Archive for July 2011
PHNOM PENH, July 28 (Xinhua) — Cambodia and Malaysia on Thursday pledged to strengthen military relations and cooperation in the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Speaking during a meeting with Cambodian Minister of Defense Tea Banh, the visiting Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his visit to Cambodia aims to seek Cambodia’s support for Malaysian initiative to establish military industry in ASEAN in order to produce its own military equipment.
He also promised to accept more Cambodian military personnel to train in Malaysia.
At the mean time, Ahmad Zahid expressed support to the order of the International Court of Justice on July 18 asking Cambodia and Thailand to immediately withdraw their military personnel currently present in the provisional demilitarized zone around the area of Preah Vihear temple and ordering both parties to continue cooperating within ASEAN and allow appointed observers access to the provisional demilitarized zone.
“The ICJ’s order has signaled a good sign of peace for Cambodia and Thailand on border conflict next to the Preah Vihear temple,” he said. “It also brings peace to the whole region.”
In response, Tea Banh said Cambodia fully supported Malaysian initiative for military industry and thanked Malaysia for constant assistance to Cambodian defense sector.
Later in the day, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had also paid a courtesy call on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Ahmad Zahid said during the visit, he had brought 10,200 copies of the holy Quran and 1,000 prayer mats to distribute to the Muslim community in Cambodia.
He arrived in Cambodia Wednesday for a three-day official visit to the country.
PHNOM PENH, July 29 (Xinhua) — Cambodia on Friday morning dispatched a group of 32 soldiers to take part in the multi-national military exercise 2011 in Mongolia from July 29 to August 13.
Speaking at the Phnom Penh International Airport before departure, Choeun Chamnith, a battalion commander at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, who leads the mission team, said that the participation would give chance to Cambodian troops to exchange knowledge and skills with other countries’ soldiers. “It will help upgrade our troops’ capacity in military skills, rescue and humanitarian activities,” he said.
He added that the participation is a part of international peacekeeping operations under the framework of the United Nations and it reflects cooperation among countries in the region in peacekeeping efforts.
The participating countries in the Mongolia’s exercise are Cambodia, United States of America, Canada, India, China, Japan, Singapore, Russia and Vietnam.
This was the third time Cambodia has sent troops to join exercises in Mongolia.
PHNOM PENH, July 29 (Xinhua) — The six participating countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation Program will gather here on August 2-4 in the 17th GMS Ministerial Conference to review and agree on the new GMS Strategic Framework for 2012-2022, said a press release from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday.
The new Strategic Framework is a road map for moving the GMS Program forward in the light of changing global and regional context, as well as emerging issues such as climate change, changing social and demographic trends, and changing balance of economic activity in Asia, said the statement.
The framework will help the subregion through “second generation” cooperation, including infrastructure investment establishing the GMS economic corridors.
“This Ministerial Conference is particularly significant since the new Strategic Framework marks a generational gear shift for the GMS Program and will imply significant changes to the type of projects and initiatives pursued in the next phase,” said Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.
“These changes have important implications for not just the GMS Program but all its stakeholders, including development partners and GMS countries,” he added.
Since its establishment in 1992, the highly successful GMS Program has been contributing to economic growth in the subregion, averaging more than 6 percent in the last 15 years.
By the end of June 2011, the ADB had extended loans and grants totaling almost 5 billion U.S. dollars for 55 projects in the subregion, mainly infrastructure.
The GMS countries consist of China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Thailand’s ‘lese majeste’ laws under scrutiny…Siam must wake up,King is made of man, no man should be placed beneath the King
AP—BANGKOK – Two articles in a now-defunct magazine may carry a huge cost for the 50-year-old editor who published them if prosecutors prove they defamed Thailand’s monarchy: up to three decades in prison – 15 years for each story.
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a supporter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was formally charged on Monday with breaking this Southeast Asian kingdom’s ‘lese majeste’ laws, becoming the latest target of a controversial set of legal provisions designed to protect the crown.
The legislation is the harshest of its kind in the world, and in the five tumultuous years since the army toppled Thaksin, cases like Somyot’s are being prosecuted more than ever before. Now, a small but unprecedented movement has begun speaking out against what they see as an increasing abuse of the laws by an elite establishment bent on silencing its critics.
In the last few months, hundreds of prominent writers, filmmakers, lawyers and journalists have signed petitions calling for reform of the constitution’s Article 112, which mandates three to 15 years in jail for ‘whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent.’ Also in their sights: related provisions in the 2007 Computer Crimes Act that have enabled prosecutors to ramp up penalties dramatically.
‘The time has come for people to raise their voices,’ said webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who faces 20 years in prison herself for failing to remove allegedly offensive reader comments from an online news forum quickly enough. ‘We cannot keep silent anymore.’
Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is an intensely idolized figure here, and few if any Thais would condone insulting him. But the rising lese majeste caseload ‘has greatly undermined Thailand’s democratic credentials and done more harm than good to the royal institution the laws are designed to protect,’ Shawn Crispin, a regional spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said on Friday.
AFP—PHNOM PENH – A 4 year Cambodian girl has become the seventh person to die from bird flu in the country this year, officials said on Friday.
The child, from north-western Banteay Meanchey province, died on July 20, the health ministry and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement. Tests confirmed she had contracted H5N1 avian influenza.
‘I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry,’ Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said.
All seven of Cambodia’s bird flu cases since January have been fatal. Six of the victims were children.
The girl is the 17th person in Cambodia known to have become infected with the virus and the 15th to die from complications of the disease since 2005, they said.
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed 330 people worldwide since 2003, the statement said.
Bangkokpost—Thailand will seek a meeting of the General Border Committee (GBC) for consultations with Cambodia on implemention of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling that both countries must withdraw their troops from the designated provisional demilitarised zone adjoining Preah Vihear temple.
Defence spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsaeng said the Border Affairs Department was assigned the task by a meeting of the Defence Council on Thursday chaired by Gen Kittipong Ketkowit, the permanent secretary for defence.
The meeting discussed ways of implementing the ICJ ruling and agreed that bilateral mechanisms were the best way to solve the border problems with Cambodia.
It was agreed that the Border Affairs Department, which is under the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, would work with Cambodia on organising a General Border Committee meeting for talks on how to jointly implement the ICJ ruling.
Col Thanathip said It was agreed at the meeting that Thailand would decide on an approriate date for the proposed GBC meeting if Cambodia was not ready to do so.
Meawnhile, the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border is calm, he said.
AP—BANGKOK – Despite an export ban, Vietnamese companies are smuggling logs from the once rich forests of Laos to feed a billion-dollar wood industry that turns timber into furniture for export to the Europe and the United States, an environmental group said on Thursday.
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency alleged that the Vietnamese military was heavily involved in bribing Lao officials and then trafficking the timber on a massive scale to wood processing factories in neighbouring Vietnam. This was denied by the government and military.
Laos, with some of the last intact tropical forests in the region, in 1999 slapped a ban on the export of raw timber and says it is expanding its forest cover. But there are widespread reports of rampant logging, often associated with the country’s mushrooming dam projects and agricultural plantations.
‘Vietnam is almost annexing areas of Laos to feed its own industries. The only winners in Laos are corrupt government officials and well-connected businessmen,’ Julian Newman, an EIA staffer, said at a news conference. The group focuses on environmental crime worldwide.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga denied the allegations.
PHNOM PENH, July 27 (Xinhua) — Cambodia and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday signed an agreement to boost the implementation of economic and trade cooperation.
The deal was inked between Ouch Borith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Ri Myong San, visiting DPRK’s vice-minister of foreign trade, after the first Cambodia-DPRK Joint Commission meeting on economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation. After the signing ceremony, Ouch Borith told reporters Cambodia and DPRK have signed seven cooperation agreements since 1993.
They include the agreement on economic, trade, cultural and technical cooperation, trade exchange deal, investment protection deal, Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between Cambodia and DPRK foreign ministries, IT joint committee establishment agreement, cultural exchange cooperation, and water way transportation agreement.
“Even though all these agreements have been in place for nearly 20 years, the implementation of the agreements has not been materialized,” he said. “Therefore, the deal we signed today is to boost the implementation of these agreements for the interests of the two countries’ peoples.”
Ouch Borith said that Cambodia has also seen DPRK as a potential market for Cambodian rice, corn, cassava and bean; in exchange, Cambodia expects to import agricultural machinery from DPRK.
On the investment side, Cambodia wants to see DPRK investors in small hydroelectric dams, agriculture, industry and mineral resources, he added.
AFP—WASHINGTON - A US lawmaker and a government advisory board on Tuesday strongly criticised Vietnam for rearresting a frail dissident priest, warning of repercussions for warming relations between the countries.
Father Nguyen Van Ly – who prosecutors say was a founding member of a banned pro-democracy group – was taken into custody Monday. The priest had been allowed to leave prison last year to seek treatment for a brain tumour.
‘I fear he will suffer the same mistreatment that almost cost him his life. It is unconscionable that the Vietnamese government would send Father Ly back to jail,’ said Congressman Ed Royce, a Republican.
‘If Vietnam wants to improve relations with the US, it cannot continue to mistreat its own people. The government can start by releasing Father Ly,’ said Mr Royce, whose California district has a large Vietnamese American presence.
President Barack Obama’s administration has been building relations with Vietnam, offering encouragement to the former war foe which like many South-east Asian nations has had rising friction at sea with China.
‘The US helped mediate Vietnam’s dispute with China over the South China Sea and in response they seize a frail Catholic priest who has peacefully advocated for religious freedom and the rule of law,’ said Mr Leonard Leo, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises the government.
HANOI, July 25 (Xinhua) — A seminar was held here on Monday among senior officials and delegates from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam who shared their experience in devising and implementing international economic integration policies to serve their countries’ sustainable development.
According to Vietnam News Agency (VNA), participants agreed that their countries should promote cooperation in the sub-regional, regional and inter-regional frameworks to make the best use of opportunities and minimize challenges from international economic integration.
Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Doan Xuan Hung suggested the four countries continue to actively take part in international economic integration and closely coordinate to contribute to building the ASEAN community.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Tomoyumi Kimura spoke highly of prospects for cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), saying that 55 projects worth 14 billion U.S. dollars in total have been carried out in the GMS framework.
ADB will further cooperate with the four countries and assist existing sub-regional cooperation mechanisms to help them in their international economic integration and maintaining sustainable development, said Kimura.
The seminar is part of a cooperation project between the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Germany’s Hanns Seidel Foundation to help Vietnam and regional countries in international economic integration, VNA reported.