New BKK1 condo development shoots for 2017 completion

June 5th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Nine floors of the 32-storey BKK1 condominium project, Platinum Bay, are now completed and construction is slated to be completed by mid-2017.

Platinum Bay is located on Street 282, not far from the soon-to-be-completed De Castle Royal, a part of town that property insiders see as having the most potential in greater Phnom Penh.

Platinum Bay Condo marketing officer Taing Sina said nine floors had been completed and that the 32-floor condominium block would have 170 units, adding that the first and second floors were for parking space, and the third floor would be reserved for a gym, steam room, sauna and swimming pool. …

Siv Meng

Japan firm buys share of new power plant

June 4th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

In what looks to be a concerted push into the Southeast Asian energy sector, Japanese import and export conglomerate Marubeni Corporation has acquired a large stake of Cambodia’s power generation infrastructure.

In a Tokyo Stock Exchange filing dated June 2, Marubeni announced it had purchased a 20 per cent share of Malaysian firm, Leader Infrastructure Limited.

Leader Infrastructure operates Cambodia’s only 100-megawatt, coal-fired power plant in Preah Sihanouk province as well as a transmission network under subsidiaries Cambodia Energy Limited (CEL) and Cambodia Transmission Limited (CTL).

The power plant, which cost more than $195 million to build, began operations in February. …

Hor Kimsay

Poipet poor ‘bearing brunt of water woes’

June 4th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

A private utilities company owned by wealthy businessman and ruling Cambodian People’s Party Senator Kok An is fulfilling only about half of Poipet’s demand for clean water, despite being contracted to supply the whole town, according to the city governor.

With priority for the distribution of the current 10,000 cubic metres per day that Anco Water Supply produces given to the town’s businesses and wealthy areas, Poipet governor Ngor Mengchruon said, poorer locals are forced to rely on untreated water from wells and pumps. …

Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Residents near lakes put up fight

June 4th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Member of Phnom Penh’s lake communities who stand to have their lives uprooted by development projects filed complaints yesterday.

Representatives of 260 families who live near Boeung Tamok in Sen Sok district’s Ponhea Pon commune filed a petition with City Hall asking for intervention over 200 hectares of farmland they say is being unjustly claimed by businesswoman Ouy Bovy. …

Sen David

Construction raking in cash

June 4th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Foreign and domestic investment in construction projects skyrocketed in the first four months of the year, government data suggests.

Ministry of Land Management and Urban Planning data revealed last week shows total investment in new construction projects reached more than $1.4 billion at the end of April. The result represents a 300 per cent increase on the $350 million recorded during the same period last year, according to the ministry. Beng Hong Socheat, spokesman of the ministry, said Cambodia’s economic performance and “manageable” political situation were the main reasons for the impressive figures. …

May Kunmakara and Sum Manet

Indigenous communities say authorities collude with loggers

June 3rd, 2014 , VOA Khmer

Indigenous villagers in Mondolkiri province say relevant authorities that are supposed to crack down on forestry crimes instead collude with logging companies and powerful businessmen, allowing them cut down trees.

That has put their forest tribal traditions and livelihoods, which are dependent on forests, in jeopardy, villagers here in Srea Preah commune, Keo Seima district, say. …

Mondolkiri is one of the last heavily forested provinces in Cambodia, and it is here where most indigenous tribes live. They depend of the forest, harvesting honey or vines, leaves or resin, to make a living. That existence is in jeopardy in many parts of the province, though, where rubber plantations and other development has moved in, accompanied by logging, legal and otherwise.

Villagers say police and forestry officials turn a blind eye to illegal logging by companies with powerful businessmen behind them. …

Yim Lux, vice governor of the province, said some companies have the right to log. “They are authorized by the government, so they are not wrong,” he said. “But when you people go and log without authorization, that’s illegal.” …

Saro Ratana, deputy chief of the provincial office for the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry administration, denied he or his officials take bribes from companies.

“If any of my officials are involved and you have evidence, please report to me, and I’ll take administrative measures against them,” he said. …

Say Mony

Villagers won’t swap land for apartments

June 3rd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Villagers who claim a development project in Russey Keo district has already taken a bite out of their land said yesterday that they fear the plan will swallow the rest of their property, as they filed petitions and met with local authorities.

Members of 80 families who own land in Prek Leap commune’s Kean Khlaing village thumb-printed a petition asking the district and municipality to keep their village off limits to the Overseas’ Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC) satellite city project, a community representative, Reth Dyna, said. …

Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Cambodian Villagers Express Helplessness to Protect Forest

June 2nd, 2014 , VOA Khmer

Prey Lang is one of Cambodia’s few remaining large forests, covering approximately 3,600 square kilometers across four northern provinces.

The forest is home to about 200,000 mostly indigenous people, who depend on it for their livelihoods, according to the Prey Lang Community Network. But, the advocacy group and other locals say, illegal logging threatens their traditional ways of life. …

Say Mony

Marubeni powers into Cambodia

June 2nd, 2014 , Kyodo News

Marubeni Corp. said Monday that it would acquire a 20 percent stake in a Cambodia-based electricity generation and transmission business owned and operated by Malaysia’s Leader Group, marking Japan’s first foray into Cambodia’s power market.

Leader Infrastructure Ltd. operates two 50 megawatt coal-fired power stations in Sihanoukville, southern Cambodia, and transmission lines and substations outside the capital Phnom Penh. …

Kyodo News Staff

Dredging for development

June 2nd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

With some people eating lunch off a tablecloth on the ground as children played in the distance, the scene in a small village in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district yesterday afternoon looked somewhat like a picnic.

But villagers had gathered there, a few metres from a work crew, in an attempt to prevent a development firm from continuing to dump sand onto an area they say was lush and fertile until dredging began without warning last week.​ …

Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Sean Teehan

Cambodia needs 26.5 bln USD for next five-year development plan

May 30th, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

The Cambodian Council of Ministers on Friday approved a five-year development strategic plan (2014-2018), which needs financial resources of 26.5 billion U.S. dollars to achieve the target, according to a news statement released after a weekly cabinet meeting. …

The plan is designed to develop infrastructure, agriculture and irrigation system, energy, economy, education and health in the country. “It is estimated that the country needs about 26.5 billion U.S. dollars for five years, or 5.3 billion U.S. dollars a year, in order to achieve this development plan,” the statement said. “The goal is to ensure the sustainable development of economy and poverty reduction.” …

Cambodia attained a 7.6-percent economic growth last year, according to government figures. Poverty rate has fallen from 53 percent in 2004 to 20 percent last year. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Gov’t orders halt to Koh Pich expansion

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The owner and developer of Koh Pich in Phnom Penh has been ordered by the government to scale back its expansion of the island, according to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.

According to a statement posted to the ministry’s website on Wednesday, the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC) has gone beyond its approved artificial expansion of the small island in the Bassac River and has yet to scale back to the approved limit. …

The statement says a hectare of the unapproved expansion is still to be scaled back but offers no other details, including any information on how much OCIC had originally exceeded its limit.

Neither Water Resources Ministry spokesman Chan Youttha nor OCIC project manager Touch Samnang could be reached for comment. …

OCIC has already developed the island extensively, with everything from massive convention halls to restaurants, amusement parks and luxury villas, and has plans to add office buildings and what would be one of the world’s tallest towers if it is ever built.

Mech Dara

As verdicts loom in 25 protest related cases, acquittals sought

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Verdicts will be handed down Friday in two garment protest-related cases that rights groups say were built on a weak body of evidence.

The two cases occurred months apart but followed a similar narrative: Garment workers fed up with their calls for a higher monthly minimum wage took to the streets. Rocks were then thrown in violent clashes with armed police, who ended up shooting bystanders or the protesting workers dead.

One of the clashes took place in Stung Meanchey on November 12, where police shot dead seller Eng Sokhom during a protest by SL Garment workers and arrested Men Sok Sambath, then 14, and Vanny Vanan, 17.

Then on January 2 and 3, the military police shot dead at least five protesters during garment strikes while 23 unionists, workers and bystanders were arrested and accused of violence and property damage. …

In separate statements, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and Adhoc called for the men’s acquittal.

“The trials were marked by a lack of evidence presented by the prosecution,” Adhoc said. “What evidence was produced was accepted unquestionably by the trial judges, who appeared at times to be outright hostile to the defense.” …

Lauren Crothers

Monks protest over institute

May 30th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

A group of about 100 people, including 50 or so monks, attempted to march yesterday to protest outside Phnom Penh’s Buddhist Institute, but were thwarted by droves of military police and district security guards on Sisowath Quay.

No violence occurred as Independent Monk Network leader But Buntenh called off the march after vocally denouncing the government, which he alleged was selling off the institute’s land to casino operator NagaCorp.

The march came despite the Ministry of Cult and Religion insisting on Tuesday that the destruction of part of the entrance and wall surrounding the institute was only to assist the construction of an electricity substation on the institute’s grounds by NagaCorp and Electricite du Cambodge. …

Chhay Channyda

K Speu families threaten to take back farms

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Representatives for about 250 families involved in a long-running dispute with an agri-business firm in Kompong Speu province have filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc and say they will attempt to retake land that was stolen from them.

About 60 of the villagers traveled to Phnom Penh on Thursday to publicize their case through the media and held a press conference at Adhoc’s head office.

Som Kong, one of the villagers, said the families have been farming the disputed 950 hectares since the 1980s and filed numerous complaints with various government authorities to no avail after the Master International Corporation Group started taking it over in 2006. …

Kuch Naren

Company digs trench around family’s home

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Hang Chantha watched in horror last weekend as a private company battling to take her land dug a four-meter-deep trench around the perimeter of her home.

“After the company dug, I could not sleep at night; I was afraid my house would fall,” she recounted Thursday, sitting beneath her elevated home with her grandchildren playing nearby. “I have many children up there.”

The Heng Development Company has muscled its way into Phnom Penh’s Prek Kampoes commune in the past few years, scooping up at least 300 hectares of land behind Ms. Chantha’s home.

Ms. Chantha, 53, and two of her neighbors have refused to sell their homes, located just off National Road 2 and leading into Heng Development’s large swath of land. …

Ms. Chantha, who says that she always carries her land ownership title in her handbag, explained Thursday that she has been sleeping beneath her home since the trench was dug.

Looking at cracks that have appeared in the land under her home, she said she’s too afraid to sleep in her elevated home, which she recently raised to escape floods.

“My land has started to break; it’s very dangerous,” she said. “We are a poor family and the company thinks it can do whatever it wants.” …

Ben Sokhean and Alex Consiglio

Villagers defy ban, march to Gov’t buildings

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

More than 200 people from the group Land Communities for Peace marched from the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to the National Assembly on Thursday in defiance of a ban issued by City Hall.

Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng said the protest would not be allowed after meeting on Monday with representatives of the group, who told him of their plans to lead a march of more than 1,500 villagers from across the country to raise awareness of deforestation, land disputes and problems related to economic land concessions. …

Mom Sakin, a representative from Kratie province, said that ACU officials had welcomed the group and assured them that they would discuss the issues raised with the unit’s president, Om Yentieng. …

Mech Dara

Cross at your own risk

May 30th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Since he began making the perilous journey to Thailand to log rosewood 10 years ago, Sao Sophon* has had plenty of time to calculate the cost of dying.

“When we cross the border to Thailand, our lives are equal to $80 or $90, because that is the amount we can earn for each trip. If the Thai soldiers shoot us, that is what our lives are worth,” Sophon said.

Sitting on the back of the large two-wheeled cart that he pulls from Oddar Meanchey province into Thailand, Sophon, the head of an illegal logging cartel, told the Post that the hunt for lucrative rosewood leads loggers on a gruelling four-hour trek over the sprawling Dangkrek Mountains and into neighbouring Thailand. …

May Titthara and Alice Cuddy

Gov’t adviser files suit against fraud accusers

May 30th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The man accused of leading a multimillion-dollar scheme in which hundreds of mostly elderly Japanese investors lost thousands of dollars in fake real estate projects in Cambodia has filed a defamation suit against the lawyers who made the accusation.

Ikuo Konno, 58, who is the CEO of local development company AAP International Cambodia Co. Ltd. and an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan, said Thursday that he filed suit against Japanese lawyer Egawa Go as well as his associates for defamation and malicious denunciation. …

At the press conference, the lawyers distributed a document stating that through fact-finding during civil proceedings in Japan, Mr. Konno was revealed as the mastermind of the scheme and that most of the money stolen from the victims has already been transferred to Cambodia.

The lawyers said they represented 45 out of 99 victims in Japan who have been swindled. The total damage being claimed by the 99 victims is $20.1 million. …

Khy Sovuthy