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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thai court seizes more than half of Thaksin's fortune

BANGKOK: Thailand's top court on Friday seized $1.4 billion in assets belonging to the family of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra for abuse of his power, far less than expected, in a decision that could appease some anti-government forces.

The court said Thaksin had concealed his ownership of shares in his family telecommunications conglomerate Shin Corp during his five years in office and geared government policies to benefit the company, but ruled that $900 million amassed before his premiership be unfrozen.

Authorities said major violence was unlikely in response to the ruling but mobilised thousands of police and troops to pre-empt any backlash by supporters of the 60-year-old fugitive at the centre of a five-year political crisis in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

Prior to the ruling, analysts said any decision allowing Thaksin's family to keep a portion of the assets would be more favourable for markets in the short term by reducing the risk of an imminent showdown in Thailand's divisive colour-coded crisis.

"The partial seizure of the assets should be what financial markets prefer because both sides can claim victory," said Prapas Tonpibulsak, chief investment officer at Ayudhya Fund Management.

The judges said Thaksin had abused his power in all five major cases against him, which included shaping telecoms and satellite policies, including concessions fees and state loans, to benefit Shin Corp.

Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup and convicted in absentia of graft, has denied the charges from self-imposed exile in Dubai.
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Thai court begins lengthy hearing on Thaksin verdict

BANGKOK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Judges in Thailand's Supreme Court began reading a verdict on Friday afternoon that will decide whether the government can seize $2.3 billion of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra's frozen family assets.

The nine-judge panel began reading the long-awaited verdict at around 1:30 p.m. (0630 GMT). It could take several hours before a decision on the assets is announced.

The twice-elected Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup and convicted in absentia of graft, is believed to be in Dubai and says he will fight any confiscation of the assets.

Thousands of police and soldiers are on alert across Bangkok, ready to tackle any violence by supporters of the 60-year-old former telecommunications mogul at the centre of a five-year political crisis in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

The pro-Thaksin "red shirt" movement, which forced a regional summit to be abandoned last April and staged protests that sparked Thailand's worst street violence in 17 years, plans a mass rally in Bangkok on March 14 but says it will not protest on Friday [ID:nSGE61N09L].

Other Thaksin supporters, however, plan to gather in Bangkok.

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Cambodia Not Ready for Munitions Pact: Official

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer

Cambodiais not ready to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions, due to stockpiles it is currently holding, a senior government official said Thursday.

Cambodia is still assessing the cost and means associated with finding a replacement to its current munitions, Prak Sokhon, vice president of the Cambodia Mine Action Authority, said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

We need more time to study the number of cluster munitions we have and if we need to replace them in order for us to sign the convention,” he said.

The government also needs to know “how much money and time we need to replace the munitions with the ones that are not banned,” he said. “Once we have these, we can then sign it.”
The UN took the opportunity on National Mine Awareness Day on Wednesday to renew an appeal for Cambodiato renew its commitment to the eliminating cluster munitions.

“We urge Cambodiato sign and ratify as soon as possible the Convention on Cluster Munitions to demonstrate its commitment to a peaceful and secure world,” the UN said in a statement.

Cambodiais peppered with landmines, remnants of decades of civil strife, though the number of mine- and ordnance-related fatalities has dropped over the past four years, falling from 450 in 2006 to 243 in 2009.

The decrease was due to better demining operations, law enforcement and coordination in identifying mined areas, Prak Sokhon said.

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Cambodia SKorea bilateral trade soars

Cambodian exports to South Korea surged 391 percent in January compared with the same month last year.

Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency says the 4 point 3 million dollar rise comes amid an overall increase in bilateral trade between the two countries.

Korea Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia says rising demand from North America has also help spur the recovery in trade.

South Korea runs garment factories in the Kingdom, and Cambodia in turn imports raw materials for its primary export industry, so trade between the two is highly dependent on demand from the United States and Canada.

Last month rubber was Cambodia's largest export to South Korea indicating the Kingdom's intention to move into other export industries, particularly agricultural products.
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Vietnam to help build Cambodian Assembly's information infrastructure

Hanoi is gripping tighter on Cambodia by trying to tap every piece of information from Cambodian National Assembly. Yuon will collect all internal and external secret intelligence from Cambodian National Assembly to control the state of Cambodia.

The National Assemblies of Vietnam and Cambodia will start a project to install network equipment for information processing and Intranet access at all agencies of the Cambodia National Assembly.

The agreement was reached between the two countries' legislators during a visit to Cambodia by a Vietnam National Assembly delegation this week.

The 300 thousand dollar project is funded by the Vietnam National Assembly.

In the first phase Vietnam will supply servers, computers and transmission lines to Cambodia, this year.

In the second phase next year Vietnam will complete the installation of equipment for the Intranet to support information processing between Cambodia's National Assembly agencies.
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