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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Interpol Set to Join the Hunt for Nunun

The National Police are optimistic that Interpol will help them to locate fugitive graft suspect Nunun Nurbaeti, suspected of being in Cambodia.

Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said on Thursday that all 188 member countries of Interpol would soon be notified of Nunun’s status as a fugitive."The KPK sent the red notice to the National Police yesterday, which will be forwarded within a day or two to the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France," Boy said.
With the Interpol member countries alerted, Boy said, Nunun should soon be located.

"If any of the Interpol members receive information about Nunun, then we, as the country who requested the search, will be actively updated," he said.

Insp. Gen. Anton Bahrul Alam, another spokesman for the National Police, said the report was to be forwarded at the KPK's request.

Senior immigration official Muhammad Indra said that since Nunun's passport has been revoked, it should become easier to track her down, since she cannot flee from country to country without her passport.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should notify other countries, especially Asian countries, that this person's passport is no longer valid and that she should be banned from entering any country," he said.

However, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar on Monday said that Thai authorities informed him that Nunun had left the country for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in March.

Separately, Nunun’s husband, lawmaker and former National Police deputy chief Adang Daradjatun, maintained that his wife was still in Singapore. The KPK has urged Nunun's family to persuade her to return to Indonesia.

Adang had earlier told the KPK that his wife was undergoing medical treatment in Singapore for an illness that caused memory loss. However, it is alleged that she had been making frequent trips between there and Thailand to extend her stay in Singapore.

He also said the intense media coverage of the case had “terrified” her.

“This is unfair. When she was getting treatment from a doctor in Singapore, a reporter went there to check and then she was denied the medical treatment because [the doctor] thought she was a fugitive,” he said. “At the time, she was still a witness.”

Adang refused to reveal his wife’s whereabouts, dismissing new reports she entered Cambodia on March 21. “I can’t confirm that she is in Cambodia,” he said. “It’s up to her where she wants to go to get medical treatment.”
Nunun has been named a suspect in a bribery case involving several lawmakers in relation to the election of Miranda Goeltom as senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia, the central bank, in 2004. She had allegedly distributed bribes in the form of travelers' checks among lawmakers shortly after the House of Representatives endorsed Miranda's candidacy for the BI post.
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Toms Shoes takes next step

By Jeff Beer

This week, company founder Blake Mycoskie announced that the popular California-based Toms Shoes brand will be taking its talents to eyewear. So now, in addition to supplying shoes to needy kids around the world, Toms will be helping people in developing countries with their eyesight.

If you don't know the Toms business model, for every pair of shoes sold the company gives a pair of shoes to a child in need, primarily in the U.S., Argentina, South Africa and Ethiopia. Now they'll be applying that same concept to eye care, selling stylish sunglasses in order to give prescription eyeglasses and sight-saving medical treatment to people in need. These efforts will be done with the Seva Foundation, starting in Nepal, Tibet and Cambodia.

The glasses they're selling range from $135 to $145 with a few different styles. Two basically look like Ray-Ban aviators or Wayfarers, except with colourful hand-painted stripes on the arms, while the third option for women has more of a Jackie O vibe. They aren't the first company to sell shades for charity (Warby Parker launched in 2010) but in its short 5-year existence, Toms has built a near bullet-proof brand.

As branding stories go, it's tough to beat Toms. Could you even make it up? It's enough to make any cynic nauseous optimistic. Shaggy-haired everyman goes on reality TV, gets inspired, develops charitable business model just as consumer appetite for brands doing good hits a huge upswing, becomes a leader in social entrepreneurship and -- voila! -- next thing you know he's hanging with Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu, selling a boatload of shoes.

Mycoskie and his sister were contestants on The Amazing Race in 2002, then took vacations back in some of the destinations. In Argentina, he came up with the idea of selling the local-style canvas shoes as a brand to help needy kids in that country get proper footwear. Started in 2006 with $500, so far Toms has given away more than 1-million pairs of shoes and is available in more than 500 stores internationally.

At the launch event Tuesday, Mycoskie said the new shades will be available everywhere Toms shoes are sold. No word yet on possible marketing campaigns, but something tells me "A Day Without Glasses" will be a little bit tougher to pull off.
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Cambodia struggles to play China off against its other neighbours

Vietnamese wave fages for China

TWENTY kilometres (12½ miles) down the Mekong river from the capital, Phnom Penh, a new container terminal is taking shape on a 30-hectare site. Upstream, two new ports are planned. Whereas other countries that share the mighty waterway favour dams and power plants, the Cambodians are turning the Mekong into a commercial highway. As Sam Olan, the deputy director of the container terminal argues, the project is tailored to the war-ravaged country’s needs: transport by water is cheaper than by road and requires less maintenance—and there are not many good roads anyway.

Like much else in Cambodia today, the new port is being built by the Chinese; 50 or so Chinese engineers and technicians live on site. The Cambodians are confident they will get their new port quickly and on time (it is due to open next year)—one of many reasons why the Chinese are welcome there, as in other poor countries.

As one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia struggles to end its dependence on foreign aid, the Chinese presence has become pervasive. Just down river from the new container terminal is the huge Chinese-built Prek Tamak bridge, which opened last year. The Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, recently broke ground on a $46m Chinese-built road linking the capital to the coastal province of Kampot. There, a new Chinese-built hydroelectric power station is about to begin operation—supplying, by one official estimate, half of Cambodia’s demand for power. The Chinese plan to build three more. Overall, China accounts for almost half the foreign investment in the country.

China is everywhere, of course. What makes Cambodia unusual is that China has a rival there. Neighbouring Vietnam has had a prickly relationship with Cambodia. Few Cambodians forget that Vietnam invaded their country in 1979, overthrowing the murderous regime of Pol Pot, and then occupied it for ten years. Yet Vietnam is now devoting a lot of time and money to investing in its neighbour.

Trade between the two countries expanded from $950m in 2006 to $1.8 billion last year. In the first two months of this year two-way trade reached $382m, up 65% compared with the same period in 2010. Vietnamese investment is now worth around $2 billion, spread over a bewildering variety of industries, including retailing, agriculture and telecoms. A subsidiary of Viettel, the Vietnamese state telecoms operator, started operations in Cambodia in 2009 yet already has 42% of the mobile market. The company, Metfone, has built many of Cambodia’s mobile masts and laid 16,000km of fibre-optic cable, 80% of the network. It also provides handsets to the army.

Other Asian countries are also coming in. Until Vietnam elbowed its way up the league table, South Korea was the second-biggest investor, mainly in construction and banking. It has a vast new trade hall on one of Phnom Penh’s smarter boulevards. Thai investors have been buying hotels, and Taiwan has a toehold.

More commercial investment must be good news for Cambodia. But in a country that has for centuries been squeezed by bigger neighbours, the scramble raises concerns about sovereignty—and these are exploited to the full by the small but vocal opposition. It uses Vietnam’s projects to attack Hun Sen, the prime minister who (it claims) owes his career to Vietnamese political meddling. And it argues that China’s vast presence risks turning the country into a vassal of the Middle Kingdom.

The evidence so far is that Cambodia is using the largesse without being swamped by it. Unlike many other countries that China invests in, tiny Cambodia, with a population of just 14m, has no oil or minerals to trade in return, so China’s interest seems to be to gain an ally in ASEAN, the regional block. China claims that its help comes with no strings attached, and so far there has been only one recorded instance of China exploiting its economic presence for political ends (it persuaded Cambodia to return 20 Uighur asylum-seekers in 2009). The Vietnamese foray might be partly strategic too. Vietnam wants to counter the expansion of China which is seen as having hostile ambitions in the disputed South China Sea (see Banyan). If so, Cambodia is enjoying being fought over, and plays one off against the other.

It helps that some of the new influences in Cambodia are not exclusively Asian. The new Cambodian elite looks westward more than it has done for a long while, especially to America. English is more widely spoken than in any other country in the region, and the hundreds of English-language schools that have opened up are packed. Two deputy prime ministers sent their sons to college in America, and Hun Sen’s eldest son (and probable successor) went to the West Point military academy.

For the moment Cambodia seems unlikely to fall into any particular sphere of influence. Given its neighbours’ size and clout, that is a remarkable—and remarkably difficult—balancing act.
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Police detain hundreds in alleged Asia money scam

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Police in Cambodia and other Asian countries arrested several hundred suspects Thursday in coordinated raids to bust a gang that swindled victims through phone calls over the Internet.

Cambodian national police spokesman Lt. Gen. Kiet Chantharith said 166 Chinese and a Vietnamese woman were arrested nationwide, while similar arrests took place in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Police in Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand confirmed making arrests but provided few details. A spokesman for Malaysia's Federal Police said he was unaware of any operation, though Kiet said 37 people were arrested there.

Police Maj. Gen. Panya Mamen of Thailand's Central Investigation Bureau said in Bangkok that gang members based in Thailand obtained details of banking and credit card accounts, and used the information to trick victims they phoned in other countries into transferring money, which ended up in Taiwan.

It was not clear what charges would be pressed in any of the countries. Cross-border crime is difficult to prosecute, and laws are hazy concerning crimes conducted over the Internet.

Kiet said those arrested had entered Cambodia as tourists and businessmen but then began operating their scheme to call people outside Cambodia over Internet phone services. He said the gang was well organized, and that Cambodia had received complaints from several victims.
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