Cambodia Update: Sam Rainsy Launches Cambodia National Rescue Movement

Cambodia Update | February 2, 2018
Author: Jack Myint
 
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Sam Rainsy Launches Cambodia National Rescue Movement

On January 29, former President of the recently dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy, who has been in exile in Europe since 2015, officially launched the Cambodia National Rescue Movement, in response to the government’s dissolution of the CNRP last November, in the lead up to the general elections scheduled to take place in July 2018. The movement calls upon the international community to take action, for Cambodia’s economic partners to put pressure on the government, for citizens to partake in a nationwide non-violent protest, for the Cambodian armed forces to not take action against protestors, and finally for members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to defect from the party. Rainsy said that since the Cambodian Supreme Court delivered its verdict on dissolving the CNRP and banning all 118 of its lawmakers from participating in politics, the party has become paralyzed. This is only exacerbated by the arrest of incumbent CNRP President Kem Sokha on charges of treason last September. The new movement, he claims, will serve to revive the party and pressure the government to reverse course ahead of the general elections. Skeptics were quick to point out that Rainsy may be overplaying his hand with this and that real on-the-ground impact of the movement will be minimal as it is coming from abroad. Moreover, Rainsy’s political pull has eroded over time, both within the CNRP and throughout Cambodia, given his long absence from the country and his successor, Kem Sokha’s, growing popular support. It may seem unlikely at this point for Rainsy to successfully mobilize the nation in a way that he once did. 
 


Cambodia to Reduce Foreign Borrowing and Raise Capital through Local Bonds
At a national budget forum on January 15, Secretary of State Vong Seyvisoth from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) announced that the Cambodian Government plans to reduce its foreign debt and stabilize currency exchange by reducing foreign borrowing and raise capital by issuing bonds. “Decreasing foreign debt will help balance the expenditure budget, improving the country’s current accounts. Meanwhile, issuing bonds will complement the rise in revenue from tax collection, which has increased significantly in the last few years”, he said. In December 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) approved the implementing rules and regulations for a local bond market. The government is now setting up the legal and technical infrastructure necessary to develop an online local bond market that is expected to launch by 2019. According to an MEF report, Cambodia’s foreign debt stood at $7.1 billion in 2017. In 2018, it will be $7.8 billion. The same report also indicated that national GDP will grow by 6.9 percent in 2018, attributable to growth in the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors. “Due to robust economic growth, Cambodia is becoming less dependent on other countries in terms of raising capital,” Mr Seyvisoth added.

 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Cambodia asks Japan to support July’s general election
Cambodian PM meets Prasad, discusses digital initiatives
Cambodia’s Special Relationship With India

National Affairs
Cambodian Opposition Chief Kem Sokha Will Go to Phnom Penh For Bail Hearing
Rainsy officially launches Cambodia National Rescue Movement, lays out five-point plan
Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Movement labelled ‘terrorists’
Cambodia's detained opposition leader rejects new opposition movement
Does Cambodia’s New Opposition Movement Really Matter?
Why Cambodia Sanctions Will Fail

Customs
Aid boost for customs development
Taxation agreement with Singapore in effect

Defense & Security
A New Military Aid Boost for China-Cambodia Defense Ties?

Economics
Cambodia to open more trade centres in China
Cambodia to reduce foreign debt
Have China’s business billions put Cambodia in Beijing’s pocket?

Energy
Government spends $51 million to lower electric bills
Geopacific strikes gold

Financial Services
Cryptocurrency Culture Pushes Ahead In Cambodia, Despite Distrust From National Bank
Cambodia Has Its Own Mobile Payment App, But Will It Catch On Beyond Phnom Penh?
On the lookout for US taxpayers in Cambodia
Kingdom’s banks see rising foreign influx
Delinquent loan rate continues to rise

Food & Agriculture
Phnom Penh Hosts Forum on Plant Products for Exports
Cambodia Rice Federation launches 'Malys Angkor' brand
Invasive fruit flies detrimental to Kingdom’s mango exports

Health & Life Sciences
A Chinese University To Help Cambodia Combat Malaria
Cambodia Launches National Ageing Policy 2017-2030
Cambodia Issues Health Warning Over Bird Flu Outbreak in Phnom Penh
Cambodians visit PH to study its social health insurance system
Cambodian capital Phnom Penh looks to establish medical tourism hub
Cancer facility inaugurated

ICT
Government links up with Japan to strengthen ICT sector
Hun Sen Says Further Media Restrictions Needed to Stifle ‘Fake News’
Cambodia Is Home to a Booming Bitcoin Industry

Infrastructure
Cambodia Goes on a Building Spree
Cambodia plans to build one of world's biggest airports
New $1.5-billion Phnom Penh airport approved
ADB signs $180M in loans to Cambodia
Cambodia Finds New Target for Real Estate: Chinese Investors
China to invest billions of dollars in ally Cambodia
Malaysia calls for enhanced connectivity with Cambodia
Money talks: China’s belt and road initiative in Cambodia

Legislation
Lèse majesté law in works for Cambodia

Thailand
China makes five proposals on securing shared future for Lancang-Mekong nations
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Cambodia asks Japan to support July’s general election Khmer Times 29th Jan 2018
Cambodia has asked Japan to support the general election in July, including financial aid and sending observers, according to a post on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page. The move was made after Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Japan’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs Nakane Kazuyuki at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. During the meeting, Mr Hun Sen asked the Japanese side to continue supporting Cambodia with aid for the national election that will be held on July 29, 2018, and to send observers to monitor the election as well. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn also met with Mr Kazuyuki at the ministry, where both officials discussed the defence sector, trade, tourism, assistance aid and relations between the two countries, as well as a host of regional issues.

Cambodian PM meets Prasad, discusses digital initiatives India Today 24th Jan 2018
The Cambodian prime minister today met Indias Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss digital initiatives undertaken by India including soil health card as well as the flagship biometric project Aadhaar. Emerging from 30-minute meeting, Prasad said that India is "seriously considering" opening a Centre of Excellence (CoE) on IT in Cambodia and that Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) is working on the same. During the meeting, Prasad gave an overview of Indias growing mobile phone subscriber base, the Digital India programme as well as Aadhaar, to the Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

Cambodia’s Special Relationship With India The Diplomat 23rd Jan 2018
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will visit India on January 24 to attend the India-ASEAN commemorative summit, which celebrates last year’s 25th anniversary of Indian-ASEAN dialogue relations. He will also join other nine ASEAN leaders as chief guest at the India’s Republic Day. Hun Sen is likely to hold bilateral talk with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on the sideline of the summit, during which both leaders will discuss a wide range of issues including bilateral ties, defense cooperation, and connectivity projects.

National Affairs

Cambodian Opposition Chief Kem Sokha Will Go to Phnom Penh For Bail Hearing Radio Free Asia 31st Jan 2018
Jailed Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha will appear in Phnom Penh early Thursday morning to ask an Appeals Court to grant him bail following his arrest last year on charges of seeking to overthrow the government, sources said. Kem Sokha’s appearance in court will mark the first time a hearing has been held for him in the capital and away from the prison in a remote part of the country where he has been confined for what the government has called concerns over “security” since being jailed, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Rainsy officially launches Cambodia National Rescue Movement, lays out five-point plan Phnom Penh Post 30th Jan 2018
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy officially launched his new “movement” yesterday, outlining the body’s agenda while continuing to refrain from calling for protests – the body’s original stated aim. Yesterday, Rainsy said the new Cambodia National Rescue Movement had a five-part plan, starting with appealing to the international community to take action. The next step is to work with “economic” partners to put financial pressure on the government. Next, Rainsy said the movement will encourage people to protest nonviolently, and appeal to the armed forces not to shoot protesters. Finally, the movement will appeal to members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to defect from the government.

Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Movement labelled ‘terrorists’ Phnom Penh Post 24th Jan 2018
A high-ranking security official yesterday – without offering evidence – labelled the Sam Rainsy-created Cambodia National Rescue Movement a “terrorist” organisation, with the nation’s highest-ranking defence official warning that the military would “take action first” to prevent violence. “They want to launch a terrorist attack, and it is not the political terrorism, it is terrorism to cause chaos,” said Military Police chief Sao Sokha, speaking at the force’s annual review. The CNRM was announced earlier this month by Rainsy, ostensibly for the purpose of calling for demonstrations in Cambodia after the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was summarily and controversially dissolved at the government’s behest.

Cambodia's detained opposition leader rejects new opposition movement Reuters 20th Jan 2018
Cambodia’s detained opposition leader Kem Sokha has declined to join a new movement, founded by prominent exiles following a ban on the main opposition party, his lawyer said on Saturday. The Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) was announced on Jan. 13 by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s veteran foe Sam Rainsy following the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year and the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha. Signs of division emerged among CNRP members over the CNRM, of which Sam Rainsy said could launch appeals to the people to organize peaceful protests, to workers to go on strike and to the armed forces to join them.

Does Cambodia’s New Opposition Movement Really Matter? The Diplomat 17th Jan 2018
Cambodia’s former opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s reverence for political change is exceeded only by his reverence for himself as the instigator of it. That may be why, this weekend in the United States, he launched the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM), a new body that is supposed to complement the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Cambodia’s main opposition party until it was formally dissolved by the Supreme Court in November as the Southeast Asian state prepares for elections scheduled for July.

Why Cambodia Sanctions Will Fail The Diplomat 13th Jan 2018
U.S. legislators and the EU Parliament have called for sanctions on Cambodia, including asset freezes for high-ranking Cambodian officials. Worse for Cambodia would be the removal of preferential tax-free and quota-free access to U.S. and EU markets for Cambodian-made textile and footwear products under the European Union’s ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme and the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences. The United States has already imposed visa sanctions on high-ranking Cambodian government officials. The U.S. Department of State announced on December 6, 2017 that it “will restrict entry into the United States of those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia.” The EU Parliament adopted a resolution on December 13, calling for “a list of individuals responsible for the dissolution of the opposition and other serious human rights violations in Cambodia with a view to imposing possible visa restrictions and asset freezes on them.”

Customs

Aid boost for customs development Khmer Times 11th Jan 2018
The Japanese government on Tuesday pledged to donate two patrol boats to the General Department of Customs and Excise. The announcement was made in a meeting between Economy Minister Aun Ponmonirath and Iizuka Atsushi, director-general of Japan’s Customs Bureau. Both sides vowed to enhance cooperation on customs in the meeting, while Japan said it would also send experts to assist Cambodia in implementing the Nippon Automated Cargo Clearance System. Mr Atsushi said the patrol boats would be delivered to Cambodia in June. He added that NACCS would help to improve the customs system in Cambodia.

Taxation agreement with Singapore in effect Khmer Times 8th Jan 2018
The double tax avoidance agreement (DTA) between Cambodia and Singapore came into effect this month, helping clarify taxation rights on all forms of income arising from cross-border business activities, while minimising double taxation. On January 1 the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) issued an announcement stating that the DTA with Cambodia “comes into effect today”. A DTA is a bilateral agreement between two countries that aims to avoid double taxation as a result of the application of their respective domestic tax laws. The agreement was signed in Singapore on March 20 last year between Indranee Rajah, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance, and Aun Pornmoniroth, Cambodia’s Senior Minister of Economy and Finance.

Defense & Security

A New Military Aid Boost for China-Cambodia Defense Ties? The Diplomat 31st Jan 2018
On January 28, Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh reportedly confirmed that China would provide Cambodia with a new round of military aid. The report comes as the two countries are looking to boost their defense ties in 2018 as they commemorate 60 years of their bilateral relations and Cambodia moves towards elections later this year.

Economics

Cambodia to open more trade centres in China Khmer Times 31st Jan 2018
With diplomatic and trade ties with the East Asian giant at an all-time high, Cambodia has announced plans to build a Cambodian cultural village in Beijing and more trade centres in different Chinese provinces. Speaking on Wednesday during the opening of this year’s China-Cambodia Business Forum in Tianjin, China, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said the new trade centres will help build engagement with Chinese business people and investors.

Cambodia to reduce foreign debt Khmer Times 16th Jan 2018
The government plans to reduce its foreign debt and raise capital through the issuance of bonds, a representative of the Ministry of Economy and Finance has unveiled. “Increasing local borrowing instead of foreign borrowing will improve the country’s trade balance and current account,” said Vong Seyvisoth, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, during a forum on the national budget for the year 2018 held yesterday. It will also help the riel’s exchange rate remain stable, he said.

Have China’s business billions put Cambodia in Beijing’s pocket? South China Morning Post 14th Jan 2018
Road signs and advertising boards in Phnom Penh were traditionally written in two languages: Khmer and English. But things are changing in Cambodia’s colourful capital. Dotted around the city these days are signs, both literal and metaphorical, of China’s growing influence in one of Southeast Asia’s poorest nations. In Phnom Penh on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed 19 agreements worth billions of dollars to develop Cambodia’s infrastructure, agriculture and health system. One of the largest deals involves the construction of a motorway running 200km (125 miles) from the capital to the resort city of Sihanoukville. Cambodia’s Minister for Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said China would invest about US$2 billion in the scheme.

Energy

Government spends $51 million to lower electric bills Khmer Times 24th Jan 2018
In 2017, the Cambodian government spent $51 million subsidising electricity tariffs in a bid to help low-income households have affordable electricity.This subsidy was under the government’s preferential plan on electricity tariffs 2015-2020, a senior official from the Ministry of Mines and Energy said on Wednesday. Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said at the annual conference of the state-owned Electricity Authority Cambodia (EAC) on Wednesday in Phnom Penh that in order to help Cambodian households, particularly low-income households, benefit from a low electricity tariff, in 2017 the government cut about $51 million from state-owned Electicite du Cambodge’s (EdC) revenue.

Geopacific strikes gold Khmer Times 19th Jan 2018
Geopacific Resources this week announced the discovery of new gold deposits within its Kou Sa project, located in prospect area 181 in Preah Vihear province. The 2,320-metre exploration diamond drilling yielded intercepts of 11.5 metres, graded at 3.14 grams/tonne, for gold, and 14 metres at 109.48 grams/tonne for silver. Ron Heeks, Geopacific‘s managing director, said the discovery continues to highlight the exploration potential of Kou Sa for gold, copper and other minerals. Yos Monirath, director general of the department of mineral resources, told Khmer Times yesterday that Geopacific’s results is good news for the extraction industry in the kingdom.

Financial Services

Cryptocurrency Culture Pushes Ahead In Cambodia, Despite Distrust From National Bank Forbes 22nd Jan 2018
Throughout the country, hundreds of new users are trying to tap into the expanding global cryptocurrency market. Dozens of Facebook and Telegram groups have popped up among locals and expatriates, offering crypto news in Khmer and English, plus questions and trade offers from local enthusiasts. Steve Miller has been mining for bitcoin and learning about cryptocurrency throughout the eight years he’s lived in Phnom Penh, but it’s only last year where the practice started picking up speed among other expatriates and locals.

Cambodia Has Its Own Mobile Payment App, But Will It Catch On Beyond Phnom Penh? Forbes 15th Jan 2018
Pi Pay, although little-known outside of its native Cambodia, has scaled quickly to become a ubiquitous digital wallet solution and the first e-commerce app to gain real traction in a city where many residents still refuse to trust credit cards and banks. Now the company wants to stamp its pink logo throughout Cambodia’s smaller towns and countryside, but it needs investment and faces the greater task of convincing the general population to trust digital money. In the seven months since the company launched, Pi Pay signed up 1,700 merchants and saw 190,000 user downloads, said Pi Pay CEO Tomas Pokorny.

On the lookout for US taxpayers in Cambodia Khmer Times 10th Jan 2018
The General Department of Taxation called last week on banks, insurance companies and microfinance institutions (MFIs) to accurately report the taxpayer identification numbers (US-TIN) of clients with US citizenship.

Kingdom’s banks see rising foreign influx Phnom Penh Post 9th Jan 2018
Cambodia’s banking sector saw an almost 32 percent increase in foreign capital inflow in 2017, a result of new foreign banks and stricter capital requirements set by the National Bank of Cambodia, according to the central bank’s annual report.

Delinquent loan rate continues to rise Phnom Penh Post 9th Jan 2018
The rate of microfinance loans with overdue payments nearly doubled last year according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), though it remained within a normal range and was coupled with a rise in deposits. The rate of nonperforming loans (NPL) – loans where payments are more than 30 days overdue – was 2 percent at the end of 2017, up from slightly more than 1 percent at the end of 2016, according to the NBC’s 2017 Annual Report.

Food & Agriculture

Phnom Penh Hosts Forum on Plant Products for Exports Agence Kampuchea Presse 27th Jan 2018
Phnom Penh has hosted a regional conference and training workshop on Plant Products – an effort to further promote safe food for exports, particularly to the European market, according to local media report. Happening from Jan. 23-26 at Cambodiana Hotel, the event was organised by the General Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in collaboration with the European Union. Taking place in the form of a conference, the first day covered general overview of the food and feed regulatory systems in the EU for representatives from private sector working on plant products.

Cambodia Rice Federation launches 'Malys Angkor' brand Phnom Penh Post 22nd Jan 2018
The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) today announced a new “Malys Angkor” brand to be used as the official moniker for four species of Cambodian fragrant rice. The first day of the two-day Cambodia Rice Forum also featured the release of a remarkably frank report on the industry group’s internal issues, which acknowledges that the CRF’s numerous flaws are currently preventing it from acting as a proper representative of the country’s rice sector. Sok Puthyvuth, president of the CRF and son-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen, lauded the branding effort at the launch of the forum at Phnom Penh’s Sofitel Hotel today. “The rice branding is the key for reaching the sustainable markets,” Puthyvuth said. “The branding will…ensure the quality and origin of premium and fragrant rice from Cambodia for international consumers.” The Angkor Malys label can now be applied to the Phka Rumduol, Phka Romeat, Phka Rumdeng and Somali species of fragrant rice, while the remaining four types may be added in the future, according to CRF secretary-general Moul Sarith.

Invasive fruit flies detrimental to Kingdom’s mango exports Phnom Penh Post 22nd Jan 2018
Cambodia’s mango shipments have been routinely blocked before making it to the international market, with the Ministry of Agriculture claiming the mangoes are not of a high enough quality to meet the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements necessary to ship outside of the Kingdom. According to Hean Vanhan, director general at the General Directorate of Agriculture, the main obstacle for Cambodian mangoes making it to the international market has been the prevalence of fruit flies, which infest prospective shipments of the produce. “It is not a matter of the quality of our mango – the main obstacle to the market is the fruit fly, which blocks our mango exports and makes it difficult to achieve SPS certification,” he said, adding that the SPS certificate could only be granted to shipments of mangoes devoid of “injurious pests”. Cambodia’s annual mango production is about 1 million tonnes, Vanhan said, but the Kingdom will continue to be cut off from surrounding markets until farmers manage to rid their produce of invasive flies.

Health & Life Sciences

A Chinese University To Help Cambodia Combat Malaria Agence Kampuchea Presse 26th Jan 2018
Cambodia’s Minister of Health H.E. Mam Bunheng received here early this week a visiting delegation of Hainan Medical University, China. During the meeting, the Chinese delegation pledged to cooperate with the Ministry of Health in the anti-malaria campaign as Cambodia was committed to eliminate this deadly disease by 2025.

Cambodia Launches National Ageing Policy 2017-2030 Agence Kampuchea Presse 18th Jan 2018
The National Ageing Policy 2017-2030 was launched here this morning at the Peace Palace under the presidency of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen. On the occasion, Samdech Techo Hun Sen expressed his appreciation for the national policy which will help solving issues of the elderly population arising from demographic changes. At the same time, the premier agreed to be the Honorary President of the Foundation for the Elderly at the request of Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation H.E. Vong Soth.

Cambodia Issues Health Warning Over Bird Flu Outbreak in Phnom Penh VOA 16th Jan 2018
Health officials in Cambodia have urged calm after an outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, in poultry in Phnom Penh last week. Hundreds of birds were taken in for testing by health officers in the capital’s Sen Sok district. Officials were quick to clarify that no humans had been found to have been infected by the H1N1 virus. Ly Sovann, a health ministry spokesman, said an outbreak was also discovered late last year in Kampong Thom province.

Cambodians visit PH to study its social health insurance system Manila Bulletin News 26th Jan 2018
Sixteen delegates from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) of Cambodia visited the Philippines to study the country’s experiences in implementing the social health insurance program and providing coverage for the informal sector worker. Ruben John A. Basa, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), welcomed the delegates headed by NSSF deputy director Sum Sophorn. Basa said the PhilHealth’s existence for the past 22 years has made it the biggest social protection agency in the Philippines.

Cambodian capital Phnom Penh looks to establish medical tourism hub Emigrate 19th Jan 2018
Cambodia is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement and small business hub, but older expats are worried about the lack of reliable medical services. For would-be expats sick and tired of the increasing commercialisation of many formerly attractive retirement destinations, Cambodia is the new kid on the block for its simplicity, traditional lifestyles and beautiful countryside. The cost of living is lower than in neighbouring Thailand, and the Cambodians are reputed to be more welcoming to foreigners than are the Thais nowadays.

Cancer facility inaugurated Phnom Penh Post 16th Jan 2018
Cambodia's National Cancer Center – a more than $23 million modern teaching facility – was inaugurated at Calmette Hospital yesterday, though the centre’s director and experts acknowledged that oncology services still fall well below the country’s demand. During an interview yesterday, Dr Eav Sokha, director of the new centre, said there are only 26 oncologists for the more than 15 million people in the country. Of those, 20 will be working at the centre, with the other six working at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital’s Oncology Department – the only two public locations in the country providing such services. The majority of the funding for the new centre came from the government, with contributions from France and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), among others. The centre will offer cutting-edge treatment, such as nuclear medicine, hematopoietic stem cell transplantations, radiation, chemotherapy and paediatric oncology. The centre will start seeing patients in the next two weeks.

ICT

Government links up with Japan to strengthen ICT sector Phnom Penh Post 29th Jan 2018
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications launched a human resources development program yesterday with the Japanese government to strengthen the quality of instruction and professionalism in Cambodia’s information and communication technology industry. The project, which focuses on human resource development in the information and communication technologies (ICT), is a joint venture between the ministry and Japan’s entrepreneurial development organisation in the Kingdom, the Cambodia International Education Support Foundation. It has also received the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Speaking at the launch ceremony yesterday, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Tram Iv Tek said the government is dedicated to developing the ICT sector in order to meet the ministry’s ambitious goals for the industry, which include teaching basic ICT skills to 95 percent of employees working in ministries in Phnom Penh, as well as 75 percent of officers working in the provinces, within the next few years.

Hun Sen Says Further Media Restrictions Needed to Stifle ‘Fake News’ VOA 22nd Jan 2018
Prime Minister Hun Sen this week called for tighter restrictions on media freedoms, describing independent reporting outlets as purveyors of “fake news” during a meeting with journalists. He also mocked the Cambodia Daily newspaper, which shuttered after his government handed it an unplayable tax bill last year. Speaking to a group of journalists and government officials during a dinner on Sunday, Hun Sen said: "I think Donald Trump is right for creating an award for fake news, which was announced several days ago. Even in the US, there are such kinds of journalists until the president created the fake news awards for such media—fakes, cheats, and liars." On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump joked that he would create a “fake news award” for journalists who criticized his government.

Cambodia Is Home to a Booming Bitcoin Industry The Merkle 22nd Jan 2018
Cambodia is not a country most people would associate with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. It is one of those nations which one hardly ever hears anything from, unless it has to do with civil unrest. Contrary to what people believe, there is a genuine cryptocurrency culture in Cambodia these days. Moreover, most investors and miners are not overly worried about the country’s national bank issuing warnings regarding Bitcoin. It seems there are quite a few reasons as to why Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are taking off in Cambodia. There has been some localized mining activity since the early days of Bitcoin, even though a lot of coins have been lost in the process as well. People have been having issues with lost wallets or private keys for as long as one can remember, and that situation is no different in Cambodia. At the same time, it seems the cryptocurrency craze is only now taking off in this country. It is evident Bitcoin has shown the world how financial innovation can work. Although most people still think cryptocurrency is a niche market and only serves as an investment vehicle, there’s a genuine interest in digital currencies in Cambodia right now. More specifically, hundreds of users are trying to become part of the growing cryptocurrency market. Facebook and Telegram groups related to Bitcoin and other currencies are popping up on a regular basis as we speak.

Infrastructure

Cambodia Goes on a Building Spree Asia Sentinel 29th Jan 2018
Bigger. Higher. Larger. These are the new catchwords for the Cambodian business community and politicians when it comes to construction in a country dominated for centuries by Buddhist grace and delicacy. Nonetheless, they are synonyms that could all fit the latest pieces in a growing list of modern structures including a new airport proposed for Phnom Penh – so massive it would be among the 10 largest such facilities in the world. The current airport handles over 4 million passenger arrivals and departures.

Cambodia plans to build one of world's biggest airports The Straits Times 18th Jan 2018
The Cambodian government has approved plans to build one of the world's largest airports in south-eastern Kandal province, although the key players have yet to work out the details. The Phnom Penh Post on Monday reported the plans, citing a document from the Council of Ministers, dated Dec 21. The document approved an investment proposal from Cambodia Airport Investment to build a US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion), 2,600ha airport in Kandal province's Kandal Steung district, about 30km south of Phnom Penh. Cambodia Airport Investment is a joint venture between local conglomerate Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) and the Cambodian government's State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), according to the document.

New $1.5-billion Phnom Penh airport approved Khmer Times 12th Jan 2018
A new airport for Phnom Penh will be built in Kandal province, a southern part of the capital, according to a government announcement on Friday. Cambodia Airport Investment Co Ltd, a joint-venture between a local conglomerate OCIC owned by Oknha Pung Kheivse, and the government’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, will be responsible for building the 4F class airport, the statement read. It added that the total investment would be $1.5 billion, of which $1.1 billion will come from loans from foreign banks, $280 million from the Oversea Cambodia Investment Corporation, a local company, and $120 million in registration capital.

ADB signs $180M in loans to Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 10th Jan 2018
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday signed a $180 million package of loans and grants to Cambodia that are meant to improve the country’s roads, water supply and small-scale farms. One $70 million loan will go towards improving 147-kilometres’ worth of flood-prone stretches of National Road 1 and National Road 6 in Prey Veng, Siem Reap and Svay Rieng provinces. Another $50 million loan will go towards improving and expanding sewage infrastructure and water treatment plants in the provincial capitals of Battambang, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. The loan was accompanied by a $10 million grant from the Japanese government to build an energy-efficient wastewater treatment plant in Battambang province.

Cambodia Finds New Target for Real Estate: Chinese Investors NY Times 9th Jan 2018
Prince Real Estate has multiple projects in Phnom Penh’s center. Its 37-story Prince Central Plaza, with more than 1,000 condominium units, is scheduled for completion in May. The 27-story twin towers of Prince Modern Plaza are set to be finished one year later. It owns one completed project, Diamond 1, on Diamond Island, a mile-long parcel of land adjacent to the city’s only casino that is buzzing with real estate projects aimed at Chinese investors and affluent Cambodians. Outside the firm’s showroom, shuttle buses stand ready to transport prospective buyers to Prince Central Plaza, while sales agents fluent in Mandarin wait to show off model units, which sell for $2,600 a square meter on lower levels and up to $4,000 a square meter for penthouse units. The showroom shares space with the chamber of commerce for the Chinese province of Fujian.

China to invest billions of dollars in ally Cambodia WTOP 11th Jan 2018
Cambodia and China on Thursday signed nearly 20 agreements worth several billion dollars to develop the impoverished Southeast Asian country’s infrastructure, agriculture and health care. The agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed during a meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang. Li led a senior delegation on a daylong official visit Thursday to Cambodia, China’s close ally. Among the major agreements was building a new expressway more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) long linking the capital, Phnom Penh, with the resort city of Sihanoukville, and a new Phnom Penh international Airport.

Malaysia calls for enhanced connectivity with Cambodia Khmer Times 8th Jan 2018
Malaysia plans to expand its connectivity with the kingdom, particularly air travel, a high-ranking Malaysian official said on the weekend. In an interview with Khmer Times on Saturday, Malaysia’s Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi said he hopes to see more Cambodian airlines flying to Malaysia, as it would increase the number of travellers visiting the Southeast Asian economic powerhouse.

Money talks: China’s belt and road initiative in Cambodia Global Risk Insights 7th Jan 2018
In a recent visit to Beijing, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen petitioned for more Chinese aid and investment,stating “We need more bridges on the Mekong River, we also need many more roads, trains, skytrain.” Cambodia has been an enthusiastic supporter of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and has made significant in-roads linking its own development to Chinese expansion; however, with the influx of Chinese capital, Cambodia will find itself drawn further into the sphere of China’s economic and strategic influence.

Legislation

Lèse majesté law in works for Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 31st Jan 2018
The Ministry of Justice today confirmed that a proposed lèse majesté law would be among a series of legal amendments considered by the Constitutional Council on Friday. A letter of invitation to local media publicised on Monday revealed a slew of constitutional articles are slated to be amended, along with unspecified elements of the Criminal Code and certain elements of the law on the organisation of the Constitutional Council itself. Ministry of Justice spokesman Chhin Malin said he could not release detailed information on the Criminal Code amendments until the meeting on Friday but did confirm that one would ban insults to King Norodom Sihamoni.

Thailand

China makes five proposals on securing shared future for Lancang-Mekong nations Xinhua 11th Jan 2018
With a theme of "Our River of Peace and Sustainable Development", the second Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting brings leaders of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to the table, discussing issues such as connectivity, water management and industrial production capacity. The six countries also adopted two major documents, namely the Five-Year Action Plan (2018-2022) and the Phnom Penh Declaration at this year's meeting. Initiated by China in 2014, the framework spans connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources management, and agriculture and poverty reduction, affecting the lives of dozens of millions of people living on the waterway.