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Monday, February 22, 2010

China seeks Cambodian concession to grow rubber

PHNOM PENH, Feb 22 - China is in discussions with Cambodia to acquire a 60,000 hectare (148,300 acre) land concession to grow rubber and help meet rising domestic demand, a senior official said on Monday.

China's ambassador to Cambodia had expressed interest in Cambodian rubber plantations that could produce as much as 60,000 tonnes for export, said Ly Phalla, director general of Cambodia's General Department of Rubber.

"The demand for rubber is high in China, especially in the production of tyres," Ly Phalla told Reuters.

He said Cambodia exported 42,000 tonnes of rubber in 2008, up from 40,000 tonnes in 2007. Last year's figure is not yet available.

In comparison, neighbouring Thailand, the world's biggest exporter of the commodity, shipped 2.74 million tonnes in 2009.

The mooted deal comes as the impoverished country seeks to modernise and expand its agricultural sector, its biggest currency earner ahead of tourism and garments, with moves to boost production of sugar and rice, mainly for export.

Some 11 Vietnamese companies announced earlier this month they had obtained separate land concessions totalling 100,000 hectares to grow rubber in Cambodia.

Ly Phalla said some of the companies had been operating in the country since 2007 and had so far utilised 10,000 hectares of the total 100,000 hectares awarded. He said Cambodia now had a total of 127,000 hectares set aside for rubber plantations.

Vietnamese investments in Cambodia were worth $210 million in 2009, mostly in rubber and mining, up from only $21 million in 2008, said Le Bien Cuong, head of commerce at the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh.

He said Vietnamese exports to Cambodia totalled $1.1 billion last year, with Cambodia exporting only $172 million worth of goods to its neighbour.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Dec. 26 over planned Vietnamese investments worth more than $6 billion.

China is currently Cambodia's biggest source of foreign direct investment, having so far pumped $4.3 billion into its nascent economy, which grew in double digits for four successive years prior to the global economic slowdown.
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Angelina Jolie Reunites With Dad Jon Voight

After not speaking to each other in years, Angelina Jolie has finally let her father Jon Voight back into her life.

Jolie and her estranged dad stepped out in public for the first time since 2001 this weekend in Venice.

Jolie, Voight, Pitt and the kids looked like a big happy family enjoying time together on a boat trip down the city's Grand Canal.

A source said: “Since Brad and Angelina have been together, he has been encouraging her to smooth things over with her dad. And when it comes to the kids, Brad wants them to know their grandfather the way the kids know his parents.”

Jolie cut Voight out of her life after he made a comment about her mental well being when she adopted little Maddox from Cambodia in 2001.

Jon said at the time: “I haven't come forward and addressed the serious mental problems she has spoken about so candidly to the press over the years, but I've tried behind the scenes in every way.”

He's been trying to make amends for years, and it looks like Jolie has finally come around to forgiving him.

With all the breakup and 'Jolie Depressed' rumors we've been hearing in the past few months, it's great to see that she's finally letting her father back into her life. Her kids deserve to know their grandfather.
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Malaria causes nearly 300 deaths in Cambodia in 2009

Cambodian government said Monday that malaria, one of the country's deadly diseases has caused nearly 300 deaths in Cambodia in 2009.

Duong Socheat, director of National Malaria Center said some 280 Cambodians died from malaria last year, a sharp increase from a year earlier that recorded only about 200.

He said the number of infection by the disease was also a big jump from more than 50,000 in 2008 to about 80,000 in 2009.

He blamed the sharp increase of the infections and the deaths by the mosquito-transmitted disease to the early rainfalls and the migration of people to the disease infected areas.

Six of the country's 24 provinces are considered as the areas severely affected by the disease. Those provinces are identified as Kompong Cham, Koh Kong, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, and Kratie.

Duong Socheat, meanwhile, blamed the late arrivals of mosquito distributions to the areas.

Cambodia's Millennium Development Goal target for malaria fatalities is 0.1 per cent by 2015.

Source: Xinhua
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Thailand providing psychiatrist to Thai convicted in Cambodia

BANGKOK, Feb 22 (TNA) - The Thai government will provide a psychiatrist to a Thai national convicted and sentenced by a Cambodian court to 20 years in jail for planting landmines along the Thai-Cambodian border after learning that he is has mental health problems, according to Chavanont Intarakomalsut, secretary to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Mr Chavanont said representatives of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh had visited Suphap Wongsaprapa on Friday and after talking with him the consular officials found him to be confused and unable to relate the incident in a coherent manner.

He said the ministry had earlier received information that Mr Suphap had a case history as a mental patient and was previously admitted as a patient at a hospital in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen.

If the government could prove that Mr Suphap had mental disorders, it could provide an option for requesting the Cambodian government to reduce his jail term, he said.

In addition, Mr Chavanont noted that while Mr Suphap is a civilian, he was sentenced by a Cambodian military court.

Mr Chavanont said the Thai embassy would coordinate to help him appeal the verdict and requested the Cambodian government to allow a psychiatrist from Thailand, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or any international organisation to visit and check whether he is suffering mental illness in order to ask for humanitarian assiastance.

He added that Mr Suphap has a criminal record, as he was jailed for five years for striking his father, after which he disappeared from sight. No one could contact him for 10 years from the time he was released from jail until he was arrested in Cambodia.

International media reported that 39-year-old Suphap was sentenced to 20 years in a Cambodian jail after he confessed in proceedings that he had planted at least five landmines in Cambodia's Anlong Veng town near areas claimed by both countries.

The news service said that he was arrested one year ago and that the Khmer authorities charged him with attempted murder, endangering national security and entering Cambodia illegally.

The Cambodian court record was quoted as saying Mr Suphap was arrested by Cambodian border guards just a few metres inside the country while carrying a land mine on February 27 last year. (TNA)
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