Friday, 22 August 2008

Hun Sen’s Nephews Are Menace to Cambodian Society: Thugs and Murders.

THE KINGDOM OF HUN or THE KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA?

Hun Sen’s nephews beat, killed, intimidate ordinary Cambodians, Journalist, Tourist, police, and even Parliament member with impunity. They feel they can do anything they want in Cambodia with little or no consequences. How is it possible for a few young men intimidate a whole society with impunity?

1. Hun Chea: On August 3, 2008, at about 11:30 pm, a black Cadillac Escalade SUV sped north up Phnom Penh's Sothearos Boulevard at more than 100km/h before running down a man on a motorbike, tearing off his left arm and left leg in front of the Regent Park Hotel. Hun Chea at a karaoke club early Friday in central Phnom Penh after firing seven shots in the club and three more shots threatening police who rushed to the scene.

2.. Hun Tho: July 19, 2008, Noun Vuthy, a parliament member, was attacked by Hun Tho’s bodyguards. You Saravuth, Sralang Khmer journalist threatened by Hun Tho. Numerous undocumented reports of intimidation, beating, kicking ordinary Cambodian and entertainer for looking at him or does not do what he want.

3. Nim Sophea:, the son of Hun Sen's sister, have taken part in a car chase, which ended when the car he was travelling in lost control and crashed. According to police, Hun Sen's nephew then fired an automatic rifle at passers-by. The authorities believe he may have been angry or drunk, which left two people dead. His younger brother, Nim Chan Tana were also involved in the car race.

4. Nhim Pov, a son of one of Hun Sen's sisters, nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen was involved in the stabbing of two Japanese tourists in downtown Phnom Penh. The two injured were beaten and stabbed with bottles of chilli and soy sauce.

5. Nim Pisey: another nephew of Hun Sen, fired several shots at another night club in the city, injuring two people. He was released a week later.

Sacravatoons : " the Hun's Law "

Courtesy Sacravatoon athttp://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Sacravatoons :" The Greed & the Land-Grabbing "

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

JOEL BRINKLEY: The world leader in corruption is - Cambodia

The Modesto Bee
August 21, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia —
Hun Chea, a nephew of Cambodia's prime minster, was speeding along a busy downtown street a few days ago when he ran down a man on a motorbike.

Phnom Penh's streets are teeming with motorbikes, hundreds of them, criss-crossing busy traffic without seeming to look or care where they are going. Collisions are inevitable. But that's not the point of this story.

Hun was tearing down the street at high speed when he hit the biker, witnesses reported, and his car ripped off an arm and a leg. The biker, Sam Sabo, was killed. Hun began to drive off, but running over the motorbike had shredded a tire. He had to pull over, so there he sat in his big black Cadillac Escalade SUV.

Now, listen to how the Phnom Penh Post newspaper described the events that followed.

"Numerous traffic police were seen avoiding the accident scene, but armed military police arrived. They removed the SUV's license plates and comforted Hun Chea" while Sam Sabo lay bleeding to death in the street. A military policeman was overheard telling Hun: "'Don't worry. It wasn't your mistake. It was the motorbike driver's mistake.'" A few days later, Hun gave the dead man's family $4,000 in hush money, the paper reported. Case closed.

It's no secret that Cambodia is thoroughly corrupt. As an indirect result, the rich and the powerful can commit, well, murder and face few if any repercussions.

A primary rule of foreign correspondence is to avoid applying the values of your own country on the nation you are covering. But then, some events appear so outrageous that the rule does not apply.
Police actually removed the car's license plates, to conceal the driver's identity? So I asked Khieu Kanarith, Cambodia's information minister, about the case. He fumbled about for a moment and then explained, "I understand he had his wife in the car, and I don't think he was paying attention to what he was doing." OK, but the police removed the license plates? Khieu had to think about that for a moment but finally managed to say, "You try to cover the plates because it's harder to sell a car if it's been in an accident." As a reporter, sometimes it's hard to keep a straight face. But then, being Cambodia's information minister is a tough job.

Later I asked Joseph Mussomeli, the U.S. ambassador, about this, and he shook his head.

"This goes to the whole culture of impunity here. Who you are, who you know, is more important than following the law. And the police are too intimidated, too deferential, to the wealthy and powerful." Why else would the traffic police assertively avoid the scene of the accident, even with a dying man lying in the street? They knew full well that the owner of a Cadillac Escalade SUV in this exceedingly poor country is quite likely to be well connected.

Impunity is a word that comes up over and over in Cambodia. Last month, two men speeding by on a motorbike shot and killed Khim Sambor and his 21-year-old son as they walked down the street. Khim was a reporter for Khmer Conscience, an opposition newspaper, and not surprisingly the paper had been writing critically about the government.

No one has been arrested. That is true for dozens of apparent contract killings in recent years just like that one. No one has proved that government officials are behind them. But then, why else would the police make no effort to solve any of these crimes? Cambodia has come a long way in the last several years. Phnom Penh is teeming with tourists. The economy is growing. The nation has been stable for more than a decade now, which is no small accomplishment.

Over the years, I have worked in many corrupt states - Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, among others. But in none of them is the corruption so pervasive, even pandemic. Prime Minister Hun Sen just won re-election to a new five-year term. For a decade, the United States and many other countries have been pressing him to pass a comprehensive anti-corruption law. Hun continually promises but never delivers.

Cambodians deserve better. If Cambodia hopes to join the ranks of the world's prosperous and respected nations, it must enact - and enforce - an anti-corruption law. With that, in time, the shiny mantle of impunity resting softly on the shoulders of the rich and well-connected will begin to fall away.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Joel Brinkley is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times and now a professor of journalism at Stanford University. Readers may send him e-mail at: brinkley@foreign-matters.com

Cambodia: Evictions in name of development

Human Rights Tribune

IRIN
22 August 08 - Vanndy Sambath had lived next to Phnom Penh’s lush Boeng Kak lake for years, peacefully growing vegetables and accommodating tourists to support his family.

IRIN, Phnom Penh - That all changed in 2006, when a contractor arrived and announced government-sponsored plans to fill in the lake, forcing his neighbourhood to relocate in the future.

Two years on, he worries for his family’s future. Finding a new job will be difficult, he told IRIN.
“They came here and didn’t give us a choice,”Vanndy said. “We haven’t moved yet, but we’re all scared when they come and clear us out. We don’t know what they will do.”

Since 2006, Cambodian construction firm Shukaku Inc. has been filling in one of the city’s only remaining lakes - where Sambath lives - to make way for guesthouses, shopping centres, and an array of high priced apartments.

According to a 2007 report issued by the Cambodia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR Cambodia), 4,225 families will be forcibly evicted from Boeng Kak.
Nothing new

However, sidelining Cambodia’s vast slums for urban development is far from new.

A joint South Korean and Cambodian firm has similarly filled in most of Phnom Penh’s Pong Peay lake since 2006 to build a US$2 billion satellite city called Camko, which will showcase boutique shops and skyscrapers.

Pong Peay had previously been home to numerous shanty towns.

South Korean construction tycoons building the massive International Finance Centre - heralding Phnom Penh into a new age of skyscrapers - have also forced slum dwellers to the city’s outskirts.

Yet many of the planned spaces remained unsold, with questions raised about whether there are enough rich people in the country to sustain such a project.

“The problem is that this caters to a tiny powerful group,” Ou Virak, director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, told IRIN. “The government is attempting to develop and modernise Cambodia quickly, but they’ve lost sight of the people they’re trying to help.”

Mass evictions

When the genocidal Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, they immediately ordered an evacuation of the capital to transform Cambodia into an agrarian society. In a matter of hours, the communist victors displaced millions, turning a bustling metropolis into a mere ghost town.
According to activists, recent forced evictions in Cambodia are the largest since those in the 1970s.

“This is close to the largest forced displacement of people if you count all the elections and years that it has been happening,” Virak said.

Adhoc, a Cambodian rights watchdog, says about 50,000 people throughout the country were evicted for development projects in 2006 and 2007.

In contravention of the law?

But Cambodia’s 2001 land law clearly states that lakes are public property and cannot be sold.
Another 1996 law states that the natural resources of Cambodia should be “conserved, developed, managed, and used in a rational and sustainable manner,” said land activist Chak Sopheap.

To get around this, instead of directly selling the lake to developers, the Phnom Penh Municipality has leased it for 99 years to Shukaku Inc., said David Pred, co-founder of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Bridges Across Borders.

“The lease is illegal because the lake is state public property and cannot be leased for more than 15 years or damaged or destroyed,” he told IRIN. “By filling in the lake, it will be destroyed.”

Added to that is the fact that most Boeng Kak residents are unaware of Cambodian land laws, he said.

Despite this, developing the capital remains a priority for the Phnom Penh municipal government, which has stated in official releases that evictions were necessary for progress.

When the Boeng Kak lake project first got under way, Environment Minister Mok Mareth cited concerns that filling in the lake would seriously affect Phnom Penh’s drainage system.

He called the project ’illegal’ after HSC Company, a contractor for Shukaku, began constructing a pipe without a license to fill the lake with sand.

HSC Company responded that it had the permission of the city authorities, not the Ministry of Environment, to begin construction. Neither Minister Mareth or Shukaku could be reached for comment.

Mareth now supports private development at the lake. Others, however, remain steadfastly opposed.

“Filling Boeng Kake lake will have untold environmental consequences, as it is the primary natural reservoir where rainwater is collected during the monsoon season,” NGO leader Pred warned. “It is hard to believe city hall officials that the lake filling will not lead to flooding and other negative environmental consequences.”

Compensation woes

Meanwhile, residents of the proposed project await news of their fate.

“I don’t protest against the government’s development plan,” Yim Sokhom, an army commander and Boeng Kak resident, told IRIN. “But I don’t agree with private developers using the government’s name to get their way.”

Sokhom added that Shukaku Inc. representatives offered to reimburse him to the tune of US$4,000 for his property, while similar properties around Phnom Penh sell for over $40,000.

’’What am I supposed to do with $4,000? I can’t buy a new house in Cambodia with that money.
If they’re willing to reimburse me fairly, I’ll gladly move.’’

Human rights activist Virak also cited concerns over reimbursement. “As with any policy, if you cannot fairly compensate those negatively impacted,” he said, “then it goes to show that the policy is not an effective one.”

Opposition lawmakers from the country’s Sam Rainsy Party in January tried to halt the lake plan until the government had fully considered the project’s environmental impacts. They did not receive much support from the National Assembly, according to the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

In a similar development scheme around a lake in Kandal Province, which turned out to be illegal, the Cambodian government removed a governor and his two deputies on corruption charges, then demolished the construction projects.

Family connections, corruption

Forestry watchdog Global Witness released a report in 2007 detailing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family connections with illegal logging and land grabbing in various provinces. The government had previously banned the organisation in 2005 from operating in Cambodia.

Ty Sokun, director of the Forestry Administration, responded to the report by calling Global Witness a group of “insane, unprofessional people”, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Both Human Rights Watch and Freedom House noted in 2008 that Cambodia had not made sufficient progress in its good governance. Freedom House’s 2008 index criticised government officials for engaging in land grabbing without regard for a majority of the population.

Senator Lau Meng Khin, owner of the land companies Pheapimex Co. Ltd. and Shukaku Inc., is also chairman of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and is close to Hun Sen’s family, according to the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

In addition to the land around Boeng Kak, Senator Lau was also granted 315,025 hectares in Kompong Chhnan and Pursat provinces, according to the OHCHR report

Prosecutors want more charges against Khmer Rouge prison chief

ABC News

Prosecutors at the UN-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia are appealing to have additional charges lodged against Comrade Duch, the first of five Khmer Rouge defendants to front court.

The co-prosecutors of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia want Comrade Duch, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, to face murder and torture charges as allowed by Cambodian law.

As it currently stands, the co-investigating judges have sought only to charge him with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Duch was head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of people were detained, tortured and killed in the 1970s under the orders of the Khmer Rouge government.

More than 1 million Cambodians died while the Khmer Rouge was in power from 1975 to 1979.

The outcome of this appeal should be known by the end of September.

The tribunal has been wracked with delays and budget.

The trial against Comrade Duch is expected to get underway in October.

Hun Sen Government Is Weak, It Conducts Diplomatic Politics by Kneeling Down to Beg Siam to Withdraw Invading Troops from Cambodia

Posted on 22 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 574

“To clarify one’s position by kneeling down under the pressure of the diplomatic politics by Siam [Thailand] or to say that the Hun Sen government is defeated by the Siamese [Thai] diplomatic warfare regarding the incursion by Siamese troops to control the Preah Vihear Temple and the Ta Moan Temple regions – these are two prominent positions to describe the representatives of the Hun Sen government. Hor Namhong, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Hun Sen government, promised Siam to revoke Cambodia’s complaint to the UN Security Council about the incursion by Siam into Cambodia, and the Hun Sen government also agreed to beg Siam, by withdrawing its troops unilaterally from the Preah Vihear Temple region, so that Siam also withdraws its troops from Khmer territory.

The press in Cambodia – the Khmer press and the international press alike - have not published (as far as we know – if we are wrong, please inform us) the extremely important Joint Communique, signed by the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of Royal Government of Cambodia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, and the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, on 18 June 2008. This was the last joint submission to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, which led to the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. The full document and the appended map ['the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached' to the Joint Communique] is here ; (it is a big file of 1.3 MB). To read the Joint Communique and to see the attached map, you need to have the free Adobe Reader or a comparable software installed - you can download the Adobe Reader here. .

We strongly recommend to have a look, especially also at the map with a tiny stretch of land in red, claimed as the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple.

This document is available internationally, it has been published various time in the Thai media. The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs signed this document, relating to national sovereignty and territory integrity, without asking the Thai parliament for a decision, led to a verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court, accusing him of overstepping is responsibilities, and thus violating the Thai constitution – so he had to resign.

This document – co-signed in the name of the Kingdom of Cambodia – is also the basis for much public opinion in Thailand about the Cambodian government. It is surprising - and important to note - that this document of high international value, is not, or not easily, available to the Khmer public.

It seems that many arguments in the Khmer press are either not aware of this document, or avoid to see it, because of its bewildering implications. To analyze the content of the document might lead to some different conclusions and arguments, different from what is nowadays in the press. We provide today some references to the Joint Communique and invite our readers to appraise the situation, comparing and relating it to the Joint Communique and the new Cambodian map.

We would, of course, be happy to see some such reactions in the Comments you may write – or in e-mail to myself, the editor of the Mirror, at mirror@gmx.org

“This information was made known after a two-day-meeting on 18 and 19 August 2008, and especially, after a high ranking delegation of the government of Cambodia, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hor Namhong, accompanied by senior representatives of the Minister of Interior of Cambodia, also came to visit the Siamese King at his palace in Hua Hin.

“Explaining that this is to express sympathy and friendship among good neighbors, between Cambodia and Thailand, and to avoid confrontation between Siamese troops invading and Khmer troops protecting its territory, Hor Namhong and the Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tej Bunnang reported the same content about the results of these negotiations. Hor Namhong said that Cambodia agreed to withdraw a complaint against Siam’s incursion into the Preah Vihear Temple region to the UN Security Council; representatives of the Hun Sen government consider this to be a concession towards Siam so that they agree to withdraw also their troops from Cambodia.

“Moreover, Hor Namhong said also that in response to an order by Hun Sen, Cambodia agreed, on its side, to please Siam by promising to recall the Khmer troops from the Preah Vihear Temple region of Cambodia.

“Hor Namhong said, ‘We will withdraw all troops from the Contested Regions. We will withdraw also the complaint to the UN Security Council.’

“Cambodia filed a complaint to the UN Security Council to ask for intervention, asking to convene an urgent meeting, to solve the confrontation between Cambodian and Siamese troops, after Siam had invaded Khmer territory on 15 July 2008. However, the complaint of Cambodia to the UN Security Council was suspended by a phone call from the Siamese Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on 24 July 2008 to Mr. Hun Sen, requesting him to suspend this complaint (it seems to be a very interesting books), one day before the UN Security Council would have discussed it.

The Khmer press speaks, in general, in general terms, of the invasion into Khmer territory, without considering the declarations of the Cambodian representatives, especially also the new map presented by Cambodia – not bu Thailand! - with the Joint Communique, which says:

“1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription… of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached…

2….the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.”

On 15 July 2008, Thai troops moved into the “northern and western areas of the Temple” which were not claimed by Cambodia “at this stage” as part of the territory of the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple, listed as a World Heritage Site.

“Mr. Hor Namhong said also, ‘We will withdraw the troops unilaterally form the disputed regions to express the good will of Cambodia, to avoid a confrontation that might lead to armed conflict.’

“What is seen is that Siam has a landslide victory in its diplomatic warfare, hiding its military incursion into Cambodia, when the head diplomat Hor Namhong, on Hun Sen’s order, agreed to do everything by kneeling down to totally beg Siam - like through the promise to revoke the complaint against Siam to the UN Security Council, and to announce to withdraw the Khmer troops from Khmer territory first, so that Siam agrees to withdraw its invading troops also.

What is called here “Khmer territory” seems to be part of the area contested between both countries – but more specifically in this case – an area outside of the perimeter claimed by Cambodia for the listing by the World Heritage Committee – see the note above.

“Observers and experts officials said that the Hun Sen government made Cambodia to be a looser, because that territory belongs to Cambodia, as stated in the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1962. If Cambodia dares to order its troops back to the region again, Siam will take the opportunity to use this as a reason to order its troops to control Khmer territory. It is not believed that there will be proper and just solutions in the meetings attended by foreign affairs ministers, interior high ranking officials, and the Cambodia’s Border Committee, to guarantee that Siam will give up its invading ambition ordering its troops to control Cambodian territory.

“Getting out from the Khmer-Siamese foreign affairs ministerial meeting on 18 August 2008 in Hua Hin, and then visiting the Siamese King, Hor Namhong said that the Khmer and the Siamese sides agreed to leave only ten soldiers at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda, and twenty soldiers close to the pagoda, in order to lessen the confrontation by both sides.

The Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda lies in the ‘buffer zone on the… western areas of the Temple’ which was ‘at this stage’ not claimed by the Cambodian negotiators as part of defining the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple.

“Furthermore, the head of the Khmer diplomats Hor Namhong said that, as a concession which is quick like an arrow, aiming to defuse the confrontation between the troops of both sides, that the government of Cambodia agreed to withdraw all its troops from the border, and will turn to negotiate peacefully through meetings between the border commissions of both countries.

“In the meantime, regarding about the movement of troops by Siam into the Ta Moan Temple on Khmer territory in the western Dang Rek Mountain region, it was kept as a separate issue.

The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Tej Bunnang said that it was not on the agenda to discuss the Ta Moan Temple issue, and both sides agreed to deal with it next time.

“This shows that it is a strategic trick of Siam in the diplomatic field to create new problems, while Cambodia is weak in this field, as well as in the field to defend the nation.

“Both sides claim that the solution for the disputes at the Preah Vihear Temple is to plan to look for border markers, to clearly mark the border lines. To say so is another political trick of Siam, since, in general, they know that a verdict in the International Court of Justice in The Hague on 15 June 1962 clearly stated, by basing its verdict on the French and Siam treaties of 1904 to 1907, signed by both sides about the Khmer and Siam borders lines, which was marked in an official map in 1908.

The court, in a very lengthy document publishing its verdict, stated that the court
‘…by nine votes to three, finds that the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territoryunder the sovereignty of Cambodia.’

The text of the verdict clarifies things related to the temple; it does not clarify the border questions in the region. That is why both countries agreed that the next step necessary now is to work on the border demarcation.

As a related question, it would be interesting to know how the different border clarifications – with Laos, with Vietnam, and with Thailand – which have been already accomplished something, or which need still to continue to work, relate to Article 2 of the Cambodian Constitution:

‘The territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia, shall absolutely not to be violated within its borders as defined in the 1/100,000 scale map made between the year 1933-1953 and internationally recognized between the years 1963 – 1969.’

This statement seems to imply that all border questions which all neighbors are already solved – otherwise, how could there be finite, clear, detailed numbers?] - but many sections of the borderline with neighboring countries are not yet solved..

“Just having seen that the Hun Sen government agreed to kneel down to beg Siam with promises that Cambodia will withdraw its troops, even from the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia, to please Siam so that they withdraw their troops from the areas where they invaded Cambodia, allows everyone to knows that the Hun Sen government is very weak diplomacy, as well as militarily to defend its territorial integrity. How can Khmers then hope that Cambodia, ruled by the Hun Sen government of the Cambodian People’s Party, will not lose Cambodian territory, because they serve the interests of themselves or of factions among the leaders of Siam and of the Hun Sen government?”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #226, 21.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Thursday, 21 August 2008

Cambodian veggies to get greener with Kuwait

Cambodge Soir
22-08-2008

The Arabic state agreed to finance road and agricultural infrastructure in exchange for the Kingdom’s harvests.

It seems, following the official visit of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, in early August, that Kuwait likes Cambodia.

The Cambodian prime Minister received a delegation on Wednesday, August 20. Technical matters were on the agenda following bilateral agreements signed by both countries in the field of trade and economic co-operation including agriculture, aviation, and oil and road infrastructures.

Hun Sen took advantage of Kuwait’s penchant for Cambodian food production to ask his guests to finance the construction of two roads in Battambang province, an irrigation system in Stung Treng (Kampong Thom province) and a water reservoir, for a total of $US 90 million. The last two projects, when implemented, will increase cultivation by adding 113,000 hectares during the monsoon and 100,000 hectares in the dry season. “We will also be able to produce electricity thanks to a 40 Mwh hydro-electric plant” declared Hun Sen. The Prime Minister added that the two roads, respectively of 90 and 140 km, in Battambang province “were strategic for agricultural product transportation”.

On Thursday August 21, the delegation met with the head of Cambodian diplomacy and signed an agreement to start a direct air link between Phnom Penh and Kuwait City. Also On the agenda was the establishment of diplomatic representations in both countries.

Recently Kuwait agreed to finance Cambodian Islamic Institutions to the tune of $US 5 million. This amount will be used to restore the mosque located near Boeung Kak lake.

Chea Mony under threat?

Cambodge Soir
22-08-2008

The Union leader said he received an explicit email. He called on several NGO as witnesses without taking the matter to the police.

The president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC), who is also a strong opponent to the government, remains on his guard. “I feel threatened” claims Chea Mony since he received, on August 18, an anonymous self explanatory email: “Watch out...”.

Nevertheless the president did not file a complaint to the police explaining that "[he] do[oes] not trust the police". But he informed Human Rights NGOs such as UNHCR, Adhoc and Licado in the hope they may serve as "witnesses".

“I do not fear these threats, I am not in hiding, I still live as before to show that I am brave. If the author of these threats is as brave as I am, he just needs to state when and where he will shoot so that I can be there”, he added slightly bragging.

Touch Naroth, the commissioner of Phnom Penh police is puzzled by the matter. “I do not really know what we can do as he does not inform us and we do not know if his declarations are true” the policeman stated.

He thinks that Chea Mony’ statement does not make sense. Touch Naroth talked further about the allegations--printed in the press--mentioning that Chea Mony had refused to defect to the CPP. “The CPP won 90 seats and probably not thanks to the votes of the FTUWKC workers” highlighted the commissioner.

In January 2004, Chea Mony’s older brother, Vichea Mony, president at the time of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, was shot dead in the street. Two suspects were arrested and sentenced respectively for 20 years in jail. But neither Chea Mony, nor Norodom Sihanouk or the NGOs consider them as the real killers.

Investigation in the Murder of Sambor turns to the son

Cambodge Soir
22-08-2008

Police investigators are considering the possibility that the son of the journalist could have been the killers’ target and not his father, as previously thought.

Despite the assistance of the FBI, investigators are still struggling to find clues.

“Our investigation focused on the father but we are now more inclined to think that his son could be the reason behind the double killing”, declared Touch Naroth, the Phnom Penh police commissioner.

During the electoral campaign, Khim Sambor, aged 47, a journalist for the opposition daily Moneaksekar Khmer, and his 21 year-old son were killed in the street as they were leaving the Olympic stadium on July 11.

With help, Montrose man dousing Cambodian fires

By Reilly Capps, staff writer
Daily Planet
Thu Aug 21, 2008

Cambodia doesn’t have much, and what little they do have keeps burning down, because that beautiful and battered country doesn’t have enough fire fighting equipment or fire stations to keep up. The whole country, in fact, has far fewer fire stations than the Western Slope.

In the capital, Phnom Penh, for example, there is only one fire station and just nine trucks to protect two million people. It’s not uncommon for dozens, even hundreds of rickety buildings to burn down before a truck can get to the blaze.

That dire situation struck Montrose resident and former volunteer fireman Doug Mendel as nearly criminal, and he’s working to change it. He’s coordinated the donation of tons of gear and two fire trucks to departments throughout the country.

He long ago fell in love with this southeast Asian nation famous for producing Angkor Wat and children of Angelina Jolie. While on vacation in Cambodia in 2001, Mendel noticed that the fire station in Sihanoukville was unbelievably run-down and decrepit.

“It was very basic and almost barren,” he said.

When he came back, he convinced the Breckenridge fire department to donate an old fire truck, and he raised the $18,000 necessary to ship it over to Sihanoukville. In 2005, three members of the Breck fire department traveled to Cambodia to teach the locals how to use it.

“It was actually really awesome,” said Kim Scott, a captain in the Breck department. She couldn’t make the trip, but heard that the Cambodians “were so appreciative it makes you want to cry.”

A lot of things about Cambodia make you want to cry, since the story of Cambodia since 1970 is pure tragedy: illegal American bombing and intense civil war, and then the horror of Pol Pot, who promoted communism by snuffing out 1.7 million of his own countrymen and left huge parts of the country booby-trapped with land mines.

Today, the president is bringing real reform and the economy is improving, but one-armed kids still beg on street corners and sit below your table, big eyes desperate for a scrap of leftover noodles.

To travel there is to have your heart expanded, lifted … and broken into a million little pieces.

And Mendel’s big heart isn’t reserved just for underfunded fire stations. He’s also donated cameras to national park rangers so that they can document poaching and illegal logging activities, and brought over medical and dental supplies for street children.

And, he gives them stuffed animals.

“It makes their day,” Mendel said. “They’re such genuinely happy people. Especially the children. They have so little. It just lights ‘em up.”

Last year, Mendel had a fire truck built for a remote province, Ratanakiri, and his project this year is to build a whole new fire station in that province’s capital, Ban Lung. Building a whole fire station, from foundation to roof, costs just $35,000 — less than a new Toyota FourRunner.

To fund his travel, Mendel saves what he makes at the Montrose Home Depot. And when he returns from Cambodia, he brings back silk purses, silk scarves, jewelry boxes and table cloths, and sells them around the Western Slope. Yesterday, he was peddling the Cambodian stuff at the Grand Junction Flea Market.

Mendel’s next term goal is to raise a couple hundred g’s to build two fire stations in Phnom Penh, since it breaks his heart to read about the fires that ravage the capital. There was a fire not long ago, he said, that took out 500 slum houses and just about every single possession a lot of families had.

“It would bring tears to my eyes to see one or two more fire stations in Phnom Penh,” Mendel said.

Scott, the Breck fire captain, said her department’s relationship with Cambodia has expanded their world, and said Mendel made it possible.

“He’s just an amazing man,” she said. “It’s a really nice feeling when you know you’re helping people.”

Mendel returns to Cambodia in October, his 12th trip in six years, brining over 800 pounds of gear for the Phnom Penh station. His nonprofit, the Douglas Mendel Cambodian Relief Fund, is looking for donations. If you’d like to help, surf to dougmendel.com, where you can watch videos, see pictures and donate via PayPal. Or call him at 970-240-6120.

Jetstar plane slides in the wet

Slashed tyre ... Jetstar Asia is investigating why a flight from Singapore to Siem Reap-Angkor international airport slide off the runway and how one of tyres came to have cuts in it

News.com.au
By Mark Schliebs
August 22, 2008

A JETSTAR Asia plane partially slid off a runway in Cambodia as it came in to land in wet weather, damaging two tyres.

The Jetstar Asia flight from Singapore to Siem Reap-Angkor international airport, carrying 144 passengers, landed in the rain yesterday morning, with reports the plane’s fuselage also scraped along the ground during landing.

Jetstar Asia is the sister company to Melbourne-based airline Jetstar Airways.A Jetstar Asia spokesman said an investigation was being carried out.

"The plane landed in heavy weather," the spokesman said.

Were you on the plane or do you know someone who was? Email us at news@news.com.au with reports, tip-offs, and pictures or SMS / MMS 0429 300 245

"The aircraft drifted to the edge of the runway."

He said there was no permanent damage to the aircraft and no passengers were injured.

During an inspection of the plane, two tires were found damaged and mud was discovered on the aircraft's fuselage.

All passengers disembarked as normal, the airline said.

The A320 would fly back to Singapore later today.

A NEWS.com.au reader said the plane “left the runway and blew a tyre and scraped the ground”.

Another reader, who was booked on the plane’s flight back to Singapore yesterday, said the airline put him up at a motel while another flight was organised. “We’ve been told that technical difficulties in Siem Reap have caused the cancellation for a full 24 hours,” he said last night.

The airline spokesman said all passengers were later put on another flight.

Kuwait loans Cambodia $546m

Trade Arabia

Phnom Penh: Kuwait has agreed to give Cambodia loans totalling $546 million to develop agriculture, build hydro-power facilities and construct roads, a Cambodian foreign ministry official said on Friday.

This is the second-biggest aid pledge ever received by Cambodia, after aid and loans totalling $601 million offered by China last year.

"This is showing a stronger relationship between Kuwait and Cambodia, both political and economic," Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman Sin Bunthoeurn told Reuters late on Thursday after the ministry hosted bilateral ministerial talks.

He said they planned to open embassies early next year. The two countries have had diplomatic ties since 1997.

A Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Kuwait had leased rice fields in Cambodia to secure food supplies after Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah met Cambodian leaders earlier this month.

Qatar's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, paid his first official visit to Cambodia in April 2008 and Qatar plans to invest $200 million in Cambodian farmland.

Some $486 million from the Kuwaiti loan will be invested in irrigation systems and hydro-power on the Stueng Sen river in the northeastern province of Kampong Thom.

The remaining $60 million will be used for building roads in the northwestern province of Battambang, a rice-growing area, Sin Bunthoeurn said.

Kuwait has signed more than $27 billion of investment agreements with nine Asian countries during an Asian tour this month, its finance minister was reported as saying on Aug. 17. - Reuters

Town gets behind one of its own

Keo Sok, a custodian at Union City Middle School, recently passed the U.S. citizenship test with the support of the school´s students and staff. Sok is a native of Cambodia and lived there under the Khmer Rouge regime. (John Grap/The Enquirer)


Keo Sok, a custodian at Union City Middle School, sits with fifth-grade teacher Klaudia Fisher. Students and staff at the school helped Sok study for his citizenship test. (John Grap/The Enquirer)


Ryan Holland • The Enquirer • August 22, 2008

UNION CITY — When Keo Sok, a custodian at Union City Middle School, traveled to Detroit to take his U.S. citizenship exam in July, it wasn't just the 100 history and government questions running through his head.

He had the hopes of this small town riding on him.

"Keo mentioned how much pressure he felt because the community was behind it," eighth-grade social studies teacher Larry Bruce said, "and how if he would have went there and things wouldn't have gone right ... ."

Sok, sitting amid the clutter of the middle school's August cleanup on Thursday, finished the sentence. "Then I fail the whole town."

Sok, now a resident alien, was born in Cambodia and has been living in Union City for almost 28 years.

When teachers and administrators at this roughly 1,100-student district decided to help the 48-year-old become a U.S. citizen last winter, Sok, having failed once about 20 years ago, accepted the challenge with a bit of apprehension.

Bruce and Klaudia Fisher, a fifth-grade teacher, led the charge — getting students to take the daunting citizenship exam themselves and posting new sample questions on a cafeteria bulletin board every day.

"Sometimes at lunchtime, I sit down to eat, and (the students) ask and I have to answer it," Sok said. "That's the only way I learn. When you get old, you hardly remember things, and if you have a kid asking over and over and over, you will be remembering."

The learning process went both ways. Students also learned about Cambodia's people and past. Sok was on hand to provide a harrowing history lesson himself.

In 1975, Sok's parents and siblings were summarily executed by the Khmer Rouge, the radical Marxist group that controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, murder and over-work.

"They lined them up. Kill them," Sok said. "It took me twenty-some years to get over it."

Sok's father was a high-ranking Cambodian military official with the previous regime. As Sok put it, his family "they said was a root that they pull out so it don't grow back."

Sok, who was living with his aunt at the time, changed his last name to hide his identity and escape what would have been his own execution. He worked, as did almost all Cambodians under Pol Pot, in labor camps from dawn to dusk on a handful of rice each day.

The work ethic co-workers rave about was forged in the fields, where those who lagged behind were called into a "meeting" and killed.

In 1979, at the age of 18, Sok and three others realized that with the Vietnamese army invading Cambodia, there would be little chance to survive if they stayed put. They escaped and started the 150-mile trek from Phnom Penh to the Thai border.

Caught in the crossfire of Vietnamese and Cambodian soldiers, Sok didn't "walk straight on the road; I walk around all the boulders and mountains and stuff." After two months and four gunshot wounds, Sok and the others made it safely to Thailand.

From a Thailand Red Cross station, Sok and his new wife, whom he married after he arrived in Thailand, went to the Philippines and made it to the U.S. through the sponsorship of three Union City area churches in 1980.

Sok found work at Union City Industries Inc. doing maintenance and started working part-time at Union City Community Schools in 1989. He accepted a full-time custodian position in 1996.

All four of his children have graduated from or are attending Union City schools. His 28-year-old son, David, has served two tours of duty as a U.S. Marine in Iraq.

And while he has since separated from his wife, he has had the steady support of Union City, a small, rural town of about 1,800 people. The residents and employees have always known Sok's smile and ease, but the citizenship push started in January with a schoolwide assembly.

"When Keo came in, and the kids had been told ahead of time for the first time what was going on, they just cheered," Fisher said. "It was so cool because they just have such a great relationship with him. They really wanted him to succeed."

"It was one of those things where (you say), 'Hey, you know, one of our janitors — a guy you've been seeing every day — let me tell you a little bit about his story and what he went through," Bruce said.

On July 21, Sok went to Detroit and took the test, a 100-question oral exam given by an immigration official. His $675 application fee was covered by donations from Union City residents.

"I missed one question," Sok said. "I got mixed up with the one that was when the (Declaration) of Independence was written. I missed on that one, but that's it."

Sok was quick to point out that he is not an official U.S. citizen yet. He still must take his oath of allegiance, which might take up to two or three months. But, he said, "I got the hard part done."

Bruce said he is trying to see if a judge can administer the oath in Union City, so that Sok can enjoy his moment in the town that has given him so much.

"All I can say (to all the residents, employees and students) is super good," Sok said. "I want to say more than that, but I don't know how."

CAMBODIA: Freshwater fish resources under increasing pressure

While Cambodia’s Tonle Sap River is an extraordinary source of fish and provides livelihoods and sustenance for Cambodia’s rural poor, human population growth and fish consumption is threatening the overall supply of fish.

PHNOM PENH, 22 August 2008 (IRIN) - Each year, between July and October, Cambodia's Tonle Sap river, swollen by monsoon rain and excess flow from the nearby Mekong River, reverses its course. As water pours back into Cambodia's Great Lake, swelling its size by over four times, the flood-plain is transformed into a vast breeding ground for over 250 species of fish - a vital source of livelihoods and sustenance for Cambodia's rural poor.

But population growth and economic development in the Mekong basin are threatening fish resources, according to scientists, who say the country's food security could be hanging in the balance.

"This is one of the most intensely fished freshwater areas in the world," said Eric Baran, a research scientist at the World Fish Center, an international fisheries research institute. "The 2.6 million tonnes of fish caught annually in the Mekong basin represent seven times more than the catches of the North American inland fisheries sector and more than 10 times the entire [inland] fish catch in Australia."

But population growth and increased fish consumption is straining Great Lake's fish resources. "Between 1940 and 1995, fish production increased twofold, but population increased threefold," he said.

"We are close to a maximum level of production, but the population keeps growing," Baran said.So Nam, deputy director of the Cambodian government's Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, told IRIN: "Population growth is the main concern. Although the catch is now 400,000 tonnes per year," he said, "most of the [fish] are small sized."

The trend to smaller fish was also observed in River At Risk, a 2004 report by Milton Osborne, [] who noted the "regular complaints from [Great Lake] fishers about the difficulty of catching their desired quantities of fish."

Cambodia's heavy reliance on freshwater fish as a source of protein makes it particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in production, said Baran.

"[Cambodia] is a country where fish production is three times pig production and 20 times chicken production. If it loses fisheries, the agriculture sector will not be able to catch up," he said.

Illegal fishing

A rise in illegal fishing due to collaboration between outlaw anglers and local officials, is also a growing problem. Nao Thuok, director of the Cambodian Fisheries Administration, said the law was difficult to enforce in a country as reliant on fish as Cambodia. "Families can fish year round," he said. "But the [2006] Fisheries Law only enables them to use small-scale fishing gear. The problem is that families complain they cannot survive and are using larger gear in the spawning season."

To combat illegal fishing and encourage the long-term sustainability of Cambodia's freshwater fisheries, the government has devolved decision-making powers and enforcement to the local level.

Education, capacity building

According to So Nam, the central Fisheries Administration is focusing its efforts on educating fishermen about the challenges of sustainable development. "Education is very important. One of the aims is to strengthen the community by building the capacity of the community, teaching people to do their management, their conservation and their planning," So Nam told IRIN.

Over 500 "community fisheries" have been established so far throughout the kingdom, which act as focal points for law enforcement, conservation and the adoption of new fish cultivation methods, including aquaculture, according to So Nam.

Importance of accurate information

Generating accurate information for decision-makers is critical, according to Baran. The World Fish Center is experimenting with computer modelling to predict variations in fish levels and guide policy decisions relating to fisheries. One such model, known as BayFish, is bringing together all of the complex variables that impact fisheries - including flood levels, water oxygen levels and rainfall - enabling scientists to predict how changes in one variable will effect overall fish levels. "But it's a work in progress," said Baran.

"Our raison d'ĂȘtre is to produce scientific information on fisheries. That's the way to help national governments make informed decisions, he said. Having this scientific information integrated in national and regional policies would be a significant step forward."

CAMBODIA: Methamphetamine usage rising



Crystal methamphetamine being sold on the streets of Phnom Penh

" In 2000, when the substance users first started using drugs, it was sniffing glue. Now, over the years, `meth’ has become easily available and turned into the new gateway substance for street kids. "

PHNOM PENH, 21 August 2008 (IRIN) - Shirtless, with crude tattoos and scabs on his upper arms, 24-year-old Thom has been living on the streets of Phnom Penh for the past four years, one of a growing number of youths struggling with their addiction to crystal methamphetamine, also known as “ice”.

Typically smoked, the potent central nervous system stimulant is highly addictive, causing paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

According to an annual narcotics report released on 12 August by the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), use of “ice” is on the rise even though illicit drug use in Cambodia is stabilising, and drug related arrests in 2007 were over 50 percent down on what they were in 2006.

Working with the NACD, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) compiled data from the Ministry of Interior and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the drug sector.

The report gives a comprehensive picture of illicit drug use, and on a smaller scale evaluates the reliability of the routine surveillance systems being employed.

Traditionally a drug-trafficking route in southeast Asia, the report says that for the first time Cambodia has emerged as a possible methamphetamine producing country.

Drug raids

Earlier this month, anti-drug police raided a clandestine drug lab on a cattle ranch in the province of Kompong Speu, about 81km southwest of Phnom Penh.

No drugs were found, but the NACD identified chemicals used in the two-stage process of manufacturing methamphetamine, known as the “Emde Process”.


Addicted to crystal methamphetamine, 24-year-old Thom has been living on the streets of Phnom Penn for four years
“There is a level of sophistication evident from the Kompong Speu raid that is a bit disturbing. Because we only found the first stage of production there, we suspected that there was another facility nearby,” Lars Pederson, head of UNODC in Cambodia, told IRIN.

Drug experts estimate that, based on the materials found at the site, several million doses of methamphetamine could have been produced.

Four foreign nationals along with 14 Cambodians were arrested. One of the foreign nationals arrested, a Chinese national, had been detained at Phnom Penh International Airport in October 2002 for smuggling 10kg of palladium which is an integral ingredient in the second stage in the “Emde Process”.

He was later released as the importation of palladium was not controlled at the time in Cambodia, but he never returned to claim the unpaid duty on the substance. Soon afterwards, the Cambodian government placed palladium on the list of controlled substances.

Another indicator that Cambodia has emerged as a producer of methamphetamines was the arrest of the leader of a methamphetamine tableting operation in August 2007.

At a site in Phnom Penh, military police found a variety of illicit drugs. During the raid, military police also found a rotary tableting machine with the capacity of producing 10,000 methamphetamine tablets per hour. Such a machine had never been seized by officials in Cambodia before.

“These two raids highlight the risk of industrial-sized drug producing capability in Cambodia,” Pederson said. “This showed a level of sophistication in the manufacturing process, which included multiple production locations and logistics.”

New drug of choice

The NACD report also says there has been a shift in usage, mainly by Cambodian youth who have switched from glue-sniffing to “ice”.

In 2000 a survey produced by Mith Samlanh, a local NGO that rehabilitates street children in Phnom Penh, found that 12 percent of street children were using methamphetamines. By 2007 the number had jumped to 87 percent.

But what is more alarming is the increase of methamphetamine use among street children aged 12-18, while usage among those in those aged 19-25 declined over the same period.

“In 2000, when the substance users first started using drugs, it was sniffing glue,” said David Harding, technical adviser for drug programmes at the NGO Friends International. “Now, over the years, `meth’ has become easily available and turned into the new gateway substance for street kids.”

“We are now starting to see small numbers of kids at the age of eight using meth,” Harding added.

Rehab centres

NACD Secretary-General Lour Ramin said the government was now adjusting its tactics and focusing on arresting drug dealers, while referring illicit drug users to rehabilitation centres.

One such rehabilitation centre, Korsang, run by a risk reduction NGO specialising in injecting drug users, is where many go for treatment for their addiction.

Thom said he has been going to the facility for six months in the hope of kicking his methamphetamine habit.

“I had problems with drugs for many years. Now I am here at Korsang to try to cut down my drug usage,” he said.

A group of about 30 youths mill around the centre, illustrating the problems Cambodia currently faces with illicit drug use. But there is a glimmer of hope for the youth of tomorrow as stated by Sophea “Wicket” Heng, director of Korsang: “The government is catching onto the problem and is working with grassroots agencies and local authorities to tackle the problem.”

Prosecutors seek re-investigation of Khmer Rouge prison chief

Kaing Guek Eav (Duch)


PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Prosecutors at Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court appealed Thursday the indictment of the former Khmer Rouge prison chief, saying it failed to present a "full and truthful account" of his crimes.

Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, became the first suspect indicted by the genocide tribunal last week.

The 65-year-old was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the torture and extermination of more than 12,000 men, women and children when he headed Tuol Sleng prison, known as S-21.

But prosecutors claim the charges do not extend far enough.

"The Closing Order (indictment) does not charge Duch for his responsibility, as a co-perpetrator, for a significant number of crimes that occurred as part of a joint criminal enterprise inside S-21," the prosecution said in a statement.

"This may prevent the Trial Chamber from fully accounting for Duch's criminal responsibility at S-21," the prosecutors added.

Their appeal requests that a panel of investigating judges reopen the case against Duch in order to extend the charges against him.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath told AFP the appeal would not significantly delay the trial, expected to open around late September and last up to four months.

"All sides have no intention of delaying the trial," he said.

Duch, a former mathematics teacher, has been in prison since 1999 for his role at Tuol Sleng.
He was transferred to the custody of the UN-backed court in July last year, becoming the first top Khmer Rouge cadre to be detained by the tribunal.

The indictment order, posted on the tribunal website, said more than 12,380 people were executed at S-21 -- most after suffering inhumane detention conditions and prolonged mental and physical torture.

Thousands of inmates were also taken from the centre for execution at Choeng Ek, one of the areas now known as the Killing Fields.

Established in 2006 after nearly a decade of negotiations between Cambodia and the UN, the long-stalled tribunal seeks to prosecute crimes committed 30 years ago by senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

Ericsson deploys rural, solar-powered site with satellite transmission in Cambodia for Star-Cell.

7th Space

For the first time, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) has combined a GSM base station and satellite transmission in a solar-powered site, enabling Cambodian mobile operator Star-Cell to expand its network coverage in remote areas. The solution offers affordable communications for all and is based on Ericsson's energy-optimized main-remote base-station.

The satellite transmission feature provides affordable mobile-network coverage in remote areas where other transmission solutions are unavailable. This is vital for bridging the digital divide, as about 80 percent of the Cambodian population lives outside the main urban centers.

The GSM main-remote solution has a lower environmental impact than standard base stations, consuming up to 50 percent less energy, and helps lower total cost of ownership by reducing operating costs.

Star-Cell has selected Ericsson's solution to expand network coverage and introduce EDGE-based applications to enable mobile health and educational services for rural communities.

Denis Ryabtsev, Chief Marketing Officer at Star-Cell, says: "Ericsson's solar-powered site with satellite transmission will make a significant difference. It enables us to expand cost-effectively into rural areas, connect people for the first time, and offer affordable services that improve quality of life."

Hans Karlsson, President of Ericsson Thailand and Indochina, says: "This marks an important milestone and we are proud to implement the first solar-powered solution in Cambodia. This move highlights our technical leadership, our commitment to sustainable development, and our vision of providing communication for all."

This deployment follows a series of initiatives from Ericsson to optimize the energy efficiency of mobile networks by creating solutions that reduce environmental impacts and lower operator costs. These initiatives include: BTS Power Savings features that put a network in stand-by mode during off-peak hours and saves up to 15 percent of the network access energy consumption; the innovative site concept Ericsson Tower Tube; biofuel-powered telecom sites; a hybrid solution using diesel and batteries that cuts network operating costs by up to 50 percent; and the Solar Village Charger, co-developed with Sony Ericsson. Ericsson delivered its first solar-powered sites in 2000 to Maroc Telecom in Morocco, and has so far provided more than 200 sites in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas.

Cambodia: More Charges Sought Against Khmer Rouge Jailer

AP Associated Press
2008-08-22

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Prosecutors at Cambodia's genocide tribunal said Thursday (21 Aug) they will seek to have more charges added to the indictment issued against a former member of the Khmer Rouge who headed the group's most notorious prison.

A senior genocide researcher said the plan to appeal the court's indictment could cause another snag in efforts to convene the trial of Kaing Guek Eav _ also known as Duch _ who headed the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh in the late 1970s.

The trial for Duch, 66, has been expected to open in late September.

About 16,000 men, women and children are believed to have been held at the prison, which served as a torture center for the Khmer Rouge. Only 14 are thought to have survived.

The number is a small fraction of the estimated 1.7 million deaths attributed to the radical policies of the communist Khmer Rouge, who held power in 1975-79.

In a prepared statement, the prosecutors said the charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for which Duch has been indicted "may prevent the trial chamber from fully accounting for Duch's criminal responsibility" during his tenure at the prison.

"They believe that there should be a wider scope to the charges," Peter Foster, a tribunal spokesman, said Thursday.

In their final submission in July, the prosecutors had also sought to have Duch charged for homicide and torture _ crimes under Cambodian law _ in addition to crimes against humanity and war crimes under international law.

But last week, after finishing their mandated probe, the investigating judges issued their order indicting Duch only for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The prosecutors argued in response that Duch should also be charged "for his responsibility as a co-perpetrator for a significant number of crimes that occurred as part of a joint criminal enterprise inside" the prison.

They said their mandate "is not just to prosecute certain individuals but ... also to ensure the recording of a full and truthful account of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and the individual criminality of those responsible for them."

The prosecutors said they will file their appeal before the statutory deadline of 10 Sept.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group researching Khmer Rouge atrocities, said he feared that the prosecutors' move would cause a further delay to the trial, which will come almost three decades after the fall of the group.

"It won't ease the frustration of the public," he said. Many fear the five former Khmer Rouge leaders in detention may die before they face justice.

(By KER MUNTHIT/ AP)

US Cambodians Aid Republican Convention

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
21 August 2008

A number of US-Cambodians living in Minnesota have struggled to help the Republican Party in the weeks ahead of the national convention.

Many of these supporters said they hoped to generate more interest in Cambodia and the future of their communities by helping the party.

The Republican Party's national convention, which will be held from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4, will select its presidential candidate, and potentially his running mate. Sen. John McCain is expected to take the nomination. The Democratic convention will be held between Aug. 25 and Aug. 28, in Colorado.

Path Suykry, president of National Cambodian Republican Coalition, which has representative in 11 US states, said he had helped his party by gathering support in Cambodian communities, campaigning, and participating in rallies.

A Republican Party win in November's election could mean more support for Cambodian issues, he said.

No matter the party of choice, Cambodians should be sure to alert their politicians to their needs, he said. And everyone who can vote, should.

"For me, living here in the US for more than 30 years, all Cambodians should vote," he said. "We must utilize the freedoms and rights."

Minnesota resident Kong Khon said he was helping the Republican Party over the last six or seven months.

Kong Kon was a McCain supporter because of the senator's work for Cambodian human rights and democracy.

"If we help them, they will help us back when we have a problem," he said.

Another Cambodian resident of Minnesota, Chat Hangsa, said he had helped the Republicans by stumping for the party at the pagoda and at church.

He was not sure whether McCain would be able to help Cambodia, but the visit of his wife, Cindy McCain, to Cambodia in July was welcome.

"She expressed sympathy with the poor rubbish-collecting chidren in Stung Meanchey, and it showed our country is so poor," he said. "So we want the Us to help promote better living for Cambodia."

Labor Leader Receives Threat After Rally

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
21 August 2008

Khmer audio aired 20 August 2008 (978 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 20 August 2008 (978 KB) - Listen (MP3)

A labor leader received a threatening letter Wednesday, following demonstrations over the weekend by workers upset by the ongoing Preah Vihear standoff.

Chea Mony, who became the president of the Free Trade Union after the murder of his brother, Chea Vichea, in 2004, said he received a threatening letter by e-mail, asking to join the ruling Cambodian People's Party or live in insecurity.

"They threatened me, wanting me to join the CPP and Human Rights Party," Chea Mony said Wednesday.

Chea Mony led a demonstration of several hundred workers on Sunday to protest troop deployments at Preah Vihear temple, but authorities broke up the rally.

He had not filed a complaint with authorities, Chea Mony, said, because he had no faith in their ability to protect him.

Chea Vichea was gunned down in broad daylight, and two men widely believed to be innocent are serving 20-year sentences for the murder.

No suspects have ever been arrested in a number of high-profile murders over the years, including union leaders Ven Som Bunthoeun and Ros Sovannaret, Funcincpec official Oam Rathsady and film star Piseth Pilika.

The murder of an opposition journalist, Khim Sambor, who was shot in July ahead of national elections, has so far gone unsolved.

Ministry of Interior spokesman said it was Chea Vichea's right whether to file a complaint, but he said the police have "tried our best" to arrest suspects in the murders.

Chan Saveth, a rights investigator for Adhoc, said the authorities should take the threat seriously.

"If it's true, we are concerned about the safety of Mr. Chea Mony," Chan Saveth said.

Court Upholds Sentence in Rape of Minor

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 August 2008

The Appeals Court ruled Thursday to uphold the decision of a Kampong Cham provincial court sentencing two minors to eight years in prison for the rape of a 7-year-old girl.

The court also upheld a decision that 8 million riel in compensation be paid to the victim by the defendants, Kheng Seang Hay and Chhim Pisey.

The case, which highlights a continued problem of minors sexually assaulting minors, has centered around the age of the boys, not their guilt, because Cambodian law stipulates minors under 14 cannot be imprisoned.

If the two were under 14 years old at the time of the crime, they should not be sentenced to jail, said Touch Chiva, a program manager for Legal Aid of Cambodia, which is defending the boys.

Both courts maintain Kheng Seang Hay was 14 at the time of the crime, in September 2006, but his father, Eng Kheng, says he was 11, a claim corroborated by several documents.

"We have a certificate from the school, police and a birth certificate indicating that [Keng Seang Hay] was 11," Touch Chiva said.

The courts also maintain that Chhim Pisey was 15 at the time of the crime; no one has disputed his age.

Kampong Cham provincial court found the two boys guilty in October 2007, for a rape that occurred in September 2006. The two have been in Kampong Cham prison since the verdict and were not present at Thursday's appeal hearing.

Kin Rourn, 50, mother of the victim, told reporters in a brief statement Thursday the two defendants persuaded her daughter to enter a rubber plantation near her home in Or Raing Ov district, where the crime took place.

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said Cambodia has seen a number of cases of teenagers below the age of 14 sexually assaulting young girls.

Pornography, drug use and a culture of impunity all contribute to sexual assaults in the countryside, Kek Galabru said.

NEC Defends Denial of Opposition Complaints

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

National Election Committee members testified before the Constitutional Council on Thursday, to defend the committee's denial of three complaints of opposition parties of election irregularities.

The committee submitted 30 legal documents to support its reject of complaints that voters were deleted from lists, that illegal forms were used for voter identification and that some voter names appeared twice on voter registries.

The Sam Rainsy party had complained of the name omissions and the use of form No. 1018. The Human Rights Party complained of double names being used on some voter lists. Both parties have contested the election results.

Thursday's proceeding will be followed testimonies from representatives of each party. The Council will then decide whether to conduct a full hearing surrounding the complaints.

"We raised the legal issues and reasoning to explain to the Constitutional Council of our denial of the complaints of irregularities by the political parties," Ke Rith, a legal representative of the NEC, said Thursday following Thursday's session.

The NEC told the Council its decisions had been lawful, he said.

"We have full legal documents and fair evidence to show the Constitutional Council to defend the NEC decision," Keo Phalla, chief of the legal department of the NEC, said. "All of the documents are very strong legally, because all the decisions by the NEC depend on legal principles, internal rules, and procedures. So we hope that the decision of the Constitutional Council ill also depend on the same legalities."

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has said he has little faith the Council will rule in favor or his party, claiming the Council is biased toward the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

After Talks, More Troop Movement

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

Officials sent 250 armed troops to the Thai border near Anlong Veng in Oddar Meanchey province Thursday, a sign that not all the border issues around Preah Vihear temple have been resolved.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Thursday the soldiers were sent to the border as "protection," not to prepare for a war with Thailand.

The 250 soldiers, from the Siem Reap provincial army, were reinforcements for smaller force that rotated out of Anlong Veng, with more deployments expected along more than 800 kilometers of border with Thailand, Khieu Kanharith said.

The soldiers were sent to Anlong Veng, which shares 60 kilometers of border with Thailand, to prevent the loss of "a single meter of land," said Siem Reap Governor Sour Phirin.

"We took all kinds of weapons, including artillery, anti-aircraft guns, AK-47s and rocket launchers," Sour Phirin said. "We are strong enough to protect our territory if, for example, a war is provoked with the Thai said."

The deployment of soldiers to Anlong Veng follows talks between the two countries this week that failed to fully end a military standoff at Preah Vihear temple and a minor military build-up at the Ta Moan temples of Oddar Meanchey province.

Khieu Samphan Firm on Case Translation

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

Khmer audio aired 21 August 2008 (898 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 21 August 2008 (898 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Lawyers of jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan said Thursday they were maintaining their request that 16,000 documents be translated into French before judges decide on a hearing for his pre-trial detention.

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the tribunal issued a letter to the lawyers on Aug. 15, asking whether they would continue to demand that all the documents be translated. The chamber provided three dates to the lawyers to continue a hearing over Khieu Samphan's pre-trial detention: Sept. 8, Oct. 20 and Dec. 1.

Defense lawyer Sar Sovan confirmed Thursday the defense would require the documents be translated.

Tribunal officials have been translating the documents since April, when Khieu Samphan initially appeared before pre-trial judges. At the outset of the hearing, French defense lawyer Jacques Verges said he would be unable to defend his client effectively without translation of the case file.
Judges agreed to postpone the hearing.

"Unless all documents have been translated, my colleague and I will not be able to ensure the defense of Khieu Samphan," Sar Sovan said Thursday. "And if they decide to continue to try him, the trial will be unfair."

Khieu Samphan, 76, faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, for his role as the president of the Democratic Kampuchea regime. He has been detained since his arrest in November 2007.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said it was unclear which date Khieu Samphan could have a hearing, but translation of the case file continues.

The Pre-Trial Chamber will try to have Khieu Samphan's pre-trial detention hearing before proceedings start in the trial of prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch, Reach Sambath.

Latest border talks make 'steamroller' progress

HENG CHIVOAN; Foreign Minister Hor Namhong speaks with reporters after returning Wednesday from Preah Vihear crisis talks.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Brendan Brady
Thursday, 21 August 2008

Cambodian, Thai foreign ministers agree to meet again over Preah Vihear standoff as negotiations over territorial dispute once again grind to a halt

CAMBODIA and Thailand have agreed to another round of talks over disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday, after negotiations this week made only limited progress towards resolving the military standoff on the border.

"The negotiations on Preah Vihear are like a steamroller, they are slow but moving ahead," Hor Namhong told reporters after returning from two days of talks with his Thai counterpart, Tej Bunnag, in Thailand.

He said another round of talks will be held later in the year after both sides meet in October to discuss border demarcation around the 11th-century temple, which was listed in July at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sparking outrage from Thai nationalists claiming the ruins belong to Thailand.

Hundreds of Cambodian and Thai soldiers withdrew from their positions around the temple last week ahead of the talks, greatly easing tensions that had climbed steadily since July 15, when Thai troops first crossed the border.

The incursion sparked one of the largest military build-ups in recent years, as both sides sent thousands of troops and equipment, including heavy artillery, to the frontier, raising fears that fighting would erupt.

Hor Namhong said that both sides agreed that armed conflict was not the way to solve the border row.

"In this era, resolving the problem through the use of military force is out of date," Hor Namhong said, adding that Cambodia would consider re-opening the international border crossing at Preah Vihear, which has been sealed since the crisis began last month, "after tensions ease and the situation becomes normal".

He reaffirmed, however, Cambodia's ownership over two more disputed border temples, Ta Moan Thom and Ta Moan Touch, that were also occupied by Thai soldiers during the last month.

"I think the issue of Ta Moan temple will also be solved step-by-step like the Preah Vihear temple case," he added.

Hor Namhong said Cambodian and Thai military officials would meet August 29 in Siem Reap for further discussions on reducing troop numbers at border flashpoints. Since the weekend redeployment, only a handful of soldiers remain at Preah Vihear.

Prime minster's daughter lashes out at journalist over tryst claims

HENG CHIVOAN; Hun Mana, director of Bayon TV and Radio and daughter of the PM seen in a file photo.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Thursday, 21 August 2008

HUN Mana, the daughter of Prime Minster Hun Sen and the director general of Bayon Radio and Television, lashed out at a journalist with Beauty magazine in a letter submitted to Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, accusing the writer of defamation and asking the minister to take action.

The letter, dated last Thursday, accused San Bunthoeurn of defamation stemming from a story he published in the August 15-31 issue of his publication. In the story, he described an alleged love triangle between Bayon programme manager Tit Thavarith, actress Sim Solika and a second man, Por Sam Oeun.

The letter did not detail the substance of the defamation but said the claims made were untrue and were intended merely to damage the honour and popularity of Bayon. It added that San Bunthoeurn had tried to extort money from actors and high-level staff at the station and had previously tried to get a job there.

San Bunthoeurn had been given permission to interview Bayon staff members but he misled them about the subject of the story he was writing and later demanded US$3,000 from Tit Thavarith to stop the article from running, the letter claimed.

Hun Mana could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Bayon's deputy director general, Rith Chetra, told the Post he knew nothing about the matter and that it has nothing to do with him or with the station.

San Bunthoeurn defended his story against criticisms raised in the letter. "I based it on anonymously sourced comments of staff and actors," he said. He added that he had not asked for money, but said Tit Thavarith tried to stop publication of the story. Khieu Kanharith said he would not pursue legal action against the magazine as it was a private matter.

Rain halts preah vihear road fix

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Teth Sambath
Thursday, 21 August 2008

Repair of the 4km road leading uphill to the Preah Vihear temple has been suspended for five days due to rain, said Uch Vantha, a military engineer. "I got an order to repair the road to help ease traffic to the temple but the repair work, which began on July 25, has now been suspended," he said. Chin Kong Hieng, general director of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said the contract to build the road from Tbeng Meanchey district, Preah Vihear province, to Preah Vihear temple has been awarded to a Chinese company.

Govt seeks loan from kuwait

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Teth Sambath
Thursday, 21 August 2008

A Kuwaiti delegation met with officials from the ministries of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and water resources and meteorology this week to discuss a development loan for improvements to Cambodia's irrigation and hydropower infrastructure. Officials said they submitted proposals to the delegation for investment in a new US$500 million hydropower station in Kampon Thom province, new country-wide irrigation systems and the development of cassava and rubber plantations.

Siem reap tour group honoured

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by GEORGIA WILKINS
Thursday, 21 August 2008

Journeys Within, a Siem Reap tour operator, won the Condé Nast Traveller magazine 2008 World Savers award for work in the health sector. The internationally recognised publication praised Journeys Within for adding more than 180 wells around Siem Reap and helping nearly 4,000 Cambodians escape water-related disease. The group was also commended for their work in providing scholarships for university students, as well as free English classes and micro-loans for small businesses in Cambodia.

Cambodia gets its very own version of YouTube

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Anita SuRewicz
Thursday, 21 August 2008

ASPIRING filmmakers and video artists in Cambodia have faced many challenges over the years, including lack of access to equipment and training, lax enforcement of intellectual property rights, and lack of distribution.

CamboTube addresses the latter problem by using the model of YouTube to create an independent media platform for these artists.

"CamboTube is a poor man's broadcasting system," said Jason Rosette, the mastermind behind the video-sharing website and the founder of Camerado, a media company responsible for Cambofest, the only independent film festival in Cambodia.

"The beauty of CamboTube is that people can post virtually anything on it," Rosette said.

Launched in October 2007, CamboTube.com is a dedicated to clips about Cambodia and the region. Users of the website can upload and view film and and video clips, as well as video blogs and amateur short videos.

Rosette describes the site as a "social experiment to see whether people would use it," with current fare ranging from a clip of a fat monkey eating a coconut to early archival footage of Phnom Penh and a documentary about the importance of protecting Tonle Sap.

" Cambotube is a poor man’s broadcasting system. "

Users can upload clips under a wide variety of categories (or channels) including: general interests (nothing too edgy), social affairs affecting Cambodia; clips dealing with the history of Cambodia; i-reporter (showing news and opinions from Cambodia and the region); videos, news and perspectives regarding the Khmer Rouge trials; and videos by and about indigenous groups in Cambodia.

"People are free to use CamboTube to voice their views," Rossette said. "Anyone could ask for assistance to make a video - even a person in Mondulkiri involved in a land dispute."

CamboTube only screens for copyright violations or breaches of legal, moral, or ethical standards, Rosette said, adding that pornographic or revolutionary anti-government material would not make the grade.

"If someone has a strong anti-government sentiment, I would advise them to set up their own portal," he said.

Through private sector media platforms such as CamboTube and CamboFest that encourage independent participation, Rossette said he hoped to undermine the "culture of patronage" in Cambodia.

Free of patronage

Rosette says the site will enable people to get their work seen even though it is not sponsored or patronised by a donor with their own agenda.

"Pluralist perspectives [show] society that they don't have to be led by the hand and that they can operate independently," Rossette said. "People can express themselves independently, not just under the umbrella of an NGO.... NGOs in fact reduce participation in the private sector."

He added, "The culture of participation among Khmers and expats in Cambodia isn't strong. There's not a lot of sharing of resources. The density of NGOs is warping the culture."

Camerado has plans to expand CamboTube once the website receives a certain level of interest, although Rosette acknowledges that, until broadband becomes more robust in the country, CamboTube is unlikely to become a huge phenomenon. But he has long-term plans.

"Once broadband becomes more robust in the country and the site more popular, I am planning to create a weekly walk-in studio for people who don't know how to use the technology but want to voice their opinions," Rosette said.

"I want to show the government that Cambodia can have independent media and that people will not necessarily become radical."

Proposed tourism law questioned

AFP; Tourists take a stroll at Angkor Wat in this file photo.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Thursday, 21 August 2008

Cambodia is seeking to regulate its burgeoning tourism sector, but the draft legislation to do so puts too much power in the hands of private businesses, an industry expert warns

The government is expected next month to pass its first legislation aimed at regulating the Kingdom's rapidly expanding tourism sector, but the proposed law gives too much power to the private sector and would produce an industry built around quick profits rather than sustainability, a development expert warns.

Tourism is one of the nation's few economic success stories, making up about 16 percent of GDP, up from 6.3 percent in 2000. Tourism receipts have risen from less than US$400 million in 2003 to more than $1.4 billion in 2007, according to government figures.

But such fast growth has left the government scrambling to bring uniformity to the sector.

The proposed tourism law, now under consideration at the Council of Ministers, has been in the works since 2006.

Industry sources laud the expected passage of regulatory measures, saying they would have important implications for development of the sector.

"We are looking forward to having a proper rule with clear policies for investment. The industry needs to know what can and can't be done," said Philip Set Kao, general manager of the Borei Angkor Hotel.

" REGULATION SHOULD NOT BE LEFT UP TO Private COMPANIES."

Set Kao, who is a former president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, said the industry hopes the law will cut red tape and licensing times for new projects and force transparency.

"We hope to see an industry based on transparency, not on [personal] connections," he said.

However, the draft law minimises the role of government while bringing business associations in as key policymakers.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector wing of the World Bank that is playing a lead role in the law's drafting, said the Tourism Ministry would have no role in quality control measures.

According to the IFC's Business Issues Bulletin, the ministry would be responsible "only for safety and hygiene" under the assumption that "too much regulation provides opportunities for informal charges".

A copy of the draft law obtained by the Post Wednesday states that any changes made to quality control standards would first require consultation with the private sector.

According to the IFC briefing, government control could "distort the competitiveness of the tourism industry.

"The tourism law will provide a foundation for the private sector to self-regulate quality.... The Ministry of Tourism should resist the impulse to regulate," it said.

Tour operators and those involved in drafting the law say this is necessary to ensure efficiency and competitive pricing.

"Having government in control of tourism is not necessarily a good thing in [Cambodia]. You can have a lot of corruption," said one source who did not want to be named. "The goal has been to keep the government role to an absolute minimum.

"But one of England's top tourism experts warns that the law's free market emphasis could spell disaster for Cambodia.

"Pattaya [Thailand] is one example of what can happen if you allow the private sector free rein," said Dr Tim Forsyth, from the Development Studies Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

He was referring to the notoriously hard-living resort town known more for its go-go bars than its cultural attractions.

"If you let companies operate without proper regulation, you don't get quality tourism," he told the Post Tuesday.

With more than two million tourists arriving each year, the danger, according to Forsyth, is that Cambodia could become overrun by companies that have little or no regard for the country's image, national monuments or environment.

The result, he said, could be more sex tourism, unregulated gambling and other activities that present a threat to the sector.

"[Regulation] should not be left up to private companies as there is too much diversity ... between the long-term big players who want to control quality and short-term sharks who just want to make fast profits, even if it destroys localities," Forsyth said.

Cambodia's national parks could also be at risk under the new law, which appears to have no environmental provisions.

That could mean more projects like the controversial golf courses and resort planned for the protected nature reserve on Bokor National Park. He added what he calls the IFC's pro-business slant, is also a serious concern.

"The World Bank is generally a pro-private sector organisation and the IFC is its private sector arm, so I would think they would be very inclined towards private interests.... This law seems to make that clear."

A Ministry of Tourism official, however, maintained that the government and private sector were working towards the same goal. "We consider that the public and private sector are in cooperation," said So Mara, undersecretary of state at the ministry.