Saturday, 1 March 2008

Thailand begins Hmong deportations

Thailand intends to send back 8,000 Hmong backto Laos under a repatriation pact [AFP]

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Thailand has started sending Hmong asylum seekers back to neighbouring Laos, where they fear political persecution.

Twelve Hmong were removed from a camp in Thailand's Petchabun province on Thursday.

The camp is estimated to hold nearly 8,000 Hmong from Laos, most of whom say they fear for their safety in their communist homeland.

Aid agency witnesses say they were sent back against their will, but Thailand insists they went voluntarily.

The deportations began as Samak Sundaravej, the new Thai prime minister, made his first official visit to Laos on Friday to discuss energy deals as well as the fate of thousands of Hmong.

Under a Laos-Thai repatriation pact, the Thai government is to send nearly 8,000 Hmong back to Laos.

According to the Thai military supreme command's border affairs office, which manages the Petchabun camp, the 12 volunteered to go back to Laos as a goodwill gesture prior to Sundaravej's visit.

Aid group's concerns

But the UN refugee agency is concerned about the repatriation because of reports that they were sent back involuntarily, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

"The Hmong people
- The Hmong have been living in Laos for more than 100 years
More than 200,000 Hmong have fled Laos since 1975
- Thailand has initially taken in some Hmong into camps for resettlement or repatriation

About 90 per cent of Hmong refugees have been resettled in the US"

Doctors Without Borders said the separation from her children suggested that her return was not voluntary.

The displacement of Hmong is a legacy of the Vietnam War.

During the 1960s and '70s, the US Central Intelligence Agency recruited Hmong fighters in Laos to attack neighbouring Vietnam's communist forces and their supply lines.

After the conflict ended in 1975, many who fought on the American side fled Laos, fearing persecution.

International monitors have been barred from the country but the Laos government says the Hmong will be safe.

Detention woes

In a recent incident, Hmong secretly filmed themselves locked up in the Nong Khai immigration detention centre.

Up to 153 people were filmed crammed in a temporary holding cell since December 2006. More than half were children.

They had staged hunger strikes, and some were threatening to kill themselves if they were not released soon.

Some 15 months ago, Thai immigration raided a poor suburb of the capital, Bangkok, along the Bang Sue Canal. They rounded up more than 150 Hmong.

At the time, most were carrying UNHCR refugee certificates.

The group was sent to prison despite having their UNHCR special status.

Several countries have agreed to take them, yet every day they wait to hear their fate.

Since then, hundreds of Hmong have fled the area.

Burma Worried about Asean Free Trade Plan

Weekly Business Roundup
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Burma’s leading trade organization, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, has expressed worries that the country might not be ready for the Asean-China free trade agreement.

Aside from the fact that the Association of Southeast Nations compact does not begin until 2015, Burma faces a far more urgent change in its trading arrangements with most neighbors.

This year Burma has to fully integrate into the Common Effective Preferential Tariff scheme for the Asean Free Trade Area.

Burma along with Laos was given extra time to adapt because it joined the Asean group later than most of the other 10-member countries.

But this year Burma will have to reduce tariffs to no more than 5 percent on almost all goods traded within Asean, or preferably remove them altogether.

Only Cambodia will remain outside the trading agreement, probably joining in 2009.But Zaw Min Win, vice president of the chamber, said he is worried about the looming agreement on tariff reductions or abandonment between Asean and China, to which Burma is a signatory.

“The free trade area could be dangerous for us as a nation if we lack the capacity,” Zaw Min Win told Rangoon media.

He said that although there was great trade growth potential with China, “We need to change our production techniques to incorporate sophisticated methods that are accepted internationally.”

Analysts note that much of the junta-condoned Burmese trade across the border to China’s Yunnan Province is illegal.

Remains of US serviceman flown from Cambodia for identification


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - The remains of a U.S. serviceman who died in Cambodia more than three decades ago were flown Saturday to the United States for forensic analysis.

The repatriation is the latest effort by the U.S. military to account for personnel who went missing in the Southeast Asian nation during the Vietnam War.

After a brief ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport, a U.S. military transport plane carrying the remains left for Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, where the forensic identification process will begin, a U.S. Embassy statement said.

Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said the remains are believed to be those of a U.S. serviceman who died on Koh Tang, an island several kilometers (miles) off the coast of Cambodia's main port city of Sihanoukville. The embassy did give further details about when the remains were found.

Eighteen U.S. Marines were killed fighting Khmer Rouge forces on Koh Tang in May 1975. Invading Marines fought for three hours trying to rescue the captured crew of the U.S. merchant marine vessel Mayaguez without knowing they had already been released by the Cambodian communists.

Mussomeli said cooperation with the Cambodian government has allowed the U.S. to send home and identify the remains of 29 missing American servicemen. Another 55 are still unaccounted for.

Betrayer of the Cambodian nation

by Khmerization

"Those who are not protecting one’s own lands and are allowing neighbouring countries to encroach on one’s own borders are called traitors, including the prime minister of a country. I am not calling Mr. Hun Sen a traitor here. I just call him a betrayer of the Cambodian nation."

I have been called “a retarded gorilla bastard” by Mr. Hun Sen’s supporters for writing critical editorials criticising him. With what I am going to say in the following editorial, I am bracing for more lynchings. But I am fortunate enough to have lived in a free country and, with the advance of internet technology, I am able to speak my mind freely without fears and without having to suffer the same fate as many Khmer journalists working inside Cambodia who have been murdered and physically harmed every year. It is with conviction that, when it comes to Cambodia’s national interests, I will not be silenced.

Read more please click :

Sacravatoons: The 4 best surgeons

Courtesy of Sacravatoon :

US military repatriation ceremony to honor remains believed to be associated with a missing American military service member at Phnom Penh Airport

U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli, right, gives a speech as a U.S. military major Craig Tippins, left, stands at attention during a repatriation ceremony to honor remains believed to be associated with a missing American military service member at Phnom Penh International Airport, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, March. 1, 2008. Remains of an American military service man who died in Cambodia more than decades ago were flown Saturday to the United States for identification analysis.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
U.S. military personnel carry what is believed to be the remains of a member of the U.S. military service, who went missing in Cambodia decades ago, to an aircraft during a repatriation ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport March 1, 2008. The remains will be flown to the U.S. for identification analysis .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
U.S. military personnel carry what is believed to be the remains of a member of the U.S. military service, who went missing in Cambodia decades ago, to an aircraft during a repatriation ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport March 1, 2008. The remains will be flown to the U.S. for identification analysis .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
U.S. military personnel carry a coffin during a repatriation ceremony to honor remains believed to be associated with a missing American military service member at Phnom Penh International Airport, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, March. 1, 2008. Remains of an American military service man who died in Cambodia more than decades ago were flown Saturday to the United States for identification analysis.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
U.S. military personnel carry what is believed to be the remains of a member of the U.S. military service, who went missing in Cambodia decades ago, to an aircraft during a repatriation ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport March 1, 2008. The remains will be flown to the U.S. for identification analysis .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
U.S. military personnel salute by a flag-draped coffin containing what is believed to be the remains of a member of the U.S. military service, who went missing in Cambodia decades ago, during a repatriation ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport March 1, 2008. The remains will be flown to the U.S. for identification analysis .REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
U.S. military personnel place U.S. flag over a coffin during a repatriation ceremony to honor remains believed to be associated with a missing American military service member at Phnom Penh International Airport, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, March. 1, 2008. Remains of an American military service man who died in Cambodia more than decades ago were flown Saturday to the United States for identification analysis.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
U.S. military personnel place U.S. flag over a coffin during a repatriation ceremony to honor remains believed to be associated with a missing American military service member at Phnom Penh International Airport, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, March. 1, 2008. Remains of an American military service man who died in Cambodia more than decades ago were flown Saturday to the United States for identification analysis.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Public Lecture: The European Union in the Pacific

Saturday, 1 March 2008
Press Release: Delegation of the European Commission to NZ

Public Lecture: The European Union in the PacificIts role, its relationships, its contribution
H.E. Wiepke van der Goot, Ambassador of the European Commission to the PacificandH.E. Aldo Dell’Ariccia, Ambassador of the European Commission to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

Date Monday, 10th March 2008
Time 5.00pm – 6.30pm
Venue Lecture Theatre 4, Law School, Old Government Buildings, Victoria University of Wellington, Lambton Quay

To register your attendance, telephone the Delegation of the European Commission on 04 472 9145, or email

Wiepke van der Goot joined the European Commission in 1981 and has previously served in Delegations in Somalia, Madagascar and Kenya. He was Ambassador to Malawi from 2001-2005 before returning to headquarters to manage the Water and Energy Facility Unit at the EuropeAid Cooperation Office. In November 2007 he was posted as Ambassador to the Pacific, a responsibility covering 11 Pacific Islands countries.

Wiepke van der Goot is a Dutch national and studied at Wageningen Agricultural University, graduating with a Masters Degree in Tropical Land Management. Before joining the European Commission , he worked on development projects for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank and Development Alternatives Inc, a private US firm.

Aldo Dell’Ariccia joined the European Commission in 1988 and has served in Delegations in India, Costa Rica and Thailand. He opened the EC Delegation to Cambodia in Phnom Penh before being posted at the Commission headquarters in Brussels as the Deputy Head of the South East Asia Unit at the External Relations Directorate-General, dealing in particular with Indonesia and East Timor. Since 2006 he has been the Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Aldo Dell’Ariccia was born in Rome, Italy. After post-graduate studies in Social and Political Sciences and Economics at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, he lectured on epistemology at the university. In a varied career before joining the Commission, he also worked as a UN volunteer and consultant in Central America, as a journalist, and as a director of a health project in Colombia.

Japan Plans Meeting to Sway Developing Nations on Whaling Ban

By Stuart Biggs

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's government will hold talks with delegates from 12 developing nations who recently joined or plan to join the International Whaling Commission as the island nation steps up efforts to overturn the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said it will host a meeting in Tokyo on March 3 with landlocked countries Laos, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi and others, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The meeting is an attempt to ``gain acceptance for Japan's position regarding the sustainable use of whales,'' the statement said.

Activist groups including Greenpeace say Japan uses aid money to influence voting in the 78-member International Whaling Commission, a claim the Japanese government denies.

Overturning the ban on commercial whaling requires a three-quarters majority if put to a vote at the organization's next annual meeting in Santiago, Chile, in June.

Japan abandoned a plan to kill 50 humpback whales in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica this winter after strong pressure from countries led by Australia and New Zealand. Japan backed down after talks with International Whaling Commission Chairman William Hogarth, in exchange for a ``constructive debate'' on restructuring the organization.

Japan wants the IWC to be ``normalized'' into an organization that monitors commercial hunts, rather than one aiming to eliminate whaling altogether. The organization imposed a global ban on commercial whaling in 1986.

Angola, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ghana, Micronesia, Palau, Tanzania and Vanuatu will also take part in the Tokyo meeting.

-- Editors: Gregory Turk, Malcolm Scott

Bronze Statue of Samdech Chuon Nath

Statue of Khmer scholar, Chuon Nath Patriarch, was made from bronze and decorated gold leaf, costing $219,000 in total. He was the foremost scholar of Khmer literature and Buddhism in the 20th century. The statue of Chuon Nath was inaugurated by Phnom Penh municipality, situated at the Hun Sen park roundabout.

Making this statue is aimed at showing all Cambodian teenagers of Khmer Scholar, raising the beauty of City and keeping souls and reputation in the heart of Cambodian people.

Bronze statue of Chuon Nath is situated in the Hun Sen Park in Phnom Penh City.

Discover Cambodia's New Nick Faldo Golf Course with Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa
Friday, 29 February 2008

Golfers can now discover the new Nick Faldo course in Siem Reap, Cambodia in partnership with the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, with a new three-day, two-night inclusive package priced at just US$251 per person.

The new 'Nick Faldo Golf Package' offered by the luxury, off-the-beaten-track Indochina hotel group Victoria Hotels & Resorts includes accommodation in a Superior room with daily breakfast, roundtrip airport transfers and a round of golf plus caddy, along with hotel transfers between the hotel and the stunning new course.

The package is available until September 30, 2008 and priced at US$251 based on twin sharing, with a third person charged at US$184, and single supplement of US$123.

Non-golfers can alternatively be pampered with a half-day spa package.

With rates inclusive of 2% accommodation tax and 10% VAT, the package also allows early check-in and late checkout along with upgrade to Deluxe room upon availability.

The golf package also allows plenty of time to visit the great temples of Angkor Wat, famed as one of the great wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Within minutes driving distance of the temple complex and just a short walk to the traditional local market, the graceful 1930's French colonial style Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa overlooks the Royal Gardens of the King's Residence in Siem Reap.

Call for Entries: CAMBOFEST: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia, Siem Reap, Cambodia

CAMBOFEST: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia is the first regular independent film festival in Cambodia since the 70's brought civil war and genocide under the Khmer Rouge.

Now that peace and stability have returned, the world has once again taken an interest in Cambodia as a safe, fun, and unique cultural and travel destination. Our aim is to contribute to the development of film, video, and media production in Cambodia by showcasing work by both international and regional filmmakers.

While Cambodian and regional filmmakers' work are highlighted in our program, international and non-Cambodian themed work is sought as well for a variety of programs.

** New this, our 2nd Year--> HUMAN RIGHTS SHOWCASE, featuring movies about Human Rights issues (although any movie, doc or fiction, can be submitted for consideration in the Festival) **

Winners in All Categories Receive the coveted GRABAY MEAS ("Golden Waterbuffalo
") Trophy!

Italian faces pedophile charge in Cambodia

Saturday, March 1, 2008

PHNOM PENH -- An Italian tourist was charged Friday for allegedly sexually abusing six Cambodian children, police said. Fabio Cencini, 43, was arrested in the seaside resort town of Sihanoukville on Tuesday night while in the company of a group of children, said Suon Sophan, deputy chief of the town's anti-trafficking police unit.

Cencini is accused of molesting four girls and two boys, all aged between eight and 13, he said. "The court charged him on Friday morning with debauchery for molesting the children," Suon Sophan said.

"We have enough evidence to prove his guilt, but he has denied the crime," the police said, adding that Cencini was now in jail awaiting trial.

Cambodia bans 'adulterous' songs from karaoke bars
By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
Saturday, 1 March 2008

The karaoke bars of Phnom Penh are well known for very often being nothing more than fronts for brothels. They are the places where men from Cambodia, Thailand and further afield pay for sex with women who are often just girls.

But in the latest peculiar edict from a government purportedly keen to crack down on such vice, Cambodia has outlawed the public playing of songs that encourage "infidelity".

The titles of the first three songs to be banned leave little to the imagination. "If I Can't be First Can I be Second", "Love Another's Husband" and "May I Have a Piece of Your Heart Too", were all written to be sung by women looking to entice men who may be married. Having banished the songs from the thousands of karaoke bars across the country, the authorities are now seeking other similar tunes that may be deemed unsuitable.

"We are searching for other songs which might affect people's honour, especially that of women," Kep Chuktema, the governor of Phnom Penh, told a local Khmer language newspaper. Cambodia is outwardly a conservative culture, but the country's karaoke bars are notorious and have often been the focus of efforts by campaigners to act against child trafficking and prostitution. The campaign group End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking in Cambodia (Ecpat Cambodia) estimates that a third of sex workers in the country are children. The group says that in recent years there has been a surge "in the number of commercial sex centres in Cambodia, and increasing exploitation and abuse of children in the sex trade".

Against this backdrop, in September 2006 the Cambodian government introduced the controversial "monogamy law" which carries a punishment of a 1m riels, (£125), fine and a year in jail for anyone found guilty of adultery. But many believe the introduction of the law may have been politically motivated. One of the first people the authorities tried to prosecute was the opposition politician Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was trying to divorce his wife after having long lived with a classical dancer. The case against the prince, who now spends most of his timein Malaysia, eventually stalled. Indeed, since the introduction of the law there has only been one successful prosecution, that of Kek Ravy, a cousin of Prince Ranariddh, who was fined 1m riels after his wife brought a case against him under the new legislation. The court was apparently lenient and took into account the fact that Mr Ravy had applied for a divorce 18 months earlier, but it had not yet been granted because of wrangling over division of the couple's finances.

One official told the Koh Santepheap newspaper: "People can still play the songs in private. I don't think music has much to do with it, but it is an official request that has to be followed."

Exports need new armour to take on world

The Economic Times
29 Feb, 2008
Amiti Sen, TNN

India’s export performance in 2008-09 will not be as bright as in the past few years, the Economic Survey has acknowledged. The loss of sheen in exports is mainly due to the steady appreciation of the rupee and lower projections in world output and imports. A fall in export growth to the US in general and a fall in export of textiles to the EU and the US need to be particularly monitored, it said.

Besides relief measures already given to exporters, the Survey said there was a need for some fundamental policy changes like continuation in reduction of Customs duties, weeding out unnecessary Customs duty exemptions, abolishing redundant export schemes and streamlining existing schemes. It also suggested that the government should adopt a balanced approach in exchange rate management with both short-term and long-term concerns in mind.

Most projections suggested a moderate but not severe slowdown in the world economic growth, impacting both demand for India’s exports and the value of its imports, the Survey observed. Any resultant deceleration in prices of commodities like oil will benefit India as it would mean a moderation in import growth in value terms. There will, therefore, be a modest increase in India’s trade deficit as long as a severe recession is avoided in the US, it said.

The slower Indian economic growth in 2007-08, relative to 2005-06 and 2006-07, may also have a temporary dampening effect on capital inflows. Despite the appreciating rupee, India’s merchandise exports touched $111 billion in April-December 2007, registering a growth of 21.6%. In fiscal 2006-07, India’s exports had increased by 22.6% to touch $125 billion.

The increase this fiscal is mainly due to sectors with high import intensity, like petroleum, oil & lubricants (POL). Sectors such as textiles and handicrafts, which have low import intensity, have had negligible or negative import growth. The export target of $160 billion may not be reached this fiscal.

Imports, in the first nine months of the fiscal, grew at 25.9% to $168 billion. Trade deficit increased to $59.4 billion in 2006-07 and $57.8 billion in the April-December 2007 period. Stressing on the need to revive India’s textiles sector, the Survey pointed out that in 2006-07 and the first half of fiscal 2007-08, India’s textiles and clothing exports grew only by 5.3% and 1.2%, respectively while that of China grew by 21.4% in the January-November 2007 period.

In the first eleven months of calendar year 2007, India’s textiles exports to the US grew by only 2% against a 3.8% increase from the world while exports from China to the US recorded a robust 20.5% growth. Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, too, have outperformed India in 2006 in both the EU and the US clothing markets.

Apart from the appreciation of the rupee, the reasons behind the slowdown in textiles exports from India are inflexible labour laws and diseconomies of scale, logistical delays and costs, high cost of power and a slowdown in demand from some major importers.

Commenting on the policy changes required in India’s merchandise trade, the Survey made a case for withdrawal of most exemptions on both basic and additional duty. Some 655 types of Customs duty exemptions in India result in ‘distortions and discriminations’ in the economic structure, it said.

On the various bilateral trade and services agreements being negotiated by India, the Survey said there was a need to evolve a clear policy for beneficial comprehensive economic co-operation agreements (CECAs) even with some developed countries, instead of just FTAs and PTAs.

Orillia pastor, church helping orphans worldwide

Orillia pastor Len Crow has travelled North America on horseback, raising money to help children around the world. The latest project is an orphanage in Cambodia, which is an extension of the North Country Baptist Church in Orillia, where Crow is pastor.
Nathan Taylor

By Nathan Taylor

Len Crow is a cowboy with a cause.

The Orillia pastor has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars over the past decade riding horseback around North America. His latest efforts, with the help of his congregation at North Country Baptist Church, allowed him to open the North Country Baptist Children's Home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Crow and two friends visited the country, as well as Thailand and Vietnam, in February 2006. While he noticed the deplorable levels of poverty and large numbers of orphaned children in each country, Cambodia "is probably the worst in the world," he said.

He felt a calling and, as a result, the North Country Baptist Children's Home was built. With the capacity to hold 100 children, the orphanage currently houses 16, providinig extensive services that will soon include onsite education.

With the help of 25 volunteers and 35 paid Cambodian workers, construction began in February 2007. In just three weeks, 70,000 bricks and 3,000 square feet of concrete flooring were laid and a roof and septic system were installed.

The team worked "sunup to sundown, pretty well every day," Crow said.

The orphanage is officially an extension of the North Country Baptist Church. Many of its members make monthly contributions toward the operation.

Crow raises money through his Ride for Missions program, a pony express-style adventure that has taken him from Alaska to Texas and Emerson, Man., to Calgary, Alta. He even retraced the original pony express route in Utah in 1998 and 2002.

"I look at the plight of children in these countries. We can't help them all, but we can help some," Crow said. "It brings me a great deal of joy and satisfaction that we're able to help a few."

Donations are appreciated, but what's most needed is for people to sponsor children. To find out more about the orphanage and Crow's other ventures, as well as how to help out, visit or call the church at 329-1638.

'Flames' throws gas on volatile issue
February 29, 2008
BY HEDY WEISS Theater Critic

Plays about the hateful behavior of First World types who arrive in the Third World in power positions are so predictable. This is not to say that heinous behavior does not occur in such situations, or to in any way excuse the abuses visited by outsiders on those in vulnerable nations. But almost without exception the abuses from outside are vastly magnified, while little is suggested about the way those who inhabit such countries very often exact the most hideous violence on each other (see, for example, recent events in Kenya, Sri Lanka, the Congo, Lebanon and East Timor, and earlier catastrophes in Rwanda and Cambodia -- and the list, sadly, goes on and on).

In "Skin in Flames," now in its Chicago premiere at Stage Left Theatre, Guillem Clua, a young playwright from the Catalan region of Spain, follows the predictable pattern. Too bad, because an essential element of his story -- the true meaning and intent of a photograph taken during one particularly tragic moment in what appears to have been a civil war, and the way it might have been used to make the case for one side in the conflict -- could have been an ideal way to deal with questions of authenticity, and the manipulative use of striking images.

But Clua, whose play has been translated by DJ Sanders and directed by David M. Schmitz, seems more interested in churning up a certain quasi-pornographic sensationalism than anything else. (See Jon Robin Baitz's "Three Hotels" for a far better play on a similar subject.)
Clua's setting is "a hotel suite in a postwar country," so the generic aspect already is in play, although set designer Kurt Sharp and sound designer-composer Christopher Fuller create a richly atmospheric, vaguely sinister environment.

Two white men -- the spirit-broken photographer Salomon (Gerrit O'Neill) and the corrupt United Nations-sponsored physician Dr. Brown (Ben Veatch) -- represent the West. The two women are "ethnic": Hanna (Amber Starr Friendly, who is black) is a local journalist, and Ida [Susaan Jamshidi, easily able to play either Middle Eastern or Latin American) is the mother of a gravely ill child. Hanna is a survivor who has learned to play the game; Ida is a tragic victim.

Salomon has returned to this wartorn country for the first time in decades to accept an award for what has long been considered a tide-turning photograph, even if the picture has left him a broken man. His interviewer, Hanna, though initially fawning, begins to play some profoundly threatening mind games with him. Neither of the two seems terribly disturbed by the fact that they can see the dead body of a young woman lying in the courtyard beneath the hotel room where they are talking.

Meanwhile, the previous occupants of the room simultaneously play out their ugly little drama in the same space, and we learn what transpired during their earlier encounters in this same room. As it turns out, the doctor demanded the most debasing sexual acts from Ida, a poor mother desperate to get medicine to keep her young daughter alive. These scenes involve full frontal nudity and extremely graphic simulated sex, and for what feels like a good 10 minutes the encounters between Dr. Brown and Ida ludicrously upstage the debate between Salomon and Hanna.

The actors do the best they can under the circumstances. But frankly, it feels to me that they are being exploited in the service of a play that is more interested in shock value than anything else.

National Election Committee Publishes Voter List on a Website so that It Can Be Reviewed

Posted on 29 February 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 549

“Phnom Penh: The National Election Committee [NEC] posted its voter list on the website

so that citizens, political parties, and non-government organizations can check the names and data of their staff in the voter list, according to a press release from the NEC on 27 February 2008.

“NEC Secretary General Mr. Tep Nytha said that the list of more than 8 million voters for the 27 July 2008 parliamentary election was posted on a website, and citizens can look into the information on the website given above, from 26 February to the election day. If citizens cannot find their names or lose their data, they can contact the National Election Computer Center of the NEC during working hours at the following phone numbers: 011-787766, 015-867766, 017-467766, 092-797766, or 099-787766, so that the staff on standby can help them.

“He added that currently, the NEC has two websites. The first website has the address

General information on elections was entered into the website which was started for the 2003 parliamentary elections, and it is in operation until now. The second website has the address, which has been operational just this year. The website carries only the voter lists. He continued to say that citizens, political parties, and institutions related to the elections, can print or download and copy information concerning the voter list from the website.
“On 27 February 2007, the NEC held a press conference to disseminate the official voter list and to announce the number of the organizations which had given their opinions about the draft regulations and procedures for the 2008 fourth-mandate parliamentary election. Mr. Im Suosdey, the chairperson of the NEC, had examined and approved the voter list already on 26 February 2008. The list has a total of 8,124,092 voters. He confirmed that for the fourth-mandate parliamentary election, there are a total of 15,254 voting offices. Regarding the opinions that the organizations and institutions gave, in order to contribute to the draft regulations and procedures, Mr. Im Suosdey said that they came from the Ministry of Interior, from the Cambodian People’s Party, from the Sam Rainsy Party, from Funcinpec, from the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and from two NGOs – from the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, and from the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

“In the press conference, representatives from political parties and NGOs proposed to the NEC to organize a meeting with relevant institutions which had provided recommendations about the draft regulations and procedures before the NEC approved them. The chairperson of the NEC responded that the NEC would organize a meeting between its general secretariat and representatives from institutions and NGOs which had given ideas about the draft regulations and procedures, in order to provide clear explanations about the reasons why the NEC had not included all into the draft. In the press conference, representatives from political parties requested the NEC to cease using Form 1018 [identity documents required to vote: national identification card, or passport, or civil servant, police, or army identification card, family booklet with identification pictures, and documents identifying monks; if Cambodian eligible voters do not have any of these documents, they could ask their Commune Council to establish an identification form know as Form 1018], and they also asked the NEC to urge the Ministry of Interior to issue Khmer nationality identification cards for all citizens as soon as possible, so that they can use these documents to vote.

“With regard to Form 1018, Mr. Im Suodey confirmed, “We cannot stop using the form, because sometimes those who already had identification cards might have lost them, for example because of a house fire, or when they were living on a dangerous boat that leaked… What documents would they have to cast their votes?” He added that for the national elections, the NEC plans to instruct commune chiefs and district chiefs not to issue Form 1018 before the election day.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol. 41, #6284, 29.2.08

Concert Previews

Dengue Fever , whose sound is based on Cambodian pop music of the '60s, performs Sunday in Arden, Del.
Fri, Feb. 29, 2008

Magic Slim

"I'm going to play these blues from my heart," Magic Slim declares on "I'm a Bluesman," the manifesto that fittingly leads off his 2005 live album, Anything Can Happen. The song reflects the proud, straightforward nature of the music made by the Chicago-based Slim, who was born Morris Holt just over 70 years ago in Mississippi. The gruff-voiced singer and guitarist may no longer fit the "Slim" part of his stage name, but he and his band, the Teardrops, remain prime purveyors of electric, Windy City blues. And as he carries on the tradition, Slim shows just how many shades of blue the music can express.

- Nick Cristiano

Concert Previews

John Zorn: The Radical Jewish Music Festival

Since 1980, John Zorn has fashioned himself as the enfant terrible of avant-garde improvisation-based music. Not just jazz, but through chamber classical music, film soundtrack scores, sacred song, hardcore and noise. Not just as a saxophonist and composer, but as a label owner (Tzadik), theoretician (his Arcana book series), and venue operator (The Stone in New York City). But it is through his Masada - the band and its recordings - that Zorn essays the twists on Jewish music: modern, ancient and most definitely radicalized. This weekend looks at all sides of Zorn's tortured traditionalism. While his Masada music gets its due from Philly-based guitarist Jon Madof on Saturday, Sunday features two shows by the master himself - a matinee featuring the alto saxophonist's famed takes on the independent cinema scores of filmmakers like Maya Deren with several of his usual suspects (guitarist Marc Ribot, drummer Joey Baron, synth player Ikue Mori) and an evening of Electric Masada with cellist Erik Friedlander and the element of chance in the foreground. This event is a rarity for lovers of risk and essential for admirers of Zorn.

- A.D. Amorosi

John Zorn: The Radical Jewish Music Festival, Saturday through Tuesday.

Masada Guitars with Jon Madof and Tim Sparks play at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Penn Hillel, University of Pennsylvania, 215 S. 39th St. Tickets: $12.

John Zorn Essential Cinema plays at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25. John Zorn's Electric Masada plays at 8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $26.25-$35. Both shows at International House, 3701 Chestnut St.

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Anat Fort, and Michael Winograd play at 8 p.m. Monday at Calvary Center, 48th and Baltimore. Tickets: $12.

Daniel Blacksberg's Yiddish Sextet featuring Frank London plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Society Hill Synagogue, 418 Spruce St. Tickets: $12. Information: tickets, 866-468-7619; general, 215-727-2714;


Magic Slim and the Teardrops play at 8 and 10 tonight and Saturday night at Warmdaddy's, 1400 S. Columbus Blvd. Tickets: $15. Phone: 215-462-2000.

Dengue Fever

It's a strange concept, but it works. Brothers Zac and Ethan Holtzman shared a love for the Cambodian pop music of the '60s and decided to form a band based on that sound, which lies somewhere between spaghetti westerns, surf music and Bollywood film soundtracks. The Americans drafted Cambodian singer Chhom Nimol. Her shrill and seductive vocals lend authenticity to Dengue Fever. The band's 2005 trip to Cambodia is featured in a new documentary film, Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, and their third album, the recent Venus on Earth, finds the L.A. six-piece comfortably blending English and Vietnamese lyrics, Western and Asian melodies, reverberating guitars and earthy saxophones, and themes both humorous and serious. Or, as Chhom sings in "Tooth & Nail," "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." The cliche sounds strange but familiar, like the band.

- Steve Klinge

Dengue Fever with Codero plays at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Arden Gild Hall, 2126 The Highway, Arden, Del. Tickets: $25. Phone: 302-475-3126,

Matt Costa and Johnathan Rice

Handsome lads with accessible songs, it's no wonder Matt Costa and Johnathan Rice are indie heartthrobs. A sidelined California skateboarder, Costa got No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont to produce his first two albums, Songs We Sing and Unfamiliar Faces, both on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records. The latter spawned the affable, Kinks-ish single "Mr. Pitiful" and often recalls a sanitized, modern version of Donovan. Also with two albums behind him, Rice is darker and more country, especially when crafting a sing-along single with the grim title "We're All Stuck Out in the Desert (And We're Gonna Die)." He's dating Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and got to play Roy Orbison in Walk the Line, as if you needed more reason to be jealous.

- Doug Wallen

Matt Costa and Johnathan Rice play at 8 Tuesday at First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. $12. Phone: 267-765-5210.

'Pandurangadu' shoot in Cambodia
Friday, 29 February 2008

To picture the three songs for his devotional film, 'Pandurangadu' that stars Nandamuri Balakrishna and Sneha, the director K Raghavendra rao leaves for Cambodia and Thailand with his team. Wondering how can be a devotional film shot in the locations of exotic beaches of Thailand? Well, the veteran director has not chosen Cambodia and Thailand for the beaches. But the Southeast Asian Countries do have some stunning beautiful Hindu temples. Cambodia is the successor state of the once powerful Hindu and Buddhist Khmer Empire.

Three songs in three countries:

K Raghavendra Rao is shooting three romantic duets on the backdrop of these temples in Cambodia, Thailand and the neighboring Vietnam.

The songs will be caned for nearly14 days in various temples there. M M Keeravani has rendered some beautiful songs for this film in which Tabu plays an important role.

Source :

Cambodia: promoting economic security among victims of landmines


Despite the enormous efforts made during the past 12 years to rid Cambodia of the scourge of mines and other explosive remnants of war, several hundred people continue to be maimed or killed by these weapons in the country every year.

Promoting economic security among survivors and potential victims of landmine accidents

According to the Cambodian Mine Victim Information System, 80% of the victims in 2004 admitted they were aware of the danger. Nevertheless, they were forced to engage in risky pursuits (such as collecting scrap metal or clearing dangerous areas for farming) simply in order to survive.

" Ongoing support for the disabled

- The ICRC has provided tecnical support to the Cambodia Red Cross' programme to reduce impact of mines and explosive remnants of war since 2006.

- The ICRC has been providing support for victims of mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia for years. This is done through the orthopaedic and rehabilitation centres in Kompong Speu and Battambang (in cooperation with the authorities) and the ICRC orthopaedic component factory in Phnom Penh. Services are provided to patients, including those suffering from disabling diseases, free of charge. "

Based on this finding, the Cambodian Red Cross Society started a micro-credit project in 2005 to support the economic integration at community level of amputees who would have carried on taking risks had an alternate form of income generation not been available. The scheme had 18 beneficiaries in 2005 and initial results were encouraging.

In 2006 the project was expanded so as to target not only economically vulnerable mine survivors but also so-called potential victims, i.e. people who take daily risks with mines and other lethal debris of war. The aim is to prevent or at least reduce the number of accidents by providing economic alternatives that allow people to avoid taking risks.

How the project works

The Cambodian Red Cross micro-credit project relies on community meetings – organized to provide information on the risks posed by mines – to identify economically vulnerable mine survivors and potential victims.

Those selected receive small loans (items worth up to 200 US dollars) enabling them to start generating an income (by raising pigs, farming, opening a shop, operating a water pump, etc.) sufficient to meet their basic needs. The type of activity depends on the recipient’s skills and motivation and on the needs in each village – the support given is agreed upon with community leaders. A contribution in kind is always made by the beneficiary or in some cases the community.

The project is managed on a revolving-fund basis. Its loans are interest-free, but beneficiaries must repay them in cash within 12 months. The length of the payback period depends on the type of business and on the beneficiaries’ circumstances. Repaid funds are immediately reinvested in the form of new loans to a new group of beneficiaries.

During the 12-month loan period, Cambodian Red Cross volunteers and development officers remain in close contact with beneficiaries in order to monitor progress, assess results and offer advice. With financial support from the German Red Cross, small loans were made to 80 people in 2006 and to around 200 in 2007.

Hun Sen Says Line Is Open to Thaksin

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

Sok Khemara reports in Khmer (879 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Hun Sen has maintained communication with former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who returned to his native country Thursday after 18 months in exile.

"Since the coup toppled him, phones calls were exchanged," Hun Sen said Thursday. "It's very normal."

He called Thaksin an old friend, and deflected reports Thaksin had come to visit him before his return to Thailand.

If he were to come, Hun Sen said, "I would receive him without keeping it silent."

Hun Sen Blasts UN Office Over Refugees

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

Sok Khemara reports in Khmer (980 KB) - Listen (MP3)

The UN's office for refugees has used Cambodia as an asylum without the consent of the government, Hun Sen said Thursday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees had put Afghans, Pakistanis, Nigerians and other Africans in Cambodia, he said.

"There is no Taliban in power. Why are there Afghans coming to request political asylum in Cambodia?" Hun Sen asked. "It's not proper."

In 1992 Cambodia progressively signed a UN convention and refugee protocol, but the stream of Montagnards from Vietnam has tested the country's relationship with the office, a UNHCR Web site says.

Morality Key for Children, Guest Says

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
29 February 2008

Nuch Sarita reports in Khmer (6.64 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Muoy You runs an orphanage, and through it she seeks to encourage education and morality.

A guest on "Hello VOA" Thursday, Muoy You appealed to parents to respect the rights of children, who as important to society.

Society is just like a sheet of blank paper, she said, and the ink to be put on it is up to parents.

She appealed to all families in Cambodia to teach their children morality, and to help them understand the value of education.

Gem Trade Vanishing From Pailin

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Pailin
29 February 2008

From her shop on the busy road through downtown Pailin, Sami Chanry watched the cars pass and kick up dust.

"I've done this business since 1970," she said. "I'd sift and sell and shape the stones, and then we would have a lot of gems. But during the past seven or eight years, the gems have become rare.

[Those who seek them] must go far from town to find the gems, like into the Trop Mountains, the Bor Tang Su River and O'tang Mountain."

Pailin was known as "the city of gems," and its precious stones once funded, in part, the Khmer Rouge resistance to government forces. After the collapse of the regime in 1996, large Thai companies came from across the border, with huge shaker machines and excavators. And now the gem mining industry in Pailin is nearly finished.

A gem cutter not far from Sami Chanry's shop said he now received only the smallest gems to shape. One of the reasons that the precious stones have become rare is that the giant machines came in after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he said.

Pailin Governor Y Chien said that the government doesn't want to give the license to gem mining companies, or allow them to mine state land, but they are still in Pailin, so the gems must be also.

More than 50,000 people live around the former Khmer Rouge stronghold, and many of them, in the 1960s and 1970s, supported themselves through the search for precious stones.

Today, the active businesses in town center around agriculture, hotels, and the border casinos that employ 3,000 people.

Em Reuy is not one of them. She sifts for gems in a river near town.

"Now, I can find less and less," she said recently, just finishing her work for the afternoon.

"Sometimes I find nothing all day, or I have to take four or five days and I find two or three gems, and I can sell for 400 or 500 baht (about $10 to $12). Two years ago, gems became rare."

In Pailin, this means the poor families who once sought gems for direct sale in town have sought other work.

Em Reuy said some of the miners have turned to work on plantations. Instead of combing the rivers and mountains for stones, they now cut sugarcane, or harvest corn, or grow rice.

The poorest of villagers cannot change their business, Em Reuy said. They are forced to continue their search for gems.

Group: National TV Coverage Skewed to CPP

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

Chiep Mony reports in Khmer (0.99 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The independent monitoring group Comfrel said Friday that national television had spent an excessive amount of time covering the activities of ruling party politicians and not enough on the business of government.

TVK, which is owned by the government, spent 90 percent of its political coverage showing beneficial activities run by members of the Cambodian People's Party, Comfrel said, following observation of TKV from October 2007 to January 2008.

The national station spent only 10 percent of that coverage on the business of the National Assembly and Senate.

Koy Chandarith, media coordinator for Comfrel, called the coverage "biased."

"I ask TVK to give a chance to other parties so that they can be known and their activities shown," Koy Chandarith said.

Kim Kunawath, director-general of TVK, told VOA Khmer Friday that Comfrel's observations were not accurate.

He said if Comfrel approaches TVK, the work of the independent monitoring body would improve.

Muth Chantha, spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party, said in recent months he has not heard of the NRP on TVK, "not even one second."

"TVK should broadcast news on education for the people, to encourage people to go to vote, to let them know the voting station sites and know all the political parties. These are important factors," Muth Chantha said.

Duch's Week at Tribunal Stirs Anger

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

Chun Sakada reports in Khmer (1.11 MB) - Listen (MP3)

When some residents of Phnom Penh heard Duch was to be taken to Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek, on radio and on television, it stirred in them old anger.

They said Friday they want Duch tried, along with four other jailed Khmer Rouge leaders, as soon as possible.

"We don't want to take revenge against Duch and the other Khmer Rouge leaders, but I support the punishment of the Khmer Rogue leaders, and want them to know what they've done wrong in the past," said Uk Dy, 45, a taxi driver in the capital.

This week, Duch toured the Choeung Ek "killing fields" and Tuol Sleng prison--which he directed under the Khmer Rouge--with tribunal judges and witnesses.

On Thursday and Friday, witnesses confronted the former prison chief in two days of confidential proceedings.

Leang Eng, 47, a cart vendor of sweet cakes, said she shook with anger when she heard Duch was visiting Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng, because she believes her two brothers were executed after imprisonment in Tuol Sleng, and she knows he was in control.

"I want the Khmer Rouge tribunal to seriously punish Duch and the other Khmer Rouge leaders for their past crimes," she said. "Seriously. Seriously."

"I hate Duch, killing his Cambodian countrymen," said Var Ieng Leang, 56, a housewife. "I am very angry at him, and I can't forget the history of the Khmer Rouge killing fields, because my relatives were killed during that time. I have kept in my deep hatred for the Khmer Rouge leaders, but I cannot do anything against them. But I will let the Khmer Rouge tribunal punish them, in conformity with the law."