Monday, September 9, 2013

Chinese Foreign Ministry provides office supplies to Cambodian counterpart

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The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday donated 50 laptops and 100 cellphones in equivalent to 70, 000 US dollars to its Cambodian counterpart to increase task efficiency.

Speaking while handing over the supplies to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Bu Jianguo said the donation came as promised by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his official visit to Cambodia last month.

“We hope that these materials will assist office staff at the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work fast and more efficiently,” she said.

Hor Namhong said the ministry was very happy to receive these modern office supplies as they would relieve the difficulties of staff in their work.

He highly spoke of excellent friendship relations between Cambodia and China in all fields and vowed to further enhance the ties in the future.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is ready to work closely with the Chinese Embassy to Cambodia in order to further develop our bilateral ties and cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries and peoples,” he said.

Cambodia’s ruling party confirmed election winner

Source: BBC Online
Cambodia’s ruling People’s Party (CPP) has been confirmed the winner of July’s general election which was marred by fraud allegations.

The election commission said Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP won 68 seats, compared to 55 for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The televised announcement comes after thousands took part in a rally in the capital Phnom Penh to protest against alleged electoral fraud.

Hun Sen has run Cambodia for 28 years.

The 61-year-old has vowed to stay in power until he is in his seventies.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy claimed there was widespread rigging in the election.
The result confirmation means he will no longer be able to legally contest the vote.

According to preliminary official figures, the CPP won 3.2 million votes, while Rainsy’s party obtained 2.9 million.

The election commission is yet to officially confirm these numbers.

On Saturday, huge crowds gathered in Phnom Penh’s Democracy Park in what organisers described as a peaceful protest based on Buddhist prayer.

Many demonstrators brought lotus flowers symbolising peace.

Rainsy told the crowd it was a “historic day”, saying that “those who steal our votes won’t live happily”.
With all the institutions of state, including the election commission, under the thumb of Hun Sen, this type of protest is the only way for opposition supporters to challenge the result, says the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.

He adds that the CNRP has vowed to keep up its street protests against the result.

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge court hit by new resignation

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia's troubled Khmer Rouge war crimes court suffered a new setback Monday with the resignation of a key prosecutor -- the latest in a string of departures from the UN-backed tribunal.
The announcement came as a strike by court staff over unpaid wages entered a second week, threatening to disrupt a high-profile trial of two former top regime leaders from the "Killing Fields" era in the late 1970s.
International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said in a statement that he was leaving for "personal reasons".
Sept 9, 2013

It follows the resignation of three international lawyers and two judges over the past two years amid allegations of government meddling.

Cayley, however, said his decision was unrelated to the court's woes.
"It's really personal circumstances. I am not leaving out of frustration with the court at all," the British lawyer, who was appointed to the role in December 2009, told AFP.

At the same time he voiced concern about the cash crunch at the tribunal, whose 250 Cambodian workers, including judges and prosecutors, have not been paid since June.

"Of course, the financial situation of the court is frustrating to all of us," Cayley said.

Court spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the UN, the Cambodian government, tribunal officials and donors were working to resolve the budget crisis.

"But so far, there is no solution yet," he said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned last month that the "very survival of the court is now in question".
The tribunal has been frequently short of cash since it was set up in 2006 to seek justice for the deaths of up to two million people under the brutal communist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-79.

The UN pays for the international workers while the salaries of the local staff are the responsibility of the Cambodian government, with both sides relying on international donors.

Two defendants -- "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 87, and former head of state Khieu Samphan, 82, -- are on trial for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The court is currently in recess and preparing to hear closing statements in the first part of the trial in mid October.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population through starvation, overwork or execution in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.

So far the UN-backed court has achieved one conviction, sentencing a former prison chief to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen -- himself a former Khmer Rouge cadre -- has repeatedly voiced opposition to pursuing more suspects after the current trial.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cambodian opposition rally pushes for poll probe

— Nearly 20,000 opposition supporters gathered Saturday in Cambodia's capital to cheer their leaders' demands for an investigation into alleged election irregularities, just a day before the victory of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party is to be ratified.

Final results from the vote six weeks ago gave 68 National Assembly seats to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party and 55 to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. The opposition says it would have won the majority of seats had the election been fair.

The opposition says protests will continue until an independent committee look into claims of voter disenfranchisement and vote tampering in the July 28 election. However, the government-appointed National Election Committee has rejected the demand, and Hun Sen has made it clear he intends to take office and continue his 28 years in power.

The 55 seats won by the opposition represent a sharp improvement on the 29 it held in the last assembly, and its strong performance — also reflected in a close popular vote — came as a surprise. The party has suggested its lawmakers may boycott the assembly sessions in protest at the failure to investigate its claims of unfairness.

The new parliament is supposed to be seated within 60 days of the election, and ruling party leaders say it can convene without the opposition.
Opposition leaders have emphasized non-violence, amid concerns about violence raised by the government's deployment of troops and armored vehicles to the capital days after the election. Hun Sen has a reputation for dealing harshly with opponents.

The government, through sympathetic media outlets, had played up fears of violence in an obvious effort to discourage protests.

 Monks and Cambodian people: "My Vote, My nation". Photo: Quoc Viet/RFA

Saturday's demonstration, however, was peaceful, with opposition supporters holding up signs with messages such as "My Vote, My nation" and "There is justice, there is peace."

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told the crowd that the Cambodian people have suffered from a culture of violence for 40 years, and that should end now.

Cambodia plunged into civil war in 1970, and experienced the holocaust of Khmer Rouge rule in the late 1970s, when an estimated 1.7 million people died as a result of their radical communist policies. Under Hun Sen, a culture of violence and intimidation of the poor and powerless has been widespread.

In recent years, land grabbing by government cronies has led to forced evictions, sometimes accompanied by deadly violence. The issue has caused popular resentment, to the political benefit of the opposition.

"Today, Cambodia is opening a new page, the page of ending the culture of violence," Sam Rainsy said, with the crowd echoing his words with a cheer of "End violence."

Several monks attended the demonstration, despite a ban against doing so by Cambodia's top Buddhist authority. One monk, Ngim Saossamkhan, said he was aware of the ban but believed he had a right to attend. "As monks, we can't be part of any party, but I support peace," he said.

Demonstrators dispersed after several hours, but opposition leaders say they will gather again tomorrow unless the National Election Committee yields. They have asked that any announcement of the results be postponed, and have called on Cambodia's king, Norodom Sihamoni, to intervene.

Observers do not expect clashes between demonstrators and security forces, as occurred after some past elections, but political analyst Kem Ley said the risk of violence might grow if opposition protests continue for many days.

Chan Aunleng, a 24-year-old student demonstrator holding a Cambodian flag, said she did not think the demonstrations would sway the National Election Committee, but that she would join future protests "for real democracy."

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

TAT hosts Amazing Thailand “ASEAN Media Fam Trip from Bangkok to Siem Riep”

Thursday, 05 September 2013  
By  TAT  
TAT hosts Amazing Thailand “ASEAN Media Fam Trip  from Bangkok to Siem Riep” on September 6 -11, 2013
Bangkok – September 5, 2013: A total of 21 prominent online foreign media from East and South Asia – Japan, China, Taiwan, India, and Thailand – have been invited to join the Amazing Thailand “ASEAN Media Fam Trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap” during September 6-11, 2013. The international media joining will be top bloggers and online journalists from Thailand’s main tourist markets in Asia. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is conducting this media trip to promote land and air connectivity with neighbouring countries such as Cambodia in advance of Thailand’s entry into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
Mr.Suraphon Svetasreni, TAT Governor, said “TAT is proud to present this eastern route from Bangkok to Siem Reap via the diverse attractions of Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, and Sa Kaeo.  We feel there are many unseen things in those provinces that tourists can enjoy before or after a cross-border visit of the splendors of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.  We want to show that this route is not only a convenient passage to the Greater Mekong Subregion, but is also a fabulously unique tourist region in itself.

The trip will take the media to explore another side of Bangkok at Taling Chan Floating Market then change gears to the busy and world-renowned Chatuchak Weekend Market.

On the second day, the tour moves out from Bangkok to Nakhon Nayok Province, the scenic Khun Dan Prakarnchon Dam, the largest and longest roller compacted concrete dam in the world. Not far from the reservoir, the group will pay a visit to the Bhumirak Dhamachart Project, which is a multimedia museum displaying His Majesty’s concrete ideas and theories for the development of agriculture.

Next day, the group will visit a historical building as well as relax with a traditional Thai massage at the Chao Phraya Abhaibhubate Hospital. After that, moving on to Ban Dong Krathong Yam, the tour will explore the local culture of the Thai Puan people. Then, one last stop before crossing to Cambodia is the bustling Rong Kluea border market in Aranyaprathet.

The Cambodian portion of the trip will include visits to the majestic historical sites of
Prasat Ta Phrom, Prasat Bayon and conclude at the World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat.  Mr. Tith Chantha, Director General, Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, hosts a dinner for the group in Siem Reap on September 10.

Garment workers in Cambodia hold protest over mass dismissal

Garment workers sit beside police officers during a protest in front of a factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh. (File photo)
Garment workers sit beside police officers during a protest in front of a factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh. (File photo)
Thousands of garment workers in Cambodia have hold a demonstration after a factory supplying global brands allegedly dismissed hundreds of their colleagues for striking over conditions.

According to union leaders, the Singapore-owned SL Garment Processing factory sacked more than 700 workers on Wednesday. Over 5,000 others were also suspended after a two-week-long strike.

They had walked out claiming intimidation over regular factory inspections conducted by an official flanked by military police.

On Thursday, nearly 4,000 workers marched from the factory to the City Hall in the capital Phnom Penh to call on the government to intervene in the dispute.
“We want the factory to allow the workers to go back to work,” said Ath Thorn, who is president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
“But if they want to close they factory they must pay compensation to workers according to the law,” he added.

Cambodia frequently faces disputes over wages, safety and conditions in its multibillion-dollar garment industry.

About 650,000 people are working in the lucrative industry, which is a main source of foreign income for the Southeast Asian country.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) in July accused Cambodia of failing to improve working conditions in the sector.

In May, two workers were killed at a factory producing shoes for Japanese sports brand Asics after a ceiling collapse. The fatal incident led to intensification of concerns over worker safety in Cambodia.


Statement His Excellency Mr. Kranh Tony Acting Director, Office of Administration of the ECCC

05 September 2013

On behalf of the national judicial officers and staff of the ECCC, I would like to acknowledge
the efforts made by all involved stakeholders -- the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United
Nations, and the donors -- to support the court to fulfill its mandate from the beginning until

As at 31 August 2013, total cumulative funds provided by the donors countries to the ECCC
National Component amount to US$46.7 million, including in-cash contributions of US$8.7
million from the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). The latter has continuously increased
its funding contributions on yearly basis from its US$0.6 million in 2006 to US$1.8 million in
2013. In addition, the RGC has also provided in-kind contributions totalling US$9.5 million from
2006 to 2012. In total, the contributions from the RGC are equivalent to 10% of the Court’s
overall costs.

Once again, the ECCC is facing the same crisis of lack of funding that has occurred every year,
and which is seriously damaging to the morale of all the national judicial officers and staff, as
well as to our international colleagues. Due to fact that this time the national judicial officers
and staff have not received their salary for three months, it is hardly surprising that the Court is
presently facing a high risk of disruption of its work.

I wish to express our thanks to a number of donors who worked with the Royal Government of
Cambodia and the United Nations to take new measures to address the previous funding crisis
several months ago, and who are again at this crucial moment actively considering possible
further measures. We remain hopeful that this present crisis will be resolved, preferably on a
firm basis that prevents its recurrence, so that the ECCC can go on smoothly to discharge its
historic mandate.

I am also thankful to all the national judicial officers and staff who are at this moment calm and
patient, and I hope that those who have suspended their work will be willing and able to return to
active duty as soon as we receive positive news on resolving the current funding crisisis.
In this regard, we appreciate the renewed commitment expressed in the statement made on 04
September 2013 by Ambassador David Scheffer, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Expert on
United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, as well as his efforts, together with
Cambodian government representative, His Excellency Keo Remy, Secretary of State of the
Office of the Council of Ministers, to seek further contributions, especially from new donors.