Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Pullback approved

(BangkokPost.com, with Agency reports)

The cabinet on Tuesday endorsed a Thai military withdrawal from the front lines at Preah Vihear temple, as Cambodia demanded that Thai forces also pull back from Ta Moan Thom temple in Surin province.

The cabinet meeting only rubber-stamped an agreement between Cambodia and Thailand to pull back from their confrontation at the disputed area around Preah Vihear. It did not mention specific numbers or dates for the withdrawal.

Cambodia has demanded Thailand "go first" in stepping back at Preah Vihear, where even an accident could trigger military action by about 1,000 troops on each side. On Tuesday, it also demanded that Thai forces get away from the second temple, Ta Moan Thom, where there has been no change in military deployment in several years.

Government spokesman Wichainchot Sukchotrat said the cabinet had backed the joint withdrawal at Preah Vihear, but added that details would be discussed later by Cambodian and Thai military officials.

"The adjustment will be made in appropriate numbers in order to lower tension. Enough troops will be left to protect our sovereignty and integrity," he told a press conference.

After military officials agree on the details, the foreign ministers will meet on Aug 18 and 19 at Hua Hin, an army officer said. It was not clear there would be such a meeting, however. Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said on Monday there would be new talks with Thailand until a new government takes office in Phnom Penh following elections last month.

The Preah Vihear feud got even hotter on Sunday as Cambodian politicians stoked the increasingly nasty anti-Thai feelings in the country. They alleged Thai troops were occupying the second temple, 130 kilometres west of Preah Vihear and not involved in the original dispute.
Army commander Anupong Paojindasaid insisted on Tuesday that the temple and Thai troops are within "Thai territory."

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh, however, said the temple "is clearly under our sovereignty, and we have to demand it back."

"Our position is to try to talk to them (Thai troops) and get them to withdraw to where they came from," Cambodia's Tea Banh told reporters.

About 50 Cambodian soldiers have long been stationed near the Thai troops at Ta Moan Thom, with another 200 deployed about 300 metres from the temple site. The 13th century temple was built during the Khmer Empier as a rest stop for travellers between Angkor Wat and towns which today are in the Northeast region of Thailand.

Lt Gen Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Border Affairs Department, said Tuesday that Cambodian troops had long been allowed at Ta Moan Thom because they came in small groups and were unarmed.

"Over the weekend, about 40 to 50 of them came and they were armed, so the Thai troops did not allow them in," he said.

Kuwait rents rice farms in Cambodia

Trade Arabia

Kuwait has leased rice fields in Cambodia and plans to import food from the Asian country, a government official said.

Soaring food prices are a key driver of inflation in the desert state, hitting 11 percent in April and May. Kuwait imports most of its food and has said it wants to invest in chicken and other farms as part of a national food plan.

Daily Awan quoted Foreign Minister Undersecetary Khaled Al-Jarallah, who is with Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah on an Asian tour, as saying the rice fields would meet the country's food demand.

"Kuwait has rented many rice fields which will secure the country's needs, and will export the surplus to the international markets," the paper quoted Al-Jarallah as saying.

Kuwait has also discussed investments in the oil, industrial and tourism sectors, he told the paper.

Kuwait is interested in investing in the agricultural sector in Cambodia and boosting trade in food products, state news agency Kuna said late on Tuesday after a meeting between Finance Minister Mustapha Al-Shamali and Cambodian officials.

In June, Commerce and Industry Minister Ahmad Baqer told parliament the world's seventh-largest oil exporter could work with fellow Gulf Arab states to invest in food production and farming to secure food supplies.

The Saudi government is negotiating on behalf of Saudi investors to set up projects in Sudan, Egypt, Ukraine, Pakistan and Turkey for wheat, barley, soybeans, rice and animal fodder. - Reuters

Cambodia positive about Kuwait agriculture proposals

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Aug 5, 2008

Phnom Penh - A bilateral agricultural venture between Cambodia and Kuwait proposed during an official visit by Kuwait's prime minister left Cambodia very positive about future cooperation, Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah left Cambodia Tuesday after a three-day official visit which covered a range of subjects, including technical assistance in oil exploration, proposed direct flights and even football friendlies.

But the most interesting topic for Cambodia was a proposal to exchange agricultural technology for a large area of land to grow food - probably rice - for export to the Gulf state, Chan Sarun said.

'Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has asked me to join in discussions Wednesday to review the results of meetings with Kuwait regarding agriculture and examine the options,' Chan Sarun said by telephone.

'It is very interesting but I will know more after the meeting.'

Kuwait is oil-rich but largely covered in desert, making it difficult to grow enough food for its 2 million-plus residents.

Another Gulf state, Qatar, also made overtures along the same lines when its Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al-Thani visited in March, and there are rumours that others in that region may follow suit.

Cambodia recently announced that drastic overhauls of its rice production techniques and improvements in infrastructure such as better irrigation and mills could boost it to become one of the biggest rice exporters in the region.

Thailand, Cambodia agree not to send troops to 2nd temple

SURIN, Aug 5 (TNA) -- Thailand and Cambodia, which have exchanged new claims over a second disputed temple ruin on their mutual border, agreed Tuesday not to dispatch troops into the area in order to ease tensions along the border.

The agreement was reached following a closed-door half-an-hour talk between Maj-Gen. Kanok Netrakawesana, commander of Thailand's Suranaree Task Force, and San Wanna, deputy governor of Cambodia's Uddor Meanchey province, at the Task Force headquarters in Kap Choeng border district of Surin province.

Deputy Governor San Wanna later told journalists that the talks were held in a "positive atmosphere" and there would be no more problem. The Cambodian governor said the two countries agreed not to send troops into the disputed area.

The two neighbours are now locked in new unneighbourliness over the Ta Muen Thom ruins, which Thailand claims sits in the Thai border district of Phanom Dong Rak in the northeastern province of Surin, and Cambodia argues is in Cambodia's Uddor Meanchey province.

Tensions in the area heightened after Gen. Boonsang Niempradit, Thai supreme commander, on Monday asked Cambodia to withdraw its soldiers from the temple environs. The demarcation boundary between the two countries has not yet been settled by the Thailand-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC).

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman has said the Ta Muen Thom ruin is only one of a number of sites along the unclear boundary between the two countries. Thailand is trying to conduct its actions under the framework of the GBC, he said, and the temple problem should also be discussed under that mechanism.

Thai Fine Arts officials at Ta Muen Thom ruin said Tuesday that Cambodians frequently visited the ruins, especially during April. The number of tourists visiting the site has now increased following reports on tensions in the area.

Theerawat Sudsook, Phanom Dong Rak district officer, said the overall situation along the common border in the district was still normal and that residents on both sides of the border were still communicating with each other normally.

On Monday last week, foreign ministers of the two countries agreed at a meeting in Cambodia's Siem Reap province to redeploy their troops at Preah Vihear ancient temple and the area surrounding it in an attempt to reduce tensions along the border, but until the Thai Cabinet met Tuesday, neither side showed any sign of making the first move.

The Cabinet agreed "in principle" to reduce the presence of its military in the vicinity of the temple tension point on the border. However, Thai government spokesman Wichianchot Sukchotrat indicated no timetable or the numbers of troops to be pulled back from the frontier.

The International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962.
More than one thousand troops from both countries are still at Preah Vihear. (TNA)

Thai cabinet approves pullback in Cambodia border spat

Cambodian soldiers at the Preah Vihear temple

BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand's cabinet agreed in principle Tuesday to pull back some troops from near a disputed temple on the Cambodian border, but did not commit to specific numbers or dates for the withdrawal.

The two countries agreed in talks last week to pull back their forces from a small patch of disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple, where more than 1,000 troops from both countries are now stationed.

Government spokesman Wichainchot Sukchotrat said the cabinet had backed the plan, but added that details would be discussed later by Cambodian and Thai military officials.

"The adjustment will be made in appropriate numbers in order to decrease tensions. Enough troops will be left to protect our sovereignty and integrity," he told a press conference.

Military officials will meet to hammer out details of the plan before talks between their foreign ministers, set for August 18-19 in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin, an army official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith welcomed the move.

"The withdrawal of the troops is very important," he told AFP. "Whenever they withdraw their troops, we will also withdraw ours."

The border dispute erupted July 15, after three Thai nationalist protesters were arrested for trying to illegally cross into Cambodia to reach the temple.

Thai nationalists were incensed that Cambodia last month won world heritage status from the United Nations for the 11th century ruins, which Thailand has long claimed though the World Court ruled in 1962 the ruins belong to Cambodia.

The feud this week expanded to include a second temple 130 kilometres (80 miles) west of Preah Vihear, where Thailand has accused Cambodia of trying to send troops into its territory.

Cambodia demands Thai troops pull back

Thai soldiers camp out outside a Cambodian Buddhist temple which Thai have occupied close to a famed Preah Vihear temple complex in Preah Vihear Province near Cambodia-Thai border, Cambodia , Friday, Aug. 1, 2008. Cambodia said Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008 Thai soldiers are occupying a second temple site along on their border, a new twist in an ongoing armed standoff that nearly led to clashes between the neighbors last month. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

By KER MUNTHIT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia on Tuesday demanded that Thailand pull its troops back from a second temple site along their border, the latest in a series of territorial claims and counterclaims that have prompted armed tensions between the Asian neighbors.

The dispute surrounding the 13th century Ta Moan Thom temple started when Cambodian officials said some 70 Thai soldiers started occupying the temple site last week and prevented Cambodian troops from entering. Thai military officials countered that their troops had been in the area for years.

It is located several hundred miles west of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where Cambodian and Thai soldiers have been locked in a standoff for three weeks in a dispute over nearby land.

Thai army commander Gen. Anupong Paojindasaid said Tuesday the temple is within "Thai territory."

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh, however, said the temple "is clearly under our sovereignty, and we have to demand it back."

"Our position is to try to talk to them (Thai troops) and get them to withdraw to where they came from," Cambodia's Tea Banh told reporters Tuesday.

Cambodian Maj. Ho Bunthy, an army commander in the area, said Tuesday about 50 Cambodian soldiers were stationed near the Thai troops and another 200 deployed about 330 yards from the temple site.

Thailand's Lt. Gen. Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Border Affairs Department, said Tuesday the Cambodian troops were normally allowed to enter the site because they usually came in small groups and they were unarmed.

"Over the weekend, about 40 to 50 of them came and they were armed, so the Thai troops did not allow them in," said Niphat.

Ta Moan Thom temple was built in the 13th century as a rest house along a road linking the ancient city of Angkor with what is currently northeastern Thailand, said Chuch Phoeun of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture.

That dispute erupted last month near the Hindu-style Preah Vihear when UNESCO approved Cambodia's application to have the complex named a World Heritage Site. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej had backed the bid, sparking anti-government demonstrations by Thais near the temple. Thailand then sent troops to the border area.

Thai government critics say the temple's new status will jeopardize their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.

About 800 troops from Cambodia and 400 from Thailand remain at a pagoda near the temple complex, despite a tentative agreement reached by foreign ministers last week to redeploy them in an effort to ease tensions.

Anupong, the Thai army chief, said the Thai troops were waiting for orders from the government.


Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said new talks with Thailand will have to wait until after a new government takes office in Phnom Penh following elections last month.
In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia. The decision still rankles many Thais even though the temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor complex.

Although it is not as well known as the Angkor or Preah Vihear temples, Ta Moan Thom is another of the architectural wonders of the ancient Khmer empire.

#31 - News : Border dispute - 05.08.2008

Cambodia demands Thai troops pull back

The Associated Press
Published: August 5, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodia demanded on Tuesday that Thailand pull its troops back from a second temple site along their border, the latest in a series of territorial claims and counterclaims that have prompted armed tensions between the Asian neighbors.

The dispute surrounding the 13th century Ta Moan Thom temple started when Cambodian officials said some 70 Thai soldiers started occupying the temple site last week and prevented Cambodian troops from entering. Thai military officials countered that their troops had been in the area for years.

Thai army commander Gen. Anupong Paojindasaid said Tuesday the temple is within "Thai territory."

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh, however, said the temple "is clearly under our sovereignty, and we have to demand it back."

"Our position is to try to talk to them (Thai troops) and get them to withdraw to where they came from," Cambodia's Tea Banh told reporters Tuesday.

Cambodian Maj. Ho Bunthy, an army commander in the area, said Tuesday about 50 Cambodian soldiers were stationed near the Thai troops and another 200 deployed about 330 yards (300 meters) from the temple site.

Thailand's Lt. Gen. Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Border Affairs Department, said Tuesday the Cambodian troops were normally allowed to enter the site because they usually came in small groups and they were unarmed.

"Over the weekend, about 40 to 50 of them came and they were armed, so the Thai troops did not allow them in," said Niphat.

Ta Moan Thom temple was built in the 13th century as a rest house along a road linking the ancient city of Angkor with what is currently northeastern Thailand, said Chuch Phoeun of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture.

It is located several hundred miles (kilometers) west of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where Cambodian and Thai soldiers have been locked in a standoff for three weeks in a dispute over nearby land.

That dispute erupted last month near the Hindu-style Preah Vihear when UNESCO approved Cambodia's application to have the complex named a World Heritage Site. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej had backed the bid, sparking anti-government demonstrations by Thais near the temple. Thailand then sent troops to the border area.

Thai government critics say the temple's new status will jeopardize their country's claims to land adjacent to the site.

About 800 troops from Cambodia and 400 from Thailand remain at a pagoda near the temple complex, despite a tentative agreement reached by foreign ministers last week to redeploy them in an effort to ease tensions.

Anupong, the Thai army chief, said the Thai troops were waiting for orders from the government.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said new talks with Thailand will have to wait until after a new government takes office in Phnom Penh following elections last month.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia. The decision still rankles many Thais even though the temple is culturally Cambodian, sharing the Hindu-influenced style of the more famous Angkor complex.

Although it is not as well known as the Angkor or Preah Vihear temples, Ta Moan Thom is another of the architectural wonders of the ancient Khmer empire.

Opposition Assembly boycott threatens govt formation: officials

Heng Chivoan; Sam Rainsy protests the deletion of voters’ names from the election registration rolls.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng and Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 05 August 2008

Dissident politicians risk losing their seats in parliament if they refuse to attend the NA’s swearing in ceremony next month, govt warns

Politicians have warned that a threatened boycott by opposition lawmakers of the swearing-in of Cambodia’s new National Assembly could deadlock the government, as ruling party officials insisted that dissidents risked losing their parliamentary seats if they failed to show up at next month’s ceremony.

“A boycott will cause political deadlock regarding the formation of the new National Assembly,” said Monh Saphan, a parliamentarian with Funcinpec, the former coalition government partner of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

But others, including the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP), headed by one-time Funcinpec president Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said a boycott was the most effective way to protest alleged vote-rigging in the July 27 general election.

“We will use our one voice to boycott the ceremony,” said NRP spokesman Muth Chantha on Monday. “We are all sitting in one boat and will row it together.”

Minister of Information and CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said any parliamentarian not at the September 24 swearing in would be stripped of his or her seat.

The vacant seats would be divided among the parties that did attend, he said, adding that “the CPP stands to gain 15 more seats.

The constitution requires that at least 120 of the Assembly’s 123 seats are filled for the first session.SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said the opposition was collecting evidence of vote fraud to take to election officials.

Officials liken Cambodian strikes to "HIV" of garment industry

M&G Business News
Aug 5, 2008

Phnom Penh - Persistent industrial action and strikes by Cambodian unions were a deadly virus threatening the country's garment industry with the potential to kill it, a senior official said Tuesday.

'Strikes are the garment industry's HIV, we are very worried about this,' Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, was quoted as saying by the English-language Mekong Times.

'We know that some factories are about to close due to strikes and demonstrations and some factories are considering limiting output,' Ieng, speaking at a training workshop, said.

Chea Mony, head of the country's largest garment factory union, the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said the claims were exaggerated. This year only 30 industrial actions were reported, far less than previously.

'It is true that HIV/AIDS destroys health, but the virus happens to those who don't protect themselves,' he said in a phone interview.

There was a system in place for mediation, he said, and if bosses respected workers' rights, the system worked.

'HIV is therefore the bosses' fault,' he added.

The garment industry is Cambodia's largest export industry and employs around 330,000 people.

The Mekong Times said an estimated 10 of 400 factories nationwide had closed due to industrial action this year, but did give a source for this figure.

Five Cambodian Men Rescued From Trafficking Ring

The five men being escorted by LICADHO staff after their arrival back in Cambodia

LICADHO
Published on August 5, 2008

On October 26, 2007, four Cambodian men aged between 20 to 37 years were trafficked from Takeo province to work on a deep-sea fishing boat off the coast of Thailand. Chronic unemployment and poverty drove the men to seek work abroad and into an environment they knew little about. Whilst it was the mens' choice to search for work overseas, they were unaware that they were being trafficked into forced labor in Thailand. Their arduous journey took them from a small village in Cambodia to a remote forest in Thailand and then to the coast of East Malaysia, however through the cooperation of several NGOs in the region the men were able to be returned to their homes in Cambodia. Their ordeal has now launched efforts by several NGOs to establish networks across Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia to break trafficking rings and to help repatriate victims.

Working as farmers in Takeo province the four men were unable to earn enough money to support their families and previous attempts to seek work in neighboring villages were unsuccessful. A broker and relative of one of the men asked them whether they would consider working in Thailand. Attracted by the promise of well paying jobs they agreed to travel with the broker to Thailand.

The Journey

The broker escorted the men to Banteay Meanchey province in Cambodia's North West and here introduced them to another Cambodian man who smuggled the men into Thailand through the Malai border entrance. Once they arrived through the forest, another Cambodian broker was waiting to pick them up. The men were then driven to a guesthouse just outside of Paknam, Samut Prakan on the coast of Thailand. Here they were locked in a room for five days before being taken to the fishing boat.

At this point the men still believed that they were able to secure a well paying job. The Cambodian broker told them that they would be paid between 4000 to 5000 Baht/month (USD$120-150) and would be able to send money home to their families every seven months. They were also told that they could borrow USD$250 to send back home before boarding the boat. The men agreed to this however they subsequently found out that no money was ever sent to their families.

On the boat they were forced to work day and night without adequate rest or food, going some days with only one or two hours sleep. The Thai captain constantly threatened to beat or throw anyone over board who disobeyed his orders. The men also found that the rest of the Cambodian crew were also being exploited and had been trafficked by Cambodian brokers.

The Escape

In early 2008 the boat began illegally fishing in Malaysia waters, however after sometime the captain decided that it was too risky and docked at a port in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak to apply for a fishing permit. The fishing boat had always remained at sea so the four men took advantage of this opportunity and on 21 March 2008 they were able to escape from the ship. Once on land the men hid in the forest and stayed hidden there for several days for fear of being arrested by the Malaysian police. They only ventured outside at nighttime in search of food.

One night while they scavenged for food, they coincidently met another Cambodian fisherman from Battambang province. The man also a victim of trafficking had apparently escaped three months earlier from another Thai fishing boat. That man had a mobile phone, and he allowed four men to contact their families in Cambodia. The families upon hearing of their situation immediately approached LICADHO for assistance. The families had long suspected that the men may have fallen victim to a trafficking ring, however only now had they received confirmation.

The Rescue

LICADHO was then able to directly contact the five Cambodian men in Malaysia and also alert its regional partners, to provide case information for the Malaysian authorities to identify the men. In cooperation with the Malaysian authorities, UNIAP (The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region), Tenaganita and the Cambodian Embassy, the five men were transferred back to Cambodia safely on 19 April 2008. UNIAP providing the cost of flying the five men back to Cambodia. Once in Cambodia LICADHO was able to provide food and clothing for the men and arranged for their safe return to their respective provinces.

Last month the UNIAP and LICADHO followed-up with the trafficked men with an aim to identify the route and location of the border crossing and the guesthouse in Thailand used by the traffickers. The initial broker who convinced the men to work in Thailand however has yet to be apprehended and is suspected to be living somewhere along the Thai-Cambodia border. For now the four men from Takeo have managed to find work as farmers and fishermen in their home town. However, the man from Battambang decided to go back to work in Thailand in a brick factory.

Prasat Ta Muen Thom is in Thai soil: Army chief

Tue, August 5, 2008
By The Nation

Thai troops have been stationing at Prasat Ta Muen Thom in Surin province for years, meaning it is in the Thai territory, Army Commander in Chief Gen Anupong Paojinda said Tuesday.

Our map clearly showed that it is in our soil, he said.

However he declined to comment a report that Cambodia tried to send its armed troops across the border to the place with an intention to station there.

"We have told our troops there not to use forces or instigate any confrontations at the border," the general said.

The Thai side has repeatedly told the Khmer side at the area to allow demarcation officials do there jobs by not deploy troops there, he said.

Ownership of Prasat Ta Muen Thom became the latest border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia following Preah Vihear Temple. Last week, armed Khmer troops tried to cross the border at Surin to visit the place, only to be rejected at the border.

The Thai-Cambodia border have not yet been demarcated.

Sacravatoons : " FBI part 1 "

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

Cambodia, Kuwait agree not to support intervention in Iranian issues

Mathaba
2008/08/05
From: MNN

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian and Kuwaiti governments here Monday agreed not to support any military and economic intervention in the Iranian issues, said Cambodian Information Minister of government spokesman Khieu Kahnarith."

Both countries will not support any military actions against Iran," the minister told reporters after the premiers from the two sides held an hour-long talk in Phnom Penh.

The two sides do not want to see any military actions or economic embargo against Iran, because it can provide no benefit for the people, he said.

"Both Cambodia and Kuwait have endured miserable situation in the past and do not want it to be repeated in other countries," he said.

Meanwhile, Kuwait expects the western world and Iran to meet and seek peaceful deal, he added.

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah arrived here Sunday for a three-day official visit at the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen. Both sides inked five agreements here Monday.

The United States has demanded that Iran meet weekend deadline to respond to an international package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment amid warnings of new sanctions.

Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is scheduled to hold talks with the Europe Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana Monday on the standoff over Iran's atomic drive. 

Border panel to negotiate on Ta Muen Thom dispute

(BangkokPost.com) - The Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Gen Anupong Paojinda, said the border committee of Thailand and the Cambodian authority will have to talk over the claims over the 13th century Ta Muen Thom temple, a second ruin on the disputed border of Thailand’s Surin province and Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province.

Gen Anupong said the Thai border committee needs to negotiate with the Cambodian counterpart by mainly adhering to the Thai map, after Cambodia has claimed ownership of the land around the ancient temple.

The situation along the disputed border areas of the two neighbouring countries is orderly, Gen Anupong said, and he reminded Thai soldiers to avoid facing the Cambodian forces while overseeing the general situation closely.

He, however, refused to comment about the impact from the possible confrontation between Thai and Cambodian forces, reasoning that it is a sensitive issue. It would not be appropriate for him to discuss it, as he is a state official, Gen Anupong said.

Fanning the poisonous airs of nationalism

August 5, 2008
By H.D.S. Greenway

THERE IS nothing like a disputed place to bring incendiary nationalism to the boil. The mother of all examples is Jerusalem. Much of the energy of Europe was taken up in trying to wrest it from Muslims from the 11th to the 14th centuries. Today we are told there will be no progress in settling the 100-year dispute between Jews and Arabs in the Palestinian territories this year because of disagreements over the holy city.

But nations can face off over less exalted territory. Think of the predawn assault by Spanish commandos in July 2002, to force Moroccan soldiers off an uninhabited rock in the Mediterranean. Secretary of State Colin Powell got on the phone to calm the situation, and no one got hurt. The Spanish call the islet “Perejil,” while the Moroccans call it “Leila,” and both think it’s theirs.

A lot of people got hurt when Britain and Argentina went to war over the Falklands in 1982, islands that the Argentines call “Malvinas.” It is said that Britain could have resettled the entire population of the Falklands in Scotland for less money than the war cost, but, of course, it had become a matter of national pride, which Argentina lost.

The latest such face-off comes between Thailand and Cambodia over the ancient Khmer temples of Preah Vihear, recently named by UNESCO as a “world heritage site.”

The temple complex was built between the ninth and 11th centuries, during the heyday of the Khmer empire, before the Thais pushed down in force from China into Southeast Asia. But the Thais soon asserted sovereignty over Preah Vihear, as well as the better known temples of Angkor Wat.

The coming of European colonialism put the squeeze on Thailand, from the British in Burma, and the French in Cambodia and Laos. Thailand maintained its independence, the only country in Southeast Asia to do so, but French Cambodia gained control over both temples.

Preah Vihear is physically more attached to Thailand on the edge of a 1,640-foot cliff overlooking Cambodia. In 1904 the French and the Siamese, as the Thais were then called, convened a boundary commission that seemed to set the border on the watershed, which would have put Preah Vihear inside Thailand. But a subsequent French map in 1907 put Preah Vihear inside Cambodia.

When France fell to the Germans in 1940, Thailand saw a chance to seize western Cambodia.

The Vichy French colonial government, which had made a deal to let Japan use its territory against China, reacted militarily and a short war with Thailand followed in January 1941 - a tiny sideshow to the Second World War that was rapidly unfolding. An inconclusive land battle, involving French and colonial “Tirailleurs,” was followed by a naval encounter in the Gulf of Siam, which the French decisively won. The French dropped a couple of bombs on Bangkok, too.

The Japanese stepped in to arbitrate, and gave much of western Cambodia to Thailand, which took pieces of British territory, too. But the eventual Allied victory in 1945 forced Thailand to disgorge its French and British territories, and Preah Vihear returned to Cambodia.

No sooner had the French given up their Indochina empire in 1954, however, than the Thais moved back into Preah Vihear. They stayed for seven years until an independent Cambodia took Thailand to the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 1962.

Cambodia’s case was ably argued by former secretary of state Dean Acheson, and the court ruled in Cambodia’s favor. It seems, however, that the court decision left ambiguous the fate of 1.8 square miles around the temple, and it is over that bit that Thai and Cambodian troops faced one another this summer. The poisonous airs of nationalism were fanned by ambitious politicians in both countries.

The International Court of Justices decision was based on geography and maps, and not over whose culture the temples belong in, but there is no earthly reason that Preah Vihear shouldn’t belong to Cambodia with an open border for tourists to reach it from the more accessible Thai side - except for the fact that national passions can usually be counted upon to rise above reason.

Source: The Boston Globe

The Government accuses Thailand of having invaded another temple

Cambodge Soir
05-08-2008

Bangkok denied any incursion on Cambodian territory in the province of Oddar Meanchey.

70 Thai soldiers have allegedly invaded the site of the temple of , in the province of Oddar Meanchey, said the border protection unit deputy commander, Sim Sokha.

“The Thai troops have declared that they would only withdraw once the border conflict of Preah Vihear has been solved”, declared Sim Sokha to the Associated Press agency.

Thailand has denied any new incursion on Cambodian territory. Bangkok has asserted that the troop movements in the district of Surin weren’t unusual.

The government spokesperson, Khieu Kannaridh, has confirmed the presence of Thai military personnel on the territory, while trying to smooth things out.

“Thailand wants to take advantage of Preah Vihear in order to solve all border conflicts at once, did he say. We must allow the joint committee in charge of the border between Thailand and Cambodia to do its work.”

“We are within our rights for what concerns this border”, did he add, before explaining that the priority of the public authorities was to form a new government.

The temple of Ta Moan dates back to the 13th century and lies approximately 470 kilometres north-west of Phnom Penh. During a phone call with Cambodge Soir Hebdo, Ho Bunthy, permanent deputy commander for the Ta Moan site, has stated that “approximately sixty Thai soldiers have taken their positions at 70 metres before the temple. They are thus clearly on our national territory.”

On the other hand, military from both countries are face to face in front of another temple, the one of Ta Krabey, at 16 km of Ta Moan Thom. The Thais allegedly deployed there after the movement of Cambodian troops.

Kuwait promises Cambodia agricultural support

Cambodge Soir
05-08-2008

A delegation led by the Prime Minister of Kuwait, Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is on an official visit in Cambodia.

Kuwait and Cambodia have signed bilateral agreements concerning trade and economical cooperation, said the government spokesman, Khieu Kannaridh, on Monday 4th of August.

Kuwait will soon open an embassy in Phnom Penh and has offered Hun Sen to do the same in his country, has declared Khieu Kannaridh while the discussions between the delegates of both countries continued.

Direct flights between Kuwait and Cambodia could also start, even if some technical details have to be solved first. “The plane of Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is the first Kuwaiti aircraft to have landed in Cambodia”, has stated Hun Sen.

Important Kuwaiti investments might take place on the field of agriculture. Cambodia will be able to designate an area in which the total agricultural production will be destined for exports to Kuwait, modelled on an already existing agreement with Qatar.

“Cambodia has a good soil, a good climate and the Cambodian population takes things seriously. Kuwait has money”, declared Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, quoted by Khieu Kannaridh.

Kuwait could lend low interest funds to Cambodia, allowing it to modernise its agriculture and becoming “a great agricultural power”, added the Prime Minister of Kuwait.

Further investments might also take place on the field of energy, as Kuwait has the capacity to help Cambodia with developing its oil industry.

Khim Sambor: the Government accepts help from the FBI

Cambodge Soir
05-08-2008

On the 14th of July, the American Embassy offered the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to solve the killing of the journalist Khim Sambor and his son.

On Friday the 1st of August, the government accepted help from the FBI concerning the murder case of the journalist Khim Sambor and his son, announced Khieu Sopheak, spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior.

Khim Sambor, journalist at the opposition newspaper “Moneaksekar Khmer”, with close ties to the Sam Rainsy party, has been shot together with his son by unknown assailants on Friday the 11th of July.

On Thursday 24th of July, the opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, had uttered doubts concerning the goodwill of the government leaders in finding the culprits. “I think that they’ll refuse the help from the FBI”, he told the “Cambodge Soir Hebdo”.

On the 1st of February, an FBI antenna became operational at the American Embassy.

Moreover, on the 1st of August, the American Embassy stated that the elections of the 27th of July had been “freer than any other previous elections in the country. Although some irregularities existed, they weren’t numerous and couldn’t have affected the election results, nor curb the will of the Cambodian people”, said the Ambassador in a press release.

Funcinpec ready to rule with the CPP

Funcinpec supporters during the last day of the election campaign

Cambodge Soir
05-08-2008

The 13 members of the permanent committee of the royalist party have unanimously decided to unite with the Cambodian People’s Party. It is now up to the latter to ratify this new coalition.

During a meeting on the 1st of August, the leaders of Funcinpec have agreed to “join the CPP and create a new government coalition”. This unanimous decision seemed to be the only way to avoid the dissolution of the royalist party. The 2008 Elections have indeed resulted in its collapse. It has merely obtained two seats within the National Assembly, compared to 26 in the former term of office.

This statement ends a frantic week for the party of the General Secretary, Nhiek Buncchay. In the light of the results of the 27th of July, Funcinpec had decided to create an alliance with the SRP, the NRP and the HRP in order to challenge the validity of the election results. Leading members of the party were quick to distance themselves from this stance. New commotion on Wednesday: the Minister of Information, Khieu Kanharith announced that the government would “dismiss” prince Sisowath Sirirath from his position of advisor to the executive authority. Furthermore, the government has allegedly asked the President of the Funcinpec party, Kéo Puth Rasmey, to resign from his position of Vice Prime Minister. This news has since then not officially been confirmed.

While “being pleased” with the decision of the permanent committee of the Funcinpec party, Khieu Kanharith has made clear that, in the days to come, the CPP would reveal its position concerning this future coalition. In other words, the winning party of the last Elections reserves the right to refuse the proposal of the Funcinpec party.

2nd temple sparks Thai-Cambodian tension

Buddhist monks on Friday pray in a Buddhist temple which Thai troops have occupied in Cambodia.

CNN) -- Thailand and Cambodia have become ensnared in controversy over a second temple on disputed land along their border, the Thai news agency reported Monday.

The two nations have been at odds for weeks over which nation owns the land around the Preah Vihear temple, not far from the two nations' border with Laos. Thailand and Cambodia stationed troops near the 11th century temple as the dispute intensified.

On Monday, Thailand asked Cambodia to withdraw troops from positions near a second site along the border -- the Ta Muen Thom temple, the Thai news agency reported.

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman, Tharit Charungvat, told the news agency that Ta Muen Thom "is just one of several sites sitting on an unclear boundary between the two countries."

Tension between the two nations heightened after the United Nations approved Cambodia's application to have the Preah Vihear temple listed as a World Heritage Site -- a place the United Nations says has outstanding universal value.

Some in Thailand feared that the United Nations' action would make it difficult for Thailand to assert its claim to disputed land around the temple. Opposition parties used the issue to attack the government, which initially backed the heritage listing.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, portrayed the U.N. recognition as a national triumph.

On Friday, the Cambodian prime minister's wife visited Cambodian troops "who were on guard" near the temple "to prevent Cambodia's sovereignty from foreign invasion," according to the Cambodian news agency.

SPEAN BRAB TES - The Ancient Bridge in Cambodia constructed during the age of Khmer Empire would diversify the attraction in Siem Reap Province

PR-inside.com
2008-08-05

Located in Kampong Kdey district, Siem Reap Province, the land of foremost world heritage site complex, Spean Brab Tes -Bridge of Indication- is the oldest historical bridge in Cambodia, which was constructed during the era of the King Jayavaraman the VII. This Bridge is about 1000 years old with the length of 80m and width of about 12 m. Why is the bridge interesting?

The special unique features of the bridge are its longevity and historical architecture. The bridge stays almost the same period of Angkor Wat which has been attracting millions of tourists to pay attention on until now.

This bridge was the ancient Khmer Highway as the Kingdom was known as the Khmer Empire. With its underneath holes, the bridge not only plays substantial role in transportation sector but also in field of agriculture.

Unlike the Angkor Wat World Heritage Site's reputation, Spean BrabTes is rarely known because it is located 60 Km east of Siem Reap Town. It takes about 1 hour to travel to the site by car. However, the Bridge is interesting to see due to its longevity and historical architecture which represent the best talent of the constructors and the strength during the Khmer Empire. Under pressure of the weather condition, the Bridge has struggled with an assailant for almost a century. To complete a kind the cultural tourism, the oldest Bridge visiting should not be missed. It will offer more experiences and historical clearness about the Khmer Empire
(www.tourismindochina.com/attractionsite.htm).

Without hesitation, the Bridge could diversify the attractions in Siem Reap Province in accordance with tourism development master plan conducted under cooperation between JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and APSARA Authority. Also this plan has optimized that Siem Reap will have become the major tourism hot spot in South East Asia. Therefore, the Bridge would be a part of the crucial components accelerating the master plan's optimization and spread out more reputation and satisfaction to both domestic and international tourists.

By CHHEM Samnang

Fears rise over Thai-Cambodia border dispute

The Peninsula )On-line
8/5/2008
Source ::: AFP

BANGKOK • Thailand’s military chief yesterday asked Cambodia to withdraw its soldiers from around a second Khmer ruin along their joint border, raising fears of a fresh territorial dispute.

General Boonsrang Niumpradit, head of Thailand’s armed forces, told AFP that he had asked his Border Affairs Department to pass on the message to Cambodian Defence Minster Tea Banh.

“We ask Cambodia to move their soldiers, who are near the Ta Muen Thom temple,” he said. “I have not received the response yet.”

The ruins of Ta Muen Thom, known as Ta Moan Thom in Cambodia, lie 130 kilometres west of the more well-known Preah Vihear temple, where more than 1,000 Thai and Cambodian troops have been stationed since a border dispute erupted last month.

Tea Banh said Cambodian soldiers and civilians were usually allowed to enter the Ta Muen Thom ruin for religious ceremonies, but over the weekend Thai soldiers blocked their path.

“They did not allow our troops to go. That’s why the problem happened,” he said. “Now we want the troops to stay wherever they are for a while.”

Tea Banh, confirming the Cambodian troops were, as usual, still stationed nearby, said the two sides were “working on this issue.”

Ta Muen Thom sits on one of many disputed areas along the border. Thai troops have been stationed there since 1998, officials from both countries say, but both sides lay claim to the land on which the Khmer ruin sits.

Boonsrang said a small group of Cambodian soldiers advanced either yesterday towards the temple, which sits on the border between northern Cambodia and northeastern Thailand.

He denied that Thailand had increased the number of troops stationed at Ta Muen Thom, and he declined to comment on ownership of the ruin.

“I don’t want to answer other questions, otherwise it will escalate,” he told AFP.

Relations between the neighbours flared up last month after Preah Vihear, which belongs to Cambodia, was awarded world heritage status by the United Nations, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the prized ruin.

On July 15, Cambodia arrested three Thai protesters for illegally crossing the border to try and reach the temple, sparking the deployment of troops from both sides on a tiny patch of disputed land near Preah Vihear.

During talks last week, Cambodia and Thailand both said they were willing to stand down the soldiers, but neither have shown signs of making the first move.

Cambodian opposition warned not to boycott NA

www.chinaview.cn
2008-08-05

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- A government official warned if newly elected Cambodian opposition parliamentarians boycott the National Assembly's official swearing-in ceremony, their seats will be divided among other parties, local newspaper the Cambodia Daily reported Tuesday.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith was quoted as saying on Monday that if the opposition parties follow through with their threat, 15 of their 31 projected seats will be given to the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and the 16 remaining seats will be given to the Funcinpec Party, which currently only have two seats.

Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) President Sam Rainsy said last week that his party, along with the Human Rights Party (HRP) and the Norodom Ranariddh (NRP), will boycott the first session of the National Assembly unless alleged election irregularities are addressed.

On Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly admonished Sam Rainsy at Phnom Penh International Airport, warning that if the opposition fails to have its lawmakers sworn in, they will lose their seats.

Sam Rainsy told the newspaper Monday that he was not concerned by either the prime minister or the information minister's threats and that the boycott will continue as planned.  

Editor: An

Vietnam arrests four for smuggling guns from Cambodia

M&G Asia-Pacific News
Aug 5, 2008

Hanoi - Police in Vietnam arrested four people for smuggling weapons into the country from Cambodia, an official said Tuesday.

Nguyen Thi Xuan Tram, 21, was arrested in the Mekong delta province of An Giang Saturday, carrying two Russian-model K59 handguns and 15 bullets, according to Bui Be Nam, the province's head of the Social Crime Investigation Department.

Tram confessed she had bought the guns and bullets in Cambodia for 2,100 dollars, the official said.

Nam said three other members of the ring, Le Minh Quang, To Viet Hung and To Thanh Hung, were arrested the following day after Tram told police they were involved.

Police also found two K54 handguns hidden at the house of Hung's wife in the neighboring province of Hau Giang. The smugglers said they had bought those guns in Cambodia as well.

'I cannot say yet how many people are involved in the ring and how many weapons they have brought into the country, as further investigation is ongoing,' Nam said.

According to the Vietnamese penal code, illegally stockpiling, transporting, using or trading in military weapons is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Cambodia warned to 'back off'


Boonsrang: Foreign troops turned back

The Bangkok Post
Tuesday August 05, 2008


Ta Moan Thom temple new border flashpoint

BANGKOK POST AND AGENCIES

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit yesterday told Cambodia to stay away from Ta Moan Thom after the 13th-century temple became the latest hot spot between the two countries.

The army has informed its Cambodian counterpart of the Thai position, Gen Boonsrang said, adding that if Cambodian soldiers come to the area, they will be pushed back.

Lt-Gen Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Border Affairs Department, said Cambodian troops would be barred from entering the area, as Thailand and Cambodia have not settled the dispute over land surrounding the Preah Vihear temple.

A plan to reduce the number of Thai soldiers in the overlapping zone between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province will be tabled during a cabinet meeting today.

The agreement was reached in the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting in Siem Reap on July 28 by Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong. The two countries also agreed to hold more talks to settle the dispute.

But Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said further talks between their foreign ministers will not take place until Cambodia forms a new government in late September.

"There will be no more meetings until the new government is formed," he said in Phnom Penh.

The Ta Moan Thom temple was thrust into the spotlight on Sunday when Cambodia accused Thai troops of staying in the area it claimed to be part of Cambodian soil.

It is part of a group of the Ta Moan temples in the same area. Two other temples in the group are located on Thai soil, outside the disputed area.

The Cambodian complaint came after its soldiers were barred from visiting the temple on Saturday.

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said Cambodian soldiers and civilians were usually allowed to enter the Ta Moan Thom ruins for religious ceremonies, but over the weekend Thai soldiers blocked their way.

"They did not allow our troops to enter. That's why the dispute arose," he said. "Now we want the troops to stay where they are for a while."

Gen Tea Banh, confirming the Cambodian troops were still stationed nearby, said the two sides were "working on this issue".

After the weekend more border rangers from the Suranaree Task Force were mobilised to guard the temple and nearby historical sites.

A border ranger said there was no tension between Thai and Cambodian troops near the area, and discussions were conducted in a friendly manner.

Task force commander Maj-Gen Kanok Netrakawesana said Thai soldiers have been stationed around the temple for years.

The temple is in another location which has not been demarcated. Officials of the two countries had already surveyed the area to gather evidence for the JBC to decide where the borderline should be.

Cambodian Senior Minister Var Kimhong, who is in charge of border issues, said there was no legal doubt Ta Moan Thom was Cambodian. But Thailand is equally confident it is in Phanom Dong Rak district in Surin, opposite Oddar Meanchey province in Cambodia.

Fine Arts Department chief Kriengkrai Sampatchalit insisted the department has long taken care of the temple as Thailand's national heritage, while Cambodia has never shown an interest in maintaining the site.

The department registered Ta Moan Thom as a national heritage site years ago. Phnom Penh has never opposed the registration, the official added.

Mr Kriengkrai said demarcation in the area by the Thai-Cambodian panel would settle the dispute.

Historian Thepmontri Limpapayom said Ta Moan Thom belonged to Thailand, and he believed the new dispute over the temple was a ploy by Phnom Penh to divert Thailand's attention from the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

Historian M.L. Walwipa Charoonroj of Thammasat University said academics had warned government agencies that the Ta Moan Thom temple could be the subject of a serious dispute.

Cambodia temple row widens to second site

The Canberra Times
BY THANAPORN PROMYAMYAI
IN BANGKOK
5/08/2008

Thailand's military chief has asked Cambodia to withdraw its soldiers from around a second Khmer ruin on their joint border, raising fears of a fresh territorial dispute.

General Boonsrang Niumpradit, head of Thailand's armed forces, said yesterday he had asked his Border Affairs Department to pass on the message to Cambodian Defence Minster Tea Banh.

''We ask Cambodia to move their soldiers, who are near the Ta Muen Thom temple,'' he said. ''I have not received the response yet.''

The ruins of Ta Muen Thom in Cambodia lie 130km west of the better-known Preah Vihear temple, where more than 1000 Thai and Cambodian troops have been stationed since a border dispute erupted last month.

The Defence Minister said in Phnom Penh that Cambodian soldiers and civilians were usually allowed to enter the Ta Muen Thom ruin for religious ceremonies, but over the weekend Thai soldiers blocked them.

''They did not allow our troops to go. That's why the problem happened,'' he said. ''Now we want the troops to stay wherever they are for a while.''

Confirming the Cambodian troops were, as usual, still stationed nearby, he said the two sides were ''working on this issue''.

Ta Muen Thom sits on one of many disputed areas along the border. Thai troops have been stationed there since 1998, officials from both countries say, but both sides lay claim to the land on which the Khmer ruin sits.

Mr Boonsrang said a small group of Cambodian soldiers advanced towards the temple, which sits on the border between northern Cambodia and north-eastern Thailand.

He denied Thailand had increased the number of troops stationed at Ta Muen Thom, and declined to comment on ownership of the ruin.

''I don't want to answer other questions, otherwise it will escalate,'' he said.

Relations between the neighbours flared up last month after Preah Vihear, which belongs to Cambodia, was awarded world heritage status by the United Nations, angering nationalists in Thailand who still claim ownership of the prized ruin.

Cambodia arrested three Thai protesters on July 15 for illegally crossing the border to try to reach the temple, sparking the deployment of troops from both sides on a tiny patch of disputed land near Preah Vihear.

During talks last week, Cambodia and Thailand both said they were willing to stand down the soldiers, but neither has shown signs of making the first move.

Cambodian Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said his side was committed to avoiding the ''explosion of gunfire'' along the frontier. ''The situation along the border has not yet reached emergency state.'' AFP

Cambodia, Kuwait sign trade, aviation, investment deals

Radio Australia

The prime ministers of Cambodia and Kuwait have signed five new agreements, covering trade, aviation and investment.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Kuwaiti premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah met in Phnom Penh on Monday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen says there'll be further talk on boosting trade and investment, and says Kuwait has promised to help Cambodia develop its agricultural sector.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith says the two premiers also discussed oil cooperation, with Cambodia asking Kuwait to help train local experts on the petroleum industry.

Mr. Rong Chhun: It Is Said that There Are Many Irregularities during the High School Diploma Examinations This Year

Posted on 5 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 572

“Phnom Penh: The President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said that the High School Diploma examination will start on Monday and continue until Wednesday. During these examinations, some high school teachers are not allowed to be examination supervisors, but they were replaced by lower secondary school teachers; and some teachers, like in Sihanoukville, did not get their allowances paid before the examination days.

“Regarding these irregularities, Mr. Rong Chhun wrote to the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport on Friday last week, asking the Ministry to take action to prevent irregularities during the 2008 high school diploma examinations. In addition to the letter, Mr. Rong Chhun said that money was collected for teachers working in specific examination rooms, so that students in those rooms could cheat freely. Besides, some test documents leaked ahead of the examinations, and there are bribes paid after the examinations in order to pass. Related to such irregularities as raised by Mr. Rong Chhun, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport has never curbed down or imposed penalties on those who have committed such wrongdoings – the Ministry is not useful at all. Mr. Rong Chhun is afraid that there might be more serious corrupt irregularities during this year’s examinations, because during this time, Cambodia is waiting for a new government. Therefore some people consider this as a good opportunity to commit even more corruption. Mr. Rong Chhun noticed that previously, the Ministry of Education has imposed penalties only on small teachers who had done wrong by not allowing them to be examination supervisors in the following years. However, high-level officials at the departments or the Ministry of Education – who has committed very serious mistakes, like leaking test documents to receive bribes – have not been punished by the Ministry of Education (sic).

“Khmer Sthapana was not able to receive comments from officials of the Ministry of Education by phone, regarding the concerns of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association.

However, the Ministry of Education announced that every year, there are rumors about leaked test documents - but actually wicked people create these rumors in order to sell their own copied test documents as much as possible. Also, the announcement by the Ministry of Education called on all parents of students not to believe such fraudulent rumors created by opportunists who benefit from them during the high school diploma examinations.

“For this year’s examinations in Phnom Penh, Mr. Touch Naruth, the Phnom Penh police chief, said that his police are prepared for the examination days to suppress irregularities. Mr. Touch Naruth mentioned that at each examination center, police will not allow any irregularities, like throwing little paper notes to students with information for cheating, or the sale of test result documents. As for those who run photocopy shops near examination centers, they will be ordered to close their shops during the examination days. If they do not comply, they will be punished.

Note:

Copy shops neat two schools visited at random did operate – we are not aware that they had been ordered to close temporarily during examination days, not that they were targeted for punishment.

“According to an announcement of the Ministry of Education, there are 79,549 candidates and 139 examination centers for the 2008 high school diploma examination.

“IThere is a rumor that for this year’s high school diploma examinations in Phnom Penh, in order to pass, some people paid bribes between US$500 and US$800.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #64, 3-4.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Monday, 4 August 2008

Vietnam illegal wildlife trade eats away at biodiversity: reports

A restaurant selling wildlife meat near Hanoi


A restaurant selling wildlife meat near Hanoi

A frozen tiger found in a Hanoi city apartment

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam's appetite for illegal wildlife meat and demand for traditional medicine is devastating animal and plant species within and beyond its borders, experts warn in two new reports.

Vietnam has been one of Southeast Asia's most biodiverse countries, but some species may be lost before they are known to science due to an illegal global trade believed to be trailing only drugs and gunrunning.

Two new reports spell out that, despite Vietnam's international commitments to combat the trade, the smuggling of tigers, monkeys, snakes, pangolins and other animals to and through Vietnam is booming.

"Vietnam's illegal trade in wildlife continues unabated and affects neighbouring countries," wrote Nguyen Van Song of the Hanoi Agricultural University in the Journal of Environment and Development.

"Wildlife in Vietnam has become very scarce."

The study estimated that up to 4,000 tonnes of live animals or meat, skins, ground bones and other illegal products are trafficked into and out of Vietnam per year, generating more than 67 million dollars in revenues.

Species are mostly sourced from Vietnam's national parks and neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, to be consumed in Vietnam, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, according to the study based on hundreds of interviews.

The largest volume of illegal wildlife goods is smuggled across the Vietnam-China border, with an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 kilogrammes (5,500 to 7,700 pounds) flowing daily through the two major border gates, it said.

There have been high-profile crackdowns. In a case last week, Vietnamese police seized more than two tonnes of live snakes and 770 kilogrammes of tortoises from Laos en route to China.

But the report estimated that the total value of confiscated wildlife accounts for only three percent of the illegal trade, and that authorities are at a disadvantage when a forest ranger polices an average of 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of forest at a monthly wage of about 50 dollars.

Smugglers connected to "influential people" -- shorthand for gangsters -- bribe or threaten officials and hide their contraband in trucks, ambulances, wedding and funeral cars and prison vans, the report said.

The capital Hanoi is Vietnam's largest market for illegal wildlife meat, with revenues of over 12,000 dollars a day, the report said.

"Hanoi is the cultural and political centre of Vietnam where wildlife protection and conservation policies are issued and implemented," said the report.

"This suggests that the gap between policies and implementation of wildlife protection is still big."

The most popular species served in Hanoi were snakes, palm civets, monitor lizards, porcupines, leopards, pangolins, monkeys, forest pigs, hardshell turtles, soft-shell turtles, civets, boas and birds.

The other market fuelling the trade is traditional Vietnamese and Chinese medicine, said a report by the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Surveys found that "many high-profile animals of global conservation concern (such as tigers, bears or rhinos) can still be bought on the market, provided prior notice is given and that the price negotiated is high enough."

Informants had told TRAFFIC that live tiger cubs, tiger skeletons, raw materials and processed medicinal products were brought from Cambodia, Laos and as far as Malaysia to supply the Vietnamese market.

Traders in Ninh Hiep commune near Hanoi had offered to supply investigators with "any type of medicinal animal if ordered sufficiently in advance" -- including a frozen tiger, rhino horn and wild bear gall bladder.

The shop-owners who offered the illicit goods, the TRAFFIC report found, were "well organised, each claiming that they were shielded from investigations through protection by enforcement personnel."

Visiting Kuwaiti, Cambodian PMs Hold Talks; Two Investment Agreements Signed

By: iStockAnalyst
Monday, August 04, 2008

Phnom Penh, Aug 4 (KUNA) - His Highness the Prime Minister of Kuwait Shaykh Nasir al-Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, held a meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, in the Foreign Ministry Headquarters in Phnom Penh on Monday [4 August].

Means to bolster bilateral relations were discussed in the meeting mainly in the fields of oil, gas, investment and regarding the establishment of joint cultural exhibitions.

The meeting also discussed ways the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) could aid Cambodia in various long-term development-related projects, with an invitation offered to Kuwaiti investors in the Cambodian mining industry.

An agreement for economic and technical cooperation was signed by the two countries; Minister of Finance Mustafa Jasim Al-Shamali for Kuwait and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong on behalf of Cambodia. Another two agreements were signed for the exchange of investments and trade by the Kuwaiti Finance Minister and the Cambodian Minister of Trade Cham Prasit.

The two countries furthermore signed a memorandum of understanding to hold bilateral negotiations between both Foreign Ministries, on the Kuwaiti side by Foreign Undersecretary Khalid Sulayman Al-Jarallah and on the Cambodian side by Unrsecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Long Visalo.

Another memorandum of understanding was signed in the field of civil aviation, on the Kuwaiti side by Director of Civil Aviation Fawaz Abd-al-Aziz Al-Faraj and Cambodia by Secretary of State for Civil Aviation Mao Hasvannal.

Later, HH the Prime Minister paid a visit the Monument of the Unkown Soldier where he laid a wreath on the occasion.

Originally published by Kuna news agency website, Kuwait, in English 1340 4 Aug 08.

Story Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East

Monuments to a past gone to Pot

A bas relief at Banteay Srei, Siem Reap.


Otago Daily Times
Tue, 5 Aug 2008

Kingdoms have come and gone in Cambodia, with mixed success. Former Dunedin man Richard Cotton surveys the legacies of a couple.

In Cambodia it's rumoured if you have more dollars than sense you can engage in activities involving cows and rocket launchers, or if your pockets don't run so deep, a rabbit or a chicken might suffice.

For the majority of visitors however, the key attraction is the ruins of Angkor; relic of an era when kings rode elephants, commanded huge armies and commissioned vast works in their own honour.

Also of historical interest are sites associated with the Khmer Rouge's brutal four-year regime.
I took a short tour of the country entering via the Mekong River through southern Laos and exiting into Thailand at Poipet.

Laos passport control was little more than a wooden shack just up from the river.

Passports stamped and "overtime fee" paid, we crossed to the Cambodian side for more of the same before entering into negotiations with the speedboat mafia for the trip downriver to Stung Treng.

The boat was noisy, uncomfortable and wet and the river scene little more than a blur as we hurtled towards our destination but it is, nevertheless, an interesting way to enter the country.

The Mekong River, which begins its epic journey far to the north, in China, expands into a vast flowing lake at its lower reaches before emptying out into the South China Sea.

The river is the home of dolphins near the town of Kratie, though sadly, their days may be numbered.

Stung Treng is the first port of call for many who enter Cambodia from the north, a dreary little town with little to offer the tourist other than a place to recoup before heading on to Kratie and Phnom Penh.

The ferry took me down to Kamphong Cham, where we transferred to minibuses for the trip into the capital.

Stopping for refreshments in the town of Skuon, I encountered local women circulating with platters of large black fried spiders.

Always looking to expand my gastronomic horizons I gave it a try.

Not too gross, but nothing really to write home about - your basic bush tucker.

They tasted more of whatever they were fried in than anything else.

The stuffed frogs weren't bad.

Pol Pot

In 1975 the communist Khmer Rouge took power and under the leadership of an ex-school teacher named Saloth Sar, better know as Pol Pot, attempted to build a cashless agrarian utopia based on Maoist principles.

Entire cities, including the capital Phnom Penh, were emptied into the countryside and their citizenry forced to work at gunpoint.

Dissent was dealt with harshly and immediately.

Those who weren't executed on the spot were taken to concentration camps for "re-education".
Others succumbed to disease or simply starved to death.

Leading figures of the Khmer Rouge are only now being called to account for their part in this tragedy while many, including Pol Pot himself, have escaped trial by simply dying of old age.
The Killing Fields

Hiring a motorcycle (only $NZ3, plus $NZ2 insurance), I took a trip down a bumpy dirt road to the "Killing Fields" at Choeung Ek, where the Khmer Rouge disposed of undesirables during their four-year reign of terror.

At the centre of the grounds is a large stupa which contains, on platformed layers, the skulls of more than 10,000 people murdered by the regime.

Many of the skulls have holes and cracks, as the victims were more often than not bludgeoned with blunt instruments to save the cost of a bullet.

There are still fragments of bones and clothing sticking out of the ground in places.
It's a sobering glimpse of humanity's dark side.

My most profound emotion was one of sorrow, for the victims, and for those who survived.
Back in the city, I visited the notorious Tuol Sleng concentration camp, previously a high school, which has since been converted into a museum.

Inmates here were routinely tortured and left without medical care.

Cells were hardly big enough to lie down in and most who went there would attain freedom only in death.

Siem Reap

The Angkorean period covered the years AD802-AD1452.

Four centuries of growth were followed by a period of decline in the face of over-expansion and the rise of more powerful neighbours.

When explorers such as Frenchman Henri Mahmout came across the ruins in the mid-1800s, they had largely been consumed by the jungle.

While some sites have since been reconstructed, others remain entangled, testament as much to the jungle's resilience as the transitory nature of man's dreams.

The entire complex covers a vast area and Angkor Wat itself may be the largest religious structure ever built.

Constructed during the reign of Suryavarman II (1112-1152) it honours the Hindu god Vishnu.
Many bas-relief carvings depict great victories and cosmic events.

Along the road a bit is the walled city of Angkor Thom, which has as its centrepiece the inspiring The Bayon, with its many representations of Avolokiteshvara smiling enigmatically back at you.

The city takes up about 10km square and includes the Temple of the Leper King, the Royal Enclosure and the Terrace of Elephants.

Other sites of interest within the inner cluster include the overgrown Tha Thon, which has been left to the jungle rather than compromise its integrity, and the temple mount of Phnom Bakheng, which is a popular site to view the sunset over Tonle Sap (Lake) and affords spectacular views of Angkor Wat reaching up through the jungle.

Tickets come in one, three or seven-day varieties.

Many claim to be "templed out" after three days but I was good for a week.

I explored most of it by bicycle and hired a driver for the sites further out.

As I had arrived in the rainy season, everything was lush and green.

The canals and swimming pools, once the sole domain of kings and their concubines, were full of local kids soaking up the summer, while vendors drove tourists to distraction with their incessant sales pitch.

In the wooded area between Angkor Wat and The Bayon is a sizeable population of monkeys, one of which took the liberty of making off with the bag of cashews I had left in the basket of my bike.

The road out to Poipet on the border with Thailand was a shocker, no less so for the effects of the wet season.

All part of the fun for the overland traveller.

Two weeks in Cambodia, memories for a lifetime.

Makings of an absurd conflict


Otago Daily Times

Tue, 5 Aug 2008

Opinion

Eleanor Ainge Roy, in Cambodia, casts an eye over a one-sided election campaign and a border spat with neighbouring Thailand over an ancient Khmer temple.

The recent elections in Cambodia awarded a sweeping victory to the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has now been in power for 23 years.

The result came as a surprise to no-one as the party had dominated broadcast media coverage, and, according to Human Rights Watch, used means of "harassment, intimidation and coerced defections of opposition party members" to secure victory.

A key journalist critical of Mr Hun Sen's party was also killed three weeks ago, an act of political violence that sent shivers through the local media.

The CPP won 90 of a possible 123 assembly seats, but the major opposition party - The Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) - has accused the CPP of vote rigging, and says between 20,000 and one million of its supporters were disqualified from voting.

On Wednesday the SRP led a demonstration in Phnom Penh, and although many people turned out, the possibility of a re-election taking place is near impossible.

But the smooth and suspect win of the CPP has been overshadowed by the Preah Vihear Temple Dispute with Thailand, which has now dragged on for close to a month.

Preah Vihear is an ancient 11th century Hindu Temple which sits atop a cliff on the Dangreak Mountain Range on Cambodia's northern border with Thailand.

The Temple was declared Cambodian in 1962 by the World Court, who based their decision on a map drawn by the French in 1907, and Thailand has disputed the decision ever since.

The temple is important to the Khmer people as it is one of only a few examples of ancient Khmer architecture outside of the famed Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Riep.

On July 8 the Preah Vihear Temple was awarded world heritage status, and Thai tempers flared, as opposition supporters accused the government of too easily relinquishing a Thai national treasure.

Both countries now have between 800-1500 troops each stationed on the border, which has been closed for two weeks.

The Cambodians insist they will not be the first to shoot, but that they will shoot back if Thailand is to shoot at them.

Cambodia has brought in special Vietnamese and Chinese forces and though 12-hour talks were held in Siem Riep this week, no agreement has been reached between the two neighbours, and the armed stand-off tediously continues.

The situation at Preah Vihear is absurd in many ways, and though it certainly has the potential to get serious, at the moment both sides have nothing to do but sit and wait.

Crack force soldiers spend their days in jungle fatigues on loose patrol - new AK-47s hanging from them like toys - or lying in their hammocks hoping to catch a breeze, playing cards with the locals.

On driving to the top of Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian side your mobile phone twice welcomes you to Thailand, a modern technological quirk the Cambodians choose to ignore.

The temple ruins are vast and spectacular, situated high on a cliff top with 360 degree views over Thai and Cambodian lands.

Preah Vihear is an important site for military defence, and the idle Cambodian soldiers have now been put to work upgrading the road to transform it into an efficient supply line.

Although villagers initially fled for fear of fighting, they have begun to trickle back, and have found the presence of the military very profitable for business.

Tourists are returning as well - and although it is still seen as an adventure, a trip to Preah Vihear Temple is really no more than a pleasant day out.

Troops on both sides of the border are bored and keen to talk, and before the excessive razor wire was erected, they would share smokes and gossip good naturedly.

As one Cambodian soldier said to me, "I like Thais. They are very good and decent people. This is a problem for the big people - the politicians. We will just wait and do what they tell us."

But this politicians' dispute has been picked up by Cambodians made more nationalistic by the recent elections, and half a million dollars has been donated to the military specifically for the Preah Vihear squabble.

Thai shops and products have been boycotted in Phnom Penh and there has been fear for the Thai Embassy, which was torched in 2003 when an insignificant Thai soap star claimed the Angkor Wat Temples were Thai.

Young men and boys across the country have said they are willing to fight if they are called.

For the majority of Cambodians the issue is simple, and a good chance to demonstrate to the world their country's increasing strength and prosperity.

But the longer Thai and Cambodian troops sit on the border cleaning their guns and twiddling their thumbs, the greater the risk that an accidental shot is fired, and a ridiculous conflict begun.

Eleanor Ainge Roy is a journalist and a University of Otago politics and history student.

Kuwait to Train Cambodians in Oil Exploration

Prime Minister Hun Sen greets Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Sunday.

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 August 2008

Kuwait will help Cambodia with oil exploration, following a meeting Monday between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al-Sabah.

"Kuwait agreed to send an expert to train Cambodians over oil exploration," government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said after the meeting.

Cambodia is exploring several blocks for offshore oil, attracting the interest of US, French, Japanese and Chinese companies.

Kuwait and Cambodia also agreed to establish embassies and direct flights, while Kuwait will pursue increased agricultural investment in Cambodia, Khieu Kanharith said.

Thais Adding Troops to Border: Commander

By Mean Veasna, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 August 2008

Thailand has added at least 100 soldiers to border positions near Preah Vihear temple, a Cambodian commander said Monday.

The addition of troops comes as both countries have been unable to solve a tense military standoff of thousands of troops and as Thailand secured military positions at another temple complex.

"The Ministry of National Defense told us [Thursday] that in two days, there would be a withdrawal of troops, and the announcement passed through the Thai infantry to the Thai regional military, but since the announcement, it has been four days already," said Maj. Gen. Srey Doeuk, commander of Military Region 4. "The Thais did not withdraw their troops; contrarily, they deployed more than 100 soldiers west of the temple, and they are digging trenches."

Officials said over the weekend Thailand had occupied and hardened defense lines in a temple complex where Cambodia claims two temples as its own. The Ta Moan temple complex is on the border of Oddar Meanchey province, west of Preah Vihear.

Officials also said Saturday a Thai soldier had died on the border, due to non-combat related injuries, but could not confirm the cause.

Bilateral talks last week led to promises of withdrawal on both sides, but no dates have been given and troops have not moved so far.

No new meetings have been scheduled between the two countries, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.

"The case is not in an alert situation," he said. "We are focusing on the preparation of the new government."

FBI to Aid in Case of Murdered Journalist

By Ratana Seng
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 August 2008

The Ministry of Interior has accepted an offer of help from the FBI in investigating the pre-election murder of an opposition journalist, officials said Monday.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday had accepted the FBI's help in the case of Khim Sambor, and opposition journalist, and his son, who were both killed July 11 in a Phnom Penh shooting, two weeks before the national elections.

The cooperation met with approval from many Monday, but it remained unclear what role the US agency would play.

Kim Sambor's daughter, Kath Sarinda, 24, said she supported the cooperation.

"I hope that they will bring in the real killer, not the fake killer, like in the Chea Vichea case," she said.

Labor leader Chea Vichea was shot dead in 2004, and two men widely considered innocent each received 20-year prison sentences for the murder.

The US Embassy received an official request from the Ministry of Interior, , a US Embassy spokesman said. It was too early to speculate how the FBI might help, the spokesman, John Johnson, said.

The FBI will make the investigation faster, he said, because the FBI has more experience and resources.

Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naroth said he would be happy to work with the FBI in an investigation that is already underway.

Moneaksekar Khmer editor Dam Sith welcomed the aid of the FBI, and Adhoc director Thun Saray called it a "positive" signal.

If a killer is not found with the help of the FBI, public opinion will be more calm, Thun Saray said. The cooperation will be seen as an opening of the government to international police efforts, showing a greater will for Cambodia to find the killer.

Twelve reporters have been killed since 1994, but is the first time the FBI has helped in such an investigation.

Council Dismisses Complaint Over NEC

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
04 August 2008

The Constitutional Council dismissed an election complaint by the Sam Rainsy Party Friday, claiming it was not in its jurisdiction under election law.

The party had complained against the National Election Committee, for violation of people's rights by omitting names of eligible voters from last month's national election.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said Monday the decision by the Constitutional Council was "not fair at all."

"We have enough evidence for them to decide on the complaint," he said. "This shows that the Constitutional Council has no independence, and there is nothing surprising about the letter, because Constitutional Council members are really CPP members."

The council had made a "political" decision, not a legal won, he added.

Hang Puthea, executive director of Nicfec, expressed regret at the council's decision.

"The Constiutional councils declared that its decision was fair, bu tin a democratic society, each fairness is supported by the other. But right now, this decision is not supported by the opposition party, so the fairness is in the mystery.

Constitutional Council spokesman Penn Thol declined further comment Monday.

End of discussion

The Bangkok Post
Phnom Penh - Talks between the foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand are over for now - at least until Cambodia forms a new government, expected in late September, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Monday. Supreme Commander Boonsrang Niumpradit suggested Cambodia pull back its troops from a second disputed temple area.

"There will be no more meetings. Wait until the new government is formed," Kanharith said at a press conference for the visit of Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Instead, discussions would be left to the border committees on both sides for now, he said. The tensions on the northern border auger badly for pending negotiations over disputed sea borders which hold potentially rich oil fields in the balance.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said on Monday that Phnom Penh is committed to avoiding a shooting conflict. "The situation along the border has not yet reached emergency state," he told reporters.

In Bangkok, official Thai News Agency reported that Gen Boonsrang had asked his Border Affairs Department to pass a message to Cambodian Defence Minster Tea Banh:

"We ask Cambodia to move their soldiers, who are near the Ta Muen Thom temple," he said. "I have not received the response yet."

Reports on Sunday that a second temple on the Thai- Cambodian border has been occupied by Thai troops has drawn an angry reaction from the public. Click here for earlier Bangkok Post report.

Gen Boonsrang said a small group of Cambodian soldiers advanced on Sunday or Monday towards the temple.

Ta Muen Thom ruin sits in the Thai border district of Phanom Dong Rak in the northeastern province of Surin, but Cambodia claims that the ruin is in Cambodia's northern Banteay Meanchey. The demarcation between the two countries has not yet been settled by the Thailand-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC).

Gen Boonsrang denied that Thailand had increased the number of troops stationed at Ta Muen Thom, and he declined to comment on ownership of the ruin.

"I don't want to answer other questions, otherwise it will escalate," he said.

Cambodia has said it will take the border dispute surrounding ancient temples the United Nations Security Council if bilateral talks fail.

Tensions flared on July 15 when Cambodia detained briefly three Thai protestors it said had strayed into Cambodian land after Preah Vihear temple was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site against Thai wishes. Thailand retaliated by sending in troops.

Sunday the dispute spread to Ta Muen Thom temple, hundreds of kilometres to the west, further straining relations.

Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti prime minister had some poignant words for Cambodia Monday during his 3-day official visit, Kanharith said.

"He told us once Kuwait was invaded by Iraq but now it has an embassy in Iraq," Kanharith said, referring to the 1991 Gulf War.

"Kuwait wants to solve problems by peaceful means ... not fighting." (dpa)