Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cambodians like to see ex-king's portraits remain on public

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Most of Cambodians would like to see their former King Norodom Sihanouk's portraits remain on public display.

An informal poll published by The Cambodia Daily on Monday shows that most would like to see the retired King's portraits remain.

The former king, who is currently in Beijing for medical treatment, asked the government and private citizens to take down images of himself and former queen Monineath from schools and public buildings.

Only portraits of the reigning king should be displayed, he said in a message in French posted on his website dated Wednesday.

"The retired King is a symbol of a whole nation," Diep Chhuon, deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, was quoted as saying."Taking (the royal portraits) down would make people wonder, worry.It would be a bad omen," he added.

"His Majesty King Sihamoni's portrait would look lonely," PraunVa, a high school director in Kandal province said. The royal couple's portraits have now hung side by side with the new monarch in schools, pagodas and government buildings.

King Norodom Sihamoni asked his father to reconsider his request, suggesting that doing so would unsettle the Cambodian people.

"Monks, Buddhists, ordinary people and government officials think the King-Father and Queen-Mother have done great deeds for the nation," the King wrote in the letter to his father. "If there are no portraits of your majesties, we will feel ill at ease and far from your great generosity."

Meanwhile, FUNCINPEC party President Prince Norodom Ranariddh also requested that his father should rethink his request.

But there were also some critics saying the former king has good reason for wanting to see his portrait removed. He (Sihanouk)was likely sending a necessary message by asking that his portrait be removed, opposition leader Son Chhay said.

"A new King is on the throne, but we want to believe (Norodom Sihanouk) is still our King," he said.

Cambodia to strength nuclear transport law

With the ratification of three draft laws, Cambodia will become a signatory to several international conventions, local media reported on Tuesday.

Cambodia's National Assembly on Monday ratified the three draft laws, including one which will bring Cambodia in line with international standards on the transportation of nuclear materials.

Another draft law will make Cambodia part of an international convention against illegal activities on sea borders, according to The Cambodia Daily.

National Assembly President Price Norodom Ranariddh told the assembly that sea border issues, which are complicated by the matters of oil exploration, are more tangled than those on land.

The third draft law passed by the National Assembly is on the international convention against illegal activities at sea.

Defense Minister Tea Banh on Monday pledged that government will pay attention to the nuclear issues and will form a committee to cooperate with international partners to prevent the nation from ever being used as a transit route for such material.

But he also raised concerns about the country's ability to deal with nuclear problems, stating Cambodia does not have specialized laboratories to identify nuclear substances and local nuclear experts still have limited competence. He appealed to the international community to provide more human resource training in the field.

In 2000, the National Assembly unanimously agreed to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty, aligning Cambodia with most of the world's nations in a global campaign aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation.

Cambodia supports Thailand's IPU Executive Board membership

Phnom Penh (VNA) – Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly Norodom Ranaridh has said that he completely supports the Thai Parliament's bid for a seat in the International Parliament Union (IPU)’s Executive Board.

During August 29 talks with visiting second Deputy Speaker of the Thai Parliament Lalita Lerksamran, Chairman Ranaridh said that relations between the two parliaments should be strengthened and developed not only at bilateral but also multilateral levels including the ASEAN Inter-Parliament Organisation (AIPO)’s General Assembly, the IPU and the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP).

Regarding bilateral relations, Ranaridh asked the Thai Government to pay due attention to solving outstanding issues between the two countries, covering legalising procedures for Cambodian guest-workers to work in Thailand and border issues.

He also urged Thailand to further bilateral cooperation in the fight against trans-national crime, particularly women and children trafficking.

For her part, Lerksamran affirmed that Thailand’s foreign policy aims to enhance its relations with other countries, especially neighbours. She asked Cambodia to increase the exchange of visits with Thailand to promote their bilateral ties.-Enditem

Cambodia's aid spent on hiring foreign expertise

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen says about 20 percent of the foreign aid given to the country is spent on hiring expensive foreign experts.

He says in 2002 alone, around 115 million US dollars was spent on such overseas technical aid.

But Hun Sen has also told a gathering of government officials that much of that money is spent on first-class air tickets and five-star hotels for the foreign experts, who sometimes only polish the results of hard work done by Cambodians.

The prime minister says much of the money could be better spent on improving infrastructure...and he's called on government officials to work harder themselves.

Cambodia receives foreign assistances of about 500 million dollars a year.

Cambodia Introduces Energy Saving Measures

Cambodia's government has slashed the amount of fuel allocated for state vehicles by 10 percent as part of austerity measures to offset rising oil prices, a minister said Thursday.

The move was ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen - who also urged officials to refrain from unnecessary trips using state vehicles and to minimize electricity use in their buildings - said Finance Minister Keat Chhon after a National Assembly session.

The measure was deemed necessary to curb the outflow of much-needed hard currency from the country, and to reserve fuel for emergencies such as natural disasters, he said.

Hun Sen issued the order at a Cabinet meeting nearly two weeks ago, he said. It took effect immediately.

The total amount of fuel used by state vehicles was not immediately known.

"The whole country must save (fuel), but not so that ambulances also have to cease running. We are not letting this affect services necessary for the people's well-being," Keat Chhon told Parliament.

Cambodia has been hit hard by rising oil prices because the country relies entirely on imported oil, he said.

Since January, the retail price of fuel at the pump has risen by 18 percent, the minister said.

Rising oil prices have also led to a rise in smuggling from Vietnam and Thailand into Cambodia. A recent crackdown led to the seizure of about 1.5 million liters (396,269 gallons) of oil from smugglers, Keat Chhon said.

He said it was questionable whether the government would achieve its goal of 6.3 percent economic growth for the country this year because of the skyrocketing oil prices, which recently passed $70 per barrel.

Sluggish economic growth would also impede efforts to reduce poverty, Keat Chhon said.

Cambodia is one of Asia's poorest countries. More than 40 percent of its 14 million people live on less than $1 per day, and the country depends heavily on foreign aid for development.

China donates 6 patrol vessels to Cambodia

Chinese government Thursday donated 6 patrol vessels to Cambodia to help it strengthen marine security.

More than 300 people attended the hand-over ceremony at the Port of Sihanoukville, about 230 km southwest of capital Phnom Penh.

Em Sam An, Secretary of State of Interior Ministry, and Chinese Economic and Commercial Counselor to Cambodia Sun Weiren presided over the ceremony.

Em Sam An highly valued the Chinese donation of the patrol vessels, saying that the donation again demonstrated the traditional friendship between Cambodia and China.

He said that he firmly believed that the patrol vessels will play an important role in Cambodia's fighting of pirates and smugglers and will further strengthen Cambodia's social stability and territorial security, as well as the economic development.

Expressed his thanks for China's persistent assistance, Em said, "The traditional friendship between our two countries has stood the test of time, and has been developed and consolidated in recent years."

"The assistance offered by the Chinese government, such as telecommunication equipment, cars, motorcycles and fire engine, has already played an important role in strengthening Cambodia's public security and safeguarding the security of people and property," Em added.

Sun Weiren hopes the police of the two countries to further enhance cooperation and support in various fields.

He said that the Chinese government would like to strengthen the cooperation with Cambodia in the fields including agriculture, human resources development and infrastructure, and would encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Cambodia.

Cambodian malaria cases drop in first half of year

Cambodia's malaria cased dropped in the first six months compared with the same period of last year, but the fatalities were up, local newspaper reported on Thursday.

Statistics from the National Malaria Center show that the number of malaria cases treated through the country's healthcare system during the first six months of the year dropped by a third compared to the same period last year.

From January through June, 29,092 patients were treated for malaria, compared to 39,704 for the first six months of 2004, The Cambodia Daily quoted Duong Socheat, director of the center as saying.

Duong Socheat contributed the results to the net distribution on time and the hard work of health volunteers in the villages who were trained by the government.

However, he said that 117 people died due to malaria during that period, an increase of 11 fatalities compared to the first six months of 2004. Still, Duong Socheat believes that the total number of fatalities for the whole year will be lower than in 2004.

Cambodian lawmakers approve UN convention on organized crime

Cambodian National Assembly on Wednesday ratified the UN convention on transnational organized crime in order to join the regional and international efforts.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said at parliament that "joining in this convention will help Cambodia to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"Cambodia is a developing country and is also facing threat of transnational organized crime. So it is important for Cambodia to ratify this convention, it will not only strengthen our cooperation with international community but also the peace of the nation and the region," he said.

When answering the questions put forward by the opposition lawmakers, Sar Kheng said that the royal government always committed to making efforts to combat organized crime and has already made some progress these years.

The protocols cover trafficking in persons, especially women and children, smuggling of migrants and manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.

At a Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) meeting held in May, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen even described the transnational crime as "many-headed monster", saying that "with the openings of international borders and the strengthening of economic and social cooperation among the region, we are facing more transnational crime, especially drug production and trafficking."

The premier also called on the countries to work out more clear strategies and targets to combat the cross-border crime.

Cambodia approves child labor convention

Cambodia's National Assembly on Tuesday approved a convention initiated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on efforts to ban and eliminate the most serious forms of child labor, The Cambodian Press Review reported on Wednesday.

Labor Minister Nhep Bunchin said approving the treaty will help more than not having any legal framework.

He insisted that with the ILO's cooperation, the government did well last year in dealing with excessive forms of child labor in Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kompong Cham provinces.

Children in Kampot's salt fields can now work in more appropriate sectors, Nhep Bunchin explained, highlighting also that children working on fishing boats in Sihanoukville can now perform jobs on land.

The government's efforts to stop child labor motivated the US to donated 1 million US dollars to the ILO to carry out programs to reduce excessive child labor in another four cities and provinces, Nhep Bunchin said.

Sixteen percent of Cambodia's 200,000 minors are working, said Cambodian People's Party (CPP)'s lawmaker Khoun Sodary, urging the government to take effect measures to reduce the number to 5 percent.

Khoun Sodary also suggested the Ministry of Justice classify underage and adult prisons in separate jails or send minor criminals to rehabilitation centers.

Opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann complained that due to poverty, forced labor and school dropouts among Cambodian children are increasing, which will affect the country's future economic development.

Thailand, Laos, Cambodia to jointly suppress cross border crime

BANGKOK, Aug. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have agreed to cooperate in prevention and suppression of cross border crime, including drug trafficking and goods smuggling, particularly timbers, reported the state-run Thai News Agency Wednesday.

The agreement was reached during two separate meetings between the Thai and Lao delegations and the Thai and Cambodian delegations in Thailand's northeastern Ubon Ratchathani Province Tuesday.

The Thai and Lao authorities also agreed on joint border patrols -- both by army and marine officers -- and on promotion ofcross border tourism. Enditem