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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Foreign Minister resigns

Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag resigned on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej booked early morning air time for a special speech to the nation amdist signs he might quit under the pressure of militant street protests.

A reliable source disclosed that Mr Tej quit in apparent protest, the day after the premier declared emergency rule on Tuesday after clashes between his supporters and anti-government protesters killed one man and injured 43.

Mr Samak ordered TV and radio time beginning at 7:30am (0030 GMT) on Thursday, through the Public Relations Department.

Officially, he will "speak to fellow Thais about the ongoing political turmoil," PRD sources said.

Unofficially, there was high speculation he might decide to resign. Leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy said on Wednesday that the minimum requirement for negotiations with authorities are the resignations of Mr Samak and his cabinet.

Mr Tej claimed he wanted to leave the office he only recently took over in order to care for his ailing wife. He sent his resignation letter to Mr Samak. Although the premier did not officially accept the letter, Mr Tej was not expected to show up for work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, according to the source.

Mr Tej, a former permanent secretary for foreign affairs, replaced Noppadon Pattama as foreign minister who had been pressed to resign in the wake of the listing of the disputed Preah Vihear temple as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Mr Tej held talks with his Cambodian counterpart over the dispute in Siem Reap, Cambodia, one day after he had assumed the ministerial post on July 27.

High-level diplomacy has been taking place to reduce escalating tension. An agreement was reached, following a meeting between Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers late August, to reduce troop numbers near the temple.
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Cambodia casino reaps 25 mn dollars profit

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's burgeoning economy brought casino operator NagaCorp 25.5 million dollars in profit in the first half of the year, a company report obtained by media revealed Wednesday. The profit signalled a rise of 26.9 per cent on a year earlier.

"Our operations continued to benefit from the political stability and economic development of Cambodia," the NagaCorp report said. After decades of turmoil, Cambodia has emerged as a rising economy in Southeast Asia - posting an average of 11 per cent growth over the past three years on the back of strong tourism and garment sectors.

Nagacorp reported its revenue soared 68.5 per cent from the same period last year to approximately 109.1 million dollars, in a country hosting several casinos popular with gamblers across the region.

The Malaysian-owned company is registered on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and runs the largest casino in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh. The government awarded it a gambling license in 1994 to promote international tourism.

More than a dozen casinos operated by other companies dot Cambodia's borders with Vietnam and Thailand, raking in an estimated tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The industry fuels the economies of several hard-scrabble Cambodian cities, though the country remains desperately poor with more than 30 per cent of its 14 million population living in poverty.
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