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  1. As a result of talks conducted during the Joint Trade Commission (JTC) held in Phnom Penh yesterday, Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to establish a working group to address trade issues, with both countries hoping the initiative will bolster commercial ties and help them achieve $15 billion in bilateral trade. The new committee, composed of officials from the ministries of commerce of both nations, will convene every three months to discuss trade concerns and monitor the progress of initiatives. A key concern of the new working group will be attracting Thai investors into the kingdom to reduce trade imbalances between the countries, according to officials from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce. “Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to establish a working group to facilitate trade and investment,” Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak told reporters after his meeting with Thai counterparts. Thailand also agree to increase investment in Cambodia’s agricultural sector, Mr Sorasak said. “The meeting was quite successful. We talked about every aspect of our bilateral trade and set up a committee to solve and discuss problems,” Thai Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50110168/cambodia-thailand-set-trade-working-group/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 23/02
  2. Kampot Provincial Court has charged a herbal supplement seller over the accidental death of a man who mixed the supplements with rice wine and downed the brew prematurely. Khan Sophal, deputy prosecutor and a spokesman for the provincial court, said yesterday that Ung Chhorn was arrested and charged with unintentional murder on Wednesday. “We decided to charge him with unintentional murder and we sent him to the provincial prison,” he said. On February 14, a man died and another was sent to hospital in Vietnam after they drank rice wine and ate dog meat in Teuk Chhou district. Deputy district police chief Sou Buntheoun said last week that the victims bought the rice wine and mixed it with a variety of herbal supplements about an hour prior to drinking it. “We questioned the herbal supplement seller about what kinds of herbs the victims put into the rice wine. He explained that those herbs were poisonous and the drinkers needed to soak them in the rice wine for at least seven to ten days before drinking it in order to make it safe,” he said. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50110224/herb-seller-charged-mans-death/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 23/02
  3. Cambodia likely became the country with the largest number of public holidays in the world on Tuesday, raising questions about the ability of Cambodia to stay economically competitive with so many mandatory leave days. Cambodia will observe the “Day of Remembrance” on May 20, a politically fraught date that was originally established by the Vietnamese-backed government in 1984 as a “Day of Hatred against the genocidal Pol Pot-Ieng Sary-Khieu Samphan clique and the Sihanouk-Son Sann reactionary groups”. read more http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/can-cambodia-stay-competitive-so-many-public-holidays -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 23/02
  4. Ananth Baliga and Niem Chheng A global corruption perceptions index has ranked Cambodia 161st out of 180 countries, with the report specifically pointing to weak press freedoms and NGO protections as facilitators of graft – issues that commentators have repeatedly raised as concerns in the Kingdom. The Corruption Perception Index was released by Transparency International yesterday and ranks countries based on perceived levels of public sector corruption, with Cambodia dropping five places from last year to rank near the bottom of the Asia-Pacific region. It was ranked below all Asean member states for the third year in a row. read more http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/cambodia-drops-graft-index-taking-bottom-spot-asean-third-year-running -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 23/02
  5. Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni left the country on Thursday for a medical checkup in China, a day after the country’s Senate approved a new law making it a crime to insult the monarch along with controversial changes to several articles of the constitution. The constitutional changes and the strict lèse-majesté law were adopted by the lower house of parliament on Feb. 14, only 12 days after first being adopted by the Council of Ministers. The king, however must sign the amendments and other legislation for them to become law. Independent observers and civil society groups and have warned that the adoption of the lèse-majesté law and constitutional amendments put forth by top officials from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) could pose a serious threat to human rights and basic freedoms. The lèse-majesté clause, one of two new articles included in an amendment to the Criminal Code, carries a one- to five-year jail term and a U.S. $500-$2,500 fine. Rights groups have noted that a similar lèse-majesté law in neighboring Thailand, which metes out harsh jail sentences for those who insult or threaten members of the royal family past and present, has prompted complaints that the law has been misused against critics of the government. Other changes to Cambodia’s domestic law include provisions that oppose interference in the country's internal affairs and legalize the removal of voting rights and the right to run as a candidate for political office for those deemed to have violated the interest of the state. Changes to the Constitutional Council Law were passed to ensure compliance with the constitution, the interpretation of the charter and related statutes, and decisions by lawmakers in election-related disputes. The changes are the latest move by the government of Cambodia’s long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen to clamp down on dissent and political challengers ahead of a general election in July. The government has already targeted NGOs, independent media, and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in a months-long crackdown to silence its critics. In November, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP at the government’s request following the arrest two months earlier of the party’s leader Kem Sokha for alleged treason. Cambodia’s Supreme Court issued a ruling in November, dissolving the CNRP for what it said was the party’s involvement in plotting a “coup” against the government. The decision banned 118 CNRP lawmakers and senior officials from politics for five years. A timely departure? Lao Mong Hay, an independent Cambodian political analyst and former law professor, said the king’s departure for China did not occur by chance, and that he likely saw the trip as an opportunity to leave the task of signing and promulgating the amendments into law to top CPP officials. “His departure for China at this time is … in order to avoid signing those draft amendments adopted by the [two] assemblies and the Constitutional Council,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service. A statement issued by the monarchy did not specify the king’s return date. Lao Mong Hay called the laws “unjust” and said they could not be considered statutes because the institution that adopted them is illegitimate. “[Cambodia’s] parliamentary institutions are already unconstitutional, meaning that such unconstitutional assemblies cannot make any amendments to the constitution,” he said. “Any statutes adopted cannot be deemed constitutional.” Son Soubert, an advisor to former monarch Norodom Sihanouk, father of the current king, told RFA he could not assume that Norodom Sihamoni timed his trip so as to avoid signing the amendments into law. Nevertheless, the king made a wise decision to leave so that the CPP would be responsible for their promulgation, he said. Though Senate President Say Chhum can sign and enact laws as acting head of state whenever the king is absent, Norodom Sihamoni’s departure shows that the constitutional changes were created by and are recognized solely by the CPP, he said. ‘Provisions are incompatible’ On Tuesday, two United Nations human rights experts expressed concern that the constitutional changes would impose far-reaching limits on democracy ahead of the election and beyond and pose a serious risk of violations of human rights law. “Lèse-majesté provisions are incompatible with Cambodia’s obligations under international human rights law, as they criminalize the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech,” said a joint statement issued by Rhona Smith, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia, and David Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. “Moreover, a number of the proposed constitutional amendments use broad terminology and would need more precise language to meet international standards and avoid the risks to freedom of speech,” they said. Smith and Kaye expressed particular concern about the proposed requirement that political parties and individuals must uphold the national interest and oppose interference from abroad. Among the changes are also provisions leaving open the possibility that people’s right to vote can be suspended or withheld, they said. “The right to political participation and freedom of expression are of particular importance during electoral processes, and the authorities have a responsibility to ensure that individuals, political parties, and the media can operate without being sanctioned,” they said. Smith and Kaye also noted that organizations found guilty of violating the new lèse-majesté law could be closed down, placed under judicial supervision, or have their funds and property confiscated. “We urge the government of Cambodia to carry out a rigorous and thorough reassessment of the draft amendments to ensure they comply with international human rights laws and standards,” the experts said. source https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/cambodian-king-leaves-signing-of-controversial-consitutional-amendments-to-ruling-party-02222018161013.html -- © Copyright RFA 32/02 Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.
  6. Police in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Wednesday arrested a Frenchman for flying a remote-controlled drone over the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen. District police chief Huon Chan Yaran yesterday confirmed the man was arrested for using a drone camera to film prohibited areas without permission. Pierre Michel Breckler was detained on Wednesday evening in Chamtomok commune near Koh Pich bridge, where he was flying his drone and filming, Mr Chan Yaran said. The suspect was being questioned at the National Police’s anti-cyber crime department, he added. Phnom Penh City Hall banned flying drones without a permit two years ago, after a German tourist flew his drone over the Royal Palace and was spotted by Queen Mother Norodom Monineath as she performed her daily exercise routine. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50110222/frenchman-arrested-flying-drone/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 23/02
  7. The Senate yesterday passed controversial amendments to the Constitution and Penal Code despite an appeal from the United Nations to reconsider their impact on free speech and political participation. The amendments include a ban on insulting the King, or lèse majesté law, which carries a punishment of one to five years in prison and a fine of 2 million riel to 10 million riel (about $500 to $2,500), and which the minister of justice yesterday noted for the first time would also apply to media outlets. Similar laws have been used in Thailand to curb free speech and crack down on political dissidents and journalists. read more http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/un-raises-concerns-over-amendments-government-says-new-lese-majeste-law-will-apply-media -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 22/02
  8. The new memorial day forms part of a program of collective reparations provided by the Khmer Rouge tribunal, according to an official. PHNOM PENH — The government has established a national memorial day holiday to be held annually on May 20 in remembrance of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. The new memorial day forms part of a program of collective reparations provided by the Khmer Rouge tribunal, according to an official. “It is a part of reparations in case 002/01 which the victims have requested to the tribunal. The government has also received numerous requests from the victims through the National and International Civil Parties Lead Co-Lawyers under the coordination of the Victims Support Section to establish 20 May as the National Memorial Day,” Neth Pheaktra, a court spokesman, said. The Khmer Rouge tribunal was established under the support of the United Nations in 2006 in order to seek truth and justice for the crimes that occurred in Democratic Kampuchea. The tribunal, which is working on sentencing the highest-level Khmer Rouge leaders and other relevant suspects on case 002/02, sentenced Nuon Chea, a former prime minister, and Khieu Samphan, its head of state, to lifetime imprisonment on the charge of crimes against humanity and genocide. source https://www.voacambodia.com/a/cambodia-establishes-memorial-day-for-khmer-rouge-victims/4264677.html -- © Copyright VOA 22/02
  9. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday warned critics he will “follow you all the way to your doorstep and beat you right there” if they joined protests in during next month's ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney. “To those who have planned to protest against my visit: You have to remember that it about the face of your country,” Hun Sen told a gathering of about 1,000 d factory workers in Phnom Penh. “Go ahead with your protest. I challenge you. But be warned not to burn an effigy of me. If you do that I will go after you all the way to your house,” he said. “I will follow you all the way to your doorstep and beat you right there,” warned the prime minister, who has faced mounting international criticism since he disbanded Cambodia’s main opposition party and jailed its leader for treason in 2017. “You can enjoy your right to burn my effigy. I can enjoy my right to assault you. There is nothing wrong about that. You use violence on the effigy of Hun Sen. I can use violence against you,” said Hun Sen. Adding a special threat to the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Movement (CNRM), a grouping made of the now banned former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), saying “I will assault each and every one of you.” “I’m warning you to never show your face. As soon as you appear you will all be assaulted,” he said. Hong Lim, an ethnic Cambodian member Australia's Victoria state legislative assembly, told RFA’s Khmer Service the latest of Hun Sen’s frequent treats of violence against his foes “constitutes an element of terrorism.” “We are now translating his remarks and will include them as part of the evidence for our complaint against him. We will file this complaint with Australian police and Interpol. We need to protect Australia from a terrorist like him,” said Hong Lim A second Cambodian-Australian lawmaker, Meng-Heang Tak, said Hun Sen’s threats would fuel anger among Cambodians in Australia and backfire by bringing out more protesters burning him in effigy. “I can see that there are elements of crime in Hun Sen’s remarks. People in Australia shall be protected by the law to enjoy their freedom of expression and peaceful protests,” he told RFA. “His threats to people to not create the effigy of him and burn it have only encouraged more people to create more effigies and burn them,” said Meng-Heang Tak “His advisors didn’t give him a good advice”. As part of its protest, the CNRM vowed Wednesday to expand its boycott of companies connected to the family of Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 32 years. Last week the CNRM called on people not to buy products from Vital Premium Water Company beginning this week, because that company is run by Hun Sen’s daughter, Hun Mana and the water is “the spring drops of tears,” Eng Chhai Eang, a former deputy president of the CNRP, told RFA on Feb. 15. This week the CNRM is calling for a boycott of gasoline sold by the Kampuchea Tela Company, a firm owned by Hun Mana and Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany. “After our first appeal for a boycott of the Vital Premium Water product, Hun Sen’s government has retaliated by filing lawsuits against our people. But we see this as a success. Some people have already stopped buying Vital and Aruna water,” Ry Kea, the general secretary of the CNRM, told RFA from California. He said the CNRP remains focused on demanding the immediate release of party president Kem Sokha, who was arrested in September and is being tried for treason, and to reverse the Supreme Court decision that dissolved the CNRP in November. “We are against violence,’ said Ry Kea. He dismissed Hun Sen’s assault threats against CNRM activists as part of “his cheap leadership style.” “This is one of the reasons we cannot allow him to stay in power. We love democracy. We are determined to stand up for it. We will continue to launch more appeals to boycott products and services by Hun Sen’s family,” Ry Kea told RFA. The summit between Australia and leaders of the 10-member ASEAN is slated for March 17-18 in Sydney, and is to be hosted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Reported by RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Paul Eckert. source https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/australia-hunsen-02212018174254.html Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.
  10. In the East Asia and the Pacific region, Cambodia came in last place out of 15 countries included in the report, and last in the group of 30 lower-middle income countries. PHNOM PENH — Cambodia has come second to bottom in an index of 113 countries ranked according to rule of law. The World Justice Project (WJP), a non-governmental research group, ranked Cambodia one spot above Venezuela, a country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, in its Rule of Law Index in late January. In the East Asia and the Pacific region, Cambodia came in last place out of 15 countries included in the report, and last in the group of 30 lower-middle income countries. The index looks at factors including constraints on government powers, corruption, open government, fundamental rights and access to criminal justice. “Effective rule of law is the foundation for communities of equity, opportunity, and peace,” William H. Neukom, WJP founder and CEO, was quoted as saying in a statement. “No country has achieved a perfect realization of the rule of law. The WJP Rule of Law Index is intended to be a first step in setting benchmarks, informing reforms, stimulating programs, and deepening appreciation and understanding for the foundational importance of the rule of law,” he added. The top three performers in the index were Denmark, Norway and Finland, while at the lower end of the spectrum Afghanistan placed above Cambodia, which was followed by Venezuela in last place. “Globally, a majority of countries worldwide saw their scores decline since the publication of the last WJP Rule of Law Index (in October 2016) in the areas of human rights, checks on government powers, and civil and criminal justice,” the WJP statement said. The report comes amid a months-long government crackdown on dissent that has seen the country’s main opposition party dissolved and its leader jailed on treason charges, as well as independent media, activists and civil society groups targeted by the courts and security services. Chin Malin, justice ministry spokesman, could not be reached. Sok Eysan, ruling party spokesman, dismissed the report’s findings. “We, in the name of Cambodians, don’t care about the figure of 100 or 200. We don’t accept that. The important thing is about the real situation in Cambodia. If they say that human rights severely declined, it is not true,” he said. source https://www.voacambodia.com/a/cambodia-ranks-second-lowest-in-rule-of-law-index/4264456.html -- © Copyright VOA 22/02
  11. Cambodia’s prison population swelled to more than 28,000 inmates last year – well over the system’s capacity – with Interior Minister Sar Kheng suggesting yesterday that the construction of more luxurious pay-to-stay prison blocks for wealthy inmates could help alleviate the severe overcrowding. The Prisons Department yesterday released its annual report, which also showed that the prison population had ballooned by some 30 percent in 2017, to 28,414, with more than 10,000 of the system’s inmates locked up in pre-trial detention – an issue consistently flagged by the United Nation’s human rights body and rights groups. Read more http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/nicer-jails-wealthy-inmates-mulled-fix-cambodias-prison-overcrowding -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 21/02
  12. Garment wages soar

    Research has shown some staff in the garment sector can now earn up to $480 each month as unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia congratulated workers for taking home the new minimum monthly wage of $170 for the first time. Staff in the garment and footwear sector received their first pay packet at the higher rate on February 10. According to research by The National of Trade Unions Coalition, which involved more than 30 factories, ordinary staff can now earn between $238 and $260 per month, including benefits. NTUC president Far Saly said the wage hike would benefit the lives of workers and their families. “Workers who are paid according to the quantity of products, they can earn between $280 and $480 per month including benefits, while workers on probation can earn $182 to $210 per month,” he said. GMAC deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said NTUC’s research on wages reflected what member factories were paying out. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50109499/garment-wages-soar/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 21/02
  13. A British tourist was seriously injured on both legs yesterday after being gored by a water buffalo while walking through a forest to visit a beach on Koh Rong Samloem. Nop Panha, deputy police chief of Preah Sihanouk province, said military forces on the island reported that the water buffalo butted the woman, injuring both her legs. “We are cooperating with the military forces stationed on Koh Rong Samloem to search for it as right now because it is still hiding in the forest. The victim was a British woman. She was seriously injured and sent to hospital in Sihanoukville,” he said. The victim was identified as Fiona Childs, 47, according to a photo of her passport posted on the website of a local media outlet. Pictures posted to social media showed the victim lying on blood-stained wooden floorboards with gashes on both shins and the side of her right thigh. Pol Phosda, chief of Sihanoukville police, said the water buffalo was found in the evening and the owner agreed to cover the victim’s medical expenses. “Military forces found and caught the buffalo. It’s hard to punish the owner because it was unintentional and out of his control. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50109635/british-tourist-hurt-water-buffalo/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 21/02
  14. Erin Handley and Leonie Kijewski A prominent German businessman has been deported from Cambodia and subsequently taken into custody in Germany on suspicion of fraud in a scheme allegedly involving some €1.2 million (almost $1.5 million). Robert Schmalohr, who headed an investment company in Cambodia to set up a string of businesses dominating Street 174, or “Sabay Sabay” street, was deported on February 15, according to Uk Hai Sela, the head of investigations at the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department. read more http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/german-investor-deported-suspected-pyramid-scheme -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 21/02
  15. With the number of visitors to the province markedly on the rise, 1,000 new hotel and guesthouse rooms will be built this year in Sihanoukville to meet rising demand for accommodation. Taing Sochetkrisna, director of Sihanoukville’s tourism department, said the province current 10,000 hotel and guesthouse rooms are insufficient to host the rising number of visitors, particularly during weekends and festivals. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Chinese businesses have been leasing entire hotels to run casino operations, he explained. “To meet demand, investors have been investing in budget, mid-range and luxury hotels in 20 different locations. “By the end of the year, we expect 10 new hotels and 1,000 new rooms. “Besides these new hotels, the construction of a number of 5-star hotels may finish this year or the next, with each hotel having 500 to 600 rooms,” he added. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/50109452/sihanoukvilles-hotel-sector-see-1000-new-rooms-2018/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 20/02