers and the vehicle. We are negotiating for this issue to be equitable for all," he said.

Chan Dara, deputy director-general of the transport department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said Wednesday that Cambodia has signed cross-border agreements with its three neighbours.

But vehicles can currently cross legally only between Cambodia and Vietnam.

"A fixed number of 150 vehicles from each country are permitted to cross the border every day," Chan Dara said.

Cambodia agreed with Laos in April that 40 vehicles could cross daily, but Chan Dara said that has not started due to implementation problems on the Laotian side.

"As for Thailand, there is a deal, but it's not been implemented since we have difficulties contacting the Thai side," he said.

Duong Vibol, managing director of insurer Caminco, applauded the idea of a pool. But he said discussions have not taken place to determine the capital injection required from each firm.

Youk Chamroeunrith, general manager at Forte Insurance, told the Post that his firm had not been interested in undertaking the role on its own.

"We weren't worried about the losses because there are many vehicles crossing the Vietnamese border," he said. "But there would have been too many obstacles for one company. It doesn't need much capital, but the problems lie with logistics: IT, electricity, water and the site itself."
READ MORE - Insurers urged to offer cross-border coverage

Cambodia holds first SME forum

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem (centre) addresses Thursday's SME forum.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
May Kunmakara and Ith Sothoeuth

Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy seeks to increase cooperation with small and medium enterprises to help strengthen and diversify the Kingdom’s still-stunted light industry sector

CAMBODIA held its first forum Thursday aimed at improving the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Minister Suy Sem, who heads the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, told attendees that the aim was to promote dialogue and improve effectiveness.

"This is in order to encourage discussion about policymaking and the government's strategy at the national level to strengthen and develop industry and [SMEs]," Suy Sem said.

The purpose of the forum was to review the government's newly announced 2009-13 strategic framework to diversify production of goods and incorporate improved technology. More than 100 attendees from the private sector, government and development partners took part.

"In my opinion this is the most significant time for Cambodia to re-evaluate its action plan for developing industry and [SMEs], to strengthen them and make them more effective," said Suy Sem.

The ministry's director general, Meng Saktheara, who also heads its SME sub-committee, told attendees that 90 percent of industrial activity is undertaken by SMEs, which contribute greatly to economic growth. And he said SMEs employ 40-50 percent of the labour force.

He said the global economic crisis had spurred the ministry to help SMEs produce higher-quality goods that can compete with foreign products.

"[The ministry] is trying to help SMEs that are able to produce products that comply with international standards," said Meng Saktheara. "We are also urging them to manufacture high-quality products that are priced to compete with foreign products."

SMEs are also being encouraged to use modern technology rather than traditional methods and to introduce more-creative packaging.

Meng Saktheara told attendees that 80 percent of SMEs make food and beverages for local markets and for the tourism market, which fluctuates and is affected by external factors.

"We need to produce high-quality goods other than food and beverages, and supply those locally and for export," he said. "But this framework cannot solely be carried out by the ministry. We need to cooperate and work with the relevant ministries, development partners and SMEs ... to ensure success."

Meng Saktheara said SMEs can act as a bridge for poverty reduction and rural development.
Mao Thora, a secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, said his ministry has worked to cut red tape to lower the costs for SMEs.

"[The Commerce Ministry] has made it easier for local entrepreneurs by cutting expenses incurred when setting up a business, lowering the time required and removing certain requirements," he said.
READ MORE - Cambodia holds first SME forum

CAMFEBA, Japan run course on global crisis

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Chun Sophal

THE Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) ran its second management training course on Thursday in conjunction with Japan's International Cooperation Centre, known as Nippon Keldanren.

The training course, which advises attendees on how best to manage in the global economic crisis, was attended by 35 employees from 20 companies.

At the start of the course, CAMFEBA's deputy president, Tei Sing, said current circumstances were tough for businesses.
"We provide successful strategies through this training course to company staff so they will learn how to cut their costs and increase productivity as they battle the global financial crisis," he said Thursday.

The two organisations joined together to run a similar course for 60 company employees in 2003.
READ MORE - CAMFEBA, Japan run course on global crisis

Cambodia plans to boost lobster farming

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Chun Sophal

Government plans major hatching programme to develop local market in bid to cut imports

THE government has waded deeper into the crustacean trade with plans to hatch 1 million baby freshwater lobsters by late October.

The juveniles will be sold to domestic farmers looking to rear them for the local market, thereby cutting the need for imports.

Haing Leap, the deputy director of the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post on Thursday that the Takeo provincial fisheries department had hatched 300,000 baby lobsters since June.

He said the centre sells 45-day-old lobsters to farmers for US$0.06 each.

"We want to encourage farmers to raise baby lobsters because we expect they will be able to supply them to local markets," Haing Leap said.

In no more than five years' time we will be able to cut lobster imports.

He added that just 10-20 tonnes of wild freshwater lobsters are caught locally each year, with 3 tonnes a day brought in from Vietnam to satisfy demand.

Breeding areas diminish
Haing Leap blamed the low number of locally caught lobsters on environmental changes and the loss of sheltered areas where breeding females could lay eggs.

"We hope that if Cambodian farmers are interested in rearing lobsters, then in no more than five years' time we will be able to cut lobster imports," he said.

Prum Vath, a lobster farmer in Takeo province's Angkor Borei district, plans to raise 200,000 baby lobsters for the local market before the end of the year.

He said it takes a minimum of six months to raise them, at which point he sells them for US$15-$20 a kilogram.

"Rearing baby lobsters poses no problems because they are easy to look after and it is easy to find markets," the farmer said.

Another farmer told the Post that 3 percent of lobsters die before reaching maturity.

Haing Leap at the Fisheries Department said the hatching season runs between June and October, adding that farmers need at least 1.5 million baby lobsters.

"If farmers can raise 1-1.5 million lobsters a year, then that will supply local markets with 60-90 tonnes of lobster each year," he said.

Haing Leap said that in 2005 the Japanese government funded a five-year, $5 million project to teach lobster-rearing skills to farmers in a number of the Kingdom's provinces.
READ MORE - Cambodia plans to boost lobster farming

Mu Sochua’s immunity will not be affected by the law but it could be difficult for her to get it back

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mu Sochua speaking to a newspaper vendor (Photo: Jarred Ferrie, The National)

29 July 2009
Rasmei Kampuchea
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

A high-ranking official from the National Election Committee (NEC) said in the afternoon of 28 July that, if the court finds Mrs. Mu Sochua guilty of defaming Hun Xen, this sentence will not affect her political rights once she pays off the fine imposed by the court. Nevertheless, political analysts said that, most likely, there is little chance for Mu Sochua to receive back her parliamentary immunity according to the law and the explanation provided by Cheam Yeap, the CPP chairman of the National Assembly (NA) finance committee and a member of the NA permanent committee.

Tep Nitha, NEC secretary-general, told Rasmei Kampuchea yesterday that: “In the event the court finds Mrs. Mu Sochua guilty in this defamation lawsuit case, her sentence will not affect her right to receive her immunity back.” Tep Nitha added: “This is a light sentence. It’s only a sentence with a fine. It is not a sentence with jail time.” According to Tep Nitha’s explanation, the law only prevents those who are sentenced to jail from voting. This means that people who are not sentenced to jail time, have the right to vote and to present their candidacy during the elections.

Cheam Yeap claimed that when Mrs. Mu Sochua will be done paying her fine, and the court will send a letter to the minister of Justice so that the latter informs the NA about the fine payment, then the NA will move according the rule to decide on Mrs. Mu Sochua’s immunity. However, he also claimed that: “It’s like the case of Mr. Sam Rainsy, whichever way it came in, it will go back out the same way.”

Political analysts said that if they comment on Cheam Yeap’s claim, Mrs. Mu Sochua will have great difficulty to get her immunity back without the support from CPP MPs. Mrs. Mu Sochua saw her immunity lifted with the vote of 2/3 of the MPs. Therefore, [based on Cheam Yeap’s claim that] whichever way the case came in, it will go back out the same way, then Mrs. Mu Sochua must find 2/3 of the 123 MPs’ vote to get her immunity back.

Hun Xen also issued a warning to CPP MPs ordering them to reject their support. Therefore, Mrs. Mu Sochua’s case is different from that of Sam Rainsy because the latter’s immunity was suspended by the NA’s permanent committee and it was re-instated back by the permanent committee.

As for Mrs. Mu Sochua, she claimed that she will go to court to listen to the announcement of her sentence on 04 August, she believes that a fine sentence should not lead to a [permanent] loss of her immunity.
READ MORE - Mu Sochua’s immunity will not be affected by the law but it could be difficult for her to get it back

Lawyers Say They Are ‘Free’ To Defend ... and NOT to Defend, depending on political pressure

Lawyers Say They Are ‘Free’ To Defend

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
28 July 2009

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua faced the court over her defamation suit with the prime minister on Friday without a lawyer. After her first attorney quit—facing defamation charges himself—she was unable to find another, she said, due to “political pressure.”

Cambodian lawyers say they are free to represent the clients they want, but Mu Sochua’s case has underscored the entanglement of politics and the court that critics say stops the judiciary from being independent.

“There is no problem as long as the client approaches us,” said Cambodian attorney Poeung Thida. “We just pick up a client we feel we want to defend. If we don’t want it, we just don’t take the case. This is our free will.

In Mu Sochua’s case, her first attorney, Kong Sam Onn, quit after he was countersued by Prime Minister Hun Sen and was put under investigation by the country’s bar association. His case was dropped after he apologized to Hun Sen. (Kong Sam Onn declined to comment, saying he left because of a “personal issue.”)

Mu Sochua defended herself with a brief statement to the court, in a case that is to be decided on Aug. 4.

Chiv Song Hak, president of the 647-member bar association, said lawyers in the country have “enough freedom” to make their own choices.

“The law does not restrict them to only representing this client and not the other,” he said. “Our code of conduct only states that a lawyer has the right to decline a client they don’t want to represent.”

Mu Sochua, a US-Cambodian citizen and deputy secretary-general for the Sam Rainsy Party, said she did not agree.

“How can a lawyer do his job if they still feel scared?” she asked. “They still feel that they will become a victim like my lawyer, Kong Sam Onn. I see that professional lawyers are vulnerable to political pressure.”

Mu Sochua had also sought legal counsel from the Cambodian Defenders Project, but the head of the organization, Sok Sam Oeun, said his group defends the poor.

“She has enough money to hire a lawyer,” he said of Mu Sochua. “And so far as I know, there are many lawyers in the Sam Rainsy Party. To say that there is no lawyer willing to represent her is unreasonable.”
READ MORE - Lawyers Say They Are ‘Free’ To Defend ... and NOT to Defend, depending on political pressure

Hun Xen's crony plans to build a new airport on Cambodia's largest island

Hun Xen's cronies: Kith Meng (L) and CPP Tycoon-Senator Kok An (R)

Wed, 29 Jul 2009

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian developer plans to build a new airport on the country's largest island, which was leased to his company by the government in 2008, local media reported Wednesday. Kith Meng, chairman of Royal Group, told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that bulldozers had been sent to the 7,800-hectare island to clear forest for a runway, but he declined to provide more details on the development.

He said the company also plans to construct electricity and water facilities for the island, which has been earmarked as a potential tourist destination.

Kith Meng said he recently travelled to the island with a dozen other potential investors, including casino owner Phu Kok An, who is also a senator for the ruling Cambodian People's Party.
READ MORE - Hun Xen's crony plans to build a new airport on Cambodia's largest island

U.S. Must Share Burden of World Leadership, Ambassador Says

Trevor Williams
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Sichan Siv signs a copy of his best-selling book after his speech at Emory University

Trevor Williams
Atlanta - 07.29.09

By his own description, Sichan Siv's life is intertwined with the United Nations.

Long before Mr. Siv became a United States ambassador to the international body, he benefited from its charter.

As a child, UNICEF vaccinated him. When he escaped the killing fields of Cambodia in 1976 by jumping off of a truck and trekking through the jungle to reach the Thailand border, a U.N. Refugee group took him in.

After leaving Thailand, he was granted access to the U.S. He resettled in Connecticut, having arrived with two dollars in his pocket. Only 13 years later, in a remarkable but fitting turnaround for a man who spent his childhood and college days reading about America and pondering about life beyond his country's borders, Mr. Siv was called into President George H. W. Bush's administration as a political liaison and later became a deputy assistant secretary for South Asian affairs.

After narrowly escaping one dictator's brand of tyranny, Mr. Siv now had a front seat to a “series of sea changes” in the world, including the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing as well as the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the collapse the Soviet Union.

“For somebody like me to be sitting there only 13 years after I escaped from tyranny, to see history taking shape in front of my eyes, that was quite an overwhelming experience,” Mr. Siv said while giving a talk at Emory University on the role of U.S. leadership as part of a speaker series hosted by the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning.

Mr. Siv left the White House in 1993 and worked in the private sector until 2001, when the second President Bush nominated him as 28th ambassador to the United Nations' Economic and Social Council.

The U.N. has been principally funded throughout its more than six decades by the U.S. Still today, U.N. initiatives generally can't get off the ground without action by the U.S., Mr. Siv said.

“In the U.N., if the U.S. doesn't get involved, nothing gets done,” said Mr. Siv, who was the ambassador to the economic and social council when the United States decided to invade Iraq without the body's mandate and in spite of opposition from some key members like France.

When asked during the Q&A session how he "sold the war," Mr. Siv said he focused specifically on economic and cultural issues. After the event, he told GlobalAtlanta that the U.S.'s reputation is strong and hasn't been permanently harmed by the conflict.

But in the post-9/11 era, with the advent of globalization and the challenges of terrorism, human trafficking, war and economic crisis, Mr. Siv believes that the U.S. must begin to share leadership with the world, engaging with other nations as partners striving for mutual benefit.

All parties should engage one another with respect and dignity as human beings, not just as “stuffy” diplomats, said Mr. Siv, who during his time as ambassador introduced karaoke to his summit meetings with representatives of Southeast Asian nations.

“We should disagree, but we should not be disagreeable,” Mr. Siv said of dealing frankly with international conflicts.

In the interconnected age of Facebook, Twitter and other Internet technologies, the spread of democracy and freedom is inevitable, he added.

“I believe strongly that democracy and freedom are going to take root even without our leadership,” he said.

But with the help of allies and by engaging with opponents, the U.S. must help steer the process and “prioritize, because we can't do everything ourselves,” Mr. Siv said.

After his speech, Mr. Siv signed copies of his best-selling book, “Golden Bones: An Extraordinary Journey from Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in America.” In 2005, Mr. Siv followed in the footsteps of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson and Clinton when he spoke at a celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the U.N.

Visit for more information.
READ MORE - U.S. Must Share Burden of World Leadership, Ambassador Says

Thailand lends Cambodia US$40 million for road project

BANGKOK, July 29 (TNA) - The Thai Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Bt1.4 billion (US$ 41.2 million) loan for a highway development project in the neighbouring country of Cambodia, a Thai government spokesman said.

The soft loan will be spent on upgrading Highway Route 68 from Kralanh to Samrong and O-Smach in Cambodia, according to Mr Vachara Kannikar.

Under the 30-year contract, Cambodia will pay 1.5 per cent annual interest, with a grace period for the first 10 years, and will begin repaying the principal from 2019 onward.

The Cabinet decision on loans to Cambodia takes effect without a need to seek parliamentary approval as it is not considered an international agreement under Article 190 of the Constitution, Mr Vachara explained.

The Constitution stipulates that any international agreement is required by law to be presented for parliamentary approval before putting it into practice.

In addition, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assigned the National Security Council to consider opening more border crossings with Cambodia to boost border trade and bilateral cooperation. (TNA)
READ MORE - Thailand lends Cambodia US$40 million for road project

Chhouk's stump being cast for prosthetic

Chhouk the baby elephant lost his foot to a snare trap in Mondulkiri Cambodia at the beginning of 2007. This is footage of his stump being cast for a prosthetic on 17th January 2009. You can support him through or with their sponsor an animal program.
READ MORE - Chhouk's stump being cast for prosthetic

Cambodian, Vietnamese inspectorates step up cooperation

Cambodia is seeking more cooperation with Vietnam in the field of inspections and investigations to upgrade its domestic system from central to local levels, said the Cambodian Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection Sam Kim Suor.

This will help the Cambodian government successfully carry out the second phase of its 2006-2010 strategy for economic development, Ms Kim Suor said while receiving a delegation from the Vietnamese Inspectorate General headed by Vice Inspector General Nguyen Van San.

The Cambodian minister spoke highly of the practical assistance that the Vietnamese Inspectorate General has given its Cambodian counterpart, especially in human resources training.

Both parties also briefed each other on their own country’s political and economic situation, exchanged information on the role inspectors play in helping the government to deal with complaints from citizens, and discussed measures to enhance bilateral cooperation between both countries’ inspectorates.

The Vietnamese delegation was also received by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An during their stay in Cambodia from July 25-29.
READ MORE - Cambodian, Vietnamese inspectorates step up cooperation

Norwegian organizes Cambodian Miss Landmine contest

The second annual Miss Landmine beauty pageant, a controversial event that debuted in Angola last year, will open in Cambodia next month, with organisers saying they hope the event will raise awareness about the continuing risk of land mines around the globe.

"I believe it is a good way of looking at things in a new and different way ... [to see] these women as strong, glamorous and beautiful," said Norwegian artist Morten Traavik, who organised the first Miss Landmine pageant. "It will make a contribution to how the rest of society will look at them ... Society will feel that these women can do anything."

The contest, which has support from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre and the Cambodian Disabled People's Organisation, has been designed to highlight the difficulties faced by female land mine victims. A total of 21 contestants representing all provinces except Ratanakkiri, Koh Kong and Kratie are set to participate in the contest. The contestants will launch a photo exhibition and a fashion magazine that uses land mine survivors as models at Meta House on August 7, and the public will be able to vote for the winner on the project's Web site ( beginning on August 1.
READ MORE - Norwegian organizes Cambodian Miss Landmine contest

The Royal Government Is Disappointed about Land Concessions Provided to Private Companies – Tuesday, 28.7.2009

Posted on 29 July 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

“Low grade forest land, eroded partly because of a lack of forest coverage, has been provided as concession land to some local investors in order to develop agriculture and agro-industry, based on available land, but so far, some local investment companies have not acted and there is little action on some land while the owners of the companies put blame on the global economic downturn and say that they cannot do anything because there is no market demand.

“An official working at the Ministry of Agriculture, who asked not to be named, said recently that the Royal Government has provided millions of hectares of concession land in some provinces to some local investment companies to grow agricultural and agro-industry crops, in order to counter the global economic crisis. The Royal Government has successfully increased agricultural output during the last five years, making the economic situation in Cambodia to suffer only a minor crisis that did not affect the inflation rate, as the Riel remains stable so far. The concession of land focusing on local eroded forest land aims at promoting agriculture to withstand the economic crisis, and the Royal Government expected that those companies would produces paddy rice, and other agricultural and agro-industrial crops. But by now, those companies have not acted, and some companies are clearing the remaining forest very slowly, intending to delay developing the contracted concession lands.

“The same official added that not only the Ministry of Agriculture, but also the Royal Government, which had provided eroded forest land to those companies, do not understand their intention, avoiding to begin operations in response to the Royal Government’s aim. Most companies said that they have not finished clearing the remaining forest and land, or have not yet checked what kinds of crops to plant. These are pretexts they use so that they are not blamed by the Royal Government, though they do not fulfill the Royal Government’s plan to act against the economic crisis from which Cambodia is suffering like other countries. Even though the effect is small, the Royal Government is concerned about it.

“Cambodian economists said that if private companies would fulfill the intention of the Royal Government, Cambodia would be able to prevent inflation, including national and international economic problems of the people. Also the head of the Royal Government, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, had called on all farmers to do rice cultivation twice a year in areas with irrigation systems. If farmers can cultivate twice a year and not let their land lay unused, 80% of all farmers would be able to improve their living in some degree, starting from the struggle for their own family economy. As the people in these companies make little effort and do not involve many citizens, the Royal government is deeply disappointed about these local investment companies that have not fulfilled the Royal Government’s plan, which is to strongly encourage agriculture so that no agricultural land in Cambodia is left unused and does not produce anything of value.”

Krong Long Vek, Vol.7, #162, 27.7.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
READ MORE - The Royal Government Is Disappointed about Land Concessions Provided to Private Companies – Tuesday, 28.7.2009

Power plan offers light relief to Cambodia

Frequent blackouts force households to eat by candlelight

By Guy Delauney
BBC News, Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh comes alive in the early evening. The sweltering heat of daytime dies down a little, giving people a chance to venture outside without immediately becoming drenched in sweat.

It is a time to enjoy the streetside restaurants, and browse through the shops and markets. But all too often this pleasure is interrupted by a familiar, unwelcome event known locally as a "daipleung".

Cafes go dark, music cuts out abruptly and whole streets erupt in groans and shrieks of dismay.

Once again Phnom Penh's electricity supply has proved unequal to the demands of a growing, increasingly power-hungry city.

Struggling to cope

Three decades of war left Cambodia's infrastructure damaged and dilapidated.

The return of peace has brought double-digit growth over most of the past decade, but the spread of new industries, air conditioners and electronic equipment has left the national electricity company struggling to cope.

"If you look at developed countries, annual growth in demand is in single digits, but we've been facing a 20 to 25% increase; that's a big jump," says the government official in charge of Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), Keo Rottanak.

"That increase in demand gives us a tremendous burden. There is not enough generation and no grid to distribute to different locations when there's a shortage."

Generating demand

The impact on business is considerable. Without a reliable mains electricity supply, companies are left with two choices; buy a generator or face a shutdown every time there is a blackout.

Large-scale enterprises like garment factories and big hotels generally opt for the generator.

The fuel costs incurred are considerable - but still preferable to losing customers because orders are not ready on time or guest rooms lack power.

Smaller businesses have more of a dilemma.

Ngaiy Tan Hun's family noodle-making business in the centre of Phnom Penh is typically ill-equipped to deal with prolonged blackouts.

"When there's a power cut production stops," she says.

"On a normal day we can cope with power cuts - but during festival and holiday times demand increases and so blackouts then are big problem."

Symbol of hope

Phnom Penh is in fact better off than most of Cambodia.

Only about a fifth of the population has access to mains electricity. The rest make do with expensive local supplies driven by generators, or run small appliances and lights from 12-volt car batteries.

The dearth of power is a major disincentive to investors.

Apart from the garment industry, there is little large-scale manufacturing in Cambodia.

Reliable, affordable electricity may help to bring in more industries, and give the country's growth-base some sorely-needed diversity.

So the pylons which are steadily marching their way from the border with Vietnam towards Phnom Penh are a symbol of hope.

Cambodia's larger neighbour will supply the power which could bring an end to the blackouts - and electricity to areas which previously had none.

Light relief

The deal was brokered by the Asian Development Bank, which also put up around half of the $100m (£61m) it cost to erect the pylons, connect the power lines and build the substations.

It should be just a matter of weeks before the project goes live.

"Immediately we will be able to supplement what we are short of now," says EDC's Keo Rottanak.

"It is the first segment of a national grid that we have ever had in Cambodian history. People who have been looking for power will have their dreams come true."

There may still be power cuts as the new system is brought online, but they should be the last blackouts Phnom Penh will see for some time.

That will be a relief for families and businesses alike, though not perhaps for the sellers of generators and emergency lights.

Vietnam still suffers occasional blackouts of its own, making the sale of power to its neighbour a little ironic.

But the new transmission lines run both ways. So if, in the future, Cambodia has a power surplus it should be able to return the favour.
READ MORE - Power plan offers light relief to Cambodia

Cambodia's Crackdown Stirs Concerns About Legal System

By Tim Johnston
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BANGKOK -- A heightened crackdown on journalists and opposition activists in recent weeks by Cambodia's leaders has provoked new concern that the government is engaging in widespread abuse of the nation's legal system to muzzle its detractors.

Newspaper editor Hang Chakra is serving a one-year sentence in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison for articles that alleged corruption among government officials. Opposition activist Moeung Sonn, who heads the Khmer Civilization Foundation, fled the country last month after being given a two-year sentence because government officials feared unrest when he questioned whether a new lighting system would damage the revered Angkor Wat temple. Last week, a court heard charges against Ho Vann, a member of parliament from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party who is accused of slandering 22 generals by questioning their academic qualifications.

And on Friday, a court is to hand down its verdict in a case against Mu Sochua, another opposition member of parliament, who is accused of defaming Cambodia's authoritarian prime minister, Hun Sen.

"I'm sure I will be found guilty, unless there is some magic in the air, and I don't feel that it is," Mu Sochua said in a telephone interview.

The cases have caused growing concern among human rights activists about Cambodia's legal system, which has long been accused of political bias.

"The Cambodian government is imposing its most serious crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years," Brad Adams, the Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement last week.

The case against Mu Sochua, a mother of three and former minister for women and veterans affairs, has brought the concern to a head because she is the first person to challenge Hun Sen so openly.

In a lawsuit, she accused Hun Sen of calling her "strong leg" -- a term considered derogatory in Khmer culture -- in a speech in early April. When he declined to apologize, she called a news conference and declared that his comment was an insult to all Cambodian women. That provoked a countersuit from Hun Sen. The courts have thrown out her lawsuit, but Hun Sen's is ongoing.

"If he allowed Mu Sochua to challenge him, other people might go down the same path. It is to make sure a second person won't try the same thing in the future," said Son Chhay, another outspoken opposition member of parliament.

Mu Sochua is fighting her legal battle alone. Her attorney withdrew last month after he came under government pressure, provoking a protest from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"The government kept on slamming him with more and more penalties, and he was facing the end of his career," Mu Sochua said. "I am not going to put another lawyer through that torture."

If convicted, she is likely to face a fine of about $2,500. But, more important, she could lose the right to sit in parliament, and that could be Hun Sen's intent, analysts said.

His ruling Cambodian People's Party won 90 of 123 seats in parliament in elections last year, but analysts said Hun Sen could be using the courts to get rid of the opposition.

"He wants to put them out of business," said David Chandler, a history professor at Monash University in Australia. "The whole concept of pluralism hasn't got any roots in Cambodia. The opposition is almost, by definition, disloyal."

Son Chhay said the recent crackdown is a symptom of a government that is failing to address some of the pressing issues facing the country, including corruption, land seizures and economic stagnation.

"Although they control the institutions, they can't allow activists or the opposition to spread the issues -- that could bring disaster. Like many dictatorial regimes in the region, because they are unable to solve the problems, they resort to all measures to control the people and shut them up," Son Chhay said.

The government also is looking to pass a law that would limit demonstrations to 200 people and require permission from authorities.

In the early 1990s, the international community invested about $1.5 billion in a U.N. effort to restore civil government to a country that Hun Sen, a former member of the Khmer Rouge, had run since 1985.

The opposition fears that he is destroying fragile institutions that have taken years to build.

"What is really detrimental to Cambodia as a whole is that because he wants to make a point as a man, he is destroying so much we have invested in nation-building," Mu Sochua said. "It is not me on trial, but the judiciary of Cambodia."
READ MORE - Cambodia's Crackdown Stirs Concerns About Legal System

Cambodia Angkor Air plans flights to Viet Nam

Business Desk
Viet Nam News

A new Cambodian national airline, Cambodia Angkor Air (CAA), has been launched as a joint venture between Viet Nam and Cambodia, at Pochentong International Airport in Phnom Penh.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Monday cut the ribbon launching CAA, a joint venture between the Cambodian National Aviation Agency and the Vietnam Airlines Corporation.

CAA has two ATR-72-500 aircraft that service domestic flights from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.

It has plans to expand its operations to other regional countries, including Viet Nam and Thailand, with A-320 and A-321 aircraft.

Cambodia’s national airline, Royal Cambodge Airlines (RCA), was established in 1994, but had to close operations in 2001 due to huge losses and the use of planes that did not meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s standards.

Futher co-operation

During his three-day working visit to Cambodia, which began on Saturday, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong was received by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly Heng Samrin on Sunday.

The Cambodian leaders welcomed the visit by Trong and said the countries’ solidarity and friendship was further reinforced and developed.

Trong and his entourage also paid a courtesy visit to Buddhist Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong at the Oum Naloum Pagoda, and presented hospital beds, medical equipment and computers to the Cambodian Buddhist Centre’s infirmary.

Trong and Hun Sen also witnessed the awarding of a Cambodian Government’s licence to the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV) to open a representative office, and establish an insurance company and an investment development company in Phnom Penh.

To mark the occasion, BIDV presented the Cambodia Red Cross with US$800,000 in aid for Cambodia’s poor, and 700 computers for Cambodian children in need.
READ MORE - Cambodia Angkor Air plans flights to Viet Nam

Duch Trial Delayed After Witnesses Identified

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 July 2009

Judges at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal halted proceedings in the trial of prison chief Duch Wednesday, after a clerk began reading documents with witness’ names that were supposed to be concealed.

The atrocity crimes trial for Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, will resume next week, as court officials seek to protect the identities of witnesses that they fear could be compromised if their true identities were known.

Judge Nil Nonn, head of the tribunal’s Trial Chamber, said the names of the witnesses will have to be changed in documents before their testimony is read in court. He postponed proceedings until Aug. 3.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Wednesday the court “respects the rights of the witnesses who do not want to be named in a public hearing.”

Some witnesses had asked that their identities be disguised, and the court would now “prepare all the records to hide the identities of the witnesses,” he said.

Kong Sam Onn, a lawyer for the defense unit, said witnesses could suffer from pressure outside the court if they are identified, potentially compromising their neutrality.

“The court stopped reading the record because it could affect the safety and security of the witnesses,” he said.
READ MORE - Duch Trial Delayed After Witnesses Identified

Briton arrested in Cambodia for allegedly abusing girl

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – A British man became the latest suspect in Cambodia's drive to net foreign paedophiles after he was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, police said Wednesday.

Gareth Ashley Corbett, 51, was arrested at his rented house in the popular seaside town of Sihanoukville on Tuesday, said Suon Sophan, deputy chief of the local anti-trafficking and juvenile police unit.

The arrest of Corbett was made after the underage girl, who was also allegedly abused by a US man, told authorities that the Briton had sex with her, he said.

"The arrest of the Briton was the result of testimony of the girl to police," Suon Sophan told AFP by telephone.

The US man, Scott Alan Hecker, 44, was nabbed last week in a raid on a hotel in Phnom Penh and has been accused of committing indecent acts repeatedly against the girl and and another 14-year-old girl.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as a haven for paedophiles, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for child sex crimes or deporting them to face trial in their home countries since 2003.
READ MORE - Briton arrested in Cambodia for allegedly abusing girl

‘Elephants’ Music Composer Looks Ahead

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
29 July 2009

Following the success of the Cambodian rock opera “Where Elephants Weep,” composer Him Sophy is back to work on new music.

“Where Elephants Weep” was a contemporary show unlike anything Cambodians had seen, and Him Sophy spent seven years producing it. Now, the composer told VOA Khmer in an interview, he is creating new musical performances, including traditional music, to bring more visitors to Cambodia.

“I am composing music for Cambodian tourism called, ‘Cambodia Is a Kingdom of Wonder,” he said.

The idea is to introduce would-be visitors to Cambodia through song and video.

“This music will make the tourists in the world interested and want to visit our Cambodia,” he said.

Him Sophy said he would also like to write music to commemorate Cambodians who died under the Khmer Rouge and will produce a soundtrack for a film produced by the Women’s Media Center.

The US Embassy has asked him to write music for a concert “to remember the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and America,” he said. “I will write some rock music and a lot of pop music.”

Him Sophy earned a doctorate degree in music composition after 13 years in Moscow. He then studied three more years and received a doctorate in Arts and Science. He also took a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study in New York and California.

The composer has future plans for “Where Elephants Weep,” hoping to bring it to a wider audience, including a performance in Long Beach, Calif., home to the largest US population of Cambodians.

“The economic crisis has delayed us a little bit, but we will try to go there,” he said. “The Cambodians in America want to see Khmer rock opera.”

Him Sophy is working in an environment where rock and pop music are gaining popularity. There are many concerts across Cambodia, and several music companies have been able to make it in the industry.

However, Cambodia’s musicians are still weak in playing Western-style music or instruments, such as the piano, violin, trumpet, saxophone or trombone.

Meanwhile, there are few composers or songwriters who can create original Cambodian rock, choosing instead to mimic foreign songs and adding Khmer lyrics.

Him Sophy said that not many people want to create original music because Cambodia does not have a copyright law to protect their compositions. A stronger law would see more original creations, he said.

Him Sophy was scheduled to discuss his activities at a lecture on Wednesday at the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture in Phnom Penh.
READ MORE - ‘Elephants’ Music Composer Looks Ahead

After Long Void, Cambodia Launches Airline

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 July 2009

Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between Vietnam’s state-owned airline and Cambodia, made its first commercial flight Monday, in what government officials hope will be a boost to tourism and the economy.

The new carrier fills an eight-year absence, following the bankruptcy of Royal Air Cambodge, which folded in October 2001 owing more than $33 million to creditors.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said at a ceremony Sunday that Angkor Air was part of Cambodia’s open-sky strategy, providing air transport for Cambodians and a boon to tourism.

“The success of a Cambodian national airline will bring national pride and help develop the tourism sector, which is a force of economic growth,” said Hun Sen, who was accompanied by Vietnamese Deputy Prime minister Truong Vinh Trong.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said the new airline would increase the number of visitors to the famed temples of Angkor Wat, which have seen a decline in numbers in the wake of the global economic crisis.

With an investment of $100 million, Angkor Air has a pair of ATR 72-500 aircraft that will fly three routes, linking Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City.

Mao Havannal, secretary of state for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the airline will start with 32 flights per week between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and 14 flights per week between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City.

Phan Ngoc Minh, an executive for Vietnam Airlines, said another Airbus will be transferred to Cambodia in early September 2009. Within a year, the airline will have eight planes, he said.

Angkor Air is entering a market that has seen a number of failures in the past 15 years, with bankruptcy hitting Royal Phnom Penh Airways, Kampuchea Airlines, Angkor Airways and Royal Air Cambodge.

There are currently 10 different airlines linking Cambodia to international destinations.

Phan said the new national carrier will become a strong competitor.

“I do believe Cambodia Angkor Air will soon become strong and solid enough to support Cambodia’s aviation industry, to support development and benefit for the Royal Government of Cambodia,” he said.

The new airline will also have to contend with an industry that has been marred by safety concerns, following several crashes that have killed a total of 80 people in recent years.

Mao Havannal said Angkor Air was indeed safe.
READ MORE - After Long Void, Cambodia Launches Airline

Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Recess After Hearing Grisly Testimony

Television in press room shows live video footage of witness Sous Thy testifying
at Extraordinary Chambers of Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh, 28 Jul 2009
By Luke Hunt
Phnom Penh
29 July 2009
In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has headed into a short recess after hearing grisly evidence from guards at S-21, the regime's most notorious extermination center.

Since the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, began in March, Cambodians have flocked to the court to hear testimony of how he ran the notorious S-21 prison in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Reach Sambath, the tribunal's chief spokesman, says more than 13,500 people have attended 51 days of public hearings held since the tribunal opened its doors.

"They consider this court is their court, this court is working for them. That means for the people of Cambodia. That is the reason they keep coming more and more," he said.

Seeing Khmer Rouge leaders brought to justice is a personal matter for many Cambodians. Almost every family in Cambodia lost members during the rule of the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s.

More than a million Cambodians died of hunger and disease, or were executed before invading Vietnamese troops ousted the Khmer Rouge in early 1979.

The court audiences heard guards testify that prisoners were malnourished to the point of starvation and tortured with electric shocks and waterboarding. At times they had their blood drawn, for use in hospitals.

Finally, the prisoners were told they would be freed. It was a ruse that allowed Duch's staff to ferry their victims to the outskirts of town where they were bludgeoned with an ox-cart axle, had their throats slit and bodies dumped in mass graves, now known as the Killing Fields.

About 14,000 people are believed to have perished at S-21, just one of hundreds of camps the Khmer Rouge established after they came to power in April 1975.

The victims of S-21 included up to 200 children and a handful of Westerners who strayed into international waters.

Duch is the first surviving member of the Khmer Rouge leadership to face trial. It took the government and the United Nations more than a decade to establish the tribunal to handle human rights abuse cases. During that time, many of the top leaders died, but four are awaiting trial.

His trial resumes next Monday, and may head into the final phase within several weeks.
READ MORE - Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Recess After Hearing Grisly Testimony

Germany injects over $1 mln to Cambodia, Laos for fighting against hunger

Xinhua English

PHNOM PENH, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Fearing with the continued impact by global economic crisis, the government of Germany has provided another 1.3 million euros (approximately 1.8 million U.S. dollars) to Cambodia and Laos to fight against hunger.

In a statement released Wednesday, German embassy in Phnom Penh said of the above total amount, one million euro was destined for Cambodia which is expected to help assist about one million Cambodians in 2009.

It said the fund was donated through the United Nations agency, World Food Program for its operation in this country.

The fund will help improve immediate food security and nutritional status of the Cambodian people while enhancing social stability through interventions in three priority areas: education, health and nutrition, and disaster risk reduction.

In April, the U.N. Office in Cambodia issued a statement saying the country's positive trends of its economy will be slowdown after it has enjoyed over decade of increase. And less demand from foreign markets and reducing of foreign direct investment have forced a mass of people losing their jobs, such as in garment and construction sectors.

The U.N. data also indicated some 80 percent of Cambodians are living in rural areas, and where many poor families depend upon migrant remittances as their major source of income.

It is, then, citing fear that Cambodia's rural poor might adopt "unhealthy" coping measures such as reducing their number of meals per day or eating less-nutritious foods, and cutting back on health services.

Safety nets in health, education, food, and work can help break the poverty cycle, it added in the statement.

According to the World Food Program, Cambodia might need 76.3 million U.S. dollars for three years project in curbing with people in crisis.

It said the project that began in January 2008 and which is due to last until the end of 2010 has, so far, received 33 million U.S. dollars or bout 43 percent of its appeal, and that Germany has donated 2.3 million U.S. dollars or 3.1 percent of the total donated fund.
READ MORE - Germany injects over $1 mln to Cambodia, Laos for fighting against hunger

Cambodian government accused of creating 'Aids colony'

Aids campaigners and human rights groups on Wednesday accused the Cambodian government of herding HIV-affected families into an "Aids colony" outside the capital, Phnom Penh.

In an open letter to the country's prime minister, Hun Sen, and the health minister, Mam Bunheng, more than 100 international and domestic pressure groups said they were "deeply disturbed" by "life-threatening" conditions at the settlement.

Forty families are forced to live in sheet-metal sheds, without running water or proper sanitation.

The government has spent the past two months moving people with HIV/Aids from the Borei Keila district of Phnom Penh to Tuol Sambo, a flood-prone area 25km away.

"By bundling people living with HIV together in second-rate housing, far from medical facilities, support services and jobs, the government has created a de facto Aids colony," Shiba Phurailatpam, of the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/Aids, said.

Rebecca Schleifer, a Human Rights Watch spokesperson, said the conditions at Tuol Sambo posed "serious risks" to people already vulnerable to syndrome.

"People living with HIV have compromised immune systems and are especially vulnerable," she added. "For them, these substandard conditions can mean a death sentence or a ticket to a hospital."

According to Médecins Sans Frontières, conditions at Tuol Sambo do not meet international minimum standards for temporary housing.

The families were evicted from Borei Keila to make way for a commercial development, which was reportedly granted government approval on the understanding that the developer would place the residents, including those with HIV/Aids, into new housing.

The evictions continued despite protests from UN agencies, and the campaigners' letter said: "We have reason to fear that relocations of HIV-affected families are continuing even as we sign this letter."

Campaigners urged the government to stop moving families to Tuol Sambo, urgently improve living conditions there and ensure that people with HIV have access to antiretroviral drugs.

Local officials said they were aware of the concerns over the settlement and were trying to improve conditions.

"We are trying to find clean water for them," Phnom Penh's deputy governor, Mann Chhoeun, told the Phnom Penh Post, adding that plans had been made to distribute free medicine via the Centre of Hope mission.

In 2008, an estimated 67 200 adults and 3 800 children in Cambodia were living with HIV/Aids, according to UNAids. - © Guardian News and Media 2009
READ MORE - Cambodian government accused of creating 'Aids colony'

Cambodian police arrest British man on child sex charges

Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A British man accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl has been arrested in the Cambodian coastal resort town of Sihanoukville, police said Wednesday. Gareth Ashley Corbett, 51, was taken into custody Tuesday by Phnom Penh police, said Keo Thea, Phnom Penh anti-trafficking police chief.

The arrest was reportedly made after an investigation into complaints by two girls that last week led to the arrest of US national Scott Alan Hecker, 41, in Phnom Penh.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed since Cambodia launched a crackdown on child sex crimes in 2003.
READ MORE - Cambodian police arrest British man on child sex charges

Developers critical of revised housing prakas

PROPOSED amendments to a long-stalled prakas, or edict, on housing-development financing have drawn criticism from local developers who claim it will make it "impossible" for them to complete projects.

The proposed amendments, which Ministry of Finance Undersecretary of State Ngy Tayi said were agreed at a meeting with developers Monday, is to be sent to Finance Minister Keat Chhon for ratification.

A financial edict was meant to come into force September 30 but was stalled amid an outcry from developers, particularly those from South Korea.

Ngy Tayi told the Post following Monday's meeting that "most" developers present supported the amendments, which removed requirements on large, financially sound developers to comply with some of the more controversial aspects of the initial prakas.

These included a deposit of 2 percent of total project costs in a ministry account at the central bank and a housing development account at any commercial bank into which buyers would make down payments on units bought before construction was completed.

Under the terms of the prakas, developers would need approval from the Finance Ministry to access the accounts. At the time, Shinwoo Kim, Korean Legal Counsel at Sewha Cambodia Law Group, which represented several large Korean developers, told the Post that the requirement would make it impossible for foreign developers.

Ngy Tayi said the changes meant developers who had enough capital to complete projects would now be exempt.

"Only developers who have no capital or not enough capital, and thus have to collect money from customers to complete construction, will be required to deposit 2 percent at the central bank," he said. "When we make sure that they have enough money to construct, the licence will be issued for them."

However, Kong Vansophy, general manager of the US$1 million Dream Town development in Dangkor district, said Tuesday that the proposed modification still left local developers in a hole as they relied on sales for finance.

"For large projects from foreign investors, it may be no problem ... but for local developers like us, it is still difficult because if we borrow money from the bank [as proof of financial soundness] for the development licence, we have to pay high interest rates," he said.

Chhean Dara, manager of the $30 million Young's Commercial Centre and Resort on the Chroy Changvar pensinsula, said the proposed amendment was good for rich developers, but difficult for poor developers.

"In fact, we have money to build the shopping mall, but not 100 percent of our capital, so we have to collect some money from customers to continue construction," he said.

Ngy Tayi said the prakas needed to be signed off by Finance Minister Keat Chhon before it could take effect. "It will be issued by the end of this year, at the latest," he said.

Lee Suck, general manager of Korean developer Nuri D&C De Castle declined to comment Tuesday, as did Kim Tae Yun, assistant to the manager at Yon Woo Cambodia Co, devloper of Gold Tower 42 in Phnom Penh.

Ros Monin, managing partner at Sewha-Cambodia Law Group, said it no longer represented clients on the issue and referred inquiries to the Real Estate Developers' Association of Cambodia which said Tuesday it was not ready to comment.
READ MORE - Developers critical of revised housing prakas

Kith Meng starts work on island airport

Royal Group has unveiled plans to build an airport on Koh Rong, the Kingdom's largest island, in Preah Sihanouk province.
Company Chairman Kith Meng confirmed the development plan. But speaking from Koh Rong, a 7,800-hectare island, he said Tuesday he could not provide further details.

"I am here [on Koh Rong] to build an airport.... I brought 40 bulldozers with me to clear the land to build a road," he said.

Other than the airport, Kith Meng said the project would see construction of an electricity and water supply that islanders could sign up to. Kith Meng said he travelled to Koh Rong with a dozen local tycoons including Phu Kok An, a casino operator and senator from the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

Phu Kok An confirmed the businessmen had viewed the site and pronounced himself "quite interested" in investing.

Youn Heng, deputy director at the Cambodian Investment Board's evaluation and incentives department, said the Council for the Development of Cambodia last year granted Royal Group a 99-year concession.

"He [Kith Meng] is currently clearing the forest, and we know he plans to build an airport," said Youn Heng, adding that Royal Group also planned a resort on the island.

Mark Hanna, chief financial officer at Royal Group, told the Post last month the firm "will certainly be looking to go deeper in the transportation and logistics industries as they dovetail with and complement our existing operations"
READ MORE - Kith Meng starts work on island airport

The U.N. in Cambodia


Published: July 28, 2009
To the Editor:

Re “Too Late for Revenge,” by Marshall Kim (Op-Ed, July 16), about Khmer Rouge trials and the role of the United Nations in Cambodia:

The trials are occurring 30 years after the end of the Pol Pot regime because United Nations member states continued for more than a decade to recognize the Khmer Rouge as Cambodia’s government and allowed them to occupy the country’s United Nations seat. The victims of the genocide were held hostage by cold-war politics, for which the world should feel enduring shame.

The trials do not constitute the entire mandate of the United Nations system in Cambodia. My own organization, Unicef, returned to Cambodia in 1979, just after the fall of Pol Pot’s regime. It devotes some $20 million a year to reduce maternal and child mortality, assure basic education and protect vulnerable children from the exploitation and abuse that are manifestations of continuing poverty.

Richard Bridle
Representative, Unicef
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 21, 2009
READ MORE - The U.N. in Cambodia

Is Duch’s trial set on the wrong track?

Phnom Penh (Cambodia). 28/05/2002: Vann Nath, Tuol Sleng survivor, and Suos Thy, formerly in charge of prisoner records, face-to-face during the shooting of documentary movie “S-21, the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine” of Rithy Panh
©John Vink/ Magnum


By Stéphanie Gée

The hearing on July 28th was one of those days when you came to forget who the accused is, as interrogations strayed so far from the matter being debated. It also illustrated how the debates got bogged down, as more time was devoted to (re)confirm facts already recognised by Duch than to tackle the hundred of factual elements established by the prosecution but denied by the accused – what should be at the heart of this trial. The result: too often, an all-clear for the defence while the documentation work on S-21 and its director Duch was left aside.

A difficult start
The hearing of Suos Thy, who kept the prisoner records at S-21, resumed. The president started by asking that a document be shown. Nothing came. Finally, a chart appeared on the screen. Unfortunately, it was not a document that the witness used to make or use for his work. The president dived noisily into his papers, from which he extracted the reference number of a second document… which still was not recognised by Suos Thy. The third attempt was the right one, but nothing was learnt from it.

Looking at a “list of prisoners whose interrogation was reported,” the witness specified he had not established it, as the decision pertained “to the prerogatives of the interrogation unit only.” The document succeeded on the screen, without bringing anything. “In total, and from what you know, how many prisoners were executed at Choeung Ek?” “I do not know the exact number of executions […]. I was the only person to prepare the lists, so I was unable to make a summary list every month,” said the witness, for whom it would have been impossible to remember better than the records he left behind, thirty years ago. What was Suos Thy able to observe from the prisoners’ detention conditions at S-21, the president wondered, asking in his turn the most popular question in this trial. The witness was able to note they were “skeletal.” And so on.

Repeat of the previous day
Judge Cartwright returned to the description of the S-21 routine followed by Suos Thy, as he described it the previous day, in details. She then interrogated him on the fate reserved to children. The witness repeated that he could not know where they were killed, because no list was established for children. Yes, he confirmed what he told the co-Investigating Judges, that some prisoners died of hunger and others succumbed to torture. “The lists that were found at S-21 are not exhaustive because you did not include absolutely all the names of these prisoners in those lists. Is that correct?”, the New Zealand judge asked him. “Yes, indeed. The lists at S-21 do not include everyone and the total number is therefore not known precisely. The general total may not be known, but I was sent the names of the prisoners detained at the special prison by Hor [Duch’s deputy] so that I incorporate them to the list,” he answered, appearing slightly offended he may be blamed for any inaccuracy in his past bookkeeping.

“Contact had to go through Hor”
“All S-21 documents were kept at Meng’s office, where I used to work,” the witness specified in answer to a question of judge Lavergne. He also reported he had not “seen Him Huy come to the prison” late 1978, adding that back then, “there were less prisoners arriving.” The squad ranking cadre had claimed in court on July 20th that, from mid-1978, he and others had left S-21, reassigned to work in the rice fields. Duch had discredited that detail of his story.

“What relationship did you have with the accused?” Finally, a question that led back to the heart of the trial. “Regarding the accused, we used to follow the hierarchical line. I was not contacted directly. Contact had to go through Hor because we were in different units. Instructions were communicated to Hor, who would then relay them to us.” “Did you have the opportunity to see the accused inside the buildings in the S-21 compound?” “Sometimes, I would see him go to the compound. Sometimes, he would go to the workshop where the painters worked and he would go and meet Hor. I did not know he would go inside the rooms in that building. It was not my work to keep an eye on his goings and comings.” When the Vietnamese troops arrived early 1979, Suos Thy said he did not receive any instruction to destroy certain archives.

“Everything had to go through Duch”
To the Cambodian co-Prosecutor, the witness confirmed that “in principle, for prisoners to be taken or brought, Duch, as S-21 director, had to give his authorisation. Everything had to go through him. And everything depended on his authorisation.” The co-Prosecutor later showed him the biography of Professor Phung Thon, whose widow and daughter attend the hearings daily as civil parties, and whose case has been regularly raised in the debates. Suos Thy admitted he had established that document. “Do you know what happened to that prisoner?” “Regarding the prisoners, I was not in a position to know what happened to each of them, if they died of illness or if they were taken and executed.”

Flop of the prosecution
His international colleague, Anees Ahmed, took over and sought to find out if the prisoners’ corpses were photographed. He then asked the screen to show a series of pictures of dead prisoners. The witness did not know, so the co-Prosecutor addressed the accused directly for him to confirm whether the pictures were actually taken at S-21. Duch could authenticate only those featuring bodies of cadres, he explained, which were often taken three days after the bodies had been buried and then exhumed for the photo session. He said he did not recognise anyone on the pictures on the screen. The demonstration could have been interesting if the accused had not already recognised this occasional practice. But he never denied this fact… Anees Ahmed is already the fourth international co-Prosecutor to represent the prosecution in this trial.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 28/07/2009: Photos of S-21 detainees shown on the ECCC screens in Duch’s trial
©Stéphanie Gée

“You told the investigators mandated by the co-Investigating Judges that the detainees in S-21 came from all over the country. You further said this morning they came from different places, different sectors, different divisions. Can you confirm it once again for the Chamber?” Yes, Suos Thy confirmed. And repetitive questions ensued. Last attempt: “When did Vietnamese war prisoners arrive [at S-21] and how many of them?” “As I have already said, Vietnamese war prisoners arrived irregularly. […] I am not sure of their number. All I did was to make sure I had done my work by the end of the day.” “Can you tell us if there were already some in 1976, in 1977, in 1978…?” “In 1976 or 1977, there was no Vietnamese war prisoners. They arrived only when the conflict broke out.” That was a slap for the prosecution, who must prove there was from the start an armed conflict between Cambodia and Vietnam for Duch to be also prosecuted for war crimes. However, it would not be surprising if the witness had, like those who preceded him at the stand, followed the previous hearings in the trial.

Suos Thy lies
The first interrogation by a co-lawyer for civil party group 4 was pointless, while other lawyers on the same bench demanded more speaking time. The co-lawyer for group 3 fared hardly better. Then, it was the turn of the co-lawyer for group 2, who was reminded by the president it “[was] 1.50pm” and she had 15 minutes. Since Silke Studzinsky observed, on July 22nd, that her speaking time had been cut short of three minutes, judge Nil Nonn played this little – inappropriate – game with her. The lawyer asked the witness what was the longest detention period for a prisoner he was able to observe at S-21. Suos Thy answered “two months.” A brazen lie.

“Hor was very scared of Duch”
Ty Srinna, for group 1, chose to interrogate him on the S-21 staff members originating from division 703, which were gradually eliminated and replaced by newcomers. “Did you know who ordered the arrest of the chief of division 703?” “The person with the power to do so must have been at least the same level as Duch. No one else had that power.” “What did you know of the relationships between Duch and Hor?” “I am not sure. But I know that Hor was very scared of Duch.” During an interview he gave to the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) on October 20th 2004, the witness said that “Nath [S-21 director before Duch] was scared of Duch” even though he was himself the director of the division. Suos Thy simply repeated what he had said about Hor and added that, generally, “subordinates were very scared of their superiors.”

What about “S-21 C”?
The defence’s turn. Kar Savuth had the witness confirm there was not a chance that a S-21 detainee be sent to Prey Sar (S-24), in order to invalidate the testimony of a civil party (Nam Mon), who came to testify before the Chamber on July 9th and 13th. The lawyer returned to the various codenames for the different S-21 units listed by the witness on the previous day. He asked him if “S-21 C” had existed, as he had only talked about “S-21 A,” “S-21 B” and “S-21 D.” Suos Thy did not know and the question was therefore asked to the accused. Duch first explained that the superior echelon only referred to “S-21” and that he had not heard of the other names at the time. His research led him to understand recently that the staff used letters after S-21 to designate its different branches. He concluded that “S-21 C” corresponded to the plantations of vegetables and stockbreeding, inherited from division 703, located in Takmau.

“At S-21, fear was my faithful companion”
“You said you never received any direct orders from Duch. Is that correct?” “That is correct.” “Did you ever meet Duch in person?” “I think it was an occasion that presented itself rarely.” When the lawyer asked him whether the Central Committee supervised S-21, the witness answered: “On this point, we are at a level far too high in relation to the function I used to have.” “Did you like your work?” “I hated my work. But could anyone object? No. So, I had to do what I was asked to do.” “During those 3 years, 8 months and 20 days, can you tell us about the fear you felt?” “During the time I worked at S-21, fear was my faithful companion because people were arrested and killed.” “Today, do you regret participating to the elimination of innocent lives?” “Today, I feel a lot of remorse and I feel pity for those people who were arrested and killed,” Suos Thy answered.

A truthful and informative testimony, according to the accused
Duch was already standing, ready to make his observations that conclude the witness’ testimony. The accused said he recognised that Suos Thy was indeed a S-21 staff member. “I do not need any document to know it, I know it because I know him.” He added the testimony “reflected appropriately the foundations of truth.” He mentioned “several incidents” he was not aware of during the functioning of S-21 but which will be “useful to the Chamber and the Cambodian people to understand better what happened at S-21.” The accused saluted Suos Thy’s honesty, without failing to recall that he was not in direct contact with him since he was the main person in charge of S-21 “and therefore the one most responsible for the crimes” that were committed there. Duch bowed to the judges before taking his seat back.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 28/07/2009: Suos Thy during Duch’s trial
©Stéphanie Gée

In many ways, Suos Thy brought grist to Duch’s mill, by evoking a S-21 director who was hardly visible within the prison, and a deputy, Hor, who dealt with the daily affairs in the security centre. Since April 27th, the accused had confided in court that he was too busy by the reading of confessions and had let Hor in charge of military affairs, which encompassed arrests, interrogations and the smashing of detainees. The task of supervising was Hor’s, he said on June 16th, adding on June 25th he had delegated “large powers” to his deputies.

A briefest of statements but an unclear one
A clerk then read, on a speedy pace, the statement made to the investigators of the office of the co-Investigating Judges by a witness – a 54-year-old man named My Peng Kry – on November 29th 2007. The former Khmer Rouge combatant, who joined the struggle since 1973, became three years later a driver at S-21, assigned to this post by the chief of staff. He was then assigned to Prey Sar until the fall of Phnom Penh in 1979. One wondered what his testimony brought. Kar Savuth then requested that the witness’ declarations at the reconstruction at Tuol Sleng on February 26th 2008 be read and the accused be allowed to comment afterwards. The reading of the document was soon interrupted. There was a problem. The president: “The Chamber informs […] that the document […] concerns other witness who are still due to appear. Yet, their identity cannot be disclosed until then.” The Chamber also planned for the reading of testimonies of three witnesses already heard during the investigation, which was also postponed to a later date.

The hearing will resume on Monday August 3rd.
READ MORE - Is Duch’s trial set on the wrong track?