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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lightning kills 4, raising death toll to 113 this year in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Lightning has killed 113 Cambodians so far this year, making 2009 one of the worst years on record for lightning deaths, local media reported on Wednesday, citing four more people have been killed by lightning since Saturday.

Kompong Thorn provincial officials reported that a 16-year-old boy living in Prasat Sambor district was struck by lightning as he walked through a rice field on Tuesday. In Battambang province's Thma Koul district, Hun Chhomm, 57, was killed as he walked home from his rice field on Sunday. And two men were killed in Prey Veng province over the weekend.

Keo Vy, deputy public relation director for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), was quoted by the Cambodia Daily as saying that the committee is concerned about the number of lightning deaths this year, especially since they are already above the 93 people reported killed by lightning in all of2008, and well above the 45 reported killed in 2007.

"This year lightning has killed more than 100 people, but it is more usual for lightning to kill around 40 people per year," said Nhim Vanda, first vice chairman of the NCDM, adding that nobody knows why there have been so many more deaths this year. However, he speculated that climate change could be a factor.

Nhim Vanda said that his officials have tried to educate the public on how to protect themselves from lightning strikes during storms.

Seth Vannareth, meteorology director at the Ministry of Water Resources, agreed that lightning deaths have been unusually high this year and said that the government is planning on holding a series of lightning prevention workshops next year that will "teach people how to escape from lightning, how to protect themselves."
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Cambodia hosts meeting to discuss microfinance amid global financial crisis

With the helps from the International Financial Corporation (IFC) and the European Union (EU), Cambodia is hosting a conference to talk on how microfinance can boost country's economy, promote financial inclusion and enhance customer protection.

The IFC which is a member of the World Bank Group is helping Cambodian microfinance institutions to strengthen their contribution to the country's socio-economic development, and expand financial services to the rural population amid the global financial crisis.

The two-day meeting, which began Wednesday, participated by representatives from the Cambodia Microfinance Association, senior microfinanciers, bankers, regulators, and local authorities.

"The microfinance sector in Cambodia has grown fast and significantly contributed to improving access to financial services for the rural population," said Chea Chanto, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia.

"The success of the sector is vital to ensuring quick financial inclusion. We have adopted legislation that enables microfinance institutions to mobilize public deposits to help them access cheaper sources of funds while allowing rural populations to safely save their hard-earned cash," he said.

Participants also shared their views and experiences on how to respond to the global financial crisis, addressing credit culture, risk and nonperforming loan management, ethical debt collection practices, financial education, and consumer protection.

"The microfinance sector, which has loans of more than 280 million U.S. dollars outstanding to about one million clients in rural areas, already has felt the impact of the global financial crisis as no performing loans have increased from under one percent one year ago to 3.8 percent as of June 2009," said Huot Ieng Tong, president of Cambodia Microfinance Association.

IFC also works with individual microfinance institutions to help them diversify and focus their strategies, expanding their product range and improving their risk management capabilities.

"While the crisis has adversely affected microfinance institutions and their borrowers, it also brings opportunities for them to review their lending practices and risk and nonperforming loan management systems so they become more resilient to future crises," said Russell Muir, IFC Acting Head of Advisory Services for East Asia and Pacific.

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Southeast Asian Mobile Sector to Surpass 453 Million Subs, US$32 Billion in 2009, Frost & Sullivan Predicts

SINGAPORE, Southeast Asia's (SEA) mobile users are expected to hit 453.3 million subscribers by the close of this year, growing 18.4 percent over 2008. Billings are estimated to grow by 13.6 percent year-on-year to top US$32 billion by year-end.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, 2009 Southeast Asia Wireless Outlook, finds that the mobile subscriber base in the region - covering seven Southeast Asian nations - grew 36 percent year-on-year to reach 383 million users in 2008, for a corresponding mobile penetration of 72.5 percent. By the close of year 2014, Frost & Sullivan estimates SEA's mobile subscribers to reach 606 million, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of eight percent (2009-2014).

SEA's mobile services grossed an estimated US$28.3 billion in revenues in 2008, and are forecasted to reach billings of US$36.2 billion by end-2014, at a CAGR of 4.2 percent (2009-2014).

If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides a brief synopsis and a table of content of the research on the Southeast Asia wireless market, then send an e-mail to Sarah Lourdes at, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website and country. Upon receipt of the above information, a brochure will be sent to you by e-mail.

The diversity of SEA markets means that growth will be driven by a mix of subscriber net additions of consumers in the rural districts - many of whom will receive mobile connectivity for the first time as networks continue to expand beyond major urban areas - as well as the increase in data usage and higher-end services brought on by 3G.

Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Shaker Amin explains, "In saturated markets like Singapore and Malaysia with mobile penetration already at 131 percent and 97.8 percent respectively, growth, although marginal, will largely be fuelled by user migration to 3G, mobile broadband uptake and generally, the higher consumer appetite for mobile content and data services.

"On the other extreme, growing markets like Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, with mobile penetration well below 75 percent and even lower fixed broadband penetration, are likely to see growth in new subscriber additions," he says, adding that these users are predominantly low-ARPU (average revenue per user) prepaid subscribers.

Amin believes that mobile usage in these growing markets will continue to be dominated by voice and basic text messaging services. He says, "Although 3G will be making its entry into many of these markets, it will be some years still before 3G services become commonplace."

Only about six percent (22.9 million) of SEA's total mobile users last year were 3G subscribers.

The race to roll-out 3G services in the hugely competitive growing markets however shows no signs of abating. Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam - each have no less than six mobile operators; Indonesia the most with eleven. "As operators compete fiercely to enrol new subscribers, 3G will be the technology to eventually deliver [mobile] broadband to the rural communities that are not likely to ever receive fixed broadband access," Amin adds.

In 2008, SEA accounted for approximately 21.5 percent of the total mobile users in Asia-Pacific (18 countries).

The 2009 Southeast Asia Wireless Outlook study is part of the Mobile & Wireless Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: WiMAX, mobile content, mobile advertising, mobile broadband, smartphones, mobile CAPEX (capital expenditure), 3G-embedded devices and LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The company's Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO's Growth Team with disciplined research and best practice models to drive the generation, evaluation, and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 35 offices on six continents. To join our Growth Partnership, please visit

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Former Premier’s Daughter Speaks Against Duch

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer

Antonya Tioulong, whose father was the prime minister in 1962, told the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday that Duch’s crimes as a prison administrator were unpardonable.

One of seven daughters of former premier Tioulong Nhiek, Tioulong filed as a civil party complainant in the case, having lost a sister and brother-in-law in the killing machine of Tuol Sleng prison.

Prosecutors say 12,380 people were sent to their deaths at the prison.

“We must teach the new generation of Cambodians that this crime is not pardonable,” she told the court. “The criminal must recognize [his crime], and there must be justice for that.”

Tioulong works for L’Express newspaper in France and is the sister of Tioulong Somura, the wife of Sam Rainsy and an opposition lawmaker.

“I beg the [Trial] Chamber to issue a verdict fitting the crimes committed by the accused,” Antonya Tioulong told the court.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, accepted the testimony, but he said Tioulong’s sister, Rainsy, died from illness.

Tioulong’s testimony follows statements from another civil party complainant on Monday, New Zealander Robert Hamill, whose brother was one of the few foreigners killed at Tuol Sleng.

Hamill told the court he wanted Duch to experience the same punishments his prisoners were subject to, including electrocution of the genitals, forced eating of feces, suffocation in water and a guillotine.

“I want you to have this pain; I want you to suffer,” he said in court.

There are no allowances for corporeal punishment under the tribunal—the maximum punishment is a life sentence—though Duch told the court last week he would accept stoning from the Cambodian people for his crimes.

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Lightning strikes kill 113 in Cambodia in 2009

Phnom Penh - Lightning has killed 113 people so far this year in Cambodia, making 2009 the worst in recent years for deaths attributable to the natural phenomenon, national media reported. Four more people have been struck and killed by lightning since Saturday, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported, including a 16-year-old youth walking two cows across a rice field on Tuesday.

The government's National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) said 93 people died last year from lightning strikes, more than double the 45 who were killed in 2007.

The deputy head of the NCDM, Nhim Vanda, said it was unclear why numbers are rising year on year, but said climate change could in part be to blame.

"This year lightning has killed more than 100 people, but it is more usual for lightning to kill around 40 people per year," Nhim Vanda told the newspaper.

He said the government is making efforts to educate Cambodians about the dangers of lightning, and how to protect themselves in the event of a storm.

"Everyone should turn off TVs, radios and telephones, and refrain from touching metal objects during rainstorms," he said.

The government will hold a series of workshops next year to educate people about the dangers of lightning.
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