Communist Tax Lawyer

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Cambodia & Laos

Mongolia Looks to Boost Trade with Laos

April 1st, 2010

Mongolia and Laos signed an agreement to boost cooperation in agriculture, especially in food production, livestock, veterinary care, forestry and light industry, the Laotian newspaper Vientiane Times reported last week..

The agreement was signed in Vientiane on March 22 by the Laotian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sitaheng Rasphone and T. Badamjunai, the Mongolian Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

“We are interested in trading agricultural and forestry products with Laos”, said Mongolian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr. Badamjunia during his official visit to the country. He told local media, “this cooperation would increase relations between the two countries in the future.” Read the rest of this entry »

Lao PM Praises Bilateral Relations with Vietnam

January 26th, 2010

Lao Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavat praised cooperation between Laos and Vietnam over the years as a Laos inspection committee met with Vietnamese officials in Hanoi yesterday.

For the second straight year, Vietnam has been the largest investor in Laos’ economy with 48 projects worth US$1.42 billion in total capital, followed by China and Thailand.

“There are many bright prospects for bilateral economic ties,” said Prime Minister Somsavat, who is also the chairman of the Laos-Vietnam Cooperation Sup-Committee. “Laos has strong potential for hydro-electricity, land, and minerals while Vietnam has capital, capability, and technology.”

50 Years Ago Today: Laos

August 10th, 2009

From the International Herald Tribune:

SAM NEUA, LAOS Six battalions of Communist guerrilla troops have penetrated the borders of Sam Neua Province in northern Laos and hold more than 20 villages, the commander of the northern zone said today [Aug. 10]. “The situation is serious,” said Brig. Gen. Amkha Soukhavong. The Peking radio quoted Ta Quang Bun, Vice-Minister of National Defense, as saying: “If the army of any country dares to interfere in Laos, according to U.S. imperialist schemes, this would constitute not only an aggressive act against the Laotian people, but also an act directly threatening the security of the Viet Nam Democratic Republic.”

Comrade Duch’s Sentence Reduced

June 15th, 2009

The U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal ruled that former Khmer Rouge torture chief Kang Guk Eav was detained “unlawfully” by the military and would be compensated for time served. The ruling means that Kang, better know as Comrade Duch, can no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

Duch is currently on trial for crimes against humanity in his role as the head of the notorius S-21 detention center in Phnom Penh from 1975 to 1979. Read the rest of this entry »

Asian Nations Unite to Create Emergency Fund

May 4th, 2009

A coalition of Asian nations consisting of China, Japan, South Korea, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to set up a US$160 billion emergency liquidity fund to help combat the global financial crisis.

“Poverty is worsening in many countries. Businesses are struggling. The extremely urgent climate change agenda could be affected,” said Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in Bali. “If all this goes unchecked, down the road we could see social and political unrest in many countries.”

China, Japan, and South Korea will provide the bulk of the finances with contributions of US$38.4 billion each from China and Japan, and US$19.2 billion from South Korea.

ASEAN members will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent, or US$32 billion.

The fund will target social spending, health, education, credit-guarantees, and clean energy.

China Plans ASEAN Investment

April 13th, 2009

China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi recently discussed his country’s plans regarding Southeast Asia after the ASEAN summit in Pattaya, Thailand was cancelled due to anti-government protests.

Following the failed summit, Yang unveiled Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s plan for a US$ 10 billion investment in infrastructure as well as a US$15 billion line of credit to ASEAN members.

“China plans to establish a US$10 billion China-ASEAN investment cooperation fund to promote infrastructure that connects it to ASEAN nations,” said Yang on the flight back to China, according to state media. “It will also offer a credit of US$15 billion to ASEAN countries, including preferential loans of US$ 1.7 billion for cooperation projects.”

While China is not a member of the ASEAN, it recently appointed its first ambassador to the association and remains a very influential player in the region.

First Khmer Rouge Official Goes on Trial

March 31st, 2009

The first trial of a Khmer Rouge official began on Monday, where the former commandant of Tuol Sleng (SS-21) prison confessed to charges of systematic torture in a long indictment read by court officials in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

U.N. backed allegations against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as comrade Duch, also include crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the murder of at least 14,000 individuals.

Kaing is the first of five Khmer Rouge officials to be taken to court for one of the most horrific periods in recent history, in which 1.7 million people are reported to have died from hunger, disease, torture, and over-exhaustion from work during the late 1970s.

A Christian convert who has expressed remorse for his actions, Kaing has gone into great detail about what went on at the Tuol Sleng prison in his pretrial sworn statement. In his testimony, Kaing described the torture methods used which sometimes involved medical experiments and live autopsies.

The maximum sentence that can be issued to the Khmer Rouge officials on trial is life imprisonment.

WWF to Support Indochina’s Rattan Industry

March 6th, 2009

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) pledged 2.4 million Euros on Thursday towards a three-year project that will target Indochina’s rapidly diminishing rattan industry.

Rattans are a climbing palm with tough stems that are largely used in the production of wickerwork, such as furniture and baskets.

More than 90 percent of the rattan used in the region comes from natural forests which are being harvested at an aggressive rate and at the cost of severe damage to the environment.

The WWF’s plan includes steps that will make processing environmentally cleaner and more efficient so that the natural forests and rattan stocks of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia may be brought to a sustainable level.

Khmer Rouge Trials Begin

February 17th, 2009

Trials began today for the first member of the former Khmer Rouge regime to face a mixed Cambodian and international criminal court on charges of genocide. Kaing Guek Eav, the former warden of S-21in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, has been indicted on charges that include crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva conventions. At least 1.7 million Cambodians died between 1975-1979 at the hands of the Khmer Rouge from execution, disease, starvation and overwork.

The news of the trial’s start made headlines in the country, and people were feeling “very numb,” Youk Chhang, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, where about 20 members of the public had gathered to watch the televised proceedings, told CNN.

In memory of those who were lost:

As a child trying to understand the Khmer Rouge regime, I had many questions about the strange world that had overtaken my homeland. At twelve years of age, during the Khmer Rouge regime, I asked my older sister, Chea, a question in the hope of understanding our pain and the loss of those I loved. He answer became the seed of my survival, planted by a sister who I idolized.

“Chea, how come good doesn’t win over evil? Why did the Khmer Rouge win if they are bad people?”

Chea answered: “jchan baan chea preah chnae baan chea mea,” which means “Loss will be God’s, victory will be the devil’s.” When good appears to lose, it is an opportunity for one to be patient and become like God. “But not very long, p’yoon srey,” she explained, and referred to the Cambodian proverb about what happens when good and evil are thrown together into the river of life. Good is symbolized by klok, a type of squash, and evil by armbaeg, shards of broken glass. “The good will win over evil. Now, klok sinks, and broken glass floats. But armbaeg will not float long. Soon klok will float instead, and then the good will prevail.”

From “When Broken Glass Floats” by Chanrithy Him

Global Crisis Greatly Impacting Cambodia

February 11th, 2009

With its pillar textiles industry suffering from lack of sales abroad, and reduced tourism numbers projected for 2009, Cambodia faces dire challenges from the global financial crisis.

An annual IMF review said the crisis will potentially affect economic activity, capital inflows and the banking system in the southeast Asian country. The impact on the garment industry is already being felt. As was recently reporting by NPR, two-thirds of Cambodia’s export earnings come from the garment industry, which employs about 360,000 people — almost all of them women.

With demand for garments dropping, these workers are losing what was once thought of as a steady, good-paying job. NPR sites Whitex Garments in Phnom Penh; Six months ago, the factory had more than 500 workers in the packing department alone, manager David Teo says. Now, there are fewer than 300.