Archive for the ‘Local News’ Category

Pentagon papers finally released

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment
Prince Norodom Sihanouk and Jacqueline Kennedy at Chamkarmon Palace during her visit to Cambodia in November of 1967. Photo by: Ambassador Julio A. Jeldres Private Photo Collection
THE United States government has released the full version of the
Pentagon Papers, a once top-secret report that details US actions in
countries including Cambodia as the Vietnam conflict escalated and was
leaked in partial form 40 years ago.

The US National Archives
declassified the report on Monday, 40 years after the New York Times
published selections leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, who worked on part of
the study with the Defence Department. Ellsberg had tried to leak the
documents to the Senate in the hope that it would convene hearings on
the war.

Some 2,384 pages, or about 34 percent of the original
7,000-page report, have been released publicly for the first time, the
National Archives said in a statement.

The report was
commissioned by US defence secretary Robert McNamara and catalogues US
policy-making in Indochina from 1945 to 1967.

The leak showed
that four successive American presidents had misled their citizens about
US policy in Southeast Asia, as they spoke publicly of restraint while
simultaneously expanding US commitments in the region.

report also exposed the involvement of the Kennedy Administration in the
1963 coup d’etat that led to the assassination of South Vietnamese
President Ngo Dinh Diem, President Lyndon Johnson’s approval to bomb
North Vietnam and decisions to expand military operations from Southern
Vietnam into Cambodia and Laos.

Among other topics, officials
raised concern over the stationing of North Vietnamese troops in the
Kingdom and debated how to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail, which was used
as a supply route between North Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos and South

Historian David Chandler, an expert on Cambodia who
served as a US diplomat in Phnom Penh in the early 1960s, said it was
“very exciting” when the papers came out.

“It was a good move. I approved of what Ellsberg was doing,” he recalled.

said the information contained in the report wasn’t “wildly surprising”
at the time for those closely studying the region, though its leak may
have been the most significant breach of US government secrecy in
American history, igniting a battle at the Supreme Court and an eventual
victory for press freedom.

The National Archives said that the
newspaper and magazine releases from Ellsberg’s leak contained “only a
very small portion” of the complete papers, and Monday’s release marks
the first time they have been available in full.

“The fact of the
matter is that no one, outside the people properly cleared to view Top
Secret, has seen the real Pentagon Papers,” the agency said in a
statement. About two-thirds have been made available previously, as US
Senator Mike Gravel published portions in 1971 and US the State
Department declassified an additional section in 2002.

said he had not yet trawled through the final version of the documents
that was released on Monday, but did not expect any “surprises” for
Cambodia, noting that the most controversial US actions toward the
Kingdom came under President Richard Nixon, who approved the infamous
bombing campaign that released at least half a million tons of bombs in
Cambodia from 1969 to 1973.

Though Cambodia is less of a concern
in the papers, the documents do show that trying to eliminate Northern
Vietnam’s use of both Cambodia and Laos for supply routes and military
operations was a persistent challenge for US policymakers.

internal document from the Kennedy Administration contained in the
papers shows that officials had raised alarm over the issue at least as
early as December 1962. A US State Department official says in the
document that Northern Vietnamese forces had been using Eastern Cambodia
as a base from which to stage hit-and-run attacks in Southern Vietnam
since 1960.

On numerous occasions, military officials called for
“hot pursuit” of Northern Vietnamese forces into Cambodian territory. A
1967 document reveals pressure within the US government for Johnson to
expand the Vietnam War into neighbouring countries, presaging the
devastating consequences Cambodia would endure as it was dragged further
into the conflict.

“The military had once again confronted the
Johnson Administration with a difficult question on whether to escalate
or level-off the US effort. What they proposed was the mobilization of
the Reserves, a major new troop commitment in the South, an extension of
the war into the VC/NVA [Viet Cong/North Vietnam] sanctuaries (Laos,
Cambodia, and possibly North Vietnam) the mining of North Vietnamese
ports and a solid commitment in manpower and resources to a military
victory,” the US document states.

“The recommendation [from the
military] not surprisingly touched off a searching reappraisal of the
course of US strategy in the war.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KRISTIN LYNCH

Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News

Cambodia Slams Thailand over Spying Claim

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment
Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson has
denied the espionage accusation against two Cambodians recently arrested
for illegally crossing the Thai border, saying the charges are
deceitful fabrication.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodia stood by
its categorical denial of Thailand’s espionage allegation and that the
arrested Cambodian civilians had entered Thailand merely as tourists.

But Thailand has argued it has solid evidence to be brought forth to the
international community to prove that three men arrested in Si Sa Ket
Province last week are Cambodia’s spies.

The Phnom Penh Post reported that Koy Kuong elaborated that Thailand was
using the incident as a ploy to distract attention from its own
aggressive ambition regarding the Preah Vihear issue.

Koy asserted Thailand cannot use a thing as small as mosquito that it made up to hide its huge sky of ambition for aggression.

Cambodia also released a statement over the arrest of the Cambodian men,
saying the case is politically motivated and caretaker Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva does not know anything at all.

Phnom Penh added it is a normal practice that Cambodian officials be
allowed to see Cambodian citizens arrested in other countries.

TAN Network
Categories: Local News

Foreign Ministry’s Statement Concerning the Arrest of Cambodian on Spying Charges

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

AKP Phnom Penh, June 15, 2011 – The Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia has in a statement reacted against Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva concerning the arrest of a Cambodian on spying charges by Thai authorities.
The full statement dated yesterday reads as follows:

Categories: Local News

Vietnam, Cambodia boost legislative exchanges

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Vice National Assembly Chairman Uong Chu Luu has affirmed the consistent policy of the Vietnamese Party, State and People to enhance the fine neighbouring relations, traditional friendship and comprehensive, long-lasting cooperation with Cambodia. 
Vice NA Chairman Luu made this affirmation to visiting Chairwoman Ty Borasy of the Cambodian Senate’s Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Propaganda and Information (CFAICPI) at a reception in Hanoi on June 14. 

The Vietnamese NA Office and the Cambodian Senate Secretariat have actively carried out cooperative programmes in cadre training, information technology, media and popularisation which, Luu said, were practical activities to help deepen the relationship between the two legislative bodies. 

He took the occasion to propose a close collaboration between the Vietnamese NA Committee for External Relations and CFAICPI in acting as counsellors to the two countries’ leaders and assisting bilateral cooperative activities.

Both sides should consider the signing of cooperative agreements to secure legal foundations for implementing cooperative activities, to bring the relationship between the Vietnamese NA and the Cambodian Senate to a new height.

Ty Borasy congratulated Vietnam on the success of the elections of deputies to the 13th NA and People’s Councils at all levels. She informed the host of her delegation’s working session with the Vietnamese NA Committee for Social Affairs, saying that experiences of Vietnam’s legislative agencies would be applied in Cambodia.

 The Cambodian delegation was later received by Chairwoman of the Hanoi People’s Council Ngo Thi Doan Thanh, who said Hanoi and Phnom Penh have held regular exchanges in economics, culture, education, healthcare, tourism and other fields.

 However, Thanh said, the economic development cooperation between Hanoi and Phnom Penh failed to match the two countries’ traditional relationship. The Cambodian Senator expressed her belief that the visit would help to further the relationship between the two countries and between the Vietnamese NA and Cambodian Senate.
Categories: Local News

Thai PM: Spy apprehension not fabricated

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

BANGKOK, 14 June 2011 – Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has reaffirmed that the apprehension of three suspected spies from Cambodia, comprising a Cambodian, a Vietnamese and a Thai, by Thai officers in the kingdom is not fabricated. 
Prime Minister Abhisit stated that information gained from the investigative process would be used to support Thailand’s clarifications on the issue to the international community. He added that the Thai-Cambodian border remains peaceful after the three spies were apprehended on Thai soils.

In response to the issue, Cambodian authorities have accused the Thai side of cooking up the spy claim.
The Thai prime minister hence countered the accusation by questioning Cambodia why its consulate tried to contact the Thai side for the release of the three suspects on the first day of arrest.
Regarding a possible exchange of the three spies with two Thai inmates now detained in Prey Sar Prison in Cambodia, Prime Minister Abhisit said the suspects must firstly go through court procedures, and the Cambodian side must respect the Thai judiciary.
Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon have been sentenced to eight and six years in prison respectively for illegal entry, trespassing in to military zone and espionage.

Categories: Local News

Groups Warns Against Web Censorship

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights on Tuesday called for greater Internet freedoms in Cambodia, as more and more people are finding their way online.
In its report, “Internet Censorship: the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in Cambodia,” the group warned of a “recent trend toward Internet censorship and the grave implications for freedom of expression in Cambodia.”
Ou Virak, president of the center, said the government must work hard to development protective regulations for Internet use, as it spreads across the country, “by ensuring that old barriers are not applied to a new frontier.”
Telecommunications Minister So Khun told VOA Khmer in a phone interview Tuesday the ministry does not condone Internet censorship.
However, the ministry did come under fire earlier this year after it held a meeting with Internet service providers and encouraged them to block sites that were counter to Cambodia’s interests.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said Tuesday the government has put pressure on Internet companies in the past. He noted an ongoing deterioration of the freedom of expression across different media, including the Internet.
Cambodia is considered “not free” by the press freedom watchdog Freedom House.
Categories: Local News

UN rejects allegations that it interfered in work of Cambodian genocide court

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Inside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

14 June 2011 – 

The United Nations today rejected media reports that it instructed judges at the tribunal in Cambodia dealing with mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago to dismiss its third case, stressing that the court is an independent body.
“Support for the independence of the judiciary is a fundamental principle that the United Nations upholds in Cambodia as elsewhere,” a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said.
“The judges and prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) must be allowed to function free from external interference by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United Nations, donor States, and civil society,” it added.
Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.
Earlier this week, media reports said that at least five UN staff in the ECCC’s investigations office have quit their posts since April following disagreements over the decision to close the tribunal’s third case without allegedly properly investigating the charges. Case 003 reportedly involves two former senior members of the Khmer Rouge military suspected of the deaths of thousands of people.
“The United Nations categorically rejects media speculation that we have instructed the co-investigating judges to dismiss Case 003,” the statement said.
It added that the announcement made by the co-investigating judges in April that they have decided to conclude their investigation in Case 003 is an interim procedural step, and that issues related to that decision will be the subject of further consideration by the tribunal.
“The co-investigating judges are not under an obligation to provide reasons for their actions at this stage of the investigation in Case 003,” said the world body.
As for the staffing issues, the statement said that the UN will ensure that the international component of the ECCC, including the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, has sufficient resources to undertake its work.
Estimates vary but as many as two million people are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.
The court handed down its first verdict in July 2010, convicting Kaing Guek Eav – the man also known as Duch and who headed a notorious detention camp run by the Khmer Rouge – guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ECCC is currently preparing to commence the trial in Case 002 on 27 June. The accused are the four remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge: Khieu Samphan, the former head of State; Nuon Chea, ‘brother number two’ to Pol Pot; Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister; and Ieng Thirith, a former social affairs minister and wife of Ieng Sary.
“Their trial will be of true international significance, and deserves the ongoing, strong support of the international community,” said today’s statement.
Categories: Local News

Cambodia bans imports of chicken products from Thailand

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

PHNOM PENH, June 14 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s ministry of commerce on Tuesday prohibited imports of chicken products from Thailand.
“The ministry of commerce instructs all levels of authorities along the border between Cambodia and Thailand to prevent all imports of chicken products from Thailand even though the products have had phyto-sanitary certificate in order to protect our people health,” said a directive signed by the minister of commerce Cham Prasidh. “The ban will take effect from the signing date until there is new directive.”
The prohibition came after Thai officials raided chicken slaughterhouses in Nakhon Ratchasima province on June 13 and seized about eight tons of decomposed chicken.
The chicken slaughterhouses had soaked dead chickens in strong- smelling formalin solution before processing them as food products.
“The people who consumed formalin-contaminated food may suffer skin irritation, an inflamed stomach, vomiting and diarrhea; moreover, the prolonged consumption can cause damage to nervous system, sterility and cancer,” said the directive.

Editor: Fang Yang

Categories: Local News

Bank accounts raided

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment
Photo by: Will Baxter
ATM users in Siem Reap city claim they have lost thousands of dollars in
fraud on their foreign credit cards after making withdrawals at
machines operated by Cambodian banks.

Four residents of Siem Reap have told The Post they have lost amounts between US$500 and $2,200 in the last week.

claim to have fallen victim to a fraudulent activity known as
“skimming”, in which criminals use methods such as unauthorised devices
that fit over the mouth of an ATM reader to steal both account data from
the card as well as PINs. The information is then used to make cloned
cards and their money is withdrawn.

French teacher Laetitia
Cheveux said her bank at home in France had notified her after they
noticed suspicious activity on her credit card last week.

called my husband from France to explain there were some illegal
withdrawals on my account using the numbers of my credit card. It was a
card I still have in my possession, which means that the card hasn’t
been stolen, but the numbers have been.”

Cheveux said the last
withdrawal she made from her account was at an ATM on Siem Reap’s
Sivutha Boulevard, which was soon followed by a number of fraudulent
withdrawals in Phnom Penh on June 3 and 4.

“My French bank says the illegal withdrawals happened in Phnom Penh on those two days, when I was working in Siem Reap.”

Siem Reap businessman Phil Starling said he has lost more than $2,000 to the scam last week.

June 4 we had someone gain access to our account with a fraudulent ATM
card. They then withdrew $2200 through three separate Canadia Bank ATMs.
All the withdrawals were made in Phnom Penh,” he said.

said the card which was copied belonged to his wife who only recently
arrived back in Siem Reap after two months overseas.

One victim,
Julie Martinez, says her concerns were shrugged off after she attempted
to alert a Canadia Bank manager to the spate of suspicious
withdrawals.“They only took me seriously after I went back and closed my
account, and then the guy that’s in charge of the point of sale people
sat down with me and said ‘you know you have to keep this secret, you
could destroy our reputation’. He told me that ‘there are laws in
Cambodia under which we can take it to court’.”

Canadia Bank officials said they were not aware of the issue when contacted by The Post.

complaints official Oudom Vent said he was surprised by the
information, adding he had contacted the staff responsible for ATMs, but
they were not aware of a problem.

Bank Vice President Dieter
Billmeier said yesterday that Canadia was not aware of these
complaints.“We haven’t heard of any cases where cards belonging to
Canadia Bank customers have been affected, otherwise I would have heard
from our security people. We’ve had no contact from the police about
this nor have we had the issue raised internally,” he said.

other bankers said they are aware of a problem of fraudulent
withdrawals and are taking action. ANZ Royal Bank CEO Stephen Higgins
said the bank has asked Phnom Penh police to investigate the use of
cloned credit cards by a gang that appeared to be composed of
foreigners, and had provided the police with images of gang members to
assist their investigation.“There’s a gang here at the moment that’s
withdrawing cash using cards that have been cloned overseas in locations
including the UK,” he said.

The four victims had told The Post
they thought the information on their cards had been cloned in Cambodia,
though Higgins said information gathered by ANZ indicates all cloned
credit cards used by the gang have been obtained from overseas. However,
he did not discount the possibility that the same offenders, or even
another gang, are targetting ATMs in Siem Reap.“We’re not aware that
they’ve also skimmed anyone’s card in Cambodia. If there’s a gang that’s
skimming account holders here that’s more concerning,” he said.

they’re cloning cards here or if they’re using cloned cards from
overseas, that’s two very different scenarios, the former is far more
concerning. Malaysia had a big problem with card skimming recently and
if it is happening here it would reflect badly on Cambodia. We’ve
referred the matter to the police for investigation.”

Phnom Penh
police chief Touch Naruth declined to comment yesterday, while Ministry
of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment.

Bank of Cambodia Director General and Spokeswoman Nguon Sokha said
yesterday that the central bank was not aware of a problem.“I’ve checked
with all the departments of the bank supervisory authority including
the legal department, but they haven’t received any reports about this.
The General Directorate of Bank Supervision has no record of any
problems involving ATMs right now.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THIK KALIYANN

Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News

Flood of concern for new dam

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment
Photo by: Adam Miller
Stung Treng province – KbalL Romea
village sits in an isolated corner of the eponymous district in Stung
Treng province, on the banks of the Sesan River. Livestock roams freely
in the community, while local villagers mill about among the wooden
homes along the river bank.

Residents of Kbal Romea say their way of life has not changed for decades.

all that may be about to change with the construction of a huge
hydropower dam that could have dramatic affects on Kbal Romea and other
villages throughout northeastern Cambodia.

District authorities
told Kbal Romea resident Na Ram last month that she and her seven
children would have to leave the only home they have ever known to make
way for the construction of the Lower Sesan 2 dam project at the end of
this year.

Na Ram is just one of thous-ands of indigenous people
in northeastern Cambodia facing eviction, relocation and an uncertain
future as a result of the construction of the dam.

39-year-old ethnic Phanong villager struggles with the fact that the
community she has lived in since 1973 will soon be flooded and be
nothing but a memory.

The families at risk here live in one of the most culturally diverse areas of the country.

indigenous communities within Stung Treng comprise ethnic minority
groups including the Phanong, Jarai, Kroeung, Tompoun, Prov, Kanch Chak
and Lao.

One hundred and twenty two  families live in Kbal
Romea, just below the confluence with the Srepok River in Stung Treng’s
Sesan district. It’s  a place where residents rely on the river for
tasks ranging from bathing to the irrigation of crops and the collection
of drinking water.

Most importantly, the river provides a
steady supply of fish to villagers in the area, giving them a vital
source of nutrients in a region in which food secur-ity is precarious.

village is just a few hundred metres from the proposed site of the
US$816 million, 75-metre high, 420-megawatt Lower Sesan II hydropower
dam which, according to a 2009 environmental impact assessment, will
cause at least 38,000 people in 86 villages located along two of the
largest rivers in the Mekong basin to lose access to the vast majority
of their fishing resources.

An additional 87 villages on
tributaries of these two rivers in Ratanakkiri, Kratie and Stung Treng
provinces may also lose access to migratory fish, according to the EIA.

Cambodia-Vietnam Hydropower Company – a joint venture 51 per cent owned
by the EVNI Joint Stock Company of Vietnam and 49 per cent owned by
local conglomerate Royal Group – is due to begin work on the dam later
this year.

Ame Trandem, Mekong campaigner for the conservation
organisation International Rivers, said EVNI had demonstrated a lack of
concern for the welfare of indigenous communities affected by similar

“EVNI has a long legacy of irresponsible and destructive dam-building in the 3S [Sesan, Srepok and Sekong rivers] basin.

cascade of dams they have built on the Sesan and Srepok rivers in
Vietnam has caused large-scale harm to communities living downstream of
its dams in Cambodia,” she said.

The 720MW Yali Falls dam in
Vietnam, built by EVNI 80 kilometres upstream of the Cambodian border in
1998, is a similar project suspected of having caused a wide range of
environmental problems in the region, Trandem says.

quality has deterior-ated greatly in the Sesan and Srepok rivers over
the past decade. The symptoms are mainly gastric disorders and skin
eruptions, but respiratory problems have also been reported, along with
deaths of villagers and their livestock due to poor water quality,” she

Trandern adds that a water- quality testing project in
2009  discovered toxic blue-green algae and E. Coli in the water, which
was linked to the dams upstream in Vietnam.

Now, experts fear, history may be set to repeat itself with the construction of the Lower Sesan 2.

of thousands of Cambodians have suffered the environmental, social and
econ-omic impacts of its dams for more than a decade,” Trandern  says. 
“These people have yet to receive compensation or a remedy for the

“EVNI is now repeating its legacy of harm with the Lower Sesan 2 Dam.”

Consultants Cambodia (KCC) conducted the EIA for the Lower Sesan 2 dam
project in September, 2009, concluding that the dam was likely to flood
seven villages in four communes in Stung Treng alone, where at least
4,500 people would have to be resettled.

KCC also stated that at
least 78,000 people living upstream of the Lower Sesan 2 dam site were
expected to lose access to migratory fish and 1,290 hectares –  about 25
per cent of the agricultural land in the Sesan district – would be

KCC executive manager Taing Sophanara raised concerns over the potential impact of the dam at an NGO meeting in 2008.

“Based purely on environmental and particularly social conditions, the project is very questionable,” he said.

concerns by environmentalists and local residents, Environment Minister
Mok Mareth said earlier this month the government had extensively
researched the impact of the Lower Sesan 2 dam.

Villagers opposed
to the project simply could not see the potential benefits of the
government’s ongoing development policy, he said.

“The government will relocate villagers who live near the Lower Sesan 2 dam to a new place,” he added.

Kea, the chief of Kbal Romea village, said villagers would be relocated
in December and would receive accommodation comparable with their
present housing.

Yet uncertainty over compensation packages has surfaced.

Forum executive director Chhith Sam Ath revealed last month that the
Ministry of Economy and Finance was no longer responsible for
compensating villagers. That task has  fallen to the state power company
Electricite du Cambodge.

“It’s confusing. We tried to seek
participation in compensation packages from the ministries of
Environment and Economy and Finance, then we got a message that the
Ministry of Economy and Finance was not responsible,” he said last week,
adding that the EDC had not updated him on the situation. EDC officials
could not be reached for comment.

Royal Group chairman Kith
Meng declined to comment on the project, although in a statement
released in April, he said it “will contribute greatly to the continued
economic development of Cambodia, ensuring a reliable, moderately priced
supply of electricity”.

Yet allegations have also emerged that
the Cambodian government plans to sell off the majority of the
electricity generated by the Lower Sesan 2 dam – an act that contradicts
the potential benefits touted by the project’s organisers.

is not about electricity for Cambodia. It is not about reducing the
cost of electricity in Cambodia,” Dr Ian Baird, a fisheries expert and
geography professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said.
a very small amount of electricity they might use around Stung Treng,
but it would be less than one per cent,” Baird said.

He said the
province could likely be powered by just 1MW of energy and Cambodia’s 
lack of a power grid would prevent electricity from the project being
distributed nationwide until a grid had been built.

Amid concerns
locally about the effect of the dam and its questionable benefit for
Cambodia, Arne Trandem says the effects of the dam will also be felt in
the neighbouring countries of Vietnam and Laos.

The project, she
says, may stifle agricultural development in the region, because the
Sesan, Srepok and Sekong rivers supply about 10 per cent of the Mekong
River’s sediment.

“The dam will … hinder sediment flow, which
carries nutrients responsible for the Mekong’s rich fish productivity
and works as an important natural fertiliser for Cambodia’s flood plains
and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta,” Trandem says.

Sai Bun Pom, a
community representative for the Kbal Romea commune, said villagers in
the area would find it difficult to imagine life after the dam’s

“We will face a shortage of food, and our standard of living will be poor,” he said.

would rather live in the village and watch it flood until we die, than
move out of the village. The river is our life – we cannot move away
from the river.”

Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News, Mekong River