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Monday, March 21, 2011

Observers See Few Options But Concession for Opposition

Cambodian political observers say that opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was removed from the National Assembly last week, will need to look for concessions with the ruling party if he is to return to politics.

Sam Rainsy is facing several criminal sentences related to the uprooting of markers on the Vietnamese borders and the publication of a map on his website alleging Vietnamese encroachment into Cambodian territory.

Kem Sokha, the president of the minority opposition Human Rights Party, said Sam Rainsy must now “apologize” or make other overtures beneficial to the ruling party if he is to return ahead of 2012 and 2013 elections.

“That’s what we see so far as political compromises,” he said.

Similar concessions were made by Prince Norodom Ranariddh ahead of his return from exile on graft charges ahead of the 2008 national elections, he said.

Such concessions can include a written apology or clarification to Prime Minister Hun Sen, he said.

The National Assembly ousted Sam Rainsy from his seat as representative of Kampong Cham province last week, after the Supreme Court upheld a criminal conviction against him. He still faces a court battle for disinformation after publishing a map on his website lower courts have found were fabricated.

Sam Rainsy has said the maps accurately show Vietnamese encroachment, a politically volatile accusation. Vietnamese officials have denied any encroachment has taken place.

Independent analyst Chea Vannath said political reconciliation is still possible, although she did not specify what that might mean.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, secretary general for the royalist Funcinpec party, said an apology would allow Sam Rainsy to return.

Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer recently he will not apologize and that he feels justified in his claims that Cambodia is losing land to Vietnam. However, he said he is still looking for national or international solutions.

“I took the lead to defend the national interest, so the national interest is political,” he said.

Hun Sen has said Sam Rainsy’s case is a legal matter for the courts, not a political matter for the executive branch.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep echoed that position in an interview, saying the charges against Sam Rainsy are legal, not political. And his removal from the Assembly was done on legal grounds, Cheam Yiep said.

He reiterated claims that Sam Rainsy would have to write Hun Sen, who has the power to request a royal pardon for crimes.

Sam Rainsy said in an interview his removal from the National Assembly was a breach of the law, because he was voted in by his constituency. The move will likely bring international condemnation, he said, and ultimately strengthen his party.

Ruling party officials have “openly exposed themselves as people who don’t understand the law, who don’t understand democratic principles and who are suppressing the constitution,” he said.

He said he was similarly removed from the Assembly in 1995, but his party garnered even more support in subsequent elections.

“I believe that in 2013, there will be a change, and the Sam Rainsy Party will be stronger and stronger,” he said.

The Sam Rainsy Party currently holds 26 of 123 seats in the National Assembly. His removal from the National Assembly has prompted little international reaction so far.

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Cambodia starts work on Chinese-funded road in northwest

Battambang, Cambodia, March 21 (Xinhua) - Cambodia on Monday broke ground for the construction of a China-funded 176-kilometre-road in the Northwestern part in order to facilitate travelling and trucking agricultural products to markets.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the road No 57B was held Monday in Battambang province about 350 kilometres northwest of capital Phnom Penh.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue, and top government officials, diplomatic corps, locals and students.

The road will facilitate travelling among former-battlefield provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin, the premier said during the ceremony.

"The construction of the road today was resulted from good close cooperation between Cambodia and China," Hun Sen said. " Through the ambassador Pan Guangxue, I'd like to express my sincere thanks to the government and people of China for financial support for this road."

"The road will provide huge economic benefits to our people to truck their agricultural products to markets and facilitate them in travelling easier and faster," he said. "We have been turning the former fighting zones to be a development area."

The premier also asked the ambassador to help attract Chinese investors to the country's agricultural sector through investing in high technology rice mills and warehouses in order to boost Cambodia's economy and to export to China as the two countries has signed the rice and cassava export agreements already.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said that the road will be vital for rural farmers in trucking their products for markets.

"Through the construction of the road, I believe that farmers will increase their farming as it will be easier to truck their products to markets," he said.

"The road is also reflected the attention of Chinese government on Cambodian development and always ready to provide assistance to Cambodia in social and economic development," he added.

According to the master-plan, the construction of the road will cost 89.9 million US dollars, which is the soft loan from the government of China. It will take 48 months to complete.

Source: Xinhua
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CAMBODIA TO ESTABLISH ELECTRIC-POWERED CAR PLANT

PHNOM PENH, March 21 (Bernama) -- A local Heng Development Co., and a Hong Kong-Chau Leong Enterprise on Monday signed a joint- venture of US$20 million to build a electric-powered car manufacturing plant branded ''Angkor'' in Cambodia, reports Xinhua news agency.

The agreement was inked among Sieng Chan Heng, director general of Heng Development Co., Li Yue Liang, director general of Hong Kong-Chau Leong Enterprise, and a Cambodian innovator Nhean Phaloek, witnessed by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam On.

Of the US$20 million joint venture, Heng Development Co., holds 80 percent while Hong Kong-Chau Leong Enterprise holds the rest, said Sieng Chan Heng during the signing ceremony.

"The establishment of the electric-powered plant will be an opportunity for Cambodia to show the world about the works of Cambodia by Cambodian people," she said. "We hope the Angkor- branded cars will be supported by local customers and in the future, we will expand our sales to overseas markets."

The plant is being built on the land area of 47,000 square meters in Takhmao district of Kandal province, generating 300 jobs. It will be capable to produce between 500 units to 1,000 units a year, with raw materials and spare parts from China, she said, adding that the first production will be available early 2012.

Li Yue Liang, director general of Hong Kong-Chau Leong Enterprise, said that the establishment of the car plant will contribute to the development of Cambodian economy in the long term.

"We hope the government will fully support us in this car production as it will contribute economic growth and reduce poverty," he said.

"The electric-powered car will be environmentally friendly." Ith Praing, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy, said that the plant will also bring technology transfer from Chinese technicians to local technicians.

"This will be the first car production factory in Cambodia," he said. "The electric-powered cars will help to reduce environmental pollution and reduce reliance on the usage of hiking oil," he said.

The car models and designs will be created by Cambodian innovator Nhean Phaloek.

-- BERNAMA
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