Wednesday, 26 January 2011
26 Jan 11
by Bridie Byrne
26 Jan 11
by Bridie Byrne
Neighbours actor Tom Oliver is the ambassador for Connecting Hands, a charity that helps Cambodian survivors of the child sex trade. CARMELO BAZZANO N31WH203
A CAMBODIAN girl is sold into sexual slavery at the hands of those she trusts.
A man who poses as her grandfather sells her into a life of torture and daily rape.
She is 12 and years later she is brave enough to escape her life after witnessing the murder of her best friend.
She vows to never forget those she left behind.
Somaly Mam is no longer a voiceless victim and has since dedicated her life to saving victims of the sex trade and empowering survivors.
She created a non-governmental organisation called AFESIP (Acting For Women In Distressing Situations), which rehabilitates children and young women who have been rescued from the sex trade.
Connecting Hands is the sister charity of AFESIP. Formed last September, it has Neighbours actor Tom Oliver as ambassador.
“In Cambodia there is so much corruption,” Oliver said.
“We need to open people’s eyes to what’s happening on our doorstop.
“These women have spent the formative years of their lives doing what they have to do just to survive.”
Oliver has visited the rehabilitation centres, which left him with a sense that inroads were being made to stamp out the horrendous crime.
AFESIP has three centres in Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham and Siem Reap.
“They can now raid the brothels and the women are given legal rights, but some of the girls don’t even know where they came from,” Oliver said.
About four million young women and children will be sold into the sex trade within the next 12 months.
It is a $9.5 billion trade that is second only to drug trafficking as the largest organised crime in the world.
Many of these children are sold for as little as $10 and some are as young as five.
A fundraising dinner for Connecting Hands will be held at the Clarion Hotel in Forest Hill on February 26.
Somaly Mam will be the guest speaker.
Tickets are $80. RSVP by February 3.
Phone 0433 705 897 or visit connectinghands.com.au for more information.
Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Washington, D.C Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Photo: Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Thet Sambath is a co-producer of “Enemies of the People" and also a journalist.
“It’s not the award that we are looking forward to. Because I never dreamed of that. We only did it to show the truth, especially to encourage those were who involved in the killing to come out and tell the truth.”
When journalist Thet Sambath began a reporting project 10 years ago to learn answers about the Khmer Rouge from the cadre themselves, he never expected his work would lead to an Oscar short list.
But the documentary that resulted from his work, “Enemies of the People,” has now been short-listed among 14 other films for an Academy Award.
“It’s not the award that we are looking forward to,” he told “Hello VOA” on Monday. “Because I never dreamed of that. We only did it to show the truth, especially to encourage those were who involved in the killing to come out and tell the truth.”
“Enemies of the People,” made in collaboration with producer Rob Lemkin, follows Thet Sambath as he interviews low-ranking cadre about the killing and confronts Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea about the genocide. The film will show in Washington next month.
“More honest and direct dialogue will help victims and perpetrators understand each other more,” Thet Sambath said. “And the victims will heal more quickly if they from the perpetrators.”
Nuon Chea is now awaiting an atrocity crimes trial at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, along with other senior leaders Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.
Theth Sambath said he hopes more former killers will now be able to talk about their past crimes in order to help Cambodians heal from the trauma.
“Life punishment means nothing if the person does not confess,” he said, referring to the trials. “Confession and the acknowledgment of one’s own guilt would help more.”
Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Washington, D.C Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Washington, D.C Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Anemia is a particular concern for pregnant women, but it can affect anyone with a lack of iron.
“About half of all pregnant women develop iron-deficiency anemia. The condition can increase the risk of a pregnant woman for a premature or low-birth-weight baby. Women of childbearing age are at increased risk for IDA because of blood loss during monthly periods. Pregnant women need twice as much iron as usual.”
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which bring oxygen to body tissues. It is a particular concern for pregnant women, but it can affect anyone with a lack of iron, a US physician said Thursday.
“There are many types of anemia,” said Taing Tek Hong, a Florida-based doctor, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “But today we are talking about iron-deficiency anemia.”
“You get iron through certain foods, and your body also reuses iron from old red blood cells,” he said. Iron deficiency may be caused by an iron-poor diet, the body not being able to absorb iron, long term slow blood loss, such as in menstrual periods, and rapid growth in children, when more iron is needed.
“About half of all pregnant women develop iron-deficiency anemia,” the doctor said. “The condition can increase the risk of a pregnant woman for a premature or low-birth-weight baby. Women of childbearing age are at increased risk for IDA because of blood loss during monthly periods. Pregnant women need twice as much iron as usual.”
Premature and low-birth-weight babies are at even greater risk for iron-deficiency anemia, he said. Adults who have internal bleeding, such as intestinal bleeding, can develop iron-deficiency anemia due to blood loss. Other at risk groups are people who eat poorly due to a variety of reasons.
There are usually no complications after anemia, the doctor said, but the condition can return. Regular follow-ups with a doctor can help those who have developed anemia.
“Everyone’s diet should include enough iron,” he said. “Green vegetables are important sources of iron. If you aren’t getting enough iron in your diet, take iron supplements. During periods when you need extra iron, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, increase the amount of iron in your diet or take iron supplements.”
Very heavy menstrual bleeding, long periods, or other vaginal bleeding may suggest that a woman is at risk for iron-deficiency anemia, he said.
Iron supplements can be found in the form of ferrous sulfate, and Vitamin C can increase absorbtion of iron and is essential in the production of hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries oxygen to the cells.
Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 25 January 2011
“The court did not have evidence.”
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
Villagers in the provinces of Koh Kong and Kampong Speu have alleged that sugar plantations operated by Ly Yong Phat have pushed them off their land.
“The court did not have evidence.”
Kampong Chhang provincial court ordered a human rights worker to pay nearly $1,000 in damages and fines Tuesay, after defamation charges were brought against him by a powerful company.
Sam Chankea, a Kampong Chhnang coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, will pay $750 in damages to the KCD Company, which reportedly belongs to the wife of the Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy.
He was charged with defamation, a criminal charge, in May 2010, after giving an interview to Radio Free Asia on a land dispute between KCD and 64 families who said they were being pushed off nearly 150 hectares of land in Kampong Tralach district.
Provincial judge San Sophat said the verdict was based on Article 305 of the Penal code and that Sam Chankea had openly denounced the company in an interview—tantamount to defamation.
Sam Chankea, who had said the company was abusing the law in a land dispute that had not been decided on, said he will appeal the decision. “The court did not have evidence,” he said.
Two villagers were also charged with defamation, but one has already been released and the other was fined $2,500.
KCD officials declined to comment Tuesday.
However, Chan Saveth, lead investigator for Adhoc, said the decision was “unacceptable and a concern for human rights activists.”
The decision follows a series of court actions against human rights activists from Adhoc and Lichado.
Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Phnom Penh Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Yoeung Baloung, the former police chief of Ratanakkiri province, who was supposed to be serving 13 years on charges related to illegal logging.
"No one else has been apprehended for the crash, but Yoeung Baloung is now back in prison."
The prison department of the Ministry of Interior has finished an investigation into the mysterious release of a former provincial police chief in Ratanakkiri province but has declined to release the findings, which are under review.
The investigation stems from a drunk driving accident that injured three people on a motorcycle.
Local rights group Adhoc says the driver in the accident was Yoeung Baloung, a former police chief who was supposed to be in jail serving 13 years for corruption crimes surrounding illegal logging. Police say a relative of the former chief was driving the car.
No one else has been apprehended for the crash, but Yoeung Baloung is now back in prison, officials said.
The prison department is trying to learn the circumstances of his release by the provincial prison, whose director has said Yoeung Baloung was temporarily let out for medical reasons.
By Pravit Rojanaphruk,
Published on January 26, 2011
Govt vows to get tough as yellow shirts officially turn on ex-ally Abhisit
While the number of protesters was far from their peak of the past few years, the yellow shirts provided all the other ingredients for a deja vu when they returned to their familiar spot near Government House yesterday. In fact, the Abhisit government must have felt something eerily familiar as it suggested it was not taking the seemingly peaceful protest for granted.
As big TV projectors sprang up, cooks started working and the sounds of "clappers" in the Makkhawan Bridge area revived old memories, government leaders immediately rejected the three main demands of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) concerning Thailand's territorial conflicts with Cambodia.
The three PAD demands are:
n Cancellation of the year 2000 memorandum of understanding with Cambodia;
n Thailand's withdrawal from the World Heritage Committee working on the Preah Vihear Temple management;
n Push "encroaching" Cambodians back.
The government vowed to get tough if peace is broken at any point in what the PAD promised would be a prolonged encampment.
"We simply can't yield to their demands," said Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. "The demands will put national security in danger."
The Centre for Situation Monitoring (CSM), which has replaced the now-defunct Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation, believes that the PAD, and its splinter group - the Thai Patriots Network - which had been protesting to push for similar demands on the other side of Government House, were hell-bent on a protracted stay. Normal non-military surveillance has been in place in the area, but military units have been instructed to be ready for reinforcement requests.
The yellow crowd was estimated at between 2,500 and 3,000 protesters yesterday, but security officials expected the number could climb to 5,000 in the next few days.
The CSM decided that there was no need to invoke the Internal Security Act, which allows more stringent measures on crowd control, at the moment. However, the CSM does not rule out use of the law if things take a turn for the worse in the future.
Sondhi Limthongkul, on the yellow-shirt stage, reminded Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, "whose handsome look still fools many people", of the time when relentless PAD protests immobilised the Thaksin government and eventually triggered its downfall.
Abhisit can also be forgiven for shrugging off a promise by another PAD leader, Chamlong Srimuang, that protesters would behave themselves and "not go anywhere", at least for now.
"We apologise to the public if this protest is causing disturbances, but we are doing it for the country," Chamlong said in what could also sound eerily familiar. "We will not move anywhere in the first few days and we will immediately call off the protest if the demands are met."
The PAD leaders claim that this time they are out on the streets to defend 1.8 million rai of Thai soil from being encroached by Cambodia and condemned the Abhisit administration for not defending Thailand's national sovereignty.
As evening fell, the crowd began to swell and its less powerful leaders such as Praphan Koonmee began attacking Abhisit and the administration, claiming the government was selling out Thai soil along the border with Cambodia.
"Since I was born, I have never seen any prime minister speak harmfully to Thai people and his own country," Praphan told the crowd.
"You are fake!" he shouted, referring to Abhisit.
The movement's supporters, such as taxi driver Nattasun Thitiraet, told The Nation that the latest fight was more serious than the one against Thaksin Shinawatra because it was about national sovereignty.
"We'll purge it. This government is going to fall," he predicted. "The people will be roused."
Protester Nattasun, who is in his 50s, said Abhisit had simply let the PAD down. "He himself doesn't cheat but he allows people around him to do so. He doesn't do anything and simply wants to hang on as prime minister."
The yellow shirts are back. And if Thaksin Shinawatra could say anything to Abhisit, it could be: "Welcome to the party!"
Abhisit approves army exercise near temple
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has given the army the green light to conduct a military exercise near Preah Vihear temple to display its strength as Cambodia continues to lay claim to the disputed area.
Thousands of People’s Alliance for Democracy supporters join the movement’s protest near Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue. The yellow shirts gathered yesterday for the first day of what is expected to be a protracted rally. APICHIT JINAKUL
The provocative move came after Thailand demanded Cambodia remove a stone tablet carrying a message in Khmer that accused Thai troops of invading Cambodia territory from that spot.
A senior army source who asked not to be named said yesterday the military exercise near the border was proposed by the army.
Thai gamblers would also be blocked from visiting Cambodian casinos close to Thai territory if Phnom Penh refused demands to remove the tablet.
Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thailand would follow proper procedures in handling border disputes with Cambodia.
''There are three steps to solving border issues. They include negotiations, intensified measures and the use of force. We will not move directly from Step 1 to Step 3,'' Gen Prayuth said.
The tablet was installed in front of Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple, about 300 metres from the ancient Preah Vihear temple.
''We must show our strength,'' the source quoted the prime minister as saying in his recent meeting with Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Gen Prayuth.
The source said Gen Prayuth planned to deploy infantrymen close to Preah Vihear in Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province.
The deployment will reinforce paramilitary rangers who are guarding a disputed area with no back-up.
''The army plans to conduct a drill that includes artillery fire close to the border,'' the source said.
The source revealed the military exercise was aimed at sending a message to Cambodia that Thailand is not only unhappy with the placement of the stone tablet in the disputed area but also Cambodia's continuing construction of a road to Preah Vihear.
The 3.6-kilometre road is being built on the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area next to Preah Vihear.
Cambodia has ignored Thailand's re peated protests against the roadworks. The source said Cambodia and China were accelerating the work on the road with the aim to facilitate visits to the Preah Vihear temple from the Cambodian side.
The source said Mr Abhisit also gave the nod to the army to prevent Thai gamblers from crossing the border to visit Cambodian casinos in Poi Pet, opposite Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo province.
The source said the prime minister did not mention the possibility of border closure which would seriously affect local people.
as well as two Thai people: Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon who were prosecuted allegedly for trespassing and espionage on Cambodian soil. Mr Veera is still detained and verdicts on their cases are expected on Feb 1.
Mr Abhisit was also said to have agreed to allow the army to buy weapons it needed to handle the border situation.
The nationalist People's Alliance for Democracy yesterday urged the gov ernment to use the country's stronger military capacity to gain leverage over the Cambodian government in its negotiations with Phnom Penh on disputed border areas.
Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a core PAD leader, said the Thai military did not have to wage a war with Cambodia to regain Thai sovereignty over disputed areas along the border.
But it could use the country's military might to gain a stronger bargaining position.
The government has not tried to gain such leverage through the demonstration of Thailand's military capacity, Maj Gen Chamlong said.
''Consequently, it has allowed the Cambodian government to have the upper hand,'' he said.
''Our fighter jets can reach Cambodian skies in five minutes.''
Asked if such a demonstration of Thailand's military might would hurt the country's bilateral relationship with its neighbour, Maj Gen Chamlong replied: ''What are you afraid of more? Hurting the ties or losing territory?''
PAD spokesman Panthep Phongphuaphan said Thailand's military capacity was certainly higher than that of Cambodia.
The government should use this advantage in its effort to protect the country's sovereignty and pressure the Cambodian government to move Cambodian communities out of the disputed areas along the border.
More importantly, Thailand should revoke the 2000 memorandum of understanding with Cambodia as the agreement gave Phnom Penh greater negotiating powers and enabled Cambodians to continue living on Thai soil, Mr Panthep said.
New tablet 'even worse'
Cambodian troops have removed a stone tablet placed near the Preah Vihear temple carrying a message accusing Thailand of invading the country.
But the tablet has been replaced with another that could ratchet up the tension even further between the two countries. It simply states the area is part of Cambodia.
The first tablet put in place last month at Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara, next to the Preah Vihear temple, read, according to the Phnom Penh Post: "Here! is the place where Thai troops invaded Cambodian territory on July 15, 2008."
This angered Thai troops, their commanders and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who claim the temple is located in a disputed area open to Thai troops.
A Cambodian armed forces officer who asked not to be named said the offending sign had been replaced, Phnom Penh Post reported.
Whether the new sign will be received any more favourably remains to be seen.
"Here! is Cambodia," reads the sign erected yesterday.
"I heard [the placement of the sign] was ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen," the officer said.
Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth has defied a request to stay away from parliament by taking his seat to vote on amendments to the constitution.
House speaker Chai Chidchob asked Mr Vanich yesterday to take a leave of absence to prevent possible legislative problems over his status as an MP, which remains unclear after his conviction last week by a Cambodian court.
Mr Chai met with parliamentarians to discuss Mr Panich's status before the joint meeting of the houses began debating the amendments. He then told the Democrat MP he wanted him to absent himself from the session.
Mr Panich and four other Thais were given nine-month suspended jail sentences last Thursday by a Phnom Penh court for illegal entry into Cambodia.
The MP yesterday stood firm on his right to attend the joint meeting. He insisted he was still a member of the lower house and so was entitled to cast his vote.
The Democrat MP voted in support of the charter amendments.
The Election Commission has decided to set up a subcommittee to investigate Mr Panich's conviction and recommend whether he should lose his seat.
Commissioner Prapan Naigowit said the EC received a report yesterday from the Foreign Affairs Ministry concerning the court verdict against Mr Panich.
The law bars those convicted of a crime from sitting in the lower house. The subcommittee must decide if a conviction in a foreign court would disqualify Mr Panich of his MP status.
The EC will forward its decision to the house speaker. If it finds Mr Panich should be stripped of his seat, the speaker would forward the matter to the Constitution Court for a final ruling.
Section 106 (5) of the constitution states that an MP will lose their seat if sentenced to jail, regardless of whether the sentence is suspended, except where the offence is considered unintentional.
The "Yellow Shirts" used to closely linked to Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva
BANGKOK — Around 2,000 nationalist Thai "Yellow Shirts" rallied in Bangkok on Tuesday to demonstrate against the government's handling of a border territory dispute with neighbouring Cambodia. protesters
The latest round of the kingdom's street protests came two days after a large rally by the rival "Red Shirts", and a day after the arrest of five men with explosives, following a tip-off to police about potential bomb attacks.
A 3,000-strong security force was on hand at Tuesday's gathering near Government House, where the Yellows accused Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of failing to defend long-disputed territory from Cambodia.
"We have made our suggestions to the government but they have failed to act, so we have no other choice," a leading Yellow protester, Chamlong Srimuang, told reporters at the rally site.
The border issue has heated up since seven Thais were arrested in Cambodia in December for illegal entry and trespassing in the disputed zone, including a Yellow activist who remains in jail in Cambodia, also facing spying charges.
The Yellows, officially known as the People's Alliance for Democracy, used to be closely linked to Abhisit, who came to power in 2008 after their protests helped to bring down former governments, but relations have since soured.
Those 2008 rallies by the movement culminated with the seizure of two Bangkok airports, stranding more than 300,000 travellers and causing crippling economic damage.
The PAD are powerful players in Thailand's colour-coded politics, backed by the Bangkok-based elite and arch-rivals of the Red Shirts, who held their most recent protest on Sunday attracting around 27,000 supporters.
More than 90 people were left dead after clashes between Red Shirts and troops in Bangkok in April and May last year, during protests by the Reds demanding snap elections.
Police believe the five men who were arrested with various explosive devices on Monday night "wanted to create troubles", although it was not clear if they were linked to either the Red or Yellow group.
Thai authorities denied accusations of a set-up to prevent people attending rallies.
25 January 2011
By The Children’s Centre
Your chance to find out about Cambodia and Lapland charity challenges
The Children’s Centre is hosting two events to promote fundraising trips to Cambodia and Lapland. Experts from Global Adventure Challenges - the company which organises the trips - will be visiting the Island next month to give presentations at two launch events held at The Children’s Centre in Woodbourne Road, Douglas. The presentations will be the ideal opportunity for anyone who is interested in signing up for a once in a lifetime adventure to find out more.
On Tuesday February 8 the Cambodia challenge will be explained in detail including itinerary, accommodation, and everything you need to do to prepare for the event and the various ways that the trip can be funded. On Wednesday February 9 the focus will be on the Arctic Sledding Challenge in Lapland with the Global Adventure Challenges experts again explaining the trip in detail. On both evenings organisers from The Children’s Centre will be on hand to answer questions about the charity’s Island-wide work with children, young people and families, and to give examples from previous adventure trips of how the individuals who took part found the events to be both exhilarating and rewarding.
Cambodia’s Siem Reap marks the starting point for the 87 km Cambodia Trekking Challenge to Angkor Wat. It will be hot and dusty and there will be amazing landscapes which will include trekking through hills, valleys and dense forests. The Arctic trip requires you to sled with huskies 250km from Norway, into Sweden finishing at the world famous Ice Hotel. The plan is to take six days sledding through the rolling highlands and deep forests of Lapland.
Due to the demand for previous events anyone interested in attending either of these launch evenings is asked to book a place in advance. To reserve a place contact Mark Eastham on 631917 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2010 The Children’s Centre organised successful fundraising trips to Kilimanjaro and the Great Wall of China Trek and Mark Eastham, Adventure Events Coordinator, said interest in this year’s adventure challenges was expected to be high. He said:
“In the three years we have been offering these challenges over 80 people have taken part in these once in a life time experience and raised over £100,000 in the process to support children and young people across the Island.”
Photographer Mike Wade took part in the Kilimanjaro challenge in 2010. Mike described it as a fantastic experience and a chance to push himself to do something he didn’t think he was capable of. He said:
“The trip to Kilimanjaro was the kind of thing that I’d always wanted to do, something I’d always dream about doing but didn’t know how to do about it. The Children’s Centre trip gave me that opportunity. I’d never done anything like the Kilimanjaro trek before, and most of the other members of the group hadn’t either - so we were all in the same boat.”
BANGKOK, Jan 25 -- The 'Yellow Shirt' People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) kicked off their fresh demonstration on Tuesday afternoon at Makkhawan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue to press the government to accept their demands over the Thai-Cambodian border disputes.
Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue between Misakawan intersection and Makkhawan Bridge was totally closed for vehicles as a stage, tents and facilities for encampment were set up.
Key PAD leader Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang threatened to prolong the rally nearby Government House until Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva responds to their demands.
He said firstly the government must revoke the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Thailand and Cambodia concerning their border disputes. The ultra nationalist movement claimed that the 2000 MoU puts Thailand at a disadvantage in handling such disputes with the neighbouring country.
Second, the government must withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee and remove Cambodian people from disputed border areas near Preah Vihear Temple.
Gen Chamlong stressed that there would be no negotiation with the government on its request to end the demonstration.
The former Bangkok governor said that he was well aware that the rally would affect the traffic and student access to schools as there are many schools around the protest site, but he asked for understanding as the issue of territorial integrity was very important.
The PAD co-leader said that he is unworried about the security measures even though the seizure of home-made bombs and ammunition, and the arrest of five men claiming that they have targeted causing trouble at the demonstration.
Gen Chamlong said he believes the capability of the police and the cooperation on the security measures to ensure the safety of the protesters.
Security has been tightened around Government House where 24 companies of police -- some 4,000 personnel -- were deployed early Tuesday to ensure law and order. (MCOT online news)
Photo by: Wesley Monts
Packets of Mee Yeung noodles on sale at a Phnom Penh store on Tuesday.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 20:03 Rann Reuy
A Cambodian instant noodle maker has claimed Vietnamese products smuggled across the Kingdom’s borders hit sales hard last year, putting the future of employees at risk.
Choun Kul, deputy director of Mee Yeung Company, part of Men Sarun Group, said its annual sales dropped as much as 20 percent last year, when compared with 2009.
Putting the blame on the management of borders, he alleged incorrect recording of import numbers meant that Vietnamese products were entering the market without being charged duty, providing “unfair” competition from imports.
Mee Yeung Company, he said, produced 150,000 cases of instant noodles per month. The market price of each packet, he said, was 50 riel more expensive per packet than that of Vietnamese noodles – many of which he believes benefit from not being charged import tax.
“This act doesn’t only result in the loss of the government’s revenue, but also creates an unfair competitive environment,” he said.
“We also export to Vietnam, and we have to register all our products – so we are fully responsible for all duties,” he said, adding that the firm did benefit from a 7 percent reduction in import tax on its raw materials.
He said that some of the hundreds of workers at the company could risk unemployment and the firm spent US$50,000 to $60,000 every month on salaries.
“It’s a hardship for us, if the government still does not consider this problem, how can we address it?” he said.
But officials poured doubt on the claims Tuesday.
Governor of Kampot province Khoy Khun Huor said that he believes the registration of imported goods at provincial borders was being completed correctly – pointing out that tax revenues had risen 11 percent last year, compared with 2009.
“The majority of revenue comes from sugar products and noodles,” he said before pointing out that “our domestic noodles are sold at a more expensive price”.
Yim Sam On, the director of customs and excise at Bavet border, in Svey Riang province, said Tuesday that no noodle products were imported through the crossing.
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 25 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The Cambodian government on Tuesday dismissed as a "lie" a report by a U.S.-based human rights advocacy group that accused it of stepping up its repression of freedoms of expression, assembly and association last year.
Tith Sothea, spokesman of the Office of the Council of Ministers, slammed the accusations made in Human Rights Watch's annual report, calling it "inaccurate and a lie" and rejecting it as devoid of value.
He said the report ignored the Cambodian government's commitment to implement and strengthen the country's rule of law.
Human Rights Watch's report said the government in 2010 used the judiciary, new laws, and threats of arrest or legal action to restrict free speech, jail government critics, disperse workers and farmers peacefully protesting and silence opposition party members.
The report also said the government violated Cambodia's obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention by deporting to China some 20 Uighur asylum seekers at risk of torture and mistreatment there, which happened on the eve of a visit by senior Chinese officials that finalized a massive aid package to Cambodia.
It said journalists who criticize the government face biased legal action, imprisonment, and violence, while politically motivated court cases continue to target opposition members.
Pending legislation on nongovernmental organizations and trade unions is expected to further tighten restrictions on freedom of association, it said, noting that a new law already allows local officials to ban protests deemed threats to "security, safety, and public order."
The report said years of international donor funding for judicial reform in Cambodia have had little effect, and it noted that a report submitted in September by the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia strongly criticized the lack of judicial independence.
Japan, Cambodia's largest donor, "maintained its practice of not publicly confronting the government about its rights violations," while China, another major investor and donor, "continued to increase aid to Cambodia with no conditions made to improve human rights," Human Rights Watch said.
The rights group faulted the United States for continuing to aid and train Cambodia's armed forces, including units with records of serious rights violations
But according to U.S. Embassy spokesman Mark Wenig, "Every individual who is trained is thoroughly vetted both in Phnom Penh and Washington in accordance with U.S. law and Department regulations."
"The U.S. government provides training to Cambodian security forces to advance our goals of creating a more professional force and to advance U.S. objectives in areas such as counterterrorism and peacekeeping operations," he said.
The rights group also took Washington to task for U.S.-funded regional peacekeeping exercises last July, which it said took place on land transferred from a military unit involved in illegal land seizures.
Such illegal land seizures and forced evictions continue to escalate, it said, with thousands of families newly affected last year and dozens of people imprisoned or awaiting trial for protesting forced evictions and land grabbing.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 20:35 Vong Sokheng and Buth Reaksmey Kongkea
Eleven people have been arrested in a crackdown this week on illegal logging in Kratie province’s Snuol district, military police officials said Tuesday.
National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said Tuesday that about 100 military police began a crackdown on Sunday on loggers and smugglers throughout Cambodia’s northeastern provinces.
“Deforestation and illegal logging in protected forests are concerns for the government and all Cambodian people,” Kheng Tito said, noting that deforestation had markedly increased in the Kingdom’s northeastern provinces in recent years.
“We will continue to conduct investigations that will lead to crackdowns on illegal logging and deforestation across the country, not just in Kratie province.”
Kheng Tito said military police officials in Snuol had been preparing complaints against the 11 arrested and would forward them on to the Forestry Administration.
A staff member of a local NGO, who asked not to be named, said logging in the district had become an increasingly severe problem since 2007.
“The private companies cut logs for export to Vietnam and grab the land for cassava farms, and in the process, trees inside the protected forest are almost completely destroyed,” she said, estimating that roughly 7,500 hectares of protected forest in Snuol are under threat.
According to the Forestry’s Administration’s 2010 report, released on January 13, monitoring forestry crime has been a continual challenge.
“The demarcation of protected forests has remained difficult and there have been disputes with criminals who have destroyed the demarcation poles,” the report said.
The FA reported that 82 Cambodians are now awaiting trial in connection with logging offences.
In Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, a man was fined US$16,527 for transporting 68 pieces of illegally felled wood from Stung Treng province to Phnom Penh.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 20:22 May Titthara
Kampong Chhnang provincial court convicted a local human rights activist Tuesday of defamation under the Kingdom’s new Penal Code in connection with a land dispute case.
Sam Chankea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, was ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riels (US$247) and reparations of 3 million riels to developer KDC International, said San Sophat, a judge at the provincial court.
“We didn’t sentence him to imprisonment, we just fined him,” San Sophat said.
Criminal defamation can carry a fine of between 100,000 and 10 million riels, and a prison sentence of between one month and one year.
Sam Chankea said he was not surprised by the decision.
“If the court decided to let me win the case, it would be surprising,” he said. “In Cambodia, we rarely see the poor win the lawsuit,” he said.
KDC International is owned by Chea Kheng, the wife of Suy Sem, minister of industry, mines and energy.
However, Sam Chankea said he will appeal the court’s ruling, and his Lawyer, Long Lon, said they would file soon.
Thai Hy, a representative for the company, declined to comment Tuesday.
KDC International filed a complaint against Sam Chankea in June last year accusing him of disinformation and defamation for comments he made to Radio Free Asia in December 2009 suggesting the company’s land clearance may have been illegal.
On Monday, Reach Seima, 30, was convicted of disinformation and fined 2 million riels and ordered to pay 8 million riels in compensation to the firm. Similar charges against villager Pheng Rom, 45, were dropped.
In April 2009, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Toch Ly, the chief of Lorpeang village, located in Kampong Tralach district’s Ta Ches commune, to 16 months in prison for falsifying residents’ complaint documents.
Toch Ly was advocating on behalf of local families involved in a dispute with KDC International. The firm claimed the families had already sold their land. A total of 64 families said in June last year they had struck no such deal.
Photo by: Sovan Philong
Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers Mu Sochua (left) and Yim Sovann speak Tuesday at a press conference in Phnom Penh
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 20:09 Meas Sokchea
The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has agreed to replace some of its lawmakers with party officials who stood as candidates in the 2008 election, in a bid to shore up its electoral support ahead of elections in 2013.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann told reporters Tuesday that the party had agreed to swap National Assembly members in response to a petition to party president Sam Rainsy by eight candidates from 2008.
“We have a resolution that was passed by the permanent committee. We have decided to provide appropriate posts to every person that was a lawmaker candidate in the 2008 election.”
He also dismissed recent claims by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said during a speech on December 29 that he has spies embedded within the SRP who are relaying “secret information” about the party’s activities.
“There are many Hun Sen spies embedded in the opposition party and if the SRP wants to hide its secrets, its must destroy the entire group,” Hun Sen said at the time.
But Yim Sovann said the premier’s political strategy wouldn’t weaken the SRP and instead demonstrated that they had made the right decisions.
“For almost 20 years, the Cambodian People’s Party, especially Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] has attempted to use every strategy to disrupt the Sam Rainsy Party,” he said. “Even though His Excellency Sam Rainsy is not present in the country, grassroots leaders, in particular [council members] in government are bravely fulfilling their obligations.”
But Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor Comfrel, condemned the announcement by the SRP, saying it was against the spirit of the constitution and democratic principles.
“This does not follow the constitution or respect the membership of the National Assembly,” Koul Panha said. “This is something against the principles of democracy. Members of the National Assembly are elected by the people.”
Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party, said the National Assembly would allow a change of parliamentarians after the change was agreed by the SRP’s leaders and recognised by the National Election Committee.
NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha said the mid-term reshuffle didn’t concern the NEC, and said it would not be opposed to a request by the SRP if it was agreed by the party president.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REBECCA PUDDY
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 19:20 Cheang Sokha and Sebastian Strangio
Prime Minister Hun Sen has defended the government’s decision to shutter a United Nations-administered refugee centre next month, denying that Vietnamese Montagnards housed at the site will face persecution if they are returned to their home country.
In a January 14 letter addressed to six US congressmen, a copy of which was obtained Tuesday, Hun Sen said Cambodia had already extended its “full cooperation” in the resettlement of Montagnards, under a 2005 agreement with Vietnam and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“The Montagnards failing to gain refugee status and repatriated to Vietnam have been reintegrated into society without any oppression or persecution. They have also been given support under the development projects implemented by the Vietnamese local authorities,” he wrote.
“Furthermore, since Vietnam is now at peace and has neither internal conflict not persecution against Montagnards, there is no reason for more Montagnards to seek asylum in Cambodia.”
Hun Sen wrote that the 2005 MoU had originally been designed to process the 750 Montagnards then seeking asylum in the country, but that “many more cases” had since been dealt with.
Last month, the government announced that the centre, in Sen Sok district, would be closed by January 1, warning that newly-arrived Montagnards at the site would be deported to Vietnam. The deadline was eventually extended to February 15 following a request from UNHCR.
Six US congressmen wrote to Hun Sen on December 22, expressing concern over the planned closure of the site.
Since 2001, about 2,000 Montagnards – as Vietnam’s highland ethnic minorities are known – have fled to Cambodia due to official crackdowns inside Vietnam. Last month, Human Rights Watch stated that Montagnards continue to face persecution at the hands of Vietnamese authorities.
“Montagnards continue to face arrest and imprisonment in Vietnam, primarily for belonging to independent Christian house churches that the government alleges are using religion to forward a political agenda,” HRW stated. The group estimated that approximately 300 Montagnard Christians were now serving prison sentences for their religious or political beliefs.
The centre contained 76 Montagnards when the closure was announced, 62 of which were registered refugees qualified for resettlement in third countries. The status of the remaining 14 is not clear.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, declined to comment Tuesday, though he has said previously that any Montagnards who have not been granted refugee status by the February 15 deadline will be repatriated.
Denise Coughlan, director of Jesuit Refugee Services, said UNHCR officials are now working closely with one foreign government to speed up the resettlement of recognised refugees ahead of the deadline.
She said she was “happy” to see the centre closed, describing it as a “detention centre”, but called for all future Montagnard asylum seekers to have their claims heard fairly.
“What is really important is that the process of those seeking asylum is upheld, and that the Cambodian government will treat any future Montagnard asylum seekers the same way as any other asylum seekers,” she said.
Cambodia is one of only two countries in Southeast Asia to have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Police clad in riot gear bar residents of the Boeung Kak lake area from protesting outside the Chinese Embassy earlier this month. Human Rights Watch claims a spate of land seizures and forced evictions were part of a general erosion of basic freedoms last year.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 19:29 Sebastian Strangio
The Cambodian government has severely restricted fundamental freedoms over the past year, making it “increasingly difficult” for rights defenders, land rights protestors and unionists to operate freely in the country, according to Human Rights Watch.
In its latest global rights report, released in New York on Monday, HRW also called on the Kingdom’s foreign donors to “forcefully challenge” increased restrictions on rights in Cambodia.
The 649-page report catalogues a series of developments last year that it claimed led to a strengthening of the Cambodian government’s “chokehold” on human rights. High on the organisation’s list of concerns was the increased disregard shown by officials for United Nations representatives and other foreign diplomats.
“The Cambodian government has used bluster and intimidation to push the UN and donors into silence about abuses,” Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director, said in a statement accompanying the report’s release.
“The international community needs to advocate more forcefully for the human rights of the Cambodian people.”
In March, Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to expel UN resident coordinator Douglas Broderick after he criticised the swift passage of the government’s anti-graft legislation. In October, during the visit to Cambodia of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Hun Sen ordered the closure of the UN’s human rights office in Phnom Penh. The order followed an earlier warning that the head of the office, Christophe Peschoux, could face expulsion for his criticisms of the deportation of two Thai Red Shirt activists in July.
The HRW report also claims that the introduction of a new “draconian” Penal Code, in addition to the drafting of new laws regulating trade unions and the country’s large NGO sector, represent threats to the rights of freedom of association and assembly.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party used the judiciary, new laws, and threats of arrest or legal action to restrict free speech, jail government critics, disperse workers and farmers peacefully protesting, and silence opposition party members,” it said.
As an example, the report cited the prosecution of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was sentenced in absentia to a total of 12 years in prison on “trumped-up” charges relating to his campaign to exposed alleged Vietnamese border encroachments.
It also documented the case of Seng Kunnaka, a UN World Food Programme staffer who was convicted and jailed last month on incitement charges after printing out a web article critical of the government.
In addition, the the Kingdom’s spate of land grabbing and forced evictions continued apace in 2010. During the first half of the year, more than 3,500 families – totaling around 17,000 people – were affected by land-grabbing in 13 provinces, the report states, citing figures from local rights group Licadho. Up to 60 people were also imprisoned or awaiting trial for protesting against evictions and land seizures.
The report added that about 2,000 people were “arbitrarily detained” in 11 government drug detention centers. Up to 60 cases of torture were reported in the first half of 2010 alone.
“Cambodia’s donors need to wake up and recognise that the human rights situation in Cambodia is rapidly deteriorating,” Robertson said.
“They should demand that the government abide by its human rights obligations, and they should be front-line defenders of civil society against government intimidation.”
Om Yentieng, head of the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee, said he was too busy to comment yesterday. But Tith Sothea, a spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, defended the government’s progress on Tuesday, saying HRW’s report “lacks accuracy”.
“It is the report that is poisoning the environment. It is the report that does not express the truth about the process of democracy and law implementation,” he said, adding that the government had taken actions to strengthen the rule of law.
“So the report has no value: we consider it like rubbish.”
Members of the opposition said the report reflected the reality in Cambodia.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the party was “extremely concerned” by the erosion of freedom of expression, pointing to the legal prosecution of its parliamentarians in the country’s CPP-dominated court system.
“The international community should play a role, should do something, to put pressure on the government to respect freedom of expression. No one can curb corruption without freedom of expression,” he said.
He said the government’s increasingly bellicose attitude towards the UN and outspoken foreign officials was also a bad sign, which could eventually alienate Western governments.
“We cannot live alone, due to globalisation,” he said. “If we want to isolate ourselves, I think we will commit suicide.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAM RITH
The annual event of ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) is a cooperative regional effort to promote the ASEAN region as one tourist destination.
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The ATF 2011 was conducted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from January, 15th till January, 21st. The event gathered tourism officials from ten ASEAN member countries and three ASEAN partner countries - Japan, the Republic of Korea and People’s Republic of China.
HE. Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism and Chairman of the ATF 2011 Host Committee said during the closing ceremony of ATF 2011 that: “This event was a great success through the full support from our government and related ministries. A big part of this achievement however resulted from the involvement and support of private companies who provided communication solutions, locations, media and other services; without them such a result would not be possible! Therefore, we would like to show our true appreciation and sincerest thanks to all the engaged companies for their full support.”
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Cambodian Premier: China Is a Good, Close Friend
Phnom Penh, January 25, 2011 AKP – Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen considered China as a long-lasting, close friend providing its assistance to the national development in Cambodia, mainly the infrastructure construction projects.
He wished the relationship and cooperation between the two countries to last forever, while presiding over the inauguration of the Cambodia-China Prek Tamak Friendship Bridge in Kandal province on Jan. 24.
He also expressed his gratitude to China for its assistance to the national rehabilitation and development in the country.
The premier further appreciated China’s aid to Cambodia, saying that China always carried out all the projects earlier than expected.
He also elaborated on the country’s economic growth and the internal and external integrations.
“In my concept, the main investments must focus on infrastructures such as road, bridge, irrigation and human resources,” he said.
He said, “I am proud of the policy of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) as well as that of the Cambodian royal government, which created a situation to link people to people, along with transportation as well.”
Speaking at the event, H.E. Pan Guangxue, China’s ambassador to Cambodia, said the US$43.5 million Cambodia-China Prek Tamak Friendship Bridge was the third Chinese-funded bridge to open in Cambodia, after the Cambodia-China Sekong Friendship Bridge in Stung Treng province and Cambodian-China Prek Kdam Friendship Bridge, also in Kandal.
Phnom Penh and Beijing have inked agreements to build two more bridges, the Cambodia-China Chroy Changvar Bridge in Phnom Penh and another project in Takhmao.
Samdech Techo Hun Sen said several other highway projects have also been signed or are under negotiation, and that China has already funded the construction of more than 1,500 kilometers of roads in Cambodia.
Last month, during the Cambodian premier’s five-day visit to China, he and Chinese leaders signed 12 agreements related to infrastructure and agriculture projects.
The Prek Tamak Bridge is 1,060 meters in length and 13.5 meters in width, with a designed speed of 60 km per hour. The contractor of the project is China’s Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company. –AKP
Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by THOU Peou
PM Hun Sen and His Spouse Donate US$310,000 to Build Buddhist University
Phnom Penh, January 25, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and His Spouse, Bun Rany Hun Sen, have donated more than US$310,000 as a private contribution to building the Preah Sihamoni Raja Buddhist University (PSBU).
The Preah Sihamoni Raja Buddhist University is located within 144-year-old Svay Pope Monastery in Phnom-Penh. It will be a four-storey building with an estimated construction cost of some US$480,000.
Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen announced the donation Sunday while attending the ceremony to welcome the achievements made by the pagodas of the Dhammayutta Order throughout the country, and the 66th anniversary of His Holiness Samdech Preah Abhisiri Sugandha Mahasangharajah Dhipati Bour Kry, Great Supreme Patriarch of Dhammayuttikanikaya of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
“We have no discrimination of beliefs by the people in Buddhism of the two Orders, Dhammayutta and Mahanikaya,” Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said.
He pointed out that the physical infrastructures were needed for the monasteries through donation and contribution from the Buddhist followers, who, in return, would receive the education of ethics, morals, and Dharma.
Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen highly appreciated the excellent, enormous support, assistance and contribution of His Holiness Samdech Preah Abhisiri Sugandha Mahasangharajah Dhipati Bour Kry to the progress and value of Buddhism and the Cambodian society as a whole.
The number of Dhammayuttikanikaya monasteries has up to now increased to 161 with 2,500 monks, and that of Mahanikaya monasteries has a total of 4,307 with 54,861 monks. –AKP
Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by Ravuth M.
Vice President of French Senate Visits Cambodia
Phnom Penh, January 25, 2011 AKP – A delegation of the French Senate led by its Vice President Mrs. Catherine Tasca arrived here today for a week-long visit in the Kingdom.
The visit is aimed to review the cooperation works being implemented with the Cambodian Senate, especially in the framework of the French-Speaking Countries Association (Francophonie), and to set forth future perspectives, according to a press release of the French Embassy in Cambodia.
During the visit from Jan. 24 to 30, Mrs. Catherine Tasca, also chairwoman of French-Cambodia Senate Friendship Group, along with Cambodian senators will conduct a seminar related to the role of senators.
The French delegation of the Senate will be received in a royal audience by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and hold talks with Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, First Vice President of the National Assembly H.E. Nguon Nhel, and Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, said the press release.
The French delegation will also meet with Siem Reap Governor H.E. Sou Phirin and visit the French School and bilingual classes in Siem Reap province. –AKP
By OU Sokha
UK to Close its Office in Cambodia
Phnom Penh, January 25, 2011 AKP - The United Kingdom will close its international development agency’s office at the end of January, according to the announcement made here on Jan. 20 by UK Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Andrew Mace.
The closing will not affect its aid to Cambodia, he said, adding that the UK would continue to help Cambodia through other development programs.
For his part, Mr. Richard Erlebach, head of the Department for International Development (DFID) Cambodia office, said that DFID has helped Cambodia since 2000 and it will continue to assist the country in 2011 with 12 million pound.
UK’s assistance to Cambodia mainly focuses on the projects of enhancing the people’s health and living conditions, reproductive health and poverty alleviation, etc., he added. –AKP
By LIM Nary
Cambodian Brahman Fair Held in Kandal Province
Phnom Penh, January 25, 2011 AKP – The Cambodian Brahman Fair took place on Jan. 22-23 at Lovea Em district, Kandal province.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Chan Sarun presided over the opening ceremony of the cattle fair.
Over ten species of cattle were exhibited, said Mr. Srey Chanthou, president of the Cambodian Brahman Breeders’ Association, adding that the fair is aimed to raise farmers’ awareness on cattle breeding.
On the occasion, H.E. Chan Sarun lauded the association’s initiative to create the A.P. cattle farm, which he said contributes to the development of the country.
He also encouraged all farmers to participate in cattle breeding for the benefit of the agricultural field and thus the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Trade and Agricultural Products Fair was also held at the same place. –AKP
By SOKMOM Nimul
Japan Introduces Fresh Water Fish in Cambodia
Phnom Penh, January 25, 2011 AKP – A group of Japanese Fish Rearing Association led by Mr. Kazuki Nishimura met here recently with H.E. Chan Sarun, minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
During the meeting Mr. Kazuki Nishimura told the minister that the Japanese Fish Rearing Association wished to introduce Japanese fresh water fish (Nishiki Koi) in Cambodia, which is the first country chosen for Nishiki Koi fish crossbreed.
In reply, H.E. Chan Sarun welcomed and supported the association’s intention, which he said will further help boost Cambodia’s development as well as poverty reduction for the Cambodian people.
He also recommended the association to discuss in detail with H.E. Nao Thuok, director general of fisheries administration. –AKP