A Change of Guard

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Wednesday 30 November 2011

Regular ferry service between Kep and Phu Quoc [Koh Tral] may start as early as February

Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Posted by Serath

KEP, Nov 30 (Cambodia Herald) - Regular ferry services between Kep in southeast Cambodia and the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc [Koh Tral in Khmer] are expected to start next year, possibly as early as February, an official from the Koh Tonsai Boat Owners Association said Wednesday. [Read the history of Koh Tral here].

Speaking at the recently completed Kep City Port, the official said a Vietnamese ferry service was expected to inaugurate the new route with vessels capable of carrying "about 40" passengers. With the voyage taking between 60 and 90 minutes, he said several sailings were expected each day in both directions.

Neighbourly chat: Vietnamese eye chances in Cambodia

By Sieam Bunthy
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

More than 20 Vietnamese companies are studying investment law and business opportunities in the Kingdom with an eye on the country’s agriculture and industrial sectors.

The companies - most of which were based in Ho Chi Minh - were focusing on intellectual property rights, as well as potential investment in the Special Economic Zones along the Cambodia-Vietnam border, Nguon Meng Tech, general director of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said.

Both countries were pushing for a higher degree of economic and commercial relations, Lai Xuan Chien, a representative at Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia, said. Vietnamese investment in agriculture, hydro power, oil, tourism, education and health were on the horizon if the two countries could forge a better understanding of each other’s laws, he said.

Although the arrival of the Vietnamese companies demonstrated the high level of investment opportunity in the Kingdom, it also highlighted the number of loop-holes in Cambodian law, as well as its relative fragility, experts said.

Parties merge to ‘eliminate poverty’

Daran Kravanh greeted a supporter during a fundraising the the U.S in 2008.

Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

The Khmer Anti-Poverty Party announced a three-party merger yesterday – and indicated an interest in future mergers with other political parties – at its national convention in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.

Speaking in front of an estimated 1,000 supporters, KAPP president Daran Kravanh, who lives in the US, said the KAPP would merge with the Society of Justice Party and the Democratic Society Party ahead of next year’s national elections.

He also indicated an interest in merging with the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party.

“We are merging to eliminate poverty,” he said.

“Today we have three parties coming together, tomorrow we might have the Sam Rainsy Party and Kem Sokha’s party [the Human Rights Party],” he said.

The candidate jokingly made reference to merging with the Cambodian People’s Party, if it ever wanted to be “released from Vietnam’s control”.

When contacted yesterday, senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said “we are not under Vietnamese control”.

Several of Daran Kravanh’s supporters – many of them foreigners – also addressed the convention crowd, including his wife, American Bree Lafreniere Kravanh, who said her husband had fled to the US 27 years ago to escape a Vietnamese-controlled state.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that his party would be receptive to merger talks with the KAPP because it supported efforts to unite Cambodia’s democratic forces.

China firm plans bauxite processing plant in Kratie

Don Weinland and May Kunmakara
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

China's Erdos Hongjun planned to build a bauxite processing plant in Kratie province as part of the company’s US$1.5 billion venture in the Kingdom’s northeast, provincial officials said yesterday.

The plant would serve Erdos’s mine in neighbouring Mondulkiri, an exploration licence for which was granted by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, according to a list of mining companies operating in the province obtained by the Post.

Kong Pisith, director of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy’s Mondulkiri office, confirmed yesterday that Cambodia International Investment Development Erdos Hongjun Aluminum Company had set up an office in the province last year and was exploring a 360-square-kilometre bauxite concession.

First [luxury] furniture factory in Kingdom to open

Rann Reuy
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Furniture maker DeCoro is set to open a manufacturing facility in Kampong Speu province along National Road 4, CEO Luca Ricci said yesterday via email.

The factory will employ up to 1,000 workers, he added.

Ricci said the company will mainly export to the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. The factory - Cambodia’s first to make furniture, according to several online reports - will have a capacity of about five shipping containers of furniture per day, he said.

According to furniture industry newspaper Furniture Today, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2008 after the unexpected closure of its factory in China.

Cambodia, U.S. boost military ties with joint exercise

A file picture of a U.S-Cambodian naval joint exercise which took place on 26th October, 2010.

November 30, 2011

PHNOM PENH, (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.

The exercise will last until Dec. 9.

Malaysia’s immigration law promotes trafficking in Asia [and condones cruelty against other human beings???]

Yim Pek Ha, arrested in Maylaysia, for the sadistic torture of her maid Nirmala Bonat Sumbber. Though sentenced to 18 years in prison, Ha has been released on bail.
Nirmala Bonat, Pek's maid before and after her injuries

By Youngbee Dale
The Washington Times

The Cambodian embassy in Malaysia reported the deaths of nine Cambodian housemaids in 2011. One wonders if the nine Cambodians have suffered the same cruelty as the girl above before they died at the hands of their Malaysian employers.

WASHINGTON, November 29, 2011- Malaysia’s membership in the United Nation Human Rights Council masks its horrific record on workers’ rights. Malaysia has one of the worst policies in the world in terms of its treatment of migrant workers. It leaves them completely in the hands of often abusive employers. But, many Malaysians exploit migrant workers and face no legal consequences for their deeds.

Under Malaysia’s strict immigration law, only employers can obtain work permits for their migrant employees. The terms of the work permit bind migrant workers to work for the employer for multiple years or lose their ability to work. The workers also must surrender their passports to their employers.

Sokha's putting others' needs first [A Cambodian-Australian polio victim to help her homeland]

Humanitarian tour: Sokha Sim with Hoppers Crossing Rotary president Susane Wilson and Michael Pratt

30 Nov, 2011
Wyndham Weekly, Victoria, Australia

SOKHA Sim will be defying the odds when she returns to her homeland of Cambodia as part of a humanitarian project to assist underprivileged children from the Khmer community.

The Victoria University student was diagnosed with polio aged six after being the only member of her family who was not vaccinated.

Despite having a permanent mobility disability and walking with the aid of leg calipers, the 28-year-old tourism student at VU's Werribee campus will undertake a month-long expedition in the land of her birth that will include time at an orphanage.

"It's something I've always dreamed of, to be able to return home and help disadvantaged kids and orphans.

"I've always wanted to help children receive an education and to give children care and love," she says.

While Ms Sim is a little daunted by the task at hand, the February trip could be the beginning of a long career in humanitarian projects.

"It's exciting, and I'm nervous because I have never done anything like this before."

VU program manager in tourism and events, Michael Pratt, says he is proud of Ms Sim's efforts.

"Sokha has been a model student in her time at VU and this trip will be an absolutely terrific experience for her."

Ms Sim is busy fund-raising for the trip. Her efforts were given a boost last week when Hoppers Crossing Rotary Club presented her with $1000.

To help, phone Jane Zammit on 99198293.

MoLVT Praises Cambodian Enterprises for HIV Response

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT), with funding support from the ILO-Social Protection and Gender Project (ILO-SPG) of the International Labour Organization, today praised the work of numerous Cambodian businesses for their efforts to respond to HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

Undraa Suren, Liaison Officer for the ILO in Cambodia said: “The world of work is playing a crucial role in addressing HIV and AIDS. It offers a valuable entry point to reach women and men workers in the setting where they spend much of their lives: the workplace. The development and implementation of workplace policies and programmes on HIV and AIDS facilitate access to prevention, treatment, care and support services for workers and their families and dependants, thereby also reaching out to the larger community.”

Cambodia landmine summit sparks hopes for survivor

Song Kosal (Photo: AP)

Agence France-Presse
Nov 30, 2011

PHNOM PENH // Song Kosal was just five when she lost her right leg to a landmine. But the tragedy inspired her to become one of Cambodia's most outspoken anti-mine campaigners, and even take part in a beauty contest.

Now 27, Kosal will share her dream of a "mine-free world" when she gives the opening address to delegates from more than 100 countries at a conference in Phnom Penh this week taking stock of a global ban on the weapons.

"I have dreamed many times that I still have two legs, but then I wake up," Ms Kosal said. "I don't want to see other people, children especially, to be hurt by landmines like me."

Representatives from the states that have signed the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention will discuss progress on eradicating the weapons at the meeting that starts on Monday.

The meeting follows a report just days ago saying that global landmine use is at a seven-year high.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) said that landmines and explosive remnants of war caused 4,191 new casualties in 2010, including more than 1,000 deaths.

Nearly three decades of civil war have left impoverished Cambodia one of the world's most heavily mined countries. Mines kill people there almost weekly, with 32 deaths recorded in the first nine months of 2011.

Before she became adept at moving around with a crutch, Ms Kosal said, she felt "lonely, disappointed because I have only one leg and I could see other children running, playing".

Since then, she has blossomed, becoming a youth ambassador for ICBL and travelling the world to urge governments to destroy mines and help survivors.

The ICBL won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its efforts towards the Ottawa Treaty banning the use, production, stockpiling and trade in anti-personnel landmines.

In 2009, in a further effort to raise awareness, Ms Kosal entered the inaugural Miss Landmine Cambodia beauty pageant, but the event was controversially cancelled after the government decided it was in poor taste.

The contest still went ahead online, and Ms Kosal can be seen smiling broadly in her competition photograph, posing on a small boat wearing a tiara and purple summer dress.

"Everyone has the right to be beautiful," Ms Kosal said. "Taking part was one way I could show I am brave enough to do anything, that after we become survivors, we don't become invisible."

Since 1992, around 700 square kilometres have been cleared of mines and other ordnance in Cambodia, destroying nearly a million anti-personnel mines, according to UN data.

But Chum Bun Rong, secretary general of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said that much more needed to be done.

"We can't develop the country if the landmines remain," he said, adding that Cambodia intends to clear another 650 square kilometres between 2010 and 2019, requiring US$400-500 million (Dh1469m-Dh1836m).

"Even though many landmines were cleared, there are still a lot more under the ground, and thousands of survivors who really, really need help," Ms Kosal said.

A big frustration is that the US has yet to commit to the treaty, she said. "How long will they have to review the policy?" she said, noting that more than 30 countries - including India, Russia and China - have yet to join.

"I'm grateful because the US gives a lot of support to mine clearance. But it's not enough. We still need them to sign because then a lot of countries will follow."

On a personal level, there is still progress to be made as well. For herself, Ms Kosal said, she hopes to one day find a prosthetic leg that doesn't hurt her as much as models she has tried in the past.

Visiting HIV/AIDS-affected family in Cambodia

by Nguon Sovan, Zhang Ruiling

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Tuol Sambou, a community for people living with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia, is located about 27 km Southern of Phnom Penh.

The community was founded in 2009 by the government of Cambodia in cooperation with non-governmental organizations working with HIV/AIDS families.

Houses have been built for HIV/AIDS victims in the community.

According to Khum Khoeun, the chief of Tuol Sambou village, currently, the community has 80 families, and 45 families out of them are the families that their members have HIV/AIDS positive.

Confab on Cambodian border trade [with Vietnam]

PHNOM PENH (Vietnam News)— The fifth Viet Nam-Cambodia Border Trade Development Co-operation Conference was held on Monday in Kongpong Cham Province, Cambodia.

Co-organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) and the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, the conference drew the participation of 250 officials and businesspeople from Vietnamese and Cambodian border provinces. The conference agreed to complete the Viet Nam-Cambodia border market network development plan from 2010 to 2020, consider a project to build pilot Viet Nam-Cambodia border markets for implementation in 2012, and build regulations on management of Viet Nam-Cambodia markets.

Kuwait takes part in anti-personnel mines meeting in Cambodia

Kuwait News Agency
By Ahmad Al-Fraij

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 2011 (KUNA) -- Kuwait took part in the 11th meeting on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, held in Phnom Penh in Cambodia, under the patronage of the United Nations.

The head of the Kuwaiti delegation, third secretary in the Kuwaiti embassy in Thailand, Ahmad Abdulrahman Al-Buaijan, told KUNA that more than 100 countries, among them four Arab states, namely Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq and Jordan participated in the event.

He added that a number of civil organizations involved in promoting human rights and combating weapons of mass destruction are participating in the meeting.

Cambodian artist's works to premiere at CSUDH exhibition

You Khin's "Untitled - Prayer 2" (2008), oil and strings on canvas. (You Khin)

By Stephanie Cary
The Daily Breeze Staff Writer
Posted: 11/29/2011

PICTURE Cultural Art at Cal State Dominguez Hills is hosting the world premiere of work from Cambodian artist You Khin, in the current exhibition "I Have the Right."

Khin's art is on display along with the work of about 100 other artists , all representing interpretations of human rights including the right to love, the right to dream, the right to express yourself and the right to an education.

The exhibit will continue through late summer.

Khin left Cambodia to attend school in Europe a few years before the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975, prohibiting him from returning to his homeland.

This led him on an artistic journey, as he became sensitive to the conditions of people throughout the world and their right to freedom.

Sin Sisamouth- Cham Muoy Reatrey (waiting for you for the whole night)

Another song: Sin Sisamouth in Lear Hoey Sumatra (Goodbye Sumatra)

Interview with Mr Pen Sovann - Part 2

29 November 2011 (Courtesy of CamWatchblogs.blogspot.com).
Interview with Mr Pen Sovann in Syndey Australia - November 2011. Listen to part one here.

Cambodia denies secret squad to stop Thai coup

Cambodian soldiers stand guard near the Thai-Cambodia border in Oddar Meanchey province on May 1, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A Thai media outlet's flimsy claim: Cambodia paid to keep secret 5,000-troop anti-coup battalion

By Patrick Winn
November 29, 2011

Cambodia does not maintain a secret regiment that will surge into Bangkok and defend Thailand's ruling party in the event of a coup.

The Cambodian military had to say as much after a hardline nationalist Thai media outlet, ASTV Manager, published this claim.

Their proof? Nada.

This is the same media outlet that, earlier this year, broadcast entreaties to invade Cambodia and seize several provinces.

This is also the same outlet that has acted as a financial arm of the Yellow Shirts, a now-floundering jingoistic protest group that seized Thailand's airports in 2008, shuddering the economy.

According to ASTV, the secret Cambodian battalion is in cahoots with business mogul-turned-politician Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup. His sister, Yingluck, now heads Thailand's ruling party.

"The release of such allegation is considered as an attempted terrorism act which might harm stability and security in the region," said Cambodia's military according to Chinese outlet Xinhua.

Only two parties to join Senate election in January

Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Posted by Serath

PHNOM PENH, Nov 29 (Cambodia Herald) - Only two political parties will stand for the Senate election scheduled for January 29 next year, National Election Committee (NEC) Secretary General Tep Nitha (pictured) told the Cambodia Herald Tuesday.

The two parties are the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, he said, adding that the other three parties in the National Assembly are not fielding candidates. These are the Human Rights Party, Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

The senators will be elected by the 123 members of the National Assembly and 11,353 commune councilors.

NGO statement: Criminal Charges Against Activists Won’t Solve Boeung Kak Lake Crisis

Bridges Across Borders Cambodia (BABC)- Community Legal Education Center CLEC)-Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)- Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense (LICADHO)


Phnom Penh, November 29, 2011 – We, the undersigned civil society organizations, deeply regret the Phnom Penh authorities’ decision to bring criminal charges against four Boeung Kak Lake residents following their participation in a protest on Nov. 28.

We do, however, commend Investigating Judge Chhay Virak’s decision to release the accused under court supervision today.

The four female activists – Tep Vanny, Bo Chhorvy, Heng Mom and Kong Chantha – appeared before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today, and were charged with insult and obstruction of public officials, respectively, under articles 502 and 504 of the new penal code. If tried and found guilty, they face up to one year in prison and fines of up to 2 million riel.

Amnesty International Press Release: Cambodia urged to drop charges against Boeung Kak Lake activists

3 BKL representatives released at lunch time on 29 Nov 2011: CLEC Video


For Amnesty International’s recent report in forced eviction in Cambodia –

Eviction and Resistance: Five women tell their stories please see: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA23/007/2011/en


Tuesday 29 November

Cambodia urged to drop charges against Boeung Kak Lake activists

Cambodian authorities must drop politically-motivated charges against four women involved in peaceful protests about the situation at Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh, where almost 20,000 people have been forcibly evicted since 2008, Amnesty International said today.

Bo Chhorvy, Heng Mom, Kong Chantha and community leader Tep Vanny -- were charged with “obstructing public officials” and “insult” – crimes that carry hefty fines and prison sentences of up to one year.

Lake Protesters Released Under Court Watch After Arrests

Photo: by Heng Reaksmey
Some 300 protesters locked arms and blocked the thoroughfare, demonstrating against the city’s failure to so far implement a land agreement ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this year.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Read original article and more photos here.

Four leaders of a Monday demonstration by Boeung Kak lake protesters were released pending trial Tuesday, after Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged them with insult and obstruction of public officials.
The four women—Tep Vanny, 31, Bu Chorvy, 37, Heng Mom, 42, and Kong Chantha, 44—were arrested during a protest Monday that blocked traffic on Monivong Boulevard in front of City Hall.

Some 300 protesters locked arms and blocked the thoroughfare, demonstrating against the city’s failure to so far implement a land agreement ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this year.

Protesters clashed with police and threw water bottles. Some tore off their clothes and lie in the road. At least two women threatened suicide over the loss of their homes.

Tep Vanny, an outspoken advocate for villagers who say they want land on a contentious development site at Boeung Kak lake, said they would not stop until they were granted the 12.44 hectares of land promised by the authorities.

Some residents have said they were arbitrarily excluded from the deal with the city, which was meant to allay the anger of villagers unwilling to take a development company buyout or relocation.

“The villagers have a plan to continue their demands if the Phnom Penh authorities do not give them the land,” she said. “They do not fear death or detention in jail. What they are thinking about is their lost land and that their children have no homes in which to live or freedom of living.”

Chhin Lida, a defense lawyer for the four women, said he welcomed their release under court supervision but said he would fight against further arrest or detention.

Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said authorities were now putting more pressure on the lake residents to prevent further protests.

“The first arrests were clearly motivated by the authorities’ strategy to target the community’s leadership,” Sia Phearum, secretariat director for the Human Rights Task Force, an advocacy group, said in a statement. “They were not motivated by any threat to public safety.”

North Korea Plans Huge Center Outside Temples

Photo: AP
Plans call for a 70-meter-by-124-meter edifice not far from the entrance to the temples.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh

North Korea has plans to build a large cultural center outside the famed temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodian officials confirmed Tuesday.
The agreement was made public after a meeting between Council Minister Sok An and a former ambassador from Pyongyang, Ri In-sok, last week.

“It shows a good relationship between Cambodia and North Korea,” said Ek Tha, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers. “It will help improve increasing tourism in Cambodia.”

Plans call for a 70-meter-by-124-meter edifice not far from the entrance to the temples. During their meeting, Sok An told North Korean diplomats that experts from both countries were working on the plans.

There are no firm dates yet for the beginning of construction, but according to planning documents, North Korean officials have already met with the Apsara Authority, which regulates the ancient temples.

Ek Tha said construction could begin early next year. However, Bun Narith, director-general for the Apsara Authority, said the proposal was still under review.

The discussions over the planned cultural center underscore the strong ties Cambodia retains with North Korea. This is a part of Cambodia’s “neutrality policy” when it comes to the two Koreas, said Lao Monghay, an independent political analyst.

Currently, the two countries are working to boost cooperation in agriculture and other industries, following agreements signed in July.

Local [Canadian] paramedic will take clean water to Cambodia

By Lynda Hillman-Rapley
Lakeshore Advance
Ontario, Canada

One family of seven, one bucket equals one year of clean water for the outlining communities of Siemreap Cambodia. And thanks to Global Medic, local paramedic Curtis Daboll, and a team of 14 other volunteers a capacity building mission will help that area.

Daboll, a Sarnia Lambton paramedic said their mission while in the country will be to organize and operate medical clinics, provide first aid training and coordinate the delivery and installation of AquaPur water purification units. He has purchased 60 of these units at a cost to him of $50 per unit.

Daboll is providing rural villagers who have been displaced by war and disaster with the single most basic element necessary to life-clean drinking water. Global medic is an operational arm of the David McAnthony Gibson Foundation (DMGF). He is hoping the community will reach out and help with his fundraising goals to help pay for this endeavour. He would be pleased to talk to any group who would like to know more about this global action.

The scale of the global water and particularly the sanitation crisis is shocking and almost unfathomable to us who have the privilege of turning on taps all over our houses full of clean water and our pick of "thrones" on which to sit. ??900 million people lack access to clean drinking water ?2.6 Billion people have no access to sanitation.

DMGF was created in the spring of 1998 in honour of David McAntony Gibson, who tragically lost his life on February 7, 1998.

A remarkable man who believed in taking the time to help those around him both near and far, Mr. Gibson will be remembered by his friends, family and peers as caring, compassionate and dedicated. In keeping with David's spirit, DMGF is designed to help those in need around the world by providing relief supplies and equipment, and has adopted "Serving the Global Community" as its motto.

DMGF will launch programs designed to strengthen the delivery of emergency medical services in the Third world. These objectives will be obtained by the procurement of equipment, medicine, and supplies, as well as funding the delivery of training packages.

The bottom line is simple: DMGF will strive to be an efficient aid agency that delivers the maximum amount of aid with a minimum operating cost.

To donate the link is http://www.canadahelps.org/gp/14357

To talk to Daboll call 519-312-9213

Luxury furniture producers, DeCoro, seek out new source countries in Cambodia

Producers seek out new source countries

By Tom Russell
Furniture Today
November 29, 2011

This week, Furniture/Today broke news about DeCoro's plans to resume leather upholstery production for the first time since 2009. The news was as interesting for the planned plant location as anything else. It is located in Cambodia and eventually is expected to employ 1,000.

The company reportedly chose Cambodia based on its labor costs - said to be cheaper than in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Another factor was an available and intelligent work force willing to learn how to make leather upholstery.

New York City Small Business Owner Helps Combat Modern-Day Slavery

By Diana Mao
Co-founder, Nomi Network
The Huffington Post
Posted: 11/29/11

New York, New York: Occupy Wall Street has received international attention for its movement against social and economic inequality. In countries like Cambodia, economic inequities make women and children vulnerable to exploitation and modern day slavery. According to Siddharth Kara, lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and advisor to the United Nations, the revenue generated from all forms of slavery was $96 billion in 2010. In light of the protests, small businesses in New York City are taking action to raise awareness and provide solutions to end exploitation of women and children in South East Asia.

Andre Wechsler, a native of Germany, left his job in finance in 2008 to open his own restaurant "Wechsler's Currywurst and Bratwurst" -- a small tavern that focuses on German street food and beer specialties. Andre's ancestry includes a lineage of Bavarian butchers and so he was inspired to make authentic German street food and culture available to New Yorkers. His restaurant has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, NYMagazine, Timeout, and many others. Andre first heard about Nomi Network's mission to fight human trafficking through his wife, Sho-Joung Kim-Wechsler. Together, they were moved to take action and connected with the founders of Nomi Network at a Rotary meeting.

The Wechsler's are hosting an awareness raising event at their restaurant on December 6th, 2011 from 7:00-9:00 PM to increase awareness about this issue. "I was truly inspired by the founders' story and by Nomi's business approach to fight human trafficking in South East Asia. We are hoping that this event is the first step to stir our friends to action and support Nomi's cause," says Sho-Joung.

Alissa Moore and I founded Nomi Network in 2009 after being connected by mutual friends who knew they had similar interest in social justice. The organization is inspired and named after a young survivor by the name of Nomi in Cambodia. Nomi Network has won multiple awards, including a recent competitive governmental grant that will enable them to launch programs in India.

New York City is the epicenter of ideas that create wealth and social change. The Wechsler's are hoping to create an environment where this exchange can take place.

To learn more about Nomi Network, drop by at Wechsler's Currywurst and Bratwurst, 120 1st Avenue, New York NY on December 6th. If you can not make the event, visit Nomi Network's booth at the Union Square Holiday Market (Union Square East and 14th Street).

Myanmar sparks hope for dialogue at landmine meet

A victim of a landmine explosion holds his prosthetic leg (AFP/File, Eitan Abramovich)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Myanmar's rare participation in a global anti-landmine summit on Tuesday was hailed by campaigners as a sign that the country was ready for dialogue on its stubborn use of the deadly weapons.

In its maiden address to delegates at the annual meeting, attended by over 100 nations and held in the Cambodian capital this week, Myanmar defended the use of landmines but said the issue deserved "careful consideration".

Myanmar "believes that the legitimate right of every state to self-defence in matters of its national security must be recognised and respected," said U Win Naing, deputy director-general of Myanmar's foreign affairs ministry.

Campaigners said that while the statement itself revealed "nothing new", the fact that Myanmar spoke at all was significant.

"We hope it's a little first step that can open the door to a dialogue," Kasia Derlicka, director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), told AFP.

The week-long Phnom Penh gathering is a chance for the 158 states that have joined the 1997 anti-personnel mine ban convention to take stock of the eradication of the weapons.

Myanmar has not signed the treaty but is attending as an observer.

"We understand Myanmar is not ready to sign the treaty but we'd like to see interim steps such as renouncing landmines, engaging in landmine education, mine clearance and victim assistance, all of which is almost non-existent," said Derlicka.

The country has been plagued by decades of civil war between government forces and ethnic minority rebels and both sides continue to lay the deadly explosives, according to ICBL.

"We should be optimistic that Myanmar has come to hear how the vast majority of the world's states feel about this weapon," said organiser Kerry Brinkert, director of the convention's secretariat.

"We are hopeful that Myanmar's participation this week is an expression of openness on the part of Myanmar to enter into a dialogue with the states parties on the question of anti-personnel mines," he added.

Myanmar's leaders began a new round of peace talks with several ethnic groups this month amid tentative signs of change in the repressive state as it seeks to improve its standing internationally.

It was the only country recorded as laying new landmines last year, but ICBL said it has since been joined by Israel, Syria and Libya, bringing the current global use of landmines to its highest level since 2004.

Meanwhile, Burundi told summit delegates on Monday it had cleared its territory of landmines, becoming the 18th state party to do so.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Thais ‘refuse to return dead Cambodians’

Phak Seangly and Cheang Sokha and additional reporting by David Boyle
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Thai authorities have refused to give families back the bodies of three Cambodians shot while allegedly logging illegally in Thailand, instead deciding to cremate them, the father of one of the deceased said yesterday.

Police said yesterday three men from Samrong town’s Bansay Reak commune in Oddar Meanchey province were shot one week ago in Thailand.

Chan Try, 62, the father of 32-year-old victim Try Sambo, said when he went to Thailand yesterday to retrieve his dead son, Thai soldiers said they had wanted to burn the body first.

“They showed us the picture of the corpse and I could recognise that my son was killed,” he said. “Thai soldiers said they wanted to burn them in Thailand. We want to take the body for cremation in Cambodia and to hold a funeral ceremony.”

His son was shot a week ago after he left for Thailand with his brother-in-law, Mu Son, and two other men, Chan Try said.

A border relations official based at O’Smach International Border Crossing in Oddor Meanchey province, who helped facilitate an agreement for the repatriation of the bodies but declined to be named, said Thai officials had promised to return the bodies yesterday.

“But when we arrived to pick them up, they did not bring them and said wait for few more days,” he said.

Meanwhile, two victims who were shot when Thai troops allegedly opened fire on a group of Cambodians after they discovered them illegally logging in Thai territory on the weekend were hospitalised today.

The men were shot on Saturday and Sunday after crossing into Thailand with an unknown number of others from Trapaing Prasat district’s O’Svay commune in Oddar Meanchey province, police said.

Lim Te, Ou Svay commune police chief, said yesterday one victim, 22-year-old Lim Seiha, had been sent to Anlong Veng hospital after he crossed into Thailand from Tomnuk Aphiwat on Saturday.

“We warned the villagers repeatedly not to log like this, but they never listen to us. It is difficult to stop them because the village borders Thailand,” he said.

One of the group remained missing while another man who was shot in the same area on Sunday was sent to Siem Reap hospital yesterday.

A source close to Thai Ministry of Defence spokesman Thanatip Sawangsaeng said yesterday Thai defence personnel would investigate the incident today.

PM’s [Hun Sen's] cousin guilty, free

65 year-old Huoth Sarom talking to reporters.

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea and David Boyle
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

A cousin of Prime Minister Hun Sen was found guilty in absentia of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison yesterday, but remains free in Phnom Penh as a warrant for her arrest has still not been issued.

Dy Proem, 49, was found guilty of paying a US$200,000 bribe to the former deputy general director of the inspection department at the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection, Seng Yean, in connection with a Phnom Penh land dispute in 2008.

Judge Duch Kimsorn told the court that Dy Proem bribed Seng Yean to issue a fake Council of Ministers statement on March 18, 2008, falsely claiming she was the rightful owner of more than 5 hectares of disputed land in Dangkor District’s Kakab Commune.

“Based on proof and witnesses, the court has found that Seng Yean and Dy Proem are guilty,” he said. Duch Kimsorn could not be reached later to explain why no arrest warrants had been issued.

Seng Yean was handed a four-year sentence, also in absentia – though he, too has not been arrested – for accepting the bribe, and was ordered to pay US$40,000 in compensation to the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection.

During the trial, both defendants were granted bail and neither was summonsed for questioning, in apparent violation of the 1993 penal code promulgated by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia

Kao Ty, the lawyer of plaintiff Huoth Sarom, vowed to sue Judge Duch Kimsorn at the Supreme Council of Judges soon, alleging that arrest warrants had never been issued for either of the suspects because of political interference.

“I do not accept the court’s verdicts for Mr Seng Yean and Dy Proem, because it was made with wrong court procedures. I also do not accept their sentences, because they are small – they do not fit their crimes,” he said.

Arrest warrants had not been issued for the pair, he alleged, because of their connections to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The premier has publicly distanced himself from the case in the past, saying last year that the law “does not think about relatives” and his cousin should be “strongly punished” if guilty.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, said the anti-corruption law technically allowed the court to not issue an arrest warrant for a guilty party, though this was set to change on December 10 when it is set to begin referencing the new penal law.

“If it is a felony, maybe she must be arrested, but there are two ways: [if she is] arrested under detention [a misdemeanor], there is no need to arrest,” he said, adding if an arrest warrant is not issued within five years, Dy Proem’s conviction would be annulled completely.

Panhavuth Long, a project officer at the Cambodia Justice Initiative, said the sentence was surprising given that Pursat provincial prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth was found guilty of corruption and imprisoned earlier this year.

“How come they found her guilty of corruption? You charge her and you found her guilty, and then you say that is not applicable because the corruption provision is not applicable – that is very strange,” he said.

Khieu Sophal and Chhiv Theng, the defence lawyers of Seng Yean and Dy Proem, respectively, both failed to attend court for the verdict, but later denied their clients had committed any wrongdoing.
Officials from the Ministry of Justice could not be reached for comment.

King speaks of ‘golden’ chance to clear mines

Vong Sokheng and Kristin Lynch
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Photo by: Pha Lina
Secretary of State Prak Sokhonn, who was formally named as president of the 11th Meeting of the States Parties, speaks yesterday in Phnom Penh during a conference on the banning of landmines.
Phnom Penh Post

The first day of an international conference on the banning of landmines opened yesterday in Phnom Penh with a rare address by King Norodom Sihamoni, who described the diplomatic meeting as a “golden opportunity” and a “springboard” to a mine-free world.

Speaking via video tape to the crowd of more than 1,000 delegates at the 11th annual Meeting of the States Parties, the King reiterated the need for continued international support, in what has become a common talking-point of high-level Cambodian officials.

“I extend my gratitude to all foreign experts, our compatriots and especially those deminers who risk their lives. However, greater commitment and further dedication is needed to complete the mission as soon as possible,” the King said.

Injuries, arrests at Boeung Kak clash

Khouth Sophakchakrya and additional reporting by Yi Somphose
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
The Phnom Penh Post

Four villagers from Boeung Kak lake were arrested and six were reportedly injured during clashes with municipal police yesterday at a protest at which they demanded that officials hasten the process of granting them land within an onsite relocation area set aside by the government.

Village 22 residents Tep Vanny, 31, Bu Chorvy, 37, and Heng Mom, 55, from Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, were arrested yesterday morning after they gathered outside city hall with about 50 other villagers to seek an explanation as to why they had not yet been issued land titles.

Village 24 resident Kong Chantha, 55, was arrested that afternoon.

“I dare to die here if authorities do not provide a proper solution for our people in the Boeung Kak area,” Kong Chantha said shortly before her arrest.

Protestors caused a traffic jam on Monivong Boulevard, where police beat and stomped on a number of residents. One woman from village 22 cut her left hand with a razor, while a resident of village 24 tried to swallow pills in attempts to pressure authorities into resolving the issue.

The protest dispersed briefly before forming again outside the French Embassy in the afternoon.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said yesterday that six protestors were injured by police during the demonstration and that the arrested villagers were still being detained.

At about 6pm, Tep Vanny told the Post via phone from the police station that she and the other three villagers may be held overnight at the municipal police station.

Municipal police chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment yesterday, while deputy police chief Pen Roth declined to comment. Hi Prou, deputy municipal police chief in charge of public order, also declined to comment.

Residents from villages 1, 6, 22 and 24 were initially cut out of a 12.44-hectare onsite relocation area granted by Prime Minister Hun Sen to 746 families facing eviction to make way for a real-estate project being developed by Shukaku Inc, a firm run by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin.

Last week, municipal officials told village 22 residents that they would begin the land titling process last Wednesday, but residents claimed that officials have not yet begun.

Heng Mom’s husband Tong Heng, 67, told the Post yesterday that municipal officials said last Monday they would provide land titles to all villagers, but so far they “did not follow their promise”.

Last week, villager Chea Dara reportedly committed suicide amid her despair over what she believed was her pending eviction from the lakeside.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that it was government policy not to permit violence during peaceful demonstrations, but that he was not aware of the details of what occurred at the protest yesterday.

High-ranking Cambodian military delegation in Hanoi for talks on security, political issues

Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Posted Serath

PHNOM PENH Nov 29 (Cambodia Herald) - A high-ranking Cambodian military delegation led by General Hing Bun Hieng, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, has been visiting Hanoi to discuss security and political issues, the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

The report said Hing Bun Hieng (pictured on right) met Monday with Lieutenant-General Do Ba Ty, chief of general staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, and informed his hosts of the results of a meeting with the Security Safeguarding Department of the army's General Department of Politics.

The Cambodian visit is "a chance for the high-ranking military delegation to exchange experience in guard services, ensuring security and safety for senior leaders of the party, state and army as well as for political events," Ty was quoted as saying. "Defense cooperation has been effectively implemented in many areas, significantly contributing to bolstering the friendship between the two countries and the armies."

Women Detained, Injured In Clash

A woman being dragged away by the police.

Radio Free Asia
28th November, 2011

Cambodian authorities scuffle with villagers over a land dispute in the capital.

Four women were injured and another four detained on Monday following a clash with Cambodian authorities over a controversial development project in the nation’s capital, according to villagers.

The women had gathered in front of city hall with other villagers from central Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake community to protest the loss of their land to a Chinese-Cambodian company.

The company has been filling in the lake with sand in preparation for the construction of a luxury residential site.

The villagers, many of whom had already lost their homes to a forced demolition, said they held the demonstration to ask for help from local officials after a group of land title officers visited Boeung Kak Lake to take measurements over the weekend.

“After being ordered to disperse, we scuffled with authorities who beat four women unconscious and detained another four,” said one villager, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Members of (the Cambodian rights group) Licadho assisted us in bringing the four injured women to a nearby hospital for treatment.”

The whereabouts of the four detained women were unknown and authorities could not be reached for comment.

Before the villagers' protest, Kong Chantha, a representative of the Boeung Kak Lake community, demanded that all residents whose homes had been demolished by developer Shukaku Inc. and local authorities be entitled to land within an area earmarked by Prime Minister Hun Sen in August.

According to Hun Sen’s decree, 12.44 hectares (31 acres) were to be set aside for 794 families who were facing eviction.

But local authorities say scores of families lack property titles recognized by the government and have excluded them from the land. Villagers contend that implementation of the decree has lacked transparency.

“I represent the people. I have no other means to exhaust in order to keep my house for my children,” Kong Chantha told RFA.

Sam Ath of Licadho said Cambodian authorities need to move faster in assigning the designated land to families facing eviction.

“We haven’t seen any discussions or dialogue taking place between the people and the authorities on the issue yet,” he said.

“What will happen if the government finishes measuring out the 12.44 hectares of land agreed to for the people, but some residents are left out?”

Nearly 20,000 people have either been evicted from their homes or are at risk of losing them since Shukaku Inc., which is owned by a politician from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, was granted a 99-year lease in the area in 2007.

Boeung Kak suicide

Meanwhile, the husband of a woman from the Boeung Kak Lake community said her body was found Saturday after she committed suicide out of desperation over being forcibly evicted.

Chea Dara, a 30-year-old mother of two, threw herself off of a bridge last week after she was left with no other option to protect her home from local authorities and the developer, according to her huband Doeung Phou.

Doeung Phou said his wife had struggled since 1980 to save money to purchase their eight square meter (86 square foot) home, but had been forced off of the premises as authorities prepared to demolish structures in the area.

“She just told me that she was hopeless and very worried about having no property—no land ownership and no home—for her children to stay in the future. She said she was afraid that the children would end up living on the street,” he told RFA.

A funeral was held for Chea Dara at a nearby pagoda on Saturday evening.

Cambodia’s land issue dates from the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, which banned private property and forced large-scale evacuations and relocations throughout the country.

This was followed by mass confusion over land rights and the formation of squatter communities when the refugees returned in the 1990s after a decade of civil war.

Housing Cambodia’s large, young, and overwhelmingly poor population has posed a major problem ever since.

An estimated 30,000 people a year in Cambodia are driven from farmland or urban areas to make way for real estate developments or mining and agricultural projects.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Sum Sok Ry and Yanny Hin. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Vietnam, Cambodia boost cross border trade

The fifth Vietnam-Cambodia Border Trade Development Cooperation Conference was held in Kompong Cham province, Cambodia, on Nov. 28.

A view of the conference (Photo: Vietnam News Agency)

The Saigon News
Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011,

Co-organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) and the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, the conference drew the participation of 250 officials and businesspeople from Vietnamese and Cambodian border provinces.

According to reports, two-way trade between Vietnam and Cambodia increased from 372 million USD in 2001 to nearly 2 billion USD in 2010. The figure is expected to surpass 2 billion USD this year and reach 3 billion USD in 2015.

Participants at the conference said that border trade activities between the two sides have seen many advantages, with expanded markets, simplified administrative procedures, improved infrastructure and effective smuggling prevention.

However, they stressed the need to build a cross-border trade legal framework between the two countries, further improve transport infrastructure and border gates; develop payment, transport, post and telecom services, as well as strengthen coordination in smuggling prevention.

The conference agreed to complete the Vietnam-Cambodia border market network development plan between 2010 and 2020, consider a project to build pilot Vietnam-Cambodia border markets for implementation in 2012, and build regulations on management of Vietnam-Cambodia markets.

Vietnam and Cambodia will boost the implementation of “one-stop” examinations at international border gates between the two countries, border trade activities and exchange of market information.

During the conference, a Vietnam-Cambodia private business forum was also organised.
Source: Vietnam News Agency