Subscribe: FREEDOM
http://leavefreedom.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
asean  cambodia  cambodian  china  court  election  government  hun sen  khmer rouge  khmer  new  party  people  thailand 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: FREEDOM

FREEDOM





Updated: 2018-04-19T12:52:53.127+07:00

 



Chinese Foreign Ministry provides office supplies to Cambodian counterpart

2013-09-09T14:36:38.003+07:00

 Souce:Xinhua
Publish By
 09/09/2013
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday donated 50 laptops and 100 cellphones in equivalent to 70, 000 US dollars to its Cambodian counterpart to increase task efficiency.

Speaking while handing over the supplies to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Bu Jianguo said the donation came as promised by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his official visit to Cambodia last month.

“We hope that these materials will assist office staff at the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work fast and more efficiently,” she said.

Hor Namhong said the ministry was very happy to receive these modern office supplies as they would relieve the difficulties of staff in their work.

He highly spoke of excellent friendship relations between Cambodia and China in all fields and vowed to further enhance the ties in the future.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ready to work closely with the Chinese Embassy to Cambodia in order to further develop our bilateral ties and cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries and peoples,” he said.



Cambodia’s ruling party confirmed election winner

2013-09-09T14:35:36.517+07:00

Source: BBC Online
Cambodia’s ruling People’s Party (CPP) has been confirmed the winner of July’s general election which was marred by fraud allegations.

The election commission said Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP won 68 seats, compared to 55 for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The televised announcement comes after thousands took part in a rally in the capital Phnom Penh to protest against alleged electoral fraud.

Hun Sen has run Cambodia for 28 years.

The 61-year-old has vowed to stay in power until he is in his seventies.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy claimed there was widespread rigging in the election.
The result confirmation means he will no longer be able to legally contest the vote.

According to preliminary official figures, the CPP won 3.2 million votes, while Rainsy’s party obtained 2.9 million.

The election commission is yet to officially confirm these numbers.

On Saturday, huge crowds gathered in Phnom Penh’s Democracy Park in what organisers described as a peaceful protest based on Buddhist prayer.

Many demonstrators brought lotus flowers symbolising peace.

Rainsy told the crowd it was a “historic day”, saying that “those who steal our votes won’t live happily”.
With all the institutions of state, including the election commission, under the thumb of Hun Sen, this type of protest is the only way for opposition supporters to challenge the result, says the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.

He adds that the CNRP has vowed to keep up its street protests against the result.



Cambodia's Khmer Rouge court hit by new resignation

2013-09-09T14:34:19.149+07:00

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia's troubled Khmer Rouge war crimes court suffered a new setback Monday with the resignation of a key prosecutor -- the latest in a string of departures from the UN-backed tribunal.
The announcement came as a strike by court staff over unpaid wages entered a second week, threatening to disrupt a high-profile trial of two former top regime leaders from the "Killing Fields" era in the late 1970s.
International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said in a statement that he was leaving for "personal reasons".
Sept 9, 2013
AFP

It follows the resignation of three international lawyers and two judges over the past two years amid allegations of government meddling.

Cayley, however, said his decision was unrelated to the court's woes.
"It's really personal circumstances. I am not leaving out of frustration with the court at all," the British lawyer, who was appointed to the role in December 2009, told AFP.

At the same time he voiced concern about the cash crunch at the tribunal, whose 250 Cambodian workers, including judges and prosecutors, have not been paid since June.

"Of course, the financial situation of the court is frustrating to all of us," Cayley said.

Court spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the UN, the Cambodian government, tribunal officials and donors were working to resolve the budget crisis.

"But so far, there is no solution yet," he said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned last month that the "very survival of the court is now in question".
The tribunal has been frequently short of cash since it was set up in 2006 to seek justice for the deaths of up to two million people under the brutal communist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-79.

The UN pays for the international workers while the salaries of the local staff are the responsibility of the Cambodian government, with both sides relying on international donors.

Two defendants -- "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 87, and former head of state Khieu Samphan, 82, -- are on trial for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The court is currently in recess and preparing to hear closing statements in the first part of the trial in mid October.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork or execution in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.

So far the UN-backed court has achieved one conviction, sentencing a former prison chief to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen -- himself a former Khmer Rouge cadre -- has repeatedly voiced opposition to pursuing more suspects after the current trial.



Cambodian opposition rally pushes for poll probe

2013-09-07T16:28:11.342+07:00

By JUSTINE DRENNAN and SOPHENG CHEANG — The Associated Press Kem Sokha speak to demonstrators in Sept 7, 2013. Photo: Quoc Viet/RFA  PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Nearly 20,000 opposition supporters gathered Saturday in Cambodia's capital to cheer their leaders' demands for an investigation into alleged election irregularities, just a day before the victory of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party is to be ratified.Final results from the vote six weeks ago gave 68 National Assembly seats to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party and 55 to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. The opposition says it would have won the majority of seats had the election been fair.The opposition says protests will continue until an independent committee look into claims of voter disenfranchisement and vote tampering in the July 28 election. However, the government-appointed National Election Committee has rejected the demand, and Hun Sen has made it clear he intends to take office and continue his 28 years in power.The 55 seats won by the opposition represent a sharp improvement on the 29 it held in the last assembly, and its strong performance — also reflected in a close popular vote — came as a surprise. The party has suggested its lawmakers may boycott the assembly sessions in protest at the failure to investigate its claims of unfairness.The new parliament is supposed to be seated within 60 days of the election, and ruling party leaders say it can convene without the opposition.Opposition leaders have emphasized non-violence, amid concerns about violence raised by the government's deployment of troops and armored vehicles to the capital days after the election. Hun Sen has a reputation for dealing harshly with opponents.The government, through sympathetic media outlets, had played up fears of violence in an obvious effort to discourage protests. Monks and Cambodian people: "My Vote, My nation". Photo: Quoc Viet/RFASaturday's demonstration, however, was peaceful, with opposition supporters holding up signs with messages such as "My Vote, My nation" and "There is justice, there is peace."Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told the crowd that the Cambodian people have suffered from a culture of violence for 40 years, and that should end now.Cambodia plunged into civil war in 1970, and experienced the holocaust of Khmer Rouge rule in the late 1970s, when an estimated 1.7 million people died as a result of their radical communist policies. Under Hun Sen, a culture of violence and intimidation of the poor and powerless has been widespread.In recent years, land grabbing by government cronies has led to forced evictions, sometimes accompanied by deadly violence. The issue has caused popular resentment, to the political benefit of the opposition."Today, Cambodia is opening a new page, the page of ending the culture of violence," Sam Rainsy said, with the crowd echoing his words with a cheer of "End violence."Several monks attended the demonstration, despite a ban against doing so by Cambodia's top Buddhist authority. One monk, Ngim Saossamkhan, said he was aware of the ban but believed he had a right to attend. "As monks, we can't be part of any party, but I support peace," he said.Demonstrators dispersed after several hours, but opposition leaders say they will gather again tomorrow unless the National Election Committee yields. They have asked that any announcement of the results be postponed, and have called on Cambodia's king, Norodom Sihamoni, to intervene.Observers do not expect clashes between demonstrators and security forces, as occurred after some past elections, but political analyst Kem Ley said the risk of violence might grow if opposition protests continue for many days.Chan Aunleng, a 24-year-old student demonstrator holding a Cambodian flag, said she did not think the demonstrations would sway the National Election[...]



TAT hosts Amazing Thailand “ASEAN Media Fam Trip from Bangkok to Siem Riep”

2013-09-05T15:50:15.391+07:00

Thursday, 05 September 2013  
By  TAT  
 
TAT hosts Amazing Thailand “ASEAN Media Fam Trip  from Bangkok to Siem Riep” on September 6 -11, 2013
Bangkok – September 5, 2013: A total of 21 prominent online foreign media from East and South Asia – Japan, China, Taiwan, India, and Thailand – have been invited to join the Amazing Thailand “ASEAN Media Fam Trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap” during September 6-11, 2013. The international media joining will be top bloggers and online journalists from Thailand’s main tourist markets in Asia. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is conducting this media trip to promote land and air connectivity with neighbouring countries such as Cambodia in advance of Thailand’s entry into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
Mr.Suraphon Svetasreni, TAT Governor, said “TAT is proud to present this eastern route from Bangkok to Siem Reap via the diverse attractions of Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, and Sa Kaeo.  We feel there are many unseen things in those provinces that tourists can enjoy before or after a cross-border visit of the splendors of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.  We want to show that this route is not only a convenient passage to the Greater Mekong Subregion, but is also a fabulously unique tourist region in itself.

The trip will take the media to explore another side of Bangkok at Taling Chan Floating Market then change gears to the busy and world-renowned Chatuchak Weekend Market.

On the second day, the tour moves out from Bangkok to Nakhon Nayok Province, the scenic Khun Dan Prakarnchon Dam, the largest and longest roller compacted concrete dam in the world. Not far from the reservoir, the group will pay a visit to the Bhumirak Dhamachart Project, which is a multimedia museum displaying His Majesty’s concrete ideas and theories for the development of agriculture.

Next day, the group will visit a historical building as well as relax with a traditional Thai massage at the Chao Phraya Abhaibhubate Hospital. After that, moving on to Ban Dong Krathong Yam, the tour will explore the local culture of the Thai Puan people. Then, one last stop before crossing to Cambodia is the bustling Rong Kluea border market in Aranyaprathet.

The Cambodian portion of the trip will include visits to the majestic historical sites of
Prasat Ta Phrom, Prasat Bayon and conclude at the World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat.  Mr. Tith Chantha, Director General, Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, hosts a dinner for the group in Siem Reap on September 10.



Garment workers in Cambodia hold protest over mass dismissal

2013-09-05T15:48:10.330+07:00


(image)
Garment workers sit beside police officers during a protest in front of a factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh. (File photo)
Thousands of garment workers in Cambodia have hold a demonstration after a factory supplying global brands allegedly dismissed hundreds of their colleagues for striking over conditions.

According to union leaders, the Singapore-owned SL Garment Processing factory sacked more than 700 workers on Wednesday. Over 5,000 others were also suspended after a two-week-long strike.

They had walked out claiming intimidation over regular factory inspections conducted by an official flanked by military police.

On Thursday, nearly 4,000 workers marched from the factory to the City Hall in the capital Phnom Penh to call on the government to intervene in the dispute.
“We want the factory to allow the workers to go back to work,” said Ath Thorn, who is president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
“But if they want to close they factory they must pay compensation to workers according to the law,” he added.

Cambodia frequently faces disputes over wages, safety and conditions in its multibillion-dollar garment industry.

About 650,000 people are working in the lucrative industry, which is a main source of foreign income for the Southeast Asian country.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) in July accused Cambodia of failing to improve working conditions in the sector.

In May, two workers were killed at a factory producing shoes for Japanese sports brand Asics after a ceiling collapse. The fatal incident led to intensification of concerns over worker safety in Cambodia.

MR/HSN



Statement His Excellency Mr. Kranh Tony Acting Director, Office of Administration of the ECCC

2013-09-05T15:32:45.144+07:00

05 September 2013

On behalf of the national judicial officers and staff of the ECCC, I would like to acknowledge
the efforts made by all involved stakeholders -- the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United
Nations, and the donors -- to support the court to fulfill its mandate from the beginning until
now.

As at 31 August 2013, total cumulative funds provided by the donors countries to the ECCC
National Component amount to US$46.7 million, including in-cash contributions of US$8.7
million from the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). The latter has continuously increased
its funding contributions on yearly basis from its US$0.6 million in 2006 to US$1.8 million in
2013. In addition, the RGC has also provided in-kind contributions totalling US$9.5 million from
2006 to 2012. In total, the contributions from the RGC are equivalent to 10% of the Court’s
overall costs.

Once again, the ECCC is facing the same crisis of lack of funding that has occurred every year,
and which is seriously damaging to the morale of all the national judicial officers and staff, as
well as to our international colleagues. Due to fact that this time the national judicial officers
and staff have not received their salary for three months, it is hardly surprising that the Court is
presently facing a high risk of disruption of its work.

I wish to express our thanks to a number of donors who worked with the Royal Government of
Cambodia and the United Nations to take new measures to address the previous funding crisis
several months ago, and who are again at this crucial moment actively considering possible
further measures. We remain hopeful that this present crisis will be resolved, preferably on a
firm basis that prevents its recurrence, so that the ECCC can go on smoothly to discharge its
historic mandate.

I am also thankful to all the national judicial officers and staff who are at this moment calm and
patient, and I hope that those who have suspended their work will be willing and able to return to
active duty as soon as we receive positive news on resolving the current funding crisisis.
In this regard, we appreciate the renewed commitment expressed in the statement made on 04
September 2013 by Ambassador David Scheffer, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Expert on
United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, as well as his efforts, together with
Cambodian government representative, His Excellency Keo Remy, Secretary of State of the
Office of the Council of Ministers, to seek further contributions, especially from new donors.



An audience with Queen For A Night? No, thanks!

2013-09-05T13:25:17.193+07:00

Sep 05, 2013By : Cassandra NajiThere comes a time in the life of every feminist critic and writer when, according to the law of sod, she happens across a press release bearing the immortal first line: ‘Vincent Broustet invites us into the passionate world of young Khmer women.’ To review or not to review, she wonders. Don’t be ridiculous. Martha, fetch me my gun. My pen! I mean my pen! How Freudian, please excuse. Anyway, how kind of Monsieur Broustet to invite us to his exhibition, let us proceed post haste to see what we can see. The passionate world of young Khmer women, otherwise known as Broustet’s solo show Queen For A Night, is only on view in Siem Reap until October 31; what if you want to see it twice?? We should hurry. Queen For A Night focuses on Khmer women’s “transformation from everyday selves into unabashed beauties for Cambodian weddings and other significant occasions”. Unabashed! Saucy minxes that they are. That may sound like an excuse for us all to ogle women in various stages of undress and picturesque disarray, hair all of a tumble, ballgown slipping cheekily off one ‘unabashed’ shoulder, but undoubtedly the exhibition’s iconographic subtext contains some contrapuntal critique. Assiduously, your feminist reviewer scans the aforementioned press release for thoughtful comment on the egregious sins of the male gaze, or a meaty gobbet of French philosophy at the very least. “The ritual of preparing for special events takes hours of enthusiastic groundwork, usually beginning with a visit to a favourite hair salon to have tresses elaborately styled and curled.” Tonsorially accurate, no doubt, no doubt, but few of us go to exhibitions to think about curling tongs, it must be said. Ever investigative, your roving reporter buttonholed Robina Hanley, manager of McDermott Gallery in Siem Reap, to explain further. “You are unable to tell the difference in the girl who works in a factory from the girl who comes straight from the countryside. Neither girl is chic in her everyday life, but when she has a chance to dress for a ceremony or party, she is usually unrecognisable, sometimes full of confidence, sometimes a little embarrassed. Vincent sees this every day in Cambodia and when you examine his paintings you can see tenderness and respect in every brushstroke.” That brings us to the paintings themselves. Influenced by “Rembrandt, Hugo Pratt and all the great artists in between,” Broustet positions his work firmly in the Impressionist tradition, his paintings redolent of Degas showing fleeting, flirting, fin de siecle ballet dancers. Except with much manlier shoulders, it must be said. Suffused with slabs of toothache-inducing satin, oddly proportioned women hover in a perspectiveless world, largely bereft of distinctive facial features or expression, but probably wishing they were somewhere else. So might you be, dear viewer; so might you be. In a week when Miley Ray Cyrus has been much on everyone’s minds and even more in our Facebook feeds, whether we like it or not, it’s perspicacious to ask whether the kerfuffle over cultural appropriation and neo-orientalism that resulted from Mi-Cy’s twerkathon has a wider relevance. Broustet, who has lived and worked outside of his native France for much of his life, says that his “sketches and paintings do not engage in exoticism, but instead are transcriptions of moods and atmospheres, the pursuit of what is and remains common to every human, every landscape, every shadow”. That Broustet voluntarily exonerates himself from the charge of exoticism before anyone has the chance to lay it at his door is interesting. You might even say telling; I would not say that, of course, but you might. Whether Broustet’s paintings themselves present a postcolonial perspective of ‘the East’ – an[...]



China's inland region key to growth

2013-09-05T11:29:27.778+07:00

He Wei China DailyPublication Date : 05-09-2013Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has identified China's inland areas as "the biggest space" for the nation's development.Li made the remarks in a pavilion tour during the 10th China-Asean Expo in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.The city serves as a key gateway connecting China and its neighbours to the southeast.The east-to-west shift is the trend for economic development, said the premier, as China's opening up follows the path that extends from the coast to the inland regions.While maintaining the quality of growth in coastal areas, Li said much attention should be paid to exploring the possibilities of development in inland areas."It is therefore an inevitable choice to bolster the development of the three emerging economic powerhouses: the old northeast industrial bases, the middle and western regions adjacent to the Yangtze River and the southern and middle-western hinterlands," Li said.The premier voiced the hope that the northwest areas will also become new frontiers in the regional opening up.He called for the creation of favourable conditions to promote synergy among the eastern, middle and western parts of the country, so that regions complement one another and build on their respective advantages.Li said he placed high hopes on unlocking the potential of the middle and western areas, which should play an active role in the westward migration of industries, and pushing ahead the opening of domestic and international markets.Accompanied by local government authorities and residents, Li on Tuesday began his first trip as premier to the 10th anniversary expo, which attracted more than 2,300 companies from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The expo has become an important platform to promote trade and relationships.With Li at the wheel, a simulated transportation graphic portrayed a dense network of cruise routes connecting Guangxi's Qinzhou port and 10 ports around Asean.Better connectivity between China and Asean can only be achieved through intensified infrastructure development, which removes the final barrier to technology transfer and person-to-person contact, said Huang Hao, sales director of Guangxi Sacred New Energy Co Ltd, who was present at the event.In light of the "diamond decade" that China and Asean are marking, Li encouraged Guangxi to firmly grasp its opportunities by fully leveraging its proximity to the sea and some 600 million people. Li urged Guangxi to strive to become a strategic focal point of local development.Talking to young performers wearing their national costumes, Li said China and Asean members are like a big family with a common culture and vision for development."Bilateral relations will have a splendid future, like a brocade you are embroidering," he said.In a pavilion with the theme "International Economic Cooperation", Li was introduced by some Chinese enterprises to their investment and business performances in Asean.To achieve a win-win outcome and mutual reciprocity, Li urged them to abide by local laws and regulations, respect local customs, fulfill their social responsibilities and bring benefits to local people.The premier was shown the use of agricultural and information technology in Asean markets at several high-tech booths.He stressed the importance of locating mutual demand as a driving force to spark technological innovation and broaden the fields of cooperation.Li also welcomed foreign businessmen to ride China's economic boom to expand their business in China and make more Chinese friends.Ty Channa, deputy director of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, said that strengthened bilateral ties can aid Asean, notably Cambodia, weather a slow global economy.Huang Jincheng, assistant chief editor of the Malays[...]



US embassy warns its citizens to avoid mass protest in Cambodia

2013-09-05T11:28:13.046+07:00

Xinhua | 2013-9-5
By Agencies

The US embassy on Wednesday urged its citizens to keep away from a mass demonstration staged by the Cambodian opposition on Sept. 7 against the controversial poll result.

"Although recent political gatherings in Cambodia after the July 28 election have been largely nonviolent, even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence without warning," said a message posted on the website of the US Embassy in Cambodia.

"The US Embassy encourages you to avoid large crowds and immediately leave any area where crowds are gathering," the message said. "You should remain alert to local security developments by monitoring local news reports, be vigilant regarding your personal security and preparedness."

The warning came after Sam Rainsy, President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) announced last Thursday that the party would hold a mass nonviolent demonstration on Sept. 7 against the initial election result which delivered the ruling Cambodian People's Party a victory.

The opposition said about 20,000 protesters would rally at the capital's Freedom Park on that day.

The final result will be officially released on Sept. 8.



Japanese Investor in Talks to Take Stake in TV3

2013-09-05T11:26:02.568+07:00

The Cambodia Daily


Japan’s TriAsia Group is in talks to acquire a majority stake in local television station TV3 and plans to broadcast Japanese-language shows, the television channel’s owner confirmed Wednesday.
According to TV3’s owner, Khampun Keomony, revenues at the channel have been dropping, which prompted him to look for new investment.

“We perhaps keep 20 percent… and give them an 80 percent share,” Mr. Keomony said. “We can say our income dropped by 80 percent…. If we don’t beef up our capital, we will not move forward because there are so many [TV] stations in our country now,” he added.

The stake in TV3 would be TriAsia’s second investment in Cambodia. Its first was the establishment of the Kiriya coffee shop chain in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang I commune last year.

Officials at TriAsia said Wednesday the deal was not yet complete and declined to comment further.
TriAsia CEO Yokoi Tomoyuki wrote on his personal blog on Friday that the firm had signed a deal to obtain 80 percent of TV3. However, the blog post was removed from the website after a reporter inquired about the investment.

“It was agreed to acquire from Khampun Keomony, the current owner of [TV3], 80 percent of the outstanding shares,” Mr. Tomoyuki wrote.

He also wrote that negotiations with Mr. Keomony started in May and that the venture would be the first Japanese-backed television station in Cambodia.

But Mr. Tomoyuki wrote little about his company’s plans for TV3, other than that the station would offer “excellent” Japanese content.

When the deal will go through is currently up in the air because the Phnom Penh Municipality owns part of the television channel and any agreement to sell a majority stake would need ap­proval from City Hall, said its spokesman, Long Dimanche.

Mr. Keomony dismissed City Hall’s involvement and claimed the city had broken their contract with him when they forced him to move TV3’s headquarters from Russian Boulevard in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district to Street 593 in Russei Keo district.

“[The deal] is up to me,” he said.



Cambodia: Government Obstructs Khmer Rouge Court

2013-09-05T11:20:59.316+07:00

Tribunal Staff Unpaid Since May; End Hun Sen Delaying Tactics(New York, September 5, 2013) – The Cambodian government’s refusal to pay local staff at the Khmer Rouge tribunal is the latest attempt to undermine efforts to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 2, 2013, more than half of the Cambodians working on the government payroll at the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), set up to try members of the Khmer Rouge, went on strike to protest the government’s failure to pay their salaries since May. The strike includes interpreters, translators, and various judicial and technical staff. The failure to pay staff threatens efforts to finish the first segment of the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. Closing statements in the case are scheduled for October and a verdict is expected in the first half of 2014. “Prime Minister Hun Sen has spent years obstructing the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders, but donors to the court have played along and continued to subsidize a seriously compromised court,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Donors should finally call his bluff and withhold future contributions until the Cambodian government pays its agreed share of the costs of holding the Khmer Rouge accountable.” Under the agreement with the United Nations establishing the ECCC, the UN pays the salaries of UN-appointed staff, while the Cambodian government pays the salaries of government-appointed staff. The government has regularly demanded contributions from donors to pay the salaries of government-appointed staff. The resulting withholding of salaries by the government has periodically hobbled the court’s work. International donors, led by Japan, have been the sole bankrollers of the UN side of the ECCC. Some have also previously provided financial assistance to pay some of the government’s agreed share, though donors have said they would no longer do so. The ECCC was set up in 2006 following an agreement with the United Nations according to which it operates within the Cambodian judiciary but with UN assistance. The tribunal has the mandate to try “senior leaders” and others “most responsible” for Khmer Rouge crimes from 1975-1979. However, stalling tactics and obstruction by Hun Sen and the Cambodian government mean that thus far it has only convicted one person: Kaing Gech Eav, alias Duch, the chief of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison and torture center. Duch confessed to his crimes in case 001 and was ultimately sentenced to life in prison. Two of the four “senior leaders” charged by the ECCC have either died or been declared too ill to stand trial. The two “senior leaders” still on trial, Nuon Chea, 87, and Khieu Samphan, 82, are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in case 002. Concern that they might also die before a verdict led to a Trial Chamber decision to have a first trial segment trying them only in connection with the Khmer Rouge relocation in 1975 of urban Cambodians and others to rural areas previously under Khmer Rouge control. A trial for other crimes for which they are indicted, including genocide, may never happen. Attempts by UN prosecutors and judges to investigate five additional Khmer Rouge suspects – divided into cases 003 and 004 – have been publicly and repeatedly opposed by Hun Sen. One died, and the health of several others is precarious. A UN-nominated investigating judge is currently investigating cases 003 and 004, attempting to ascertain whether some or all of the four suspects should be indicted for trial. But without government cooperation, trials will be impossible. While Hun Sen has blocked the tribunal from hold[...]



Thai Central aims to invest up to $468 mln in Southeast Asia

2013-09-03T13:51:10.153+07:00

BANGKOK, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Central Pattana Pcl, Thailand's largest department store operator, plans to invest up to 15 billion baht ($468 million) to open 2-3 new stores in Southeast Asia in the next five years.
Central aims to spend about 4-5 billion baht per a store and planned to open its first foreign department store in Malaysia in 2016, said Wallaya Chirathivat, the company's senior executive vice president for business development.

"We see growth opportunities to invest in Southeast Asia as it will become a single market," he said in a statement.

Central Pattana, part of unlisted retail conglomerate Central Group, is majority owned by Thailand's Chirathivat family, the country's second-richest group, according to Forbes Magazine.
($1 = 32.0700 Thai baht)





Cambodians block border bridge

2013-09-03T13:49:56.847+07:00

 Sept 3, 2013
Bangkok Post

Cambodian vendors have blockaded the Thai-Cambodian Friendship bridge near the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint in a protest against a crackdown on pirated goods by Thai authorities.

They used more than 10 two-wheeled pushcarts as a barrier to block the bridge lane heading into Thailand on Monday. The protest paralysed traffic between Sa Kaeo and Banteay Meanchey province in Cambodia.
The vendors accused Thai officials of prohibiting them from selling second-hand clothes at the Rong Kruea border market in Thailand. Thai authorities denied the allegation during talks with the vendors.

The officials admitted confiscating some goods, but said this applied only to pirated goods, including bags and shoes, which were being smuggled across the border hidden in other products.
The vendors dispersed after the talks.



Cambodia: Can a Deadlock Be Broken?

2013-09-03T13:49:02.596+07:00

Tuesday, 3 September 2013 Press Release: Asian Human Rights Commission Cambodia: Can a Deadlock Be Broken?There is no problem that lacks a solution, though we may not like our choices. Manmade problems are solvable through imaginative, productive, creative thinking and carefully thought-out action. Some predicaments are harder to deal with than others. The pain from the loss of loved ones does not heal overnight. Some learn to live and cope with loss, some seek professional help, some never move on.There is a Khmer saying that goes, Choss toek kropeu, leung leu khla – there is crocodile in the river, there is tiger on the bank. Yet, being imaginative and creative can help beat such a circumstance. There are alternatives, and a better alternative does come along.Lord Buddha says, "Nothing is permanent." Life is a series of choices. There is not a perfect world. One makes the choice one thinks takes one closer to an ideal state.At present, Cambodians have worked themselves into a political deadlock. There are two rivals: The Cambodian People's Party that has ruled Cambodia since January 1979 with Vietnamese help, and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, a mid-2012 merger of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, that seeks to change the status quo.Right after the national election on July 28, the CPP government-appointed National Election Commission rushed to declare preliminary election results that favored the CPP with 68 seats and CNRP, 55 seats. The CNRP objected, and declared it had been robbed of its election victory through election irregularities and flaws – a claim backed by many non-governmental organizations. If the election had been free and fair, the CNRP says, it would have won a majority with 63 seats – leaving the CPP with 60 seats in a parliament of 123 members. The CNRP demanded an investigation by an independent joint committee, failing which street protests and boycotting of the first session of the parliament would take place.Taunting, rhetoric, threats spiraled and augmented tension and news outlets reported the deployment of government troops and armored vehicles.A few days after the election, on August 2, in a speech to farmers in Kandal province, Premier Hun Sen said that the constitutional rule of 50 percent plus one majority makes a CNRP boycott of the inauguration of a new parliament immaterial, for it cannot prevent the formation of a new CPP government: "We don't need to depend on or beg another political party to attend a meeting." He warned the CPP would take away the seats of CNRP legislators who are no-shows.Hun Sen's interpretation of the constitution has been questioned. Attorney Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders, asserted that a quorum of 120 out of 123 legislators is required to open a new national assembly. Article 76 of Cambodia's 1993 Constitution stipulates, "The National Assembly consists of at least 120 members."It may be the logic of CNRP leaders that without the presence of CNRP legislators at the National Assembly, there would not be the quorum required to open the Assembly; that without an Assembly a new CPP government, which it must approve, cannot come into being. Thus, a CNRP leader told me, "Time is on our side and we are fully aware we hold the key to a new Cambodia."Talks failed on forming the joint committee requested by CNRP leaders to investigate alleged election irregularities. Then talks restarted, and talks failed again. The talks were doomed from the start, as reports indicated that neither party entered negotiations in a spirit of compromise, only with deman[...]



PM Dung holds talks with Chinese, Cambodian counterparts

2013-09-03T13:47:11.936+07:00

Timor-Leste PM visit to promote relations Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao will pay an official visit to Viet Nam for three days from tomorrow, Sept 4, to promote bilateral relations.The visit, made at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung, will be the second one by Gusmao. He first visited Viet Nam in 2005 as President of Timor-Leste.The two nations established diplomatic ties on July 28, 2002, but relations began in 1975 when Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for an Independent Timor Leste) unilaterally declared independence. Viet Nam was one of the first countries to recognise Timor-Leste's independence.Prime Minister holds talks with Chinese, Cambodian counterparts Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has reiterated the Vietnamese Party and State's long-lasting and consistent policy of consolidating and strengthening neighbourliness and co-operation with China. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang yesterday (Sept 2) in Nanning City. During his talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Nanning City yesterday, Sept 2, to mark the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and the 10th China-ASEAN Business-Investment Summit, Dung spoke highly of China and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region's careful preparations.During the last 10 years, he said that CAEXPO has become one of the most prestigious and influential expos in the region and a good chance for ASEAN and China to strengthen their strategic partnership.Premier Li said the delegation's participation in the expo and summit reflected Viet Nam's appreciation of strengthening the relationship with China.He said that the Chinese Party, State and people were willing to deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.Viet Nam and China have agreed to increase high-ranking visits and meetings, enhance co-operation for mutual benefit in all fields in order to fulfill the target of raising bilateral trade to $60 billion by 2015 and implement joint large-scale economic projects, especially those in infrastructure while strengthening people-to-people exchanges.Regarding sea-related issues, the two sides held that both nations needed to together maintain peace and stability in the East Sea, control the situation at sea and resolve every matter via peaceful negotiations. PM Dung emphasised that the two sides should strictly obey the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues between Viet Nam and China, settle disputes by peaceful means and on the basis of international law.He suggested the two countries soon put into operation and promote the efficiency of hotlines between the two defence ministries and fishery agencies as agreed. He said this would help promptly deal with arising problems, especially those relating to fishing vessels and fishermen.Dung invited Premier Li to visit Viet Nam at an early date and the latter accepted. Later, the Vietnamese Government leader received Chairman of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Chen Wu, and Yunnan province's Governor, Ly Jiheng.The same day, also in Nanning City, Dung met with his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, during which he congratulated Cambodia on its achievements in national development and the success of the fifth general election.Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked the Vietnamese Government and people for their support and assistance in the past and said that the Cambodian Government would continue to make every effort to maintain stability in the country, thus contributing to regional and international peace.The China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and the 10th[...]



Nearly 200 staffers strike at Khmer Rouge tribunal

2013-09-02T15:37:31.301+07:00

AP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A court spokesman for Cambodia’s U.N.-supported Khmer Rouge tribunal says nearly 200 of its staffers have gone on strike to demand wages that are several months overdue.

Spokesman Neth Pheakra says the majority of the court’s Cambodian employees, including interpreters and translators essential to the court’s functions, did not come into work Monday because their wages have not been paid since June.

U.N. spokesman Lars Olsen says the international body is very concerned about the strike’s potential to disrupt proceedings at the tribunal, which has faced frequent budgetary shortfalls since it began in 2006.

The court is tasked with seeking justice for atrocities committed by the communist Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, when an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died due to forced labor, starvation, medical neglect and execution.



Immigration police keep close watch on Cambodian Muslims in Thailand

2013-09-02T15:35:29.667+07:00

Monday, 02 September 2013
 By  MCOT
 
SA KAEO, Sept 2 – Thai immigration police are closely monitoring the movement of Cambodian Muslims who entered Thailand through the eastern border to work illegally in the South.
Benjapol Rodsawat, deputy immigration police chief of Sa Kaeo province on the Thai-Cambodian border, said about 10,000 Cambodian Muslims entered the kingdom through the eastern border and travelled to Malaysia via the southern border checkpoint in Su-ngai Kolok, Narathiwat province in the past year.

(image)
The migrants told Thai authorities at the southern border checkpoint that they would visit their relatives in Malaysia but they re-entered Thailand shortly after to work in the three Muslim-predominant border provinces without work permits, he said.

Nearly 10,000 Cambodian Muslims are arrested in Narathiwat each year and charged with illegal entry after failing to produce legal documents, he said.

The illegal Cambodian migrants have become a burden for the Thai authorities who have to send them back via the Aranyaprathet immigration checkpoint in Sa Kaeo province, he said.

Pol Lt Col Benjapol said police could not take legal action against the illegal migrants due to an agreement between Thailand and Cambodia.

“Many Cambodian Muslims migrated to work in the South without work permits or legal documents. It’s the responsibility of Thai authorities to send them back to their home country without them having to pay for travel expenses,” he said.

At the checkpoint in Aranyaprathet yesterday, 57 Cambodian Muslims were stopped but later allowed to enter Thailand after producing legal passports with tourist visas.

They told immigration police that they intended to visit their relatives in Malaysia and would travel South to the checkpoint at Su-ngai Kolok.

Aranprayaprathet police sent their records and photos to Su-ngai Kolok checkpoint to keep a close watch on their re-entry, police said.



China seeks exchanges with Asean as agri cooperation takes root

2013-09-02T11:26:00.408+07:00

Hu Yongqi China DailyPublication Date : 02-09-2013Agricultural cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expected to get more impetus from the increased seed and technology exchanges between the two sides in the next few years, experts said.Long Jiang, director of the Yunnan Provincial Science and Technology Department, said that the agriculture technology transfer agreement signed between the two sides in 2002 would be the framework for future agricultural cooperation and for development and exchange of new technologies.China has fostered nearly 10,000 new varieties of agricultural products in the past 30 years, he said adding that the nation's 3 billion-yuan (US$490 million) seed bank project, started in 1995, has helped increase annual food production by 20 million tons.Long said that the keenness of both sides to enhance agricultural cooperation was evident at a recent meeting of more than 200 agricultural professionals from various Southeast Asian nations in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. In their meetings with their Chinese counterparts, these professionals agreed to step up efforts to develop and exchange new agricultural technologies.In Yunnan, more than 300 agricultural researchers and enterprises from all over China showcased their technologies and products, especially seeds of new breeds at the China-Asean Technology Transfer Forum on New Technologies and Varieties of Modern Agriculture in Yunnan. In addition, 16 companies from Yunnan signed contracts with partners from Asean nations for technology demonstration parks in super soft rice, corn and castor oil.Long said that there have been increased efforts to cultivate agricultural professionals, boost technology exchanges and promotions, and foster agricultural trade between the two sides.The Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, the United Nations Development programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation have all been providing funds for agriculture technology transfers between the two sides, along with some private companies such as Sime Darby from Malaysia, according to Jin Ke, director of the national cooperation division of the International Cooperation Department of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.As one of the three research institutions directly administered by the Agriculture Ministry, the CAAS has signed cooperation agreements with Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines to promote technical services, postgraduate education, joint research projects and technology transfers, Jin said.The Gates Foundation has also teamed up with CAAS and provided $18 million for research and development of super rice that was subsequently transferred to other Asean nations like Laos and Cambodia. The super rice has increased rice yields by 25 to 30 per cent in these nations, he said.Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng called for the development of a pilot research centre in Asean nations during his visit to CAAS earlier this year. According to Jin, the first centre is expected to be established in Myanmar next year."Agriculture is the fundamental industry for both China and Asean nations. Both sides have strong competitiveness in their own fields of research. For example, Asean nations have more advantages in research into tropical plants and animals," Jin said.The forum was also a platform for several participants to publicise new technologies and breeds. Shanghai Lianye Agricultural Science and Technology Co Ltd announced a new breakthrough in fertilising technolo[...]



Network services provider OCK in expansion mode

2013-09-02T11:24:08.927+07:00

By NG BEI SHAN beishan@thestar.com.myPUCHONG: After setting up a subsidiary in Myanmar in July, followed by the incorporation of a unit in Cambodia last month, OCK Group Bhd is looking at Thailand and Indonesia for more potential business opportunities. Managing director Sam Ooi said the telco network services provider has been studying and researching about venturing into some of the South-East Asian markets since the end of last year. “In this globalised era, there is no business border and we see opportunities in our neighbouring countries where there is a need for network improvement,” he told StarBiz in an interview. In Myanmar, it is submitting bids for projects alongside vendors to Norway-based telecommunication giant Telenor Group and Qatar-based Qtel Group, which had received the telco licence from the Myanmar Government. “The two telco operators will have a huge roll-out and they might plan for 4,000 to 5,000 sites within two years. “As we have already set up a company there, we will bid for the jobs,” he said, adding that there could be a “substantial” source of income should it successfully secure some of the contracts. About two weeks ago, it announced the establishment of its Cambodian unit, Phnom Penh Pte Ltd under its wholly-owned subsidiary OCK International Sdn Bhd, an investment holding company for its regional and international businesses and subsidiaries and the provision of telecommunication network services and trading of related products and materials. Due to the consolidation in the telco industry in Cambodia, particularly when Axiata Group Bhd’s Hello merged with Smart, there will be some consolidating work required. As OCK has worked with Axiata’s local arm, Celcom Axiata Bhd, it stands a chance of winning contracts in Cambodia, he added. On top of that, it also sees some opportunities in building and maintaining towers in that country. Recently, it studied the feasibility of setting up a subsidiary in Bangkok for a potential green technology business. “It is not easy to set up a 100%-owned company in Thailand compared with Myanmar, so we are still studying the process,” he said. At the same time, the long-term evolution (LTE) roll-out in Indonesia has also attracted Ooi’s attention as it meant a huge business opportunity for OCK. “We have intentions of penetrating the market due to the attractive growth potential there,” he said. Back at home, he said the telco sector was still growing steadily as the LTE roll-out in Malaysia was still at the initial stage. “I believe LTE licence holders will continue to roll out 4G services more aggressively next year,” he said, adding that telco players would have to deploy twice the number of existing stations for full coverage nationwide. This is due to the shorter distance of between towers are built to enable high frequency transmission. He said the LTE activities in the domestic telco industry would keep it busy for another three to four years. Some operators may also choose to lease towers from network facility providers (NFP) like OCK, which owns about 60 towers currently, to reduce their capital expenditure, he said. It aimed to increase the number to 300 sites by end-2014. The licence it obtained in July from the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission allowed it to lay fibre and lease it to operators, which is an additional scope for the services it provides. According to Ooi, it has also secured a 10 megawatt-solar farm contract at a site in Kuala Lumpur Inter[...]



Cambodian PM to join ASEAN-China Expo in Nanning

2013-09-02T11:22:42.361+07:00

 2013-09-02
Xinhua  
Web Editor: qindexing

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, accompanied by a large group of business people, left here Monday for Nanning of southwest China's Guangxi Province to attend the 10th ASEAN-China Expo, which is set to be held from September 3 to 6.

The premier was accompanied by Cham Prasidh, Minister of Commerce, Sok Chenda, President of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, and other senior officials as well as business executives from 167 companies, Sry Thamarong, minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen, told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport before departure.

During the expo in Nanning, Hun Sen will hold a bilateral talk with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and meet separately with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Governor of China's Guangxi Chen Wu, and Governor of China's Yunnan Province Li Jiheng, he said.

The expo was initiated by former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during the 7th ASEAN-China Summit and was firstly held in 2004. It is usually held in Nanning City.

"Since its inception in 2004, the relations and cooperation in economics and trade between Cambodia and China have rapidly developed," said Sry Thamarong.

"We have attracted a lot of investments from Chinese private sector in infrastructure, energy, information technologies and telecommunication, banking and finance, agriculture and tourism."

China is the top investor in Cambodia. According to figures from the Council for Development of Cambodia, from 1994 to 2012, total Chinese investment in Cambodia has reached 9.17 billion US dollars.

On bilateral trade, China is also one of the leading trading partners of Cambodia. Last year, the bilateral trade volume accounted for 2.9 billion US dollars and it was expected to reach 5 billion US dollars by 2017, he said.

Hun Sen will return to Cambodia on Tuesday afternoon.

The annual event of the ASEAN-China Expo is a very important platform to further promote trading in goods and services, investment cooperation, culture and tourism, particularly contributing to strengthening and developing the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.

During the expo, there will be an ASEAN-China Business and Investment Summit, which is a key platform for leaders of China and ASEAN to exchange opinions and enhance cooperation.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.



ASEAN Ministers Wrap Up Summit in Brunei

2013-08-29T13:59:19.976+07:00

Aug 29, 2013
VOA
 
Southeast Asian defense ministers are expected to hold fresh talks on territorial disputes as they meet with their counterparts from elsewhere in Asia, as well as the United States on Thursday.

The final day of the two-day meeting is being held at a Brunei resort overlooking the South China Sea, where several ASEAN member nations have tense overlapping territorial claims with China.

The ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus, as the gathering is known, is bringing together ministers from the 10 ASEAN nations, the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and other regional powers.

During Wednesday meetings with ASEAN defense ministers, U.S. officials said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the need to enhance cooperation and lower tensions in the region.

Analysts do not expect a breakthrough on the disputes, as China has been reluctant to even discuss the issue at such meetings. It instead prefers to deal with each rival claimant separately, a position that gives it a much greater advantage.

A Thursday editorial in the Global Times, China's Communist Party's official mouthpiece, said the ASEAN meeting is not the appropriate place to resolve maritime disputes.

ASEAN foreign ministers have been pushing for China to work towards signing a binding Code of Conduct to help prevent conflict in the territorial disputes.

Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia are embroiled in territorial disputes with China over several resource-rich islands in the South China Sea. Japan and China are engaged in a separate dispute in the East China Sea.

Many of the nations accuse China of using its rapidly advancing military to more aggressively defend what it views as its territory. Some of the nations have expanded their defense cooperation with the United States, as a result.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations consists of Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Laos.

The ADMM-Plus will help lay the groundwork for October's East Asian Summit, which will be attended by world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama. The meeting is also expected to focus on other regional and international security and trade issues.



Thai village under siege from marauding monkeys

2013-08-29T13:58:24.193+07:00

By by Apilaporn Vechakij | Agence-France Presse  In a Thai village, homes are raided, property is pinched and locals are attacked by dastardly gangs operating beyond the law -- but the perpetrators are not men, but monkeys."They creep into my house when they see me sleeping, they go into the kitchen and take cooking oil, sugar and even the medicines that I hide in a cabinet," said Chaluay Khamkajit, after years battling with pesky primates who are thought to have been drawn into Khlong Charoen Wai village by habitat loss. "They took my snacks, I can buy new ones, but the medicines are important to me," the 72-year-old said, as she and her husband demonstrated a variety of anti-monkey devices including a homemade lock for the fridge and the more direct deterrent of a sling-shot. Around 150 households in the shrimp farming community in Chachoengsao province on the east coast, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Bangkok, have suffered raids by so-called "sea monkeys" -- long-tailed macaques -- for about a decade. An increasing number of shrimp farms, coupled with the associated deforestation, is thought to be behind a surge in monkeys venturing into built-up areas. "They could find food easily in the past but when there is less forest, they have to find food in people's houses," said village headman Chatree Kaencharoen, expressing frustration at some villagers who give food to the incorrigible creatures. "Sometimes, a few hundred monkeys come at once -- especially at dawn and dusk when it is cooler. They know it is time to be fed," he said. Conservation group WWF said people have encroached on the monkeys' habitat -- not the other way around. "People have moved closer to nature, that is why there is an increased chance of interaction between human and animals," WWF Thailand director Petch Manopawitr told AFP. "Macaques can adjust their behaviour quite well -- they learn in similar ways as humans -- and when they know that they can find food in a village, they come." The spread of villages into formerly dense jungle has caused other clashes between people and beasts in Thailand. "Wild pigs eat farm plants. But the villagers can also shoot the pigs and eat them," said Petch, adding that elephants and tigers were a less edible source of village disruption. And the WWF says the problem is accelerating. In a recent report, the conservation group said demand for farmland could strip the Greater Mekong region -- Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam -- of a third of its remaining forest cover over the next two decades without swift government action. Between 1973 -- the first point of available data -- and 2009, Thailand lost some 43 percent of its natural woodland, the WWF said, although it praised the country for its network of national parks. Khlong Charoen Wai's monkeys spend their days hanging out on the narrow bamboo bridges that meander across the coastal swampland at the edge of the village. Mothers lounge with babies slung across their chests, while others leap between nearby mangrove trees. They tend to flee when approached. But when nobody seems to be looking, they climb onto roofs, leaving trails of muddy footprints as they stalk into homes through any openings they can find. Residents have been forced to seal their houses with nets, lock their windows despite the tropical heat, and secure their property the best they can. "They pushed over a 21-inch television, which fell and smashed. Th[...]



Cambodian Court Acquits Two in Slaying of Journalist

2013-08-29T13:56:51.343+07:00

RFA Authorities bring military officer An Bunheng and his wife to court to face murder charges, Sept. 16, 2012. RFAA Cambodian provincial court today dropped charges against a military police officer and his wife accused of murdering a reporter investigating the country’s illegal timber trade, drawing protests from the journalist’s wife and from human rights and environmental advocacy groups.Hang Serei Oudom, a reporter for the Vorakchun Khmer newspaper, had been looking into claims of illegal logging and extortion when he went missing on Sept. 10, 2012.  His battered body was found two days later in the trunk of his car.Military police captain An Bunheng and his wife were taken into custody the next day after police and a court prosecutor said they had found evidence linking them to the crime at the couple’s restaurant in Cambodia’s northeastern Ratanakiri province. After questioning three witnesses and reviewing written statements from another seven, the Ratanakiri Provincial Court dropped all charges against the pair, citing a lack of evidence sufficient to win a conviction against them. Hang Serei Oudom’s last article before his death was published on Sept. 6, 2012 and accused the son of a local military police commander of involvement in illegal logging. Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service today, Hang Serei Oudom’s wife Im Chanthy protested the court’s ruling, calling it “very unjust.”“First the court says it has evidence, and now they claim they don’t,” Im Chanthy said. “Please help me. There is no law in Cambodia.”Defense lawyer Heng Sotheara meanwhile applauded the verdict freeing his clients, while deputy prosecutor Chea Sopheak said he had not yet decided whether to appeal the court’s ruling. 'Influential people'Rights groups had called for a thorough investigation into Hang Serei Oudom’s death, noting that the journalist had written about influential people, including businessmen and provincial officials involved in the trafficking of luxury wood.In a statement Wednesday, the Club of Cambodian Journalists condemned the court’s verdict and urged authorities to “reinvestigate the case in order to provide justice to the victim and his family.”The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) meanwhile noted that the Ratanakiri court had refused in initial proceedings last year to examine the link between Hang Serei Oudom’s death and his reporting on illegal logging.And though the court’s investigation was reopened in April after briefly being closed, “no further evidence was collected,” CCHR said on Wednesday.“The Cambodian justice system has yet again failed those who risk their lives to defend their rights and protect the country’s rapidly vanishing forests,” the London-based environmental advocacy group Global Witness said, calling the court’s ruling an example of Cambodia’s “shocking culture of impunity.”Without the support of Cambodian authorities and the courts, “environmental defenders like Hang Serei Oudom will continue to be killed and some of Asia’s last remaining intact forests will be gone,”  Global Witness said.[...]



Hillary Clinton Pledges Aid for Cambodia's Unexploded Bomb Problem

2013-08-29T13:55:23.269+07:00

Hanoi, Vietnam -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/28/2013 -- During the Vietnamese war American forces dropped a staggering 2 million tons of ordnance on the Southeast Asia country of Laos. This unbelievably, adds up to more than a ton for every man, woman and child in the country. So complete was the devastating carpet bombing, that today, almost 40 years after the end of the war, many people, especially children, are still being maimed as they step on unexploded mines and bombs. It is estimated that of the 270 million cluster bombs that landed on Laotian soil, approximately 90 million failed to explode. Over the decades that followed they have caused complete devastation to so many people here in this beautiful, tranquil country. Last month Hillary Clinton visited the country and met with the Foreign Minister Mr. Thongloun Sisoulit and pledged that America would finally fulfil its obligation and assist the country to get rid of the remaining lethal weapons. The former First Lady was taking part in a weeklong tour of Southeast Asia to promote diplomatic relations in the region. Threatened by China’s dominance in the world, she was trying to improve America’s international standing in the region and gain favour from some of the fastest growing markets in the world.Speaking in typical US diplomatic speak she said, that together with Laotian leaders, she had, "traced the arc of our relationship from addressing the tragic legacies of the past to finding a way to being partners of the future." No doubt with one eye on the general public’s opinion of her countries military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, her government is trying to change the perception of US actions in recent years. The bombs have of course had a terrible financial effect in the country, with huge swathes of good farming land lying fallow, as the threat from unexploded bombs is far too great to go near. These and other economic problems were on the agenda as the leaders also discussed environmental concerns over the possibility of building a dam on the Mekong River. The construction of a dam is an extremely sensitive issue. The Mekong spends most of its 3000 miles in the country. Further down stream it passes through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Any damming would have consequences for those countries.Visiting a prosthetic center in Laos, which is funded by the US, she said that America had to do more. The cleanup has been painfully slow, with only an estimated one percent of the affected areas having been declared safe. Although the US has provided approximately $47 million since the end of the war, much more is needed. It has pledged a further $9 million for this year and more will follow.This is the first visit by a United States Secretary of State for 58 years. This trip to Laos by Hillary Clinton is seen as a very positive move as Laos, wary of Chinese assistance, struggles to compete in the region of Indochina. Providing assistance that would mean the dam not being built, would be a major boost for the country’s neighbors as well of course to Laos.[...]