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Friday, August 12, 2011

PM: It's a new era for Cambodia, Thailand

BANGKOK, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to discuss troop withdrawals from the area near the Preah Vihear temple, where clashes killed several people.

The agreement to meet is a sign relations between the neighboring countries are improving, the Bangkok Post reported Friday.

Commanders from Thailand's Second Army Region and Cambodia's Division 4 will lead the Regional Border Committee meeting, which is set for Aug. 23-24 in Nakhon Ratchasima province in Thailand.

"I declare a new era of cooperation between [the countries] now that Thailand is ruled by the Pheu Thai Party," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said.

"What was going on in the last few years, which I considered nightmarish cooperation between the two countries, is now over. Now we have to start negotiations at a bilateral level in order to ease the tensions," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen urged the two sides to set up a General Border Commission to settle disputes near the ancient temple, where border clashes earlier this year left several people dead.
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Rights group warns Cambodia to stop supplying domestic maids

By Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, AP

A Malaysian workers' rights group has urged Cambodia to stop supplying housemaids to Malaysia, claiming many are abused and made to work like slaves because of inadequate protection.
Malaysia has recruited thousands of Cambodian women since Indonesia barred its domestic workers from coming to Malaysia in 2009 following a string of assaults by employers. Officials estimate there are more than 50,000 Cambodian maids in Malaysia.

A Cambodian maid was found dead in Malaysia last month under mysterious circumstances, while another was rescued by police after she was allegedly abused and had her head shaved by her employer.

Irene Fernandez, a director of the rights group Tenaganita, said her organisation had helped 41 Cambodian maids, some as young as 15, after they were rescued or ran away from their employers in the past six months because of abuse or unpaid wages.

"Today, another nation of domestic workers goes through the same experiences of torture, control and denial of rights," Ms Fernandez said.

Tenaganita urged Cambodia to ban maids from coming to Malaysia until tougher laws were enacted.

Malaysia is among South-east Asia's top importers of foreign labour. Many households rely on maids to cook, clean and look after children and the elderly.
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Thousands of Homes Flooded in Northeast Provinces

Past flooding in Cambodia. Provincial officials said Friday that flooding has inundated thousands of homes in northeast Cambodia, after heavy rains swelled the Mekong River.

Flooding has inundated thousands of homes in northeast Cambodia, after heavy rains swelled the Mekong River, provincial officials said Friday.

As many as 5,000 homes have been flooded, while hundreds of disaster officials have been mobilized, even as the river’s level continues to rise.

Hardest hit are the provinces of Stung Treng and Kratie, where families have been evacuated and where roads and towns are flooded, though so far no deaths have been reported.

Stung Treng Governor Loy Sophat said 37 villages there have been affected, along with 40 kilometers of road and flooding in the provincial capital.

“We deployed more than 150 provincial police, military and military police, as well as road-crossing agents, to the flooded districts, to help evacuate villagers and transport their animals to safety,” he said. “In general, the water is still rising, and we are still concerned.”

Kratie Governor Kham Phoeun said about 4,000 homes were flooded, along with five pagodas, 26 schools and 5,000 hectares of rice fields across five provinces.

Chhoung Seang Hak, the provincial police chief, said people were still in their homes, despite the flooding. Some 500 police were on alert to help with the emergency. Landslides were also a worry, he said.

Chan Yutha, cabinet chief for the Ministry of Water Resources, said water level will recede in Stung Treng on Saturday, Kratie on Sunday, and Kampong Cham on Monday.
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Cambodia invites new Thai defense minister for official visit

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Wednesday invited newly appointed Thai Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha to make an official visit to Cambodia in an effort to restore military relations between the two neighbors.

In a congratulatory letter to Yuthasak Sasiprapha on Wednesday, Cambodia's Defense Minister Tea Banh said: "I'd like to take this opportunity to cordially invite you and defense delegation to pay an official visit to Cambodia at your appropriate time in order to strengthen and promote bilateral relations between our two defense forces."

Tea Banh congratulated Yuthasak for being appointed as Thailand 's defense minister and hoped that cooperation between the two countries, especially, in military affairs would be strengthened and expanded.

Cambodia and Thailand have had strained relations since 2008, soon after Cambodia's ancient temple of Preah Vihear was registered as a World Heritage site.

This strained relations were worsen and turned to fierce fighting between the two armed forces that resulted in the loss of lives on both sides, while hundreds of thousands of civilians from both sides were evacuated.
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