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Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 6/01/2011 12:34:00 AM
Click here to listen to the interview in Khmer:
Click here to listen to audio program in MP3
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 6/01/2011 12:34:00 AM
|Suy Sem, the minister of Industry, Mines and Energy and his wife|
June 1, 2011
OZ MINERALS and the Cambodian government have been forced to deny allegations of impropriety over reports that a transaction by OZ Minerals in 2009 led to hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid to the relatives of government officials.
The news comes as the US Securities and Exchange Commission continues its investigations into Cambodian bribery allegations involving BHP Billiton.
BHP has yet to confirm or deny that the investigations relate to a $US1 million ($936,000) payment to the Cambodian government in 2006 to secure bauxite leases.
The Cambodia Daily reported yesterday that OZ Minerals bought out Shin Ha, its partner in a goldmine, in 2009. More than $US1 million of the proceeds went to three women on the partner’s board, who were reportedly closely related to officials in government departments, including the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME).
The newspaper said the trio were appointed in 2006, just before Shin Ha concluded a joint venture agreement with Oxiana, headed by Owen Hegarty. The company was later named OZ Minerals after merging with Zinifex.
An OZ Minerals’ spokeswoman said an investigation by the company had not found any evidence of wrongdoing. ”Wherever we operate, we act in accordance with local regulations and with international standards. We deny any allegations of inappropriate business practices,” she said.
The Cambodian Minister for Industry, Mines and Energy, Suy Sem, said no ministry officials had received any payments and the ministry had strictly observed the law, the newspaper reported.
In Cambodia, government officials are not allowed to have business interests and are required to declare their assets. This disclosure does not extend to relatives.
OZ Minerals has only recently put another controversy behind it. Last month it paid $60 million to settle two class-action lawsuits that claimed shareholders had lost hundreds of millions of dollars when the miner failed to disclose its true debt position during the global financial crisis.
The company had to sell all its operating mines, except Prominent Hill, to China Minmetals in June 2009 for $US1.39 billion after it failed to reach an agreement with it banks to repay this debt.
It only survived as a separate company when the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, blocked the sale of Prominent Hill, a copper and goldmine in South Australia.
OZ Minerals also retained the gold exploration rights in Cambodia, which could provide more disappointment. In April the company said it was reviewing the future of its gold exploration in the country after failing to find a sufficiently large resource base to justify production.
Meanwhile, BHP said yesterday that its internal investigation into Cambodia bribery allegations was continuing and that it had passed on to US authorities ”evidence that it has uncovered regarding possible violations of applicable anti-corruption laws involving interactions with government officials”.
Cambodia has been beset by claims of corruption in government and civil society.
A report by Transparency International, Global Witness , in 2009 said Cambodia’s regulation of its extractive industries suffered “a total lack of transparency in the ownership of companies with the responsibility to handle public assets, and the destination of payments made to secure these concessions”.
Australia has yet to prosecute a single case of foreign bribery.
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:54:00 PM
|Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy (Photo: VOA)|
LOWELL — A Cambodian opposition leader and two other members of parliament will be in Lowell Saturday to discuss ongoing human-rights abuses in Cambodia .
Sam Rainsy, leader of the Sam Rainsy Party and generally considered the main rival to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, will appear with fellow SRP legislators Tok Vanchan and Tioulong Sumura, Rainsy’s wife, on Saturday, from 5 p.m. to midnight at the Sunny Da Restaurant, 450 Chelmsford St.
Rainsy, formerly a member of the Cambodian National Assembly, has most recently been living in self-imposed exile in Australia . In March, the Cambodian Supreme Court upheld Rainsy’s conviction on charges of inciting racial discrimination and uprooting border markings with neighboring Vietnam .
Shortly after the court’s ruling, the National Assembly released a statement revoking Rainsy’s “rights, privileges and membership as member of parliament.”
The conviction upheld by the Supreme Court carries with it a two-year prison sentence and, when combined with an unrelated 10-year sentence for publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam .
Since 2009, Rainsy has maintained he was leading demonstrations on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border to protest what he believes is Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian land.
A Rainsy Party spokesman criticized the National Assembly decree as a political move by a parliament dominated by MPs from Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party. In the past, the Rainsy Party and the NGO Cambodian Center for Human Rights have asserted that Rainsy’s convictions were an attempt to keep him from participating in Cambodia ‘s 2013 national election.
Hun Sen, 59, has held power in Cambodia for a quarter-century and, according to some, has vowed to remain in power until he is 90 years old.
Rainsy plans to discuss those issues, as well as what he calls ongoing human-rights abuses in Cambodia , suppression of the Cambodian media and the future of the country.
For more information, email Chhan Touch at chhantouch.
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:42:00 PM
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:34:00 PM
|Cartoon by Sacrava (on the web at )|
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:30:00 PM
|Villagers protest against land concessions the government has granted in Prey Lang forest during a demonstration at the Freedom Park in Phnom Penh last week. (Photo by: Heng Chivoan)|
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
The Phnom Penh Post
Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday requesting that he cancel all economic land concessions in Prey Lang forest following public outcry over the issue.
The letter, signed by nine parliamentarians, singles out a 6,044-hectare concession to Vietnamese-owned CRCK Rubber Development Co Ltd, but also calls on the premier to cancel the other concessions in the forest. The lawmakers also suggested that the government support listing Prey Lang as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hun Sen approved a 70-year lease for CRCK in September 2009. In May last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries signed a contract with the company, and CRCK began clearing forest in order to make way for a rubber plantation early this year, according to reports from local residents.
In the letter, the SRP lawmakers cited signatures from 29,208 people from four provinces who requested their intervention in the matter.
“Those violations have resulted in losses to a very worthy natural resource to the area, including natural forest, fruit-productive forest, wild animals and all kinds of biodiversity,” the MPs wrote, adding that the economic and cultural interests of locals, especially members of the Kuy ethnic minority, have also been adversely affected.
The forest, which stretches for roughly 3,600-square kilometres between the Mekong and Stung Treng rivers across parts of four provinces – Kampong Thom, Kratie, Preah Vihear and Stung Treng– lacks state protection despite its rich biodiversity and value to local people.
The Prey Lang network, a local activist group, says more than 40,000 hectares in the forest have been granted for rubber plantations alone, while 27 exploration licences and related concessions have been handed to mining firms.
Chhun Chhorn, Kampong Thom provincial governor, defended the actions of CRCK yesterday, claiming that the concessions in Prey Lang would bring development to the area and suggesting that the SRP lawmakers were playing politics with the issue.
“It is their right, awarded by the government, to clear that land to plant rubber. They are not acting illegally,” he said.
Chhun Chorn said people have used the forest for hundreds of years but are still poor and will find a better living by working for rubber plantations and factories.
Mem Sotharavin, an SRP lawmaker from Kampong Thom province, said CRCK’s practice of importing labour from Vietnam undermined any development it may bring to the area.
“I support development, but it should avoid [negatively] affecting people,” he said. “People have not had jobs [from the concession] at all. If people have jobs as [Chhun Chhorn] said, it is no problem.”
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:24:00 PM
|Triko Foods Co. jelly|
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Don Weinland and Sen David
The Phnom Penh Post
Local supermarkets are pulling a Taiwanese fruit jelly from their shelves amid reports that the product contains a toxic chemical that is a proven health hazard.
Taiwanese health officials issued a warning on Friday stating that DEHP, a plastic polymer that is harmful to humans, has been found in domestic and exported fruit jelly and sports drinks. The jelly, a product of Taiwan’s Triko Foods Company, is labelled with a red, three-character logo in Chinese and says “coconut jelly” in English on the package.
Research shows a link between DEHP and damage to the liver, heart and lungs, according to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. The amount of the chemical present in the products for sale in Cambodia and the associated health risks were unclear yesterday.
A 2009 United States Food and Drug Administration report on DEHP said the substance can reduce the size of reproductive organs in male children. The chemical is commonly used in medical equipment, plastic piping and other plastic products.
Cambodia has imported more than 50,000 kilogrammes of the jelly from Triko Foods during the past year and a half, Taiwan’s Taichung City Health Department said in a statement on Friday. The apple-, aloe vera- and taro- flavoured products come in 25 and 35 gramme portions and have been on sale recently in some local supermarkets.
The Bayon Supermarket chain in Phnom Penh has pulled the jelly products from shelves, Chheang Meang, the supermarket’s director, said yesterday.
Chheang Meang said he had been contacted by the Taiwanese company yesterday and asked to remove the products, but to retain them in stock pending further examination by Taiwan health officials.
“I ordered my staff to take them out because Taiwan thinks the product has a problem that will affect people’s health,” Chheang Meang said.
“The Taiwanese company told us to keep it in stock but not sell it. They are examining it now.”
Triko Foods representative Lin Dingyi said yesterday from Taiwan that his company had contacted the Cambodian Ministry of Health about the issue on Friday. Health Minister Mam Bunheng said, however, that he was unaware of the problem.
“I didn’t know that toxic Taiwanese food was imported to Cambodia, but I will order an official who works with food to examine whether or not these products are in Cambodia,” Mam Bunheng said.
The Taiwanese Health Department said Yu Shen Fragrance Company, one of Taiwan’s largest food-additive producers, is the origin of the DEHP that has contaminated the food. In addition to Triko Foods, the department has detected DEHP in the products of about 200 other firms that source materials from Yu Shen Fragrance Company.
China, Vietnam and Thailand are also believed to have imported the tainted products.
At an emergency meeting held yesterday in response to the problem, Taiwanese officials proposed an act that would increase penalties for using toxic substances in food products.
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:19:00 PM
PHNOM PENH, May 31 (Xinhua) — Club of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays has officially recognized Cambodia’s coastal areas as its member, the minister of tourism, Thong Khon confirmed Tuesday.
The recognition was made after Cambodia’s proposal in May last year.
“With the club’s recognition, we have optimism that our clean and well-preserved beaches will attract more foreign tourists,”he said, adding”it will also be an impetus to encourage more investors to the areas.”
Cambodia’s coastline is stretching in the length of 450 km in four provinces of Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep.
It is the country’s second most popular destination for tourists after Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat temple, the world heritage site.
The club was established in March 1997, in Berlin, Germany. Including Cambodia, it has 27 countries as member with 33 bays to be recognized as the most beautiful bays in the world, said the minister.
According to the club’s criteria, to be listed as the world’s most beautiful bay, a bay must be under protection project with a wildlife and flora area. Also, it must be recognized by both local and regional level, and it must possess at least two features recognized by UNESCO in the cultural or natural assets categories.
Tourism industry is one of the main four pillars supporting Cambodian economy. In 2010, the sector received 2.5 million foreign tourists generating the total revenue of 1.75 billion U.S. dollars.
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:13:00 PM
|“Old age should not afford protection to people who committed very serious crimes — that’s not a defense”: A warning to the former KR|
Decrease Increase Aging, ill war crimes suspects still face trials
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By GREGORY KATZ
The Associated Press
LONDON — It has become a common sight: an elderly, shrunken, hollow-eyed suspect brought to trial decades after being accused of horrific war crimes. They may be too aged to fully participate in their defense, or too debilitated by disease to endure a lengthy court case.
Now it is former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic arguing he is too weak to stand trial. His lawyer said Monday that Mladic, 69, would die before his trial begins if he is extradited to the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague to face genocide charges. He is said to have suffered several strokes and to have difficulty speaking.
Time and again, the questions have arisen: Are you ever too old or too ill to be judged for your past? Are justice and the public interest served by trying such infirm people? Most experts say it’s justified — arguing responsibility doesn’t diminish with age, especially set against the enormity of the crimes.
“Old age should not afford protection to people who committed very serious crimes — that’s not a defense,” said Efraim Zuroff, who pursues elderly Nazi war criminals with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“You have to keep in mind the victims who deserve that their tormenters are held accountable; the passage of time does not diminish the guilt.”
Mladic follows John Demjanjuk, a 91-year-old retired U.S. autoworker convicted in Munich this month on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder. Demjanjuk’s lawyers failed to convince the court that the former Nazi death camp guard was too sick to be tried because of a bone marrow disorder, kidney disease, anemia, and other ailments.
The age and medical condition of Khmer Rouge defendants is also a central issue at Cambodia’s upcoming U.N.-backed tribunal, set next month to judge four of the brutal regime’s top officials. The accused, ranging in age from 79 to 85, suffer from a variety of illnesses.
“To let them walk away because they are old means they would get away with it,” Brad Adams, director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said about the Khmer Rouge defendants. “They all appear to have some maladies but none of them have such significant illnesses that they are not competent to stand trial”
He said the Cambodian suspects are accused of masterminding the slaughter of up to two million people in their own country and should not be excused simply because they are infirm — or because it took so long for authorities to track them down.
“The reason they are so old is because of the failure of the states to track them down and charge them much earlier,” Adams said. “They were living in Thailand and traveling around the world. It was a collective failure to deal with them.”
Demjanjuk’s case was one of the most extreme. After experts examined him, he was found to be fit to stand trial if hearings were limited to two 90-minute sessions per day.
He was brought to court in a wheelchair and placed in a hospital bed, where he lay listening to a translator throughout the proceedings, usually wearing dark sunglasses with a baseball cap pulled down low over his face. A doctor and paramedics remained in the court room throughout the trial. Roughly a dozen sessions were canceled for health reasons, including the need for blood transfusions.
Zuroff said it’s imperative to try even ailing war crimes suspects in order to prevent future atrocities.
“There’s also obviously the deterrence issue — it shows that if you commit a crime like that, that even many years later an effort will be made to bring you to trial.”
And he said Mladic — and others who use this delaying tactic — are usually not as ill as they claim.
“These defendants become ten times worse than they really are as part of a public show to try and elicit sympathy,” he said.
In Cambodia, International Co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said there is a strong public interest in trying the Khmer Rouge defendants.
“The public here want them tried,” he said. “They want this case done as quickly as possible. After all the four accused are alleged to have murdered over a million and a half of their own people. Nobody I know thinks age is a bar to vigorously addressing that fact.”
He said the defendants — former head of state Khieu Samphan, chief ideologue Nuon Chea, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, and ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary — will receive quality medical care and monitoring during the trial. The top Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.
Theary Seng, a human rights lawyer whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge, said the fact that more than three decades have passed since the atrocities were committed has lessened the quality of the justice she and other victims will receive. She said victims are “bracing” for the possibility that one or two defendants will die before a verdict is reached.
“We are beyond the issues of fairness,” she said. “It’s an issue what is the highest quality of justice we can achieve in light of all the limitations and obstacles in our way. The advanced age of these four defendants is certainly one of the principal obstacles to quality justice. From the current standpoint, it’s pretty shoddy justice we victims are getting from the Court.”
If Mladic, accused in the 1995 slaughter of some 8,000 civilians in Srebrenica, is ultimately extradited, he would receive good medical care while detained at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, officials said.
Spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic said the tribunal has a clinic that can provide assistance “around the clock” and can also take suspects to civilian hospitals if needed.
Nonetheless, its most high profile suspect, former Serb president Slobodan Milosevic, died of a heart attack in his cell in 2006, forever escaping judgment.
The tribunal’s procedures are notoriously slow. The trial of Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic began in 2009 and is still not finished.
Still, Zumra Sehomeriovic, a Bosnian woman whose husband was killed in Srebrenica, said prosecution of Mladic is necessary.
“This is proof that this type of crime never gets old and that the perpetrators will face justice,” she said.
David Rising in Berlin, Mike Eckel in Phnom Penh, Grant Peck in Bangkok, and Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo contributed to this report.
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:09:00 PM
BANGKOK, May 31(MCOT online news) – Thailand will speed its attempt to inform the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) to understand Thailand’s stance on Preah Vihear temple, while planning to hold further talks with Cambodia before the 35th session of WHC annual meeting to start on June 19, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti said on Tuesday.
Mr Suwit who is also Thai government’s chief negotiator notified the cabinet about the result of special meeting between Thailand and Cambodia on May 25 to 26 on the ancient temple dispute at Paris-based UNESCO, mediated by its Director-General Irina Bokova.
He said the Thai delegation stood firm that the Cambodian management plan for Preah Vihear temple had caused problems between the two countries and the Thai representatives would go ahead with Thailand’s plan to inform the 20 WHC member countries to understand that possible problem may arise in the future if the WHC accepts the Preah Vihear management plan proposed by Cambodia at the 35th WHC meeting being held June 26-29.
However, Mr Suwit admitted that the move was not easy as many WHC member countries had provided assistance to Cambodia in the past but he was confident that those countries would understand the problem.
During the Paris meeting, UNESCO demonstrated a better understanding of the issue and towards Thailand’s rationale for proposing that the WHC postpone consideration of Cambodia’s management plan in the area of the Preah Vihear temple pending finalisation of the boundary negotiations between the two countries.
This also included the proposal that in the long-term, Preah Vihear temple should be inscribed as a transboundary property.
However, at this stage, Cambodia continued to insist that its management plan be considered at the WHC meeting.
Mr Suwit said further discussion on how to proceed would therefore be needed and he expected Thailand and Cambodia would hold talks again before the start of WHC meeting on June 16.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962 and the temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.
Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulting in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.
Regarding the Cambodian request to the ICJ to interpret judgment on the case of Preah Vihear temple, including its request for indication of provisional measures, Mr Suwit said Thailand had to await the result of the ICJ hearing.
Thai legal team led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya now in the Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday is scheduled to present the observation on Cambodian request on provision measures to ICJ for the second day at 10pm Thai time.
The result of hearing should be known within 1-3 weeks. In any case, the provisional measure is a separate case from Cambodia’s request to interpret the court’s 1962 ruling on Preah Vihear. Should the provisional measures be issued or not, it will not affect the interpretation case.
As for the interpretation of the court’s 1962 ruling, it was expected that the court would require official statement from both sides about September or October and would take one or two years to consider.
On the first day of the hearing, Thai legal team had told the court that Thailand had accepted and complied with a 1962 ICJ ruling that the temple belonged to Cambodia. However the court has no jurisdiction to judge the Cambodian request.
Meanwhile, Cambodia had also accepted without protest the line drawn by Thailand demarking the area that encompasses the Preah Vihear temple compound following the 1962 Court decision.
After being silence for 40 years, Cambodia started to challenge the perimeter limits of the temple only recently when it wanted to list the temple as a World Heritage site and wanted the area as buffer zone to manage the temple under the management plan of the ancient Hindu temple.
Cambodia has also admitted that it had yet to demarcate the border – including the area where Preah Vihear temple is located – when it signed the memorandum of understanding with Thailand in 2000.
Thailand wished to live in peace, develop good relations and cooperation with Cambodia, so that there is no reason for any conflict, said the Thai legal team.
Posted By Heng Soy to KI Media at 5/31/2011 09:03:00 PM