Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I knew Pol Pot: Al Jazeera video

Police bar actress from Killing Fields museum

Myanmar junta gives Aung San Suu Kyi a rare break from house arrest

Asia-Pacific News
Jan 30, 2008

Yangon - Myanmar's ruling junta on Wednesday allowed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi a rare respite from house arrest to meet with members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, sources said.

Suu Kyi was escorted from her family compound in Yangon, where she has been under house arrest since May, 2003, to the Sein Le Kanthar State Guest House where she was allowed to hold talks with NLD chairman Aung Shwe and seven other party executives, opposition sources confirmed.

No details were immediately available on the outcome of the meeting.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been kept under near complete isolation for the past four years.

It was not clear why Myanmar's military regime allowed her to meet with the NLD leaders but the conciliatory gesture comes at a time when the junta is under increasing pressure to show progress in its political dialogue with the opposition.

European Union special envoy for Myanmar Piero Fussino was in Bangkok earlier this week calling on all Asian governments to unite in putting pressure on Myanmar's junta.

'It is necessary to open a new phase of more constructive and more concise. We need a real dialogue between the junta and the opposition and all different sectors of Myanmar society,' said Fassino.

Fassino has already visited Beijing to discuss the Myanmar issue, and plans to travel to Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Japan to solidify Asian support in what has become a fairly universal call on the military rulers of Myanmar to speed up their political dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other suppressed segments of Myanmar society.

The EU appointed Fassino as special envoy for Myanmar last year in an effort to increase pressure on the junta to bring about real political change in their country in the aftermath of a brutal crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks that shocked the world and left at least 31 people dead.

The crackdown reignited international concern about Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962, but the growing frustration has thus far accomplished little in terms of forcing the regime into a real political dialogue with Suu Kyi.

United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has visited Myanmar on several occasions, with the last visit in November, to press for a genuine dialogue but with limited success.

Samdech Dekchor Calls for the United Nations to Collect Money to Save Victimized Regions

Posted on 30 January 2008.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 545

Svay Rieng: The Cambodian Prime Minister called on the United Nations to use its resources to help areas in the world facing a crisis, rather than wasting it for missions to Cambodia.“Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen said during an inauguration ceremony of the Hun Sen Svay Rumpear Secondary School at Kilometer 13 in Svay Teab district, which cost US$440,000, initiated by General Sao Sokha, the National Military Police Commander in Chief, that Cambodia is a UN member which is obliged to pay an annual contribution to the UN, thus we have the duty to appeal to the world body to save its money to spend it on countries in crisis.

“Mr. Yash Ghai, a Kenyan citizen, a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, got a new verbal attack from Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, who had suggested the UN send Mr. Yash Ghai to work in Kenya, which is in a critical political crisis.

“Samdech Prime Minister told the participants that he spent his time to follow the events in Kenya very closely. According to Samdech, the violence in Kenya is frightening. 81 people were killed on 27 January, in a conflict among tribal groups, and the government forces had shot innocent people. Samdech also stated that a newspaper had a cartoon of a UN staff going to enjoy hunting animals, while violence and killing occurs in Kenya.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen added that apart from the time of the Pol Pot regime, Cambodia will not fall into violence like Kenya, and the UN should select people who are better than Mr. Yash Ghai to work with Cambodia. They should not hire a weaker person to work with Cambodia.

“The regions facing crisis and killings are Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and some other areas that Samdech Dekchor stated the UN should allocate all resources to those victimized regions, rather than wasting them in Cambodia.

“Early this month, when getting attacked from Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [that he gets his salary for writing bad reports about Cambodia], Mr. Yash Ghai, who had called Cambodia as country without law, stated that he dose not get a salary from the UN for his missions to Cambodia.

“Samdech Prime Minister said that flying in first class planes and staying in five-star hotels costs much more than a salary, and he should be aware that these expenses are paid by the UN, to which Cambodia, as a member, has paid a part to this top world body.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1557, 29.1.2008

Overseas Vietnamese welcome Tet in Ho Chi Minh City


VietNamNet Bridge – More than 600 overseas Vietnamese from 20 countries and territories gathered at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on January 29 on the occasion of the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet).

Addressing the function, the HCM City People’s Committee Chairman Le Hoang Quan praised contributions by the overseas Vietnamese community to the country’s development.

The city will go ahead in revising policies on immigration control, real estate relating to overseas.
Vietnamese to encourage overseas investment into the country, chairman Quan said.

He also called for overseas Vietnamese’ investment in developing urban transportation and preventing environment pollution and floods in the city.

In 2007, the Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs (COVA) in HCM City granted 597 Vietnamese origin certificates to the overseas Vietnamese.

During the year, the city licensed 553 overseas Vietnamese-run companies worth a total 5.4 trillion VND.

Foreign remittance via the city’s banking system reached 3.05 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent, and represented 55 percent of the country’s total 5.6 billion USD.

The HCM City-based COVA plans to visit overseas Vietnamese in Cambodia in early February to present gifts to the disadvantaged in Phnom Penh and Vietnam-Cambodia bordering areas.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

Cambodian Dam Threatens Protected Forest

International Rivers Network

Admire While You Can...This section of the Kamchay River Valley in Cambodia's Bokor National Park will likely be flooded by the Chinese-backed Kamchay Dam, warns the International Rivers Network. Once completed in 2010, the dam may also force local residents from the area, stripping them of their livelihoods, International Rivers said.


Jan. 29, 2008 -- Cambodia's two largest dam projects threaten to flood huge swathes of protected forests, a conservation group has said, urging reform in the country's burgeoning hydropower sector.

International Rivers Network, in a report released late Monday, said that the Kamchay and Stung Atay dams, which seek to provide much-needed electricity to the country, will instead wreak havoc on local communities and slow development.

The U.S.-based group targets in particular Chinese investment in the sector, which it said is powering forward through close ties between Cambodia's government and Beijing, unchecked by public scrutiny.

The projects highlight the "growing interest in large-scale hydropower dam development by Cambodian decision-makers backed mainly by Chinese project developers and financiers," the group said.

"Chinese investment in Cambodia's hydropower sector is threatening some of the country's most precious ecosystems and the livelihoods of thousands of people."

Funded largely by a $600-million Chinese aid package, the Kamchay Dam is located entirely inside Cambodia's Bokor National Park and will flood 5,000 acres of protected forest, the group said.

Once completed in 2010, it will also force local residents from the area, stripping them of their livelihoods, and could threaten downstream tourist sites, International Rivers said.

Protected forests in Cambodia's Cardamom mountains will also be submerged by the Stung Atay Dam, which is expected to come online in 2012, and four others currently under consideration.

"Cambodia's free-flowing rivers and abundant natural resources are invaluable assets," said Carl Middleton, Mekong program coordinator with International Rivers.

"Poorly conceived hydropower development could irreparably damage these resources and undermine Cambodia's sustainable development."

Only an estimated 20 percent of households have access to reliable electricity in Cambodia, one of the world's poorest countries.

Spiralling utility prices, driven by this lack of supply, are a major obstacle to attracting foreign investment, and the government has struggled to find a way to bring down the cost of power.

International Rivers urged Cambodia to seek alternate power sources, or adopt international standards within its own utilities sectors.

"Cambodia has many choices for meeting our electricity needs, including renewable and decentralized energy options that must be explored" said Ngy San, deputy executive director with the NGO Forum on Cambodia.

More than 150 Cambodian turtles rescued from becoming dinner


( dpa )- Scores of Cambodian turtles described as "endangered" have been rescued from the near-certain fate of a dinner plate and released back into the wild, local media reported Wednesday.

The English-language Cambodia Daily reported 169 turtles in the central province of Pursat , 200 kilometres north-west of the capital, were released into the Tonle Sap lake after being confiscated from local fishermen.

The paper did not specify what species was released, but described them as "threatened." Local fisheries officials were not available for further comment Wednesday.

"People love to eat turtles," the paper quoted a government official as saying.

Despite a concerted government education programme and an increasing number of Cambodian turtle species being declared endangered, roasted turtle and turtle eggs remain local delicacies, especially in the lead-up to Chinese New Year.

Defense lawyers demand removal of Cambodian judge from UN-backed tribunal

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PHNOM PENH (AP) - A Cambodian judge must immediately be removed from the UN-backed tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders because of his dubious judicial record and political background, defense lawyers say.

The lawyers are objecting to Ney Thol, a judge who sits on the tribunal's pre-trial chamber that will hold an appeal hearing Feb. 4 for Nuon Chea, the former Khmer Rouge ideologue.

Ney Thol must be immediately disqualified not just from the upcoming hearing but from all future proceedings because his "continued presence on the bench threatens to undermine the credibility and integrity" of the entire tribunal, said Victor Koppe and Michiel Pestman in a motion received Wednesday.

Five senior Khmer Rouge figures, including Nuon Chea, whose radical policies led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people in the 1970s, were arrested last year and are being held in the capital, Phnom Penh, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their trials are to start this year.

Cambodian FM hails Cambodia-China ties

January 30, 2008

The Cambodia-China relations have been increasingly strengthened and promoted both in scope and depth, bringing greater benefit to both peoples, said Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong in a recent written interview with Xinhua.

During the past 50 years, Cambodian former king Norodom Sihanouk, King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, together with successive leaders of China, have nurtured very close friendship and fruitful multi-faceted cooperation in many fields between the two countries, he said. By celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties of the two countries, which falls on July 19 this year, both countries aim to enhance their traditional bonds of amity and good collaboration, he said.

To achieve the goal, a number of exchange programs are being organized in various fields such as economy, culture, education and tourism, he said.

It is expected that these programs will result in greater understanding and closer friendship between the peoples in the two countries, increasing exchange of tourists, expanding trade and investment and scoring more dynamic economic cooperation, he added.

Hor Namhong's written interview was done in the eve of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's visit to the kingdom on Wednesday. Cambodia established diplomatic ties with China on July 19, 1958.

Source: Xinhua

Nuon Chea Calls for Judge’s Removal

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
29 January 2008

The lawyer of jailed Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea has called for the removal from the proceedings of judge Ney Thol, who is also the chief of Cambodia’s military courts.
Lawyer Victor Koppe confirmed Tuesday he had filed a motion to disqualify Ney Thol, but Koppe declined to elaborate.

“We are waiting for the response of the prosecution and the decision of the ECCC,” he said, referring to the tribunal by its official name, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

Legal experts said Ney Thol’s dual positions could constitute a conflict of interest, but Ney Thol said Tuesday the motion was “inappropriate.”

Ney Thol recused himself from a hearing for Kaing Khek Iev, alias Duch, in November, because the former prison chief had been held for years under the military courts.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath declined to comment on the motion.

Nuon Chea is to face a hearing for his pre-trial release Feb. 4.

Rail System Not as Old as Reported: King Father

click to read in full size

Snake love

By The Associated Press
Story Created: Jan 29, 2008

SETBO VILLAGE, Cambodia (AP) - Being responsible parents, rice farmer Khuorn Sam Ol and his wife might not be expected to be keen on having their child play with a 16-foot-long, 220-pound snake.

Yet they are unflustered that their 7-year-old son, Uorn Sambath, regularly sleeps in the massive coil of a female python, rides the reptile, kisses it and even pats it down with baby powder.

"There is a special bond between them," Khuorn Sam Ol explained. "My son played with the snake when he was still learning to crawl. They used to sleep together in a cradle."

The boy and his snake have become a tourist attraction in Setbo village, about 12 miles south of the capital Phnom Penh, as well as a source of wonder to the locals.

"People sometimes call the boy and the snake husband and wife," said Cheng Raem, a 48-year-old neighbor. "Maybe they were a couple from a previous life."

Boy and snake grew up together, ever since the python slithered into the family home when Uorn Sambath was three months old. His 39-year-old mother, Kim Kannara, discovered the reptile, then about the size of a thumb, coiled beneath a woven mat on their bed.

Khuorn Sam Ol took the snake away, releasing it in some bushes by a local river, but one morning two weeks later, found it back inside the house. He decided to keep it and named it Chamroeun - Progress, in English.

He came to believe the snake possesses a magical spirit that understands what he says and protects the family from illness. The snake has its own 7-by-10-foot room with a spirit house at which Khuorn Sam Ol prays for the python to keep his family happy and healthy.

The snake is so familiar with his son - one of four children - that it would never hurt him, he said.

According to Nikolai Doroshenko, a Russian snake expert living in Cambodia, it's true that pythons rarely attack humans unless provoked.

But there is still an element of danger in allowing any young child to play with a large python with a grip powerful enough to break bones, said Doroshenko, who runs the Snake House guesthouse in the southwestern city of Sihanoukville, with its own collection of snakes and other reptiles.

Chamroeun - whom it takes three adults to carry - eats about 22 pounds of chicken meat every week, posing a heavy financial burden on the family, said Khuorn Sam Ol.

His meals used to be a spiritual burden as well, when they fed him live rats and chickens. Uneasy that they were breaking the Buddhist injunction against killing living things, Khuorn Sam Ol said the snake eventually answered his prayers for it to stop eating live animals.

Wildlife and police officials used to come by to try to take the snake away and put it in a zoo. But they relented after seeing Uorn Sambath lovingly cuddling the reptile. They left with some pictures they took of the boy and the snake together, Khuorn Sam Ol said.

"I will not let anyone take her away from me, either. I love her very much," declared his son, Uorn Sambath, kissing his pet on the head.

Preah Vihear Temple Is In Khmer Soul

Thailand Admission Ticket to see Cambodia's Prasat Preah Vihear. (Picture: I found on the internet)

Recently, according to the newspaper Moneakseka Khmer printed an article stated Thai still has intention to ‘swallow up’ Prasat Preah Vihear (Temple) through propaganda to tourists visiting Thailand. The article said Thailand Tourism has been handing out small tourguide (booklets) to tourists with the map showing Preah Vihear Temple is clearly inside their country.

I was appalled by this unscrupulous mean committed by Thailand. Yes, upset too. As a civilized country, Thailand stoops so low and so arrogant toward Cambodia. They take advantage of every opportunity they can to intimidate Cambodia. What a shameful act. If Thailand continued to be so deceptive like this, they will not get any respect from world community. One tourist wrote he “was amazed to find that Thailand has a "Wat Prasat Pra Wiharn" historical park, despite the fact that it’s in Cambodia!”. Another foreign tourist wrote when he was up at the temple he saw English hand-painted signed posted "Preah Vihear Is In Khmer Soul". He commented the word "Soul" should have been changed in the letter from ' u ' to ' i '.

Preah Vihear Temple is really Cambodia heart and soul. We even had one of our northern provinces named after it. It would be ironic if our Preah Vihear province we named had no Prasat Preah Vihear. Thanks to justice in World Court. . In 1962 World Court members ruled 9 to 3 in favoured of awarding Preah Vihear Temple to the rightful owner.

Thailand should take corrective measure to print accurate tour guides not to mislead tourists or otherwise people will claim ignorance had indeed befallen upon the entire Thai race. What a shame.

Blog Administrator
Thom Vanak.

Preah Vihear temple part of Thailand: "Moronic" opinion from a reader of the Bangkok Post

Wednesday January 30, 2008
BangkokBangkok Post Postbag

As a Khmer architecture junkie, I find Dr Reiff's rationale somewhat presumptive in maintaining that since the Preah Vihear temple has Hindu elements, it therefore should belong to Cambodia (Postbag, Jan 29).

There are many temples along the royal road from Angkor Wat to Phimai (such as Surin, Prachin Buri and Buri Ram) that have Hindu elements and Khmer style of architecture, and yet, indisputably they belong to the modern Siam (Thailand).

Phnom Rung in Buri Ram, another potential World Heritage site with plenty of Khmer art, is definitely not claimable by Cambodia.

The judgement of the Court of Justice in The Hague on the territory of Preah Vihear temple was only a legalistic interpretation and, with due respect to the court, all the Thai governments since the ruling date have accepted the decision.

However, it is an indisputable fact that natural access to the Preah Vihear temple has to be made through Thai territory and hence physically it is difficult for visitors not to view the temple as being within Thai territory.

In theory, the temple may belong to Cambodia, but in practice, the temple is part of Thailand.

So it is rather ludicrous for Cambodia to ask the UN to recognise the temple as a World Heritage site without Thailand's participation.

Cambodia's property boom sparks international interest

Officials examine a model of Cambodia's first skyscrapers, a pair of 42-storey towers which a South Korean company hopes to complete in Phnom Penh, January 24, 2008. (AFP: Tang Chhin Sothy)

After decades of war and upheaval, Cambodia is enjoying an unprecedented boom, with its economy expanding at around 10 per cent annually for the last five years.

But the breakneck growth, fuelled mainly by garment manufacturing, tourism and real estate development, is turning its once-sleepy capital into a building site and forcing many ordinary Khmers from their homes.

"I will move only when they pay me enough to find another place to live," said 49-year-old Ngay Tun, a fisherwoman living on Boeung Kak, a 120-hectare city-centre lake about to be drained and filled in to make way for a housing project.

"I worry about it every day, that they are going to come suddenly in the night to kick us out," she said.

While the outlook for the garment industry and tourism appears solid - especially while the US dollar, Cambodia's de facto currency, continues to fall - the same cannot be said for real estate, where prices are spiralling to dizzy heights.

Figures from Bonna Realty, a leading estate agent, suggest the price of prime Phnom Penh land doubled last year to $US3,000 ($3,376) per square metre compared to less than $US500 ($562) in 2000.

By contrast, land in Bangkok's downtown Silom district is $US5,000 ($5,626) per square metre, while Ho Chi Minh City, the hub of neighbouring Vietnam's red-hot economy, prices can be as high as $US15,000 ($16,877).

"There is a debate about whether there's already a bubble," World Bank country economist Stephane Guimbert said.

"On the one hand, clearly the market was very depressed until a couple of years ago because there was little security and stability. But on the other hand, it's surprising that prices are increasing so fast."

In one of the first signs of overheating, annual price inflation has spiked to more than 9 per cent in the last year, almost double its level in the preceding five years, and anecdotal evidence points to big upward pressure on wages.

'Fabulous wealth'

At the top of the market, prices are being driven by huge foreign-funded ventures such as 'Gold Tower 42', a $US300 million ($337.55 million) South Korean apartment block which, at 42 storeys, will be three times higher than Phnom Penh's current tallest building.

Even though it will not be ready until 2012, Cambodia's super-rich are already snapping up some of the 360 units on offer.

But analysts say such prestige projects are the tip of the iceberg, and foreign funding accounts for only a fraction of the boom.

The domestic financial services industry is growing fast - private sector lending by Cambodia's 20-odd banks grew 60 per cent last year - but remains too small to be funding projects to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Instead, analysts say, much of the funding is Cambodian cash stuffed into mattresses, locked up in gold, or squirreled away in anonymous offshore bank accounts for years.

"There are a lot of people in this town who are fantastically wealthy," said Trent Eddy, director of Phnom Penh-based Emerging Markets Consulting.

"The banks are not doing mortgage lending for the sort of stuff that's driving up prices."

The most popular theory on the streets of Phnom Penh is that a global banking clean-up after the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 smoked out billions of dirty Cambodian dollars sitting quietly in bank accounts in Singapore, which encouraged its repatriation.

With few other investment options, and a steadily improving regulatory and legal framework - not to mention political stability under ex-Khmer Rouge strongman Hun Sen - real estate is the obvious choice for the prodigal loot, so the theory goes.

International investment

Even though the economy remains one of Asia's smallest, with a GDP of around $US6.5 billion ($7.3 billion), the hype is such that international portfolio investors have been looking into setting up domestic real estate funds, mainly in the hotel sector.

US property services firm CB Richard Ellis is also hoping to get in on the action with the opening of a Phnom Penh office in the next few months.

The prospect of revenues from off-shore oil and gas by 2010 reaffirms the view of outsiders that the economy is only heading in one direction, and that rapid urbanisation and demand for better housing from Cambodia's 13 million people must follow.

The clearest example is another South Korean venture, a 'new town' called Camko City taking shape on the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh.

"They are targeting primarily the Cambodians. There's very little accommodation in Phnom Penh, but demand is growing," said Lee Sangkwang, commercial attache at the South Korean embassy.

"It's kind of pioneering."

The changes, however, are not coming without costs.

The city's infrastructure, already in a dilapidated state after nearly three decades of civil war, is creaking under the weight of the expansion, with roads clogged by traffic, leaking sewers, and frequent floods and power blackouts.

Critics also point to a lack of transparency and vision in urban planning, despite assurances from Mayor Kep Chuktema that he "listens to the views of all stakeholders".

Social tensions are also emerging, with many city centre communities living in fear of eviction and pop songs lamenting the growing obsession with property speculation and the desire to make a quick buck.

Border Crossings from Cambodia

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thailand may appear to be the crossing point for travelers within Southeast Asia, but Cambodia is a key route for anyone overlanding between Thailand and Vietnam with possible connections into Laos. While the legal border crossings seem to change with the seasons, and even TravelFish probably has a tough time keeping track of the current conditions, Cambodia expert Andy Brouwer has just provided what appears to be the most accurate listings of possible land routes in and out of the country.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I now work for Hanuman Tourism in Phnom Penh. One of our more mundane tasks is to try and keep track of the myriad number of international border crossings that seem to open up almost on a monthly basis in recent times! It sounds easy enough but believe me, it ain't. Cambodia shares a border with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodian visas are available at all land borders with Laos and Thailand, but only two of the land borders with Vietnam. They are not currently available at Phnom Den. Here's a look at the international border crossings currently in operation. There are dozens of 'locals-only' border crossings between all the countries.

From Laos:

The only border crossing with Cambodia is at Voen Kham (L). Confusingly there are two Cambodian posts that service this crossing, which connects Si Phan Don in southern Laos to Stung Treng (C): one on the river (Koh Chheuteal Thom) and one on the new road to Stung Treng (Dom Kralor). The river route is rarely used these days, as minibuses ply the road.

From Thailand:

There are now as many as six land crossings between Thailand and Cambodia, but only two are popular with travellers. The border at Aranya Prathet (T) to Poipet (C) is frequently used to travel between Bangkok (T) and Siem Reap (C). Down on the coast, crossings can be made from Hat Lek (T) to Cham Yeam (C) by road, which connects to Koh Kong (C) and on to Sihanoukville (C) or Phnom Penh (C).

There are also three more remote crossings, which see little traffic: Chong Jom (T) in Surin Province to O Smach (C), connecting with Samraong (C); Choam Sa-Ngam (T) to Choam (C), leading to the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng (C); and Ban Pakard (T) to Pruhm (C) leading to Pailin (C). Bear in mind that road conditions on the Cambodian side are pretty poor.

There is also a border at Prasat Preah Vihear (C), the stunning Cambodian temple perched atop Phnom Dangkrek mountain range. This is currently just a day crossing for tourists wanting to visit the temple from the Thai side, but may open up as a full international border in the near future.

Exhibition reveals history


As people in many parts of the world get ready to celebrate elsewhere it's time for remembrance.

A group of artists in Cambodia create a "Khmer Rouge exhibition." They are showing the world, through Art, the tragedy that took place in their homeland under Pol Pot's brutal rule nearly three decades ago.

Under the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot nearly three decades ago, an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 Cambodians were crammed into the notorious Tuol Sleng prison. Previously the building had served as a high school.

Van Nath was a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge. Today an exhibition at Phnom Penh's Meta House gallery allows him to portray his memories on canvas and tell his story to the world.

Trained as an artist during the Khmer Rouge regime,Nath was forced to work in the 1970s painting pictures of Pol Pot.

Van Nath, artist & Survivor from tuol sleng , said, "If I compare the prison where I was to Nuon Chea prison, it is very different. The prison at the Khmer Rouge court was very good. It had televisions, electricity, mattresses and enough food to eat. At the prison where I was, I was in handcuffs 24 hours a day with no food and no medicine. Now even with today's good prisons, prisoners can still ask to be released on bail.

They complain that they can not stay there. But what about me and the nearly 20,000 people imprisoned at Tuol Sleng?"

The gallery's owner says the exhibition is aimed at helping the country to speak openly about its past.Nicolas Mesterharm, owner meta house, said, "The young generation we work with knows a little bit. So we try to educate them. We try to bring young and older artists together. Through art, we try to address genocide and the Khmer Rouge atrocities in a society that has not learnt to speak openly about what happened 25 years ago."

The exhibition comes at a time when a joint court established by the Cambodian government and the United Nations is bringing to trial senior members of the Khmer Rouge for crimes against humanity, including genocide.

Int'l terrorists financing rebel groups



Wednesday January 30, 2008

Narathiwat _ Southern insurgent networks probably receive funding from and share their ideology with international terrorist groups, a security source said yesterday.

The source said proof of the links lies in the militants' systemised management of their organisations and the pattern of violent attacks perpetrated by well-trained assailants.

The rebels also appear to be financed by international terror groups and share ideologies, the source added.

Army chief Anupong Paojinda said earlier he had new information about the southern insurgency that he planned to present to the new government.

He did not elaborate.

But the source said the new information pertained to the discovery of a link between the insurgent leaders and international terrorist groups.

It contradicts what then prime minister Surayud Chulanont said previously.

Gen Surayud on Jan 18 dismissed the idea of financial connections between local militant groups and the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

He said, however, that they shared ideologies.

Gen Anupong, who visited the provincial special task force headquarters in Narathiwat's Muang district yesterday, was told that the insurgents were losing strength as more and more of their sympathisers were cooperating with local authorities.

At a briefing by task force commander Maj-Gen Theerachai Nakwanich, he was also told that many core rebel members were being arrested.

In Yala, an 80-strong combined force of police, soldiers, and rangers raided a fruit orchard in Bannang Sata district after the authorities were told Ma-aea Apibanbae, a Runda Kumpulan Kecil core leader, and his underlings were hiding there and preparing an attack.

The force and the suspected insurgents clashed for 10 minutes, and a policeman and one suspected militant were killed.

The slain rebel was believed to be Mr Ma-aea's younger brother Sulaiman, aged 27.

Also in Yala, a rubber grower was shot dead in front of a mosque in Krong Pinang sub-district on Monday night while on his way to attend evening prayers at the mosque.

In Sa Kaeo, a Cambodian Muslim was captured yesterday for carrying a fake Thai citizenship card shortly after crossing into Thailand in Aranyaprathet district, according to rangers at the Burapha task force who intercepted the suspect, police said.

The suspect, Suem Sari, 28, is believed to have travelled with six other Cambodian nationals who slipped back into Cambodia through the checkpoint when they saw him being arrested.

The group was thought to be heading for the deep South as Suem Sari was carrying with him bus tickets from Bangkok to Narathiwat.

Suem Sari also had with him a passport, which was genuine, along with five ATM cards.

ASEAN to establish human rights body

The Manila Times
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

MANILA: Human rights commissioners from four Southeast Asian nations began a two-day meeting in Manila Tuesday to try to establish the framework for a regional human rights body.

The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) last year agreed to set up an Asean human rights mechanism as part of its charter. But it did not agree a framework for the establishment of such a mechanism.

The four commissioners will try to work out a way of setting up a rights mechanism that is acceptable to all member states in the diverse regional grouping.

“Among all the regions of the world, it is only Asia that does not have a regional human rights system,” the human rights commissioners said in a joint statement at the start of the closed door meeting Tuesday.

They said there needed to be “a more active engagement in Asean to push for such a mechanism.”

Only four of the Asean countries, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have human rights commissions.

The commissioners said the fact Asia does not have a human rights system in place is “detrimental to the Asian people.”

“It is for the benefit of all that every region has a functioning human rights system so that all can invoke international standards,” the statement said.

During the two-day meeting, the four will discuss terms of reference and joint projects to improve human rights throughout the Asean region where some members, such as Myanmar, have poor records.

Asean members Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam last year agreed to establish a regional human rights body, but have to individually ratify the charter for it to come into force.

Rights groups have cautiously welcomed the move, but stressed that time was running out to reverse abuses in rogue state Myanmar, which continues to detain democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

-- AFP

Vietnam, Cambodia enhance inspection cooperation


Visiting Vietnamese Chief Inspector Tran Van Truyen and Cambodian Senior Minister and Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection (MONASRI) Men Sam An discussed ways to strengthen their cooperation in Phnom Penh on January 28.

Both sides also reviewed the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on inspection cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia which was signed on July 19, 2005.

Chief Inspector Truyen said that Vietnam and Cambodia have actively boosted the exchange of high-level delegations, helping increase the mutual understanding between the two agencies.

Vietnam has helped train 15 Cambodian inspectors by organising short-term courses, he added.

Senior Minister Men Sam An and Chief Inspector Truyen agreed in principle some amendments to the MoU in order to effectively realise the signed agreements and boost the sustainable cooperation between the two agencies.

During his stay in Cambodia from January 27-30, the Chief Inspector will pay a courtesy visit to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and call at the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia. The delegation will also visit

Drawing Room

Jan 29th, 2008
Exhibition “Drawing Room”Opening- 6pm, 1 February 2008, Rubies Wine BarCorner of Streets 19 and 240, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Artists: Panca Evenblij, Sopheap Pich, Piteak, Ali Sanderson,Kong Vollak and John Weeks.
Drawings may be representational, depicting objects, living beings, or scenes which the artist views, remembers, or imagines. They may be realistic to the point of lifelike resemblance (e.g. traditional portraits), architectural drawing or looser approximations of reality (e.g. sketches), and highly stylized (e.g. cartoons, caricatures), or abstract (e.g. automatic drawing, entoptic graphomania)………..and that’s what the show is.

For more info please email pancaevenblij [via] gmail [dot] com

OOCL opens Cambodia office

American Shipper

OOCL will open its own office in Cambodia Friday when agreements with its liner agent, Indo Orient Services (Cambodia) Pte Ltd., and its logistics agent, RAF International Forwarding (Cambodia), will expire.

S.C. Chan, OOCL's managing director of the Straits and South West Asia region, said the new office in Phnom Penh will "enhance our strength in linking the Indo-China markets to the rest of the world.”

Derek Chua has been appointed managing director for OOCL Cambodia, which can be contacted at: No. 42C, Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, Sangkat Boeung Trabek, Khan Chanker Morn, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, telephone 855-23-726246/47.

Tribunal Takes Ieng Sary for Check-Up

By Heng Reaksmey,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 January 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

Khmer Rouge tribunal authorities took jailed leader Ieng Sary for a routine medical examination Monday, to check on his hypertension and other ailments, officials said.

Ieng Sary suffers from heart problems, but doctors at Calmette Hospital would not disclose the findings of Monday’s check-up.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Tuesday the courts had a “duty” to ensure Ieng Sary, who is 82 and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, was healthy and can face trial.

Hisham Moussar, who monitors the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday that the fear remains that the accused leaders will die before seeing trial.

FBI Director to Visit Cambodia

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer
Original from Phnom Penh
29 January 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

FBI Director Robert Mueller will pay an official visit to Cambodia Wednesday, for talks on counterterrorism and other law enforcement measures with Prime Minister Hun Sen, officials said Tuesday.

Mueller is on a regional tour, with stops expected in China and Vietnam, according to the US Embassy.

The FBI was criticized by human rights groups after it established an attaché office in Phnom Penh in 2007 and invited National Police Chief Gen. Hok Lundy to Washington.

Critics said police were the perpetrators of abuse, and cooperation with them made rights work more difficult.

Part of Mueller’s visit will be to attend a ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the legal attache office, the embassy said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak called the visit “a good sign in strengthening the cooperation between the FBI and the Cambodian police.”

“The Ministry of Interior, under the leadership of the government, especially the Cambodian police, have cooperated very well with the US FBI,” he said. “This cooperation focuses on cross-border crimes, including terrorism, drugs, sex, weapons trafficking and piracy.”

The FBI has trained hundreds of Cambodian police in understanding terrorist tactics and strategies, he said.

Former S-21 Photographer Plans Display

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 January 2008

Audio in Khmer - Listen (MP3)

A former photographer for the Tuol Sleng prison plans to erect a giant display in the former Khmer Rouge district of Anlong Veng.

Nhem En will put up a six-meter long billboard Feb. 5 in Anlong Veng, where he is the deputy governor and where Pol Pot was cremated in 1998.

Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21, was the notorious Phnom Penh prison were as many as 16,000 Cambodians were tortured and later executed under the Khmer Rouge.

The chief of the prison was Kaing Khek Iev, alias Duch, who faces Khmer Rouge tribunal charges of crimes against humanity.

Nhem En will hang from the billboard some of the thousands of photographs of leaders he has in his collection.

He will not display photographs of killings, but he will also not seek to “glorify the Khmer Rouge,” he told VOA Khmer.

The display will cost him $3,500 of his own money, he said.

“We want to show, as history, that which people want to see,” said Yim Thin, deputy governor of Odar Meanchey province, where Anlong Veng is situated.

FBI director to hold talks in Cambodia: US embassy

The Raw Story
Tuesday January 29, 2008

Robert Mueller, head of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, will visit Cambodia this week to meet top officials, the US embassy said Tuesday, amid increasing concerns over regional terrorism.

Mueller, who is on a three-nation Asian tour, will arrive in Cambodia Wednesday to preside over the official opening of the bureau's permanent office in the capital Phnom Penh.

During his visit he will meet Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials, the embassy said, without elaborating on the agenda for the talks.

"The globalization of crime -- whether terrorism, international trafficking of drugs, contraband, and people, or cyber crime -- absolutely requires us to integrate law enforcement efforts around the world," Mueller was quoted saying on the embassy's website.

"The embassy views Director Mueller's visit as another indication of the expanding cooperation between our two countries' law enforcement agencies," the embassy said in a statement.

Washington has begun seeking Cambodia's support in a number of anti-crime efforts, including counter-terrorism and drugs-trafficking.

Law enforcement officials have in the past expressed concern that Cambodia's porous borders and weak policing could make the country an ideal haven for extremists.

Hambali -- real name Riduan Isamuddin -- allegedly a key member of the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network, reportedly spent several months in Cambodia before he was captured in Thailand in 2003.

Last April, Cambodian National Police Chief Hok Lundy travelled to Washington for anti-terror talks with the FBI, despite criticism from rights groups over alleged abuses by his forces.

Library unpacks a treasure: 1,105 Khmer-language books

Susan Taylor, a librarian at Mark Twain Library in Long Beach, views a photocopy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, translated into Khmer, at the library Monday during the unpacking of 1,105 books she and employee Lyda Thanh purchased on a trip to Cambodia. (Kevin Chang / Press-Telegram)


Expected to be ready for check-out in April, acquisitions double Mark Twain collection.

By Paul Eakins, Staff writer

LONG BEACH - A small crowd tore with delight into eight tightly sealed cardboard boxes Monday at the Mark Twain Library, pulling out the first of 1,105 new Khmer-language books recently arrived from Cambodia.

The new acquisitions more than double the size of the library's Khmer book collection, which had numbered 1,094, library officials said.

The additional books will give Long Beach's sizable Cambodian community some much-needed new reading materials that will serve both young and old, according to library officials, local Cambodian leaders and others who had gathered for the opening of the boxes.

Gary Ung, a library donor and Cambodian immigrant, said the new books will help Cambodian-American children retain their native culture and language.

"Some of them can read (Khmer), but some of them can only speak it and not read it," Ung said. "I think this will give them a key."

After struggling to find Khmer books in the United States or even through Cambodian publishers, branch librarian Susan Taylor and library employee Lyda Thanh went straight to the source this month, spending almost two weeks scouring Cambodian book stores.

There they discovered a surprising variety of books, said Thanh, whose official title at the library is homework helper. Thanh is the daughter of Cambodian immigrants, speaks the language fluently and catalogues all of the library's Khmer books.

She said groups such as nongovernmental organizations have stepped up production of Khmer texts.

"It's developing at an exponential rate," Thanh said. "Just from two years ago to now, the number of organizations that are publishing high-quality books has grown."

The two women bought the books from six bookstores and other sources, often astounding those around them in the process, Thanh said.

Taylor said the Cambodians were surprised the women had so much money to spend on books and that they were buying so many.

"We were scooping them up and scooping them up," Taylor said.

Especially amazing to the locals was that the books were going to be put in a public library where people could take them home for free, she said.

"The libraries there are either research only, or you have to pay an exorbitant fee that no one can pay," Taylor said.

The library paid $3,500 for the books and almost as much, $3,100, to ship them back to the states, Taylor said. All of the travel expenses for Taylor and Thanh were paid for by the Helen Fuller Cultural Carrousel committee, which is part of Friends of the Library.

Councilman Dee Andrews of the 6th District, which includes Cambodia Town, spoke briefly at the event, joking that he was disappointed he didn't get to travel to Cambodia as well. But for the children of Cambodian immigrants who haven't visited their parents' homeland, books can be a great alternative, he said.

"I didn't go to Cambodia, but remember, a book can take your mind anywhere you want to go in the world," Andrews said.

Taylor and Thanh brought back a wide range of books. The new additions to the Khmer collection include traditional Cambodian children's books with illustrations, translations of books such as "The Little Prince," children's books in Khmer and English, and a variety of adult books ranging from "Life of the Buddha" to instructional books about computer programs.

The women also obtained a photocopy - Cambodia doesn't have copyright laws - of the only existing Khmer translation of "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," Taylor said. Another popular book series, "Harry Potter," was more difficult to come by because all of the copies had been sold, but Taylor said she is working to get that, too.

After unpacking the books, Nancy Prerk, project manager for the annual Cambodian New Year Parade, and other women recited aloud the letters of the Cambodian alphabet on an educational poster made for children.

"It brings back memories of being in school," Prerk said. "Some of the novels I used to read when I was little I'm definitely going to check out."

Before that can happen, Thanh must catalogue and organize all 1,105 of the new books. Library officials said the books will be available for check-out in time for the Cambodian New Year Parade on April 6.

However, on Saturday, the public will get a chance to see the books firsthand, even if they can't be taken home. Visitors can browse through the books, hear about the library's Cambodia trip and see photos from the journey beginning at 2 p.m. at the Mark Twain Library, 1401 Anaheim St.