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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cambodia's infamous motorbike taxi drivers to learn their lessons

Asia-Pacific News
Jan 31, 2007, 5:35 GMT

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's cavalier motorbike taxi drivers, or motodops, are to be provided with a school to try to reign in their notoriously dangerous driving, an official said Wednesday.

Ung Chung Hour, director of the Land Transport Department of the nation's Transport Ministry, said media reports detailing litanies of dangerous and sometimes drunken exploits of motodops who understand little about road rules and care about them even less had prompted him to set up a school.

'The school will teach them how to drive for free. However, at the end of the course, they will have to pay about 10 dollars to sit an exam and receive a license,' Chung Hour said.

'The idea is to encourage them to do a driving course before they start their business, the same as in more modern countries. I will be very happy if the idea runs smoothly, and I have asked the government for financial assistance to get it started.'

At least one private company has also already donated chairs for the budding students and will provide the licenses for those who pass, he added, and he hopes aid organizations will also help.
Chung Hour has tailored his own course, including writing the lessons himself. The course will cover basic road rules as well as safety modules on issues such as effects of drinking and driving in a country where prosecution for the offense is unknown.

'I want to make a difference. I want to make an achievement to public safety that is remembered,' Chung Hour said.

There are no statistics for the number of motodops operating in Cambodia at any one time as they are not licensed and there are currently no restrictions on who can up take the occupation.
The streets of major towns and cities are filled with motorbikes offering the cheap door-to-door moto taxi service and it is a popular way for provincial people seeking work in the capital to earn an interim living after they arrive.

News of the course was met with indifference by motodops surveyed Wednesday, many of whom saw it as an additional tax and worried that time spent in the classroom would take away from time that could be spent earning money.

But the rapidly increasing road toll has become a cause of concern to the government as roads improve and traffic increases, and there is increasing pressure to improve road safety measures from both the government and concerned non-government agencies.

These concerns could be at least partially allayed by ensuring taxi drivers know the rules of the road, according to Chung Hour, who says his free course will soon be followed by tougher measures.

'The course begins in February. After six months or so, when we know how long it takes to teach, we will look at imposing fines for drivers who do not have a license,' he said. Read more!

Cambodia justice 'fails children'

By Guy De Launey BBC News, Cambodia

Human rights organisations have criticised the way children are treated in Cambodia's justice system.

They say there are hundreds of under-age prisoners in the country's jails and many of them are forced to share cells with adults. A coalition of local and international groups has called on the government to pass legislation to protect the children.

Conditions in Cambodia's jails are notorious.

There can be as many as 60 inmates in a single cell, food is scarce, and standards of hygiene are poor. Life is difficult enough for adult prisoners but human rights groups say it is unacceptable that children are sharing the same conditions.


There is only one facility in the country designed for juvenile prisoners. The rest of the rising number of under-age detainees have to take their chances with adults.

The local rights organisation, Licadho, says that children have reported beatings from prison officials and fellow-inmates alike.

An official from the United Nations' children's organisation, Unicef, warned that the problem was getting out of hand.

Sandy Feinzig has also been working with the government to introduce a juvenile detention law and a new criminal procedure code.

''This year our hopes are to get these two laws passed, which could do a tremendous amount to reduce the sentences for children, divert them into projects, provide alternatives to sentencing, all of which will lessen the overcrowding in the current prison facilities,'' she says.

The need for reform is clear. This week local newspapers reported that a prisoner in a provincial jail died from a "hunger-related disease".

A government spokesman said it was difficult to justify spending more on food for convicts, when many public sector workers earned just $20 a month.

Story from BBC NEWS: Read more!

Russia to join OIL meal in Cambodia

Last Updated 31/01/2007, 15:07:54
Cambodia is a small Country( not a Kingdoom) and also a small piece of meal. Can a small piece of meal be shared by a group of Hyena? and who get the most, less, least or not at all? but when groups of Tigers and Lions joined in, who got more power to grabe?

Cambodia says Russia has joined a number of foreign powers eyeing Cambodia's petroleum reserves. The President of Cambodia's National Assembly, Heng Samrin, says Russian officials have expressed interest in oil exploration off Cambodia's southern coast.

The expression of interest came during a recent meeting of regional legislators. He says while Cambodia welcomes Russia's overtures, no firm agreement has been made. Two years ago, petroleum was discovered by US energy giant Chevron Corporation off Cambodia's coast. Since then, firms from France, South Korea and Japan are reportedly seeking exploration licenses. Read more!

Spanish Queen to visit Cambodia

Queen Sophia of Spain will pay an official visit Cambodia on February 8 and 9 at the invitation of Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. The ministry said the queen will and visit Spanish-funded projects and tour the famous Angkor Wat temple complex in the northern city of Siem Reap.

The ministry announced the visit the same day it announced Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Ray would pay a separate state visit to the king, on February 6 and 7. Calmy-Ray will also meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, her Foreign Minister counterpart Hor Namhong, inspect Swiss-assisted repairs to the famous Banteay Srei temple at Angkor Wat and visit a children's hospital run by Swiss philanthropist Beat Richner, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Read more!

Global Challenges | Cambodia Must Focus on MSM Population To Combat Spread of HIV, UNAIDS Official Says

Jan 31, 2007

Cambodia must focus on its "hidden" population of men who have sex with men, including those who also have sex with women, to combat the spread of HIV in the country, UNAIDS Cambodian coordinator Tony Lisle said recently, IRIN/Reuters AlertNet reports. Although Cambodia has made significant gains in the fight against the disease, it still has an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 1.6%, the highest in the region, according to UNAIDS estimates.

A study conducted by Family Health International in 2004 among 1,306 MSM in the country found that there were four times as many "masculine acting" MSM -- who are locally called "short-haired" MSM and have sex with one another -- than transgender MSM -- who are called "long-haired" MSM and have sexual partners from both groups.

In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Cambodian National Centre for HIV/AIDS Dermatology and STDs in three provinces -- Phnom Penh, Batdambang and Siem Riep -- found that 58% of MSM surveyed reported having sex with female partners in the previous year. Of the 58% of MSM who reported having sex with a female partner, almost 25% said they had sex with a female commercial sex worker, and 16.6% said they had sex with casual female partners in the previous month.

A recent report conducted by Therapeutics Research, Education and AIDS Training found that "short-haired" MSM are more likely to receive money for sex -- 20% regularly and 41% occasionally. The report also found that misconceptions persist among MSM concerning HIV transmission and that male sex workers often are unable to negotiate condom use and generally do not use lubricant.

According to UNAIDS, fewer than one in 20 MSM in Cambodia have access to HIV prevention and care services. Although the government has begun to acknowledge MSM in its HIV prevention programs, nongovernmental organizations and community-based organizations have only begun recently implementing programs to reach the population, according to government researchers. "When you have a very dense network, and when you have crossovers in the network between males and females, in the presence of high risk of [sexually transmitted infections] and in the presence of low condom usage, then you have a potential for an explosive epidemic," Lisle said.

Sear Young Tan of the National MSM Network -- which aims to eliminate stigma and discrimination against MSM and promote equal access to HIV information and services -- said educating "short-haired" MSM must be an integral part of the country's HIV prevention efforts (IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, 1/30). Read more!