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Friday, May 11, 2007

Cambodia losing millions to beer smuggling

Beer smuggling cost Cambodia's Government $US22 million in lost tax revenue last year, according to an economic think tank, which warns that contraband alcohol was on the increase.

Millions of bottles and cans of beer imported from Singapore and Thailand simply disappeared at the Cambodian border before being taxed, the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) said in a report commissioned by two local breweries, Cambrew and Cambodia Brewery Limited.

"With weak governance and law enforcement, 'contraband' beer has ... been booming," the EIC said, adding that the smuggled brew accounted for 29 per cent of the country's total beer market, far outstripping legal imports at 6 per cent.

The EIC says the Japanese beer Asahi, the cheapest foreign brand on the market, made-up the largest percentage of imported beer.

"It is crucial the government take energetic measures to combat 'contraband' beer, especially along the Thai border," it added.

Business experts say the losses represent about 3 per cent of Cambodia's total budget revenue, and have wider implications for anyone trying to produce locally.

According to Bretton Sciaroni, who co-chairs a monthly working group on law, taxation and good governance for the private sector, says the Swiss foods giant Nestle closed its factory in Cambodia several years ago because its locally produced products could not compete with smuggled goods.

Cambodia's Parliament has yet to pass anti-corruption legislation that has been demanded by the country's donors.

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17 May Norweigan National day Celebration in Cambodia

" We have not yet started any preparations for it, but i am sure we will be soon get together a small group of enthusiasts and pull it together. Usually, the small Norweigan school with their teacher, Elisabeth Gjemmested, performs for the group, we always have a small parade, some games, and we eat lovely food" says Caroline Rusten the wife og the Minister councilor in Cambodia who is in charge of the 17 May celebrations last year and also this year.

Please check at the Embassy in Cambodia or visit

Organizer(s) :
Royal Norwegian Consulate
Royal Norwegian Consulate, Phnom Penh
The Honorary Consulate covers all Cambodia.
Honorary Consul: to be appointed
Postal address: P.O. Box 34, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
New office address: House No. 18, Street 57 (Corner Street 294), Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang I, Khan Chmakar Morn, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Opening hours: Tuesday 09.00 - 11.30 and Thursday 12.00 to 16.00
Tel: +85 5 23 211 972 / +85 5 23 216 232 / +85 5 23 217 720
Fax: +855 23 215 078
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Shaven Head and Mourning from Cambodia to ‎Virginia Tech‎

The connection to HOLOCAUST COMMEMORATION DAY and the Virginia Tech shooting massacre will be linked forever in some peoples hearts--because they will fall on the same day every year: April 16.

Fascinatingly, a Holocaust survivor was one of the heroes who died on April 16 protecting his classroom of students from death and horrors. His name was Liviu Librescu who was born in Romani but had lived in Jerusalem. As teacher myself I honor and mourn the victims. Thank God for heroes.

Even the pro-gun lobby Fox news noted that a 76-year-old professor who survived the Holocaust was shot to death while saving his students from the Virginia Tech assailant, students said.

Fox News continued that Liviu Librescu, was an internationally respected aeronautics engineer who taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years. Fox clarified that Librescu saved the lives of several students by barricading his classroom door before he was gunned down in the massacre, according to e-mail accounts sent by students to his wife.

Later, the Fox report added a comment from the man's son, Joe: "My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,"

In addition, according to Fox, one Virginia Tech graduate student Philip Huffstetler stated. "We should be in such great debt to his family for the rest of our lives."


On April 17th I [Kevin Anthony Stoda, the author] personnally learned via CNN News about the Virginia Tech massacre of 32 students--and others being left with physical and mental scars for life.

I was traveling to Angkor Wat in Cambodia the day those horrible events happened on Holocaust Day. I asked my tour guide whether he thought such a rampage of death by a single shooter could occur in his homeland?

Recall that just three decades ago, this Cambodian's family had been put in prison by the Khmer Rouge and that his other family members had suffered greatly in the era known around the world as THE KILLING FIELDS.

The guide shook his head--saying NO WAY. Today, in Cambodia not even the regular policemen have access to guns. In short, as Americans try to claim that this sort of violence could happen in any land--THE LAND OF THE KILLING says no way, not possible here anymore.

When will it be impossible in the USA--my homeland?

In recognition and commemoration for these 32 victims in Virginia, on that April 17, 2007 I took a vow to shave my head for 32 days--not 33 days which would include the perpetrator with or among the victims.

I've shaved my head before for mourning and commemorative dates. Sadly most of these dates come in April each year.

April 19 commemorates the WACO catastrophe, Ruby Ridge shootings, and the OKC Bombing. April 20 is both Hitler's birthday and the date of the Colombine High School shooting massacre in Colorado. For the victoms, the shaven head in concentration camps was a symbol of shame for men and women in Auschwitz and other Holocaust sites around Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

On the other hand, besides shame mourning or atonement is another reason for shaving one's head--as the prophet Job performed in shaving his head after he lost nearly all his family members through a devil-inspired set of catastrophes in Biblical times.

Further, as with Buddhism in Camboida, a lot of religions use the shaving of one's head as a marking of a point of renewal in one's life or commitment to one's vowas to live better.

In short, shaving one's head is a commitment or recommitment to faith.

For example, Muslim males who go to Mecca for Haj (or for Omra), and they shave their heads. In turn, in both Hinduism and Buddhists--even females who become monks--shave their heads.
I wish to both mourn the senseless murders in Virginia and ask my country to consider a renewal of its heart, soul, and mind--especially concerning guns and the right to have them.

I think it is time for Americans to reconsider the American Constitution and its wording or miswording concerning possession of weapons.

In this way, the Consitution can join concerned American law enforcement officials in making the USA a safer place.

Historically, America has been far too slow to revise its consitution at many junctions in its history. It was, for example, too slow in banning slavery [ over 65 years] and even slower [taking over 130 years] to give women political voting rights.

Cognizant of these histories of shortcomings in our BELOVED CONSTITUION, I think hunting-guns should be permitted but more regulated than now. Other weapons need to be more completely and throughly regulated

Moreover, concerning the treatment of America's poor and isolated peoples , it is high time that universal health care--including MENTAL HEALTH CARE-- be made available to all citizens immediately.

There is good reason to believe that if American law enforcement officials and America's justices had overseen the mental health care of Cheong Song-Hui in the 2005-2007 period, this crazy and disturbed killer of 32 people at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg would never have committed those infamous acts or atrocities.

God help America improve in all these areas in 2007 and beyond!!!! .
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Vietnam grants amnesty to conspirator 22 years after imprisonment

Vietnam has granted amnesty to a local man who was sentenced to life in prison for treason and conspiring against the state 22 years ago, local newspaper Vietnam News reported Thursday.

According to an announcement on the amnesty issued by the Ministry of Public Security on Wednesday, State President Nguyen Minh Triet pardoned the man named Phan Van Ban based on his letter which pleads for clemency, and the state's humanitarian policies on amnesty.

In the letter, Ban, who had already served 22 years of his sentence, cited his advanced years and wish to be reunited with his family in the United States as the primary reasons for his request.

The letter also contains an apology to the Vietnamese government and people for his action as well as his new-found belief and confidence in the government in terms of handling socioeconomic reforms.

He pledged not to repeat his offences, vowed not to do anything harmful to the country in the future, and thanked the government and state president for his freedom.

Ban, given a life sentence by the People's Court of southern Dong Nai province in November 1985, once served as a policeman in the U.S-backed Saigon regime.

He joined an extremist organization called "The Internal Army for the country's Recovery" led by Truong Van Lan, and soon got promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the organization in which he became personal assistant to Lan, the report said.

Ban, who led a battalion and two regimes that operated in southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province, was integral to the group's propaganda work and set out to distort information to the public on the country's direction and the government's action.

After printing documents and leaflets that his accomplice distributed in January 1985, Ban and the rest of the syndicate were arrested by local police.

Right after his release on Wednesday, Ban left Hanoi capital for the United States.

Source: Xinhua
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Dismissal of tourism minister draws mixed reaction in Cambodia

The removal of Tourism Minister Lay Prohas on Tuesday by a directive from Prime Minister Hun Sen has led to mixed reaction, local media on Thursday quoted sources as saying.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith refused to identify the exact reasons behind the dismissal, but explained that the replacement of the co-ruling Funcinpec Party's Lay Prohas by Tourism Secretary of State Thong Khon from the major ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) was a normal action to restructure the ministry and it didn't stem from any mistakes that Lay Prohas made, Cambodian language newspaper the Chakraval reported.

However, an unidentified official alleged that Funcinpec leaders suspected that Lay Prohas planned to defect to the opposition Norodom Ranariddh Party, thus making his position untenable, it reported.

Meanwhile, tourism officials said on condition of anonymity that the decision was down to Lay Prohas' indifference towards CPP officials working at the ministry, another Cambodian language newspaper the Rasmei Kampuchea reported.

Funcinpec Rural Development Minister Lu Laysreng expressed dismay on learning of the decision, saying that "I would like to express regret for the fact that Tourism Minister Lay Prohas has been removed from his position."

"Even the Funcinpec permanent committee does not know of the removal," Cambodian language newspaper the Moneaksekar Khmer quoted him as saying.

Funcinpec Secretary General Nhiek Bun Chhay declined to comment on the removal, but said that Hun Sen had the right to remove officials if he felt that they were not working properly.

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the removal of Lay Prohas was another step by CPP to consolidate its power in the more lucrative ministries, English language newspaper the Cambodia Daily reported.

Lay Prohas was appointed as Tourism Minister in 2004. The number of tourists to the kingdom has grown to 1.7 million in 2006, a 20 percent rise over 2005.

"Lay Prohas is very impressive. He is the best among the former ministers," the Cambodian Daily quoted Moeung Sonn, director of the National Association of Tourism Enterprises, as saying.

Son Chhay, director of the fifth permanent committee of the National Assembly, said that the legislative body will hold a session on May 17 to vote for the formal appointment of Thong Khon as Tourism Minister, said the Rasmei Kampuchea.

Funcinpec officials now heads seven of Cambodia's 25 ministries. According to an agreement with CPP in 2004, Funcinpec can hold 40 percent of the government posts. But the deal was no more valid in the eyes of both sides, as the political conditions have changed in the past years.

Source: Xinhua
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Four Points by Sheraton Angkor, Cambodia set to open in 2009

Starwood has signed its first Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Cambodia and the Indochina region: Four Points by Sheraton Angkor, Cambodia. Scheduled to open in 2009, the hotel will feature 150 rooms, 8,500 square feet of meeting space, 3 restaurants, a health club, spa, swimming pool and a business center. The hotel will be located on Road No. 6 which links Siem Reap international airport to Siem Reap town. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from the airport, a 5-minute drive to the city and a 10-minute drive to the heritage site of Angkor temples.

“We are thrilled about the choice location of our new hotel in Angkor and are honored to partner with TTY Corporation Co., Ltd to manage this exciting new addition to our portfolio in the Indochina region, which will provide the Four Points by Sheraton brand with a great presence.

Cambodia’s tourism industry has continued to experience very strong growth for the past few years, with an average growth rate of close to 20%. In particular, over 50% of travelers to Cambodia visit Siem Reap. Although there are a number of upper upscale international and local hotels in Siem Reap, there are no internationally branded upscale hotels present in Siem Reap.

The introduction of Four Points by Sheraton Angkor will be an exciting addition to the market and will offer travelers to this city more options in terms of guest experiences and accommodation,” said Wayne Buckingham, Regional Vice President for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Thailand and Indochina region.

Besides Four Points by Sheraton Angkor, Starwood is currently developing eight other new hotels in Thailand and the Indochina region: Le Meridien Pattaya Resort, Le Meridien Chiang Mai Resort, Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort, Le Meridien Bangkok, Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi Golf Resort & Spa, W Retreat & Residences, Koh Samui, Sheraton Hua Hin Resort, Vana Belle Samui Resort & Spa, a Luxury Collection hotel. Read more!

General Electric to open office in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, May 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. multinational General Electric (GE) plans to open an office in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh this year, local media reported Friday.

GE's interest in Cambodia is mostly focused on health sector equipment and machinery, the Cambodia Daily quoted Joseph Mussomeli, U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, as saying.

Representatives from the U.S. technology and services conglomerate were part of a delegation of U.S. executives that met with senior Cambodian officials Wednesday, said Mussomeli.

In addition to GE, the delegation included representatives from ConocoPhillips, Oracle, Federal Express and ITT Defense, according to a statement issued by the group.

The GE executives discussed the possibility of bringing diagnostic machinery and materials to Cambodia, whose health facilities were still lacking such equipment, said Cambodian Health Minister Nuth Sokhom, who has met with the delegation.

Bretton Sciaroni, president of the American Cambodian Business Association, said the GE executives also expressed interest in power plants during their visit, the newspaper said.
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