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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cambodia Asks ASEAN To Act In Myanmar Crisis

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday urged the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to find ways to solve the erupting crisis in Myanmar.

Sen in an interview with the China View, said that Singapore, who stands as the rotating Chair of ASEAN, should be uniting with the countries Malaysia and Thailand in order to form a group of three that will find a solution to Myanmar problem.

The Prime Minister described the problem in Myanmar as it reached the new level of seriousness.

"ASEAN should be playing a more active role," he said in an interview with the China view noting that he would like to see the government of Myanmar exercise the maximum tolerance to clear out the protesters.

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Japan may cut aid to Myanmar; Cambodia calls for regional role

TOKYO: Japan said Wednesday it is preparing to cut aid to Myanmar, while Cambodia's prime minister urged Myanmar's neighbors to work as a group to help find a democratic solution to the country's political crisis.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to play a role resolving the tensions in Myanmar and urged the junta to refrain from further violence.

Hun Sen said the involvement of Myanmar's Buddhist monks in recent pro-democracy protests showed problems had reached a new level of seriousness.

"ASEAN should be playing a more active role," he told reporters, proposing the bloc form a group, led by ASEAN chair Singapore, that can "assist in finding solution to the problems in Myanmar."

Myanmar's junta broadcast warnings from trucks Wednesday that soldiers were searching for protesters.

Myanmar's military crushed pro-democracy protests on Sept. 26 and 27 with live ammunition, tear gas and by beating up demonstrators. Hundreds of monks and civilians were carted off to detention camps. The government says 10 people were killed in the violence, but dissident groups put the toll as high as 200. They say 6,000 people were detained.

U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari was in transit in Singapore on Wednesday after a four-day mission in Myanmar, where he met junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe and his deputies to convey the international community's outrage at the junta's actions. He also talked to detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi twice.

In Singapore, Gambari met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Myanmar is an ASEAN member.

A Singapore government statement said Lee told Gambari that ASEAN "is fully behind his mission" to bring about a political solution for national reconciliation and a peaceful transition to democracy.

In Indonesia, dozens of Buddhist monks rallied outside the Myanmar Embassy, demanding Jakarta and the U.N. to take immediate action and waving banners denouncing the military junta.

"Stop all forms of violence and start looking for a solution with cool heads," said monk Matra Maitri.

In Geneva on Tuesday, the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council condemned the military's crackdown and urged an immediate investigation of the situation.

In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Japan was preparing to suspend aid to Myanmar over the death of Kenji Nagai during last week's military crackdown on street protests in Yangon despite repeated international calls to end repression.

"There have been calls to freeze aid entirely, but ordinary people in that country are already suffering. So we've decided to narrow down humanitarian aid for now," Komura told a group of reporters.

Japan has not formally announced details of the aid cut, though Komura said Tokyo would keep up assistance to humanitarian projects like polio eradication.

Japan is Myanmar's largest aid donor. It suspended yen-denominated loans for major projects after another violent crackdown in 1988, but has since given aid under a program focused mainly on health, education and humanitarian projects.

In 2005, Japan provided grants totaling 1.3 billion yen (US$11.2 million; €7.9 million) and 1.7 billion yen (US$14.7 million; €10.3 million) in technology assistance, according to the latest ministry figures.

Japan has limited its economic aid to Myanmar to humanitarian assistance, and is now "considering cutting it back further," Komura said.
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Cambodia's co-ruling Funcinpec Party to elect PM candidate

As the 2008 national election approaches, the co-ruling Funcinpec Party has announced that it will hold a two-day national congress from Oct. 18-19 to prepare its leadership structure and political programs and elect its candidate for prime minister, local media reported Wednesday.

"We will organize the party's national council congress on Oct. 18, which is the first anniversary of the party reform," said Funcinpec Secretary General Nhiek Bun Chhay, reported Cambodian- language newspaper the Rasmei Kampuchea.

Chhay also claimed that, during the October 18 event, which will be held at Olympic stadium, the party will also announce reform of the party national council, consisting of between 2,600 and 2,700 members from all levels of the royalist party, and will decide whether to extend the membership of the party's steering committee from 53 to 70, reported another Cambodian-language newspaper the Khmer Mekong News.

The party will also declare its candidate for prime minister for the 2008 national election. All three candidates, Princess Norodom Arun Rasmy, Princess Norodom Vichara and Prince Norodom Sirivudh, are from the blue-blooded Norodom branch of the royal family, reported another Cambodian-language newspaper the Khmer Machas Srok News.

Funcinpec spokesman Nov Savathero said that only princes and princesses who are popular and have good relations with the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) would be nominated as premiership candidates for the royalist party.

Princess Arun Rasmy, wife of Funcinpec president Keo Puth Rasmey, is in a strong position as she has never had any disputes with the CPP, reported the Khmer Machas Srok News.

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Creative Holidays launches Vietnam and Cambodia

Creative Holidays has launched its 2008 Vietnam & Cambodia program offering the trade an expanded product range, as well as new, more flexible travel options that can be tailored to suit specific clients’ time and budget requests.

The new program boasts a full page feature on Halong Bay boat options, including the introduction of the Halong Ginger, a five-star high-end junk for travellers looking for a more luxurious experience. The program also has more hotel options in the popular cities of Saigon, Hanoi and Hoi An, a full page outlining Sapa train and rail options as well as the introduction of product in the beach areas of Phu Quoc Island, Phan Thiet and Quy Nhon, and new group tours in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Andrew Yell, general manager, product, sales and marketing, Creative Holidays said “This year we have a really diverse range of products designed to suit all markets, including families, couples, singles, those on a budget, the more adventurous, people looking for a hands-on experience and those after romance, luxury and indulgence.

“The popularity of both Vietnam and Cambodia has grown significantly over the last 12 months with Australian travellers. In fact, we have seen sales to the region double, which is testament to a destination that really does offer something for everyone.

“We have been able to increase our range to offer more five-star resorts, like the Evason and Ana Mandara in Nha Trang, more options to the booming family market and, option of independent flexible itineraries and group trips for solo travellers.

“Truly flexible independent touring is always a popular choice and consultants now have more options than ever with Creative Holidays. Agents can tailor an itinerary exclusively for their clients with us, right down to the standard of accommodation, duration, budget and sightseeing options.

“Tailoring a trip for clients is simple in Vietnam because geographically the country runs over 3000km from north to south, so the most practical itineraries traverse the country from top to bottom or vise versa, with as many, or as few, stops in between as travellers would like. However, with the boom in interest to the region demand can sometimes out number supply, so book your clients early to ensure they don’t miss out during peak seasons.

“Moving forward into 2008, we expect to see unprecedented growth continue for Vietnam, particularly as the region is so accessible, easy to travel though and appeals to such a broad cross-section of the market.”

Creative Holidays’ entire program is a comprehensive information source and research tool to help consultants and their clients plan their holiday and features impartial destination information supplied by Lonely Planet including temperature charts, country and area maps, event details, currency and dining information, travel facts, country highlights and much more throughout.

As a SPECIAL BONUS, Lonely Planet is offering significant discounts on their range of travel guides to Creative Holidays’ customers, so if your clients wish to learn more about Vietnam and Cambodia be sure to direct them to www.creativeholidays.com where they can save 20 per cent on all full priced Lonely Planet guides.

Creative Holidays is Australia’s leading independent holiday company with a range of holidays to suit everyone – especially those who enjoy the independence and flexibility of planning their own holiday. Creative Holidays great deals are available exclusively through travel agents.
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