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Friday, January 07, 2011

Trespassing case 'has no bearing' on Cambodia border dispute

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation

Convicting the seven Thai nationals for trespassing in Cambodia would not overrule Thailand's right to claim sovereignty over the disputed border area near Sa Kaew's Ban Nong Chan, where the men were caught, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and legal experts said yesterday.

The Cambodian court's ruling on the case would only be binding for individuals who were involved in the case, but would never be a reference point for boundary demarcation, he said.
Seven Thai nationals, including an MP from the ruling Democrat Party, Panich Vikitsreth, and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid were arrested by Cambodian officials last week while inspecting the disputed area.

In his testimony, Panich told the Cambodian court that he had crossed the border by accident. Information from the Royal Thai Survey Department and the Foreign Ministry indicates that the group had only gone 55 metres into Cambodian territory

Veera and other activists insist that this area belongs to Thailand because Thai authorities issued land titles for local residents a long time ago. Veera and his group were arrested at the same site last August.

The area in question has been occupied by Cambodians who fled from civil war at home in the late 1970s and refused to return after the war.

This border location had been demarcated more than a century ago, when Cambodia was a French colony, but the boundary pillars in the area were destroyed or removed. The two countries have not yet reached common ground as to exactly where the boundary pillars were.

Worry is growing in Thailand that Cambodia will take advantage of the case to claim sovereignty over the area.

Legal expert Panas Tassaneeyanond, meanwhile, said the Cambodian court had the authority to rule on each individual's guilt in accordance with Cambodian law but such a ruling had no binding on the boundary line with Thailand.

"Legally speaking, the ruling is specifically bound to each individual in the case," Panas said on a television programme.

Meanwhile, secretary to the foreign minister Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the case should be kept separate from the boundary issue because the two countries had a joint boundary committee to handle the dispute. The Cambodian court's ruling should have no legal implication on the matter, he said.

The main argument in the case of the seven Thais jailed in Phnom Penh is whether they entered Cambodian territory unintentionally, he said.

Separately, Army chief Prayut Chan-ocha responded to allegations that the military was too weak to deal with Cambodia over the border dispute by saying that the issue should be settled through negotiations and that it would take time.

"With both sides claiming the same location, we cannot say who has lost it to whom, but we do have to say that we need to live together peacefully and with mutual respect," he said.

"The military does not fear anyone. We have the duty to protect our motherland. If it is clear that it is our land, we will not allow any invasion, but while it is still unclear, we will have to talk with our neighbours," he said.

A group of yellow-shirt activists met with officials at the Foreign Ministry yesterday asking the ministry to help them pay a visit to their colleagues in prison.

The court finished the first round of testimony on Thursday and their lawyer will submit a bail request on Monday. The court will then take five days to consider the request.

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Cambodian court decision over 7 Thais not affect Thai territory: Thai PM

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday reaffirmed that Cambodian court's verdict on the arrested seven Thai will not lead to possible loss of Thai territory since it has legal binding effect only on individual.

The Thai premier made remarks after the pro-establishment People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), dubbed"yellow-shirt" movement, claimed Thailand may lose some of its land to its neighboring Cambodia if it accepts the Cambodian court ruling on the case of the seven detainees.

Abhisit stated that the court ruling will affect only the litigants and it's considered an individual issue, on a case by case basis, not as part of the border problems.

"If so, we can arrest a foreigner and then the defendant confesses, it means his country will lose territory," noted the PM, adding "we must wait and see the court verdict first. The matter will not be prolonged,"a local media quoted him as saying.

The Thai premier advised the critics to let concerned officials do their jobs. "We won't talk about legal aspects which can bring more damage," he said.

Following opposition Puea Thai accusations that the premier conspired with the detained Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, Abhisit affirmed he had assigned Panich to respond to the complaints of local residents at the border, but he asserted that the incident occurred unexpectedly.

The seven Thais were arrested by Cambodian soldiers as they inspected the border area on Dec. 29 last year.

The Cambodian court finished the first hearing on Thursday. They were facing two charges -- illegal entry into Cambodian territory and illegally entering a military base; crimes which in Cambodia carry penalties of up to six months and one year respectively, and fine from one to two million Cambodian riels ( 250 U.S. dollars to 500 U.S. dollars).

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand and the exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute, with occasional military skirmishes claiming a number of lives.

Source: Xinhua
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Over 2,000 to take part in ASEAN Tourism Forum in Cambodia next week

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) - More than 2,000 delegates from ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are ready to take part in the upcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2011), a government official said Friday.

Plong Thoeun, deputy director of tourism promotion department of Ministry of Tourism said that more than 2,000 delegates have confirmed their attendances to the 30th ATF to be held from Jan. 15 to 21, 2011.

The 30th ATF 2011 will be held at the newly built Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

He said alongside with the ATF 2011, there will be travel exchange (TRAVEX) which will give the venue for the ASEAN's package tour sellers and potential buyers from the region and the world, and friendship golf tournament for ASEAN Tourism Ministers and senior officials, organized and sponsored by international television network.

Ang Kim Eng, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents (CATA) said Friday that some 990 buyers have registered, just more than double from original plan of about 400.

The forum is the second of its kind hosted by Cambodia after the previous one was hosted in 2003.

ASEAN Tourism Forum is a cooperative regional effort to promote the ASEAN region as one tourist destination.

This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member nations of ASEAN: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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Recently released market study: Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar Business Forecast Report Q1 2011

Recently published research from Business Monitor International, "Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar Business Forecast Report Q1 2011", is now available at Fast Market Research

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN )'s drive to establish an ASEAN Community by 2015 is expected to support economic growth for Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos through increased trade and foreign direct investment. ASEAN 's growing political influence within the international community will also put the group in a stronger position to negotiate for favourable trade agreements with external parties, in our view. However, we see cooling external demand as a credible threat to the group's exports, which could become a significant drag on growth in 2011. Thus, we are forecasting relatively weak real GDP growth of 3.7%, 4.0% and 6.5% for Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos respectively in 2011.

The increasing scale and frequency of land rights violations are fuelling growing dissent against the Cambodian government. We are increasingly concerned with the government's failure to clamp down on corruption at the district level, which risks further social unrest going forward. The growing number of cases involving violations of land rights and forced displacement of the rural poor in Cambodia are partly a result of the Cambodian parliament's decision to pass a law allowing the government to expropriate land for development in December 2009. Despite ongoing efforts by the government to clamp down on corruption, Cambodia remains one of the most corrupt countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Foreign direct investment in Laos's mining industry could overtake the hydropower sector in terms of growth over the coming years. The country is well placed to capitalise on its rich mineral resources on the back of China's growing demand for industrial metals. We believe the Lao government's plan to issue new investment licences over the coming months will help raise foreign participation in the mining industry. Foreign capital and technological know-how will play a crucial role in paving the way for a new phase of growth for the industry, in our view. Growth in the mining sector will also contribute to Laos's Millennium Development Goals in the coming years.

The Burmese government's 10-year plan for the development of a large-scale industrial estate in Dawei is attracting the attention of investors across the border. The Thai government's economic think-tank has warned that heavy industry in Thailand could shift operations from the Map Ta Phut industrial estate to Myanmar upon completion of the Dawei industrial project. However, uncertainties with the successful implementation of the project compel us to adopt a cautious stance on Myanmar's economic growth outlook in the coming years. Accordingly, we are maintaining our real GDP growth forecasts for Myanmar to average 4.0% over the next five years (2011-2016).

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About Fast Market Research

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For more information about these or related research reports, please visit our website at http://www.fastmr.com or call us at 1.800.844.8156.

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Fast Market Research is an online aggregator and distributor of market research and business information. We represent the world's top research publishers and analysts and provide quick and easy access to the best competitive intelligence available.
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CAMBODIA: Winning the battle against schistosomiasis

KRATIE, 6 January 2011 (IRIN) - Health officials in Cambodia are making inroads in their battle against schistosomiasis, a chronic and debilitating disease commonly known as snail fever.

In northeastern Cambodia, more than 80,000 people living along the 5,000km-long Mekong River are at risk of schistosomiasis, according to the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM) [ http://www.cnm.gov.kh/ ].

"We've seen a very [big] drop from the last decade," Muth Sinuon, a parasitic worms specialist at the government body, said. She places current prevalence rates at less than 5 percent - a steep fall from the mid-1990s.

"Back around 1995, we saw that between 30 and 70 percent of people in Kratie and Stung Treng were infected," she said. The chronic disease is endemic in the two poor, remote provinces in northeastern Cambodia.

Schistosomiasis is known as snail fever because the parasite lives in freshwater snails. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), people become infected when larval forms of the parasite - released by freshwater snails - penetrate their skin during contact with infested water.

In Cambodia, residents go fishing in rivers when water levels are low during the dry season, from February to May, and contract the disease from infested water.

The disease spreads through bathing, washing laundry and fetching water, Muth said.

Left untreated, the worm is perilous even though mortality is low. Schistosomiasis can cause bloody faeces and urine, a bloated belly, intestine damage, liver disease and bladder cancer, say health experts.

In terms of its social and economic impacts, snail fever is second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease in tropical countries, according to the Carter Center, a non-profit charity based at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. [ http://www.cartercenter.org/index.html ]

Risk to children

Because of their hygiene and play habits in the water, children are particularly at risk.

"These parasites cause growth retardation in children, short- and long-term memory problems, difficulty with reasoning and reading comprehension," said Taing Tek Hong, a US-based Cambodian gastroenterologist, who travels regularly to Cambodia.

Heavily infected people are at risk of malnutrition.

Parasite's lifecycle

When human urine or faeces containing the parasite's eggs enter the water, the eggs hatch and release larvae, which search for river snails that live in the fissures of partially submerged rocks.
They enter the snail and multiply, then look for a new host in the water. They break through human skin and infiltrate the blood, move to the liver, and grow into worms.

From there, the worms travel through the blood, laying thousands of eggs in the intestine or bladder.

Treatment

Since 2002, the Cambodian government has overseen a vast deworming programme. In 2004, the country was the first to reach the WHO's goal of covering three-quarters of school-aged children, or three million people.

Once a year in Kratie and Stung Treng, authorities treat schistosomiasis patients with Praziquantel, a drug that is usually effective with a single dose.

The campaign has led to a drastic fall in cases, said Duong Socheat, head of the CNM.

Even so, more needs to be done to improve sanitation and education, he said.

Many people still defecate into rivers because they have limited access to toilets. Fewer than 16 percent of rural Cambodians have access to adequate sanitation, says the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

According to WHO, around the world, 700 million people may be at risk of schistosomiasis. More than 207 million people are infected worldwide, the majority in Africa. Most live in poor communities without access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Control of schistosomiasis is based on drug treatment, snail control, improved sanitation and health education, the world health body says.

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Cambodia says KRouge trial should preserve peace

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia's ruling party Friday called for a UN-backed war crimes court to safeguard "hard-won peace" in its trial of top Khmer Rouge leaders, as it marked the 32nd anniversary of the regime's ouster.

"The Cambodian People's Party supports the trial... for crimes committed by the most senior leaders" of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodian People's Party (CPP) president Chea Sim told a crowd of thousands of supporters.

He appealed for continued international support "so that the trial process will be successfully completed on the basis of safeguarding all national achievements, especially Cambodia's hard-won peace and stability."

The trial of four top regime leaders is due to start this year on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide after up to two million people were executed or were starved or worked to death from 1975-1979.

The tribunal, dogged by allegations of political interference, has yet to announce whether it will go ahead with two more cases against five as-yet-unnamed former Khmer Rouge cadres.

In its first case, the court in July sentenced former Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch to 30 years in jail for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people.

But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, deputy leader of the CPP, has repeatedly warned that pursuing more suspects from the hardline communist regime could spark civil war.

Hun Sen -- once a mid-level Khmer Rouge member before turning against the movement -- told visiting United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon in October that a third case was "not allowed" because it could jeopardise peace.
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Travel Vietnam & Cambodia - Fancy a Far East adventure

2011-01-07 08:41:17 - The New Year is fast approaching, so now is a good time to consider next year's break. With the economy slowly but surely improving, why not travel to somewhere a little more exciting in 2011?

Vietnam ( www.activetravelvietnam.com ) holidays are certainly an option worth considering, with the Far East nation offering visitors spectacular landscapes, a fascinating culture and a friendly population. A nation that has successfully emerged from the ravages of war, Vietnam is being explored by an increasing number of travellers, all of whom are keen to experience this most unique of destinations. While its recent history is inescapable, so too is its soaring mountains, stunning coastline and iconic rice fields.

With so much to take in, travellers arriving in Vietnam will want to arrange their transport as early as possible. Trains are perhaps the most comfortable way of travelling around the country, although there is only one major line; that linking Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, a journey that takes around 30 hours to complete.

Buses are a cheaper option, with intercity services tending to depart at the crack of dawn in order to beat the morning rush. Services take a while, however, so be prepared to give up a day or two here and there for travelling. Once you've arrived at your chosen destination, you will certainly want to get out and explore your surroundings; in which case, car rental might be an option worth considering.

While hiring your own car is only possible in Vietnam's main cities, you can hire a vehicle with a driver elsewhere. So, not only will you avoid having to negotiate the country's often hectic road network, you will be able to take advantage of local knowledge, possibly discovering places a little off the beaten track and learning a bit of Vietnamese along the way.

The Far East ( www.activetravel.asia ) is a long way to travel, so there's no reason to limit your trip to a single country. Neighbouring Cambodia is another nation that has fully embraced tourism. Fortunately, then, there are a number of Vietnam and Cambodia tours for travellers to take advantage of.

Angkor Wat is arguably the jewel in Cambodia's crown. The huge temple complex, one of the finest examples of classical Khmer architecture, has become the nation's symbol. Dating back to the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the World's largest religious building and has pride of place on Cambodia's flag.

While Cambodia ( www.activetravelcambodia.com ) is awash with culture and historical artefacts, travellers will inevitably want some downtime during their Far Eastern adventure. Sihanoukville, known among tourists as Snookyville, is a popular seaside town and home to the country's best beaches. Seemingly becoming more popular as each year passes, Sihanoukville was recently referred to by the New York Times as "Asia's next trendsetting beach".

Seemingly a million miles away, Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, is referred to as one of the Far East's remaining undiscovered destinations. Despite being deeply affected by war and revolution, Phnom Penh is a city of optimism and colour; a place of Buddhists, spice markets and a burgeoning economy. It's likely you'll visit the city during your Cambodian adventure, and while the inevitable assault on the senses may exhaust you, it's certainly worth spending a day or two here.

No visit to the eastern corner of Asia can be complete without seeing some of the region's wildlife, so a visit to the 1,581 sq km Bokor National Park comes highly recommended. Home to green peafowl, chestnut-headed partridge and even tigers, the park is well worth a visit, even if it's just to see the deserted French hill station, Bokor, that it contains.

Vietnam and Cambodia are two nations opening their arms to tourism. Why not discover each country next year before everyone else does?

Source : forres-gazette.
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