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Monday, August 23, 2010

Intertek Expands Services in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Intertek, the leading provider of quality and safety solutions to a wide range of industries worldwide, has opened a new office in Cambodia. Intertek’s new Cambodia facility provides inspection, testing and certification services to the petroleum, agriculture and minerals industries. The new operation complements the growing network of Intertek service locations in Southeast Asia and the world.

Intertek expertise provides clients with important rapid-turnaround services such as bulk cargo quality and quantity inspections for various high-value commodities, along with analytical laboratory expertise serving local and regional clients.

The new Phnom Penh facility extends Intertek’s existing capabilities for inspection, testing and certification services of other products in Cambodia, including consumer goods, and finished products like textile and garments

Mr. Marc Hoffer, Vice President for Intertek’s Oil, Chemical and Agri division in Asia, said, “Customers in Cambodia and the Asia Pacific region benefit from Intertek’s extensive experience in cargo inspection and laboratory testing services, helping them ensure product quality, safety and custody transfer needs to markets around the world.”

Jay Gutierrez, Executive Vice President of Intertek’s Oil, Chemical and Agri division, said, “The new Cambodia facility is a welcome addition to our global network of service locations, helping Intertek provide key client services to growing markets and industries.”

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About Intertek:

Intertek (ITRK.L) is a leading provider of quality and safety solutions serving a wide range of industries around the world. From auditing and inspection, to testing, quality assurance and certification, Intertek people add value to customers' products and processes, supporting their success in the global marketplace. Intertek has the expertise, resources and global reach to support customers through its network of more than 1,000 laboratories and offices and over 26,000 people in more than 100 countries.
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Thailand, Cambodia resume diplomatic ties


BANGKOK: Thailand said it would resume diplomatic ties with Cambodia from Tuesday, after the Cambodian government announced fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had resigned as Cambodia’s economic adviser.

Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each other’s countries on Nov. 5 after Thaksin, a billionaire on the run from a two-year prison sentence for abuse of power, was appointed economic adviser to Cambodianm Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The appointment riled Thailand’s leaders who accuse Thaksin of organizing and funding a red-shirted, anti-government protest movement whose street demonstrations in central Bangkok turned deadly over April and May.

“They have announced they do not have any more ties with Thaksin so our condition to hold back a diplomat has ended,” Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told Reuters on Monday.

“Thailand will send our diplomat back tomorrow. Similarly, Cambodia will also send its diplomat back to Thailand.” Thaksin lives mainly in self-imposed exile in Dubai but is still immensely popular among Thailand’s rural poor. His supporters held nine weeks of street protests in Bangkok that turned violent over April and May, sparking clashes with troops in which 91 people were killed and nearly 2,000 wounded.

The diplomatic row started on Oct. 23 when Hun Sen shocked a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Thailand’s resort city of Hua Hin by announcing the Cambodian leader had offered Thaksin a job as an adviser, a slap in the face to the summit’s Thai hosts.

The row deepened two weeks later, when Cambodia confirmed Thaksin had been made a personal adviser to Hun Sen and an economic adviser to the government, and said it would reject any request to extradite him on the grounds his removal in a 2006 coup and subsequent graft conviction were politically motivated. That brought a rebuke from Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who recalled Thailand’s ambassador and said the Cambodian government had “intervened in Thai justice” and hurt the feelings of the Thai people.

On Monday, Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thaksin had asked to resign from the role. “We agreed to that,” he said.

A Cambodian government statement said Thaksin had “provided important contributions such as ideas, vision and experience to promote Cambodia’s competitiveness in commerce, agriculture and tourism.” Thaksin had attracted investors to Cambodia, it added.

“Whenever Thailand sends back its ambassador, Cambodia will follow,” Cambodia Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said. But he added that Thaksin was “still a good friend” of Hun Sen’s.
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In Scarred Land, a Haven for Victims of Acid Burns

By Seth Mydans

TRAPAENG VENG, Cambodia — Touch Eap stroked her husband’s scarred and discolored back as she described the night six years ago when she poured a tub of acid over his head, burning off his eyes and ears and lips and leaving him as dependent on her as a child.

“I wanted to kill him,” she said. “I didn’t want to injure him. He said he would kill me, and I thought, better to kill him first so that I can take care of the children.”

She smiled ruefully as she talked; his drunkenness and threats were an old memory. Her husband, Phoeung Phoeur, 45, opened his mouth in what may also have been a smile.

“I’m sorry for him,” said Ms. Touch Eap, 46, who grows vegetables to support her husband and three children, “and I try to take care of him.”

It was a moment of domestic tranquillity here in Cambodia’s only shelter for acid burn victims, where a dozen other mutilated residents napped or sang or hung their heads backward in an exercise to help keep their scarred necks flexible.

Cambodia, along with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, has a history of acid attacks — a rare and extreme form of revenge or punishment.

An increase in the number of reported attacks in Cambodia, with 17 so far this year, has drawn attention to this shelter, the nonprofit Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The center has been advising the government in drafting a law that is making its way slowly through the legislature. The proposed law would restrict sales of acid — now widely and cheaply available — require warning labels and impose sentences of up to life in prison for the most severe attacks.

The center’s residents, who receive medical and psychological care, physical therapy, and occupational training, are just a few of the more than 280 known victims in Cambodia of a form of revenge that illustrates an undercurrent of violence that courses through this wounded society. Experts say the true number is certainly far higher.

“This is a traumatized culture,” said Pin Domnang, chief of programs and administration at the center, referring to decades of mass killings and civil war. “When something happens, the only response is violence. Violence can solve their problems. Violence can make them feel better.”

Short of murder, advocates say, an acid attack is the most devastating form of aggression, transforming the victim into a figure of horror and an outcast in a society that often sees disfigurement as a form of karmic justice.

That thought is an unexpected comfort to one of the survivors here, Soum Bunnarith, 41, a former salesman whose wife blinded him with acid five years ago in a rage of jealousy. “I ask myself, ‘Why me?’ ” he said. “But then I think maybe I did terrible things in a past life, and that thought helps me to accept this.”

Some, rejected and without family members to care for them, take their lives in despair, Mr. Pin Domnang said. “Their identity changes, their whole life changes,” he said. “It is difficult to control the food in their mouths. Sometimes it spills out.

“Their families don’t want to see them, don’t want to come to visit them,” he said. “The trauma in their spirit is like they are gone. They don’t want to live on this earth any more.”

Others, spurred by anger, try to pursue their attackers in court. Under current laws, acid attacks are generally treated as civil assault cases in which the victim must press charges. In a system governed by power, money and influence, there have been few convictions. Nevertheless, the center’s medical and legal manager, Dr. Horng Lairapo, has been encouraging victims to file new cases and revive old ones.

One of those victims is Mean Sok Reoun, 35, who was attacked and blinded by her husband’s former wife 15 years ago. Until recently, she said, her attacker had lived freely after paying a bribe to the police, while Ms. Mean Sok Reoun endured 40 operations.

“I saw her clearly running away,” said Ms. Mean Sok Reoun, whose eyes moved rapidly behind a curtain of skin as she talked. “But then I saw only shadows. And then I was blind.”

Ziad Samman, the center’s project manager, said, “The attacks are not always the products of jealous rage; some grow out of other personal or business disputes.”

Acid is widely available for uses like maintaining machinery, clearing drains and polishing jewelry. It is used in the processing of rubber, and a high proportion of attacks have come in areas near plantations, according to the center. In rural areas where there is no electricity, acid fuels the car batteries that are used to power television sets.

It was battery acid that Ms. Touch Eap said she poured over her husband’s head as he sat drinking in their home six years ago, a large knife by his side.

“ ‘Do what I say or I’ll kill you’ — those were the last words I said to her,” said Mr. Phoeung Phoeur, joining his wife in the narrative as their 13-year-old daughter, Per Srey Ai, looked on.

If he was going to live, Mr. Phoeung Phoeur said, he realized he needed his wife. As soon as he reached the hospital, he begged a friend to pay the police to set her free. Ms. Touch Eap returned to him, and she has nursed and supported her husband ever since she tried to kill him.

She was with him at the hospital when doctors told him he had only hours left to live, and she walked alongside him as neighbors carried him home in a hammock to die. She lighted incense and prayed beside him as he slipped in and out of consciousness until, defying the doctors’ predictions, he returned to life.

“We called all the family around him,” she said, remembering that dark evening. “We were all waiting around him, waiting for him to die. I was so afraid he was going to die.”
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