Laos plans new consulate

April 11th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Laos plans to establish consulate general in Siem Reap province to boost bilateral cooperation with Cambodia through tourism and trade, a senior official from Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

“Tourism from Laos is increasing annually, so Lao PDR will establish a general consulate based in Siem Reap.” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Koung said. He added that Laos is also planning to expand flights to Cambodia.

The news came after an official meeting between Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs minister and the former Lao ambassador to Cambodia. …

Chan Muyhong

Australian Minister says Cambodia could take refugees on Nauru

April 11th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday that Cambodia may soon agree to take in asylum seekers who are now detained on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru after being diverted while trying to reach Australia.

Mr. Morrison told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that next month his government will start processing about 60 refugees per month held at the Nauru detention center. He said a resettlement agreement is nearing among the governments of Nauru, Australia and Cambodia.

Asked about the ethics of sending refugees to Cambodia, which the presenter described as “one of the poorest, most war damaged countries in the world,” Mr. Morrison replied that talks with Cambodia centered only on resettlement. …

“Resettlement is about freedom from persecution, it’s not a ticket to a first-class economy and there’s a very interesting question, that is: Are we going to get behind a program that can expand the number of countries that can participate in global resettlement, [for which] there is a dearth of places?” Mr. Morrison said. …

“We’re talking about effectively three [U.N. Refugee Convention] signatory countries that are talking to each other, now after my discussions with Nauru today: Nauru, Australia and Cambodia,” Mr. Morrison said. “I think this has real promise.” …

Alex Willemyns

India pledges millions in loans to Cambodia

April 10th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Anil Wadhwa, India’s deputy foreign minister, met with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Wednesday and promised to honor his request for millions of dollars in loans, a spokesman said. …

He [Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong] said that Mr. Namhong then requested money to complete an electric transmission line between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

“India has already helped with $30 million but it is not yet complete. The deputy prime minister [Mr. Namhong] asked for further loans of $20 million to complete this project,” Mr. Kuong said.

Mr. Namhong also requested $37 million for a “water resources development” project in Kompong Speu province, he added.

Khuon Narim

Compensation demanded for 5 killed in blast

April 7th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Cambodia asked Thailand Friday to compensate the families of five Cambodians killed when a World War II bomb exploded in a scrap metal shop in Bangkok.

The explosion on Wednesday killed a total of seven people, injured 20 others and destroyed or damaged 10 buildings. …

“Our people were killed, and we ask that the owner of the scrap shop or the Thai authorities provide compensation for all the victims,” said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. …

Sek Odom

‘Fatal shooting’ did not happen, Thailand says

April 3rd, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

While Cambodian officials say the Thais have not responded to a request for an inquiry into the shooting death of a man they say illegally crossed the border, Thailand is denying the incident even occurred.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last month called for an investigation into the shooting, which allegedly took place on March 18. In the ministry’s telling, Thai authorities opened fire on nine Cambodians who ventured across the border to log. One of them, Van Vouch, 38, was killed. …

Alice Cuddy

Official says Cambodia not ready for ASEAN Free Trade

March 31st, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Cambodia is not prepared to join Asean’s single regional market and production base next year, a Labor Ministry official said Friday.

Next year, the 10 nations of Asean are to create the Asean Economic Community (AEC). Within this community, labor is to flow freely and import taxes are to drop to zero. Cambodia will likely become one of the members that will benefit the least, said participants of a regional forum, “Labor rights and preparation of 2015 ASEAN Community.” …

Denise Hruby

Belarus minister to inaugurate tractor plant next week

March 21st, 2014 , The Cambodia Herald

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei is to attend the inauguration of a tractor assembly in Cambodia next week, according to the Belarusian Telegraphic Agency. …

“There are plans to discuss a wide range of issues of the bilateral agenda with the emphasis on the prospects of further development of trade and economic cooperation,” ministry spokesman Dmitry Mironchik reportedly said.

Belta added that “a number of international bilateral documents” would be signed during the visit.

The Cambodia Herald News Staff

Hor Namhong’s Son denies nepotism or abuse of power

March 19th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) released a statement Tuesday in which Hor Sothoun, the eldest son of Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong, defended himself against complaints of nepotism, abuse of power and mishandling of overtime bonuses in his position as permanent secretary-general in his father’s ministry.

The statement, printed on ACU letterhead, does not include the specific complaints against Mr. Sothoun or clarify whether or not an investigation into the senior Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary is underway. Instead, it provides a lengthy summary of Mr. Sothoun’s defense.

“Domestic and foreign appointments and promotions in rank have been implemented with principle and following procedure with fairness and transparency based on a number of conditions such as qualification, knowledge, professionalism, foreign language proficiency, seniority, responsibility and punctuality,” Mr. Sothoun said, according to the ACU statement. …

Pech Siyun, provincial director of the department of mines and energy, along with other officials in his office, was accused of selling multiple plots of land belonging to the department, skimming salaries of his staff and taking bribes from sand-dredging companies in the province. The accusations were in a complaint filed with the ACU in April 2013 by local residents and department staff.

“Pech Siyun and a number of civil servants at the Koh Kong provincial department of industry, mines and energy, clarified that [they] did not collude together to embezzle money from the sale of [land belonging to] the provincial department,” says the statement, signed by Mr. Yentieng. …

Kuch Naren

Thai envoy denies killings on border

March 18th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Thailand has denied its forces shot dead 12 Cambodian loggers who crossed the border illegally on March 5, Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

During a meeting with Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative Long Visalo, Thai ambassador Touchayoot Pakdi said Thai soldiers had made four arrests that day but did not shoot anyone, Kuong said.

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces officers last week alleged that 12 loggers had been shot dead on March 5 and three more a week later. …

Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Shane Worrell

EU concerned, but no threats to cut Cambodia aid, trade

March 15th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The European Union has called on Cambodia to release 21 jailed activists and protesters and told the government during high level talks held here this week that a failure to reform the judiciary and electoral process could have severe consequences for the ruling party by the time of the 2018 national election.

According to a senior E.U. official who was present at a four-day joint committee meeting in the Belgian capital that concluded on Thursday, the E.U. expressed their concerns on a raft of issues, but stopped short of threatening a reduction in the level of development cooperation and trade assistance granted to Cambodia. …

During the talks, officials from Cambodia and the E.U. covered a host of issues including trade, administrative and judicial reform and human rights. …

Simon Marks

Eighth EU-Cambodia Joint Committee concludes in Brussels

March 13th, 2014 , RTT News

The 8th EU-Cambodia Joint Committee was held in Brussels on Thursday, preceded by the subgroups on development cooperation, on trade and on institution building, administrative reform, legal and judicial reform, governance and human rights, the European bloc said in a press release. …

The two sides discussed in detail the trade regime “Everything But Arms,” which grants preferences to Cambodia as a least developed country, as well as a number of other bilateral, regional or multilateral issues. The EU being a major donor of trade related assistance, both sides agreed to continue working together towards improving Cambodia’s business and investment climate. …

RTT News Staff

Government works on Australia refugee plea

March 13th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Government officials have got to work parsing a controversial request that Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the region with a spotty record handling refugees, take some of Australia’s asylum seekers.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop made the request to Prime Minister Hun Sen during a visit to Cambodia last month and the government said it would “carefully consider” the idea.

On Wednesday, General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the government had formed a committee to study the request further and that the group had already met at least once. …

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal assistant, Eang Sophalleth, said after the meeting with Ms. Bishop that Australia had asked Cambodia to take an unspecified “small number” of “legal” asylum seekers. …

Human rights groups say Cambodia is not prepared to handle the asylum seekers, having violated the rights of refugees that have come its way in recent years from China and Vietnam. …

Zsombor Peter

‘Cambodian’ workers die in Thailand

February 26th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Two Cambodian nationals are among those reported dead following the collapse of a beam at a construction site yesterday on the outskirts of Bangkok.

The death toll stood at 11 as of 4pm yesterday, while another 17 were reported injured.

A concrete beam fell down at the building site in Bang Phli district, part of the expansion of the Ramathibodi Hospital’s Chakri Naruebodindra medical centre, at about noon. …

Sen David

Blood on the border

February 20th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Sixty-nine Cambodians were shot dead by Thai soldiers while crossing the border illegally last year, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said on Tuesday at the launch of its annual report. …

“Cambodians were shot dead by Thai soldiers in 55 [incidents] last year … in which 69 people were killed and 165 workers were arrested and detained,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told more than 500 senior officials during his presentation on Tuesday, which also listed the figures.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cambodia-Thai Border Relations Office dispute that figure, however, claiming that fewer than 20 people were killed on the border last year. …

Pich Vanna, director of the Cambodia-Thai Border Relations Office, said yesterday that his office had recorded 17 people killed by Thai soldiers in 2013.

“I am not sure about the report of the ministry, but from my report, along the Cambodia-Thai border, about 17 people were shot dead [in 2013]. We have evidence such as photos of the actual dead bodies,” Vanna said.

Vong Sokheng

Clarification sought on government’s fraught NGO Law

February 14th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

A request has been sent to the government’s Human Rights Committee and the interior and foreign affairs ministries seeking clarification on the status and whereabouts of a draft law that will govern associations and non-governmental organizations, asking to see the latest version of the law before it is sent to the National Assembly for ratification.

Explaining the request, Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), referred to a speech given in Geneva last month by Mak Sambath, deputy chairman of the rights committee, during which he told the U.N. meeting that the legislation had been “approved unanimously” by the Council of Ministers. …

In a letter sent to Mr. Sambath, Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, the CCC referred to a December 24, 2011 speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen, in which he promised to make promulgation of the draft law an inclusive one, with the input of NGOs.

“We would like to ask for a meeting…and would like your excellencies to coordinate and please give us the current draft…to study ahead [of its being ratified] and to discuss, comment, and give advice for the Cambodian government,” states the letter, which was co-signed by two other umbrella groups: NGO Forum and Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee said. …

Phorn Bopha and Lauren Crothers

Railway leaves area in limbo

February 12th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

In 2009, a railway project official arrived at 45-year-old Ry Preng’s home in Por Sen Chey district and spray-painted “1.042” in red on the side of his house. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but was told that at some point he would need to pack up and leave to make way for a freight facility alongside the national railroad.

“They just came to study, they did not tell us anything,” he said, referring to the 230 families living or owning land in Samrong Estate, a 100-hectare stretch of mostly agricultural plots on the capital’s outskirts.
Now, close to five years on, little has changed.

Samrong Estate’s limbo status emerged last week in a large-scale report by the ADB’s internal watchdog, the Compliance Review Panel, which detailed the mass failings of the bank to ensure the just relocation of families resettled as part of the $143 million railway development. …

From the outset, according to the ADB watchdog’s report, the government claimed that Samrong was state land, something rebutted by rights groups and occupants, who said properties were privately owned or at least open to registration under Cambodian law. The complexities around the ownership led the ADB to request a legal opinion from the government, but none was forthcoming. Instead, in 2010 the ADB, according to the watchdog’s report, commissioned regional legal firm DFDL to complete an investigation.

After 18 months, in 2012, DFDL found in support of the government’s position that the land was state owned. By this time, however, rights groups had gathered more documentation to support their claim of household ownership. …

Daniel de Carteret

Cambodia, Vietnam pledge to further enhance ties, cooperation

February 11th, 2014 , Shanghai Daily

Cambodia and Vietnam vowed on Tuesday to further strengthen and expand friendship and cooperation for the benefits of the two countries and peoples. …

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the two ministers agreed to increase cooperation in economics, trade, investment, education, and tourism. …

Shanghai Daily News Staff