Chinese firm seeking investment opportunity in rice exports, hotel industry in Cambodia

China’s COFCO, the largest oils and food importer and exporter in China and a leading food manufacturer, on Tuesday afternoon expresses its interest to invest in rice exports and tourism in Cambodia.

“We are very interesting in rice exports from Cambodia and hotel industry in Cambodia,”Yang Hong, vice president of China Oil and Foodstuff Corporation (COFCO), said on Tuesday during a meeting with the officials at the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC). “After the possibility study about the investment opportunity here, we will take the two sectors into investment consideration,” she added.

She said that the Beijing-based COFCO Group is a leading firm in the businesses of biofuel and biochemical production, oilseed processing, rice trading and processing for exports, brewing materials production, and wheat processing, moreover, the group also engages in real estate businesses.

Vongsey Vissoth, secretary general of the Ministry of Finance, said that Cambodia has produced 7.3 million tons of rice paddy in 2010, of which the surpass quantity is 3.5 million tones of rice paddy or 2.1 million tons of processed rice that is available for exports. “China just signed a rice inspection and quarantine cooperation agreement with Cambodia in October that is easier for Chinese investors to export rice from Cambodia,”he said.

Tith Chantha, director general of the Ministry of Tourism, said that currently Cambodia has 438 hotels with 24,239 rooms, accommodating around 2.1 million foreign tourists last year. “Cambodia has potentials in tourism and the extent of the economy is bigger, it is estimated that Cambodia needs up to 40, 000 rooms by 2015 as the number of foreign tourists is expected around 3.7 million at that year,”he said, adding”so putting your investment in the sector from now is the right time.” The 13-member delegation consisted the officials of COFCO and ICBC.

Sok Cheda, the CDC’s secretary general, said that the delegation comes to Cambodia after Jiang Jianqing, President of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) met with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Nov. 5 in Phnom Penh and expressed the bank’s purpose to open its branch in Cambodia and he promised with the prime minister to attract more Chinese investors to Cambodia. Xinhua….

Cambodian PM says no punishment for fatal stampede

Washington Post, AP

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s prime minister said Monday that no one will be punished for last week’s stampede in which at least 351 revelers died after the swaying of a suspension bridge cause mass panic.

Hun Sen said many people share responsibility for not anticipating the problems that caused the Nov. 22 tragedy but that rescue efforts were adequate and, without them, the death toll would have been higher.

“No one will receive punishment for this incident,” Hun Sen said at the opening of a new government building. “We have to learn a lesson from this for solving such problems in the future.”

Preliminary findings by an official investigation committee found that the natural swaying of a suspension bridge ignited fears it would collapse among an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people on the structure. In frantic efforts to escape, the crowd pressed and heaved, crushing hundreds of people and leading some to dive off the span into the water.

The official casualty toll is 351 dead and 395 injured. It was updated Sunday, after two more people died of their injuries and two others were added to list of dead by relatives said they had taken their bodies home.

The stampede occurred on the last day of a three-day holiday, as a crowd estimated to be more than 1 million thronged to the capital to celebrate the traditional water festival.

Last week Hun Sen has described the stampede as the biggest tragedy since the communist Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, which killed an estimated 1.7 million people in the late 1970s.

“It happened unexpectedly,” said Hun Sen. “If we had correctly assessed in advance that there could have been a stampede, then we would not have allowed people to cross the bridge.”

Hun Sen also announced that the families of each of the dead people would each be given at least $12,000, an enormous sum in a country where the annual per capita income is just over $700.

China gives Cambodia $6 million to help restore temple at Angkor complex

AP– PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – China has given Cambodia $6 million to help restore a deteriorating temple at the Angkor Wat temple complex, one of Asia’s greatest landmarks.

Soeung Kong, an official with the agency that oversees the Angkor Archaeological Park, said Monday the renovation of the Hindu-style Ta Keo temple will begin early next year and should be completed in eight years. He said the temple is deteriorating badly and its walls are at risk of collapse due to natural deterioration.

Ta Keo is a pyramid of five levels, built entirely of sandstone in the late 10th century to early 11th century.

China previously gave $2 million in 2000 to help restore Chausay Tevada, a 12th century Hindu temple at the complex, he said.

‘No punishments’ over deadly Cambodian stampede: PM

AFP….

PHNOM PENH — Cambodia’s premier said Monday that nobody will be brought to justice over a festival stampede last week that left more than 350 people dead, adding the tragedy was the result of a “joint mistake”.

“Nobody will be punished for the incident,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the inauguration of a new government building in the capital.

“We were careless,” he added. “This was a joint mistake that nobody expected.”

Cambodia’s annual water festival ended in tragedy last Monday after crowds panicked on an overcrowded bridge leading to an island that was one of the main event sites.

A total of 351 people lost their lives, the majority of them women, and questions have been raised over who is to blame for the tragedy.

Authorities have said a full report on the incident would be released in the coming days.

Initial findings from the investigating committee suggest the stampede occurred after rumours rippled through the crowd that the suspension bridge to Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island was about to collapse.

“The tragedy started with our wrong assessment of the situation,” said Hun Sen, who has described the stampede as Cambodia’s worst tragedy since the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 reign of terror, which killed up to a quarter of the population.

The three-day festival, which marks the reversal of the flow between the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, usually draws millions of visitors to the capital to enjoy dragon boat races, fireworks and concerts.

Television Charity Up to 2 million dollars…

By Sun Narin

Cambodian people have been shocked, agonizing and so pitiful to the victims affected by the bridge stampede at Diamond Island on the night of November 22nd, the final day of water festival. Immediately after the incident happened, the Cambodia’s government has decided to provide five million riel to each dead victim’s family and free treatment service to the injured.

According to Voice of America radio, Cambodia’s King provided 200 dollars to deceased victim’s family and 100 dollars to the injured. Also, Oversea Cambodian Investment Corp (OCIC) who invested at Diamond Island provided 1000 dollars to the dead and 200 dollars to the injured.

Besides these, television stations such as Cambodia Television Network (CTN) and Bayon TV, phone companies including Cellcard, Smart mobile and Beeline, public and private institutions as well as student teams and schools set up a charity foundation to raise fund for the dead victims’ families and the survivors.By Sunday evening, Bayon TV had raised more than $1.2 million and 245 million riel and CTN had brought in more than $ 850,000 and they will give to the survivors and relatives this week, according to the representatives from both televisions.

However, some people and critics are skeptical the money will go to the hands of the victims…

First Vietnamese supermarket to open in Cambodia

The first Vietnam Supermarket in Cambodia will open on December 29, creating advantageous condition for domestic businesses to sell and advertise Vietnamese goods to people in this neighboring country.

A corner of the first Vietnam Supermarket in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which will open in the end of December

Construction of the Vietnam Supermarket, in Monivong Street, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has a total capital of US$3 million, invested by Z38 Company, a member of Vietnamese Business Association in Cambodia.

Located on 3,300 square meters, the supermarket will sell goods for Vietnamese companies with the prices set by themselves. Payment would be conducted through Agribank, BIDC Bank and Sacombank.

Seng Meng, the supermarket chairman and the association deputy chairman, said that the Vietnam Supermarket will meet demand of oversea Vietnamese living in Cambodia and the rising number of Cambodian who have loved Vietnamese goods.

In addition, the facility will help those who want to but yet expand business to Cambodia as they have been afraid of language difference and procedures, he said.

Besides having his supermarket to sell their goods, Vietnamese companies could hire stalls to do that themselves. The Vietnam Supermarket will assist them with export-import procedures and selling staff, who are oversea Vietnamese being able to speak both Vietnamese and Cambodian.

The Z38 Company has planned to open another three Vietnam Supermarkets in other Cambodian provinces including the famous tourist destination Siem Reap. By Hai Mien

Swaying Bridge Sparked Panic in Cambodia

By PATRICK BARTA

Wall Street Journal

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—A government investigation into Monday’s deadly bridge stampede in Cambodia said victims panicked when the bridge began to sway, as criticism of the government’s handling of the disaster mounted.

The investigation, summarized on a television news station that serves as a mouthpiece for the government, found that many of the victims came from rural areas and didn’t know it was normal for suspension bridges to sway, according to the Associated Press and other local and international news agencies that followed the report.

A police officer on Wednesday lays flowers for victims who died in a stampede near a bridge in Phnom Penh.

The 8,000 or so people who were on the bridge apparently thought it was about to collapse and then panicked, the report said, leading to a desperate struggle to escape that left hundreds of people crushed.

Government spokesmen couldn’t be reached to comment on the report.

The latest official casualty tally was 347 dead and 395 injured, according to the Associated Press. down from earlier official figures. Some of the confusion appeared to come from the fact that many relatives took victims’ bodies back home to rural areas, making it harder to get an accurate count.

Human-rights groups and some residents have grown increasingly critical of the government’s management of the disaster, which occurred during Cambodia’s annual three-day water festival, which marks the end of the country’s rainy season. About two million people descend on Phnom Penh for the festival each year.

This year, tens of thousands of people gathered on an island across from the central downtown area that was holding a series of free concerts. Many residents and survivors say there weren’t enough police on hand to manage such a large crowd, and that authorities should have known there wasn’t sufficient bridge space to move people on and off the island. Others say some victims were electrocuted after police allegedly fired water cannons to disperse the crowd—a charge the government has repeatedly denied.

Hundreds are feared dead in a stampede on a bridge in Cambodia. Video courtesy of Reuters.

“I want the government to do more investigation,” said Sam Phalla, a 23-year-old restaurant manager along the riverside after she heard the results of the government’s initial investigations Wednesday.

“The government allowed people to come to the site—a lot of people—and they did not think in advance about the exit,” said Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which is named after a longtime opposition leader. In other countries when a disaster of this magnitude occurs, officials in charge resign, he said, but that hasn’t happened in this case. “We need to create a culture of responsibility,” he said. The complaints echoed concerns raised earlier by human-rights groups. “The failure of the state to control the crowd and limit the damage from the stampede is clear,” the Asian Human Rights Commission said in a statement Tuesday.

Public criticism of the government is becoming more common in Cambodia, a country that is only just recovering from decades of civil war and chaos, including a period in the 1970s when it was ruled by a radical Maoist movement known as the Khmer Rouge whose policies led to the deaths of 1.7 million people.

Scarred by so many years of trouble, many residents have at times refrained from openly criticizing the current government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, even though international groups routinely accuse his administration of corruption and pressuring the local media. But Mr. Hun Sen’s government has also presided over a stabilization of Cambodia’s economy that has resulted in an investment boom in recent years. As incomes have risen, many residents have become more active in political affairs—and more willing to complain.

Mr. Hun Sen declared Thursday a national day of mourning, and the government is offering cash payments to families of the deceased to help cover funeral costs and other expenses. The investigating committee behind Wednesday’s report included government ministers and city officials and relied on testimony from witnesses, the Associated Press said.