Shooting probe urged

January 17th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

UN rights envoy Surya Subedi wrapped up his six-day fact-finding mission to Cambodia yesterday by calling for a thorough investigation into security forces’ role in the deadly crackdown on garment workers early this month.

He also offered to act as a mediator between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and said he hoped to see Cambodians heading to the polls after his recommendations were implemented. …

Subedi also called on the authorities to release on bail the 23 detainees held since the crackdown.

“I condemn the incommunicado detention of the 23 for several days and urge the authorities to prevent the reoccurrence of such violation of individual rights,” he said.

Twenty-three alleged protesters and activists were charged with intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and intentional damage with aggravating circumstances after being arrested on January 2 and 3 and then held in secret in Kampong Cham’s Correctional Center 3.

The UN envoy also said the government should outline the legal basis for a ban on public gatherings, create an evidence-based mechanism to set a new minimum wage for garment workers, establish an independent human rights institution and address his concerns over ongoing land disputes. …

Daniel Pye

Retail associations urge talks

January 17th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Six major retail, footwear and garment industry associations whose members account for over 90 per cent of garment imports in the US and Canada have called on the Cambodian government, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and unions to resume wage negotiations. The open letter, dated January 15, is addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen, GMAC general secretary Ken Loo and five of the unions at the centre of the ongoing dispute over the minimum monthly garment salary.

“Our industry is committed to ensuring that all the products that they produce, source and sell are manufactured under lawful and humane conditions,” the letter stated. In addition to urging an immediate resumption of talks, the signatories requested for the creation of a regularly-scheduled wage review mechanism, and call on those involved to “end all violence.” …

The six organizations behind the effort are the Retail Council of Canada, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the United States Fashion Industry Association, the Canadian Apparel Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the National Retail Federation.

The letter comes almost a month after unions called a nationwide strike in response to the Labour Advisory Committee’s announcement on December 24 that garment sector wages would rise from $80 to $160 over five years, instead of taking effect immediately. The initial rise for 2014 was set at $95, but was raised to $100 after almost a week of demonstrations. …

Daniel de Carteret

Subedi Calls for Accountability in Meeting With Hun Sen

January 16th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

In a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen and 10 of the government’s highest-ranking officials in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, U.N. human rights envoy Surya Subedi called for the perpetrators of recent state-sanctioned killings to be held accountable for their actions.

Mr. Subedi spent three-and-a-half hours behind closed doors with Mr. Hun Sen, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Cabinet Minister Sok An, Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng, Interior Ministry Secretary of State Prom Sokha, Cambodia Human Rights Committee Chairman Om Yentieng, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana and Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong.

Mr. Subedi’s concerns during what he described as a “candid and cordial meeting” included, but were not limited to, authorities’ use of firearms to quell protests—there have been seven fatal shootings at protests since September, but no arrests—as well as the suspension of the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and the imprisonment of 23 garment workers, union leaders and activists before trial. …

Lauren Crothers and Khy Sovuthy

Strike action still on table, unions say

January 16th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Leaders of unions that declared a nationwide garment worker strike said the work stoppage and protests, which they temporarily suspended, will resume unless government officials renegotiate the industry’s minimum wage.

The announcement was their first since authorities cracked down on strike demonstrations on January 2 and opened fire on protesters near Canadia Industrial Park the following day, killing at least four.

Speaking at a forum, union heads appealed to the government to release 23 people arrested during demonstrations and to hold authorities accountable for the deadly shooting, in addition to entering into minimum wage negotiations with unions. …

Sean Teehan and Mom Kunthear

Vinamilk deal to go ahead

January 15th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Vietnam Dairy Product Joint-Stock Co, better-known to milk lovers as Vinamilk, was granted a licence on Monday to open a $23 million processing facility in Phnom Penh’s Special Economic Zone.

A statement to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange released by the dairy giant on Monday says the Vietnamese Ministry for Planning and Investment issued Vinamilk with a mandatory overseas investment certificate. …

The deal has Vinamilk holding a 51 per cent share of the facility, and Cambodia’s Angkor Dairy Products Company Limited owning the remaining 49 per cent. The plant will produce 19 million litres of liquid milk, 64 million jars of yogurt and 80 million cans of condensed milk annually, according to the statement. …

Eddie Morton

Amnesty idea floated during talks: report

January 14th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen discussed the possibility of offering amnesty to senior government officials in order to allow for “an honourable exit of the leaders”, Rainsy was quoted as saying to the French newspaper La Libération last week.

Rainsy reportedly said in the article published Friday that the discussion of the proposed amnesty law – which took place on September 16, during negotiations between the parties – had been initiated by Hun Sen, who said he would support such a measure if the opposition put it forward, but did not explicitly agree to leave office. …

Stuart White

PM praises VN involvement

January 14th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

In his first public remarks of the year, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday took pains to recount his experience under the Khmer Rouge and thanked Vietnam for overthrowing the brutal communist regime.

Speaking at the inauguration of a Vietnamese hospital, in the presence of visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Hun Sen said he considers January 7, 1979, as “the second birthday” of the Cambodian people. …

Chhay Channyda

Vietnam’s investment skyrockets

January 14th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Political instability has done little to dampen Vietnam’s appetite for investment in Cambodia, the latest figures revealed yesterday by Prime Minister Hun Sen show.

Last year, Vietnamese investment reached $302 million, up 250 per cent from $86 million in 2012, according to the prime minister, who spoke about the relationship between the two countries during the 4th Cambodia-Vietnam Conference on Investment Cooperation at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. …

With his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, looking on, Hun Sen ticked off a variety of industries that have benefited from Vietnamese funds over the years, and said that all the investments “have contributed to economic diversification, job creation and accelerated economic growth”. …

Hor Kimsay and Daniel de Carteret

Cambodians and Koreans Join Protest in Seoul

January 13th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Hundreds of Cambodians living in South Korea protested in front of Seoul’s City Hall on Sunday, demanding justice for five garment workers killed in clashes with police on January 3, and calling for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down.

With public protests indefinitely banned in Cambodia, the demonstration in South Korea was the largest of a number of gatherings and vigils that have been held around the world since state security forces on January 3 opened fire on protesting garment workers, who were armed with rocks and Molotov cocktails. …

Colin Meyn

Vietnamese Prime Minister Arrives for Three-Day State Visit

January 13th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung arrived for an official three-day visit Sunday, during which he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen as well as inaugurate a new Vietnamese-funded hospital and attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a bridge linking the two countries.

Tran Van Thong, spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said Mr. Tan Dung’s visit aimed at strengthening relations between the neighbors in all sectors. …

Hul Reaksmey

Government Creates New CPP-Majority Province

January 10th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

A government request to create a new province in the eastern half of Kompong Cham, where the ruling CPP won its only districts in the province in July’s national election, was approved by King Norodom Sihamoni last month, according to a copy of the Royal Decree obtained Thursday.

Officials in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP government said Thursday that other provinces will also be divided, a move that the political opposition said is an attempt to manipulate electoral boundaries to benefit the ruling party.

The country’s newest province, to be named Tbong Khmum, will be made up of six districts and a city that all lie east of the Mekong River in Kompong Cham, and will include the only five districts in which the CPP won majorities in the province during the election, according to the decree. …

The new province of Tbong Khmum will be made up of Dambe, Kroch Chhmar, O’Reang-ou, Ponhea Krek and Tbong Khmum districts—where the CPP won its only majorities—as well as Suong City and Memot district, says the decree, which is dated December 31. …

Phorn Bopha and Alex Willemyns

Banteay Meanchey Soldiers File Complaint Against Superiors

January 10th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Dozens of soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in Banteay Meanchey province have filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc accusing their superiors of serious corruption, stealing veterans’ pensions, nepotism and illegal logging.

For three years, a representative of the soldiers said, they had tried to file their complaints against Banteay Meanchey’s RCAF commander, Brigadier General Phlorn Dara, and his brother-in-law, Keo Senglon, with numerous authorities but saw it repeatedly rejected or unanswered, before turning to Adhoc on Thursday.

“The reason we are lodging this complaint is that Brigadier General Phlorn Dara, our commander, and his brother-in-law, deputy commander Colonel Keo Senglon, used their power to commit corruption and exploit the property of the soldiers’ unit and cut soldiers’ salaries,” reads the 16-page complaint, which was thumbprinted by 39 RCAF soldiers serving as representatives of the whole of Banteay Meanchey’s provincial armed forces. …

Saing Soenthrith

South Korean Embassy Denies Role in Strike Suppression

January 9th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The South Korean Embassy on Wednesday denied a news report that it had lobbied Cambodian military authorities to “crack down on protesters” in a bid to shield Korean investments in the garment industry, prior to Friday’s killing of five protesters and the wounding of more than 40 others by military police officers.

A story published late Tuesday by the U.S.-based GlobalPost news service cited a statement by the South Korean Embassy—posted online in Korean—in which embassy staff allegedly said that they had asked the Cambodian military to “act swiftly” in protecting factories owned by their citizens.

According to GlobalPost, in the statement on Monday, “the South Korean Embassy took credit for convincing the Cambodian government to ‘understand the seriousness of this situation and act swiftly.’ It cited high-level lobbying over the past two weeks as contribution to the ‘success’ of protecting business interests.” …

A South Korean Embassy official on Wednesday said that they had simply done their duty by asking government officials to protect South Korean businesses, but that military action or violence against protesters had never been suggested. …

Denise Hruby

Cambodia’s industry loses 275 mln USD due to outlawed protests

January 6th, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

Cambodia’s garment and shoe industry has lost roughly 275 million U.S. dollars due to outlawed garment strikes in the past two weeks, Van Sou Ieng, President of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said Monday. …

The garment and shoe industry comprise more than 900 factories with about 600,000 workers. The sector is the kingdom’s largest foreign exchange earner that generated 5 billion U.S. dollars in revenues last year. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Cambodia’s oil import down 2 pct in 2013

January 6th, 2014

Cambodia imported 1.4 million tonnes of petroleum in the first eleven months of 2013, down 2 percent from the 1.43 million tonnes a year earlier, the data of the Commerce Ministry showed Sunday.

During the January-November period, the country spent about 1. 34 billion U.S. dollars to purchase oil, down 4 percent from 1.4 billion U.S. dollars. …

Asean - China Centre News Staff

Cambodia’s opposition leaders to appear in court as summoned

January 5th, 2014 , Xinhuanet News

Cambodian opposition leaders said Sunday that they will appear at the court upon the summons issued by the Phnom Penh municipal court after a bloody clash on Friday. …

According to the summons signed by the court’s deputy prosecutor Heang Sopheak, Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are summoned to appear at the court in the morning of Jan. 14. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Negotiations Fail as Worker, Opposition Protests Continue

December 31st, 2013 , VOA Khmer

Tens of thousands of workers protested in front of the Ministry of Labor on Monday, after negotiations between labor leaders and the government failed to find a resolution to demands of higher wages in the face of a rising cost of living. …

Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Monday called for worker demonstrations to cease immediately, or face legal action.

Six trade union representatives met for nearly two hours Monday morning with officials from the Ministry of Labor, though the two sides failed to agree on negotiation points. Workers want a gradual increase in the minimum wage, up to $160 per month, by 2018, across the nation’s factories, which employ up to 400,000 people. …

After negotiations failed, workers continued to protest through the afternoon, in front of the Council of Ministers building and the Ministry of Labor, where hundreds of riot police stood by barbed wired to prevent protesters from entering government buildings.

Keo Remy, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said he would assist employers in negotiations.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers association, led demonstrations and said the protests would not stop until salaries are raised. …

Kong Sothanarith

PM news articles surprise, vanish

December 31st, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

In an apparent departure from the usual diet of colourless press releases and updates on the travel plans of officials, the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit website yesterday posted two articles critical of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.

The articles – Reuters’ coverage of Sunday’s mass opposition rally and a news analysis piece from the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua – were both removed from the website by early evening. …

Daniel Pye

Summonses, arrests must stop: villagers

December 31st, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Villagers locked in a land dispute with ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company have submitted a petition to the provincial court asking for a cessation of the court’s issuing of summonses and arrest warrants.

The court has so far issued 37 summonses, including nine arrest warrants, to some of the 200 people involved in the dispute with the tycoon, who accuses the villagers of illegally occupying land in Thpong district’s Omlaing commune. …

May Titthara

Royal Group makes deal during PM’s official visit

December 30th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

A Royal Group subsidiary has signed a deal with two Vietnamese firms to import fertiliser, a senior official with the company said yesterday.

Among several deals agreed to during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s trip to Vietnam this weekend, Nitrogen Chemicals and Fertilizer Cambodia Ltd, the subsidiary of Royal Group, will distribute fertiliser from Dap Vinchen Limited and the Petrovietnam Fertilizer & Chemicals Corporation of Vietnam.

The head of Royal Group, Kith Meng, was on the trip with Hun Sen and signed the deal. …

Yang Saing Koma, the president of agricultural organisation CEDAC, said imported fertiliser will help farmers increase crop yields, “but they will also have to spend more”.

Chan Muy Hong