Saturday, 12 April 2008

Happy Khmer New Year 2008 !

Happy Khmer New Year B.E 2552!

CAAI would like to take this opportunity to wish to all of Khmer compatriots around the globe a Very Happy New Year. May you all be blessed with the 5 Buddhist Wishes: Long Life, Good Complexion, Health, Strength and Wisdom for the coming year of Rat.

Evictions spoil property success story

There were 26 forced evictions involving some 5,585 families in Phnom Penh during 2007, according to rights group Adhoc.

Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post at
Written by Cheang Sokha
AFP, Development often entails upheaval as traditional lifestyles make way for the modern. In no area is this more evident or likely to draw as much controversy as in the rush to claim prime pieces of land that has accompanied the nation’s roaring economic growth.

High-rises are replacing shanty towns in urban areas, coastal developments are sidelining beachfront vendors and large-scale agricultural projects are encroaching on land farmed by villagers for generations.

Few argue against the need for economic development but there is a growing number of increasingly vocal communities – and NGOs that represent them – who insist that the rush to expand private enterprise is running roughshod over the rights of the poor who happen to live on commercially valuable land.

Of particular concern to many NGOs is the implementation of urban development projects. Slums are leveled and residing populations evicted – frequently in that order – leaving families stranded on the outskirts of town with few amenities.

Am Sam Ath, senior monitor for local NGO Licadho, said that in more cases than not, the only thing awaiting those displaced by new projects is suffering. Glittering towers, shopping malls and apartment blocks give little back to those who were moved from slums to make room for the projects.

“I don’t think these kinds of evictions will benefit poor people, and the government itself benefits only slightly,” said Sam Ath. “It is not real development. The result of the evictions is more suffering for poor people.”

According to a recent report by rights group Adhoc, in 2007 there were 26 forced evictions involving some 5,585 families in Phnom Penh. Two people died and many were injured during the evictions, according to Adhoc.

An annual report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, released on February 11, stated that “the forced evictions of poor communities has occurred largely in and around Phnom Penh as demand and prices for land increase, but there are a rising number of evictions in Sihanoukville and other provinces experiencing urban growth.”

The report said several evictions “were carried out with excessive force, using armed police and military police, resulting in injuries and the destruction of property.”

“Many evicted families have been rendered homeless or relocated to distant sites on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, which lack basic services and are far removed from their usual livelihoods,” it added.

Sam Ath predicted the next mass evictions to take place in Phnom Penh would likely be of 4,500 families at Boeng Kok. Also in line to lose their homes, he said, are 102 families in Group 78, who have been told to make way for a Suor Srun Enterprises project; families at Dey Krahorm, which will be the site of a 7NG project; and 200 families living on four hectares at Happy Community in Tonle Bassac commune, which will be taken by Canadia Bank.

District authorities have told residents they must leave these areas, he added.

Lim Sambo, a villager living in Group 78, a highly prized patch of land near the National Assembly, said he was concerned the authorities would sell the land he lived on to a private developer.

“It’s not clear that the government will take the land for development itself because the land nearby is privately owned,” Sambo said, adding, “I’m sure that the land will be given to the private sector.”

Sung Bonna, director of Bonna Realty Group, said people living in slums do not have the resources to develop the land themselves. The government also lacks the investment funds itself and so turns to private firms, which are usually required to construct new homes for those who have been evicted, he said.

“In other countries the government undertakes developments for its people, but our government doesn’t have money to build houses for poor people (at a new location) so it needs private companies to do that,” Bonna said.

“But I see the government now wants to develop (homes for the poor) onsite rather than evict them to the outskirts like before. I see a lot of buildings built in Phnom Penh illegally,” he said, referring to buildings that creep beyond their allotted boundaries, in terms of either height or ground space.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said there were 569 slum communities in the city which were home to more than 30,000 families. So far, the populations of 41 slums have been relocated and negotiations are underway for the removal of others.

“Negotiation is better than conflict,” Chhoeun said. “We allow private companies to invest in the development of the areas, but it must be in the public interest.”

Chhoeun told the Post there are three options for removing slum communities from the city: upgrading their housing, moving inhabitants to a new site, or paying compensation to the displaced.

“We cannot give everybody everything they want,” he said. “Little by little they will understand and agree to leave.”

Cambodian modelling industry grows

ITN News
Sat Apr 12, 2008

The modelling business in Cambodia is growing in popularity, offering new opportunities for young women.

Long Makara, 27, is is one of the most successful models in Cambodia. She models for magazines, the Cambodian Television Network and she even represented Cambodia at the Miss Tourism Queen international beauty contest in 2005, which is aimed at boosting tourism in participating countries.

She said: "Modelling is making a lot of progress. Our models from Sapor's Modelling School get a lot of support.

"We get hired for companies' opening ceremonies and the rich people want to see how nice the new designer clothes are."

She attends classes twice a week to further develop her skills and to help the younger models.

Sapor Rendall, the owner of Sapor's modelling school, said: "I opened the school because, most importantly, I am a model myself and I was so shy in the beginning, but then later I was alright, that I felt I should create this business so young Cambodian girls can join and get jobs."

The school offers not only courses in modelling, but also in make-up artistry, hair styling, facials, manicures, pedicures, massage and cooking to students from different parts of the country.

So for Sapor's students who do not have a model's traditional attributes, like long legs and flawless skin, they can still find success in related careers in beauty shops, spas and other small businesses,

Public urged to guard against bacillary dysentery

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (April 11) is investigating a bacillary dysentery outbreak affecting at least 10 persons of a tour group and urged members of the public to observe good personal and food hygiene.

The tour group of 21 persons traveled to Cambodia from March 29 to April 2. CHP is contacting the tour members. So far, 5 men and 5 women aged from 26 to 65, developed fever, abdominal pain and diahorrea.

Two of them consulted private doctors. One of the patients, a 36-year-old man, was admitted to Tseung Kwan O hospital on April 6 and he is now in stable condition. His stool specimen grew Shigella sonnie.

Further investigation is proceeding.

A spokesman for CHP said bacillary dysentery is an intestinal infection caused by Shigella bacteria which can be found in the human gut. The illness is characterised by sudden onset of fever, diarrhoea with abdominal cramps and nausea or vomiting. The stool may contain blood and mucus. The incubation period usually lasts for one to three days, but can be up to seven days.

The disease is transmitted directly by faecal material of a patient/carrier or indirectly through contaminated food and water. Infection may occur after consuming a small number of the germs. Therefore the chances of the infection spreading among household members or in institutions can be very high. It occurs more commonly among young children.

The spokesman reminded members of the public to observe good personal, food and environmental hygiene at all times to prevent bacillary dysentery:

* Wash hands properly with soap and water before eating or handling food, and after going to the toilet or changing diapers.
* Drinking water should be from the mains and preferably boiled.
* Purchase fresh food from reliable sources. Do not patronise illegal hawkers.
* Avoid high-risk food like shellfish, raw food or semi-cooked food.

Friday, April 11, 2008
Issued at HKT 22:39

Court withdraws couple's asylum eligibility

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008

A federal appeals court withdrew its ruling Friday that declared a Fresno couple eligible for political asylum in the United States despite the husband's background as a guard in a Cambodian prison where inmates were allegedly persecuted.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had ruled in August that Pauline Im had played no more than a marginal role in the mistreatment of prisoners and thus should not be considered a persecutor, which would require that he be deported. The court said Im and his wife, Ngin Sitha, were eligible for asylum because they had shown Im would face political persecution in Cambodia.

But the court withdrew the ruling Friday and said the outcome of the case would depend on another dispute that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear in the term that starts in October. That case involves a former prison guard in Eritrea, where the inmates included religious minorities who were persecuted.

A federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled last year that the Eritrean guard, Daniel Negusie, had assisted in the persecution and was ineligible for asylum even though he had not injured any prisoners and had opposed their mistreatment. The court noted that Negusie had been armed, had stood guard while prisoners were kept in the sun for punishment, and had denied them access to showers and fresh air.

The Supreme Court agreed last month to hear Negusie's appeal and is scheduled to rule on his case by June 2009. In the meantime, the Fresno couple are in limbo, said their lawyer, Emmanuel Enyinwa.

Enyinwa said the two cases differed because Im had not been armed, played no role in the mistreatment of prisoners and had merely followed superiors' instructions to lock and unlock cell doors when prisoners were taken for interrogation. The lawyer said he disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's decision to withdraw its ruling but now expects the court to order a new round of arguments after the Supreme Court rules on Negusie.

Im's family was killed when the Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia in 1975, and he was put to work as a forced laborer, the court said in last year's ruling. After working as a prison guard following the Vietnamese invasion that ousted the Khmer Rouge, he joined a guerrilla movement, was imprisoned and tortured by the Vietnamese, but then was released and became a political activist.

The couple fled after Im received death threats and assailants fired on their car and their house in 2000, the court said. They now run a doughnut shop in Fresno.

1975: US pulls out of Cambodia

12 April 2008

In Context
After the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh on 17 April its leader, Pol Pot, immediately set about realising his vision of an agrarian utopia.
He forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave urban areas and become farmers.
Pol Pot's reforms led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people - some were executed but many died of disease and starvation.
In 1979 Cambodia's old enemy, Vietnam, invaded and the Khmer Rouge fled. In 1991 a United Nations-brokered peace agreement was signed which ended the country's civil war.
In 1997 Pol Pot was convicted of treason by a "people's tribunal" and was sentenced to life under house arrest.
He died in April 1998.

The US has admitted defeat in Cambodia and removed its remaining embassy personnel from the capital, Phnom Penh.

Early this morning 276 people were airlifted from a football field near the embassy by a fleet of 30 helicopters.

Those on the airlift included 159 Cambodians who had worked with the Americans.

Foreign journalists who had been covering the civil war between the communist Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian government were also airlifted out of the country.

It was feared "Operation Eagle Pull", as the evacuation was dubbed, would come under Khmer Rouge fire and more than 300 armed Marines guarded the field.

However, the operation passed off uneventfully.

Some of Cambodia's most senior government ministers, including the Acting President, Saukham Khoy, were among the evacuees.

The country's Prime Minister, Long Boret, has remained in Phnom Penh.

Long Boret's decision not to leave came as a surprise as he has been condemned to death by the advancing Khmer Rouge.

'Heavy heart'

The evacuees were flown to American war ships, the Okinawa and the Hancock, in the Gulf of Thailand.

In Washington, President Ford explained the reasons why the US had pulled out of Cambodia.
Mr Ford said he had taken the decision with "a heavy heart" but had done so to ensure the safety of Americans who had "served valiantly".

The American withdrawal is an inglorious end to five years of involvement in Cambodia's civil war.
Its presence in the country was closely linked to the war it is conducting in neighbouring Vietnam.

Between 1970 and 1973 the US bombed Cambodia in order to stop its North Vietnamese enemies using the country as a base.

If Phnom Penh does fall, Cambodia will become the first country since Cuba 16 years ago to pass into Communist hands.

Fire hits casino complex in Cambodia's capital

About 100 tourists were evacuated from one of Cambodia's biggest hotels and casinos, after a fire broke out
April 12

Cambodia's biggest casino complex in the capital Phnom Penh was hit by fire Saturday, but there was little damage because of a rapid response by firefighters, a government official said.

Nhim Vanda, vice chairman of Cambodia's National Committee for Disaster Management, told Kyodo News the casino fire began at 7:30 a.m. and was completely extinguished in about three hours.

Fire forces evacuation of hotel in Phnom Penh

Radio Australia

About 100 tourists have been evacuated from one of Cambodia's biggest hotels and casinos, after a fire broke out at a construction site inside the complex in Phnom Penh.

Wood being used for remodelling the NagaCorp hotel caught fire, sparking a blaze in a district of the city crowded with government offices, including the parliament and foreign ministry.

About 50 firefighters and volunteers worked for three hours to douse the blaze.

The damage was contained to one part of the hotel, and no injuries were reported, although the hotel evacuated all its guests.

The NagaCorp hotel and casino attracts hundreds of tourists every day, mainly from Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

Cambodia rejects new Thai protest over Preah Vihear temple

PHNOM PENH, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian government officials have denied claims by Thailand that Cambodian troops have massed on the Thai border near Preah Vihear temple, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported Saturday.

"Cambodia strongly denies that there has been any deployment of army and police in the area though there may be security guards protecting Preah Vihear temple and tourists," Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary of State Ouch Borith said at a news conference here on Friday.

At the press conference, Var Kim Hong, Cambodia's senior government advisor on border issues, said the Preah Vihear border had been in place since the colonial era.

Thai newspaper the National and the Bangkok Post reported Friday that Cambodian Ambassador Ung Sean had been summoned to the Thai Foreign Ministry and told that the supposed troop build up violated a 2000 agreement not to modify a 4.6-square-kilometer disputed zone near the temple.

"This time we summoned the Cambodian ambassador to protest against them sending in troops and police and clearing landmines in the overlapping area in Thailand's Si Sa Ket province," the Thai Foreign Ministry's treaties and legal affairs department chief Virachai Plasai was quoted as saying in the Bangkok Post.

Thailand's protest to the ambassador is the latest flare-up in long-standing dispute over the temple and surrounding territory, which has intensified since Cambodia sought to have the temple listed as a UN World Heritage Site last year, the Cambodia Daily said.

Editor: Sun Yunlong

Thousands homeless after Cambodian slum fire

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Thousands were made homeless early Friday after a slum fire in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh destroyed more than 200 homes, police said.

The blaze broke out in an area crowded with poorly-built wooden shacks, police said, adding that the cause of the fire was still under investigation."Hundreds of houses were completely destroyed," said Pong Savrith, military police deputy commander.

Cigarette smugglers outwit officials


AN GIANG — Renewed efforts to stop contraband cigarettes being imported from Cambodia are likely to prove ineffective as the authorities admit to losing control over the market.

A "hot spot" for smuggled cigarettes, the southern province of An Giang has become a thriving centre for traffickers.

On the 50km road connecting Long Xuyen City with the border town of Chau Doc, many motorbike drivers were found to be carrying large packages of cigarettes while speeding.

On average, each smuggler is able to carry about 200 cartons of cigarettes. Yet according to the deputy head of An Giang Province’s Market Watch, Phan Loi, those smuggling by water pose greater worries because they illegally import thousands of boxes at a time.

Similarly, in the neighbouring province of Kien Giang, contraband cigarettes are smuggled through border areas.

The head of Kien Giang Market Watch’s Research and General Affairs section, Pham Ngoc Toan, said motorbike drivers often doubled as cigarette carriers because they could easily avoid the eye of anti-contraband forces. Each motorbike usually carries two people, one driving and another carrying cigarettes.

Cigarette trafficking has become so rampant that participants at a recent conference reviewing the implementation of anti-contraband initiatives were told that nearly seven million packs of illegal cigarettes were confiscated between last June and this March.

About 49 cities and provinces have reported cigarette trafficking, but naturally, the phenomenon has been most rampant in border provinces. Contraband cigarettes now make up nearly 40 per cent of the total market share. And in the western and southern provinces, the figure reaches a staggering 80 per cent.

Chairman of the Viet Nam Cigarettes Association, Nguyen Thai Sinh, said cigarette trafficking was adversely effecting domestic production.

He said many local companies had been forced to cut their output to about half in the first quarter of this year. And up to VND3,000 billion (more than US$187 million) in taxes had been lost to cigarette smugglers.

Speaking at the conference, in HCM City last week, the head of Quang Tri Province’s Customs Office, Le Van Toi, admitted that border forces could do little to combat smugglers.

In an attempt to retrieve some lost taxes, the State has raised the special consumption tax on cigarettes from 55 to 65 per cent.

However, specialists believe the increase will do no more than create extra motivation for traffickers to import cigarettes illegally.

Quang Tri Province, which is adjacent to the Lao Bao border gate, confiscated more than 1.2 million packs of illegal cigarettes a year. An Giang Province ranks second with nearly 1.1 million packs.

Another factor believed to be creating favourable conditions for cigarette trafficking is that the State still allows people in border areas to buy goods worth VND2 million ($125) a day.

By doing so, chairman of the Viet Nam Cigarettes Association, Nguyen Thai Sinh, calculated that this helped put millions of packs of tax-free on the streets of Viet Nam daily.

Anti-contraband forces are also worried that no proper checks have been put on the buying of these cigarettes by border people. Therefore, it is easy for wheelers and dealers to lure poor border people into buying and selling cigarettes.

A senior official at An Giang Customs Office, Tran Buu Tai, said traffickers had intensified their operation since the Government issued a decree in September, 2006, stating that cigarettes were not a forbidden commodity.

This is why no criminal proceedings are taken against cigarette traffickers. Even when a person carries contraband cigarettes worth more than VND100 million ($6,250), no punishment is meted out.

Conference participants were concerned that contraband cigarettes will keep flooding the market if no drastic measures are taken. — VNS

Fire Destroys Hundreds of Slum Homes

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 April 2008

A seven-hour fire burned down several hundred homes on the outskirts of Phnom Penh early Monday, and residents say the fire department did little to stop it.

The fire started around 5 am Monday and continued burning until around noon, destroying an entire village of makeshift homes.

Residents said the fire department refused to put out the flames because the people couldn't pay them bribes.

"I asked the firemen to extinguish my house, but the firemen said they did not have water," Chhen Saray, said as she wept. "The firemen extinguished only the houses of the rich, not the poor."

The fire comes just days before the start of Khmer New Year, a traditional time of nationwide celebration. No casualties were reported, and the cause is under investigation.

A fire department official denied claims of negligence, saying his men were hard-pressed to stop the fire in an area with streets too narrow for his trucks.

"The firemen had difficulty extinguishing the fire, because the roads leading the slum were too small," said Sok Vannra, first deputy chief of the Phnom Penh fire department. "We were fighting the fire from 5:30 am, and we almost had no water to drink, but we are still criticized by the residents."

A second resident said her house was saved by firemen only after her uncle, who knew some other firemen, convinced them to put out the flames. Her uncle later paid five men $10, she said.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mab Sarin said Friday the city had no plans to develop the area.
"The Phnom Penh municipality has instructed district governors and deputy governors to consider finding a proper place for victims to stay," he said.

Cambodian Troops in Disputed Zone: Thailand

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 April 2008

Thai officials censured the Cambodian government Thursday, claiming it had sent soldiers into a disputed area near a contentious temple in Preah Vihear province.

The Preah Vihear temple, subject of many diplomatic rows in recent years, is perched atop a cliff straddling the border between Cambodia and Thailand.

The Thai foreign ministry protested the alleged troop deployment to Cambodia's ambassador, the Bangkok Post reported. Soldiers had been demining in a disputed area, the Post reported.

Uch Borith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the allegations "baseless."

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith denied any deployment of troops and asked the Thai government to properly resolve problems before speaking to the press.

"I, the spokesman of the Cambodian government, confirm that the government did not mobilize any troops or add more troops at all" to the area, he said. "We regret that the Thai side did not discuss first with the competent authorities, with which we have an agreement. If it thinks about the friendship between both countries, and about membership in Asean, the Thai government should review the agreement on the resolution of conflict."

Hundreds Protest Alleged Sale of Forest

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 April 2008

Nearly 300 people gathered in the provincial capital of Bantey Meanchey province Friday to protest the alleged sale of national forest land by local officials.

Human rights officials and witnesses said Friday that about 300 people gathered in front of the Thmor Pouk commune office in Thmor Pouk district to demand 215 hectares of national forest be protected, following its reported sale to businessmen in Phnom Penh by the former district governor and a commune chief.

Villagers said they needed the land, in Phnom Preah National Forest, for their livelihoods.
Current Thmor Pouk District Governor Chhum Brasert said Friday he was unaware of the sale of the forest land, as he only recently began his post.

Former Thmor Pouk governor Chhim Bunny denied allegations he had sold off part of the national forest.

He welcomed the protest of the people, saying such petitioning for the protection of forest land was "right."

So Samon, director of the district forest administration, said Friday he would investigate the allegations of the sale.

The Phnom Preah National Forest covers two districts, he said, Thmor Pouk and Preah Neat Preah, and spreads over about 18,000 hectares.

Taiwanese Man Charged in Heroin Bust

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
11 April 2008

Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged one man with drug trafficking Friday, after he was seized at the international airport Tuesday in possession of more than 2 kilograms of heroin.

Taiwanese national Wang Kuo Lin, 29, was arrested as he attempted to board a flight to Hong Kong, police said.

His arrest highlights what experts call a worrying increase in Cambodian production and shipment of narcotics.

Several drug couriers have been nabbed at the airport in recent months, and a year ago police made a massive raid on a methamphetamine production facility in Kampong Speu province.

Land Authority Working Disputes: Spokesman

By Poch Reasey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
11 April 2008

A spokesman for the National Land Dispute Authority of the Council of Ministers, Chum Bunrong, admitted Thursday that Cambodia faces land grabbing problems, but said the government was working to solve them.

The government has offices to deal with land disputes at three levels: district, provincial, and national, said Chum Bunrong, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

He urged rights groups to discuss land issues with local officials before speaking out to the press.

"NGO and rights workers in the provinces can express their opinions at the district level, they have that right," Chum Bunrong said. "They shouldn't go straight to various radio stations and create problems. If you discuss it, you may decide that some parcels should be sold, some belong to the government, and so on. It can be solved."

The Land Dispute Authority was formed in 2006 to deal with increasing land disputes.
Since its creation, the authority has taken back more than 225,000 hectares of land from violators across Cambodia, Chum Bunrong said.

Those involved in land disputes can call the Land Dispute Authority for more information and updates on resolution, he said.

Dith Pran's story must keep being told

Cape Code Times

April 11, 2008

A few weeks ago Dith Pran, a photojournalist with The New York Times, died of pancreatic cancer. Though many Americans may not know him, Cambodian-American immigrants do. To them, Dith Pran and the movie about his life present the Cambodian people and their nation's troubled history to the world.

In the early 1970s, Dith Pran worked with Times foreign correspondent Sydney Schanberg covering events in Cambodia.

At the time, Cambodia was a Cold War hot spot, caught between the pull of Washington, Hanoi, Moscow and Beijing. Though the government was largely aligned with the United States, North Vietnamese troops and a communist guerrilla group called the Khmer Rouge ruled much of the Cambodian countryside.

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge overran Phnom Penh and embarked on a plan to transform Cambodia into an agricultural-based utopian society. Immediately, citizens were dispersed to rural work and prison camps, and all potential enemies of the regime were eliminated. By the time Vietnamese forces drove the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979, some 1.7 million Cambodians — one-fifth of the country's population — was dead.

Dith and Schanberg were in Phnom Penh when the city was taken. Though Schanberg escaped to the French Embassy, Dith endured years of torture and forced labor. He escaped to Thailand in 1979 and then came to the United States, where he was reunited with his family. He continued working for the Times.

I first learned of Cambodia's "forgotten genocide" about 15 years ago when I watched the 1984 film "The Killing Fields." The movie, which stars Sam Waterston and Haing Ngor, portrays the experiences of Schanberg and Dith during the Khmer Rouge years. It's a true story.

The film stayed with me long after I watched it. Mostly, I was disturbed that such a monumental world event had escaped my attention. I wanted to know more.

Therefore, when asked to cover an immigrant people in my first year at journalism school, I chose Cambodian Americans.

I soon learned that the community, which numbers some 200,000 in the United States, is largely eager to tell its stories. Through my reporting, I was introduced to a strong and resilient people who've endured astonishing atrocities. Torture, murdered siblings, missing parents, death camps and ethnic cleansing are common elements in the lives of adult Cambodians. So are endurance, self-reliance, inner strength and optimism about the future.

It must have been obvious to those I interviewed that I had trouble comprehending their stories. To help clarify a few suggested that I watch "The Killing Fields."

So I watched it again.

It's not often that a movie accurately portrays reality, but "The Killing Fields" comes close. It recreated in me the same uncomfortable feeling I had had when interviewing survivors.

Though that was only a few weeks ago. It wasn't until I heard of Dith Pran's death that I understood the significance of his life and the movie about him.

Cambodia's genocide has been largely forgotten. As one of my friends at the community center explained, "Every day it fades more and more."

But because Dith's experience was recreated in "The Killing Fields," the story of Cambodia's past will never be completely lost. To Cambodians, Dith was more than a survivor of the Khmer Rouge; he was a New York Times reporter and the subject of a movie that tells their story.

Dith is gone, but "The Killing Fields" survives and can be found in any film rental store. Do yourself a favor and rent it. I warn you that it's a bit uncomfortable, mostly because it's true.

But it's also true that the world is a dangerous place and insulation from the truth is false security. Our best protection against mankind's worst deeds is the acquisition of knowledge.

And that's exactly what Dith's story in "The Killing Fields" delivers.

Jonathan Hemmerdinger of Arlington, Va., who is pursuing a master's in journalism at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., is a former resident of Chatham.

Thousands homeless after Cambodian slum fire: police

Agence France-Presse
Published: Friday, April 11, 2008

PHNOM PENH - Thousands were made homeless early Friday after a slum fire in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh destroyed more than 200 homes, police said.

The blaze broke out in an area crowded with poorly-built wooden shacks, police said, adding that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

"Hundreds of houses were completely destroyed," said Pong Savrith, military police deputy commander.

"They were all small wooden houses that were built in a disorderly manner," he told AFP as a column of thick smoke continued to billow into the sky.

Neighbourhood residents swarmed into nearby streets, struggling to rescue their belongings, while others huddled on the curbside, crying as their homes burned.

About 200 firefighters and volunteers worked for five hours to douse the blaze, said fire chief Sok Vannar.

"This is the biggest fire this year," he said, adding that no one had been hurt.

Although large neighbourhood fires are increasingly rare in Phnom Penh, a series of suspicious blazes several years ago destroyed a number of slum areas, forcing tens of thousands to flee.

Kalidasa in Cambodia

The times of India
12 Apr 2008

After doing the rounds of the usual suspects like Bangkok, Switzerland and Austria, Sandalwood has now shifted focus to more exotic locations like Cambodia.

And are we happy about that! Debutante director Venkatesh Panchangam’s Kalidasa Love Alli Bidda is the first Kannada film to be shot in the world famous ruins and temples of Cambodia.

The film stars newcomers Amithraj and Vardhini. Says Amithraj, “The story like the title suggests is filled with a lot of romance but with a twist.

My character in the film is a poet and considers himself a messenger of love! The minute I heard the script, I was very impressed with it.

And love stories are a hit with the audience any day,” says Amithraj. Amith, we hear is also an excellent dancer.

Kurnia Asia In Joint Venture With Canadia In Cambodia

April 11, 2008 19:01 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 (Bernama) -- Kurnia Asia Bhd (KAB) has agreed to team up with Canadia Investment Holdings Plc (CIHP) to establish a joint venture company in Cambodia to undertake general and life insurance businesses.

In a joint statement Friday, KAB and CIHP said the joint venture company under the name Cana Kurnia Insurance Plc will be headquartered in Phnom Penh.

The equity shareholdings of Cana Kurnia will held by KAB via its subsidiary Kurnia Asia Pte Ltd and CIHP in the proportion of 49 percent and 51 percent respectively.

"While the proposed joint venture represents an opportunity for CIHP to diversify into the insurance businesses in Cambodia, it is part of KAB's business strategy to expand geographically to Cambodia," the two companies said.

CIHP holds the entire equity interest of Canadia Bank Plc, which is Cambodia's largest bank, and KAB holds the entire equity interest in Kurnia Insurans (Malaysia) Bhd, currently the largest general insurer in Malaysia.