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  1. With more than 1,000 Chinese nationals arrested for allegedly committing crimes in the Kingdom so far this year, the Chinese embassy yesterday lauded the good cooperation between law enforcement agencies of both countries. In a Facebook post, the Chinese embassy noted that 2019 is the year of law enforcement cooperation between Cambodia and China and has led to a crackdown on Chinese criminals committing crimes in the Kingdom. “Over the past year, with close cooperation between police officers of both countries, Cambodian police have arrested more than 1,000 Chinese suspects in connection with online gambling, prostitution, drugs, and other crimes and they have been deported,” it said. “After the establishment of the China-Cambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation Office, law enforcement officers of both countries have worked together to crack down on crimes which are harmful to lives, property, and the safety of peoples of both countries,” it added. Some 250,000 Chinese nationals are living and working in the Kingdom, including about 100,000 each in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, according to a recent National Police report. National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun said that the Cambodian and Chinese governments work well together. read more https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50652205/more-than-1000-chinese-suspects-arrested-this-year/
  2. Two former Radio Free Asia reporters charged in Cambodia with espionage and the production of pornography have appealed a court’s decision on Oct. 3 to reinvestigate their case, saying the continued delays in reaching a verdict in their trial have left them stressed and unable to work. Speaking on Thursday to RFA’s Khmer Service, Sam Chamroeun—an attorney for Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin—said he had filed an appeal on Oct. 14, urging the court to quickly conclude the case against his clients based on evidence already collected. “We don’t know now when the court will be able to begin a new trial [based on the results of a new investigation],” he said. Sam Chamroeun said that his clients, now free on bail while awaiting the outcome of their case, are suffering emotionally from stress and have been unable to find work due to the uncertainty of their situation. “They don’t know when they will be cleared of the charges in this case, and they can’t seek employment or earn a stable income,” he said. Also speaking to RFA, senior Licadho rights group official Am Sam Ath said that the court trying the case in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh has so far not found enough evidence on which to convict the two former reporters. The court has considered their case for nearly two years, “and that should be enough,” he said. “We have monitored this case from the beginning, and there is no evidence that they committed any crime. I believe the Appeals Court will dismiss the reinvestigation order from the court in Phnom Penh and will drop the charges against the two ex-reporters.” Attack on the media Sothearin and Chhin, who had worked as stringers for RFA, were taken into custody in November 2017 and charged with “illegally collecting information for a foreign source” under Article 445 of the Criminal Code. Production of pornography were later added to the charges against them, and they face a prison term of from seven to 15 years. Both journalists have maintained that they are innocent of the charges against them, and say they will be vindicated through the courts, while local and international rights groups have condemned their arrests as part of a wider attack on the media in Cambodia and called for their release. RFA closed its nearly 20-year-old bureau in Phnom Penh on Sept. 12, 2017 amid the crackdown by Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) that also saw the Supreme Court dissolve the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) a month later, paving the way for the CPP to sweep the ballot last year, effectively making Cambodia a one-party state. Hun Sen's government has throughout 2019 harassed and threatened CNRP members, arresting 30, while subjecting at least 160 others to questioning by court or local authorities. Treated as spies The arrest of Chhin and Sothearin came after a warning from Cambodia’s Ministries of Information and Interior that any journalists still working for RFA after its office in the capital closed would be treated as spies. They were released on bail in August last year, but were placed under court supervision, which barred them from changing their addresses or traveling abroad, and required them to check in with their local police station once a month. Cambodian journalists working for RFA had reported over the years on corruption, illegal logging, and forced evictions, among other stories largely ignored by pro-government media, and authorities had already closed independent radio stations carrying RFA reports, using a pretext of tax and administrative violations. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders ranked Cambodia 142nd out of 180 countries in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, down from 132nd in 2017, citing the crackdown on independent media in the lead up to last year’s election. Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/appeal-10172019172853.html Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.
  3. A senior Thai police official has said that Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), would not be granted a visa if he intended to cause unrest in Thailand. Thai news website MGR Online on Tuesday quoted Lieutenant General Suwat Chaengyotsuk, an assistant to the Thai national police chief, as saying Rainsy would meet supporters in Thailand ahead of a summit of Asean leaders in Bangkok early next month. Rainsy has announced that he will return to Cambodia on November 9 to arrest Prime Minister Hun Sen using “people power”. read more https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/thais-could-deny-rainsy-visa
  4. ATHENS (Reuters) - Opposition parties in Cyprus on Thursday called on the government to explain how relatives and allies of Cambodia’s leader acquired Cypriot passports under a secretive investment for citizenship scheme. A Reuters investigation revealed that family members and allies of Cambodia’s long-time prime minister, Hun Sen, have overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars and have used their wealth to buy foreign citizenship - a practice Hun Sen has decried as unpatriotic. Cyprus declined to comment on individual cases. Opposition lawmaker Irene Charalambides, who is also a special representative on fighting corruption for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, issued a scathing post on social media saying the disclosure made Cyprus the object of international ridicule. Her party, AKEL, also questioned how passports could be given to individuals “who probably couldn’t find Cyprus on the map”. “Where does the issuance of passports stop? Until when will we stop apologising internationally? Finally, there is a fire with the smoke,” Charalambides wrote on Facebook. “This is an international ridicule, which is not covered by any justification. The Minister of Interior is required to answer.” Eight family members or allies - including Cambodia’s police chief who has been instrumental in clamping down on dissent, and its finance minister - sought and received Cypriot citizenship in 2016 and 2017, Reuters reporting showed. Since the inception of the citizenship scheme in 2013, and until 2018, the Cypriot government had approved 1,864 applications. The European Commission warned in a January report that what it called “golden passports” could help organised crime groups infiltrate Europe and raised the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. While Cyprus authorities say their processes are transparent, who gets citizenship is protected by data laws. The Cyprus government did not respond to questions from Reuters before publication of the report on the Cambodians. After publication, a spokesman said the citizenship programme was “absolutely credible and transparent” while declining to discuss individual cases. It also said checks and balances in the system had been tightened in recent years. The information in the Reuters report “will be taken into serious consideration”, the government spokesman said. The Greens and Citizens Alliance Movement, long critical of the secrecy surrounding the scheme, said: “Only transparency can dig us out of the hole recent governments have put us in with this programme.” Editing by Nick Macfie -- REUTERS
  5. A group of Cambodian monks and environmental activists entered their second day of a nine-day march on Wednesday to the coastal city of Sihanoukville to demand the demolition of a shuttered Chinese-owned casino accused of polluting a local beach. Cambodian activists have long called for the demolition of the Jin Ding Casino and hotel on Koh Rong Samloem Island, a popular tourist destination, saying that if the structure is not torn down it will likely be reopened at a later date. The casino was ordered to close in May because it was operating without a license, promoting illegal online betting games, and releasing untreated sewage directly into the sea, but Cambodian authorities have delayed repeatedly fulfilling promises to tear it down. Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service on Wednesday, Buddhist monk Keut Saray said that authorities in Kompong Speu province, which lies along the protesters’ route of march to the coast, had ordered local monasteries to refuse shelter to the group. “Senior monks at two of those monasteries told me that officials from the Provincial Department of Cults and Religions had ordered them not to provide us with places to sleep,” he said. Members of the group, which started from the capital Phnom Penh on Oct. 15 with two activists and three monks and now numbers ten, have vowed to continue with their march regardless, insisting that authorities now move ahead to demolish Jin Ding. Also speaking to RFA, Thun Ratha—an activist with the environmental advocacy group Mother Nature—said that after the monasteries turned them away, the group had slept in tents in an open field. “We will keep going to fulfill our goal,” he said. “We urge provincial authorities to follow through with what they said they are going to do after ordering the owner of the Jin Ding casino [to tear the facility down].” After leaving Phnom Penh, participants in the march were followed closely by police who monitored their progress and took photos, but police turned back as the march crossed into Kandal province, group members said, adding that the group’s size has been kept small to avoid attracting troublemakers. Crime rises despite departures Chinese investment has flowed into Sihanoukville in recent years, but Cambodians regularly chafe at what they call unscrupulous business practices and unbecoming behavior by Chinese businessmen and residents. A report by the AFP news agency in January on how Sihanoukville had become a “sizeable gambling playground” for Chinese tourists said at least 50 Chinese-owned casinos were operating in the province Speaking to RFA this week, Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy police chief Kol Phally said that the presence of Chinese nationals in Sihanoukville has meanwhile declined, with numbers going down by about half. “We don’t know exactly how many Chinese nationals have returned [to China], but we know that a lot of them are leaving. The numbers are not the same as they were before,” he said. Sreng Vanny—a provincial coordinator for the Cambodian human rights group Licadho—said however that crime in Sihanoukville continues to rise in spite of the departures of Chinese following a government crackdown in September on online gambling. “In fact, things are worse, with growing numbers of killings, mutilations of corpses, and shooting in the streets,” he said. Last month Cambodian authorities deported 142 Chinese nationals to China at the weekend for involvement in telecommunications fraud scams, loading them on two charter planes from Phnom Penh. Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Pheap Aun and Neang Ieng. Written in English by Richard Finney. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/march-10162019172348.html Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036
  6. PETER DOCKRILL Scientists have rediscovered an ancient city of the Khmer Empire, hidden for centuries by the lush jungle topography of modern-day Cambodia. Mahendraparvata, sometimes dubbed the 'lost city of Cambodia', was an early capital city of the Khmer Empire, a Hindu-Buddhist regime of Southeast Asia that lasted from the 9th to 15th centuries of the common era. Archaeologists and historians have known about the existence of Mahendraparvata for decades, but surviving archaeological evidence of this Angkorian city has proven scant, until now. read more https://www.sciencealert.com/ancient-lost-city-identified-under-cambodian-jungle-by-airborne-laser
  7. Cambodia’s ruling elite are patriots who would never hide money abroad, says the country’s leader, Hun Sen. But a Reuters investigation shows that Hun Sen's family and officials have overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars, and some have bought themselves European citizenship. By CLARE BALDWIN and ANDREW RC MARSHALL in NICOSIA, CYPRUS/LONDON Cambodia’s long-ruling prime minister, Hun Sen, had gathered athletes at his imposing office for a televised pep talk. “I don’t want to mention politics,” he began quietly. But he couldn’t help himself. It was December 2017. The main opposition party had just been outlawed, the latest move in Hun Sen’s campaign to eradicate his political rivals. The United States and European Union were threatening sanctions, and Hun Sen had a message for them. “Just do it now if you are brave enough,” he taunted, bristling with outrage. There was no point in the West trying to seize the foreign assets of Cambodian officials, he went on, because they “wouldn’t be so damn stupid as to keep their assets overseas.” But a Reuters investigation shows that those closest to Hun Sen have done exactly that. Family members and key police, business and political associates have overseas assets worth tens of millions of dollars, and have used their wealth to buy foreign citizenship – a practice Hun Sen has decried as unpatriotic and at times has sought to outlaw. Among those who have acquired or applied for European Union passports through a citizenship for sale arrangement in Cyprus are: Hun Sen’s niece and her husband, who is Cambodia’s national police chief; the country’s most powerful business couple, who are old family friends; and the finance minister, a long-time Hun Sen adviser. Photos on social media also show Hun Sen’s relatives enjoying luxurious European lifestyles – boating in Capri, skiing in Verbier, partying in Ibiza – which are at odds with the prime minister’s self-styled image as the humble leader of ordinary Cambodians. Hun Sen is 67 and has ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for more than three decades. He has jailed or exiled political rivals, shut down media outlets and crushed street protests. Only three men have controlled their countries for longer: the presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo. If Hun Sen stepped down tomorrow, Vladimir Putin would have to rule Russia for another 15 years to match his time in power. Yet challenges remain for Hun Sen. Popular dissatisfaction still simmers, say political analysts. In February, responding to his crackdown, the European Union began a process that could suspend Cambodia’s special trade preferences, potentially damaging industries that employ hundreds of thousands of workers. The country’s political and business elite is on edge, a government insider told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Everyone is making an escape plan,” he said. Hun Sen’s government didn’t respond to questions from Reuters for this article. Hun Sen’s relatives and associates also chose not to respond, with the exception of one member of the extended family. Hun Panhaboth, the son of another niece, defended his lifestyle in messages sent to Reuters through Facebook. An Instagram photo shows him driving a Mercedes while holding a fistful of banknotes. “I really don’t see the harm in that anyways,” he said. One Cambodian with overseas assets is the prime minister’s niece, Hun Kimleng. Photos posted on Instagram by a family nanny helped lead Reuters to a posh apartment in central London, situated only a few hundred metres from the palace of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Hun Kimleng bought the apartment in 2010 for £1.95 million ($2.5 million), according to official property records. It could now be worth at least £3.5 million, estimates the real estate website Zoopla. She also owns a multi-million-dollar apartment in a luxury condo in Singapore, according to the Singapore Land Authority. In 2016 , she became a citizen of a foreign country: Cyprus. Hun Sen has frequently denounced his political rivals for obtaining second passports, once declaring them “an escape route from difficulties in Cambodia.” His niece’s Cypriot citizenship is confirmed by a confidential document sent by Cyprus’s Ministry of Interior to its cabinet, which Reuters has seen. Getting a Cypriot passport also makes the niece a citizen of the European Union, which Cyprus joined in 2004. This gives her the right to live, work and travel without visas in 28 EU countries. Becoming a Cypriot isn’t cheap: It involves an investment of at least €2 million ($2.2 million). Between 2013 and 2018, the country granted citizenship to 3,200 foreigners under its Cyprus Investment Programme, raking in €6.6 billion. The Cyprus interior ministry document confirming Hun Kimleng’s citizenship is dated 21 November 2017. It also recommends that the cabinet grant citizenship to her husband, Neth Savoeun, and two of their grown-up daughters. The cabinet always accepts the ministry’s recommendation, Cyprus’s interior minister told Reuters. Neth Savoeun is Cambodia’s powerful national police chief, presiding over a force responsible for arresting Hun Sen’s political opponents and violently suppressing anti-government protests. Last year, Human Rights Watch named him as one of 12 generals who form “the backbone of an abusive and authoritarian political regime.” The Cambodian defense ministry called the report “fabricated.” Neth Savoeun is also a senior member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. That the country’s top cop has sought foreign citizenship could show that the party’s leaders are losing faith in each other, said Em Sovannara, an academic and political analyst in Phnom Penh. “It signals fragility in the ruling party,” he told Reuters. Cambodia’s opposition has repeatedly alleged that Neth Savoeun and his family have foreign citizenship. In August, one opposition leader posted photos on Facebook of what he said were the family’s Cypriot passports. The post seemed to strike a nerve. The next day, the Cambodian National Police issued a statement, saying that Neth Savoeun would never “escape to another country, never betray the nation.” In 2017, the U.S. State Department put Neth Savoeun, Hun Kimleng and their three children on a “visa blacklist” for undermining democracy, according to a U.S. official and another source. This means they can’t travel to the United States unless on official business. The State Department declined to comment. Cyprus seems less strict. In the confidential document, the Cypriot interior minister urges the cabinet to grant citizenship to Neth Savoeun and two grown-up daughters, and notes that they have never visited Cyprus. Under Cypriot law, the daughters are eligible for citizenship if they are “financially dependent” on the primary applicant, who in this case is their mother, Hun Kimleng. Yet one of the daughters named in the interior ministry document, Vichhuna Neth, 26, appears to be independently wealthy. In September 2017, three months before the interior ministry’s document was issued, she bought a London apartment near her mother’s, according to British property records. It has two floors and four bedrooms, and cost £5.5 million. The Cyprus government didn’t respond to a Reuters request for comment about its decision to grant citizenship to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s relatives and allies, including a family blacklisted by the United States. Nor did it respond to questions about its vetting procedure for these prominent Cambodians. The document detailing the citizenship of Hun Kimleng and her family is part of a tranche of interior ministry documents that Reuters has seen. These detail thousands of applications for Cypriot passports by wealthy foreigners. The documents take the form of a letter, in which the interior minister summarizes an application for Cypriot citizenship and recommends the cabinet approve it. While the letter mentioning Hun Kimleng confirms she is a Cypriot citizen, the other letters are only recommendations. However, asked if any of his recommendations were rejected by the cabinet, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides told Reuters: “No . . . Not to my knowledge.” These documents show that other members of Hun Sen’s inner circle have also received or applied for Cypriot passports. They include Cambodia’s finance minister, Aun Pornmoniroth, a long-time financial adviser to Hun Sen. Aun’s wife also applied. So did two of Hun Sen’s closest and wealthiest allies. Choeung Sopheap and her husband, Lau Ming Kan, created Pheapimex, a giant conglomerate. In a series of reports in the early 2000s, Global Witness, a London-based anti-corruption group, used aerial surveys and field inspections to document years of illegal logging by Pheapimex. Hun Sen has accused Global Witness of telling lies. Another of Choeung and Lau’s companies was embroiled in the eviction of thousands of families from a development site in Phnom Penh; many of those who protested the evictions were beaten and jailed. Citing the evictions, the World Bank temporarily suspended new lending to Cambodia. Choeung and Lau didn’t respond to Reuters’ questions about their business activities. Choeung and Lau are both in their seventies, and their family has business or marriage links to four of Hun Sen’s five children. Lau is a senator for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party. Choeung sits on the board of the Cambodian Red Cross. She is a close friend of the charity’s president – Hun Sen’s wife. Choeung and Lau are also close to Cambodia’s security forces. Red envelopes of cash are traditionally handed out as gifts at Chinese New Year, an occasion the couple used to give money to thousands of soldiers, police and Hun Sen bodyguards who gathered outside their mansion in Phnom Penh, according to local media reports. One report quoted the couple’s son saying they had been making the mass donations for nearly a decade. Choeung and Lau were issued with Cypriot passports in February 2017, Reuters reporting showed. Four of their five children also applied for Cypriot passports in the same year. These prominent Cambodians all sought Cypriot citizenship during a turbulent period when Hun Sen’s grip on power seemed to be faltering. His recent troubles trace back to a general election in 2013. His ruling Cambodian People’s Party had long dominated the polls, but in 2013 it won only 68 of the national assembly’s 123 seats and 48% of the votes. It was Hun Sen’s worst showing in 15 years. Turmoil ensued. Supporters of a resurgent opposition party spilled onto Phnom Penh’s streets to protest suspected election fraud, and only dispersed after military police opened fire and killed or injured dozens of people. The opposition leader was forced into exile and his successor put under house arrest. The party itself was dissolved. Other critics were picked off in a wave of arrests and prosecutions, and one was silenced permanently: Kem Ley, a well-known activist, shot dead in broad daylight in July 2016. Police said he was killed by a man he owed money. The man confessed and is serving a life sentence. The murder had a chilling effect on Cambodia’s embattled opposition. In 2018, with his rivals cowed or silenced, Hun Sen held another general election. This time, his party won 77% of the vote – and every single seat. The United States called the election “the most significant setback yet” to Cambodian democracy. Hun Sen remained defiant. In a speech at the United Nations in Geneva in July 2019, he said the election had been “free, fair and just,” and called Cambodia a “land of freedom.” For a wealthy global elite, it’s Cyprus’s freedoms that are appealing. The citizenship for sale programme took off in 2013 after a banking crisis almost wiped out Cyprus’s economy. The country’s economic woes forced it to seek a €10-billion international bailout and scramble to secure other forms of investment. The idea of the Cyprus Investment Programme was “to further encourage Foreign Direct Investment and to attract high net worth individuals to settle and do business in Cyprus,” according to the Ministry of Interior’s website. Each applicant must invest at least €2 million in Cyprus. At least €500,000 must be invested permanently in property. The remainder can be invested in Cypriot companies, and need only be parked there temporarily. At no point in the application process is the applicant compelled to live in – or even visit – Cyprus. A backlash against the scheme has grown. Some conservationists and other critics say it has fueled a property boom that has priced out ordinary Cypriots and harmed the environment. In a January report, the European Commission warned that what it called “golden passports” could help organised crime groups infiltrate Europe and raised the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. The Cypriot government denied this, but has also tweaked the programme. Since May, applicants must keep the bulk of their investment in Cyprus for five years instead of three. They must also pay up to €150,000 to state agencies tasked with fostering innovation and building affordable homes. Some critics dismiss these measures as cosmetic, and are calling for more public scrutiny of who is applying, where their money comes from and who benefits from it in Cyprus. The government has resisted. The Mediterranean resort town of Paphos is a two-hour drive from the capital. The highways and roads leading there are flanked by billboards erected by property developers and aimed at foreigners looking for residency or citizenship. “Invest in Cyprus, enjoy its benefits,” says one, in English and Chinese. On Paphos’s beaches, tourists sprawl across the burning sand or cool down in the Med’s azure shallows. Not far inland, on the top floor of a Paphos low-rise, is a family law firm called Andreas Demetriades & Co. Between January 2013 and August 2018, its modest office processed 137 “citizenship by investment” applications worth hundreds of millions of euros to Cyprus. This is according to a document from Cyprus’s interior ministry, which was shared with the country’s parliament and seen by Reuters. The company that has processed the most applications is the giant accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers; it handled 184 applications during that period with what PwC Cyprus calls “robust client screening and acceptance processes.” Andreas Demetriades & Co. was second. Demetris Demetriades, a senior partner, said the firm had processed “hundreds” of applications, but declined to confirm the interior ministry’s tally of 137 or talk about specific clients. Reuters reporting shows that his firm handled the applications of the Cambodian finance minister, Aun; the leading business couple, Choeung and Lau; and their family members. Demetriades said most of his clients were “savvy investors” who wanted a Cypriot passport that gave them the freedoms of a European national. For some, the passport was also “an insurance policy.” “Let’s admit it,” he said. “There are countries which have political instability – where people feel that their families and their business interests are in jeopardy. So it’s good for them to have something to fall back on should the worst happen.” Demetriades said some of his clients were so-called “politically exposed persons” – people whose prominent positions in government or public life might make them vulnerable to corruption. “That doesn’t mean that they’re bad people,” he said. “It just means that you have to investigate further their source of funds.” Where those funds end up in Cyprus is also hard to track. Business and property databases in Cyprus are often out of date, incomplete or closed to public access. But Reuters reporting turned up a company that served as an investment vehicle for foreigners seeking citizenship, including five of the Cambodians. The company, called JWPegasus, was incorporated in Cyprus in May 2015 to help fund the construction of a Radisson Blu hotel in Larnaca, the country’s third-largest city. A Reuters analysis showed that at least 22 of JWPegasus’ 26 shareholders have applied for Cypriot passports. Twenty of them applied through Andreas Demetriades & Co., the law firm. The five Cambodians among them include: Choeung; two of her children and the wife of Aun, the finance minister. Each invested at least €2 million. JWPegasus described itself to Reuters as a “solid company” that has created hundreds of jobs. JWPegasus declined to comment on individual investors but said that, to its knowledge, none of them had “any illegal activities.” Radisson Blu said that its due diligence, carried out before doing business with JWPegasus, “did not reveal any suspicious activity at that time.” Demetris Demetriades said he knew of JWPegasus but stressed that his law firm had no connection to it. He said he didn’t tell his clients which companies to invest in because his firm also did due diligence on those companies, which could create a conflict of interest. “Caesar's wife must not only be honest, but must also look honest,” he said. For some members of Cambodia’s elite, Cypriot passports are trappings of luxurious lifestyles that could undermine Prime Minister Hun Sen’s self-styled image as the humble leader of a party representing ordinary Cambodians. Wealth is a touchy subject in Cambodia. The Asian Development Bank estimates that 70% of people live on about $3 a day, and Hun Sen has long projected himself as a leader who suffers alongside his poorest compatriots. Speaking at a factory near Phnom Penh in February, he said he didn’t have a second nationality or a house abroad, and chose instead “to eat grass with the Cambodian people.” Yet many relatives with the Hun family name flaunt their wealth on social media accounts. One photo on Instagram shows two of the prime minister’s nieces, Hun Kimleng and Hun Chantha, posing in ballgowns and matching golden necklaces. Other photos document their near-constant travel, often by private jet, to fashion shows in Paris, a hillside villa in Mykonos, and London nightclubs like Loulou’s. Hun Chantha also co-owns London apartments worth £5 million, property records show. Hun Panhaboth, the son of another niece, gave his girlfriend a Mercedes-Benz for her birthday, according to photos on Facebook. Most Cambodians were “happy and congratulated us,” Hun Panhaboth told Reuters. “I don't think this gift makes Prime Minister Hun Sen look bad in any shape or form.” And while the prime minister spoke about eating grass, Instagram showed some relatives feasting on caviar in London. Among them was Hun Kimleng’s wealthy young daughter, Vichhuna Neth. She applied for Cypriot citizenship in November 2017. Four months later, she posted photos and videos on Instagram from western Cyprus. They show her driving a dune buggy along a coastal road and reclining in an open-air jacuzzi at a luxury villa. “Cyprus,” she gushed, “you’ve been AMAZING!!” -- REUTERS
  8. Kampot provincial police have arrested three men who allegedly raped a 43-year-old Frenchwoman after offering her lift home in Kampot city on Friday. Major General Mao Chanmathurith, provincial police chief, yesterday identified them as Seng Srun, 37, a taxi driver, Pum Livy, 19, and Nget Nophea, 23. He said the three were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday at different locations. “Mr Srun was arrested in Veal Rinh commune in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district on Tuesday and the other two were arrested on Bokor mountain in Kampot province’s Chhuk district on Wednesday,” Maj Gen Chanmathurith noted. He said all three suspects were arrested following an investigation which took several days. “They confessed to committing the crime,” Maj Gen Chanmathurith said, adding that the three will be sent to the provincial court today. read more https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50651595/three-men-arrested-over-frenchwomans-rape/
  9. The Council for the Development of Cambodia, a government agency that oversees investment, last week approved a large-scale tourism project in Siem Reap. Called ‘Cambodia-China Cultural Park,’ the project will be developed by Angkor International Culture Investment & Development (Cambodia) Co., Ltd with a capital of $27.5 million. According to CDC, the project will be developed in Sla Kram commune in Siem Reap, home to the Angkor Archaeological Park. No timeframe for the project’s development has been revealed. Minister of Tourism Thong Khon recently urged the creation of new tourism products, as well as the expansion of existing ones, in Siem Reap. The ministry called on industry players to cooperate to establish new tourism products that will attract more tourists and make them stay longer. read more https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50651322/siem-reap-to-welcome-27mln-cambodia-china-cultural-park/
  10. Cambodia’s Minister of Defense Tea Banh on Monday ordered the armed forces to cooperate with all state institutions and local authorities in defending the country against the leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), ahead of their planned return from exile next month. Speaking at an event in the capital Phnom Penh to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Brigade 70, Tea Banh said that acting CNRP President Sam Rainsy and other senior party officials had “crossed a red line” by “calling for a coup d’etat” against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, and ordered their suppression, along with that of their supporters. “We cannot tolerate these people [CNRP leaders and supporters] and allow them to live in peace,” he said, calling for “effective cooperation” and the use of “all measures” to stop them from returning to Cambodia. “In any place where there are incitements and the stirring up of society in any form that may impact our security, we must take direct measures to prevent them from strengthening their cause and creating full-fledged chaos. We have to suppress them while their movement remains small!” Tea Banh made his remarks following a parade and display of military hardware at the headquarters of Brigade 70, an elite RCAF brigade that was once Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard unit and has been linked to political assassinations, gross abuses of power and illegal logging syndicates. Present at the anniversary event were senior military personnel, including commanders and generals of the RCAF, and senior officials of the Ministry of Defense, as well as Hun Sen’s eldest son, three-star General Hun Manet, and four-star General Sao Sokha. Following Tea Banh’s speech, Brigade 70 commander and deputy commander of the RCAF Mao Sophan vowed that his troops stand ready to enforce the order and “smash” anyone who conspires to destroy the peace through a “color revolution” in Cambodia. “We stand ready to enforce all orders to smash any conspiracies attempting to destroy the peace that was attained through the difficulties and great sacrifices of our people,” he said. Authorities have stepped up harassment of CNRP activists and supporters since August, when the party announced Sam Rainsy’s plan to return to Cambodia from self-imposed exile on Nov. 9, calling on supporters and members of the armed forces to join him, but Hun Sen and other leaders in his government have vowed to arrest the CNRP chief as soon as he sets foot inside the country. The CNRP says Sam Rainsy is returning to lead a “restoration of democracy” in Cambodia, following the arrest of party president Kem Sokha on charges of treason in September 2017 and the Supreme Court’s decision to ban the CNRP two months later for its role in an alleged plot to overthrow the government. The ban on the political opposition, along with a wider crackdown by Hun Sen on NGOs and the independent media, paved the way for his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to win all 125 seats in parliament in the country’s July 2018 general election. In a recent interview, Sam Rainsy referred to King Norodom Sihamoni as Hun Sen’s “puppet,” leading to a conviction for “insulting the king” in absentia. The conviction was the latest move against him by Cambodia’s courts, which in September charged him and seven other CNRP officials, as well as his wife, with “attempting to stage a coup” in connection with his planned return. ‘Illegal act’ On Monday, senior opposition leader Um Sam An called Tea Banh’s order “gravely illegal,” noting that troops should only be sent to the border to protect Cambodia from foreign invasion. “Tea Banh’s order of his troops to suppress our innocent people and opposition activists is an illegal act and, if this comes to pass, the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) will certainly bring these leaders—particularly Hun Sen—to justice,” he said. “Hun Sen and Tea Banh are concerned with losing their power, since they used it in an authoritarian way to destroy democracy and dissolve the opposition party. The people are merely planning to protest peacefully and nonviolently in accordance with the constitution, so why are they planning to use the armed forces to suppress the unarmed?” Tea Banh’s comments came a day after Interior Minister Sar Kheng said that Sam Rainsy’s return will cause war and a create a rift between Cambodians, while speaking at an event to mark a water festival in Battambang province. Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister and acting in Hun Sen’s stead while the long-ruling strongman is on an official visit to Eastern Europe, said Sam Rainsy must be arrested for insulting the King and urging the armed forces to disobey orders from the government. “A group led by Sam Rainsy keeps declaring their intention to return, but this repatriation is not in order to bring about peace at all, as we already enjoy that,” he said. “In contrast, this declaration will cause war and rifts.” Call for compromise Speaking to RFA on Monday, Heng Kimhong, the project officer for local rights group People Center for Development and Peace (PDP), said it is time for Cambodian politicians to compromise via dialogue to heal the nation and avoid a return to the difficulties of the Khmer Rouge regime, whose leadership oversaw the killing of nearly two million Cambodians during its 1975-79 reign of terror. “Our leaders and politicians should act as role models for our future generations through acts of compromise, reconciliation and social solidarity,” he said. “We have already witnessed enough through our long history of suffering and tragedy. It is time that we employ peace by starting a dialogue and creating a new political culture.” Outspoken political commentator Kim Sok questioned government claims that Sam Rainsy and the CNRP could organize the forces and territory to effectively stage a “war.” “The Sar Kheng and Hun Sen clique seemingly devised a tactic to use Sam Rainsy’s name and that of other opposition activists as the orchestraters of a coup d’etat, turning the situation into a battle so that they can illegally maintain power,” he said. CNRP Vice-President Mu Sochua told RFA said that in the face of threats of sanctions from Western nations over the reversals of democratic freedoms in Cambodia, Hun Sen has chosen to double down and “further violate these rights.” “This includes the mounting number of daily arrests and ordering the deployment of troops in order to smash and obliterate the opposition,” she said. Mu Sochua said that she and other CNRP leaders are returning to open a dialogue with Hun Sen and work to avoid sanctions, reiterating that the party’s plans are nonviolent and peaceful in nature. New arrests Police have made multiple arrests of Sam Rainsy’s supporters in recent weeks, bringing to at least 46 the number of CNRP activists detained since the beginning of the year and at least 182 the number subjected to interrogation over the same period, and prompting calls from Western governments and rights groups for an end to the mistreatment. At least five activists are currently in hiding amid the crackdown. On Sunday, authorities sent CNRP Battambang provincial councilors Dim Saroeun and Ley Sokhon; Sok Phat, a member of CNRP operations for Battambang’s Samlot district; and Men Yorn, the deputy head of CNRP operations for Samlot district; to Prey Sar Prison for pre-trial detention, following their arrests a day earlier for “plotting a coup.” Pen Mom, another CNRP activist, was arrested on Saturday in Kampot province’s Chhouk district on a similar charge. On Monday, authorities arrested CNRP Phon Sophea, the former CNRP chief of Chheu Khmao district, in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district, also for activities related to the overthrow of the government. Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Joshua Lipes. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/order-10142019172843.html Copyright © 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036
  11. A forest activist found 59 logs on Sunday near farmland belonging to officicials in Tasal commune, in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district. Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation director Chea Hean said the logs were hidden in a private property in Choam village, just 100m from the farmland of several senior environmental officials. He identified the officials as Chhun Cheaheng, former director of the Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, his successor Khorn Sohkun and two other unidentified rangers. read more https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/officials-colluding-timber-traders-says-ngo-director
  12. The bodies of three construction workers were pulled out from the rubble of an elevator shaft in the capital yesterday after the workers plummeted 16-storeys on Saturday. Phan Kong, a construction worker at the site, yesterday said all three men were his colleagues at the 21-storey apartment building being constructed in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune. Mr Kong said that on Sunday night, construction workers opened the door to an elevator shaft due to a bad smell and discovered a leg buried beneath rubble. The discovery prompted the workers to call the district and commune police. Yesterday morning, dozens of police were seen entering and exiting the site after taking hours to inspect it before pulling the bodies of the victims out of the rubble. The three victims identified as 21-year-old Sok Sambath, 35-year-old Yem Tin and 31-year-old Thim Thirong. The bodies of all three were returned to their families yesterday. Mr Kong said workers at the site suspect that all three victims died after falling 16-storey safter their scaffolding collapsed during the installation of an elevator. read more https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50650958/three-construction-workers-killed-after-elevator-mishap/
  13. Aiming to boost trade and facilitate investment, a new China Chamber of Commerce opened in Sihanoukville last week. The new Chinese chamber of commerce is located inside the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) and is led by SSEZ president Chen Jiangang, who has been appointed president of the chamber. Ith Samheng, the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, hailed the move and said the new chamber will strengthen trade ties between the countries and encourage more Chinese investment in the Kingdom’s coastal areas. “The chamber of commerce will play an important role in improving the business environment, and promoting Cambodia to Chinese investors interested in the Kingdom,” Minister Samheng said during the chamber’s launch on Friday. He noted that the establishment of a China Chamber of Commerce in the province points to growing confidence among foreign investors in the Kingdom’s market. read more https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50651144/china-chamber-of-commerce-opens-in-sihanoukville/
  14. Phnom Penh municipal police have warned of tough action against owners of unregistered vehicles including cars, motorbikes and tricycles. In an announcement issued on Friday, the municipal police said that starting October 21, the authorities will stop and impound all vehicles travelling on the road without a licence plate. Some owners of unregistered vehicles, the announcement said, had either caused traffic accidents or committed unlawful acts and escaped. read more https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/municipal-police-set-crackdown-vehicles-which-are-not-registered
  15. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday met with Canadian Ambassador Donice Pottie at the Peace Palace and clarified the ongoing treason case against Kem Sokha to her after she expressed concern over his detention. His explanation to the ambassador prompted a former CNRP lawmaker, and an academic, to express opinions that Mr Sokha’s case may soon go to trial and if found guilty, Mr Hun Sen may request a pardon for Mr Sokha from King Norodom Sihamoni. Mr Sokha was arrested in September 2017 after the authorities accused him of colluding with the United States to topple the government. His arrest led to the Supreme Court dissolving the CNRP. Mr Sokha was released on bail in September last year and placed under court supervision. He is banned from making trips abroad or leaving a four-block radius surrounding his home in Tuol Kork district. Sry Thamrong, minister attached to the Prime Minister, said Ms Pottie expressed concern to Mr Hun Sen over Mr Sokha’s detention. “She expressed concern regarding the issue of the former opposition party and the detention of Kem Sokha,” Mr Thamrong said. “In response, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Kem Sokha is not detained, but has been placed under court supervision and the investigation into his case is still ongoing.” read more https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50650624/hun-sen-placates-canadian-ambassador-over-kem-sokha/
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