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Monday, March 14, 2011

Cambodia ready to join ASEAN-proposed meetings on border conflict with Thailand: PM

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday Cambodia is already prepared itself for the ASEAN- proposed meetings on March 24 on Cambodia-Thailand border conflict near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

"Cambodia has already prepared to depart for Cambodia-Thai General Border Committee and Joint Border Committee on Demarcation for Land Boundary in Bogor, Indonesia on March 24-25 under the presence of ASEAN chair," he said during a graduation ceremony for students at the Royal University of Law and Economics. "Now we are waiting Thai side's confirmation of participation."

Hun Sen repeated that ASEAN chair has to join in the opening ceremony of the meetings, and after Cambodia and Thailand discuss, the two sides have to report to ASEAN chair about the results.

"And if any agreement needs to be signed between Cambodia and Thailand during the meetings, Cambodia will ask the third party (ASEAN chair) to sign together," he said.

Cambodia's General Border Committee will be lead by Defense Minister Tea Banh and the Joint Border Committee will be lead by Var Kimhong, the president of it.

Meanwhile, the premier said that so far, the tension between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border dispute is rather calm and troops from the two sides even played volleyballs together over the weekend.

"However, it's still fragile, I hope that both sides will continue to exercise their most restraints," he said.

The premier announced that Cambodia will no longer allow Thai troops to come to worship at Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda next to Preah Vihear temple.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Temple of Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia; however, the row over the 4.6-square-km territory around the temple has never been resolved.

Conflict occurred just a week after Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, since then both sides have built up military forces along the border, and periodic clashes happened, resulted in deaths of troops on both sides.

The latest clashes on Feb. 4-7, unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border, had killed and wounded many soldiers and citizens of both sides, and caused tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers nearby the disputed areas fleeing for safe shelters.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Xinhua

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Massive earthquake in Japan harms its economy, aid abroad: Cambodia PM

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday the massive earthquake in Japan on March 11 will not only damage Japanese economy, but also will affect Japanese assistance overseas.

"The destruction by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were the worst and caused hugely losses both human lives and properties," he made the remarks during a graduation ceremony for students at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

"The natural disaster will impact both Japanese economy and Japan's internationally obligatory implementation abroad including Cambodia."

The premier said that tomorrow (Tuesday), Masafumi Kuroki, ambassador of Japan will still sign up to provide a grant aid package of 94 million U.S. dollars to Cambodia for flood protection, water distribution system, and demining activities.

He confirmed that so far, there is no report on Cambodian students were killed or injured in the massive earthquake in Japan.

A total of 1,598 people have been killed and 1,720 others are still missing by 8:00 a.m. (2300 GMT) Monday in Japan following Friday's catastrophic earthquake 9.0 magnitudes on the Richter scale and ensuing enormous tsunami, said the National Police Agency.

Source: Xinhua

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Riel deal for new bourse

CAMBODIA’S stock exchange will require listings in riel but will initially allow dual currency settlements, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia.

“The issuing of securities shall be completed in riel and the quotation of securities in the [Cambodia Securities Exchange] shall be conducted in riel,” it said in a statement issued late last week.

Settlements between buyers and sellers, however, will be allowed in both dollars and riel during the first three years of the bourse’s operation, it said.

Government policy is to promote usage of the domestic currency in order to facilitate economic development, said SECC Director General Ming Bankosal. The dual options for settlements reflected the widespread use of the dollar, he said.

“We will use the riel, but we also recognise [there is interest in] widely using US dollars in the Cambodian securities markets,” he said yesterday.

The Cambodian economy is currently highly dollarised. The National Bank of Cambodia has estimated the greenback accounts for more than 90 percent of currency in circulation, but has also stated it is committed to dedollarisation.

Private sector officials said yesterday they were supportive of the decision.

ACLEDA Bank CEO and President In Channy said yesterday that initially allowing bourse settlement in either dollars or riel would invite more participation in the exchange, which is due to launch this July.

Banks currently more deposits than outstanding loans, meaning there was excess liquidity available which could be invested in securities, he said. “The stock exchange does allow small investors the great opportunity of owning a portion of … a large corporation,” he said.

Leopard Capital Managing Partner Scott Lewis said most countries – including neighbouring Laos – successfully used local currencies for listings. “The government has a clear policy to encourage use of the riel and I think it’s appropriate to list the stocks in riel,” he said yesterday.

Although there could be concerns over currency risk, the government does keep the riel in a fairly tight band against the United States dollar, he said. He also hoped companies would continue to be allowed to disclose financial results and complete accounting in dollars.

Leopard has two interests in the Cambodian exchange – it has a few companies in its portfolio that may list, and could also pursue opportunities to buy shares in some of the first companies to list.

Scott Lewis also stressed that it was important that companies were ready to float and the regulatory framework was in place for the exchange to succeed.

“If that takes six months or it takes three years, I’m indifferent. I’d rather have them do it right, and more time allows more companies to become mature and become listing candidates,” he said. “So I don’t think there’s any rush.”
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