Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Game Hunting Park Pitched for Cambodian

The Cambodian government is studying a Spanish company's proposal to convert a huge tract of jungle in the country's wild northeast into a game hunting park for big-spending tourists, a wildlife protection official said.

The Madrid-based NSOK Safaris company wants to use 247,100 acres in Rattanakiri province, which is home to an abundance of wildlife, including several endangered species, as well as several indigenous tribal minorities. The province is about 200 miles from the capital Phnom Penh.

The project envisages bungalows and luxury lodging built "for high-class, VIP tourists...or professional hunters," said Dany Chheang, deputy director of the Wildlife Protection Office of Cambodia's Agriculture Ministry.

NSOK made the proposal more than two years ago, but it remains unclear how much money it would invest in the project and when it could launch, he said.

Tourism is now one of Cambodia's major foreign exchange earners. But land disputes have become common between the rich and indigenous people, who are under pressure to give up their ancestral land to commercial developers.

Dany Chheang said setting up hunting safaris fits the government's efforts "to diversify options for eco-tourism activity in Cambodia."

He said about 30 types of animals, including deer, pigs and wild boar as well as reptiles and birds, could be put up for hunting, but shooting tigers would not be allowed.

Chris Greenwood, a spokesman from the World Wildlife Fund in Cambodia, called on the government to release more information about the plan. "Anything that threatens the survival of already endangered species is not a good thing for conservation in Cambodia," he said.

Beating the odds



If ever there was a television program screening an against-all-odds story, this is it. If ever there was a story of indelible mateship, here it is.

Two WA men with goals greater than themselves, two men from different worlds, have come together to transform lives, give meaning to their own and have a roaring good time along the way.

Frank Surgener met Daryl Howe nine years ago. An agent for Brooks sporting goods, Surgener was organising a fun run when he spotted Howe with local man Tommy Greenwood, ex-boxer and noted sporting mentor.

Howe stood out because he has cerebral palsy, which affects all his limbs. By rights, Howe shouldn’t be walking, never mind running — never mind running marathons, of which so far he has run 10.

This personal triumph and history-making first includes the New York Marathon, an endeavour captured on a new SBS documentary, Frank and Daz Take on the World.

Surgener sits in his East Fremantle living room trying to recall his early impressions of Howe. “The first thing I ever heard about Daryl was from Tommy and he said something I’ve never forgotten, which was, ‘This kid has got the biggest heart of anybody I have ever trained’. And that stuck in my mind because I had seen a lot of the other people Tommy had trained and I thought that was a big call.”

In the documentary by filmmakers Judy Rymer and Bevan Childs, Howe says he likes to think that Surgener is inspired by him as much as he is inspired by what Surgener does.

What Surgener does and has been doing for the past three years is throwing his energy behind his charity Ride Aid aimed at helping the street kids of Cambodia and their families who still are suffering from the horrific legacy of Pol Pot’s murderous regime.

Just to kick things off, Surgener rode his BMW bike 20,000km from Fremantle to Cambodia. By Christmas, he hopes to have opened his sixth school, a massive achievement in Ride Aid’s short three-year existence.

A long-time cross-country biking enthusiast, Surgener has ridden through 65 nations across the globe. When it came to Cambodia, the need was obvious — especially of the children.

“There were people with very little resources and they were trying to help,” he says. “I met volunteers who were doing a lot with a tiny bit. I said, ‘I’m going to help you do this better’, and I’m still doing it.

“M’Lop Tapang is our centre, which started with 18 kids. Now we’re dealing with 1500.”

One of the film’s most tender moments is when Surgener takes his mate Daz to Cambodia to see what their fundraising efforts are achieving and to show him something of Cambodia’s history.

The Killing Fields were not familiar to Howe, but his reaction in a museum dedicated to those who were butchered there speaks of the heart and decency of this remarkable young man. It’s also a moment where the two men’s bond deepens — as is the New York Marathon.

Howe’s aim was to beat his personal best time. As a disabled person, he was allowed a two-hour start, but the excitement and a pulled muscle conspired to threaten his dream of even finishing.

“We didn’t hit the time right,” Surgener says. “Daryl was coming through at the same time as the elite runners, but the crowds and officials were extraordinarily supportive. It was mind numbing. You get to First Avenue and there are literally a million people around you. I think it’s the best supported sporting event in the world. People line the streets 10 deep and they yell and cheer for six bloody hours. It’s just fantastic.”

Running beside his friend carrying a banner saying “Go Daryl Go”, Surgener gees up the crowd to get Howe across Manhattan Bridge. It’s an inspiring Chariots of Fire moment.

Next year, Howe will run in the South African Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, a 56km run as opposed to the standard 42km marathon course. Surgener will be there to cheer him on. Meanwhile, Surgener, a Scot who has called WA home for the past 15 years, will continue his mission to help the children of Cambodia.

“It takes a lot of work to keep the Ride Aid machine going and in terms of revenue, we’re competing with 3000 professional charities with hundreds of full-time staff on board,” he says. “We’re totally voluntary.

“After Guy Leech donated $100,000 (the Ironman from Celebrity Survivor) to Ride Aid, he told me he was visiting our centre and the first thing he said was, ‘My wife and I are paying our own airfares and hotel’. Because everyone pays their own way, no one takes anything out to support it and that’s a culture we’re trying to create. I’m determined to make every dollar count.”

• To donate, go to info@rideaid.net. Frank and Daz Take on the World, tonight, 7.30, SBS.

Half a dozen border gates with Vietnam

I'm a bit slow with this news as the most recent international border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam opened for business on 15 December, but here it is anyway. Cambodian visas are available (you'll have to get your Vietnamese one beforehand) at the new border checkpoint which is located in Ratanakiri province and is called the O'Yadaw - Le Tanh crossing, leading into Vietnam's Gia Lai province. To be honest, it's been an unofficial crossing for a while but has now been declared the official, and sixth, international border-crossing between the two countries. All they have to do now is get on with completing the 'road from hell', the 75kms stetch of highway (not!) between Ban Lung, the provincal capital, and the border itself. This follows on the heels of the opening of the border at Ha Tien in the southwest corner of Cambodia. There's also announcements this week that Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to initiate a single visa for entry into both countries. No details yet but if the existing visa cashflow dries up for some as a result of this breakthrough, there's going to be a lot of unhappy faces in the kingdom. Thailand sees 15 million visitors per year, Cambodia gets 2 million.

Cambodia's boom depends on USA

By David J. Lynch, USA TODAY

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The streets of this riverside capital are thick with traffic, sport-utility vehicles favored by foreign aid workers as well as the more modest cars piloted by locals. Scaffolded construction sites dot the dusty downtown and locals spy Western investment bankers with the enthusiasm reserved elsewhere for celebrity sightings.

"It seems like a frontier town, with all of the excitement, all of the energy," says Nisha Agrawal, the World Bank's country manager.

The notion of a Cambodian boom may seem incongruous, if not slightly absurd. This remote corner of Southeast Asia, after all, remains best known for its "killing fields," where the genocidal Khmer Rouge slaughtered or starved at least 1.5 million of their countrymen.

But after a generation spent slumbering in the shadows of its fast-rising neighbors, Cambodia is on the move. The economy this year is expected to expand at a robust annual rate of 9.5% after three consecutive years of double-digit growth, the World Bank says.

U.S. brands fuel boom

Americans have fueled the boom with their purchases of Levi jeans, Gap (GPS) clothes and Nike (NKE) athletic shoes, all bearing made-in-Cambodia labels. Whether consumers will continue doing so, however, now depends on the complexities of U.S. trade law.

Cambodia's thriving garments industry has been protected since 2005 by U.S. restrictions on imports of clothing from China. But those limits expire by the end of 2008, potentially opening the door for China to seize market share at the expense of Cambodian producers.

China could grab 68% of the world apparel market, up from 50% today, says Roland Eng, the country's leading diplomat and a former Cambodian ambassador to the United States. "They will kill everybody," he says.

The government here is pinning its hopes on proposed U.S. legislation that would eliminate tariffs on products from the world's poorest countries, including Cambodia. This year, Cambodian clothing shipments to the USA are running at an annualized value of $2.6 billion, about twice the 2003 level, according to Commerce Department data. Without preferential access to the U.S. market, orders for Cambodian goods will plunge 35% as Chinese shipments soar, says Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia.

Factories here supply clothing to some of the USA's best-known brands, including Disney, (DIS) Sears (SHLD) and Wal-Mart. (WMT) They've been drawn to Cambodia, despite sky-high electricity costs, inadequate roads and pervasive corruption, because of an innovative program promoting good labor standards that began nine years ago with U.S. help.

The United States guaranteed Cambodia a specified amount of sales every year, encouraging the country's push to position itself as the sweatshop-free producer in a fiercely competitive global clothing market. "Cambodia is a special country," says Michael Kobori, vice president for global code of conduct at Levi Strauss, which buys its Signature model jeans from a Cambodian producer.

The San Francisco-based clothing company, which plans to continue relying on local suppliers after the limits on Chinese products are lifted, supports the tariff-elimination bill.

Prospects for approval of the measure, introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., are cloudy. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has endorsed the proposal, aimed at helping the world's poorest countries develop. But with public support for trade ebbing, and the economy weakening, lawmakers may shy in an election year from being seen as helping foreign workers.

The stakes for Cambodia's 14 million people in the coming U.S. debate are enormous. Even after the current boom, what the typical Cambodian earns in a year wouldn't buy a decent TV in the USA. (Per-capita income is just $550.) There are only 1,000 miles of paved roads in the entire country, which is roughly the size of Missouri, and only 10% of the population has access to electricity.

Scars remain from turmoil

Scars from the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge era remain vivid. Under radical leader Pol Pot, black-clad guerillas systematically murdered lawyers, doctors, teachers — sometimes even those wearing eyeglasses — in a demented bid to return Cambodia to a pristine, agricultural existence. The Khmer Rouge ultimately were ousted by a Vietnamese invasion.

Only in 1999 did the country enjoy its first entirely peaceful year in three decades. Today, a surge in tourism is clear evidence of the turnaround. For the first 10 months of this year, Cambodia recorded 1.6 million foreign visitors vs. 286,524 in 1998.

The stunning temples of Angkor Wat are the country's principal draw. On typical days, the extraordinary 12th-century monuments are packed shoulder to shoulder with hordes of South Korean, Japanese and American tourists.

Heart and soul of economy

While the country harbors long-term hopes of developing possible offshore oil deposits, the garments industry is the heart and soul of its economy. From virtually nothing in 1994, the industry has grown to an estimated $3 billion in exports and directly employs 355,000 workers. They in turn support an estimated 1.7 million people with regular payments to family members, who often live in poor rural villages with little economic activity, according to the International Finance Corp.

Sokla Sem, 29, came to the capital to find factory work 11 years ago after the death of her father. Working for a Chinese-owned shirt factory, she and her sister made a combined monthly salary of $150. Of that amount, they sent two-thirds to their mother to pay for the education of an older brother. Sem, like many young women here, has only a fourth-grade education.

After being fired in a dispute over pay, she became a labor activist. But she hasn't forgotten the economic imperative that drives the country's leading industry.

"It was very difficult for me when I started working in the factory," she says. "But I didn't care about the difficulty; I cared about making money that I could send home."

Cambodia Oil Project Invest Decision Likely 1Q '08 -Chevron Executive

BEIJING -(Dow Jones)- Chevron Corp. (CVX) is in the "very late stages" of evaluating oil fields discovered offshore Cambodia in 2004 and may make a decision on their development within three months, a senior executive said Tuesday.

"Probably I would expect some decisions coming out of Chevron in the first quarter or so of 2008 about what our go-forward plans are," said Stephen Green, chief executive of Chevron's South Asia unit.

Oil is distributed over a wide area in the 6,278 square-kilometer Block A, which is around 200 kilometers off the coast of Cambodia, rather than a single pool, Green said.

This adds to the challenge of drawing up a viable development concept for the fields, said Green.

Meetings will take place with the Cambodian government and project partners before a final investment decision is made, he said.

In a recent report, the International Monetary Fund forecast recoverable reserves from the Chevron discoveries at 500 million barrels, with the first of three fields entering production in 2011.

The IMF predicted a $15 billion windfall for the Cambodian government from royalties and taxes over the life of the fields.

-By David Winning, Dow Jones Newswires; 8610-65885848; david.winning@ dowjones.com

Cambodia and Thailand create a single entry Visa

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In a bid to streamline tourism to the region, Cambodia and Thailand have signed a deal that will allow tourists to visit both countries with a single Visa.

Once implemented, visitors will be able to apply at both Cambodian and Thai embassies for the new Visa.

"Tourists just apply for a single visa at one place, and they can travel to both Cambodia and Thailand," said Cambodia’s foreign minister Hor Namhong for The Economic Times. According to Namhong, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam could also eventually sign up to the deal.

The Visa was developed through the Ayeyawady-Chao Phya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), a joint development scheme that includes the five nations.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cambodia Promotes Plan to Save Dolphins

Associated Press 12.04.07, 12:39 PM ET



PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -

Cambodia's endangered Irrawaddy dolphin could be saved from extinction by a plan to reduce villagers' dependence on fishing and promote tourism near the animal's habitat in the Mekong River, officials said Tuesday.

The plan - funded by $100,000 from the government and $600,000 from the World Tourism Organization - will introduce alternative means of livelihood to villages along the river in two northeastern provinces, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, an estimated 80 to 110 dolphins remain in Cambodia's stretch of the Mekong River, but about a dozen die each year. The WWF has classified the species as "critically endangered."

"The main cause of dolphins' deaths is fishing. So we want to encourage people to grow vegetables, raise fish in ponds or pilot boats to take tourists to see dolphins instead," Thong Khon said.

While many of the dolphins have died from being trapped in villagers' fishing nets, fishing is also depleting their food supply, he said.

The conservation plan, called the Mekong River Discovery Trail Project, will promote poverty alleviation through tourism development, the WTO said in a statement.

Thong Khon said dolphin conservation and tourism development are closely linked to improved living conditions for people. "No dolphins means no tourism. No tourism means no development," he said.

The plan is supposed to draw visitors to view the dolphin, which lives in 10 natural deep-water pools in a 190-kilometer (120-mile) stretch of the Mekong River, mostly between the capitals of Kratie and Stung Treng provinces, the WTO said.

The project will begin community-based tourism and training for villagers this month, it said.

Harsh Varma, director of the WTO's Development Assistance Department, described the project as "sustainable pro-poor tourism." The organization said about 30 percent of households in Kratie and 50 percent in Stung Treng live on less than $1 a day.

US Navy to increase port visits to Cambodia

USS Essex Sailors, Marines Build Friendships in Cambodia

Jim Garamone - American Forces Press Service
2007-12-06

The visit of the USS Essex to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Nov. 26 to Dec. 4 is a concrete example of the importance of military-to-military ties between countries.

The Essex and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit was part of a “friendship-building event” with the Kingdom of Cambodia, said Chief Petty Officer Tyler A. Swartz, the public affairs officer for the effort.

The 2,400 sailors and Marines learned about Cambodian history and trained with members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Cambodia is a desperately poor country struggling to recover from war and genocide. It was a battleground in the latter stages of the Vietnam War, and in the 1970s the Khmer Rouge ruled the nation. During the regime of Pol Pot, between 1.7 million and 3 million Cambodians died, including hundreds of thousands of people who were executed. The era brought the term “Killing Fields” into the world’s vocabulary.

The government is now a constitutional monarchy and is working to be a full member of the community of nations. Cambodia is working with other nations on counterterrorism initiatives and overcoming transnational problems, such as the flow of narcotics and crime.

But the government is weak, and government control in many areas of the country is tenuous, DoD officials said. The United States military wants to work with the Cambodian armed forces to help them face the challenges in their country.

The Essex visit is the latest U.S. Defense Department effort to reach out to the Cambodians. During the port visit, Essex medical personnel working with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and non-governmental organizations were able to see more than 5,000 patients at Kulen and Kampong Cham, Swartz said. Medical and dental services in Cambodia included eye surgery, dispensing drugs, pulling teeth and oral hygiene education.

During the port visit, sailors and Marines engaged, taught and attended classes at the Cambodian National Defense University. Marines provided anti-terrorism training for Cambodia's national counterterrorism task force, Swartz said. The training enhanced the force's ability to conduct sustained counterterrorism training and gave Cambodia capabilities to participate in future military exchange programs.

The Essex crew also distributed several pallets of Project Handclasp material. Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that provides donated items like books, clothes, toys and medical items to agencies and organizations in countries that could benefit from those materials.

The next step is to increase the number of Navy port visits to Cambodia, defense officials said.

Cambodia and Thai Internet growth according to Cisco

Cisco exec Howard Charney sees the Internet as a key driver for development, especially in the world's most remote places

Howard Charney, a senior vice president of US-based Cisco Systems and a 35-year veteran of Silicon Valley, champions Internet technologies as a means of increasing national competitiveness and innovation.

At a recent information and communications technology expo here, he told his audience that talent, investment and infrastructure were the key pillars of innovation.

"For instance, several obvious ways to foster talent are education, training, access to information, and collaboration.

"Historically, education has always been the route to a better life - and the Internet has the potential to bring education to every person who wants it, no matter where they are or who they are," he said.

However, Net access is still not available in many rural and remote places.

According to recent figures, only 11 to 12 per cent of Thais currently use the Internet, which is still far higher than the ratio in neighbouring Cambodia, where only a third of 1 per cent of its population currently has Net access.

"But, you know - that could change very quickly. I like one example in which a particular string of villages in Cambodia has no electricity and no telephone service - but they do have e-mail.

"They have leapfrogged from zero communications infrastructure to wireless. Several times a week, motorcycles fitted with wireless routers head out into the jungle.

"As the bikes cruise through a village, they exchange messages wirelessly with the school [battery-powered] computers. Back in town, everything gets sent out over the Internet," he said.

In other words, isolated villages in Cambodia, or any other remote location, can now connect more efficiently with the rest of the world.

In the Cambodian example, educators can now improve school curriculum, while the entire community has access to news and medical information, and are also able to check crop prices and contact their government officials electronically.

More importantly, it means all these people now have access to the "big picture", allowing them to take part and compete more efficiently in the local, as well as the global, economy.

In addition, education also has a big multiplier effect. According to one US expert, every dollar spent on education returns five dollars to the economy, while the World Bank has suggested that just one additional year of education for a population could increase a country's GDP by 3 per cent.

Besides education, innovation is nurtured by training, access to information and collaboration.

On collaboration, he said: "Today it is broadband, multimedia and global. It doesn't matter today where you live or work or travel. Thanks to the Internet, you can always find like-minded people with whom to collaborate."

He highlighted the importance of infrastructure by citing a report from Forrester Research which detailed how the productivity gap in the US between companies that have integrated leading technologies and ones that have not have more than doubled.

"If you are 40 per cent less productive than your competitor, maybe you don't know it yet, but you are going out of business.

"In fact, if we compare data from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, we see an almost 99-per-cent correlation between IT investment and improvements in productivity. That is not coincidence.

"On commercial Internet technologies, to date there have been three distinct waves. The first was the automation of the back office. The second was the integration of the supply chain. The third - which is where we are now - is consumer-driven replenishment."

"Well, the first two waves map exactly to macroeconomic improvements in productivity. And there is an undeniable correlation between productivity and connectivity.

"When those first desktop computers came out - sure, they were useful. But when they could send information to each other and around the world, they became critical. That is when they became truly productive," he said.

Nophakhun Limsamarnphun

nop1122@yahoo.com

Maiden flight linking Europe, Cambodia to touch down at Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Air Finland's Boeing 757 commenced operations on Friday to launch the first commercial direct flight linking Europe and Cambodia, said a press release from SCA, Cambodia's airport management authority.

The aircraft is expected to land at 18:25 local time (1125 GMT)with 213 passengers on board and the new route from Stockholm to Phnom Penh will be a breakthrough by connecting Phnom Penh International Airport to major European cities, it said.

To begin, the carrier plans to operate thrice monthly charter flights with 219-seat Boeing 757s.








India, Cambodia sign defence pact

* Agree on exchange of intelligence, cooperation in military research

NEW DELHI: India and Cambodia signed several business and military-related agreements after a visit by Prime Minister Hun Sen to New Delhi, an External Affairs Ministry statement said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with Hun Sen on Saturday and Indian and Cambodian officials signed the accords afterward. Hun Sen also met more than 100 Indian businessmen to encourage them to invest in Cambodia during his four-day trip, which ended Sunday.

Intelligence sharing: A comprehensive defence agreement signed covers the exchange of intelligence and cooperation in military research, the statement released late Saturday said. It also provides for exchanges of military personnel and hardware. India will lend US$35.2 million to Cambodia for three development projects, including the construction of a power line between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces, it said. It was the Cambodian leader’s second trip in five months to India. ap

Exim Bank extends $35.2 mn credit to Cambodia

MUMBAI: Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM) said it has extended a USD 35.2-million Line of Credit (LoC) to the Government of Cambodia for financing some of the latter's infrastructure projects.

The fund will be utilised to finance the Stung Tasal Development Project, purchase of the water pumps and for the construction of the electric transmission line between Kratie and Stung Treng Province in Cambodia, an Exim release said here.

Under the agreement, Exim Bank bank will reimburse 100 per cent contract value to the Indian exporter, upfront upon the shipment of goods, the bank said.

The pact was signed between Secretary of state, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Cambodia, Aun Porn Moniroth and Exim Bank's Chairman and Managing Director T C Venkat Subramanian.

With this, Exim Bank now has 85 LoCs in place, covering over 80 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, with credit commitments amounting to USD 2.8 billion.

3P Networks Commences Negotiations to Acquire a Telecom Concession in Cambodia

Striving for Low Risk - High Returns

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--3P Networks Inc. (PINK SHEETS:TPNW) (the Company) has recently entered negotiations with the Royal Cambodian Government to acquire significant frequency spectrum and be issued the required concession required to effectively commercialize the resulting opportunity in the countrys telecommunications industry.

Cambodias status is that it is going through a period of rapid growth; consequently valuations in certain industries are extremely attractive and can lead to strong returns on investment, thus enhancing shareholder value. Telecommunications is one of those industries. According to 3P Network executives, this acquisition will provide the requisite foothold needed to rapidly expand 3Ps operations throughout South East Asia.

The Companys strategy is to rapidly build shareholder value via credible cash flows from an established and expanding subscriber base and to invest in areas where valuations are considerably below standard industry benchmarks. The acquisition of the available telecommunications concession meets all of the necessary criteria required and provides the necessary foundation to consolidate the industry in the South East Asia area.

The Companys strategy will be to continue to look for takeover targets in the heavily undervalued regions of the world, subject to the availability of quality management. The current opportunity is a direct result of the Companys joint venture with a boutique investment-banking firm in Phnom Penh Diversified International Projects.

Notes to Editors:

About 3P Networks: TPNW

Over the last three years, 3P Networks Inc. has been focusing on developing technologies which assist in the custom bundling of multiple products, like HD-TV, fixed and wireless VoIP and broadband connectivity, in a common platform. The Company has already begun deploying its technology in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean and will employ such technology to restructure and enhance the cable-broadcasting and telecom assets acquired.

The Companys management realizes that aggregating subscribers is the name of the telecommunications game; the growth-oriented markets of the niche South East Asian region (in and around Cambodia) offer a unique window of opportunity. For more information please access the companys website at (www.3pnetworksinc.com).

This document contains certain forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements, by their very nature, involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of 3P Networks Inc. ("the Company"), or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Those trading in shares of the Company should access independent and qualified investment advice, particularly where claims made in forward-looking statements deserve expert attention. Any valuation of the Companys shares currently depends upon the success the Company will achieve in its merger and acquisition strategy in and around Cambodia, in South East Asia, and upon the overall growth of that region. Such a valuation is also conditioned by the nature and quantum of financing available from time to time.

Contacts

3P Networks Inc.
Company Contact
Grant B Miller, Investor Relations Manager
1-707-291-8343
www.3pnetworksinc.com
OR
For Europe contact:
Adriana Moretti, +39-392-3733710
info@quoteplatform-italy.net
OR
Manager For Asia (including India)
Anamika Pandey, info@quoteplatform.com

ADB Provides $20M to Assist Cambodia's Tonle Sap Region

Cambodia

Press Release - Asian Development Bank

Dec. 6 2007

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $20 million to develop and upgrade infrastructure and improve livelihood opportunities in the most impoverished region in Cambodia.

The Tonle Sap Lowlands Rural Development Project will be funded by a $10.1 million loan and $9.9 million grant from the ADB. The government of Cambodia will provide $3 million and the project beneficiaries will contribute $1 million to complete funding for the project.

“The project will provide direct and indirect economic benefits to about 68,000 households with a population of about 354,000 persons in 40 communes selected in the three provinces around Tonle Sap Lake, which lie outside the buffer zone of the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve,” said Ian W. Makin, senior water resources management specialist of ADB’s South Asia Department. “This will provide a stable base for improving rural incomes and reduce the need for people to migrate into the buffer zone during the dry season.”

This project is part of ADB’s Tonle Sap Initiative launched in October 2002. The Initiative is a partnership of organizations and people working to meet the poverty and environment challenges of the Tonle Sap area.

Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, covering an area of 2,500-3,000 square kilometers during the dry season. The land, water and biological resources of Tonle Sap directly benefit 40% of the population of the provinces Kampong Chhang, Kampong Thom and Pursat that adjoin the lake. The resources found in Tonle Sap Lake underpin food security and employment elsewhere and is of global significance for biodiversity conservation.

Many of the people in the lowland rural communities that surround Tonle Sap depend on agriculture and they are vulnerable to shocks. Accidents and ill health, seasonal shortages of rainfall, water and food heighten the vulnerability of people in the lowlands. Despite the richness of the lake, the Tonle Sap region has the highest poverty rate in the country at 38%.

In Cambodia, high population growth is increasing the number of people to feed, and the use of Tonle Sap basin’s natural resources is intense. Major threats include overexploitation of fisheries and wildlife resources, conversion of the flooded forest to agriculture and collection of wood for fuel from whatever remains of the forest area.

The project seeks to address these problems by developing and improving rural infrastructure to move products to market, distribute agricultural inputs and improve farm yields through, among others, providing new irrigation facilities and improving existing ones. Enhanced infrastructure attracts commercial financial services needed to support increased economic activities and other essential social services such as health and education.

ADB Extends $11.7M Support to Continue Development of Cambodia's Financial Sector

Cambodia

Press Releasee - Asian Development Bank

Dec. 6 2007

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $10 million loan and a $1.7 million grant to assist in the continued development of a sound, efficient and market-oriented financial system in Cambodia as part of efforts to sustain economic growth and eradicate poverty.

The Second Financial Sector Program Cluster comprises four subprograms estimated to cost $40 million. Under the first subprogram, the initial loan and the technical assistance grant will be used for ongoing reforms in the financial sector. Subsequent subprograms will be processed for approval by ADB annually through 2010.

“With a rapidly growing economy, Cambodia needs to develop its financial sector by mobilizing financial resources, channeling them to productive investments and managing inherent risks,” said Samiuela Tukuafu, senior financial sector specialist of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The program will support the government’s continued efforts to strengthen the financial sector by promoting legal and regulatory reforms, capacity building, improved disclosure standards and financial transparency, and the establishment of key financial infrastructure.

Cambodia’s financial system is undergoing a rebuilding process following the political instability of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before 1989, the country had no formal financial intermediation and its financial system was confined to one institution – the People’s Bank of Kampuchea. As of August 2007, the formal financial system of the country comprised the National Bank of Cambodia, 16 commercial banks, seven specialized financial institutions, and representative offices of two foreign banks. There are also 17 licensed and 26 registered microfinance institutions and six insurance companies.

The country has yet to establish bond or securities markets. The predominantly rural nature of the economy, high transaction costs, the dearth in viable investment projects, and low creditor confidence have impeded formal intermediation in the financial sector, slowed the development of non-bank financial institutions and limited financial products and services.

The program will focus on improving confidence and financial intermediation by upgrading the payments, clearance and settlement systems to support growing financial services; enhancing market confidence by improving public financial disclosures and establishing a credit information bureau; establishing a registry of tradable government securities; and improving the outreach of microfinance institutions.

To maintain stability in the financial sector, the program will revise and update the law on banking and financial institutions and related regulations to support financial activities; strengthen supervision of banks and microfinance institutions; and draft a new law on commercial contracts to enhance legal and regulatory foundations.

The program will also promote good governance by implementing international initiatives on anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism; promote corporate governance and transparency in the insurance sector; establish commercial dispute resolution mechanism; and improve the capability and increase the number of qualified national accountants and auditors. The program will also computerize the management information system of the National Bank of Cambodia to enhance its efficiency.

ADB has been supporting the development of Cambodia’s financial sector since 1999. The formal financial system needs to be further developed to be more efficient and accessible to ordinary citizens.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Corruption in Cambodia

Cambodia is number 2 in the world - of corruption, following a report of Transparency International, who interviewed people here whether they have paid bribes or not to get some services. 72 Percent say yes, only in Cameroon the number is higher (79percent).

U.S. TOWN HELPS CAMBODIAN VILLAGE

A pig in every pot

By Les Blumenthal
WASHINGTON - Two hours south of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, down a dusty dirt road, sits Sam Rong, a small rural village of one-room houses made of bits of wood and dried palm leaves built on stilts above green rice paddies.

Water buffalo and oxen till the fields as the occasional motorcycle with live chickens tied on back passes by. Fishermen cast their nets in rivers, and hand-powered machines using centuries-old techniques crush the rice.

Hot and tropical, Cambodia is one of the poorest nations in the world. Mosquito-born dengue fever remains a threat, E. coli bacteria and lead can lace the brackish water supplies, and nightmares linger of Pol Pot and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge.

Extreme poverty is a reality, not a statistic.

But a tiny organization in Lacey, Wash., is trying to do something about Cambodia's poverty, and its solution is simple: pigs.

"Once you have gotten to know these people over a period of time, you simply cannot go back to the comfort of ignorance and distance from the wretched poverty that dominates most of the globe," said Brian Ebersole, a former speaker of the Washington state House of Representatives.

Ebersole and a small group of friends founded the Village Pig Project several years ago. They couldn't escape the memories of poverty they found in rural Cambodia when they visited the ancient temple at Angkor Wat.

The idea was to help a village work its way out of extreme poverty in a sustainable way. A Cambodian suggested pigs. There's a ready market for pigs in Cambodia, and they breed rapidly.

On a shoestring budget, the project has supplied pigs to more than 30 families in Sam Rong.

"When the problem is so large, you have to start somewhere," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who met with officials of the Village Pig Project while she was in Cambodia over Congress' Thanksgiving recess.

"I am a Pol Pot survivor," said Darren Pen, 47, who immigrated to the United States nearly 20 years ago and eventually settled in Tacoma, Wash., where he raised a family in a tough neighborhood.

Pen tells a chilling tale of his life in Cambodia, including being buried in the ground up to his neck by the Khmer Rouge when he was a teenager.

"It was raining," Pen said. "I thought I would die."

He eventually was dug up and placed in a labor camp, but he managed to escape. After five years in a refugee camp in Thailand, which he said was just as brutal as the labor camps in Cambodia, he arrived in the United States.

By some estimates, more than 2 million Cambodians were slaughtered or died of starvation or illness during Pol Pot's reign.

Pen, a community activist and the president of the Khmer Community of Tacoma, Wash., who lost his mother, two sisters and a brother to the Khmer Rouge, has been back to Cambodia. He's on the board of directors of the Village Pig Project and has been to Sam Rong and seen the pigs.

"It's a piece of the puzzle," Pen said.

Statistics help tell the story of poverty in Cambodia, which the United Nations says is the eighth least developed country in the world. Nearly 80 percent of Cambodians live on $2 a day; nearly a third live on a $1 a day or less. One child out of every six dies before age 6. The average age in Cambodia is 19, and 40 percent of the population is under 15.

"We are not trying to save the world, or even Cambodia," Ebersole said. "These are people we know; it is personal."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Vietnam's Cambodian oil smuggling operations

Oil and petrol ‘bleed’ through border gates

VietNamNet Bridge – A lot of petrol and oil is being illegally exported to Cambodia, as the petrol price there is VND3,000/litre higher than that in Vietnam.

Cambodians dry up the well

A resident in the southern province of An Giang said the petrol price in Cambodia is $1/litre and the oil price is nearly the same, consequently, Cambodians have been crossing the border to purchase cheaper petrol they can sell at home for a tidy profit.

On So Thuong River in Dong Thap province, many boats can be seen carrying petrol and DO oil to Prey Veng province in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese farmers cannot purchase oil for their pumps because filling stations and privately owned petrol shops only want to sell oil and petrol to Cambodians who will pay more.

A lot of Vietnamese farmers now have a new job: they carry petrol and oil for Cambodians. On average, an ex-farmer may earn VND40-50,000 if they carry 60 litres of petrol or oil. Meanwhile, Vietnamese tobacco smugglers have shifted to the oil trade which is much more lucrative.

Tran Minh Tien, Head of the Ha Tien Border Gate’s Customs Agency, acknowledged that his agency cannot stop the illegal export of petrol.

He said that there are many reasons that encourage illegal petrol exports. While the petrol in Vietnam is cheap thanks to the Government’s subsidization scheme, the price in Cambodia is much higher as it follows global price fluctuations.

There are numerous filling stations along the N1 road in Kien Giang province, but the stations are not open during the day. Nguyen Van Na, a farmer in Tan Khanh commune, complained that he could not buy oil for his harvester, saying that petrol distributors only work in the evening and only sell petrol to Cambodians.

The An Giang Market Control Taskforce said that it has discovered several illegal export rings so far this year, seizing nearly 30,000 litres of oil, while Kien Giang and Dong Thap provinces seized 5,000 litres. However, Mr Tien said this figure is insignificant compared to the amount of illegally exported product, adding that their confiscations are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

“Our staff is too small to deal with the strong force of illegal exporters,” Mr Tien said.

The Ministry of Finance’s latest move was to issue the decision to increase A92 petrol retail prices on the domestic market by a maximum of VND 1,700 a litre and oil prices by VND1,500-VND1,600 a litre to VND13,000/litre. Vietnam announced it would float the petrol price back in mid 2007 and the Government subsidy programme is essential to curbing the inflation rate.

S Korean, Chinese tourists most frequent in Siem Reap of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Most of the foreign tourists coming to Siem Reap, where the renowned Angkor Wat is situated, were from South Korea and China in October, Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial News reported on Saturday.

The percentage is unclear, but they just shared the majority, the paper quoted a report from the provincial tourism authority assaying.

Meanwhile, altogether 170,180 people visited Siem Reap in October, it said.

Among them, 86,833 were foreigners, a 22.15 percent increase over the same period last year, and 83,347 Cambodians, a rise of 50.93 percent, it said.

From October to March next year is usually the peak period of tourism for the province, said the report.

In Siem Rep, there are currently 100 hotels with more than 7,000 rooms, some 200 taverns, around 200 restaurants, 128 travel agencies and nearly 3,000 travel guides, according to the report.

Tourism is one of the kingdom's pillar industries. The sector aims to draw 2 million foreign tourists this year, over 1.7 million in 2006.





Biggest fish caught in Mekong River, Cambodia

Salam & hello to all my dearest reader, today i would like to share a few images that showed a biggest catch in Mekong River, Cambodia. Did you know that Mekong River is the 11th longest river in the world? Ok lets find out what they got from Mae Nam Kong.


Name: Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas)
Maximum Size: 118 inches (300 centimeters), 661.4 pounds (300 kilograms)
In malaysia, if im not mistaken it was called ikan patin or ikan tapah


Name: Giant freshwater stingray (Himantura chaophraya)
Maximum Size: 197 inches (500 centimeters), 1,323 pounds (600 kilograms), body diameter 95 inches (240 centimeters)
Can you imagine if this the fish that attack the crocodile hunter?


Name: Giant barb (Catlocarpio siamensis)
Maximum Size: 118 inches (300 centimeters), 661.5 pounds (300 kilograms)

Source of image : news nationalgeographic

Air Finland's arrival creates direct Cambodia-Europe air route for the first time

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: A direct commercial air route between Cambodia and Europe was opened for the first time Friday with the arrival of an Air Finland flight, officials said.

The Air Finland Boeing 757 landed with 215 passengers at the main airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, said Khek Norinda, a spokesman for the airport's operator, the French company Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports.

The plane, with a crew of eight, flew from Stockholm, Khek Norinda said, adding that Air Finland plans to operate three charter flights to Cambodia each month.

The plane's arrival Friday was the first by a European commercial airline, he said, saying he hoped the direct link would help increase the number of European visitors to Cambodia and reduce the country's dependence on neighboring countries' airports and carriers.

"However, we need more time to assess accurately the effects of direct flights from European countries. We're just at the beginning," he said.

Air travel to and from Cambodia is currently dominated by foreign-owned airlines.

Last month, the government signed a joint venture agreement with two Indonesian companies to form a national airline to tap the country's growing tourism industry.

Cambodia received 1.4 million visitors between January and September this year, up nearly 19 percent from the same period in 2006, according to statistics by the Tourism Ministry. It has forecast that total tourist arrivals this year will exceed last year's 1.7 million.

The ministry said South Korean, Japanese and U.S. nationals respectively lead the list of foreign arrivals in Cambodia.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

US Navy health care in Cambodia

Residents from Kampong Cham, Kingdom of Cambodia and surrounding area villages wait for a doctor to see them during a Medical and Dental Civic Action Project conducted by Sailors and Marines from the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) alongside with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Nov. 26 - 29.


U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 (AW) Christian LemusHospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kristin M. McBeath, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), holds a young girl, while her mother is examined by a medical officer.




U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 (AW) Christian LemusLt. Lance R. Henninger, Air Combat Element Flight Surgeon, assigned to combat units onboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), examines a patient during a Medical and Dental Civic Action Project alongside Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Kampong Cham region of Cambodia.



U.S. Navy Photo by MC2(SW) Mark R. Alvarez



A young boy plays with a tongue depressor after he was examined by Navy doctors.



U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 (AW) Christian LemusLt. Cmdr. Anne Monasky performs a dental procedure during a dental civil action project, Nov. 28.



U.S. Navy Photo by MC2



(SW) Mark R. AlvarezLt. Javier Agraz and HM3 Kristin M. McBeath, both assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), apply medication to a patient's burns.



U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 (AW) Christian Lemus


Friday, December 7, 2007

Visa run to Aranyaprathet - Poipet Thai/Cambodia border.


Visa runs - not my favorite way to spend a day or two, but sadly a must if you stay in Thailand long enough. This time I have decided to head off to Aranya, the closest border crossing to Bangkok, but my least favorite.I have not been there for a year or so, but have read that you can now get a visa for 20USD, (which is the official fee), something I have never been able to do before, having to pay 1000 baht, about 30USD every time.
From Bangkok, the easiest way to get to the border town of Aranya Prathet is by bus from Mo Chit ( northern bus station).
I catch the BTS skytrain to Mo Chit. From there you have a choice of motorbike taxi (30 baht), taxi, or a cheap bus (8 baht) to get you to the bus station.Decided on the bus, so with my limited Thai, managed to jump on a bus, however, a few hundred yards down the road I was told that this bus did not in fact go to Mo chit bus station. Great! Jumped off, then immediately a taxi pulled up. I was feeling lazy, so rather than walk back to the bus stop, got in. Meter on, off we go. Only 65 baht, not bad considering the traffic.
Mo Chit bus station can be a bit confusing if you have never been there before. There are hundreds of ticket sales booths, so if you don't know where the booth is for your destination, good luck! Best thing to do is ask, there is an information desk, so I suggest you head there if lost. Bought my ticket,(221 baht) for a bus leaving 10 minutes later. Four & a half hours later arrive in Aranya, try to avoid all the tuk tuk drivers wanting to take me to the border, & walk off into town to find a hotel. Stayed at the Inter hotel for the night (350 baht - fan/tv/fridge - a/c available for a little more).
Up at 6am & took a tuk tuk (80 baht) to the border, which is 6kms out of town, to get there before it opened at 7am. Already, there was a long line of people waiting to get stamped out of Thailand, but not half as bad as it gets later in the day. Joined the foreigners line( i was the only westerner) & after about 20 minutes from opening, got stamped out.
Next comes the fun part - trying to get my Cambodian visa without getting ripped off. Not so easy! As soon as I exited the Thai immigration office, two Cambodian lads, speaking very good English, attached themselves to me, asking all sorts of questions about what I was doing & where I was going etc. I told them that I was here just to make a visa & that I had been here many times before, hoping this would put them off, but no such luck. One led the way through the masses of Cambodians trying to enter Thailand, while the other tagged alongside me, I was taken into a little office & greeted by a lone man with a Cambodian immigration uniform on. "Visa"? he asked. "Yes" I replied. "but I want to get it at the immigration office across the road". "up to you" he replied, so I left.I presume this was the expensive express office, for those who want to pay a little extra & get someone to do the work for you. Not for me!
Next stop, the real immigration office. The two lads had now left me, (off to look for a new, richer punter) & I was greeted by a man not in uniform, handing out the form to fill in for the visa. Paperwork done, one photo, & a nice new 20 dollar bill in hand, I head to the counter. Before I could get there, the man handing out the forms, blocks my way & seeing my 20 in hand, says "1000 baht". I smile, & go straight to the counter, rather than the usual, which is to give your form, photo & 1000 baht to him. At the counter an immigration officer, gets up from his chair, sees the 20, says "1000 baht" then sits down again. I smile again, try to explain that the Cambodian visa fee is only 20 dollars, but no luck. All I get is "this express visa, !000 baht, not Bangkok", then I am completely ignored.
What to do now, I had failed! Ok, next idea. I go to speak to Mr form hander out & lie saying that I do not have 1000 baht. He now offers a fee of 25 dollars or 20 dollars & 200 baht. Better! Decide to go for the 20/200 option ( approx 870 baht) as I have no small dollar bills (my mistake, slightly cheaper) & within five minutes I have my visa.
I have read about people getting a visa for 20 dollars, but have never been able to get one myself, so if you did, let me know how. Maybe I just don't have the patience to wait it out until they get bored of me.
Is it worth the bother many people would ask? Why not pay the 1000 baht (30+ dollars)? In my opinion yes. Living in Asia, I get fed up with all the corruption from people with "official" jobs, while those who slave away all day, earn much less in a day than one ripped off tourist trying to get a visa. Anyway, the decision is yours, but the more people that try not to pay the inflated fee, the better & maybe one day it may make the corruption go away. I doubt it, but maybe.
After you have your visa, you now have to walk a few hundred meters (keep to the right ) to another office to fill out another form & get stamped in. At this point you used to have to pay another 100 baht if you were not staying in Cambodia for one night. Why? Because they can! But today, nothing!
After exiting this building, if you were heading off to Ankor, the transport starts from here (I recommend a taxi for about 40 dollars - read final paragraph). If your just on a visa run, then cross the road to get stamped out. No hassle, no payment required (at the moment), then it's the long walk back to the Thai immigration office (now on your left) to get stamped back into Thailand for 30 days.
All this took about one & a half hours, but the later in the morning you go the longer it can take, as bus loads of tourists & Thais visiting the casinos (esp at weekends), leave Bangkok in the early hours arriving here at about 9/10 am onwards. So avoid this time if you can.
A tuk tuk back to the bus station for 80 baht & caught a 9am government bus back to Bangkok (207 Baht). I must at this point recommend the government bus company. Their buses are much more spacious, the fare slightly cheaper & they only stop at major bus stations. Look for 999 on the bus or office.
A final word of warning about the border. It is a very chaotic place with thousands a people wandering around,many of whom are working hard to earn a few baht, but some of whom are there to steal from unwary tourists. So take extra care!
If you are travelling on to Ankor Wat, do it yourself, preferably by taxi from Poipet, which is just as cheap if there are a few of you & the fastest way by far. DO NOT buy a Khao san road ticket - you will regret it & it will cost you much, much more in the end, not just financially. There are all sorts of scams involved with these tickets, plus it takes forever. Also, the agents in Aranya should be given a wide berth too, as they too may part of the Khao San scam. Trust me, I had the misfortune of buying a ticket to Ankor in Aranya once. I had heard about the scams, so made my way to Aranya alone, stayed in a cheap guest house on the main road to the border, where I met a group of other people travelling to Ankor. We all decided to go with the guest house, who showed us nice pictures of the transport etc. What we didn't know was that we had just bought a Khao san ticket. What happened the next day was the worst & most annoying day I have ever had travelling around Asia.
Maybe I will write about that next time!






Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cambodia gets $27 million grant to help with secondary education

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending a $27.1 million grant to help improve the quality of secondary education in Cambodia through institutional reforms, teacher training and improving facilities.

The project is estimated to cost $33.38 million. The government of Cambodia will cover the balance.

“The government has made enhancing the quality of education a high priority to make the education system more efficient and to improve academic achievements. It also recognizes that investments in secondary education are needed to meet the growing demand for a well-educated and skilled work force,” said Sukhdeep Brar, principal education specialist of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The project involves enhancing the capacity of the government’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in planning, managing, administering and regulating the education system of the country. The current education system comprises primary, which is from grades one to six; lower secondary, which is from grades seven to nine; and upper secondary, which comprises grades 10-12. Basic education covers grades one to nine. Entry to upper secondary level is regulated by a national examination at the end of grade nine.

Teacher training colleges will also be provided with better facilities under the project, while some 14,400 lower and upper secondary teachers will benefit from in-service training. Around 300 upper secondary schools will also be assisted in school management, networking and improvement planning. The project will also provide 350,000 upper secondary students with new textbooks and 7,000 upper secondary teachers with teachers’ guides.

Expansion of education in Cambodia has been fueled by the government’s commitment and extensive support from development partners like ADB. However, the overall quality and efficiency of education remains a serious concern. Low enrolment rates at the secondary level and low percentage of students completing school indicate there are large numbers of young people outside the school system who may be unskilled and unemployable.

Within the education system, schools have poor physical infrastructure and inadequate learning materials, laboratories and libraries. Teachers are also poorly qualified and unmotivated. Limited resources hamper the ability of the government to make improvements and the poor performance of the education system wastes whatever limited resources are available.

“The project will help the government achieve its goal of poverty reduction and economic development by enhancing the quality of education. Given the rapidly expanding national economy and the global trends in demand for education at all levels, the education sector in Cambodia will continue to experience rapid growth and exert pressure on the government’s management capacity,” said Ms. Brar.

Cambodia is experiencing rapid economic expansion. In 2006, gross domestic product growth was estimated at 10.4%, fueled by strong industrial production, services and construction activity. Agricultural production expanded by a stronger-than-expected 4.4%. The economic growth trend is expected to persist in the medium term.

A rapidly growing urban economy coupled with the continuing dominance of agriculture as the country’s primary employer creates a dual challenge for the government in meeting the emerging demand for a qualified, skilled and competitive work force while bridging disparities in access to education and meeting its goals of universal primary education.

US Marine carrier USS Essex makes Cambodian port call

Essex arrives in Cambodia
Friday, November 30, 2007
By USS Essex Public Affairs Special to the Navy Compass
Essex and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Sihanoukville, Kingdom of Cambodia, Nov 26, for a scheduled port visit that gives Sailors and Marines the opportunity to participate in friendship-building community relations events, medical and dental projects and professional exchanges. These friendship-building events are being conducted with the cooperation of Cambodian military and the Kingdom of Cambodia. The visit also provides Sailors and Marines the opportunity to meet local citizens and experience the customs and traditions of the Cambodian people. Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group and serves as the flagship for CTF 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.



U.S. Navy Photo by MCC (SW/AW) Ty Swartz

SIHANOUKVILLE, Kingdom of Cambodia - The amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived in Sihanoukville, Kingdom of Cambodia, Nov. 26 for a scheduled port visit along with embarked Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

It was previously announced that Essex was en route to Bangladesh to support humanitarian assistance operations. However, with USS Tarawa en route to the area, it was decided that Essex would continue with its scheduled operational commitments and planned activities in Cambodia.

"Essex Sailors are honored to have the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia as part of the broadening and deepening relations between our navies and our two governments," said Capt. Brian T. Donegan, Essex's Commanding Officer. "This visit will provide our crew a unique opportunity to gain an appreciation for the rich traditions and culture of Cambodia's people"

While in port, the ship's approximately 2,500 Sailors and Marines are scheduled to participate in community relations projects, medical and dental assistance events and professional military exchanges. The ship's crew and embarked Marines will participate in cultural exchanges and friendship-building activities.

Visits by U.S. Navy ships symbolize the continued friendship between our two nations and our military services.

Essex's visit to Cambodia marks the first time an amphibious assault ship has visited the country and marks the second U.S. Navy ship visit in 2007. USS Gary's (FFG 51) visit in February was the first U.S. ship to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia in more than 30 years.

The Essex and 31st MEU medical and dental departments will conduct Medical and Dental Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP and DENCAP) in the Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham areas with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

"Essex medical department and Fleet Surgical Team 7 are excited about working with the Marines in these friendship-building activities with the people of Cambodia," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Mark Davison. "The Blue-Green team recognizes the historical significance of these events and have the opportunities to provide care to those who would otherwise have limited or no access to health care in some rural areas."

Another tradition that Sailors and Marines can look forward to are community service projects.

"There are six community relations projects scheduled while we are in Cambodia where more than 400 Sailors and Marines will conduct meaningful community service," said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Sweeney, Essex's Chaplain. "Participating in these community relations activities allows our service members the opportunity to meet people in the local community and interact in activities like sports or something like painting at a local school."

The ship's crew also will distribute several pallets of Project Handclasp material to various Non-Governmental Agencies in the Sihanoukville area. Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that provides donated items to agencies and organizations in countries that could benefit from those materials.

Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group and serves as the flagship for Commander, Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

First Cambodian golf tournament ends with American win

GOLF / JW CAMBODIAN OPEN

Saltus secures maiden win with a hot putter

Prom and Thaworn share third place

Siem Reap _ American ace Bryan Saltus secured his maiden Asian Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open after a solid five-under-par 67 in the final round yesterday.

Saltus reaped the rewards of his new putter this week firing six birdies against a lone bogey for a winning total of 17-under-par 271 at the Phokeethra Country Club.

The 36-year-old champion walked away with the top prize of US$47,550 and rose up to 30th place on the Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit.

"This is awesome. I would like to dedicate this win to Grateful Dead as they have inspired me all the way. Siem Reap is right up my alley so I've enjoyed my time on and off the course this week," said Saltus.

Overnight leader Adam Groom of Australia posted a 71 to claim lone second spot as he finished three strokes behind the winner in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.

Thai duo of Thaworn Wiratchant and Prom Meesawat recorded matching 70s to claim joint third position after a 277 total

Thanks to a new Gel putter which he picked up this week, Saltus got off to a flying start chalking up three birdies in his first three holes.

He extended his lead with a birdie on the 10th and ended his captivating run with a final birdie on the 17th hole.

"My putting has been the winning formula this week," Saltus said.

Despite a slow final round with five birdies against four bogeys, Malaysia's Danny Chia posted a 67 for his best finish this season in joint fifth spot alongside Korea's Kang Ji-man who shot a 66.

Chapchai Nirat of Thailand ended his campaign with a 73 to claim tied eighth position together with Englands Yasin Ali who was even-par for the day.

"My overall game was steady this week but I couldn't really sustain it throughout 18 holes," said Chapchai. " I am not disappointed with my result. I was tired the entire week and hung in there to finish in the top-10 which was my target".

Chapchai Nirat climbed up to second spot on the UBS Order of Merit ranking after earning US$7,065 for his efforts this week.

LEADING FINAL ROUND SCORES

271 _ Bryan Saltus (USA) 66-67-71-67

274 _ Adam Groom (AUS) 65-68-70-71

277 _ Prom Meesawat (THA) 69-69-69-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 70-70-67-70

278 _ Danny Chia (MAS) 74-68-69-67, Kang Ji-man (KOR) 74-70-68-66

279 _ Anthony Kang (USA) 67-69-71-72

280 _ Chapchai Nirat (THA) 68-71-68-73, Yasin Ali (ENG) 72-68-68-72

281 _ Harmeet Kahlon (IND) 69-69-73-70

282 _ Jerome Delariarte (PHI) 70-72-70-70, Panuwat Muenlek (THA) 70-69-73-70

283 _ Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 74-72-69-68, Guido Van Der Valk (NLD) 77-68-70-68, Michael Hoey (IRL) 70-73-69-71, Peter Karmis (RSA) 72-70-71-70, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 69-72-69-73