The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cambodia coastal development strategy moves ahead

Cambodia has begun implementing its master strategy for attracting development in the country's four coastal provinces over the next 20 years, local media reported on Monday, citing officials at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

"This is a good plan and a way to develop Cambodia into the future," the Phnom Penh Post quoted Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim as saying at a conference detailing the plan on Thursday.

Calling Sihanoukville the "dragon's head", Im Chhun Lim said that the plan priorities improving development in Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong provinces in order to increase economic activity and provide jobs.

"We're insuring a balance between protecting the environment in coastal areas with attracting both local and foreign investors," he said at the conference.

The strategy will focus on attracting local and foreign investment to the region, with an eye to strengthening export industries, said Pen Sophal, director at the ministry's Urban Planning Department.

"Government wants sustainable, transparent development on coastal areas to attract investors," he said on the sidelines of a conference on drafting a final strategy for the "National Integrated Coastal Area".

He added that the pan is slated to run until 2030.

The plan, called The Study of Strategy National Integrated Coastal Area and Master Plan Sihanoukville Sustainable Development, focuses on strengthening infrastructure and special economic zones servicing Sihanoukville Port.

"We focus on Sihanoukville because the province has potential for growing faster due to its proximity to the international port for industry, agriculture and services," he was quoted as saying.

Source: Xinhua
Read more!

China gives trucks to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH - CHINA has promised more than 250 new military trucks to Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday, signalling deeper military cooperation between the two nations.

PM Hun Sen said a donation of 257 military trucks and 50,000 military uniforms was agreed during a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Shanghai earlier in May.

'They are all brand-new trucks... from the factory,' PM Hun Sen said during a ceremony to open a Chinese-funded bridge.

The trucks will arrive in Cambodia June 18 and then be featured in a parade, said PM Hun Sen, who went on to praise Chinese leaders for 'talking less, but doing a lot' to help Cambodia.

The announcement of Chinese military aid comes after the US in April stopped a shipment of military trucks to Cambodia as punishment for sending ethnic Uighur asylum-seekers back to China in defiance of international appeals.

Cambodia in December deported the 20 Uighurs, members of a largely Muslim minority group in western China, even though they were seeking UN refugee status and said they would face torture if returned. The decision to deport the Uighurs came a day ahead of a visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, during which he agreed US$1.2 billion (S$1.69 billion) in aid and loans to Cambodia with Hun Sen. -- AFP

Read more!

MOffY Cartoon Land Now Available at Tigo of Millicom in Laos

MOffY Cartoon Land is available at Tigo of Millicom in Laos. Miillcom is one of the top carriers and provide wonderful mobile entertainment content to mobile users.

MOffY Cartoon Land featured with different cute and hot characters from Japan and Korea has arrived Laos. It bring the latest Korean hits such as Ddung, Mashimaro, Heart Bear to mobile users who can have their favorite wallpaper, screensaver, theme, video in mobile anywhere, anytime with their latest mobile gadgets.

MOffY Cartoon Land is available at various mobile carriers in the Greater China Region and South East Asia.

For cooperation with MOffY, please kindly contact Ms Winnie Chen, E: winnie[.]moffy.com.

About MOffY Limited

MOffY incorporated in Hong Kong has been in mobile contents development, distribution, publishing and consultation since 1999. Currently, MOffY with its content management system holds over 3000 games and application titles. Along with different types of mobile games, mobile games and applications are featured with famous characters, movie titles, and celebrities. MOffY (moffy.com) is actively involved in mobile contents business, licensing and consulting. MOffY branded services channels are available in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. MOffY also run a number of online web portal in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.

MoffY is in the Asian market since 1999. MoffY is developing, publishing, and operate mobile game and licensed contents with mobile carriers in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, etc. Since 2009, MoffY is actively involved in social network game and application. MoffY is headquatered in Hong Kong with operation team in Guangzhou, China, and staffs are located in Taipei, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta.
Read more!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cambodian FM to Visit Iran in August

TEHRAN (FNA)- Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong is scheduled to visit Iran in August, Iranian Ambassador to Phnom Penh Seyed Javad Qavam Shahidi said on Sunday.

"During the trip, the Cambodian foreign minister will meet and talk with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki as well as other high-ranking Iranian officials," Qavam Shahidi told FNA.

He reiterated that Namhong's visit to Tehran is aimed at further activation of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Meantime, an Iranian parliamentary delegation left Tehran for Phnom Penh on Saturday to discuss bilateral ties and other issues of mutual interest with Cambodian officials.

"During the three-day trip, the two sides will hold discussions on inter-parliamentary relations and discuss paving the ground for developing ties and other related issues based on the Islamic Republic of Iran's view on the East Asian countries," Head of the delegation Mohsen Kouhkan told FNA.

The delegation, comprising five Iranian legislators, is also due to meet with the Cambodian prime minister, foreign ministry officials, their Cambodian counterparts and members of some of the country's parliament commissions.

Qavam Shahidi said expansion of parliamentary cooperation between the two countries, closer cooperation in the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) and the two sides' cooperation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are the main goals of the Iranian delegation's trip to Phnom Penh.
Read more!

Unrest May Signal New Phase in China Economy

The strike at the Honda transmission factory in Foshan has shut down four auto plants as well.

By Keith Bradsher


FOSHAN, China — Add another entry to the list of worries for the global economy and financial markets: labor unrest in China.

Rapidly rising industrial wages are beginning to allow China’s workers to share in their country’s rising prosperity. The question is whether these gains can be maintained and even increased without disrupting supply lines to companies around the world, and without discouraging much future investment by Chinese and global companies alike.

The biggest eye-opener for multinationals in China recently has been a nine-day-old strike at a sprawling Honda transmission factory here in Foshan, about 100 miles northwest of Hong Kong.

The strike, which has forced Honda to suspend production at all four of its joint venture assembly plants in China, has shown that Chinese authorities are willing to tolerate work stoppages at least temporarily, even at high-tech operations on which many other factories depend.

Chinese policy makers are trying to let wages rise to create the foundations of an economy driven by domestic demand, without derailing the export machine that has produced the world’s strongest economic growth over the last three decades.

Even before the strike, manufacturers and buyers of low-cost products were already actively seeking alternatives to China, like Vietnam and Cambodia, said Richard Vuylsteke, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

“They’re looking very seriously, and we’re seeing that in apparel and footwear,” he said. “A lot of our members are seeing appreciating wages.”

Honda has been making increasingly generous offers — or perhaps desperate offers — to settle the strike. The company has already offered increases in total compensation of close to 50 percent, according to crumpled-up copies of the offer provided by striking workers.

Roughly half of the 1,900 workers are recent hires from high schools and vocational schools who are paid training rates of just 900 renminbi, or $132, a month, pay slips showed. More experienced workers at the three-year-old factory earn up to 1,500 renminbi, or $220, a month.
Honda’s offer would raise total compensation for trainees to $202 a month, including benefits like a new food allowance; older workers would get slightly smaller raises. The strikers rejected the offer because nearly half of the raises consisted of increases in benefits that might be revoked later. The strikers are demanding an extra 800 renminbi a month, or $117, all in cash.

Takayuki Fujii, a Beijing-based spokesman for Honda, said Saturday evening that negotiations were continuing, but he declined to provide details.

There were signs on Saturday that the Honda strike was beginning to test the government’s patience. After two days of allowing surprisingly extensive coverage by state-controlled media, the authorities imposed a blanket ban on domestic coverage, reverting to their usual policy of hushing up labor disputes.

Local newspapers had no mention of the strike this morning, and many references to the strike had disappeared from Chinese Internet sites. But there was no sign of police at the factory or one of its dormitories.

Labor advocacy groups say that they hear of frequent strikes in China, with work stoppages occurring somewhere every day. But strikes are typically hushed up and are often resolved in a day or two by the authorities, either with the police or through pressure on employers and workers to resolve their differences.

Honda is not alone in facing intense pressure to raise wages. Foxconn, a giant electronics manufacturer near here in Shenzhen, said on Friday that it would raise wages by about 20 percent after being deeply embarrassed by a series of suicides by workers this year and criticism of working conditions.

The overall effect of wage increases on China’s competitiveness is not entirely clear, because of incomplete national data on average wages and productivity. Nicholas Lardy, a specialist in the Chinese economy at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that Chinese productivity was rising so quickly that actual labor costs per unit of production appeared to be flat.

One surprise of the strike here is that it involves laborers whose wages appear to have already roughly doubled in the last five years: blue-collar workers in export factories in the Pearl River delta region around Hong Kong.

By contrast, the wages of young college graduates have actually declined in recent years as China has rapidly expanded its universities and built new ones, creating a surplus of more highly educated workers.

The president of a big Chinese corporation, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of labor issues, said that his company paid 4,000 renminbi a month a decade ago for recent graduates with computer science degrees, which is $585 at current exchange rates, and only 3,500 renminbi now.

If anything, conditions are growing worse for new college graduates, not better. A survey in Beijing released earlier this month by the Communist Youth League Beijing Committee and the Beijing Youth Stress Management Service showed that a fifth of new college graduates with bachelor’s degrees and a tenth of graduates with master’s or doctoral degrees were willing to work for free in their first jobs because they despaired of finding paid work.

The government has tried to respond to the glut of college graduates by ordering state-owned enterprises to hire large numbers of them and try to find tasks for them to do. But these enterprises are increasingly expected to be profitable and have not absorbed all of the graduates, with the result that big cities in China have growing numbers of unemployed or low-paid college graduates.

These graduates are typically the only child in a family because of China’s one-child policy, and their families have frequently invested much or all of their savings in their educations.

Partly because so many young Chinese now go to university and partly because of a declining birth rate, the number of young Chinese available for factory work is falling far short of the demand from employers. That is producing higher wages for blue-collar workers and giving them leverage to demand even more, as the Honda strike shows.
Read more!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Government Bolsters Efforts Against Squatters

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a legal circular that instructs provincial and municipal authorities to seek resolutions to illegal settlements on state property.

The order tells authorities to first meet with community representatives on state land to inform them of development projects and to then discuss compensation for residents.

The circular creates a regulation for measures already practiced by authorities, critics said Friday, and it does not address situations where residents refuse to leave.

Cambodian officials have steadily found themselves at odds with squatter communities, where land values have boomed and development projects are springing up.

The order is to “inform all provinces and municipal authorities to solve illegal construction on state land through discussion with residents,” according to the draft pass by the Council on Friday.

The order is meant “to solve the anarchic construction [done] without order on the state land, where the occupier has come to settle illegally and to construct a house without order [creating] a lack of road passage and lack of hygiene.”

The order now gives officials more authority to act against squatter communities who may not be getting enough compensation, opponents said Friday.

“This [order] is good, but we worry about the concrete implementation of it, because the government has not provided fair compensation to people in exchange for their removal,” said Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. “If there are effects to the people because of the [order] we would like the government to respect the constitution and to fairly compensate people through the market price.”

The measure is not clear about compensation, leaving room for authorities to offer low prices to residents, which can lead to conflict, said Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc.

Thai Navy, a 39-year-old resident of the Boeung Kak lake community, which has been locked in a dispute with Phnom Penh over a giant development project since 2008, said representatives were not happy with the measure.

“The resolution to remove houses is the same as before,” he said.

The city’s policy is to pay Boeung Kak residents $8,500 per family or to offer lots of land on the outskirts of the city. Residents have said that is not enough, but there has been no forced eviction in the area to date.

The order comes as Cambodia faces increased criticism of forced evictions of the urban poor.

In an annual report issued Thursday, Amnesty International said “a wave of legal actions against housing rights defenders, journalists and other critical voices” had “stifled freedom of expression in Cambodia.”
Read more!

Vietnamese firms set on mining gold reserves in Cambodia

The recent discovery of around 8.1 million tons of gold in Cambodia has caught the interest of many Vietnamese companies who now want to enter the gold mining sector in the neighboring country.

Nguyen Thanh Truc, director of Agribank’s subsidiary in charge of trading gold, said the Cambodian mine has the largest gold reserves in Southeast Asia and its discovery has encouraged Vietnamese companies to hatch plans to mine there.

When the time is right, his company will make such a move, Truc said in a report published by local news website VnExpress Friday. However, he noted that as the ore contains only 2.3 grams per ton, lower than the usual grade of 3 gram per ton, the project may not be highly lucrative.

Cambodia said Monday that Australian firm OZ Minerals had discovered around 8.1 million tons of gold on its territory. The gold mine is located in an area in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, which is close to the Vietnam-Cambodia border, and only 100 kilometers from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Some 60 local and foreign firms including companies from Australia, China, South Korea and Vietnam have been conducting mineral research and exploration across Cambodia, AFP reported, citing an official.

“It will be a great opportunity if Vietnamese companies can invest in the mine, although local technologies are not to a high standard,” said Nguyen The Hung, general director of Vietnam Gold Investment and Trading Company.

Cambodia still depends on foreign mining companies and many Vietnamese firms have recently expanded their business to the neighboring country, Hung said.

Vietnam’s companies have invested a combined US$1 billion into Cambodia, with many projects in the mining sector. However, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has not yet licensed any gold mining projects.

Nguyen Tuan Quynh, deputy director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company, one of Vietnam’s largest gold traders, said mining is a profitable business and it’s quite easy to apply for licenses to invest in Cambodia.

However, mining costs, conditions and transport are some issues that Vietnamese companies have to consider before making their move, Quynh said.

Read more!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cambodia 'jungle woman' runs away from home

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A woman dubbed the "jungle woman" after emerging naked and unable to speak from the wilds of northeastern Cambodia three years ago has apparently fled back to the forest, her presumed father and police said Friday.

Sal Lou, who claims to be the father of Rochom P'ngieng, said she went missing Tuesday while bathing by a well behind their home in Rattanakiri province, nearly 960 miles northeast of Phnom Penh. She is thought to be 29 years old.

"There is no sign indicating that her disappearance could be foul play. I am sure she went back to the forest," Sal Lou told The Associated Press by phone from the jungle area where he has been searching for her.

Rochom P'ngieng emerged from the jungle in early 2007, attracting attention when she was caught trying to steal food from a villager. Sal Lou's family then said she was their daughter, who was 8 when she disappeared in 1988 while herding buffalo in a remote area.

However, the relationship was never proven, and it was not established how she could have survived in the wild for 19 years. Some villagers suspected she was not Rochom P'ngieng, but someone else suffering from mental problems who had been lost in the jungle for a much briefer time.

Sal Lou said Friday he and his family members have searched for her for three days in several villages and in the jungle, but had no news from her.

"She tried several times before to leave home and live back in the forest but she could not. This time her wish came true."

Mao Vicheth, the local police chief, said his officers have sent word of her disappearance throughout the community and were investigating to see whether she might have been kidnapped or murdered. He said the case was a mystery but he did not believe she had been killed.

In October, Rochom P'ngieng was admitted to Rattanakiri provincial hospital for four days after falling sick, apparently suffering from mental illness.

Read more!

Art dealer under police watch after admitting to sex tourism

A 59-year-old international art dealer who pleaded guilty to 15 sex tourism offences in Colombia and Cambodia is under police surveillance while awaiting sentencing, a judge was told Thursday.

Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe is seeking to vary the bail of sex offender Kenneth Robert Klassen of Burnaby, to put him on the electronic monitoring program. Until then, McCabe told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen, Klassen is under police surveillance.

"He is aware of being followed," McCabe told the court.

Surveillance is being conducted by the Integrated Sexual Predator Observation team because the Crown considered Klassen a flight risk, said Vancouver RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau.

Defence lawyer Ian Donaldson said a suitability report has to be done on Klassen to determine whether he's a good candidate for the electronic monitoring program, which requires a person to wear an ankle bracelet that is monitored electronically by a computer and connected to a phone line.

The bail variance matter was adjourned until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Thursday's court appearance was originally scheduled for jury selection, but Klassen unexpectedly pleaded guilty last Friday to 15 counts, including 14 counts of sexual interference of young girls -- eight in Cambodia and six in Colombia.

The girls were all under the age of 14.

In Colombia, Klassen allegedly paid a "facilitator" to bring him girls on the back of a motorcycle. He also pleaded guilty to importing child pornography by mailing porn to himself from the Philippines. The offences occurred between December 1998 and September 2004.

A date for sentencing is expected to be set by next Tuesday.

Klassen was arrested at his Burnaby home in March 2007 and charged with 35 sex tourism offences involving 17 young girls, including three in the Philippines.

At the time, the offender was married with three children. He now is facing divorce.

It is only the third sex tourism case to be prosecuted in Canada.

The investigation of Klassen began at Vancouver International Airport on Aug. 27, 2004, when officers with Canada Border Service Agency identified a suspicious parcel that was labelled "quilts" but was found to contain undeclared DVDs with images of child pornography and bestiality.

The parcel, destined for a home in Burnaby, was monitored by police and was picked up by Klassen, who was then charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

Search warrants were subsequently executed on Klassen's home and a rented Vancouver storage locker, where police seized a video camera and 21 DVDs allegedly containing video clips of Klassen having sex with 92 girls in three countries. The girls were as young as nine.

Police recommended Crown approve charges involving 26 female victims and 39 international crime scenes. The Crown approved 35 charges involving 17 victims.

Up to 20 officers in Canada worked on the investigation, with the behavioural sciences group as the primary investigative unit. The group focuses on deviant sexual behaviour.

Fazeela Jiwa of Vancouver Rape Relief, who attended Thursday's proceeding along with a number of other women, said she is concerned Klassen is still on the streets.

"I think for sure surveillance is a good idea," she said outside court.

Also attending Thursday's proceedings was Holly Dignard of Vancouver, who operates the non-government organization Caleb's Hope, which does aid work in East Africa, helping former child soldiers, sex slaves and young mothers, many of whom are HIV positive.

She said sex tourism is a huge problem that few people are aware of in Canada.
Read more!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hydrodam Plans Stir Ratanakkiri Unease

Patt Paing has five hectares of land by the Sre Pok river. She has a small wooden house, and she raises pigs. The 55-year-old leads a quiet life here in Village Two, in Ratanakkiri’s Koun Mom district. But over the past three years, life has been more difficult.

That’s because of the floods.

“I don’t have enough rice to eat because of the floods for the past three years,” she told VOA Khmer in an interview last week. “In previous years, I could harvest more than 1,000 buckets or over 10 tons of rice per season.”

The floods were caused by water releases from dams upriver, she said.

“The consecutive floods caused by the dams have left me almost nothing to eat,” she said.

At least five more dams have been planned on the Sre Pok and its sister river, the Sesan, both of which run into the Mekong River. Those dams will follow the 2002 construction of a 720-megawatt dam at Yali Falls on the Sesan in Vietnam.

Villagers, who gathered for an annual celebration of the 3S Rivers Protection Network here last week, say they don’t want more dams, the flooding from which damage livestock and farmland.

“The existing dam in Vietnam has already severely affected our livelihoods, so what will it be like if more dams are to be built on these rivers on the Cambodian side?” asked Meas Samith, a representative of indigenous villagers on the Sre Pok.

“For generations, I have never heard that when a dam is built, an escalator is also set up for fish to travel on,” he said. “When a dam is built, there is no more fish migration.”

Villagers here say the dams and the power they generate are not worth the cost.

“Can the electricity be eaten?” asked Piev Chhin, a 65-year-old fisherman from the Brov ethnic minority. “We live along the river, so if our house gets flooded, what is the use of having electricity?”

“The electricity is of no importance for us,” added Dy Bopi, a 55-year-old farmer in Koun Mom district. “We would rather us batteries or paraffin lamps instead.”

However, officials say that if Cambodia is to grow its economy, it will need more than batteries and lamps. Only about 20 percent of the country’s homes have access to power, and most of those are in the capital. And electricity prices here remain high, while Cambodia purchases electricity from Vietnam and Thailand.

Ratanakirri Governor Pao Hamphan told reporters here last week the proposed dams were not confirmed and that villagers should not worry about them too much at the moment.

“It’s just the information, as no company has come to talk to us about them yet,” he said.

A vice governor of Koun Mom district, however, said the government would proceed with the dams if assessments showed more benefits than costs.

“We don’t build dams to kill people,” he said, addressing a crowd of villagers. “We build them for their benefit.”

If Cambodia does not build dams, other countries will, he said. “How can we alleviate people’s poverty if we just wait and buy electricity from other countries?”

Villagers said last week the government should consider methods other than dams if it needs electricity.

“If they build dams, it’s not certain we would have electricity for use here,” said Nen Sokei, an ethnic Tompuon villager. “And if we do have electricity, we are not sure if we can afford to pay for the power supply.”
Read more!

Nestlé Advisory Board awards first Creating Shared Value Prize

Vevey, Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value Advisory Board today awarded the first Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value to the Cambodian branch of an international not-for-profit organisation which uses market-based approaches to increase the income of the rural poor by improving market access, increasing agricultural production and creating sustainable local businesses: International Development Enterprises (IDE) Cambodia (www.ideorg.org).

Starting in 2005, IDE Cambodia developed a network of 60 independent small rural entrepreneurs in Cambodia called Farm Business Advisors. These advisors give technical advice to more than 4,500 small-scale farmers to help them boost their productivity, while selling them products such as high-quality seeds, fertilizer, plastic fencing and irrigation equipment and services. On average, farmers assisted by these advisors increase their net income by 27% from USD 382 to USD 480 per year. At the same time, the advisors earn an income from selling their products and services.

IDE Cambodia will use the Prize’s CHF 500,000 to recruit and train an additional 36 advisors, aiming to generate approximately USD 1.9 million in new income and benefiting around 20,000 people in more than 4,000 rural households across Cambodia.

IDE Cambodia Country Director Michael Roberts said: “It is an honour to receive this recognition from Nestlé. The prize will help us further IDE’s mission to create income opportunities for poor rural households. We hope to leverage the Prize to reach more than 75,000 rural Cambodian households in the next few years. On a global scale, this is still very small but we think there are big implications in what we are learning.”

Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe replied: “We congratulate IDE Cambodia on being the first to be awarded the Prize. The work they do is truly inspirational. IDE continue to grow their network of Farm Business Advisors in Cambodia while at the same time creating value for rural communities there. This is exactly what we mean by Creating Shared Value.”

Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke added: “We had a vast range of inspirational entries from across the globe. IDE Cambodia is a leading project and the Nestlé prize money will help them to ensure that this project continues to thrive and expand.”

The Prize was created by Nestlé in 2009 to provide financial support of up to CHF 500,000 to individuals, NGOs, or small enterprises offering innovative solutions to improve access to, and management of, water, improve the lives of farmers and rural communities, or provide better nutrition to communities suffering from nutritional deficiencies.

The first edition, which received more than 500 applications from 79 countries, was awarded during Nestlé’s second Creating Shared Value Forum, a gathering of international leading experts in water, nutrition, rural development and the role of business in society, which took place in London on 27 May 2010.

The winner was selected by the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Advisory Board, an independent panel of internationally-recognised experts in corporate strategy, nutrition, water and rural development, including John Elkington, co-founder of SustainAbility; Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at the Harvard Business School; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University; and Nancy Birdsall, founding president of the Center for Global Development.

Notes to Editors

• Testimonials of farmers and Farm Business Advisors benefiting from the IDE project are available on www.nestle.com/csv/csvprize. An interview with Michael Roberts, Country Director, IDE Cambodia, is available via the same link.

• Photo and video material is available on this site.

• Creating Shared Value is a fundamental part of the way Nestlé does business. In order to create long-term value for our shareholders, we must at the same time create value for society at large.

• Nestlé committed an investment of CHF 500,000 to IDE Cambodia. This will be disbursed over a three-year period and will assist in the scaling-up of the project. The Prize monies will be used by IDE Cambodia to recruit and train a further 36 Farm Business Advisors, provide them with access to agricultural inputs, market information and microfinance, as well as the development and strengthening of the franchise system.
Read more!

Modern Masterpieces

By TOM VATER



Vann Molyvann, Cambodia's greatest living architect, recalls that the night his Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh was completed, in 1964, "I took my wife to see the work." Sitting in the top tier of the stands, they listened to Dvorák's "New World Symphony" over the stadium's speaker system. "It was one of the great moments of my life."

In the years after Cambodia won independence from France in 1953, Mr. Molyvann—then scarcely in his 30s—set out under the tutelage of King Norodom Sihanouk to transform Phnom Penh from a colonial backwater into a modern city. But in the late 1960s the country was drawn into decades of war and terror, including years under the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, and Mr. Molyvann's vision was virtually forgotten. The architect himself had to flee the country.

And while he returned in triumph after more than 20 years abroad, it was to find that grand titles didn't translate into influence in today's Cambodia. His legacy—structures in a style dubbed New Khmer Architecture—lives on, contributing significantly to the flair of the city, but even that is in danger as Phnom Penh, like other Asian capitals, clears historic buildings to make room for skyscrapers.

Cambodia is best known for its magnificent temple ruins at Angkor, remnants of a great Southeast Asian empire that covered the country's current territory as well as parts of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. After Angkor fell to the Siamese in the 15th century, a new Cambodian capital was founded on the banks of the Tonlé Sap River. That city, Phnom Penh, remained an unstable settlement, caught up in the geopolitical ambitions of Cambodia's more powerful neighbors, until the French arrived in the 1860s. The colonial administrators drained the neighboring swamps and created a grid street plan, dotted with sumptuous villas, Art Deco markets and impressive government structures.

Even then, Phnom Penh was modest, small-town colonial France—and when Mr. Molyvann received a scholarship from the colonial government and set off for the Sorbonne in Paris, it wasn't with the dream of returning to remake it. He was a law student. But as he pursued his degree, and struggled with the compulsory Greek and Latin, he had an encounter that changed his life.

"I met Henri Marchal, the curator of Angkor for the École Française d'Extrême-Orient [the French School of Asian Studies]," Mr. Molvyann remembers, "and suddenly I knew I wanted to be an architect, so I changed to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, where I studied until 1950 under Le Corbusier." He regards that modernist architect and designer as his greatest teacher.

After that, Mr. Molyvann stayed on in Paris for several more years, studying Khmer art. While he looks back fondly on the period, he is also keenly aware that some of Cambodia's later traumas had their origins in the Paris of that time.

"The Khmer Rouge was born in the Latin quarter of Paris," he says. As they debated their country's postcolonial future, Mr. Molyvann says, the city's 400 or so Cambodian students split between nationalists and Marxists. Khieu Samphan, whom he knew as a fellow Sorbonne student, would go on to become head of state in the Khmer Rouge government.

By 1956, Mr. Molyvann was back in Phnom Penh. Independence had broadened Cambodia's horizons, in part thanks to the efforts of King Sihanouk, who at various times officially dropped his title to serve as prime minister, head of state or president, though Cambodians continued to refer to him as king. With tremendous energy and not a little royal eccentricity, the young monarch—also politician, artist, filmmaker, womanizer and host to a series of foreign heads of state and celebrities—worked to create a modern nation with an eye on the past. The leading members of an emerging urban elite, many of whom, like Mr. Molyvann, had returned from Paris, sought to create architecture, music, films, literature and art that married Cambodian tradition with modernist thinking.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in new administrative, public and private building projects that sprang up all over the capital—transforming Phnom Penh, within little more than a decade, into one of Asia's most dynamic cities.

"It was difficult at the beginning, as Cambodians had never heard of architects," Mr. Molyvann remembers. "All they knew were engineers and builders. There was a real dearth of qualified Khmer experts, as the French had used Vietnamese to administer my country. But within 10 years of independence the management of the country and its capital was Khmer. It was incredible."

Mr. Molyvann was made chief architect for state buildings and director for urban planning and habitat in 1956 and given a number of ministerial posts in the following years. "I was designing the Independence Monument and was asked to present the king with a selection of marble," he recalls. "I was too afraid to speak to him personally, but he made some suggestions and we got on perfectly after that." Shaped like a lotus flower, the monument tower, completed in 1960, remains one of Phnom Penh's landmarks.

Mr. Molyvann had part of the floodplain south of the Royal Palace drained and filled, and on this "Front de Bassac" constructed the country's first high-rises, initially for visiting athletes for the 1966 Ganefo Games, a short-lived Asian alternative to the Olympics.

"We built the stadium for 60,000 people and surrounded it with a moat, so that the waters could run off in the rainy season," he says.

Stefanie Irmer, whose KA Tours focuses on New Khmer Architecture, sees the relation between water and city as crucial to the architect's vision for Phnom Penh. "Besides creating the 'Front de Bassac' area from wetlands," she says, "almost every building Vann Molyvann designed was surrounded by water—to keep the termites out, but also to integrate the buildings into the flood plain."

Many of Mr. Molyvann's buildings are traditional in one sense—they are shaped like familiar objects. Chaktomuk Conference Hall, one of his earliest designs, is like an open palm leaf. The library of the Institute of Foreign Languages (now part of the Royal University of Phnom Penh) was inspired by a traditional Khmer straw hat. The lecture halls of the institute rest on sharply angled concrete pillars that give them the appearance of animals, about to jump. They are still in use today, as is the library.

By the early 1960s, for the first time in almost 800 years, Cambodia was blooming. The Angkor ruins were the region's biggest tourist draw, and Phnom Penh had doubled in size and become a city others in the region admired.

But the politics were turning ugly. Norodom Sihanouk, serving as prime minister, began to suppress dissent. By the mid-1960s, the U.S. had combat troops in Vietnam; as American planes began bombing North Vietnamese positions in Cambodia, the country's policy of neutrality became a farce. The former king's repressive policies alienated the political left and some rural Cambodians, who began to join a shadowy communist movement, the Khmer Rouge. Meanwhile, the right and military had become fed up with his capriciousness and nepotism. When he left to visit China in 1970, a coup replaced him with army general Lon Nol. The Swinging '60s, the meteoric rise of a young nation, the building boom in the "Pearl of Asia"—it was all over.

Mr. Molyvann remembers days with hard choices. "Shortly after Lon Nol came to power, the Israeli ambassador advised me to take my family out of the country," he says; the ambassador, a friend of his, warned him about the crumbling security and the increasing persecution of those connected with the previous government. So when Mr. Molyvann left for a conference in Israel, with his wife, Trudy, and their six children, they didn't return. Instead they moved on to Switzerland, his wife's home country.

Five years later, the Khmer Rouge marched victoriously into Phnom Penh. The new rulers immediately emptied the cities, and for almost four years Phnom Penh was a ghost town. At least 1.5 million Cambodians, nearly a quarter of the population—Mr. Molyvann's father among them—lost their lives in the killing fields. The fledgling intellectual elite was snuffed out.

"I had no contact during those years," says Mr. Molyvann. "I had to give my children a new life, so we stayed in Lausanne." He continued to work as an architect in Switzerland, Africa and Laos, for the United Nations and the World Bank. The Vietnamese pushed out the Khmer Rouge in 1979, but Mr. Molyvann "could not think of going back." The new rulers "were still communists."

"It was not until 1993 that I returned—with the U.N.," he says. Initially, his homecoming was triumphant. He was appointed minister of state for culture and fine arts, territorial management and urban planning and contributed to the application for Angkor's successful recognition as a Unesco World Heritage site.

But he soon realized that the Cambodia he had left behind in 1970 no longer existed. Cambodian People's Party leader Hun Sen, who had been installed by the Vietnamese and who continued as prime minister after the U.N.-organized elections, gave Mr. Molyvann back his villa, but the architect's plans for Siem Reap—the province in which Angkor is located—were unappreciated. He had called for a "tourist village" set apart from both the temples and the old town of Siem Reap, integrated into the environment and with water conservation as a key goal.

"The government wanted to use the resources of Angkor to develop Siem Reap without the participation of the local people," Mr. Molyvann says. "In 1998, I became president executive director of Apsara (Authority for the Protection and Safeguard of Angkor), the government body created to look after the temples. Three years later, I was fired." Unchecked development in Siem Reap has led to a dramatic drop in groundwater levels, causing subsidence that has put the Bayon, one of the main temples in the Angkor area, in danger of collapse, according to experts from the Japanese Conservation Team for Safeguarding Angkor. Development has also driven up property prices and the cost of living, a hardship for the locals in a province that remains one of the poorest in the country.

But it was not just the government and developers standing against Mr. Molyvann and his vision. Bill Greaves, director of the Vann Molyvann Project, a nongovernmental organization engaged in recreating the lost plans of the remaining New Khmer Architecture sites, thinks postwar Cambodia is simply not aware of its past.

"Right now, Singapore and Shanghai are models for forward-looking cities, both for the government and the people," he says. "Hence Phnom Penh's different stages of history are likely to be discarded."

In the past decade, as investment has begun to pour into the Cambodian capital once more, colonial and 1960s buildings have been replaced by chrome-and-glass edifices, floodwater lakes have been drained, local media have reported almost daily evictions and ministers have gushed over the need to build skyscrapers in order to keep up with the neighbors.

The government frequently declares that preservation has to go hand in hand with development. In practice, it seems to walk well behind. Beng Khemro, deputy director general at the ministry for land management, urban planning and construction, says his department's hands are tied. "Many historical properties are in terrible condition," he says. "The people who own them don't understand the value of the past and would rather demolish them and build high-rises to make a profit. The past is not appreciated. Without a change in attitude amongst the population, we are fighting a losing battle."

Cambodia has preservation laws, and Dr. Khemro says he is trying to pass a regulation to get them applied in particular instances. He'd like to try a pilot preservation project away from Phnom Penh, he says, noting that Cambodia's second-largest city, Battambang, has many buildings from the French period.

"Also," he adds, "there's less pressure."

Molyvann advocate Mr. Greaves is skeptical about the survival of the architect's legacy. "The old buildings disappear at an alarming rate—even public edifices like the National Theatre, which was knocked down a couple of years ago, are not safe. We try and get there before the demolition crews arrive."

A drive around town with Mr. Molyvann illustrates his curious position in this free-for-all scramble for change. At the Independence Monument, guards at first refuse him entry. Only after his driver reveals the distinguished visitor's identity is the master architect, old and frail, allowed to climb the steps he designed half a century ago.

Passing the stadium, Mr. Molyvann looks at the haphazard development around his favorite creation. Appropriated by developers with government connections, the moat has been partly filled in to make space for shops and an underground car park; the result is annual flooding that threatens the entire sports complex.

With equal shades of sadness and anger in his voice, Mr. Molyvann says, "Today, it's not the state who owns the old properties, but the ruling party, the CPP."

—Tom Vater is a writer based in Bangkok..
Read more!

Cambodian Factories Seek Eco-Friendly Power Alternatives

By SIMON MARKS

PHNOM PENH — Almost every day for the past 15 years Cheang Vet, a roadside mechanic near Phnom Penh’s Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, has witnessed the constant flow of traffic making its way in and out of the capital by its main northeasterly access point.

But in the last decade, as the number of people employed in Cambodia’s garment sector has increased from about 25,000 in 2000 to around 300,000 today, he has noticed a steady increase in one particular type of vehicle entering Phnom Penh: heavy-load trucks carrying huge stacks of firewood.

“There are at least 10 trucks a day carrying about two and a half tons of firewood,” Mr. Vet estimated. “They tell me they are on their way to the garment factories on the other side of the city.”

The majority of the country’s garment factories — making clothes for brand names in the U.S. and European markets — use firewood to heat old-fashioned boilers that produce hot water for dying fabrics and steam for ironing.

Some factories depend on firewood to supply all of their energy needs, according to industry experts.

Indeed, the use of firewood for energy is widely considered better for the environment than fossil fuels, as trees can be replanted to offset carbon emissions released during combustion. But replanting plans are limited here, while demand for firewood is growing.

In the 1990s, large areas of Cambodia’s rubber plantations — planted by the French in the early 20th century — had aged to the point where their yields of latex, the sap from which natural rubber is made, had dropped considerably, requiring extensive replanting.

Felling old trees made large quantities of rubber wood available to the emerging garment and brick factories in the Phnom Penh region.

But, according to a report released last year by the French environmental organization Geres, this source of timber is running out.

The Geres report found that 69 of the 310 garment factories then registered with the manufacturers’ association said they were using rubber wood to produce steam for ironing and dyeing clothes. In total, Geres estimated that garment factories burned around 65,000 cubic meters, or about 2.3 million cubic feet, of wood every month.

But a “critical period” started in 2009, the report said, “where rubber wood will not be available in sufficient quantity to supply the industrial sector its energy requirements.”

Energy experts and environmentalists say that timber is now being obtained instead from the country’s remaining natural-growth forests.

Graeme Brown, a private consultant working on natural resource management issues, said that a heightened demand for new rubber plantation acreage was leading to forest clearance, creating a “ready supply of natural forest timber.”

With the costs of wood-fired heating far lower than the cost of electricity from the national grid — power prices in Cambodia are among the highest in the region because of poor infrastructure and the use of inefficient diesel generators — there are fears that demand for firewood will continue to grow.

Still, there are signs that Cambodia’s garment factories, after a decade of efforts to improve labor standards, are now starting to concern themselves with environmental issues, too.

Albert Tan, vice president of Suntex, a Singaporean-owned garment factory in Phnom Penh, said the company had brought in a team of engineers from Malaysia to assess ways the factory could use less energy.

Mr. Tan said that wasting less energy would allow the factory to burn less wood and would also reduce dependence on diesel-powered backup generators in the event of a power cut — a frequent occurrence in Cambodia.

“There are not many results yet, but some studies are going on to see how best we can be eco-friendly and take care of the environment,” he said.

The owners of the factory, which produces about 2.5 million pieces of clothing per month for export to client brands in the United States and Europe, are also considering installing a gasification unit that would convert biomass or organic waste into cleaner-burning, more efficient synthetic gas, he added.

Rin Seyha, managing director of SME Renewable Energy, in Phnom Penh, said his company had been approached by several garment factories looking to use gasification.

But the technology available in Cambodia is still insufficient for large energy users like clothing factories, he said, and potential clients are often put off by the cost of importing larger units.

A gasification plant with a one megawatt generating capacity, imported from India, costs $300,000. Mr. Seyha’s company sold just one plant to a garment factory last year and so far in 2010 has aroused interest in three more. After 70 factories shut down during the global financial crisis, there are now about 250 factories operating in Cambodia.

Cutting down on emissions from burning wood and protecting the forests would help the industry’s image with environmentally conscious consumer abroad. But profit-focused private investors often balk at the first hurdle when it comes to introducing more environmentally friendly technology, because they consider the costs involved to be too high, said Yohanes Iwan Baskoro, country director for Geres.

Investors need to be educated to understand that improved technology can achieve a profitable return for companies in the long run, he said, adding that as well as fiscal incentives from the government, the banking sector also needs more encouragement to provide loans for environmental improvement.

“If we can’t show that there is profits in it for them I don’t think they will participate,” Mr. Baskoro said.

Julia Brickell, resident representative in Phnom Penh for the World Bank’s private-sector lender, the International Finance Corp., also said lenders needed to be persuaded.

“Financial institutions may focus too much on the short-term costs of investing in energy-efficiency improvements and not immediately see the longer-term benefits for their potential clients in terms of cost savings,” Ms. Brickell said. “This may impact their willingness to provide financing for technological upgrades.”

Garment workshops often operate from leased premises and lack fixed assets to provide collateral for loans, she added. “This may also result in reluctance on the part of the financial institutions to extend financing for energy efficiency improvements.”

Still, some progress is being made. A factory in Kandal Province, near Phnom Penh, which supplies garments to Hennes & Mauritz of Sweden and Marks & Spencer of Britain, is a case in point.

Wood is still being used to heat the factory’s boilers, but the company is using its staff house to test energy saving technologies on a small scale.

“Every factory wants to save costs, and our biggest cost is electricity,” said a manager at the factory, who spoke on condition of anonymity because, she said, bosses in Hong Kong had asked her to keep a low profile.

The company, one of Cambodia’s largest with nearly 3,000 workers, has installed solar panels on the roof of its staff house, where 50 air-conditioned rooms accommodate the management. To discourage energy waste, anyone using more than 200 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month is charged 50 cents per extra kilowatt-hour used.

Marks & Spencer is advising the factory through its so-called Plan A corporate strategy, to focus on improving environmental standards. More efficient lighting, better insulation and improved temperature control are three measures that have been identified.

At another factory, in Phnom Penh, where roughly 1,000 workers make luxury menswear for export, a program to fit energy-saving light bulbs is under way. With 3,500 neon lights in operation throughout the day, a sizable reduction in electricity consumption is expected, the factory’s general manager said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

But balancing the need for increased productivity — Cambodia’s work force is among the least productive in the region, reflecting poor training levels — against the investments needed for better environmental standards is an almost impossible challenge, this manager said.

“The bottom line is this industry — in particular the garment sector — is the toughest sector in terms of competition,” he said. “Some people just can’t afford to make some of the changes that are being recommended.”

And according to several economic analysts and consultants here, who declined to be named because of the delicacy of the issue, it is not in the interests of manufacturers to show they can afford to install environmentally friendly technologies, because their brand-name clients may respond by putting pressure on them to lower their costs.

Still, Kanwarpreet Singh, chief representative for the H&M clothing brand in Cambodia, said that the industry as a whole was looking into newer and cleaner technologies to improve its image.

“If you use a lot of firewood, then it is not good for the environment,” he said. “As a company we try to encourage other sources of energy.”

Although Hennes & Mauritz factories use firewood as an energy source, Mr. Singh said, the company was evaluating alternatives.

For now, though, those are still unclear, and as Cambodia struggles to recover from a slump last year in exports to key U.S. and European markets, improving energy standards in factories is not a priority, he said.

Garment exports, accounting for 90 percent of Cambodia’s total exports, dropped almost 20 percent by value in 2009, to $2.38 billion.

“Nowadays one has to compete globally,” said Permod Kumar Gupta, chief technical adviser for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Cambodia. “We have to think, in the coming years, if we are not able to compete economically, environmentally and socially then difficulties will remain in how to compete with countries like China.”

Regardless of environmental concerns, Cambodia’s garment sector desperately needs to improve energy efficiency, with some factories spending up to $1,700 to produce a ton of clothing — more than three times the amount in neighboring Vietnam.

“In terms of energy efficiency, the sectors that are using biomass are particularly wasteful,” said Mr. Gupta.
Read more!

DONORS URGED TO CONTRIBUTE TO UN-BACKED GENOCIDE COURT IN CAMBODIA

25 May - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to donors to provide urgent funding to the United Nations-backed court tasked with bringing justice to the people of Cambodia for the heinous crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), composed of both national and international judges and staff, were set up in 2003 under an agreement between the UN and the Royal Government.

The court is facing a shortfall of more than $21 million for 2010, including $14.6 million for the international component and at least $6.5 million for the national component. Neither of these figures includes future commitments for staff salaries and entitlements.

For 2011, the total budget of $46.8 million is unfunded, except for $1.1 million pledged by the Cambodian Government for the national component.

“Both components urgently need further funds,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the pledging conference held at UN Headquarters for the court, which is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions.

He emphasized that the court was established to bring justice to the people of Cambodia, and to prevent impunity for the most heinous of crimes. “They are vital part of efforts to secure Cambodia's long-term well-being, and a crucial element in the world's quest to strengthen international criminal justice,” he stated.

At least 1.7 million people are believed to have died during the period of Democratic Kampuchea, which lasted from April 1975 to January 1979. The ECCC is tasked with trying senior Khmer Rouge figures and others responsible for the worst atrocities committed during that period.

Mr. Ban noted that since it began its work in 2006, the court has made “impressive progress.”

Hearings in “case one,” against Kaing Guek Eav, alias “Duch,” the secretary of the notorious S-21 security centre, concluded last November and the trial chamber will issue its verdict in July.

“The hearings in this case demonstrated that the Extraordinary Chambers can conduct complex international criminal trials to international standards,” said the Secretary-General.

“Most importantly, they also demonstrated the deep interest of the people of Cambodia in the proceedings,” he stated, noting that more than 31,000 people visited the chambers to witness the hearings, most of them Cambodians who journeyed in from outside the capital.

In “case two,” the co-investigating judges may issue a closing order, or indictment, against four leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime – Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan – later this year.

As in the ongoing trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), one person charged in case two, Khieu Samphan, is a former head of State, showing that no one is above the law.

“This is a fundamental principle in the world's fight against impunity, and it is encouraging indeed to see it in action today in Cambodia,” remarked Mr. Ban.

The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Member States for their generous contributions to date, and appealed to them to maintain and increase their support, even in the midst of the current economic environment.

“Without such support, the chambers cannot function,” he stressed. “It is as simple and stark as that.”

UN Legal Counsel Patricia O'Brien and Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, made a similar appeal to the international community for urgent funding for the court in a joint statement issued after their meeting in the capital, Phnom Penh, last month.
Read more!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Human Traffickers Target Young Cambodian Men for Fishing Industry

Women and children are commonly believed to be the main targets of human traffickers. But in Cambodia, scores of men have recounted stories of modern-day slavery on board Thai and Malaysian fishing boats.

Manfred Hornung, a legal adviser with the Cambodian human rights group Licadho, says that although figures are very limited, it is possible thousands of Cambodian men have been trafficked onto regional fishing boats in recent years.

The group has interviewed more than 60 men who were trafficked onto Thai fishing boats since 2007. Their stories typically begin the same way.

"Normally these young fellows are approached by a local broker who works through connections in a commune or a village and approaches a group of young males to convince them to go to Thailand," said Hornung. "So, in most cases this broker won't tell these youngsters that they have to work on a fishing boat."

Instead they are promised jobs in construction or on plantations, then smuggled into Thailand. According to Hornung, once there, some are taken to a fishing port, where they are locked in guesthouses and eventually sold to fishing boat captains.

Conditions on the worst boats amount to nothing less than slavery said Hornung. And the young men have few ways to escape since the captain and Thai crew are often armed.

Victims say they get two or three hours sleep each day, are beaten and drugged to keep them working. Human rights advisor Hornung has heard reports that men who fell ill were thrown overboard.

Declining fish stocks close to land mean many boats spend months at sea, docking only with mother-ships to unload their catch. That makes escape impossible.

"In a current case, we have one person who stayed consecutively for three years on a boat without seeing land," said Hornung. "He was basically sold on the high seas from boat to boat over a three-year period. And these cases are not infrequent."

Hornung estimates the range of time people are enslaved on boats runs anywhere from three months to several years. And he adds none of the 60 men the group Licadho interviewed received any pay for their work.

Experts say Cambodia's poverty drives most of the trafficking in the country.

Louise Rose, a victim protection officer for The Asia Foundation, says a survey of 258 Cambodian men - most of whom worked on foreign fishing boats - found that debt had driven half to seek work abroad. But two other factors were even more significant.

"Lack of food was a huge one," said Rose. "Three-quarters of the men reported not enough food being a motivator for migrating. And the other one that was even higher again - no source of income. That was about 78 percent."

One in five of the men in the Asia Foundation survey said they had worked in slave-like conditions on Thai and Malaysian fishing boats.

Thailand's multi-billion dollar fishing industry demands a supply of cheap labor. And the stories of some Cambodian men indicate unscrupulous agents and ship owners are prepared to meet that need in any way possible.

Anti-trafficking groups say the solution is for regional governments to work harder to protect migrant workers and to prosecute those guilty of abuses.

But that is not happening. In Cambodia, activists say, the laws against trafficking are weak, and until the laws and law enforcement improve, many young men here will remain at risk of forced labor abroad.
Read more!

Elixir Gaming Technologies Announces Expansion of Gaming Machines on Participation with NagaWorld

Elixir Gaming Technologies, Inc. (NYSE Amex: EGT) (“Elixir Gaming” or “the Company”), a leading provider of electronic gaming machines on a participation basis to the Pan-Asian gaming industry, today announced that it has entered into a Supplemental Agreement (“Agreement”) to the December 2009 Machine Operation Participation Consolidation Agreement with NagaWorld Limited (“NagaWorld”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong listed.

NagaCorp Ltd. (HKSE:3918), to place an additional 30 electronic gaming machine seats on a participation basis at its NagaWorld casino resort. The Agreement increases the total maximum number of machines which the Company is permitted to place and operate at NagaWorld from the original 640 seats to 670 seats. Elixir Gaming’s operations within NagaWorld currently consist of approximately 590 gaming machine seats, which achieved average win per unit per day (WUD) of over $180 for the past six months on a growing installed machine base. NagaWorld is a luxury casino resort in Cambodia and is the only licensed full service casino in and around the capital city of Phnom Penh.

Under the terms of the Agreement, Elixir Gaming will place 30 additional electronic gaming machine seats (“Additional Machines”) on NagaWorld’s casino lobby floor, which will serve to complement and expand its VIP slot area established under the Company’s December 2009 contract. Elixir Gaming anticipates the Additional Machines to be in operation in July 2010 following the floor space renovation by NagaWorld. The Additional Machines will be sourced from the Company’s existing inventory and the purchase of new machines.

All the terms regarding operations and revenue sharing under the December 2009 Machine Operation Participation Consolidation Agreement with NagaWorld will apply to the Additional Machines. For example, Elixir Gaming and NagaWorld will have joint control over the operation of all the Additional Machines, including floor staff and respective audit rights. Elixir Gaming and NagaWorld will share the revenue and certain operating costs, such as marketing and floor staff, at a 25% / 75% split, respectively, and Elixir Gaming will receive on a daily basis its portion of the daily win in cash. The contract duration is six years and expires on February 28, 2016.

In consideration for the Agreement, Elixir Gaming shall pay to NagaWorld an upfront commitment fee of $1.0 million for the Additional Machines.

The commitment fee will be paid in mid June 2010.

Given the Additional Machines serve as an extension to the floor area designated by the December 2009 contract under which Elixir Gaming was entitled to place 200 machines for a commitment fee of $4.1 million, Elixir Gaming will be entitled to 100% of the WUD from both the Additional Machines and the 200 machines under the December 2009 contract until it has received the accumulated total of $6.8 million.

This represents the aggregate of the $1.0 million commitment fee from the Additional Machines, the $4.1 million commitment fee from the machines under the December 2009 contract, and Elixir Gaming’s 25% share of the WUD for the total 230 machine seats. While Elixir Gaming collects 100% of the cash gross net win from the machines subject to the commitment fee arrangement until such time as the Company recuperates the commitment fee plus its share of the WUD of these machines, only the Company’s share of 25% is recorded as net revenue.

Clarence Chung, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elixir Gaming, commented, “We are pleased to work with our partner NagaWorld to continue to expand our jointly operated slot floor operations. With the addition of these 30 seats plus the remaining 50 seats under our December 2009 contract, Elixir Gaming’s installed machine base at NagaWorld is expected to reach 670 seats during July of 2010 covering most of the currently available prime ground floor slot space at NagaWorld. Given these 30 additional gaming machine seat placements are intended to expand our existing and well-performing VIP slot area, we anticipate they will provide us attractive growth in participation revenue and cash flow and enable a relatively rapid payback period on our commitment fee.”

About Elixir Gaming Technologies, Inc.

Elixir Gaming Technologies, Inc. (NYSE Amex: EGT) is a leading provider of electronic gaming machines on a participation basis to the Pan-Asian gaming industry. The Company secures long-term contracts to provide electronic gaming machines and related systems to premier hotels and other well-located gaming venues in Asia. The Company retains ownership of the gaming machines and systems and receives recurring daily fees based on an agreed upon percentage of the net gaming win per machine and provides on-site maintenance. The Company has established a strategic presence in the Asia Pacific region with a focus on the Philippines and Cambodia markets. For more information please visit www.elixirgaming.com : .

About NagaCorp Ltd.

NagaCorp Ltd. (3918.HK) operates NagaWorld, the only licensed 5-Star Hotel Casino Resort in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. NagaCorp holds a casino license issued by the Royal Government of Cambodia, which gives the company the rights to operate the casino for 70 years commencing January 1995 with 41 years exclusivity within a 200 kilometer radius of Phnom Phen (except the Cambodia-Vietnam boarder area, Bokor, Kirirom Mountains, and Sihanoukville.) One of Cambodia’s most popular tourist destinations, NagaWorld currently has, among others, 508 rooms, 176 table games, a premium meeting, incentive travel, convention, and exhibition (MICE) facility, a retail shopping area, a collection of restaurants and bars, a karaoke lounge, and a spa. NagaCorp Ltd. is incorporated in Cayman Islands with limited liability and its securities are listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning Elixir Gaming, within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Those forward-looking statements include statements regarding expectations for the business of Elixir Gaming, its working capital requirements and future revenue and profitability. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, and actual circumstances, events or results may differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to differences include, but are not limited to, risks related to the costs incurred by Elixir Gaming in defending shareholder litigation and the outcome of any judgment or settlement with respect to such litigation, Elixir Gaming’s inability to place gaming machines at significant levels, whether the gaming machines placed generate the expected amount of net win, the ability of Elixir Gaming to acquire additional capital as and when needed, the ability of Elixir Gaming to collect revenue and protect its assets and those other risks set forth in Elixir Gaming’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 filed with the SEC on March 30, 2010 and subsequently filed quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Elixir Gaming cautions readers not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. Elixir Gaming does not undertake, and specifically disclaims any obligation to update or revise such statements to reflect new circumstances or unanticipated events as they occur.
Read more!

More Government Appointments Rankle Opposition

The National Assembly is expected to approve 11 new high-level government appointments on Thursday, nine of which are additional posts that opponents say are a waste of money.

The nine new appointments are for members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, with positions mainly for secretaries of state, but members of the opposition say they are unnecessary in an ever-expanding Cabinet.

“We don’t need to increase more pay of Cabinet members while Cambodians are facing poverty and the global economic crisis,” said Yim Sovann, a lawmaker and spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party. “It is not necessary to appoint more appointees as Cabinet members. In this situation, it increases the bureaucracy, corruption and expenditures. The Sam Rainsy Party will not support the increase of the Cabinet members.”

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, said the appointments may be a way to help maintain stability within the government, but they would cost more money.

“We are very concerned about the shortage of national resources for supplying or supporting the increase of government members larger and larger,” he said.

The Cabinet has grown significantly since 1993, when there were 55 ministers and secretaries of state, including the prime minister, deputy prime ministers and other senior ministers. By 2008, there were 258, following increases in each five-year mandate of the government.

Thursday’s new appointments, which are in addition to increases already made in 2008, will bring the total to 269.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the appointments would lead to more effective government in the long term and so would not cost the government more money overall.

The appointments include: Chheang Yanara, an adviser who will become “delegate minister” to Prime Minister Hun Sen; Yuth Phuthong, former Koh Kong governor, to secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture; Bun Sambo, personal interpreter of Hun Sen, to secretary of state at the Council of Ministers; and others.

Thursday’s vote is expected to reshuffle two Funcinpec officials: Tum Sambo as secretary of state to the Ministry of Defense; and Tan Vutha, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Read more!

Unions Want Longer Contracts for Workers

Labor activists met with international union reps in Kandal province on Sunday as part of a wider effort to improve contracts workers have with their employers.

The educational meeting was an effort to convince workers to refuse short-term labor contracts in favor of longer guarantees.

More than 100 garment factory workers met with union representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Belgium.

Of Cambodia’s 400 legal and illegal factories, about 60 percent of them apply short-term contracts for workers, said Ath Thum, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, during the campaign.

Short-term contracts put pressure on employees, who can easily lose their jobs, he said. They push employees to work longer hours and dissuades them from joining the trade unions that can protect them, he said.

“We explained to them the inconvenience of the short-term contract,” he said, adding that they were encouraging workers to “gather in one voice to claim the elimination” of such contracts. “If employers continue to use these contracts, it means they abuse the law.”

Cambodia’s $2.4-billion garment sector employs more than 300,000 workers, with wages ranging between $30 to $100 per month. The industry has struggled to compete with other nearby countries, where labor can be cheaper or more skilled or both.

Ath Thum said the reliance on short-term contracts meant limited experience for workers, adding to the the lack of competitiveness. Ath Thum said he plans to lead a campaign against the contracts in garment industrial zones in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Speu and Preah Sihanouk.

“I wish for employers to stop from now on the short-term contract,” said On Phally, a garment factory worker from Takeo province who attended Sunday’s meeting.

Yin Serey Vathanak, national project coordinator for the International Labor Organization, said Sunday’s meeting was also to help the government “understand what workers are facing.”

“The workers can’t support these contracts, and the government must settle this problem,” he said.

Koy Tep Daravuth, director of the conflict resolution department of the Ministry of Labor, said short-term contracts were legal and were “no violation” of worker rights.

Still, labor leaders from other countries said Sunday Cambodian unions need to push for the elimination of short-term employment.

“There is a lot of violence, a lot of problems, with short-term contracting,” said Ferdra Vanhuyse, Asia coordinator for the Belgium-based World Solidarity Movement.

She said her organization hopes to bring short-term contracts onto the political agenda at an annual ILO meeting in Geneva that begins in June.
Read more!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bokator: Ancient Cambodian martial arts resurrected

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Bokator, an ancient Cambodian martial arts form whose origins date as far back as the 9th century, had almost died out before it was resurrected by the efforts of cultural workers. Thanks to a French instructor , it has even been brought to the silver screen now and is making a strong comeback throughout Cambodia.

According to historical records, bokator can be traced all the way back to the Khmer Empire in the 9th century. The people at the time initially created bokator as a way of fighting against wild beasts and self defence. The style originally emulated a lion's fight, however it gradually changed into a martial arts form and gave rise to many legends. From what we know, ancient Khmer soldiers had to learn bokator, and history books recorded that the Khmer army used bokator to defeat the invading Siamese troops during the 16th century.

However, with the passage of time, bokator has gradually faded into obscurity, and many Cambodians now are not even aware of it.

It was chance that brought well-known French artist Daniel Perrier into contact with bokator. Daniel, 50, is an instructor at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. He travelled to Cambodia in 2008 to personally study and research Cambodia's culture and arts. While sightseeing at Orussey Market, he picked up a flyer printed with a boxing image from the floor, arousing his curiosity and interest.

22 training centres around the country

After asking around a little, he arrived at the Olympic Stadium and saw a group of young people seriously practising boxing. Although the training ground and facilities were simple, the old instructor and his young learners did not let up in their effort. In addition, their moves were very unique and different from other boxing styles he had known, triggering his intention of making a documentary about this boxing style.

With the cooperation of the sole remaining bokator instructor San Kimsean, Perrier successfully completed his documentary (Une Breve Histoire du Boxkator) about bokator, enabling people around the world to learn about the origins and developments of this ancient martial arts.

Perrier also hopes that it will attract more young people to learn it, with 60% of the proceeds from sale of the documentary's DVD to be used to improve the training ground and its facilities. The duo's greatest wish is that bokator can spread and flourish beyond Cambodia's borders.

This documentary uses an all-new angle to talk about the origins and uniqueness of bokator. Through a personal lecture by bokator instructor San Kimsean and the effort the students put into their training, it is hoped that more young people will be attracted to take up bokator, so that this ancient martial art which has almost died out can be preserved and handed down to future generations.

Currently, aside from the bokator school in Phnom Penh, there are 22 other training centres all over Cambodia. Unfortunately, they are unable to secure any funding and are in a difficult situation for continued survival.

Instructor San Kimsean says he teaches this old martial art to young people in the hope that they are able to show their strength and confidence through it.

When talking about the difficulties in promoting bokator, he said, "It's like I have walked into a dream, and am building an ancient palace."

He believes his sacrifices and efforts are worthwhile, because while Cambodia is seeking social and economic development, its youth must also engage in healthy activities to vent their excess energy.

This documentary about bokator premiered at the French Cultural Centre on April 8. (Translated by ALEX YUEN/Cambodia Sin Chew Daily)
Read more!

Cambodia renovates, builds 1,082 km of road in 2009

Cambodia has renovated and built about 1,082 kilometers of road linking across the country in 2009, a government's data showed Tuesday.

The data filed by Ministry of Public Works and Transportation showed that in 2009 with some work started in 2008, as long as 1, 082 kilometers of national road linking across the nation have been renovated and built.

It said of the above total distance, China's assistance was involved in the building projects with 791.55 kilometers, 135.7 kilometers from South Korea and 91 kilometers from Japan.

Beside the renovating and building of the national roads with asphalt, the government also made maintenance with total distance of 2,724 kilometers with asphalt and 992 kilometers with red soil.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced his commitment to renovate and build as many roads and bridges as possible to help people with quick access to other parts of the country that will help ease the time consuming and transportation cost.

In recent years, many new roads have been built across the country.

In many occasions, Hun Sen said when "there is road, there is hope."

Source: Xinhua
Read more!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Foreign Brewers Accused of Exploitation in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH — Enjoying an after-work beer is common enough in Cambodia, for men at least. In hundreds of beer gardens, female beer promoters in corporate uniforms bearing the names of international or local brands try to entice them to buy their beer.

But working as a beer promoter is frowned upon socially. Sharon Wilkinson, who heads Care International, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with the women, says they are typically viewed as little more than sex workers.

Wilkinson says beer gardens are an environment where "sexual harassment including physical abuse is high."

Hers is a point of view that resonates with researchers from Canada's University of Guelph.

In a recent report, they conclude that brewers, including the world's largest beer firms, are exploiting women by allowing local distributors to underpay them.

A key finding was that 57 per cent of 122 beer promoters surveyed last year in Siem Reap in north-western Cambodia were compelled to engage in sex work to supplement their average monthly incomes of 81 dollars.

Professor Ian Lubek, who led the research, says wages for the country's 4,000 beer promoters must double to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

"A living wage is required," he says, explaining salaries would need to rise to 200 dollars monthly. "Beer sellers, no matter what brand, have never received a living wage in Cambodia."

Lubek says the women support three to four people each and describes workplace conditions as "toxic" with sexual harassment and excessive drinking common.

For their part, the world's four biggest brewers reject the claim that low wages force some beer promoters to engage in sex work.

The brewers - Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, London's SAB-Miller PLC, Dutch firm Heineken NV and Danish brewer Carlsberg A/S - together sell half the world's beer and enjoy the lion's share of the Cambodian market.

They say beer promoters, who they stress are employed by distributors and not the brewers, receive adequate wages.

The brewers have been criticized before and in 2006 set up an association to improve conditions. The objectives of the Beer Selling Industry of Cambodia include ensuring women have work contracts, receive proper training and have clear grievance procedures.

Carlsberg spokeswoman Berky Kong says an association survey showed average monthly incomes, including commission, were 110 dollars.

"The pay we are offering is actually very good money for them, considering their actual working hours per day are four to six hours," Kong said of Carlsberg's 635 beer promoters. Garment workers, by contrast, receive around 50 dollars a month for longer hours, she said.

Kong says beer promoters are "normally not the only person bringing income to the family" but declined to say how many of Carlsberg's promoters are single women and, therefore, more likely to be in such a position.

Association rules also prohibit beer promoters from drinking alcohol at work although Lubek found 99 per cent still drink daily and most to excess, citing pressure from customers. That adds to the risk of contracting HIV, he said.

Beer promoters have long been among those most at risk of contracting HIV in Cambodia. The government's National Aids Authority says 0.9 per cent of the adult population is HIV-positive. Although the rate among beer promoters remains unknown, rates of 20 per cent have been cited by NGOs.

Cambodia is undergoing a shift in sexual behaviour since a 2008 law banned prostitution. Organizations such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS are worried that fewer measures could be taken to combat the risks as sex work moves from brothels into beer gardens and karaoke parlours.

Lubek's report states that 80 beer promoters of 900 interviewed in the past seven years in Siem Reap have since died. He says he believes HIV-related infections are the reason although a lack of death certificates means their causes of death remain unknown.

"But that so many women should die so young - average age 25 years - is startling," he says.

The brewers say providing anti-retrovirals - another demand of Lubek's report - is unsuitable. Heineken's press officer Jeroen Breuer says the firm leaves that to the health service.

"What Heineken does is focus on providing information and education," Breuer says.

It is a position with which Care International agrees, not least since HIV-positive Cambodians remain stigmatized. Besides that, relying on an employer for life-saving medication might prevent women from moving jobs.

"If we're really going to make the change, we have to change the behaviour of the drinking man," Wilkinson says. "That's where the change comes, and that's what we're working on."
Read more!

Reservoir runs dry in Cambodia's coastal province

Several thousand Cambodians in a coastal province are without running water because a drought has caused the local reservoir to run dry.
The head of Koh Kong province's industry department, Pich Siyun, said Monday that late seasonal rains had caused the longest local drought in memory.

He says officials, businessmen and other residents in Koh Kong, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) west of the capital Phnom Penh, have begun purchasing delivered supplies drawn from natural bodies of water. Others traveled long distances to draw water themselves.

Fruit seller Ty Heng said by telephone from the provincial capital his family had to spend the equivalent of about $5 every day for clean water.
Read more!

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge trial verdict due July 26

Cambodian students re-enact torture executed by the Khmer Rouge to mark the annual "Day of Anger" at Choeung Ek, a former Khmer Rouge "killing field" dotted with mass graves about nine miles (15 kilometers) south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, May 20, 2010. Cambodia marked the annual commemoration Thursday by re-enacting torture and executions inflicted by the Khmer Rouge during their reign of terror in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Cambodia's genocide tribunal announced Monday that it will give its verdict in July in the case of a notorious Khmer Rouge prison chief accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture.

Lars Olsen, spokesman for the U.N.-backed tribunal, said the court will hand down the verdict against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, on July 26.

Duch, 67, commanded the notorious S-21 prison where as many as 16,000 people were tortured before being sent for execution in the late 1970s. He is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He was tried last year.

The tribunal is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition under the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime.

"We hope that the verdict will mark an important milestone for the Cambodian people who are waiting for more than 30 years to see someone being brought to justice," Olsen said.

Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. They are the group's top ideologist, Nuon Chea; former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; his wife, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith; and former head of state Khieu Samphan.

Their trial is expected to begin late this year or early next year.
Read more!

Khmer dinner will raise awareness for Cambodian charity


Cambodian Awareness Organization at the University of California, Irvine is a newly-founded club dedicated to bringing Cambodia and its culture to the front of public thought. The service-based club believes in helping loving and caring for others.

The charity group will host their first Cultural Charity Banquet on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. at Recreation 18-hole Golf Course, 5001 Deukmejian Drive. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

A full-course Khmer dinner will be served family-style outside in a beautiful garden with a gazebo. Attire for the evening is semi-formal. Guests are encouraged to come decked out in their best Khmer outfit.

There will be a silent auction with many hand-made items.

Performances include: Khmer classical dance, rap, singing, a showcase of CAO, debut of the full version of the song “Show the World We Exist” and more. Speakers for the evening will include Prany Sananikone, Director of Diversity Relations and educational programs, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD), at the University of California, Irvine, and another special guest as yet unnamed.


This coming Summer 2010, CAO will make a trip to Cambodia as an exchange with the university students at Panasastra University in Phnom Penh with a goal of doing humanitarian work among the village poor in Cambodia. Funds raised during this event will go towards providing for the needy in different provinces of Cambodia, more specifically towards poor children and orphans.

Even those that are unable to attend the event can still make contributions. Donors that give more than $10 will receive a free CAO t-shirt. Include your address along with your donations and tax-deductible receipts can be issued. All profits go towards the poor children in Cambodia.

Tickets must be purchased by May 26 and are $35, or $22 for students. Student id’s will be checked at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at www.clubs.uci.edu/cao or make checks payable to “Cambodian Awareness Organization” and send to: Attn: Phanith Rama Sovann, 438 Stanford Court, Irvine, CA 92612.

For more information about the Cambodian Awareness Organization or to make a reservation for the charity dinner, please contact Phanith Rama Sovann at (562) 522-4217 or psovann@uci.edu.
Read more!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

9 die, 300 others suffer from diarrhea in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, May 23 (Xinhua) -- At least nine Cambodians have died and about 300 others have been medically treated and hospitalized by diarrhea in Cambodia's northeast province of Kratie, a provincial official said Sunday.

Chhneang Vutha, chief of Kratie provincial health department, told Xinhua by telephone from the province that at least nine people have died and about 300 others have been medically treated and hospitalized by diarrhea since March this year.

He said five districts in the province have been affected by the cause of diarrhea, and he attributed the deaths and suffering of the disease to lack of personal sanitation precaution as well as the lack of toilets in rural areas.

The first diarrhea case was reported in March this year during the dry season which normally begins from November through April.

Kratie is located about 320 kilometers northeast of Phnom Penh.

Recently, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has alerted his people to take more precaution on several causes including diarrhea and lighting that are harmful to human lives in recent months.

He, also, appealed to doctors and health officers around the country to provide more care to the people.
Read more!

Boy's death blamed on CYF errors

By BRITTON BROUN - The Dominion Post


Hoki Thompson still cannot understand why her 14-year-old charge Denbora Oum took his own life.

The slightly built Cambodian boy, who was under Child Youth and Family care, had been happily living with Mrs Thompson and her husband Bill at their Porirua foster home for three months.

She had looked after troubled children for 30 years, but was devastated when she came across Denbora's body on the porch of her house on June 28, 2005.

"I felt so guilty, I felt like I hadn't done enough," she said yesterday.

"I've had a lot of suicidal kids but you know they're like that and you see the signs. With poor Denbora there was nothing. It's such a shame. He just wanted to go back to school ... and back to his mum."

Mrs Thompson remembered Denbora being quiet but smiling, a mischievous prankster who always followed her around.

But he had been in and out of CYF care since he was an infant, between living at home with a violent mother and a brother who physically and sexually abused him.

Mrs Thompson said she was told nothing about his suicide risk.

Denbora was born in New Zealand, one of five children in a Cambodian family. His father died when he was four and he and his brothers and sisters were raised by their mother.

Wellington coroner Garry Evans said CYF had categorised Denbora as a high risk of suicide in 2001. Mr Evans found communication and system failures at CYFs Porirua office had contributed to Denbora's death.

In 2002, counsellor Steve Phoenix said the boy's problems stemmed from his family and intervention was needed to change their behaviour. If nothing was done Denbora may attempt suicide, he warned.

Mr Evans said 11 different social workers had dealt with the family, but there was minimal exploration of family relationships and history.

No-one had in-depth knowledge of Denbora's life, while plans to help the Oum family fell short.

Mr Phoenix's clear warning should have been acted upon, he said. "Implementation of the plans would have required good communication and engagement by the social worker with Denbora, his family and the other professionals involved ... [but] there is little evidence of good engagement."

Failures included:

Language and cultural barriers and a negative perception of Denbora's mother saw her become isolated from the CYFs process.

CYFs paperwork was lacking, with important information and several risk assessment reports not put in Denbora's files.

Pressure in the Porirua CYFs office was "intense" because of understaffing. When Denbora died, his social worker was on stress leave, possibly delaying him going to a new school.

The work culture in the office was more about meeting "computer-based key performance indicators instead of more in-depth work with the children and their families".

Mr Evans recommended CYFs develop a risk assessment and management plan for every child in their care; that work systems focus on the holistic care of children; and records be thorough, regularly updated and stored electronically and on paper.

CYFs chief executive Ray Smith said Denbora's death was "an immense tragedy" but there had been great improvements since.

There was now better supervision and support for social workers, more training, and more effective risk management.

"This has resulted in major improvements to the way our sites, including the Porirua office, are operating and a significant staff culture change," Mr Smith said.

CYFs had also reduced the number of unallocated child cases, from 3482 in 2004 to 69, and improved its suicide prevention programmes. The agency would also look at Mr Evans' other recommendations.
Read more!