Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tourists to enjoy Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand sea route


16:29' 28/10/2007 (GMT+7)

Phu Quoc Island
VietNamNet Bridge - A travelling route on the southwestern sea linking Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand will be launched.

An agreement to this effect was reached by the tourism authorities and relevant agencies of localities from the three countries at a meeting in the Phu Quoc island district, Kien Giang province, from October 24-25.

There will be two trips a week along this line by a high-speed ship, capable of carrying 300 people. Visitors will depart from Vietnam ’s Ha Tien township, travel to Cambodia ’s Shihanouk Ville port city and finally arrive in an eco-tourism site in Thailand ’s Chanthaburi province.

Kien Giang province, the Vietnamese partner in the project, is mobilising capital to upgrade its infrastructure and entertainment facilities in Ha Tien and Phu Quoc
.

(Source: VNA)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cambodia to Boost Shipping Links with North Korea

Through investment, North Korea may see Cambodia as a bridge by which to produce goods and export to bigger countries.

By . Agence France-Presse

Oct. 26, 2007 -- Cambodia is expected to sign a deal with North Korea to boost trade between the two countries' seaports, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Oct. 25. The agreement is part of a trade package to be finalized early next month during a visit to Cambodia by North Korea's Prime Minister Kim Yong-Il as the nations move to increase economic ties.

Political relations between Cambodia and North Korea "have been excellent ... but with the economic sector, so far there has not been much," Hor Namhong said after meeting with North Korean Ambassador Ri In-Sok.

Last week Cambodian Commerce Minister said isolated North Korea was seeking access to world markets through investing in Cambodia. "Through investment, North Korea may see Cambodia as a bridge by which to produce goods and export to bigger countries," he said at the time, adding though that investment between the two impoverished countries was "zero."

Cambodia has always maintained close diplomatic ties with isolated North Korea, and it has been tapped in the past to ferry messages between South Korea and the north aimed at improving relations.

Foreign Economist: Decline of US Economy May Hurt Cambodia

Posted on October 26th, 2007.

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 531

“Phnom Penh: Mr. Joseph Stiglitz, an economic expert and Economic Nobel Prize Winner, said that Cambodia may be hurt while the United States [US] economy declines.

“He said at the United Nations Development Program office on 25 October that due to an economic decline, approximately 1.7 million US citizens have lost their houses, because they cannot repay loaned money back to the banks.

“He stated, ‘If the income of US citizens goes down, the import of products from other countries goes also down. And US lawmakers may also start to consider new laws to protect their domestic products.’

“So far, the US has been the biggest market for Cambodian garment products in the range of exports worth approximately more than $2 billion per year.

“According to the Chinese Xinhua news agency which quoted the speech of an official of the Ministry of Commerce, in five months of 2007, the worth of garment export from Cambodia to the US resulted in about $984.9 million for Cambodia.

“Concerning the situation in Cambodia, that approximately more than 80% of the citizens are farmers, the economist urged Cambodia to try to strongly promote agriculture, because agriculture is the main strength of the Cambodian economy.

“He continued, ‘Cambodia should improve agriculture so that it becomes a potential for the economy.’

“He stated that agriculture is also a field that can lead to exports, if Cambodia achieves the necessary standards; and in order to make this field work so that Cambodia can export, Cambodia has to improve the provision of credit financings, increase services for the promotion of improved techniques, and promote investments in infrastructure which will serve this field.

“Mr. Joseph Stiglitz is an economist who got the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001. He visited Cambodia for two days on 24-25 October.

“During the visit to Cambodia, he met and discussed with Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, parliamentarians, senators, development partners, and many civil society organizations.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4420, 26.10.2007

Overseas Property Investment Boom for Cambodia

Award winning overseas property investment specialists David Stanley Redfern Ltd have bridged the gap between potential investors and Cambodia. Exclusive 1-2 bedroom apartments in Cambodia are available from just $55,000.

Source: David Stanley Redfern Ltd

Click to see PDF Version of this Press Release


Overseas Property Specialists

Overseas Property Specialists

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PRLog.Org)Oct 26, 2007Southern East Asia and the magical mysticism it holds might sound a little too prestigious for casual or professional investment making or holiday taking buyers alike. However, award winning overseas property investment specialist David Stanley Redfern Ltd have bridged the gap and closed the distance between potential investors and this auspicious neighbour of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Exclusive and genuinely breathtaking 1-2 bedroom apartments in Cambodia are more than an attractive reason to consider the region, as is their price. Available from $55,000, now‘s surely the right time to at least register your interest in a property market set to soar.

Gloriously refurbished (you really must see the photos); these apartments are situated in the heart of a city on the verge of a widely predicted and massive foreign investment boom. A guaranteed 10% net return for the first 2 years certainly does add appeal to this opportunity, but what’s all this about an investment boom, what’s brought it about?

The abundance of stunning architecture that’s on display in the French quarter of Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh or the Pearl of Asia as it’s sometimes affectionately referred to, merely hints at the lavish lifestyles enjoyed in Cambodia already. Being Cambodia’s wealthiest and most populous state, it’s no surprise to learn of its increasing ambition and drive regarding the recognition it righteously deserves for being one of the worlds criminally overlooked beauty spots. But that’s all set to change with fresh focus and scrutiny facing one certain overlooked government policy.

Back in 2005 the Cambodian investment laws were changed in order to allow foreign ownership of any permanent Cambodian fixture, so as to strengthen its already stable economy to the same dizzy heights enjoyed by similar regions within close proximity, Thailand serving as a fine example with its surge of foreign interest over the last few years. However, that particular law never came into being, rendering it redundant with time. Now, with its appetite for development growing stronger and stronger, Cambodia’s government is being strongly urged to review its current foreign investment laws.

International Business Club chairman and US lawyer Bretton Sciaron had this to say on the matter ”There are several reasons for urgent action, this is already a sector of the economy that is dynamic, but foreign ownership of apartments, condominiums and other such structures on the land will help spur further economic growth. Such a regulatory development will provide a dramatic indication that Cambodia has an investor-friendly environment.’ This clearly highlights not only the great potential of the region but the far reaching scope of worldwide interest it holds, that in this case reached the shores of the US.

If getting a piece of the overseas property investment action understandably appeals more than ever before with this stunning property and the opportunities it offers, contact David Stanley Redfern Ltd today with any queries.

Find out more at http://www.davidstanleyredfern.com/Cambodia.aspx

Please direct all media queries, requests for press information and editorial details, to media@davidstanleyredfern.com

About David Stanley Redfern Ltd

David Stanley Redfern Ltd is an overseas property specialist, working directly with developers in more than forty countries. Most properties are exclusive to David Stanley Redfern Ltd, giving an unparalleled selection of resale and new builds. David Stanley Redfern Ltd is AIPP accredited.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cargo aircraft crashes in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A cargo plane crash-landed in a rice field Wednesday night outside Phnom Penh International Airport, Cambodian officials said.

One crew member suffered a broken leg, said Nhim Vanda, vice chairman of Cambodia's National Committee for Disaster Management.

Officials gave varying accounts of the crash.

Him Sarun, Cabinet chief for the Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said the plane took off at about 9 p.m. and was headed to Singapore when it crashed a few miles south of the airport.

He said the plane was an Antonov AN-12 — a four-engine turboprop transport aircraft — but had no details about its ownership.

In June, 22 people, including 13 South Korean and three Czech tourists, died when a Russian-made An-24 plane crashed in mountainous jungle in southern Cambodia.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cambodia's Money History

Brief History of Cambodian Currency

Cambodia’s first machine made coin — the Cambodian Tical

If you thought the Riel had always been Cambodia’s official currency, you are completely wrong. Instead, our currency has changed rather significantly throughout time, both in form and name.

According to Global Financial Data, from the ninth to tenth centuries, Cambodia imported Pyu and Mon coins from the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati, whose remnants can still be found in the central part of present-day Thailand. For a fact, coins were not produced in Cambodia until the sixteenth century. In the 1850s HM King Ang Duong of Cambodia (1841-1859) issued the first machine-made coins, known asCambodian Tical. The Tical was divisible into 8 Fuang and 64 Att.

12 years after Cambodia became a part of the French Indochina, the Banque de l’Indochine was established. A branch was set up in Phnom Penh, which became the note-issuing bank for all of Indochina from February 22, 1891 to December 31, 1951. It is in this period that Indochina’s currency, the Piastre, was introduced.

During the Second World War, French Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) and Thailand, though occupied by Japanese troops, did not have Japanese occupation currency; rather, they paid a kind of ransom by creating domestic currency and giving it to Japan to pay for local expenses. The Piastre was divisible into 100 Cents.

After the war, France initially revalued the Piastre to equal 17 French Francs, but the Piastre was devalued back to its old level of 10 French Francs on May 11, 1953. On December 31, 1951 the exclusive privilege of banknote issue was transferred to the Institut d’Émission des États du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêt-Nam, which also had its headquarters in Phnom Penh. Although separate notes were issued for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the notes were legal tender in all three states.

Upon gaining its independence, Cambodia issued the Riel (KHR) on January 1, 1955. The Riel is divisible into 100 Sen, and was issued at par with the Piastre which was completely replaced by September 29, 1955. The Riel was used in Cambodia until 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, eliminated all money, and introduced a barter economy. The Khmer Rouge had contracted for banknotes showing the Khmer Rouge defending the country against Capitalists, but they were never issued.

After the Vietnamese invasion in 1978, the riel was re-established as the Cambodian currency on April 1, 1980, initially at a value of 4 riel = 1 US dollar. It is subdivided into 10 kak or 100 sen. Because there was no money for it to replace and a severely disrupted economy, the central government gave away the new money to the populace in order to encourage its use. In rural areas the riel is used for virtually all purchases, large and small. However, the US dollar is also used, particularly in urban Cambodia and tourist areas. In Battambang and other areas near the Thai border, like Pailin, the Thai baht is also accepted.

Sources: Global Finance Data and Wikipedia

Countries rushing into Cambodia's oil riches

Companies to invest more in oil, gas exploration in Block B, Cambodia
The Singapore Petroleum Company (Cambodia) Limited (SPC) and its two partners said here on Friday that they will invest another 2.5 million U.S. dollars progressively in oil and gas exploration in Block B in off-sea Cambodia.

"We are interested in exploring oil and gas in Block B," said Lim Beng See, who is in charge of investor relation and communication for SPC.

So far, SPC and its two partners, the PTTEP International Limited and the Resourceful Petroleum Limited, have invested about one million U.S. dollars in Block B, he said.

"We don't know how many barrels of oil and gas there are, yet we are at the exploration stage in Block B," he added.

Block B is located in the Gulf of Thailand, some 250 kilometers off the coast of Cambodia. Is located to the southeast of the Khmer Basin, where a number of oil and gas discoveries have been made, said a SPC statement.

Each company has one-third of the shares in Block B in accordance with the approval of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA), it added.

Investors from early 10 countries have been trying to find oil and gas in Block A to F near the seashore of Cambodia in the past decade, but none of them starts production yet.

Cambodia is preparing a draft law for oil and gas management and expects to get benefits from oil and gas in 2010.

Millions of barrels of oil and gas are estimated to lie beneath the sea southwest to Cambodia.

Source:Xinhua

See also...

http://thevietnamjournal.com/travelogues/2000411cambodiaoilsecurity.htm




New banks for Cambodia

OSK Research upbeat on LPI’s venture in Cambodia

PETALING JAYA: OSK Research Sdn Bhd is upbeat on LPI Capital Bhd's prospects in its venture into Cambodia, where it recently set up CampuBank Lonpac Insurance Plc with parent Public Bank Bhd.

OSK Research said LPI offered the “greatest value and growth prospect amongst its peers, especially with its new venture into Cambodia”.

“While it is too early to quantify the earnings potential, with the success story of Public Bank group in that country, we are upbeat on the prospect of this venture.

“In fact, we expect this venture to outperform its existing Singapore operation due to intense competition in this developed and matured market,” it said in a report.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, LPI's Singapore business registered a pre-tax loss of RM2mil against a pre-tax loss of RM800,000 in the previous corresponding period.

“We understand the general insurance business in Singapore is highly competitive, hence there is much lower pricing power and therefore erosion in margin,” OSK Research said.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, LPI posted a 20% growth in revenue to RM447.5mil from RM373.1mil in the previous corresponding period.

The research house said LPI's third quarter (Q3) financial results were within expectations.

LPI reported improved Q3 net profit of RM21.52mil from RM13.4mil a year earlier owing to higher gross premiums underwritten and higher investment income received.

Although LPI's annualised net profit of RM83.4mil was 8.9% below its estimate of RM91.6mil, OSK Research said it was not overly concerned.

“This is due to seasonal effect, as the second and third quarters are usually weaker,” it said, adding that while LPI's performance in Singapore was disappointing, there was insignificant impact to its bottom line.

OSK Research maintained its “buy” call and target price of RM12.30 per share.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cambodian PM breaks off connection with Prince Ranariddh

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced he would cut off connection with Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who is still in self-imposed exile abroad, local media reported Tuesday.

"We have closed the door. I told him the choice, which is the way to come back, but he refused. So, I stopped talking to him. Hun Sen will not help.. if you send a letter, I will return it," Hun Sen was quoted by the Cambodia Daily newspaper as saying.

The premier also told the prince's subordinates not to try to seek any help for him to be able to return to Cambodia, reasoning that the prince has made too many requests in regards to his return, the Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper said.

However, Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) spokesman Muth Chantha, denied NRP has been begging Hun Sen for help on behalf of their leader, adding that the way for the prince to return is not through Hun Sen and that only King Norodom Sihamoni could help the prince, according to the Khmer-language newspaper.

"We must respect the constitution and the King. The King can grant a pardon-not the prime minister," he was quoted by the Cambodia Daily as saying.

However, Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovatharo said that the prince still has an opportunity to return if he chooses Funcinpec to help him, the Cambodia Daily said.

Earlier this year, Ranariddh, son of Sihanouk, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in absentia by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over corruption charges filed by Funcinpec. Before the verdict was made, the prince left Cambodia and has stayed overseas ever since.

Cambodia forms body to deal with prospect of onshore oil in Tonle Sap lake

Friday, October 12, 2007

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The Cambodian government has formed a body to manage the country's Tonle Sap lake basin, which is thought to contain onshore oil and gas reserves, a report said Friday.

Tonle Sap lake, or "Great Lake," is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is located about 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh and touches six provinces.

The body - named the Tonle Sap Basin Authority - will be headed by Tao Seng Hour, a minister in Prime Minister Hun Sen's government, The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported.

"The authority will do studies for oil exploration," Tao Seng Hour was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The new authority's work will also include improving the environment and the livelihoods of the people living in the basin area of about 16,000 sq. kilometers (6,180 sq. miles) around the lake.

Reached by phone Friday, Tao Seng Hour confirmed his new role but declined to comment further on his tasks or on prospective oil and gas reserves in the Tonle Sap basin.

Tonle Sap lake covers about 250,000 hectares (618,000 acres) during the dry season and expands to about 1.25 million hectares (3 million acres) during the rainy season.

It holds a rich biosphere of more than 200 species of fish, 42 types of reptiles, 225 species of birds and 46 kinds of mammals.

In the past, conservationists have expressed concern about the impact any future oil projects may have on the environment in the basin.

But the government "will make sure that there is no pollution" from the exploration, Tao Seng Hour told the newspaper.

The government has promoted oil exploration in the Tonle Sap area as part of its long-term strategy on energy supply. It has also hoped to use prospective oil revenues to develop the country and reduce poverty.

In recent years, numerous geological studies in the basin have been conducted to look for possible oil and gas reserves, Te Duong Tara, director-general of the official National Petroleum Authority, said in a recent report obtained by The Associated Press.

In 2005, U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp. discovered oil off the Cambodian coast and plans to drill 10 more wells by the end of 2007.

Critics and observers have expressed concern that increased income from oil could exacerbate Cambodia's already widespread corruption.

Singapore Petroleum Company exploring for Cambodian oil

Singapore Petroleum Company Completes Increase of Participating Interest in Cambodia Block B

Singapore Petroleum Company Limited's wholly-owned subsidiary, SPC Cambodia Ltd (SPC Cambodia), and its partners have completed their acquisition of a combined 10% interest in Block B exploration block in Cambodia, further to an announcement on 5 January 2007. This follows approvals by the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority.

The additional 10% interest was acquired from CE Cambodia B Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cooper Energy Limited. With its completion, SPC Cambodia and its two partners, PTTEP International Limited and Resourceful Petroleum Limited, each have one-third share in Block B.

Block B is located 250km off the coast of Cambodia to the east of the Thai-Cambodian Overlapping Claims Area, in the Gulf of Thailand. Block B lies to the southeast of the Khmer basin where a number of oil and gas discoveries have been made.

Cambodia forms body to deal with prospect of onshore oil in Tonle Sap lake

Friday, October 12, 2007

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: The Cambodian government has formed a body to manage the country's Tonle Sap lake basin, which is thought to contain onshore oil and gas reserves, a report said Friday.

Tonle Sap lake, or "Great Lake," is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is located about 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh and touches six provinces.

The body — named the Tonle Sap Basin Authority — will be headed by Tao Seng Hour, a minister in Prime Minister Hun Sen's government, The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported.

read more

Friday, October 5, 2007

Asian's oil boom not all it seems

Thursday, Oct. 04, 2007

Sucked into a Black Hole

At night, the streets of Phnom Penh reveal the country's vast wealth gap. In front of shopping centers selling luxury cosmetics, whole families sleep on patches of sidewalk; beggars missing limbs, a legacy of civil war, crowd outside upscale restaurants where a tiny élite downs French entrées and chic cocktails. But many average Cambodians hope this poverty will vanish, thanks to an apparent miracle: the country has discovered oil. Off Cambodia's southern coast, explorers have found as much as 500 million barrels, potentially providing over $1 billion annually to the country.

Cambodia is hardly unique. As oil prices hit record levels, multinationals are hunting for black gold in ever more unlikely places, and many Southeast Asian nations now are eagerly exploring new fields. Yet few seem to realize that rather than miracles, oil often brings misery, including the massive graft witnessed in some petroleum-rich African and Middle Eastern states.

Ten years ago, with a barrel of oil dipping to about $10, there was little interest in Southeast Asian petroleum, other than established deposits in Indonesia and Brunei. But now, global instability and rising demand from India and China have spiked oil prices to over $80 per barrel, and governments are nationalizing major fields from Russia to Venezuela. At the same time, as offshore technology improves, oil firms can hunt in deeper, tougher waters, like the Timor Gap between Australia and East Timor. So the region has exploded with oil fever. Vietnam plans to explore in seven offshore blocks, Malaysia this summer launched the deepwater Kikeh field, and Indonesia expects production from its vast Cepu oil field to start next year. East Timor could earn at least $10 billion from the Gap, and Burma has discovered offshore fields that could contain 2.5 trillion cubic feet (70.8 billion cubic meters) of gas.

But oil can lead to the "resource curse" — a government-connected élite profits, most people still suffer, and the economy winds up dependent on petroleum and facing inflation from rising oil revenues. Nigeria, for example, ranks in the top 10 of world oil exporters, yet 60% of Nigerians live below the poverty line, and the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said that the government has stolen or wasted some $400 billion, a fair share of which presumably came from oil.

Many Asian countries could go Nigeria's way so far as oil is concerned. Cambodia, which is still recovering from the Khmer Rouge era, ranks near the bottom of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, and does not possess the institutions to monitor how the government uses its new oil riches. East Timor's economy will have almost no other foundations — studies estimate over 90% of government revenues eventually will come from oil. Before its latest brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors, Burma's military regime already demonstrated such little concern for its people that it reportedly spent among the lowest on health care per person of any government on the planet. Hiding out in its new jungle capital Naypyidaw, the junta has not even suggested that oil money will benefit its people. While many oil companies support the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which pushes countries to explain how they spend petroleum money, Chinese oil giants, dominant in Burma, refuse to sign up. Even Brunei, a country that at least used decades of petroleum wealth to provide free health care, is not immune. Suckled on oil, Bruneians demonstrate minimal entrepreneurship, leaving the country with almost no industry when oil runs out, possibly within 20 years.

Some Southeast Asian governments seem to want to learn from the mistakes committed by other countries. East Timor has created a national petroleum fund to save revenues for future generations. Dili has also enlisted advisers from Norway, one of the best examples of putting black gold to good use, to manage its oil money. But noble intentions are not enough. East Timor NGOs worry that their country's oil laws are so vague that they open the door to mismanagement and skimming. A damning World Bank–Indonesia joint study earlier this year showed Indonesia was struggling to spend state funds on decent development projects.

Cambodia could be the biggest worry. Prime Minister Hun Sen has pledged to steer oil revenues toward poverty reduction, but his government has offered no clear plans of how it will ensure riches are spent wisely. The promise of wealth has already sparked a property boom in Phnom Penh, a possible early sign of inflation. In the future, no doubt, Cambodia's capital will boast even more classy French bistros. But it just might have more beggars, too.

With reporting by Joshua Kurlantzick is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power is Transforming the World

Vietnam-Cambodia trade fair in Phnom Penh to open in November



Nhan Dan - The Vietnam-Cambodia International Trade Fair will be opened in Phnom Penh on November 3.

The fair is jointly organised by the Defence Ministry and Ministry of Trade and Industry of Vietnam and the Defence Ministry and Ministry of Trade of Cambodia.

The event is part of the national trade promotion programme in 2007. The fair is aimed to create opportunities for enterprises of the two countries, including military-owned businesses, to promote trade, introduce their products, boost economic co-operation and investment.

The fair will also help strengthen the solidarity and traditional friendship between the people of Vietnam and Cambodia.

The fair closes on November 6.

At the press briefing on October 2 in Hanoi, the Defense Ministry also announced its participation in another international trade fair “Socio-economic development in the Central Highlands – International Economic Integration” to be held in Buon Ma Thuot city in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, from December 14-18.

The fair is jointly organised by the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the People’s Committee of Dak Lak province.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Experts: Cambodia Fertile Ground for Tamil Tigers

Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka - Geneva - Switzerland

02nd October 2007

Cambodian authorities recently broke up a human smuggling network run in part by the Tamil Tigers. The involvement of the Sri Lankan separatist group in illegal activities in Cambodia came as no surprise to experts, who have watched the sophisticated insurgency transform in Phnom Penh since it began buying Cambodian weapons in the 1990s.


"The operations in Cambodia still exist to a great extent. However, it may not be focused in the same areas that it was focused in the late '90s," said Shanaka Jayasekara, a terrorism researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, no longer need Cambodia as a place to "mop up" old weapons, Jayasekara told VOA Khmer, echoing other interviews with analysts and government officials over several weeks.

Their weapons purchases are more sophisticated now, but the criminal infrastructure put in place in the early 1990s, when Cambodia was its primary arms bazaar, is still there, enabling drugs and human smuggling, credit card fraud and money laundering.

"The LTTE has been involved in the narcotics trade for quite some time. They have also facilitated human smuggling of the Tamil diaspora through some of the Southeast Asian countries," Jayasekara said.

Cambodia authorities say in August they broke up an operation run in part by Tamil Tigers intent on smuggling up to 250 Pakistanis and Sri Lankans to Western nations and Australia.

The bust was an indicator that efforts from Sri Lankan and Cambodian officials to unseat Tamil Tiger operations in the county had not been successful.

The Tamil Tigers earn hundreds of millions of dollars each year by collecting money from Tamil immigrant communities. The Tamil people belong to a minority group in northern Sri Lanka and southern India, but Tamil expatriates live in many Western countries, including Canada, Norway and Australia. A lot of money comes from these groups, either by choice or through coercion, experts said.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Tigers also earn money by running guns to groups like the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group in the Philippines. And they smuggle Tamil people into Western countries.

This helps the Tamil Tigers fill their war chest and continue their separatist fight against the Sri Lankan government, Jayasekara says.

"It's a kind of a business opportunity for the LTTE. They make money out of it. They also do it to take their key operatives to certain locations and place them in vital destinations so that their international network can be run more efficiently," Jayasekara said.

At least two Tamil operatives escaped Cambodia's August dragnet: Ranni Lerin and his brother, Lipton Lerin, who operated their human smuggling ring out of a cafe in Phnom Penh, authorities said in September.

The Cambodian government made a public call to Interpol to help them capture the men.

Jayasekara said the flight of the two brothers likely has not halted the group's activities, which are now being run by a man who officials know little about.

Officials say more needs to be done to rein in the Tamil Tigers, who have invented devices—including the suicide vest—and innovated techniques that reach Islamic terrorists.

"The LTTE has growing links with other terrorist organizations like the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah," said Dr. Palitha Kohona, the Sri Lankan Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Colombo and an expert on the Tamil Tigers.

The innovative Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting for a separate Tamil state since 1975, has its own navy, merchant vessels and a small air force. The insurgency has led to the deaths of more than 60,000 people.

Countries like Cambodia and Sri Lanka need help in pursuing the group, Kohona said. "We need expertise," he said.

"We need intelligence gathering assistance."

The US, meanwhile, has listed the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization.

Earlier this year, US agencies disrupted a Tamil Tiger plot to smuggle high-tech weapons, missiles, ammunition and night-vision goggles out of the US.

Undercover officers acting as State Department officials also caught operatives attempting to bribe them to have the Tamil Tigers taken off the US terrorist list.

The problems Sri Lanka is facing with the Tamil Tigers will become the problems of wealthier countries if more isn't done to stop the group, in undeveloped countries like Cambodia and in developed nations of the West," Kohona said.

"Terrorism is not an issue for one country. It is an issue for the entire sea of humanity," he said. "Terrorism is a scourge that has to be eliminated wherever it might be found."

Courtesy : voa.com

(Courtesy : Department of Government Information )

Published : Tuesday, October 02, 2007 02:33:19 PM (Geneva time)

Cambodian official visits Troy

By Matt Clower, The Messenger

The Senior Minister of Education for Cambodia met on Wednesday with leaders at Troy University to lay the groundwork for a possible educational partnership.

Dr. Kol Pheng, who also serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Pannasastra University of Cambodia, is the highest- ranking foreign official to visit the Troy campus. Kol said the main purpose of his visit was to find ways to improve the quality of education offered in Cambodia.

“We want to continue to improve our educational system and ensure we are keeping up with international standards,” Kol said.

To that end, Kol said he wants to see the formation of a 1-2-1 study program that will allow Cambodian students to come to Troy - the student would study for one year in Cambodia, two years in Troy, and then a final year at home.

The same program has been implemented successfully with several Chinese universities, said Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor of Troy University.

He said 1-2-1 is also soon to be implemented in Malaysia, as well.

“The model has been almost perfected in China, and we feel like we can replicate it almost anywhere there is an interested partner,” Hawkins said.

Kol said the training of teachers is of particular interest to Cambodia as the country looks to expand free public education for first through ninth grades.

There's hope that the partnership will work both ways, and Troy University education students will one day spend time in Camboida.

That goal is one Hawkins said he feels strongly about.

“Think about the view those students would have of the world and how much better they will be as teachers,” Hawkins said.

Pol said U.S. students studying in Cambodia would be able do research on issues unique to developing countries.

“We have a lot of emerging issues relating to economic development and different trends in our society,” Kol said.

Emerging from decades of violence under the Khmer Rouge, Kol said Cambodia is still trying to heal old wounds and move forward as a nation.

“For me, education and teaching about the past has been the way to promote healing and forgiveness and replace hate with love,” Kol said.

Following the meeting in Troy, Kol traveled to the Montgomery campus, where he was scheduled to meet with several other leaders from aross the state.

The meeting with Kol was arranged through the university's relationship with former U.N. Ambassador and Cambodian native Sichan Siv.

Siv spoke at the university's spring commencement in May 2007.