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Friday, June 13, 2008

Thai govt expected to endorse new map of Preah Vihear next week

The Cabinet is expected to endorse Cambodia's new map next week enabling Phnom Penh to submit its proposal to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Friday.

The military was reportedly dissatisfied with the new map Cambodia sent to Thailand as it encroached on some 10 metres of Thai territory.

"I have worked with Cambodia on the issue and there is no problem now," Noppadon told reporters.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy Sok An were very cooperative in settling the differences, he added.

Thailand and Cambodia have locked horns since Bangkok opposed Phnom Penh's plan to list the temple with 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping area claimed by both sides.

After several rounds of negotiations, Cambodia agreed last month to list only the temple and sent the new drawing of the proposed site for Thailand's consideration.

Residents in northeastern Si Sa Ket province protested, wanting the Cambodian community to be removed from overlapping areas.

Sompong Sucharitkul, former Thai ambassador to The Hague, said the Kingdom had never admitted to Cambodia's sovereignty over the temple despite the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) ruling in 1962 in favour of Cambodia.

The government should not commit to anything that could be deemed as recognition of Cambodia's sovereignty, said the former diplomat, who was close to the case when it was being considered by the ICJ.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the government had handled the case with transparency and would not allow the country to lose any sovereignty over territory.

"We are working on the World Heritage issue, so please do not mix this up with other issues that could complicate the matter and create misunderstandings between the two countries," Tharit said.

The protest in Si Sa Ket is over the boundary demarcation, which the ministry says is a separate issue from the World Heritage Site.
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French company to invest $250 mln to develop resort in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- A French-financed company will invest 250 million U.S. dollars to develop the Ream area in Cambodia's port city of Sihanoukville into a resort, according to Ieng Sophallet, assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen, here Friday.

Alain Dupuis, French citizen and director of the Ream Resort Development Company, met with Hun Sen here Thursday to find support from the government for his project, he added.

Khmer-language newspaper the Rsamei Kampuchea Friday quoted Alain as telling the premier that his company will construct five-star hotels, other accommodation facilities, golf course, leisure places along the beach and motor-boat sporting project for tourists in the Ream region.

The premier welcomed the investment and requested the company to work with the Council for Development of Cambodia to achieve success, it added.

Construction of the project will start in late 2008 and be finished in 2010.

Sihanoukville is Cambodia's major sight-seeing destination. Sandy beach and clean sea used to attract tens of thousands of travelers annually.
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Chinese language skills seen as gateway to better job in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) -- While English remains the most popular foreign language among students in Cambodia, Chinese is fast catching up as young Khmers increasingly view it as a gateway to better jobs in the country's growing industrial and tourism sectors, according to the June 13-26 edition of the English-language bi-weekly the Phnom Penh Post.

The biggest Chinese school in Cambodia is the Duan Hoa Chinese School, which has two branches in Phnom Penh and over 7,000 students, the newspaper said.

The school has been open since 1992 and caters mainly to Chinese students, although some Cambodians and Vietnamese also study there, said administration manager Kim Hean.

"Often, students are trying to learn Chinese so they can join the families business or find work in a private company, especially working in factories or in the tourism industry as many Chinese investors are coming to Cambodia now," Kim Hean was quoted as saying.

China has emerged as one of Cambodia's largest investment partners, and is heavily involved not only in the garment sector, but construction and other industries.

"I learn Chinese because I saw how many Chinese companies and factories there are in Cambodia and I want to be able to work at these places," said Chea Sokbouy, who is now studying in Grade 11 at Duan Hoa.

Another Chinese language school, the Chhung Cheng Chinese School, is popular with Chinese-Khmer families, said the deputy director of the school, ChanTirin.

Of the 2,000 pupils at Chhung Cheng, most come from Chinese or Chinese-Khmer families who, while continuing to study in Cambodian state-run schools, realize the value in today's society of speaking two languages.

Tirin said that preserving the Chinese language in Cambodia was an important motivation for many students, but securing a high-paying job also remained a driving force for learning Chinese.

Besides, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen set to sign a sub-decree that will put the Chinese language on the national curriculum at university level, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education Chea Se said.
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