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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cambodia coal plant planned

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand plans to co-invest in a new coal-fired power plant in Cambodia to source 3,000 megawatts under a project worth up to US$4.5 billion.

The new project is in line with Egat's plan to diversify its power sources across the region.

Acting Egat governor Santi Sarntijaree said the state enterprise was negotiating with potential investment partners.

''We expect the Chinese government will hold the largest stake. Other stakeholders will be Cambodian authorities and Egat,'' he said.

Under the agreement, Egat would buy all of the electricity generated from the project.

The project would require investment of $4.2 to $4.5 billion, or 142.8 to 153 billion baht.

The figure assumes an average cost of $1.4 million per megawatt.

The electricity from the project is scheduled to link with the Thai national power grid after the completion of the Hongsa lignite project.

Mr Santi said that the project is the first energy collaboration between Thailand and Cambodia after long negotiations.

Previously, the two governments discussed a smaller 1,400-1,600 mw project, but decided on a larger project for cost reasons.

''To buy power from neighbouring countries is our top choice to secure power to meet Thailand's growing demand, particularly in case we are unable to build more power plants,'' he said.

However, power supplies from neighbouring countries still account for less than 20% of total power generation in Thailand

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NKorea PM in Cambodia to boost trade

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong-Il arrived in Cambodia Thursday under heavy security, starting a rare visit focused on boosting trade between the two impoverished nations.

Kim and Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen later oversaw the signing of the countries' first investment agreement, as well as a deal to increase trade between their sea ports.

"The main topic (of Kim's visit) is economic and trade relations. They would like to buy some more Cambodian products in the future," said Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

He added that while the two countries were politically close, trade relations remained very low.

Kim asked that Cambodia and North Korea exchange views on international issues and support each other "to avoid pressure from powerful countries," Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told reporters following afternoon talks.

The North's premier blamed the United States, one of Pyongyang's biggest adversaries, for escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, Khieu Kanharith said.

Kim, the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit Cambodia in six years, was greeted earlier in the day at the airport by Prime Minister Hun Sen and hundreds of flag-waving students.

During his four-day stay he will also call on former king Norodom Sihanouk, a long-time friend of North Korea who frequently stays in a palace in Pyongyang provided to him by the North's first leader, Kim Il-Sung.

"Our current visit will mark a significant occasion in... giving a vital and extensive boost to friendly and cooperative relations in several fields," said a statement from the North's delegation.

Last month Cambodia's Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said North Korea wanted to build business ties with Cambodia as a way to gain access to world markets largely closed to the communist state by sanctions.

"Through investment, North Korea may see Cambodia as a bridge by which to produce goods and export to bigger countries," he said at the time.

More than 4,000 military and security personnel have deployed throughout the capital Phnom Penh during Kim's visit, the interior ministry said.

Kim visited Vietnam and Malaysia before arriving Cambodia. He will also tour Laos before returning home.
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Animal rights group threatens to protest Cambodia's KFC restaurants

Phnom Penh - An international animal rights group has urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to ban proposed Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets from the country and threatened protests by celebrities if the fast-food chain opens, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokeswoman Ashley Fruno said by email that celebrities like actress Pamela Anderson and singer Morrissey were staunch supporters of PETA's campaign against KFC.

"We hope to use creative ways and colourful protests to educate Cambodians about KFC's horrific treatment of animals in the future," she wrote in an email Wednesday.

PETA has mounted a sustained campaign against KFC, dubbing it "Kentucky Fried Cruelty" for alleged infringements of animal rights. KFC would be Cambodia's first global food chain.

KFC plans to open outlets imminently in the major tourist centres of Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in partnership with Malaysian-based QSR Brands Bhd, Rightlink Corp Ltd and Cambodian partner Royal Group Ltd.

"We hope you will act to protect Cambodia's health and culture by refusing to allow KFC and the abusive farming practices it perpetuates from entering your country," PETA Asia Pacific director Jason Baker wrote in an open letter to Hun Sen.

"With every KFC restaurant comes cruelty to animals, the threat of deadly diseases and blight on the urban landscape," Baker wrote in a separate press release. "We are asking Hun Sen to do his people, his country and his legacy - not to mention countless chickens - a big favour."

Under secretary of state for the Ministry of Culture, Ching Chhorng, said by telephone Wednesday that he doubted KFC would destroy Cambodian civilization. "Cambodians need jobs. Chains like KFC can provide them," he said.
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Thai police seek another Canadian in child-sex case

TORONTO -- Thai police have issued an arrest warrant for a Canadian man for allegedly paying to have sex with an eight-year-old boy, two weeks after a teacher from British Columbia was apprehended in Thailand on similar charges.

Officials in Pattaya, about 110 kilometres south of Bangkok, confirmed Wednesday they were searching for Orville Frank Mader, a 54-year-old teacher originally from Kitchener, Ont., who was imprisoned in Cambodia three years ago on accusations of sexual crimes against children before those charges were dropped.

According to Pattaya City News, a local media outlet, Mader is accused of paying 500 baht -- roughly $15 in Canadian funds -- to have sex with an eight-year-old child at a hotel in the resort town.

The boy was reportedly abducted from a shopping centre and then sold to foreigners for sex. His mother reported his disappearance to Pattaya police on Sunday.

Two days later, she says she spotted him in the company of a 24-year-old man at a local plaza. Police arrested the man, who said he gave 100 baht ($3) to the boy each time he went with a customer.

As part of their investigation into the boy's abduction, local police released pictures Wednesday of Mr. Mader taken by security cameras at the Ben Mansions hotel in Pattaya.

The same hotel was reportedly frequented by Christopher Paul Neil, a 34-year-old Canadian who was the subject of an international manhunt earlier this month. Mr. Neil, who worked as an English teacher in South Korea, was eventually arrested in Thailand and now faces molestation and kidnapping charges.

Pattaya City News reported Wednesday that Thai police had instructed border officials to detain Mr. Mader if he attempted to leave the country.

Marina Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs. confirmed the Canadian government was "aware" of reports Thai police had issued an arrest warrant for a Canadian.

"Officials are monitoring the situation closely. At this time, due to the Privacy Act, no further information can be released," Mr. Wilson said.

An RCMP spokeswoman was similarly unable to comment on whether Canadian police were assisting with the investigation into Mr. Mader.

Reportedly the son of a high-school guidance counsellor, Mr. Mader comes from a large family that sprawls across southwestern Ontario.

No one answered the door at the home of Mr. Mader's parents or his brother's home in Kitchener Wednesday. Neighbours at an uncle's home said the family had received word of the arrest warrant and left to avoid media attention.

Relatives contacted by phone said Mr. Mader moved to the Vancouver area about 30 years ago and had little contact with relatives since leaving. A woman married to one of his first cousins said she had never met Mader, saying the family is not particularly close.

An aunt declined to discuss his case before hanging up while another cousin expressed surprise that Mader was still free.

Mr. Mader has been accused of similar crimes in the past.

In 2004, Cambodian police arrested him in Phnom Penh, alleging he committed sexual offences against two boys, aged 11 and 14. While he was imprisoned for five months, charges were eventually dropped against him.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Mader's mother, Elise Mader, told the National Post it was unlikely he had committed any crime.

"I don't see how they could charge him with anything like that, because he teaches children. He's so good with children and all that," she said, adding she thought the arrest related to noise complaints at his hotel.

Elsie Mader said Mader had taught English to children in Nagoya, Japan, between 2002 and 2004. Scant additional information is available on his life since he was released from Cambodian custody.

He appears to have renewed his passport in Jakarta, Indonesia, last year. In addition, he seems to maintain a residence in Surrey, B.C., although phone calls to the home were not returned Wednesday.

-- with files from Tom Blackwell

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