Archive for December 2011
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s foreign minister Hor Namhong and his visiting Thai counterpart Surapong Tovichakchaikul on Thursday agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in all fields for the interests of both people and countries.
“We had agreed to strengthen and expand bilateral cooperation on trade, investment, tourism, and humanitarian activities,” Hor Namhong told reporters in a joint press briefing after a one-hour meeting with Surapong.
Both sides agreed to work together to open a new Stung Bath border checkpoint near Poipet checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province as soon as possible to cope with the increasing growth of goods and tourists between the two nations, he said.
On the border issue side, both sides agreed to implement the Order of the International Court of Justice dated July 18, 2011 in regard with the immediate withdrawal of Cambodian and Thai military personnel from the Provisional Demilitarized Zone of about 17 kilometers on the disputed border near Preah Vihear temple and allow ASEAN observers access to the zone to monitor ceasefire.
The two ministers also pledged to speed up talks on negotiations on the plan for the joint development of Overlapping Claim Area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.
Surapong said, “The meeting was held in a friendly, warm and mutual faithful atmosphere and had created closer cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand.”
He added that Thailand is scheduled to host the 8th Thailand- Cambodia Joint Boundary Commission meeting on Feb. 29-March 1, 2012 in order to work on border demarcation on areas outside Preah Vihear temple.
There are remaining 25 border poles need to be searched and demarcated outside the area of Preah Vihear temple, said Hor Namhong, adding that for the border demarcation at the area of Preah Vihear temple, it has to wait until the ICJ interprets the judgment of 1962 on the case concerning the temple of Preah Vihear temple.
Cambodia and Thailand have had sporadic border conflict over territorial dispute near Cambodia’s Preah Vihear temple since the UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008 and witnessed fierce border fighting in February and April during the Thai’s Democrat-led administration.
However, the military tension has eased since the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory in the general elections on July 3.
Cambodia says two Siam spies must serve 2/3 of jail term before amnesty…កុំទុកវារស់ ក្រែងខ្មែរមានសង្រ្គាមទល់ដែនទៀត
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, minister of foreign affairs, reiterated on Thursday that there will be no royal pardon for the two Thai “Yellow-Shirt” activists jailed here for espionage until they have served two thirds of their jail term.
His remarks were made after visiting Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul asked him to consider to reduce the jail term or to give royal amnesty by Cambodia’s King to the pair.
“According to Cambodia’s law, a prisoner must be jailed at least two thirds of his jail term before being considered for royal pardon from the King,” Hor Namhong told reporters in a joint press briefing after the meeting.
However, he said that it is possible to release the two Thai spies earlier if the government of Thailand has a request to Cambodia for a meeting “to exchange prisoners as package.”
Surapong thanked the government of Cambodia for giving good care to the two Thai detainees in the Prey Sar prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
The two “Yellow Shirt” Thais are Veera Somkwamkid, one of the leaders of the People’s Network against Corruption and a high- profile activist in the Thailand Patriot Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court of First Instance, on February 1, convicted Veera and Ratree of illegal entry, unlawful entry into a military base and espionage and sentenced them to 8 years and 6 years in jail respectively.
Veera and Ratree were arrested on December 29, 2011, along with five others including Democrat Party Member of Parliament Panich Vikitsreth, after they illegally entered Cambodian territory to observe the border demarcation process.
The five were released in late January after a Cambodian court suspended their sentences of nine months in jail.
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) — Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan arrived here on Thursday morning on a two-day official visit to strengthen bilateral ties.
Surapong will hold talks with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, minister of foreign affairs. Meanwhile, he would raise the plight of two Thai activists jailed in Phnom Penh for discussion and would ask Cambodia to consider releasing them, the Bangkok Post-online reported on Thursday.
The two “Yellow Shirt” Thais are Veera Somkwamkid, one of the leaders of the People’s Network against Corruption and a high- profile activist in the Thailand Patriot Network, and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court of First Instance, on February 1, convicted Veera and Ratree of illegal entry, unlawful entry into military base and espionage and sentenced them to 8 years and 6 years in jail respectively.
For Pichai, during the stay, he is scheduled to have a discussion with Sok An, minister of the Council of Ministers and chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority.
Ek Tha, spokesman of the Press Unit at the Council of Ministers, said Pichai and Sok An will re-start negotiations on the plan for the joint development of Overlapping Claim Area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand, which is reportedly rich in oil and gas.
Cambodia and Thailand entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the area of their overlapping maritime claims to the continental shelf in June 2001, setting out an agreed area to be delimited and an agreed joint development area (JDA).
Since then, the two countries had subsequently held constructive discussions and negotiations until 2007 with extremely fruitful results. However, the official talk on the issue was in limbo during the former Thai government under Abhisit Vejjajiva’s administration.
29 December 2011,by Cheang Sokha,the PP Post
In a move some observers believe lays the groundwork for a pardon bid, convicted Thai spies Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon had their appeals officially dropped yesterday, one day before the first anniversary of their arrests.
Judge Samrith Sophal, who chaired the Court of Appeal hearing, said Veera and Ratree had initially asked to withdraw the appeal against their sentences nine months ago, without explaining the long delay in acting on their request.
“Your appeal case is ended,” Judge Samrith Sophal told the pair before a packed courtroom, saying they would be sent back to Prey Sar prison.
On February 1, Veera, a leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, popularly known as the Yellow Shirts, and Ratree, his secretary, were sentenced to eight and six years in jail respectively by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of illegal entry, entering a restricted military base and espionage.
They were arrested on December 29, 2010 with five others, including current Thai Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth, after they crossed the border into Banteay Meanchey province, allegedly to inspect the border demarcation process.
On March 14, 2011, Veera and Ratree asked a Thai lawyer to lodge an appeal, but reversed course two weeks later and asked to have the appeal dropped.
Wearing a blue prison uniform, Veera, who was joined by a number of family members at the hearing, said he had been treated well during his one-year stay in prison, but complained that he was plagued by insect bites at night.
“The food and the people are fine with me, but I have a problem with bed bugs biting me every night,” Veera said via a translator.
The long-delayed dropping of Veera and Ratree’s appeals came only one day before the start of a planned two-day visit by Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Minister of Energy Pichai Naripthaphan.
When asked whether Surapong will help to secure his release during the trip, Veera said he was not sure, but he hoped the current Thai government – one with considerably friendlier relations with Cambodia than its predecessor – will consider helping him.
A report in yesterday’s Bangkok Post said that the Pheu Thai-led government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is optimistic that Veera and Ratree will be freed soon and that their release will be one of the topics that Foreign Minister Surapong raises during his visit.
Veera and Ratree’s imprisonment remains an important issue to the Thai people, Parinya Sirisarakarn, commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, told the Post after yesterday’s hearing.
Parinya said that Veera’s decision to withdraw his appeal likely signals he wants help from the [Thai] government and believes the King of Cambodia will give him a royal pardon.
“At the beginning, [Veera] was quite mouthy, but right now, he has calmed down,” said Parinya, who is assigned to monitor the Cambodian-Thai conflict. “He understands [his current situation] better and better.”
Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, agreed that the timing of the long-delayed appeals dismissal is more than coincidence.
“It is a sign that the government wants to ask for pardon for these two Thais,” Ou Virak said.
“Surapong’s visit is a big issue, and two main agendas for discussion, I think, will be the border conflict and [the Veera] case, among others.”
29 December 2011 by Vong Sokheng, the PPPost
The opposition Sam Rainsy Party was violating the human rights of Cambodia’s citizens and acting like the murderous Pol Pot regime, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.
Hun Sen, leader of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, told more than 3,000 students at a graduation ceremony he presided over that the SRP was forcing all its members to swear they would vote for the SRP and to hand over their mobile phones the night before commune elections in June next year.
“These issues are a serious violation of universal human rights, and it looks like detaining people in the same way they did during the Pol Pot regime,” the premier said.
The SRP suspected that some of its members in commune councils across the Kingdom and members of the National Assembly would not vote in favour of the lead opposition party, Hun Sen said.
“I want to send a message to human-rights NGOs to pay attention to this issue,” the long-serving leader, who rarely requests the engagement of human-rights organisations in Cambodia’s affairs, said.
His condemnation of the SRP and request for human-rights organisations to investigate comes one day after an alliance of 149 associations, unions and NGOs issued a joint statement criticising the SRP’s mobile-phone confiscation order.
The alliance, the Cambodian People Network for Peace, issued a joint statement citing the orders of SRP leader Sam Rainsy to all party members to swear they must vote for his party and that they must all hand in their phones on January 28 as a way to express loyalty.
“The CPNP believes the use of forceful threats and warnings by SRP toward SRP commune council members does not respect democracy or human rights,” the statement reads.
“The actions of [Sam Rainsy] are in full contradiction with the democratic principle that the power belongs to the people, by the people and for the people.”
The threat by Sam Rainsy to confiscate mobile phones was an “act of treason” that compromised the will of the people, who were the “owners of their votes”, the alliance said.
Sam Rainsy is now in exile in France to escape what he views as an unjust and politically motivated prison sentence for encouraging villagers to uproot border posts on the Cambodia-Vietnam border in Svay Rieng.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that the call to the party’s members to swear loyalty in the commune council elections was strictly voluntary.
“We are all willing to swear and there is no intimidation,” Yim Sovann said. “We do so to express loyalty to the president of the SRP.”
In regards to the call for handing over mobile phones the day before the election, Yim Sovann said the motivation for this extreme act was to try to reduce the impact of threats and intimidation by the CPP.
“We are experienced in recording the conversations from CPP members threatening, intimidating and offering to buy votes from SRP members on election day,” he said. “We have filed a complaint to the [National Election Commission], but it has never been fairly ruled on.
“In this circumstance, the NEC has become a tool of the CPP, and so we must find a way ourselves to stop the intimidation, threats and vote buying,” the spokesman said.
NEC Secretary General Tep Nytha said that intimidation, threats and vote buying as well as any other activities jeopardizing voters are against the law.
“Individual voters must cast their vote by their own volition,” he said. “If the NEC found there was such vote buying and intimidation by a political party’s candidate, that candidate would be removed and fined between 2 and 50 million riel.”
27 December 2011, the PPPost
Despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cousin Dy Proem being sentenced in absentia last month to two and a half years in prison, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was under no obligation to issue a warrant for her arrest, a judge said yesterday.
In an interview with the Post, Seng Neang, a judge at the court, defended the decision not to have Dy Proem and co-defendant Seng Yean arrested – even though almost a month had passed since their sentencing.
“Based on article 353 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code, the court can issue a warrant for the arrest of those who have been tried and sentenced to one year’s jail or more,” Seng Neang said. “But this article does not state that the court must issue warrants for their arrests.”
Ou Virak, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said it was “definitely wrong” that a convicted criminal did not have to be arrested, but instances of warrants not being issued for criminals in cases connected to the prime minister were not unusual.
“But this won’t cause uproar with the [general public], because this is happening far too often,” he said.
A case like this would put the judge and other court officials under a lot of pressure, Ou Virak said.
“I don’t think the judge wants to go ahead and make a decision about this. I think the court officials are waiting for cues from government officials about how to act.
“This is not unusual for cases connected directly to the prime minister.”
Kao Ty, the lawyer representing Huoth Sarom, who says she owns the land Dy Proem fraudulently acquired, complained to the court yesterday that his client had not been told if she would get the land back or be offered compensation for losing it.
Seng Neang defended the verdict. “Huoth Sarom’s case was not involved in this case, so the court could not address or handle anything for her,” he said.
BANGKOK, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — Now that the Thai cabinet meeting on Tuesday just gave the nod for a government’s proposal to sell 350-billion-baht (11.14 billion U.S. dollars) in bonds domestically to fund long-term flood management plan which if fails, the country, not just the government, would face with credibility crisis.
As for short-term plan for the year 2012-2013, the Strategic Formation Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development ( SCRF), chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on Monday approved a 16.5-billion-baht (525.15 million U.S. dollars) water management plan to prevent floods and droughts. Of this, 12 billion baht will be drawn from the 2012 fiscal budget while the remaining 4.5 billion baht from the 2013 budget.
These urgent measures entailing improvement in sluice gates, dykes, drainage system and water resources management as well as compensation for flood-hit victims will be implemented in the next five months in order to prevent massive floods of this scale from reoccurring next year.
Almost five months have passed since the flooding began in the northern part of Thailand and then spread slowly down to the plains downstream. And new rainy season is expected soon in five months ahead, or as early as May. Even though Commerce Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong, who is also chairman of the Strategic Formulation Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM), reassured on Monday that most of short-term projects would be completed before the new rainy season arrives, it is not quite promising.
Last month, Prime Minister Yingluck seemed to be certain that floodwaters would be completely dried out before New Year but early this month she said that she was concerned about the ongoing situation in the western side of the capital. Currently, floods still prevail in six provinces, affecting almost nine million households, or 2.27 million people.
BUSINESS OPERATORS DEMAND CONCRETE STRATEGY
Following its investigation of the damage at flood hit industrial parks, Bank of Thailand’s Office of Macroeconomics unveiled on Monday that majority of the investor hoped that the government would put effective flood prevention and water management measures into place as soon as possible.
About a week after scrapping the first lot of some 400 units, Honda Automobile Thailand Co., Ltd. again on Tuesday destroyed 1, 055 cars which were inundated by floods in mid-October to ensure its customers that the company will not reuse any parts of those affected cars. Car scraps were carried out at Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya province which has a capacity to assemble 240, 000 cars a year and is the second-largest car factory in Thailand.
Despite its bad fortune, the company’s executive pledged not to relocate it production plants to other countries. However, the company re-emphasized that the government should spare no effort to prevent great deluge from repeating.
“This measure will only correct the consequence. The government should look at the cause of the consequence, especially they should focus on water management in order to prevent the same disaster from happening again in the future,” Pitak Pruittisarikorn, executive vice president of Honda Thailand, made the remarks regarding the 4-meter flood wall building plan around the industrial estate which the government proposed before.
Floodway projects along both sides of Chao Praya River are part of the long-term strategy the government has made clear so far, but still it lacks of details on exact locations and designs. The government plans to get the strategy implemented in the next one to three years but the question is that will it be in time?
If the inundation returns next year, even with lesser scale, while everything is not just yet ready, the private sector will definitely lose faith in the country, not just Yingluck administration. Not every business operator that is patient enough or dares enough to put its millions or billions invested factories at risk waiting until the government’s strategies become effective. Sanyo Semiconductor Thailand, which has operated since 1990 producing semiconductors, transistors and large-scale integrated circuits, finally terminated operation of a flood-ravaged factory in Rojana Industrial Estate on Dec. 25.
“If the government cannot handle this and it comes again next year, we wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in business. The government must work hard to restore confidence because we don’t want to go through that again.. And we may consider moving out if the government fails to do so,”said a Japanese executive of a system engineering company in Bangkok.
Cambodian senate president’s ex-protocol chief sentenced to 4 years in jail for fraud ពស់ចាស់សកស្រកា
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim’s former protocol chief Pheng Kunthea Borey on Tuesday was convicted of fraud and was sentenced to four years in jail, according to the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Borey’s three accomplices: two Chea Sim’former advisors, Police Lt. Gen. Chan Kosal and Lt. Gen. Ponlork Ho, were sentenced to four years each in jail, and Khieu Bora, Chea Sim’s former cabinet member, was sentenced to three years in jail.
The four have been charged stemming from allegations they engineered scams involving hundreds of millions of dollars from more than 50 foreign companies in almost a decade-long scam spree in which they allegedly charged companies for getting Chea Sim’s signature for humanitarian and development projects, some of which were fake.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict delivery, Pheng Kunthea Borey pleaded innocent to the charges and said she would appeal. “I completely deny the charges, I am innocent, I will appeal,” she said.
Pheng Kunthea Borey was arrested on Sept. 28 in Koh Kong province while she was attempting to flee the country for Thailand.
The other three accused were arrested just days before her arrest.
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on Tuesday afternoon destroyed 561,000 pieces of pirated and pornographic video CDs seized from at least 175 shops and warehouses across the country this year.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem said the number of seized pirated and pornographic video CDs this year was up 50 percent if compared to last year.
“We will continue our efforts with the concerned authorities to combat this type of violations and to protect the intellectual property rights,” he said.
Currently, Cambodia’s film industry is on the brink of collapse due to the piracy and weak law enforcement.
“If we do not take a firm stance on this matter, good film or music producers will distance themselves from the sector–that could lead to the destruction of Cambodia’s film industry,” he said.