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Friday, October 15, 2010

Chaotic But Widespread Voting in Philippines: Monitor

Despite concern raised by critics, a Cambodian election expert says Cambodia's process is better than some, particularly the Philippines.

“Because in the Philippines, there is behavior that does not follow procedures and the election law, so they can't compare to Cambodia,” said Keo Darith, a monitoring coordinator for the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

Cambodia's electoral organization is orderly, better equipped and includes secret ballot booths, he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” Keo Darith recently monitored an election in the Philippines.

Cambodia is preparing for commune elections in 2012 and national elections the following year. In past elections, some groups, including the opposition, have complained of registration and voter-list flaws that denied some the right to vote.

The National Election Committee this month has begun to register new voters, in a process that ends Oct. 20.

The Philippines, which has been a democracy since 1946, operates in a system of electoral anarchy, where folded papers are used as ballots and 10-year-old children vote in lieu of their parents, Keo Darith said.

For all that, voters are more attentive than in Cambodia, which in recent years has seen a drop-off in election participation and where access to voting information is limited, he said.

Keo Darith said he supports a computerized voter list equipped with biometrics that would make it easier for people to vote.
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Council of Ministers Approves $2.3-Billion Budget for 2011

Last month, September, Cambodia purchased 94 T-55 tanks from eastern Europe to bolster its military capacity.

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a draft budget of more than $2.3 billion for 2011, an increase of $445 million over the year before.

The Council approved military and security spending of $298 million, including $185 million for the Ministry of Defense.

The Ministry of Interior was budgeted $111 million, the Ministry of Health $165 million and the Ministry of education $218 million.

Defense and security spending reflected an increase of $22 million over the previous year, the largest increase overall.

Spending for the Ministry of Interior rose $1 million, while the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education saw increases of $21 million and $20 million, respectively.
Read more! - Runners Raise Money for Landmine Survivors in Cambodia

Experienced and amateur runners will be stretching off and warming up in preparation for the Angkor Wat half marathon taking placing at the start of December can reveal.

PHUKET, THAILAND, The race will see competitors sprinting from the start line to gain an early lead before settling into a more gradual pace as runners take to the course to raise essential funds for people affected by landmines.

Cambodia has one of the highest percentages of people maimed by anti-personnel land mines in the world and the country is still littered with the devices resulting in more people needing help. The race aims to support people who have been injured with medical care and provide prosthetic limbs which need replacing every three to four years.

The money raised from race entry fees and from runners collecting sponsorship money is donated to the Hearts of Gold charity.

Athletes will be trying to complete the 21km course in the shortest time possible which starts and finishes from the world famous Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. For people that feel they can't tackle the whole half marathon distance but still want to take part there is a 10km run for men and women and also a 3km run for families.

Spectators staying in a Siem Reap hotel can also see contestants taking part in the 21km wheelchair race and all events are being held on 5th December 2010.

Lek Boonlert, marketing head at commented: "The race is for a great cause and generates much needed funds for landmine victims. Hundreds of people will be taking part and hotel accommodation will be getting booked up so any visitors heading to the city should make an early online reservation."

About DirectRoomsDirectRooms an independent discount hotel Reservations Company based in Asia. Established and online since 2000 with over 50,000 hotels worldwide.

For further information

please contact Lek Boonlert:Email: email us hereTel: + 66 (0)76 241 145. Read more!

Foreign visitors to Angkor Wat rise by a quarter to 804,000

Phnom Penh - The number of foreign tourists visiting the Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia's key tourist attraction, climbed 24 per cent in the first nine months of this year, local media reported Friday.

The Apsara Authority, which manages the temples, told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that 804,000 people had visited the complex this year compared with 649,000 in the same period last year.

However Bun Narith, who heads the Apsara Authority, said the impact on revenues was unclear.
'(For example) some 200 to 300 government delegations attended meetings in Siem Reap, and they visit Angkor Wat for free,' he said.

The president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents said up to 80 per cent of foreign tourists visit Angkor Wat, which is situated outside Siem Reap town in western Cambodia.
'Most guests think they haven't seen Cambodia if they miss visiting Angkor Wat,' Ang Kim Eang said.

The number of tourists to the kingdom is up 15 per cent this year, but big-spending visitors from the United States and the United Kingdom are down 4 per cent. The average foreign tourist spends 112 dollars a day when in-country.

Most of this year's increase in tourist numbers has come from neighbouring Vietnam, whose citizens typically spend less and do not stay as long.

The government is targeting 2.4 million tourists this year, 11 per cent up on last year.
Tourism is one of Cambodia's four economic pillars, along with agriculture, garment manufacturing and construction. Agriculture was the only pillar not badly hit by the 2008 global economic crisis.
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Union rejects industry offer

THE Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said yesterday that it would drop all complaints related to last month’s strikes in exchange for apologies from workers and unions, an offer a prominent union leader said had been rejected.

GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said the offer had come following “several meetings” with union leaders and government officials convened in an attempt to resolve the outstanding disputes within the industry.

“We have two main conditions that we deem necessary. Firstly would be at the confederation level, we need a letter of apology ... not to us, but rather to all stakeholders,” Loo said.

“Secondly, at the enterprise level, the workers in question at the enterprise level have got to apologise to the factories.”

“If the unions accept the facts and acknowledge the fact that they were in the wrong, that’s the end of the issue.”

But Kong Athit, secretary general of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said GMAC’s offer was unacceptable.

“We cannot do that because we are not wrong and the government did not accuse us of being wrong,” he said. “If we apologise to them, it means we admit we were wrong, and then they can make more problems for us.”

Loo said 67 union representatives in total remained suspended in connection with strikes held last month to protest the minimum wage for garment workers. A total of 358 workers who protested the suspensions of their representatives had been fired because they ignored court orders requiring them to return to work within 48 hours, he added.

Kong Athit disputed these figures, however. He said 106 union representatives remained suspended and 677 workers had had their contracts terminated after protesting these suspensions.

Loo said that if the unions and workers did not agree to apologise, the factories that had filed complaints would continue to pursue them through the court system.

“If they don’t feel they were in the wrong, obviously they don’t have to apologise,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t think we were wrong, and the unions don’t admit they were wrong, but somebody’s wrong, so we can only turn to the courts to intervene.”

In a speech last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for employers to drop complaints against workers and union representatives.

Tuomo Poutiainen, the chief technical adviser for the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia programme, said it was still possible to find a compromise that would suit both the unions and the employers. He pointed to last month’s signing of a memorandum of understanding between union and industry representatives related to dispute resolution as a promising step for the Kingdom’s industrial relations.

“In my opinion, there’s basis to find positive cohabitation, and that would play well for the future of the industry,” Poutiainen said.

On Monday, 22 union representatives who had been suspended at the Sangwoo garment factory in Kampong Speu province were allowed to return to their jobs following a meeting with factory management.
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