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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cambodian FM to visit Thailand in early August on border issues

PHNOM PENH, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand will have a meeting of multi-committee in Bangkok to push the measurement for border demarcation, a senior official said on Thursday.

"I will go to Thailand for the meeting of multi-committee on August 3 and 4," Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation told reporters after the signing ceremony of receiving over 33 million U.S. dollars grant aid from Japanese government at his ministry.

"I will require Thai side to continue discussion on the border issues and the Border Committee from both countries will meet soon to discuss on the measurement of the border to plant border posts," he added.

"The situation at areas near Preah Vihear temple is calm now, and Thai troops are deployed on there soil," Hor Namhong said. "There are no tension at the border, not like the media reported," he stressed.

At the same time, Hor also thanked Thai government cabinet for its approving on Tuesday to provide 41.2 million U.S. dollars for road improvement projects in Cambodia. The fund will be used to build Road 68 near border with Thailand, which will help facilitate the trade and tourism between the two countries, he noted.

Moreover, Cambodia and Thailand will open more border gates to push and facilitate the trade and tourism, he said.

Cambodia and Thailand share over 800 km-long borders. The troops from both sides have some confrontation since July 15, 2008, mainly near 11th century Preah Vihear temple.
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Govt urged to oppose French oil deal

The People's Assembly of Thailand on Thursday submitted a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, calling for the government to act against the oil drilling agreement being made between the Cambodian government and the French oil company Total covering a disputed area of the Gulf of Thailand.

The letter was forwarded to the prime minister through the Government House complaints centre by Chaiwat Sinsuwong, the assembly secretary-general, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian, chairman of the assembly's committee for monitoring the use of state power.

It said Cambodia and France had reached an agreement over an oil and gas drilling concession in the overlapping Thai and Cambodian territorial waters in the Gulf of Thailand, but the government and armed forces had not done anything to protect Thai territorial sovereignty.

Adm Bannawit, a former defence permanent secretary, said the assembly also submit a protest letter to the French embassy in Bangkok. He said the French ambassador admitted the area was under dispute.

Therefore, the government should take action to prevent border problems similar to the one concerning the Preah Vihear temple.

He said the prime minister would be charged with neglect of duty if he failed to act on this matter in seven days.

Phnom Penh is reported to be drawing up an agreement to give France's Total rights to look for oil in its offshore block 3 in the Gulf of Thailand.

A provisional agreement was reached two weeks ago when Prime Minister Hun Sen was in Paris.
"Hun Sen told the French prime minister that Cambodia had decided to award block 3 to the French company, Total, for oil drilling after lengthy consideration," Prak Sokhon, a senior government official who was in the delegation, later told reporters.

Te Duong Tara, director general of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA), said details were still being worked out.

Cambodia does not yet produce oil. Chevron Corp is the operator of Block A in the Gulf of Thailand but is unlikely to produce oil before 2010 at the earliest.

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Research and Markets: Cambodia Telecoms Market Describes the Regulatory Environment in Cambodia

A report describing Cambodia's telecoms market covering recent developments in the mobile, fixed and Internet sectors (including broadband and Wimax), and a overview of the regulatory scene

This report reviews the situation in Cambodia, looks at the country's economic prospects, and analyses the current telecoms market and its likely future direction. The report also describes the regulatory environment in Cambodia. In summary, our findings are that although Cambodia has been impacted by the global economic slowdown, the country had enjoyed four years of double digit economic growth and in the future may benefit from recently discovered offshore oil and gas.

This economic growth has helped to fuel the take up of mobile communications. There is a real risk, however, that the mobile market is becoming too crowded with the government licensing a number of new operators in 2007 and 2008. Whereas until recently there were only three GSM operators, there are now a total of nine players (eight GSM and WCDMA, and one CDMA 2000) in the market as of June 2009. There may be at least a further four unused licences.

Fixed and broadband network development has not matched this rapid growth of mobile. The fixed network penetration remains amongst the lowest in the world, and there are very few broadband connections. Telecom Cambodia (TC), the Government owned fixed network operator, depends on revenues from international services and expects to derive further revenue by acting as a transit point for all inter-operator traffic in Cambodia. The underdeveloped broadband market presents an opportunity that some foreign and local companies are now beginning to explore by acquiring WiMAX licences. As is the case with mobile services, there are a large number of companies that have received licences, some of which may have overlapping spectrum allocations.

The report concludes by reviewing options for effective market entry. M&A activity is on the increase in Cambodia's telecoms market and this appears to be the most effective method of entering the market at present. Greenfield start ups are not now recommended at this stage of the country's development.

Key Topics Covered:

Executive Summary
Cambodia - country background
Telecommunications market
Mobile market
Fixed network market
Options for effective market entry
Annex A - Cambodia's WTO Telecoms Commitments
Annex B - Existing GSM Operator Coverage Charts
Annex C - Benchmarking Cambodia's Mobile Market
Annex D - Fibre optic trunk network coverage
Annex E - Statistical information on Cambodia market

Companies Mentioned:

Millicom

TeliaSonera

Vimplecom
ThaiCom
Axiata
Mobitel
Viettel
Latelz
Telecom Cambodia

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Internet Access Critical Catalyst To Development

Broadband Internet Access Critical Catalyst To Asia-Pacific Development – UN Forum

New York, Jul 29 2009 12:10PM The importance of speedy Internet access to stimulate economic growth across Asia and the Pacific was underlined by participants of a regional United Nations information and communications technology (ICT) gathering that wrapped up in Indonesia today.

Policy-makers, regulators, academics and the private sector representatives attending the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) forum stressed the importance of broadband internet access in leveling the economic playing field for the region, as well as the necessity of global collaboration to ensure the widest possible availability of future services to all users.

“This Asia-Pacific Regional Development Forum underlines the role of broadband as a catalyst for bridging the digital divide and for turning the challenges of today’s economic crisis into new opportunities,” said Sami Al-Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).

“Broadband access, through both fixed and wireless infrastructures, will clearly be one of the key focus areas for ICT development in this fast-moving region,” Mr. Al-Basheer told the three-day meeting in Yogyakarta.

ITU Regional Development Forum (RDF) heard that although Japan and the Republic of Korea have broadband penetration rates of 32 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, less developed nations within the region are still struggling to provide basic telephone and Internet access, with less than 1 per cent of the population in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar using the Internet.
ITU organized the Asia-Pacific RDF, which attracted 105 participants from 17 countries, in close collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Special Province Area of Yogyakarta.

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Malaria Strain Resists Drugs, May Threaten Millions, Study Says

By Simeon Bennett


July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Malaria is becoming resistant to the most powerful drugs available in Southeast Asia, as the World Health Organization races to stop the spread of the strain that could be “disastrous” for global malaria control.

Treatments derived from artemisinin, the basis of the most effective anti-malaria drugs, took almost twice as long to clear the parasites that cause the disease in patients in western Cambodia as in patients in northwestern Thailand, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The delay in parasite clearance times shows the drugs are losing their power against the disease in Cambodia, the study said. The failure of artemisinin-based treatments would be “disastrous” for global efforts aimed at curbing the death and disease wrought by the malady, said Arjen Dondorp, who led the study at the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit in Bangkok.

“There is no question that this is resistance to artemisinin,” Carlos Campbell, a malaria expert with the Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, or PATH, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. “History warns us that it will intensify and spread unless containment steps are taken.”

Scientists have known for decades that Pailin, near Cambodia’s border with Thailand, is a breeding ground for drug- resistant malaria. Chloroquine and Roche Holding AG’s Fansidar started to fail there in the 1950s and 1960s, before becoming ineffective elsewhere, according to the study. The WHO, with $23 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is coordinating efforts to prevent artemisinin-resistant malaria from spreading to Africa, which has 90 percent of the world’s cases of the disease.

Delayed Clearance

Delayed parasite clearance times have been observed in southern Cambodia since the study’s completion, a sign the resistant strain has already spread within the country, Dondorp said in a phone interview. Dondorp and colleagues treated 40 people in Pailin and another 40 in Wang Pha in Thailand, with artesunate, a form of artemisinin.

In Pailin, the drug took a median of 84 hours to clear the parasite from patients’ blood, compared with 48 hours, the standard, in Wang Pha, according to the study. After three days, artesunate failed to clear the parasite in 55 percent of patients in Pailin, compared with 8 percent in Wang Pha.

Widespread artemisinin resistance “would cause millions of deaths, without exaggeration,” Dondorp said in an interview in January.

Deadly Disease

Malaria strikes about 250 million people each year and kills more than 880,000, mostly children under 5, according to the WHO. It’s the world’s third-deadliest infectious disease, behind AIDS, which results in about 2 million deaths each year, and tuberculosis, which kills 1.6 million people annually, the Geneva-based WHO said.

Malaria is caused by a tiny parasite called Plasmodium, carried in the saliva of female mosquitoes. When an infected insect bites a person, the bugs travel to the liver, multiply and enter the bloodstream. There they invade red cells, leading to fever, chills, nausea and diarrhea. Unchecked, they cause red cells to stick to the walls of capillaries, slowing blood flow. Sufferers can die from organ failure without treatment.

The latest findings confirm those of earlier, inconclusive studies that suggested artesunate was losing potency in the region. Until now, researchers weren’t sure whether slowing cure rates were due to the failure of artesunate or another less powerful drug, mefloquine, that’s usually given with it.

No Alternative

Campbell noted that there isn’t an alternative class of malaria drugs to replace artemisinin derivatives. Artemisinin- based medications work by giving malaria a short, sharp shock, clearing most of the parasites from the blood within hours. The drawback is they don’t remain in the body. The WHO’s guidelines recommend combining the drug with one of several less-powerful, longer-lasting medicines that eradicate stragglers.

Those other drugs, such as mefloquine, may cause adverse effects including nausea, vomiting and nightmares. When the two drugs are sold side by side, rather than combined in a single pill, some patients take only the artemisinin to avoid unpleasant symptoms, paving the way for relapses and drug resistance.

Counterfeit drugs containing suboptimal amounts of artesunate may also have contributed to the development of the resistant strain, Dondorp said.
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Self-made man channels fortune into charity

Entrepreneur Steve Killelea enjoys all the trappings of wealth - a waterfront house on Sydney's Northern Beaches, a booming business empire, and a European sports car.

Having left school at 16, the 59-year-old is a self-made man.

In his 20s he moved from spending his time surfing into investing in the computer industry - a move that paid massive dividends.

Not one to keep his millions to himself, he is now one of Australia's largest individual foreign aid donors.

"We just felt we wanted to give something back. My goal is to have 50 per cent of my wealth at any one time working towards a charitable means," he said.

Ten years ago Mr Killelea and his wife Debbie set up The Charitable Foundation, donating $5 million a year to more than 60 development projects around the world.

Their charity bankrolls programs in Africa and South East Asia which provide clean water, build medical clinics and schools, rehabilitate child soldiers and perform eye operations.

"About one third of the developing world is blind, 40-50 per cent of that is cataracts," Mr Killelea said.

"For $40 you can give somebody back their eyesight. It doesn't matter if they have been blind for a decade or 20 years, you clean out the cataracts and they can see."

Cambodia is one country which is benefiting from Mr Killelea's generosity. Home to 14 million people, it is one of the poorest nations on Earth.

The World Bank estimates more than a third of Cambodians are living below the poverty line, on about 50 cents a day.

As the capital city Phnom Penh grows, more and more of its residents are being forcibly evicted from their homes.

Mr Killelea is helping to relocate people like these into new houses on the city's outskirts, on land provided by the Cambodian government.

Few donors

His money sponsors the work of Habitat for Humanity, a global charity which provides housing and infrastructure for the world's neediest people.

"We've been working in Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity for six years now - working with minority and poor groups that have been displaced from housing and providing them with loans so that they can build their own houses with cheap interest rates and then pay it back," he said.

Habitat for Humanity international's director in Cambodia, Bernadette Bolo-Duthy, says the entrepreneur's support has allowed the charity to expand its operations in the country.

"In Cambodia there are many NGOs, there are 1,000 NGOs, and there are hundreds of international NGOs doing lots of things, but there are very few donors that are into providing housing infrastructure support to poor people," she said.

Mr Killelea's philanthropy not only takes him to the developing world. He also rubs shoulders at the highest levels with political and business leaders.

Last month he was in London to launch another of his initiatives, the Global Peace Index.

The index is the first to rank nations by their peacefulness, based on a number of criteria including the imprisonment rate, level of violent crime and military expenditure.

It is a cause he is very passionate about.

"Peace is a prerequisite for survival of society as we know it," he said.

"It does have economic benefit for society. It is really quite clear. You can create a bomb and blow a house up or you can build a second house with the same amount of capital."

The index is being embraced by global business as a tool which basically gives peace an economic value.

Mr Killelea is not sure what motivates him to give so much but he does know that practising Buddhism and meditating gives him a focus.

"You stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others and when you stop thinking about yourself you are actually happier." he said.
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