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Friday, May 16, 2008

Feature: Cambodia actively donates for China's quake-relief efforts

PHNOM PENH, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia and the Association of Qingtian County People (of Zhejiang Province of China) in Cambodia here on Friday evening donated 31,340 U.S. dollars to the Chinese Embassy for the Chinese government to carry out relief works in the earthquake-affected areas, thus chalking up the total donation in the kingdom to some 250,000 U.S. dollars.

"You are the first batch of Chinese organizations in Cambodia to donate for China's quake-relief efforts. The devotion tells your close connection to our motherland," Ambassador Zhang Jinfeng told their representatives.

Not only the Chinese, but also the Cambodian government, the ethnic Khmer people and the Chinese Cambodian, have shown enthusiasm to support China in its fight against the wide-ranging disaster that has killed about 20,000 people so far, she added.

The Cambodian government on Thursday donated 100,000 U.S. dollars for the relief works in China.

On behalf of the Cambodian government, Hor Namhong, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, handed over the donation to Zhang Jinfeng, along with a letter of condolence from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

"I feel extremely saddened that your country has suffered the loss of thousands of lives, injuries and extensive damages due to the powerful earthquake in Sichuan province, central part of China," Hun Sen wrote in the letter dated May 14.

"On behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, may I convey to Your Excellency and the People of China, particularly the victims and members of the bereaved families my deepest sympathy and profound condolences for the tragic loss and great suffering brought about by this natural disaster," he wrote.

On Wednesday, the Cambodian Red Cross donated 10,000 U.S. dollars through the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh to the Red Cross Society of China to facilitate its humanitarian activities in the earthquake-affected areas.

"We, therefore, would like to ask your kindness in conveying the message of condolence to the families of the dead and our sharing of the hardships and difficulties being struggled over by the survivors and the rescuers," said Bun Rany, wife of Hun Sen and president of the Cambodian Red Cross, in a letter to Peng Peiyun, president of the Red Cross Society of China.

On Tuesday, a deputy of the royal family of Cambodia presented 50,000 U.S. dollars and two letters of condolence to the Chinese Embassy to express the family's support for China to carry out relief works in the earthquake-affected areas.

King Norodom Sihamoni and king's father Norodom Sihanouk respectively wrote letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to express their sympathy for the victims and their families, as well as their support for the Chinese government to salvage the survivors.

Meanwhile, Sihanouk donated 50,000 U.S. dollars for China to beef up its relief works.

In regard of the Cambodian government's generous help, Zhang Jinfeng on Thursday told reporters that "we don't think about the amount of money, but the amount of kindness. This is strong support for China."

Meanwhile according to the embassy, Khmer citizens in Phnom Penh are also active in donating money to China.

In recent days, each time a Khmer entered the office for visa affairs, he would usually ask a question first: is this the right place to donate?

To meet their charity and enthusiasm, the embassy has put a donation box at its consulate office.

"They come. They drop money. Although not too much, it shows their affection for our country and people," said an embassy official.

As to the Chinese Cambodian, they surely came no later than the others, said Ambassador Zhang.

A major-shot Chinese Cambodian businessman donated some 80,000 yuan RMB (about 11,500 U.S. dollars) in condition of anonymity.

"It is convenient for the people in China to use RMB. I sent my men to all the money exchange shops in Phnom Penh and this is all they can find," the ambassador quoted him as telling her.

A Chinese Cambodian woman, with her baby still less than one month old, donated the 400,000 riels (about 100 U.S. dollars) that her father-in-law had given her for nourishment and recuperation.

"My affection for China is much more important than my health and body," the ambassador quoted her as saying in a letter for the embassy.

In addition, local media is also focused on the help that Cambodia has extended to China in the most sincere way.

The Commercial News, the longest running Chinese newspaper in Cambodia, will start to publish articles on Saturday to appeal for its readers to donate for China's relief works.

Its publisher and banking tycoon Pung Kheav Se has already offered 10,000 U.S. dollars to spearhead the campaign.

Meanwhile on Friday, almost all major Khmer-language newspaper printed the news about the Cambodian government's donation and Ambassador Zhang's speech at the donation ceremony was even published word by word.

"I have to extend my heart-felt thanks as today Cambodia is at a crucial stage in strengthening the economy, but it has still provided 100,000 U.S. dollars to help China," she was quoted as saying.

A 7.8-magnitude quake rocked Wenchuan county, 159 km northwest of the southwest Sichuan province's capital of Chengdu, at 14:28 (0628 GMT) on Monday, killing thousands of people in eight affected provinces.


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Activists press Cambodian lawmakers for anti-corruption law

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN social activists presented evidence of widespread support as they pressed lawmakers on Friday to take concrete steps to enact a long-awaited law to combat corruption in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.

Describing themselves as a coalition against corruption, they presented a petition to parliament after collecting more than 1 million thumbprints and signatures from people in support of their anti-graft drive.

Corruption 'has been occurring almost everywhere and at every hour, and there is no sign that would lead us to believe it will slow down', said the petition of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations against Corruption, which comprises more than 40 nonprofit groups.

It said corruption is 'getting worse gradually' while legislation needed to fight it has remained mired in draft form for 15 years.

'Without even starting to enact the law, corruption will surely not decrease, and corrupt individuals will continue quietly sucking away the nation's wealth,' the petition said.

The coalition said it has collected 1,098,163 thumbprints and signatures since it began its nationwide campaign last November.

About 100 campaigners hauled the petitions to Parliament in 12 bundles. Security guards prevented them from bringing in all the forms, allowing only 10 activists in to deliver a three-page petition to a parliamentary office.

'We accepted the petition but not the copies of the thumbprints and signatures. Their quantity is huge, and we do not have space for storing them,' said Khuon Sodary, chairwoman of the parliamentary committee for human rights and reception of complaints.

The activists claimed symbolic success in making their case on behalf of the public.

Prime Minister Hun Sen's government has been persistently slammed by foreign aid donors and other critics for failing to tackle corruption. In 2007, Cambodia was ranked 162nd among 179 countries in a survey by Berlin-based Transparency International, a non-governmental group tracking corruption worldwide. -- AP


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