A ride worth the weight

July 4th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

North of the Sesan River, in protected forests that stretch to the border with Laos and Vietnam, illegal timber traders describe a network of bribery that leaves them counting their riels, despite the multimillion-dollar nature of the industry.

In contrast to the large flat-bed trucks owned by timber baron Try Pheap that ply the province’s roads – identifiable by the code number on the windshields: 1168 – small-scale traders must pay their dues to the scores of languid officials who have set up hammocks by the roadsides, creating unofficial checkpoints to cash in on a business that has only grown since the tycoon was granted sole transportation rights last year.

The traders load up their motorbikes with hundreds of kilograms of luxury wood that could easily crush an arm or a leg, deftly navigating the tracks, which can morph from dustbowl to muddy brook in a matter of minutes. …

May Titthara

Puny plants perturb Kampot pepper producers

July 3rd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Kampot pepper farmers saw a bumper crop this year with harvest levels up more than 36 per cent, but rain shortages have diminished the producers’ chances of exporting their haul.

According to Nguon Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA), more than 30 tonnes of Kampot pepper has been earmarked for collection, up from 22 tonnes in 2013. …

Chan Muyhong

Will AEON mall succeed in one of the poorest countries in the world?

July 3rd, 2014 , The Cambodia Herald

The presence of AEON Mall in Cambodia has stirred a lot of questions revolving around the future success of this Japanese giant mall. …

Since the official opening of the mall, thousands of people have flocked to visit this new mall. Not only people in general are happy to see AEON Mall in Cambodia, but Prime Minister Hun Sen also welcomes its presence. …

According to the list of companies registered for renting space in AEON Mall, there are a total of 186 stores, three fourth of which are foreigners-owned. 49 of them are from Japan, 21 others from Europe and 9 others from the US.

On the other hand, local brands occupy 42 stores touching on sales, banking, restaurants, cafes, clothing and many other areas. …

The Cambodia Herald News Staff

Direct flights to Japan coming

July 2nd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Asia Atlantic Airlines, a Thai airline owned in part by Japanese tourism firm HIS Co, will launch scheduled flights between Cambodia and Japan this September, according a statement published by the airline on June 26.

As of September 2, Asia Atlantic will run three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays aboard a Boeing 767 aircraft between Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and Phnom Penh. Starting October, the firm will also run direct flights to and from Siem Reap every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. …

Asia Atlantic’s new services take the total number of airline’s flying into Cambodia’s airports to 24. Cambodia’s two main international airports, in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, commenced a $100 million redevelopment in January in order to house the country’s rapidly increasing tourism trade. …

Annie Lee

Delay Sesan dam: villagers

July 2nd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Villagers who will be displaced if the controversial Lower Sesan II dam is built called on the developers yesterday to postpone construction for five years, allowing time for a comprehensive resettlement scheme to be devised.

But a government official dismissed their request as “beyond the pale”, saying the project had been carefully thought through and would benefit the whole nation. …

Many of the nearly 5,000 people who may need to relocate because of the dam are ethnic minorities, including Prov, Phnong and Lao. …

Phak Seangly and Daniel Pye

Chroy Changva locals threaten ocic pipeline

July 2nd, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

District security guards were deployed to Chroy Changva peninsula Tuesday to intercept villagers who were ready to smash a pipe that has been pumping sand onto their land for the past year.

The roughly 40 families occupy the northeastern corner of a 387-hectare swathe of wetlands that was handed over to the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC) on a 99-year lease in 2001. …

The villagers are protecting the last 7 hectares of the land granted to OCIC for a $3-billion real estate project to be known as “Chroy Changva City: City of the Future.” OCIC has already pumped millions of cubic meters of sand into the once-verdant wetlands. …

Sek Odom and Matt Blomberg

Acacia chip exports to receive tax break: PM

July 2nd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The tax imposed on the export of acacia chips is to be abolished to help boost exports of the locally grown raw product, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Monday.

Speaking at the grand opening of Aeon Mall, Hun Sen said that acacia chips exported to Japan were now charged a 10 per cent tax, when in the past the premium did not apply. The Ministry of Economy and Finance would review the product’s tax classification and announce changes shortly he said. …

Chan Muyhong

Cyclo drivers struggle as demand dwindles

July 2nd, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

When Men Chan started out as a cyclo driver in Phnom Penh in 1966, his services were in demand and his salary was modest but adequate.

Now—like most of his colleagues across the city—the 71-year-old is struggling to make ends meet as his income stagnates and the cost of living rises. …

In a further blow for the fate of the iconic vehicles, there has been a 40 percent drop in the number of tourist passengers this low season compared to last year, according to the Cyclo Conservation and Careers Association (CCCA). …

Kang Sothear and Holly Robertson

Angkor Gold confirms $10m partnership deal

June 30th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian firm Angkor Gold Corp (ANK) on Thursday finalised a partnership agreement with Hong Kong firm Tohui Beishan Property Group Holding Limited (TG) worth more than $10.4 million.

According to a company statement issued on the Toronto Stock Exchange, ANK granted the Hong Kong firm 7.9 million shares in the company at $0.285 per share, valued at $2.25 million. …

Eddie Morton

Local IT firm eyes off-shore expansion

June 30th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Information technology firm First Cambodia on Friday joined forces with little-known Singaporean investment company GlobalVision, in a move that aims to expand the local company’s international footprint.

As part of the joint partnership, GlobalVision has purchased a 50 per cent stake in First Cambodia for an undisclosed amount. The local IT firm will use the partnership to attract clients from overseas markets, San Sithea, CEO of First Cambodia, said. …

Chan Muyhong

Fishers report rampant corruption, major depletion of fisheries

June 28th, 2014 , VOA Khmer

Representatives of fishing communities say illegal operations are critically threatening the nation’s fisheries.

Corruption and collusion between authorities and illegal fishermen are at the root of the problem, they say.

More than 100 representatives from these communities met in Phnom Penh Friday, in an effort to find ways to curb the practice, which threaten a major food source for millions of Cambodians. …

Khoun Theara

Japanese chain to open hotel in 2015

June 28th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Budget business hotel group Toyoko Inn hope to draw East Asian businesspeople and travellers to Phnom Penh

The Toyoko Inn, which is a joint venture between the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) and a Japanese budget, business hotel chain, is slated to open in May 2015. OCIC project manager Touch Samnang said that construction of the Toyoko Inn has reached 23 floors since building started on December 12, 2012. More than 300 rooms are now being outfitted.

Meanwhile, he said, the total cost for the investment in land and construction totalled some $14 million, excluding hotel fittings. Toyoko Inn Co Ltd was established in 1986, and the name of the company is a combination of the names of the Japanese neighbouring cities Tokyo and Yokohama. From the 1990s onwards the company has expanded rapidly, though the majority of its branches are in Japan. …

Siv Meng

US firm to build border market in Takeo

June 28th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Realco Cambodia Ltd., a U.S.-owned company, plans to invest $7 million to build a market at the Phnom Din checkpoint on the border with Vietnam in Takeo province’s Kirivong district, a senior official at the Takeo, Kampot and Kep Provincial Chamber of Commerce said Friday.

Realco Cambodia reached an agreement with the chamber on Thursday to develop the market on a 7-hectare site that will house trading and storage facilities for Cambodian and Vietnamese vendors, chamber president Sok Sovann said. …

Kang Sothear

Melco’s unit disposes of Cambodia assets

June 27th, 2014 , GGRAsia

Nasdaq-listed Entertainment Gaming Asia Inc, a company linked to Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, is selling its assets in Cambodia. …

The sale includes all assets of Dreamworld Leisure with the exception of all electronic gaming machines, and prohibits any use of the Dreamworld brand name by the buyer.

The move comes as the government in Cambodia is in the process of amending its gaming laws in a bid to draw major casino operators. …

GGRAsia News Staff

Locals still off-limits, PM cautions casinos

June 27th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

As Cambodian migrant workers return in droves from Thailand through the casino-laden border town of Poipet, Prime Minister Hun Sen is warning gambling parlour owners this does not mean a jackpot for them.

“Casinos in Phnom Penh and along the border are not for Khmer citizens,” a post dated on Sunday on a Facebook page attributed to Hun Sen says. “Violating this law can affect casinos’ licenses.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak yesterday attested to the edict’s validity. …

Meas Sokchea

Vendors with a licence to forge

June 27th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

On the side of a well-trafficked street in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, a man with a razor blade bends over a small rectangle of sheet metal overlaid with a vinyl stencil.

As letters and numbers are lifted away, the plate begins to take on a familiar appearance – a line of Khmer script at the top, followed by a five-digit numeric sequence below and “RCAF” at the bottom, in a plain, bold font.

After a strafing of white spray paint and a few minutes in the sun, the vinyl is peeled away revealing a standard Royal Cambodian Armed Forces licence plate on the military’s distinctive blue-over-red background. The cost, for any paying customer with an interest in buying it, is $6.25. …

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Ten commandments: Gov’t lays out food standards

June 26th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Makers of food- and beverage-related products are for the first time facing mandatory health regulations, with the unveiling of 10 national standards by the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.

The announcement comes after the National Standard Council, a government-run committee, finally approved the standards in May after two years in the making.

The standards will be mandatory for all fish, noodle, beverage, soy sauce, cement, safety helmet and plastic bottle products, according to government officials. …

Chan Muyhong

New registered businesses increase by 33 percent

June 25th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The number of newly registered businesses in Cambodia increased 33 percent between January and June this year compared to the same time period last year, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Commerce released Tuesday.

The total number of new businesses increased from 1,401 to 1,868 between January 1 and June 15, the figures show. …

Kang Sothear

Wedding business a winning proposal

June 25th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

It’s no secret. Weddings in Cambodia are big, colourful and extravagant affairs. Guests drink and eat to their heart’s content, music draws revellers onto the dance floor and the party lasts for hours.

But guests aren’t the only people having fun. Rising affluence paired with a flood of young people moving to the city has created a boom in the wedding industry.

According to City Hall, more than 11,800 weddings were celebrated across the capital during 2013, nearly double 2012’s total of 6,380. …

Chai Lim, deputy director of the Phnom Penh Cultural Centre, also known as Chenla Theatre, said that during the most recent wedding season, the venue was rented out almost every day for weddings, with 50-table packages starting at a minimum of $2,000 per booking. …

Hor Kimsay