Can you top these?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cambodian vendor transport goods on truck across the Cambodia-Vietnam border at Bavet in Svay Rieng province 120km (72miles) east of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2010 . REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Cambodian vendors transport goods using motorcycle at the Cambodia-Vietnam border at Bavet in Svay Rieng province 120 km (72 miles) east of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2010 . REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
READ MORE - Can you top these?

Korea Expressway signs construction deal with Cambodia

Friday, February 26, 2010
The Korea Herald (South Korea)

Korea's state-run Korea Expressway Corp. said Friday it has signed a $2.65 million deal with the Cambodian government to improve and build new roadways for the Southeast Asian country.

The clinching of the deal came after Korea Expressway, in a consortium with Korea's Sambo Engineering Co., submitted a proposal to the Cambodian government for a road project there in October last year, it said.

The project calls for the consortium to design and supervise the improvement of two national highways and one local road and the construction of a detour in the Southeast Asian country. Completion of the project, expected to begin next month, is slated for June 2013, the company said in a statement.
READ MORE - Korea Expressway signs construction deal with Cambodia

Viettel conquers Cambodia's mobile market ... just like Hanoi controls Hun Xen's regime?

Viettel conquers Cambodia's mobile market

February, 27 2010
VietNam News (Hanoi)

HA NOI — Viettel Cambodia, a subsidiary of Viet Nam's military-run telecom service provider, now owns 42 per cent of the base transceiver stations (BTS) and 88 per cent the optic-fibre cable in Cambodia.

In terms of subscribers, it now holds the second place just six months after becoming operational.

The telecom provider aims to obtain a turnover of US$250 million this year. It also plans to have 3,000 BTS for 2G services and 1,500 BTS for its 3G network. It is also looking to increase its optic-fibre cable network to between 15,000 and 16,000 kilometres.

Viettel said it was looking to have a 46 per cent share of the fixed-line subscriber market, and 90 per cent of the mobile phone and ADSL markets.

The group is now the leading Vietnamese investor in foreign countries.

This year, it plans to invest in Bangladesh, while expanding its market share in other foreign countries.

The group said its targeted turnover this year was VND75 trillion to VND78 trillion ($4-4.2 billion), an increase of 60 per cent to 70 per cent against last year.

In the domestic market, its BTS and optic-fibre cable infrastructure has increased by 50 per cent. It has 26,000 stations for 2G and 3G services and 90,000 kilometres of cable.

The telecom provider plans to have 7,000 operational BTS for 3G services in Viet Nam.

Viettel deputy general director Nguyen Manh Hung said the group would be responsible for designing its products, while they would be assembled in mainland China or Taiwan.

Hung said his company decided to invest in producing made-in-Viet Nam mobile phone products to meet the demand of Viet Nam's 40 million subscribers. It is anticipated that there will be 50 million subscribers by the end of this year.
READ MORE - Viettel conquers Cambodia's mobile market ... just like Hanoi controls Hun Xen's regime?

Cambodia opens luxury casino [belonging to Hun Xen's crony]

VIP room at the Titan King Casino (Photo: Titan King Casino)

February 26, 2010
Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia


Cambodia opened a luxury, $100 million casino Friday hoping to attract more foreign tourists and promote its fast-growing entertainment industry, casino owners said.

The Titan King Casino, located along the Vietnam border, is one of a number that have sprung up along the country's frontiers with Vietnam and Thailand, attracting thousands of gamblers.

The Ministry of Finance says Cambodia earned $19 million from 29 casinos in 2008. But revenue fell to $17 million in 2009 because of a decline in tourist arrivals and a border dispute with Thailand.

The Titan King Casino is owned by Kith Thieng, a business tycoon close to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In a message posted on the casino's Web site, Kith Thieng said the town of Bavet, where the casino is located, was fast becoming an entertainment center "much like Las Vegas and Macau." Bavet is 68 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of the capital Phnom Penh.

Hear Sopheaktra, assistant to the owner, said the casino would help attract more foreign tourists.
READ MORE - Cambodia opens luxury casino [belonging to Hun Xen's crony]

Govts to move ahead on border demarcation

Friday, 26 February 2010
Meas Sokchea
The Phnom Penh Post

It was mostly Vietnamese engineers who planted those posts – there was only one [official] from Cambodia who followed the Vietnamese experts” - Kimsour Phirith, SRP spokesman
CAMBODIAN and Vietnamese officials say they are pushing forward bilateral demarcation efforts on northern stretches of the two countries’ 1,270-kilometre shared border.

The state-run Voice of Vietnam radio station announced on Wednesday that army engineers in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong were
gearing up for the planting of eight border markers on the frontier with Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also announced Wednesday that, by the end of 2010, the government was hoping to finish the demarcation process for the 500-kilometre stretch of border running from the northernmost point of Ratanakkiri province into Kratie province.

“To the east we are searching to plant the [border] markers. This year [we] are trying to demarcate 500 kilometres [of the border], starting from where the Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese borders meet down to Kratie province,” he said.

The demarcation of the border with Vietnam has been dogged by controversy in recent months, with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) alleging that four border markers in Svay Rieng province have been placed up to 500 metres inside Cambodia’s legal territory, as defined on French- and American-drawn maps.

Government officials deny the allegations, saying party president Sam Rainsy falsified public documents in order to demonstrate the incursions were real.

SRP spokesman Kimsour Phirith said that the party also planned to investigate the placement of border markers in other provinces, citing a lack of transparency in the placing of the Svay Rieng markers.

It was mostly Vietnamese engineers who planted those posts – there was only one [official] from Cambodia who followed the Vietnamese experts,” he said, adding that the investigations would begin in Mondulkiri.

When contacted on Thursday, Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, did not give many details on the progress of the demarcation process in the northeast, but said they would be carried out bilaterally, with the involvement of both Cambodian and Vietnamese officials.

“We plan to finish planting demarcation posts in Mondulkiri according to the bilateral plan after we have a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City,” he said.

Mondulkiri provincial Governor Chan Yoeun and Kratie provincial Governor Kham Phoen could not be reached for comment.
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READ MORE - Govts to move ahead on border demarcation

Media progress when reporters are sent to jail for their opinion?

Hang Chakra, editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, is still in jail (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

Minister hails media progress in ’09

Friday, 26 February 2010

Kim Yuthana
The Phnom Penh Post


CAMBODIA’S media sector improved in both quality and quantity in 2009, providing more Cambodian news and entertainment, and moving the country further along the path to freedom of expression, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.

“The media and broadcasting sector in Cambodia has been improving continually, which means a lot of contribution to the strengthening of democracy and guarantees of press freedom in Cambodia,” he said at the launch of the ministry’s annual report.

The minister also applauded the efforts of journalists, who have all “tried their best” to give people the highest-calibre media services possible and to create information links between citizens and the government.

Khieu Kanharith’s comments, however, come just days after a report by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, which documented the government’s legal cases against journalists in 2009.

The report says the jailing of Khmer Machas Srok publisher Hang Chakra in July last year broke a pledge made by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2006 that journalists would no longer be jailed for what they wrote.

“The jailing of several opposition journalists has cruelly shown that the promise has not been kept. It has been compounded by judicial harassment of government opponents and the journalists who interview them,” it stated.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said that even though the media sector in Cambodia had improved remarkably, press freedom had fallen away.

He said that action against journalists now takes the form of defamation lawsuits rather than street violence, but that legal threats are as much an “obstacle” to the proper performance of their profession.

According to a ministry report summing up its work in 2009, Cambodia is now home to 385 national newspapers, 172 national magazines, 43 international newspapers, 28 international magazines, 10 imported newspapers, 11 international news agencies, 21 journalist associations, 133 printing houses and six publishing establishments.
READ MORE - Media progress when reporters are sent to jail for their opinion?

Who will be Big Brother?

Ministers differ on Internet controls

Friday, 26 February 2010

Brooke Lewis and Sam Rith
The Phnom Penh Post


SENIOR ministers on Thursday were in apparent disagreement over the extent to which the state-owned company Telecom Cambodia would be able to block access to individual Web sites if it were granted control of the country’s Internet exchange – a move both company and government officials are reportedly looking to implement as soon as possible.

An official from the company on Tuesday said it would seek to block access to Web sites deemed inappropriate for a range of reasons, a statement that drew fresh outcry from representatives of the private telecommunications sector, one of whom said it could be “very dangerous” for the government to filter online content.

However, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Thursday said the government had not told Telecom Cambodia that it could play a role in blocking Web sites.

“I don’t know what authority they’re saying that under,” he said in reference to the Telecom Cambodia official’s comments.

“The government doesn’t have any policy on that.”

Under the centralisation plan, all Internet service providers (ISPs) would be funneled through exchange points run by TC, which has indicated it will charge for the service. Currently, two domestic Internet exchange points are run by private companies free of charge.

Khieu Kanharith added that although the government is capable of blocking access to Web sites, it has no intention of doing so, and that there are unresolved questions about whether censorship policies should be implemented.

“Who should decide what should be filtered?” he said. “We have the technology, but we don’t think it’s appropriate” to filter content.

However, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said Thursday that the practice of monitoring and blocking online content would be entirely consistent with TC’s role in supporting the work of his ministry.

Referring to “inappropriate” Web sites, he said, “After we inform those Web site owners and they still don’t close their Web sites, we will tell TC, which [will have] the right to block Web sites,” he said.

A telecommunications industry representative who spoke on condition of anonymity said Thursday that the two officials’ contradictory statements could be taken as evidence that the MPTC was on the verge of overstepping its role, which is supposed to be that of a free market regulator. “The Ministry of Information is stating the law – only a judge has the authority to decide what can be censored, and they are upholding that,” he said.

So Khun did not fully endorse the statements made earlier this week by the TC’s deputy director, Chin Daro, who said the company would aim to block Web sites that featured pornographic content or material that is critical of the government.

“If any Web site attacks the government, or any Web site displays inappropriate images such as pornography, or it’s against the principle of the government, we can block all of them,” Chin Daro said. “If TC plays the role of the exchange point, it will benefit Cambodian society because the government has trust in us, and we can control Internet consumption.”

On Thursday, So Khun denied that TC would have the authority to block access to Web sites that were critical of the government, or that the government would want those Web sites blocked. “The government blocks only pornographic Web sites,” he said.

In any case, rights groups and private telecommunications sector representatives have expressed concern over the plan to funnel traffic through TC’s exchange point, with some painting it as a threat to freedom of information.

MPTC and TC officials have said that the proposal stems from national security interests and a desire to preserve cultural values, but some private sector representatives have countered that the government is attempting to mask an attempt to make money from Internet traffic.
READ MORE - Who will be Big Brother?

Transportation in Cambodia

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cambodian vendors transport goods using motorcycle at the Cambodia-Vietnam border at Bavet in Svay Rieng province 120 km (72 miles) east of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2010 . REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian vendor transport goods on truck across the Cambodia-Vietnam border at Bavet in Svay Rieng province 120km (72miles) east of Phnom Penh, February 26, 2010 . REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
READ MORE - Transportation in Cambodia

Cambodia opens luxury casino

Feb 26, 2010
AP

PHNOM PENH (Cambodia) - CAMBODIA opened a luxury, US$100 million casino on Friday hoping to attract more foreign tourists and promote its fast-growing entertainment industry, casino owners said.

The Titan King Casino, located along the Vietnam border, is one of a number that have sprung up along the country's frontiers with Vietnam and Thailand, attracting thousands of gamblers.

The Ministry of Finance says Cambodia earned US$19 million from 29 casinos in 2008. But revenue fell to US$17 million in 2009 because of a decline in tourist arrivals and a border dispute with Thailand.

The Titan King Casino is owned by Mr Kith Thieng, a business tycoon close to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In a message posted on the casino's website, Mr Kith Thieng said the town of Bavet, where the casino is located, was fast becoming an entertainment centre, 'much like Las Vegas and Macau'. Bavet is 68 miles (110 kilometres) south-east of the capital Phnom Penh.

Mr Hear Sopheaktra, assistant to the owner, said the casino would help attract more foreign tourists.
READ MORE - Cambodia opens luxury casino

Cambodian opposition leader faces new lawsuit

February 26, 2010
Xinhua

Cambodia's opposition leader faced a new lawsuit Friday filed by the government for spreading false information and public document, a government lawyer said.

Ky Tech, a government lawyer said he had submitted a government lawsuit on Friday to a Phnom Penh Court against Sam Rainsy for his spreading false information and public document through website relating to border issues.

Sam Rainsy, was convicted by a provincial court late last month to two years in prison for his involvement in border markers removals and that the court found him guilty of destroying public property.

Sam Rainsy who is now in France was not available for comment, but his party's spokesman, Kim Sourphirith said the latest lawsuit was not a "surprise".

It is not yet known when the court will take action against Sam Rainsy.

Ky Tech said according to the laws, Sam Rainsy might face up to three years in jail for false information charge and 15 years for spreading fake public document relating to border issues.
READ MORE - Cambodian opposition leader faces new lawsuit

Cambodia to again sue opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Mr Rainsy says the charges are an attempt to silence the opposition

Friday, 26 February 2010

BBC News
"The court in Cambodia is just a political tool for the ruling party to crack down on the opposition ... I will let this politically subservient court prosecute me in absentia because its verdict is known in advance" - Opposition leader Sam Rainsy
The Cambodian government has filed a new lawsuit against leading opposition figure Sam Rainsy.

The government accuses Mr Rainsy of forging public documents and spreading false information about a border dispute with Vietnam.

Mr Rainsy, who is living in exile, was given a two-year jail term last month for a political protest in which markers along the border were uprooted.

He could face up to 18 years in prison if found guilty of the latest charges.

"The lawsuit involves forging public documents and publicising disinformation related to the forgery of a map in order to manipulate the public over the border issue with Vietnam," government lawyer Ky Tech told the AFP news agency.

'Political tool'

In January, Mr Rainsy was given the two-year jail term in his absence for encouraging villagers to uproot the border markings.

He did not attend the hearing, saying in an e-mail believed to have been sent from France, that the case against him was politically motivated.

"The court in Cambodia is just a political tool for the ruling party to crack down on the opposition," he said.

"I will let this politically subservient court prosecute me in absentia because its verdict is known in advance."

Cambodia and Vietnam officially began demarcating their contentious border in September 2006, in a bid to end decades of territorial disputes.

The 1,270-kilometre (790-mile) border has remained essentially unmarked and vague since French colonial times, with stone markers and boundary flags having disappeared, while trees once lining it were cut down.

Mr Rainsy's party accuses the Cambodian government of ceding territory to its larger and more powerful neighbour.
READ MORE - Cambodia to again sue opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Vietnam helps build information system for Cambodian legislature [-Couldn't Cambodia do anything on her own?]

02/26/2010
VOV News

The National Assemblies of Vietnam and Cambodia will soon kick-start a project to install network equipment for information processing and Intranet access at all agencies of the Cambodia National Assembly.

The agreement was reached at a working session between the two countries’ legislators during a visit to Cambodia from February 22-27 by a Vietnam National Assembly delegation.

In the first phase of the US$300,000 project funded by the Vietnam National Assembly, Vietnam will supply servers, computers and transmission lines to Cambodia this year and will complete the installation of equipment for the Intranet to support information processing between Cambodia’s NA agencies during the second phase one year later.

While in Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese delegation, led by Nguyen Si Dung, deputy head of the NA Office, was received by Cambodian National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin, who praised the effective cooperation between the two legislatures.

Chairman Heng Samrin thanked the Vietnamese Party, National Assembly and Government for providing great assistance to Cambodia in its past struggle for national liberation and in its current process of national construction.
READ MORE - Vietnam helps build information system for Cambodian legislature [-Couldn't Cambodia do anything on her own?]

Thai Court Rules to Seize $1.4 Billion From Thaksin

A supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra walked past a poster showing the fugitive prime minister

FEBRUARY 26, 2010

By PHISANU PHROMCHANYA
The Wall Street Journal


BANGKOK—Thailand's Supreme Court ruled Friday to seize 46 billion baht ($1.4 billion) of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's assets.

The ruling—tied to gains that Mr. Thaksin's family made from selling a stake in Shin Corp. PCL—could anger Mr. Thaksin's supporters and ignite a fresh wave of political upheaval.

According to the verdict from the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, 46.37 billion baht of Mr. Thaksin's frozen assets, plus interest, will be seized.

The judges said they decided on the amount because it was equal to the difference in value of Shin Corp. shares from the date before he came to office and the value when the shares were sold to Singapore's Temasek Holdings in early 2006.

The court ruled the fugitive ex-leader was found to be the actual owner of Shin Corp. shares while in power, which violated the law. Mr. Thaksin also was found guilty of abuse of power for using his authority as the government leader to grant privileges to Shin Corp.'s units.

Ahead of the verdict, Thai shares closed 0.6% higher at 721.37, while the dollar edged down to 33.04 to 33.05 baht from 33.06 to 33.065 baht late Thursday as there were no signs of violence.

Mr. Thaksin was the founder of Shin Corp., and his family earned 76 billion baht tax-free when it sold its stake to Temasek, infuriating his opponents. The family wasn't obligated to sell because of Mr. Thaksin's role as prime minister, a post he had held since 2001, but decided to do so.

The tax-free nature of the deal triggered mass protests and eventually led to a bloodless military coup in September of that year.

Mr. Thaksin's supporters are mostly poor farmers in northern and northeastern provinces, and low-income earners in urban areas. Identified by their red shirts, Thaksin supporters have staged a number of antigovernment rallies over the past year, including riots last April during a summit of the Association of South East Asia Nations. ASEAN leaders fled the venue, humiliating the host Thai government.

Thousands of security forces were deployed across Thailand Friday ahead of the verdict in preparation for any possible violence. Security was also tight at the Supreme Court, but Bangkok was largely operating as normal.

Mr. Thaksin fled Thailand in late 2008 after a court convicted him of abuse of power and sentenced him to two years in prison. He continues to generate enormous divisions in Thailand, often taunting Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from Dubai—where Mr. Thaksin now is based—and addressing supporters by telephone or video-link.
READ MORE - Thai Court Rules to Seize $1.4 Billion From Thaksin

Cambodia files new suit against opposition leader

The Cambodian government has filed a fresh lawsuit against the country's fugitive opposition leader, Sam Rainsy (pictured), over claims he forged and published a false map of the border with neighbouring Vietnam.

26/02/2010

AFP

The Cambodian government Friday filed a fresh lawsuit against the country's fugitive opposition leader over claims he forged and published a false map of the border with neighbouring Vietnam.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in France, was sentenced in absentia last month to two years in prison over a related conviction for uprooting border posts and inciting racial discrimination.

The new lawsuit was filed with Phnom Penh Municipal Court, government lawyer Ky Tech told AFP.

"The lawsuit involves forging public documents and publicising disinformation related to the forgery of a map in order to manipulate the public over the border issue with Vietnam," Ky Tech said.

In his January conviction, Sam Rainsy and two villagers were found guilty of intentionally damaging temporary border posts last October.

In the new case he is accused of posting a "fake map" of the border on his party's website, which the government says depicts incorrect border markings with Vietnam.

No formal map has yet been agreed between the two countries.

Sam Rainsy could face up to 15 years in prison for forging public documents and up to three years in jail for disseminating false information if convicted, the lawyer said.

Neither he nor his party spokesman could be reached for comment.

Cambodia and Vietnam officially began demarcating their contentious border in September 2006 after decades of territorial disputes.

Anti-Vietnamese sentiment in Cambodia in rife, fuelled by resentment at Vietnam's expansion over the centuries and the feeling that Cambodia is losing some of its territory.

But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen maintains close relations with the Vietnamese regime and Sam Rainsy, whose party shares his name, has repeatedly accused the government of ceding land to Vietnam.

Vietnam and Cambodia share a 1,270-kilometre (790-mile) border, which has remained vague since French colonial times.

French-educated former finance minister Sam Rainsy is the main rival to Hun Sen. He has promised to promote liberal democracy and human rights, raise wages and fight corruption if elected.

Hun Sen this week accused Sam Rainsy of treachery for trying to stir up problems at the Vietnamese border while Cambodia is already embroiled in a bitter border dispute with Thailand.
READ MORE - Cambodia files new suit against opposition leader

Thailand undaunted over Hun Sen's planned border visit: Suthep

BANGKOK, Feb 26 (TNA) - Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday downplayed concerns over the planned weekend visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to Cambodian troops near the Thai border, saying security measures along the border have been well-prepared.

Mr Suthep, who oversees national security, commented following news reports of Cambodian English-language newspaper the Phnom Penh Post that Mr Hun Sen will visit his troops near the Thai border in Battambang province on Saturday, while soldiers in Kampong Chhnang province will also conduct military exercises and will test launch BM-21 rockets on March 5.

The deputy Thai premier said it is normal for Mr Hun Sen to travel wherever he wants, but the Thai government has already put security measures in place along the Thai-Cambodian border. He suggested there was no need for anything in addition.

"I don't believe that the arms test will threaten Thailand's security," Mr Suthep said. "The Thai army stands ready to protect our national sovereignty."

Mr Hun Sen was earlier quoted as telling a Phnom Penh newspaper that the rocket tests are aimed to strengthen the abilities of the country's military. Though the rockets are capable of travelling 40 km, troops would normally fire them at less than half the distance.

We are not flexing our muscles – this is work to strengthen the abilities of the military in national defence,” Mr Hun Sen said.

The Cambodian leader, who earlier described Mr Thaksin as his true friend, appointing him adviser to the Cambodian government, however dismissed accusations that his trip is linked to Thailand's court verdict on the Bt76 billion (US$2.3 billion) frozen assets of his friend on Friday, saying this weekend's planned visit is a "normal" visit to the soldiers--do not try to link the problems in Bangkok on February 26 to my visit on February 27.”

Early this month, the Cambodian premier visited his troops stationed near the Thai border and the ancient Preah Vihear temple, claiming that the visit is aimed at boosting the spirit of the Cambodian troops.

But he was denied entry by Thai authorities to the Ta Muen Thom ruins which located in Thailand's Surin province for safety concerns as supporters of anti-Thaksin movement People's Alliance for Democracy were rallying not far from the renowned ruins.
READ MORE - Thailand undaunted over Hun Sen's planned border visit: Suthep

Cambodia files new suit against opposition leader

The Cambodian government has filed a fresh lawsuit against the country's fugitive opposition leader, Sam Rainsy (pictured), over claims he forged and published a false map of the border with neighbouring Vietnam.

26/02/2010

AFP

The Cambodian government Friday filed a fresh lawsuit against the country's fugitive opposition leader over claims he forged and published a false map of the border with neighbouring Vietnam.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in France, was sentenced in absentia last month to two years in prison over a related conviction for uprooting border posts and inciting racial discrimination.

The new lawsuit was filed with Phnom Penh Municipal Court, government lawyer Ky Tech told AFP.

"The lawsuit involves forging public documents and publicising disinformation related to the forgery of a map in order to manipulate the public over the border issue with Vietnam," Ky Tech said.

In his January conviction, Sam Rainsy and two villagers were found guilty of intentionally damaging temporary border posts last October.

In the new case he is accused of posting a "fake map" of the border on his party's website, which the government says depicts incorrect border markings with Vietnam.

No formal map has yet been agreed between the two countries.

Sam Rainsy could face up to 15 years in prison for forging public documents and up to three years in jail for disseminating false information if convicted, the lawyer said.

Neither he nor his party spokesman could be reached for comment.

Cambodia and Vietnam officially began demarcating their contentious border in September 2006 after decades of territorial disputes.

Anti-Vietnamese sentiment in Cambodia in rife, fuelled by resentment at Vietnam's expansion over the centuries and the feeling that Cambodia is losing some of its territory.

But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen maintains close relations with the Vietnamese regime and Sam Rainsy, whose party shares his name, has repeatedly accused the government of ceding land to Vietnam.

Vietnam and Cambodia share a 1,270-kilometre (790-mile) border, which has remained vague since French colonial times.

French-educated former finance minister Sam Rainsy is the main rival to Hun Sen. He has promised to promote liberal democracy and human rights, raise wages and fight corruption if elected.

Hun Sen this week accused Sam Rainsy of treachery for trying to stir up problems at the Vietnamese border while Cambodia is already embroiled in a bitter border dispute with Thailand.
READ MORE - Cambodia files new suit against opposition leader

Thailand undaunted over Hun Sen's planned border visit: Suthep

BANGKOK, Feb 26 (TNA) - Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday downplayed concerns over the planned weekend visit of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to Cambodian troops near the Thai border, saying security measures along the border have been well-prepared.

Mr Suthep, who oversees national security, commented following news reports of Cambodian English-language newspaper the Phnom Penh Post that Mr Hun Sen will visit his troops near the Thai border in Battambang province on Saturday, while soldiers in Kampong Chhnang province will also conduct military exercises and will test launch BM-21 rockets on March 5.

The deputy Thai premier said it is normal for Mr Hun Sen to travel wherever he wants, but the Thai government has already put security measures in place along the Thai-Cambodian border. He suggested there was no need for anything in addition.

"I don't believe that the arms test will threaten Thailand's security," Mr Suthep said. "The Thai army stands ready to protect our national sovereignty."

Mr Hun Sen was earlier quoted as telling a Phnom Penh newspaper that the rocket tests are aimed to strengthen the abilities of the country's military. Though the rockets are capable of travelling 40 km, troops would normally fire them at less than half the distance.

We are not flexing our muscles – this is work to strengthen the abilities of the military in national defence,” Mr Hun Sen said.

The Cambodian leader, who earlier described Mr Thaksin as his true friend, appointing him adviser to the Cambodian government, however dismissed accusations that his trip is linked to Thailand's court verdict on the Bt76 billion (US$2.3 billion) frozen assets of his friend on Friday, saying this weekend's planned visit is a "normal" visit to the soldiers--do not try to link the problems in Bangkok on February 26 to my visit on February 27.”

Early this month, the Cambodian premier visited his troops stationed near the Thai border and the ancient Preah Vihear temple, claiming that the visit is aimed at boosting the spirit of the Cambodian troops.

But he was denied entry by Thai authorities to the Ta Muen Thom ruins which located in Thailand's Surin province for safety concerns as supporters of anti-Thaksin movement People's Alliance for Democracy were rallying not far from the renowned ruins.
READ MORE - Thailand undaunted over Hun Sen's planned border visit: Suthep

If found guilty, Sam Rainsy could be sentenced up to 18 years in prison: Ky Tech about Hun Xen's travesty of justice

(Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)

Cambodia's opposition leader faces new lawsuit

Friday, February 26, 2010
AP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Prime Minister Hun Sen's government filed a lawsuit Friday against opposition leader Sam Rainsy that accuses him of spreading false information about a border dispute with Vietnam.

The lawsuit was based on several comments made by Sam Rainsy, who questioned whether Cambodia's border with Vietnam had been incorrectly marked by the government to Cambodia's advantage.

Earlier this week, Hun Sen described Sam Rainsy's comments as treacherous because Cambodia already has a volatile border dispute with Thailand on its northern and western frontiers, so causing trouble with Vietnam could open up a potential second area of confrontation.

The government's lawyer, Ky Tech, filed the lawsuit at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. It accuses Sam Rainsy of spreading false information verbally, which carries a prison term of up to three years, and in public documents on Web sites _ which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

If found guilty, Sam Rainsy could be sentenced up to 18 years in prison, Ky Tech said.

Sam Rainsy is living in exile in Paris and was sentenced in absentia by a Cambodian court last month to two years' imprisonment for a political protest in which border markers on the frontier with Vietnam were uprooted.

The Sam Rainsy Party is the sole opposition party in parliament and Sam Rainsy is a fierce, longtime critic of Hun Sen. His previous tangles with the government have seen him go into self-imposed exile.

Hun Sen was installed after a Vietnamese invasion that ousted the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. He is sympathetic with Hanoi, while Sam Rainsy bases part of his political appeal on pandering to traditional anti-Vietnamese sentiment common among Cambodians who don't trust their much larger neighbor.
READ MORE - If found guilty, Sam Rainsy could be sentenced up to 18 years in prison: Ky Tech about Hun Xen's travesty of justice

Long Beach student, business owner raise funds for toddler's surgery

Millikan High senior Lauren Briand and Socheat Nha in Briand's Long Beach home on Wednesday. (Jeff Gritchen/Press-Telegram)
Socheat Nha at Lauren Briand's home. Behind her is Nha's father, Phin Ken, and her cousin, Kenha Heang, right. (Jeff Gritchen/Press-Telegram)

02/25/2010

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram

Want to help?
  • What: Garage sale fund-raiser
  • When: Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weather permitting.
  • Rain date Saturday March 6
  • Where: 2324 Palo Verde Ave.
  • Information: Bracelets available from Peter Chhun 818-640-6191.
LONG BEACH - A student and a Long Beach business owner are raising money to help save the life of a Cambodian toddler and support the fledgling local nonprofit that finds treatment for destitute children.

When Lauren Briand went to Cambodia, she was looking for a project. At Angkor Children's Hospital, her project found a purpose. Now that purpose has a face.

Lauren and her mom, Debbie, were part of an educational and humanitarian tour to Cambodia led by Cal State Long Beach professor Alex Morales. Lauren was hoping to find something that would inspire her for her upcoming senior project at Millikan High.

The 17-year-old found it when the group went to Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap and saw scores of children in need of help. Already looking ahead to a future in medicine, Lauren found a natural fit in doing something to aid those in need.

However, it remained somewhat abstract - the idea of helping an anonymous child in a country far away whom she likely would never see.

That abstraction disappeared when Hearts Without Boundaries, a Long Beach nonprofit that helps children with heart ailments that can't be treated in Cambodia, decided to bring Socheat Nha to the United States for surgery.

Heather Duncan, owner of Blue Windows, a lifestyle and boutique store in Belmont Shore, had no idea what was ahead when she chose Hearts Without Boundaries to be a beneficiary of a portion of store sales in February. Certainly she never expected that two of the children the nonprofit helps would show up at her shop.

Socheat suffers from a defect known as tetralogy of Fallot. In addition to a large hole in her heart, Socheat has a second hole and other problems.

Possibly due in part to her heart ailments, Socheat weights half the median for an American girl her age.

While the heart condition is treated with relative ease in the U.S., usually in infancy, for the destitute in Cambodia it means a hard life and an early death.

Now, Lauren's QUEST project, raising money to help pay for Socheat's journey, is very real. And the Blue Windows charity drive is a little more personal.

That point was driven home Wednesday when Socheat, 2, and her family paid a visit to the Briand house and later to the Belmont Shore store.

As Socheat played with several toy ponies and chattered away happily in Khmer, Lauren and Deborah were all smiles.

"This makes me want to work SO much harder," Lauren said as she watched Socheat play. "She's a beautiful, vibrant little girl who can use the help. It's inspiring to me."

Lauren has several events lined up to help raise money for Socheat, including a garage sale Saturday, weather permitting, or the following Saturday in case of inclement weather.

There is also talk of a benefit concert in May or June.

Lauren also bought more than 1,000 yellow and white rubber bracelets that say "Help Heal a Heart," which she sells for $2 apiece. More than half of the allotment is already gone.

"A lot of people like them," Lauren said of the bracelets. "Especially when they hear the story."

Lauren has been selling the bracelets at school and community events and Debbie has had them at Carver Elementary, where she teaches fifth grade. More are available at Sophy's Cambodian and Thai restaurant in Long Beach.

Although Debbie said she told students and staffers at Carver about Socheat and her daughter's project, it struck a chord when she brought in newspaper accounts and pictures of the girl.

"(The students) were very excited, because they could see it was this kid," Debbie said. "Once they heard the story and knew it was a real kid, they were more willing to help."

Each month this year, Blue Windows will set aside portions of sales for local charities. In February, 10 percent of sales in jewelry go to Hearts Without Boundaries through Sunday. Duncan expects the amount raised be somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. Duncan is blogging about her experiences online at http://bluewindows.net/journal/.

She picked Hearts Without Boundaries in part because it is a small nonprofit and in part because of the obvious tie-in between hearts and Valentines Day.

"Obviously yesterday was very special," Duncan said of meeting not only Socheat but Davik Teng, the first girl Hearts Without Boundaries brought to the U.S. for surgery. "To go from just picking a charity to meeting the girls is exactly why I did this."

Duncan gave Davik a necklace with hearts and Socheat a stuffed animal.

"This was particularly special," Duncan said. "It's not every time you do something like this that you get to see the face of what you're raising money for."

Peter Chhun, founder of Hearts Without Boundaries, is touched by the response to Socheat's arrival and the return of Davik, whom he first brought to the U.S. two years ago for repair of a quarter-sized hole in her heart.

"It's a great feeling to have all these kinds of support from the community," said Chhun, who recently retired as a news producer at NBC to devote all his time to Hearts Without Boundaries. "I feel so blessed. It really shows that people still care about these destitute children."

Debbie marveled at the circumstances that came together to turn a chance trip to Cambodia into so much more, something she says is life altering.

"It almost makes me feel like (Socheat's) a part of my family now," Debbie said. "Who knew that eight months (after visiting Cambodia) Socheat would be in our house?"

greg.mellen@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1291
READ MORE - Long Beach student, business owner raise funds for toddler's surgery

Victims of acid attack in Cambodia

Oeng Sodine (L), a 18-year-old victim of an acid attack, rests near Som Bunnarith (R), a 39-year-old fellow victim, while receiving treatment at the Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity in Kandal province, west of Phnom Penh February 25, 2010. Cambodia's government is drafting a law to specifically target crimes involving acid attacks amidst a rise in such attacks this year. The government is reviewing similar laws in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to draft tough sentences including life imprisonment for these crimes, police officials said. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity's coordinator Ziad Samman (R), speaks to victims of acid attacks, 39-year-old Som Bunnarith (L), 36-year-old Keo Srey Vy (2nd R) and 18-year-old Oeng Sodine (2nd L) at the Charity in Kandal province, west of Phnom Penh February 25, 2010. Cambodia's government is drafting a law to specifically target crimes involving acid attacks amidst a rise in such attacks this year. The government is reviewing similar laws in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to draft tough sentences including life imprisonment for these crimes, police officials said. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
A victim of an acid attack, 36-year-old Keo Srey Vy (R) looks on during lunch with fellow victims, 18-year-old Oeng Sodine (L) and 21-year-old Ith Mouy Neag (C) at the Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity in Kandal province, west of Phnom Penh February 25, 2010. Cambodia's government is drafting a law to specifically target crimes involving acid attacks amidst a rise in such attacks this year. The government is reviewing similar laws in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to draft tough sentences including life imprisonment for these crimes, police officials said. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
A victim of an acid attack, 21-year-old Ith Mouy Neag (C), reacts while fellow victims, 36-year-old Keo Srey Vy (R) and 18-year-old Oeng Sodine (L) speak at the Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity in Kandal province, west of Phnom Penh February 25, 2010. Cambodia's government is drafting a law to specifically target crimes involving acid attacks amidst a rise in such attacks this year. The government is reviewing similar laws in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to draft tough sentences including life imprisonment for these crimes, police officials said. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Keo Srey Vy, a 36 year-old victim of an acid attack, receives treatment at the Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity in Kandal province, west of Phnom Penh February 25, 2010. Cambodia's government is drafting a law to specifically target crimes involving acid attacks amidst a rise in such attacks this year. The government is reviewing similar laws in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to draft tough sentences including life imprisonment for these crimes, police officials said. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
READ MORE - Victims of acid attack in Cambodia

Who Delay the Anti-corruption Legislation? Op-Ed by Kok Sap

Xok An

25 February 2010
By Kok Sap
http://khamerlogue.wordpress.com

When a government abused laws, the unlawful runs the country.
Constitution-Article 101 states: "The functions of members of the Royal Government shall be incompatible with professional activities in trade or industry and with holding of any position in the public service.” It seems clear that the laws forbid the public servants from involving in private businesses while in office.

The international donors and people want Cambodia National Assembly to pass the anti-corruption and graft law since 1993 Constitution went into effects. But to date such law has been held back despite the outcry from opposition and world donors. The impression is the anti-corruption law is still in the early elephant pregnancy and floating somewhere between Sok An plush office and the Mr. Yes Sir, the President of the Assembly, cabinet. The opposition legislators asked for the copy but they were advised the legislation was still with the Council of Ministers where Sok An’s reign supreme.

This proves the government does not want this law to take effect while it is handled by the most corruptive person in the kingdom. According to the Global Witness Country for Sale and Family Tree reports, that person is the Napoleonic complex aliased Sok An, the CPP blood sucking eight hand avatar.

Because of marital relations with Sen’s family this semi-dwarf avatar wields power tremendously and pulls strings on all ministers included PM Hun Sen and all generals. All dare not to mess with a barely 5 ft. 4 man.

As a second generation migrant of Sino-Yuon descent, he connives his way through from a petit clerk to the prime minister highest confidant and protégé while his hands are in big businesses all the times.

Aside from his private lucrative ventures revenue, he receives self allotted big multiple salaries from government budget. His reputation speaks volume and most feared official in post Pol Pot era. Behind the curtain in party circle, he is amiable and more popular than his talking head boss, Primo Hun Sen. From the internal sources, the eight hand avatar collects annual tribute from the officials whom he has assigned to greasy posts in government service.

Also note most of the foreign aids and assistance must go through Sok An office first. He actually runs Hun Sen’s official and personal life days in and days out. Very rare for him to present at events and escort Hun Sen entourage. He is the most apparent designated interim PM when Hun Sen is not in town or decapitate.

On a monthly basis, imagine how much money this man received from his private entreprise within government control?

Most rooky ministers, Touristic and Gambling Authority, Land Mine Authority, ECCC and the Join Border Commission senior posts must pay due to Sok An to have posts. Since its creation, the Cambodia National Petroleum Authority and revenue collection duty is already given to Sok An.

Beside Sok An, do we know how many deputies are in the Executive Branch?

How many of them in the executive branch do not have professional activities in trade or industry?

Out of the three branches, it appears the Executive and Judiciary collaborates to downplay the Legislative branch. In the essence, majority of the deputies from the ruling party are either incompetent or the accomplices to keep the chamber seats warm. This is how the buck gets stalled whether the anti-corruption and eastern border demarcation legislation. They are not there to be the people representation and defense. No one can tell the difference to what extent of power for the individuals who hold dual roles in both the legislature and government.

In the book, the Constitutional Council shall examine and interpret laws and have the final say on laws. Unfortunately, up to this point, people hadn’t heard from the Constitutional Council legal opinion or advisory on anything yet.

As it seems this body is no more than a rubberstamp for the Executive agendas. So in a nut shell, the Constitution is merely a piece of written laws without spirit and morality.

When a government abused laws, the unlawful runs the country.
READ MORE - Who Delay the Anti-corruption Legislation? Op-Ed by Kok Sap

Government to lodge a lawsuit against Sam Rainsy by today

(Photo: AFP)

Friday, 26 February 2010
By Khmerization
Sources: Kampuchea Thmey and RFI


The Cambodian government said it has completed preparing lawsuit documents against opposition Sam Rainsy and will lodge them with the Phnom Penh Court by today, Friday 26th, report Kampuchea Thmey newspaper and Radio France Internationale.

Mr. Khieu Kanharith, government spokesman and Minister of Information, said Mr. Sam rainsy will be sued for disinformation and faking of public documents. Both charges are criminal offences which carry a jail. However, Mr. Sam Rainsy had been convicted earlier for sabotage and destruction of public property and sentenced in absebtia to 2 years jail when he uprooted 6 border stakes on 25th October 2009.

Mr. Tith Sothea, member of government's Quick Press Reaction Unit, said Mr. Sam Rainsy had faked documents about border encroachments by Vietnam and try confuse and mislead the public, so only the court can decide whether the government or Mr. Sam Rainsy is right.

Radio France Internationale reported that, according to government sources, lawsuit documents against Mr. Sam Rainsy will reach the Phnom Penh Court today. The sources said that Mr. Sam Rainsy is being sued for disinformation and faking public documents under article 49 of UNTAC's Criminal Code which carries penalty of 5 to 15 years jail term if proven.

Mr. Sam Rainsy, who is living in exile in Paris, has said that he is not concerned with the new lawsuits. Mr. Kimsour Phirith, acting spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the new lawsuits against Mr. Sam Rainsy is a political oppression carried out to contain the influence of the opposition parties.
READ MORE - Government to lodge a lawsuit against Sam Rainsy by today

In Journalists Acquittal, Lessons All Around

RFA Reporter Sok Serey
Khmer Machas Srok Editor Hang Chakra

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
25 February 2010


Last week’s acquittal of a Radio Free Asia reporter accused of disinformation has been welcomed by advocacy groups as well as the UN, but observers warn that a number of journalists remain in jail for doing their jobs.

Immediately following the decision of Takeo provincial court, which had tried radio journalist Sok Serey after a story on local corruption, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights touted the decision as “encouraging development for freedom of expression.”

Ou Virak, president of the organization, told VOA Khmer on Tuesday that all courts should consider the possibility of malicious intent when charges are brought against journalists.

In Sok Serey’s case, it was a local official accused of corruption who brought the suit, which carries a criminal charge under Cambodian law. Takeo court officials cited a lack of evidence and malicious intent as the reasons behind the acquittal.

“Judgments in past cases did not take into account that intent,” Ou Virak said. “Only the court in Takeo did.”

The UN’s office for human rights in Phnom Penh called the decision “a significant step towards the protection of the right of human rights defenders and journalists to freely and peacefully express themselves on matters of public interest, without fear of reprisals”.

Sok Serey, two members of the Cambodia-Muslim community and two local rights activists were charged with disinformation following their interviews alleging that the local Muslim imam, Riem Math, and two other members of the committee were involved in corruption.

Ny San, a community member, was subsequently jailed as a result of the case. He will serve five months in jail and was fined $250.

While the decision itself received praise, Reporters Without Borders called for the release of Hang Chakra, the editor of Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, who remains in jail after publishing a story alleging corruption within the powerful Council of Ministers, which is led by Cabinet Minister Sok An.

Reporters Without Borders also called on a re-investigation into the murder of journalist Khim Sambor, who was gunned down along with his son in Phnom Penh ahead of 2008’s July elections.

For Pen Samithy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Sok Serey’s case served as a reminder that journalists much maintain professionalism and care.

“Long-working journalists will know what to be cautious about,” he said. “This includes keeping their records and finding a balance [in reporting], and the only way to protect themselves is to increase their adherence to facts.”
READ MORE - In Journalists Acquittal, Lessons All Around

THAKSIN'S D-DAY: Where are Shinawatra kids today?

The three children of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and his ex-wife Khunying Pojaman na Pombejra are not attending the much-awaited reading of the verdict today on their Bt76-billion frozen assets.

February 26, 2010

The Nation

None of them is travelling overseas or making any statements after the Supreme Court's verdict has been read out, their publicists say, adding: "They are at a safe house in Bangkok."

The reading of the verdict is expected to begin at 2pm today, once the judges convene at 1.30pm.

Meanwhile, Thaksin will be addressing MPs and Pheu Thai Party members via a phone-link at the party headquarters. Leading figures expected to be there include former premiers Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Somchai Wongsawat - Thaksin's brother-in-law - along with his wife Yaowapa, Thaksin's brother Payap and sister Yingluck.

Thakin's live messages will also be broadcast from 9am on a satellite channel and the website run by his two children.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's whereabouts are being kept confidential due to security concerns.

A war room has been set up at the Democrat Party's headquarters, where the situation will be monitored all day and daily meetings will continue "until the situation is eased". Most Democrats and party MPs are advised not to go to the courtroom, except for former leader Banyat Banthadthan, who is a lawyer. The war room's operations and the Democrat Party's daily meetings will be coordinated with a situation-monitoring committee set up by the government.

Army chief General Anupong Paochinda is on standby at the Army Headquarters, as are commanders of the Navy and the Air Force.

The three core red-shirt leaders - Veera Musigapong, Nattawut Saikua and Jatuporn Promphan - are at the People Channel TV station at a shopping mall on Lat Phrao Road and are expected to make statements after the verdict is read out.
READ MORE - THAKSIN'S D-DAY: Where are Shinawatra kids today?

Political chaos looms, adding to uncertainty

Thaksin speaks to a red-shirt meeting from Dubai - So connected, so alone


Tensions may even escalate, say pundits

26/02/2010

Parista Yuthamanop
Bangkok Post


While today's landmark court case regarding ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra will have profound implications for his family's wealth, few, if any, pundits expect the ruling to mark the end of the political and social conflicts that have split the country.

Indeed, political tensions within the fragile coalition government of Abhisit Vejjajiva may well escalate, judging from the signs of growing disgruntlement among the partners.

The fear for the business community is that the Year of the Tiger will continue to be one of uncertainty and risk. Mr Abhisit's first year in office focused primarily on short-term stimulus programmes aimed at easing the country out of the recession. Political reconciliation largely took a back seat to economic survival.

Supavud Saicheua, a managing director of Phatra Securities, noted that during the Surayud Chulanont government, investor confidence was shaken by initiatives to tighten enforcement of the Foreign Business Act and the use of nominee shareholding structures. Authorities later backed away from such changes in the face of investor opposition.

"In the eyes of investors, the rules of the game change when politics change," he said.

Thailand's political instability has cast a negative light on the country's image, and complicated efforts to develop long-term development strategies for the country. Successive governments, for instance, have recognised the need to reduce Thailand's dependence on exports for growth - but the country depends on exports as much as ever, a danger for the medium term considering the tenuous state of the global economic recovery. Private investment meanwhile has plummeted since the 2006 military coup.

Sethaput Suthiwart-narueput, the chief economist at Siam Commercial Bank, says Thailand today relies on exports and consumption more than ever.

While most Asian economies have seen private investment rebound to match that prior to the 1997 Asian economic crisis, in Thailand, investment is at just 70% of pre-crisis levels.

"One change after the 1997 economic crisis was that the investors became more cautious. But the government has not invested," Mr Sethaput said.

Earlier this week, a survey by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) showed Thailand as the fourth most attractive regional investment destination for Japanese firms, after China, India and Vietnam. In recent years, Vietnam has surged past Thailand in attracting foreign investment.

Inadequate logistics networks, particularly rail networks, has resulted in Thailand being one of the most dependent and inefficient users of oil in the region relative to economic output.

The government hopes that the Thai Khem Khaeng project, committing 1.43 trillion baht over the next three years, will help address the problems in national infrastructure and pave the way for a more efficient, productive economy in the future.
READ MORE - Political chaos looms, adding to uncertainty

EU To Help ‘Bridge Gap’ in Food Security

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
25 February 2010


The European Union announced Thursday it will provide $25 million for five projects to help Cambodia deal with climate change and rising food prices.

“The EU has decided to implement a very big program of food security that will help the poor people in rural areas of Cambodia to go to overcome this food price,” Ajay Markanday, Cambodia’s Food and Agricultural Organization representative, told reporters Thursday.

The projects are designed to “bridge the gap” between emergency food aid and longer-term development, by improving agricultural production, the EU said in a statement.

“This aid project is very important for Cambodia,” Srun Sakhum, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Agriculture, told reporters. “The project will provide rice seedlings and fertilizer and training to the poor farmers to promote agriculture products to avoid food insecurity as Cambodia faces high prices and climate change.”

He also said the projects will promote the growing of produce, the development of fish farms and irrigation improvement. This will improve overall nutrition, he said, and help the country prepare against possible adverse affects of climate change.

Separately on Thursday, the Ministry of Environment joined the EU, UNDP and the Swedish and Dutch development agencies in launching the Cambodian Climate Change Alliance, an effort to join developing countries together in mitigating the effects of climate change.
READ MORE - EU To Help ‘Bridge Gap’ in Food Security

Festival Hopes To Promote Dramatic Heritage

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Washington
25 February 2010


The Ministry of Culture has organized a large drama festival for the first time. The National Lakhaon Festival is running Feb. 18 through Feb. 28, and Ieng Sithul, a music professor at the University of Fine Arts, says the main purpose is to pit rival forms of Cambodian theater against each other.

“Our purpose is to revive Cambodian’s performing arts heritage in its highest form and to encourage the artists to create more stage performances for the sake of sustainability,” said Ieng Sithul, as a guest on “Hello VOA” Monday. “Due to the influence of modern cultures these forms of Cambodian theatre are on the brink of collapse.”

Traditional Cambodian performance is wide and varied, consisting of more than 20 different forms, said Ieng Sithul, who also works for Cambodian Living Arts. Their histories are known from depictions on the temple walls of Angkor Wat and others, he said, and they have passed on from generation to generation.

Khaol drama is among the oldest and most sacred and demonstrates social and religious links between dramatic art forms and Cambodia’s Theravada Buddhism.

Pleng Kar is performed in accompaniment of traditional wedding music and is believed to have appeared as early as the 1st Century, in ceremonies of royalty.

Yike was a popular form of musical theater that appeared in the late 8th Century, during the reign of King Jayavarman II.

Mahori is newer. This dramatic form emerged in the post-Angkorian period, with popular forms of music and themes apart from older forms.

One of the oldest is Sbeak Thom, shadow puppetry, used exclusively to perform epics of the Reamker, or Ramayana.

And there are others. Like Sbeak Por, created between 1859 and 1904.

Or Bassac, strongly influenced by Chinese and Vietnamese opera, from the former Bassac district in the Mekong Delta, an area once known as Kampuchea Krom, or Lower Cambodia. Bassac appeared at the beginning of the 20th Century and showcases stories from Buddha’s life.
READ MORE - Festival Hopes To Promote Dramatic Heritage

Violent abuse in drug treatment centers continues in Cambodia

Glue sniffing is the preferred substance of abuse for children in Cambodia (Photo credit: Creative Commons)

By Rachel Pollock

25 February 2010 [MediaGlobal]: In response to a recent Human Rights Watch report on violent abuse in drug treatment centers in Cambodia, human rights activists are urging United Nations agencies to speak out on the issue. On 16 February 2010, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Phnom Penh issued a report stating that the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has requested that UN Country Team in Cambodia support a provision that would limit the number of compulsory treatment centers in Cambodia by 2015. The RGC is currently working on a proposal to provide community-based drug treatment centers in the Cambodian communities. While progress is encouraging, several UN organizations are still denying these claims of violent abuse and continue to provide monetary support for these drug treatment centers.

Last month Human Rights Watch issued a 93-page report on the atrocities being committed in drug detention centers in Cambodia. The report outlined torture in the form of beatings, whippings and electric shock in 11 drug treatment centers in Cambodia. Drug dependence in Cambodia has seen a dramatic increase over the last decade with the escalating rates of methamphetamine use and the increasing number of children addicted to drugs. Exact figures for drug prevalence in Cambodia differ greatly among UN agencies and government organizations, but the UNODC estimates that 4 percent of the entire population suffers from drug addiction, which is approximately 500,000 people.

David Harding, who is the drug specialist for the NGO Friends International, told MediaGlobal, “The impact on individuals using illicit drugs, most especially [on] socio-economic and health [factors] (including HIV) has been compounded by the slow response in providing services in prevention and risk reduction.” The National Authority for Combating Drugs in Cambodia has reported that children under the age of 18 accounted for 24 percent of drug prevalence. Furthermore, 2,382 people were detained in 2008, which is a 40 percent increase from the year before. Of this population, only 1 percent checked into health facilities voluntarily.

Drug detention centers in Cambodia are run by military police and often detain not only drug users, but also the mentally ill, street kids, homeless people, and even gamblers. Joe Amon, who is the director of the Health and Human Rights Division of the HRW told MediaGlobal, “There is a simplistic understanding of drug dependence in Cambodia: drug dependence is equated with moral weakness. Hence ‘treatment’ requires locking people up, forcing them to sweat to remove drugs from their system and beating them to strengthen their resolve to stay off drugs.” The Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told the press that drug abusers “need to do labor and hard work and sweating – that is one of the main ways to make drug-addicted people become normal people.”

While the societal perception of drug addiction in Cambodia is quite different than in other parts of the world, many of the people that enter drug rehabilitation centers have no clinical need for drug abuse treatment. Amon told MediaGlobal, “In practice, the government drug detention centers also function as a convenient means of removing people with apparent mental illnesses from the general community. As with the detention of street children and homeless people, the detention of the mentally ill appears driven by the government’s desire to keep the streets clean. This illegal detention is an abuse of their rights in and of itself, but it also exposes such people to acts of cruelty by center staff.”

Since the media attention brought about by the HRW report, several United Nations agencies are taking the issue of mental rehabilitation in Cambodia very seriously. Organizations like UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) have spoken out publicly on the matter. However, organizations that work closely with the Cambodian government such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UNODC have been reluctant to take any drastic measures in preventing the abuse.
READ MORE - Violent abuse in drug treatment centers continues in Cambodia

Claims UN ignored Uighur deportation warnings

Friday, February 26, 2010
By Conor Duffy - exclusive
ABC News Australia


There are claims the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) ignored repeated warnings about the imminent forced deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers from Cambodia to China last year.

The Cambodian government was condemned around the world when it deported the asylum seekers at gunpoint in December.

Two Australian women - joint Nobel Peace Prize winner Sister Denise Coghlan and Taya Hunt, a legal officer with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) - represented the Uighurs for six months prior to their deportation.

The pair have spoken exclusively to AM.

Ms Hunt provided legal and humanitarian support to the Uighurs and is one of the few people to have close contact with them.

"[They were] very grateful for the assistance we were providing them and generally just a nice, calm group of people," she said.

"There was a pregnant woman in the group and her beautiful two children."

Ms Hunt says the first Uighur arrived in Cambodia in June and the rest in October.

She says the Uighurs began to feel unsafe and concerned they would be returned to China.

Under arrangements in Cambodia at the time, refugee status determinations were handled jointly by the UNHCR and the Cambodian government.

Ms Hunt says repeated warnings were given to the UNHCR that the Uighurs felt uneasy about their applications being processed by Cambodia.

"We were becoming increasingly concerned, as the Uighurs themselves were becoming increasingly concerned, and expressed that concern on almost a daily basis to the UNHCR," she said.

AM has information that the JRS communicated at least five warnings to the UNHCR.

An excerpt of a letter sent to the UNHCR from JRS on December 10 reads: "JRS's principal concern is that one or more of these applicants may be forcibly removed from Cambodia to China with an outstanding application for refugee status.

"Informing this concern is, firstly, the fact that Cambodia has historically provided uneven protection for registered asylum seekers; secondly, incidents this year which indicate that the Cambodian Government Refugee Office may not be able to objectively consider cases from China; and thirdly, Chinese-Cambodian political relations."

Ms Hunt says the warnings were ignored, and on December 17 the Uighur asylum seekers were moved to a jointly run UNHCR/Cambodian government safe house.

On December 19 the asylum seekers were moved at gunpoint, and a day later they were flown to China.

Ms Hunt says the JRS advised the UNHCR against moving the men to the safe house.

"Given that the vice-president was scheduled to visit Cambodia the weekend of the deportation or the weekend they were moved to the safe house, I think given the context and also that we had been advising the UN that the Uighurs felt unsafe, that they felt they were being watched, it was a serious error of judgment on the part of UNHCR," she said.

'Lambs to slaughter'

Sister Coghlan, who heads the JRS in Cambodia, says she was also against the move to the safe house.

"Because both the UNHCR and the government had told the people it was a safe house or had guaranteed it would be safe for them, it was like leading lambs to the slaughter," she said.

UNHCR spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey says the refugee agency believed the Cambodian government was acting in good faith.

"We were doing everything we could to support Cambodia," she said.

"But the essence is that it's the responsibility of states to provide protection, and we don't start with an assumption that countries can't fairly handle cases from one country or another."

Ms McKinsey declined to comment on whether the warnings from the JRS were taken seriously.

"It was Cambodia's responsibility to protect these people, but during this transitional phase we were working with Cambodia to help them and the point is that Cambodia did not complete the process," she said.

Ms Hunt, though, is also critical of the time it took for the asylum seekers to have their claims processed.

"We submitted in October that the applicant was at risk and accordingly that the UNHCR should hand down a decision on his case as quickly as possible," she said.

"It is very, very unfortunate that the UNHCR delayed handing down a decision on his case."

Full control

Ms McKinsey is adamant the blame for the deportations lies with Cambodia.

She says Cambodia had been gradually taking control of asylum applications and took full control two days before the deportations.

"We tried very hard to stop the deportation to China because we knew the dangers they could face," she said.

"We even had staff at Phnom Penh airport to physically try and stop the deportation, but unfortunately they left through the military airport which we didn't have access to."

Sister Coghlan believes there should be a thorough review of the way the claims were handled.

"These people were taken at gunpoint from the safe house and taken to a place belonging to the ministry of interior," she said.

"The next night they were deported to China on a VIP jet. One would have to say the joint processing of the Uighur cases was a complete catastrophe and a tragedy."

Cambodia now has complete responsibility for processing asylum claims and the JRS believes asylum seekers arriving from countries such as Burma, which has friendly ties with Cambodia, are also at risk.
READ MORE - Claims UN ignored Uighur deportation warnings

Drug-resistant malaria 'growing' in Cambodia

Thursday, 25 February 2010
By Guy DeLauney
BBC News, Phnom Penh


Parasites are developing resistance to one of the most important anti-malaria drugs, according to experts.

Artimisinin has been highly effective, particularly in places where resistance to other drugs has developed.

But now some patients along Cambodia's border with Thailand are taking longer to respond to the treatment.

Experts on the disease are meeting village health workers in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, to discuss ways to stop drug-resistant malaria spreading.

Malaria Consortium technical director Dr Sylvia Meek says it must be eliminated before it spreads.

"There is a lot of population movement - people coming for instance from Nigeria to Asia - and it's growing and growing," she said.

"It would only take a few people carrying the resistant parasites travelling one way or the other to actually get the parasites in.

"And once they're in they're likely to spread quite fast."
READ MORE - Drug-resistant malaria 'growing' in Cambodia

Mekong River Runs Dry; Cargo Ships Grounded For 10 Days

CHIANG RAI, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Thailand's exports via Chiang Sean district in this northernmost province have been affected by a severe drought affecting the Mekong River, the 12th-longest river in the world and the 7th-longest in Asia, according to Thai News agency on Thursday.

According to Winai Chintongprasert, head of the Chiang Saen customhouse, the river, which forms the border of Thailand with Laos and Cambodia, and Laos with China, has run completely dry, with a very long line of sand dune islands in the middle of the river.

With such conditions, it forced freighters from Thailand's Chiang Saen Port to China's Guanlei Port in Yunnan province and vice versa to have halted their runs for over 10 days.

Thai cargoes valued at more than Bt150 million are stranded aboard ships. The cargoes included palm oil, energy drinks and dehydrated longan.

The water level in Mekong River has fallen since the end of December and continued to decrease dramatically during February.
READ MORE - Mekong River Runs Dry; Cargo Ships Grounded For 10 Days

Vietnam can export many kinds of farm products, especially vegetables, to Cambodia ... That says it all!!!

An Giang expands agricultural cooperation with Cambodia

02/25/2010
VOV News (Hanoi)

Many businesses in the southern province of An Giang provide aquatic varieties and technical assistance to help Cambodian farmers reap higher profits.

Under an agricultural cooperation programme between An Giang and neighbouring provinces in Cambodia, Vietnam can export many kinds of farm products, especially vegetables, to Cambodia, Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper reported on February 24.

Cambodia is calling for the cooperation of Vietnamese farmers boosting in farm production on its 6,000-7,000 ha of land, according to the newspaper.
READ MORE - Vietnam can export many kinds of farm products, especially vegetables, to Cambodia ... That says it all!!!

Cambodia court warns lawyers for KRouge leader

Former Khmer Rouge deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Ieng Sary sits in the courtroom during a public hearing at the Extraodinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh on February 11. Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court on Thursday warned lawyers for Sary to follow court rules or face possible sanctions for misconduct.
26/02/2010

AFP

Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court on Thursday warned lawyers for the former foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge regime to follow court rules or face possible sanctions for misconduct.

Ieng Sary's defence team, which includes US lawyer Michael Karnavas and Cambodian lawyer Ang Udom, received the warning after they filed three documents on matters already addressed by the tribunal.

Ieng Sary, 84, is one of five top regime figures detained in connection with the Khmer Rouge's bloody rule over Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, when up to two million people died from starvation, overwork or execution.

His team has raised several issues concerning their request to conduct their own investigations, access to the entire trial dossier and their alleged "lack of confidence" in the co-investigating judges and their staff.

But court documents released Thursday said communications from them showed disregard for the rules for the filing of documents, for judicial investigations procedures and warned against "duplicitous filings".

It said that breaches of the court's warnings "will result in the application of sanctions against them."

The judges warned Ieng Sary's lawyers that "they are prohibited from submitting duplicitous filings or filing made against matters already addressed on appeal..."

They also warned the lawyers that "they are prohibited from conducting their own investigations."

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998. Final arguments in the court's first trial, of former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, ended in November and a verdict is expected after April this year.

Besides Ieng Sary and his wife, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, the other ex-leaders in jail awaiting trial for genocide are "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan.
READ MORE - Cambodia court warns lawyers for KRouge leader

 
 
 

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