Thursday, 26 June 2008

No need to translate every last document, judges say

The Post.Blog
The Tribunal Report

Posted by Elena in Khieu Samphan, ECCC

Co-Investigating Judges issued an order last week detailing new translation rules for the tribunal. In it, they wrote that translating every document in the court's case files into Khmer, French and English would be an unnecessary burden on the ECCC.

"The right to a trial within a reasonable period of time would be seriously undermined by any requirement for full translation of all documents on the case file into the three official working languages of the ECCC," they wrote in the order drafted June 19.

Defense lawyers have claimed the lack of comprehensive translation violates their clients' rights.

In an April hearing, attorney for Khieu Samphan Jacques Verges refused to participate because thousands of pages of documents in his client's case file weren't available in French.

At the same time, the judges wrote, defendants have the right to fully understand the charges against them. They are entitled to Khmer translations of indictments, introductory submissions by the prosecution, major evidence and other key documents.

For less important case file components, all parties should "collaborate to optimize their office's linguistic capacity," the judges wrote.

Defense teams are required to submit their additional translation requests and priorities to the court by July 14.

Intelligent Spas publishes Spa Industry Survey Report on Cambodia

Asia Travel Tips
Thursday, 26 June 2008

Intelligent Spas has released its first spa industry survey report for Cambodia which identified this small but emerging market delivered services to almost 200,000 spa visitors during 2007, generating an estimated KHR25 billion (approximately US$6 million) in revenue.

“We are pleased to provide benchmarks to such a young industry and hope they will help form a solid foundation for growth and performance not only for spa facilities, but also for suppliers and other types of business who aim to achieve business success within Cambodia’s spa industry” said Julie Garrow, Managing Director of Intelligent Spas.

The new Cambodia Spa Benchmark Report 2007-2010 presents the results of the country’s first official spa industry survey and provides financial and performance benchmarks such as revenue, visitor numbers and employment, as well as key benchmark ratios including daily revenue per spa, revenue per square metre and average revenue per visit, which are critical for reliable business planning.

Current industry trends observed by spa owners and managers and profile benchmarks detailing infrastructure, business models, treatments and pricing are also included in the report.

Key Industry Statistics from Intelligent Spas' Cambodia Spa Benchmark Report, 2007-2010 include:

- Of the 35 authentic spa facilities operating in Cambodia, 34% of spas were stand-alone day spas and 66% were destination spas co-located with accommodation.

- During 2007, the spa industry employed approximately 400 people.

- The spa industry is forecast to grow by 14% between 2008 and 2010.

The report incorporates the results of Intelligent Spas' first spa industry survey conducted in Cambodia which captured current, historical and forecast data for the period 2007 to 2010. Research is also underway in over 35 other countries.

Founded in Singapore in 2001, Intelligent Spas has pioneered spa industry research in the Asia Pacific region and continues to publish a range of Spa Business & Operations Manuals, Spa Consumer Surveys and Spa Industry Surveys to assist the performance and growth of this important industry.

An ancient temple causes new tensions - 26 June 2008



BY AL JAZEERA

For decades Thailand and Cambodia have disputed the ownership of the famous Preah Vihear temple, an ancient ruin straddling the border.

Khmer Temple Takes Central Role in Thai Political Debate


Thai tourists visit the Preah Vihear temple near Thai border in Preah Vihear province, north of Phnom Penh (File)

By Ron Corben
VOA Bangkok
26 June 2008

A 900-year-old Khmer temple on the Thai and Cambodian border has taken center stage in efforts to oust Thailand's prime minister. Samak Sundaravej's government is under intense pressure over an agreement with the Cambodian government about the temple, as well as its handling of the economy. As Ron Corben reports from Bangkok, the parliament is in the third day of debate on a no-confidence motion.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's government agreed earlier this year to back Cambodia's plan to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

For centuries, the two countries have disagreed over ownership of the temple, which sits near their border. In 1962, the International Court of Justice granted sovereignty to Cambodia, but adjacent land is under Thai control.

During parliamentary debate this week on a no-confidence motion, the opposition has accused the government of signing the agreement in haste and surrendering Thai sovereignty. The government rejects that allegation.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, says the public questions Cambodia's right to solely file for World Heritage status.

"The issue of the Preah Vihear temple is one clear significant question that the government needs to clear up the misunderstandings around that quick decision to support the Cambodia to register that temple with UNESCO," said Panitan. "That is one issue that needs to be cleared quickly because it arouses the nationalist sentiment among many Thai voters."

Panitan says Thais had expected both countries to jointly seek the UNESCO designation.

The Khmer Kingdom during its height reached the far western provinces of Thailand. In past centuries, Cambodia and Thailand fought repeatedly over territory.

Some members of the opposition allege that the temple agreement is linked to plans by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to invest in Cambodia, which the government denies. Mr. Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006, after months of opposition protests against his government.

The temple is just one of several issues the opposition has raised this week in three days of debate on the no-confidence motion. Opposition leaders have called Mr. Samak incompetent and criticized his handling of the economy.

Thousands of people have been protesting outside Mr. Samak's offices all week, demanding he step down. His coalition government is seen as being too closely tied to Mr. Thaksin, whom the opposition says was corrupt and abused power.

A vote on the no-confidence motion is expected on Friday. While political analysts here say Mr. Samak probably will survive, news reports Thursday say the foreign minister and the commerce minister may be replaced after the vote.

Preah vihear is belongs to CAMBODIA not THAI

A Cambodian flag flutters over the famed Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian-Thai- border in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on June 21, 2008. Cambodia shut a border gate leading from Thailand to the 11th-century temple claimed by both nations, an official said Tuesday, June 24, 2008.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


In this June 21, 2008 file photo, Cambodian famed Preah Vihear temple is shown on on the Cambodian-Thai- border in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Cambodia shut a border gate leading from Thailand to the 11th-century temple claimed by both nations, an official said Tuesday, June 24, 2008.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)

SRP election campaign for 27 July 2008

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, right, greets onlookers during election rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian supporters of opposition party Sam Rainsy during the first day of the General Election Campaign in Phnom Penh on June 26. (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)


Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy waves from the top of a truck during an election rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, right, and his supporters greet onlookers at a busy market during an election rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, standing at center front on the truck, are surrounded by the party's supporters during an election rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Day in pictures: CPP election campaign for 27 July 2008

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen waves to supporters during an election rally in Phnom Penh June 26, 2008. Cambodia are due to hold a general election on July 27.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)


Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R), President of Senate Chea Sim (C) and President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin wave to supporters during an election rally in Phnom Penh June 26, 2008. Cambodia are due to hold a general election on July 27.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Supporters of Cambodia's People Party wave party flags during an election rally in Phnom Penh June 26, 2008. Cambodia are due to hold a general election on July 27.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Supporters of Cambodia's People Party ride on a truck during an election rally in Phnom Penh June 26, 2008. Cambodia are due to hold a general election on July 27.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen is greeted by supporters during an election rally in Phnom Penh June 26, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Sacravatoons : " Hun Xen "

Courtesy of sacravatoon at http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Sacravatoons : " Khmer-Sovereignty "

Click on image to zoom in
Courtesy of Sacravatoon at http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Vietnam lowers rice export price

thestar online
Thursday June 26, 2008

BANGKOK: Vietnam lowered the minimum export price for rice yesterday and the Thai market fell another 3%, signalling improving supplies in coming months and easing concerns over shortages of Asia’s staple food.

A lifting of export bans by Vietnam and Cambodia is expected to give private importers and governments, which had scrambled to secure supplies in recent months, some breathing space and help cap food-driven inflation.

“Buyers are waiting to see the bottom level for rice prices in July when supply from the two countries peaks,” a Thai exporter said, referring to supplies from Thailand and Vietnam.

The price of Thai 100% B grade white rice, the world’s benchmark, eased to US$770 per tonne from last week’s US$795 per tonne. It is now nearly 30% lower than a record high quote of US$1,080 per tonne on April 24.

Prices in Vietnam, which vies with India to be the world’s number two exporter behind Thailand, appear to be moving in close lock-step ahead of the harvest of an unusually large “extra” June–July crop planted to cash in on the soaring prices.

Following on from its lifting of an export ban this month, Vietnam had cut its minimum price for shipments by 2.5% to US$780 per tonne from last week’s US$800 due to slowing export demand, the Vietnam Food Association said.

“Foreign buyers are still expecting India to lift its export ban so they are not rushing to sign deals with Vietnam yet,” a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said. “And with Thai prices at about US$770 per tonne, Vietnam prices would have to fall further.” – Reuters

Man bites frog: Sean Thomas samples some extreme cuisine

Ant: The humble ant is jam-packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals; the only problem is that you have to eat an entire nest to get a decent meal. The taste is a little bit peppery and a little bit earthy, and the texture is a little bit scratchy. Only the bravest of the brave eat the inch-long queen; reports say that this seriously chewy creature has an extra oily "squidginess" all its own


Dried frog: Various amphibians are downed in south-east Asia: you can find frogs, newts, salamanders and multicoloured toads which have been skinned, fried, battered and grilled, and otherwise cooked up a treat. Perhaps the most unpleasant preparation - to Western tastes - is the dried frog. Like eating a very small, chewy, unhygienic, dead mermaid

Snake: Sean takes a bit of a snake, which he says "has a strange flavour, somewhat like eating the leg of an aged hare, though it is somewhat stringier"

Water beetle: The people of the Isan region in north-east Thailand are fabled for their adventurous eating habits: villagers go out at all hours to harvest many varieties of bugs. Big black water beetles, with their crackling, scrunchy moreishness, are regarded as a special delicacy

Tarantula: Sean Thomas holds up a decidedly unlovely spidery snack, which has been roasted in sugar, monosodium glutamate, and Knorr ready-mix sauce in Skuon, Cambodia

The Independent

The World Health Organisation reckons we'll need to look further afield for our food in the future – and get used to eating some pretty strange things. But how will we fare on a diet of insects, arachnids and small furry critters? Sean Thomas embarks on a culinary tour of Indochina to taste for himself

Read article please click here

Ship flying Cambodia flag detained in Sea of Okhotsk

ITAR TASS
26.06.2008

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, June 26 (Itar-Tass) - Russian border guards have detained the Star-4 ship of Cambodia for crab poaching in the Sea of Okhotsk near the Kamchatka coast.

The vessel was being escorted to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky port, Itar-Tass learnt on Thursday in the public relations group of the Northeast coast guard department of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

It has been established that the crew of the trawler registered in the port of Phnom Penh consists of Russian citizens. Border guars have found over 10 tonnes of crab products aboard the vessel. “The authenticity of the documentation on the products caused serious doubts of the inspectors,” the department officials noted.

The vessel with the whole equipment has been arrested. An administrative offence case has been opened against the captain of the ship.

Vietnam, Cambodia make high-level pledges on ties

26/06/2008

VietNamNet Bridge - Communist Party of Vietnam General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia shared views to boost good neighbourliness during their talks held in Hanoi on June 25.

King Sihamoni, who is currently on a visit to Vietnam, said he was “proud of having a good neighbour and an honest friend like Vietnam”.

He thanked the Vietnamese Party, Government and people for their strong support in Cambodia’s past struggle for national salvation and its current national construction.

“Cambodia will continuously strengthen good neighbourliness, traditional friendship and comprehensive and lasting cooperation with Vietnam,” King Sihamoni said.

He concluded by conveying blessings from the former King and Queen to the Vietnamese Party leader and his wife and thanked Vietnamese leaders and people for their fine sentiments given to his parents.

In reply, General Secretary Manh warmly welcomed King Sihamoni, describing his visit as an event of primary importance that ushered in a new stage in bilateral relations as well as bringing the relationship to a new level.

He reiterated Vietnam’s unswerving policy to attach importance and give high priority to relations with Cambodia.

The Party leader pledged to do his utmost to boost bilateral ties on a way towards “best neighbourliness, traditional friendship and comprehensive and long-lasting cooperation”.

He also asked the Cambodian King to convey his best regards to the former King and Queen.

(Source: VOV)

Cambodia kicks off general election campaign

Cambodian supporters of opposition party Sam Rainsy


A Cambodian man and his child sit on a motorbike adorned National flags and Cambodian People's Party (CPP) flags

Trucks loaded with supporters of the Cambodian People's Party

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodian political parties Thursday kicked off month-long campaigning for a general election that the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is expected to dominate.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, wearing a garland of flowers, appealed to populist sentiments, vowing to fight inflation and other economic woes as he addressed 1,000 supporters in a Phnom Penh park.

"Land that has been grabbed will be given back to the people. Vote for Rainsy to drop the price of gasoline and raise the salaries of civil servants," he said to cheering supporters who later paraded with him through the city.

Despite the celebratory mood, analysts say that Sam Rainsy and the party that bears his name have little chance of defeating sitting Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen on Wednesday called on political parties running in the July 27 polls to compete honestly and to accept the result of the vote.

Hun Sen has run Cambodia for 23 years, making him Southeast Asia's longest-serving leader besides the sultan of Brunei.

His current coalition partner, the royalist Funcinpec, has been hobbled by infighting and the ouster of its leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who has formed his own party.

With their ranks divided, analysts say the royalists appear spent as a political force.

Sam Rainsy is the main opposition party, but is expected to win few votes outside the capital. Hun Sen rival Kem Sokha has formed a new Human Rights Party that will be cutting its teeth in the polls.

There are 11 parties competing for 123 parliamentary seats in the poll.

Some 8.1 million people are registered to vote at 15,000 polling stations, under the eyes of more than 13,000 domestic and international observers.

During his rule, Hun Sen has ruthlessly undermined his political rivals and staged a coup in 1997, after elections forced him to share power.

But he has also steered the impoverished country out of the ashes of civil war and overseen a growing economy through increasing trade and tourism.

Garment exports and tourism have brought double-digit economic growth, but Cambodia remains one of the world's poorest countries. Some 35 percent of its 14 million people live on less than 50 US cents a day.

VIETNAM ELECTRICITY TO CONNECT MORE KHMER HOMES TO NATIONAL GRID

Trading Market.com
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

SOC TRANG, Jun 26, 2008 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) --The Vietnam Electricity Corporation (EVN) plans to spend more than 490 billion VND (US$29.64 million) from now until 2011 to bring electricity to over 40,000 Khmer ethnic households in the Mekong delta provinces of Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.

The project, approved by the Prime Minister, aims to reduce poverty and improve the living conditions for the Khmer community in the two provinces who account for more than half of the total Khmer population nationwide.

At present, only 87 per cent of Khmer ethnic households in the two provinces are connected to the national power grid, but the rate will be raised to 93.5 per cent when the project completes by 2011.

(VNA)

An otter and a star, quite at home

AT WORK: Dara in the Phnom Tamau Zoo recently

Captive hairy-nosed mammal finds refuge, and happiness, in a Cambodian zoo

The Hindu
Thursday, Jun 26, 2008

PHNOM PENH: The world’s only known hairy-nosed otter in legal captivity has taken swimmingly to its new home in a Cambodian zoo, an official said on Wednesday.

The male otter, named Dara, which means “star” in the Cambodian language, was rescued in December after its mother was killed by a fisherman.

Conservation officials later brought it to Phnom Tamau Zoo, where it was looked after in a smaller enclosure before being released last week into a new, 10-by-15 metre pen last week.

“He looks quite satisfied in his new home. Each day, he spends most of his time swimming in the pool and climbing the rock and the wooden structures,” said zoo director Nhek Rattanak Pech.

As Dara entered the new home, two Buddhist monks chanted prayers — a Cambodian practice when a family moves into a new house.

According to U.S.-based Conservation International, Dara belongs to one of the rarest of otter species. The hairy-nosed otter is known to survive only in a few regions of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

They are increasingly threatened by loss of habitat, as well as by hunters who kill them for the illegal international fur trade or for use in traditional medicines, the group said in a statement. They are also captured as pets.

In Cambodia, the otters’ main habitat is the flooded forests around Tonle Sap Lake, where they are killed by fishermen who consider them pests.

To ensure the survival of the rare species, scientists have recommended breeding them in captivity, said Annette Olsson, a Conservation International research manager in Cambodia.

“Dara could be the founder of such a captive population, if and when we find him a wife,” Ms. Olsson said in a statement.

The zoo is about 45 km south of Phnom Penh. — AP

Key figures in PPP discuss big changes to the cabinet

The Bangkok Post
Thursday June 26, 2008

Key members of the People Power party and dissolved Thai Rak Thai party have reportedly discussed the possibility of a major cabinet reshuffle to ease anti-government sentiment, a PPP source revealed yesterday.

Their top targets were Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and Commerce Minister Mingkwan Sangsuwan, according to the source.

The source said banned politicians Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, Phumtham Wechayachai, Adisorn Piengkes, Chaturon Chaisaeng, Newin Chidchob and Sora-at Klinprathum met with core PPP members to assess the government's situation after the Democrat party's no-confidence debate on Tuesday.

Those core leaders agreed that there should be a major cabinet reshuffle to quell the anti-government movement led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and to prevent other coalition parties defecting, said the source.

The PPP's coalition partners have been dissatisfied with the way Mr Noppadon answered the opposition's queries over the Preah Vihear issue, the source said.

Mr Mingkwan has conflicts with Deputy Commerce Minister Banyin Tangpaporn from the Matchimathipataya party, the source said.

Those leaders have asked Thaksin Shinawatra to convince Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to reshuffle his cabinet to enable his government to move forward and amend the constitution, according to the source.

They want the charter amended before the current government's term ends to revoke the political ban on 111 former Thai Rak Thai executives, said the source.

The government whip planned to seek cooperation from coalition MPs to vote in favour of all censured cabinet members, but it also planned either to ask Mr Noppadon to quit or to swap his position with another minister, the source said.

Mr Noppadon has been attacked over the past two days by the opposition, senators and other critics for the decision to support Cambodia to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.They argued the support could have consequences for the future demarcation of the border.

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit yesterday criticised the Foreign Ministry for making a mistake with the Preah Vihear issue. It should have made sure its negotiations with Cambodia were transparent to the public from the very beginning, he said.

A military source said most top brass believed the ministry should try to co-register Preah Vihear and its compound as a World Heritage site with Phnom Penh, instead of supporting Phnom Penh's attempt to register it alone.

Cambodia will forward the temple listing proposal to the World Heritage Committee meeting in Quebec which starts on July 2.

The new board of the World Heritage Committee of Thailand will tomorrow hold talks in preparation for the meeting.

The cabinet has approved the list of new board members of Thailand's World Heritage Committee to replace Adul Wichiencharoen with Pongpol Adireksarn.

Vietnam party chief receives Cambodian king

Vietnam Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh met with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in Hanoi Wednesday.

THanhnien

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sihamoni thanked the leaders and people of Vietnam for giving him a welcome full of respect, solidarity and friendship.

The King, on a three-day visit, also extended his thanks to Vietnam and its people for helping to build Cambodia.

The King said he was proud to have good neighbors and sincere brothers in the Vietnamese people.

Manh congratulated Cambodians on their great achievements in developing their society and economy and expanding their international relationships with other countries.

He said Vietnam considered strengthening cooperation and friendship with Cambodia an important regional task.
Source: VNA

Cambodia opens election campaign

boston.com
June 25, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Cambodia's political parties kicked off campaigning Thursday for next month's general election, which is almost certain to see the return to power of Asia's longest-serving leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Eleven parties are contesting the July 27 polls for the 123-seat National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, with the winner forming a government for the next five years.

Hun Sen's long-running control over the levers of state and his unmatchable political instincts all but ensure that he will lead a return of his Cambodian People's Party to office.

Hun Sen, once a member of the ultra-leftist Khmer Rouge, has been at the helm of Cambodia since 1985, when he was made prime minister of a communist government installed by neighboring Vietnam. He became an elected prime minister in a democratic vote only after his party won an 1998 election. His party has tightened its grip on power since then, with 73 seats in the National Assembly.

They "must have self-confidence in deciding to choose the political party of their liking without any coercion, pressure and intimidation," Hun Sen said in statement Tuesday. He has in the past been accused of using strong-arm tactics against political foes.

Challengers include Sam Rainsy, the outspoken opposition leader who heads his self-named Sam Rainsy Party. The party, which currently holds 24 seats in the National Assembly, has constantly accused Hun Sen's government of corruption, human rights abuses and mismanagement of natural resources.

The Wise Owl of Cambodia

The Bangkok Post
Thursday June 26, 2008

Angkor was a great relief after the horrors of driving on a dirt road

SUKIE KAMOLSUKOSOL CLAPP

We packed our tents, loaded up the bikes and left Pak Bong for Khong Jiem on Highway 2368, our destination a small village called Ban Tamui, to meet up with Rak Thai that runs a project there called "Uncle Hoo: The Wise Owl."

The project was conceived to bring knowledge to children who lived in far away places, restricting their access to broad education. Uncle Hoo was actually a real person named Khun Prateep who drove around in a minivan loaded with books and various other educational materials - somewhat a moving library.

He would drive into town, unload his van and set up various learning stations. Khun Preteep, along with volunteers, would then guide children from one station to the next - each station focusing on one particular subject - global warming, irrigation, fishing and ecosystem stations, to name a few.

As always, Rak Thai/CARE's goal was to educate people to be self-sufficient. In the case of Uncle Hoo, he was literally bringing knowledge to the people on four wheels.

The next day we rode 350km from Khong Jiem to Chong Chom in Surin Province, crossing the border into Cambodia at O Smach. From there it was a short ride to the town of Anlong Veng.

One of the things that worried me most preparing for this trip was to make sure we had proper registration papers for our bikes. We had a tight filming schedule and couldn't afford to have a major hick-up; not being able to cross the border would have been a big problem. We got to the Chong Chom/O Smach border and got through the Thai side easily.

However, on the Cambodian side one of our vehicle's registration number did not match the paper work (due to a typo) and we were not able to cross the border with it. We fixed the problem by having one of the driver's drive the 4-wheel car back to Bangkok, while the crew would ride in our Cambodian guide's truck. After being held up for about three hours at the border checkpoint we crossed into Cambodia and continued to Anlong Veng.

On the ride I desperately needed to relieve myself so I stopped by the road and started heading for the bushes. As I was walking our guide yelled telling me to come back right away - he said they were many unexploded landmines and it's still highly dangerous in this area. I got back on my bike and decided instead to hold my bladder until we hit Anlong Veng.

Anlong Veng was a former Khmer Rouge stronghold and home to Pol Pot, Nuon Chea and Ta Mok, some of the most notorious leaders of Democratic Kampuchea. Until falling to government forces in 1998, Anlong Veng was considered a very dangerous place that almost every traveller chose to by-pass - Chong Chom, where we entered, was just recently declared an international border crossing.

Most travellers who came to Anlong Veng were interested in history of the Khmer Rouge, especially that of Pol Pot. For us we were just passing by on our way south to Siem Reap.

The following morning we left Anlong Veng travelling 170km on the main Highway NH67 to Siem Reap. However, calling the NH67 a major highway is preposterous since it was one of the worst I had ridden on this whole trip.

The road was only recently bulldozed through the jungles and the entire route was either under repair or construction - basically 90% of the time we where riding on red dirt.

There was red dust in the air and half the time you couldn't see where you were heading. I was driving along at about 90km/h with dust in the air and all of a sudden the dirt road turned into sand causing my bike to wobble and me falling off.

I had promised myself that I would not fall again after my accident on the Pink Route in Tak at the start of this tour, so I was quite disappointed with myself. Hui got off his bike and laughed his guts off - I thought to myself what's so funny about it.

He took a picture of me and my entire body was covered in red dirt - it looked like I had just ridden out of hell with some monster breathing down my neck. I gathered all my belongings (which had fallen off the bike), checked that my bike was okay and we continued our journey to Siem Reap.

Somehow our guide had gotten a good deal and booked us into a nice four-star hotel. Walking through the lobby, Hui and I looked completely out of place and everyone was looking at me, pointing and laughing. With the film crew behind us I told tourists in the lobby we were at Angkor filming Tomb Raider 3 - I thought some of them actually believed me! I got into my hotel room, spent an hour in the shower and laid on the bed - falling asleep within a few minutes.
Once in Siem Reap you can't resist visiting its famous temples so the following day we headed for Angkor. Personally I prefer Ta Prohm to Angkor Wat. Unlike the other temples of Angkor, Ta Prohm was literally swallowed up by the surrounding jungle, giving it a truly mystical feel.

There's something poetic about the place, a duality between something man-made versus nature, stones versus trees - intertwining together to create something that was truly unique and surreal.

Cambodians have weathered years of bloodshed under one of the most brutal regimes the world has ever seen - Ta Prohm and the other temples of Angkor remind them that they are descendent of the mighty Khmer Empire, something for them to be proud of.

Almost every Cambodian I met lost half their family during the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot. What impressed me most was despite all the hardship they've been through, they still remain some of the friendliest people I had ever met - always willing to help with a smile on their face.

Next week we continue our Journey to Kompong Thom and on to Phnom Penh where we come upon atrocious remnants of the Pol Pot regime. At the same time we also see the brighter side of Phnom Penh - one of Indochina's loveliest French-built cities.

- Dreamchaser II airs on Channel 3 every Monday at midnight. To find out more, visit the web site http://www.dreamchaserthai.com.

- An objective of the TV show is to raise funds for the Raks Thai Foundation/CARE. Donations can be made to account number 056-239616-7 of the Siam Commercial Bank's Aree Samphan branch.

No love lost over ruins

The Bangkok Post
Thursday June 26, 2008

The painful memory of Thailand losing sovereignty over the 10th century Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia as a result of the decision by the International Court of Justice in 1962, should have been buried with the passing years. But thanks to the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, this pain has been revived and is firing up the emotions of quite a few people, especially people of that generation who experienced the national trauma and shame of that great loss.

At the centre of the controversy surrounding the ancient Hindu temple is not that the Thai people want to lay claim to the temple. The Thai people, just as every successive government since 1962, still respect the World Court's verdict which awarded the temple to Cambodia - although they are against the decision and reserve the legitimate right to challenge the verdict if new evidence emerges.

The real issue is all about the dubious way the government - especially the prime minister and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama - has been handling the Cambodian application for the listing of the stone ruins as a Unesco World Heritage site. Up until the Opposition's exposure in Parliament, the public was virtually kept in the dark about details of the negotiations between the two countries regarding Cambodia's application. Even last week's cabinet resolution pertaining to Thailand's "active support" of the Cambodian World Heritage listing bid was not made available to the public. It was later disclosed by Agriculture Minister Somsak Prissananantakul of the Chart Thai party that the prime minister had ordered some changes to the cabinet's resolution to ensure that overlapping areas were excluded from the temple to be listed by Cambodia.

The hush-hush manner in which the government rushed to sign the joint communique pledging Thailand's "active support" for the Cambodian bid to have the temple listed, has led to a suspicion that there might be some hidden agenda. Equally disturbing is the question of why the government caved in so easily to Cambodia's insistence that there not be a joint listing of the temple by the two countries. To sum up, the Samak government's handling of this lacks transparency.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva made a valid point during the censure debate on Tuesday that the government's endorsement of Cambodia's unilateral listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site could place Thailand at a disadvantage if, in the future, Phnom Penh contests Thailand's sovereignty over the contentious overlapping areas. He cited as an example the main reason for Thailand's loss in the World Court case over the temple, which was that Thai governments had never contested the French map drawn in 1907 which showed the temple inside Cambodian territory, until the case was raised in court.

The Preah Vihear temple is a sensitive and emotional issue for both countries. Therefore, it must not be over-politicised in a way which will hurt the good relations between the two sides. But as far as Thailand is concerned, the issue cannot be left for the government alone to handle, especially in light of the several unanswered questions. It is advisable that the government reconsider its position vis-a-vis Cambodia, even if it means a loss of face for the prime minister and the foreign minister. After all, national interest should come first.

Or the government can wait for a ruling from the Administrative Court today, in response to a petition seeking an injunction on the cabinet's resolution endorsing Cambodia's listing bid. And risk a crushing setback if the court rules in favour of the petitioners.

Government, opposition begin election campaign in Cambodia

Funcinpec Party supporters out in force on the river front in Phnom Penh on the first day of campaigning for July elections in Cambodia. [RA]

Radio Australia

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on political parties running in next month's general election to compete honestly and to accept the result of the poll.

The 11 parties began the designated one-month campaign period today.

In a statement broadcast on state-run television, Prime Minister Hun Sen said all political parties should compete with honesty, dignity and honour and must accept the result of the election which reflects the will of the voters.

The statement also called for parties to make the national interest their priority.

The last general elections in July 2003 saw the kingdom plunged into a year of political stalemate as parties wrangled over forming a coalition.

A government was finally formed in July 2004.

Hun Sen has been in power for 23 years, making him Southeast Asia's longest-serving leader besides the sultan of Brunei.

Meanwhile, a Cambodian opposition lawmaker has accused the government of dishonesty because it has not published the country's rate of inflation for the past three months.

A Sam Rainsy Party member of parliament, Son Chhay, says Cambodia has not published its Consumer Price Index since March.

He has written a letter to the country's planning minister asking the Government about the matter.

Reports in local newspapers have speculated that the ruling Cambodian People's Party is not publishing the inflation rate because it wants to limit dissent before next month's general election.

A government spokesman, Son Sithan, says the rate hasn't been published becuase of a technical issue but said it would be released in the next two to three months.

The last published CPI stated that inflation rose 18.7 percent in January this year, however observers say the figure is closer to 30 per cent.

Pov Panhapich Needs Your Help!

Click on image to zoom in
Extract from KI Media
Pov Panhapich Needs Your Help!

Because of a severe fund shortage for the healthcare and medical treatment for Singer Pov Panhapich in Thailand, and the inability of her family to come to her help, we are calling on the generosity of all Cambodian people in the world to help provide for Pov Panhapich.In the name of Ms. Pov Panhapich and her family, we are thanking you in advance and wish you with the 5 Buddhist blessings.Check or Money Order donations can be sent to:

Cambodian Culture & Art Association2517 East Anaheim StreetLong Beach, CA 90804
Names of the donors will be published by “Angkor Borei” newspaper.

Danger, democracy

Heng Chivoan; With tourism arrivals already on a downward trend, many in the travel industry worry that a tense election climate will only exacerbate the country's sagging tourist numbers.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Violence or political instability ahead of next month's national elections could scare off foreign tourists, the head of Cambodia's largest travel agents’ organization has warned, urging political parties to keep the peace as the campaign season heats up.

“I beg all political parties, please remain peaceful during the election period,” Cambodian Association of Travel Agents president Ho Vandy said on June 18, a week prior to the commencement of the election campaign. “If we present a bad image, international tourists will not come to our country.”

If tourists cancel their visits to Cambodia due to political instability, it would have wide-ranging impacts on tour operators and others dependent on the tourism industry, which is a major source of jobs and revenue for the impoverished country.

“We saw during the 2003 election campaign that the number of tourists fell by 8 percent,” Vandy said.

One tour operator, however, denied that fears of election unrest would have an impact on foreign tourist arrivals. Tourists have no interest in the internal political affairs of countries they visit, Apsara Tours assistant manager Kem Sin told the Post.

“The national elections won’t keep tourists from coming,” Kem Sin said, “I think tourists don’t want to travel because of the high cost of air fares.”

Kong Sopheareak, director of the Ministry of Tourism’s statistics department, acknowledged the concerns but strongly believed that there would be no violence or harassment of tourists during the upcoming election campaign.

“We have political stability,” he told the Post on June 19. “The national election will not have any impact on the growing number of tourists.”

Mar Sophal, head of the monitoring committee for the election monitor Comfrel, agreed, saying that tourists would not pay much attention to the election as it was an internal matter for the country.

“Tourists aren’t interested in politics,” Sophal said. “But tourism is down at the moment so the numbers might decrease further.”

In the first five months of 2008, 967,383 international visitors arrived in Cambodia, with a total of 2.35 million expected by the end of the year, according to Sopheareak. The tourism industry this year was expected to generate a turnover of $1.64 billion, he added.

Eleven political parties have registered for the election and been recognized by the National Election Committee as authorized to contest the July 27 vote, with the official campaign season to take place from June 26 to July 26.

Eurasie Travel managing director Moeung Sonn doubted that the political campaign would be of concern to foreign tourists.

He said they would be more likely to be afraid of traveling in Cambodia after seeing t-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “Danger Mines” on sale in the markets.

“I don’t think we’ll have any violence during the elections,” Moeung Sonn said. “Tourists don’t care about [politics]. But it’s more serious that we allow people to print t-shirts warning of Danger Mines, a negative message that could scare tourists.”

Punishing Prostitution 'Won't Stem HIV'

Girls learn how to protect themselves from trafficking through World Education's OPTIONS program.


OneWorld.net

Melissa Ditmore
Reproductive Health Reality Check
Wed., Jun. 25, 2008


OneWorld.net note: A recent Cambodian bill outlawing prostitution is a "failure" because it increases the victimization of sex workers and raises the risk of the spread of HIV, writes Melissa Ditmore, an expert on the issues of sex work and HIV.

• Cambodia outlawed prostitution in February as part of a new law addressing human trafficking. Since then, sex workers and their allies have vehemently protested the legislation, staging days of action and other events to draw attention to the brutality of the police crackdown that followed the prohibition of prostitution. In contrast, some groups, including anti-trafficking organizations, have voiced support for the new law, calling it ''a watershed because it criminalizes a wide range of trafficking offenses, from sex slavery to bonded labor.''>

• High poverty and unemployment rates in Cambodia make children, especially girls, vulnerable to trafficking rings that kidnap and employ them in the commercial sex industry, says World Education, an organization promoting international development through education. To counteract this trend, World Education seeks to empower and protect Cambodian youth through scholarship support, literacy training for out-of-school girls, practical life-skills education, livelihood development support, and community awareness and mobilization.

Punishing Sex Workers Won't Curb HIV/AIDS, Says Ban-Ki Moon

From: Reproductive Health Reality Check

Add United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the list of people who understand that arresting and punishing sex workers is counter-productive in the battle against HIV/AIDS. And take the government of Cambodia off that list.

The Global Working Group on HIV and Sex Work Policy wrote to Ban in June to applaud his statement commending the findings of a March report that favored decriminalizing sex work. The Report of the Commission on AIDS in Asia noted that sex workers are part of the solution to preventing the spread of HIV, and advised countries to "avoid programs that accentuate AIDS-related stigma and can be counterproductive. Such programs may include ‘crack-downs' on red-light areas and arrest of sex workers."

To express their gratitude for this understanding, sex workers and advocates circulated a statement at the June 11-12 UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS as Ban spoke to the gathering in New York. "Sex workers thank [Ban] for his support of their efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic," the statement said.

The March report strongly advised countries to enlist sex workers in the effort to prevent the spread of HIV. It included firm recommendations against punitive measures targeting sex work and other frowned-upon behaviors, on the grounds that such approaches have proven counter-productive. The UN Secretary-General supported these recommendations in his statement and sex workers everywhere are grateful.

Unfortunately, some governments continue to deny reality.

Under pressure from the United States, Cambodia outlawed prostitution in February. The government's promotion of a "no condoms, no sex" program in legal brothels there had succeeded in reducing HIV infection rates, but now those brothels have closed or gone underground, along with bars, karaoke clubs and street areas. Hundreds of women have been arrested, jailed or displaced, while dozens have been raped and beaten by police and prison guards. The HIV prevention and care programs that were working have collapsed.

The new law, ironically named the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Law, is a failure in every way. It encourages trafficking and exploitation because it makes sex workers easier prey: the workers can no longer seek clients in public and must depend upon others to introduce them. Worse, police now use condoms as evidence of prostitution, so sex workers can no longer use them. We can expect to see HIV rates rise as a result.

The U.S. ambassador to Cambodia acknowledged in an article in The International Herald Tribune that U.S. influence played a part in the passage of this dangerous law. The annual U.S. Trafficking In Persons Report ranks countries on their efforts to end the practice according to U.S. perception, with those low on the list risking economic sanctions.

By passing the law, Cambodia moved up from the "Tier 2 watch list" to "Tier 2" and thus evaded sanctions. But is U.S. aid worth the cost in sex workers' lives and in lost ground against HIV/AIDS?

Sex workers in Cambodia protested the new law on June 4, calling for repeal and an end to raids. "Don't be fooled by talk of rescuing ‘sex slaves' until you have heard our testimonials and seen video evidence of the brutality and misery this new law is causing," their statement said (watch the video below).

Sex workers and their allies also protested the new law at the Cambodian Mission to the United Nations in New York on June 11, during the High-Level Meeting on AIDS. Further demonstrations are planned in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Sex workers documented human rights abuses and sought local and international support in their campaign against these violations. Supporters have been invaluable. The next steps include continued support for changing the law that led to these abuses, as well as immediate care and assistance for those who were abused in detention.
Click here to read more about sex workers' rights, human trafficking, and HIV/AIDS on Melissa Ditmore's blog.

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Tribunal Trims Budget

By Rory Byrne
Phnom Penh
25 June 2008

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal says it will complete its work early and for almost $30 million less than previously proposed. Donors had balked at the initial budget of $170 million. To ensure new cost-cutting targets are met, a U.N. official has been drafted from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Rory Byrne reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal has suffered a cash crisis for months. Donors have been reluctant to kick in money because of concerns over alleged corruption and mismanagement. That led to fears that the tribunal could close its doors before the first trial takes place.

Donors also had concerns about the court's rising costs, and what they consider its slow pace of operations.

But tribunal officials say they have shaved almost $30 million off the original budget of $170 million. They say the court will aim finish its work by the end of 2010, a year ahead of schedule.

Donors meeting in New York this week expressed satisfaction with the new budget, raising hopes in Cambodia that money will be coming.

To help ensure the Khmer Rouge tribunal meets its new targets, Norwegian U.N. official Knut Rosandhaug has been brought in from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Speaking to reporters this week, he outlined his concerns about the tribunal.

"I share the concerns about the swiftness of the process. I am fully aware of the health situation of the detainees and I will do my part, offer my support to see that this is done as swift[ly] as possible but within the standards that we want to achieve," he said.

Under the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge government in the late 1970s, as many as two million Cambodians were executed for any minor criticism of the government or died of hunger and illness.

Only a handful of the group's senior leaders are still alive, and most of them are elderly and frail. There are fears they will die before they ever face justice.

Rosandhaug says he is confident the tribunal will now get the money it needs to finish its work. He praised the determination of those involved in bringing the Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

"I am coming from the Balkans in Europe, I am used to sort of a battle mode, people are fighting each other, and it is therefore a joy for me to come here and to see that it is a joint effort, one platform, we have concept to work on, one way forward, and for me that is very joyful," Rosandhaug.

The tribunal has indicted five former Khmer Rouge leaders. The trial of the first defendant, the commander of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 torture center in Phnom Penh, is expected to begin in September.

Thai leader under fire ahead of no-confidence vote

International Herald Tribune
By Thomas Fuller
Published: June 25, 2008

BANGKOK: "There are three things that can make Thai people emotional," said Gothom Arya, a veteran human rights campaigner here. "The royal family, nationalism and religion."

In its campaign to unseat the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, the political opposition in Thailand is tapping two out of three, Gothom said.

Opponents of Samak's five-month-old government are trying to remove him using a territorial dispute over an ancient Hindu temple on the Cambodian border, adding to an already poisonous political stalemate gripping the country. The opposition is also repeating assertions that Samak's government and its allies do not have sufficient respect for the country's monarchy.

Samak appeared ready to prevail over a vote of no-confidence Thursday in Parliament - his coalition controls two-thirds of the seats - but daily street protests and the emotive potency of the allegations against the prime minister have further weakened his government.

With protesters blocking access to his office, Samak has been forced to leave through back doors or work from alternate, undisclosed locations.

And although publicly Samak has tried to exhibit nonchalance toward the crisis - he was pictured in newspapers Wednesday making origami birds during the parliamentary debate - his government has shifted decisively to a defensive posture.

The opposition is divided between the Democrat Party in Parliament and a group called the People's Alliance for Democracy, which has organized street protests for the past month. But they have gelled over the issue of Preah Vihear, a 900-year-old Khmer temple that sits on a ridge along the Thai-Cambodian border.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the surrounding land - and perhaps most importantly access to the temple - has remained in dispute. The temple can be reached from the Thai side relatively easily; on the Cambodian side it accessible only by scaling a cliff.

In an apparent attempt to help solve the dispute, Samak's government endorsed Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, a classification made by the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization.

The opposition has accused the government of having ulterior motives in backing Cambodia's application, claiming that Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire tycoon and former Thai prime minister who has close ties to the government, would benefit from business deals in Cambodia.

Negotiations on the Preah Vihear issue were led on the Thai side by Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, who is a former lawyer for Thaksin.

"The problem at the moment is that it's very difficult to know what the truth is," said Jon Ungpakorn, a former senator. "Everything is being expressed in such an emotional way. Thai society is still extremely polarized."

Thai Rath, a mass-circulation daily newspaper, ran an article Wednesday about all the territory Thailand has lost over the past few hundred years.

Cambodia is one of Thailand's historical rivals, and some people in Thailand worry that the political controversy may spill over and sour relations between the two countries.

"It will be hard to bring the rocket down once it has been launched," said one politician, who wished to remain anonymous because he was still active in politics and did not want to alienate his allies.

Cambodian officials closed access to Preah Vihear on Monday when Thai protesters singing nationalist songs began a march toward the temple complex.

In 2003, the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh was damaged and Thai businesses in the city were attacked after a Cambodian newspaper quoted a Thai television actress as saying that the massive Cambodian temple complex of Angkor Wat actually belonged to Thailand.

Thaksin, who was prime minister at the time, threatened to send commandos in to secure the Thai Embassy and Thai businesses, some of which were his own.

Although out of power and largely out of the public eye, Thaksin remains at the center of the political impasse here. The opposition accuses the government of being Thaksin's puppet. Many senior officials in the current government are former members of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party, which was disbanded by the courts.

Thaksin still faces several court cases for abuse of power and corruption while he was prime minister.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Thailand jailed one of Thaksin's lawyers and two of his legal advisers for what was judged as an attempt to bribe court officials with the equivalent of $60,000 hidden in a grocery bag.

Judge Mongkol Tabthieng said that Pichit Chuenban and two associates representing Thaksin were responsible for leaving the bag in the Supreme Court compound earlier this month during a hearing of a case against Thaksin over a land deal.

"Their joint action has tarnished the court's image," the judge said in his verdict.

Cambodia genocide tribunal aims to complete work in 2010: officials

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] Tuesday announced plans to complete operations a year early and to significantly reduced its budget. Earlier this year the court announced plans [JURIST report] to operate until 2011, but has been unable to raise the funds necessary to support the plan. The court said that it would still be able to bring those accused to justice despite the cutbacks. Also Tuesday, the court released a statement [text] saying that it still needs $43.7 million to continue work through the end of 2009. The court was originally scheduled to operate from 2006 to 2009 on a much smaller budget, and financial overruns prompted an April UN audit [audit text, PDF; JURIST report] which eventually cleared the court of mismanagement. The extensions have instead been blamed on long trial delays and frequent appeals. Reuters has more. AFP has additional coverage.
The ECCC was created to try Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leaders responsible for the country's 1970s genocide, but no Khmer Rouge officials have yet faced justice. In August 2007, the ECCC brought its first charges against Kaing Khek Iev [TrialWatch profile; JURIST report], better known as "Duch," who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. Former Khmer Rouge official Nuon Chea [GenocideWatch report] is awaiting trial [JURIST report] for charges [statement, PDF] of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Charges have also been brought against former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, who was arrested [JURIST report] in November 2007. In February, Samphan ended his cooperation [JURIST report] with the ECCC.

The rare sights of Cambodia along Mekong River

PR-Inside.com
2008-06-25

The new project along the Mekong River Route through Stung Treng (www.tourismindochina.com/stung_treng-attractionsite.htm ) and Kratie is being developed to help mitigate the region's poverty and improve local living standard, promote conservation, and put Cambodia on the world map as an ecotourism destination.

Marcus Sandford, chief technical advisor for the Mekong River Discovery Trial project said that 'The goal is to get a small percentage of travelers off the highway and onto the river.' He added that the Mekong River is not only wonderful but also a biodiversity sanctuary with 36 globally threatened species. With Stung Treng and Laos Border Crossing opening, the coalition has come together for the tourist flow into Stung Treng and neighboring Kratie.

The Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia (www.tourismindochina.com/history-cambodia.htm ), the UN World Tourism Organization and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), have prepared a strategy to develop ecotourism along this stretch of the Mekong. The project will offer canoing and houseboat stays on the river. On land, there will be tours by horse-cart, home stays, and new eco-lodges in addition to the improvement of the existing bike trial. There are many interesting pagoda to view including the 100- column temple.

One of the largest Mekong islands in the area, where is known as Koh Trong, is a great place to meet locals and it can be reached in a 10-minute boat ride from Kratie and bicycle around the 14km island loop. The rare Irrawaddy dolphin number is estimated about 80 in the deep pools of the Mekong from Kratie to the Laos border. Dolphin watching is one of the substantial of ecotourism activities in the region and is listed on the agenda.

By CHHEM Samnang

The Cambodian Watchdog Council Said that the New Map Will Create a Loss of Land at the Area 3 around the Preah Vihear Temple

Posted on 25 June 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 566

“Mr. Ear Chana released, on behalf of the secretary-general of the Cambodian Watchdog Council, on 23 June 2008, a statement that there is a loss of land at Area 3 of the Preah Vihear Temple. This is the statement:

“According to the joint statement of 18 June 2008, signed by the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Sok An, and by Thai Foreign Minister Mr. Noppadon Pattama, for Mr. François Rivière, UNESCO Deputy Director for Culture, about the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site, and a new map that the Cambodian government sent to UNESCO, we found a part of Cambodian territory at the west and the north of the temple (or Area 3) is lost.

“The Cambodian government seems to fall into a trap of Thailand by listing only the body of the Preah Vihear Temple and the areas which extend 30 meters from the temple, but do not include the Area 3 which should also have been listed.

“According to our own experience from visits with students from different universities in Phnom Penh in 2001 and 2004, we found that the Cambodian government is creating a loss of land, by agreeing to create a new map, especially as it does not include Area 3 as Cambodian territory.

Obviously, based on two visits, we found that the loss of land in Area 3 is an obstacle for tourists to climb up to the Preah Vihear Temple from Cambodia, because the areas at the east and the south are extremely steep to climb up and go down.

“According to the Deputy Director of the Cambodian Border Committee, it shows that The Hague International Court of Justice in 1962 used a 1:2000 scale map for the Preah Vihear Temple, and that map is being kept at the court. In addition, the French-Siem [Thai] Treaties in 1904 and 1907 show clearly the land border and sea border between Cambodia and Thailand, especially they show that the Area 3 definitely belongs to Cambodia, which contradicts some Thai positions which say that the border at the Preah Vihear Temple is at the steps to the temples.

“We agree with UNESCO, working to maintain cultural heritage, but we cannot give up the Hague verdict of 1962 about the Preah Vihear Temple and its area, based on the 1904 and 1907 French-Siem Treaties, especially the listing of land in Area 3 - otherwise Cambodia will lose this land to Thailand.

”We found that Thailand never dared to invade territories of Malaysia or Burma, because the governments of both countries are strongly committed to protect their territories. Only the territory of Cambodia has repeatedly been invaded by Thailand.. Moreover, Thailand never dared to protest officially on the international level; it just tries to make trouble for Cambodia.
This shows that Thailand intends to invade Khmer territory and to block the Cambodian economic breath of tourism, absorbed by the Preah Vihear Temple.

“We would like to give the recommendation to the Cambodian government, that if the government is still intent to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site, being an independent nation with patriotism, the government has to:

Remove the new map and use a map from The Hague for the proposal of the listing of the temple.

List the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site unilaterally.

“By the evening of 24 June 2008, the border crossing at the Preah Vihear Temple is still closed, while there are still about 10 Siamese [Thai] demonstrators far from the temple. According to news sources, this closure was ordered by the Khmer Ministry of Interior. This situation might last longer, if there are still demonstrations from Thai nationals. As for the Thai side, it is reported they agree with the closure of the border crossing in front of the Preah Vihear Temple.

“The commercial activities at the temple, both by Khmer and by Thai vendors, are reported to be closed down temporarily. However, generally we found that for the Thai side, both sales and other services lost much more than on the Khmer side. Nevertheless, the Khmer side worries about more than 100 families living on the Preah Vihear mountain who depend on business and on selling things on this mountain. People who are members of the soldiers’ and the police’s families ask for assistance from the authorities and the government. There is still nobody who provides assistance to those people since the closure, besides presents brought by journalists for the forces guarding the Preah Vihear Temple since late last week.

“Local observers find that the statement of Cambodian Watchdog Council is one thing, but what is more important is that the Cambodian Watchdog Council should try to seek additional assistance for the families of the soldiers and of the police who are facing difficulties. However, they noticed that the Cambodian Watchdog Council seems not to pay attention to the difficulties of the temple’s guards. On the contrary, they benefit from the difficulties of the soldiers’ and the police’s families.

“The listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site triggers some reactions from Siamese nationals who are an anti-government group [of Thailand] during these days. However, the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple is expected to face no obstacle, although there are some demonstrations held by a small number of Siamese.”

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3342, 25.6.2008

Healthcare a Ready Target for Parties

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

Khmer audio aired 25 June (1.10 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 25 June (1.10 MB) - Listen (MP3)

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the state of Cambodian health care.]

As the country heads into a campaign period, competing parties have found an easy target as they search for failings in the current administration: a weak healthcare system they call unethical and corrupt.

Government health officials say they are improving the ethics and practices of the nation's doctors step by step, but competing parties are using the rural hospitals, which are often rundown, and underpaid doctors, to build campaign platforms against the ruling party.

Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Chiem Yeap said the party has run the government for 30 years and is working to improve the healthcare field, especially in rural areas. Already, a policy of free vaccinations and other treatments is in place, he said.

Other parties, however, say that in practice, there is no free health care, as individual doctors ask for money from their patients. And with a one-month campaign period that begins Thursday, they will seek to convince voters they have the best new policies for the ailing healthcare system.

Doctors in the provinces have no ethics, hospitals are old and unsanitary and some doctors act as though they can cure the ills of everyone, from children to the elderly, said Muth Chantha, spokesman for the Norodom Ranariddh Party.

The NRP has several strategies prepared to fix the health system, including the reform of Cambodia's code of ethics, more money for doctors, improved technical tools for clinics and hospitals, and a larger budget for the Ministry of Health. The party would also like to see true, free healthcare for the nation's poor, he said.

Free treatment for the poor and a larger budget for the health sector are on the platform of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

"Public hospitals are full of corruption and have no professional ethics," party leader Sam Rainsy said.

Seng Sokheng, secretary-general of the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, said the party the party "will eliminate all problems where people meet difficulties," he said.

The party does not want people to fear the hospitals, he said, and would seek to bring the lowest cost of medicine to people, following the example of Thailand.

"Now not only the poor, but the rich have no confidence in the health system of Cambodia," said Ban Sophal, president of the Society of Justice Party, which he said would seek to provide modern tools and better hospital buildings to healthcare workers.

"I will not let people die because they have no money to go to the hospital," he said. "My party will be responsible on this."

Jailed Rebel Returns From Third Hospital Visit

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

Khmer audio aired 25 June (891 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 25 June (891 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Former Khmer Rouge president Khieu Samphan was returned to tribunal detention Tuesday, following his third visit to the hospital this week.

Tribunal observers said Wednesday they are still seeking information on Khieu Samphan's medical conditions, as worries mount that aging leaders will not see trial before they die.

However, a doctor at Phnom Penh's Calmette hospital, where all Khmer Rouge detainees are treated, told VOA Khmer Wednesday that disclosing the health conditions of Khieu Samphan would be a breach of medical ethics.

On Eve of Campaigns, an Absent Leader

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

Khmer audio aired 25 June (1.33 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 25 June (1.33 MB) - Listen (MP3)

As 11 political parties finish final preparations for a one-month campaign period that starts Thursday, one leader, and former prime minister, is missing. Prince Norodom Ranariddh remains in exile, leading his eponymous party from Malaysia.

Prince Ranariddh, who left the country in early 2007, faces an 18-month prison sentence and a fine of $150,000 if he returns to Cambodia, on charges related to embezzlement. He has not been pardoned, and his case remains at the Supreme Court.

You Hockry, secretary-general of the Norodom Ranariddh Party, said the absence of the prince is due to political intentions, by "the chief of government" and Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhek Bun Chhay, who have tried to prevent Prince Ranariddh from election participation.

Prince Ranariddh is a candidate for his party in Kampong Cham, the most-populated province, with 18 parliamentary seats up for grabs, and is his party's candidate for prime minister. Several months before the campaign, he was forced to address supporters by telephone from abroad.

"We regret fundamentally that Samdech Krom Preah [Prince Ranariddh], president of the NRP, cannot participate equally with other parties," You Hockry said. "It will impact the result of the vote and especially the campaign."

Hang Puthea, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, called the exile of Prince Ranariddh a type of irregularity.

"For transparency in the campaign, all the parties' leaders must be present," he said.
The party plans to use speeches of the prince, via telephone, to campaign in each province, in order to overcome his absence.

Hang Puthea said this kind of campaign may be good, as voters could have "pity" for the prince.
But Mar Sophal, chief investigator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said a campaign by telephone would not allow voters to get direct information from the party leader.

In Pailin earlier this week US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli called for the return of Prince Ranariddh. Officials will work together to find justice for him, Mussomeli said.

Party Seeks to Woo Vote of Farmers

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
25 June 2008

Khmer audio aired 25 June (1.50 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 25 June (1.50 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Human Rights Party is seeking to reach voters in Cambodia's broad agricultural sector by proposing a plan to give a unified voice to farmers.

The party has already established a farmer union, which it hopes would grow into a larger congress. Together, the farmers could push for governmental policies that benefit agriculture, including subsidies and low-interest rate loans.

"Eighty percent of Cambodians are farmers and are an economic and political force for stabilizing Cambodian politics," said Kem Sokha, president of the party. "The Human Rights Party has a policy to establish the national farmer congress, to push for economic growth and agricultural progress."

Growth in the agricultural sector would bring more economic growth nationwide, benefiting vendors, workers and state employees, he said.

Farmers face numerous challenges, including the lack of farmland, irrigation, modern techniques, capital and access to markets. They also face high interest rates for borrowing.

Sok Sina, an independent economic analyst, said he was not opposed to a congress.

"First, we have to free farmers from poverty," he said. "If the farmers are in poverty, we cannot promote national economic growth."

But the congress should be free from political control, said Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.

"If the congress is not under the control of anyone, and serves only the farmers' interests, it will be a force to develop agricultural development," he said.

King Norodom Sihamoni meet with Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (L) talks to Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh at the party's headquarters in Hanoi June 25, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (center, L) and Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh (center, R) walk to a meeting at the party's headquarters in Hanoi June 25, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (L) shakes hands with Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh at the party's headquarters in Hanoi June 25, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (L) poses for a photo with Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh at the party's headquarters in Hanoi June 25, 2008.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)