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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cambodia, Albania negotiate rice deal

Written by HOR HAB AND GEORGE MCLEOD

CAMBODIA'S efforts to diversify rice exports have taken a small step forward with a planned deal that would see 5,000 tonnes of rice sold every month to Albania, starting with a 300-tonne shipment.

"Albania has contacted us to buy 300 tonnes of 10 percent-broken rice from Cambodia as a trial purchase ... Cambodian rice has a lot of potential in the market," said Outh Renne, secretary general of Small and Medium Industry of Cambodia.

"We sent them a sample of 25-percent, 10-percent, and five-percent broken rice, and they are interested in the 10-percent broken rice," he said.

Negotiations are continuing with the Albanians having offered US$475 per tonne and Cambodia asking $490, down from its previous offer of $500, Outh Renne said. The deal could also see 4,000 tonnes of corn sold per month to Albania.

Cambodian rice has a lot of potential in the market.

The move to tap the Albanian market follows government efforts to diversify Cambodia's rice exports and increase production of milled rice. Late last year, Cambodia announced it was in talks with Senegal to sell 10,000 tonnes of rice per month. Discussions are ongoing, and authorities say they are arranging transport and waiting for the UN Development Program to reconvene the talks. "Negotiations will resume with Senegal after a two-month delay," said Mao Thora. "Our main obstacle is the price and transportation."

Trade officials say they are also in talks with Congo-Brazzaville to sell low-grade rice.
Tes Ethda, president of the national Rice Millers Association of Cambodia, said that the country is making headway tapping markets for low and medium-grade rice.

"The biggest market for rice and corn is Asia and Africa, and we have more potential to tap that market, but we still have some problems with transportation costs," he added.

Cambodia exports about two million tonnes of rice per year, but yields remain low at only 2.6 tonnes per hectare compared with 3.5 tonnes in Thailand and about six tonnes in China. Poor irrigation, a lack of fertilisers and inadequate dissemination of market information are among the challenges the sector faces. Government spending on agriculture is a low three percent of agricultural GDP, versus 10 percent in China and Thailand, say World Bank figures. .
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Chuan Wei Selects Alcatel-Lucent for Nationwide Deployment of Cambodia's First WiMAX Rev-e Network

Mobile World Congress, BARCELONA, Feb 17, 2009 (PR Newswire Europe via COMTEX) ----- Frame Agreement Underlines Alcatel-Lucent's Refocused Strategy in WiMAX and Commitment to the Enhanced Wireless DSL Segment

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that it has been chosen by Chuan Wei (Cambodia) Co Ltd, to deploy a nation-wide WiMAX Rev-e (802.16e-2005 standard) wireless broadband network, Cambodia's first. Commercial services are set for launch in mid 2009.

Chuan Wei, part of the Thai Boon Roong Ltd conglomerate, is counting on the Alcatel-Lucent solution to meet its target of serving one million subscribers, roughly 80% of the country's business and enterprise population,, within two years of launch. Alcatel-Lucent is providing a complete turnkey solution for WiMAX, including integration, design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance services.

"As the first provider to deploy a nation-wide WiMAX Rev-e network in Cambodia, Chuan Wei is helping shape the future of communications in the region. The network will provide significant infrastructural support to Cambodia's economic growth, improving communications for local businesses and multinationals," said Chuan Wei's president, Alan Khov. "It will support high-quality voice telephony in addition to broadband access, thanks to the end-to-end quality of service features built into the Alcatel-Lucent solution."

"This large-scale contract win with Chuan Wei highlights Alcatel-Lucent's refocused strategy to WiMAX as the wireless-broadband solution for fixed, nomadic and data-centric mobility needs," said Mike Iandolo, President of Alcatel-Lucent's Wireless networks activities. "Driven to a large degree by demand in high-growth economies like Cambodia, we see the 'enhanced wireless DSL' market growing strongly over the next five-plus years worldwide with close to 90% of WiMAX Rev-e subscribers by 2013, and we are focused on building on our leadership in this space."

In December, Alcatel-Lucent announced that it was refocusing its WiMAX R&D efforts on the technology's dominant market opportunity, enhanced wireless DSL - which includes data-centric mobility usage on netbooks and mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) as well as residential and nomadic PC use.

Alcatel-Lucent is the commercial leader in WiMAX Rev-e, with 10 networks in service out of its 35 commercial references worldwide. The vendor has shipped to date more than 10,000 Rev-e base stations, supporting tens of thousands of paying subscribers. It is also a world leader in the provision of sophisticated project management, consulting and design services, applications and software integration and the design, deployment and maintenance of next-generation networks.

About Chuan Wei

Established in June 2008, Chuan Wei was awarded the sole license to operate the only nationwide WiMAX mobility network in Cambodia. The company is focused on delivering state-of-the-art WiMAX wireless broadband infrastructure for Cambodian society, allowing the Kingdom to realize its potential via improved access to digital communications infrastructure.

About Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is the trusted partner of service providers, enterprises and governments worldwide, providing solutions to deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. A leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP technologies, applications and services, Alcatel-Lucent leverages the unrivalled technical and scientific expertise of Bell Labs, one of the largest innovation powerhouses in the communications industry. With operations in more than 130 countries and the most experienced global services organization in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with a global reach. Alcatel-Lucent achieved revenues of Euro 16.98 billion in 2008 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com

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Cambodia begins painful look back with Khmer Rouge trials

Moeung Sonn, who survived the Khmer Rouge regime, at the tribunal. A poll found many Cambodians did not know of the trials. (Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse)


PHNOM PENH: The first trial of a senior Khmer Rouge cadre opened Tuesday, 30 years after the end of the brutal Communist regime that took the lives of as much as one-fourth of Cambodia's population.

The first defendant is Kaing Guek Eav, 66, better known as Duch, the commandant of the Tuol Sleng prison and torture house, which sent at least 14,000 people to their deaths in a killing field.
The purpose of the hearing Tuesday was to address procedural issues before court sessions begin next month.

Duch confessed to journalists before his arrest nine years ago that he had committed atrocities but said he had been acting under orders and would himself have been killed if he had disobeyed. Known for his brutality, he is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, and with murder and torture in his prison, known as S-21.

Four senior Khmer Rouge officials who were in a position to give those orders are also in custody, but court officials say their trials may not start until next year.

They are Nuon Chea, 82, the movement's chief ideologue; Khieu Samphan, 76, who was head of state; Ieng Sary, 82, the former foreign minister; and his wife, Ieng Thirith, 75, a fellow member of the Khmer Rouge Central Committee.

The Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998. Many Cambodians say they fear that some of the defendants may also die before they are brought to trial, and the tribunal has been providing them the best medical care Cambodia has to offer.

The trials are being held by a hybrid tribunal supported by the United Nations that includes Cambodian and foreign judges and prosecutors in an awkward legal compromise that has drawn criticism from human-rights advocates and legal scholars.

The chief concern is that the Cambodian members of the tribunal will not be independent of their government's political agenda. Questions have already been raised about the Cambodian co-prosecutor's reluctance to recommend further indictments.

Foreign and Cambodian analysts say the government, fearing that a widening circle of defendants could reach into its own ranks, wishes to limit the number of those being tried, harming the tribunal's credibility.

"We wish to see this tribunal for at least these five, and this is the minimum of the minimum," said Kek Galabru, a leading Cambodian human-rights campaigner. "A lot of people ask: 'Why only five? Why only five? Why only five?"'

In addition, the United Nations has investigated allegations of corruption among the Cambodian members of the tribunal. The trial is supported by donations from other nations, and further payments are being delayed pending a resolution of those questions of corruption.

David Chandler, the author of "Voices From S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison" (University of California Press, 1999), said that a flawed trial would be better than no trial at all.

"These guys should have to finally face some of the people and some of the evidence of what they did," he said. "It doesn't seem right that they just die in bed, tending to their chickens."

In a fanatical attempt to create a pure peasant society, the Khmer Rouge turned their country into a giant labor camp, evacuating cities, banning commerce and religion, and trying to exterminate the country's educated class.

From 1975 to 1979, at least 1.7 million people were executed or died of overwork, starvation, torture or untreated disease.

The Khmer Rouge left behind an eviscerated and traumatized society, and some human-rights advocates hope the trial can bring a measure of closure.

A survey of 1,000 Cambodians last year by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, found that even after three decades, the traumas and hatreds persisted.

In face-to-face interviews, nearly half the respondents said they were uncomfortable living close to former members of the Khmer Rouge. Two-thirds said they wanted to see former cadres suffer in some way. Forty percent said they would take revenge themselves if they had the opportunity.

Chum Mey, 77, who is among only a handful of people who survived Tuol Sleng, said he still feared Duch and was unable to look him in the eye at a pretrial hearing in November.

In the hearing room, he said, Duch behaved with the same air of confidence, disdain and command that had characterized his tenure as prison chief.

"They tortured me for three months," Chum Mey said, recalling his time as a prisoner. "They beat me. They removed my toenails. They gave me electric shocks in my ear - kup-kup-kup-kup, it sounded like a machine in my head, and my eyes were like burning with fire."

He is on the witness list to testify against Duch. "I want to stay alive to give evidence," he said. "Because I survived the Khmer Rouge, and if I die before the trial, what was the point of surviving?"

In an innovation, dozens of victims have enrolled as civil parties to the case. They have grouped themselves by ethnicity or by the nature of their complaints and will be permitted to demand symbolic damages.

One of them is Sok Chear, 42, an office worker whose father died under the Khmer Rouge. "We want to ask their leaders: 'Who ordered this? Why did you kill Cambodian people? For what?"' she said.

But not all Cambodians want to relive their traumas, which psychiatrists here say may be reactivated by the trial. One of them is Sok Chear's sister.

"She says the government is finding peace for the people," Sok Chear said. "'Why do you want to make trouble again? They killed our father already. Now let's just forget it."'

The trial, in a former military headquarters half an hour outside the city, is taking place in a strange social vacuum.

This is a nation that has tried, in the words of Prime Minister Hun Sen, to "dig a hole and bury the past." Its traumas lie beneath the surface of daily life, and the opening of the trial has drawn only moderate attention here.

The Berkeley study found that 85 percent of respondents had little or no knowledge of the tribunal.

It found that their main concerns were jobs, services to meet basic needs, and food. When asked what the priorities of the government should be, only 2 percent said justice.

For many in the younger generation, the Khmer Rouge atrocities are already ancient history.

"Honestly, we don't pay attention to these things," said Ung Suchida, 24, a waitress. "They are already old. Some people, they are interested. But not me."
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Exchange of Thai and Cambodian citizens fails

By: SURACHAI PIRAGSA

Newspaper section: NewsBURI RAM : Thai and Cambodian security officials have failed to make progress in talks to exchange each other's nationals arrested for illegal entry along the poorly-defined border.

Talks over an exchange began after security authorities from the two countries agreed to try to secure the release of their citizens, officials said yesterday.

On Saturday, a combined Cambodian team arrested Suk Yadee and Withoon Samran in the forest along the Thai-Cambodia border opposite Surin's Kap Choeng district.

The two Thai villagers were looking for wild products when they were arrested.

They were charged with illegal entry and carrying weapons into Cambodia. They have been reportedly sent for trial at a Siem Reap court.

On the same day , police in Buri Ram's Ban Kruat district arrested Choeng Sid, 31, and Jon Mon, 22, two Cambodians, near the Bantad mountain range in Ban Huay Suk in tambon Nong Mai Ngam in Ban Kruat district.

Police said they had seized an electric chainsaw as evidence.

The two were charged with cutting down protected trees and illegal entry into the country.The two Cambodians were sent for trial to the provincial court in Buri Ram's Nang Rong district.
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