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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sokha Helicopter Airline opens in Cambodia

New Cambodian helicopter airline Sokha has begun daily helicopter services for the wealthy between several destinations in Cambodia, local media said on Thursday.

The new airline was officially launched here on Wednesday, during a ceremony presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An at the site of a newly-built 500-square-meter heliport, said Chinese- language newspaper the Sin Chew Daily.

Sokha Airline is a branch of Sokimex Company Ltd, said Airline Manager Dy Vichea, adding that the airline's purpose is to offer national and international tourists flight services.

It has six helicopters, including two Ecureuil 550 A2 helicopters which can carry five passengers, and one Robison R44 helicopter which can carry three passengers, he added.

Sokha will cover six routes daily, including Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh to Siem Reap town, Phnom Penh to Battambang town, Phnom Penh to Poipet, Phnom Penh to Bavet and Phnom Penh to Bokor.

One way flights from Phnom Penh to Poipet cost 1,100 U.S. dollars per passenger, while to Bokor Mountain it costs 2,536 U.S. dollars, and Sihanoukville 700 U.S. dollars.

The rates may seem quite high, said Sok Kong, the airline's chairman who is also president of Sokimex Company Ltd. But he said that he believes that wealthy people will be willing to pay for the convenience and pleasure of flying in a helicopter.

Sokha Airline offers high-efficiency and high-speed services while also providing a humanitarian service, for example in remote areas in times of flooding and other natural disasters, said Deputy Prime Minster Sok An.

He stressed that the airline service can contribute to economic growth and benefit the tourism industry and it is a reflection of investors' confidence in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia launches a competition to promote value of garment workers

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- A nationwide competition titled "I am precious" was launched in Phnom Penh Thursday in order to honor Cambodian garment workers, value the work they do, and enable them for the first time to show their talents and expression through a dress design and song lyrics competition.

The competition is a joint campaign under a collaboration of Cambodian Ministry of Women's Affairs and some NGOs, including ILO Better Factories Cambodia and Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

All workers from garment factories are eligible to submit their dress design and song lyrics until Oct. 15, a press release said.

The final event of the competition will be held in December this year, it said, adding that during the closing event, best dress designs and song lyrics will be presented in a show and the champions will be selected by representatives of the Cambodia's garment industry stakeholders.
This national competition is aimed to highlight the importance and contributions of the garment work and workers to Cambodia, and provide the workers an opportunity to release their self-worth and potential skills through a friendly competition, it said.

There are over 330,000 workers employed by the Cambodian garment industry, the press release said, adding that most of them are young women with limited education from rural areas.

Source: Xinhua
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Malaysia's QSR to open KFC outlet in Cambodia

KUALA LUMPUR: QSR Brands Bhd is expanding its restaurant business under the KFC brand into Cambodia.

The first outlet was expected to be operational in Phnom Penh by year's end, chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim told a press conference yesterday.

The group initially plans to open four outlets in the capital city as well as other major towns, and thereafter open two new restaurants each year.

The expansion into Cambodia involves the setting up of a joint-venture company with two local partners, Royal Group of Companies Ltd and Rightlink Corp Ltd. QSR will hold 55% while Royal Group and Rightlink will have 35% and 10% respectively.

QSR's initial investment is about US$3mil, which will be funded internally.

The group is hopeful the Cambodia operations would contribute to profits in the first year. “Many people prefer to eat white meat,” Ali said, adding that the country had a population of more than 14 million.

At present, the group's overseas operations, namely in Singapore and Brunei, contribute about 15% of revenue.

If the latest venture proved to be successful, the group would consider expanding the Pizza Hut and Ayamas brands to Cambodia as well, Ali said, adding that KFC had yet to have a presence in Myanmar and Laos.

Meanwhile, for the first half ended June 30, QSR reported an 8.1% growth in pre-tax profit to RM31.9mil owing to new product offerings, increase in the number of outlets and better performance at associate KFC Holdings (M) Bhd (KFCH).

The group opened 10 new Pizza Hut outlets in the first six months. Its Singapore business saw a 61.7% jump in pre-tax profit to RM3.5mil in the first half from RM2.2mil a year earlier.

Revenue rose 5.1% to RM213.4mil compared with RM203.1mil in the previous corresponding period while earnings per share (EPS) improved to 11.55 sen from 10.22 sen.

QSR declared an interim gross dividend of four sen per share for the second quarter.

KFCH, meanwhile, posted a 10.4% surge in pre-tax profit for the six months ended June 30 to RM67.1mil from RM60.8mil a year earlier. Revenue grew 11.7% to RM808.4mil against RM723.8mil previously while EPS improved to 23.37 sen from 21 sen.

Revenue at KFC restaurants expanded 12.2% to RM620.3mil while that at its integrated poultry division increased 9.7% to RM149.4mil.

“In Malaysia, 24 new restaurants were opened in the first half and 13 existing restaurants were remodelled during the second quarter,” said Ali, who is also chairman of KFCH.

Revenue from the KFC chain in Singapore grew 92% to RM5mil during the first six months from RM2.6mil previously while its Brunei business turned around with a pre-tax profit of RM368,000 from a loss of RM68,000.

Nonetheless, the profits were partially affected by higher costs of commodities like corn, soybean meal and palm oil, which led to higher costs of poultry products.

KFCH proposed an interim gross dividend of eight sen per share for the second quarter.

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For Navy care providers, Cambodia mission is sobering, rewarding

Story by: Computed Name: Sgt. Ethan E. Rocke

KAMPONG SOM PROVINCE, Cambodia(Aug. 31, 2007) -- It’s 9 a.m. and the daily crowd of patients is lined up outside the makeshift medical clinic at the Ma’Ahad El-Muhajirin Islamic Center in southern Cambodia. They peer inside the building, watching a Navy medical team at work.

As medical officer, Lt. Jonathan Endres sees his fifth patient of the day, his face is bright and his spirits high. He knows exactly how to help 9-year-old Mutiah Zaynuttin. The rash on her scalp is textbook, and she has a mild cold. Endres writes her prescription, smiles and sends her next door to another dim, shabby room that serves as the team’s pharmacy.

Zaynuttin is one of the approximately 500 residents of the center, located in the midst of Kampong Som Province’s remote farmland. She is the 98th patient Endres and his team of corpsmen from the Okinawa-based Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 have seen since they began a medical civil assistance project here two and a half days earlier. She is one of the 96 whose ailments the “docs” have been able to effectively treat, and she is one of the patients that leaves Endres smiling.

But as Endres and his docs measure their worth with the care and comfort they can provide the sick, and the other patients – those few whose serious illnesses they can’t treat in this environment – weigh on their minds.

Their humanitarian mission is a familiar one that Okinawa service members carry out in countries all over the Pacific.

“It’s very challenging,” said Endres, who is deployed on his first medical civil assistance project. “You do what you can and want to help as many people as you can, and we are able to treat the majority. There are only a few that we got stuck on, and that’s frustrating.”

By the project’s third day, there were two patients Endres could not help. One, he suspects has hepatitis and another appears to be in the beginning stages of tuberculosis.

Many patients U.S. teams see on humanitarian assistance missions have never seen a doctor. And while they are the minority, cases that exceed a deployed team’s capabilities are a disheartening reality for American doctors accustomed to Western health care standards.

The team’s enlisted leader Chief Petty Officer Joe Palmares, a 20-year Navy veteran who planned and coordinated the Cambodia medical project, has been faced with that reality several times; the Cambodia mission marks the ninth medical civil assistance project he has been involved with while stationed on Okinawa.

“There are times that you really wish you could provide more,” he said. “Every time we do this, you can only do so much, so we do the best we can and hope.”

Their best means treating patients every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also providing preventive medicine training that covers topics such as hygiene and preventing heat casualties.

Most patients have several diagnoses many of which are the result of poor living conditions. Infections and parasites are among the most common problems in the small Cambodian community.
The medical team hopes to lengthen its impact beyond the two weeks they are on the ground by showing the residents how to better protect against disease and infection, a responsibility that falls to preventive medicine technician Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly R. Wallen, who is also deployed on his first civil assistance mission.

“This can be an emotionally draining experience,” he said. “It’s backbreaking work at times, but I actually look forward to getting up in the morning, knowing it’s going to be hard, because I know I’m going to help people.”
Wallen and his colleagues share a driving sense of compassion and commitment that is a constant reminder to them that, while they cannot help everyone, there is something very special about helping those they can.

“We come out here and we care,” said Palmares. “That’s our mission, and we do it well. As Americans, we are very blessed. We’re such a strong country, and that’s why we provide this humanitarian relief, because we can and because we should. You can’t provide everything, but to touch somebody’s life, that’s special. They will cherish this; they will remember this.”
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First person charged by UN-backed Cambodia court appeals against detention

29 August 2007 – The first person to be charged by the United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes three decades ago has appealed against an order for his provisional detention.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was charged last month with crimes against humanity over his role as chief at the S21 prison in the capital, Phnom Penh, during the Khmer Rouge's rule in the 1970s, when hundreds of thousands of people were killed or died from starvation, forced labour and ill treatment.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) said in a statement that Mr. Kaing's lawyers had lodged notice of appeal against the provisional detention order and the case file had been sent to the Pre-Trial Chamber to “deal with the matter expeditiously.”

Mr. Kaing was placed in provisional detention on 31 July after the charges were issued.

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the trial court and a Supreme Court within the Cambodian legal system will investigate those most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law under Khmer Rouge rule between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.
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