Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cambodia's king returns from state visit to China

Kyodo _ Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni arrived in Phnom Penh on Tuesday after an almost two-week visit to China.

The 52-year-old monarch paid a state visit to Beijing on Aug. 12-14 and extended the stay until Tuesday because his father, retired King Norodom Sihanouk, is undergoing medical treatment there.

A senior palace official said the king met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and other Chinese leaders during the visit, his first official overseas trip since ascending the throne last year following his father's abdication.

Cambodia sentences Singaporean for drug trafficking

Phnom Penh (VNA) - A Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday sentenced a Singaporean man to 19 years in jail for attempting to smuggle 3 kg of heroin out of the country in January, the Cambodia Daily quoted court officials as saying.Low Ming Kwang, 35, was also fined approximately 12,000 USD, said Tan Senarong who presided over the trial.

Low Ming Kwang was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport with bags of heroin taped to his legs beneath his trousers. In July, the court also sentenced a Nigerian man 14-year in prison for his attempt to smuggle heroin out of Cambodia.-Enditem

Cambodia opposition boycott ends

The main opposition party in Cambodia, led by Sam Rainsy, has put an end to a six-month parliamentary boycott.

The opposition began the protest in February after Mr Rainsy and two of his MPS were stripped of their immunity, accused of a range of crimes.

One of the MPs was later arrested and jailed. Mr Rainsy is living in exile.
On Monday, 16 of the party's 24 members resumed their seats in the National Assembly, saying they had to speak out against corruption and other issues.

"We felt compelled to return to the parliament to use its forum to speak in defence of the people's interests," opposition MP Yim Sovann said.

"We are not giving in to any pressure."

But the BBC correspondent in Phnom Penh, Guy De Launey, says there are other reasons for the opposition's return.

They hope they might be able to exert some influence over the long awaited anti-corruption legislation, he says.

The move also paves the way for Sam Rainsy himself to return to Cambodia, possibly as early as next month.

His party says it has not made any deals with the government, but hopes the move will be treated as a gesture of goodwill.

The government has welcomed the end of the boycott. Without the opposition parliamentarians, the National Assembly has struggled to reach a quorum on many issues, resulting in a backlog of business.

Controversial trial

Sam Rainsy is facing defamation charges, stemming from his claims that the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen had plotted to kill opponents and that coalition partner Prince Ranariddh took bribes to join the government.

Mr Rainsy and fellow opposition MP Chea Poch fled the country in February after their immunity was lifted.

Mr Poch returned home last week, saying he did not fear arrest.

The other MP who lost his immunity, Cheam Channy, was arrested in February and is serving a seven-year sentence for allegedly trying to recruit an armed group.

Human rights activists have criticised his trial, seeing it as a move by the government to stifle political dissent.

China offers Cambodia aid in improving infrastructure

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese government on Monday provided Cambodia with goods and materials worth of more than 81.8 million RMB yuan (about 10.1 million US dollars) to help the country improve its infrastructure.

Attending the hand-over ceremony were Minister of Public Works and Transportation Sun Chan Thol and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Hu Qianwen, and other government officials.

The donated goods and materials were 1,500 extension meters of ZB200 beret steel bridges, four bulldozers, four graders, six roadrollers, one vibratory road roller and their spare parts.

Sun Chan Thol thanked the Chinese government for its grand and persist assistance to Cambodia, saying the aid once again reflects the friendship and cooperative ties between Cambodia and China.

"The assistance will greatly help Cambodia's economic and social development, as well as the implementation of poverty reduction strategy of the royal government in order to bridge the development gap to our neighboring countries," he said.

Since 2002, the Chinese government has donated 3,500 extension meters of beret steel bridges to Cambodia.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in March named a steel bridge assisted by China as "Cambodia and China Friendship Bridge". Enditem