Saturday, 6 September 2008

Sacravatoons : " ECCC in the Action "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

SAcravatoons :" Hun Xen' School "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatonns :" A Spirally-Tail Dog "

Embedded Travel Guide Cambodia: Phnom Tamao Zoo

Cambodian wildlife is difficult to observe in its native habitat. The jungles are thick, and because locals tend to kill and eat any creature that pokes its snout out of the forest, the animals have learned to keep to themselves.

If you want to see the vast menagerie of species that call Cambodia home, make a trip to the Phnom Tamao Zoo, an easy day trip from Phnom Penh.

The zoo, which doubles as a refuge for animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, is quite popular among Cambodians, but rarely makes the average tourist's itinerary. But if you ask me, a visit to Phnom Tamao is every bit as fascinating as a day at Angkor Wat, and more travelers should make the trip to see the animals.

Feed the Bears?
Phnom Tamao is totally different from any zoo you've visited in the US. Although there are hundreds of animals, including all the heavy hitters like lions, tigers, bears, leopards and elephants, there isn't a lot of money for their upkeep.

Cages are minimal, with nothing more than a simple wire fence separating you from the beasts inside. Instead of warnings prohibiting visitors from feeding the animals, local entrepreneurs set up shop outside the cages, selling visitors treats to pass on to the hungry critters.

Otters clamor for fresh fish, thirsty sun bears beg plaintively for green coconuts and at least one of the gibbons has developed a taste for local cans of beer. Other gibbons like to get scratched on the head.

Watch out for the elephants; they seem friendly and harmless, but get too close and they'll drench you in water or use their trunks to whack you with stalks of sugarcane.

Free the Bears!
Cambodia is home to two species of bears, Asiatic black bears and sun bears. Both species are often captured by poachers, and more than 70 rescued bears now live in a large enclosure at Phnom Tamao.

It's even possible to help care for the bears as a volunteer through the organization
Free The Bears.

The Bear Necessities:
Because the zoo operates on a shoestring budget, facilities are minimal, but there's plenty of space in the enclosures and most animals seem well cared for.

The area around Phnom Tamao is rural and impoverished, so many locals go to the zoo to try to make a little cash. Local English speaking guides will be happy to show you around and let you know which animals like to be scratched and which ones like to bite, but be sure to agree on a price in advance.

The road into the zoo is lined with beggars, many of whom are elderly nuns and monks. Cambodian visitors usually blow past the beggars in cars and throw a few bills out the window for them to scrounge from the dirt. You can do likewise, ignore the beggars altogether or stop and hand money to those who seem most in need.

Bear South:
A tuk-tuk ride to the zoo and back should cost around $20 and takes about 90 minutes one-way. The infamous Killing Fields memorial is about halfway to the zoo, so you can combine both destinations in a single trip.

TV show looks at Davik's journey

Davik Teng plays in the village of Svay Chrom in Cambodia before her trip to Long Beach to get lifesaving surgery. (Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)

Press-Telegram Long Beach
By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Davik Teng, the Cambodian girl brought to the United States for life-altering open-
heart surgery by a Long Beach nonprofit earlier this year, will be featured on network television this weekend.

She will be one of four children spotlighted Sunday at 3:30 p.m., on KABC-TV Channel 7 in a show titled "Imagine - A Celebration of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles."

The documentary, produced and paid for by Childrens Hospital, will examine Davik's journey from rural Cambodia to repair of a ventricular septal defect, or hole, in her heart.

Davik's journey was covered by the Press-Telegram. For these stories, photos of Davik's visit and the multimedia presentation, visit

To learn more about Hearts Without Boundaries, the nonprofit that helped Davik and is now working to get similar surgery for a young boy, visit

Students shared hugs with rubbish tip kids

Helping hand: Staff and students from Trinity Academydesigned and painted this mural for these Cambodian children, who live and work at a local rubbish dump

The Star
Published Date: 06 September 2008
By Staff Copy

DONCASTER students who travelled to Cambodia are back home - and they reckon their trip has changed their lives.

Eight students from Trinity Academy in Thorne travelled to the far eastern country to help community projects and help out in schools and orphanages.

Among the projects the aid work they carried out took was a the designing and painting of a mural for the children who live and work at a local rubbish dump.

The group visited the capital Phnom Penh with local representatives of SAO Cambodia, one of the charities the Academy has supported since it opened.

SAO Cambodia is a UK-based, evangelical, inter-denominational mission and development agency, founded in 1973 by Major Taing Chhirc of the Cambodian Evangelical Church.

Its promotes the Christian faith and works to relieve poverty and distress amongst the people of Cambodia.

The students say they gained a real insight into the Cambodian way of life when they saw the giant municipal rubbish dump where many children work as litter pickers.

They paid a visit to a local orphanage, singing songs and painting with the children, and saw the work of the Bridge of Hope project which aims to give Cambodian youngsters a better and safer life.

The Trinity group also got a glimpse of the notorious Killing Fields, where tens of thousands of people were executed during the Khmer Rouge's reign over the country from 1975 to 1979.

Students said the expedition had made them appreciate what they had at home even more and gave many of them a desire to travel again.

Gemma Forshaw said: "The most significant thing I will take away from this trip is appreciation.

"From experiencing and observing many deprived lives within Cambodia, I now realise how lucky I am for the support I have and the opportunities at my feet."

Nathan Porter said: "We have seen a lot of chilling and traumatic things as a team in Cambodia and I feel grateful for every little thing I own, which I may take for granted. I value my life more now and I realise that small things make a big difference."

Jodie Pugh added: "I have learnt just how lucky I am to have just the small things we take for granted, such as food or a shower. I think whenever I want to moan about something, I will stop for a minute and think how lucky I am, and appreciate what I've got."

Trinity Academy Principal Ian Brew said: "I'm delighted that the trip to Cambodia has had such a positive impact on the students.

"It was a fantastic opportunity for them to experience a new culture, religion and way of life that is so dramatically different from their own."

US senator urges new approach to Asia trade policy


United States - WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The United States must rethink its trade policy toward China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region and adopt new models for negotiating trade deals, a senior Democratic senator said on Friday.

"We must develop a trade policy for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said in the text of a speech in Seattle to the National Center for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

The group works with the U.S. government on trade policy in the APEC region.

"Too often, China has been treated as a proxy for Asia," said Baucus, whose committee has responsibility for crafting and enacting trade legislation.

President George W. Bush, who will attend his last APEC summit meeting in Peru in November, has been criticized for focusing too much on security concerns within APEC at the expense of the forum's original emphasis on boosting regional trade, investment and development.

The 21-member group accounts for 60 percent of world economic output and brings together leaders of the United States, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and other countries in North America, South America and Asia for annual talks.

Baucus called for a "reinvigorated APEC, one with a clear mission to expand trade between member economies."

The next U.S. administration should pursue a variety of trade pacts within the region, starting with one to liberalize just trade in services with Japan, Baucus said.

That would be break from the broader free trade agreement model followed by the Bush administration. However a pact that includes agriculture would be politically difficult for Tokyo and one that includes autos could be hard for Washington.

Baucus also urged stitching together existing free trade pacts with Chile, Singapore, Australia and South Korea into a regional accord and then expanding it to others like Malaysia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Vietnam.

He did not mention that Congress has yet to approve the South Korean agreement because many Democrats say its auto provisions favor South Korea too much.

Washington also should cut duties on goods from the poorest countries in the region, such as Cambodia, Baucus said.

The United States collects as much duties on $2 billion worth of imports from Cambodia as it does on $57 billion worth of imports from Britain, he said.

Much of Cambodia's exports are in sectors, such as clothing, where the United States has its highest tariffs.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

Freedom of Press Increases, but Freedom of Expression in Public Declines

Posted on 6 September 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 576

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – assessed that over the course of time, the freedom of the press has increased, but the freedom of expression in the public has declined.

“Mr. Thun Saray, the president of ADHOC, reported on 4 September 2008 to journalists in a meeting to sum up the results of the 2005 to 2009 strategic plans, that Cambodia goes through a high rate of economic growth and noticeable poverty reduction. As for the freedom of the press, ADHOC is not the evaluator, but different press organizations assessed that the situation is better than from 2005 to 2006. While the economy and the freedom of the press flourished, the freedom of expression in public went down.

“Mr. Thun Saray added that previously, the freedom of expression included the right to hold demonstrations in public, and so the poor were allowed to protest by marching in public places or in front of different embassies. But at present, their rights are almost completely eroded, while land disputes still exist without proper solutions; high ranking officials, the powerful, and the rich, still violate land rights of communities and of citizens.

“According to reports of ADHOC, observing the human rights situation in Cambodia, Cambodia gained a high rate of economic growth and achieved noticeable poverty alleviation during more than 15 years. However, the distribution of the benefits of the economic growth is not equal, which results in increasing inequality on the receiving side of the gains. One important reason for this inequality is that natural resources are not equally distributed, especially land. Based on reports of the United Nations Development Program – UNDP – in 2007, the rich, in total about 20% of the population, own between 59% to 70% of the land, while the land ownership of the poor, approximately 40% of the total populations, declined from 8.4% to 5,4% during 1999 to 2003 and 2004 (in a period of 4 to 5 years only). Inequality in owning important cultivation property, like land, leads to a major crisis, because it relates to the everyday living of almost 80% of the total populations who live in rural areas, and this will lead to continue to increase the inequality of production, of income seeking, and of land use in the future. Land grabbing and poor administration of natural resources (specifically, in the field of forestry and fisheries) are major factors for the increase of a status of having no land, of inequality of land ownership, and in the distribution of benefits from those resources.

“Land grabbing is mostly committed by the powerful and the rich, by using different tricks, and by private companies that had received economic land concessions from the government, but they do not properly implement what they contracted.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1738, 5.9.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 September 2008

Vietnamese Christian escapes to Cambodia, repatriated to death threats

VietCatholic News


Y Hning, an ethnic Degar or Montagnard, sought safety in a UN refugee camp; now he is under house arrest and cannot even go to work in his fields.

Spartanburg (AsiaNews) – Persecuted on ethnic and religious grounds, Y Hning (see photo) fled Vietnam for a UN refugee camp in Cambodia but was eventually shipped home. Back in Vietnam police forced his family to pay 100,000 dongs for his release and forced him to give up his Christian faith. Now he is under house arrest and in fear for his life.

Hning, 36, is an ethnic Degar, a minority living in Vietnam central highlands. The US-based Montagnard Foundation is appealing on his behalf to embassies and international agencies to spread the news so that he and his family can be spared further persecution.

In the Foundation’s appeal Y Hning is described as an ethnic Degar and a Christian from Ploi Todrah village, Bar Mah commune, in Gia Lai province, who has experienced persecution because of his ethnic affiliation, which is why he tried to flee the country.

After crossing the border with Cambodia he reached a refugee camp run by the UNHCR on 3 November 2008. Cambodian authorities repatriated him without allowing him to enjoy the protection of the UN agency.

Upon his repatriation the authorities detained him and forced his family to pay 100,000 dongs (only seven or eight dollars but a lot of money for Vietnamese farmers) for his release. Even though they raised the money and paid the fine, he was still placed under house arrest.

On 3 August the family was further required to “donate” a pig, the only animal it had left valued at 1.5 million dongs, for a party by local police.

On 8 August Hning was forced to sign a statement in which he formally renounced Christianity and pledged to stop attending the Degar church.

Under house arrest he cannot work in his family’s fields and received further threats if he dared to flee again

Blog: 'The bachelor' in Cambodia

Dara takes a dip: Its hoped his species of hairy-nosed otters will see an upturn in numbers

By CNN's Eunice Yoon

(CNN) -- When you first meet Dara, you can't help but fall for him.

He's cute, lovable, and managed to charm my entire crew when we visited him outside the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

OK. Dara isn't a hunky bachelor with his own reality TV show but a hairy-nosed otter who arguably has a higher calling: To revive his species from the verge of extinction.

If only he could find a wife.

Dara is the first of his kind to be bred in captivity as part of a plan by conservationists and Cambodian officials to save the hairy-nosed otter.

Up until the 1990's, it was believed the rare otter was extinct, driven into history by poachers who hunted -- and still hunt -- otters for their smooth, water-resistant fur pelts.

These pelts are sold on the black market for $150 a skin and shipped to countries such as China where the fur is used in traditional costumes.

Conservationists told us the underground trade of exotic animals is thriving and leading to what they call "empty forests".

They say certain species of turtles, bears, otters, and other wildlife are getting harder to find as the animals and their parts are illegally trafficked via third countries such as Vietnam.

Many of the animals are valued for medicinal purposes. Others are just kept as pets.

Even Dara was being kept at a home in a fishing village at the Tonle Sap Lake before he was rescued by local rangers.

Dara now lives in his enclosure at the zoo where he eagerly awaits the arrival of any female hairy-nosed otter.

Resident Protest Causes Halt in Lake Filling

Shukaku, Inc., ceased filling Boeung Kak lake Friday, as protesters demanded more talks over moving compensation .

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 05 September 2008 (744 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 05 September 2008 (744 KB) - Listen (MP3)

A Phnom Penh development company ceased filling Boeung Kak lake on Friday, following a protest of hundreds of lakeside residents in front of its office.

Protesters requested that Shukaku, Inc., stop filling the lake and resume direct discussion with residents over compensation costs for leaving the area.

More than 300 protesters staid in front of the Shukaku office, on the east side of the lake, for two hours Friday morning, before the company shut off a fill pump that had been throwing mud and water from the bottom of the Tonle Sap into the lake since last week.

The pump was still shut down Friday afternoon.

The protesters had two demands Friday: that the pump be shut off and that they have direct talks with authorities and Shukaku.

Sok Sambath, governor of Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district, and Chan Na, a Shukaku representative, told representatives of the protesters in a meeting Friday they would agree to temporarily stop filling the lake, until a resolution can be found with residents.

"We will forward your proposal to the government for discussion," Sok Sambath said.

Boeung Kak lake has been slated for development under a 99-year, $79 million lease between the city and Shukaku, but residents have proven reluctant to take a city buyout of $8,000 per home.

The development would include residential and commercial properties, as well as a hospital and university and other businesses.

"We agreed to accept the results of the first step, but we have not reached our request yet," said Be Pharum, a representative of the protesters said following the meeting. "We must wait for the final resolution."

Other residents warned they would continue to protest if their demands for a larger compensation package fail.

City Official Defends Lake Development

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
05 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 04 September 2008 (6.09 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 04 September 2008 (6.09 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Responding to concerns that a lake development project could damage the environment of Phnom Penh, a senior municipal official said Thursday a 10-year study had taken place before the plan was approved.

The company developing the lake, Shukaku, Inc., began filling Boeung Kak lake last week, angering residents who say a government buy-out effort is too low and raising environmental concerns.

But a 10-year study has shown the lake is no longer a reservoir and is not an important part of the city's infrastructure, said Pa Socheartavong, deputy governor of Phnom Penh, as a guest on "Hello VOA."

The lake is not being used for agriculture and cannot produce clean water, he added.

"This lake is just like a polluted bomb in town," where residents drain their waste daily, he said. "It's a dead lake. That means no activity."

The city decided to privatize the lake, offering a 99-year lease to Shukaku, which will develop the area into a long-term recreational area and reservoir, as well as a site for residential and commercial property.

The development will force more than 4,000 families to move, and many of them have proven reluctant to do so. The city has offered $8,000 per household to help people move, but residents say they want to be paid current market prices.

Around 1,000 families are still protesting the move.

But not all residents there are legal, Pa Socheartavong said. Following the 1993 election, many people moved from border areas and settled around the lake on public land.

The city has offered three options to residents, he said. They can either take the buyout, be moved to housing in another area, or wait for housing in the same place they now occupy.

The lake issue became politicized ahead of July's general election, he added.

Sudan Deminers Claim Missing Payment

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 September 2008

More than 130 Cambodian deminers who were sent on a UN mission to the African nation of Sudan have not received a segment of their pay, soldiers said Friday.

The 135 soldiers, who returned from their mission in June, are missing around $297 each, for a total of $40,095 in missing funding.

Defense officials said Friday they were waiting for money from the UN in New York.

"I'm missing nine days of payment from 380 days," said one soldier, who asked not to be named.

The UN had sponsored the mission, he said, had had given money to the Cambodian side. "Until now, we have not been paid."

All the soldiers had made a complaint to the Cambodian unexploded ordnance unit of the Ministry of Defense, he said. "But we have not received any solution."

Lt. Gen. Sem Sovanny, commander of the UXO unit, said Friday he had not yet received all the money from the UN, referring questions to Nip Sambath, an adviser to Minister of Defense Gen. Tea Banh.

Nip Sambath said he did not believe there was a problem. However, he said he would investigate further.

Designer teaches the power of 'WE' to women with HIV

COURTESY PHOTO; A member of MDSF displays the WE logo.

Photo Supplied; UNAIDS goodwill ambassador Bibi Russell, a designer and former model from Bangladesh, meets with women of the Modern Dress Sewing Factory (MDSF), a business initiative by women living with HIV.

The Phnom Penh Post

Friday, 05 September 2008

Internationally-known fashion designer joins hands with HIV-positive women in Cambodia to create and market the 'Bibi for WE' line of accessories

Internationally-renowned fashion designer Bibi Russell has joined hands with the Modern Dress Sewing Factory, a women's business subsidiary of a network of people living with HIV in Cambodia, to launch a new designer label called Bibi for WE.

Russell, a succesful fashion model in the 1960s and 70s, is a UNAIDS goodwill ambassador and founder of Fashion for Development, a global movement seeking to help weavers and women across the globe.

"If you join hands with women living with HIV with affection and confidence, they can create magic with their fingers. Fashion is very important, and it makes you understand the culture of a country," said Russell. "Fashion is a part of culture, and textiles are a part of the history of Cambodia."

The products under the Bibi for WE label will initially consist of a range of accessories and bags with the intention of expanding the product range at a later stage. Markets in Bangkok and Canada will initially be selling the new brand.

"I will do a range of accesories and bags which are easy to sell. We are not doing fashion items like clothes and dresses just yet. That will come later," Russell said.

During her nine-day visit, Russell spent time getting to know the women at MDSF, an initiative started in 2006 by the UN Development Program that now employs 17 women living with HIV in the factory in Phnom Penh.

She also visited silk farmers in rural areas who will provide the raw materials for the products, making the finished products 100-percent made-in-Cambodia.

A positive-thinking girl

Russell was confident that the project would be a success and expressed her admiration for the women of MDSF.

"I am a very positive-thinking girl," said Russell. "I think the project will go very far. This is just the first step. Knowing these ladies and visiting the silk villages, I know that this project is going to be very successful."

Being with these 17 ladies I see a lot of courage, a lot of strength to continue our work.

They are earning a living, supporting their families, helping their children to have a better life. Charity I don't believe in, these women just want some support."

The smiles on the faces of the women of MDSF showed that the admiration went both ways and that the women were happy and excited to be part of this new initiative.

"We don't want sympathy, but support to live a life of respect and dignity," said MDSF business manager Pham Srim.

"Severe poverty and stigma and discrimination make our lives impossible. We have recurrent health problems and have to fend for our treatment, food and shelter; but the most crushing is the discrimination by society.

"This project helps us to stand on our feet, earn a living and stay unfazed by the stigma and discrimination staring in our face," Pham Shrim said.

In the initial stages, the new Bibi for WE brand will mean a more steady income for MDSF, which has been producing different kinds of uniforms and bags since 2006. It is hoped that in time MDSF will employ more people.

"The collaboration with Bibi Russell and MDSF is to enhance and extend the products made by the Cambodian women and as a result of Bibi's visit, we would like to take this project and extend it beyond Cambodia and take it to the world," said Douglas Broderick, UNDP resident representative in Cambodia, who urged the private sector and general public to support the initiative.

The new fashion label represented a new hope and empowerment for all women living with HIV in Cambodia, added Pham Srim. "With HIV, one can lead a normal and productive life - that is the message of WE," she said.

Kandal sugarcane farmers devastated by rising waters

HENG CHIVOAN; A farmer unloads his crop of sugarcane in flood-struck Kandal province.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Friday, 05 September 2008

More than 1,000 hectares have been inundated, while rising gas and fertiliser costs further erode profit margins

KORKI THOM village - Flooding in Kandal province has ravaged more than 1,000 hectares of sugarcane fields, driving prices down and leaving farmers struggling to earn a profit, Bun Tunsivanna, director of the province's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post this week.

"Sugarcane dealers usually pay about 30 million riels (US$7,500) per hectare, but the price for sugarcane from flooded areas has dropped to 25 million riels ($6,250) per hectare," the director said.

He said that while flooding had not completely destroyed the crops, it drastically decreased its quality at a time when farmers are already feeling the pinch from soaring gasoline and fertiliser costs.

The province has about 1,600 hectares of land devoted to sugarcane farming, and while the quality of some crops has suffered, farmers have managed to meet domestic demands, Bun Tunsivanna said.

Kith Seng, director of the Department of Planning and Statistics at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said brisk domestic and export sales have helped.

But he also said that larger harvests are needed.

"Sugarcane growers should increase their output in order to supply growing demand in the country and among regional neighbours," Kith Seng said.

Farmers in the province say harvests are up but profits have plummeted as high gasoline and fertiliser costs cut into their bottom line.

"My profits have dropped from last year," said Sok Heng, 55, a sugarcane farmer from Korki Thom village.

She said gasoline and fertiliser cost her about 800,000 riels last year, while revenue was about 2.5 million riels. This year, revenue was up but cost, but costs rose as well.

Long Saran, 57, a grower from Saiang district, said dealers are now demanding lower prices for crops from flooded land.

"The flooding has cost me more than $600 in lost profits this month alone," Long Saran said.

Water: A key to investment?

TRACEY SHELTON; Until recently, drinking municipal water straight from the tap was unthinkable for most. But water authority officials say city water is now as safe as bottled or boiled water.

Watered down
Only 24 of the 130 bottled- water producers in Cambodia are registered with the government, raising concerns for quality, according to Ping Sivlay of the Industry Ministry. "Some brands are safe to drink, but many are not," he said.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Friday, 05 September 2008

The Phnom Penh Water Authority says the capital's vastly improved water quality should be further incentive for investors to set up shop in the city

ONCE shunned, Phnom Penh's public water supply has improved to the point where it is safe to drink from the tap, according to the Phnom Penh Water Authority, which is using the capital's water quality as a major selling point to potential investors.

"Today our water is 100 percent safe to drink directly from the family faucet, Ek Sonn Chan, told the Post Wednesday, explaining that new pipes and the introduction of chlorine has raised the calibre of the water.

Raw municipal water samples were tested this year at PSB Corp in Singapore and the Coca-Cola Co's Global Quality Analytical Services laboratory in Shanghai, he said.

Both found the water to be free of dangerous materials like lead or mercury, or to contain acceptable levels of other substances, according to documents obtained by the Post.

With investment in Cambodia growing, the demand for water in the capital has increased 10 percent year-on-year, Ek Sonn Chan said, and now stands at 250,000 cubic metres a day.

He added that the authority has connected some 17,000 households to public water in the previous year and hopes to have 40,000 new customers by 2011.

However, factories and an expanding hospitality sector continue to be the leading consumers, he said.

In the past, he said, both have been forced to pour millions of dollars into their own treatment plants or source their water from elsewhere, adding heavily to the overall cost of doing business in Cambodia.

"Now hotels like the Cambodiana and factories have enough [public] water supply - they are using Phnom Penh water and lowering their costs," Ek Sonn Chan said.

While the Cambodiana still maintains a private water supply, general manager Bernard Piere said the hotel began using public water earlier this year.

"This is a great step to have the convenience of clean state water," he said.

Luu Meng, president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, said that five years ago, hotels were spending much more money on water-treatment operations.

"Today is much cleaner," he said Thursday.

"I can say that almost every hotel is using state water - it is important that the water supply becomes higher quality, for both business and personally," he added.

The high cost of utilities continues to be the biggest deterrent to foreign investment, say commerce officials, who have encouraged the government to lower both water and electricity prices. The water authority is planning to build a new US$40 million water treatment plant by 2009, Ek Sonn Chan said.

Physical, sexual abuse relegates women to a life in the shadows

TRACEY SHELTON; A billboard in Phnom Penh urges women and communities to put a stop to domestic violence.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Thomas Gam Nielsen
Friday, 05 September 2008

While domestic violence and rape still occur on a daily basis in Cambodia, some women are breaking their silence to take a stand against the years of mistreatment they've endured

Blood flowed heavily from 27-year-old Heng Theary's head. She said her husband struck her with a wooden chair, a brutal response to her question about why he never brings money home from his work as a coconut vendor.

"My husband always beats me without any reason," she told the Post last week.

Heng Theary's story is far from extraordinary. The Ministry of Planning estimates that 22.5 percent of women in Cambodia are victims of domestic violence, according to a 2005 survey - the most recent government data available on violence against women.

The NGO Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC) keeps its own statistics based on court cases filed by women seeking its assistance dealing with abusive spouses. Some 572 women went to court in the first six months of 2007 with the help of CWCC offices in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey.

Nop Sarin Sreyroth, general secretary of the crisis center, said the group does not have national figures and most domestic-violence cases are never reported. Police will intervene only in extreme cases.

"Domestic violence happens everywhere in Cambodia, not only in the city but also in the countryside, [both among] poor and rich," explained Hor Phally, executive director of the Phnom Penh-based Project Against Domestic Violence (PADV).

She said in most households the man is the only one earning money, so many women remain in violent marriages because leaving would make their future uncertain.

But Heng Theary decided to take a stand against the beatings and abuse she's endured from her husband for so long.

"I can no longer tolerate his violence against me, so I decided to complain to local police so they will arrest and punish him according to the law. I will also request a divorce," she said.


More women are making the same choice, according to the CWCC. Nop Sarin Sreyroth said as women become more aware that they also have rights, they choose to leave abusive marriages.

Changing the law

A domestic-violence law passed in 2005 has provided stronger legal frameworks to prosecute abusers.

But while it looks good on paper, its practice in real life is somewhat different.

"We support the idea of further protection [for women], but it has been implemented very slowly," Nop Sarin Sreyroth said. "Now we are trying to teach local police and authorities how to use the law."

She said a second law in 2007 raised concerns by increasing the cost for divorce hearings. Prior to its implementation, the CWCC would pay between US$10 and $15 to administer a divorce case. Now the fees have risen to as much as $50.

"We pay for the women who come to us for help, but in rural areas where we are not present, many poor women cannot afford to separate from their husbands," she said.

Changing attitudes

Nop Sarin Sreyroth believes one key to reducing violence against women is to change perspectives among men, many of whom consider their wives to be personal property rather than partners.

In her work with PADV, Hor Phally has seen these attitudes play out through forced sex, which she says is one of the most atrocious aspects of domestic violence.

"[Some] men regard women as sex slaves and believe they have the right to sex whenever they want, whether their wife wants it or not," she said.

Men must understand that sexual relationships without mutual agreement between husband and wife are in fact cases of rape.

A 42-year-old woman from Kampong Cham, who requested anonymity, said she has lived with this kind of abuse for years.

"Sometimes I do not feel well, but my husband forces me to have sex with him," she said.

"When I refuse, he gets angry and beats me, and claims I have committed adultery to justify the violence," she said.She tried to file a case against her husband with local police after her husband beat her unconscious, she said, but he threatened to burn the house down if she did.

Despite a life lived in the shadow of her husband's aggressions, she said she and her three children continue to endure the violence.

And while a growing number of women are taking a stand, many more still suffer the outrage of habitual abuse.

"We need more awareness and more intervention from police," said Nop Sarin Sreyroth, while emphasising the need for long-term solutions.

"We should provide more education for young women. When they get a better understanding of their rights and become more economically independent, their situation will change."

PM's Nephew seeks compensation

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Friday, 05 September 2008

Yin Wengka, a lawyer for Prime Minister Hun Sen's nephew, Hun To, said he has filed a lawsuit seeking US$50,000 in compensation following allegations by Nuon Vuthy and Sreyyuth of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party that Hun To's bodyguards assaulted them on board the Prek Kdam ferry in July. Yin Wengka insists the accusations are false and says witnesses attest the assault never took place.

HOUSING: Kookmin employees donate cash

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Friday, 05 September 2008

Forty-seven employees of Kookmin Bank, the largest South Korean bank in Cambodia, have donated US$22,000 to restore and build houses in Phnom Krom slum communities in Siem Reap province. Kang Chung Won, chief executive officer of Kookmin Bank, told the Post by email that the donated money has been used to build four new houses and to restore three others. In addition, the donation has been used to provide a free meal to around 2,400 children from the Phnom Krom slum area, said Kang. "Bread was also given to around 1,000 children." Kang said that Kookmin Bank's employees made a field investigation for the project in October 2007 and they have chosen to donate a bit of money to the project every payday. "Korea experienced poor economic conditions, too. We like giving a hand to Cambodia and developing together," Kang said.

Cambodia to get $3 million in new agricultural aid from Japan

HENG CHIVOAN; Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Long Visalo and Japansese Ambassador Katsuhiro Shinohara.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Friday, 05 September 2008

Funds are part of a yearlong program to alleviate poverty and provide greater access to educational and vocational television programming

THE Japanese government on Thursday signed an agreement with Cambodian officials to provide ¥369 million (US$3.4 million) in development aid for improvements in food production and television programming in the Kingdom.

The one-year project was signed by Long Visalo, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Japanese Ambassador Katsuhiro Shinohara.

Some ¥330 million will be given to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to bolster agricultural production, while ¥39 million will fund new television programming for Cambodia's TVK network.

Long Visalo said to date, Japan has given ¥3.45 billion for agricultural development projects.

"This project will provide fertiliser to poor farmers," he said after the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Shinohara said the funding aims to increase the production of rice, maize and cassava by supplying farmers with fertiliser.

"Poverty reduction remains a big challenge in Cambodia, especially in the rural areas, where more than 90 percent of people are living," he said. "It is crucial to develop the agriculture sector in order to generate income for poor farmers."

Nhean Chok, an assistant to Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun, said the government was targeting poor rural families in order to alleviate poverty by increasing crop production.

"In this project we will receive 2,200 tonnes of fertiliser, and each family will receive 50 kilograms."

Shinohara said Japan will also provide access to more than 400 television channels from their national broadcasting corporation NHK, which will include educational, documentary, cultural and technology programming.

Land grants begin for troops on the border

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Friday, 05 September 2008

Govt announces that thousands of hectares will be made available to military families

MORE than 2,074 hectares of land near the Kingdom's border with Thailand in Preah Vihear province will be designated as a social land concession for 903 military families, a senior government official has said.

Minister of Land Management Im Chhun Lim officially announced last week the handover of the land, 20 kilometres from the Preah Vihear border, to soldiers from Brigade 12 in Kantout and Choam Ksan communes.

The handover follows a recent order made by Prime Minister Hun Sen to give land to military families near their posts and along the Thai border in a bid to bolster national security.

Provincial officials are currently apportioning land to give to families, Long Sovann, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, said Wednesday.

"We have set aside land for military families, but we are still working at dividing it into blocks to give to each family," Long Sovann said.

" We have set aside land ... we are still working at dividing it into blocks. "

Tan Setha, chief of Choam Ksan district's Forestry Administration, said Wednesday that military families have been requesting land in the area from provincial authorities for years, but only got approval when the prime minister ordered that soldiers and their families be based permanently along the border.

"If the military families live and farm on this land, it will be good for them, and it will be good for future development, but we are worried they will sell the land and still have no property to live on," Tan Setha said.

Apportioning land

San Vanna, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey province, said that the province has created a committee to apportion land for military families and landless people along the Thai border.

"The first step the committee is taking is to decide where to locate the families," San Vanna said. "We have land for the families, but we are determining village boundary first before giving it to them."

Chea Mon, commander of Military Region 4, said that his family has not yet received any land because provincial officials are still determining which land to give them.

Body of man gunned down by Thai troops returned to family

Poipet border authorities say the last shooting of a Cambodian near the border occurred two years ago when a man was killed by Thai police while attempting to cross through an illegal corridor often used by smugglers.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath and Yun Vann
Friday, 05 September 2008

The 28-year-old was killed in a cross-border drug deal gone wrong that also wounded a Thai trooper, police say, promising investigation

THE body of a Cambodian man reportedly killed by Thai soldiers while trying to make a drug deal across the border from Banteay Meanchey province's O'Chrov district was repatriated Thursday.

Police said that Hel Touch, 28, from Prek Chan village, O'Beichoarn commune, was trying to deal narcotics with Thai soldiers when he was shot Tuesday night. His two accomplices escaped, provincial police commissioner Hun Hean told the Post.

Hun Hean said that Hel Touch tried to kill three Thai soldiers by throwing a grenade at them after the deal went bad. The grenade explosion wounded Hel Touch and slightly hurt one of the soldiers, who then fatally shot the Cambodian, Hun Hean added.

"We are still not sure about the accuracy of the Thai authority's report. We will investigate it more thoroughly," said Sam Chit, Banteay Meanchey province's deputy police chief.He added that Thai police had said the desceased and his accomplices were also involved in smuggling stolen motorbikes and cars.

Hel Touch's body was handed over to Cambodian authorities at the Poipet border crossing, where relatives were waiting to bring the him to their village for a funeral ceremony, according to Tim Sareth, deputy chief of the Thai-Cambodian Relations Office.

Chhouk Ang, commander of Border Police Battalion 911 stationed north of Poipet, did not attribute the killing to military tensions along the border.

He said the situation has been normal despite the standoff between Cambodia and Thailand over disputed territory.

Two Funcinpec governors ousted in post-poll reshuffle

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Friday, 05 September 2008

CPP continues to remove senior officials from increasingly junior coalition partner Funcinpec and has filled the posts with its own loyalists

TWO Funcinpec governors have been removed from their posts in Sihanoukville and Kampot and replaced by the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) deputy governors in a ceremony Thursday as part of the post-election drive to switch royalist officials with those from the ruling party.

Sihanoukville Governor Say Hak has been replaced by his deputy, Sboang Sarath, and Kampot Governor Thach Khorn will be succeeded by his deputy, Khoy Khunhuor.

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng attended the handover ceremony. Sak Setha, director general of general administration at the Ministry of Information, said that the two newly promoted CPP stalwarts have been serving in their provinces for years.

"The government has no more plans to reshuffle the provincial governor positions," he said. Say Hak said that as a public servant he respected the government's decision to change positions and is happy to accept whatever post he will be offered in the future.

Tired of the job?

"I stayed here [as Sihanoukville governor] long enough," said Say Hak, who served in the position for seven years.

"I don't mind, and I am prepared to leave."

It is unclear what position Say Hak is likely to receive in the new government, which will be sworn in on September 24.

According to the draft list of new government positions, Kampot's Thach Khorn has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection.

All Funcinpec ministers, provincial governors and ambassadors have lost their posts following the July 27 general election, in which the CPP won a resounding majority in parliament.

The Interior Ministry's Sak Setha said that the government has appointed one additional provincial deputy governor for Siem Reap, taking the number of governors and deputy governors in the province to 13.

Police accused of shaking down Kandal rat catchers

HENG CHIVOAN; Two boys display thier rodent quarry in a Kandal rice field.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Friday, 05 September 2008

Residents say local authorities have levied a 'rat tax' on them and confiscate their equipment if they don't pay up

VILLAGERS in Kandal province say police have launched a crackdown on the local rat trade, seizing hunters' traps and other equipment while demanding money.

Tuy Nich, 25, a resident of Korki Thom village, located 60 kilometres outside Phnom Penh, said police confiscated traps and a battery-powered rat zapper he was using to stun rats in a village rice field.

"I had set two rat traps and an electric-shock device so I could catch rats for the market," Tuy Nich said. "Police told me that if I paid US$50, I could get my equipment back but I didn't have enough money.

"Reoun Sambath, 26, said police in Tareap Dounsar district also began confiscating traps when villagers refused to give them money in return for permission to continue hunting.

"Police ordered us to pay 100 riels ($0.02) per rat," he said. "We refused because we are living hand to mouth. We are barely surviving, while police just try to exploit us."

Nop Dyna, 45, said villagers in Tareap Dounsar are accustomed to hunting rats during the rainy season in order to supplement their incomes. Without the rats, they would have trouble surviving.

"We can't catch the rats without our electric prods," he said. "When the police confiscate them, they are stealing our livelihoods.

"Kim Rathna, a police official in Kien Svay district, denied that police were demanding money from villagers or trying to exploit them.

Rather, they were only cracking down on the use of illegal equipment in order to protect the safety of villagers.

"If they use traps, there is no problem," he said.

"But electrocuting rats is against the law. Just a few days ago, three people were electrocuted by these devices. We are still looking for the person responsible."

Top two students slam cheating

PHOTO SUPPLIED; Kandal province’s Chhay Sopanhana says she will study medicine.

VANDY RATTANA; Heng Kothai from Siem Reap province obtained 100 percent in his exams, as well as A’s in five subjects.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Friday, 05 September 2008

The only two grade-A students in Cambodia say that the government needs to do more to curb cheating and bribery to ensure that exam results really reflect students' abilities

Chhay Sopanhana was lucky to be born into a family that values learning, while Heng Kothai is a perfectionist. For both, hitting the books has paid off: they were the only students in Cambodia to receive perfect exam scores out of a field of 55,178 who passed their high school finals.

Chhay Sopanhana, 17, from Hun Sen Sereypheap High School in Kandal province's Takhmao town, said she was delighted when she received news of her 99.99 percent exam result. "I did my best to receive this grade. It makes me happy and proud of myself and my whole family is also proud of me," she said.

As the youngest daughter of a health official in Kandal province, Chhay Sopanhana is now on holiday and is preparing for university.

"I am interested in studying medicine because my father is a doctor and my older sister is also approaching this field," she said, adding that she thought her outstanding grades might owe something to the fact she was "lucky to be born in a family that is encouraging me to pursue higher education".

Despite obtaining the highest possible grades in all subjects at school, Chhay Sopanhana feels that her foreign-languages skills still need some work. "I stopped learning languages for one year because I was focusing on my school exams," she explained. "I need to learn more English and French to compete with other students when I enter university," she said, adding that English would be essential in the future were she to apply for overseas scholarships to pursue her education still further.

Pech Lang, who was Chhay Sopanhana's math professor, told the Post that the A student had only used her own knowledge during the exam and did not cheat. "Sopanhana has been an outstanding student in Kandal province," she said.

Heng Kothai, the only other student in the country to obtain grade-A marks, also cited a perceived weakness in foreign languages as a factor of concern.

Despite admitting to a slight obsession with perfection, Heng Kothai says that what really got him his grades was his work ethic.

He said he is confident this will stand him in good stead when he tackles improving his language skills. "My English is not as good as my general subjects at school, but if I study hard like I studied for my exam results, I will achieve success."

The Siem Reap native received an overall exam score of 100 percent, and said he got an A in five subjects: maths, philosophy, biology, physics and chemistry.

"I only got one C for English," he added ruefully.

"I must study hard to improve my English results," he said, adding that he admires Phnom Penh students' access to finances and education.

"I am not rich enough to pay for a part-time tutor," he said.

Widespread cheating

The news of widespread bribery and cheating during the exams comes as no surprise to Heng Kothai. "Students are cheating all over the country," he said. "It is normal in Cambodia that students collect money for proctors. Government measures to crack down on such bad habits seem ineffective," he said.

According to Heng Kothai, even noncheating students have to cough up cash for teachers. "It is a must to get all 25 students in the examination room to pay," he said. "I did not cheat so I did not pay, but proctors demanded all students to pay, so my friend spent money for me. Everyone knows I did not cheat."

The student is now in Phnom Penh searching for an appropriate university to continue his education. "I want to pursue my degree in civil engineering [as] it is easy to find a good job in this field."

Nhoek Sakun, deputy head of the Department of High Schools at the Siem Reap Provincial Education Department, said that he was happy to see a student in his province receive one of the only two perfect scores in the country. "The good result shows his true capacity: He is an outstanding student in Siem Reap," he said.

However, Nhoek Sakun admitted that outstanding students with a sense of ethics were a rarity. "We cannot prevent all cheating. Cheating still exists.

"Chroeng Lim Sry, of the Ministry of Education, said he was pleased to see that the two students who received A's used only their knowledge to pass the exam.

NRP not seeking govt coalition deal: official

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Friday, 05 September 2008

THE Norodom Ranariddh Party is not seeking a coalition government deal, its officials said Thursday, denying earlier reports that it wanted a partnership with the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

NRP spokesman Suth Dina said the party's priority was securing the return of its leader, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who remains in self-imposed exile in Malaysia, where he fled in 2007 under a cloud of legal troubles.

"What we are worried about is the fact that the Prince is absent from the country," Suth Dina said, adding that the party never requested a coalition deal with the CPP.

"What we need first is help for Ranariddh," he said.

The NRP, created after Ranariddh was ousted as head of Funcinpec, won two seats in parliament in last month's general election. A new government is expected to be sworn in on September 24.

The NRP had initially rejected the election results, along with Cambodia's other opposition parties, but then abruptly endorsed them in what some observers saw as a bid to pave the way for the Prince's return.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told the Post Thursday that the CPP's overriding goal was to create a government alongside a faction of Funcinpec that remains loyal to the ruling party, adding that the NRP was not welcome.

"We will watch the NRP for a couple more years and if they have a similar platform and vision as us, we will agree to take them," he said.

According to official election results released Tuesday, the CPP won 90 of the National Assembly's 123 seats, more than enough to form a government on its own.

New $4b dams in planning

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Friday, 05 September 2008

Proposed 10 dams will boost irrigation, generate electricity

THE Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has begun preliminary studies for the building of a series of dams across four provinces.

"We are planning to build more than 10 dams and related irrigation systems in four northwestern provinces to ensure rice production during both the rainy and dry seasons," Veng Sakhon, secretary of state for the ministry, told the Post this week.

The proposed dams would provide the country with a more modern irrigation system as well as generate electricity for rural communities, he said.

However, other dam projects have come under fire for their impact on the environment and lack of transparency.

The ministry aims to build four dams in Pursat province that would supply irrigation to more than 35,000 hectares of land and generate as much as 300 megawatts of power for local communities.

Other proposed dam sites include locations in Battambang, Kampong Chhnang and Banteay Meanchey provinces, and the ministry is consulting with engineers from China and South Korea, Veng Sakhon said.

He added that the government must look outside the country for the money needed to complete the ambitious project.

"We will need more than US$4 billion," he said, adding that the ministry is still in the preliminary stages of planning the massive projects.

Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Cambodia must improve its irrigation systems to meet greater agricultural and export demands.

"We have suffered drought in some areas, but nothing serious yet," he said.

Meas Sotheavy, head of the statistics office at the ministry's Planning and Statistics Department, said only a relatively small portion of Cambodia's rice fields is irrigated.

"Now, only about 30 percent of rice paddies are connected to irrigation systems. We'd like to get that number to 40 percent by the end of this year," she said.

Hocus-pocus lotus


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Friday, 05 September 2008

A vendor selling carved coconuts and lotus flower blossoms on Phnom Penh's riverfront surveys the afternoon crowd in anticipation of brisk trade.