Rice Husks Provide Alternative to Chinese Coal in Cambodia

The Cambodian rice miller and exporter, Angkor Kasekam Roongroeung (AKR), is set to launch its rice husk-powered electricity generator at the start of next year, enabling the company to double its rice exports to 70,000 tons per year.

Electricity from the newly-built rice husk generator will be used to–you guessed it–process rice.

The plant comes with community perks, too. AKR will sell its excess electricity to nearby villagers at $0.22 cents per kilowatt, lower than the $0.27 per kilowatt price they would normally pay for power from the national grid.

“We will take this opportunity to process more rice for export in an attempt to help our rice producers earn more income,” said AKR director, Chieu Hieng, as reported by the Pnom Penh Post.

The innovative power source is a welcome addition. Cambodia spent $59 million last year importing electricity from Thailand and Vietnam and is currently co-constructing a coal-fired plant with China at a cost of $362 million. Concerns are being raised about Cambodia’s increasing demand for power and the trend toward using eco-un-friendly coal-fired power.

And like other developing countries in Asia–such as Nepal, with its vast Himalayan-sourced rivers and significant dependence on Chinese and Indian investment–the natural resources for natively-generated power exist domestically, but the country lacks the necessary funds for infrastructure development.

Rice husk generators could become a replicable trend in Cambodia. Already, Golden Rice Cambodia is investing $2 million into a rice-husk power plant to power nearby mills. AKR’s total cost for its plant was $6 million, including the land. BY Jenara Nerenberg

SKorean company gets contract for Angkor airport

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has awarded a contract to a South Korean property developer to build a new international airport to serve the famous Angkor Wat temple complex, an official said Wednesday.

Chea Vuthy, a spokesman for the Cambodian Development Council, a government agency that oversees investment, said Lees A&A Co. will build the $1 billion airport in Siem Reap province. He said the Cabinet approved the project in October. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said construction would begin by the end of next year, with the first phase due to be completed in 2015.

The airport will be 36 miles (60 kilometers) east of Angkor, Siem Reap provincial officials said. Cambodia hosted 2.3 million visitors this year, with about half of them visiting the temples, according to Kong Sophearak, statistics director for the Tourism Ministry. There is concern that the temples at Angkor, already damaged by warfare, looting and the ravages of weather, could be harmed by a further influx of tourists.

In October the U.S.-based Global Heritage Fund listed Angkor as one of more than 200 global heritage sites “facing irreversible loss and damage today.” Visitors climbing over the ruins are causing “heavy deterioration of original Khmer stonework,” it warned in a report, adding that nearby hotels and restaurants are sapping the region’s aquifer, causing some of the temples’ towers to sink into the ground. Yonhap said an expansion of the airport planned for 2032 would bring its capacity to about 15.5 million passengers annually.

It cited the Korean company as saying it was negotiating with prospective investors to provide $500 million to finance the first phase of the project. Chea Vuthy was unable to confirm the details. However, the Phnom Penh Post reported earlier that the contract had been awarded to NSIA Co., a joint venture of Lees A&A and Camco Airport, another South Korean company. The newspaper quoted Siem Reap province Deputy Gov. Bun Tharith as saying the contract would be in the form of a build-operate-transfer agreement, which would eventually turn over control of the airport to the government.

China, Cambodia agree to build comprehensive strategic partnership

BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) — China and Cambodia on Monday agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation and further strengthen bilateral cooperation. The consensus was reached during talks between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in the Great Hall of the People, downtown Beijing. “Facing the complicated regional and international situation, China and Cambodia should share the opportunities, and join hands in coping with the challenges and promoting peace and development,” said Wen.

He said China and Cambodia have forged closer bilateral relations in recent years with frequent high-level contacts, close cooperation on issues involving each other’s major concerns and common interests, increasing political and strategic mutual trust, and expanding pragmatic cooperation. Hun Sen expressed his appreciation to China for its long-term support and assistance to Cambodia. He said Cambodia hoped to continue to have close contact with China at all levels, enhance mutual trust and deepen comprehensive cooperation. He also vowed that Cambodia would continue to abide by the one-China policy and respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Wen welcomed Cambodia to make full use of the free trade agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and expand investment in China. Wen said the government would encourage Chinese companies to increase investment in Cambodia and help in its construction of special economic zones. China will look to expand cooperation with Cambodia in areas including agriculture, infrastructure construction, finance and human resources, and continue to provide assistance, he added The premier called on the two sides to increase per annum bilateral trade to 2.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2015. For the first half of this year, bilateral trade was worth 627 million U.S. dollars, up more than 37 percent. Hun Sen said Cambodia welcomed China’s investment and wanted to export agricultural products to China. Wen also called on the two countries to strengthen coordination within various regional mechanisms and on coping with non-traditional security threat, so as to maintain their common interest. Hun Sen said Cambodia will work with China to promote ASEAN-China ties and maintain regional peace and stability. After the talks, officials from the two countries signed 13 deals on cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, finance and consular affairs.

Lasting from Dec. 13 to 17, this was Hun Sen’s third official China visit since taking office. Besides Beijing, Hun Sen will also visit north China’s Tianjin Municipality and east China’s Jiangsu Province.

China gains influence with development push into Cambodia

KOH KONG, Cambodia — Down a blood-red dirt track deep in the jungles of southwestern Cambodia, the roar begins. Turn a corner and there is the source — scores of dump trucks, bulldozers, and backhoes hacking away at the earth. Above a massive hole, a flag flaps in the hot, dusty breeze. It is the flag of the People’s Republic of China. Here in the depths of the Cardamom Mountains, where the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge communists made their last stand in the late 1970s, China is asserting its rights as a resurgent imperial power in Asia. Instead of exporting revolution and bloodshed to its neighbors, China is now sending its cash and its people. At this clangorous hydropower dam site hard along Cambodia’s border with Thailand, and in Myanmar, Laos, and even Vietnam, China is engaged in a massive push to extend its economic and political influence into Southeast Asia. Spreading investment and aid along with political pressure, China is transforming a huge swath of territory along its southern border. Call it the Monroe Doctrine, Chinese-style. Ignored by successive US administrations, China’s rise in this region is now causing alarm in Washington, which is aggressively courting the countries of Southeast Asia. The Obama administration has cultivated closer ties with its old foe Vietnam. It has tried to open doors to Myanmar, which US officials believe is in danger of becoming a Chinese vassal state. Relations have been renewed with Laos, whose northern half is dominated by Chinese businesses. In an Oct. 28 speech about US policy in Asia, before embarking on her sixth trip to the continent in two years, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used military terminology to refer to US efforts: “forward-deployed diplomacy.’’ During a recent trip to Phnom Penh — the first by a US secretary of state since 2002 — Clinton, while speaking to Cambodian students, was asked about Cambodia’s ties to Beijing. “You don’t want to get too dependent on any one country,’’ she told them. Still, China powers ahead. China has concluded a free-trade deal with all 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, while a similar US pact is only in its infancy. It is cementing ties with Thailand, a US ally, despite recent political unrest there. In Cambodia, Chinese firms have turned mining and agricultural concessions in the eastern part of the country into no-go zones for Cambodian police. Guards at the gates to two of them, a gold mine and a hemp plantation, shoo travelers away unless they are able to pay a toll. “It’s like a country within a country,’’ Cambodia’s minister of the interior, Sar Kheng, quipped at a conference this year. China’s real estate development firms have barged into Cambodia with all the ambition, obtrusiveness, and verve that American fruit and tire firms employed in Latin America or Africa in decades past. One company, Union Development Group of Tianjin, in northern China, won a 99-year concession for 120 square miles of beachfront on the Gulf of Thailand. There, Chinese work teams are cutting a road and mapping hotels, villas, and golf courses. The estimated investment? $3.8 billion. The target market? The nouveau riche from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. In October, China pledged to support the construction of a $600 million railway between Phnom Penh and Vietnam that will bring China a major step closer to incorporating all of Southeast Asia, as far south as Singapore, into its rail network. Across Cambodia, dozens of state-run Chinese companies are building eight hydropower dams. The total price tag for those dams will exceed $1 billion. Altogether, Cambodia owes China $4 billion, said Cheam Yeap, a member of the central committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. “This takeover is inevitable,’’ said Lak Chee Meng, a reporter on the Cambodia Sin Chew Daily, one of the country’s four Chinese-language dailies, serving 300,000 Khmer-Chinese and an additional quarter-million immigrants and businessmen from mainland China. “Cambodia is approaching China with open arms. It’s how the United States took over its neighborhood.’’ The perennial question about China’s rise is when will Beijing be able to translate its cash into power. In Cambodia, it already has. Cambodia has avoided criticizing the dams under construction along China’s stretch of the Mekong River, structures that specialists predict will upend the lives of millions of Cambodians who live off the fishing economy around the great inland waterway, Tonle Sap. Cambodia so strictly follows Beijing’s “one China’’ policy that it has refused Taiwan’s request to open up an economic office here despite the many millions of dollars’ worth of Taiwanese investment in Cambodia. By John Pomfret Washington Post / December 5, 2010

Cambodia’s first car revs up production hopes

by Ou Mom, Phnom Penh Post

AMBODIAN electric car inventor Nhean Phaloek says he is in talks with two companies to establish a car factory by the end of next year in Kandal province.

He hopes the factory will provide hundreds of jobs and also train Cambodians in his research and development skills, including techniques he has invented.

Last year he produced his third electric car prototype, the Angkor 2010, a cheery gold-coloured micro-car designed by his daughter.

At the time of its launch, he claimed the doors opened telepathically, and that the car could reach speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

Nhean Phaloek, 52, now says that he is in talks with Heng Development Co Ltd and an unnamed Hong Kong company to develop the car factory on a parcel of land in Kandal Steung district in Kandal province.
A spokesman from Heng Development refused to comment further on specific plans, instead referring callers back to Nhean Phaloek.

He said the project would likely focus on developing his technology to open car doors with a thumbprint scan. His Angkor 2010 prototype uses a touch screen computer system and a battery that can charge in about three hours.

“I believe that most Cambodian people will be able to afford these cars, since its price will be less than US$10,000. We’ll be making many different models, ranging from two seats to 12 seats, to satisfy local consumers and foreign investors.”

The car has been on show at Heng Development’s offices in Siem Reap. Nhean Phaloek said the display had attracted about 20 to 30 orders for the cars from international and domestic tourism companies. It’s now on display at the company’s showroom on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh.

In 2002, Nhean Phaloek made his first car by hand, using a Honda C100 motor, calling it the Angkor 2003. His next model the following year could reach 120kmh and carry four people.

Five years later he came up with the Angkor 2010.

Despite no formal training, the inventor has high hopes for eventual production of his dream car.

Stampede victims in Cambodia receive donation from TV funds

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Families of 83 victims of stampede accident who originally lived in Phnom Penh received donations from TV funds on Wednesday.

The distribution of the donations by generous people across the country and abroad collected by Bayon Television, was presented by Hun Mana, director general of Bayon Television and a daughter of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Other government officials who also presented the gift on behalf of the prime minister included Kep Chuptema, governor of Phnom Penh.

Each of the 83 victims in Phnom Penh received 7 million riel ( about 1,700 U.S. dollars), and additional 3,561 U.S. dollars.

The distribution of the donations in cash was the first time in a series of distributions around the country until all 351 victims by the accident receive them.

Similar fund is being collected by Cambodian Television Network (CTN).

Prime Minister Hun Sen said each victim might receive about 12, 000 U.S. dollars through donations from all sources including the 5 million riel (about 1,200 U.S. dollars) provided by the government.

A total of 351 people died and 395 others were injured by the stampede which occurred on Nov. 22 at Diamond Island Bridge in Phnom Penh on the last day of a three-day water festival in the country.

Dealing with victims of a tradgedy

Sun Narin and Ngo Menghourng

Phnom Penh Post/LIFT

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.

Cambodia’s Royal Family has offered donations of $400 to families of the dead and $200 for the injured. Also, Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp (OCIC) who invested at Diamond Island provided 1000 dollars to the deaths 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. In addition, people who want to contribute money can send the SMS to the number 8189 and it will charge 25 cents for each message.

People, student teams and some organizations go to meet the injured at the hospital directly, giving money and other donation stuffs which they have collected to the injured and families whose relatives were dead.

Chhay Chansopheaktra, the sub team leader of student donation called 22/11 Foundation, said that she has been raising money around 3000 dollars until Saturday. She is continuing raising it from the university students across Phnom Penh and parade along the street.

She said that her team went to 3 hospitals including Cambodia-Russia Friendship hospital, Preah Kosamak and Keto Melea, adding that she gave 300 dollars or 100 dollars to the dead families and 30 dollars to the injured.

“Most people who contributed money through her charity think that they do not want to donate money through televisions since they are skeptical the money reaches the hands of people,” she said.

However, Huot Kheangveng, the deputy general director of Bayon television network, said that the donation money that his television received will be for the deceased families only, adding that there is no fund for the injured so far and stupas for the deaths.

“We will take this money to the dead victim’s families by dividing to the number of the deaths,” adding that we will go directly to give to the victim’s families and do it carefully and transparently according to the documents from the relevant ministries.

He added that all the money will go to 351 dead victims and each dead person will get an average amount of money of 5200 dollars.

Pol Vibo, deputy general manager at television station CTN, said that his TV will guarantee that the money will go to people.

“Our staffs do not take this money even a penny,” he said, adding that the money will help both the injured and the deceased, adding that he is meeting with the committee to discuss how to distribute the money.

He said that his television charity has 50,000 dollars for the stupas, which supported by Ankor beer company.

CTN and Bayon have continuously taken donations, at time broadcasting pleas for aid and running donation totals during regular programming.

The OCIC Spokesman Charles Vann said that it is kind of helping that his company gave some money to the families and the injured, adding that “It is not because it is relevant to his investment place,” he said.

Post wrote one article on last Friday on 26th about the uncertainty over the compensation.

Takeo province resident Seng Ung, whose brother was among those injured on Monday, said that so far, my brother did not receive any money at all, adding that she did not know how to get this money and she wondered where she could go to get it.

Ung Samkhan, another Takeo resident whose brother was treated at Calmette Hospital said that she is now waiting to see what the company will do about her brother’s injury.

 

Critics are concerned that there will be little transparency for the fundraising, similar situation to the border dispute with Thailand since 2008, but people agree that, “Charity shows that Khmer love Khmer,”