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Friday, January 16, 2009

Baker Tilly sets up Cambodian audit firm

LOCAL audit firm Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng has set up an office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

There are only 21 approved audit firms in Cambodia and Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng is one the international firms that has successfully registered as an audit firm in Cambodia, a statement issued by the company yesterday said.

Inspector General to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hong Panharith was the guest of honour at the official opening of the office in the Cambodian capital Thursday night.

Also present at the event were Bun Honn, the Secretary of State under Ministry of Justice; Sok Soken, Acting Director of Cabinet, Ministry of Commerce; Lim Samkol, Ambassador of Cambodia to Korea; and Teh Sing, President of Malaysia Business Council of Cambodia.

Three Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng Malaysia Group partners have been also admitted as certified public accountants and approved auditors with Kampuchea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors, namely Executive Partner Andrew Heng, Partner Lock Peng Kuan, and Associate Partner Joe Heng.

Hong Panharith in his opening remarks expressed hope that Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng would contribute to the growth of corporate governance in the Cambodian commercial sector and in the large economy.

“This awareness and institution of corporate governance in our economy would assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international corporation to promote Cambodia as an investment destination,” he was quoted saying in the statement.

Andrew Heng said the office in Cambodia will be assisting the international corporations in the country.

Since the early 1990s, Cambodia has enjoyed over a decade of high average economic growth - 7.1 per cent - driven largely by construction, tourism and since the late 1990s, a rapidly emerging garment sector.

There is an increase in private investment in response to an improved investment climate, with government reforms beginning to show results.

Budgetary performance continued to improve in 2005 with the overall fiscal deficit estimated at 3.1 per cent of gross domestic product, narrower than the average of the previous five years.

“Cambodian stock exchange is planning to commence in December 2009. We are hoping to capture the pie of the pre-IPO transactions in the privatisation of enterprises as well as the international corporations,” said Lock Peng Kuan.

“In view of the global economic slowdown, it will be good strategy to invest in developing market like Cambodia,” he said.

Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng Group (BTMH) was first established in 1978 and is currently one of the leading firms of Accountants and Consultants in Malaysia.

Drawing on the talent of more than 200 people in Malaysia, Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng Group provides a full range of professional services which include audit & taxation, corporate advisory, forensics & investigation, corporate recovery, restructuring & insolvency.— Bernama
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The Neglect Of Cambodia In Its Hour Of Need

By Sam Oglesby, For The Bulletin

If the story of Cambodia were not wrapped in a veil of tears, its recent history might sound like a comic farce combining the Alice in Wonderland fantasy with the tin pot antics of the half-mad, half-genius monarch depicted by Peter Sellers in The Mouse That Roared.

Norodom Sihanouk, the god-King of Cambodia, has presided over his country from the idyllic, hot-house days of French colonial rule in the 1950s, through the blood-drenched Killing Fields of the 1970s when one-third of the Khmer population perished, to the heady carpet-bagger capitalism of the 21st century. Now in his 80s, the seemingly immortal King Father’s cackle still can be heard around the world as he levitates from palaces in unlikely places like Pyongyang and Beijing to the sultry splendor of Phnom Penh and the cosmopolitan reaches of the French Riviera and Manhattan.

Crazy like a fox might best describe this master politician who also happens to be an accomplished film maker. As he giggles, fussing over his guests’ drinks and playing the consummate host, who would guess that Sihanouk is plotting, scheming and planning. By hook or crook, he has saved his country from annihilation and has presciently helped to put in place the foundations for a stable, prosperous Cambodia.

How Sihanouk maneuvers as puppeteer, manipulating the various actors dancing in the shadows of the Cambodian political drama, is related in compelling detail by Benny Widyono in Dancing in Shadows – Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge and the United Nations in Cambodia (Brown & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 322 pages, $29.95).
Mr. Widyono was a senior United Nations official present in Cambodia during the 1990s when the U.N. started a massive effort to restore peace and orchestrate the elections that set the kingdom on a path to stability and prosperity. The author not only hob-nobbed with royalty and ambassadors during his five-year assignment, he also frequented street markets and roadside food stalls, talking to taxi drivers and vendors about their hopes and fears, taking the pulse of the population in his capacity as U.N. peace-keeper and subsequently as the U.N. Secretary General’s special representative. His memoir is a fascinating account of how a devastated country put itself back together again; it is also a perceptive treatise on how the world — the U.N. and the great powers, not to mention the globe’s one super power — should deal with conflict and human disasters. The valuable lessons to be learned from this book should be carefully studied by the international community so that future conflicts, wherever they might occur, may be minimized to prevent suffering and death.

The horrors of the Cambodian holocaust (1975-79) were well known by the world, having been grimly documented by refugees who escaped the clutches of the Khmer Rouge’s insane regime of terror, where even grandmothers and small children were clubbed to death by teenaged soldiers at the behest of Pol Pot and his henchman. By the end of the five-year nightmare, which was terminated by Hun Sen’s forces, backed by the Vietnamese military, more than two million innocent people had been slaughtered. Cities were deserted, hospitals and schools had been destroyed, educated professionals had been eliminated — anyone wearing glasses was shot by the Khmer Rouge — and the country had been reduced to rubble.

What was the international community’s response to this human tragedy? Was relief and humanitarian assistance offered to the suffering survivors? Were emergency medical supplies and food aid delivered to those who huddled at death’s door? Incredibly, almost nothing was done. Even more unbelievable, after their defeat, the Khmer Rouge butchers continued to occupy Cambodia’s seat at the U.N., as China, the U.S. and most European countries (except France) voted to permit diplomats of the Khmer Rouge regime to continue to represent the country they had decimated. The “Cambodian problem” — euphemistically so described in U.N. corridors — was deemed to be the Vietnamese occupation and not the Khmer Rouge genocide. Pure and simple, Cambodia had become a pawn and a victim of Cold War power politics.

With the U.S. and China facing off against a crumbling Soviet Union, the decade of the 1980s resulted in a diplomatic stalemate when nothing was done to ease the suffering in Cambodia. Although the fighting had subsided, poverty and starvation had taken hold in a tiny country that had received more bombs than the Allies had dropped during the Second World War. The most heavily mined country in the world, people limping on crutches or moving about pitifully in makeshift wheelchairs were everywhere. The irony of being a starving neighbor of Southeast Asia’s prosperous “tigers” — where annual growth rates were bounding above 10 percent — was almost too bitter to contemplate.

Entering deus ex machina — like in 1992, the arrival of 20,000 U.N. personnel, dubbed by locals as the “invasion of the white cars” since all U.N. vehicles, even helicopters and airplanes were painted white — signaled a long-awaited rescue effort that should have occurred a decade earlier. Its mandate was to organize and carry out free and fair elections for a National Assembly, disarm the warring Cambodian factions, restore human rights and begin the path to reconstruction and national development.

By 1998 with elections successfully conducted, the Cambodia nightmare was over. With the dissolution of the Khmer Rouge and other rebellious factions, the kingdom was once again at peace, having transitioned from a post-conflict society into a developing country with the standard problems of widespread corruption and continuing pockets of rural poverty.

Author Widyono examines Cambodia’s sad experience from an Asian perspective and, in doing so, offers valuable lessons for diplomats and foreign affairs gurus to contemplate. In setting forth an Asian model for development where the priorities of growth, democracy and human rights must be properly balanced with the cultural and religious environment of a society, he postulates, by implication, that each region of the world must be approached, taking into account the prevailing local ethos. When it comes to providing foreign aid, “one size does not fit all”; what is right for Uncle Sam is not necessarily right for Afghans or Africans. When offering help to others, proceed with caution and sensitivity, but don’t dither for a decade while people are dying.

Sam Oglesby, a long-time resident of Southeast Asia, writes on international politics and development. His e-mail can be reached at

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Vietnam, Cambodia boost neighborliness

HANOI, Comprehensive cooperation and border demarcation were two of the topics in the spotlight during discussions between Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong and Cambodian National Assembly President Samdech Heng Samrin, the Vietnam News Agency reported on Friday.

Samdech Heng Samrin paid an official friendship visit to Vietnam from Jan. 15 to Jan. 19, at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong.

Trong praised Samdech Heng Samrin's outstanding contributions to strengthening and developing the friendship and cooperation between the two countries, after congratulating him on his re-election as Chairman of Cambodia National Assembly.

Vietnam always nurtures the traditional friendly ties and comprehensive cooperation with Cambodia under the motto of "good neighborliness, traditional friendship and comprehensive and long-lasting cooperation", said Trong.

Heng Samrin spoke highly of cooperation between the two legislatures, focusing on a range of activities, including the exchange of high-level National Assembly delegations and delegations of National Assembly agencies and friendship parliamentarians' groups, the arranging of visits for researchers to exchange experiences and the hosting of seminars and meetings for National Assembly agencies to exchange views.

Regarding border demarcation, the two sides expressed satisfaction on initial results of land border demarcation and marker planting conducted by joint efforts of the two countries in the past years.

Heng Samrin said that the successful settlement of the boundary issue is expected to reach by 2012.

The approval of the supplementary land border treaty by the two sides will help to realize Vietnam-Cambodia land border determination treaty and nurture the time-honored friendship, said Trong.

Heng Samrin expressed his thanks to Vietnam for its sincere assistance to the Cambodian people in their past struggles and during their current goal of national construction and development.

Trong concluded the discussions by expressing his thanks to Cambodia for its support to Vietnam's course of development in the past years, especially helping Vietnam gather and return home remains of Vietnam soldiers left in Cambodia.
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