Saturday, 18 December 2010

Daughters To Malaysia (Cambodia News In Khmer)

Rural Daughters Risk Abuse to Earn Money in Malaysia

Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer
Preah Vihear, Cambodia Friday, 17 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: VOA, Khmer
Sokhea is making a fire to cook rice.

“I wanted to go to earn money for fixing my house and buying bicycles for my brothers so they can go to school.”

Every day after school, Puoet Sokhea comes home to a ramshackle hut in Rovieng district, Preah Vihear province, and begins her daily chores. She stokes the fire, washes pots and pans, sets the rice to boil. She has nine brothers and sisters, her parents and an aging grandmother—and few opportunities to help support them.

So earlier this year Puoet Sokhea thought she might help take care of her family by finding work as a maid in Malaysia. She is only 17 years old, but she faked her age to get around Malaysia's laws, which require her to be 21.

“I wanted to go to earn money for fixing my house and buying bicycles for my brothers so they can go to school,” she said on a recent evening as she peeled vegetables for dinner.

Puoet Sokhea is like many Cambodian women in her village. She is poor, desperate and without a means of livelihood beyond the farm.

Young women and girls like here are now seeking work as domestic labor in Malaysia, a practice encouraged by Cambodia as a way to offset unemployment woes in a growing population.

But even the very young have found it easy to get around age limits meant to prevent them from going. Meanwhile, some girls who have gone say they met with serious abuses and were left on their own once they got there.

Puoet Sokhea's mother, Buo Lin, says she agreed to let her daughter go, even though she was underage.

“After she insisted so much, I just let her go because she said she wanted to bring back some money to buy a mechanical cow and build our house,” she said.

Puoet Sokhea went through the local recruiter here. Sia Tri Kuoy and his wife, Ton Rann, say they are not responsible for false paper work or for the girls who go to Malaysia once they get there.

The two operate out of a small wooden house in Rovieng town, which neighbors point to as the local brothel. On a recent afternoon, the two sat down for an interview as a clutch of girls sat idly nearby, their faces painted white, playing cards or lying in hammocks.

“I am no one,” Sia Tri Kuoy said. “I just send the workers to the company, so whatever happens to the workers, good or bad, I don't know because I am just a staffer.”

The chief of Reaksmey commune, Sok Luy, told VOA Khmer by phone that he has no choice but to help girls like Puoet Sokhea, even if it means falsifying documents to fake their age.

In the end, Puoet Sokhea was warned off of Malaysia by a girl who called her and warned her that serious abuse can happen to maids there.

She came back from maid training in Phnom Penh and has returned to class. At least for now.

But there are many women across Cambodia who do go. About 20,000 Cambodians have gone to Malaysia so far this year, mostly for work, a number four times larger than the year before.

And recruitment agencies have sprouted up to draw young women in. There are at least 31 different firms registered with the Ministry of Labor, and an unknown number of unregistered.

Recruiters promise high-paying jobs in Malaysia, which needs workers to serve a growing class of professionals. But Malaysia has a terrible record with abuse, and Indonesia has banned its own workers from going there as a result.

The rights group Licadho says it was called in on 83 different cases of Malaysian abuse in the first nine months of this year.

Pung Kek, the president of the group, says the Ministry of Labor needs to do more to make sure companies are not abusing the rights of workers.

“If the government would send its officials to accompany company staff and the migrant workers to Malaysia, there would be no problems,” she said.

The Labor Ministry says it is drafting a subdecree that will help protect workers from unscrupulous agencies and help support the women once they go abroad.

But that has yet to happen, and more stories of abuse keep coming in.

Down the road, Puoet Sokhea’s neighbor, Tay Champei, spends most of her days at home, regretting ever going to Malaysia. She was gone for seven months, and in that time she went through four bad bosses, she said in a recent interview, smiling nervously and balling her hand in and out of a fist.

When Tay Champei returned about three months ago, she said, she was so traumatized she did not recognize her own mother. She is getting better, slowly, but now she sits in the house most of the day, waiting for evening, so that she can feed the family pig. The sun hurts her head, she said, and now she can’t work at all.

“I saw a lot of things at the agency before I was sent to my boss's house,” she said of her arrival in Malaysia. “A very bad Khmer-language trainer beat sick or crazy girls. He said they were pretending. And I had a very miserable time, eating only porridge every morning, every day. In the porridge, there was only chilies and cabbage, no cooked rice.”

She said after she arrived at her employer's, he forced her to work at his house and his shop. She was poorly fed, and things went from bad to worse.

“After working for about a month, I was beaten by my boss,” she said. “He hit me and poured boiling water over my hands.”

“I still remember one night he threatened to call police to beat me, and then the next morning the police did come and pointed a gun at my head and hit me unconscious,” she said.

She said her last employer sent her back to the company, accusing her of secretly having run away from home. At the company, she was confined to a freezing room and beaten more, she said. She was beaten unconscious again and awoke in a psychiatric hospital, where she was treated for two weeks before she was sent back to Cambodia.

Her mother, Sao Orn, said she had hoped her daughter would come back with some money to help the family. She and her husband work for weeks at a time in a small hut in the forest, tending rice that grows out of the hard ground and growing pumpkins and chili peppers.

Sao Orn was shocked to see her daughter’s condition when she was finally sent back.

“She was normal before leaving home, but why does she become like crazy after returning from abroad?” she said.

Seng Sethychey, director-general of the TSE in Phnom Penh, denied that any violence or wrongdoing was done to Tay Champei.

“No agency abused her; nor did our company commit anything against her,” he said in a phone interview. “It's herself making trouble in Malaysia. If anyone had abused her, we would have informed our [Cambodian] embassy there.”

The company had given Tay Champei’s family $500 for treatment, he said.

That’s little consolation for Sao Orn, who has lodged a complaint against the company.

“Five hundred dollars,” she said, “is not equal to my daughter’s life.”

Service to Humanity Award Benazir Bhutto

via CAAI

Washington; (PR): - Former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was posthumously awarded the Service to Humanity Award by the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last week.

The special medal was received by former Senator Dr. Akbar Khawaja who attended the ceremony as envoy of the PPP Co Chairman President Asif Ali Zardari to receive the posthumous award.

The awards were given by the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at a special ceremony. Besides Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, some other Asian leaders including Nepal Prime Minister Madhav Kumar, former President of Indonesia Megawati Sukarnoputri, and former President of Philippines Fidel Ramos were also given awards. The ceremony was attended by leaders of nearly one hundred political parties of Asia and Pacific countries.

Questions & Answers With Prince Norodom Ranariddh

Cambodia Receives $600 Million Package from China

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 17 December 2010

via CAAI

Photo: AP
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, right, shakes hands with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen before their meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 2008.

The package included $300 million in projects for national road and irrigation projects in the provinces of Preah Vihear, Mondolkiri and Svay Rieng.

China agreed to nearly $600 million in deals to Cambodia on Thursday, during a visit of Prime Minister Hun Sen to Beijing.

The money, in grants, loans and investment capital, was below the “billions” Hun Sen had said he expected before leaving.

In all, the two sides signed deals on 13 projects, from energy and infrastructure to finance and agriculture, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Friday as the delegation returned from a five-day visit.

The package included $300 million in projects for national road and irrigation projects in the provinces of Preah Vihear, Mondolkiri and Svay Rieng, he said. Other projects include bridges to Chroy Changvar, across the Tonle Sap from Phnom Penh, and in Takmao, and a dam in Pursat province.

China and Cambodia will also seek to boost trade, Hor Namhong said.

China’s president, Hu Jintao, promised to push Chinese companies to invest more in Cambodia, he said.

Trade between the two for the first 10 months of this year reached $1.1 billion, he said, a number they hoped would reach $2.5 billion by 2015.

The Tuberculosis War: Fighting the Spread of TB

Few Resources and Poverty Fuel Tuberculosis in India and Cambodia but Experts Say the Epidemic Can Be Stopped


Dec. 17, 2010
via CAAI
Deep in eastern Cambodia, near the Vietnam border, is a lush rural landscape that has been ravaged by war. The U.S. secretly bombed here during the Vietnam War, and later Vietnam invaded to put down the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and occupy Cambodia.

Peace has finally come, but this quiet area dotted with rice paddies and rural workers is today the scene of a different kind of war: one to stop the spread of tuberculosis. TB is a deadly but curable disease that has taken hold in places like Cambodia, and throughout the developing world. The bacterium breeds where people live in poverty and in cramped quarters.

On the frontlines of this war is a top researcher from Harvard who has dedicated her career to taking care of refugees and children in Cambodia. Anne Goldfeld is a professor at Harvard's Immune Disease Institute. She also co-directs the Global Health Committee, along with her Cambodian medical partner, Sok Thim, a survivor of the Pol Pot regime that killed an estimated two million Cambodians in the 1970s.

This story is part of ABC News' "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative, a year-long series of broadcast and digital coverage focusing on global health issues. Watch the kickoff on a special-edition of "20/20" tonight at 10 p.m. ET and for the full story on TB in Cambodia and India, watch "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET and World News Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET. For complete coverage and information on how you can personally make a difference, go to

Working in the province of Svay Rieng, and in the capital of Phnom Penh, the two doctors have teamed up to provide early detection and long-term treatment for a population ravaged by TB, a disease considered all but eliminated in the West.

At the small Svay Rieng hospital, three hours from Phnom Penh, Sok and Goldfeld examine several young children who exhibit possible symptoms of TB. They need to determine whether it is in fact, TB, and quickly.

"She could develop meningitis and it could turn into coma," said Goldfeld of one young girl. "It could turn into disseminated TB ' -- tuberculosis that spreads beyond the lungs -- ' (and) she could die."

TB has taken hold in Cambodia, which has one of the highest rates of infection, and is ranked among the top of the World Health Organizations's high-burden countries.

For more than a century, there were precious few ways to make that critical diagnosis. The sputum --or spit -- test has been around for more than 100 years.

The disease, which was known as "consumption" because it attacked the lungs and left patients withered and wasted, spread like wildfire through crowded American cities. Highly contagious, it was spread by people coughing in unventilated spaces. While the disease largely disappeared as living conditions improved, TB is now storming back throughout the developing world, helped in part by conditions in the slums -- a perfect breeding ground for bacteria -- and, in Cambodia, medical infrastructure ravaged by decades of war. The disease tends to afflict the poor, the weak and those infected by HIV, whose immune systems cannot battle the infection.

To Goldfeld's frustration, even though TB kills nearly two million people every year, there have been no new drugs or reliable diagnostic tests in decades.

"This is an infectious disease that is curable, and we just have old drugs to deal with it," said Goldfeld, who has done landmark work treating the co-infection of HIV and TB, a common and deadly combination. As the body weakens from HIV, without proper medication, TB moves in with fatal results.

Goldfeld has studied the best course of treatment and to determine when drugs for the co-infection should be introduced, but she is frustrated the world has not paid more attention to this new TB epidemic.

"I think everyone needs to ask themselves the question of why some people do not have access to medicines to treat a curable disease," said Goldfeld. "It's basically that if you are poor, you do not have the same access to medicines as people who are rich or who live in resource-rich countries."

The lack of a good diagnostic tool is making this epidemic much worse. It can take weeks, or even months, to find out which kind of TB a patient has. To make matters worse, if patients are not treated, or treated improperly, or go off medications, they can develop what is known as multiple-drug resistant TB, or MDR, and exacerbate it. That takes up to two years to treat, with painful and expensive drugs.

The average untreated MDR TB patient infects 12-15 people in his or her lifetime; they in turn infect the same number. Hence, the epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, Asia has the highest number of reported cases of drug-resistant TB.

But now, there is a new tool in the fight against TB: the GeneXpert, manufactured in California. It can analyze the genetic makeup of a sputum sample and diagnose in two hours what usually takes up to two months. The GeneXpert was developed with input by the Pentagon after the anthrax scare in 2001.

It looks something like a coffee machine, but costs about $20,000. Goldfeld is lucky enough to have one in Phnom Penh, where she is conducting a study with several colleagues to see how well the GeneXpert can diagnose TB in children. Because they don't generate enough sputum necessary for a TB test, it is potentially more difficult to use the GeneXpert for children. Results of the study are not expected for several months.

Last week, the World Health Organization endorsed the use of GeneXpert to diagnose TB, which infects more than nine million people a year. At the same time, the manufacturer, Cepheid, said it would offer a 75 percent reduction in the price of GeneXperts for countries most affected by TB.

Also key to fighting the epidemic is early detection and treatment of people showing symptoms, using community- based approaches to deliver care, as Goldfeld and Sok Thim have done in Cambodia.

Goldfeld says there are ways to help treat TB that don't require an expensive, high tech machine. For $20 dollars a donor can pay for an entire course of non-MDR TB treatment, or for a health worker to deliver drugs for MDR at a patient's home on a daily basis for a month

Goldfeld is also in the early stages of expanding her TB and HIV work in Ethiopia, a country of 85 million, with tens of thousands of cases of TB and HIV-TB co-infection. In Africa, TB is one of the leading causes of death for people with HIV.

India: The Highest Burden TB Country

And then there is India, at the epicenter of the TB crisis -- a country with nearly a quarter of the world's cases, about two million every year. It is considered by the WHO to be the No. 1 high-burden country in the world. In Delhi, a sprawling city of 14 million, there is an additional problem.

Throughout the slums are charlatans, quack medical practitioners dispensing misdiagnosis and incomplete treatment. Often they are the best the residents can get. These storefront operations dot the crowded streets and neighborhoods of makeshift homes teeming with people. Often the medical practitioner's credentials are displayed on signs outside, but when confronted these lay practitioners admit they don't have the qualifications or knowledge to diagnosis or treat a complex disease like TB.

Responding to the lack of medical care for many of India's estimated 410 million poor, an organization called Operation ASHA has decided to take a novel approach. Run by a former Indian government minister, Sandeep Ahuja, and an OB-GYN physician, Shelly Batra, Operation ASHA (or Operation Hope in English) is bringing treatment to those who need it most. Working from a small office in Delhi, Operation ASHA workers fan out, paying off the quacks, then placing their own counselors in the storefront clinics to make sure patients take all their medications.

The parents of 12-year-old TB patient Golshan told ABC News correspondent Dan Harris that they gave their savings to a medical practitioner who misdiagnosed their daughter.

The clinics are located in convenient place such as local Hindu temples. And ASHA follows up. Every time a patient comes in for drugs -- about three times a week -- he or she has to press their fingerprints into the computer that reads out data about treatment. If a patient misses a dose, ASHA is alerted and they go find the patient to make sure they take the pills.

ASHA now has more than 100 centers around India, and its TB treatment is remarkably cheap. A $25 donation to ASHA will pay for one patient's entire course of treatment for non drug-resistant TB. The WHO's Stop TB program has a similar program worldwide.

Success can be measured in human terms. Every time a patient like 12-year-old Golshan is cured, that's a big step toward choking off a largely but incredibly dangerous epidemic. Golshan had been misdiagnosed by a medical practitioner who called himself a doctor. Her parents, who get by doing menial work at Golshan's school, say they gave him their savings. He then ended up sending her to a public hospital, where she was ultimately diagnosed with TB. Now she is being treated at an ASHA clinic a short walk from the school.

Golshan is now just weeks away from finishing her treatment. She is looking forward to continuing school, living a long and healthy life, and doing what she loves best -- dancing to music from Bollywood.

The "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative is supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Children’s choral charity aids Cambodia

Ta Pen is the fifth project by Don du Choeur since 2002. (

via CAAI

by Simon Bradley,

In the remote Cambodian village of Ta Pen children are experiencing their first-ever term at school thanks to the dulcet tones of Geneva youngsters.

Ta Pen is the latest project by the Geneva-based Don du Choeur association, which since 2002 has been organising concerts every two or three years bringing together some 350 children from local private schools to raise money for deprived children around the world.

“I had to explain to them how Swiss kids aged 8-12 had taken two years to learn to sing for a concert to collect money to build their new school,” Chamrong Lo, a former Cambodian refugee, explained proudly.

The tiny Cambodian village is situated some 45 kilometres from the famous Angkor Wat temples, which attract tens of thousands of visitors each year. Yet the 150 families from Ta Pen live in a totally different world, growing rice and raising cattle while earning $1 a day selling thatched roofing to traders on motorbikes who regularly pass by.


“There are lots of women with five to seven kids who have been abandoned by their husbands. Around 95 per cent are illiterate and almost all of the kids have never had any schooling,” said Lo, adding that some of the children suffer from malnutrition.

In May 2009 the Geneva charity, along with 13 private French- and English-speaking schools, organised a concert at the prestigious Victoria Hall to raise funds for Ta Pen. The result: over SFr125,000 donated and 17 months later, a brand-new school building, equipped with toilets, showers, a community hall, canteen and a dormitory for the teachers.

The project, which aims to lay the foundations of a solid primary education for children aged 6 to 14, was identified, developed and brought to completion by Lo, who had returned to his native country after over 20 years in Geneva.

The former Cambodian refugee arrived in Switzerland in 1980 with his wife and two children after the fall of the Pol Pot regime. For three years they stayed with a family in Geneva’s wealthy Cologny district, his children went to a local international school and he found a job at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters in Geneva.

“I eventually retired in 2005 but I wanted to be useful to Cambodia and it was a great chance meeting the people from Don du Choeur in 2009,” he noted.

Ideal person

The association had heard that Lo was moving back to Cambodia and he was the ideal person to implement the project.

“I trained as an archaeologist but I have an idea about architecture, as I built my own home in Cambodia from A-Z,” he explained.

Over a 12-month period, Lo stayed four or five days a week at a local farmer’s house to oversee the building work, dealing with land-grabbing issues and trucks blocked by the rains, purchasing materials and chivvying along workers, most of whom were local women.

On October 1, 2010 some 250 local children kitted out in pristine white shirts and black shorts and skirts gathered for their first ever day at school.

“The schoolyard was full as we handed out the uniforms. Everyone was really delighted,” said Lo.

“It’s very gratifying, as I feel I’ve accomplished my work and offered an education to these children who have quite frankly been living in obscurity.”

Fifth project

Ta Pen is the fifth project by Don du Choeur since 2002, following concerts for children’s initiatives in Africa, Switzerland, Russia and India.

The association was formed after a group of five private school teachers from Geneva got together to create concerts with students to raise money and interest about children living in other parts of the world.

It now comprises a small committee and a dozen volunteers who put on the concerts with around a dozen schools from the Association of Geneva Private Schools.

“It takes around a year and a half to organise a concert with about 350-400 kids and five or six teachers,” explained the president, Isabelle Chatel.

The three most recent Geneva concerts, which sell around 2,500 tickets, and related fundraising events brought in over SFr1.5 million for educational and health projects in Russia, India and Cambodia.

Lives completely changed

Some SFr480,000 went towards improving the lives and education of children living at the Tambov orphanage, 500km southeast of Moscow, in a humid region where temperatures can drop to -30 degrees Celsius.

Many of the 160 orphans were suffering from pulmonary illnesses as the orphanage was not heated, windows were broken and the roof was damaged.

“Their lives have since completely changed,” said Chatel. “The state has agreed to look after the children to make sure they complete their education up to the age of 18.

“Before they left school at 16 and as there were no formal structures 60 per cent ended up in prison. For three years not one has ended up there, and all have jobs.”

The orphanage has now been taken over by Russian donors and is sponsored by a private company so it can survive on its own, added the former pharmacist.

In 2007 the new Anbumalar School near Chennai in southern India, funded by Don du Choeur, officially opened its doors to 63 mentally handicapped children. Today some 75 children attend the school.

“The kids used to be chained to posts in the streets by their parents as there were no specialised places to leave them while they went to work,” said Chatel.

The school is now part of the local scene, with a medical dispensary and several local businesses. And from the beginning of the 2012 school year, the school will be entirely funded by the Indian government.

Don du Choeur is meanwhile already planning its next concert in Geneva in 2012, which should go towards an educational project in either Africa or Haiti.

Simon Bradley,

CAMBODIA: Rights groups protest at order to close UN refugee site

Photo: Contributor/IRIN
Vietnam's ethnic minority population lives mainly in rural and mountainous areas

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, 17 December 2010 (IRIN) - The Cambodian government has ordered the closure of a UN site holding dozens of Montagnard refugees from Vietnam, in a move that rights groups say is politically motivated and potentially dangerous for those whose status has yet to be determined.

The facility houses 76 refugees and asylum-seekers from Vietnam who are members of that country's highland ethnic minorities. Rights groups claim the Montagnards face ethnic and religious persecution by the Vietnamese government.

A majority - 62 - at the site have qualified for resettlement but the case of 14 others has yet to be determined.

"The Royal Government of Cambodia will repatriate to Vietnam the remaining Montagnards, including the new arrivals and those awaiting interview, on a date to be notified in due course," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

In a letter dated 29 November, but not obtained by the press until this week, the government wrote to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), ordering it to close the site on 1 January.

On 17 December, however, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong told reporters that the government would extend the deadline to 15 February as a "favour" to the UN.

"We're still trying to verify this officially, but if this is true it would be very good news as this is exactly what we were asking the Cambodian government to do," Kitty McKinsey, a UNHCR spokeswoman, told IRIN from Ho Chi Minh City.

Claims of persecution

Since 2001, some 2,000 Motagnards have fled to Cambodia following government crackdowns in Vietnam, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Many have resettled in third countries through Cambodia but others have been arrested and deported to Vietnam, the group says.

It has not yet been clarified by either the government or UN whether the cases of the 14 without resettlement countries were rejected or undecided.

If the latter, repatriating them would be a violation of Cambodia's signed commitment to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, requiring it to protect refugees fleeing persecution.

Under the convention, "Cambodia has a clear obligation... to ensure that the 14 Montagnard asylum-seekers are permitted to enter a refugee screening determination process that is fair and based on international standards", Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW's Asia division, said.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, a local rights group, maintained that the Cambodian government was sending a clear message: "Cambodia will not be a place to receive" political refugees.

His group tied the government's demanded closure to a visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to Phnom Penh last month in which trade deals were emphasized.

The decision to close the refugee site "is further evidence that the treatment of political refugees in Cambodia is secondary to the [government's] political and economic prerogative", the group said in a letter released on 15 December.

Uighur deportation

Rights groups say the Montagnard case follows the pattern of the Cambodian government's widely criticized move to forcibly repatriate 20 ethnic Uighur asylum-seekers to China on 19 December 2009 - immediately after the announcement of a US$1.2 billion aid package from Beijing.

"With the Uighurs, the Cambodian government blatantly disregarded its obligation under the Convention by failing to conduct a refugee screening determination, and it's up to UNHCR and concerned governments like the US and EU and others to pressure the Cambodian government to ensure that Montagnards don't suffer a repeat performance of what the Uighurs faced," Robertson said.

News reports inside China stated that four of the Uighurs were executed and 14 jailed.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong has rejected claims that political pressure was the motivation for the UN site's closure.

"No one has influence on Cambodia's policy," he told the Phnom Penh Post. "We decided to close it down on our own."

Telkom Targeting Takeover of Cambodian Cellular Company

Telekomunikasi Indonesia, the country’s largest telecommunications company, wants to take control of a cellular operator in Cambodia in plans to boost its presence in Southeast Asia. (Antara Photo)

via CAAI

Faisal Maliki Baskoro
December 17, 2010

Jakarta. Telekomunikasi Indonesia, the country’s largest telecommunications company, wants to take control of a cellular operator in Cambodia in plans to boost its presence in Southeast Asia.

“We’re looking at a cellular telecommunications provider in Cambodia. We’re expecting that we can have a majority share in that company,” Rinaldi Firmansyah, Telkom’s president director, said on Friday.

“We chose Cambodia because the telecommunications penetration in the country is still low, under 50 percent of its population of around 14 million people.”

Reuters reported this week that Telkom had its eyes on Cambodia’s largest cellular operator, CamGSM, in a deal that could climb to $500 million. Rinaldi declined to mention the target company or potential value of the deal on Friday.

He said Telkom wanted to become the top company in the region as the telecommunications industry continues to evolve.

“This is a new era for telecommunications. Telkom will need to strengthen its connectivity, data services and Internet services. We want to be the No. 1 player in the region,” said Rinaldi, who was appointed to his second term as the company’s president director on Friday.

“We’re always looking at opportunities in the region,” he said. “The trend for the next five years is in media and edutainment. We already have a television service on trial, IPTV, and it is expected to start going commercial in the first quarter next year.”

Looking ahead to next year, Rinaldi said the company’s growth may not be as robust as it was three years ago as the sector has become more saturated.

“We can still grow, but at a slower pace. In order to sustain growth, we’re planning to move into fields that are related to our competence,” he said.

Other plans include developing e-payment services and Telkom’s software services company, Sigma. It has also introduced Delima, a service for online transactions.

Telkom still wants to retain a strong local presence, though. The firm is in talks with Bakrie Telecom for a possible consolidation with Telkom’s CDMA unit, Flexi.

Former Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal was appointed the company’s new chief commissioner, replacing Tanri Abeng, at Telkom’s extraordinary shareholders meeting on Friday. Its shares rose 1.3 percent to Rp 7,850 in Friday’s trading.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen's China trip fruitful: official

via CAAI

December 17, 2010

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's official visit to China concluded with good result and the two countries' relations reached a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, said Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, on Friday.

"China issued a statement that agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation with Cambodia on all sectors,"Hor told reporters at a press briefing about Hun Sen's China trip held at Phnom Penh International Airport after the arrival of Prime Minister Hun Sen from China.

Hor Namhong said that the statement was made after the official talks between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Hun Sen in a friendly, close, honest atmosphere.

"The two countries' relation has been developed from the first phase of the good neighbor cooperation to the second phase of mutual trust cooperation and now has established a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation," Hor said.

"It is very important for the relations of the two countries and also a good result of the visit of Prime Minister Hun Sen,"he stressed.

When asked why the two countries have such a close relations, Hor answered that "China is an emerging powerful country in the world with rapidly development in various fields, such as economy, finance, military and politics. Nobody can prevent China's development."

"China's development will not only benefit its own people, but also make a greater contribution to the world," he said.

Moreover, "a good relations between Cambodia and China will benefit Cambodia," he said, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen has always said that the progress of the development of China would bring more Chinese tourists to visit other countries including Cambodia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen made his five-day official visit to China at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

During the visit, Chinese President Hu Jintao and China's top legislator Wu Bangguo met with Hun Sen respectively. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with him.

China and Cambodia on Monday agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. Both sides signed 13 deals on cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, finance and consular affairs.

Besides Beijing, Hun Sen also visited China's port city Tianjin and China's Jiangsu Province.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia postpones closure of Vietnamese refugee centre

Around 2,000 Montagnards fled to Cambodia in 2001 and 2004

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH — Cambodia on Friday extended a deadline to shut down a refugee centre housing dozens of Vietnamese ethnic minority Montagnards, giving in to pleas by the UN refugee agency for more time.

The largely Christian Montagnard community -- a group whose members backed US forces during the Vietnam war -- say they face repression in Vietnam.

The Cambodian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had earlier been informed by the foreign ministry that the facility in Phnom Penh would be closed on January 1.

In a letter, it urged the UNHCR to speed up the resettlement of 62 Montagnards who had been granted refugee status and vowed to repatriate any remaining refugees to Vietnam, prompting the UNHCR to request more time.

"We extended the date of closing down the centre from January 1 to February 15, 2011" Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told AFP.

But he said 14 Montagnards who had not yet received refugee status still faced being sent back to Vietnam.

"We do not want any refugee centre in Phnom Penh any more," he said, adding that the centre was never meant to be a long-term solution.

A spokeswoman for UNHCR said she had not been officially informed of the delay but welcomed the move.

"We very much hope that it's true. That would give us the extra time we need to find long-term solutions for those 62 Montagnards," UNHCR Asia spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey told AFP.

She refused to comment on the situation of the 14 other Montagnards.

Around 2,000 Montagnards fled to Cambodia in 2001 and 2004 after security forces crushed protests against land confiscations and religious persecution.

Vietnam, Cambodia and the UNHCR signed an agreement in January 2005 under which Montagnards may choose whether to resettle in a third country or return home. Cambodia has refused to allow them to stay in the kingdom.

The majority were resettled, with the United States taking in most.

Communist Vietnam has strongly denied a 2006 accusation by the New York-based Human Rights Watch that it had detained and tortured Montagnards who returned home.

Cambodian students increasingly drawn to Vietnam

via CAAI


More than 1,100 Cambodian students have been received by Vietnamese educational institutions since 2006, according to a conference held in Hanoi on December 17 to review training cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia from 2006 to 2010.

About 600 Cambodian students are present in Vietnam each year. Most of them take courses in medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, economics, architecture, and technology.

Addressing the conference, the Cambodian Ambassador to Vietnam, Hul Phany, said the Vietnamese State also undertakes many programmes to assist Cambodia in training its human resources.

Mr Phany said the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training helped his country build a college, a hostel accommodating 150 students, and six classrooms for a high school. He added that the ministry is going to build another college and a 150-student dormitory in Mondulkiri province.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga said the knowledge that Cambodian students acquired in Vietnam has proved highly effective in boosting Cambodia’s socio-economic growth.

Mr Ga added that in the time to come, Vietnam will encourage Cambodian students to come to Vietnam for self-funded study or to receive training on contracts.

Meanwhile, under a bilateral agreement, each year the Cambodian Government provides 10-15 tertiary education scholarships and about 20 two-year Khmer-language courses for Vietnamese cadres and students to study in Cambodia.

France Telecom looking at investing in Cambodia's Mobitel

via CAAI

17 Dec, 2010

PARIS: France Telecom is in the running to take a minority stake in Cambodian mobile operator Mobitel, according to a French embassy official in the Southeast Asian country, as part of its bid to expand in emerging markets.

Mobitel is one of the two brands owned by CamGSM, which is the largest mobile operator in Cambodia and is owned by the Royal Group .

"France Telecom has at least one competing bidder in its effort to acquire a stake in Mobitel... they are in the final process, but now it's up to Mobitel to choose a partner," said a high-ranking official at the embassy, relating statements made by Dominique Mas, first counsellor at the French Embassy.

The competitor could be Telekomunikasi Indonesia, which is in talks to acquire a majority stake in CamGSM in a deal that could be worth more than $500 million.

France Telecom declined to comment on Friday.