Archive for August 2009
PhnomPenhPost/25 August 2009 by Meas Sokchea
Man whose name appeared on leaflets has fled to border: nephew.
Police have yet to identify the producers of leaflets that characterised Prime Minister Hun Sen as a corrupt “puppet of Vietnam”, Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth told the Post Monday, adding that officers would not assume that those whose names were on the leaflets were behind the fliers.
Hundreds of leaflets accusing Hun Sen of damaging the prestige of Khmer culture were distributed through the streets of the capital early Wednesday morning.
Kem Sopheak, whose name appeared along with four others on the leaflets, has denied any involvement in their production. He told the Post last week that he had gone into hiding, and he could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Referring to Kem Sopheak, Touch Naruth, who is heading the investigation, said: “If he has not done anything, then he should not be afraid. We can’t detain anyone without clear proof. We have to investigate it first. Like always, we have to do our research.”
Touch Naruth called on Kem Sopheak, who said last week that he was a Sam Rainsy Party activist, to meet with authorities to clarify his position, adding that any attempt to remain in hiding would suggest that he was involved.
“If he said he has not done this, and then he tries to escape, that means he’s guilty,” he said.
A man who identified himself as a nephew of Khem Sopheak named Samnang, said Monday that his uncle had fled to the Cambodian-Thai border.
“If he calls me again I will tell him to clarify with the police, but it’s up to him,” Samnang said.
AFP/25 August 2009
Hanoi – Viet Nam will ban smoking in indoor public places next year and raise tobacco taxes to curb demand for cigarettes, the government said in a statement seen on Tuesday.
Smoking will be illegal in schools, kindergartens, cinemas, office buildings and on public transport, said a statement posted on the government’s website.
The statement did not say whether indoor restaurants would be included in the ban, which will take effect on Jan 1.
Tariffs on tobacco products and imported cigarettes will be raised, but the government did not specify by how much.
Retail sales of cigarettes will be allowed only in certain locations and a ban on selling cigarettes to people under 18 will be more rigorously applied, the government said.
Cigarette-smoking is widespread in Vietnam, which has one of the world’s highest male smoking rates and where cigarettes are widely available at small streetside kiosks.
Men in rural areas also like to relax with large traditional pipes made of bamboo filled with strong tobacco.
Advertising for tobacco is banned in public places in the communist nation of about 86 million people.
Narathiwat (Thailand) – A powerful car bomb ripped through a restaurant packed with government officials in Thailand’s troubled Muslim-majority south on Tuesday, wounding at least 42 people, the army said.
The blast was one of the most serious for months in the kingdom’s insurgency-plagued provinces bordering Malaysia where a bloody separatist rebellion has been raging for more than five years.
The 50-kilogram (110-pound) device was hidden inside a stolen Toyota pick-up truck and exploded during the busy lunch hour in the centre of Narathiwat, the main town in the province of the same name, officials said.
‘It’s very horrible. We had intelligence that militants would mount a large-scale attack,’ Lieutenant General Pichet Wisaichorn, the southern region army commander, told reporters.
He said that seven of the 42 people injured in the blast were in a critical condition. Most of the wounded were Buddhist government officials, who are often targeted by the Islamist militants in the region.
Police and rescue workers were rushing the wounded to hospital and the local government chief was among those injured, a policeman said on condition of anonymity.
More than 3,700 people have been killed and thousands more injured since the insurgency erupted in 2004, led by shadowy insurgents who have never publicly stated their goals. The south has seen a recent upsurge in attacks, many of which involve shootings of Buddhists and Muslims alike. There have also been gruesome killings such as crucifixions and beheadings.
Gunmen stormed a mosque in Narathiwat province in June, killing 11 people as they held evening prayers. The army blamed separatist militants but villagers said security forces were responsible.
While there were no immediate reports of deaths in Tuesday’s attack, it was the biggest bomb attack in the south since twin blasts killed one person and wounded 70 in Narathiwat in November.
Thailand’s four southernmost provinces made up an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until the region was annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand in 1902, sparking decades of tension.
AP/25 August 2009
Bangkok – T’ai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva invoked special security powers on Tuesday ahead of a major anti-government rally this weekend that he warned could turn chaotic and plunge the country back into turmoil. Mr Abhisit told reporters his Cabinet approved the use of the stringent Internal Security Act from Saturday until Sept 1 in the Bangkok district surrounding his office, where anti-government protesters plan to rally on Sunday. Supporters of deposed fugitive leader Thaksin Shinawatra have called for the protest outside Government House, the prime minister’s office, to demand Mr Abhisit’s resignation. Thaksin was deposed in a 2006 coup but remains at the centre of a protracted political crisis that has been calm in recent months but the government fears is heating up. ‘The political situation from Aug 30 onward may turn chaotic,’ Mr Abhisit said in the order issued by the Internal Security Operations Command, which said some protesters plan to ‘besiege Government House to interrupt the work of the prime minister’. The Internal Security Act allows security forces to impose curfews and restrict freedom of movement in situations deemed harmful to national security. The protest will be the first major rally outside Government House since April, when Thaksin supporters gathered outside the prime minister’s office and riots erupted in downtown Bangkok that left two dead and more than 120 injured. Protest organisers say their goal is to keep Sunday’s protest peaceful. ‘We plan to gather for a day and disperse peacefully unless security forces crack down on us,’ said Mr Jatuporn Phromphan, a protest leader. He said protesters will reiterate demands for Mr Abhisit to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections, adding if their calls are ignored, ‘We will step up pressure.’ Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who seldom comments on the political turmoil, called for unity on Friday. ‘Currently, our country is a mess,’ King Bhumibol told a televised gathering of civil servants. ‘I am concerned that Thailand is sinking.’ ‘In the recent past, I felt that the country was on the verge of failure,’ the king said. He added, ‘If everyone uses their knowledge and willingness, we can bring progress to the country. I ask that you help one another accomplish the task.’
PhnomPenhPost/4 August 2009 by Heng Chivoan
Representatives from 108 families meet with publisher Soy Sopheap in front of Deum Ampil newspaper office on Monday after travelling from Poipet to protest losing their land to a developer. The company was awarded the land after claiming only 14 families lived in the area, not 108. Soy Sopheap agreed to travel to the village and meet with company officials next Monday.
PhnomPenhPost/4 August 2009 by Cheang Sokha
Government disputes Thai argument that planned market reconstruction violates bilateral agreements.
Cambodian officials have rejected Thai government claims that the reconstruction of a market at the foot of Preah Vihear temple violates a border agreement signed by the two countries, saying the project has nothing to do with the continuing standoff over contested territory.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that the reconstruction of the market – which Cambodia says was destroyed by Thai rocket fire during border clashes in April – was merely intended to provide housing to 319 vendor families made homeless by the incident.
“Thailand’s claims are groundless,” he said Monday.
“They are only trying to disturb Cambodia.”
On Thursday, Thailand’s border communication office wrote to its Cambodian counterpart, claiming that the construction of new stalls at the market violated a memorandum of understanding on border demarcation signed between the two countries in 2000.
“The border communication team of Region 1 would like to inform you that the above action is in violation of the joint MoU on inspection and border demarcation,” the letter stated.
Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805-kilometre shared border
Sar Thavy, Preah Vihear deputy governor and a member of the market construction commission, said Monday that several stalls had already been rebuilt, and that the all construction activities were taking place on Cambodian soil.
“We have to rebuild those stalls because [the market] has been on that site for many years,” he said.
“If Thailand complains about our reconstruction, it is their problem.”
He added that construction workers were hurriedly building stands in an attempt to finish the project as soon as possible.
In May, Cambodia officially requested US$2.1 million in compensation for the damage at the market, but so far there has been no response from Bangkok.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that Thailand had not yet sent a formal diplomatic note protesting the reconstruction, but added that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong was set to leave for Bangkok today for a meeting of the Joint Border Commission, set up to negotiate border issues.
Var Kimhong, Cambodia’s top border negotiator, could not be reached for comment Monday.