Cambodia Update: Controversial NGO Law Passed

Cambodia Update | July 20, 2015
Authors: Daniel Henderson 
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Controversial NGO Law Is Adopted

On Monday, July 13 the National Assembly passed the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO). All 68 MPs from the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) voted to adopt the bill (a majority in the 123-seat lower house). This law outlines the legal framework by which NGOs may operate in Cambodia. The 55 members of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted the vote. Their fierce challenge to the law has been echoed by local civil society groups and international organizations. Multiple stakeholders feel there was a lack of consultation in the legislative process. While the legislation did receive some last minute amendments from the CPP, such as a reduction in the minimum membership for an NGO to register, critics remain dissatisfied.  The law requires “political neutrality” from local NGOs. International NGOs risk being closed if they are deemed to "jeopardize peace, stability and public order or harm the national security, national unity, culture and traditions of the Cambodian national society."  The Cambodia government argues that the law prevents terrorist funding and other criminal activities.  

Upcoming Pieces of Legislation

  • Cybercrime Law - Critics fear this is aimed at criminalizing online communications which criticize the government.
  • Telecommunications Law – Critics fear that this will empower the government with surveillance powers over its critics and mandate information from Internet service providers.
  • Trade Union Law – Critics argue this will restrict labor unions to go on strike.

The Cambodia Committee and ICT Committee has solicited input from members in regards to the Cybercrime Law and Telecommunications Law and is considering submitting a letter of comment to the Cambodian government on their behalf. Please contact Kim Yaeger at kyaeger@usasean.org and Daniel Henderson at dhenderson@usasean.org if you are interested.

Helpful Links

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

National Affairs
+ Does Cambodia Really Need a New NGO Law?
My dinner with Rainsy 
NGO Law: Top concerns
Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy: From Detente to Dinner
Cambodian Ruling Party Lawmakers Approve Civil Society Bill
Opposition boycotts parliament as Hun Sen moves to regulate NGOs
Cambodia’s unsteady foreign policy balance

Customs
Revenue gains for customs
AEO Programme in Phnom Penh
New SEZ aims for logistics hub

Defense & Security
Army chief visits troops near Preah Vihear

Energy
Mining tax likely won’t budge
Biogas to power rural areas
Call for Sesan 2 logging halt

Financial Services
Rules passed for derivatives
Insurance option for small hold farmers
Thai banks offer joint loan to provider of microfinance in Cambodia

Food & Agriculture
Law on food safety edges closer to approval
Government Releases Draft Law on Food Safety
Agriculture Ministry Looks to Drop Middlemen
China, EU drive rice export gains in first half
Police, Guards Block Marches Against NGO Law
Cambodia agrees agro-industrial framework

Health & Life Sciences
New technology brings new hygiene hope
200 clinics closed in 2015: Dept
Want to innovate paediatric care in Cambodia? Set up a playground in a hospital
Milestone in eye health
Death Sparks New Rabies Warnings
Innovative Program brings HIV Testing to Cambodian Communities
Sex Ed Classes to Expand Nationwide
More Toilets and Cleaner Water for Cambodians

ICT
Registration open for LANGO meet
Regulators Urged To Free Up 4G Spectrum
Cambodia’s NGO Law: Legislation with Chinese characteristics
Cambodian Civil Society Groups Protest Against NGO Draft Law

Infrastructure
SEZs investment potential relies in infrastructure

Manufacturing
ILO launching new garment newsletter

Myanmar
Abe, Prayut expect Myanmar economic zone to boost Japan-ASEAN ties

Vietnam
Vietnam, Cambodia Border Brawl Sparks Recriminations

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Does Cambodia Really Need a New NGO Law? The Diplomat 17 Jul 2015

Cambodia’s National Assembly unanimously passed the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO) despite the fierce opposition of local civil society groups, the boycott of opposition lawmakers, and the strong international lobby against the measure. The government said the law is necessary to prevent international terrorist groups from using Cambodia as a base for their operations. But critics contend it is a repressive legal tool that will undermine citizens’ constitutional right of political participation. LANGO was first proposed in 2011 but it was shelved after Cambodian NGOs criticized it. Opponents of LANGO claim that the government failed to properly consult various stakeholders about the bill. They warned that LANGO will affect not only NGOs but also every local group, community association, and grassroots organization in the country. The provision on mandatory registration will criminalize the activities of groups that fail or refuse to register with the government. Further, registered local associations must commit to being politically neutral or else they will face penalties and lose government accreditation. Human rights groups decried other provisions in the LANGO for being draconian and onerous. Article 8 empowers authorities to deny the application of a group that engages in activities that “jeopardize peace, stability and public order or harm the national security, national unity, culture, and traditions of the Cambodian national society.” Article 9 expands the ban on all unregistered domestic NGOs and associations, while Article 12 requires local NGOs with short term international projects to seek approval first from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. At present, NGOs are only ordered to notify the Ministry about their activities with international partners. Article 30 gives discretionary powers to the government minister to remove the registration of domestic NGOs for activities listed under Article 8 mentioned above. Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, echoed the criticism of Cambodian activists about the negative impact of LANGO on the right to political participation.

My dinner with Rainsy PPP 16 Jul 2015

In another effort to cement the so-called culture of dialogue between the two major parties, Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy brought their families together on Saturday for what Rainsy billed as a “historic” meal during which they posed for selfies, while steering clear of any political chat. The gathering at Phnom Penh’s Cambodiana Hotel saw Hun Sen, his wife, Bun Rany, four of their children and their son-in-law join for the first time to break bread with Rainsy, his wife, Tioulong Saumura, their daughter and son. In a post to his Facebook page yesterday, which accompanied photographs of the “special family meeting”, Rainsy said the aim of the meal was to “expand the culture of dialogue to all levels and all members of both parties, and to our children and the next generation of Cambodians. “This culture of dialogue will ensure Cambodians’ happiness despite political changes in the future,” he wrote. He added that the dinner was enjoyed in a “friendly atmosphere”, which saw the two leaders happily pose for a selfie, seemingly to the fascination of hotel staff. Sok Ey San, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said the two families used the opportunity to “get to know and understand each other”, while avoiding topics that could spoil the jovial mood.

NGO Law: Top concerns PPP 14 Jul 2015

Mandatory registration: Domestic and foreign associations or NGOs must register with the government to work. If they fail to do so, local groups face fines of around $2,500 while foreigners can be evicted. In both instances, staff face further criminal prosecution. “It is going to criminalise the freedom of association and assembly.” Vague definitions: The law’s vague definitions of NGOs and associations could be used as a catchall to target any association of people, no matter how small or informal, Panha said. “Working groups, community based organisations, platforms, neighbourhood clubs . . . they can all be interpreted as NGOs.’’ Blocked registration: The Interior and Foreign ministries have total discretion over the registration process and can deregister groups who contravene the law. Groups can be blocked or deregistered if their activities jeopardise peace, stability and public order or harm national security, unity, culture or traditions. “They can target any NGO if they don’t like them.’’ Political neutrality: Registered groups are required to remain “politically neutral” or face deregistration. “NGOs do a lot of advocacy for human rights and democracy; the government can interpret this as political and terminate groups.”

Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy: From Detente to Dinner Cambodia Daily 13 Jul 2015

In a reaffirmation of their most recent political detente, Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy dined together with their families at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on Saturday evening, marking the event by taking and distributing a “selfie” photograph.

Cambodian Ruling Party Lawmakers Approve Civil Society Bill WPR 13th Jul 2015
Cambodia's ruling party lawmakers approved a controversial draft law Monday that critics say gives authorities sweeping powers to crack down on civil society groups that challenge the government. Riot police set up a barricade around the National Assembly to hold back hundreds of protesters there and opposition party lawmakers boycotted the vote entirely. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations tightly regulates all non-governmental organizations in the country and grants the government sweeping powers to clamp down on civil society activities it deems to be a threat to national security. Details of the bill were not immediately available, with the final draft not released to the public. The law is the first of four in the pipeline that critics say are designed to further restrict social freedoms in Cambodia, which has been ruled since 1985 by Prime Minister Hun Sen, an autocrat with little tolerance for dissent. The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party issued a statement ahead of the session saying it "deeply regretted" that the bill did not include its input or any input from the non-governmental groups it aims to restrict. The opposition's 55 lawmakers boycotted Monday's debate. All 68 lawmakers from the ruling Cambodian People's Party voted unanimously to adopt the bill, an expected outcome in the 123-seat lower house, where a simple majority was enough for the vote to pass. The bill still needs to clear the Senate before becoming law, a step considered a formality in Cambodia.

Opposition boycotts parliament as Hun Sen moves to regulate NGOs Nikkei Asian Review 13th Jul 2015
The ruling Cambodian People's Party forced a contentious law regulating the country's large nongovernmental sector through parliament on Monday, amid widespread opposition and fears that the new bill will be used to stifle dissent and muzzle critics of the government. The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations, usually referred to as LANGO, was adopted unanimously by 68 CPP lawmakers after opposition parliamentarians boycotted the vote in protest against the legislation. As the session took place, protesters gathered a few blocks away from the National Assembly, waving banners and wearing stickers amid a heavy police presence. In recent months dozens of local and international NGOs have called for the law to be scrapped, arguing that the legislation is unnecessary, repressive, and open to abuse. Critics have taken particular aim at provisions requiring mandatory registration for all domestic and international associations and NGOs, and criminalizing any activity by unregistered entities.

Cambodia’s unsteady foreign policy balance EAF 3rd Jul 2015
Since the fiasco of the 2012 ASEAN Summit, Cambodia has more or less been viewed as a Chinese client state. But this is not wholly true. In fact, Phnom Penh has attempted to strike a foreign policy balance between China on the one hand and ASEAN, Japan, and the United States on the other. At a regional level, the Cambodian government has attempted to pacify Vietnam, which was upset by its continued refusal to criticise China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. This approach was evident in Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s 2013 visit to Vietnam, when he reiterated the Vietnamese contribution to the 1979 liberation of Cambodia from genocide in front of several Vietnamese senior officials and former veterans. More importantly, he made his remarks in Vietnamese rather than English, in order to build a personal rapport with the Vietnamese. This is evidence of his attempt to treat Hanoi as a close friend despite the obvious tension, since speaking in Vietnamese wins Hun Sen no favours domestically. Instead, it may strengthen a perception of subordination to the Vietnamese that could further weaken the popularity of his party, which suffered a significant decline in support in the 2013 national election. Many Cambodians harbour strong anti-Vietnamese sentiment and fear further loss of territory to their eastern neighbour, as was the case in the country’s pre-colonial history. More evidence of Phnom Penh’s intention to develop good ties with Hanoi can be witnessed in the former’s handling of the disputed history of Cochinchina/Kampuchea Krom, which constitutes a major part of today’s southern Vietnam. In 2014 a Vietnamese diplomat stated that the area had historically belonged to Vietnam long before the French officially ceded it to Vietnam in 1949, a statement that outraged Cambodians and triggered a series of anti-Vietnamese demonstrations.

Customs

Revenue gains for customs The Phnom Penh Post 9th Jul 2015
he General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) collected more than $752 million state revenues in the first six month of the year, an increase of 17.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2014, according to a statement from the GDCE. The growth was attributed to the reforms carried out by Customs and Excise officials according to custom and excise collection strategies and the medium term reform and modernized program of custom collection 2014-2018, said Kun Nhem, director general of the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia, as quoted in local media. Welcoming the increase in revenue, Aun Porn Moniroth, Economy and Finance Minister attributed the gains to stronger management in the department, improvements in customs officer’s performance and the use of technology to better manage collection efforts.

AEO Programme in Phnom Penh World Customs Organization 7th Jul 2015
At the invitation of the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia, the WCO conducted a workshop on the implementation of AEO programme in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) from 15 to 17 June 2015. The event was funded by the Customs Cooperation Fund Korea and was facilitated by two experts from the WCO Secretariat and Singapore Customs administration. Over 20 mid-management Customs officers benefited from detailed and practical information on the concepts, conditions and requirements for the establishment of an AEO programme as described in the SAFE Framework of Standards as well as the implementation experiences of Singapore and the EU.

New SEZ aims for logistics hub The Phnom Penh Post 7th Jul 2015
A new special economic zone aiming to make Cambodia into a regional logistics hub held an official groundbreaking ceremony yesterday, at its future home on the muddy outskirts of Phnom Penh in Kandal’s Takhmao district. The $100 million Kerry Worldbridge SEZ project is a partnership between two logistics companies, the Hong Kong-based Kerry Logistics and local firm Worldbridge International. The SEZ will be completed in three phases, with the first phase, which includes building the Kingdom’s first customs-free warehouse, to be operational in 18 months and cost $60 million.

Defense & Security

Army chief visits troops near Preah Vihear Bangkok Post 6th Jul 2015
Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr on Monday travelled to Kantharalak district of Si Sa Ket province to visit army units positioned along the border with Cambodia. It was the first visit by Gen Udomdej as the army chief to the border area under the jurisdiction of the Suranaree Force of the 2nd Army. Gen Udomdej was to inspect a border post at Mount Sattasom and go up to the Mor E-Daeng cliff top opposite Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple.

Energy

Mining tax likely won’t budge PPP 13th Jul 2015
Cambodia's new mining law is on track for adoption by the end of this year and will introduce a raft of reforms to the sector, a senior official said, although the country’s mining tax will likely remain the same. Meng Saktheara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, told the Post last year that the ministry may consider reducing Cambodia’s tax on mineral resources profits from 30 to 20 per cent, inspired by a scrapped Australian mining law. However, Saktheara said last Friday that as the law approaches adoption, “it’s likely the 30 per cent rate will remain”. “We will have to introduce some additional fiscal tools,” Saktheara said, adding that any government share of private investors’ take would be comparable to other countries in the region. Saktheara said non-tax “incentives” would likely be part of the new law, such as beefing up Cambodia’s scattered database of maps and statistics on what lies below the ground. “You need to have good information that shows great potential to attract investors.” Richard Stanger, president of the Cambodia Association for Mining and Exploration Companies, said that the tax rate remaining at 30 per cent was “acceptable” for mining firms.

Biogas to power rural areas The Phnom Penh Post 7th Jul 2015
Commercial biogas plants will be installed across the Kingdom to provide electricity to rural areas that are off the national grid, as government and development agencies look to reach the 38 per cent of villages with no power supply. The 15-year project, spearheaded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), will harness animal waste from large commercial pig farms and generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity in its first phase. While an initial $1.5 million has been provided by GEF, $26 million in co-financing has been raised though private financing and the project will use a public-private partnership model for implementation, said Jossy Thomas, acting chief of the Renewable Energy Unit at UNIDO. “Based on expert estimates about 11.8 million cubic meters of biogas can be produced annually [in Cambodia], which is 7.4 MW of generation capacity from commercial farms only,” Thomas said.

Call for Sesan 2 logging halt The Phnom Penh Post 1st Jul 2015
Villagers who will be displaced by the $800-million Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in northeastern Cambodia have called for the clear demarcation of the reservoir zone to prevent rampant illegal logging. A significant proportion of the villagers from Stung Treng province’s Srekor commune have declined compensation from the dam builder, Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Co, because they deemed the resettlement sites on offer unsuitable for farming. The allocation of a contract to clear fell the reservoir zone has led to large-scale deforestation of protected timber, forest monitors allege. Fort Kheun, a representative of the villagers, said the contract, awarded to a subsidiary of tycoon Kith Meng’s Royal Group and a company owned by the brother of petroleum magnate Sok Kong, has been used as an excuse to log illegally.

Financial Services

Rules passed for derivatives The Phnom Penh Post 14th Jul 2015
Cambodia has moved to formalise its ill-regulated derivatives sector by launching a key regulation earlier this month. On July 2, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) approved the prakas on the “Licensing and Supervision of Derivative Trading”. The prakas regulates the sector by allowing individuals or firms to apply for official broker licences, bringing the practice under the law. Derivatives will not be exchange-traded on Cambodia’s bourse, but through brokers, who must comply with several regulations if they receive a licence. Derivatives consist of contracts on the future price fluctuations of goods such as gold or oil, offering investors the chance to either place a bet on a good’s price or to use them as a form of insurance.

Insurance option for small hold farmers The Phnom Penh Post 10th Jul 2015
The Cambodian Agriculture Cooperative Insurance Company (CACIC), an initiative established by the Cambodia Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), yesterday announced the start of an agriculture micro insurance service to help rice farmers better respond to climate change. Farmers who become a member of CACIC will have to pay an insurance fee of around $10 per hectare each season, although this cost will vary slightly depending on the type of rice variety gown. In return, they receive consultation on farming techniques, climate change resilience methods and will get an insurance payout when their crop is damaged either by flood or drought, according to Yang Saing Koma, president of CEDAC.

Thai banks offer joint loan to provider of microfinance in Cambodia The Nation 1st Jul 2015
Three Thai banks - Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), TMB Bank (TMB) and Kiatnakin Bank (KKB) - together with Netherlands-based ING Bank have offered a syndicated loan of US$65 million (Bt2.2 billion) to PRASAC Microfinance Institution, the biggest microfinance provider in Cambodia. This is the first time a group of Thai banks have made a syndicated loan of this size to Cambodian borrowers. The syndicated loan comprises $20 million each from KKP, SCB and TMB, and $5 million from ING Bank. The loan has two tranches, the first a three-year loan and the second a five-year loan. International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, arranged the syndicated loan. It sought the collaboration of Thai banks as it saw they had the ability to support financial institutions in neighbouring countries, said Adel Meer, IFC's financial institutions group manager for East Asia and Pacific.

Food & Agriculture

Law on food safety edges closer to approval PPP 16th Jul 2015
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the Ministry of Commerce held a workshop yesterday to garner feedback from NGOs and businesses on the draft National Food Law. The new law deals with the safety, labelling and advertising of food and agricultural products for local consumption as well as detailing standards for exports and imports of produce. It provides food supply chains with operational guide lines and lists the duties of the ministries, businesses and agencies involved. “A food law is necessary to promote the productivity and quality of the agricultural sector, to support consumer protection and to enhance the competitiveness of Cambodian export,” Nina Brandstrup, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Cambodia, said at yesterday’s workshop. “[The goal is] to provide all players with the same understanding. To have common management that will have a farm to table approach.” The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, or the rules concerning food safety, and the application of animal and plant regulations on exports, will need to meet regional standards as Cambodia nears integration into the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of the year, Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol said.

Government Releases Draft Law on Food Safety Cambodia Daily 16th Jul 2015
The Commerce Ministry on Wednesday released a draft of the country’s first food law, which establishes a Food Safety Authority charged with protecting domestic consumers and ensuring that exports meet international standards. The law—expected to be finalized and sent to the Council of Ministers by the end of next month—lays out a long list of punishable offenses, including selling food that contains harmful substances, mislabeling food, preparing or selling food in unsanitary conditions and operating a food business without a license. “The law is needed because there isn’t one,” Nina Brandstrup, country representative for the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said Wednesday after a workshop on the law at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh. “Cambodia has the ambition to become a major food exporter, and in order for that to happen, they need to respect the food laws of other countries and they can only do that if they have a well-performing food law in Cambodia,” she said. Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, who will appoint the head of the Food Safety Authority—to be composed of representatives from various ministries—said the law was crucial to giving consumers confidence in the food for sale in the country.

Agriculture Ministry Looks to Drop Middlemen The Cambodia Daily 8th Jul 2015
As middlemen continue to absorb the lion’s share of profits in Cambodia’s farming sector, the Agriculture Ministry is planning to set up a committee to promote direct links between farmers and the companies that ultimately put their products on the market.

China, EU drive rice export gains in first half Phnom Penh Post 5th Jul 2015
Cambodian rice exports for the first half of 2015 followed an upward trajectory compared to the same period last year, as growing demand from China for white rice and the European Union’s growing appetite for parboiled rice buoyed exports. Rice export totalled 283,825 tonnes for the first six months this year, an increase of almost 60 per cent compared to the same period last year, as reported by the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality.

Police, Guards Block Marches Against NGO Law The Cambodia Daily 1st Jul 2015
Phnom Penh City Hall made good on its promise to stop a set of planned protest marches Tuesday against a draft law aiming to regulate the country’s NGOs, deploying hundreds of security guards and police around the capital to stop the demonstrators in their tracks.

Cambodia agrees agro-industrial framework Phnom Penh Post 1st Jul 2015
The government has agreed to a new framework to increase the competitiveness of its agricultural sector in line with the recently launched Industrial Development Policy, state news agency AKP reported on Monday. Key guiding principles such as building up food-processing capacity and smoothing out export logistics were agreed to at the meeting last week.

Health & Life Sciences

New technology brings new hygiene hope The Phnom Penh Post 9th Jul 2015
Three-fifths of Cambodians still practise open defecation, according to health experts, and as flood waters rise each year, people find themselves thrust into contact with a freshwater soup of fecal matter, bacteria and parasitic worms. With the rainy season fast approaching, those conditions will once again leave populations increasingly vulnerable to infection and diarrhoeal diseases, which every year claim the lives of more than 2,300 children and thousands more adults.

200 clinics closed in 2015: Dept The Phnom Penh Post 5th Jul 2015
The Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department has closed more than 200 illegal dental clinics in the capital in the first six months of the year, and has filed complaints against their owners to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, health officials said yesterday. According to Sok Srun, director of the Phnom Penh Dentistry Department, the crackdown began early this year.

Want to innovate paediatric care in Cambodia? Set up a playground in a hospital UNICEF 13th Jul 2015
The project is about introducing playgrounds into the paediatric ward of Cambodian hospitals to benefit hospitalized children; children with HIV going in for their monthly treatment; hospital staff; and parents. Playgrounds are equipped with toys and books for children and adults to read. The idea is to create an environment where children enjoy themselves and learn while waiting to be treated; healthcare providers are under less pressure because children are not crying to go home; and it’s easier for parents to keep their children waiting.

Milestone in eye health The Phnom Penh Post 10th Jul 2015
Officials from the Ministry of Health’s national eye health program yesterday released a report announcing that trachoma, an eye infection that can lead to blindness, is no longer a public health problem in Cambodia.

Death Sparks New Rabies Warnings Khmer Times 7th Jul 2015
The recent death from rabies of a French resident of Kampot has caused coastal vets and doctors to call for increased vigilance and improved preventative measures in Cambodia, which is still classed as a “red” zone for the lethal virus. Cambodia’s Ministry of Health says that rabies remains an important public health issue in the Kingdom, with at least 800 deaths attributed to the virus annually, although the actual figure is thought to be significantly higher.

Innovative Program brings HIV Testing to Cambodian Communities The Diplomat 6th Jul 2015
A community-based HIV testing program is the first of its kind in the region. The government and its civil society partners, together with international organizations, decided to promote HIV testing among key populations, using a recent technological innovation. Traditionally, tests have been conducted by drawing blood with a needle and syringe and having a laboratory analyze the samples. In 2013 the Ministry of Health approved a second method for detecting HIV, which uses a rapid HIV finger prick. These tests are easy to administer and in April 2013, the community-based testing program began.

Sex Ed Classes to Expand Nationwide Khmer Times 2nd Jul 2015
Sex education will be included in school curriculum nationwide next year, following the success of its introduction in schools in nine provinces, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The UN agency helped development of the curriculum – a book for primary school students and another for high school students – with the Education Ministry and the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia.

More Toilets and Cleaner Water for Cambodians Khmer Times 2nd Jul 2015
In a toilet revolution, virtually no city dwellers defecate outside, compared 65 percent in 1990, according to a new report by Unicef and the World Health Organization. Cambodia also had made big advances in providing clean drinking water for people. Today, about half of people living in the countryside and 82 percent of all people have access to clean water.

ICT

Registration open for LANGO meet Phnom Penh Post 5th Jul 2015
The National Assembly has announced that members of the public hoping to participate in the consultation regarding Cambodia’s contentious draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (LANGO) will have until Tuesday to register. In a letter dated Friday and signed by Assembly Secretary General Leng Penh Long, several commissions will hold a consultative workshop on the LANGO this Wednesday.

Regulators Urged To Free Up 4G Spectrum Khmer Times 2nd Jul 2015
Cambodian firms building 4G mobile networks are urging regulatory authorities to revoke the concessions of telco firms currently holding frequencies but not using them, freeing up the spectrum blocks so they can be re-assigned to operators able to utilize them for commercial operation. Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said Cambodia needs “to achieve a higher grade of spectrum utilization” to support the growth of 4G networks.

Cambodia’s NGO Law: Legislation with Chinese characteristics cogitAsia 30th Jun 2015
As the Cambodian government prepares to finalize the draft Law on Associations and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), which has faced severe criticisms from international rights groups, Cambodia’s civil society – one of Asia’s most vibrant – risks taking a giant leap backwards. The draft NGO law, if passed, might also signal that Cambodia is falling further into China’s orbit, as a growing reliance on Beijing for aid and investment may have rendered Prime Minister Hun Sen more defiant toward U.S. and international calls for better governance.

Cambodian Civil Society Groups Protest Against NGO Draft Law Voice of America 29th Jun 2015
Cambodian officials are warning civil society groups not to stage protest marches against a draft law to regulate non-governmental organizations. The groups are planning to gather on four main boulevards in Phnom Penh Tuesday to end three days of activities against the NGO measure.

Infrastructure

SEZs investment potential relies in infrastructure PPP 9th Jul 2015
In 2005, after special economic zones (SEZs) were formally introduced in Cambodia through a sub-decree, Svay Reing’s Manhattan SEZ became the first to began construction the same year. The Sihanoukville SEZ remains Cambodia’s largest with over 1,000 hectares in the area. The $320 million development is said to be capable of hosting 300 factories, offering about 80,000 jobs. As the SEZ concept evolves in Cambodia, a variety of zones have emerged, each with differing characteristics and aims. Currently, around 30 approved SEZs in Cambodia have been authorized by the Cambodia Special Economic Zone Board (CSEZB), which operates under the umbrella of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC). However, while many organizations have obtained SEZ licenses, there is a limited number of SEZs actually operating. “Overall, an SEZ is a safe place for FDI because the conditions are found to be stable, safe and have less inherent investment and direct operational risk as opposed to locating outside of an SEZ,” said Charles Esterhoy, COO of Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (PPSEZ). SEZs are generally able to save foreign investors from investing extra funds in land development, infrastructure, security and ongoing maintenance. With a Qualified Investment Project (QIP) license, SEZ tenants will receive tax exemptions on production materials and equipment depending on whether they are in an export or domestic industry. Set period profit tax exemptions are also available.

Manufacturing

ILO launching new garment newsletter PPP 15th Jul 2015
The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday will launch a news bulletin focusing on Cambodia’s garment and shoe sector, aimed at providing data for Cambodian policymakers during annual minimum wage talks. ILO officials intend on releasing the newsletter four times per year, in tandem with quarterly reports on the industry, Matthew Cowgill, an ILO chief technical adviser on labour standards in global supply chains, said yesterday. “It covers issues such as exports, factory openings and closings, wages, growth . . . basic statistical information on the Cambodian garment and footwear sector,” Cowgill said. “I guess the primary intended readership would be members of the [Ministry of Labour’s] Labour Advisory Committee [LAC], which deliberates [the] minimum wage each year.” Release of the first edition – an eight-page English-language version and a 16-page Khmer version – will be marked on Thursday with a ceremony at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel, an ILO statement says. While a limited amount of print editions will be circulated, Cowgill said, PDF files of the bulletin will also be available for free on the ILO’s website.

Myanmar

Abe, Prayut expect Myanmar economic zone to boost Japan-ASEAN ties Nikkei Asian Review 4th Jul 2015
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha voiced hope Saturday their countries' tripartite agreement with Myanmar to develop a special economic zone in southeastern Myanmar will boost economic partnership between Japan and ASEAN. The project on the Andaman Sea coast is to create one of the largest special economic zones in Southeast Asia as a gateway for the Mekong region's trade with India, the Middle East and Africa, while linking Myanmar by road to Thailand, Cambodia and southern Vietnam.

Vietnam

Vietnam, Cambodia Border Brawl Sparks Recriminations Voice of America 30th Jun 2015
A border brawl between hundreds of Cambodians and Vietnamese is drawing allegations of misconduct from both sides and significant social media attention in both countries. At least 10 people were injured Sunday when a group of Cambodians, led by opposition lawmaker Real Camerin, tried to visit a disputed land marker in Svay Rieng province bordering Vietnam.