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Monday, February 21, 2011

UN Rights Envoy Meets With Union Leaders

U.N. special rapporteur Surya Subedi walks through a Cambodian national flag upon his arrival in a conference room at the U.N. headquarter in Phnom Penh, in 2010.


The UN’s special envoy for human rights met with union leaders on Monday, including representatives for garment factory workers and teachers, who pointed out concerns in basic rights like education and assembly, officials said.

Surya Subedi, the human rights special representative for the UN secretary-general, is on a 10-day mission that ends later this week.

Union leaders discussed with him with their main concerns as he drafts a report for the UN Human Rights Council, said Rong Chhun, president of the Independent Teachers Association.

Education and assembly were among the main concerns, he said.

People lack access to education, including a lack of schools and low salaries for teachers, Rong Chhun said. Impoverished children also are often unable to go to school, which affects their right to education, he said.

Leaders also pointed to difficulties for unions to assemble workers under strict laws or even hold meetings, after restaurant or other venue owners receive threats from local authorities, Rong Chhun said.

Rong Chhun also said new draft law on unions is restrictive on union leaders, including regulations that make it easy for unions to be banned by the Ministry of Interior. A draft law on NGOs is similarly worrying, he said, in that it could restrict the operations of non-government organizations.

Representatives also told Subedi that were concerned about the murders of labor leaders and the arrests of suspects that are not likely the perpetrators.

Subedi has also met with senior government leaders, opposition parties and rights groups on his trip.

In talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen Thursday, Subedi brought a proposal from 300 NGOs requesting a “dialogue” between the groups and the government, said Ieng Sophalleth, a spokesman for the prime minister.

Hun Sen declined the proposal, saying there are “3,000 local NGOs,” and a request from 300 “did not represent the majority,” Ieng Sophalleth said.

Subedi also spoke to Hun Sen about court reform. Hun Sen said the government does not interfere with the court and is working to improve the judiciary.

Last week, Subedi also met with 20 local NGOs, who outlined their own worries.

Chak Sopheap, executive assistant for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said local groups raised concerns about rights abuses, land grabs, freedom of expression and the courts.

“Freedom of expression in Cambodia is still barred by the government,” she said, including the freedom to hold demonstrations or strikes.

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Cambodia, Thailand to agree on dispatch of military observers+

JAKARTA, Kyodo—Cambodia and Thailand will agree this week on the dispatch of military observers to a disputed border area where the two sides have traded fire, government officials from both countries said Monday.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told Kyodo News the agreement will materialize at the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Jakarta.

Foreign Ministers from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will gather Tuesday in Jakarta to help resolve the border conflict, over which the U.N. Security Council has expressed grave concern and urged for the establishment of a permanent ceasefire.

Indonesia, current chair of ASEAN, initiated the meeting and hinted that it will likely send military observers upon requests from both parties.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi on Monday told reporters in Jakarta that Thailand is ready to allow military observers from Indonesia or ASEAN to deploy in Thai territory on a monitoring mission.

"We are ready if Indonesia as the chair wishes to send military observers to the border," he said.
Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their rival claims to 4.6 square kilometers of land around a temple on the border.

Since the temple was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2008, several rounds of border clashes have occurred.
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Chinese vice commerce minister praises China-Cambodia cooperation

Trade cooperation between China and Cambodia could be considered as "pattern cooperation" in developing countries, said Fu Ziying, visiting Chinese vice commerce minister, during a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister on Monday afternoon.

"We consider that the trade cooperation between our two countries is a sample among the developing countries," Fu said to Hun Sen, adding that China-Cambodia cooperation in economics and trades will be better.

Fu also promised to encourage more Chinese investors to invest in Cambodia, especially in agro-industry, mining and special economic zones.

"China wants to establish joint investment projects with Cambodia in agro-industry as Cambodia has favorable land and water resources, while China has markets and financial and technical resources to invest in this sector," he added.

He said that China welcomes the export of Cambodian agricultural product into Chinese market.

Fu also conveyed the greeting from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In response, Hun Sen said that Cambodia is much in need of investment in agro-industry.

"Cambodia has been developing its agricultural sector, but it' s still weak," he said. "In this sense, I would like to ask Chinese investors to consider investment in this sector."

The premier also asked China to support strongly the development of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone.

Bilateral trades between Cambodia and China mounted to 1.12 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, up 41.5 percent from about 791 million U.S. dollars in 2009, according to the statistics from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.

Fu Ziying and his delegation, arrived here on Sunday to pay a four-day visit here, held the 2nd China-Cambodia Strategic Economic Dialogue on Monday morning and signed a number of cooperation agreements with Cambodia.

Source: Xinhua
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China to Help Cambodia Boost Social, Economic Development

Cambodia and China on Monday signed six agreements on bilateral cooperation, aiming at assisting Cambodia to develop its economy and to alleviate poverty, said officials.

The agreements were signed here during the 2nd China-Cambodia Strategic Economic Dialogue, co-chaired by Anu Porn Moniroth, secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia and Fu Ziying, visiting Chinese vice commerce minister.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue attended the signing ceremony.

The grant and loan agreements included a grant to Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance; a donation of air-conditioners and desktop computers to the Senate; a project to dispatch Chinese experts to study the feasibility of the construction of agricultural laboratory building in Cambodia; a loan agreement for the construction of a 22 kilovolt electricity transmission line in the length of 1.9 km in the provinces of Kampong Speu, Preah Sihanouk, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham.

Moreover, the construction contract of enlargement of the national road No. 6A (in the length of 40 km) to four lanes under a soft loan from China, and the consultant contract on the enlargement of the national road No. 6A were also signed.

Aun Porn Moniroth expressed profound thanks to China for its timely and unconditional financial and technical assistances to Cambodia.

"As the world was affected by the global financial crisis, China had still provided its assistance to Cambodia," he said, adding"this has helped Cambodia to prevent and overcome the crisis successfully."

"Chinese aid to Cambodia is very essential to develop the economy and alleviate poverty,"he added.

Fu Ziying said that Cambodia is a good neighbor of China and pledged to continue supporting Cambodia in its development of economy.

"China and Cambodia are willing to help each other,"he said, adding "in the future, China can be a big market for Cambodian products."

"We want closer cooperation with Cambodia on agriculture and mining as well as other sectors,"he said.

Fu Ziying is scheduled to pay courtesy call on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday afternoon.
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DHL eyes Cambodia Oil and Gas

Germany-based logistics giant DHL will put increasing focus on servicing Cambodia’s nascent oil and gas sector for the future of its Kingdom business, officials said at the launch of its new Phnom Penh office today.

While 95 percent of its current freight forwarding work in Cambodia concentrates on garment exports, the company claims to see massive potential for oil and gas.

“Countries like China, India are actively looking for resources, resources like oil and energy,” said the firm’s Africa and Asia Pacific head of oil and energy Sam Ang.

“While I’m pretty sure the [importance] of the [garment] sector will not be reduced, other sectors are coming up.”

The firm’s oil and gas business involves providing logistical services to industry firms.

Sam Ang claimed this could include importing machinery and assisting in large projects such as the installation of oil platforms.

Oil has been climbing on worldwide exchanges in recent months.

Today, Brent crude traded at more than US$104.50 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

“As price goes up, people are more excited,” said Sam Ang.

A growing worldwide economy was pushing demand for energy, he said, adding the Kingdom potentially sat on billions of barrels of oil.

Chevron Corporation is generally thought to be the Kingdom’s first chance of producing oil. Prime Minister Hun Sen last year threatened to remove Chevron’s licence – which is held for offshore Block A – if a 2012 deadline to begin production was not met.

Sam Ang also emphasised DHL looked to increase its business from industrial factories looking to enter Cambodia.

Meanwhile, DHL Global Forwarding chief executive officer of Africa and South Asia Pacific, Amadou Diallo, said the United States and Europe were the traditional markets for Cambodia’s garment exports, but added the firm expected intra-Asia exports to pick up in coming years.

Rising costs for producers in China meant factories were increasing coming to the Kingdom, he said, adding that DHL worked hard to stay ahead of the curve.

“You’ll find DHL in more countries than Coca-Cola,” he said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BLOOMBERG
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