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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cambodia hosts road safety seminar to highlight Asian road safety innovation

By Meng Bill

More than 150 leading road safety experts, practitioners, business representatives and government officials from around the world are gathering in Siem Reap, Cambodia's Northern Province on Wednesday for a particular topic on the Global Road Safety Partnership's (GRSP) Asia Road Safety Seminar.

In a statement released by Handicap International Belgium, it says it is a three-day key regional event in which participants will share strategies for reducing road-crash related injury and discuss the implementation of the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

This year's event is being run with the support of the Government of Cambodia through its National Road Safety Committee (NRSC).

"Asia has a critical role to play in addressing the road safety crisis," said Andrew Pearce, CEO of GRSP. "A region with diverse cultures, growing economies and rapid motorization, Asia is at the front-line of the road safety crisis, suffers heavily from a crisis that claims 1.3 million lives worldwide annually."

"Fortunately, Asia has also become a hotbed for road safety innovation, where best practices have proven to make a difference in changing behaviour and reducing road crash related death and injury," he said.

And he added that "those attending the seminar will hear about numerous cases in which multi-sector road safety interventions in Asia have provided proven, life-saving results and inspired other efforts around the world."

Some of the road safety interventions to be featured include: Programs to promote helmet use in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam that have led to quantifiable increases in helmet wearing, and in the case of Cambodia and Vietnam, they resulted in clear reductions in motorcycle related death and injury.

The speeches will cover road infrastructure projects in Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea and Bangladesh using the latest technology to identify safety issues and design road improvements, as well as the updates on projects in China that have improved safety pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The GRSP Asia Road Safety Seminar has become a key platform for developing effective responses to this global, man-made humanitarian crisis.

Each year, 1.3 million people are killed on the world's roads and 90 per cent of these fatalities are in developing countries.

Sharing speech at the opening of the seminar, Sou Phriin, governor of Siem Reap Province said "I would like to inform that death resulting from road accidents has worryingly increased day to day. Road accident has become a main subject of serious concern to the Royal Government of Cambodia, which has considered it as 2nd biggest catastrophe after AIDS.

He recalled the report filed by Road Crash Victim Data System ( RCVIS) which showed that over the last five years, the number of crashes and fatalities has increased by almost doubled.

"Almost 90 percent of road crash casualties are motorbike riders, pedestrians and bicyclists. As a result, road crashes in 2009 caused 1717 people died and had an enormous impact on the social and economic welfare of Cambodia with an estimated annual cost of 248 million U.S dollars," he was quoted as saying.

The seminar has been supported over the years by GRSP through its corporately funded Global Road Safety Initiative (GRSI) program, with funds provided by Ford, General Motors, Honda, Michelin, Renault, Shell and Toyota.

This year's event is also supported by the International Road Assessment Program (IRAP), FIA Foundation, Asian Development Bank, and Western Pacific Regional Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

GRSP is a global partnership between business, civil society and governmental organizations collaborating to improve road safety conditions around the world.

It was initiated by the World Bank Group in 1999, and is a hosted program of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). GRSP undertakes a range of activities in low and middle income countries worldwide, ranging from program delivery and demonstration projects to capacity building and advocacy.

Source: Xinhua
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Trade Agreement Expected With Chinese Visit

China’s National Assembly president, Wu Bangguo, arrived in Phnom Penh Wednesday, ready for official talks with Cambodia’s leaders in the wake of a visit for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Wu, whose first official goodwill visit lasts through Saturday, will meet Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government leaders, as well as King Norodom Sihamoni, to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries, a government statement said.

Last week, China agreed to donate $700 million to Cambodia for the construction of a railway between Phnom Penh and the Vietnamese border to improve regional trade links.

Wu is expected to sign an additional trade agreement this week. Through 2010, Cambodia exported $37 million in goods to China—more than double for all of 2009—while importing more than $775 million, according to government figures.

China is also a significant investor in Cambodia in garments, textiles, hydropower, agriculture and mining.

China’s fixed asset investment in Cambodia was $930 million in 2009 and $234 million in the first quarter of 2010.

Wu’s visit follows an official stopover by Clinton on Monday, he told a group of students at a meeting the US encouraged Cambodia to grow increased ties with many countries, including China. The US contributes about $70 million per year to Cambodia in aid.
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Opinion: Cambodia leader tries to end Khmer Rouge trials

Will the UN-backed court be able to stand up to Hun Sen?

By Joel Brinkley Globle post

PALO ALTO — Hun Sen, Cambodia’s prime minister, told the United Nations Secretary General while he was visiting Phnom Penh the other day that he would not allow any more Khmer Rouge war-crimes trials after the second one that’s now underway.

“The prime minister clearly affirmed that case three is not allowed,” his foreign minister reported.

What’s so strange about that? All of the remaining defendants, four surviving leaders of the genocidal regime, are on trial right now. One of the most notorious Khmer Rouge jailers has already been convicted and was sent to prison in July.

Well, Hun Sen’s declaration to Ban Ki-moon runs afoul of two serious problems. First, the Khmer Rouge trial, administered by a joint U.N.-Cambodian court, is supposed to be completely independent of government or U.N. interference.

As Ban put it, Hun Sen needs to “provide full cooperation and fully respect the independence of the court.”

But then this is Cambodia, and Hun Sen is essentially an elected dictator who wields full control of everything that happens in his country — except the Khmer Rouge trial. He has been interfering in the court since the day it opened its doors. In fact, it’s a miracle that the court has managed to carry out a trial and issue a conviction, given Hun Sen’s public animus toward the proceedings.

Hun Sen is worried. He is a former Khmer Rouge commander, and while no one has pinned any particular atrocity on him, numerous members of his government and military were Khmer Rouge officers, too. Hun Sen fought the U.N. over the trial for many years but, under pressure, finally agreed after the U.N. allowed his courts to share jurisdiction.

Right now, down in the basement of the court’s international side, criminal investigators are at work looking for even more villains to put on trial for the deaths of 2 million people killed during the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975 to 1979. It’s like finding trees in the forest because these people live openly in Cambodian society, with little to worry them — until now.

Many of the possible future defendants are Hun Sen’s friends and compatriots. And while there is absolutely no evidence of this now, I wonder whether he worries that one or another of them, to save his own skin, might tell damning stories of the prime minister’s past once he is put on the stand.

The other problem is Hun Sen’s fatuous explanation for trying to forbid more trials.

“We have to think about peace in Cambodia,” Hun Sen told Ban. Last year, when the court said it was opening new investigations. Hun Sen warned: "If you want a tribunal, but you don't want to consider peace and reconciliation and war breaks out again, killing 200,000 or 300,000 people, who will be responsible? Finally, I have got peace in this country, so I will not let someone destroy it.”

More than a decade ago, before the Khmer Rouge insurgency finally collapsed in 1999, some Cambodians officials openly worried that aging Khmer Rouge soldiers living in the jungle might come out and cause trouble if their colleagues were put on trial. But that was a long time ago, and the politics of today are entirely different.

I spent much of the last two years reporting in Cambodia, and most Cambodians told me they aren’t even watching the trial. It’s televised, but 75 percent of Cambodians have no electricity and have to power their TVs with car batteries. Reception is not very good. Interest is even less. During the day, while the trial is on, Cambodians have to work. They are generally more concerned about survival than justice for a regime that left power before most of them were even born.

So where’s all this trouble Hun Sen worries about going to come from? The first trial, against the jailer Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, provoked not a single recorded incident of civil unrest. Hun Sen’s is a totally baseless claim. But he doesn’t care. He is a living definition of the word “impunity.” That enabled him also to order the secretary general to close the U.N.’s human rights office in Cambodia. Inconveniently, that office has been pointing out that Hun Sen’s government is depriving its citizens of one human right after another as the prime minister consolidates his dictatorship.

The trial has been a most interesting exercise for Cambodia. It exposed the state’s way of doing business — incompetent, rapacious, corrupt — to everyone in the world. Since half of the court is staffed by United Nations employees, mostly from Western nations, Cambodian business as usual, generally practiced behind locked doors, is now exposed for the world to see — like a doll house with no back wall. The scene inside isn’t pretty, but I have confidence the court will find a way to stand up to Hun Sen once again.
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Bogus official faces fraud charges

Kandal provincial court has charged a 41-year-old man with public-letter fraud after he was arrested on suspicion of distributing business cards and documents claiming he was an official in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet.

Sdoeung Saroeun, a Kandal native, was arrested October 30 in Prek Chiek village, in Ponhea Leu district’s Koh Chin commune, after villagers suspected his credentials were fraudulent and tipped off police.

“He was arrested because he pretended that he had a role within the Prime Minister’s cabinet and used that title to further his business in cities and provinces throughout Cambodia,” said Kandal province police chief Eav Chamroeun.

He said the accused used his fake title to buy land from villagers, though he could not confirm how much was purchased, or in what provinces.

Ouk Kimseth, prosecutor of Kandal provincial court, said the accused was being detained at the provincial prison and would be held until investigations were completed.

“We are now investigating the case and we think that if the accused is found guilty, he will be jailed for a period of between five and 15 years,” he said.

Earlier this year, Hun Sen urged authorities to arrest and punish any fraudsters trying to use his name to further their business prospects.

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