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Monday, February 28, 2011

Vietnam in Cambodia tourism push

A man-made mountain at a resort managed by Dai Nam Resorts Area, in Binh Duong province, Vietnam. The company is looking to attract more Cambodian visitors to its attractions. A company official said 5 million people visited the site last year

Vietnamese tourism companies are linking up with Kingdom firms in order to attract Cambodian tourists to the country’s resorts and health care facilities, whilst boosting cross-border visitors.

During 2010, while the numbers of Vietnamese tourists arriving in Cambodia surged by 48 percent to 466,695 compared with 2009, some businesses within Vietnam also spotted an opportunity for growth by forging new alliances.

One such company was state-run Vietravel Co, valued at US$76 million last year, which now holds 49 percent in a joint venture called Indochina Heritage Travel (Cambodia) with Cambodian and Vietnamese partners.

While its capital investment in the new company has not been detailed, after opening two months ago, it plans to lead 100,000 Vietnamese tourists to the Kingdom during 2011 and to promote cross-border tourism.

Nguyen Quoc Ky, general director of Vietravel Co, said: “I feel confident about tourism sector growth in Cambodia, that’s why I decided to put capital forward.”

While Tran Duc Hai, director of Indochina Heritage Travel (Cambodia), added: “We try to promote tourism for both countries and will bring tourists to both sides.”

Monthly package tours are on the venture’s agenda, with trips tailored to the health tourism market also planned.

Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, acknowledged today that Cambodian citizens visit Vietnam for health consultations and treatment and that at the moment “Vietnam is trying a lot to promote tourism in Cambodia”.

While the ministry did not have specific visitor data for Vietnam, he stated: “We have a strong relationship and cooperate together on tourism for both sides benefit.”

In Vietnam, health care providers are hoping to tap into a potential market of Cambodian nationals.

Chief operation officer of Victoria Healthcare VietNam, Binh Pham Cobb, said her private clinic in Ho Chi Minh City received 200 patients a day, some of whom came from Cambodia.

“We saw that Cambodian patients came to check their health a lot at the state hospital in Vietnam.”

Through cooperation with firms such as Indochina Heritage she hopes to “get more and more Cambodian clients to come here”.

While 25-year-old Cambodian tourist Sout Vanny, a visitor to Dam Sen theme park in Vietnam, said that while on holiday she had a health consultation as “services in Vietnam are cheaper that Cambodia and they also make me confident”.

But along with health care demand, vacationing tourists are also boosting trade for Vietnam’s holiday resorts, according to businessmen.

Hoafng Van Ba, deputy general director of Saigontourist, the parent company of Dam Sen Resort in Ho Chi Minh City, said that 5 percent of visitors to his resort – which includes a theme park – were now Cambodian.

It has incorporated Cambodia into its future, as the company has plans to build a similar complex in the Kingdom with negotiations with its Cambodian partner underway.

Dai Nam Resorts Areas, the biggest resort in Vietnam which lies on 450 hectares of land in Binh Duong province, is also looking for Cambodian visitors. Tran Thanh Hai, director of its parent company Dai Nam Joint Stock Corp, said: “Last year, 5 million tourists came to our resort, most of them were local tourists. Now, we are promoting ourselves to neighbouring countries, especially Cambodia.”

According to the Ministry of Tourism, outbound Cambodian tourists increased by about 49 percent in 2010.
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China's growth is changing Southeast Asia

BANGKOK -- What has China got to do with recent bloody clashes over a 900-year-old temple in Southeast Asia?

Beijing is not a party to the conflict, nor has it any stake in the territorial dispute between Cambodia and Thailand.

And yet China, with its growing presence and influence in Indochina, is changing the power dynamics in the region.

One key result has been the weakening of Thailand's traditional economic domination in the neighborhood as China steps up trade and investment in countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion, which besides Thailand includes Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

With Cambodia less reliant on the Thai growth engine, its Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has become emboldened to put up a tough fight against Thailand in its border dispute, some analysts say. The border clashes early this month left at least three Thais and eight Cambodians dead.

Given its proximity and long-standing ties, Thailand no doubt still plays a big role in Cambodia's economy. Two-way trade last year was valued at about 81 billion baht (US$2.63 billion), up 20 percent from the previous year. Thai businessmen have over 80 projects worth over US$363 million in the country.

But the Chinese presence in Cambodia has grown rapidly in recent years. In a paper last December, Australian academic Geoff Wade, currently with Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), noted that there were 360 Chinese investment projects in Cambodia totaling US$80 billion by the middle of last year.

China recently waived US$400 million worth of Cambodian debt. One of the largest Chinese-language schools in Southeast Asia is located in Phnom Penh. China also provides much of the Cambodian army's equipment, say observers who have seen Cambodia's military deployments at the disputed Preah Vihear temple site.

In turn, Cambodia has cooperated with Beijing politically, sending 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers back to China in 2009, for instance.

Thai historian Thongchai Winichakul, in a recent talk in Bangkok, noted China's neutrality on the Thai-Cambodia conflict, but acknowledged that “Cambodia is less dependent on Thailand than the Thais think.”

At one time during the booming 1980s, Bangkok was the “logical center” of the region, says Professor Michael Montesano of ISEAS.

Now, “Cambodia certainly, and Laos to a degree, have other options. Cambodia is more sophisticated now; they can pick and choose. In addition to China, with its huge demand and ability to penetrate markets, Singapore also comes into play.”
Cambodia also has strong economic ties with Vietnam as well as other countries like South Korea and Japan as it forges ahead with its growing network of international linkages.

China's rising profile in Indochina is not restricted to Cambodia. It is the same in Laos, where it has stepped up investments in agriculture and infrastructure.

Its investment in infrastructure in Myanmar includes laying strategic gas and oil pipelines and port development. The Myanmar-language Weekly Eleven reported recently that China poured more than US$3 billion into the country from last November through January this year, bringing its cumulative investment since 1988 to US$9.6 billion, above Thailand's US$9.56 billion.

As for Thailand, its officials have described their country's relationship with China as one between siblings. Bangkok is also positioning itself as a partner to China in the hopes of mutually benefiting from its growth. One example is the 45 billion baht China City trading complex on the outskirts of Bangkok.

When completed in two years, thousands of Chinese traders will operate from there, re-exporting Chinese-made goods from Thailand to avoid costly tariffs. The trading center is expected to create an estimated 70,000 new jobs.

“The economic might of China imposes a compelling calculation,” said an Asian diplomat of its burgeoning ties in mainland Southeast Asia. “With all these countries, because of proximity and land links, it is very difficult to ignore China.”

But that is not to say there are no limits to China's influence.

In Thailand, the Chinese community has for generations been seamlessly integrated into the rest of Thai society. But in Myanmar, distrust of China among the older intellectual and military elites remains, and Myanmar nationalism will be a brake on Chinese influence.

And there is competition too. American officials have been open about the fact that the recent re-engagement of the United States, in the shape of a development initiative for lower Mekong countries, is an attempt to balance China's surging economic influence.

Vietnam too has its own ambitions in the neighborhood, along with historical baggage, having fought a ferocious border war with China in 1979.

“They can't ignore China. But because of their status as a new tiger and with a more self-confident and outward-oriented approach, Vietnamese officials often speak against China on issues,” said the Asian diplomat.
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Cambodia beckons for midwifery chief

A MIDWIFERY boss is stepping down to carry out volunteer work in a poverty-stricken country.

Angela Oxley, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Furness General Hospital, is leaving her post to work on improving maternity services in a hospital in Cambodia for two years.

Mrs Oxley, who also works across other hospitals within the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, will be based in Stung Treng hospital in northern Cambodia as part of a programme run by the Voluntary Services Overseas charity.

The hospital is staffed by a medical director and team of midwives, but they do not receive regular wages and must work in the markets to earn money.

In the province of Stung Treng, there are eight small clinics where births take place with only a basic qualified midwife or traditional birth attendant present. Part of Mrs Oxley’s work will involve reviewing care in these clinics and trying to improve training and referrals.

Mrs Oxley, who has 20 years’ experience working as a midwife in Cumbria, said: “I’m going out there to see what improvements can be made with a limited staff and budget.

“It will be a huge challenge, I know, but the idea is not for me just to go out there, work as a midwife and come back two years later with nothing changed.

“My colleagues at FGH have been really positive. A lot have said they could never do it, but I also hope it will encourage more people to go out there and do it.”

VSO in Cambodia has an overall aim of reducing infant and maternal mortality rates in line with the United Nations and World Health Organisation. The current maternal mortality rate is one in 260, compared with one in 12,000 in the UK.

Many of these deaths occur in the rural areas, where women often have no access to trained staff.

The VSO funds Mrs Oxley’s travel to Cambodia and her return in two years, but while she is living in the country she will be paid a basic wage of £240 a month and be expected to raise funds for the project.

Mrs Oxley will be joined by her husband Chris on the trip, who is also hoping to carry out volunteer work.

She said: “He is coming over with me to share the experience, but he is funding himself. He has done a qualification in teaching English as a foreign language and he has a background in engineering.”

The couple will keep a blog of their trip, which can be viewed at
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cambodia outlaws nukes

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a draft sub-decree barring the production of materials used in the making of chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

Cambodia’s constitution already prohibits the manufacture, use or storage of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons under articles 9 and 54.

The sub-decree was prepared by the Defence Ministry’s Chemical Weapon National Authority as a mechanism to control the production and use of chemicals in line with international treaty obligations.

It follows a draft law introduced in 2009 that similarly barred the use, manufacture or storage of such weapons.

“Our constitution has prohibited the use of chemical, nuclear, biological and radioactive [weapons], but we have prepared this sub-decree as an addition,” said government spokesman Phay Siphan today.

Chum Sambath, an undersecretary of state at the Defence Ministry, said Cambodia has no chemical or nuclear weapons and would never produce them.

“We don’t need to produce chemical weapons because we have no intention to invade any country,” he said.

Minister of Defence Tea Banh could not be reached for comment today.

In 2005 Cambodia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, a global initiative by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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Exiled Cambodian leader speaks to local compatriots

By Steve Huffman
The Dispatch

Sam Rainsy, a member of Cambodia's parliament, brought a message from his native land to Davidson County Saturday night.

Unless you spoke Cambodian, it was impossible to understand what Rainsy was saying, but he drew the rapt attention of about 200 Davidson County residents who are of Cambodian descent. Rainsy spoke at the Lexington Buddhist Temple off Pinelodge Road.

In a brief interview where he spoke English, Rainsy, 63, said he had been forced into exile from Cambodia, but still travels frequently to the country. He remains a member of the country's parliament, Rainsy said.

"It's not the first time," he said of his forced exile. "I'm used to it."

Rainsy was accompanied by his wife, Tioulong Saumura. Like her husband, she's a member of the Cambodian parliament, but living in exile.

Saumura said the couple lives in Paris. She said the last time they returned to Cambodia was about a month ago.

Officially, the country is a constitutional monarchy, but Saumura said its rule is a dictatorship.

"When we go to Cambodia, we don't sleep well at night," Saumura said. She said there have been recent assassination attempts against other Cambodian political leaders. Saumura said she and her husband flew Saturday to Greensboro from New York City where she had been addressing members of the United Nations concerning problems in Cambodia. She is, Saumura said, head of international relations for the Sam Rainsy Party.

The party, Saumura said, was formerly the Khmer Nation Party, but members changed the name due to harassment by the Cambodian government.

The Sam Rainsy Party is Cambodia's second-most popular, having garnered 1.3 million votes in the 2008 national election, the nation's most recent. The Cambodian People's Party is the nation's most popular, garnering 3.5 million votes in that same election. Of the 123 members

of the nation's parliament, 26 are from the Sam Rainsy Party while 90 are from the Cambodian People's Party. Parliament's remaining members come from smaller parties.

Judging by reaction to Rainsy's appearance in Davidson County, he is wildly popular among Cambodians. He was treated with the type reverence Americans typically reserve for professional athletes or rock stars.

Many flocked to have their pictures taken with him Saturday night. The show of respect transcended cultures.

Sam Bour served as an interpreter for Rainsy on occasions Saturday. He said Rainsy spoke about border wars between Cambodia and Vietnam, and warned that Vietnam is trying to swallow Cambodia.

Saumura said the respect the people of Cambodian descent showed her husband Saturday is indicative of that he attracts when he speaks at any number of locations around the world. Native Cambodians, she said, continue to worry about and seek information about their homeland, regardless of their years of separation.

"They have found a new motherland here," Saumura said, motioning to those who waited to speak to her husband. "They still care for their (native) country."

Rainsy's Saturday night address was interrupted often by shouts and applause.

Rainsy was born in Phnom Penh in 1949. His father was a member of the Cambodian government in the 1950s. Rainsy was the nation's minister of finance in the early 1990s. He founded the Khmer Nation Party in 1995 and has served as president of the Sam Rainsy Party since 1998.

Rainsy's political fortunes have in recent years alternated between exile and a desire expressed by many Cambodians that he return and lead the nation through its problems.

According to Rainsy's own website, "Sam Rainsy is the architect and founder of the Sam Rainsy Party. He leads the party through many elections. No doubt, Sam Rainsy is the second-largest party in the country. Sam Rainsy used to enjoy financial support from within the country and abroad. But 13 years in opposition is a long time. Some have even started to predict the next election will be the last for Sam Rainsy, if there is no dramatic change in the current structure."

Rainsy's most recent exile stems from an incident in October 2009 where he led residents at the Cambodia/Vietnam border in a protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory. Rainsy is alleged to have encouraged villagers to uproot border markings that he claimed were illegally placed by Vietnam. Rainsy was charged with racial incitement and destruction of property, charges he said are politically motivated.

Cambodia is best known for the genocide of 1975-1979 that took place under the Khmer Rouge regime. It's estimated that of the nation's 8 million inhabitants, as many as 2.5 million died.
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Cambodia's deadly virus: 85% mortality rate

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Black Death, a global pandemic of catastrophic proportions, has reared its ugly head in the Far East, home to many pandemic viruses. This time it is not a 30 per cent death rate, it is an 85 per cent death rate. It is called the Cambodian Avian Flu virus.

Avian Flu has been around for centuries. So have other pandemics. But an 85 per cent mortality rate?

Let us not invent, let us use the World Health Organization's communications:

Avian influenza - situation in Cambodia

9 February 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Cambodia has announced a new confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

The 5 year old female, from Prek Leap village, Sangkat Prek Leap, Khan Reussey Keo, Phnom Penh, developed symptoms on 29 January, was admitted to a hospital on 3 February and died 12 hours following admission. The presence of H5N1 virus in nasopharyngeal specimens was confirmed by Institut Pasteur, the National Influenza Centre in Cambodia. The case had been in contact with sick poultry during the 7 days before onset of symptoms.

The Ministry of Health has been coordinating the response. Actions have included contact tracing, collecting specimens from suspected cases, and providing oseltamivir prophylaxis to close contacts; active surveillance and joint investigation with animal health authorities; community education; and public communications coordination with the assistance of WHO.

Of the 11 cases of human H5N1 virus infection confirmed since 2005 in Cambodia, 9 have been fatal.

Avian influenza - situation in Cambodia - update

25 February 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Cambodia has announced 2 new confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

A 19-year-old female, from Takong village, Ta Kong commune, Malay district, Banteay Meanchey Province, developed symptoms on early hours of 5 February, was admitted to a private clinic on 9 February, referred to a hospital on 12 February, and died on 12 February without avian influenza being considered as a diagnosis. She had travelled from her home with her husband, her 11-month old son, her mother in law and her sister in law to Rokar Chor village, Bantey Chakrey commune, Prash Sdach district, Prey Veng Province on 3 January. She had multiple exposures to sick and dead poultry between the second half of January and early February. A blood specimen collected at hospital on 12 February was transferred to Institut Pasteur du Cambodge on 22 February and tested positive by (polymerase chain reaction) PCR.

The 11-month-old son developed symptoms on 5 February, was admitted to hospital 15 February and died on 17 February. He also had multiple exposures to sick and dead poultry in the same time frame. The presence of H5N1 virus in nasopharyngeal specimens was confirmed by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, the National Influenza Centre on 20 February.

The Ministry of Health has been coordinating the response with assistance from WHO. To date no other symptomatic contacts have been found.

Of the 13 cases of human H5N1 virus infection confirmed since 2005 in Cambodia, 11 have been fatal.

Konstantin Karpov

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Cambodia vs. Thailand foments more conflict


Across the Middle East and beyond, kings and dictators are quaking in their castles, afraid their people will throw them from power. All except one, that is.

In Cambodia, longtime dictator Hun Sen, like his fellow potentates around the world, watched the news and figured out his own strategy. He decided to give a speech and threaten his people.

“I would like to tell you that if you want to strike as in Tunisia,” he warned, “I will close the door and beat the dog this time.”

That was last month, and all has been quiet since. Don Jameson, a former State Department official who served in Phnom Penh, just returned from a long visit there and told me, “I judge that the chances of an uprising against the Hun Sen regime similar to those in Tunisia and Egypt are close to zero.”

Next door in Thailand, meanwhile, thousands of anti-government protesters poured into the streets, demanding early elections. But they aren’t inspired by events in Tunisia, Egypt or anyplace else. Dueling groups of angry protestors have been taking to the streets in Bangkok, demanding change every few months since 2008. To all of those outraged mobs in the Middle East, Thailand’s protesters offer a shrug and say: Welcome to the club.

This is a tale of two states, who happen to be at war.

On the Thai-Cambodian border sits a small, crumbling 11th century Hindu temple called Preah Vihear. In 1962, the International Court of Justice ruled that it belonged to Cambodia. The ancient Khmer empire built it, after all. But the justices offered no opinion on the empty land surrounding it. Then in 2008, Unesco declared Preah Vihear a World Heritage Site. That’s when Thailand got angry.

For centuries, a favored Thai hobby has been kicking Cambodia around. Until a century ago, Thailand occupied the nation’s western half.

In 2008, Thailand assaulted the Preah Vihear area, asserting ownership of the land. Several soldiers from both sides died. Eventually the violence ebbed, but not before the leaders of both states learned an important lesson.

In Cambodia, the educated population (a tiny percentage of the total) generally hates their dictator, just as is the case in most authoritarian states. But when Thailand attacked in 2008, for once everyone in the nation, even Hun Sen’s opponents, rallied around him in support of the fight against Cambodia’s despised, ancient enemy, the Siamese.

It’s unclear who started the fighting. Several soldiers and civilians have been killed. But politicians on both sides benefit.

Hun Sen once sued Michael Hayes, who was founding editor of the Phnom Penh Post, an English-language newspaper. The two certainly aren’t friends. But now, Hayes writes: “I am as angry as all Cambodians are at what we perceive as a Thai-initiated conflict.”

The timing is near-perfect. Cambodia holds local elections next year and national elections in 2013. The very same holds true in Thailand. In fact, leaders on both sides appear to be encouraging the conflict.

Thailand just announced new elections by June. Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the opposition group representing the business and political establishment, gave a fiery pre-election speech in which he called the current president weak-kneed and advocated an invasion of Cambodia.

Cambodia is weak, and “to die for a great cause, to protect the land, is worth it,” he declared, bringing cheers.

In Cambodia, Hun Sen vows to remain in office until he is 90. He’s 58 now, and already no Asian leader has served as long — 26 years. Like Egypt, Cambodia holds faux elections, but Hun Sen recently declared: “I don’t just want to weaken the opposition, but to make it die.”

In Thailand, street protests, a coup and court cases have brought frequent changes in leadership. In fact, whoever holds office now lives under the constant threat of massive street protests so that his grip on power remains ever-tenuous. But now Thai and Cambodian leaders, for their own political benefit, are ensuring that the Preah Vihear conflict, more than anything else, continues to animate events in both countries.
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Vietnam, Cambodia strive to complete demarcation

The Yuon and Cambodia friendship is always weird, every cooperation in this friendship is the demanding to Cambodia to part away pieces of land to the Yuon. The border demarcation is about the Yuon digging deep border posts to Cambodian territories.

Vietnamese and Cambodian officials on border issues have affirmed a resolve to complete land border demarcation and landmark erection by 2012 as the two countries’ leaders agreed.

At the fifth round of the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee on Border Demarcation in Phnom Penh on February 24-25, officials agreed to increase cooperation to fulfill six main tasks this year.

The tasks include defining of at least 100 landmark positions, delineating 500km of border line, completing the switch to the UTM map on the 1/50,000 scale from the current use of the Bone map on the 1/100,000 scale, and identification of landmark positions on the map in March.

The two sides also agreed to join hands to fulfill publication of a set of the Vietnam-Cambodia land border terrain maps and speed up compilation of a protocol on land border demarcation between the two countries.

In 2010, the two sides identified 72 positions, built 73 positions and demarcated 155 km of border line.

The Vietnamese delegation to the meeting was led by Ho Xuan Son, Deputy Foreign Minister and head of Vietnam’s Joint Committee on Border Demarcation. The Cambodian delegation was headed by Var Kimhong, Senior Minister and head of Cambodia’s Joint Committee on Border Demarcation.

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UNESCO special envoy supports bilateral talks to defuse Thai-Cambodian border dispute

BANGKOK, Feb 25 -- The visiting United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) special envoy on Preah Vihear temple Koichiro Matsuura met Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and said he supported the bilateral talks between Thailand and Cambodia to solve border disputes.

Mr Abhisit told reporters after meeting with Mr Matsuura for 45 minutes at Government House that UNESCO had expressed its support to the bilateral talks and would not visit the Preah Vihear temple, a flash point of the conflict between the two countries.

The premier said he believed the tension would be eased at certain level and UNESCO said there should be conclusion on the 4.6 square kilometre contested area near Preah Vihear temple before going to the next step of a management plan for the ancient temple which was listed as a World Heritage Site.

Thailand and Cambodia agreed not to add more problems in the area and UNESCO believes that the problem should be settled before June, whe the World Heritage Committee will meet in Bahrain.

The ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, earlier this week agreed that Thailand and Cambodia should use a bilateral mechanism to end their border conflict, including the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), the General Border Committee (GBC) and the Regional Border Committee (RBC).

The JBC is expected to be held in March in Indonesia.

Earlier, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Friday met Mr Matsuura, who admitted that [agreeing and implementing] a management plan for the ancient temple would be difficult in the current situation, according to Thai foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi.

Mr Thani, Foreign Ministry Director-General of the Department of Information, said Mr Kasit has taken this opportunity to provide the envoy with the facts relating to the recent border clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops.

Mr Matsuura, a former director-general of UNESCO (1999-2009) and a former chairman of the World Heritage Committee (1999), was appointed by Director General Irina Bokova to discuss with Thailand and Cambodia measures to safeguard the temple, which was listed as a World Heritage site in 2008.

The UNESCO delegation will fly to Phnom Penh on Sunday for talks with Cambodian officials on ways of reducing tension and promoting dialogue on the preservation of the temple.

Tension along the Thai-Cambodian border was renewed after clashes between soldiers of the two countries erupted near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on Feb 4, leading to casualties among troops and civilians of both sides, as well as forcing the evacuation of villagers living in and on both sides of the disputed area. (MCOT online news)
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Cambodia not ready to build chemical or nuclear weapons

Cambodian government reaffirmed Friday that it has banned all kinds of production of chemical and nuclear weapons which is contradictory to international treaty.

In a press statement released after a weekly cabinet meeting, it said a sub-decree with four articles was approved Friday during the meeting at which it is designed to examine the chemical substance which is potential for the production of chemical and nuclear weapons.

The sub-decree regulates the control, management and collection of data on the need of any use of chemical substance which is required by the international convention.

The sub-decree was approved as correlation to the country's constitution.

Cambodia's Constitution, article 54, says that "The manufacturing, use, storage of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons shall be absolutely prohibited."

Cambodia is a signatory and a party to many international conventions and treaties, including the Ottawa Treaty which deals with landmines.

Source: Xinhua .
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Cambodian PM tells troops at border to be high alert and maximum restraints

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday reminded his troops stationed at the frontline of Cambodian-Thai border, especially at the area near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple to be "high alert and utmost restraints" to comply with the permanent ceasefire.

The premier's remark was made during the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Cambodia and Thailand agreed a permanent ceasefire on Feb. 22 during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta, Indonesia.

To monitor the ceasefire, thirty Indonesian observers will be dispatched to the Cambodian-Thai border disputed area.

The two countries has the border conflict just a week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, since then periodic clashes between both sides' troops happened, resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

The latest clashes, on Feb. 4-7, had killed and wounded many soldiers and citizens of both sides, and caused tens of thousands of the two countries' villagers nearby the disputed areas fleeing for safe shelters.

Source: Xinhua .
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

UN Rights Envoy Concerned About Courts, Freedoms

Surya Subedi, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh, on Thursday, concluding his 10-day mission to Cambodia.

UN rights envoy Surya Subedi expressed concern for Cambodia’s human rights situation, especially for the judiciary and a “narrowing of space” for expression.

Ending a 10-day tour on Thursday ahead of a report the UN Human Rights Council, The UN’s special rapporteur for human rights said he was “particularly concerned…by the use of the crime of incitement against human rights defenders.”

Subedi’s findings echoed concerns local groups have voiced in recent years, especially with the jailing of rights workers and journalists under criminal laws.

Subedi told reporters Thursday a functioning democracy required an effective opposition.

“I am concerned about the narrowing of space for people to express their views peacefully and without fear, including those belonging to different political parties,” he said. “Political actors and civil society organizations should work towards creating and environment which is conducive to the enjoyment of human rights by all and to economic development for the benefit of all.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said government leaders and Subedi had discussed better promotion of human rights through the implementation of law.

“The concerns of [Subedi] on the situation of human rights in Cambodia are the concerns of the Cambodian government,” he said. “We have a clear goal of human rights protection.”

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Rice Experts See Better Prospects in New Seeds

With more than 2.7 million hectares of cultivatable land, agriculture experts hope new methods and seeds can help the country reach a goal of 1 million tons of annual rice export by 2015.

For five years now, Yin Narong has used a new method to plant rice. Instead of planting from the seeds of the previous year’s harvest, he buys new seeds from a local company.

The difference, he said in an interview, has been a boost in yield of 200 kilograms of rice each harvest on one-fifth a hectare.

“Now with pure seeds we get up to 900 kilograms,” the 52-year-old farmer in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district said. He also uses less seeds, about 15 kilograms with the new method compared to 20 kilograms with the old.

A relatively low number of farmers like Yin Narong are using the new-seed method. But traditional habits persist, preventing the country from reaching its rice potential, agricultural economists say.

Many farmers still use rice seeds from the previous harvest to replant their paddies, instead of buying prime, new seeds from companies. Agricultural experts say the use of “pure” seeds can boost yields up to 20 percent.

“It is a challenge for Cambodia as the farmers still use their seeds saved for generations,” Nov Seiha, research manager for the Economic Institute of Cambodia, said. “Sometimes, the genes of the seeds have already died out.”

The old practice means that Cambodians harvest less rice per hectare than their regional neighbors.

A typical Cambodia harvest yields 2.6 tons per hectares, compared to 2.8 tons in Thailand, 3.5 tons in Laos and 4.9 tons in Vietnam, according to government statistics.

With more than 2.7 million hectares of cultivatable land, agriculture experts hope new methods and seeds can help the country reach a goal of 1 million tons of annual rice export by 2015.

The rice seed industry, however, remains in a nascent stage. Cambodia has only one seed company. By comparison, Thailand has 85.

Cambodia’s company, Aquip Seed Co., Ltd., sells 2,600 tons or rice seeds annually to about 160,000 households, according to research by the Cambodian Economic Institute. In a report, the institute criticized the domestic seed sector as “backward” and “afraid to modernize.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, which is charged in part with improving the sector, owns 49 percent of the company.

But company officials insist they are not interested in a monopoly.

“We need newcomers to boost demand in our country,” said Kong Vitank, chief executive of the company. “Then it also opens equal competition in the seed business.”

Ouk Makara, director of the ministry’s Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, said the ministry has “no authority” to maintain a monopoly.

“Our farmers have small plots of land, so they are not very interested in the company’s seeds,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government continues its efforts to improve the rice trade. It has introduced 10 varieties of rice paddy for farmers to grow this season, including rice that is popular in foreign markets.

Yong Saingkoma, resident of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said if farmers do not want to buy new seeds each season, they can use their own seeds more effectively by choosing the right ones to plant.

“The starting point is to make sure farmers across the country know how to purify their seeds for the next growing seasons,” he said
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cambodian, U.S naval forces to conduct joint drill this weekend

A Cambodian and the U.S. maritime exercise will be held in Cambodia from Feb. 27 to March 2 to exchange experience between the two countries' military forces in peacekeeping, said Chhum Socheat, spokesman for Cambodian Ministry of Defense, on Wednesday.

The drill will be conducted at three locations; one is at the naval base in Preah Sihanouk province, another at the tank commanding headquarters in Kampong Speu and the other at Pich Nil military base, he told reporters.

"It is to exchange experiences between the U.S. forces and our Cambodian forces, especially the process of peacekeeping,"he said, adding "some 500 Cambodian military forces and U.S. naval forces will be joined the drill."

It will be focusing on how to rescue victims of wars, how doctors help the injured and how to truck emergency food, and so on, he said, adding that he does not know the number of marines will be used in the drill.

Source: Xinhua .
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Should Buddhists cry for war?

Former Bangkok governor Chamlong Srimuang leading a 2006 protest. The co-leader of Thailand's nationalist "yellow shirts" street faction is known for his devotion to the breakaway Buddhist sect Santi Asok. (TANG CHIN SOTHY/(AFP/Getty Images))

Revered monk defends Thai nationalists agitating for conflict with Cambodia

As global conflicts go, the Thai-Cambodia border dispute can hardly compete with the drama playing out in the Arab world.

But it's still stewing, even as the world's interest is diverted to the Middle East. Tens of thousands of troops remain on alert and both Thai and Cambodian leaders refuse to call a truce.

I've previously described the hardline rhetoric coming from self-proclaimed Thai "patriots," who want the army to back down Cambodia with force. The group's leader even urged troops to launch a full-scale invasion to seize Angkor Wat, an ancient temple and symbol of Cambodian pride. (The patriots continue to camp out by the prime minister's compound and vow to stay until Thailand wins the conflict.)

Today I got a chance to hear from a charismatic monk who is aligned with the Thai patriots.

A Buddhist monk standing side-by-side with nationalists agitating for bloodshed?

That's right. His name is Samana Bhodirak and he leads a breakaway Buddhist sect called Santi Asoke. His followers are notoriously disciplined in forsaking meat, sex and material comforts.

With his faithful, he arrived, barefoot, to speak to Thailand's foreign correspondents' club.

I wanted to know -- how could a holy man support people clamoring for war?

"We're aware that people who've joined the protests have burning desires," Samana said. "That's why we try our best, with discipline and knowledge, to soften their stance. I'd argue that the sort of violence that's been detected is limited to verbal violence."

"I don't support military action against Cambodia," he added. "Even if we're right."

Americans with an idyllic view of Buddhism may be surprised to hear of a monk aligned with hardliners eager for conflict. (Worth noting: this sect split from the mainstream Thai Buddhist council in the 1970s.)

But as with all religions, Buddhism has a history of seeping into politics in Thailand. This monk's politics just happen to be a bit more intense.

Consider this poster, hung by the sect's followers on the gate of the Thai patriots' Bangkok encampment.

Yes, that's the World Trade Center on fire.

The message? "Wealth is the cause of violence."
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ASEAN to send monitors to Thai-Cambodia border


JAKARTA, Indonesia — Regional military observers will be sent to the Thai-Cambodian border to enforce a cease-fire imposed after deadly clashes erupted over disputed land surrounding an 11th century temple, foreign ministers said Tuesday following emergency talks.

At least eight people have died in the conflict, which broke out earlier this month, and thousands have been displaced.

The two sides have disagreed on everything, from who fired first and where troops were stationed to how best to end the standoff.

But Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said after a meeting with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations that Cambodia and Thailand agreed to a proposal to send up to 40 military and civilian observers to the remote, mountainous area.

The unarmed observers — all from Indonesia — will "observe the commitment by both sides to avoid further armed clashes" and provide accurate and impartial reports about complaints of violations from both sides of the borders, he told reporters after the 90-minute meeting.

They will report to both ASEAN and the U.N. Security Council.

The conflict — which involved exchanges of small arms, mortars and artillery fire — is rooted in a decades-old border dispute near Preah Vihear temple and has fueled nationalist passions on both sides.

The monument was built between the 9th and 11th centuries and sits atop a 1,722-foot (525-meter) cliff. While awarded to Cambodia by the World Court in 1962, sovereignty over adjacent areas has never been clearly resolved.

Skirmishes have erupted several times since 2008, when Preah Vihear was given U.N. World Heritage status, but soldiers and locals say none has been as violent as the latest clash.

The U.N. Security Council expressed "grave concern" Monday and gave strong backing to the efforts of ASEAN — which usually refrains from interfering in the internal affairs of member states — to help end the dispute.

The regional grouping last deployed observers in 2005 — when it helped oversee a peace deal between rebels and government troops in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh — and has also participated in conflicts in East Timor and the southern Philippines.

Natalegawa made clear Tuesday that Southeast Asian countries were again ready to step in.

"I would like to make it absolutely clear that ... the option of conflict, the option of use of force, is not meant to be on the table," he told reporters ahead of talks, adding "we are waging peace" not war "so that no more guns and artilleries make a sound in our region."

The border has been tense but quiet in recent days.

Earlier Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told university graduates in Phnom Penh monitors would be welcome to all areas inside the border, from the front lines to military camps and ammunition warehouses.

"They can inspect wherever and whenever they want."

While he has tried hard to shift the debate to an international stage, asking for both U.N. peacekeepers and ASEAN monitors, his Thai counterpart, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has pressed hard for a bilateral solution.

ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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ASEAN Mediates in Cambodia, Thailand Conflict

Thailand and Cambodia agreed Tuesday to accept Indonesian observers and avoid further clashes over a border dispute.

The agreement is a victory for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its current head the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa who took on a high profile role in mediating the dispute.After hosting a meeting in Jakarta between the Cambodian foreign minister and his Thai counterpart, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa announced that a unique arrangement had been reached to end the violent clashes between the two countries.

Both sides have been fighting over a territory near a historical Hindu Khmer temple on the Thai-Cambodian border.The foreign ministers, he says, have agreed to what he called an unofficial ceasefire, to allow in unarmed Indonesian military and civilian observers to enforce the ceasefire, and to hold further bilateral talks with Indonesian participation in the near future.Natalegawa says he is not concerned that the ceasefire is unofficial as long as both sides adhere to it."The statement speaks of avoidance of armed conflict and which is what our understanding of a ceasefire is.

And so there will be further meeting between the two sides to try to really solidify the present situation.

So I am not going to be trapped into legality of is there a ceasefire or not a ceasefire.

As long as the guns are silent and the artillery is not making nosies,' Natalegawa said.

'I will be quite happy then."Southeast Asia political analyst Carl Thayer is with the University of New South Wales.

He credits Natalegawa, who as chairman of ASEAN took the diplomatic initiative to visit both countries in the past month, and got involved in meetings at the United Nations Security Council in New York.

He says the successful mediation efforts gives ASEAN new credibility on issues that affect peace and stability in the region."I am very optimistic.

It is a very big step for ASEAN,' Thayer stated. 'The issue was taken before the UN Security Council and it threw the hot potato to ASEAN to follow through on.

And Indonesia as chair, its foreign minister has taken a proactive role and has got the agreement of Thailand and Cambodia to show up when Thailand was saying it could only be settled bilaterally."ASEAN has a strict policy of non-interference in member states' internal affairs and has been criticized for doing too little to resolve conflicts and preserve regional security.

But Natalegawa say when the conflict began in early February, he saw a role for ASEAN to play."This is a seminal development in ASEAN's capacity to deal with conflict situation.

When the conflict broke out last fourth of February, as head of ASEAN we were sure, certain that sooner or later this issue will come on ASEAN's lap.

So it is best that we start early and have the advantage of time and have the advantage of setting the tone," Natalegawa said.While the ceasefire is a significant breakthrough, Natalegawa says the mediation process is just beginning and finding a permanent solution to the border dispute will take more time and negotiation.
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Cambodian Govt. Closes UN Vietnamese Refugee Camp

The Cambodian government has ordered the closure of a United Nations (UN) refugee camp, which housed refugees from the ethnic Montagnard minority, fleeing from neighboring Vietnam.

This indication is contained in a report by Asia News.It ( adding that they are mostly evangelical Christians, from poorer inland areas, and have repeatedly denounced persecution for their faith and support of the United States at the time of the war.

The report noted that human rights activists are appealing to Phnom Penh, urging the government to comply with the directives of the UN Convention on the Rights of Refugees.

It observed that the future of some of the exiles is in the hands of the Cambodian government, who signed the United Nations Charter maintaining an ambiguous attitude towards the Montagnards.

“At first, Phnom Penh announced the repatriation of Vietnamese refugees. It then stated that it would comply with immigration and refugee laws, not excluding the possibility of resettling those claiming refugee statuses,” it stated.

Asia News said that Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it is seriously concerned about the future of the Montagnards, who may not receive treatment "in accordance with international standards."

In his reaction, Phil RobertsonPhil Robertson, deputy director of HRW for Asia, said: "It is imperative that the Cambodian government comply with international agreements and does not return those who seek asylum to a place where their lives and their freedom will be in danger."

“However, the Catholic association Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is in favors of closing the Cambodian centre because it "was the equivalent of a detention” center, where refugees lived in the same way as prisoners,” it also stated.

According to the report, to date, the center hosted 20 people, 10 of whom were resettled in a third country (five-a-head between the U.S. and Canada). The remaining was not granted refugee status and could be forcibly returned by the weekend.

It observed that in 2001 and 2004 at least two thousand Montagnards emigrated to Cambodia to escape the violence of the Vietnamese authorities, who arbitrarily confiscated their land and persecuted them because of their Christian faith. Most of them have obtained political asylum, with the United States at the forefront of granting them visas.
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CAMBODIA: DHL opens fashion and apparel centre


Logistics company DHL has opened a new office in Cambodia which will serve as specialist fashion and apparel centre to support the country's fast-growing garment export industry.

The premises, close to the centre of the capital Phnom Penh, will house its seventh 'Fashion and Apparel Center of Excellence' in the Asia Pacific.

The new office will offer a range of bespoke and consultancy services to help firms manage the product flow further upstream in their supply chains, ranging from material purchasing to sampling, quality control and direct delivery.

"The fashion and apparel industry remains as one of our core focus areas and Cambodia is an increasingly important part of our global fashion and apparel aspirations," explains Huykieu Khau, managing director, DHL Logistics (Cambodia) Ltd.

"In the first 11 months of 2010, garments and textiles contributed nearly US$2.82bn to Cambodia, which is a 20.15% increase from the same period last year. Moreover, EU tax exemptions for Cambodia mean export growth is likely to continue to rise."

DHL already operates similar centres in Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Services on offer include international and domestic cargo freight forwarding, labelling and packaging, storage and warehousing, and customs clearance.

"The new office reflects our commitment to expand our reach in the region and to continually invest in Cambodia," adds Amadou Diallo, CEO, Africa and South Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding.

"We are very optimistic about the country's growth potential - gross domestic product growth stands at 5.5% in 2010, higher than the forecast of 4.9% by the World Bank. We believe that 2011 will be an even better year for Cambodia now that economic recovery is well underway."
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Monday, February 21, 2011

UN Rights Envoy Meets With Union Leaders

U.N. special rapporteur Surya Subedi walks through a Cambodian national flag upon his arrival in a conference room at the U.N. headquarter in Phnom Penh, in 2010.

The UN’s special envoy for human rights met with union leaders on Monday, including representatives for garment factory workers and teachers, who pointed out concerns in basic rights like education and assembly, officials said.

Surya Subedi, the human rights special representative for the UN secretary-general, is on a 10-day mission that ends later this week.

Union leaders discussed with him with their main concerns as he drafts a report for the UN Human Rights Council, said Rong Chhun, president of the Independent Teachers Association.

Education and assembly were among the main concerns, he said.

People lack access to education, including a lack of schools and low salaries for teachers, Rong Chhun said. Impoverished children also are often unable to go to school, which affects their right to education, he said.

Leaders also pointed to difficulties for unions to assemble workers under strict laws or even hold meetings, after restaurant or other venue owners receive threats from local authorities, Rong Chhun said.

Rong Chhun also said new draft law on unions is restrictive on union leaders, including regulations that make it easy for unions to be banned by the Ministry of Interior. A draft law on NGOs is similarly worrying, he said, in that it could restrict the operations of non-government organizations.

Representatives also told Subedi that were concerned about the murders of labor leaders and the arrests of suspects that are not likely the perpetrators.

Subedi has also met with senior government leaders, opposition parties and rights groups on his trip.

In talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen Thursday, Subedi brought a proposal from 300 NGOs requesting a “dialogue” between the groups and the government, said Ieng Sophalleth, a spokesman for the prime minister.

Hun Sen declined the proposal, saying there are “3,000 local NGOs,” and a request from 300 “did not represent the majority,” Ieng Sophalleth said.

Subedi also spoke to Hun Sen about court reform. Hun Sen said the government does not interfere with the court and is working to improve the judiciary.

Last week, Subedi also met with 20 local NGOs, who outlined their own worries.

Chak Sopheap, executive assistant for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said local groups raised concerns about rights abuses, land grabs, freedom of expression and the courts.

“Freedom of expression in Cambodia is still barred by the government,” she said, including the freedom to hold demonstrations or strikes.

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Cambodia, Thailand to agree on dispatch of military observers+

JAKARTA, Kyodo—Cambodia and Thailand will agree this week on the dispatch of military observers to a disputed border area where the two sides have traded fire, government officials from both countries said Monday.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told Kyodo News the agreement will materialize at the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Jakarta.

Foreign Ministers from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will gather Tuesday in Jakarta to help resolve the border conflict, over which the U.N. Security Council has expressed grave concern and urged for the establishment of a permanent ceasefire.

Indonesia, current chair of ASEAN, initiated the meeting and hinted that it will likely send military observers upon requests from both parties.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi on Monday told reporters in Jakarta that Thailand is ready to allow military observers from Indonesia or ASEAN to deploy in Thai territory on a monitoring mission.

"We are ready if Indonesia as the chair wishes to send military observers to the border," he said.
Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over their rival claims to 4.6 square kilometers of land around a temple on the border.

Since the temple was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2008, several rounds of border clashes have occurred.
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Chinese vice commerce minister praises China-Cambodia cooperation

Trade cooperation between China and Cambodia could be considered as "pattern cooperation" in developing countries, said Fu Ziying, visiting Chinese vice commerce minister, during a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister on Monday afternoon.

"We consider that the trade cooperation between our two countries is a sample among the developing countries," Fu said to Hun Sen, adding that China-Cambodia cooperation in economics and trades will be better.

Fu also promised to encourage more Chinese investors to invest in Cambodia, especially in agro-industry, mining and special economic zones.

"China wants to establish joint investment projects with Cambodia in agro-industry as Cambodia has favorable land and water resources, while China has markets and financial and technical resources to invest in this sector," he added.

He said that China welcomes the export of Cambodian agricultural product into Chinese market.

Fu also conveyed the greeting from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In response, Hun Sen said that Cambodia is much in need of investment in agro-industry.

"Cambodia has been developing its agricultural sector, but it' s still weak," he said. "In this sense, I would like to ask Chinese investors to consider investment in this sector."

The premier also asked China to support strongly the development of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone.

Bilateral trades between Cambodia and China mounted to 1.12 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, up 41.5 percent from about 791 million U.S. dollars in 2009, according to the statistics from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.

Fu Ziying and his delegation, arrived here on Sunday to pay a four-day visit here, held the 2nd China-Cambodia Strategic Economic Dialogue on Monday morning and signed a number of cooperation agreements with Cambodia.

Source: Xinhua
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China to Help Cambodia Boost Social, Economic Development

Cambodia and China on Monday signed six agreements on bilateral cooperation, aiming at assisting Cambodia to develop its economy and to alleviate poverty, said officials.

The agreements were signed here during the 2nd China-Cambodia Strategic Economic Dialogue, co-chaired by Anu Porn Moniroth, secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia and Fu Ziying, visiting Chinese vice commerce minister.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue attended the signing ceremony.

The grant and loan agreements included a grant to Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance; a donation of air-conditioners and desktop computers to the Senate; a project to dispatch Chinese experts to study the feasibility of the construction of agricultural laboratory building in Cambodia; a loan agreement for the construction of a 22 kilovolt electricity transmission line in the length of 1.9 km in the provinces of Kampong Speu, Preah Sihanouk, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham.

Moreover, the construction contract of enlargement of the national road No. 6A (in the length of 40 km) to four lanes under a soft loan from China, and the consultant contract on the enlargement of the national road No. 6A were also signed.

Aun Porn Moniroth expressed profound thanks to China for its timely and unconditional financial and technical assistances to Cambodia.

"As the world was affected by the global financial crisis, China had still provided its assistance to Cambodia," he said, adding"this has helped Cambodia to prevent and overcome the crisis successfully."

"Chinese aid to Cambodia is very essential to develop the economy and alleviate poverty,"he added.

Fu Ziying said that Cambodia is a good neighbor of China and pledged to continue supporting Cambodia in its development of economy.

"China and Cambodia are willing to help each other,"he said, adding "in the future, China can be a big market for Cambodian products."

"We want closer cooperation with Cambodia on agriculture and mining as well as other sectors,"he said.

Fu Ziying is scheduled to pay courtesy call on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday afternoon.
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DHL eyes Cambodia Oil and Gas

Germany-based logistics giant DHL will put increasing focus on servicing Cambodia’s nascent oil and gas sector for the future of its Kingdom business, officials said at the launch of its new Phnom Penh office today.

While 95 percent of its current freight forwarding work in Cambodia concentrates on garment exports, the company claims to see massive potential for oil and gas.

“Countries like China, India are actively looking for resources, resources like oil and energy,” said the firm’s Africa and Asia Pacific head of oil and energy Sam Ang.

“While I’m pretty sure the [importance] of the [garment] sector will not be reduced, other sectors are coming up.”

The firm’s oil and gas business involves providing logistical services to industry firms.

Sam Ang claimed this could include importing machinery and assisting in large projects such as the installation of oil platforms.

Oil has been climbing on worldwide exchanges in recent months.

Today, Brent crude traded at more than US$104.50 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

“As price goes up, people are more excited,” said Sam Ang.

A growing worldwide economy was pushing demand for energy, he said, adding the Kingdom potentially sat on billions of barrels of oil.

Chevron Corporation is generally thought to be the Kingdom’s first chance of producing oil. Prime Minister Hun Sen last year threatened to remove Chevron’s licence – which is held for offshore Block A – if a 2012 deadline to begin production was not met.

Sam Ang also emphasised DHL looked to increase its business from industrial factories looking to enter Cambodia.

Meanwhile, DHL Global Forwarding chief executive officer of Africa and South Asia Pacific, Amadou Diallo, said the United States and Europe were the traditional markets for Cambodia’s garment exports, but added the firm expected intra-Asia exports to pick up in coming years.

Rising costs for producers in China meant factories were increasing coming to the Kingdom, he said, adding that DHL worked hard to stay ahead of the curve.

“You’ll find DHL in more countries than Coca-Cola,” he said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BLOOMBERG
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cambodian ruler's son enjoys rapid rise

By Michelle Fitzpatrick

PHNOM PENH, (AFP) -- When Hun Manet was promoted to a two-star general last month, Cambodia's premier had to defend his eldest son's rapid rise, dismissing claims it was an attempt to engineer an eventual succession.

One expert even drew parallels with dynastic plans in secretive North Korea, where communist ruler Kim Jong-Il has seemingly hand picked son Kim Jong-Un to take over the reigns of power.

Thai-Cambodian border clashes, the heaviest in years between the neighbours, have boosted 33-year-old Manet's military credentials, observers say, a small victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen as the row with Thailand rumbles on.

Described as "a pretty humble guy" by a Phnom Penh-based diplomat who has met Manet on several occasions, the first-born of Hun Sen's six children does not seek out the spotlight.

Much has been made in Cambodia of his foreign education and despite his young age, Manet is already chief of the ministry of defence's anti-terrorism unit as well as deputy commander of his father's personal bodyguard unit.

He was promoted to a two-star general in January, a move that prompted some observers to suggest he was being groomed to succeed his father, 59, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985 -- making him the longest-serving Asian leader.

The premier hit back, saying Manet -- who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and earned a doctorate in economics from Britain's University of Bristol -- was well-qualified for the roles.

"He has been in the army for 16 years and there is promotion within the army ranks," Hun Sen said at the time.

Chhaya Hang, executive director of the Khmer Institute of Democracy, a local policy group, believes the premier is trying to consolidate power by "orchestrating the future of Cambodia's leadership".

"We saw a similar story last year when the North Korean president promoted his son to a four-star general," he said.

When a long-running border dispute with Thailand boiled over earlier this month, resulting in four days of deadly violence, Thai news outlets were quick to point out Manet's role in the fighting.

Some even claimed -- wrongly -- that he had been injured.

Hun Sen set the record straight, explaining in a speech that his son was involved in border strategy and negotiations with Thai counterparts -- from the safety of the Cambodian capital.

"Manet is so famous in Thailand now," said Hun Sen, sounding like a proud father as he took a swipe at the Thai reports.

"The invaders curse you, son," he said, before adding jokingly: "Let's fight, son, your father encourages you."

A few days after the violence died down, Manet travelled to the tense border to meet troops, stepping into the limelight at last.

"He paid a visit and encouraged our troops at the frontline," said a Cambodian field military commander who did not wish to be named. "He also gave some advice to our soldiers regarding fighting tactics and self-defence."

Many of the Cambodian soldiers on the border are thought to be former Khmer Rouge fighters hardened by decades of the now-over civil war.

The visit appeared to serve the purpose of exposing Manet to a "real war situation", said Chhaya Hang, that would help to "legitimise his role in the military as one of the modern world's youngest generals".

But some analysts cautioned that it was important not to overstate the importance of Manet's rapid rise to prominence.

"Ordinary Cambodian people don't feel too concerned" about his career progression and where it might eventually lead, said political commentator Son Soubert.

He also said it was too soon to speculate whether the premier was paving the way for his son to take the top job, hinting at opposition within the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) to the idea.

"Many people think he is being groomed to succeed his father but whether he will succeed in convincing everyone in the CPP circle is another question," said Soubert.

If Manet is to rise to the top, he may have to wait a long time -- his father has vowed to stay in power until he is 90.

"I think for the moment that we should take Prime Minister Hun Sen's statements about staying on in his role for many years to come at face value," said Milton Osborne, a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.
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Observers invited to embed with Thai troops: Thai FM

By The Nation

Thailand planned to invite Indonesia to send observers to "embed" with Thai soldiers at the border where Thai troops clashed with Cambodia, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Sunday.

The observers will be witness for the Thai side that it respected the ceasefire with Cambodia.
Kasit was speaking after attending a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at the Foreign Ministry on Sunday. The meeting is held in preparation for Asean Foreign Ministers' meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday.

"We would ask Indonesia, chair of Asean, to dispatch observers to embed with the Thai troops at the border where the Thai troops clashed with Cambodian troops. The observers will be our witness that we respect the ceasefire," Kasit said.

Fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops erupted on February 4 and continued although both generals had met on the following day and agreed for the ceasefire.

Recently UN Security Council issued a statement calling for immediate ceasefire between the countries.

Kasit said Cambodia should also agree to accept the observers to embed with their troops.

Responding to reports that both countries have signed a temporary ceasefire during a meeting between Thai and Cambodian generals in a restaurant in Along Veng of Cambodia on Saturday, Kasit said that both sides did not sign any ceasefire.

What they did was just talking not negotiating and they did not sign anything, he said.

Meanwhile an informed source said representing the Cambodian side in the Saturday meeting was not Maj Gen Hun Manet, the eldest son, of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen but Deputy Supreme Commander Jia Dara.

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Border ceasefire brokered

By Cheang Sokha

Cambodian and Thai military commanders have reportedly agreed to a ceasefire in the disputed areas close to Preah Vihear temple, after clashes in the area earlier this month left at least 10 people dead and dozens injured on both sides.

Touch Ra, deputy chief of the border relations office in Oddar Meanchey province, said today that military commanders from the two sides met for a two-hour closed-door meeting on Saturday attended by Hun Manet, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son.

“The result of the meeting has not been revealed as it was held secretly,” Touch Ra said.

But he added that since the meeting was conducted, the situation along the border has returned to normal.

“Most of the people have returned to their homes and are continuing with their businesses.

“The situation has calmed down and the people have no more fear of gunfire along the border.”

Chea Morn, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Military Region 4, declined to comment today.

The talks followed four days of clashes from February 4-7, in which troops traded artillery, mortar and small arms fire in disputed areas close to Preah Vihear temple, which sustained damage in the skirmishes.

The Bangkok Post reported today that military commanders from both sides had inked a ceasefire agreement following Saturday’s talks, though it is unclear whether the agreement will hold.

A previous truce was called on February 5, but violence flared up again the next day.

The paper quoted an army source as saying Second Army commander Thawatchai Samutsakhorn was part of a Thai delegation led by Army chief-of-staff Daopong Rattanasuwan. The Cambodian delegation was led by Hun Manet, according to the report.

“All is well,” said Thawatchai Samutsakhorn after the agreement was signed at a restaurant near the Choam Sa-Ngam border crossing between Oddar Meanchey and Sisaket provinces.

The apparent agreement has stoked nationalist sentiment in Thailand, with Yellow Shirt activists from the People’s Alliance for Democracy claiming it could disadvantage Thai claims to disputed territories close to Preah Vihear.

At a press conference in Bangkok, Yellow Shirt spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said the conditions under the ceasefire deal had put Thailand in an underdog situation and would lead to a permanent loss of Thai land to Cambodia, the Bangkok Post reported.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva denied the claims in his weekly address today, saying the agreement “will not lead to any loss of Thai soil as speculated”.

The agreement comes ahead of a meeting of ASEAN’s foreign ministers in Jakarta tomorrow, which is set to discuss the stand-off between Cambodia and Thailand.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said last week that at the meeting Cambodia will press Thailand to sign a permanent ceasefire under ASEAN’s auspices, requesting that the bloc deploy observers into disputed border areas.

Thailand has been steadfastly opposed to a multilateral solution to the border conflict, which has erupted into sporadic violence since July 2008, when UNESCO listed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site over Thai objections.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Foreign Minister Hor Namhong will lead a delegation to Indonesia today to attend the meeting.

Thai state media also reported on Saturday that former UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura will next week pay a visit to Bangkok and Phnom Penh to hear both sides’ views on the recent conflict, though he will not visit disputed areas along the border.
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Cambodia Successfully Hosts ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011

By Jojie Alcantara

Philippine delegates to the Asean Tourism Forum in Cambodia (photo by Jojie Alcantara)

ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2011 launched its opening ceremony in Cambodia (dubbed Kingdom of Wonder), and was hosted by the Ministry of Cambodia on January 18 at the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh. The week long event welcomed over 1,600 heads of National Tourist Organizations (NTOs), Tourism Ministers, travel suppliers, international buyers, media and other tourism professionals from around the world.

After welcoming speeches by Kingdom of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Samdech Akka Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Sok An, (Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers and Chairman of the Organizing Committee for ATF 2011) and H.E. Mr. Thong Khon (Minister of Tourism, and Permanent Vice-Chairman of ATF 2011 Organizing Committee), delegates were treated to a 30-minute spectacular fireworks display, and a fascinating cultural extravaganza of 500 performers amidst pyrotechnics, set in an open area by the riverside. A stunning sunset and full moon enhanced the wonderful scene.

Occupying a huge exhibition area of 8,430 sqm, the ATF TRAVEX – a three-day travel trade-only exhibition and business meetings platform – featured 518 booths from 434 exhibiting companies of 10 ASEAN countries. International buyers with a keen interest to buy destinations, products and services were ready to do business and source at this annual leisure travel trade event, showcasing the largest contingent of ASEAN sellers, from small to large suppliers.

Philippine Secretary of Tourism Alberto Lim was among several delegates of Filipinos who attended, including travel agents and resort operators. We bonded together over hosted lunch, dinners, and at the Travex exhibition booth. The Philippine media comprised of my colleague Ian Garcia (M Magazine and Mindanao Times) and I, who travelled along with DOT XI Regional Director Art Boncato.

ATF 2011 became a widely publicized event by both trade and consumer media, with 148 media delegates from across 32 countries in attendance. We received first-hand information on the latest updates and developments taking place across 10 ASEAN destinations through dedicated media briefings, showcasing travel attractions.

Exciting networking opportunities were offered to buyers and hosted media delegates through pre-event city tours of Phnom Penh, highlighting the city’s wonderful attractions which include The Royal Palace, National Museum of Cambodia, Tuol Sleng Museum (S-21 Prison), Toul Tum Poung Market, Phsar Thmey (Central Market) and Wat Phnom Daun Penh. Post event tours were also given at a discounted rate to Sihanoukville and Siem Reap, home to the ancient Angkor Wat.

Delegates were treated to a wide range of networking activities over the next few days, including friendly golf, hosted luncheons and dinners by Cambodia Angkor Air, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia, Bangkok Airways, Tourism Malaysia and Ministry of Tourism. Late night functions at Raffles Hotel Le Royal and Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra gave them a chance to relax and party after a hectic day.

A cooperative regional effort to promote the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as one tourist destination, ATF is an annual event involving the tourism industry sectors of 10 member nations of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the member countries. ATF 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of this event since its inauguration in Malaysia in 1981. This year’s theme was “ASEAN, A World of Wonders and Diversity”. ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011 with the ATF TRAVEX (Jan. 19-21) was held from 15 to 21 January 2011 at Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Manado, Indonesia is now preparing to host ATF 2012.

Special thanks to the following who made my trip fun in more ways than one: Cebu Pacific Air (Davao–Manila-Saigon connecting flight), DOT XI and Director Art Boncato, Nino Carandang and Western Digital (all my precious 20gb worth of images throughout the trip stored in my new 1Tb passport!), NCCC, Mayor Sara Duterte, Mayor Michelle Rabat of Mati, and Miss Gina Espejo for the MX3 capsules which I regularly take to energize me after the long haul.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cambodia: Thailand's rejection of ceasefire shows 'fragility of war' at border

Pro-government newspaper Reaksmei Kampuchea in Cambodian carries in its 19 February 2011 issue a report by Meng Chhai on pages A1 and A5 headlined "Thailand Increasingly Reinforces Troops at the Border Adjoining Cambodia Ahead of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting"

The Reaksmei Kampuchea says:

"Warmongering Thai Prime Minister Aphisit Vechachiva on Thursday [ 17 February] immediately rejected Cambodia's proposal for a ceasefire agreement between the two countries saying that it is too early to talk about any measures.

"Samdech Cambodian Prime Minister on Thursday [ 17 February] proposed that Thailand and Cambodia signed an agreement on a permanent ceasefire witnessed by other ASEAN members or the ASEAN chairman when ASEAN foreign ministers meet in Jakarta on Tuesday next week [ 22 February].

"Aphisit, however, said that 'We did not open fire first. It is too early to talk about signing any agreement. Thailand has said it from the beginning that we did not open fire first. We did what other countries will do...[ellipsis as published] That is, when were are under attack, or we were fired on first, we will fire back. We have the right to protect our sovereignty.'"

The Reaksmei Kampuchea report further says:

"It should be specified that the Thai government's rejection on signing a ceasefire agreement with Cambodia coincided with Thai media, Bangkok Post, reporting that the royal Thai armed forces have decided to implement the national defence plan named Chakrabongse Bhuvanart [Romanized name as published] with the participation of three type of armed forces to patrol the Thai-Cambodian border from the provinces of Sisaket, Chanthaburi, to Trat.

"A military source said that Supreme Commander Songkiti Chakapatara has approved the plan as the national defence strategy for the eastern region.

"The source said that around 15,000 Thai troops have been dispatched close to the so-called 4.6-square-kilometre area around Prasat Preah Vihear temple. Under the Chakrabongse Bhuvanart plan, the Thai eastern forces will conduct activities along the border in the provinces of Sisaket and Prachinburi. The force called Sunnari will be responsible for the northeast region and also for the Phra Viharn 54 Operation Plan [preceding Romanized name as published].

"The navy's marines of the border defence force in Chanthaburi and Trat, and other armed forces have been put on standby. In total, approximately 23,000 marines and air force troops will be deployed.

"Continuing, the source said that the air force will send fighter aircraft to patrol the border to support land operations. The air force could in less than 10 minutes send F16 aircraft from Nakhon Ratchasima province to the border area near Prasat Preah Vihear temple in Sisaket province.

"General Ithaphorn Soup-havong, air force commander, said that even though the air force is ready to send F16 aircraft, he believed that this will not be necessary because the confrontation between the two countries remains only at 'small clash level.' He believed that the two sides could still resolve the problem through non-violent negotiation.

"Concerning the continued clash in the area of conflict, Defence Minister Pravit Vongsuvon said that Thai forces will return fire when Cambodian troops open fire on them to defend the country's sovereignty."

Continuing the Reaksmei Kampuchea says:

"On 18 February afternoon, Koy Kuong, spokesman of the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, said that 'Thai Prime Minister Aphisit's rejection of Samdech Decho Hun Sen's proposal in which the samdech wanted a ceasefire agreement signed at the coming 22 February meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, clearly shows the Thai side's warmongering nature and nurtured idea to commit aggression against Cambodian territory. Thailand also violate d the memorandum of the UN Security Council who wanted a permanent ceasefire at the Cambodian-Thai border. Moreover, Thailand did not want ASEAN observers or ceasefire controllers in the border area. This also showed that Thailand wanted to hide its dirty tricks to commit aggression against Cambodia and to accuse Cambodia of opening fire first. So, the rejection by Thailand shows the international community that if it (Thailand) were good, why is it afraid of a third party to be witness?

"Koy Kuong further said that the Thai prime minister's objection was unreasonable and not proper at all. The rejection confirmed the tricky nature of the Thai leadership, especially Thai Prime Minister Aphisit."

Concluding, the Reaksmei Kampuchea report in Cambodian on 19 February says:

"Even though Bangkok has rejected the proposal beforehand, Koy Kuong said that Cambodia will continue to propose the signing of a ceasefire agreement, because this is in conformity with the spirit of the memorandum of the UN Security Council who wants a permanent ceasefire. And it is also in conformity with what Indonesian foreign minister wanted in his name as ASEAN chairman. Koy Kuong further said that Cambodia hopes that ASEAN foreign ministers would support Cambodia's proposal."

"Koy Kuong added that Thailand objected to the ceasefire agreement and has also sent more troops to the Cambodian border. In this era, Thailand should not think that because it has more troops and stronger than Cambodia. The world currently values only Cambodia's correctness and legitimacy in the border conflict with Thailand.

"Political analysts said that Thailand beefing up troops could be a strategy to put psychological pressure on Cambodia ahead of negotiation. Thailand's intention could be to increase its weight at the talks. Such acts, however, could have bad consequence on Thailand and shows the fragility of war along the Cambodian-Thai border."

Source: Reaksmei Kampuchea, Phnom Penh, in Cambodian 19 Feb 11
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Activists urge Thai govt not to sign permanent ceasefire agreement with Cambodia

BANGKOK, Feb 19 -- Activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who have been holding a rally in the Thai capital for nearly a month demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government for mishandling the Thai-Cambodian border conflict demanded on Saturday that the government must not sign a permanent ceasefire agreement with Cambodia, saying that conditions proposed earlier by his counterpart Hun Sen were “insincere,” said PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan.

Mr Hun Sen on Thursday said in Phnom Penh that Cambodia would urge Thailand to agree to a peace deal during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting, to be held in Jakarta next Tuesday, and a ceasefire agreement be signed between foreign ministers of the two neighbouring countries under the witness of ASEAN or the ASEAN chair.

The upcoming ASEAN foreign ministers meeting will be held with an aim to finding ways to end the border conflict and clashes at the disputed border between soldiers of the two countries.

But Mr Panthep said conditions proposed by Cambodia are “insincere because that country has accused Thailand on several occasions” and if an agreement has to be signed then Cambodian villagers and soldiers must move out of the disputed area or before memos by Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) are formally signed.

PAD’s long standing position is to oppose Thai parliamentary endorsement of the three memos by the JBC, claiming they may result in loss of Thai territory adjacent to the Hindu Preah Vihear temple. They have also demanded the revocation of MoUs signed between Thailand and Cambodia in 2000.

The Yellow Shirt movement believes that the JBC documents will put Thailand at a disadvantage as the documents originating from the MoUs related to the survey and boundary demarcation recognising a French map, with a scale of 1:200,000 sq km, that puts Thailand at risk of losing territory.

Another PAD core leader Prapan Koonmee said he had received a letter issued by the Royal Thai Police Bureau asking him and other core leaders to report themselves to Bangkok Metropolitan Police headquarters next Tuesday on charges of violating the Internal Security Act since PAD members have been holding the rally in Bangkok since January 25.

Challenging the police order, Mr Panthep said the enforcement of the Act is tantamount to violating the constitution and the right to freedom of assembly. MCOT online news)
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Thai, Cambodian troops agree on ceasefire: report

BANGKOK, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Army Region 2 commander Lt-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn unveiled on Saturday evening that military commanders of both Thailand and Cambodian have finally reached agreement on ceasefire, a local website INN reported.

Army-chief-of staff Gen Daopong Rattanasuwon held ceasefire talks with Cambodian Deputy Supreme Commander Gen Jia Dara at Chong Sangam in border Surin province on Saturday.

Thailand's Army Region 2 commander and Cambodia's Army Region 4 commander Lt-Gen Jia Mon were among those top brasses attending the meeting.

Following the latest cross-border fighting which erupted firstly on Feb. 4 and carried on until Feb. 7, there were still a few rounds of small skirmishes. Military commanders of both countries once agreed on truce on Feb. 5 but that was not fully implemented.

Soon after both countries' foreign ministers along with Indonesian foreign minister, who is ASEAN's current chairman, attended the UN Security Council meeting in New York on Feb. 14 to discuss the conflicts, a fresh round of clash occurred. However, no further clash has been reported since Feb. 16.

In the deadliest cross-border fighting on Feb. 4-7, about two Thai soldiers and eight Cambodian soldiers were killed and over 20, 000 residents along the border were forced to flee as the two countries exchanged both small arms firings and heavy shelling.
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Thai, Cambodian businessmen agree on widening trade, investment

BANGKOK, Feb 19 -- As an ongoing four-day Thailand Trade Fair being held in Phnom Penh now is running successfully, businessmen of the two countries have also agreed on enlarging trade and investment between them believing that clashes at the disputed border between soldiers of their countries should be solved by their respective governments, said a leading Thai businessman Saturday.

Niyom Waiyaratchapanich, deputy chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) and also committee chairman of TCC’s international trade promotion, said leading businessmen of the two countries agreed during Thursday’s business summit, held for the first time by the two nations, that they would propose to their governments in issuing ‘Thai-Cambodian Business Card’ to facilitate businessmen in crossing the border of each country to do business.

Under the scheme, a special passage at the border will be arranged for the cardholders to pass through, saving time off immigration procedures, Mr Niyom said.

They also agreed that an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) clinic should be set up in both countries to encourage new Thai investors to invest in infrastructure and tourism ventures in Cambodia, proposing both Bangkok and Phnom Penh governments extend contract farming while Thai farming experts would provide know-how to Cambodian farmers, enlarging logistics networks, increasing trucks carrying goods to 150 daily from 40 now and launching bus facilities between the two countries.

“Businessmen of the two countries didn’t raise the border problem for discussion during the meeting as they believed that the issue could be settled by their governments,” Mr Niyom said.

With the two-way trade in 2010 valued about Bt81 billion, up 20 per cent from the previous year, the Thai government-run National Intelligence Agency said in its report last month that trade value between the two countries in 2011 could be almost equal last year’s if no border checkpoints are closed due to clashes at the border.

Thailand is now ranked 14th in terms of largest foreign investment in Cambodia, as businessmen in this country have already invested in more than 80 projects, with total investments of over US$363 million.

Thai Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who also attended the trade fair which ends Sunday, opined that the summit proposed that a similar trade fair be organised in each country every two months due to the success of the ongoing fair in Phnom Penh. (MCOT online news)
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Vietnam's public security delegation visits Cambodia

A high-ranking delegation from the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security (MPS), led by Minister Gen. Le Hong Anh is on a two-day visit to Cambodia from February 18-19.

The delegation was received by Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Cambodia.

After informing each other of the socio-economic situation of each country, the two ministers signed a cooperation plan for 2011 which aims to strengthen effectiveness in combating crime and ensuring social order and security as well as support each other in training staff and using technical equipment.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Minister Le Hong Anh said that cooperative ties between Vietnam’s MPS and Cambodia’s relevant agencies have made important progress which contributed greatly to the political and socio-economic development of both countries.

He also said he hoped the cooperation plan for 2011 would be effectively carried out, contributing to the national construction and development process of each country.

Speaking highly of the outcomes in cooperation between the two public security forces, Deputy PM Sar Kheng also expressed his belief in the successes of bilateral cooperation in the future.

In the afternoon the same day, the Vietnamese delegation paid a courtesy visit to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Cambodia: Uncrowded Jewel of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has always been a popular destination for adventure-seeking travelers who want to experience something a little out of the ordinary. Tourists have streamed to countries like Thailand or Vietnam. But this year, make Cambodia your spot for exploration in a relatively uncrowded world.

What's There

Cambodia boasts much of the same lush scenery as other Southeast Asian countries. Coastal areas are home to beautiful beaches that aren't as touristy. Verdant rainforests spread over the landscape. The Cardamom Mountains are considered a natural resource, with ample wildlife habitat. The Mekong River is an impressive scenic wonder that begins in China and cuts through Cambodia.

For history-conscious wanderers, Angkor Wat is a must-see. It was built in the 12th century. The ancient site of Angkor was built by the Khmer civilization. More than 100 impressive stone temples survive and are a testament to human ingenuity and imagination.

Many people recommend that visitors take time to experience the countryside of Cambodia. Seemingly endless rice paddies are cultivated by the people. Visiting the rural areas rather than sticking to the urban centers such as Phnom Penh can be a way to connect with the rich and vibrant country.

Why Visit Now

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its citizens struggle to survive amidst extreme poverty and depression. It is one of the contrasts of this beautiful country. Among such lush scenery and historical importance is a struggling country. However, tourism is beginning to boom in Cambodia. After decades of war, Cambodians are welcoming tourists. It is a boost to the country's economy. Eco-tourism is getting some play, as various people attempt to preserve the country's resources.

Currently, the United States dollar is equal to more than 4000 riels. Thus, Americans can expect a fairly good exchange rate (though it is less than many European countries). In addition, dollars are widely accepted. In fact, visa fees must be paid in U.S. dollars. This makes it convenient for American travelers.

High-end hotels in Cambodia offer very competitive rates. I saw recommended 3-star hotels for as low as $29 a night. Resorts and spas could be obtained for less than $100 a night. Flights run expensive, expect to pay over $1000 for flights from the West Coast to Phnom Penh.
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