Saturday, 21 June 2008

Day of remembering: Sihanouk war against Khmer nationlists who protested against his provietnamese politics

Sihanouk said: Under his regime there is no killing as Khmer Rouge. What happened to those cambodian men? Why they have to be executed? Is it you (Sihanouk) has ordered to kill those men?
VIVE LA SANGKUM REAS YUM, is it wright Mr. Sihanouk?
Dianna Brang, Suely Ngouy, executive director of the Khmer Girls, Linda Moy, Mary Savady, Sovanduongchan So, Jennefer Heng, Joy Yanga, group coordinator, and Samantha Chhim worked on the film "Coming Together," which looks at how the Khmer Rouge still touches the lives of Cambodian immigrants and their American-born children. The film will be shown at LBCC's Pacific Campus today at 3:30 p.m.(Steven Georges/Staff Photographer)

Long Beach girls create film about being Cambodian and American

By Greg Mellen, Staff writer

LONG BEACH - One talked to her father about his memories of the genocide. Another looked within herself. Another talked to a newly arrived immigrant. And gradually their six individual stories were melded into one.

The aptly named "Coming Together" is the result.

The 30-minute documentary filmed by six teenagers from Long Beach-based Khmer Girls in Action provides an episodic series of glimpses into what it means to be a first-generation Cambodian-American teen in California.

The filmmakers, Jennefer Heng, 17; Dianna Brang, 15; Sovanduongchan So, 16; Samantha Chhim, 17; Linda Moy, 17; and Mary Savady, 16, each took a piece of the Cambodian-American teen puzzle. With the help of Khmer Girls in Action coordinator Joy Yanga and USC film instructor Mariano Elepano, "Coming Together" did just that.

It came together so well, in fact, that it was chosen for inclusion in the Los Angeles Film Festival where it will officially debut next weekend. Those who would like an early glimpse can attend a free prescreening today at Long Beach City College.

Using perspectives from survivors of the Khmer Rouge atrocities, youngsters who struggle to understand their elders, and immigrants who move to the United States and embrace the country, the movie touches on connections and disconnections young Cambodians feel both toward America and the culture and homeland of their elders.

"I think the title tells it all," said Moy, a Poly student, about how the different perspective eventually dovetail.

"We were working on ideas and concept, and we needed a jumping point," Yanga said. "We realized we have more in common even though we have very different stories."

Savady, a Wilson High student, said she hoped the film would help other teens understand they're not alone in the feelings of isolation from their parents.

Heng, who just graduated from Poly, said talking to her father about his experiences with the genocide gave her a new appreciation and respect for him.

"He was emotional, and it was very personal," Heng said. "So when I heard my dad talk about it, I was able to connect. Some of the details were very scary."

Suely Ngouy, the executive director of Khmer Girls, said the film clears up misunderstandings
"I think there's a perception that the youth know what happened," Ngouy said. "They really don't."

While youngsters may understand in general terms that they are the children of refugees from a terrible war, often they have no idea about their own parents' stories.

The film grew from a $30,000 grant from the California Council for the Humanities as part of a campaign called "How I See It," which encouraged teens to explore their lives and cultures through film.

The six teens worked on the film for nearly a year interviewing both survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide and peers to gauge the effects of the war 33 years after the rise of Pol Pot.

The Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975. By the time they were ousted by the Vietnamese army in 1979, about 1.7$ 5 $7Cambodians had died from executions, disease and malnutrition.

Beginning in 1979, Cambodian refugees began pouring into the United States, many arriving in Long Beach, which boasts the largest Cambodian population in the United States.

The Khmer Girls in Action was founded in 1997 as a project of the Asians & Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health to deal with teen pregnancy issues.

It was reconfigured in 2002 to teach young Southeast Asian women how to become leaders in the community and help shape the future for Cambodian-American community.

The group meets weekly during the school year and twice weekly in the summer. Membership is free and usually there are about 25 girls in the program at any given time.

In addition to attending public events, the group engages in various advocacy and academic projects. In 2009, for example, the group will work with UCLA on a project to study the transmission of trauma between generations.

The Khmer Girls movie is one of eight Youth Digital Filmmaker films that grew from the Humanities fund, three of which will play in Los Angeles.

Today's prescreening will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Room 107 Dyer Hall on the Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus, 1305 East Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach.

The free L.A. Film Festival presentation will be June 29, at noon, at the Italian Cultural Institute, 1023 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles.

Cambodia and the Holocaust: Searching for Justice

The University of Minnesota
Saturday, June 21, 2008

In 1975 the Cambodian government began the systematic and brutal extermination of more than two million Cambodians, resulting in the deaths of nearly a third of the nation's population. The aftermath of this genocide is the subject of the Guthrie Theater's play "After a Hundred Years".

Cambodia and the Holocaust: Searching for JusticeSaturday, June 21 Workshop at the Guthrie Theater, 8:30-4:30Free and open to the public (includes matin?e performance of the play)CEU credit is available for teachers.To register, go to

This event is co-sponsored by the Guthrie Theatre Performance, "After a Hundred Years"A short synopsis of the play:

Journalist Luke Newhall travels to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for a rare, career-making interview with Phan Mok, a Khmer Rouge general accused of heinous war crimes. On the eve of his United Nations tribunal, the general sits determined to defend his actions and rehabilitate his legacy of the era, as Narin Rath, a survivor of the Killing Fields, tells the gruesome tale of her survival, illustrating the history of guilt while suggesting a possibility for healing.

In grappling with the lies and truths of his interview subject, Newhall finds himself enmeshed in the life of photographer Sarah Whiting and her husband Tim Hedstrom, a prominent American doctor. Though Hedstrom appears devoted to the treatment of HIV/AIDS in this Third World country, a shocking truth reveals that it has been at the cost of betraying the ethical vows of his profession. As the characters' quests for truth intersect, they are drawn deeper into Cambodia's history and their own complicity in crimes past and present.

China to build $540m hydro plant in Cambodia -media

Sat Jun 21, 2008

BEIJING, June 21 (Reuters) - A Chinese company will build a $540 million hydropower plant in Cambodia's Koh Kong province to help ease a power shortage in the poor southeast Asian nation, China's Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

The Stung Tatay project, to be built by China National Heavy Machinery Corporation, will take five years to complete. The company will operate the plant for 37 years and sell the power to the government, the report said.

After that, ownership of the plant will be transferred to the Cambodian government, it added.
China and Cambodia have close ties, and Beijing was a keen supporter of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime that was toppled by invading Vietnamese troops in 1979.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Govt House seized

1- The PAD movement today is an historic event and a great credit to the country. In the face of such a phenomenon, the government will have to get out within a few days. — CHAMLONG SRIMUANG
2- Let's ask the ones who are responsible for the PAD rally. — SAMAK SUNDARAVEJ

1- Protesters set to break through a row of riot police on Phitsanulok road. - APICHIT JINAKUL
2- A protester wears sunglasses and covers his head with a hood in case police fire teargas. - SOMCHAI POOMLARD
3- A riot policeman holding a teargas gun stands guard near Government House as protesters try to surround the building yesterday. - APICHART JINAKUL
Tens of thousands of supporters of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy raise their fists in triumph after breaking through several police cordons to gather outside Government House at about 3pm yesterday. — THITI WANNAMONTHA
Policemen rush to help their female colleagues, who were in the front row, to resist PAD protesters who were trying to break through their lines to get to Government House. - APICHART JINAKUL
Unable to resist the massive PAD forces, police can only watch the anti-government protesters remove a police van from Phitsanulok road in front of Government House. - THITI WANNAMONTHA
Police and PAD demonstrators push each other in front of Wat Benchamabophit. - THITI WANNAMONTHA
A PAD demonstrator offers sweets to security officers who set up a barricade on Phitsanulok road. - SOMCHAI POOMLARD
Thousands of protesters, led by Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, occupied the Nang Loeng intersection on their way to Government House. - SOMCHAI POOMLARD
A man bows down to a police officer, asking him to allow the demonstrators to move from Wat Sommanat to the Nang Loeng area. - PATTANAPONG

A riot policeman seals his plastic mask with paper to protect his face from the sunlight. - APICHIT JINAKUL
A man tries to free himself from women Border Patrol Police who were trying to prevent protesters from getting close to Government House. - THITI WANNAMONTHA
Protesters join forces as they try to traverse police barricades near Government House. - APICHIT JINAKUL

The Bangkok Post
Saturday June 21, 2008

PAD declares victory as protesters breach cordons / Army chief urges Samak to dissolve parliament / All army units ordered to remain on standby


Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda has advised Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to think seriously about dissolving the House to end the turmoil on the streets of the capital.

Gen Anupong, who joined top-level security officials at the Army Club to monitor the People's Alliance for Democracy's protest march yesterday afternoon, told Mr Samak he should explore the House dissolution option, a source said. This was because the PAD demonstrators had declared victory by laying siege to Government House.

Clearing the decks would allow the people to "make a new decision" at a fresh general election.
In the meantime, Mr Samak would head a caretaker government and remain in power long enough to supervise a major military reshuffle in August.

The source added Mr Samak would help ward off any influence from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the military shake-up.

"Part of the reason Gen Anupong doesn't want Mr Samak to resign is because he fears that his replacement will not be as compromising with the military. The new prime minister would only be a yes-man to Mr Thaksin," the source said.

A House dissolution, however, is technically impossible at present because the no-confidence motion filed by the opposition Democrats has been put on parliament's agenda.

Under the 2007 charter, the prime minister is not allowed to dissolve the House during a no-confidence session.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, said the opposition may "remove the lock" by withdrawing the censure motion if the government sought its cooperation.

The source said Gen Anupong ordered all army units to remain on standby and stay neutral as senators echoed calls for the military to stay in their barracks.

The number of PAD supporters, meanwhile, reached tens of thousands. The protesters started mobilising at about 10am yesterday.

Bands of protesters, mostly in yellow shirts, started their march and pushed their way past police barricades on Ratchadamnoen avenue and surrounded Government House at 3.30pm.

Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a PAD leader, then declared the victory in front of Government House.

"The PAD movement today is an historic event and a great credit to the country. In the face of such a phenomenon, the government will have to get out within a few days," he said.

It is unclear how long the PAD plans to lay siege to Government House, although there is speculation the protest could last many days.

Mr Samak yesterday declined to comment on the PAD rally, saying he would only talk about preparations for the Asean Summit to be held in Thailand in December. He presided over a meeting at the Foreign Ministry on the summit.

"Let's ask the ones who are responsible for the PAD rally," he said.

A source close to Mr Samak said the prime minister will likely convert the Defence Ministry into a temporary office and the cabinet has scheduled its weekly meeting on Tuesday at the Foreign Ministry.

Mr Samak was reportedly angry at the police's failure to hold back the protesters.

Police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan said police on the front line, including border patrol officers, were told to avoid clashes with the protesters at all costs.

"I'm pleased no one was hurt," the police chief said.

It was reported Mr Samak told the security meeting yesterday one measure to get back at the protesters was to deny them mobile toilets.

During the march, police equipped with shields and protesters pushed and shoved each other briefly. Four police officers, two of them women, sustained some injuries and were treated at the Police Hospital.

The protesters managed to break through the police barriers and later regrouped outside Government House before the PAD leaders took to the make-shift stage to declare victory over the government.

PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul said the PAD would petition the Administrative Court to order the government not to proceed with the joint communique it signed with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple issue.

The PAD would also file criminal action against the cabinet for endorsing the joint communique

A boost for Cambodia's health system

ABC, Radio Australia

The World Bank says it supports implementation of Cambodia's new Health Strategic Plan.

The plan aims to improve healthcare and preventive health with particular emphasis on women, children and the poor.

The bank's office in Phnom Penh says it will give Cambodia's government a 30 million US dollar credit to support the program from this year to 2015.

The other donors include, Australia, Britain, the U.N.and France.Cambodias's secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, Eng Huot, says there have been improvements in the health of Cambodians over the past decade.

However, several challenges remain, including a high rate of women dying in childbirth, poor nutrition, high healthcare costs and the rise of non-infectious diseases.

Summer in Cambodia changed her life
June 21, 2008


Willi Rechler admits that, before last summer, she had been a little selfish. The Jericho High School senior lived a moderately comfortable existence and, while always involved in philanthropy, hadn't so much seen how the rest of the world lived. All of that, she said, changed.

Rechler, who helped to found the Amnesty International Club in tenth grade, wanted to see firsthand the situations that concerned her. She joined a travel program with Putney Student Travel and booked a ticket to Cambodia, a country still recovering from the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge, not knowing what to expect.

"I went there with an open mind," she said. "What I learned in Cambodia changed me. I have a different perspective on the world."

She learned about the effect of genocide and was particularly struck by the lack of medical care. She also saw a community struggling to grow out of its past difficulties and progress toward modernization.

"It really gives me a lot of hope," Rechler said. "Before I went, I tried to be compassionate and watch documentaries, but this is a whole other perspective."

What she saw, she said, has made her involved in the situation in Darfur and motivated her to petition for inclusion of genocide studies in the curriculum. Jericho recently started offering the class.

"One of the best moments was my brother coming home and yelling at me because he had a test on the curriculum," she said. "When I have a decision to make on anything, I just think about what I learned and it makes me want to make the world a better place."

Similar sentiments have also led her to organize the Cambodian Children's Fund, a fundraiser that raised over $4,000. Rechler also hopes to continue her studies of different cultures at Yale, where she'll be attending this fall.

Preah Vihear White Paper to be issued

The Bangkok Post
Saturday June 21, 2008

The Foreign Ministry will issue a White Paper to explain its handling of the Preah Vihear temple issue with Cambodia. Virasakdi Futrakul, the permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said the White Paper, which will be in Thai and English, is expected to be issued early next month. It will be distributed to the public once available.

He said the ministry had never changed the negotiating team, which was made up of legal experts in its dealings with Cambodia.

The team leader, Virachai Plasai, was removed as Treaties and Legal Affairs Department chief after Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama assumed office after the general election.

''The negotiating team is still the same team. The deputy negotiator during the Unesco-brokered meeting in France [last month] was Thai ambassador Thana Duangrattana, who was the former chief of Treaties and Legal Affairs. He knows the Preah Vihear temple issues well and the borderline,'' said Mr Virasakdi.

He said the Foreign Ministry was not the only agency involved in the talks with Cambodia. Other security agencies including the Royal Thai Army, the National Security Council (NSC) and the Royal Thai Survey Department also took part in the process.

''We worked like an iron fist in satin gloves. Part of the success must be credited to the military too because it worked in coordination with its Cambodian counterpart,'' said the permanent secretary. He said the government had done its best to protect Thai sovereignty under the framework of existing international laws.

For the 4.6-square-kilometre overlapping zone next to the temple, Mr Virasakdi said it would be demarcated in the future as it has been included in the working plan.

''Cambodia's registration of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site will not affect the borderline under the 1962 cabinet resolution and the overlapping areas will be the responsibility of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission to discuss further,'' he said.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday it will ask the World Heritage Committee to postpone its consideration of the Cambodian request.

Mr Virasakdi said the World Heritage Committee only listened to government representatives and the Senate committee might be wasting its time.

Preeyanantana Rangsit, a senate member, took Mr Noppodon to task in parliament for allegedly trying to rush through the temple deal with Cambodia.

In a query raised during an upper house meeting, M.R. Preeyanantana asked why the minister endorsed the Cambodian proposal in a rush and the ministry did not bargain with Phnom Penh to make Thailand a co-host of the proposal.

The senator said the Foreign Ministry had failed to keep the public informed about Preah Vihear as required under Article 109 of the constitution.

Article 109 requires the government to inform the public about any international agreement it is planning with another country as well as seeking approval from the parliament.

Chinese companies to build hydro-power plants for Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The China National Heavy Machinery Corporation (CNHMC) has signed BOT agreements with the Cambodian government to build the Stung Tatay hydro-power plant in Koh Kong province, according to the Chinese Embassy here Saturday.

CNHMC will construct the project of 246 megawatts in five years at 540 million U.S. dollars, according to the agreements signed here Friday.

After the construction is completed, CNHMC can still operate the plant on the Tatay River for 37 years to generate electricity and sell it to the Cambodian government. When the BOT period terminates, the plant will be transferred to Cambodia.

The Cambodian government approved the project on June 13 in order to obtain more electricity, help maintain appropriate power price and promote economic growth and development of the country.

On the same day, the Cambodian government also gave green light for China's Michelle Corporation to build the Stung Russey Chrum Krom hydro-power plant of 338 megawatts in the same province at 495.7 million U.S. dollars.

Both projects will also harmonize with the people's living conditions there and the overall development of those areas, according to a government statement.

Cambodia has been in extreme shortage of power. Electricity even sells one U.S. dollar per kwh in some rural areas.

The government has been pursuing a strategy to develop hydro-power projects along the Mekong River to meet the desperate demand for electricity.

Editor: Amber Yao

PM Hun Sen Warned NGOs Not To Talk Nonsense

18th June 2008
Bt Mom Sophon Radio Free Asia

Translate from Khmer by Khmerization
Courtesy of Khmerization at

PM Hun Sen (pictured) on Wednesday has warned some NGOs that have made comments regarding the government's investigation into what he called terrorism-related crimes in Cambodia.

PM Hun Sen said that those terrorism-related crimes include the mortar attack on his motorcade ten years earlier and the investigation on the Cambodian Freedom Fighters' attack in 2000 as well as investigation on the Moha Nokor Movement (Great Country Movement) against the government in Pursat province.

Mr. Hun Sen said: "I am sorry, there should be no proxy and don't have any fears. And I request to all NGOs that have a stance against the government not to talk nonsense because you are biased.

A crime should not be whitewashed, wherever it was committed action must be taken against it."

It must be noted that on the 15th of June Mr. Hun Sen has ordered a military intelligence unit to re-open the investigation into this case after the government claimed that it has received information from a former Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) member who claimed that members of the SRP were involved in those attacks.


BANGKOK, June 20 - Thousands of anti-government demonstrators broke through riot police blockades to push their way towards Government House.

Breaking through the cordons, Peoples' Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders said they are expecting "hundreds of thousands" of sympathisers to join the rally, including some members of state enterprise unions who are to join them.

Protesters seeking to remove the seated government attempted to access Government House from a nearby railway station Friday morning, but were blocked by police barricades, even as a key protest leader, retired Maj-Gen. Chamlong Srimuan renewed his pledge that the democracy activists would not use any weapons or violence. If disorder or physical force is used, he affirmed, it would not come from the anti-government protesters.

Thousands of police officers armed with riot shieds barricaded roads around Thailand's Government House to block anti-government protestors from moving in to besiege the government seat Friday afternoon, aimed at forcing the elected government to resign.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who also serves as defence minister, earlier pledged to refrain from using force against the protesters.

Friday morning the premier was attending a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in preparation for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

Meanwhile, Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Suebwonglee reportedly shifted the venue of a meeting from Government House to the Ministry of Finance in an apparent bid to avoid confrontation with the demonstrators.

Other cabinet members are nowhere to be seen, and some government civil servants have opted to stay at home in fear of possible violence.

Security around Government House has been tightened with uniformed police manning the barricades along all routes to the government seat.

The anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and its supporters have been demonstrating since May 25 in a bid to pressure the four-month-old coalition government to resign, claiming that Mr. Samak and his People Power Party are proxies of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


Smugglers first at border gas stations

In a district near the Cambodian border, many gas stations are only open at night.

Friday, June 20, 2008

They are closed during the day because they want to keep their gas for smugglers who then resell it in Cambodia at higher prices.

Tran Van Luan, a resident of Kien Luong District of Kien Giang Province on the Vietnamese side of the border, said gas stations didn’t want to sell to locals but those smuggling fuel to Cambodia could buy as much as they wished.

Smugglers use boats to transport fuel to Kampot Province in Cambodia, where the price of one liter of gas is VND3,000 (US$0.18) higher than that in Vietnam.

They said diesel, which is priced VND13,9000 in Vietnam, sold like hot cakes in Niec Leuong District in Cambodia at $1 a liter.

They could pocket a profit of 12 US cent for a liter.

Fuel smuggling is also a problem in other provinces along the border with Cambodia.

At An Binh border gate in An Giang Province, 30-liter cans of gas are loaded onto boats every day, bound for Cambodia’s Kandal Province.

Many boats also pass by the stations along the province’s Vinh Te Canal to buy gas and bring it to Cambodia’s Takeo Province.

Along So Thuong River between Dong Thap Province and Cambodia, dozens of gas stations are visited by boats that transport fuel to Prey Veng Province every day.

Last week, the market management unit of Kien Giang Province caught the owners of two gas stations as they prepared to illegally transport 7,000 liters of gasoline to Cambodia.

The arrests have not seemed to deter the many others involved in fuel smuggling.

FM defends endorsement of temple communique

MCOT English News

BANGKOK, June 20 (TNA) - Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama on Friday clarified to the Senate his endorsement of a joint communique with Cambodia earlier this week allowing the Phnom Penh government to apply for registration of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

In responding to a query posted by Senator Priyanandana Rangsit why the Thai government supported its neighbour Cambodia on applying for the listing of the temple as the World Heritage site, Mr. Noppadon said it was unnecessary for him to explain to Parliament members earlier because the joint communique was "not an agreement" and it did not affect any changes of territory of the two countries. The Thai-Cambodian joint communique was signed behind closed doors here on Wednesday, leadingto public suspicion that Thailand could have lost the undemarcated 4.6 square kilometres surrounding the Hindu temple to Cambodia.

Citing time constraints because the Phnom Penh government is planning to apply for the listing of Preah Vihear temple next month, Mr. Noppadon said what he did was transparent and there was no conflict of interest.

In another development, the Senate decided not to hold a special meeting Monday after the government had informed that it was not possible to attend the general debate petition lodged by 61 senators charging the less than five-months-old administration with poor performance. The government has said it would not be available for the general debate because it would be busy preparing the government budget for fiscal 2009, starting this October 1. The budget debate starts next Wednesday.

The cabinet Tuesday approved closing the current House extraordinary session on June 28. (TNA)

European Union deploys Election Observation Mission to Cambodia


The European Commission deploys an independent EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the National Assembly elections in Cambodia, scheduled to take place on 27 July 2008. These elections will be the fourth parliamentary elections since the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in October 1991. The EU EOM will be led by Mr Martin Callanan, Member of the European Parliament and is a further contribution by the European Commission to support democracy in Cambodia. In total the EU EOM, which includes the core team, long term observers and short term observers will have 113 observers in Cambodia with the long term observers arriving in the country as early as 21 June.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, said:

"Over the last decade Cambodia has taken many important steps towards democracy and in particular in the field of human rights. Nevertheless it is still a country in a post-conflict situation and more work remains to be done. Therefore, the EU has been and will remain actively engaged in supporting Cambodia in a wide array of areas including education, judicial reform, fighting corruption and increasing transparency within the government. Furthermore, we also provide support to the International Khmer Rouge Tribunal . Successful and credible elections are paramount as they represent a positive contribution to the continued long term democratic development of the country. Because of the importance the EU attaches to these elections, I have decided to deploy an EU EOM to support and undertake a comprehensive assessment of the entire election process."

The EOM Core Team consists of the Chief Observer Mr. Martin Callanan and eight experts. Alongside this core team forty-four Long Term Observers (LTOs) will be deployed on 21 June to assess the campaign period and pre-election preparations around the country. Additionally, sixty Short Term Observers (STOs), including observers from Norway, will be deployed over the election period to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. These will be joined by locally recruited STOs from diplomatic missions of EU Member States resident in the country. The EU EOM will operate in line with the "Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation", endorsed at the United Nations in October 2005. In order to assess the post-election period the EU EOM will stay in the country for a number of weeks after the election-day.

EU EOM are an important instrument for building confidence in the democratic processes of a country and are deployed in line with the EU's commitment in promoting democracy, human rights and the respect for the rule of law. For this mission the EU has made €2.8 million available from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

The European Union (EU Member States plus European Commission) is the biggest provider of aid in Cambodia. Its prime development objective is to support Cambodia's efforts to reduce poverty and integrate the country into the world economy. Over the past years the EU's aid has represented 25% of the total Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 2007 this was equivalent to about € 130 million of which the European Commission (EC) contributes about a quarter. The EC provides general budget support to the Royal Government of Cambodia for the implementation of its National Strategic Development Plan, and it is the major donor for basic education in the country. Furthermore, the EC engages in cooperation and political dialogue in the fields of governance and human rights, as well as trade and private sector development.

view original source

Thai protestors lay siege to Government House (Roundup)

M & G Asia-Pacific News
Jun 20, 2008

Bangkok - Thousands of anti-government protestors surrounded the Thai cabinet's headquarters Friday, demanding the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his ministers.

The demonstrators, organized by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which led similar mass protests against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, broke through police blockades to force their way to Government House which they had surrounded by Friday afternoon.

'We will stay here,' PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang said, after persuading hundreds of police to take down barricades to allow the protestors to lay siege the government headquarters.

The demonstrators, swelling to more than 10,000 strong by Friday evening, shouted, 'Put Thaksin in prison,' as they took their places outside Government House, which cabinet ministers abandoned.

The PAD vowed to camp outside Thailand's seat of government until Samak and his cabinet resign, accusing them of mishandling the economy and diplomacy, and of acting as 'nominees' for Thaksin and his cronies, who were barred from power by a Constitutional Tribunal ruling last year.

Whether the confrontation leads to violence depends on the politically powerful Thai military, which has thus far shown no inclination to crack down on the protestors.

Some opine that the military is backing the mob.

'I think the PAD's backing goes very high up and involves military elements, because otherwise they would not be so rabid,' opined Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Thailand's prestigious Chulalongkorn University.

A similar siege on Government House in 2006 when Thaksin was prime minister ended with tanks rolling on the streets of Bangkok. The military staged a coup against Thaksin on September 19, 2006, charging him with corruption, undermining the monarchy and dividing the nation.

After 15 months under a military-appointed government, on December 23, 2007, Thailand held a general election that was won by the People Power Party (PPP), that promised to return Thaksin's populist policies. PPP leader Samak, a rightwing politician, was chosen to head the party because of his close ties with Thaksin.

'We want Samak and his cabinet to get out,' said Janikha Korkhalong, 45, one of the protestors. 'Just what this government has done on the Phra Viharn issue is enough reason for them to go.'

The Thai government this week backed a Cambodian proposal to list the Preah Vihear Hindu temple, the subject of a bitter ownership dispute more than 40 years ago, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site next month.

The decision has irked many in Thailand who still believe the ancient Khmer border temple - called Phra Viharn by Thais - belongs to their country although the International Court of Justice in The Hague passed it to Cambodia in 1962.

There is a widespread belief that the cabinet approved the Cambodian proposal as part of a Thaksin business deal. Thaksin on Wednesday announced plans to invest in a hotel-casino project on Cambodia's Koh Kong island.

The PAD began its anti-government protests May 25 after the cabinet launched a motion to amend the 2007 constitution, leading to speculation that its intent was to undermine several corruption cases against Thaksin and pave the way for his return to power.

Thaksin, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon, was prime minister from 2001 to 2006 before he was toppled in a bloodless coup.

Thaksin, whose Thai Rak Thai party won widespread backing from the rural poor through a host of populist policies, lost the trust of Bangkok's middle class and political elite in early 2006 and soon found himself the target of a military coup.

Outrage against Thaksin exploded in January 23, 2006, when his family sold its 49-per-cent equity in the Thaksin-founded Shin Corp conglomerate to the Singapore government's Temasek Holding for a tax-free 2 billion dollars.

That sale gave the PAD the ammunition it needed to mount an anti-Thaksin campaign that finally led to the military coup. Now the PAD is back on the streets for similar reasons, accusing the Samak-led government of being a proxy cabinet for Thaksin.

The PAD movement, aimed primarily at uprooting Thaksin's lingering influence in Thai politics, has gained momentum with Thailand's deteriorating economy.

Inflation peaked at 7.6 per cent in May, pushed up by rising fuel and food prices, which have sparked a series of protests and demands for subsidies.

Cambodia destroys 30 tonnes of safrole-rich oil, key ingredient of Ecstasy

The Canadian Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodian authorities working with Australian police have destroyed an enormous stockpile of safrole-rich oil, a key ingredient used in producing the synthetic drug Ecstasy.

Officials say the 30 tonnes of oil could have produced 245 million tablets of the drug with a potential street value of $7.3 billion.

The oil - extracted from the roots of the sassafras tree - was burned over a three-day period that began on Wednesday.

Lt.-Gen. Lour Ramin of the Cambodia police says members of the Australian Federal Police oversaw the burning of the oil in a remote village in Cambodia's Pursat province, about 160 kilometres northwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Australian officials say Cambodian authorities have been working since 2002 to stem distillation of the oil.

In addition to cracking down on the drug trade, they are trying to preserve the sassafras tree, a rare species that grows mainly in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains. Officials say that in order to distill oil from the roots, the entire tree is cut down.

Philip Hunter, an official from Australian Federal Police, said the destruction of the oil "was a significant blow to the trade of illicit drugs in the region."

"These seizures demonstrate that Cambodia faces the challenges of suppressing drug production for regional export, as well as challenges faced as a transit centre for regional and international drug market,"

At the request of the Cambodian government, an Australian police team of four technicians and two forensic chemists travelled to Pursat province this week to help destroy the oil.

The National Assembly Might Not Take Action on the Request to Revoke Sam Rainsy’s Immunity

Posted on 21 June 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 565

“Phnom Penh: A high-ranking officials of the Nation Assembly said on 19 June 2008 that the National Assembly received the proposal to revoke Mr. Sam Rainsy’s immunity, delivered from the Prosecution Office to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court through the Ministry of Justice on Thursday morning, but considering legal procedures and timing, the vice-president of the National Assembly, Mr. Nguon Nhel, said that the National Assembly might not work on this issue and might keep it unsolved for some time.

“In an interview via telephone with Rasmei Kampuchea on the afternoon of 19 June 2008, Mr. Nguon Nhel said that around 11:00 a.m. of 19 June 2008, the National Assembly received the proposal to suspend the immunity of the opposition party president Mr. Sam Rainsy, delivered from the Prosecution to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He added that an immunity cannot be suspended unless there is a request to open an extraordinary meeting of the National Assembly by Samdech Prime Minister, or the King, or Samdech President of the National Assembly.

“Mr. Nguon Nhel also explained some legal procedures that make it difficult for the National Assembly to summon an Extraordinary Session or a meeting of its Permanent Committee. He said that Samdech Heng Samrin had announced already to close the National Assembly until after the 2008 election. According to the present real situation, the Permanent Committee might not be able to open a meeting. He continued that, based on procedures, the National Assembly needs at least two to three days to summon a meeting of the Permanent Committee, and if the Permanent Committee agrees to call an Extraordinary Session, at least 40 hours are needed before the meeting to inform the members of the National Assembly. Therefore, it will take more than one week, and then it will be already the time of 2008 election campaign. Another point is that the proposal to revoke the immunity of a member of the National Assembly needs at least two thirds of supporting voices, or 83 voices among the 123 members of the National Assembly.

“Article 80 of the Constitution states that indictment, arrest, or detention of a member of the National Assembly cannot be made unless there is agreement from the National Assembly or from the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly during the meeting, except for obvious offenses flagrante delicto.

“According to this article, the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly also has the right to suspend the immunity of a member of the Assembly to open the way for a legal investigation.
However, Mr. Nguon Nhel explained that although the Constitution states so, still a meeting of the Permanent Committee to decide to suspend the immunity of a member of the National Assembly cannot be held. He added that a meeting of the Permanent Committee represents all members of the National Assembly which has 123 seats; but two members have left their positions as members of the National Assembly, so there are only 121 members, which do not form a complete National Assembly. ‘Therefore, this issue cannot be worked on.’

“He went on to say, ‘We received this proposal, but we keep it unsolved for a while.’

“Although Mr. Sam Rainsy’s immunity might not be revoked, Mr. Nguon Nhel explained that every draft law or big lawsuit will be sent from the outgoing National Assembly to the Council of Ministers when a new National Assembly is announced to be opened again after the election.

Therefore, at that time, the Council of Ministers might send them back to the new National Assembly.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4620, 20.6.2008

A Hopeful, Careful Wait for Temple Protection

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
20 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 20 June (818 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 20 June (818 MB) - Listen (MP3)

When Unesco's World Heritage committee meets in Canada next month, they will review an application for Preah Vihear temple that was the product of years of work and a delicate agreement between two neighbors.

The World Heritage application took seven years to complete, officials told reporters on Friday, and there is no clear sign it will be accepted at a meeting in Quebec from July 2 to July 12.

Meanwhile, the two governments have reached a detante over the application, even if not all their citizens have.

"Up to now, there's no conflict between the Cambodian government and Thai government," Chan Tani, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said. "So far I do not see that there is a problem. But we must be careful to prevent the risk. If Preah Vihear is not admitted, it is still Cambodian property."

Cambodian and Thai delegations have been meeting since 2001 over Cambodia's desire to have the temple protected. An international court ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the border surrounding it, along a high cliff, remains disputed. In the end, it was a May 22 meeting in Paris between Council Minister Sok An and Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama that moved the application process forward.

The application brought many latent border anxieties between Cambodia and Thailand to the fore, and over the past week, protesters in Bangkok have accused the Thai government of giving land to Cambodia. Critics of the Cambodian position have said the government surrendered too much in its negotiations with Thailand over the application.

Cambodia has so far remained calm over the application, which included a map of the temples and a request that 30 meters of land surrounding each structure be included under Unesco's protection.

Ancient temples remain an emotional touchstone for many Cambodians. In 2003 Cambodian mobs looted and burned the Thai Embassy and other Thai businesses in Phnom Penh following rumors that a Thai actress claimed Angkor Wat should belong to Thailand.

Moeung Son, president of Eurasia Travel and president of the Khmer Civilization Support Fund, said he expects a successful application, because Cambodia proposed only its own temples to be protected as a World Heritage.

International Observers Gathering for Election

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
20 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 20 June (.98 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 20 June (.98 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The European Union said Friday it would send 130 observers for July's national election, adding to a growing number of international monitors.

This is the fourth time EU observers have participated in elections.

The EU observers will join more than 121,000 local observers from 46 non-governmental agencies, as well as 124 international observers, from the US, Japan and France.

Police Burn 3-Year Haul of Drug Precursor

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
20 June 2008

Cambodian and Australian police on Friday finished destroying 30 tons of sassafras tree oil, a component used in the production of methamphetamines.

The oil was confiscated in Kampong, Battambang and Pursat provinces over three years of counter-drug operations. The three-day burn, in Pursat, was undertaken with the support of Australian police.

"The ceremony today is to show international cooperation to combat drugs and is also a message to drug traffickers to stop producing sassafras oil, because the Cambodian law never forgets them," Lour Ramin, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said Friday. "Second, it's a message to Cambodian people to stop producing sassafras oil, because it's an abuse of the drug law."

Factories Urged to Allow Worker Vote

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
20 June 2008

Labor leaders from both sides on Thursday encouraged factory owners to give their workers time off to vote in the upcoming general election.

"Factory owners should facilitate wages and time for them to travel to vote," said Cheat Khemara, a labor law expert for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, who was a guest on "Hello VOA" Thursday.

Even if they are given time off, many workers worry that the high costs of transportation can be prohibitive.

However, political parties who give workers the money to vote affect the free and fair environment of the elections, said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodia Confederation of Unions, who was also a guest on the show.

Immunity Pull Easy for Majority: Experts

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
20 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 20 June (1.83 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 20 June (1.83 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The National Assembly in Cambodia often strips immunity from parliamentarians of the Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy parties, but they never suspend the immunity of the Cambodian People's Party, a rights expert warned this week.

An expert who observes the democratic process and human rights violations in Cambodia, Lao Monghay, said the National Assembly in Cambodia is not independent and is biased to the ruling party.

"Our National Assembly is not independent. If the National Assembly was independent it should not take immediate action," said Lao Monghay, a senior researcher for the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong. "The thing is that, they should ask the municipal court whether the court has enough accurate evidence to charge, to arrest or to detain."

"In fact the National Assembly should protect its member first, and when the court has found enough accurate evidence and reasonable cause whether this case could lead to arrest or detention, then they can agree through the request," he said. "But until now the National Assembly is biased toward the ruling party, or Cambodian People's Party, because most of the parliamentarians are from the ruling party and those parliamentarians always agree through the proposal of the court," he said. "So that they can say that it is bias to the ruling party and that they always want to condemn the opposition party's parliamentarians. It is injustice."

Sok Samoeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said it is easy for the ruling party's parliamentarians to strip immunity from opposition parliamentarians, because they have more power.

"The parliamentarian [suspension] issue is in the ruling party's hand to make a decision because they have a majority seat in the Assembly, so that it made all of the other parties' parliamentarians feel so much cold," Sok Samoeun said.

"The democracy process in Cambodiais not yet stable and the court power is not independent, so it must be under the control of the ruling party, he said, adding that in order to make all the political parties equal, the court system should be strong and independent."

Petition Seeks Hun Sen's Attention on Land

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
20 June 2008

The Cambodian People Community joined together in mid-2007 in Cambodia with communities all over the country to set up a petition to solve the land disputes.

An Oddar Meanchey province villager who join the People Community campaign said that he wanted to meet Hun Sen directly to report the truth about land-grabbing.

"We have heard the words of samdech prime minister, who has repeatedly mentioned in order to warn those with power and companies that don’t respect the law and exploit the people’s land," Sok Heng said, using a Khmer honorific. "Samdech prime minister said asked that those powerful people and companies give the land back to the people.”

Sok Heng said they created this petition because many people, including land-grabbing victims, wanted to inform Hun Sen about land-grabbing from businessmen and powerful officials.

"We have heard many times, so we initiated the idea to produce this petition in order to send a message to samdech that his warning words don’t make those officials stop their action," he said.

"They still continue and harm people even more."

In California, Cambodian Reconciliation

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
20 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 19 June (1.25 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 19 June (1.25 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Sopheaktra Nou, executive director and founder of the Cambodian Reconciliation Committee, said that he and a group of dedicated young and old Cambodian citizens established the CRC in 1999. Members of the group volunteered to help put this organization together for the Cambodian community in Fresno County.

Not only did the members want to help reunite the community, but to help those in the Cambodian community that cannot solve their own issues due to the lack of knowledge in English, Sopheaktra Nou told VOA Khmer in a recent interview.

"CRC is centered on building cohesion among Cambodian people and is dedicated to help serve the community of both elderly and young Khmer Americans," Sopheaktra Nou said.

The Cambodian population in Fresno is the smallest community nationwide, he said. For this reason, CRC thinks it is an optimal time to group Cambodian people together once again.

In 2001, US state and federal governments granted CRC non-profit status. CRC also focuses on education. The committee organizes a Cambodian High School Commencement every year to teach Cambodian graduates the importance of higher education.

"Our mission is to help Cambodian people in the Fresno Community to live in a better life and to become productive citizens. We have talented staff of professionals in areas of counseling, child abuse prevention, spouse abuse prevetion, kids run away prevention, domestic violence prevention, and social service assistance," Sopheaktra Nou said.

Awareness of Legal Rights Rising: Expert

By Poch Reasey, VOA Khmer
20 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 12 June (6.17 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 12 June (6.17 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodians increasingly know their rights since 1993, according to Yeng Virak, Executive Director of Community Legal Education Center.

“What makes us proud is that villagers can now argue and debate laws with law enforcement officers,” Yeng Virak said, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

People sometimes know and understand the law better than the officials, he said.

“This is exactly what we want people to know in a democratic society," he said. "Sometimes law enforcement officials just tell people that they are only enforcing the existing laws, without telling people what kind of laws. But when people know the laws, the officers cannot lie.