US$1 billion Cambodian airport project planned for Siem Reap

CAMBODIA. A South Korean company contracted to build a new airport serving visitors to Cambodia’s famed Angkor temples says its US$1 billion project will also encompass a new city and industrial estate, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Photo by Dara Saoyuth

NSRIA Co. Ltd. said its planned New Siem Reap International Airport and linked developments represent Cambodia’s “largest national project” and “Korea’s first-ever export of its airport development and operation expertise”.

The statement, which expands upon partial information released by the Cambodian government and in the Korean press, said its concession for the project spans 65 years – covering five years of construction and 60 years of operation – after which it can be extended.

NSRIA is a Cambodian joint venture whose main investors are two South Korean companies, Lees A&A Co. Ltd. and Camko Airport Co. Ltd.

The statement said the project will include an adjacent ‘Special Economic Zone’, a dry port and a 15.4sq mile (40sq km) city. South Korea in recent years has become a major investor in Cambodia, ranking number two after China by some measurements, AP said. However, some ambitious Korean-funded real estate developments in Phnom Penh, the capital, have stalled, it added.

The new airport will be able to handle Boeing 747s, making it the country’s first capable of handling direct long-haul flights from Europe and North America, said the statement. The area is currently served by a modern but small airport.

The airport will be located 25 miles (40km) east of Angkor Wat, the statement said, alleviating concerns about potential noise and vibration damage to the centuries-old temples at Angkor, Cambodia’s main tourist attraction.

There is concern that the temples, already damaged by warfare, looting and the ravages of weather, could be harmed by a greater influx of tourists.

Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2011, with operations to start in late 2015. At the end of the US$500 million first phase the airport will have the capacity to handle four million passengers a year, and will be able to handle 15 million after expansion.

Photo by Dara Saoyuth

Cambodia had 2.3 million visitors this year, with about half of them visiting the temples, according to Statistics Director for the Tourism Ministry Kong Sophearak.

The statement said the special economic zone will provide an alternative for South Korean companies to investing in China and Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, where labour costs are rising from low levels. Associated Press

Real Skill and Capability Still the concern for the Unemployment

By Sun Narin and Vorn Makara

International Labour Organization expert says Cambodia’s job market is still facing a difficult recovery from the global economic downturn.  However, the employment rate increases in this year. While the nation’s economy is growing, there is still concern that the human resource is not able to meet the market’s needs.

Job rate in this year grows around 3 percent comparing to previous year, according to the National Institute of Statistics. A research of International Labour Organization shows that around 700 people are seeking jobs per day in 2010.

Nhem Kimhoy, the chief of Replacement Bureau at the Labour Ministry, says that the government has produced a variety of jobs through local and international investment.

“The government and ministry pay much attention to finding jobs for the unemployed. They urge investors to establish factories, companies and many other constructions so that people will have more jobs to do,he said.

Though, the number of jobs is rising, most of the job seekers are facing the difficulties in seeking job. Chhom Navy, a recruitment consultant at the job agency Great Alliances, says that a number of candidates have limited ability.

“I see that most of the candidates lack confidence and their English is limited. Some people are not courageous to talk. The others have good English but they do not dare to speak out,” she said.

There are more factors causing candidates to find it hard to get a job. Tun Sophorn is the national coordinator for Cambodia at the International Labour Organization. He says job seekers do not have professional skill for the market needs and they have no skill at work including working in group, leadership and computer.

“Their studying skill mismatches the market needs. Our education does not focus on working skill. Therefore, youths will meet problem in finding job after graduating,” he said.

Currently, the government provides vocational training on specific skill to satisfy market demand. The ministry has set up job center for job-seeking service and market information.

“The ministry has been training all kinds of skills throughout the country to foster people who have no skill to be employed so that all the companies are easy to recruit them to work,” he said.

To find job for Cambodian people, International Labour Organization is going to start its five-year plan next year. The project focuses on three main things: professional development, work accountability and social protection. For DMC radio, I’m Vorn Makara from Phnom Penh.

Influence of Christianity in Cambodia

By Sun Narin

About ninety percent of Cambodian people believe in Buddhism. Constitutional law states Buddhism is the state religion. It is noticeable that some religions have influenced in the country, especially Christianity. A number of Cambodians start to pick up the religion. This concerns Buddhism in Cambodia.

Meas Sivantha is 52 years old. She is sitting in the church with her kid. She is lying her both hands on the leg, closing her eyes and singing for god. Before, she believed in Buddhism, but she just changed to believe in Christianity for nearly 3 months. She says that when she goes to the church, she is taught and she tries to remember the bible.

“When I come to the church, the god will help me when I have trouble. I met a lot of difficulties, so I may follow that religion. It is not complicated. They allow us to come and study,” she said.

Two and a half percent of Cambodian people believe in Christianity. Thirteen Christian churches locate in Phnom Penh and some others in the several provinces.

Kong Sophoan is a director of Phnom Penh-based church in Chamkar Morn district. He has believed in Christianity for around 7 years. He says that all religions are good for people and they have rights to choose what they want.

“Actually Christianity is the same as Buddhism. Both of them are good. We do not invade Buddhism. We just spread it. If people believe us, we will accept them,” he said.

We can see that now there are a lot of Christian missionaries in Cambodia. They go to teach Cambodia’s people and want them to believe in god. This influence impacts our Buddhism in the future.

Venerable Chhuon Pov is a monk at Phnom Penh-based Langka pagoda. He says that the increasing of Christianity is overwhelmed. He explains that there are 3 reasons leading people to believe in Christianity including low education, poverty and materialism.

“This can makes people especially youths want to join the Christianity. People should understand their religion clearly,” he said, adding that the relevant authority should take actions to curb the influence of this religion.

Chhuon Samet is 65 years old and Buddhist believer. He is in the pagoda with his relatives to give monks the offerings. He is chanting in front of the monks. He says that believing religion is dependent on people themselves.

“I cannot say it affects Buddhism or people when it comes to our country. It’s up to people preference and believing. I they think it’s good, they can follow it. If not, they can stop it,” he said.

Khon Dara is the deputy director of religion affairs at the ministry of Cult and Religion. I think that this is not the problem at all and people can benefit from that.

“Actually Christianity helps Cambodia’s people a lot on mental, material and technique. It educates people to love and help each other. It teaches other knowledge, English, computer and administration to our youths,” he said.

He explains that the idea that Christianity is increasing is just the speech of some people who do not understand clearly about the religion and integrated world.

However, he says that the ministry of Cult and Religion is always working on the problem to refrain it from affecting Buddhism.

We have directives, rules and education to control the religion. I do not allow this religion to do whatever they want without making progress in Cambodia,” he said.

Commentary on Diamond Island Stampede: Should the authority be blamed for the stampede incident?

By Sun Narin and Dara Saoyuth

Diamond bridge stampede claimed some 350 people’s lives and injured hundreds last month, on the final day of water festival. Critics and a number of people have been complaining about the tragic incident. They put blame on the authorities for the reason that they have not managed the event well. However, some people have the ideas that no one should be blamed for the incident.

Sun Narin and Dara Saoyuth will express their point of view on the topic “Should the government be blamed for the incident?”

Sun Narin: I could not imagine how such incident happen on that day? People got jammed on the bridge and could not get out. Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen said that “Nobody will be punished for the incident.”

However, Sam Rainsy opposition party Son Chhay pushed the ruling government to identify the people responsible for “organizing the festival and handling the crowd” and wanted them to be fired from the position. This includes Phnom Penh governor, head of the police and interior ministry.

In my opinion, the government at least should take actions with those officials because they are irresponsible for their duty.

Phnom Penh municipality, relevant ministry and police did not perform their work responsibly and carefully. Why didn’t police facilitate the people’s crossing the bridge? There is not a lot of police force deploying at the incident place at that time.

Moreover, the bridge is for the exit only, why people were allowed to get in and out?  This is the reason causing the mass deaths. Why didn’t police deal with that problem?

Police could not help the victims urgently when the incident happened, keeping people stuck in the crowdedness more than 2 hours. This caused more people dead because of the suffocation in the stampede.

About 400 monks leading a blessing ceremony for the deceased at Koh Pich / by: Dara Saoyuth

Finally, the organizing people don’t plan the ceremony well. They are not well-prepared to be ready for the unplanned incident. Comparing to other countries, when there is the some special event like that the government must guarantee that the safety for people. They are very careless about this.

I think this is the  unprecedented mass deaths, so all these officials should be taken off from the position as the example for the other people.

Dara Saoyuth: Even though most Cambodians can think only who should be blamed when talking about tragedy on Koh Pich, to me, it is an opportunity to learn rather than focus on blame finding.

During the water festival, truck or big cars were not allowed to enter the city and even tuktuk couldn’t drive along riverside to avoid traffic jam and accident. I dared to say that Phnom Penh authorities were well-planned for the festival.

This year, people moved into the city more than the authority expectation, that in the evening of 22 November 2010, the accident happened. There are many reasons causing stampede including the lack of people morality that they push each other back and forth? Why should only authorities be blamed?

As we can see, immediately after the accident, the authorities were trying to help the victims in many ways.

The government ordered the Ministry of Health to pay much attention to the victims and also some officers to send dead people to their provinces with free of charge. The Phnom Penh Capital Hall also started reporting on the tragedy instantly and kept updating with new announcement related to the incident.

No one wants this to happen and also nothing can be changed. Now we should better find the solution instead of blaming.

One facebooker, Samsokrith Chhaly, urges the public to think of those who died during the Water Festival as heroes because they gave us priceless lesson for next year’s preparation. When development sides establish in Cambodia next time, I’m sure that they will think first about an effective risk management system.

If you want to share your ideas with us, feel free to send us an email: sun_narin@yahoo.com and dara_saoyuth@yahoo.com