Monday, 7 July 2008

Life of poor people in Cambodia

A vendor sorts out crickets to sell in Cambodia. The owners of Vij's restaurant knew they were taking a huge gamble when they decided to add bugs to the menu of their upscale, internationally-known Vancouver eaterie. But gram for gram, experts say insects are more nutritious to eat and better for the environment to produce than popular foods such as beef and chicken.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Farmers work at a rice field in Takeo province 60km (37 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh July 5, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Farmers work at a rice field in Takeo province 60km (37 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh July 5, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A vendor fills the tank of a motorcycle at a roadside petrol station on the outskirts of Phnom Penh July 7, 2008. The current price of gasoline in Cambodia stands at 5,650 riel ($1.37) a litre.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodia old woman weights vegetables at marker out skirt of Phnom Penh on July 07, 2008 . Cambodia is one of poorest counties in the world, three-quarters of Cambodia's 13 million population depends on agriculture in a country where the average daily income is less than $2.RUETERS /Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodia woman rides a bicycle with her children past election rally posters at a market on the outskirts of Phnom Penh July 7, 2008.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Day in pictures: Hungry Children

Cambodian boys carry a bucket of rice to their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian boy eats rice in his classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers, (28 miles) west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian school boy eats rice during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian children eat rice in their classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers, (28 miles) west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian cook prepares meals for children during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian girl eats rice in her classroom during a school breakfast, supported by the World Food Program, in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers, (28 miles) west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian children wait outside their classroom in Kampong Speu province, about 45 kilometers (28 miles), west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 29, 2008. By the end of the month, the 450,000 Cambodian students who depend on a free breakfast, dished out daily courtesy of the U.N. World Food Program, will become the latest victims of soaring global food prices.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Mr Hun Sen Can Be PM Forever

Everyday.com.kh
Saturday, 5th July 2008
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
Courtesy of Khmerization

Samdech Chea Sim, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has formally and publicly confirmed to local and foreign officials that Mr. Hun Sen is currently the Prime Minister of Cambodia and is a prime ministerial candidate for the fourth mandate parliamentary election which will be held on the 27th of July. He added that the party will let Mr. Hun Sen serve as PM for as long as he wants, if the party keeps winning the elections.

Mr Chea Sim was speaking during an inauguration ceremony of the newly-built CPP's headquarter in Ouddor Meanchey province and during the official launch of the CPP's election campaign on the 4th of July.

Mr. Chea Sim said that the CPP will win the upcoming election in July based on three important factors: Firstly, the party had increased its votes in every election. Secondly, the party is actively working hard with its base officials and with the people in every village. Thirdly, since 1979, the CPP had led the country to tremendous success which convinced the party's members and the Cambodian people to support it.

Thai demonstrators demand that Cambodia give back Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Battambang provinces: Phay Siphan

Preah Vihear listing likely

Monday, 07 July 2008
Xinhua & The Mekong Times

Cambodia’s attempt to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site during the current UNESCO session in Canada’s Quebec City is expected to be successful, according to Thailand’s World Heritage Committee.

The prediction comes as Thai protestors at the closed border point nearest the cliff top temple have been demanding that Cambodia “return” Preah Vihear, Siem Reap, and Battambang provinces to Thailand, a Cambodian official said yesterday.

Chairman of the Thai World Heritage Committee, Pongpol Adireksarn, is currently attending the UNESCO session. He said that over half of the 21 World Heritage Committee members had told him informally that they support the Cambodian government’s registration of the ancient temple as a World Heritage Site as it has “untiringly pursued the issue on a constant basis,” the official Thai News Agency reported yesterday.

He quoted committee members as telling him that Phnom Penh has also invited them to visit the temple, in contrast to vacillating Thailand, whose “policy was uncertain,” the report said.

The issue expected to be resolved by the World Heritage Committee on Sunday night.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an international NGO dedicated to conserving the world’s historic monuments and sites, had distributed reports to the committee, saying that the listing of the temple alone as a World Heritage Site would pose no problem, said Pongpol.

But the ICOMOS recommended that both Cambodia and Thailand should jointly propose that the temple’s surrounding area should also be included as a World Heritage Site.

Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, attending the session as an observer, is expected to oppose the listing and ask for a delay because of the Thai Administrative Court’s temporary injunction against the June 17 cabinet approval of the joint communiquĂ© he signed with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Noppadon said in Quebec City that he would prepare a letter and lobby the committee to delay the listing of the temple.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Cambodian Council of Ministers, was optimistic Preah Vihear will be listed by UNESCO, despite Thailand’s withdrawal of support, as the UN body accepted it in principal in 2007.

UNESCO has no jurisdiction to resolve border issues but is obliged to conserve important heritage sites, he underlined, adding that the listing of the temple would be the “just” decision.

He added that, while the situation at the temple is calm, around 20 demonstrators on the Thai side of the border remain, bellowing that Thailand has lost 1 km of land to Cambodia in a deal between leaders.

The demonstrators have also been roaring demands that Cambodia “give back Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Battambang provinces,” said Phay Siphan, adding that the border point remains closed.

NGOs condemn Mu Sochua attack

Mu Sochua (Photo: Heng Chivoan, The Phnom Penh Post)

Monday, 07 July 2008
The Mekong Times

Violence against female parliamentary candidates is discouraging women from entering politics, claims a joint NGO statement issued yesterday.

Staff from the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC) and the Committee of Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) were among those to condemn “inhuman acts” such as a reported assault upon Mu Sochua, secretary-general of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and parliamentary candidate for Kampot province.

“According to Licadho in Kampot province and CPWP [Committee to Promote Women in Politics] staff who have met the bystanders, Ms. Mu Sochua’s hands were twisted so hard by a driver and his two associates that her two blouse buttons were removed in front of the public,” the statement said. “Worse, the scuffle lasted for 30 minutes without any intervention from the competent authorities.”

Apparently, the assault came after Mu Sochua attempted to photograph a car with army number plates taking part in electoral campaigning.

The attack contravenes women’s rights enshrined in the Cambodian Constitution and violates election law, the statement continued, as well as undermining the government’s development principles.

“Such an assault in public has spoilt her [Mu Sochua’s] dignity and nobility as a Khmer woman and can be an intimidation and barrier to women involving themselves in politics.”

Secretary General of the National Election Committee, Tep Nytha, yesterday agreed that anyone using state property during electoral campaigning is “violating the election law, and if any political party which saw those using such property should take a picture of them as evidence to make a complaint to the commune committee to solve the case.”

But he said that Mu Sochua’s use of her “authority” to block vehicles is “beyond her authority [as] a parliamentary candidate,” recommending that charges of physical abuse be investigated by the courts.

“I want to reaffirm that the NEC has power to tackle only issues associated with elections such as the use of state property and overuse of rights by political representatives. So, the court will solve complaints associated with [physical abuse] such as the spraining of arms … People who violate [election law] should be warned or deleted from voting lists or fined 5 million riel [around US$1,250] to 25 million riel [around US$6,250].”

Tep Nytha pointed out that violence has been low in this electoral campaign compared to 2003, although authorities are investigating “two politically motivated crimes.”

“When we obtain precise evidence,” he concluded, “we will publicize it.”

Sacravatoons : " A Simple Crime "

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

Sacravatoons : " Monsieur Pardon de la Thailande "

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

The blame game

The Bangkok Post
By Veera Prateepchaikul

The Surayud government did not sign a document officially pledging support for Cambodia's temple listing bid. In any case, there is no law which states that the Samak government must follow all decisions made by its predecessors.
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Veera Prateepchaikul is Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Post Publishing Co Ltd.

My sympathies are with Surayud Chulanont, the privy councillor.

The retired general should have been left to live a quiet and peaceful life after spending almost two years as a lame duck prime minister in the military-installed government. Suddenly out of the blue, he is rudely dragged into today's hottest political controversy, the Preah Vihear temple issue, thanks to Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama.

The embattled foreign minister told the Constitution Court on Friday that it was the Surayud government which committed itself to support Cambodia's bid to list the ancient ruins as a World Heritage site during a meeting of the World Heritage Committee held in Christchurch, New Zealand last year.

In other words, Mr Noppadon has blamed the Surayud administration for the blunder by the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej for its signing of the joint communique with the Cambodian government pledging Thailand's "active support" for Cambodia's unilateral bid to inscribe the temple as a World Heritage site.

What a surprise! The Samak government has followed in the footsteps of the Surayud government which it has held in contempt for being a puppet of the military dictatorship.

Is the Surayud government now a convenient scapegoat? And will that mean Mr Noppadon and the Samak government will not be held accountable if Thailand is put at a disadvantage or its territorial sovereignty is in the future put at risk should Cambodia succeed in its listing effort?

But wait. Even if the Surayud government actually committed itself to supporting Cambodia's listing bid, the incumbent government cannot escape blame. There is no law which states that the Samak government must follow all decisions made by its predecessors.

And, in this particular case, the Surayud government did not sign a document officially pledging support for Cambodia's temple listing bid.

The Samak government is completely free and fully authorised to make its own decisions. After all, no one put a gun to the head of Mr Noppadon and forced him to sign the joint communique.

So if the government had the best interests of the country in mind, it should have made the right decision and not put itself in hot water.

Finger-pointing now will not improve the situation, but will only further cast the government in a bad light. What the government needs to do is to accept the mistake in stride and to try to rectify it to mitigate the negative consequences which could arise in the future.

Asking the World Heritage Committee to postpone consideration of the temple, as the government plans to do, is moving in the right direction, although the Cambodian side must be given a clear explanation of the government's sudden about-face.

As far as Cambodia is concerned, it is determined to go ahead with the application to list the Preah Vihear temple even without Thailand's support. Which should not be surprising. After all, the temple issue has been politicised by all parties in Cambodia, especially Prime Minister Hun Sen's party, in the runup to the July 27 election.

Given the national sensitivity over the temple issue both in Thailand and Cambodia, and the potential that dangerous nationalist sentiments can be fuelled by provocateurs for political gain, it would be wise and reasonable for the World Heritage Committee to put on hold Cambodia's bid to list the temple until the next meeting.

The temple issue has been politicised more than enough in this country to the extent that the good neighbourly relations between Thailand and Cambodia are now at stake.

Likewise, I hope that Cambodian politicians will not whip up anti-Thai sentiment after the July 27 election if the World Heritage Committee does not rule in its favour. For this will not help improve the strained relations either. It's time for cool heads from both sides of the border.

Cambodian finds way to help

Amanda Prak Sam is surrounded by clients and supporters (from left) Cee Cee Fishburne, 7; Lisa Marshall; Jack Marshall, 15; Beverley Massey; Sam's husband Thoeun Sam; and Trip Fishburne. Photo By: EVA RUSSO/TIMES-DISPATCH

Monday, Jul 07, 2008
By BILL LOHMANN
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Running for her life, 10-year-old Sokhannah Prak dived into a ditch to hide from Khmer Rouge soldiers and landed atop a rotting corpse.

"I couldn't scream, but it smelled so bad," recalled Prak, who knew she needed to keep quiet or face capture. "I just told myself I couldn't gag."

And she didn't.

The fifth of 10 children, Sokhannah -- whose Americanized, married name is Amanda Prak Sam -- and her family had been forced to abandon their comfortable Cambodian home by the murderous Khmer Rouge. They hid in another village for more than a year before they were found, sent to labor camps and separated from one another. They eventually fled together to Thailand, spending three months wandering barefoot through the jungle with little food and fading hope. Two younger siblings -- a brother and sister -- perished from hunger and starvation.

The rest of the family wound up in a Thai refugee camp and, an answer to their prayers, the United States. In 1981, they landed in Richmond, where church congregations and extended family already here helped provide them a fresh start.

"It stays with me the whole time," Amanda said of her memories of fleeing her homeland. "The suffering. The torment."

Yet, from the moment she set foot in the United States -- "paradise" was her first impression -- she felt an obligation to go back and help those left behind.

"Doing this has always been in the back of my mind," she said. "But I didn't know where to start."

She found a way, and she and her husband, Thoeun Sam, are preparing to make their third summertime visit to Cambodia this month and first under their new nonprofit organization, One Hundred Pounds of Hope. The name comes from the 100-pound bags of rice the Sams distribute to needy families. That much rice will feed a family of four for two to three months, Amanda said.

"The food is really just our way of giving people hope," she said. "To let them know someone cares about them."

The Sams -- she is 38 and he 37 -- quietly financed their first trip two summers ago. They operate a hair salon, Salon Magnolia, in western Henrico County, not far from their home, and when Amanda began talking about their efforts around the shop clients started making donations that allowed the Sams to reach more families last summer.

One of those clients, John Munson, an account cxecutive for Southern Health, helped Amanda formalize her personal mission into an official charitable organization that would give her the ability to raise more money and help more people.

"For me, and for the other people who decided to help her, it's inspirational because Richmond people helped her and now she's helping others," said Munson, a member of the board of directors of 100 Pounds of Hope.

Last year the Sams collected $3,600 from clients, family and friends. This year, operating under 100 Pounds of Hope with a broader fundraising plan, they set a goal of $10,000 and already have exceeded $13,000. Which is good, since the price of a 100-pound bag of rice has more than doubled in the past year (from $18 to more than $40). "The dramatic inflation underscores the need for our help," Munson said.

In future years, with more aggressive fundraising, the Sams hope to build schools in Cambodia and pursue other projects.

Said Munson, "People tend to line up to help Amanda. She's infectious that way."

Amanda had never attended school until she enrolled in the fifth grade at Henrico's Crestview Elementary. She had to learn English, as well as the material she should have picked up during her lost years: colors, shapes and the alphabet itself.

"It was tough," she said.

Middle school was tougher. Kids picked on her, pulled her hair. She remembers spending lunchtimes in the bathroom, which seemed to her to be a safer place than the cafeteria. Lunch only lasted a half-hour, she said, but it "felt like the whole day."

But her lasting impression of those early years in America were the people who helped provide her family a fresh start. The congregation at River Road Church, Baptist had sponsored the Praks' cousins and pitched in to help the Praks get settled as well.

"They've worked so hard to make a way for themselves," said Ann Hays, a member of the church's sponsorship committee who befriended the Praks and has kept in touch with them over the years.

Amanda's father, a teacher, took a job welding shopping carts. Her mother and oldest sister took jobs working as hotel housekeepers. The children also contributed to the household income. At age 13, Amanda worked part time cleaning offices.

For a time, the family squeezed into a three-bedroom home with cousins. Despite the tight quarters, the refrigerator stayed full and the circumstances were "way, way better" than life in the camps, Amanda said.

Believing opportunities might be greater out west, the family moved to California, where Amanda graduated from high school, but found that part of the world "too big and too crowded."

Facing even greater financial hardship, they returned to Virginia. Most of Amanda's family still lives within a few minutes' drive of one another.

Amanda and two of her sisters operated a hair salon on Grove Avenue. She and Thoeun opened Salon Magnolia three years ago.

Right about that time, Amanda and Thoeun, the parents of two boys, Matt, 11, and Alex, 5, were making plans to celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary. Amanda mentioned she'd always wanted to make a mission trip to Cambodia. Instead of giving a gift to each other, she asked, what if they gave a gift to those struggling to survive in their homeland? Thoeun, whose family had come to Richmond from Cambodia in 1985, embraced the idea.

"Let's do it," said Thoeun, a distribution supervisor for Unisource Worldwide Inc.

In the summer of 2006 they traveled to Cambodia, where conditions have improved since the Khmer Rouge regime fell but where poverty and hunger remain major problems. They purchased rice and other food to distribute to needy families they found, primarily in rural areas.

Traveling to Cambodia isn't cheap, but Amanda and Thoeun, who've covered expenses out of their own pockets, are reluctant to simply send money, fearing it wouldn't reach the intended recipients. They estimate they've helped more than 200 families on their first two trips.

For the Sams "to go back and do this is just phenomenal," said Lisa Marshall, a customer and contributor. Her husband, Lem, serves on the board of 100 Pounds of Hope and daughter, Emily, a student at Freeman High, organized a car wash with her schoolmates to raise more than $700 for the Sams' coming trip.

Said Hays, "Their sense of wanting to share and give back is so thrilling. It's so good to know that you helped a family establish and now they've risen up to where they've become the givers."

Amanda remembers her first days in Virginia, when she desperately missed her grandparents, who stayed behind in Cambodia. She would go to sleep early each night so she could dream about them.

"That was the only way I could see them," she said. As it turned out, she was able to visit her grandparents before they died. She is grateful for that and for the sense that her family was among the lucky ones to escape. Which is why as she hands out rice and other food to the needy, she looks into their grateful eyes and sees herself.

"I thank God for the United States," she said. "I thank God every day that I'm here."

Korean driver accused of wiping out Cambodian family

The Earth Times

Mon, 07 Jul 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - A Korean driver killed five members of one Cambodian family while speeding under the influence of alcohol, police said Monday. Police said grandparents Yiet Tann, 44, Chrun Kimsry, 43, and their daughter Yeit Srey Sros, 24, died instantly when the unnamed Korean collided with their motorbike late Saturday, and Sros' daughters Hun Phalnyta, four, and baby Hun Phalnyta died in hospital.

"The Korean guy was drunk and driving very fast on the wrong side of the road," a traffic police official from Chom Chao district on the outskirts of the capital said by telephone.

He said the identity of the Korean had yet to be determined.

"We did find out he is Korean but he refuses to provide a name or cooperate with our investigation and he speaks no English," the traffic police official said.

If convicted he faces life in prison, although tragedies such as this are often resolved with compensation in the Cambodian system.

Unesco likely to list Preah Vihear temple

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Mon, July 7, 2008

It is likely that the World Heritage Committee will agree to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site following Thailand's failure to delay the decision, the head of the Thai delegation at the meeting in Quebec said Monday.

Pongpol Adireksarn, chairman of Thailand's World Heritage Committee, the committee agreed that the temple "represented a masterpiece of human creative genius" which is one of six criteria to judge its "outstanding universal value", said The temple might not have to pass all six qualifications because one criterion is enough, he said.

The final decision will be known tomorrow morning Bangkok time.

As Cambodia insisted on a sole application, in accordance with the International Court of Justice's ruling in 1962, the objection raised by Thailand was invalid, he said.

The committee acknowledged the Thai concerns about the temple's outstanding universal value and the Thai Administrative Court's injunction, but it cannot delay any more since the application has been pending for two years, he said.

Cambodia has been keen to convince the 21member committee since Phnom Penh officials took the members to see the site.

"We had some problems after the 2006 military coup, since many democratic countries such as the United States gave full support to Cambodia for political reasons," Pongpol said via telephone from Quebec.

Thailand and Cambodia locked horns over the proposal to list the temple as a World Heritage site after Phnom Penh declared ownership of a 4.6 square kilometre overlapping area claimed by both sides.

The dispute was settled when Cambodia agreed to list only its part of the temple in the application, but there was opposition and street protests in Thailand over the sovereignty issue.

The protesters asked the Administrative Court to overturn the Cabinet resolution - which endorsed a joint communiqu signed by Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and Cambodia's deputy prime minister Sok An in support of the application - and the Constitution Court to rule if the communiqu is unconstitutional.

Pongpol said the listing of Preah Vihear has nothing to do with Thai sovereignty as Cambodia proposed only its own area, not the overlapping area.

"We did not lose any territory. The Foreign Ministry - both under the previous government and this government - has done a good job in protecting our sovereignty," Pongpol said.

Cambodian man marries two women simultaneously

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Jul 7, 2008

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian man who could not decide between his current and ex-girlfriend 'regretfully' married them both at once, local media reported Monday.

Khmer-language Koh Santepheap daily featured a front-page picture of the dual ceremony with Bou Samanak, 28, flanked by beautiful brides Ly Nary, 21, and Choy Chanthu, 20 at Sunday's wedding.

'This is my unfortunate destiny,' the paper quoted Samanak as saying. 'Although I am happy to take both, my life now will be one of a lot of hard work to keep them happy.'

Although the marriage technically flouts Cambodia's bigamy law, police require a complaint to take action, and both women reportedly agreed they would not file one.

No family members of either bride attended, the paper said.

The cambodian side

The Nation
July 7, 2008

Matichon newspaper summed up what the Cambodian press has said about the ongoing conflict at Preah Vihear.Bear in mind the following has been translated twice, so it might differ slightly from the original articles. Nonetheless, it's interesting to hear what our neighbours think about the way Thailand is dealing with the issue.

Koh Santepheap Daily said that there were Thais protesting at the site and using inappropriate words to scold Cambodians at Preah Vihear Temple. The paper said the Thai protest started after they found out about Cambodia's bid to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. Koh Santepheap Daily said that the protest caused hardship among Cambodians who had to commute between Thailand and Cambodia because Cambodians are allowed to carry no more than five kilograms of rice and one bottle of drinking water.

The paper also quoted a Cambodian officer at a checkpoint in Preah Vihear who said the Cambodian officers didn't make any effort to retaliate against protesting Thais. But he said, "They [the Thais] are so low. They dare to scold us. They want to violate our sovereignty without shame."

Rasmei Kampuchea Daily urged the Cambodian people to remain peaceful and not resort to violence. The paper quoted a senior official who thanked the Cambodian people for protesting against Thailand's refusal to accept the ruling by the World Court. But he urged the public to conduct their protests in a peaceful manner.

Other Cambodian sources interviewed by the paper also were of the view that Thais have failed to respect the World Court and said they would monitor the situation closely.

The paper quoted another Cambodian MP who urged the Cambodian government to retaliate against Thailand for violating Cambodian sovereignty in proposing to list the temple as a world heritage site and evading the area near Preah Vihear. The MP also urged the government to enter into negotiations with the Thai government to sort out the conflicts within the presence of international organisations such as the United Nations.

The Voice of Khmer Youth said Thailand's greed would end with shame. In spite of Thailand's resistance to block the bid to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, the international community would consider the World Court's ruling as the final one. Therefore, Cambodian people condemn Thais who don't know their history. It said that the Cambodian people want to see Thais respect the international court's decision. But Thais just want to reap profits from tourism and thus they don't want to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site.

The Voice of Khmer Youth said Cambodians are polite and honest. And they have thought of not intervening in areas that the country has lost, out of consideration for their friendship with Thailand. But protesting Thais don't think this way. They seek only their own benefit; the Thai side wants to violate Cambodia's territorial integrity. Nonetheless, it said that if Thais don't give up, the number of protesting Cambodians may increase to 10,000 because Cambodians won't let Thais do whatever they wish.

Kampuchea Thmey Daily quoted a Cambodian spokesman who said Cambodia's proposal to list Preah Vihear had nothing to do with sovereignty. He also noted that the ruling by the Administrative Court in Thailand would not have any influence on Unesco's promise to list Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. It said that the letter from the Thai court caused a strong reaction from Cambodians.

As a result, we see that Preah Vihear is not only a hot issue in Thailand but also in Cambodia as well.

Cashing in on culture? Thai museum at Angkor raises Cambodian ire

The ruins of Angkor, a huge tourist drawcard for Cambodia, have been looted for centuries. Photo: Supplied

theage.com.au

Robert Turnbull, Siem Reap, Cambodia
July 7, 2008

THERE is no question that Angkor and its famed temples are among the world's archaeological treasures, providing a window into the Cambodian dynasty that flourished there from the ninth century to the 15th century.

But tourists who flock to the site in north-west Cambodia say something is missing; few artefacts remain to help them imagine the customs and rituals of the ancient empire.

Many antiquities were looted over the centuries or appropriated by museums in France, the country's former colonial ruler. Of those that remained, many were moved to Cambodia's National Museum, more than 300 kilometres from Angkor.

Now, a Thai company says it is trying to tackle the problem, opening a museum that borrows artefacts, including nearly 1000 Buddhas, from the National Museum and elsewhere.

But the Angkor National Museum, which opened in October last year, has drawn criticism from powerful detractors, including restoration specialists. Angkor was restored by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, (UNESCO), and others after the wars of the 1970s.

Some quibble with the museum's aesthetics — it includes a sprawling retail area — and with its sense of history. There are hundreds of Buddhas, for instance, that date back no further than the 20th century. Other critics object to the Thai involvement; Angkor was once under Thai control, and Cambodians remain suspicious that Thailand retains designs on their patrimony.

One critic, Darryl Collins, an historian based in Siem Reap, said the displeasure of some Cambodians was understandable. An enterprise that is foreign-led and "primarily interested in turning a profit", he said, can hardly be called national, particularly as Cambodia already has a National Museum.

Angkor National Museum was created by Vilailuck International Holdings, based in Bangkok. Under the terms of its contract with the Cambodian Government, the company agreed to transfer control of the museum to the Government after 30 years in exchange for the right to display treasures from the National Museum and from the Conservation d'Angkor, a national trove of some 6000 artefacts.

The Thais involved have been stung by criticism of the museum, which Vilailuck spent $US15 million to build. "We want to educate Cambodian people about their own history," said its managing director, Sunaree Wongpiyabovorn. There are those "who know little about its monuments, and even less of the progress of Buddhism and what led up to it", she said.

UNESCO, which has declared Angkor a World Heritage site, is generally supportive of the museum and is trying to help by providing advice. Still, Azedine Beschaouch, an adviser to the organisation, agrees with some of the criticism. An expert on Angkor, he is no fan of the retail area that Vilailuck calls a "cultural mall".

The museum insists that it needs more time to develop its identity. Its curator, Cambodian Chann Charouen, plans to rotate artefacts and bring in new pieces from Cambodian provincial museums. It remains to be seen whether the museum will embrace the growing scholarship around Angkor or be content to lure tourists stopping to see the knick-knacks of the cultural mall.

NEW YORK TIMES

Cambodia likely to prevail

The Bangkok Post

Compiled by BangkokPost.com from Thai News Agency, wire reports

Quebec - World Heritage Committee chairman Pongpol Adireksarn says more than half the members have already decided to vote to approve Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site.
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Attempts by Cambodia to list the controversial Preah Vihear temple, as a World Heritage Site during the current United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) annual session held in Canada's Quebec City, are expected to bear fruit.

Thailand's World Heritage Committee chairman Pongpol Adireksarn, said from the Unesco session at Quebec City that more than half of the 21 World Heritage Committee members had told him informally that they favored the Cambodian government's registration of the ancient temple as a World Heritage Site.

The delegates told Mr Pongpol they credited Cambodia because it had "untiringly pursued the issue on a constant basis."

He quoted committee members as telling him that the concerned Phnom Penh government had also invited them to visit the temple, unlike Thailand whose "policy was uncertain" and whose government changed frequently, the report said.

The temple issue is expected to be conferred by the World Heritage Committee on Sunday night, Thailand time.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a non-governmental organisation, had distributed reports to the committee, saying that the listing of the temple alone as a World Heritage site would pose no problem for the consideration, said Pongpol.

But the ICOMOS recommended that both Cambodia and Thailand should jointly propose that the surrounding area to the temple should also be included as the World Heritage site.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, attending the session as an observer, is expected to oppose the listing, and argue for delay. He will carry out the order of the Administrative Court's temporary injunction against the June 17 cabinet approval of the joint communique he signed with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Noppadon said in Quebec that he would prepare a letter and lobby the Committee to delay the listing of the temple.

Thai official: Controversial temple likely to be approved as World Heritage site

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-06

BANGKOK, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Attempts by Cambodia to list the controversial Preah Vihear temple, which stands across the area of both Cambodia and Thailand, as a World Heritage site during the current United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) annual session held in Canada's Quebec City, are expected to bear fruit, according to Thailand's World Heritage Committee.

Pongpol Adireksarn, chairman of the committee and currently attending the UNESCO session, said that more than half of the 21 World Heritage Committee members had told him informally that they favored the Cambodian government's registration of the ancient temple as a World Heritage site as it had "untiringly pursued the issue on a constant basis", the official Thai News Agency reported on Sunday.

He quoted committee members as telling him that the concerned Phnom Penh government had also invited them to visit the temple, unlike Thailand whose "policy was uncertain" and whose government changed frequently, the report said.

The temple issue is expected to be conferred by the World Heritage Committee on Sunday night, Thailand time.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a non-governmental organization, had distributed reports to the committee, saying that the listing of the temple alone as a World Heritage site would pose no problem for the consideration, said Pongpol.

But the ICOMOS recommended that both Cambodia and Thailand should jointly propose that the surrounding area to the temple should also be included as the World Heritage site.

Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, attending the session as an observer, is expected to oppose and delay the listing of the temple following the Thai Administrative Court's temporary injunction against the June 17 cabinet approval of the joint communique he signed with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Noppadon said in Quebec that he would prepare a letter and lobby the Committee to delay the listing of the temple.

Editor: Amber Yao

2,600 Megawatt Hydro-Electric Plant to Be Built

Posted on 6 July 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 567

“Phnom Penh: An official of the Ministry of Industry Mines and Energy said that Cambodia plans to construct the first big hydro-electric dam on the upper Mekong River in Kratie in northeast Cambodia, which can generate 2,600 Megawatts.

“Secretary of State of the Ministry of Industry Mines and Energy, Mr. Ith Prang, said that the feasibility of this potential plan, to provide much electricity, is being studied by an expert company. Mr. Ith Prang stressed that if this plan could be implemented, the dam called Sambo Chumrues would be the first big hydro-electric dam in the history of Cambodia.

[As the name of the expert company is not mentioned, it is also not possible to easily verify how this gigantic plan relates to the Master Plan Study of Hydropower Development in Cambodia, made public by the Japan International Cooperation Agency - JICA – and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy on 19 July 2007, and planned to be still implemented through 2008, with the consideration that there is 'Rich potential of hydropower but no master plan for orderly development' - 'Selection and prioritisation of 10 hydropower projects from environmental, technical and economic assessment' - 'Preparation of Master Plan of Hydropower Development with time horizon of 20 years' - 'Avoidance/mitigation of environmental impacts and development of priority hydropower projects for the national interests of Cambodia.' - The study covers 29 potential much smaller sites in the same area for which now also the gigantic Sambo Chumrues plan is being studied]

“Mr. Ith Prang added that Cambodia would have enough electricity, and electricity could be sold to some neighboring countries as well in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, if the plan leads to positive results. Mr. Ith Prang expects that this plan might also help to attract investors and help poor citizens to have access to electricity at a cheap price.

“Nowadays, the price of electricity in Cambodia is still higher than in neighboring countries, such as Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, which is a factor that makes most investors, who want to invest in Cambodia, to hesitate. To attract such investors and to meet the shortage of electricity, Cambodia, which has its natural resources as its potential, has created an ambition to develop many hydro-electric dams in different potentially suitable areas.

“Last year, Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said that Cambodia will function as a battery storage of Asia, when electricity is not just enough for the needs of the country, but can also be sold to other countries.

“Regarding this plan, Mr. Ngy San, a member of the Rivers Coalition in Cambodia [and Deputy Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia], said that Cambodia welcomes all development plans of the government to produce electricity, but he suggests that the government should check its plans carefully and should publish information widely to communities and non-government-organizations before it makes final decisions for such constructions, in order to avoid negative impacts on the environment and on the eco-system. Mr. Ngy San continued that what he is worried about most is that the construction of this huge plant might destroy the quality of water and the movement of fish, and it might block shipping on this river.

“Relating to these problems, the government must carefully consider the continuity of the environment and the communities living there before it agrees to investment plans of any company [see also International Rivers – people – water - life and the Foundation for Ecological Recovery].

“The director of the Sesan, Srae Pok, and Sekong Rivers Protection Network [also called '3S Rivers Protection Network'], Mr. Kim Sangha, said that the plans of hydro-electric dams always have more effects on the environment and the eco-system than providing economic benefits. He added that he does not oppose the government development plans, but if the government does not study the context very carefully in advance, there might be serious effects on the citizens’ living and on the environment, and it might create other problems in the future.

“On 13 June 2008, the Cambodian government approved laws for the constructions of two more hydro-electric plants with the power of 246 megawatt and 338 megawatt at Stung Tatai and Stung Russey Chhrum rivers [these regions are mentioned in the joint plan of Ministry Industry Mines and Energy together and JICA, mentioned above], besides many other plants being constructed, such as the Kamchay Hydro-Electric Dam in Kampot and the Atai Hydro-Electric Dam located between Pursat and Koh Kong, which can provide 193 megawatt and 120 megawatt respectively.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #41, 5.7.2008

Angkor temple shooter to turn his lens to Preah Vihear

PR-inside.com
2008-07-06

Japanese photographer who has spent 15 years and millions of dollars shooting the Angkor Wat complex will now turn his attention to the controversial Preah Vihear temple, government officials said.

Baku Saito, a 60-year-old freelance photographer, has won praise from Cambodian officials for restoring Khmer pride through his depictions of the ancient stone carvings at Angkor Archaeological Park.

His photos have toured the world and are now making their way through Cambodia in the 'Holy Faces of Angkor' exhibition, which is being shown at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center, inside the Royal University of Phnom Penh, until May 31.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said the government was proud of Saito's work because it brought Cambodia's rich past to the world stage and helped strengthen the roots of Khmer people.

'We learned that his job wasn't done in one or two days, in fact it took more than 10 years and cost him millions of dollars,' Sok An said at the exhibition's opening on May 17.

He added that Saito was now considering turning his lens on Preah Vihear temple, an ancient set of Hindu ruins on the Thai border that is at the center of a long-running territorial dispute with the neighboring kingdom.

Ek Buntha, deputy director general of cultural affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,said Saito 'plans to take photos at Preah Vihear for the next half-year.'

In the mid-1990s, Saito was part of a Japanese-funded team documenting the Angkor ruins. He was tasked with photographing the stone faces at the Bayon temple and his since built a portfolio containing hundreds of images of the site.

‘The photos I took are not just for fun,' Saito said on May 17. 'I took them to show the world and make people aware of the richness of Khmer culture' in the 12th and 13th centuries (www.tourismindochina.com/culture-tradition.htm).

He estimated that his craft has cost him $5 million over the years, although his photos now fetch $4,000 to $5,000 each.

By Kay Kimsong