Sunday, November 8, 2009

PM jets off to Tokyo summit

PRIME Minister Hun Sen departed Thursday for the inaugural Mekong-Japan summit in Tokyo, where he will urge the Japanese government to finance a new bridge project and solicit investment from Japanese firms, officials said.

The premier is to hold bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart Yukio Hatoyama on Saturday, seeking to secure funds for a second Mekong bridge project that would link Cambodia to the planned ASEAN highway and the Greater Mekong Subregion.

“The bridge will connect countries in the region and link up with National Road 1,” Sri Thamrong, an adviser to Hun Sen, told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Japanese government has agreed in principle to fund the construction of the US$70 million Neak Loeung Bridge, which would span the Mekong 60 kilometres east of Phnom Penh.

Japan has already funded the stretch of National Road 1 linking Phnom Penh with Neak Loeung.

Sri Thamrong said Japan is one of Cambodia’s biggest foreign aid donors, but that Japanese investment was still low.

“Hun Sen will also meet with Japanese investors in order to attract them to invest in Cambodia,” he said.

Cambodia tit-for-tat over Thaksin

Cambodia has responded to Thailand's recall of its ambassador from Phnom Penh, by recalling its ambassador from Thailand hours later.

Thailand's recall was in anger over Cambodia's offer of an advisory post and a home in Cambodia to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin was sentenced in absentia in a Thai court for conflict of interest.

The neighbouring countries have recently been in dispute over ownership of a temple near their border.

When Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen first announced his welcome to the self-exiled fugitive Thaksin, Thailand's current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva was about to host a regional summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations - of which both Cambodia and Thailand are members.

Neighbours

Thai government figures told reporters Cambodia would have to choose between friendship with Mr Thaksin and friendship with Thailand.

This week's announcement by Phnom Penh of a job as economic advisor for Mr Thaksin ramped up the bad feelings across the border.

A few hours after Thailand withdrew its ambassador from Cambodia as a "first diplomatic retaliation", as Mr Abhisit put it, Cambodia responded.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said Cambodia was withdrawing its envoy from Bangkok as a "temporary measure" until Thailand sent its envoy back to Phnom Penh.

Thailand has said it is reviewing aid projects but keeping the border checkpoints open, while Cambodia says its recall would not affect trade or raise tensions along the border.

Soldiers from both countries have engaged in sporadic fighting along their shared northern border where ownership of the Preah Vihear temple is claimed by both countries.

The twice-elected Thaksin remains a hugely influential figure in Thailand, and the current Thai government has said it would try to extradite him from Cambodia if he set up residence there - a request Cambodia has said it would reject.

Thailand's Mr Abhisit defended his decision to recall the ambassador and said the Cambodian government had "intervened in Thai justice" and hurt the feelings of the Thai people.

"I believe Thailand and Cambodia still want to be good neighbours, but once these problems happen, we need to respond," he told reporters.

Since the 2006 coup which deposed Mr Thaksin, both supporters and opponents of the former telecommunications mogul have repeatedly taken to the streets of Bangkok in large protests, some of which have turned violent.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New law for foreign adoptions

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's National Assembly on Friday approved a new law for foreign adoptions, setting up criteria for children to be adopted, the eligibility of potential adoptive parents and the procedures for legal adoptions by families living overseas, local newspaper the Phnom Penh Post reported on Saturday.

All 72 parliamentarians in attendance voted to pass the two final chapters of the law after about one hour of debate, it said. Debate on the lO-chapter draft law began on Wednesday.

The law is aimed at ensuring that Cambodian children adopted by foreign parents, "grow up in a family environment, a happy environment, with love and understanding in order to develop fully."

For a child to be adopted by foreigners, he or she must be younger than 8 years old, except in the cases of special needs. The children must be living in an orphanage, under the care of the Social Affairs Ministry, or have poor or disabled parents, the law said.

Moreover, under the law, adoptive parents must be between 30 and 45 years old, and should have, at the most, one other child, who must be younger than 22 years old.

According to statistics presented by Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, more than 20,000 Cambodian children live in state-run orphanages, and about 130,000 live in private facilities. He added that adoptive parents in the U.S. alone took home 1,415 Cambodian children between 1998 and 2003, although the U.S. government officially suspended adoptions in 2001 over fraud concerns.

And Britain cut off Cambodian adoptions in 2004, while France implemented a temporary ban between 2003 and 2006. Australians are also forbidden from adopting, as the two countries have never signed an agreement on adoption.

Ith Sam Heng was quoted by the Post as saying that the law would be "seriously implemented," adding that he had not heard of any bad things happening to Cambodian children after being adopted abroad.

He said a delegation from the ministry had already visited adoptive families in Canada, France, Italy and the U.S. Some foreign parents had also written annual reports to the government describing the conditions of the children, including photos, about health and education, he added.

Editor: Anne Tang

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mitsui seeks Gulf of Thailand rights from Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Japanese oil and gas firm Mitsui Oil Exploration Co has applied to Cambodia for exploration rights in an area of the Gulf of Thailand claimed by both Cambodia and Thailand, officials said on Wednesday.

Cambodia's government spokesman, Ieng Sophalleth, said Mitsui's chairman, Yoshiyuki Kagawa, "assured the prime minister during a meeting on Tuesday that the company was determined to invest in block four" in the contested area.

"Prime Minister Hun Sen told the company's chairman that he welcomed all companies to join in the bidding process in a transparent way," Sophalleth told Reuters by phone.

Mitsui Oil Exploration Co is a unit of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd (8031.T).

Hang Chuon Naron, secretary general at the finance ministry, said the government would take some time before granting any concession.

"And Mitsui will have to talk with the Thai side at a later stage on the oil exploration and production," he told Reuters.

Cambodia's exploration area covers 37,000 square km (14,300 sq miles). Another 27,000 square km (10,400 sq miles) thought to be rich in oil and gas deposits is claimed by Thailand.

In February Hun Sen said, referring to the disputed area, that Cambodia's government would "adhere to principles of international law, the win-win policy and good neighbourliness in resolving various issues with all parties involved".

Cambodia does not yet produce oil. Chevron Corp (CVX.N) is the operator of Block A in the Gulf of Thailand but is unlikely to produce oil before 2010 at the earliest. (Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Monday, September 14, 2009

KR Tribunal: Prosecutor want more 5 KR investigated

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A prosecutor at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal has formally recommended that five more suspects be investigated for crimes against humanity and other offenses, setting the legal body on a collision course with the country's powerful prime minister.

A statement from the tribunal Tuesday said the acting international co-prosecutor, William Smith of Australia, submitted his recommendation to the co-investigating judges, who would then decide whether to issue arrest warrants.

Citing the confidentiality of the process, the tribunal announcement did not identify the five new suspects. It said the cases involved at least 32 instances of murder, torture, unlawful detention, forced labor, and persecution that constituted violations of Cambodian and international law.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly spoken out against expanding the list of defendants beyond the one now on trial — Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, — and four others in custody.

On Monday, Hun Sen said such action could lead to civil war, a claim doubted by his critics.

"I would like to tell you that if you prosecute (more leaders) without thinking beforehand about national reconciliation and peace, and if war breaks out again and kills 20,000 or 30,000 people, who will be responsible?" Hun Sen said.

The tribunal's Cambodian co-prosecutor opposed further indictments, but the tribunal last week ruled that his international counterpart could seek them. The tribunal, created last year under an agreement reached in 2003 between Cambodia and the United Nations, employs joint teams of Cambodian and international court personnel.

Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal, said there was no timeframe for action by the co-investigating judges on Smith's submission, made Monday.

The tribunal is seeking justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died in Cambodia from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition as a result of the communist regime's radical policies while in power between 1975-79.

The U.N. administrator for the tribunal issued a blunt reminder Tuesday to Hun Sen that the panel was independent.

"It is a clearly established international standard that courts do not seek approval of advice on their work from the executive branch," Knut Rosandhaug said in a statement.

Critics accuse Hun Sen of trying to limit the tribunal's scope to prevent his political allies from being indicted. Hun Sen once served as a Khmer Rouge officer and many of his main allies are also former members of the group.

The tribunal's long-awaited first trial — of Kaing Guek Eav, the Khmer Rouge's chief jailer for war crimes and crimes against humanity — opened in March. A joint trial of the four other defendants is expected within the next two years.

The Khmer Rouge came to power after a bitter 1970-75 civil war, and after being ousted from power in 1979, carried out an insurgency from the jungles until 1999.

Hun Sen has dominated Cambodian politics for more than two decades. He ousted his former co-prime minister in a 1997 coup and has since ruled virtually unchallenged.

Cambodia newspaper: Phnom Penh Post In Khmer

PHNOM PENH — The Phnom Penh Post, one of Cambodia's leading newspapers, launched its first-ever Khmer language edition Wednesday, stepping up competition in the country's burgeoning media market.

Australian publisher Ross Dunkley said the paper, which will have a daily print run of 15,000 copies, would focus its reporting on Cambodia's changing economy and business climate as it leaves behind decades of conflict.

"Ultimately a newspaper is a reflection of the society we live in so you can expect the paper to be much more in tune with the new realities of this country," Dunkley said.

The majority of publications in the country's large and lively Cambodian-language press are accused of being aligned with political parties, however Dunkley promised independent reporting.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith welcomed the paper, the first full-colour Khmer tabloid in the kingdom's media market, as a "good thing" that would help "widen our free press".

The English version of the Post launched its first daily edition in August last year, after Australian businessmen with stakes in Yangon's The Myanmar Times weekly took a controlling interest in the paper.

The Post, founded by American journalist Michael Hayes 18 years ago, had published every two weeks but Post Media Ltd, the company now behind the paper, has invested heavily in expanded editions.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

World Bank in talks with Cambodia over evictions

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - A senior World Bank official held talks with the Cambodian government over the forced eviction of people from their homes and said the development bank would continue to work with it on land reform to tackle the problem.

Land ownership is a controversial issue in Cambodia, where legal documents were destroyed and state institutions collapsed under the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s and the civil war that followed.

The World Bank joined with other aid donors in July to ask the government to halt forced evictions and the problem was raised again by its vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific Region, James Adams, during a visit last week.

"A major focus of the visit was Cambodia's urban land sector and the increasing numbers of disputes and evictions of poor people in urban settlements," the bank said in a statement.

"The discussions on land reform were constructive and it was agreed to continue these discussions over the coming week to agree next steps," it said.

The bank has provided funding of $24.3 million for a land management and administration project from 2002 to 2009, and an estimated 1.1 million land titles were issued, said Bou Saroeun, a spokesman for the World Bank in Phnom Penh.

Other donors such as Germany, Finland and Canada have together provided more than $14 million to support the land title project, Saroeun added.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cambodia's Aussie Boss Scott O'Donnell Assembles Coaching Staff

Cambodia national coach Scott O'Donell has appointed former internationals Van Piseth and Bouy Dary as his assistants in shaping the future of the national team.

And the three have certainly not wasted time as they have been consistently on the lookout for players in the on-going Cambodian Premier League 2009.

“Both Piseth and Dary were with me before (in 2007),“ said O’Donell.

“I trust and respect them. Both were national team players and have a good knowledge of the game, and we already have a mutual understanding of what we want to achieve.”

Van Piseth, 47, was a former Cambodian international in the mid-1980s and played his football for the most part with the Army team before beginning his coaching career at Khemara FC.

He is due to take his AFC C-Licence coaching certificate next month.

The 23-year-old Bouy Dary on the other hand was the assistant to former national coach Prak Sovannara, and is one of the younger generation of coaches in Cambodia.

He played under O'Donell at the SEA Games in 2005 whilst with the Royal Navy team, and already has his C-Licence.

“The next stage is to get a squad together, with the SEA Games in Laos in December as the next major challenge,” added O'Donell.

“I want to put on a series of trials for around 40 players in the last three weeks of July at the National Olympic Stadium, with a view to sizing it down to a squad of 25 players.

“Then I'd like to get the squad with me a couple of times a week during August and September, which is why I met with the CPL coaches a couple of weeks ago, as I need their cooperation.

“I'd be concentrating on their technical and tactical awareness rather than their stamina until the end of the current season.”

The 42-year-old Australian is also looking to further strengthen his squad's preparation for the SEA Games in Laos with a couple of friendly international matches and two training camps away in South Korea and Vietnam.

Southern Gold 'strikes gold' in Cambodia

Southern Gold Ltd says it has found significant gold mineralisation at one of its projects in Cambodia.

The gold junior found "a number of prominent gold intersections" during its first reverse circulation drilling program, the company said.

Shares in the company leapt on news of the discovery, which identified gold intersections as rich as 8.8 grams per tonne.

Other metals including silver, copper and zinc also were located at the site.

Southern Gold managing director Stephen Biggins said the maiden drilling program validated the company's confidence in the area.

"I am delighted with the results of this first-pass drill program and look forward to aggressively following-up these results," Mr Biggins said in a statement.

At 1107 AEST, shares in Southern Gold were up 1.5 cents, 15 per cent, to 11.5 cents.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First aniversary of Khmer Preah Vihear temple in UN World heritage

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodians on Tuesday noisily celebrated the first anniversary of the UN's world heritage listing of an ancient temple which has stoked nationalist tensions with neighbouring Thailand.

Posters of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple were plastered in pagodas, schools and prominent locations around the capital Phnom Penh while celebrators screamed, "Long Live Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site!"

"As Cambodian people, we are very proud of Preah Vihear temple. We must celebrate this day, it is historic for us," Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema said after a traditional dance ceremony at a pagoda in front of 1,000 people.

Waving colourful Cambodian flags, Buddhist monks, nuns, students and teachers gathered at pagodas and schools nationwide and promptly beat drums and rang bells at 11:00 am (0400 GMT) to herald the listing, officials said.

"I am very happy and proud of Preah Vihear temple. The temple belongs to Cambodia. Thailand has no right to claim it," said student Hang Dalune as at another event as hundreds of people sang and danced to nationalist songs, waving Cambodian flags.

Soldiers, villagers, monks and officials at Preah Vihear also celebrated the listing despite a standoff nearby between Cambodian and Thai troops, Cambodian commanders said.

The neighbouring countries have been at loggerheads over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July when the temple was granted UN World Heritage status.

Although the World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, the most accessible entrance to the ancient Khmer temple with its crumbling stone staircases and elegant carvings is from northeastern Thailand.

Thousands of people were also expected to gather in Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium Tuesday evening for an anniversary ceremony complete with a fireworks display, official speeches and patriotic songs.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia worsened last month when Bangkok announced it would ask UNESCO to reconsider its decision to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, as the surrounding land is still in dispute.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Border dispute not lead to war with Cambodia: Thai defense minister

BANGKOK, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Saturday that he was confident that the border dispute with Cambodia will not lead to war between the two countries as some fear.

Thailand's Army Region 2 commander will hold talks with Cambodia's army region 4 commander to ease tension along the border and to reduce military forces of the two countries deployed near Preah Vihear temple, Prawit was quoted by the website of the Bangkok Post as saying.

The area around Preah Vihear Temple, which was inscribed as a World Heritage Site on July 7 last year, has been the scene of a tense standoff between the Cambodian and Thai armed forces. The Cambodian government insisted that Thai troops have deployed on Cambodian soil, while Thailand said its troops are only in the disputed zone.

Early Saturday, Thai Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban flew to Cambodia to attend the opening ceremony of No 67 highway, due to be presided by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

This is the second visit to Cambodia by Suthep in two weeks.

Suthep said that Thailand has no policy to cut number of troop deployed along Thai-Cambodia border for the time being.

However, he expressed confidence that the situation along the border will not escalate to violent confrontation between the two countries.

In mid-June, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit said the government would ask UNESCO to review last year's decision to register Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site when he meets the organization this week in Spain.

On Cambodian side, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said his country was ready for any situation which might follow the reinforcement of troops on the Thai side of the border.

Tensions have escalated at the Thai-Cambodian border, with Thailand's Second Army Area commander Lt General Wiboonsak Neeparn recently rotated troops at Preah Vihear so that they are fresh and ready for a possible attack from Cambodia.

Cambodia has already boosted its presence in the border area.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cambodia donates $1.2 mln to World Food Program to reduce hunger

PHNOM PENH, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian government on Wednesday donated 1.2 million U.S. dollars to World Food Program to help reduce the hunger and malnutrition in this country, according to WFP statement.

The statement released Wednesday said the donated fund will help provide food assistance to over 800,000 poor rural Cambodian people affected by food insecurity brought on by last year's high food prices and this year's global economic crisis.

"WFP is very grateful for this generous contribution," said Jean-Pierre de Margerie, WFP Cambodia's representative.

According to the statement, it's the third donation from Cambodian government to WFP since 2007, but did not elaborate the total amount contributed.

Yim Chhay Ly, deputy prime minister and chairman of Council for Agriculture and Rural Development said Cambodia remains fully committed to support such objectives.

WFP is supporting Cambodia's government in its efforts to improve the food security of Cambodia through all its activities, assists nearly one million of the poorest and most food insecure people in the country.

WFP also, in addition to school feeding, implements operations in support of mother and child health, support TB and HIV patients, and project that support the creation of agricultural assets.
Editor: Wang Guanqun

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen visit France in July

PHNOM PENH, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Tuesday that he will visit France on July 13 to strengthen the bilateral cooperation.

"We will be absent from the country for a short period of time because I will visit France and I also will meet with French President late afternoon on July 13 if the schedule is not changed," he told a University graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.

"I will be invited to join a ceremony of French Army March on July 14," he said, adding that he will attend his son's graduation ceremony in an army school in France.

France played a key role for Paris Peace Accord for Cambodia in1991. France also provides funds to Cambodia in several projects, including rule of law, good governance, and agricultural and health improvement.

France colonized Cambodia from 1863 to 1953.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Former Cambodian king beats cancer for third time

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk has been successfully treated for a third bout of cancer, according to a handwritten royal letter posted on his website.

The 86-year-old, who left for Beijing in July last year to receive medical treatment for other illnesses, thanked his "most eminent" and "devoted" Chinese doctors who have been treating him there.

"Indeed, the terrific result of their (incomparable) care is here: my third cancer (B-cell lymphoma) has completely disappeared," Sihanouk said in the letter dated Monday.

The former monarch announced the discovery of the new cancer in late December.

Sihanouk was first diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, a cancer affecting blood cells crucial to the immune system, in 1993. The cancer began in his prostate and recurred in 2005 in his stomach.

Sihanouk has suffered from a number of other ailments including diabetes and hypertension.

One of Asia's longest-serving monarchs, Sihanouk abruptly quit the throne in October 2004 in favor of his elder son, Norodom Sihamoni, citing old age and health problems.

Despite abdicating, Sihanouk remains a prominent figure in Cambodia and often uses messages on his website to comment on matters of state.

International Prosecutor Quits Cambodia Khmer Rouge Trial

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP)--The international prosecutor at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal announced his resignation Tuesday from the court, which is trying the late 1970s regime's prison chief.

Canadian prosecutor Robert Petit said in a news statement that "for personal and family reasons" he would soon leave his position at the U.N.-backed court.

Petit has previously clashed with his Cambodian co-prosecutor over whether to go after more suspects from the hard-line communist movement at the tribunal.

"I remain convinced that Cambodia's hopes for a better future lie, in part, on true accountability for crimes," Petit said in the statement.

"My staff and I have tried, within our jurisdiction, to contribute to that goal to the best of our abilities," he said.

The court's long-awaited first trial has seen Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, accept responsibility for overseeing the torture and execution of more than 15,000 people at Tuol Sleng prison.

Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are also in detention awaiting trial, but while Petit has sought to bring more cadres to justice, Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang has disagreed.

Lawyers for detained former Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea have alleged Petit has knowledge that his co-prosecutor was ordered by the Cambodian government not to pursue more former regime members.

In a Tuesday letter to Petit, which they distributed to the press, Nuon Chea's lawyers Michiel Pestman and Victor Koppe demanded a written reply to the allegation by the end of this week.

Petit wasn't immediately available to comment on the allegations, and is due to formally leave his position Sept. 1.

The tribunal is conducting the search for Petit's successor, a court press official said.

After years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the U.N., the court was created in 2006 to try leading members of the communist 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime and began its first trial in February.

But the court has faced controversy over a series of government interference allegations and claims that Cambodian staff were forced to pay kickbacks for their jobs.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mekong River dolphins on verge of extinction, report says

PHNOM PENH, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The international conservation watchdog has released its report warning that pollution in the Mekong River has pushed the local population of Irrawaddy dolphins to the brink of extinction.

The report released Thursday said researchers had found toxic levels of pesticides such as DDT and environmental contaminants such as PCBs during the analysis of the dead dolphin calves.

"These pollutants are widely distributed in the environment and so the source of this pollution may involve several countries through which the Mekong River flows," the World Wide Fund for Nature said.

Since 2003, the population has suffered 88 deaths of which more than 60 percent were calves under two weeks old. The latest population is estimated between 64 and 76 members living in habitats along a 190-kilometer stretch of the Mekong River between Cambodia and Laos, the report said.

Vern Dove, an author of the report and veterinarian with WWF Cambodia said "Necropsy analysis identified a bacterial disease as the cause of the calf deaths. This disease would not be fatal unless the dolphin's immune systems were suppressed, as they were in these cases, by environmental contaminants."

But, Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conversation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphins Eco-tourism Zone, said the "report was all lies," citing it was aimed at discrediting Cambodia and alerting donors to give more aid to the WWF.

He said no such pollutions have been found or he and other 10,000 families living along the stretch have died or become sick because of the water consumption on a daily basis.

He, however, acknowledged the deaths of the dolphins, but because of illegal fishing in early 2000, not because of pollutants as claimed by the WWF's report.

He estimated dolphins numbered at about 150 to 160 today, while there were only about 120 in 2000.

The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2004.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cambodia, Vietnam set year 2012 to end border demarcation

PHNOM PENH, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed that the border demarcation between the two nations will be finalized by 2012, a senior government official said Wednesday.

The set timeframe for the border demarcation was reassured by border experts during the two-day meeting, which took place in Cambodia's northern province of Siem Reap.

Cambodia's chief of border negotiator Var Kimhong said he had held talks with Ho Xuan Son, Vietnam's deputy foreign minister and chief of border commission, during which he said fruitful discussions on bilateral cooperation, especially, the border issues were made in substantive and mutual manners.

In a separate meeting on Monday between Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Ngo Anh Dung, newly appointed Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, Hor Namhong had encouraged Vietnam to expedite its hydropower development in Cambodia's rivers in the eastern part that would provide electricity for local use and for sale to Vietnam, according to Koy Kuong, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry.

Cambodia shares 1,270 kilometers of border with Vietnam to the east and as of today, 109 border poles have been marked and 205 more will be placed by 2012, according to Var Kimhong.

Var Kimhong said as more discussions on border issues need to be addressed, the Cambodia and Vietnam's Joint Border Commission will meet again in November this year in the country's southwest coastal beach of Sihanoukville.

Cambodia is also in the process of negotiations with Thailand and Laos on similar border issues.

Cambodia shares 805 kilometers of border with Thailand to the west and northwest and another 504 kilometers with Laos to its northeast.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cambodia rejects US corruption claims

Cambodian officials admit corruption exists within Cambodia, but they say damning assessments made by the US embassy are biased and unfounded.

US ambassador Carol Rodley said recently Cambodia loses five hundred million U.S dollars every year to corruption. Cambodia's foreign ministry has rejected the claims, calling the statement "politically motivated and unsubstantiated".

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cambodia hits back at U.S. over graft comments

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia accused the United States of meddling in its internal affairs on Tuesday after Washington's ambassador said the impoverished nation was losing up to $500 million a year through corruption.

Cambodia's foreign ministry urged diplomats to "refrain from interfering" after the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, Carol Rodley, said rampant graft was preventing the country from developing its public services, education and healthcare.

"(The government) wishes to remind all members of the diplomatic corps to maintain their neutrality and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Cambodia," the ministry said in a statement.

Cambodia's anti-graft chief, Om Yentieng, said Rodley's remarks, made on Saturday at an anti-corruption concert in Phnom Penh, were an attempt to undermine a government which had the support of the people.

"If the ruling party had acted in such a way, we would not have gained votes and continued to stay in power," Yentieng told reporters.

A report last year by anti-graft watchdog Transparency International ranked Cambodia as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, placing it 14th among 180 nations studied.

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Martin Petty and Sugita Katyal)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​រាជ​ធានី​ភ្នំពេញ​ប្រកាស​ចូល​កាន់​តំណែង​នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​៣០ ឧសភា

ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​រាជ​ធានី​ភ្នំពេញ​ដែល​មាន​សមាស​ភាព​សរុប​ចំនួន ២១​រូប ក្នុង​នោះ​មាន​នារី​ចំនួន ៣​រូប ត្រូវ​បាន​ប្រកាស​ឲ្យ​ចូល​កាន់​មុខ​តំណែង​រួច​ហើយ។

AFP PHOTO

អ្នក ​គាំទ្រ​នៃ​គណបក្ស​ប្រជាជន​កម្ពុជា​ដង្ហែ​ក្បួន​នៅ​តាម​ដង​ផ្លូវ​ក្នុង​ ក្រុង​ភ្នំពេញ​ក្នុង​យុទ្ធនាការ​ឃោសនា​បោះឆ្នោត​ជ្រើស​រើស​ក្រុមប្រឹក្សា​ រាជ​ធានី ខេត្ត​-ក្រុង ស្រុក​-ខណ្ឌ​នា​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​២ ឧសភា ២០០៩។

នៅ​ក្នុង​ចំណោម​ខែត្រ​-ក្រុង​ចំនួន​២៤ ទូទាំង​ប្រទេស ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​រាជ​ធានី​ភ្នំពេញ​បាន​ត្រូវ​ប្រកាស​ឲ្យ​ចូល​កាន់​មុខ​តំណែង​ មុន​គេ កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៣០ ឧសភា​នេះ ដោយ​មាន​ការ​ចូល​រួម​ប្រកាស​តែង​តាំង​ពី​លោក ស ខេង នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្រ្តី​ស្តីទី​នៃ​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា។

ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​រាជ​ធានី​ជាប់​ឆ្នោត​ថ្មី​ទាំង​នោះ គឺ​មក​ពី​គណបក្ស​ប្រជាជន​កម្ពុជា​ចំនួន ១៤​រូប និង ៧​រូប​ទៀត​មក​ពី​គណបក្ស​សម​រង្ស៊ី ហើយ​ក្នុង​ចំណោម​សមាជិក​គណបក្ស​សម​រង្ស៊ី ទាំង ៧​រូប​នោះ ក៏​មាន​មន្ត្រី​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​នារី​មួយ​រូប​ផង​ដែរ។

យោង​តាម​ច្បាប់​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា មន្ត្រី​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​រាជ​ធានី ក៏​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​ដឹកនាំ​ទៅ​លើ​គណៈ​អភិបាល​រាជ​ធានី​និង​សុំ​ឲ្យ​មាន​ការ​ដក​ ចេញ​ពី​តំណែង​ទៀត​ផង។

លោក ថាច់ សេដ្ឋា សមាជិក​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​រាជ​ធានី​ដែល​មក​ពី​គណបក្ស​សម​រង្ស៊ី បាន​មាន​ប្រសាសន៍​នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៣១ ឧសភា ឲ្យ​ដឹង​ថា ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​មាន​កម្មវិធី​ការងារ​ប្រជុំ​ជាមួយ​គណៈ​អភិបាល​ក្នុង​មួយ​ខែ​ ម្តង ៖ «គណៈ​អភិបាល​គឺ​អនុវត្ត​នូវ​សេចក្ដី​សម្រេច​របស់​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា ហើយ​ជា​តំណាង​ឲ្យ​រាជ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល រីឯ​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា គឺ​ត្រូវ​ធ្វើ​សេចក្ដី​សម្រេច​ទាំង​ខាង​បញ្ញត្តិ និង​ទាំង​ខាង​ប្រតិបត្តិ។ បើ​សិន​មិន​អនុវត្ត មិន​គោរព​ទេ គឺ​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​ហ្នឹង​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​ស្នើ​ទៅ​ក្រសួង​មហាផ្ទៃ ដើម្បី​ដក​តំណែង​របស់​គណៈ​អភិបាល​ហ្នឹង។ ក្រុមប្រឹក្សា​យើង​ធ្វើ​ការ​រាយការណ៍​តែ​នៅ​ក្នុង​ក្រុម​អភិបាល​ហ្នឹង​ឲ្យ​ បាន​ដឹង​តែ​ប៉ុណ្ណឹង​ទេ ហើយ​យើង​ទទួល​ខុស​ត្រូវ​ចំពោះ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​ហ្នឹង គឺ​ចំពោះ​ការ​គោរព​រដ្ឋ​ធម្មនុញ្ញ​និង​ច្បាប់​ផ្សេងៗ​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ​ទេ»

Cambodia plans extending Angkor Wat visit at night

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Cambodia is considering opening the famed Angkor Wat temples at night to draw more tourists to the impoverished country, an official at the archaeological site said.

Similar night tourism efforts have been introduced at other sites in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia already has installed some lights at the network of centuries-old temples, said Bun Narith, who leads the agency responsible for managing the Angkor park.

Tourism is a major foreign currency earner for cash-strapped Cambodia. More than a million foreign tourists are expected to visit this year, with most from South Korea, Japan and the United States. More than half of tourists visit the Angkor temples, by far the country's biggest draw.

Visitors are now ushered out of Angkor at sunset, but authorities are considering extending visiting hours to as late as 8:30 p.m. local time.

"We want tourists to see all views of the temple, even in the dark places where they may have not have seen some of the sculptures and statues," Bun Narith said.

But conservationists have long expressed concerns about tourism's impact on Angkor. They say the uncontrolled pumping of underground water to meet the rising demand of hotels and residents in the nearby town of Siem Reap may be destabilizing the earth beneath the temples.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

PM Hun Sen calls for more ASEAN-EU partnership, cooperation

PHNOM PENH, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) to continue strengthening partnership and cooperation in response to the global challenges.

"I strongly believe that ASEAN and the EU can play a more active and more forceful role in the world," the premier said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) at Chaktomuk Conference Hall.

"There is no room for a passive role for us, and we - ASEAN and the EU collectively - need to take on the global challenges with head on," he added.

The 17th AEMM which opened here Thursday will focus on ASEAN-EU's enhanced partnership and cooperation, as well as the world economic and financial crisis and other regional and international issues.

The meeting under the theme of "ASEAN-EU Partnership for Peace, Economic Growth and Development" is also scheduled to address issues of ASEAN integration, food and energy security, and the environment.

Hun Sen, in his speech, reviewed and spoke highly of the ASEAN-EU cooperation, saying "our close relations at present are becoming ever stronger and covering a wide range of areas."

The premier also underlined six areas for further enhancing the cooperation and partnership between the ASEAN and EU, such as continuing implementing the ASEAN-EU Action Plan, moving quickly to realize the EU/EC's accession to the TAC (the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia), supporting each other in the areas of integration and the community building process, and strengthening ASEAN-EU cooperation in the regional and international forum.

On the issue of the global economic and financial crisis, Hun Sen said "the current crisis presents both the danger and the opportunity for some countries, particularly those in the developing world."

But he warned that "the danger is that some countries may resort to protectionism." He asked to "reform the international financial institutions" to serve the interests of all.

This biennial ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting were attended by representatives from all the 10 ASEAN countries and the 27 EU member states, as well as the delegates from ASEAN Secretariat and EU Commission.

Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong and Jan Kohout, Czech deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs whose country is current EU president, are co-presidents of the meeting.

The 16th Ministerial Meeting between ASEAN and EU was held in Germany in 2007.

The ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The first overpass in Cambodia breaks ground

Cambodia broke ground at Phnom Penh capital's busiest intersection Wednesday for the country's first road overpass.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the start of the project, intended to reduce Phnom Penh's increasing traffic problems, at a ceremony opening another new bridge at the intersection.

"It is will be the first overpass bridge of Cambodia," Hun Sen said at the ceremony.

Officials said construction of the 308-metre (1,010-foot) overpass would cost more than six million dollars and would be finished within one year.

The premier said Phnom Penh had changed from "ghost city, a city that has no people, and a shocked city, into a vivid city."

All residents of Phnom Penh were forced into the countryside during the 1975 to 1979 Khmer Rouge regime, as the hardline communists enslaved the nation on collective farms.

During Wednesday's ceremony, Hun Sen also called on the people to respect traffic laws, saying that doing so meant they "respect their own lives."

Traffic fatalities have more than doubled in Cambodia over the past five years, becoming the second-biggest killer behind HIV/AIDS.

Better roads and more vehicles have contributed heavily to this toll, but bad driving is the main cause behind most accidents, police say.

Cambodia has finally begun to emerge from decades of civil conflict, but has been hit with gridlock as well as a building boom that has begun to change radically the face of its once-sleepy capital.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

19 new garment factories in Cambodia opened

Nineteen new garment factories opened in Cambodia in the first quarter this year, creating job opportunities for workers who lost employment due to the world financial crisis, local media reported on Wednesday.

These new factories, on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh, will employ 6,069 people, helping to offset the closing of 46 garment factories that led to the loss of 21,400 jobs in the first three months of this year, according to official data from the Ministry of Labor.

"We welcome newly opened factories, because they help create jobs for workers who lost employment when previous factories closed," Oum Mean, secretary of state at the ministry, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

Bun Var, general manager of Jit Textile, one of the factories that reopened, said that he will provide 1,600 jobs this year, but adding that the future of the sector was generally unknowable given current uncertainty. "No one can predict the business lifespan of a new factory," he said.

Meantime, Cheath Khemara, a labor affairs official for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) predicted that the garment sector's woes would continue indefinitely. "It will be difficult to attract new factories to Cambodia given the current situation," he said, blaming labor strikes for scaring off investors.

Cambodia's garment exports dropped 35 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Exports to the United States were worst hit, down 47 percent compared with same period last year, while those to the European Union (EU) fell 22 percent, according to the earlier figures obtained from the Ministry of Commerce.

Activists in Cambodia urge release of Suu Kyi

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Rights activists demanded freedom for Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday, ahead of a series of meetings between European Union and Southeast Asian ministers in Cambodia.

Dozens of Western, Myanmar and Cambodian rights campaigners demonstrated at the Myanmar embassy in Phnom Penh, urging ministers to pressure the ruling junta to release the opposition leader and other political prisoners.

"We are asking ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) that is meeting with the EU (European Union) to raise this issue to be discussed during the meeting," said Kek Galabru, president of a local rights group.

"ASEAN must push for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi," she added. Asian and European foreign ministers on Tuesday called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other Myanmar political prisoners after two days of Asia-Europe meetings in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

She is on trial in military-ruled Myanmar where she faces up to five years in jail on charges of violating her house arrest after an incident in which an American man swam to her house.

Representatives from the EU and the 10-member ASEAN were scheduled to attend a welcome dinner Wednesday evening, ahead of Thursday meetings intended to focus mainly on cooperation between the two regions amid the global financial crisis.

"According to the official agenda of the meeting, they will not discuss about issues of any specific country," Cambodia's foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told AFP.

"We don't know whether the ministers will raise the issue of Myanmar to be discussed or not. If they do, it will be an unofficial agenda," he added.

Several local diplomats, however, told AFP they expected Myanmar to be at the forefront of discussions.

Myanmar's treatment of prisoners, along with North Korea's recent nuclear test, dominated much of the agenda during Hanoi's ministerial meetings this week.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention for 13 of the past 19 years since her National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in 1990 polls but was not allowed to take power.

The Nobel laureate took the stand for the first time on Tuesday in her trial at Yangon's notorious Insein jail and argued she had not violated the terms of her house arrest.

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