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Archive for October 2011

U.S. provides over $35 mln for health, education in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — Cambodia on Tuesday signed up to receive 35.42 million U.S. dollars from the United States for health and education development, according to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.

The agreements were signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong and Flynn Fuller, mission director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), witnessed by the U.S. Charg d’Affaires Jeff Daigle.

Through the deal, the USAID will provide 32.48 million U.S. dollars in 2011 to support and strengthen Cambodian development priorities in health and education.

In addition to the amounts provided under these two bilateral agreements, the USAID will provide 2.94 million U.S. dollars through other programs, bringing the 2011 total of USAID assistance to Cambodia for health and education activities to 35. 42 million U.S. dollars, said the press release.

The funds will support a variety of ongoing activities to reduce the transmission and impact of HIV/AIDS; to prevent and control major infectious diseases such as tuberculosis; to improve maternal, reproductive, and children’s health; and to strengthen Cambodian public health systems and the government’s national health priorities.

On the education side, the funds will support ongoing education programs aimed at improving the quality and relevance of basic education and increasing access to schooling for all children, including minorities, people with disabilities, and the very poor.

Activities will also focus on reducing school dropout and repetition rates through improvements in teaching quality, school management training, and measuring student academic achievement, it added.

It said in addition to health and education activities, USAID supports a broad range of programs designed to benefit all Cambodians in areas such as human rights, rule of law, good governance and decentralization, natural resource management, economic growth, and combating trafficking in persons. 

Officials from 10 countries meet in Cambodia to discuss MDGs

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — Approximately 50 government officials and civil society representatives gathered here on Tuesday to discuss ways to accelerate the attainment of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Speaking during the opening session of the three-day Advocacy Training Workshop for Least Developed Countries, Cambodia’s Minister of Planning Chhay Than said that among the least developed countries, Cambodia is a leading one in its active work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

“The workshop is to find ways to accelerate the governments’ efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and to identify the needs of the poor and vulnerable people in order to fight poverty effectively,” he said.

He said that in the last decade, Cambodia has seen a success in fighting against poverty by reducing the poverty rate of at least 1 percent a year. By the end of 2010, the poverty rate has declined to 25.8 percent.

He added that the GDP per capita is 830 U.S. dollars in 2010, up 8.5 percent compared to that in 2009.

The UN’s Millennium Development Goals focus on extreme poverty and hunger eradication, universal primary education, gender equality and women empowerment, child mortality reduction, maternal health improvement, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases combat, environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

The 10 countries attended the workshop are Cambodia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.

The workshop was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific.

ASEAN, UN expected to sign comprehensive declaration in Bali

JAKARTA, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN) are expected to sign a comprehensive declaration in politics, social, economy and culture in the 19th ASEAN Summit in Indonesia’s Bali province on Nov. 14-19

“We will have a comprehensive declaration in politics, social, economy and culture between ASEAN member countries and the United Nations. The declaration is very detail and now is in discussion at the UN Secretariat General,” said Jose Tavarez, director of Regional Dialog Partner at the Directorate General of ASEAN Cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Tuesday.

Based on the declaration, he added, there will be further cooperation between both sides.

“Hopefully, it could be completed soon and signed by ASEAN head of states and administration and Secretary General of UN (Ban Ki- moon),” said Tavarez.

He added that the declaration would be a platform for more cooperation in the future.

Written by Kham

25/10/2011 at 6:50 pm

ASEAN persuades countries to commit on non-nuclear weapon

JAKARTA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) keeps persuading countries to give their commitment on non-nuclear weapon for a better world, an official said here on Tuesday.

Jose Tavarez, director of Regional Dialog Partner at the Directorate General of ASEAN Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, told reporters that however, the bloc could not force the countries for the purpose.

“ASEAN member states have ratified nuclear non-proliferation treaty since 1995. We are attached to the commitment. Now, we are persuading nuclear countries to give commitment and to be part of non-nuclear proliferation treaty like we are in the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (ASEANWFZ),” said Tavarez. He added that commitment within ASEAN is still intact.

“No country within ASEAN is developing nuclear weapon. If some of them want to develop nuclear for peace, it’s their right and they deserve help as it is difficult to do that, in terms of technology and material,” said Tavarez.

Myanmar media calls for int’l support for transition to democracy

YANGON, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) — Myanmar official media Tuesday called on the international community including the United Nations to provide encouragement, understanding and support to the country in its peaceful transition to democracy.

At this critical juncture, such encouragement, understanding and support of the international community are crucial to Myanmar’ s transition to democracy, the New Light of Myanmar quoted Vice President Sai Mauk Kham as saying.

“The government has now embarked on a series of reform process in various sectors to bring about democractization, economic development and improved livelihood of the people,” Sai told a UN- related function in Nay Pyi Taw Monday, adding that “The steps taken are concrete and visible. The reform process is incremental, systematic and dynamic as well”.

“The union government, together with the region and state governments are harmoniously striving for emergence of a clean government based on good governance, wide spread of democratic practices, prevalence of law and order, concrete economic reform and more effective environmental conservation,” said Sai.

Noting that the common desire of the people and the government of Myanmar are to live in peace and stability in a modern and developed nation, Sai reiterated that the government has extended olive branch to ethnic armed groups staying outside the legal fold to build permanent peace in the country.

Sai maintained that the government’s Oct 12 amnesty grant to 6, 539 prisoners was made on humanitarian ground to show sympathy towards their families and enable them to serve their own interest and of the state .

He also stressed that the fundamental rights of Myanmar citizens are guaranteed by the state constitution, adding that Myanmar National Human Rights Commission was formed recently to further implement the promotion and safeguarding of the fundamental rights of the citizens as prescribed in the constitution.

Indonesian president opens 2011 ASEAN Fair

JAKARTA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially opened 2011 ASEAN Fair in Nusa Dua, Bali on Monday that will last in one month prior to the 19th ASEAN Summit scheduled for November in the country’s leisure island, local media reported.

“With pleasure, I invite all the people (of ASEAN) to celebrate this Fair,” the president said in his remarks to open the month- long event.

The ASEAN Fair is a way to implement ASEAN’s commitment to become a community-based organization, according to the president.

Tourism and Creative Industry Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said the ASEAN Fair in Bali was the first to have ever been held. Mari said that the event was themed “Hello ASEAN”, intended as a warm greeting from Indonesia to fellow ASEAN member countries.

“As the ASEAN chair in 2011, Indonesia had initiated the ASEAN Fair as a forum for ASEAN members to jointly exhibit their cultures and creative economic products,” Mari said in the event’s opening session as quoted by the Antara news service.

According to the minister, cultural attractions that featured heavily in the event were aimed at honoring people in ASEAN who have their own cultures. The cultural language, the minister said, is expected to build up the oneness of ASEAN identity.

Written by Kham

25/10/2011 at 6:41 pm

Bangkok’s second airport shuts as floods advance

25 October 2011,AFP

BANGKOK – Bangkok’s second airport shut down Tuesday as floodwaters advanced into the Thai capital, forcing authorities in “crisis mode” to declare a five-day public holiday in preparation for the deluge.

The cabinet ordered an October 27-31 holiday for Bangkok and 20 other provinces affected by the kingdom’s worst flooding in decades, amid warnings a high tide would surge up the capital’s main river and escalate the disaster.

Flood entered Bangkok

“The government has switched to a crisis mode as a massive run-off will arrive in the capital on October 26, coinciding with a high tide on October 28,” the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) said in a statement.

Ministers made the decision at a meeting in Don Mueang airport in the city’s north, which handles domestic flights and has also been doubling as an evacuee shelter and a headquarters for the flood relief operation.

But as the waters that have already flooded several northern and eastern districts of Bangkok closed in, both airlines operating there, Nok Air and Orient Thai, said they were suspending all flights.

“Because a lot of water is creeping into the northern premises of the airport, it could cause planes to slide on the runways,” Airports of Thailand said, adding that Don Mueang’s two runways would be closed until November 1.

About 100 domestic flights normally operate from the airport each day.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is facing her first major crisis since coming to power in August, said before the cabinet meeting that the evacuees sheltering there would also have to relocate.

“We will move them to safe areas,” she said.

The public holidays are designed to allow Bangkok’s 12 million residents to brace for the floods now creeping towards the city centre after swamping other parts of the nation, killing some 360 people and damaging millions of homes.

“The public and private sectors have been urged to allow their flood-hit staff some time off, so that they would have a chance to look after their property and protect their homes,” said the FROC statement.

Schools and government offices will be closed, while the central bank said it was still considering whether to shut down financial markets during the newly-declared public holidays.

Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra made a televised address Tuesday warning residents along the Chao Phraya river in the capital to be on “full alert” after the waterway reached record highs of of 2.30 metres on Monday.

“If the situation continues in these circumstances, the water level this weekend will hit 2.60 metres, while our average flood embankment is 2.50 metres high,” he said.

In the city centre, residents were lining up to buy bottled water directly from trucks resupplying shops, after days of panic-buying emptied supermarket shelves.

Information about the floods has often been inconsistent, with politically inexperienced Yingluck apparently at odds with Bangkok’s local administration, run by a rival party, and rumours of tensions with the army.

A defence official in Washington said the US navy had withdrawn several ships, including aircraft carriers, sent to help with relief efforts in Thailand after receiving “mixed” messages from the Bangkok government.

“There were two channels (in the Thai government),” the defence official told AFP. “One was saying ‘Yes’ and one was saying ‘No.'”

But Thailand’s defence minister, General Yutthasak Sasiprapa, indicated that authorities felt they were able to handle the situation themselves.

“We have not denied their assistance, but we have our own aircraft so we would rather use ours,” he told reporters, adding however that he was unclear over the details of the US offer and needed to check with the air force chief.

A spokesman from the US embassy in Bangkok said one ship from the US group had docked in Thailand on October 20 and its helicopters had since been on missions coordinated with the Thai army and other US agencies.

Written by Kham

25/10/2011 at 6:35 pm