Tuesday, 8 July 2008

S'pore Petroleum drilling well off Cambodia

asiaone news
Tue, Jul 08, 2008

SINGAPORE Petroleum Company and its partners began drilling an exploration well off Cambodia on Tuesday, the company said in a statement.

The well is the first in Block B, about 160 kilometres southwest of Sihanoukville, the company said.

Drilling to test the hydrocarbon potential is expected to take about 15 days, it said.

Singapore Petroleum, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, has a one-third interest in the block.

Cambodia expects to begin oil production in 2011, a senior energy official said in March.

Oil was discovered in 2005 by the US energy giant Chevron, the most active of several firms exploring in six blocks off the country's coast.

Prime Minister Hun Sen warned late last year that it was 'highly premature' to estimate how much oil Cambodia might hold in undersea reserves.

Concerns have also been raised over how Cambodia - one of the world's most corrupt countries - would use its new-found oil and gas wealth. -- AFP

Analyst: Temple listing threatens the government

The Bangkok Post
(By Deutsche Presse Agentur, dpa)

The decision by Unesco to designate a Hindu temple in Cambodia to the World Heritage list is likely to add to Thailand's already shaky political scene, observers said Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry refused to comment on Tuesday morning following the listing of Preah Vihear, which is called Phra Viharn in Thai.

"The Prah Viharn affair has the makings of the Shin Corp deal. It could oust the government," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok's prestigious Chulalongkorn University.

In a related development, Thailand's Constitution Court on Tuesday ruled that Foreign Minister Noppodon Pattama had violated the constitution by signing a joint communique with Cambodia last month that initially gave Thailand's support for the heritage listing of the temple.

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) at a meeting in Quebec on Monday decided to list Preah Vihear, a stunning clifftop temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva perched on the mountain range that defines the Thai-Cambodian border, as a new heritage site.

The Cambodian proposal was first supported and then opposed by Thailand, which lost the temple site in a border dispute to Cambodia in a International Court of Justice case in 1962.

Although Thailand accepted the 1962 ruling it opposed Cambodia's previous efforts to list the temple at Unesco in 2006 and 2007 on the grounds that part of the temple compound is still the subject of a border dispute.

It is unclear whether the inscription approved in Quebec included the disputed grounds in the temple area.

Thailand's current government under Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej first supported the listing and even signed a joint communique with Cambodia on June 18 pledging its support.

The official support was withdrawn after the issue became a political hot potato and Thailand's Administrative Court on June 21 ordered the government to oppose the listing.

Noppodon travelled to Quebec over the weekend to personally oppose the listing, but failed.
On Tuesday, Thailand's Constitutional Court ruled that Noppadon had violated the constitution by signing the joint communique on June 18 with Phnom Penh without first consulting parliament.

Article 190 of the constitution states that any decisions which could affect Thai national sovereignty must be considered by parliament.

In January 2006, former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra's family sold their shares in the Thaskin-founded Shin Corp - Thailand's largest telecommunications conglomerate - in a 2 billion dollar tax free deal that is often cited as the beginning of the downfall for the populist prime minister.

Thaksin, a billionaire businessman who was premier between 2001 to 2006, was eventually toppled by a coup in September 2006.

Anti-government protestors and the opposition Democrat Party have both jumped on the current administration's initial support for the Cambodian proposal to list Preah Vihear for political mileage.

Although the government later withdrew its support, there was widespread dissatisfaction with the handling of the issue and suspicions that Noppodon had backed the Cambodians to benefit his former boss, Thaksin, in rumoured business deals in Cambodia.

Noppodon was once Thaksin's personal lawyer. He belongs to the People Power Party (PPP), which is known to back and be backed by Thaksin, and is headed by Prime Minister Samak, a Thaksin ally.

"If Noppodon remains defiant and the Samak government doesn't come out with some responsive measures to placate the nationalistic mood, there will be problems," predicted Thitinan.

Samak's government is already under mounting pressure to resign. Thousands of protestors have been demonstrating in Bangkok against Samak's rule since late May. A blistering censure debate against his cabinet took place in June and several court cases are pending this month against members of his cabinet.

The opposition Democrat Party highlighted the Preah Vihear issue in their censure debate to question the government's integrity.

"I'm sure no people would accept the idea that their people could somehow trade off territory or sovereignty for business interests," Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told a recent press gathering.

Temple listing 'a good day for Cambodia'

The Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Cambodians living on the border near an 11th century Hindu temple newly listed as a World Heritage site danced with joy Tuesday, students waved national flags in the streets and a celebratory fireworks display was announced.

Preah Vihear, called Khao Phra Viharn by Thais, is sacred to both sides but was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court in The Hague in 1962. It became Cambodia's third UN World Heritage Site, after Angkor Wat temple complex and the country's national ballet.

"Of course we are overjoyed, the people on the border are dancing. It is a good day for Cambodia," the government official in charge of Preah Vihear, Hang Soth, said by telephone.

Thailand had called for a joint listing by the two nations, citing disputed border territory and the fact that some associated sites of the temple lie within Thai territory.

Cambodian media could not resist a subdued show of nationalism, with a live feed from the UN meeting in Quebec, Canada by private television network CTN at 3 am for Deputy Prime Minister Sok An to personally announce the news.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party network Apsara featured a picture of Prime Minister Hun Sen ringed by stars as it read the entire ruling by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) later in the morning.

But the government took pains not to fan nationalistic sparks too hard, and Hun Sen promptly stated that Thailand remained "a good neighbour."

Emotions run high between the neighbour countries over cultural heritage. In 2003, an angry mob burned the Thai embassy and several businesses after false rumours that a Thai actress had claimed the nation's icon, Angkor Wat, was Thai.

Hun Sen also reiterated that King Norodom Sihamoni had pursued the listing since his time as Cambodian ambassador to Unesco from the early 1990's until his accession to the throne in 2004, and insisted the issue was independent of local politics.

At a press conference in the capital, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong was jubilant.
"This is a victory of our Cambodian government," Hor Namhong said. "But much more important than this, this is the victory of Khmer civilisation."

Unesco status for Cambodian temple

The temple style shows Hindu influence


Preah Vihear's Unesco heritage-site status could draw many more tourists to Cambodia
Al Jaseera
Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Preah Vihear, an 11th-century temple that sits in a border zone between Thailand and Cambodia, has been named by UN officials as a world landmark.

Joanna Sullivan, a Unesco spokeswoman, said on Monday that the temple was designated a heritage site at a meeting in Quebec City, Canada.

Thai citizens were asked to donate money to help finance the country's push to defend the temple in the international court.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled Preah Vihear was located inside Cambodia's border, a decision opposed by many in Thailand.

The stone temple is a few hundred feet from Thailand's eastern border with Cambodia.

The temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor Wat in northwestern Cambodia.

Honoured too by Unesco were two cities of the Straits of Malacca, Melaka and George Town, both in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, marking the country's first entry on the list.

Cambodian quest

Cambodia started seeking the status for Preah Vihear in 2001, hoping for the influx of tourism and international funding that normally accompanies the designation.

In the past, Thailand has vetoed its neighbour's submissions amid fears the status would include disputed land along the border.

But in May, the government of Samak Sundaravej bypassed the parliament and endorsed Cambodia's application.

A month later Noppadon Pattama, the Thai foreign minister, signed a joint communique with Cambodia, endorsing the country's bid to nominate the temple as a world heritage site.

However, Thai critics accused him of violating the country's soveriegnty, and the government withdrew its support.

Thailand's cabinet suspended its decision to support Cambodia's bid on July 1.

Little effect

Thailand's action had little effect on Preah Vihear's World Heritage application, since Cambodia does not need Thailand's support.

Hor Namhong, the Cambodian foreign minister, has accused Thai opposition politicians of exploiting the cross-border dispute to advance their own domestic political agenda and warned they might endanger bilateral relations.

For his part, Cambodia's prime minister, welcomed the Unesco decision in a statement on Tuesday.

"This is a new pride for the people of Cambodia," Hun Sen said.

But he reassured Thailand, saying that the temple's inscription "does not affect" the negotiations to resolve problems of border line between the two nations.

Nation Revels in Temple's 'Heritage' Status

Residents made impromptu celebrations in Phnom Penh Tuesday, following the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.

By Reporters, VOA Khmer
Original reports from Phnom Penh and Washington
08 July 2008

Cambodians celebrated across the country Tuesday, following the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Public officials joined residents in impromptu celebrations in Phnom Penh. Monks in pagodas rang bells, as people went into the streets, shouting, clapping, singing and dancing to drums.

Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a statement congratulating Cambodia on the inscription, especially noting efforts of diplomats and the negotiating team.

The protection of the temple, which sits on a disputed border region, required years of brokering with Thailand.

Unesco's World Heritage Committee Announced late Monday the inclusion of the temple on the protection list. The temple joined another 15 sites around the world that were inscribed during meetings of the committee in Canada.

An official who attended those meetings said Thailand had objected to the inclusion of the temple, but the decision was impossible to reverse.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong declared the result at a press conference Tuesday.

The registration of the temple as a World Heritage was not a loss of territory, "even one centimeter," to Thailand or Cambodia, he said.

Phnom Penh city officials planned a concert and fireworks display at Wat Phnom Tuesday night.
Cambodian People's Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep called the inscription a "big success" for the ruling party.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said the World Heritage listing was not a surprise, as the temple belonged to Cambodia, but he worried the agreement had cost Cambodia territory and could lead to future losses in border negotiations.

The celebrations followed weeks of increased tension between Cambodia and Thailand, as Thai opposition crowds protested in Bangkok and at the border, claiming an agreement to allow Cambodia to apply for Heritage status amounted to a cessation of land.

Officials said Tuesday the gate to Preah Vinhear temple remained closed on the Thai side, and Cambodian riot police remained on guard in front of the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh.

In Pailin, Rural Development Remains Elusive

Rural development in Pailin remains a concern for many potential voters.

By Win Thida, VOA Khmer
Original report from Pailin
08 July 2008

[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 first in a two-part series examining rural development.]

Villagers around the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin complain that they are facing a lack of clean water, schools, hospitals or clinics and land for farming.

Steung Trang commune is 30 kilometers from Pailin, accessible only by a gravel road that was only recently repaired, in time for the July 27 election.

Kong Naren, a villager in Tum Nup Thmei village, Steung Trang commune, Srala Krao district, said recently people here are facing a lack of farmland, water, latrines, hospitals and schools, and where there are school, there are not enough teachers. Srala Krao translates as "outside of school," in fact.

The lack of rural development in places like Srala Krao has become one of the election issues parties have taken up. Nine of the country's 11 competing parties campaigned around Pailin during the June 26 kickoff, promising the kind of development that voters in rural areas say they need.

Kong Naren has 10 children, but none of them go to school. A schoolhouse is too far away, he said, about 7 kilometers. Moreover, the family's poverty makes it too hard to send them to school. The children instead work to raise money for the family or help farm.

"My life here is facing all kinds of difficulties," Kong Naren said. "No water, no food, the house is deteriorating; our living is desperate. My family is like other families, desperate."

The only water sources come from the rain or a river red with earthen runoff, villagers said.
In the nearby village of Andong Reaksa, conditions are much the same.

"We face a lot of problems, no water, no land to farm," said one villager there. "These are the two greatest difficulties we are facing."

"We don't have enough schools, no pagoda for children to attend, so they cannot read and write," said another villager.

Some residents here said their land along the main road had increased in value until it was stolen, forcing them to work as farm laborers on another's land.

Steung Trang commune chief Vorn Ruom said he had 16 villages with 4,000 residents, most of whose living conditions were poorer than other villagers in Pailin.

His villagers lacked clean water, schools, teachers, hospitals or clinics, healthcare and medicine. Their farm produce is offered cheaply, because they are too far from town for good prices.

The people in Pailin where there is no development are looking for political parties that can convince them development will come, in more ways than a single gravel road.

Cambodian official hails inscription of Preah Vihear Temple as World Heritage Site

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-08

PHNOM PENH, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Senior Cambodian government official here Tuesday celebrated the decision by the World Heritage Committee to list the Preah Vihear Temple as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"The listing of the Preah Vihear Temple is the success of civilization and culture for the Khmer people," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong told a press conference at his ministry.

The success didn't break the relationship and cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand, even as Thailand cancelled the joint communiqu on the Preah Vihear Temple issues, he added.

Earlier Tuesday morning in Quebec, Canada, all the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee during its 32nd session unanimously approved the Cambodian application to list the temple as World Heritage Site, but the Thai side still opposed it, he added.

Thailand didn't lose a centimeter of land to Cambodia and Cambodia didn't lose either for listing the Preah Vihear Temple, he said.

Cambodia and Thailand have plan to plant the demarcation posts because the two have clear border and geographic lines according to their treaty, he added.

At the Preah Vihear Temple, the gate to Thailand is still closed but will be opened when the situation is stable, he said.

"So please waiting until situation is stable," he added.

Cambodia shut up the gate at the temple after Thais conducted demonstration around. It also deployed police at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh because possible anti-Thai parade might happen there.

The World Heritage Committee's action followed two weeks of controversy surrounding the position of the Thai government concerning the proposed listing by Cambodia.

As recently as June 18, the Thai government had announced its support of the listing. However, following a decision of a Thai court to temporarily block the effort, the Thai government withdrew its support.

Fortunately for Cambodia, last minute efforts by the Thai delegation to delay the vote and to have joint management of the temple failed at the current session of the committee.

On June 15, 1962, the International Court of Justice decided to award the ancient Angkorian site at the Cambodian-Thai border to Cambodia over the protest of Thailand.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

Cambodians celebrate Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple enlisted as a World Heritage site

The 11th century Preah Vihear temple is seen near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, in this June 21, 2008 file photo. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has on June 7, 2008 approved Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Pok Chadara/Files (CAMBODIA)

The 11th century Preah Vihear temple is seen near the Thai border in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, in this June 21, 2008 file photo. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has on June 7, 2008 approved Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Pok Chadara/Files (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian medical students celebrate Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple enlisted as a World Heritage site during a rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Tuesday, July 8, 2008. Many Cambodians took to the street Tuesday to celebrate their country's success to have the 11th-century Hindu temple enlisted as a world heritage site despite recent protest by opposition groups in neighboring Thailand.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian woman holds banner reading "Celebrate, the Preah Vihear temple is a World Heritage Site", as she waves a national flags at a central market in Phnom Penh July 8, 2008. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has approved Cambodia's application to list the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Hundreds of Cambodians wave national flags during a celebration at a central market in Phnom Penh July 8, 2008. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has approved Cambodia's application to list the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A market security guard plays a drum as Cambodians wave national flags during a celebration at a central market in Phnom Penh July 8, 2008. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has approved Cambodia's application to list the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A market security guard plays a drum as Cambodians wave national flags at a central market in Phnom Penh July 8, 2008. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has approved Cambodia's application to list the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

People wave national flags at the central market in Phnom Penh on July 8 as they celebrate the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple by UN cultural agency Unesco to World Heritage. A Hindu temple in Cambodia, two historic Malaysian trading towns and an early agricultural site from Papua New Guinea were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List on July 7.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Hundreds of Cambodians wave national flags during a celebration at a central market in Phnom Penh July 8, 2008. The World Heritage committee meeting in Canada has approved Cambodia's application to list the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodians celebrate Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple enlisted as a World Heritage site during a rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Tuesday, July 8, 2008. Many Cambodians took to the street Tuesday to celebrate their country's success to have the 11th-century Hindu temple enlisted as a world heritage site despite recent protest by opposition groups in neighboring Thailand.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple is seen on the Cambodian-Thai border in Cambodia, Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, on Saturday June 21, 2008. An 11th-century temple that sits in a disputed border zone between Thailand and Cambodia has been named by U.N. officials as a world landmark.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A door of Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple is seen on the Cambodian-Thai border in Cambodia, Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, on Saturday June 21, 2008. An 11th-century temple that sits in a disputed border zone between Thailand and Cambodia has been named by U.N. officials as a world landmark.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH August 2009 Cambodia Khmer Rouge trials could begin

NEWSAHEAD

The trial of five aging Khmer Rouge leaders is due to begin. The charges relate to the deaths and suffering of millions of Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. The autumn start date is far from certain. After almost a decade strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen and the United Nations are still wrangling about the scope of and funding for the hybrid Cambodian-UN tribunal. The approach of the 30th anniversary of the end of the regime, in Jan 2009, could function as pressure on the negotiations.

Some two-thirds of the tribunal's budgeted three-year mandate have passed since it was set up in Aug 2006, and the delays are widely seen as foot-dragging by Hun Sen, who was a member of the Khmer Rouge as a very young man.

The Khmer Rouge "liberated" Phnom Penh on 17 Apr 1975. Forcing the population out of cities, it tried to establish an agrarian state and killed an estimated 1.7 million people through starvation, disease or execution in the process. Survivors were traumatized in ways that still haunt this country.

Hundreds of people have applied for official recognition as Khmer Rouge victims and to bring parallel civil cases against the five. Regime leader Pol Pot escaped justice: he died in 1998 without being brought to trial. As civil parties, the victims will have standing comparable to those of the accused, including the rights to participate in the investigation, to be represented by a lawyer, to call witnesses and to question the accused at trial. Jun/08.

Three Asian sites added to UNESCO's World Heritage List

A man carries a sack of rice at the Preah Vihear temple near the Thai-Cambodia border.

MediaCorp News
Asia Pacific News
08 July 2008

QUEBEC CITY: A Hindu temple in Cambodia, historic Malaysian towns and an agricultural site from Papua New Guinea were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List on Monday.

Honoured were the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, perched on a mountain top on the Thai-Cambodia border, the cities of the Straits of Malacca: Melaka and George Town in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, marking the country's first entry on the list.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has been meeting in this oldest of Canadian cities from July 2-10 to consider adding to its coveted list of protected architectural and natural wonders.

A total of 45 new sites are vying for inclusion on this list this year, but few more controversial than the Preah Vihear temple.

Last week, Cambodia deployed riot police to protect the Thai embassy for fear that a border dispute over the temple could spark violent protests.

The move came after Thailand suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid for the UN cultural agency UNESCO to grant the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status.

Security forces were also mobilised to protect Thai-owned businesses in the capital Phnom Penh.

In 1962, the dispute over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple went before the World Court, which ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The long-standing row appeared resolved last month, after Thailand endorsed Cambodia's plan to seek World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But the deal sparked a political controversy in Thailand, and last week Cambodia closed the mountaintop temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.

A Thai court then forced the government to suspend its endorsement of the plan. - AFP/de

Alcohol Banned During Election Weekend In Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, July 8 (Bernama) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered a ban on selling alcohol at bars and restaurants over the national election weekend later this month.

The ban will be in operation for 48 hours beginning at midnight July 26 until 11:59 p.m. on the election day, July 27, China's Xinhua news agency quoted an official statement as saying on Tuesday.

"Cambodian and foreign citizens must cooperate with the government," said Hun Sen.

The action is being instituted to ensure the vote proceeds in a non-violent fashion, without intimidation, threats and other incidents associated with excessive alcohol consumption, the premier said in the statement.

"Military police, police and local authorities at all levels must educate people to implement this directive, to suspend the selling or drinking of alcohol so as the election would be free, fair and non-violent," he said.

Cambodians will cast ballots for the parliamentary election on July 27. All 11 parties will compete for 123 seats at the National Assembly. Two of them merged here Monday in order to have more seats.

Cambodian bloggers dream of beating the propoganda

As Cambodia's political parties campaign for elections, the country's small group of bloggers hope that by the next national election blogging, and media, will be more independent. [Radio Australia]


Radio Australia

Just 10 per cent of Cambodians have access to the internet, but a small number of Cambodians are taking up the craft of blogging.

Cambodian bloggers, or 'Cloggers' as they refer to themselves, are starting to use cyberspace to discuss music, romance, daily life and, just occasionally, politics.

While the traditional news media has no official censorship and is often described as one of the freest in the region, a recent study concluded Cambodia's "media is closely controlled by politics, money and fear".

A survey of 150 journalists last year found 65 per cent were afraid of being physically attacked, and 62 per cent feared legal action.

Pin Samithy, President of the Club Of Cambodian Journalists, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program, while violence against journalists has diminished in recent years, the threat of criminal and civil prosecutions has increased.

"We are very concerned about this and I think after the election the Cambodian journalists will meet each other and resolve this problem," he said.

We don't want any journalist to be jailed because of their job."

Mr Samithy is also editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea, the largest newspaper in Cambodia.

He freely admits that his newspaper, like most in the country, is seen to have a bias towards Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party - just as some of his competitors favour the various Opposition parties.

He says his, and other papers, are striving to introduce more balance.

That is not the view of the bloggers, however.

Chak Sopheap is one of Cambodia's very few bloggers.

The 23-year-old says the media in Cambodia is increasing and is more open, but there are still limitations.

"If you look at TV nowadays there's restrictions and it's not independent at all," she said.

"The TV's role is to promote government and mainly the ruling party."

Bloggers are a long way from being able to challenge that official propoganda with only 1,000 or so active in the country and very few of those prepared to tackle politics.

After a blog entry criticising the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Miss Sopheap was sent a message telling her she should run otherwise she would be killed.

She says she doesn't expect blogs to have much influence on the election later this month but hopes that by the 2013 election Cambodia will have too many bloggers for any one political party to control their message.

"I notice that there's an increasing number because one of my network, they promote the blog creation, they go to schools, universities and other organisation to teach people how to blog and the benefits of blogging," Miss Sopheap said.

Asian sites win UNESCO world heritage status

Thai tourists visit the Preah Vihear temple

QUEBEC CITY (AFP) — A Hindu temple in Cambodia, two historic Malaysian trading towns and an early agricultural site from Papua New Guinea were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List on Monday.

Honored were the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border; the cities of the Straits of Malacca, Melaka and George Town in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, marking the country's first entry on the list.

The UNSECO committee has been meeting in this oldest of Canadian cities since Wednesday to consider adding to its coveted list of protected architectural and natural wonders.

A total of 45 new sites are vying for inclusion on the list this year at the meeting which ends on Thursday, but few are more controversial than the Preah Vihear temple.

Last week, Cambodia deployed riot police to protect the Thai embassy for fear that a border dispute over the temple could spark violent protests.

The move came after Thailand suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid for the UN cultural agency UNESCO to grant the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status.

Security forces were also mobilized to protect Thai-owned businesses in the capital Phnom Penh.

In 1962, the dispute over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple went before the World Court, which ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The long-standing row appeared resolved last month, after Thailand endorsed Cambodia's plan to seek World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But the deal sparked a political controversy in Thailand, and last week Cambodia closed the mountaintop temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal. A Thai court then forced the government to suspend its endorsement of the plan.

To date, 862 sites in more than 140 countries have been designated UNESCO world heritage sites.

The Kuk agricultural site in the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea are some 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea-level, and excavations have shown they have been continuously worked for some 7,000 years, and maybe up to 10,000.

"It is an excellent example of transformation of agricultural practices over time, from cultivation mounds to draining the wetlands through the digging of ditches with wooden tools," UNESCO said in a statement on its website.

As for the Malaysian towns which developed over 500 years of trading, "the influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible," UNESCO said.

"The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia."

Also on Monday, the committee included 12 examples of the 17th century military architecture of the Marquis de Vauban, who built or upgraded more than 300 fortifications in France.

His radical and influential designs include the pentagonal fortress.

Other sites added at this week's session include the Archaeological Site of Al-Hijr, the largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan and now the first World Heritage site in Saudi Arabia; and the Morne Cultural Landscape, a rugged mountain jutting into the Indian Ocean in southwestern Mauritius used as a shelter by runaway slaves in the 18th century.

China's Fujian Tulou property of 46 houses built between the 12th and 20th centuries as homes for entire clans in south-west of Fujian province, inland from the Taiwan Strait, and the Armenian Monastic Ensembles in Iran, joined the list too.

The German city of Dresden, meanwhile, has been given another year to halt construction of a new bridge across its Elbe Valley, dotted with monuments and parks from the 16th to 20th century, or face being struck off the list.

Quebec meeting lists temple as Heritage Site

The Bangkok Post

(Additional, foreign news agency report from Quebec below)

By Thanida Tansubhapol

The World Heritage Committee (WTC) meeting in Quebec, Canada has approved Cambodia's application to list the 11th century Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

The Monday meeting did not take into account the controversial joint communique between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, a Thai delegate to the meeting said before the decision was made.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama explained the Administrative Court's temporary injunction to the 21 WTC members, Pongpol Adireksan, chairman of the Thai World Heritage Committee, said.

Mr Pongpol is there as an observer. The court issued an injunction against the cabinet's June 17 resolution, which gave approval for Mr Noppadon to sign a joint communique with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An the following day. Mr Noppadon's signature conveyed Thailand's support for Cambodia's bid to list the temple as a World Heritage site.

The WHC only considered the report of the International Council for Monuments and Sites as a basis for making the decision, Mr Pongpol said.

Bangkok was opposed to Phnom Penh's proposal, instead favouring a joint nomination of the site.
Thailand had been unable to convince the WHC to postpone the issue and wait for a joint nomination, or to defer it until the next meeting.

The WHC said the Preah Vihear issue had already been postponed once, at last year's gathering in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The meeting also inscribed the cities of the Straits of Malacca: Melaka and Georgetown in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, AFP reported.

The WHC had sent its representatives to talk with the Thai and Cambodian delegates to clarify their positions.

Mr Pongpol said the temple listing would have no effect on the demarcation of the border between the two countries. It was specifically only the temple site.

Mr Pongpol said political problems in Thailand had affected the country's ability to lobby committee members.

"We are at a disadvantage. Cambodia regards Preah Vihear as a national issue and continued lobbying when Thailand was undergoing a coup," he said.

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New York/Quebec (dpa) - In one of the most controversial decisions of its eight-day meetings, Unesco on Monday named a Hindu temple in Cambodia to the World Heritage list that has been under the cloud of a border dispute with Thailand for decades.

Preah Vihear is a stunning clifftop temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva perched on the cliff that defines the Thai-Cambodian border.
Cambodia sought designation for the millennium-old temple, but Thailand has challenged the move over a border spat dating to a 1962 International Court of Justice ruling.

In a compromise in May, Cambodia agreed to redraw the inscription map, including only the temple, but the move would limit Unesco's say over how Preah Vihear would be preserved, officials in Cambodia and Thailand have said.

Cambodia's compromise brought Thailand back on board, and the government signed a joint bid, but then withdrew its approval at the last minute in the face of massive public protests and an order by a Thai Administrative Court.

At the last minute, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama travelled to Canada to plead against the designation, but without success.

Thailand successfully blocked Cambodia's efforts to list Preah Vihear in both 2006 and 2007 on the grounds that the inscription map included a 4.6-square-kilometre piece of land in the temple compound that is still subject to a border dispute.

900-year-old temple on disputed Thai-Cambodia border named world heritage site

Canadian Press

MONTREAL — A 900-year-old temple, which sits in a disputed border zone between Thailand and Cambodia, has been named by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

UNESCO spokeswoman Joanna Sullivan says Preah Vihear was designated Monday at a meeting in Quebec City. "I can confirm to you that, yes, it was inscribed this afternoon," Sullivan said.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled Preah Vihear was located inside Cambodia's border, a decision opposed by many in Thailand.

Thai citizens were asked to donate money to help finance the country's push to defend the temple in the international court.

Cambodia has been trying to obtain the designation for the Khmer-style temple since 1992.
However, Thailand has vetoed its neighbour's previous submissions, fearing the status would include nearly five square kilometres of disputed land along the border.

In June, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama signed a joint communique with Cambodia, endorsing the country's bid to nominate the temple as a world heritage site.

Tensions along the border boiled over last month when protesters threatened to evict Cambodians living in the disputed territory. Cambodia responded by closing access to the temple.

The temple's select status as a world heritage site will attract tourists and grants from the United Nations' World Heritage Fund.

Kerry: 'McCain Flip-Flops'

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) defends his endorsement of Barack Obama and says that John McCain has flip-flopped his political stances. McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offers rebuttal.

Cambodians Wary of Angkor Museum

World Hum
7.7.08

A new Thai-backed museum/mall complex located a few miles from Angkor Wat is drawing fire from Cambodians skeptical of the enterprise’s motives. The New York Times reports that restoration specialists are unhappy with the Angkor National Museum’s “aesthetics” and lack of scholarly content, while others suspect that the Thais have designs on Cambodia’s architectural heritage. In fact, anti-Thai riots erupted in 2003 over the issue of Angkor’s provenance.

Given that the for-profit museum is borrowing relics from Cambodia’s National Museum to lend its collection legitimacy, it seems little more than a “cultural mall,” as one Unesco official put it. Unfortunately, it’s a mall that could stir nationalist sentiments.

How green is green?

iafrica.com
Mon, 07 Jul 2008

As climate change guilt among tourists grows, many hotels and resorts in emerging hotspots like Cambodia are touting their environmental credentials in an effort to cash in on the "eco" tag.

But some are finding that in a nation still pulling itself out of poverty and rebuilding after decades of civil war, it is not always easy being green.

The new minimalist 16-room riverfront Quay Hotel in the capital Phnom Penh boasts that it is one of the first businesses in Cambodia to completely offset its carbon emissions.

But their all-natural soap is flown in from Thailand and there is nowhere to buy items such as chemical-free linen, said Michelle Duncan operations manager for FCC, the group that owns the hotel.

"We're a hotel trying to do our bit to offset emissions in the country," said Duncan. "In London or Australia or wherever, it's a lot easier to recycle."

What exactly makes an "eco-resort" also remains to be defined, with no worldwide standards that hotels and resorts have to meet to claim the tag.

In Cambodia, tycoon Sok Kong recently said the environment was his "first concern", despite his plans to build two luxury golf courses in the country's Bokor Mountain protected area.

Yin Sorya, an eco-tourism adviser to the Cambodian government, said that local officials often do not understand what makes sustainable tourism.

"When they (Cambodian officials) talk about eco-tourism, they talk about golf courses or five-star hotels," Yin Sorya said. "Here in Southeast Asia, they want high-market mass tourism."
Many different "green" standards

Many of the resorts marketing their green credentials in Cambodia and neighbouring Laos are modest properties in pristine jungle settings. They use locally-sourced materials, some solar power and try and give back to poor local communities while causing as little impact as possible.

In Thailand, environmentally-friendly policies are becoming more high tech, with homemade biofuels, intelligent lighting, and organically-fertilised herb gardens all wooing tourists concerned about their carbon footprint.

"People are saying: 'If I want to travel, I'd better make it environmentally conscientious,'" said Juergen Seidel, a director for Six Senses, which has hotels and resorts in Thailand and Vietnam.
Six Senses plans by 2020 to produce enough clean energy to power all of its operations as well as feed electricity into local grids, said Seidel.

"Every year there's a 10 or 20 percent increase of travellers in this niche market we're providing," he told AFP.

A United Nations report last year found that tourism, in particular air travel, accounted for about five percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas that traps the sun's heat and fuels global warming.

However as the travel industry adopts more sustainable practices, there are so many different "green" standards on the market right now that tourists are left scratching their heads.

Environmental activists hope that Cambodia will learn to make the most of its pristine forest, much of which was unintentionally preserved as decades of civil war stunted development and left the wilderness untouched.

But as tourist arrivals soar, jumping 20 percent from 2006 to 2007 alone and bringing much-needed money to this poor nation, a high-end hotel building boom sweeping the country is worrying some activists.

Yet Touch Nimith, an eco-tourism officer for Conservation International in Cambodia, holds out hope that the environmental tourism trend will help save protected areas.

"The eco-tourism we're thinking about is for conservation, not local economics," Touch Nimith said.

Cambodia's disputed Hindu temple joins heritage list

Tue, July 8, 2008
By Deutsche Presse
-AgenturNew York/Quebec

In one of the most controversial decisions of its eight-day meetings, UNESCO on Monday named a Hindu temple in Cambodia to the World Heritage list that has been under the cloud of a border dispute with Thailand for decades. Preah Vihear is a stunning clifftop temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva perched on the cliff that defines the Thai-Cambodian border.

Cambodia sought designation for the millennium-old temple, but Thailand has challenged the move over a border spat dating to a 1962 International Court of Justice ruling.

In a compromise in May, Cambodia agreed to redraw the inscription map, including only the temple, but the move would limit UNESCO's say over how Preah Vihear would be preserved, officials in Cambodia and Thailand have said.

Cambodia's compromise brought Thailand back on board, and the government signed a joint bid, but then withdrew its approval at the last minute in the face of massive public protests and an order by a Thai Administrative Court.

At the last minute, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama traveled to Canada to plead against the designation, but without success.

Thailand successfully blocked Cambodia's efforts to list Preah Vihear in both 2006 and 2007 on the grounds that the inscription map included a 4.6-square-kilometre piece of land in the temple compound that is still subject to a border dispute.

Cambodia's disputed Hindu temple joins heritage list

The Earth Times
Mon, 07 Jul 2008
Author : DPA

New York/Quebec - In one of the most controversial decisions of its eight-day meetings, UNESCO on Monday named a Hindu temple in Cambodia to the World Heritage list that has been under the cloud of a border dispute with Thailand for decades. Preah Vihear is a stunning clifftop temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva perched on the cliff that defines the Thai-Cambodian border.

Cambodia sought designation for the millennium-old temple, but Thailand has challenged the move over a border spat dating to a 1962 International Court of Justice ruling.

In a compromise in May, Cambodia agreed to redraw the inscription map, including only the temple, but the move would limit UNESCO's say over how Preah Vihear would be preserved, officials in Cambodia and Thailand have said.

Cambodia's compromise brought Thailand back on board, and the government signed a joint bid, but then withdrew its approval at the last minute in the face of massive public protests and an order by a ThaiAdministrative Court.

At the last minute, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama travelled to Canada to plead against the designation, but without success.

Thailand successfully blocked Cambodia's efforts to list Preah Vihear in both 2006 and 2007 on the grounds that the inscription map included a 4.6-square-kilometre piece of land in the temple compound that is still subject to a border dispute.

Asian sites added to Heritage List

Sunday Times

From correspondents in Quebec City
July 08, 2008

A HINDU temple in Cambodia, historic Malaysian towns and an agricultural site from Papua New Guinea were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List today.

Honoured were the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border, the cities of the Straits of Malacca: Melaka and George Town in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, marking the country's first entry on the list.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has been meeting in this oldest of Canadian cities, Quebec City, from July 2-10 to consider adding to its coveted list of protected architectural and natural wonders.

A total of 45 new sites are vying for inclusion on this list this year, but few more controversial than the Preah Vihear temple.

Last week, Cambodia deployed riot police to protect the Thai embassy for fear that a border dispute over the temple could spark violent protests.

The move came after Thailand suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid for the UN cultural agency UNESCO to grant the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status.

Security forces were also mobilised to protect Thai-owned businesses in the capital, Phnom Penh.

In 1962, the dispute over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple went before the World Court, which ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The long-standing row appeared resolved last month, after Thailand endorsed Cambodia's plan to seek World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But the deal sparked a political controversy in Thailand, and last week Cambodia closed the mountaintop temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.

A Thai court then forced the government to suspend its endorsement of the plan.

Approval for preah vihear likely for today

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation
Published on July 8, 2008

Unesco will likely agree today to list the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site following Thailand's failure to delay such a decision, the head of the Thai delegation at the meeting in Quebec, Canada, said yesterday.

Meanwhile, business executives are worried the issue could turn into a cross-border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.

Pongpol Adireksarn, chairman of Thailand's World Heritage Committee, said the Unesco panel had already agreed that the temple represents "a masterpiece of human creative genius".

This is one of six criteria by which its "outstanding universal value" is judged, so the green light is likely for Cambodia proposal to list Preah Vihear.

Prior to the meeting, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Thailand would seek to delay the decision in the hope of adding elements of the temple's lying in Thai territory to the Cambodian application, thus completing the site's universal value.

However, Pongpol said although the site might not be perfect without the Thai section, which includes a large reservoir and other artefacts, the fact that it met only one criterion was enough for the committee to approve Cambodia's unilateral application.

Pongpol said Thailand's objection was invalid, because Cambodia insisted on offering only that part of the temple site under its sovereignty, in accordance with the International Court of Justice's decision on sovereignty in 1962.

The World Heritage Committee has acknowledged Thai concerns about both the temple's outstanding universal value and the Administrative Court's injunction under which the Thai government was forced to withdraw its support for Cambodia's application.

However, it said it could not delay a decision any longer, because the application had been pending for two years, Pongpol said.

Meanwhile, Pramon Suthivong, chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the Preah Vihear issue could affect border trade, but both countries would be hurt in terms of foreign investment if it is blown out of proportion.

Chutzpahdik Philanthropist Aids Cambodians

Jewish Federation of the Brkshires
Tibor Krausz

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (JTA) -- Headquartered in an upper-floor lounge of the Intercontinental Hotel here, which he has turned into his command center, Bernie Krisher irons out the details of his latest charity projects for this nation’s poorest children.

Things, however, aren’t proceeding smoothly. An assistant tells him of foot dragging by intractable local bureaucrats over building permits for a new school.

Krisher will have none of it.

“I’m not going through this nonsense of red tape,” snaps “Bernie the Pusher,” as the Tokyo-based Brooklynite has been nicknamed for his can-do, never-say-die chutzpah. “I’m gonna break the law [and build anyway] because there’s a higher law -- helping people. I’ll call [King] Sihanouk and [Prime Minister] Hun Sen if I must.”

Krisher doesn’t have to call. He is called and invited to the palace.

There Krisher is the guest of honor at a luncheon by King-Father Norodom Sihanouk, an old friend. Before massed ranks of court photographers and camera crews for Cambodian television, the diminutive elderly monarch thanks Krisher for his "precious friendship with Cambodia" and his myriad altruistic projects for the land's neediest.

Sihanouk then decorates the American Jew with Cambodia's highest honor -- the medal of Grand Officier de l’Ordre royal du Cambodge.

The new school is built on schedule.

A half-hour drive from Phnom Penh, the Bright Future Kids' home boasts airy classrooms and a dormitory. It sits next door to another project initiated by Krisher: an orphanage for youngsters whose parents have died in the country’s raging HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Bright Future Kids program includes gifted but underprivileged secondary students from the remote provinces. In addition to their studies in Cambodia’s national curriculum, the two dozen participants also learn English and computer skills.

“The single most important thing for Cambodians in overcoming poverty and the trauma of genocide is education,” says Krisher, 76, a native of Germany who says he came to identify with long-suffering Cambodians through his own experience as a refugee from the Holocaust. “Most problems are fueled or exacerbated by hopelessness and ignorance.”

During the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror between 1975 and 1979, as many as two million people died on Cambodia’s “killing fields.” Intellectuals, including teachers and doctors, were systematically eliminated, blighting the country's prospects for generations to come.

Three decades later, Cambodia remains one of Asia’s poorest lands, where most citizens survive by subsistence farming, grueling manual labor or employment in sweatshops.

But Nhou Chorm wants to be “a teacher or a doctor.”

The 16-year-old at Krisher’s Bright Future Kids home comes from the Rattanakiri province in the mountainous hill-tribe region of the remote northeast, near the Laotian border. The literacy rate there is only about 25 percent.

Her parents scrape the hard earth for a living; Nhou is the only one of their six children to attend school.

Nhou began her studies at one of several schools built locally by Krisher in his “Put a Roof Over Their Head” initiative. He conceived the project nearly a decade ago during a visit to the provinces, where he saw children learning in groups. The older children taught the younger ones in the open under the shelter of banyan trees.

Krisher, a former Southeast Asia correspondent for Newsweek who publishes The Cambodia Daily -- he's a trailblazer in the country for freedom of the press -- has since helped build some 400 schools across the land.

The schools cost $25,000 each to build and are underwritten by individual donors from Japan to the United States. Many even have Internet connection thanks to the “Motoman” system that links villages through a network of satellites and mobile units transported on motorcycles.

Helped by a program with the Harvard Medical School, sick villagers living in far-flung communities with no access to health care can also benefit from modern diagnostic techniques and consultation with expert health professionals via satellite.

In bamboo and thatch hamlets without running water or electricity, more and more of Krisher's proteges can join the global village with donated computers powered by solar panels.

Enthused by her opportunity to study, Nhou explains in her halting, newly learned English that she read late into the night after long days working in the fields with her family by the light of homemade resin candles.

“Even the poorest kids in the boondocks of New York or Tel Aviv have far better opportunities than the smartest kids in rural Cambodia,” Krisher says. “Many Cambodian kids are showing great promise, but their poverty prevents them from living up to their potential. All we need do is tap that potential and some may become a future prime minister, a Bill Gates or even another Einstein.”

Though suffering from a heart condition, Krisher says he won’t be slowing down.

“My head is bubbling with ideas,” he says.

One is to enlist Israeli agronomists to help teach poor Cambodian farmers modern farming and water management techniques.

And there are plenty more schools yet to build.

3 More Sites on World Heritage List

Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple is seen on the Cambodian-Thai border in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kms (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh.


Alalarm News

QUEBEC CITY, July 7--A Hindu temple in Cambodia, historic Malaysian towns and an agricultural site from Papua New Guinea were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List on Monday.

Honored were the 11th century Preah Vihear temple site, perched on a mountaintop on the Thai-Cambodia border, the cities of the Straits of Malacca, Melaka and George Town in Malaysia, and the Kuk Early Agricultural Site in Papua New Guinea, marking the country's first entry on the list.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has been meeting in this oldest of Canadian cities from July 2-10 to consider adding to its coveted list of protected architectural and natural wonders. A total of 45 new sites are vying for inclusion on this list this year, but few more controversial than the Preah Vihear temple.

Last week, Cambodia deployed riot police to protect the Thai embassy for fear that a border dispute over the temple could spark violent protests.

The move came after Thailand suspended its endorsement of Cambodia's bid for the UN cultural agency UNESCO to grant the long-disputed Preah Vihear temple World Heritage status.

Security forces were also mobilized to protect Thai-owned businesses in the capital Phnom Penh.

In 1962, the dispute over the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple went before the World Court, which ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies at the foot of a mountain in Thailand.

The long-standing row appeared resolved last month, after Thailand endorsed Cambodia's plan to seek World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting in Canada this week.

But the deal sparked a political controversy in Thailand, and last week Cambodia closed the mountaintop temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest the deal.

A Thai court then forced the government to suspend its endorsement of the plan.

Nearly 3,500 Khmer people in Tra Vinh admitted to the Party

Nham Dan
July 7, 2008

Nhan Dan – 117 Khmer people in Tra Vinh were admitted to the Communist Party of Vietnam in the first half of this year, bringing a total of party members from Khmer ethnic minority group to nearly 3,500 people, accounting for 13% total party members in the province, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Thus, Tra Vinh is currently a locality with highest rate of party members from Khmer ethnic minority group compared to other provinces in the Mekong river delta.

In the province's localities where many Khmer people live such Tan Hiep commune (Tra Cu district), Nhi Truong (Cau Ngang), Hoa Loi (Chau Thanh), Chau Dien (Cau Ke), the rate of party members from Khmer ethnic minority group elected to executive committees of the party hierarchy from province to village levels is 53 – 58%.

Hope for hacks

Kay KimsongA Chinese investor who has set up a golf academy in Phnom Penh expects it will encourage the sport among young people in Cambodia.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by By Kay Kimsong and Jenny Chow
Monday, 07 July 2008

A Chinese investor has established an international golf academy in Phnom Penh in order to try to attract more Cambodian business people, senior officials and tourists to the sport, as well as young people, the project’s general manager, Summer Xia, told the Post on July 3.

“We set up this school with the aim to reach our vision to build up a Cambodian junior golf team, because in Cambodia, there are many senior officials who play golf,” said Xia.

The academy, set up at a cost of $150,000, had a soft opening a month ago and will officially tee off next month. Offering two- to three-month programs and charging $15 per hour for lessons, the academy already has 40 students enrolled, 80 percent of whom are Korean businessman.

Xia said the academy has invited four coaches from South Korea, China, and the Netherlands, as well as a Cambodian-American coach.


“This game is not like driving a car; you need to be skillful. But playing golf is addictive, like smoking heroin,” laughed Xia.

Cambodia currently has four golf courses, two each in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep, but would soon be home to ten courses, with new links in Sihanoukville and provinces near the Vietnam border. Phnom Penh also has four driving ranges.

Bun Sok, secretary of state of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, thought the academy would be a tool for encouraging business investment and saw it as a “sign of development, security and peace.”

Dalin Chhem, sales representative of the Angkor Golf Resort, said, “The golf academy can help our business as more people get involved in golf. Then more will come to our resort, and bring more customers to us.” She hoped it would encourage younger and more local golfers.

While Minister of Tourism Thong Khon saw golf as a sort of luxury niche market for the tourism industry, he also noted that there were an estimated 60 million golfers worldwide, 17 million of which were Chinese, Japanese or Korean.

“If a golfer comes to Cambodia, he will not only be seeing Angkor Wat, but will play golf as well. Airfares are expensive, so if they come on one trip, they can enjoy many things,” Thong Khon said.

Cambodian official says economy to pass IMF forecast

Taipei Times
BLOOMBERG
Tuesday, Jul 08, 2008

Cambodia’s economy is set to expand by at least 8 percent this year as an increase in tourist arrivals and rice exports offsets higher energy and commodity prices, Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said.

“We are expecting growth of around 8 to 9 percent,” Cham Prasidh, 57, said in Phnom Penh. “The Cambodian economy is in quite a good shape despite the high prices of oil and food.”

The IMF forecast last month that Cambodia’s economic growth would fall to about 7 percent this year, from 10.25 percent last year.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is relying on the country’s oil and mineral resources to attract foreign investment and reduce its dependence on clothing exports and tourism for growth. Economic growth in Southeast Asia’s second-poorest nation could “move to double digits again” after expanding at least 10 percent in the last four years, Cham Prasidh said.

“If we have a bumper harvest, a lot of tourists coming, a boom in the construction business, more garment exports to developed countries, I believe that would add up a lot more,” Cham Prasidh said on Friday.

Cambodia’s inflation rose 18.7 percent in January because of higher oil and food prices, according to the government’s last published data. More than a third of Cambodians live on less than US$1 a day.

The promise of oil could add to the country’s riches, after Chevron Corp discovered deposits off the southern shore in 2005.

Government revenue from oil could amount to as much as US$500 million a year when production starts in 2010 or 2011, Cham Prasidh said. This story has been viewed 71 times.

CAMBODIA: Farmers turn back to oxen as fuel price rises

Photo: Van Reoun/IRIN
Small scale farmers are increasingly using drought animals for their tilling and the manure as a cheap, natural alternative to high-priced chemical fertilizer


Photo: Van Reoun/IRIN
Cambodian farmers shifted to mechanical tillers in recent years instead of using oxen and other droughted animals but they are now finding the high cost of fuel is eliminating any profit margin

BATTANBANG, 7 July 2008 (IRIN) - The soaring price of fuel, fertiliser and food is a common complaint of Cambodian farmers, but spiraling inflation is creating newer and tougher challenges, especially for rural communities.

Vann Than, a 55-year-old farmer and father of six in Popeal Khe village, is feeling the burden of fuel costs and loan repayments on a mechanical tiller he bought to plough his five-hectare rice field.

Until 2006, when he upgraded to the mechanical tiller, Vann Than had used an ox-drawn plough. In any other year, Vann Than told IRIN, repaying the loan would be manageable, but the annual jump in the inflation rate - to 18.7 percent in January 2008, according to the National Institute of Statistics Consumer Price Index - has taken a heavy financial toll, particularly when he is struggling to pay for diesel fuel, which has doubled in price, and fertiliser, which has also increased significantly.

"We spend everything on these higher costs. I don't think we will make any profits from our rice field this year," he said.

Similar stories of rural hardship are common in the northwestern part of the country, 300km from the capital Phnom Penh.

In Thma Koul district's Popeal Khe village, dozens of mechanical ploughs are parked in front of farmhouses. Three years ago, many farmers in this village sold their draught animals to purchase mechanical ploughs. They believed the mechanical tillers would prepare their fields faster and thus increase productivity and profits.

In the rush to mechanise, only three families among dozens in the community continued using oxen, villagers told IRIN. Now with the cost of diesel increasing, they regret abandoning their draught animals so quickly, Koy Kean, 68, the village chief, told IRIN.

For those who did not buy tillers, but sold their animals anyway, and now rent the services of those with private tillers, each planting season the cost of field preparation is almost as much as owning a tiller outright. According to Koy Kean, the cost of tilling a one-hectare rice paddy has risen from US$39 last year to $51 this year.

Production mix

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said that in general using mechanical tillers was more productive than tilling with draught animals, but the steeply rising fuel costs had upset that equation.

He suggested farmers needed to be flexible and probably should retain their draught animals - including buffaloes, oxen and cattle - for times such as these.

And it is just that mix of animal and machine that Vann Than said he was using to minimise his production costs this year. On his five hectares, he first used his mechanical tiller to break the soil and then, on a second pass-over, he used his oxen to plough deeper furrows.

"As fuel prices, as well as the cost of fertiliser, soar, we will make less profits," Vann Than said, adding that the price of 50 kg of fertiliser had doubled to $40.

Chan Sarun, the Agriculture Minister, told IRIN of his concern that some farmers who used mechanical tillers were now feeling the effects of fuel hikes.

He recommended that those who owned small plots of farmland stick to using oxen. He also suggested that farmers cut back on high-priced chemical fertiliser and rely more on manure and compost as an alternative. In addition, he advocated the use of improved seed varieties and better planting techniques to increase yields.

"If the farmers use better seeds with well-levelled fields they will produce higher yields," Chan Sarun said, adding that the increased use of manure made sense as too much chemical fertiliser made soil less fertile over time.

Temple strains Thai-Cambodia relations

FT.com
By Raphael Minder in Bangkok
Published: July 7 2008

United Nations committee of culture experts is due to decide as early as Tuesday whether to override Thai objections and list a 900-year-old temple as a Cambodian World Heritage site, an issue that has strained relations between the two south-east Asian neighbours.

Noppadon Pattama, Thailand’s foreign minister, flew to Canada at the weekend to withdraw his country’s support for listing the temple. His 11th-hour intervention in a meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Quebec has also underlined domestic pressure on the fragile coalition government in Bangkok.

Thailand had originally agreed to support Cambodia’s application to register Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple whose grounds straddle a long-contested border area between the two countries. The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in 1962 the temple belonged to Cambodia, although it sits atop an escarpment forming a natural border between the countries.

While Thailand’s handling of the listing initially seemed little more than a sideshow, it has recently inflamed nationalist sentiment at a politically sensitive time in both nations.

The Thai government’s U-turn came after opposition politicians leapt on its initial support of the listing. They started legal proceedings against such a move and accused the government of yielding sovereign soil and making concessions to promote the Cambodian business interests of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister and tycoon.

In Cambodia, meanwhile, the temple’s listing has become a political issue in the run-up to elections this month. The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, which was torched in 2003 over a separate temple dispute, was placed under heavy security amid fears it could again become the target of anti-Thai demonstrators.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of Thailand’s opposition Democrat party, told a meeting of foreign correspondents last week that the temple’s World Heritage claim should be shared between neighbours. “The rush [to list] can only bring conflict between the two people on the two sides of the border and quite likely lead to further disputes,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense to list unilaterally a site covering overlapping claims.”

The UN committee may delay a decision on the temple to give more time for the countries to resolve their dispute.

Corrupt Official Nhek Kosal Vithyea Is Appointed as a Member of the Economic, Social and Cultural Observation Unit of the Council of Ministers

Corrupt Official Nhek Kosal Vithyea Is Appointed as a Member of the Economic, Social and Cultural Observation Unit of the Council of Ministers With a Position Equal to a Secretary of State

Posted on 8 July 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 568

“A doctorate title holder who is well-known for committing corruption and for being immodest, Nhek Kosal Vithyea called Victor, a former director of the state communications company Telecom Cambodia, was removed from his lucrative position, based on a proposal from officials of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication by the Sub-Decree #367 ANKr.KT, dated 8 May 2008.

“Before he was removed from the position of director of Telecom Cambodia by this Sub-Decree, dated 8 May 2008, to work at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea was also removed from the position of advisor to Samdech Akkak Moha Thommak Pothisal Chea Sim, President of the Senate of the Royal Government of Cambodia by the Royal Decree NS/TKT/ 0907, dated 6 September 2007, because this man’s hands are full of corruption in the telecommunications sector.

“Separately, there is a private company, called Pacific Communication Pte., investing in the telecommunications sector. Ms. Song Nimul, Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea’s wife, was a candidate for the position of director, and she used to stand as the direct representative of Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea, in order to sign and to accept a 35-year license, dated 3 November 2005, from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, which temporarily earned money from corruption, by redirecting international mobile phone traffic illegally, a procedure that was then stopped by police on 29 May 2008, according to letter #182 SchN, dated 8 February 2008, from the Council of Ministers.

“The action that the Royal Government taken against Pacific Communication Pte., ordering them to compensate the state through the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, based on the letter #182, dated 8 February 2008, of the Council of Ministers, shows that the Royal Government, through the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication with H.E. So Khun as Minister of Post and Telecommunication, recognized Pacific Communication Pte. as belonging to Nhek Kosal Vithyea who is a civil servant, owning a crooked company which stole from the nation.

“As if to wash away his shame, the corrupt Nhek Kosal Vithyea was recently appointed as a member of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Observer Unit of the Council of Minister, by Royal Decree NS/0508/463, dated 3 May 2008, which gives him a position equal to that of a secretary of state.

“This means that Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea can no longer hold a position of an Excellency under the power of Samdech Akkak Moha Thommak Pothisal Chea Sim, and that is why he turned to be now under the tutelage of H.E. Sok An, a Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers, who is Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen’s in-law.

“The Economic, Social, and Cultural Observer Unit, which is under the control of H.E. Sok An, was created by the Royal Decree #30 ANKr.BK, dated 26 July 2004, and all members of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Observer Unit are appointed by Royal Decree.

“H.E. Nhek Chroeng, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, who is Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea’s father, is also a member of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Observer Unit, who was appointed by the Royal Decree NS/RKT/0804/172, dated 5 August 2004.

“Independent law experts are so surprised, because, as mentioned in letter #2544BT, dated 2 October 2007, from [Minister of Post and Telecommunication] H.E. So Khun, who sent it to H.E. Sok An, this man should have been punished for embezzlement of state funds, based on Article 37 of the Transitional Criminal Law. However, this corrupt man Nhek Kosal Vithyea was assigned to be a member of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Observer Unit of the Council of Ministers, with a rank equal to the position of a sectary of state. This means that his corrupt person was free form punishment, and was even promoted as an encouragement.”

Deum Tnot, Vol.1, #22, 7-8.7.2008

Temple Group Announced on Eve of Decision

The Khmer Civilization Foundation announced on Monday a new committee to help people living near Preah Vihear temple.

By Seng Ratana, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (757 KB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (757 KB) - Listen (MP3)

A local foundation announced Monday the creation of a committee to support people living near the contentions border temple of Preah Vihear.

The Preah Vihear committee was announced by the Khmer Civilization Foundation the day before a decision on the temple's World Heritage status is expected.

Cambodian officials are seeking the temple's inclusion on Unesco's World Heritage protection list, a move that has made the structure the focal point of increased tension between Thailand and Cambodia.

A 1962 International Court ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the surrounding borders are still in dispute. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bangkok in the wake of the temple's application, claiming a Thai agreement to allow Cambodia to forward the request was tantamount to a cessation of land. A Thai court subsequently issued on injunction of Thai support for Cambodia's application.

Moeung Son, the founder of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, said plans are in place to build a hospital near the cliff-top temple. The Foundation, which operates through independent funding from Cambodian residents and expatriates, will hold an inaugural ceremony Friday.

Hong Soth, director of the government's Preah Vihear National Authority, said the authority had not yet recognized the foundation.

The Foundation will meet with former king Norodom Sihanouk Wednesday to discuss plans to build a hospital, named after the former monarch, near the temple.

The World Heritage Committee, which is currently meeting in Canada, is expected to announce a decision on the temple's protection status Tuesday.

Thailand Denies Role in Border Shootings

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (1.16 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (1.16 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Thai Embassy issued a statement Saturday denying Thai border officials were involved in a shooting Thursday that led to the deaths of two Cambodians, but a Thai official said Monday an investigation will be conducted.

The shootings were the result of human trafficking, the Thai statement said.

It On, 25, and Chea Phal, 6, were allegedly shot Thursday afternoon on the Thai side of an informal border crossing at Bantey Meanchey province. Witnesses said Friday the shooter was a Thai border patrolman.

Thai authorities will conduct an investigation into the shooting, which took place on Thai soil, Thai First Secretary Chaturont Chaiyakam told VOA Khmer Monday.

"The Thai military and the Thai authorities did not commit the killing," he said. "We try to prevent the people from smuggling into Thailand. You know, it's dangerous if you cross the border because there are criminals, Cambodian or Thai, along the border."

Tim Sareth, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior's Cambodia-Thai coordination office, said Cambodia's representative to Sre Keo province had sent a letter to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs urging an arrest in Thursdays' shootings.

In US, Cambodian Group Looks to Opposition

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
07 July 2008

Cambodian-Americans from Virginia and Maryland gathered over the weekend to show support for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

Attendants of a meeting held by the group Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy were hopeful that voters living in Cambodia would chose the opposition "to change society and the leader."

"Our country cannot lead with the same leader....so democracy is in our hands to choose good leaders for our children's future," one participant told VOA Khmer.

"Let's vote for any party that is not under any foreign pressure like [the Vietnamese]," said another participant.

Several participants said that those who remain in power too long become dictators, corrupt and prone to nepotism.

Virginia resident Mok Yorn appealed to the opposition to seek national unification.

"Vote for the opposition," said another participant. "They have new ideas to make the country progress."

Group Debates Merits of Next US President

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
07 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (1.66 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (1.66 MB) - Listen (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 04 July 2008 (2.40 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 04 July 2008 (2.40 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodian-Americans in Virginia and Maryland have different political stances in supporting presidential hopefuls senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

"We want the US to help Cambodians with humanitarianism and trade," said Tom Keo, a Virginia businessman who favors McCain, a Republican, for his experience.

Tung Yap, president of the group Cambodian-Americans for Human Rights and Democracy, said he supported Obama, the Democratic hopeful.

"For me, I want to see a new leader, like other Americans who do not want to see the same leaders weaken the economy," he said.

Virginia resident Mok Yorn said he supported McCain, "as he has more experience, and helped fight communists a lot, even in Cambodia."

Washington area businessman Chamroeun Muoy, who supports McCain, said Obama has a lot of support by the young, while McCain has a lot of support from those over the age of 30.

"A win or loss for McCain depends on how he can explain economics to," Chamroeun Muoy said.

Two Minor Parties Invite All Parties to Unify

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
07 July 2008

Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (1.13 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 07 July 2008 (1.13 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The Society of Justice and Khmer Anti-Poverty parties on Monday made a public invitation for the country's nine other parties to join them for the upcoming election.

"I urge you, the small parties and big parties, come and join us," Kravanh Daran, president of the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, said Monday. "I want you to unify. This is the sample of unity of our country. Please be brave and stand up, go forward to reach our beautiful destiny. I would like all of you to come together."

Both parties announced they would officially join together to help each other's candidates.

"After the political alliance, we can get more support from the voters," Ban Sophal, president of the Society of Justice Party, said. "And from now on, we cannot lose our voters."

Officials of the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties said Monday they were not concerned with such unity, but with their separate political campaigns.The Society of Justice and Khmer Anti-Poverty parties are both running on platforms of unity, claiming Monday that "Cambodia was once a large and well-known country but now it is small and un-unified" and calling the country's leaders to "work together" for Cambodians, "who are awaiting unity."