Monday, March 30, 2009

Cambodia Receives Financing for Improvement Projects

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement to provide grant aid and concession loans for development and improvement projects in Cambodian urban communities.

The agreement was signed by the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance, and Kazuhiro Yoneda, Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Cambodia on March 25 in Phnom Penh.

Chhon said at the signing ceremony that the funding will support equipment improvements for de-mining activities and the Niroth Water Supply Project.

The concession loan for Niroth Water Supply Project equals 3,513 million Japanese yen, or about US$35 million, and carries an interest rate of 0.01 percent per year and with a repayment period of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period, according to Chhon.

He said the loan will be used for construction of a water treatment plant that will increase its capacity by 130,000 tons and include a transmission and distribution network to satisfy the growing water demand in Phnom Penh and its suburban areas as well as Kandal province.

The project will be co-financed with a loan 16 million Euros, equivalent to US$20 million, from Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), and US$20 million from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), said Chhon.

He said the grant aid for Phase V of the Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities project will amount to 548 million Yen, approximately US$5.5 million, and will be used to purchase de-mining equipment.

He said Japan is ranked first in providing Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Cambodia. In addition to this support, Japan began increasing the grant element of the concession loans at the beginning of fiscal year 2006. From 1998 to 2004, Japan extended a total of 4,259 million Japanese yen, about US$37.12 million, for Phases I to IV of the de-mining project.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the Government of Japan and her people. We think that without these financial assistances, Cambodia would not be able to develop her country, rapidly,” Chhon said. “Demining is a critical part of Cambodian government’s effort to combat the legacy of war, to reduce and eventually eliminate any further mines and UXO causalities. Many of development projects cannot be carried out in a safe environment without mine and UXO clearance, thus, mine action is a priority for the social economic development and poverty reduction of rural communities.”

Chhon emphasized that the participation of development partners, the private sector and all stakeholders in the development process in Cambodia has brought significant economic growth and remarkable progress in poverty reduction.

“On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to strongly reassure its commitment on maximizing the value of money from our development partners’ support and ensuring that spending is directed for the intended purpose, thus bringing maximum benefits to the people of Cambodia,” Chhon said. “Our policy actions on ensuring aid effectiveness will continue in the foreseeable future as the Royal Government of Cambodia thrives to improve the quality of life of our people.”

He urged Japan and development partners to continue their support and cooperation as Cambodia strives to overcome its development challenges.

Yoneda Kazurio, Chief Representative of JICA, said the new projects take more responsibility and accountability in the implementation grant aid.

Kazurio said the Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities project aims to improve Cambodia’s effectiveness in de-mining actions in order to achieve its de-mining goal of 427 square kilometers of the most densely contaminated areas in Cambodia between 2008 and 2012.

He said this grant aid will be used for the procurement of the equipment that directly contributes to both the manual detecting operation and the improvement and maintenance of the working efficiency of the brush cutters of Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), where JICA is currently extending its technical cooperation to strengthen the function of de-mining operations.

He continued mentioned about the Nirot Water Supply Project will finance the construction of the water supply production facilities of the PPWSA in Niroth. The facilities will respond to the increasing need for the safe and durable water supply, which will further help improve the living conditions of people including the poor in the greater Phnom Penh area, as well as enable investment in the area.

“We will do our best to contribute to the development of Cambodia through conducting these projects, which are based on the Rectangular Strategy and the National Strategic Development Plan of the Royal Government of Cambodia,” Kazurio said.

Lao Seiha Tells About his Future Dream

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Lao Seiha, 20, one of The University of Cambodia’s (UC) “Samdech Hun Sen – Handa National Scholarships 2008”students, was born in Kampong Cham Province and has been studying Information Technology (IT) at the University. He also has been studying for a Physics and Chemistry Specialization at the Phnom Penh Regional Pedagogical Center (PPRPC) in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in Phnom Penh as well as English and computer skills at private school in Phnom Penh.

Seiha passed the scholarship exams offered by UC and he later passed the scholarship exams at the Phnom Penh Regional Pedagogical Center in 2008.

“I was happy after I passed both scholarship exams,” he said. “I am lucky to pass the scholarship exams in the same academic year and to study at the UC and PPRPC.”

Seiha remembered his learning experience at the Chea Sim Samaky High School in Phnom Penh, where he received a Baccalaureate in 2008. He applied to study IT at UC following the introduction of the “Samdech Hun Sen – Handa National Scholarships” in 2008.

“Nowadays, even though I am very busy with my schoolwork, but I am really appreciative of my studies,” he said. “I will try to study hard to complete my degrees at UC and PPRPC.”

He decided to apply at UC after his friends recommended that the university was the right place to attain a good education. The instructors would help him to become an IT expert in the future as the UC’s up-to-date curricula are modeled on the credit system of the United States.

“I decided to study IT at UC because I wanted to speak English well and become an IT expert in Cambodia,” Seiha said. “I prefer to study at this university because it has qualified professors, excellent teaching and the most updated curricula.”

He now studies hard, reads books related to his studies every day and performs research on the Internet and in foreign newspapers and magazines in order to achieve his goals.

“I will try to study hard to get my Bachelor’s degree, and I will then apply to work with a private company or a national or international non-governmental organization in order to make money to support my family,” he said.

Seiha said that he plans to continue for a Master’s and Doctoral degree with UC in the future.

“My dream is to be an IT expert in Cambodia. If I am able to be a leader or IT expert in the future, I will establish my own small business and produce cartoon films to sell throughout the country,” he said.

Taing Sim, 55, Seiha’s mother, is very happy with her son’s efforts. She said that she had seven children and Seiha was the fifth son in the family. He said Seiha is the only son to study at UC.

She said Seiha was able to pass the scholarship exams because of his hard work.

She pointed out that when her son was in primary and high school, he studied very hard every day and as a result, he received many letters of recommendation as well as glowing reports from his instructors and school masters on a monthly and yearly basis.

“I am proud with Lao Seiha’s actions, and I hope that he will realize his dreams and become a future IT expert in Cambodia. I wish him all the best of luck and success in future,” she said.

Cambodia Spends US$ 300 M on Irrigation

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia plans to build more water irrigation systems in order to improve the agricultural sector and develop farming activities in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen said during the Chareuk Water Irrigation Construction’s inauguration ceremony in Pursat province.

The agricultural sector is a main priority in Phase II of the government’s Rectangle Strategy 2008 to 2013.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia will do its best to build more dams and water irrigation systems for Cambodian farmers in all cities and provinces across the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Hun Sen said.

Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology (MoWRAM), said in the past, Cambodian farmers’ practices were dependent on the rainy season. They could produce rice only one or two times per year.

In recent years, Cambodian farmers have faced many problems due to the droughts and the lack of water irrigation systems, he said. During the fourth mandate of the government, MoWRAM planned to spend US$300 million between 2008 and 2013 to construct irrigation systems and dams.

The ministry will construct a total of 48 water irrigation dams in priority cities and provinces by the end of 2009, Kean Hor said. The construction will cost more than US$ 77 million, with funding jointly provided by the Royal Government of Cambodia and its development partners. He added that more irrigation dams will be constructed in cites and provinces through out the country in upcoming years.

“The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology hopes that with the new irrigation systems, all Cambodian farmers will have enough water to do their farming and will also be able to increase plant and rice production in the future,” Kean Hor said.

According to the Ministry of Planning, 85 percent of Cambodia’s 14 million people are farmers.

Joint International Circus Concert Performed in Phnom Penh

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Phar Ponleu Selpak, an arts organization in Phnom Penh, in cooperation with the French Cultural Center (CCF), hosted a joint international circus March 27-28, 2009, in Phnom Penh, aiming to promote and conserve traditional and contemporary arts and culture in Cambodia.

Mao Kosal, Executive Director of Phar Ponleu Selpak, said 84 professional circus artists, including 28 Cambodians and 35 international artists from nine countries, took part in the performance. The artists came from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Laos, and Vietnam.

Kosal said this is the sixth circus organized by Phar Ponleu Selpak. The purpose of the event is to share various styles of circus performances among Cambodian and international artists in order to promote and develop the arts in Cambodia.

“This cultural event will promote traditional and contemporary arts and culture with the nine countries that participated. I hope that as a result of the concert, all artists will gain a deeper insight into the importance and values of their countries,” Kosal said.

He said in addition to the performance at CCF, the circus is also scheduled to perform on April 2 at a park in front of the Botum Vadey pagoda in Phnom Penh and in Battambang province on April 5. Entry for the circus performance at Botum Vadey pagoda is free of charge for Cambodians and internationals. Tickets for the Battambang performance are US$8 for internationals and US$4 for Cambodians.

Phar Ponleu Selpak will conduct circus training for Cambodian youths and continue to organize the joint international circus concert every year in Cambodia to promote circus performances, Kosal said.

Proeung Chhieng, Vice Dean of the Royal University of Fine Arts, said that in current years, the Cambodian circus declined due to the lack of performance opportunities and students attending the arts school. He said that the Phar Ponleu Selpak’s joint international circus concert helped the Royal University of Cambodia and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in promoting and developing the circus in Cambodia.

“I appreciate Phar Ponleu Selpak’s hard work and I think that this cultural event is very important for Cambodians because it is not only a way to exchange playing experiences, but also a way to be able to promote the circus and other cultural arts in Cambodia,” Chhieng said.

He emphasized that according to documents, the circus a traditional Cambodian art form that was established in the 13th century during the Angkor period. He said circus activities were also sculpted on the walls of the Bayon temple in Siem Reap province.

“I believe that with these organized cultural activities we will able to develop and promote our traditional arts and culture in the future,” Chhieng said.





Cambodia Promotes Women’s Football

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) plans to promote the women players in the increasingly popular game of football in order to help overcome the cultural obstacles for Cambodian women and highlight women’s standing in society.

Phoeung Sakona, Secretary of State at MoEYS, said the ministry has established training centers in cities and provinces for students and girl football players at all levels, primary to high school.

Since 2006, MoEYS has conducted training courses for coaches and for both male and female football players from cities and provinces, according to Sakona.

She said MoEYS also organizes student sport competitions, including football competitions with female participants, in schools every year.

“Of all the sports, football is one of the most popular games for Cambodian people, and not only Cambodian men prefer to watch football competitions but also women,” Sakona said during her opening remarks delivered to the FIFA Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar on March 23 in Phnom Penh. The three-day seminar was sponsored by the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) in cooperation with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Sakona continued to say that MoEYS had increased the expenditures to promote the sport among female football players of 10 million riel in 2008 to 12 million riel in 2009.

“We hope that through MoEYS’ hard work and preparation we will be able to select potential women football players to attend national and international football competitions in future,” Sakona said.

Sao Sokha, Chief of the Military Police and President of the FFC, said the seminar paved the way for Cambodia in promoting the development of women’s football and organizing future women’s football competitions in Cambodia.

Although football is continuing to enjoy its rapid rise in popularity, participation and profile among men, women’s football is still trying to claim a place in Cambodian society, especially at the grassroots level, Sokha said.

He said the Royal Government of Cambodia has embraced globalization in all aspects of social development, and gender equality is one of the top priorities on its agenda.

“Since 2006, MoEYS has introduced football to boys and girls by staging annual tournaments in primary through high schools,” Sokha said at the FIFA seminar. “Although the standard is still far from satisfaction to compete internationally, we are proud and hopeful to see that more and more girls are playing and benefiting from this beautiful game.”

Sokha said that the FFC will hold the first ever Cambodian Women’s Football competition at the end of this year.

He added that his organization plans to make women’s football competitions more enjoyable for people in Cambodia in next 10 years.

He said on its part, FFC has also been cooperating with many NGOs to promote the women’s football. Organizations such as the Indochina Starfish Foundation, the Sport and Leadership Academy, and Spirit of Soccer are just some testimonies of how football can be a powerful source of promoting and shaping life skills such as education, health, social cohesion, physical and spiritual strength, encouragement and understanding. These are qualities that much needed to rebuild Cambodia, which is still being haunted by past tragedy, he said.

“With everybody’s involvement, I strongly believe that football will have positive impacts, as it does for men, on a successful contribution to raise attention and awareness for women,” Sokha said. “We are helping ourselves and both will move forward dynamically.”

Maryrilian Cruz Blanco, FIFA’s Women’s Football Development Manager, said that the systematic development of women’s football is one of FIFA’s priorities.

Blanco said the development of women’s football not only includes financial support but also provides the necessary platform in order to give female players, coaches, referees and officials the infrastructure to become actively involved in the game.

FIFA is helping to increase the popularity of the game as well as to overcome the cultural obstacles for women, and improving women’s standing in society, she said. In recent years, FIFA has made significant efforts to promote women’s football and to help empower its member associations develop the women’s game for the future.

Since 2005, FIFA has been obligated to spend 15 percent of their financial assistance program funds to support grassroots and youth programs, develop general infrastructure and hold competitions for women’s football, said Blanco.

Football has also proved to be a great path for social development, providing governments and organizations with a tool through which they can develop their programs and educate future generations in the Kingdom of Cambodia, she continued.

Currently, there are a total of 18 women’s football teams in Cambodia, according to FFC.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Hard Working Student Sophealeak Wishes to be English Teacher

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Pech Sophealeak, 18, who was born in Phnom Penh, is one of The University of Cambodia’s “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008” recipients. She is the oldest in her family of two brothers and one sister. She now studies English Literature at UC.

Sophealeak earned her Baccalaureate from Bak Touk High School in Phnom Penh in 2008. She applied to study English Literature at UC following the introduction of the “Samdech Techo Hun Sen Vision-100 Scholarships” and “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008” in 2008. She now studies very hard to make the most of the opportunities presented to her.

Sophealeak said that she took two scholarship exams in 2008 before receiving the UC scholarship.

“I think I am very lucky to have passed the scholarship exams from The University of Cambodia, a top institution in the region. I am happy because the university takes care of all my tuition fees, removing a great burden from my parents’ shoulders,” she said.

Sophealeak said she first applied for the “Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s Vision-100 Scholarships 2008” and took the exam on September 13, 2008, but she failed.

She continued that after she failed the first exam, then continued to apply for the “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008” and took exam on September 21, 2008. She passed it.

“I think that if I had to pay for my studies at The University of Cambodia, I would probably have no chance to study here. Thus, to show my appreciation to The University of Cambodia and Prime Minister Hun Sen, the scholarship owner and therefore my gracious benefactor, I will study hard to earn my Bachelor’s degree. I will then continue my studies as far as I can take them with The University of Cambodia,” she said.

Sophealeak continued to say that besides her studies, she is now looking for internships or volunteer English teacher positions at national and international non-governmental organizations in Phnom Penh. She wants intern work so that she can learn about the workflow in other professional organizations and gain useful experience prior to graduation.

“I decided to apply to study English Literature at UC because my friends told me that it is the best university in Cambodia. I also heard about the university and its educational programs and scholarships via the advertisements and announcements aired by the Southeast Asia Radio FM 106 in Phnom Pen,” she said.

Sophealeak said that her dream is to be obtain a degree in English Literature with UC and to be an English teacher and interpreter in future. She said that when she completes her studies, she will apply for jobs where she can teach English and then go on to establish her own English school in Cambodia.

“I decided to study English Literature because I wanted to speak English well and either become a professional English teacher, interpreter or advisor working with non-governmental organizations or the Royal Government of Cambodia in future. I prefer to study with UC because the university has qualified professors, excellent teaching and an up-to-date curriculum modeled on the modular system in the United State of America,” she said.

She said she started studying English when she was 6 years old. She studied English Literature at the New World Institute in Phnom Penh.

Sophealeak obtained “Level 17” and “Advanced Diploma of English” before she applied to UC, and she can speak and write English well.

“After graduation, I will then continue to study for my Master’s and Doctoral degrees with The University of Cambodia,” Sophealeak said.

She studies hard every day and reads books related to her studies in order to achieve her goals. She also takes advantage sources like the Internet and foreign newspapers and magazines to continue practicing her English.

Lim Sengkong, 43, Sophealeak’s father, is very happy with his daughter’s efforts. He said that Sophealeak was able to pass the UC scholarship exams because she studies and works hard.

“I am very proud that I have a good daughter and I wish her success in the future. I think that her scholarship will encourage her to study harder and to reach her goals,” he said.

Sengkong said that when his daughter was in primary and high school, she studied very hard every day and as a result, brought home glowing reports from her instructors on a monthly basis.

“I am honored as my daughter’s work ethic makes it likely she will become an outstanding student. I also hope that she will realize her dreams and became a future professional English teacher or interpreter in Cambodia,” he said.







WWF Initiates Sustainable Rattan Production Program

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

A new program for sustainable production of rattan in the Greater Mekong region was launched in Cambodia to achieve cleaner and more efficient production. The program will serve as an economic incentive for communities, governments and industries to conserve forests, said Tep Asnarith, Senior Communications Officer of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Asnarith said the project, which includes a partnership with the European Union (EU) and international home-products retailer IKEA, started in early January 2009 and will continue through December 2011. He said the project will focus on small and medium village enterprises in 20 villages in Kampot, Koh Kong and Kampomg Thom provinces.

“We want small and medium rattan enterprises to be engaged in cleaner and more efficient productions with use of environmentally-friendly processing techniques, as the program promotes forests conservation in providing communities, governments and industries an economic incentive and link to a worldwide market for rattan products,” Asnarith said.

Thibault Ledecq, Rattan Program Manager at the WWF’s Greater Mekong Program, said that the goal of the project is by 2010, to have up to 100 villages in Cambodia, Laos PDR and Vietnam will incorporate greener and more sustainable management of rattan production.

“It aims to mitigate negative impacts of rattan production on humans and the local environment, but if we are to succeed all stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam must work together transparently,” he said.

The EU finances 80 percent of the program’s 2.4 million-euro – more than US$3 million – budget of, he said, with co-financing from the international home-products retailer IKEA and the German development finance institution DEG.

Global rattan trade is estimated at US$4 billion. Ledecq pointed out that the more than 50 species of rattan in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam form the basis of an extensive rattan-processing industry, with Vietnam alone exporting almost 60 percent of all its finished rattan products to the EU.

Many villages in Cambodia and Laos PDR rely on the rattan trade, which accounts for about 50 percent of their total cash income. Although the industry has proven to be major contributor to poverty alleviation in rural areas, much of the pre-processing poses serious health risks to the workers, and the countries cannot use their current methods to compete in the global market.

“At the moment rattan resources are decreasing because of overexploitation,” Thibault said. “The implementation of sustainable harvesting and cleaner production will provide long-term security to local people. It makes them good stewards and guardians of the forest.”

He estimated that by the end of the project, approximately 40 percent of the targeted small and medium enterprises will be actively engaged in clean and safe manufacture of rattan products, and 15 percent will export sustainable and environmental friendly products to Europe and worldwide markets.

According to Asnarith, over the last three years, the WWF-IKEA Sustainable Rattan Harvesting and Production Project (2006-2009) was implemented in six villages in two countries, Cambodia and Vietnam. This pilot project demonstrated, through a community-based model, that sustainable rattan resource management can go along with sustainable production and marketing.

As an outcome of the project’s first phase, around 800 hectares of forest are under sustainable management and more than 60 households are gaining economic benefits through selling the raw rattan products and handicrafts, Asnarith said. Increased knowledge of rattan and strengthened research capacity at the university level has been reached by producers and makers.

Because of the promising results of the pilot project, the second phase is now being initiated, said Asnarith. The EU will continue to fund the program, with co-financing from IKEA and DEG.

In order to promote the Rattan Production in Cambodia in the future, Asnarith said that WWF will train rattan processors and traders on management and clean production, build the capacity of village organizations, improve the quality of rattan techniques, support the establishment of market and business links along the supply chain and work with relevant stakeholders to support better legislation.

He added that the WWF will also continue to train Cambodian villagers on forest, plantation and nursery management in order to help the community sustain supplies to traders and processors.///




Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cambodia Launches New Bird Flu Project

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia launched a US$11 million avian and human influenza control and preparedness project in order to curb the spread of bird flu and protect poultry farmers from financial loss in the event of an outbreak.

The project, sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, and the National Committee for Disaster Management, aims to fund rapid response and diagnosis of outbreaks as well as raise awareness of the disease.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the project launch demonstrates the government’s willingness and commitment in fighting against bird flu and reducing poverty in Cambodia.

“We have to prevent bird flu and educate our people about it regularly before it kills people and poultry,” Hun Sen said at the launching ceremony on March 16. “We were successful in preventing bird flu only after we culled large amounts of sick poultry, but we have good cooperation with the neighboring countries, who exchange information with us to prevent avian influenza outbreaks.”

He said the effective prevention will help reduce poverty and promote sustainable development in Cambodia.

“We have to join together to prevent the diseases that are ruining social order and hurting economic development,” Hun Sen said. “I urge all local authorities to work in close cooperation with neighboring countries Vietnam, Laos and Thailand to exchange information about bird flu outbreaks and prevent the spread of the virus across borders.”

Hun Sen called on all relevant government ministries and institutions to cooperate, work hard and fulfill their duties in implementing the project. He encouraged them to use the Rectangular Strategy to monitor the evolution of the disease, minimize the possibility of the new outbreaks and natural disasters, promote sustainable developments and reduce poverty in Cambodia.

“I would like to appeal for the United Nations and development partners to continue to contribute resources of spirit, equipment, funds, knowledge, experience and technology to reduce the dangers of bird flu in Cambodia as well as other countries in Asia,” he said.

Nhim Vanda, Senior Minister and First Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said the project will be funded by the International Development Association (IDA) with US$6 million, the Japanese government with US$3 million and the European Union with US$2 million.

Vanda said the main purpose of the project is to reduce and limit damage to poultry production and prevent human death in Cambodia from bird flu.

He emphasized that last year, with financial support from AuAIDS and the National Committee for Disaster Management in collaboration with Ministry of Health, local authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a pilot project for avian and human influenza control and preparedness in Siem Reap province.

The project has been successfully implemented and could be used as model in other cities or provinces in Cambodia, Vanda said.

He said based on working experience and the pilot project implemented in 2008, the Cambodian government will be able to monitor the evolution of the disease, minimizing the possibility of new outbreaks, and respond to a possible resurgence of the disease in future.

Stephane Guimbert, Acting Country Manager of the World Bank in Cambodia, said that highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus remained entrenched in a number of the countries in Asia, including China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh. He said the virus continues to cause serious disease in poultry and humans, especially in the winter.

“As long as H5N1 virus circulates, there is a risk of emergence of a strain of the virus capable of transmitting easily between people, leading to a human influenza pandemic. Cambodia and all other countries must be prepared for such an event,” he said.

Regarding the avian and human influenza control and preparedness project, Guimbert said the overall goal is to support implementation of the Cambodia National Comprehensive Avian and Human Influenza Plan through a multi-sectoral approach designed to minimize the threat posed to humans and poultry sector by AHI infection in Cambodia, and to prepare for, control and respond to an eventual human influenza pandemic.

“Cambodia remains at risk of having more poultry cases in future. Despite the successes of the public awareness campaigns, cross species infection from poultry to humans is likely to recur,” he said. “Excellent work addressing the avian influenza problem in Cambodia has already been conducted by various donors. However, this work has also highlighted a number of gaps that remain to be filled, including issues related to the capacity of veterinary services.”

Guimbert said the project is under the responsibility of three implementing agencies that play a vital role in the national response and control system: the National Committee for Disaster Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health.

He continued to say that the project provides additional financing to strengthen the capacity of the implementing agencies, with the objective of achieving an effective and efficient performance for the duration of the project. In addition, it is expected to improve the level of inter-institutional coordination to respond to the threat of AHI and other diseases.

He added that the technical contributions from the WHO and the Food Agriculture Organization will play a significant role in this institutional building process and he is confident the project launch will be a success. ////

University Hosts Weeklong Event About UK Education

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodian Mekong University (CMU), in cooperation with ten British educational institutions, hosted a five-day British Education Cambodia Week on March 18 to 22 in Phnom Penh.

Anson Dews, International Department Officer at CMU, said the education week gave Cambodian university students more information on study abroad opportunities in the UK and highlighted the importance of education in a knowledge-based world.

The event included lectures, presentations and films describing the educational opportunities and education quality in the UK, said Dews. It was conducted by a group of British lecturers and education experts. Cambodian students could participate free of charge.

Dews said that the educational event took place at CMU, Meta House and David Fletcher’s English Center in Phnom Penh.

The 10 British educational institutions taking part in the included: Swansea University, Northumbria University, BPP Law School, Nilai University College (degree programs with Oxford Brookes University), St. Patrick’s College (degree from programs with University of Portsmouth), London School of Commerce (degree programs with the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff), Asia E-University and Staffordshire University. The Asia Pacific University College of Technology and Innovation in Kuala Lumpur also took part.

Hor Chan Rotha, CMU’s Director of Administration and Public Relations, said this is the third time that his university has organized this event.

Chan Rotha said the main purpose of the education week is to provide the opportunity for Cambodian students and the public to gain an understanding about the educational opportunities and scholarships in the UK. It also allows Cambodian students to meet, network and communicate directly with British lecturers and educators prior to graduation. More than 3,000 students from state and private universities attended the five-day event.

Sok Bun, 19, a Law student at Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh, said that he was pleased to attend the British Education Week.

“The education system and the universities in UK are very interesting to me,” Bun said. “I will apply to study at a British university when I complete my graduation in Cambodia.”

Sun Kimleang, 21, a student at the National University of Management who also attended the event, said that she learned lot useful information.
“I think that the British educational system is very up-to-date and an excellent choice for me, but I am probably not going to be able to apply to it because I have no money,” Kimleang said. “I have to study hard and try my best to get scholarships from the foreign embassies and universities in future.”

Chan Rotha said CMU, values education with more than 3,000 students studying there. Since the establishment of CMU in 2003, more than 300 students have graduated and more than 90 percent of them have found works with private and international companies as well national and international non-government organizations in Cambodia.

To further education and help disadvantaged students gain access to a university university education, CMU offers 60 to 80 scholarships per year, Chan Rotha said. Candidates for scholarships are selected by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

He said that CMU also provides scholarship for excellent students who complete their high school exams and pass CMU’s exams each year. The university also offers a 50 percent discount on study fees for all Cambodian teachers or government officers who do worked relating to education in Cambodia. //////



Association Remembers Veteran Singers

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 500 artists, singers, video stars, musicians and songs writers attended the Sin Sisamuth Association’s (SSA) gathering ceremony on March 17 in Phnom Penh.

SSA was established in 2006 to preserve and promote the songs and music of veteran Cambodian singers and composers.

Sin Chan Chhaya, President of SSA, said that the gathering ceremony aimed to raise funds in support of the association’s activities and to meet with elderly singers, musicians, composers, and films stars who survived the reign of the Khmer Rouge.

He said this is the third celebration Phnom Penh. The funds raised will be put toward conservation and promotion of music created by those who passed away between 1975 and 1979 during the Pol Pot regime. The gathering also facilitated the meeting of veteran singers, writers and video stars from the 1960s and 70s who survived the Pol Pot regime in order to share ideas on music conservation and development for next generation of Cambodia.

During the Pol Pot period, approximately 99 percent of the Khmer singers, song writers, composers and film stars, along with their profiles and documents, were killed and destroyed, said Chan Chhaya.

He pointed out that those like Sin Sisamuth, who was given name “King of Golden Voice” by former King Preah Norodom Sihanouk, were executed in the Pol Pot regime. Those people included En Yeng, Ing Nary, Sos Math, Chea Savoeun, Pao Sitho, Svay Samoeur, Has Salan, Ung Song Soeum, and female singers, Ros Serei Sothea, Pen Ran, and Huoy Meas.

“The deaths of our veteran singers were a huge loss of the human resources and Khmer intelligence in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Chan Chhaya said.

Nuon Sangvath, SSA’s First Vice President, said that among the veteran singers who were killed by the Khmer Rouge, Sin Sisamuth was only the singer and composer who had sweet and different voice. He sang very beautifully.

Sin Sisamuth had many achievements including his artworks, song compositions and literacy promotion for people in Cambodia, Sangvath said. Before he was killed by Khmer Rouge in 1976, Sin Sisamuth sang and produced hundreds of Khmer songs.

Sangvath emphasized that despite Sin Sisamuth’s having passed away more than three decades ago, his songs and voice are still very popular for Cambodian people today. No one can sing like him and the association used his name in their title because of his excellence in music.

Puth Pisith, 67, a retired teacher who participated in the gathering, said that he was happy to attend the event.

“I think that it is very important for me to participate because I truly respected and adored him,” Pisith said. “Although he passed away more than 30 years ago, he is still my only hero and is the ‘King of Golden Voice’ for the people in Cambodia.”

Kong Sothea, 50, an officer working at the Ministry of Interior also participated in the gathering. He said he was pleased with SSA’s gathering. The gathering helped him to more clearly understand the backgrounds of the old Cambodian singers, scholars and film stars before they were killed by the Pol Pot regime.

“I liked listening to the old songs very much. My most favorite singers are Mr. Sin Sisamuth, Mr. En Yeng, Sos Math, Ms Pen Ran and Ms. Ros Serei Sothea,” he said. “I attended this gathering because I wanted to seek understanding about their profiles and backgrounds.”

Chan Chhaya said that to conserve and promote the old songs of the veteran singers for the next generation, his association will continue to research and compile information about all those who had been killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The association will also conduct a music and singing training session for young people and establish an “Artistic Center” in Cambodia in the future.

Since the establishment of the association in 2006, a total of 354 Cambodian youths have been trained in music and song, he said. ///

Association Remembers Veteran Singers

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 500 artists, singers, video stars, musicians and songs writers attended the Sin Sisamuth Association’s (SSA) gathering ceremony on March 17 in Phnom Penh.

SSA was established in 2006 to preserve and promote the songs and music of veteran Cambodian singers and composers.

Sin Chan Chhaya, President of SSA, said that the gathering ceremony aimed to raise funds in support of the association’s activities and to meet with elderly singers, musicians, composers, and films stars who survived the reign of the Khmer Rouge.

He said this is the third celebration Phnom Penh. The funds raised will be put toward conservation and promotion of music created by those who passed away between 1975 and 1979 during the Pol Pot regime. The gathering also facilitated the meeting of veteran singers, writers and video stars from the 1960s and 70s who survived the Pol Pot regime in order to share ideas on music conservation and development for next generation of Cambodia.

During the Pol Pot period, approximately 99 percent of the Khmer singers, song writers, composers and film stars, along with their profiles and documents, were killed and destroyed, said Chan Chhaya.

He pointed out that those like Sin Sisamuth, who was given name “King of Golden Voice” by former King Preah Norodom Sihanouk, were executed in the Pol Pot regime. Those people included En Yeng, Ing Nary, Sos Math, Chea Savoeun, Pao Sitho, Svay Samoeur, Has Salan, Ung Song Soeum, and female singers, Ros Serei Sothea, Pen Ran, and Huoy Meas.

“The deaths of our veteran singers were a huge loss of the human resources and Khmer intelligence in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Chan Chhaya said.

Nuon Sangvath, SSA’s First Vice President, said that among the veteran singers who were killed by the Khmer Rouge, Sin Sisamuth was only the singer and composer who had sweet and different voice. He sang very beautifully.

Sin Sisamuth had many achievements including his artworks, song compositions and literacy promotion for people in Cambodia, Sangvath said. Before he was killed by Khmer Rouge in 1976, Sin Sisamuth sang and produced hundreds of Khmer songs.

Sangvath emphasized that despite Sin Sisamuth’s having passed away more than three decades ago, his songs and voice are still very popular for Cambodian people today. No one can sing like him and the association used his name in their title because of his excellence in music.

Puth Pisith, 67, a retired teacher who participated in the gathering, said that he was happy to attend the event.

“I think that it is very important for me to participate because I truly respected and adored him,” Pisith said. “Although he passed away more than 30 years ago, he is still my only hero and is the ‘King of Golden Voice’ for the people in Cambodia.”

Kong Sothea, 50, an officer working at the Ministry of Interior also participated in the gathering. He said he was pleased with SSA’s gathering. The gathering helped him to more clearly understand the backgrounds of the old Cambodian singers, scholars and film stars before they were killed by the Pol Pot regime.

“I liked listening to the old songs very much. My most favorite singers are Mr. Sin Sisamuth, Mr. En Yeng, Sos Math, Ms Pen Ran and Ms. Ros Serei Sothea,” he said. “I attended this gathering because I wanted to seek understanding about their profiles and backgrounds.”

Chan Chhaya said that to conserve and promote the old songs of the veteran singers for the next generation, his association will continue to research and compile information about all those who had been killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The association will also conduct a music and singing training session for young people and establish an “Artistic Center” in Cambodia in the future.

Since the establishment of the association in 2006, a total of 354 Cambodian youths have been trained in music and song, he said. ///


Khmer Boxers Prepare for Thai Competition

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia plans to send four nationally selected universal boxers to compete in the “31st King Cup 2009” April 3-10 in Bangkok, Thailand, said Um Yurann, President of the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Association (CABA).

Yurann said the “King Cup Championship” will provide the good opportunity for Cambodian universal boxers to compete on the international level. He expects they will win medals for Cambodia.

This is the first time as Cambodia has planned to send the universal boxers to the King Cup Competition. The main objective of competing at the international level to earn medals and bring honor to Cambodia, Yurann said. It will also allow the athletes to improve and provide the opportunity to exchange techniques other universal boxers in preparation for future international competitions.

He said Cambodia made the decision to take part in this year’s competition after receiving an invitation from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) in early March. About 70 countries will send their boxers to the competition in Thailand, according to the AIBA.

Cambodia’s competitors are Chey Kosal, 69-kilogram weight class, from Preah Khan Reach Club; Hin Say Heng, 75-kilogram weight class, from Ministry of Interior’s Club; Phal Sophat, 60-kilogram weight class, from Damrey Prich Club; and Svay Ratha, 60-kilogrm weight class, from Military Police Club in Phnom Penh.

Yurann said they are considered the most outstanding and excellent boxers in Cambodia. He added that they have a lot of fighting experiences and have learned many techniques through both local and international competitions.

“I strongly hope that with hard training, talent skills and experienced fighting, the Cambodian boxing team will bring the success and medals to Cambodia,” Yurann said.

Mel Kado, Deputy Director of the Youth and Sport Department and Secretary General of CABA, said from 1994 to 1998, Cambodia sent the kick boxers to the King Cup in Thailand and won many medals.

However, Kado said since the Thais declared the kick boxing a Thai sport, going by the local name “Muy Thai,” Cambodia boycotted the King Cup until now.

Yurann said Cambodia will attend 11 international boxing competitions in 2009 in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Laos and Vietnam.

In preparation for the international competitions, Yurann said the boxers now taking part in intense training at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. They received financial support from CABA and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

Yurann said CABA plans to establish Khmer Traditional Boxing clubs in Australia, France and the United States to promote the Cambodian style called “Kbach Kun Boran Khmer” throughout the world.

There are more 50 excellent boxers in Cambodia, according to Yurann. He said CABA plans to host “World Traditional Boxing” competition in Phnom Penh in 2010.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peaceful, Sustainable Societies Discussed at Seminar

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The regional seminar on the “Role of Parliaments in Promoting Peaceful and Sustainable Societies in Southeast Asia” was held March 9 to 11, 2009, at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh.

Lawmakers, researchers and policy makers from Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, Australia and Switzerland attended the three days seminar.

Samdech Chea Sim, President of the Senate of Cambodia, welcomed the participants to the seminar and stressed the importance of discussing and sharing experiences related to the issues they have faced, especially in regards to reconciliation and peace building in Southeast Asia.

Samdech Chea Sim reminded the seminar’s attendees of Cambodia’s particularly difficult history. Toward the end of the Cambodian civil war in 1987, he said, negotiations to reconcile the processes for peace building among the Khmers started and all political parties signed the Paris Peace Agreement on October 23, 1991. Shortly after, in 1993, the General Election was organized by United Nations to establish official Cambodian government.

“The process of ending conflict and reconstructing Cambodia did not happen without obstacles and challenges. Even though there were obstacles in our path, we have not fallen away from the multi-liberal democratic parties,” Samdech Chea Sim said during his opening remarks.

He said political stability and sustainable development would not have been possible for Cambodia if there was a lack of responsibility, willingness and commitment from the people in the country. These qualities led to peace and national reconciliation and allowed Cambodia to garner support from international communities.

“After the war ended in the country in 1998, the Cambodian government had made an effort to strengthen peace, security, social order and political stability in a bid to stabilize macro-economy and to integrate Cambodia into the regional and international framework,” he said.

The National Assembly of Cambodia and the Senate of Cambodia enacted many laws to protect and promote women and human rights, particularly laws targeting domestic violence and human trafficking. Cambodia’s parliament is actively seeking ways to fulfill the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals, Samdech Chea Sim said.

“Cambodia is in peace, despite these matters we have faced. We cooperate within the Cambodian government to fulfill the obligations of our state in an extensive regional and international cooperation in the age of globalization, especially in the battle against drugs, cross-border crimes and terrorism,” he said. “I believe the mechanisms of tackling the past problems through a judicial system will be a lesson for all the countries in the region and in world.”

Samdech Chea Sim emphasized the government’s strategy to lay out new policies and to arduously enact reforms in major sectors, such as public administration, the armed forces, the judiciary and public finances, in order to boost economic growth and development. The government, he said will uphold the principles of accountability, transparency, and good governance throughout the process.

He continued to say that for these reforms to take place, the legislative body must play an important role in approving the frameworks of laws, plans and national budget as well as in monitoring the actual performances through its three functions of formulating the laws, representing the people and checking the government procedures. In the meantime, the legislative body will actively contribute to the effort of the Cambodian government in the process of the integrating Cambodia into the regional and international frameworks through ratifying treaties, conventions, protocols, and important agreements, especially as a member of ASEAN, WTO, and the United Nations.

Ngo Anh Dzung, member of IPU Executive Committee and Vice President of the Vietnamese IPU Group, said that since the peace agreements were singed in 1993, Cambodia has made numerous strides to carve out a viable and sustainable future for its citizens.

Dzung said that peace negotiations and agreements are only the starting point in a long-term plan to rebuild society. After conflict, the challenges remain formidable. He said that Parliament has enormous potential to bring people closer and, if managed well, can be an important vehicle for potential mediation and action.

He continued to say that in the end, Parliament should maximize its unique points by offering a genuine and effective platform for dialogue and action in a context of respect and trust, with the full participation of men and women from all sectors of society. This would include new generations of political leaders, civil society organizations and private sector leaders.

He emphasized that political parties also need to be part of the equation: they should avoid the paralysis of polarization by working in the interest of the common good, promote a culture of integrity and act responsibility when preparing their candidates for political office. Introspection and reform by political parties is also an important step.

The IPU continues to be the focus point of parliamentary dialogue, working for peace and cooperation among people and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. He said that in its defense of democracy and the values that inspire respect for the rule of law, the IPU has worked to build parliamentary capacity in the aftermath of conflict, said Dzung.

He added that through regional seminars, the IPU has become increasingly involved in helping parliaments to play a more substantial role in promoting inclusive political processes, institutional reform and reconciliation. More and more, the IPU is providing assistance to the individual parliaments to map out a parliamentary blue print for action in these areas.

The seminar was jointly organized by the National Assembly of Cambodia and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) with financial support from IPU, the United Nations for Development Program (UNDP), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), the Cambodia-Canada Legislative Support Project (CCLSP) and the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC).

UC Scholar Dreams of Achieving Higher Education

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Phoan Putheary, 19, was one of The University of Cambodia’s “Samdech Techo Hun Sen Vision-100 Scholarships” recipients in 2008. She passed the scholarship exams at The University of Cambodia (UC) as well as at the University of Puthisastra (UP).

Putheary was born in Phnom Penh and has one sister and one brother and she is the eldest sibling in her family. She now studies International Relations at UC and Management of Business at (UP) in Phnom Penh.

“I am very happy because I passed the scholarship exams from the University of Cambodia and the University of Puthisastra in 2008. I think that I passed the two scholarship exams in the same academic year because I study hard and work hard,” she said.

After earning her Baccalaureate from Tuol Tumpong High School in Phnom Penh in 2008, she applied to study International Relations at UC. The university’s introduction of the “Samdech Techo Hun Sen Vision-100 Scholarships” program garnered her interest in the university.

“I decided to apply for study the International Relations at the University of Cambodia because my friends told me that UC is the best university in Cambodia. I often saw Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, the UC President’s activities and interviews about UC broadcasting in local and international television channels, such as the ASEAN Program Channel. I grew an appreciation for UC and I praise Dr. Kim Hourn very much for his efforts,” she said.

To achieve her goals, she studies hard every day and reads books related to her studies. She also takes advantage sources like the internet, foreign newspapers and magazines to perform additional research in her area of study.

“I decided to study International Relations because I wanted to speak English well and either become a diplomat or tour guide in Cambodia in future. I prefer to study with UC because the university has qualified professors, excellent teaching and most up-to-date curriculum,” she said.

She said wants more than ever to receive her Bachelor’s degree, as it will be a stepping stone in reaching her goals. She plans to then continue studying for Master’s and Doctoral degrees at UC.

Besides her university courses, Putheary is also studying English at the Australian Center for Education (ACE) in Phnom Penh and is brushing up on her computer skills. She is also looking for internships or part-time work with national and international non-governmental organizations.

She said she wants to work while she getting her education because she wanted to acquire office skills and gain useful experiences prior to graduation.

Sun Srei Nay, 18, a first-year student at UP, and personal friend to Putheary, said she appreciated Putheary’s diligence in her work.

Srei Nay said she met Putheary in 2006 when they studied together at Tuol Tumpong High School. She said Putheary had an appetite for learning and was one of the most outstanding students in her class.

“I think that it is my pleasure and honor that I have a good friend like Putheary,” Srei Nay said. “I hope she will continue to study and work hard. I’m confident she will become an outstanding student at UC. I also hope that she will realize her dreams and become a future leader in Cambodia.”

Cambodian,Vietnamese, Laotian Premiers to Attend Golf Competition

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphanvanh will play in a “Friendship Golf Competition” on March 28 in Vietnam, said Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce of Cambodia.

The Minister Cham Prasidh said Prime Minister Hun Sen initiated the “Friendship Golf Competition” with support from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphanvanh.

“This is the first time that the golf competition between three countries will be organized to take place in Vietnam,” he said. “The main objective of the competition is raise for funds in order to help the poor people and vulnerable groups by providing the eye treatment for poor people and heart operations for poor children as well as helping homeless people, orphaned children, the elderly and other people who have suffered from natural disasters in the three countries.”

Prasidh said Prime Minister Hun Sen, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphanvanh and other high-ranking officials from three countries will attend the competition. He added that the competition will be aired live on state-run television in all three countries.

According to estimation, more 200 golfers from the three countries will participate in the first-ever competition, Prasidh said. It will take place at the Long Thanh Gulf Club in Hanoi.

“This event will also provide opportunity for at least 50 to 70 professional golf players from each of the three countries as well as their sponsors to participate in the competition. It will also to strengthen the solidarity and friendship among the three countries,” Prasidh said.

Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, said that golf competition will promote local and international tourism within Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR. He also agreed with Prasidh that the competition will strengthen diplomatic relations and increase the bond of friendship that exists among the countries.

Cambodian Gymnasts to Attend International Competition in Thailand

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia plans to send six nationally selected gymnastic players to the “First Aerobic Asia Championship” on March 25-30 in Bangkok, Thailand, said Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and President of the Cambodian Gymnastic Federation (CGF).

Thong Khon said the Aerobic Asia Championship will give the gymnasts the chance to compete on an international level in order to gain medal and honor for Cambodia. Their participation will also allow them to improve, learn and exchange techniques with international gymnasts in order to prepare for future international competitions.

“I think that gymnastics is one of the Cambodia’s most potential sports, in which our competitors can easily earn medals for the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Thong Khon said. “I hope that through their hard training, previous experience in international competitions, and strong financial support from the Cambodian Gymnastic Federation and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, our Cambodian gymnastics team will bring success and medals to Cambodia.”

Last year, Cambodia sent a gymnastics team to an international competition in Thailand, where more than 40 countries participated. They won the third place in the competitions, according to Thong Khon.

Nay Phonna, Secretary General of the Cambodian Gymnastic Federation, said the third team Cambodia will be sending to participate in an international competition in Thailand. He said the team of three male and three female gymnasts with one coach will leave for the “First Aerobic Asia Championship” on March 25.

During last year’s international gymnastics competition in Thailand, the Cambodian team won six medals, including one silver and five bronzes, Phonna said. In 2005, the gymnastic team won a bronze medal.

In addition to March’s competition, he said the Cambodian Gymnastic Federation also plans to send three gymnasts to the “Hay Fong Indoor Games,” which will take place in the middle of October 2009, in Hanoi, Vietnam. The federation also plans to send eight nationally selected competitors to attend the “Junior and Senior First Southeast Championship 2009” in December in Thailand.

To prepare for the international competition, Phonna said the gymnastic team is training hard every day. He said that he as well as the other national coaches conduct the practices at the National Olympic Stadium, in Phnom Penh.

To improve Cambodian gymnastic team’s skills and technique, Phonna said his federation hired an expert coach from North Korea in 2006. He said that the team was also trained by a volunteer and experienced aerobic coach from New Zealand in 2008.

To promote the gymnastics in Cambodia, the Embassy of China in Cambodia and the Republic of Korea have donated materials to Cambodian Gymnastic Federation in 2008.

“I hope that through the previous experience, hard training and patience, and with compilation of training materials, our gymnastic team will able to earn more medals at international competitions or the SEA Games in the future,” Phonna said.

He said that currently, there are a total of 10 gymnastic trainees in the federation and there are 10 gymnastics clubs in Cambodia.

Yos Sokra tells about his hard studies to get scholarship

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Nineteen-year-old, Yos Sokra, is one of The University of Cambodia’s “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships 2008”recipients and began studying English Literature after passing the scholarship exam.

“I am happy I passed the scholarship exams. I think that without the scholarship, I probably would not have the chance to study at The University of Cambodia (UC), the most outstanding and qualified university in Cambodia,” he said.

Sokra graduated from Sunthormuk High School in Phnom Penh in 2008. Following the introduction of the “Samdech Hun Sen-Handa National Scholarships”and after completing his high school exam, he applied to study English Literature at UC.

“I will study hard to earn my Bachelor’s degree as a way of thanking The University of Cambodia and the scholarship sponsor Dr. Haruhisa Handa,” he said. “I plan to then continue to study for my Master’s and Doctoral degrees with The University of Cambodia,” he added.

In order to achieve his goals, he has committed to studying hard, doing his homework and reading books related to his studies. He said that in addition to his coursework at UC, he has also been studying computer skills at a private school in Phnom Penh.

“I decided to study on English literature at The University of Cambodia because my friends told me that UC adheres to international education standards. In the future, it will help me speak English well or become an English teacher in Cambodia,” he said.

Yos said he is now happy because his English writing and speaking have improved after studying six months at UC. He hopes his English skills continue to improve upon graduation. It is his dream is to obtain a higher degree in English Literature at UC and to be an English teacher in Cambodia in the future.

He said after graduation, he will apply to work with private English schools or international organizations in Cambodia. He added that after gaining work experience, he wants to establish an English school in Phnom Penh.

“I decided to study English because I wanted to be an English teacher in Cambodia. I prefer to study at UC because the university has qualified professors and excellent teaching and the curriculum is relevant to the needs of today’s students with regards to the Cambodian job market,” he said.

In addition to studying, Yos is now looking for an internship or part-time work with a national or international non-governmental organization. He said that working as an intern at first will help him gain office skills and useful experience so that he can begin to support his family before graduation.

Ung Panhawhath, 18, a first-year student at the Norton University in Phnom Penh and close friend of Yos, said that he appreciates Yos’ work ethic when it comes to his studies.

“I have known Sokra since we studied together in Grade 9 at Sunthormuk High School. He is a hard worker, and he was the most outstanding student in my class,” Panhawhath said.

Panhawhath said Sokra’s father died during a traffic accident when he was three years old. He said Sokra lives with his mother and elder brother Yos Sokret in Phnom Penh.

“My parents and I like Sokra very much because he is a good boy and hard worker with honesty,” he said. “I am very proud to know him and I hope that he will reach his dreams and became an excellent English teacher in Cambodia in the future,” he said.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cambodia Prepares for International Motocross Championship 2009

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 50 famous international motorcycle riders from eight countries – Cambodia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Iceland, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Thailand – attended the “Total International Motocross Championship 2009” on March 7 at the Prek Leap racetrack on the National Road Number 6A on the outskirt of Phnom Penh.

The “Total International Motocross Championship 2009” competition was co-organized by the Total Cambodge and the Comin Khmer Companies and jointly sponsored by Cell-card, Ford, ANZ Royal Bank, Oxygenizer and the Plazza Company, according to Yim Vibol, Marketing and Communication Manager of the Total Cambodge in Cambodia.

“This is the fourth time the international motocross competition has taken place in Cambodia, and the main objective of the race is to promote motocross riding in Cambodia,” he said.

Vibol said that another objective of the competition is to advertise about Total’s brand of oils, fuels and lubricants. Total is the world’s fourth largest oil and gasoline company and premier provider of high quality, advanced fuels and lubricants.

There are a total of 50 motorcycle riders, including 10 professional riders and 40 local riders attending the competition. The competition will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Preak Leap racetrack. Entry is free for all Cambodians and foreign nationals.

Vibol said that the competition was divided into four categories: Motocross Experts, Motocross Novice, Trail Bikes Experts and Trail Bikes Novice. He said the riders will test one another’s skills in these four categories.

All riders who won the first class of championship received a trophy along with other value prizes, said Vibol. Those who place second through fifth place will receive a medal. The medals and prizes will be provided by Total and other sponsors.

Last year, a rider from New Zealand won first place in the championship, a French rider won second place and an Indonesian rider won third place, according to Vibol.

Seang Makara, 26, a Cambodian motocross rider, said he looked forward to attending the competitions this year.

“This is the first time for me to attend the Motocross Championship. I hope that with my hard training and preparation, I will win a medal in this competition,” he said before the competition.

Heng Vuthy, 28, another motocross rider, said that he won a medal in the competition last year after many years of training. He has participated in the competition four times so far. .

“This is the fourth time I have participated in the competition. Thus, I will try all my best to win a medal like last year. I won a medal for Trail Bikes Experts, and this year, I strongly believe that with my previous experience, I will win one more medal,” he said.

Vibol said Total has been heavily involved in world-class motor sports for almost four decades. He said some of its successes include the 2005 World Rally Championship with in the Citroen team, the 2005 Formula 1 Championship with the Renaut team and various motorbike grand prix wins with the Kawasaki team.

Young Japanese, Khmer Leaders Share Ideas During Exchange Program

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
Twenty Cambodian political leaders took a one-week trip to Japan to learn good experience between the two countries. The trip took place March 3-12, 2009 and officials from the four Mekong Region countries – Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – also attended.
Three of the Cambodian delegates were parliamentarians and 17 were officials from youth departments in different political parties, Leng Peng Long, Secretary General of the National Assembly of Cambodia, said.

The Secretary-General said that the visit is a part of the “Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009.” They traveled to Japan as part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Program to share knowledge, developments and working experiences with young Japanese parliamentarians and political party members.

“This is the first time young Cambodian political leaders have received support from the Embassy of Japan in Cambodia under the JENESYS Program,” he said. “I think this program is an example of additional assistance Cambodia has received from Japan. It is very meaningful for Cambodian political leaders, who are the bamboo shoot of the country,” he added.

The JENESYS Program coordinates exchanges between the East Asian and Japanese youth. The program is expected to deepen mutual understanding among young people who will assume important roles in East Asian countries in the future.

“I hope they will exchange their views and experiences and bring home new ideas for developing Cambodia. I also hope they will build a bridge of cooperation and friendship between Cambodia and Japan in future,” he added.

Ly Narun, a member of the National Assembly of Cambodia and the team leader of the Cambodian delegation, said he was proud to have the opportunity to visit Japan and learn about the Japanese experience for Cambodia’s younger parliamentarians.

“I am very impressed with Japan’s JENESYS Program. I think that this program has really contributed to the building of human resources and development in Cambodia,” he said.
“I hope that our delegation will gain more experiences and ideas from young Japanese parliamentarians for the future development of human resources in Cambodia.”

Khlok Sousbolatine, Assistant to the National Assembly of Cambodia’s 2nd Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Auditing, participated in the JENESYS Program and said he was honored to visit Japan and exchange views and experiences among young political leaders.

“I am happy with the JENESYS Program because Japan is the most developed and economically powerful country in the world. This will be my first visit and I hope that from it, I will gain more ideas and experiences,” he said. “I plan to share my knowledge and experiences to my colleagues after I return,” he said before his departure.

Katsuhiro Shinohara, the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, said that the main purpose of this visitation program is to promote exchanges of views and experiences among young political leaders in Japan and the Mekong region countries for their future cooperation.

The Ambassador said the participants visited Tokyo and attended a meeting and panel discussion with young Japanese parliamentarians and party members. They were divided into two groups of 10 members each. One group visited Gifu Prefecture and the other group visited Okinawa Prefecture to study the council systems and local industries. The participants stayed with local families in those prefectures.

During the Japan-Mekong Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in January 2008, officials decided to celebrate the “Mekong-Japan Exchange Year” in 2009 to promote further exchanges between Japan and Mekong Region countries. Events to be held will include political dialogues, economic events, cultural exchanges, promotion of tourism and youth exchanges.

Ambassador Shinohara said the JENESYS Program is based on former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe’s concept announced at the Second East Asia Summit (EAS) in January 2007. The plan is to implement a 35 billion Yen youth exchange program, inviting about 6,000 young people to Japan, mainly from the EAS member states (ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India New Zealand and the Republic of Korea) every year for five years. His vision is to establish a basis for Asian solidarity by expanding youth exchange.///

Cambodia ICT and Telecom World Expo Schedule in April

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The National Information Communications Technology Development Authority (NiDA) and International Data Group (IDG) will host the 5th Cambodia ICT & Telecom World Expo 2009 in Phnom Penh on April 3 to 5, 2009 at the NagaWorld International Hotel.

Phu Leewood, NiDA’s General Secretary, said the conference has seen remarkable growth since its inceptions in 2005 and continues to build its strength each year. NiDA and IDG will mark the fifth anniversary by holding the event at the NagaWorld International Hotel in Phnom Penh and launch interactive activities to be held simultaneously. The activities include the best of 10 ICT products awards and the e-government symposium.

“The main objective of the Cambodia ICT Expo is ‘Building a Robust ICT Industry’ and to speed up the country’s ICT industry development by calling the government sector, companies, and individual specialists to share their experiences. We also want the local and international companies to showcases the latest ICT products, services, and technologies during the three-day event,” he said.

The conference will cover topics such as e-government and e-learning application, as well as introduce an e-library and an e-sports zone to attract young people who are considered to be on the cutting edge of technology. The event will also introduce to the market state-of-the-art technologies for e-commerce such as e-signature, e-report and e-filing, which will help businesses improve productivity, adaptability, and integration into the world economy.

The technologies, products and services showcased at the exhibition will benefit businesses benefits, public institutions and the young generation in Cambodia, Leewood said.

He pointed out the conference will take place during economic downturn, so the business conditions this year will be challenging. Making wise technological choices is important to end-users and finding new technology that leverages the existing systems will help businesses sustain growth.

Le Than Tan, General Director of IDG, said that the 2009 event also marks the 5th consecutive gathering of ICT giants.

Than Tan said the conference program was arranged to contribute to the e-government in Cambodia as it will bring together ministers and senior officials responsible such developments. There will also be leading academics, advisors and practitioners from the public sector, as well as international and local partners and suppliers, to discuss the directions and challenges of deploying e-administration in Cambodia.

He pointed out that as the event has grown, so has the business the participating companies. Fifty companies from more than 10 countries will take part in the conference this year. Nearly 40 percent of the participants will be hardware and software vendors 32 percent will be internet services providers. Mobile services providers, telecom services providers, electronics vendors, and application solutions for ICT industry will also take part.

“The show floor will feature participants representing the full spectrum of the ICT industry, from learning global names to new markets entrants,” Than Tan said. “The event format will combine a major technology exhibition with a strategic conference giving a mix of high-level content with face-to-face meeting opportunities for the industry.”

He expects more than 30,000 local visitors will attend the three-day show as well as business delegates from the U.S., Europe, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and Korea. They will have chance to win prizes from the organizers and exhibitors. The organizers donated gifts that will be given to the first 1,000 visitors each day.

To better serve the local visitors, Than Tan said the organizers have arranged a parking lot near NagaWorld International Hotel and will offer a free bus shuttle between the parking lot and venue.

This year’s conference is supported by the Council of Ministers; the Ministry of Information, Post and Telecommunication; the Ministry of Commerce; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport; and the Phnom Penh Municipality.

CMA Provides Microfinance Services to More People

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 1.5 million Cambodian families who live in rural areas and provinces use private microfinance companies to operate their own business activities in Cambodia, according to Huot Ieng Tong, President of Cambodian Microfinance Association (CMA).

Tong said that most of the typical microfinance clients are poor and low-income people that do not have access to formal financial institutions in Cambodia. He said that they are usually self-employed and household-based entrepreneurs or businesses.

Cambodia has a diverse array of microenterprises – small retail shops, street vendors, artisan manufacturers, farmers and service providers – where the business owners, known as “microentreprenuers” engage in low income-generating activities such as food processing and trade.

“The reason why many Cambodian people have decided to use our private microfinance institutions because they did not have accessibility to the state banks or other financial microfinance institutions in Cambodia,” he said during the opening remarks of the CMA’s annual conference on March 5 in Phnom Penh.

During the past 16 years, Cambodia’s microfinance system had improved. It received interest and support from national and international circles because it helped provide effective financial services to poor people and contributed to poverty reduction and development in Cambodia, according to Ieng Tong.

He said that the progress of the Cambodia’s microfinance system honors the nation’s reputation and much of the improvements can be attributed to the peace and political stability provided by the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen. since the establishment of the CMA in 1992, a total of 1,019,851 people, 81 percent of whom are women, borrowed the money from the CMA. In addition, 529,789 people used their saving money with CMA.

According to CMA’s report 2008, there are about 18 private microfinance institutions operating in 24 cities and provinces across the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Bun Mony, General Manager of Entrepreneur Building Limited, a private microfinance service and a member of the Cambodia Microfinance Association in Cambodia, said private microfinance institutions play an important role in developing Cambodia by providing financial services or loans to small business owners. They also provide more jobs opportunity for people and contribute to poverty reduction and help boost the national economy by providing financial resources with lower interest rates.

Mony said that according to a report from 2008, most businesses that borrowed the money from his association succeeded and their living-conditions improved.

He said more than 99 percent of borrowers were able to pay back their loans on time and they continued to take advantage of the association’s financial services. So far, a total of US$740 million had been lent to people in Cambodia, amounting to US$492 million in savings with CMA.
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

The 2nd Regional Science and Technology Camp

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS), in cooperation with the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will organize the 2nd Regional Science and Technology Camp. The event will open on 25th February until the 5th March at the Cambodian Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC), in Phnom Penh.

The 2nd Regional Science and Technology Camp was prepared by the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA Cambodia) with support from the Japanese Funds in Trust, the University of Indonesia, LEGO Education and Tokyo Institute of Technology.

The camp was attended by children aged between 12-15 years from nine different countries in the Asia and Pacific Region including Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand.

Im Sethy, Minister of Education Youth and Sport, has warmly welcomed and expressed his heartfelt greetings and hospitality to all national and international delegates and children from the partner countries in the region who have attended this event.

“Through this culture, they will be able to access training and education systems which also would allow them to have practical knowledge. Furthermore, it encourages and promotes regional cooperation and understanding of the diversity of cultures in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, in order for the children to create better friendships, solidarity and cooperation in the region as well as in the world. This would not only be meaningful for them, but also for the young generation,” Im Sothy said during opening remarks delivered to the 2nd Regional Science and Technology Camp on February 27.

The Minister said this event promotes science and technology education for the children via partnership building and exchange of scientific knowledge in the region, especially between children of developed and developing countries who are given opportunities to practice and interact in harmony.

The camp also illustrates the establishment of a culture of science for the children in Southeast Asia who do not receive enough opportunities in science and technology education like the children in developed nations do.

“We hope that for the next generation the issue of “Development and Equity” will be bettered and addressed soundly in a sustainable way, and the attitude “CAN-DO” will be fostered.

The Minister pointed out that global history has proved that there is a strong relation between economic growth and the development of science and technology. Countries whose sciences and technologies play a leading role in development usually have developed economies and societies, and in return their economic growths help promote the development of sciences and technologies. “Encouraging children to say in school is a priority for MoEYS. Although science and technology education has not been yet been incorporated into the country’s priority policies, MoEYS has paid attention and is fundamentally committed to this sector,” he said.

Lav Chhiv Eav, Rector of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said that the event will provide a good opportunity for our students from various high schools of Cambodia and other countries in the region to learn, to live, to share experience and to work together in the field of science and technology.

“I believe that the Second Regional Science and Technology Camp will be successful and useful for all of us and the Camp will continue annually to promote the science and technology activities locally and globally,” he said.

Teruo Jinnai, UNESCO Representative in Cambodia, said that science and technology is a key to development.

The UNESCO Representative said the event shows the unity in commitment toward the promotion of science and technology for the young generations. He pointed out that nowadays, governments, nations and regions faced a number of challenges, for example how they can attain the Millennium Development Goals, cope with climate change, how to improve natural resources management and strengthen disaster preparedness, and how to respond to the voices of young people seeking a brighter and better world.
“We strongly believe that the new generations are our most valuable assets to re-generate social and economic development. The enhancement of knowledge in science and technology will provide them with a key tool to ensure the sustainability of the development not only in Asia and the Pacific, but also in the world,” he said.

Hard Working Student Soriya Wants to be a Bank Manager

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

One of the University of Cambodia’s Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship students, Bunnrith Soriya, 19, was born in 1988 in Phnom Penh. She is the youngest in her family and has three brothers. She is now studying economics at the University of Cambodia (UC).

“I think I am very lucky as I passed the scholarship exams from the University of Cambodia, a top flight institution in the region. I am happy because the University takes care of all my tuition fees, removing a great burden from my parent’s shoulders,” she told the Cambodia Weekly on February 24.

Soriya studied at Samdech Chea Sim–Chroy Changvar High School in Phnom Penh, earning her Baccalaureate in 2008. She applied to study Economics at UC following the introduction of the Samdech Techo Hun Sen “Vision 100”scholarship in 2008. She now studies very hard to make the most of the opportunities presented to her.

“I think that if I paid for my studies at another private university, my expenses would be more than $600 per year. Thus, to show my appreciation to the University of Cambodia and Prime Minister Hun Sen, the scholarship owner and therefore my gracious benefactor, I will study hard to reach my Bachelor’s degree goal. I will then continue my studies as far as I can take them with the University of Cambodia,” she added.

Soriya continued to say that besides her studies, she is now looking for internships with a range of national and international Non-Governmental Organizations here in Phnom Penh. She wants intern work so that she can learn about workflows in other professional organizations and gain useful experience prior to graduation.

“I decided to study Economics at the University of Cambodia on the recommendation of older, more experienced friends who said UC is the right place to learn in Cambodia. This institution emphasizes not only the theoretical nature of the subjects but provides practical advice on how to apply theory to meet the demands of modern day Cambodia,” she said.

She said that after studying here, she was convinced that UC offers the highest quality educational services in Cambodia. She cited the University’s qualified instructors and the relevance of the subjects to the needs of today’s students and jobs market.

“My dream is to be obtained a higher degree in Economics with UC and to be a banker or economist in future. I think that when I complete my studies, I will apply for banking work and then go on to establish my own bank,” she told the Cambodia Weekly.

Peo Borey, 18, a first year student with a university in Phnom Penh, and personal friend to Soriya, said that she knows Soriya to be a very hard-working student.

“I have known Soriya since we studied together in grade 9 at Chroy Changvar High School in Phnom Penh. Soriya is a hard worker and she is generally the most outstanding student in the class,” she told the Cambodia Weekly during interview.

Pol Sarun, 49, Soriya’s mother, is very happy with her daughter’s efforts. She said that Soriya was able to pass the UC scholarship exams because of her hard work.

“I am very proud as I have a good daughter and I wish her all success in future. I think that her scholarship will encourage her to study harder and to reach her goals,” she told The Cambodia Weekly on February 26.

Sarun said that when her daughter was at primary and high school in Phnom Penh, she studied very hard every day and as a result, brought home glowing reports from her instructors on a monthly basis.

“I am honored as my daughter’s work ethic makes it likely she will become an outstanding student and I also hope that she will realize her dreams and became a future leader in Cambodia,” she said.

Khmer Karate Referee Chan Sovan Talks about his Experience

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

There are over a hundred Karate coaches and referees in Cambodia, according to Mel Kado, Deputy Director General of the Youth and Sports Department in the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports. He said Lach Chan Sovan, 55, is one of the best referees, having completed a training course in Japan in 2004 and being a holder of a World Karate Referee Title from the Asian Karate Federation based in the United States of America.

The Deputy Director General said that Chan Sovan is the only qualified Cambodian Karate referee in Cambodia. On top of this, he is also a master trainer. Chan Sovan has taught for over 30 years in Cambodia.

“I am proud of him as he is a very active and capable referee. I believe that he will share his skills and working experience with all the young Karate fighters in Cambodia,” he said during an interview with the Cambodia Weekly on February 24.

The sixth level black-belt was born in 1953 in Saang district, Kandal province and has four sisters and three brothers in his family. He has two sons and two daughters and all of them have at least a second level black belt each.

Chan Sovan became a coach in 1974. He is now the President and Master Trainer with the Wado-Ryu Karate Academy in Phnom Penh.

“I have trained since 1970 when I was 17 years old and a student at Takhmao High School in Kandal province. It’s always been my dream to be a top-Karate fighter or referee in Cambodia,” he continued.

Sovan said that he started training with the Yutheakkun Training Center in 1970 and later on, he moved to train with the Cambodian Judo and Martial Arts Federation in Phnom Penh in 1973.

He decided to train in Karate because it suits his temperament and offered him the opportunity to become famous. He pointed out that he earned his first level black belt from the Cambodian Judo and Martial Arts Federation in 1974.

Chan Sovan earned the second level black-belt Karate in 1995, the third in 1996, the fourth in 1997 and finally, he gained the sixth level black-belt Karate in 2004. He also received recognition as a referee from the Asian Karate Federation in 2007.

“I am now happy because my dream has become true and I am able to work for the Wado-Ryu Karate Academy to promote the sport in Cambodia. I am going to work hard and do my best in coaching Cambodian students and other Karate coaches. I am also happy to share my knowledge and technical fighting and training skills with other Karate coaches, especially young trainees,” he added.

The World Karate referee said that after the liberation of the country from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, he resumed his Karate teaching in Koh Thom district, Kandal Province. He said during those years, besides Karate teaching, he served with the military in his own district and taught soldiers martial arts skills.

He moved to Takhmao town in Kandal province in 1983 and later established his own Karate Club, the “Sovan Karate Club”. He said he later formed the Wado-Ryu Karate Academy in 1994 in Phnom Penh to promote the art in Cambodia.

Concerning his training, Chan Sovan told the Cambodia Weekly that he planed to attend Karate competitions in Japan in 2010 to compete with foreign fighters and gain the seventh level black belt.

“To prepare for this, besides my teaching, I now training myself very hard every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” he added.

Relating to his study, Chan Sovan said that he obtained a Baccalaureate in 1974 and earned an Associate Degree in Economic Management from the National Institute of Management and Economy in Phnom Penh in 1980.

Hok Chheang Kim, Technical Director of the Cambodian Wrestling Federation, said that Lach Chan Sovan had excellent Karate skills and training experience.

“I have known Chan Sovann since 1970 when he started training in Karate with the Cambodian Judo and Martial Arts Federation in Phnom Penh. He was a very strong man and a hard working person,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

He continued, “He is the only Cambodian Karate coach and referee recognized by the World Karate Federation. I am sure he will make an outstanding referee in the world.”

Sao Vannak, a first- level black belt and former Karate trainee said that Lok Kru Lach Chan Sovann was a qualified and capable coach.

“I have known Lok Kru Sovan since 1994 when I started training with him in Phnom Penh. He is a strong and capable coach but is very friendly and gentle. I am very proud to know him and to have been one of his students,” he said. “I hope he will continue his hard work in teaching Cambodian youths and I wish him all success in future,” he added.