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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Surapong plays down Cambodian attack on chopper

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said yesterday that an incident in which Cambodian forces fired upon a Thai helicopter near the Cambodian border last week was a misunderstanding and would not lead to a dispute between the countries.

He said he would clear up the misunderstanding, although reports had it that Navy commander Admiral Surasak Runrerngrom had issued a letter of protest against Cambodia and closed border checkpoints and goods-transit points.

The foreign minister said the incident would not inflame the border conflict because Thailand and Cambodia enjoyed cordial relations. He said he is scheduled to meet Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on December 29, which would give him an opportunity to discuss many issues.

Vice Admiral Pongsak Riroj said the helicopter of the Chanthaburi and Trat Border Prevention Command was attacked and damaged by Cambodian forces for unknown reasons while flying in Trat on Friday. The Thai military retaliated by closing two transit points for goods in Trat's Muang and Bo Rai districts, and 30 smaller border checkpoints in Chanthaburi and Trat used by Cambodia to buy supplies for military personnel and civilians.

The checkpoint at Ban Had Lek, however, remained open.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut accused Surapong of failing to protect the country's integrity and sovereignty by not protesting to Cambodia over the incident. "The first thing the government must do is to lodge a protest with the Cambodian government, otherwise it means we admit that we are wrong.

"Cambodia has issued a statement saying its forces shot at the helicopter legitimately because Thailand encroached upon its territory,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Chavanond called on the Foreign Ministry to reveal the truth over the issuing of a passport to former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Pheu Thai Party earlier said Thaksin, who is on the run from a corruption conviction, was not on a ministry blacklist. Chavanond said Thaksin is the subject of an arrest warrant on a criminal charge and is banned from holding a travel document.

"The rules are clear. How can the government distort or delete these rules?'' the spokesman asked.

Meanwhile, Auditor-General Sriracha Charoenpanit said his office last week submitted its second summons for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to give a statement on an alleged conflict of interest in connection with the government's tax-deduction policy to support first-time homebuyers. Sriracha said Yingluck postponed her first summons response because she was occupied with tackling the flooding.

Yingluck has 30 days from the issuing of the second summons to meet with officials. The Democrat Party accuses the government of policy corruption by issuing a housing scheme that favours SC Asset. Yingluck is a former chief executive of the company.
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Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie launching charities for their kids

Angelina Jolie has announced that she and partner Brad Pitt will create charities for each of their six children.


Jolie revealed during a chat on Anderson that she and Pitt are funding a clinic in Ethiopia in honor of their daughter Zahara Marley, who was born in the country.

The Hollywood superstars have also built a children's medical center in Cambodia for their son Maddox.

Pitt and Jolie plan to create several more charities in order to teach their children the value of philanthropy and keep them in touch with their home countries.

"They have programs in their countries [for] each of them we're starting. There's a TB/AIDS clinic being built for Zahara; there's a clinic already for Mad," Jolie told Anderson Cooper.

The actress continued: "So each of them will take that responsibility. They are from their country and they are of their country and they should know that, it's part of their family, we are their family but so is their country."

Jolie recently acknowledged that she was living a "self-destructive" lifestyle until she began her own charity work as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

Her directorial debut In The Land of Blood and Honey, which has netted her a Golden Globe nomination, opens in US cinemas on December 23. A UK release date has yet to be announced.

Jolie's full interview on Anderson airs on Monday (December 19).
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Americans donate blood to Cambodia

Cpl. Asmond L. Coker, radio operator, gives blood to Cambodia's national supply during a drive at an auditorium Dec. 16. More than one hundred service members from USS New Orleans, USS Pearl Harbor, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 5 donated. The Camp Pendleton-, Calif., based Marine unit embarked three U.S. Navy ships in San Diego Nov. 14 and arrived in southeastern Asia Dec. 11 as part of a regularly scheduled deployment.


REAM NAVAL BASE, Cambodia - U.S. Marines and sailors and members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces queued up to give blood to Cambodia's national supply during a drive at an auditorium on Ream Naval Base Dec. 16.

U.S. service members from USS New Orleans, USS Pearl Harbor, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 5 donated 107 units, while Cambodians from the Royal Khmer Navy donated 113 units.

Hok Kim Cheng, the Ministry of Health's National Blood Transfusion Center director in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia needs blood - around 3,000 units per month, with two-thirds required in the capital alone.

Approximately 35 percent of the national supply comes from voluntary donations, while the rest comes from families; however, a fifty-fifty source is ideal, said Cheng.

"That is why we organize mobile blood drives," said Cheng, adding that the Ministry of Health solicits donors from the country's own infrastructure - the military for example.

"Today is very helpful," said Cheng. He said the collaboration between Cambodia and the U.S., and the health ministry's relationship with the American embassy and U.S. Pacific Command, was "good for our nation."

Ten-time blood donor Staff Sgt. Toby Salas, 28, who serves as an administrative chief for unit Marines aboard New Orleans, said, "It was a different experience from giving blood in the past."

Salas, who carries an American Red Cross donor card in his wallet, said, "The feeling of giving this time was special - being in a different country, around a different culture. I felt good about it."

The Cambodian and American donors alike received a 20-page booklet, slightly larger than a business card and stamped by the Ministry of Health, with the first blocks filled out to mark the donation.

"It's a good souvenir," said Salas, who hails from Tuscaloosa, Ala. "I can't read it; it's in a foreign language, but it's a reminder of my time in Cambodia. It's a keepsake that I can show the kids and wife. It'll show them there are other cultures outside our own, outside America."

The Camp Pendleton-, Calif., based Marine unit embarked three U.S. Navy ships in San Diego Nov. 14 and arrived in southeastern Asia Dec. 11 as part of a regularly scheduled deployment.
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1st motor manufacturing plant starts operations in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- A Japan-invested motor manufacturing plant launched operations in Cambodia on Saturday, raising a hope for the development of hi-tech industry in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.

"Cambodia has reached a new phase of attracting investors for high technology industry after, in the past, it had attracted investments in garment industry," Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the inauguration of the small-size motor manufacturing plant (Minebea Cambodia) in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone.

"The plant reflects Japanese investors in Cambodia and it has brought modern technology for the development of Cambodia," he added.

Kinoma Yoshihisa, president and CEO of the Tokyo-based Minebea Co., the investor of Minebea Cambodia, said the plant would assemble DC brush motors and micro-actuators for office-automation equipment, household electrical appliances and digital equipment, using parts supplied by Minebea plants in Thailand, and the finished products will be exported back to Thailand.

"The plant is the first manufacturer of sophisticated and small- sized motors in Cambodia and it creates thousands of jobs and contribute to the development of Cambodia's economy," he said.

Kep Chuk Tema, the governor of Phnom Penh, said the plant began the construction in April, 2011 on the land plot of 100,000 square meters in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone.

He said in the next phase, the company will build one more plant on the same plot of land to manufacture medium-size motors.

The total investment for the project is 60 million U.S. dollars, he said.

Japan is Cambodia's 11th largest investor with the total investments of 257 million U.S. dollars from 1994 to October 2011, according to the reports of the Council for the Development of Cambodia. Most Japanese investment projects here are in manufacturing industry.

The Minebea was founded in 1951. So far, the firm has set up 32 motor manufacturing plants in 11 countries: Japan, Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Slovakia, Czech and Cambodia.
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More Japanese firms eye investments in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (Kyodo) -- More Japanese firms are looking to Cambodia this year either to invest or to learn about the investment environment in the country, participants in an economic forum were told Friday.

Sok Chenda, secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, told the forum in Phnom Penh for Japanese investors that the government is improving as quickly as possible the investment environment, human resources and infrastructure.

More than 65 Japanese representing various institutions and companies attended the meeting.

Yoshihisa Kainuma, president of Minebea Co., said some challenges remain in Cambodia such as incomplete infrastructure and the high cost of electricity, but his company decided to invest there because of low labor costs, strong support from the government and a location close to Thailand where his company had already invested.

Statistics provided by the council showed that in the first 10 months this year, 16 Japanese companies invested $67.6 million in Cambodia, up sharply from only six companies that invested $35.3 million in all of last year.

In addition, nine more Japanese companies have applied in the first 10 months this year to make investments worth another $53 million, the statistics showed.

The investments cover a variety of industrial sectors, including shoemaking, garments, motorcycles and packaging, as well as beach and island development.

Japanese investments in Cambodia since 1994 through October this year totaled $250.6 million.

Since 1994 through November, China has invested $8.8 billion, South Korea $4 billion and Malaysia $2.6 billion.
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Cambodia to guard garment exports amidst EU crisis

The Cambodian Government is worried that the Greek economic crisis could affect the country’s garment exports to the EU, and it will take measures to absorb external shock, Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance said at a trade exhibition in Phnom Penh.

The Government has expressed concern in spite of it upgrading the Kingdom’s gross domestic product outlook for 2011. The concern stems from the fact that EU is the second largest importer of Cambodian garments, and hence crisis in the EU countries could hurt our exports, the Minister said.

The Government will take measures to absorb external shock arising from the EU debt crisis. These will include those related to strengthening domestic laws, human resources and financial institutions, he added.

However, Cambodian garments being less expensive in nature, there may not be much decline in orders from European countries, according to Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh.

He hoped that Europeans would not stop buying Cambodian clothes even in the midst of financial crisis.
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