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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thailand Wants Terms of Asean Mission

Cambodia says the 11th-Century temple was damaged by Thai artillery in border clashes in February and has asked Unesco to assess the damage.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says Thailand and Cambodia must still discuss the bilateral terms for an Indonesian monitoring mission to the border.

In remarks Wednesday, the premier said he has requested Indonesia delay the border mission, which follows deadly clashes last month, until its scope and areas can be determined.

“Otherwise, it may lead to further problems and dispute in terms of settlement claims,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday criticized Thailand for a slow response to the documentation needed for Asean observers at the border.

Indonesia hopes to send observers to both sides of the border, following deadly clashes last month, but Thailand has so far failed to agree to the terms of reference.

Thailand’s reticence could cause a delay to the observer mission. But Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told VOA Khmer that Cambodia will accept Indonesian monitors with or without Thailand.

“We’ve clearly said that in case Thailand objects, then Cambodia agrees to take them unilaterally,” he said.

Observers say the discrepancy can lead to problems for the Indonesian mission, which as planned would put observers on each side of the border to ensure no further border fighting takes place.

Clashes in early February left at least 10 people dead and caused damage to portions of Preah Vihear temple, a Unesco World Heritage site. After the fighting, both sides agreed in principle to observers from Indonesia, which is the current head of Asean.

Thai officials say they expect to hold further talks with Cambodia March 7 and March 8 during a joint border committee meeting. However, Koy Kuong said Cambodia has not agreed to those dates.

Cambodian officials maintain they will not negotiate the border with Thailand without the presence of Asean officials as witnesses.
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Silence After Recruitment Firm Settles in Death of Woman

Last year, Cambodia has sent 94,564 legal workers to Thailand; 19,588 to Malaysia; 9,082 to South Korea; and 97 to Japan.

The husband of a woman who died after remaining ill in a recruitment center in Phnom Penh has settled with the company, but rights groups say they want a full investigation to continue.

Chin Sopheap, 36, was recruited to work as a waitress in Malaysia, but after she arrived at the company’s local center, she fell ill.

The company reportedly would not let her leave without being paid back money it had already invested in the woman.

Khiep Sony, general manager of the recruiting company, International Investment Services, Ltd., told VOA Khmer Chin Sopheap was ill before she arrived. The company tried to send her to the hospital “many times,” he said, but “she had a problem with her husband.” He blamed her death in a hospital on Friday of a heart attack.

Husband Heng Saroeun, 51, who had previously spoken about his wife’s death to local media, told VOA Khmer he had agreed to $4,000 in compensation but had agreed not to discuss the case further. He would now focus on her seven-day funeral ceremony, he said.

An increasing number of Cambodians are seeking work in Malaysia, subject to aggressive recruitment by local companies that work with Malaysia placement firms.

Critics warn that recruitment practices are not well governed and that women are at risk of abuse on their arrival in Malaysia.

Many recruiting companies offer families cash and rice up front as an incentive to join up for work. New government regulations for migrant labor have aimed at curbing the practice, but it is still common.

Chin Sopheap was recruited for work in January. Heng Saroeun previously said she had fallen ill with stomach problems, but the company would not release her without being repaid the $600 it had invested in her in paperwork and incentives to the family.

No autopsy was performed on her body, and the cause of death remains a mystery, said Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho. Licadho currently views the case as one of worker detention, he said.

Chim Sopheap is the second worker to die while awaiting work in Malaysia. The first woman died last year at the recruiting center of a Phnom Penh company, VC Manpower. Officials said at the time she too had died of a heart attack.

Chan Saveth, head of investigation for the rights group Adhoc, said that even if families receive compensation from companies, they can pursue legal charges. “This case cannot be solved with money,” he said.
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