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Saturday, January 01, 2011

UN urged to help Arrested 7

The Thai Patriots Network has asked the United Nations to help secure the release of seven Thais held in Phnom Penh on charges of illegal entry into Cambodia, and claims to have proof of their innocence.

The network, led by Somboon Thongburan and allied to the People's Alliance for Democracy, gave a petition to the UN at its regional headquarters on Ratchadamnoen Avenue yesterday.

The petition included a copy of land title deeds and receipts of tax payments on the land, which is said to prove that the Thais, including Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth, were actually arrested on Thai soil in Khok Sung district, Sa Kaeo.

Mr Somboon said the land belonged to Khem Paengsungnern and was connected to border marker No 46, and the Thais were about 300m from the border mark when they were arrested last Wednesday.

This contradicts findings by the Thai Foreign Ministry, which admitted earlier that the Thais were about one kilometre inside Cambodian territory at the time of the arrest.

Thai ambassador to Cambodia, Prasas Prasasvinitchai, has visited the seven Thais at Prey Sor prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The detainees are poised to meet family members when Cambodian officials resume work after New Year.

Chavanond Komalayasut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister, said Mr Panich's wife, Patchareeporn Vikitsreth, left Bangkok yesterday for Phnom Penh, where she will wait for approval for the prison visit.

Lawyers plan to file bail requests to the court for the Thais as soon as the court resumes duty next week.

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Vietnam securities firms eye foothold in Laos, Cambodia

With Laos and Cambodia’s first stock exchanges slated to begin trading next year, Vietnamese securities companies are seeking to expand their operations and Vietnamese stock market players see more investment options.

The Lao Securities Exchange was established in October and will commence trading operations on January 11. Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL), one of the largest commercial banks in the country, and EDLGeneration Pcl, a unit of state-owned Electricite du Laos, will be the first two enterprises to be listed on the bourse.

The exchange’s opening has helped Vietnam’s Sacombank Securities expand its business to the smallest economy in Southeast Asia. The brokerage firm and the Lao Development Bank (LDP) have set up the first securities firm in Laos, named Lane Xang Securities Public Co. Sacombank Securities holds a 51- percent stake in the joint venture.

Lane Xang was financial adviser for the initial public offering (IPO - a necessary process before being listed) made by BCEL.

The firm has also signed deals to do the same for other Lao enterprises.

“Lane Xang has won in competition with many Thai and Korean securities companies [to become advisers to the BCEL IPO] as the Lao economy is similar to Vietnam’s, which has begun from a state-owned base and then entered the equitization stage,” said Nguyen Hoang Giang, consultancy director of Sacombank Securities.

Giang said Lane Xang Securities not only provides financial consultancy services for enterprises seeking to list their shares on the Lao stock exchange but also acts as a broker for investors wanting to trade shares on the bourse.

The IPO of BCEL, the first-ever in Laos, closed on December 23. The atmosphere was exciting and the shares were oversubscribed, said Giang.

Nearly 20.5 million BCEL shares, or 15 percent of the lender’s registered capital, were offered on auction at an average bid price of 5,910 kip (74 US cents), he said.

Only Lao investors were permitted to subscribe for shares in the bank as the Lao Securities Exchange Commission is yet to decide on the portion of shares that foreign investors can hold in a company, the Vientiane Times said on December 15.

However, many Vietnamese investors are hopeful that they will get the opportunity to buy shares of Lao companies in future IPOs.

As for the Cambodia, the Kingdom’s first stock exchange is also due to open in 2011.

The launch of the US$6 million bourse, which is being built by a South Korean developer, has twice been delayed but the Finance Ministry says it will begin trading by July 2011 “at all costs.”

The ministry has given priority to state companies for listing, and has asked Telecom Cambodia, port operator Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority to list their shares, Reuters said last month.

Meanwhile, two Vietnamese firms, Cambodia-Vietnam Securities and Sacombank Securities (Cambodia), are among fifteen companies that have been granted licenses by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia to operate on the bourse.

The former is permitted to operate as an underwriter that will provide advice on the issue of securities - such as pricing, public offerings and distribution timelines.

The Cambodia-Vietnam Securities Company belongs to the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia Plc, a subsidiary of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam, also known as BIDV.

Several other Vietnamese companies that wished to remain anonymous said they had plans to open securities firms in Laos and Cambodia in the near future.

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Visitors to Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple increase sharply in 2010

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Tourists visiting Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple increased by 3.6 folds in 2010 thanks to good security and better infrastructure in the area, director of Preah Vihear province's tourism department Kong Vibol said on Saturday.

There had been 80,356 people visiting the temple in 2010, increased by 3.6 times from 17,174 people in 2009, he told Xinhua by telephone. Of the figure, the domestic visitors were up 3.7 times to 78,419 from 16,405 and the foreign tourists increased by 1.5 times to 1,937 from 769.

"It's a huge increase of the tourists to the temple in 2010 due to better security and stability as the border tension with Thailand has been eased, and the good condition roads--easy to travel,"said Kong Vibol, adding "so visitors feel safe and more confidence to visit the temple."

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

The border issue, however, has been eased as the top leaders of Cambodia and Thailand have held four meetings since September.

In 2010, the province as a whole received 135,657 tourists, up 119 percent from 61,903 in 2009, Kong Vibol said. Of the figure, foreign tourists were up 32 percent to 11,249 from 8,512 in 2009.

Preah Vihear province has three attractive ancient temples for tourists. They are Preah Vihear temple, Koh Ker temple and Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple.

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