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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cambodia's prisons have garment production all locked up

Cambodia's Senate has approved a new prison law that will legalise prison labour and looks likely to encourage more garment factories to be set up inside the country's notoriously corrupt prisons.

The Cambodian Government insists it will enforce a ban on prisoners making goods for commercial use, but rights group doubt that will happen. The news comes as Radio Australia has obtained photographs showing female inmates producing clothing branded with major US labels in prison, despite the American company - Kohl's Department Store - having specific policies outlawing prison labor.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speakers: Phay Siphan, spokesman Cambodian Council of Ministers; Phil Robertson, deputy director of Asia for Human Rights Watch; Vicki Shamion, Senior Vice President for Public and Community Relations at Kohl's Department Stores
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Cambodia, U.S. boost military ties with joint exercise

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's military police and the United States marines on Wednesday began a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise here, aimed at strengthening the two countries' military ties.

Speaking at the opening of the exercise, Jeff Daigle, Charg d 'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy to Cambodia, said some 23 U.S. marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Force have joined the exercise.

"It focuses on sharing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response techniques to enhance professional relationships and coordination between Cambodia and U.S.," he said.

"This partnership is a tribute to our combined commitment to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. Marines and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and provides another opportunity for the U. S. government to assist with enhancing the overall capacity of Cambodian Armed Forces," he added.

Brigadier General That Chantha, deputy chief of Cambodia's Military Police's planning department, said the exercise would help build capacity for Cambodian military police to provide relief and assistance to victims in the event of natural disasters and crises.

"The exercise is also to create closer cooperation between Cambodian armed forces and their U.S. counterparts," he said at the opening ceremony.
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2nd Chinese bank officially launches operations in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH,Cambodia- China's Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), on Wednesday officially opened its branch in Phnom Penh, aimed at cementing Sino-Cambodia economic and trade cooperation.

The ICBC Phnom Penh Branch is the second Chinese bank operating in Cambodia after the first one--Bank of China-- launched here in May. The bank is the kingdom's 30th commercial banks.

Speaking at the launching, the ICBC Board Chairman Jiang Jianqing said the establishment of the branch in Cambodia was not only an embodiment of ICBC's confidence in the future economic development of Cambodia, but also showed the bank's commitment to bridge Sino-Cambodia economic and trade cooperation.

"China and Cambodia have long benefited from a friendly, sincere, trustworthy and win-win partnership," he said. "The closer economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has provided wide space for ICBC's development in Cambodia."

He said the bank will reinforce its cooperation with Chinese enterprises in Cambodia and support the infrastructure development in fields like communication, transportation and electricity.

It will also extend its financial service to traditionally advantageous local industries such as grain and tourism and provide quality and convenient comprehensive financial service to indigenous enterprises and individual customers, he said.

At the meantime, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, minister of economy and finance, said the presence of the bank would build more public confidence in Cambodia's banking industry.

"It's great honor for Cambodia that the World No 1 class bank launches here," he said at the bank's launching.

He asked the bank to focus its loans on agricultural sector, especially rice sector, in order to help the government of Cambodia to achieve the target of exporting 1 million tons of milled rice in 2015.

Chea Chanto, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), said the bank's presence would help attract more Chinese investors to Cambodia.

"The bank is vital to contribute to the development of Cambodia's economy," he said. "I believe that the bank would bring new technology and innovative banking products to develop Cambodian banking industry."

By the end of September this year, the customers' deposits in the banking sector grew by 17 percent to $4.72 billion, while the customer credits increased by 23 percent to $4.04 billion, according to the NBC's reports.

So far, some 1.43 million people have their money deposited at Cambodia's banks, while about 1.3 million people have borrowed money from the banks, Chea Chanto added.

During the launch, Pan Guangxue, the Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, also expressed congratulation to the ICBC for opening the first branch in Cambodia.

"The bank will contribute to the development of economic and trade ties between China and Cambodia," he said.

He added that the bilateral trade volume between China and Cambodia had reached $1.6 billion in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 57.5 percent.

On the investment side, from 1994 to September this year, there have been nearly 400 Chinese investment projects in Cambodia with the accumulative investment of nearly $9 billion, making China the largest investor in Cambodia.

ICBC is the largest bank of China's big four state-owned commercial banks. It is ranked top among all listed banks in the world in terms of its market value, profitability, customers' deposit and brand value, according to the bank's press release.

By the end of this September, it has established 234 institutions in 31 foreign countries and regions, forming a global service platform covering the major international financial centers and China's economic and trade partners.
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Cambodia starts large-scale road construction after flood devastation

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Thursday simultaneously began to construct 19 new rural roads with a total length of 505 kilometers in seven provinces after they were damaged by the recent floods.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the construction project in Pursat province in western Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the floods were over and now it was the time for post-flood rehabilitation.

The construction will take four years to complete by turning those damaged gravel roads to tar-paved ones, he said, adding that the estimated 68.5-million-U.S.-dollar cost would be financed by the Asian Development Bank, South Korea and Nordic Development Foundation.

The seven flood-ravaged provinces are Pursat, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Battambang, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom.

Cambodia had suffered the worst flooding in more than a decade in recent months. At least 250 people were killed, according to the reports of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

The floods have also affected 1,970 kilometers of roads and about 660 kilometers of roads have been damaged.
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Some 2,500 Cambodians die of HIV/AIDS in 2011: official

PHNOM PENH(Xinhua) – Cambodia's Vice-Chair of National AIDS Authority Tia Phalla said Tuesday that it's estimated that some 2,500 HIV/AIDS patients died this year and the deaths would decline to about 2,300 in 2012.

"Cambodia has seen success in fighting HIV/AIDS -- the prevalence rate among adults aged 15 to 49 has dropped to 0.8 percent in 2010 from 2.5 percent in 1998," he said on Tuesday at a press meeting and photo exhibition to commemorate the World AIDS Day. "However, the deaths, new infections and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS still persist in this country. "

He said that the number of new infections exceeds 1,000 a year.

In Cambodia, the first HIV infection was detected and diagnosed in 1991 and the first AIDS case was found in 1993.

Tia Phalla said that it is difficult to verify the number of Cambodian people who have died from the disease since then as some AIDS infected people had been killed by opportunity diseases such as hepatitis or tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, he said that the country has seen good results in promoting the use of condoms.

According to a recent annual research survey, he said, condom use of male clients of the entertainment industry and with sweethearts has been steadily increasing.

The survey showed that the condom use among commercial partners increased from 85 percent in 2008 to 96 percent in 2011 thanks to sustained investment and targeted outreach to this important target group.

On the other hand, condom use among sweethearts has increased from 58 percent in 2008 to 60 percent this year, he said.

Currently, the country has an estimated 67,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Some 6,000 of them are children, according to the National AIDS Authority.

The country needs about 58 million U.S. dollars a year to fight against HIV/AIDS, said Tia Phalla, adding that the current challenge for the country is fund shortage due to the recent announcement of the cancellation of the next round of funding from the Global Fund to Cambodia. Read more!