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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cambodia arrested 50% more human traffickers in 9 months

PHNOM PENH -- In the first nine months of this year, Cambodian police brought 75 cases of human trafficking to court and arrested 107 traffickers, a 50 percent increase compared with the same time period last year, national media reported Tuesday.

The police have strengthened enforcement and successfully worked with local authorities nationwide, Bith Kim Hong, director of the Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

"We hope that we will keep the human trafficking situation under control in the next few years with the continued cooperation of law enforcement and local authorities," he said.

"Each human trafficker was sentenced to 10 to 28 years in prison," he added.

While the police celebrated these numbers, opposition party members said more needs to be done to end human trafficking in Cambodia.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua told the Post that, too many Cambodians are still falling victim to human traffickers.

"We have many good laws, but if we do not find out the real issue, we will not combat trafficking well," Mu Sochua said.
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Cambodia supports moving ASEAN summit

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday backed a proposal for crisis-hit Thailand to relinquish hosting a summit of the Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN originally scheduled for this month.

Thailand said last week it was delaying the meeting until March due to its ongoing political turmoil, which saw anti-government protesters occupy both of its capital's airports.

Speaking at Cambodia's national assembly, Hun Sen strongly backed a suggestion from Singapore that the bloc consider staging the summit in January at the Jakarta-based secretariat of the 10-member ASEAN.

"We understand Thailand's difficulties, but Thailand should understand the other nine members of ASEAN -- they should not become hostages of Thailand's political crisis," Hun Sen said.

"So I think the proposal of the Singaporean prime minister is a good way to resolve the problem."

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last week said postponing the summit was a setback for all of Southeast Asia.

He added that the meeting should not be delayed too long during the current global financial crisis, which he said is affecting all ASEAN members.

Thailand currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, which groups it with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

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Thai commitment to resolving the Thai-Cambodian problem concerning the Temple of Phra Viharn and its adjacent areas through peaceful means and existin

With reference to the press conference by Mr. Sompong Amornvivat, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, on 13 November 2008 regarding the outcome of the Third Thai-Cambodian Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Siem Reap on 12 November 2008, at which Mr. Sompong notified that Thailand and Cambodia were able to agree on most of the issues on the table with only two issues pending due to the deviation in substance from the negotiating framework already approved by the Thai Parliament ,and as a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have to seek the Cabinet's decision to submit the two pending issues for Parliament's consideration at the earliest opportunity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to report on the progress made on this matter as follows:

1. The Cabinet decided on 19 November 2008 to submit the outcome of the Third Thai-Cambodian Foreign Ministers' Meeting, in particular the two pending issues namely (1) the question of how the temple should be called in the Provisional Arrangements between Thailand and Cambodia - the name used by the Thai side being "Phra Viharn, while that used by the Cambodian side "Preah Vihear", and (2) the details of troop redeployment, to which Cambodia had proposed certain changes. The Parliament scheduled to consider the outcome of the Third Thai-Cambodian Foreign Ministers' Meeting on 24 November 2008. However, due to some inconveniences to the Parliament, the matter has not yet been taken up as scheduled.

2. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had consultations with a number of members of the parliament both from the government and opposition parties. The main objective of the consultations is to provide the Parliament a better understanding of the outcome of the Third Thai-Cambodian Foreign Ministers' Meeting, in particular the two pending issues, and of the necessity and urgency of its consideration. It is expected that the matter would be among the top priorities when the Parliament resumes its session.

3. The current situation in Thailand does not in any way affect Thailand's firm commitment to pursuing peaceful settlement of the matter through the existing bilateral framework and boundary mechanisms, especially the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC). The JBC held its special meeting in Siem Reap on 10-11 November 2008, the results of which were submitted by the Cabinet for Parliament's consideration at the same time as those of the FM III.

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Consolation victory for Myanmar

Substitute Myo Min Tun saved Myanmar's blushes, scoring a later winner to give his side a consolation victory against Cambodia in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Tuesday.

Goals by Moe Win and Yazar Win Thein put Myanmar in control at the Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung but Kouch Sokumpheak struck just before half-time and Khim Borey converted a penalty to draw the Cambodians level with 13 minutes left.

But Tun ensured that Myanmar would bow out of the tournament with a win when he fired home a loose ball five minutes from time.

With both sides already eliminated from the competition after losing their first two Group A games against Singapore and Indonesia, there was little at stake and little intensity during a dull first half-hour.

Myanmar had the better of the possession but very nearly fell behind in the 28th minute when Khim Borey turned Moe Win in the box and sent his low shot just wide of the right-hand post.

That scare appeared to rouse Myanmar from their slumber as striker Yan Paing made a quick burst down the left channel and fired a shot across goal that Samreth Seiha got his fingers to.

But Myanmar took the lead from the resulting corner as Yazar Win Thein floated the ball in to Moe Win, whose header from close to the penalty spot looped past goalkeeper Seiha and a defender on the line.

Yan Paing missed a glorious opportunity to extend the lead, sending an unchallenged header wide, but Thein made no mistake in the 35th minute, side-footing home after a low ball by Soe Myat Min was deflected into his path by Tieng Tiny.

It was the 11th goal conceded by Cambodia in three games but to their credit, the Indochinese side battled on and got a goal back five minutes before the break as Kouch Sokumpheak saw his initial shot saved by Htet but made no mistake with the follow-up.

Zaw Lynn Tun was fortunate to only receive a yellow card for pulling down Sokumpheak as he looked to break clear on goal seven minutes into the second half.

But an equaliser arrived in the 77th minute when Cambodia were awarded a penalty after Htet sent Sun Sovannarith sprawling in the box.

Borey maintained his composure to draw the sides level, stroking the ball down the middle as Htet dived to his left.

But with just five minutes remaining, Cambodia failed to clear their lines and Myo Min Tun capitalised to fire home the winner from six yards out.
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Russia cancels 70 percent of debt to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Russia has agreed to cancel most of Cambodia's $1.5 billion debt owed to Moscow since the 1980s, an official said Tuesday.

The vice chairman of Russian Parliament, Valery A. Yazev, told the Cambodian government during a visit last month that up to 70 percent of the debt was being canceled by Moscow, said Cheam Yeap, the chairman of the Cambodian parliament's finance commission.

Cheam Yeap was replying to questions by lawmakers in parliament during a debate on Cambodia's $1.8 billion national budget for 2009, which was approved Tuesday by the parliament's lower house.

During the 1980s, Cambodia was a close Russian ally and relied heavily on Moscow for weapons, food and infrastructure equipment.

Cambodia is one of the world's poorest countries and is heavily reliant on foreign aid.

Cambodia also owes the US government over $300 million, Cheam Yeap said, adding that most of it was borrowed in the 1970s.

He said Cambodia has asked the US government many times to reduce the debt or cancel it, but there has been no response from Washington.

Deputy Finance Minister Ouk Rabun, also speaking during the budget debate, said Cambodia owed more than $2.3 billion to various countries. This amount does not include the amounts owed to the US and the forgiven Russian debts.

In addition, the International Monetary Fund also canceled last year an $82 million debt owed by Cambodia.

Ouk Rabun said most of the debt, which is in the form of soft loans, was spent on infrastructure and social welfare projects.

"We can't leave those broken roads without repairs," he said.

Cambodia's 2009 budget includes about $400 million to be spent on health, education, agriculture and other social welfare projects. More than $200 million will be spent on national defense and security. - AP
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