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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Thailand, Cambodia Restart Talks on Overlapping Natural Gas Claims

While international attention has largely focused on China’s disputes with its neighbors the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei over the offshore riches of the contested Spratly islands, other energy maritime disputes are roiling Southeastern Asian waters.

The Thai government is preparing to revive talks with Cambodia on overlapping petroleum claims in the Gulf of Thailand, which have been deadlocked since 2006. Thailand and Cambodia share an area in the Gulf of Thailand that encompasses more than 10,000 square miles in the “Overlapping Claims Area,” or (OCA), The Bangkok Post reported.

Thailand and Cambodia are also in dispute over a land frontier surrounding the location of the boundary on the precipice surmounted by Preah Vihear temple ruins, awarded to Cambodia by an International Court of Justice decision in 1962 and part of a planned UN World Heritage site.

The OCA is thought to contain up to 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In 2001 Cambodia and Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding on a proposed joint development of the southern portion of the OCA, with the northern portion eventually to be divided by a defined maritime border. Phnom Penh and Bangkok had nearly reached agreement on the overlapping OCA claims before the 2006 coup that toppled the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Three years later Thailand unilaterally cancelled the agreement to protest Thaksin's appointment as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor
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Cambodia Requests Thailand to Return Remaining Stolen Artifacts

Cambodian government has asked Thailand to return the remaining artifacts stolen from Cambodia in 2000, a senior government official said Saturday.

Him Chhem, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, said he had asked Sompong Sanguanbun, Thai Ambassador to Cambodia, to process the remaining artifacts back to Cambodia.

In 2000, Thai authorities seized 43 pieces of artifacts stolen from Cambodia, and following the request from the Cambodian government seven pieces of them were already returned to Cambodia in 2009.

The 7 pieces of artifacts were handed over by then Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during his one-day official visit to Cambodia.

Him Chhem said he had made the request, for returning the remaining of 36 artifacts, to Thai ambassador during a meeting on Thursday in Phnom Penh.

According to Him Chhem, Sompong Sanguanbun responded that he would convey Cambodia's request to his government in Bangkok.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has earlier said, in addition to, the 43 stolen pieces of artifacts bounded for Thailand, at least 5 other pieces were stolen and smuggled to Switzerland and another piece to Indonesia.
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Cambodia and Laos Telecommunications Report Q3 2011 - new market research report

There was a lack of new information with regards to the subscriber growth in Cambodia and Laos in this quarter's update. However, we have made changes to our forecast scenario for the Cambodian mobile industry after the country's telecoms regulator, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, reported that there were 12.4mn mobile subscribers at the end of 2010. Although we are sceptical of the data provided, as we believe that operators have a tendency to inflate subscriber figures to boost market share, we have revised our expectations upwards. We now envisage 22.167mn mobile subscribers in Cambodia by the end of 2015, up from 15.680mn in 2011. However, we believe that the exact mobile penetration in the country is significantly lower due to inactive subscriptions and multiple SIM card ownership.

Although we believe that the traditional voice service is still the preferred form of communication for Cambodian consumers, this has not prevented mobile operators from launching next generation mobile data services. Digital Star Media has announced plans to offer LTE-based mobile phone service in 2012 and is looking to provide WiMAX mobile broadband service by end-2011. Similarly, the recently merged Smart Mobile has rolled out its 3.75G network in 21 provinces, and aims to complete nationwide rollout by July. While we acknowledge that data services have a role to play in the long term, data are likely to remain muted in the near term due to factors such as a lack of localised content. Operators are likely to price services very competitively to drive interest, but this erodes the profitability of data services.

The Phnom Penh Post has reported that Cambodian mobile operator Mobitel has submitted the necessary documents to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to operate its mobile payment Cellcard Cash service. Consequently, the NBC was reported to be likely to approve the request in the near term. The NBC previously said the service would be suspended as Mobitel did not apply for a central bank oversight. This development is in line with our view that Mobitel will be able to offer its Cellcard Cash once it complies with the regulatory requirement.

Cambodia and Laos fell by one and three places respectively in our latest Telecoms Business Environment Ratings for the Asia Pacific region. The decline was due to an improvement in Vietnam's Telecoms Rating score partially due to a revision in our scoring methodologies, which saw the country overtake Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Cambodia and Laos share similarities in terms of the need to tackle corruption and income equality to ensure political stability in the long term. While we see improvements in both countries' macroeconomic situation - we are seeing evidence that Cambodia's economic recovery remains on track and real GDP growth could soon return to long-term trend growth of around 6.0-7.0%, while Laos is expected to attract a record amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows this year - we remain cautious due to the prevailing global economic headwinds.
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Immigrants realize American dream on the Battleship Massachusette

FALL RIVER — Chen Sour was a young child when she first moved to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia.

She returned to her homeland, but came back to America at the age of 19. By that time, she had the added responsibility of raising a four-year old boy. Sour had grown accustomed to the American style of living, and felt the United States afforded more opportunities for her young family.

Eight years later, the 28-year old Fall River resident was among a group of 50 people from 18 countries who became U.S. citizens Friday as part of a naturalization ceremony held aboard the Battleship Massachusetts. As a result of Sour becoming a citizen, her 12-year old son Ratha also is declared a citizen.

“I’m very proud, very happy,” said Sour. “My son is young and I wanted him to become a citizen. There are better opportunities in this country.”

The new citizens come from all around the globe, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pakistan, India and China. While they have different backgrounds and reasons for immigrating to the United States, they gathered together to celebrate their commitment to America. Local politicians encouraged the new citizens to take an active role in their new country.

“As citizens you have freedoms, responsibilities and opportunities,” said state Sen. Michael Rodrigues. “We want, expect and need you to take part in the government of this great country.”

Suley Mano was born in Brazil and lived for a time in Japan. She and her husband Mario moved to the United States six years ago. The New Bedford resident learned to speak English by studying at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and became a certified nurse’s aide after taking classes at Bristol Community College.

Decked out in a patriotic red sun hat and jacket and blue top, Mano beamed with pride after being sworn in.

“The United States is a great country,” said Mano, who has three adult children and two grandchildren living in Brazil. “You can do anything here.”

Eliseu DeSousa became a citizen because he felt it was time to make her American ties official. The 27-year old New Bedford resident moved to this country from Brazil when he was four years old. He loves American sports and will be graduating from Bristol Community College next May with a degree in clinical lab science.

“In my heart I’ve been an American for a long time,” said DeSousa. “I’m completely immersed in this country.”

Two years ago, DeSousa’s parents became naturalized citizens. He was busy working full time and going to school so he did not complete the test necessary to become a citizen. He said she is most excited about having the ability to vote.

“There are certain issues I’d like to see addressed,” DeSousa said. “Now I will have a say.”
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