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Grade-12 exams start smoothly

Students seated in line to appear in the Grade 12 examination at a school yesterday in Phnom Penh.

The Kingdom’s high-stakes grade-12 examinations kicked off yesterday, with Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron saying the administration of the test was getting “better and better” after a major anti-corruption overhaul four years ago, though students yesterday reported that their confidence in their abilities still remains low. The two-day nationwide exams saw a total of 101,410 students register, though 1,497 were absent yesterday. By comparison, 93,752 students registered for the exam last year, with 1,282 missing the first day. Fewer students were caught cheating and bringing prohibited materials to the exam than last year, though there were hiccups: close to two dozen students experienced health ...

Villagers say land clearing ongoing in Ratanakkiri wildlife sanctuary

Felled logs found earlier this week in the protected area of Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

A group of villagers and activists in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district are alleging that 30 to 40 hectares of protected forest have been cleared in the past month, even after a suit was filed in July against local officials accused of turning a blind eye to logging in the area. Another group of villagers, meanwhile, protested the activists over the weekend, accusing them of working on behalf of the opposition. Thirty ethnic Tumpoun villagers said they observed mass clearing at Art Mountain, within the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, on August 11. They were accompanied by Din Khanny, a provincial coordinator for human rights group Adhoc, who confirmed yesterday that a swathe of land had been cleared in the last month.

Backlash over island ferry fee in Sihanoukville

A tourist ferry leaves a pier in Sihanoukville earlier this year.

Private sector tourism operators claimed yesterday that a new government mandate that charges travellers an additional $2 fee to use ferry services to reach the islands off the coast near Sihanoukville has sparked a furious backlash from domestic tourists. The Sihanoukville Provincial Tourism Department began enforcing the $2 fee on all passengers destined primarily for the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, as well as private destinations, on August 10, according to department head Taing Socheat Kroesna. He said the revenue generated by the new fee would be used to help Sihanoukville and the islands clean up the environment and improve public facilities.

Hundreds of Mekong giant catfish released

Officials release endangered Mekong giant catfish into the Kbal Chhay basin on Sunday in Preah Sihanouk province

Two hundred juvenile specimens of the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish were released by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Fisheries Administration into freshwater reservoirs on Sunday evening in an effort to help preserve the species – which can grow up to 350 kilograms. The rare behemoths are believed to be the largest freshwater fish species in the world – a 220-kilogram specimen was caught near Phnom Penh in 2012 – but are threatened by, among other things, the development of dams on the Mekong mainstream that could block their migration. “The Mekong giant catfish is considered to be a rare and endangered species. The release of those young fish into the natural lake is to preserve the fish,” ...

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