Friday, 19 September 2008

Brother of HRP President Quits the Party

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

A senior member of the Human Rights Party and a brother to its leader left the party Thursday, claiming its position to boycott an upcoming swearing-in ceremony differed from his own views.

Kem Sokhon, the younger brother of Kem Sokha, said Friday he was joining the Cambodian People's Party.

His defection comes one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned he would use divide and conquer tactics to weaken the opposition.

In a speech on Wednesday, Hun Sen said he was going to employ "DIFID" strategies, saying in English: "divide, isolate, finish, integration, and destroy and development."

"I left the Human Rights Party to join the CPP, because I'm not satisfied with the Human Rights Party joining the Sam Rainsy Party to boycott the first National Assembly meeting and swearing-in ceremony on Sept. 24," he said. "It opposes my idea."

Kem Sokhon held the deputy secretary-general position and was in charge of the Human Rights Party's election complaints.

The Human Rights Party won three National Assembly seats in July's election, but it has aligned itself with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in a boycott of 29 lawmakers of the Sept. 24 ceremony, potentially deadlocking the government.

Kem Sokhon has also been a member of Funcinpec, an advisor to the party's secretary-general Nhiek Bunchhay, and a member of the Sam Rainsy Party's steering committee.

He moved to the Human Rights Party when his brother formed it following local commune elections in April 2007.

Kem Sokha said Friday his brother's departure would not change the party's stance to boycott the ceremony.

His brother's leaving also "does not show internal conflict" within the party, he said. "It is his right to choose a political party."

U.N. Pleased by New U.S. Support for Khmer Rouge Tribunal

By Poch Reasey, VOA Khmer
Washington
19 September 2008

Editor's Note: The Office of the Spokesman of the U.N. Secretary General on Friday sent by email the following reply to questions from VOA Khmer about this week's announcement regarding new U.S. support for the U.N. side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal:

We are obviously very pleased with the decision of the United States to provide funds the ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers for the Cambodia Courts).

The US played a key role in the formation of the ECCC and has been an interested and active supporter of our work since the court offices first opened.

Coming forward now with these funds shows that they remain committed to seeing the mandate of the ECCC successfully completed.

The funds will obviously extend the working capital for the UN side of the court for some time, but more importantly we hope this will signal the first of many such announcements from the donor community.

It clearly shows that the hard work put in by the staff of the ECCC and by Mr. David Tolbert in revising and presenting the budget to the donor community has been successful.

The New York Times: A Weekend in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

If you happen to be in Phnom Penh on the first Friday of the month, follow the surreal swirl of drunken expatriates to Elsewhere, where tables are arranged around a small swimming pool. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

The respectable side of Phnom Penh's night life consists of drinking, drinking, and then drinking some more. While tourists flock to the Foreign Correspondents' Club, actual journalists tend to drown themselves in the strong margaritas at Cantina, a grungy Mexican joint on the river. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

At Romdeng, another nonprofit restaurant in Phonm Penh, students serve traditional Cambodian cuisine, including crispy-fried tarantulas seasoned with lime and pepper sauce. Take note: Khmer cuisine is not for the squeamish. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Find your way to the nonprofit restaurant Friends, where your lunch is served to you by former street children. Despite the nation's galloping economy, about a third of Cambodians still live on less than a dollar a day. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Phnom Penh is a city of water. Some of its main streets were once canals, and there's no better way to honor Phnom Penh's riparian soul than with a sundowner at Maxine's. Situated in an old wooden house that is slouching into the river, Maxine's has a ramshackle authenticity that, at least for now, seems immune to the city's rapid modernization. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Young monks walk past the Independence Monument, which was built in 1958 following the country's independence from France five years earlier. It is in the form of a lotus-shaped stupa, in the style seen at the Khmer temple at Angkor Wat and other Khmer historical sites. The monument was designed by Vann Molyvann, perhaps Cambodia's most celebrated modern architect. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

The front entrance of Raffles Hotel Le Royal was first established in 1929 and remains one of the more luxurious hotels in Phnom Penh. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

The main post office in Phnom Penh, built in 1895, has become a meeting point for tourists interested in learning more about the city's architecture. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

You might also swing by the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where at least 14,000 men, women, and children were tortured. Here, visitors look over a record of all the mass burial sites found thus far. Tread softly: locals say the place is still haunted. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Five Khmer Rouge leaders are now awaiting trial at a United Nations-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh. But this dark chapter is still so politically sensitive that it's barely discussed in Cambodian schools. All the more reason to visit the Choeung Ek killing fields. Here, the Memorial Charnel at the Genocidal Center. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Members of an ec0-tourism group browse for souvenirs at the Russian Market. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

A street vendor outside of the Russian Market grills banana leaves filled with sticky rice and bananas. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Before lugging your shopping bags back to the hotel, pick up a krama -- a traditional checkered scarf used for everything from holding babies to bathing. You'll find a great assortment at Psar Tuol Tom Pong, a k a Russian Market. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

There's another revolution going on in Phnom Penh. Once home to the ultra-Communist Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian capital now boasts its own KFC and other capitalist trappings. One way to disentangle the city's layers is to settle into a cyclo, a kind of bicycle-powered rickshaw, for a three-hour tour of the city's architecture. Photo: Basil Childers for The New York Times

Extended Agreement Further Protects Archaeological Heritage of Cambodia

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 19, 2008

The Department of State is pleased to announce the extension of a “Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from Cambodia from the Bronze Age through the Khmer Era” (MOU). This extension, consistent with a recommendation made by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, represents a continuation of cooperation that began in 1999 when emergency U.S. import restrictions were implemented to stanch the pillage of Cambodia’s rich archaeological heritage and the illicit trafficking in such material.

This U.S. action is in response to a request made by the Government of Cambodia under Article 9 of the 1970 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Convention offers a framework of cooperation among State Parties to reduce the further pillage of intact archaeological sites, activity that destroys information about past cultures and places a nation’s cultural heritage in jeopardy. Cambodia is the first country in East Asia to receive the cooperation of the United States in protecting its cultural property in this manner.

The extended MOU expands the scope of the original to include archaeological objects from the Bronze and Iron Ages. It specifically restricts the import into the U.S. of ancient Cambodian stone, metal, and ceramic archaeological material unless an export permit is issued by Cambodia or there is verifiable documentation that the objects left Cambodia prior to the effective date of the restriction.

The Department of Homeland Security has published a Designated List of restricted categories of objects, amending it to include material representing the Paleolithic Era (Stone Age). The restricted objects may enter the United States if accompanied with an export permit issued by Cambodia or documentation verifying its provenance prior to 1993 and if no other applicable U.S. laws are violated. The Designated List and information about the MOU can be found at
http://exchanges.state.gov/culprop.

2008/749

Hun Sen congratulates Somchai

By The Nation

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen congratulated newly appointed Thai counterpart Somchai Wongsawat on Friday, expressing hope that both countries would be able to resolve border conflict peacefully.

Hun Sen, who had accused Thailand of border intrusion into the Khmer sanctuary of Ta Kwai sitting at the disputed border area, said in his letter dated September 19 to Somchai that the countries could end the conflict amicably in spirit of solidarity and good neighbour.

The Cambodian premier said his government was willing to cooperate with Thailand for good relations and mutual benefit.

Cambodia and Thailand have locked horns over the Hindu temples and Khmer sanctuaries along the border since June when Phnom Penh proposed to list the 11th century Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. The then Thai government was forced by street protest and the opposition party to withdraw its support to the application due to fear of loss of territory and deployed troops into the areas.

A series of ministerial meetings tried to negotiate for redeployment of troops while Phnom Penh piled up more accusation that Thai troops occupied some more Hindu temples including the Ta Muen Thom and Ta Kwai. Thailand argued that those temples belong to Thailand in the area of Surin province.

Hun Sen said in his congratulation letter that Cambodia was confident the new Thai Prime Minister could help to fix the sour relations and resolve border problem peacefully.

Govt shows concern over rising shut downs in garment units

Fibre2fashion News Desk- India

September 19, 2008

Apparel industry of Cambodia is under threat of being running into deep trouble as many factories are pulling their shutters down which is affecting the production and thereby directly affecting the economy of the country. Main reason for the closure of garment companies is innumerable strikes of workers, leaving owners no other option other than shutting their units.

In order to gain more information regarding the worrisome situation Fibre2fashion contacted Mr Cheat Khemara, Senior Labour Officer, Garment Manufacturer's Association of Cambodia (GMAC) who stated, “This year from January to July, nine member factories of GMAC have closed down. There are various reasons which have led to the closure, which includes workers demanding high wages and unfulfilled demands. Till July 2008 there have been almost 79 strikes which is alarming when compared to full last year’s total of 80.”

When asked about what steps the Government is taking to overcome this situation which has left large number of workers unemployed Mr Khemara asserted,”The authorities are planning to establish new laws concerning Union Organizations. The Government is making efforts to improve the means of communication between comapny officials and the union's and encourage new investment plans.”

The Senior Labour Offices further divulged, ”The garment industry is also making efforts to explore new markets for Cambodian products so that it can earn large amount of foreign currency.”

There are nearly 350,000 workers associated with the garment industry nationwide.

American Charged With Child Prostitution

Cambodia has worked to clean up its image as a destination for pedophiles, through new laws and information campaigns.

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
19 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 19 September 2008 (920 KB ) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 19 September 2008 (920 KB ) - Listen (MP3)

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday charged an American man with the purchase of a child for prostitution, for alleged sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl.

Jason Baumbach, 40, is accused of paying school fees for the girl in exchange for sex, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison under a new law.

Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said Friday Baumbach was charged under Article 34 of the "Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation," which prohibits sexual conduct with a minor while promising or providing money or anything of value to a minor or guardians.
Baumbach was arrested at his Tuol Kork home on Tuesday.

Cambodia has been working to improve a tarnished image as a haven for pedophiles and sexual predators, and a US State Department trafficking report issued earlier this year said authorities had made some progress toward combating the crime.

At the home of the girl, in a rundown apartment building in Prampi Makara district, parents declined to be interviewed Friday, but they showed reporter a picture of their daughter, who is now under the protective custody of a non-governmental organization.

Teng Manet, the lawyer of the family, alleged Friday the girl would visit Baumbach to receive money for school and would be invited into his room, where she was raped.

Brig. Gen. Bith Kimhong, head of the Ministry of Interior's anti-trafficking and juvenile protection department, said Friday that police have arrested seven foreigners and 13 Cambodians since January on suspicion of pedophilia.

Of the foreigners, three were American and arrested in Phnom Penh and four were from other countries and arrested in the beach resort town of Sihanoukville.

FBI Begins Probe of Journalist's July Murder

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

Khmer audio aired 19 September 2008 (1.11 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 19 September 2008 (1.11 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Phnom Penh police officials met with FBI agents on Wednesday to discuss how the US agency might help in an ongoing investigation into the murders of opposition journalist Khim Sambor and his son.

The two parties reviewed what the Cambodian police have discovered so far and how they will cooperate, said Hy Prou, deputy chief of Phnom Penh police.

"The main point of the meeting required research into how we should conduct the investigation and what we should do first," he said. "But this is a first step."

Khim Sambor, who wrote for the opposition Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper, was killed on July 11, just two weeks before national elections. At least nine other journalists have been killed in Cambodia since 1994, according to the rights group Licadho.

Two FBI agents arrived in Phnom Penh Sunday and will stay for as long as they are needed, US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said.

"They're here to assist in the investigation, depending on the needs of the Ministry of Interior and the Cambodian police that are investigating it," he said, declining to comment on the specifics of the investigation. "The FBI is here to assist in any way possible, and we certainly hope that through this cooperation that the perpetrator of this crime can be brought to justice."

Chan Soveth, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said Friday he had little confidence the FBI would be able to find the killer without performing an independent investigation.

"We want the FBI to research this case independently," he said. "If the FBI researches independently, we hope they will find the real killer. But if the FBI researches without independence, I have no hope they will find the real killers."

The FBI also investigated the 1997 grenade attack on a group of opposition supporters, he said, but the investigation yielded no results. In that attack, at least 16 people were killed and one American was injured.

"I don't want the FBI to investigate Khim Sambor's killing like they did in 1997," Chan Soveth said.

Dam Sith, the editor of Moneaksekar Khmer, who was jailed for a week ahead of elections, said he welcomed the collaboration between the FBI and the police.

"I wish to see the real facts and justice without falsehood," he said.

Khim Lenin, 30, the youngest brother of Khim Sambor, appealed to the FBI and the police to find "the real killers of my brother."

"I don't believe the previous report of the police, that the killing was involved with Khim Sambor's son," he said. "As I understand, his son was a good person and never committed any wrongdoings. The same for Khim Sambor."

Doctor Explains Treatments for Gout

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Washington
19 September 2008

Khmer audio aired 18 September 2008 (5.09 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 18 September 2008 (5.09 MB) - Listen (MP3)

The most important test to diagnose gouty arthritis is joint aspiration, a procedure whereby a sterile needle and syringe are used to drain joint fluid from the joint, a doctor said Thursday.

The fluid is examined to see if there are gout crystals or bacterial infection present, said Dr. Taing Tek Hong, as a guest on "Hello VOA.""Your doctor may obtain a blood sample to look at your cell counts [and] uric acid levels," he said.

Gout may be treated with Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve and Prednisone, he said, by decreasing uric acid in the joints.

A common side effect, stomach pain, can be alleviated by taking the medication with meals, he said.

In brief: Lost goddesses book launch

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Anita Surewicz
Friday, 19 September 2008

Trudy Jacobson, an anthropologist who has both lived and worked in Cambodia, will present and sign copies of her new book, Lost Goddesses: the Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History, at Monument Books at 6:30pm tonight. Based on Jacobson's doctoral thesis, this is the first book to address the issue of women's power in Cambodian history and why their social position today is far from equitable, states the Asian Studies book services website.

Artwork explores views on society and traffic

Tracey Shelton; Artist Leang Seckon holds up one of his traffic pieces, which are on display at the French Cultural Centre.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Friday, 19 September 2008

The relationship between Phnom Penh residents and the everyday traffic that affects their lives is explored in artwork by artist Leang Seckon

A NEW exhibit opening at the French Cultural Centre on Saturday will include works by painter and graphic designer Leang Seckon, whose art takes an unconventional look at Cambodian society.

Some of the artist's most interesting works focus on the relationship between Phnom Penh's residents and the maelstrom of traffic through which their lives move each day.

"I focus on traffic because we have so many accidents, and almost no one respects the laws," he explained.

In one collage, a police officer atop a motorcycle helmet waves drivers to the side of the road. A squashed frog lies ominously in the foreground as a painted monk blesses it.

"I wanted to show that Cambodian people react in traffic according to their mindset, which has been influenced by the past violence in our history," he said.

"I created this picture after a visit to Kieng Svay resort. I saw a dead frog and was sad because someone had killed it and nobody cared. It is a reflection on the difference between the rich and poor. The monk blesses the frog, and the rich man stays in his car and ignores it."

Leang Seckon said he tries to convey meaning indirectly in his works.

The policeman in the picture tries to stop motorists, who do everything they can to evade him."Our people are afraid of the police, who always try to get money from them. So they turn back and try to find another way around," he said.

Leang Seckon avoids overtly political themes in his work. "What I do is not related to politics. I explore social themes, and I don't care whether people understand them or not."

Red light, green light

Another of his works depicts a young Cambodian boy and girl circumscribed by 12 animals. Superimposed are traffic lights - three green, one red and one yellow.

"People in Cambodia don't wait for the green light. They cross whenever they want to, even if it is dangerous and could result in an accident," he said.

"I'm not trying to teach people directly. I want to present things in my art and let them discover for themselves. Art can hide many meanings inside it.

"The exhibit, which runs through October 12 at the French Cultural Centre, will also feature works by artist Daniel Perrier.

Also connected to the exhibit is an installation by French artist Georges Rousse, who will exhibit his work in the front of the National Museum on Saturday.

Leading cement maker to expand production

VANDY RATTANA; A delivery man prepares to unload sacks of cement near the Canadia Bank headquarters constuction site in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Nguon Sovan
Friday, 19 September 2008

$200m investment hoped to decrease Cambodia's reliance on expensive imported construction materials, as building boom continues to create demand

KAMPOT Cement plans to invest US$200 million into production in order to triple its output by the end of next year as a local construction boom continues to push demand for cement, according to one of the firm's top officials.

Khaou Phallaboth, president of the firm's Cambodian minority stakeholder, told the Post that Kampot Cement would increase its current production from one million tonnes to three million tonnes by the end of 2009 on predictions that total domestic demand will rise over the next five years from three million to seven million tonnes, as heavy foreign investment fuels a surge in construction.

He also said the company has its sights set on the export market down the road if international prices remain high.

Kampot Cement launched in January of this year as a $127 million joint venture with Thailand's largest industrial conglomerate, Siam Cement Group (SCG), controlling a 90 percent share, and Cambodia's Khaou Chuly Group holding the remainder. Khaou Phallaboth said the Cambodian partner's share would double to 20 percent by next year.

While the plant's current production of one million tonnes a year represents nearly half of all domestic production, the company has to import from Thailand another half million tonnes at increasingly unfavorable prices in order to fill local orders, Khaou Phallaboth said.

He said that despite the growth in local demand for cement, Cambodia's exorbitantly high energy costs, which are three times higher than those in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, continue to pose a major obstacle to the industry's expansion.

"So once we increase our production, we will switch from using heavy fuel to a coal-fired power plant," he said. "It will cost us $70 to $80 million at first, but it will save us several million dollars in energy costs every year after that."

Opposition party lawmaker Yim Sovann said that he supports industrial self-sufficiency, but expressed concerns over the effects on the surrounding communities of a coal-fired plant, which he said would "seriously damage the environment and health of local people if it is not built according to international standards".

Others, however, played down the potential effects of the plant, while saying Cambodia was too reliant on imported construction materials.

"It will be very good to reduce our reliance on imports from foreign countries, and we should support the use of local products," said Ith Priang, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

"Oil has been really expensive, so a clean-coal power plant is a good, cheaper alternative.... There should not be any concern over the environmental effects because we will thoroughly inspect the plant to make sure it is in compliance."

Roll the bass

Tracey Shelton
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Friday, 19 September 2008

Members of the Cambodia Sport Compact Club attract a crowd while hanging out on the strip of Sothearos Boulevard in front of the new National Assembly building Wednesday night while tunes blare from one member's heavily customised 1998 Toyota Celica. The car's owner, Bun Lay, brags that the vehicle's top speed is 240kph, but quickly adds that the club's motto is "drive safely, have sex safely".

Govt calls for guards to watch over exams

Heng Chivoan; A Phnom Penh student lights incense at a pagoda in an attempt to bring good luck in her upcoming exams. Students across the Kingdom are preparing for another round of testing, the results of which will be declared on October 5.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Friday, 19 September 2008

THE Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has requested that the Phnom Penh Municipality provide armed forces to maintain order for a two-day secondary school examination that will take place starting September 19 at 33 examination centres around Phnom Penh.

Oum Heung, director of the Department of Education, Youth and Sports, explained that the use of security can help prevent cheating that has previously occurred during testing.

Oum Heung noted that people throwing photocopies from nearby shops into the testing rooms can "interrupt the candidates". He asked for the deployment of 15 to 20 police to keep order during the two days of testing.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Choup Khon agreed, saying that "it is necessary to keep social order", adding that "the photocopy shops nearby the schools can cause anarchy, and authorities will close down all shops near the school until the examination is ended."

No bribes pleaseThe Ministry of Education has also issued a news release asking parents of secondary school students not to give bribe money to their children to pass on to their teachers.

Chey Chap, undersecretary of state at the ministry, said education officials want parents to encourage their children to study rather than pass their exams by bribery.

Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, says he does not believe that the government has the capacity to stop exam-related corruption.

Bribes are frequently given to teachers for test answers or passing marks.

Thai PM says talks to resume

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Friday, 19 September 2008

GOVERNMENT officials expressed renewed hope for a resolution of border disputes with Thailand following an announcement Thursday by the newly elected Thai prime minister that the two sides would resume negotiations.

"We welcome this good news, and it signals a potential end to the conflict," said Phay Siphan, spokesman for Cambodia's Council of Ministers. "It is good that Thailand is ready to talk."

Somchai Wongsawat, who was named Thai prime minister earlier this week, said he looked forward to more peaceful relations between the two countries.

"I'm ready to talk with Prime Minister Hun Sen," he told reporters at Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Somchai added he expected Thai and Cambodian delegates to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York next week.

"If the Thai government really intends to negotiate ... we will try our best to solve our problems," said Nuth Sa An, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior. "But I am concerned because they are always under pressure by the opposition party," he said.

Koy Koung, undersecretary of state for Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said he was not aware of any arrangements for negotiations to continue.

KRT causing massive brain drain

AFP; A visitor at Phnom Penh’s Choeung Ek Killing Fields examines skulls in the main stupa.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Georgia Wilkins
Friday, 19 September 2008

The UN-backed court has employed many of the most talented staff from Cambodia's own legal system, leaving the domestic courts groaning under the weight of too many cases

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal is causing a large-scale brain drain that is taking talented local staff away from the civil court system and causing a pile-up of unheard cases.

"The ECCC is one of the major causes of the lack of judges and prosecutors at the local court," Hanrot Ranken, a high-ranking member of the Supreme Council of Magistry and a general prosecutor at the Appeals Court told the Post by phone Wednesday. "This has led to a slowing of the court process and a backlog in the amount of cases to be heard."

The issue forced the council to appoint 55 judicial graduates as judges and deputy prosecutors last week at 21 municipal and provincial courts across the Kingdom.

"Right now we have judges in training, but it is still not enough," said Hanrot Ranken. "We tried to move ECCC judges back to the local courts, but they are on duty at ECCC so they could not."

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court currently has 16 judges and eight prosecutors on staff, with each judge now expected to handle around 700 cases annually. According to the latest budget estimate for the ECCC, the court will need at least 21 more Cambodian judicial staff over the next two years.

ECCC spokesman Reach Sambath said the court was aware of the negative effects on the local legal system, but insisted they were only short-term.

"Sometimes you have to sacrifice a small duck for a big fish," he said. "The most important thing for this court is the judges at the ECCC will be able to go back to their courts and have something to share with their collegues."

Terminal shortage?


Co-Investigating Judge You Bun Leng said the problem went much further back than the history of the tribunal and questioned the role of the ECCC.

"We had a shortage of judges since before the establishment of the ECCC, so I don't think this is the cause," he said, adding that the ECCC was unlikely to need more judicial staff. "Currently the ECCC does not require more judges or prosecutors, as we have learnt of the shortage of legal officers."

The growing seriousness of the legal "brain drain" has started to alarm observers concerned about the long-term impact of the internationally-sponsored tribunal.

Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project said that despite the ECCC's efforts to have a lasting legacy on the Cambodian legal system, it was not proving to be the "model court" many had hoped for.

"I don't yet see the positive effects [of the ECCC] on the local legal system," he said.

A report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in April on the legacy of hybrid courts warned that short-term effects, such as the depletion of local judges, could have lasting effect if not addressed early.

"If the focus of the court is diverted away from investment in the necessary domestic legal reforms ... or if staff use the experience gained to seek jobs abroad, or in the private sector, and do not return to the domestic system... [the draining of the domestic system] may develop into a longer-term concern."

According to the report, at other hybrid courts, such as Sierra Leone, national staff have returned to the domestic system only to be frustrated by the lack of resources, leading them to get jobs elsewhere.

"Sometimes judges try to reform, but when they bring changes into the local system, they get a negative reaction from staff," said Sok Sam Oeun.

FBI arrives to support assassination probe

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vincent Macisaac
Friday, 19 September 2008

Two agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived in Phnom Penh this week to assist in the investigation of the murder of opposition journalist Khim Sambo and his son, a US embassy official has confirmed.

US embassy spokesman John Johnson said the agents arrived on Sunday, following a request from the Ministry of Interior, and that their role would be "purely supportive" of the Cambodian investigation.

Johnson said the agents have no definite timeframe for their involvement and could stay until the investigation is complete.

Phnom Penh's Deputy Police Chief Hy Prou, who is heading the investigation, said his police officials met with the agents Wednesday to discuss the case.

He said police currently have no leads on a suspect and that the complexities of the case have made investigation difficult.

But Chan Soveth, a program officer with the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, expressed concern that the FBI was not taking a more aggressive role in the investigation.

"If the FBI cannot work independently, [their assistance] is just a political game," he said.Chan Soveth arrived at the scene of the July 11 double homicide about 30 minutes after it occurred and has been investigating the killings ever since.

According to Chan Soveth's recently completed preliminary assessment, Khim Sambo's reporting for the Sam Rainsy-affiliated newspaper Moneak-sekar Khmer had frequently prompted threats from powerful individuals.

Contradicting claims made by some government officials, Chan Soveth said he found no evidence that either Khim Sambo or his son were involved in a personal dispute that could have triggered the killings.

" IF THE FBI CANNOT WORK INDEPENDENTLY [THEIR ASSISTANCE] IS JUST A POLITICAL GAME. "

Khim Sambo was killed instantly after being shot twice in the back while riding on a motorbike driven by his son, Chan Soveth said.

His son was also shot twice from behind and died later that night in a Phnom Penh hospital."The perpetrators had no fear of being arrested. They weren't wearing helmets and made no attempt to disguise their identity," he said.

Chan Soveth said he was able to gather information from those present during the crime after he arrived at the scene.

When he returned the next morning, no one would speak to him.

Chan Soveth declined to say who he believed was responsible for the killings. "I want to continue living in Cambodia," he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA

Cambodian gigolo: male prostitution rises

VANDY RATTANA; A male prostitute at work in Phnom Penh’s Wat Phnom area on Tuesday evening.


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Friday, 19 September 2008

Some find selling their bodies to men or women is one way to escape grinding poverty (or experiment with gay sex)

THEY are most easily found in nightclubs that cater to foreigners. After hours, they loiter in the shadows of Wat Botom and Wat Phnom, or idle away the evening in clusters along the river waiting for clients.

Young men like Soun, 24, (not his real name) are entering Cambodia's sex trade in growing numbers and for a variety of reasons. Some seek a better life for their families in the only way they know how. Others use the trade to explore alternative sexual lifestyles.

Whatever the reason, business is brisk.

"I always go to the clubs where foreigners hang out," said Soun, who has been a male prostitute since the age of 17.

"When the clubs close, I move to the front of Wat Botom," he said, adding that a typical night's work runs from 8pm to around midnight.

Many of his clients find him through a network of sex brokers who comb the city looking for men or women seeking or selling companionship. Others find him at the wats or along the riverside, where many of the city's prostitutes congregate each night.

"I am available for both men and women, depending on who approaches me. Sometimes the women I sleep with are much older than me, anywhere from 30 to 50 years of age," Soun said.

"Most of them are Cambodian widows, but some of my customers are young Khmer guys and a few older Khmer men."

Soun's face flushes crimson when the conversation turns toward prices.

"If I sleep with a woman, I charge US$15 to $20. The whole night costs $40-$50," he said. "Foreigners pay $40 per encounter or as much as $70 for the night."

The protocol

Stating your preference is simply a matter of learning the code.

Women who want to purchase a male sex partner say, tov si karem key, or "Let's go eat ice cream in a glass", Soun said.

Men can use one of two phrases. Tov si karem charn means "Let's go eat ice cream in a bowl", and tov leng pteah ta sak bram means "Let's go visit Sak Pram's house". Sak Pram translates to "five fingers", Soun added.

Soun said that when he asks his male clients why they want to have sex with him, most of them say they want to try something different. Others say they are tired of women.

While Soun has some clients in the capital, most of his business is transacted in the provinces. "My regular clients are mostly living in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville," he said. "They sometimes book me for a week, so they have to pay for my accommodation and food as well as my sexual fees."

" A friend told me to go sit by the riverside and people could come ask me for sex. i was 17 then. I've worked in the business ever since. "

Soun keeps a calendar for long-term clients, but others can simply ring him on the day. "In Phnom Penh, girls who want to have sex just call my mobile phone and tell me where to meet. Sometimes, they hire a taxi driver to come pick me up."


PHOTO SUPPLIED; Many male prostitutes in Phnom Penh say they went into the trade due to poverty.

A life filled with danger

But Soun warned against thinking his life is one of ease and happiness.

He said prostitution can be a dangerous business, particularly with his Cambodian male clients. They often hire him for sex with one person, but he shows up to find a group of four or five waiting for him. He can't refuse because he is outnumbered.

And then, there is the ever-present risk of sexual diseases. "To protect ourselves from HIV, we always talk to our clients about using condoms. I have problems with teenage boys because they want oral sex," he said.

Kek Galabru, president of Cambodian rights group Licadho, said she has seen an increase in male sex workers in a market traditionally dominated by women.

According to Kek Galabru, many of the capital's male prostitutes turned to sex work because, lacking education or skills, they can find no other way to support their families. Others do so because they prefer sex with men, she said. Nuon Sidara, executive director of Action for Sexual Health, said exact numbers of male prostitutes in Cambodia are difficult to determine because many work in secret.

The risk of disease is much higher among male sex workers who largely sleep with male clients, Nuon Sidera said.

Studies done on men engaging in gay sex have shown that 8.7 percent in Phnom Penh were HIV-positive, a rate that is almost nine times that of the general population.

"My organisation tries to teach them how to protect themselves from disease and provides condoms free of charge," Nuon Sidera said.

Soun gets thoughtful when he considers the life he has chosen.

"My family is very poor, so I needed to find a job that could support us all. I never thought I would become a prostitute," he said.

"A friend told me to go sit by the riverside and people would come ask me for sex. I was 17 then. I've worked in the business ever since."

Union criticises bloated Cabinet

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Friday, 19 September 2008

ONE of Cambodia's leading unions has criticised the proposed incoming government for being too bloated, saying that the expected 400-member Cabinet would increase inefficiency and strain the national budget.

Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) President Rong Chhun issued a letter Thursday asking the Cabinet to be pared back, saying the increased salaries for teachers and civil servants was more important than creating more government positions.

According to the letter, the proposed Cabinet will include nine deputy prime ministers, 16 senior ministers, 26 ministers, 172 secretaries of state and 168 undersecretaries of state.

Top-heavy government

There is no need for the government to have a "bigger head than its body", the letter stated."Every parliamentarian who is a representative of the people must consider concerns arising from the inflation of Cabinet members."

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.

However, Cheam Yeap, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People's Party, said the large number of Cabinet members would not have a negative impact so long as these members support Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.

Five arrests over KSpeu land dispute

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Friday, 19 September 2008

Judge claims UN backs him; UN expresses its 'concern'

FIVE representatives for more than 200 families who lost their farmland as part of a government-sanctioned economic land concession were arrested Wednesday on charges of trespassing and destroying the property's acacia tree crop last year.

In 2004 the government ceded 4,900 hectares of land in the Basith district of Kampong Speu province to the Golden Land Co to develop industry and plant acacia trees, said Roath Thavy, a monitor for the Cambodian rights group Adhoc.

"This affected 228 hectares of land belonging to more than 200 families that is located within the concession," he said.

"The company used military forces to fire on the people, destroying their farmland and burning houses in late 2007," Roath Thavy said. Two of the five seized this week were jailed during the raid last year but released in March 2008 after promising to stay away from the land.

Unlawful arrest?

"The court issued a summons for the five representatives to attend court Wednesday but as soon as they arrived at the court they were arrested," Roath Thavy said. "The arrest violates judicial procedures as this is a civil land dispute case, not a criminal case."

But Kampong Speu court judge On Samnang said that the court had the right to detain the five because destroying acacia trees is an indictable offence.

"It is normal that the people are angry, but they are the ones at fault for farming on land that has been given by the government to a company for investment," he said.

" The company used military forces to fire on the people ... and burned houses. "

"I received a call from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) this morning approving the detention of the people in order to educate them not to continually trespass on the company's land," On Samnang added.

An OHCHR officer, who asked not to be named, said that OHCHR has been in contact with the investigating judge, but to raise concerns over the arrest and detention of the five.

Roath Thavy said that the people have requested that Adhoc ask the government to release the five and give them back their land.

"I have now compiled a report for the Phnom Penh Municipality and have requested intervention from the UN," he said.

Land disputes have become increasingly violent in Cambodia, with tens of thousands losing their land.

PPenh to build new electric crematoria

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Friday, 19 September 2008

THE Phnom Penh Municipality will build four electronic crematoria, including one with VIP facilities, to reduce air pollution that government officials fear could affect the country's tourism industry, Governor Kep Chuktema told the Post Wednesday.

The first new facility is being built on four hectares of land near the Prey Sar pagoda in Dangkor district. It is expected to begin operations in the next few months.

Three additional facilities will be built in Prek Leap, Russey Keo and Phnom Penh Thmey at about US$500,000 each, which will be paid for by the municipality, Kep Chuktema said.

"We hope that [they] will reduce air pollution and have a positive social benefit by allowing poor people access to cremation services free of charge," he said.The municipality will also purchase two vans to transport corpses to the new sites, he said.

Yin Kim Seam, secretary of state for the Ministry of Environment, said the crematoria are being relocated outside the city because air pollution affects residents living in and near pagodas.

"The smoke ... affects the surrounding citizens and the students studying there," he said.He said the electronic facilities will also reduce reliance on wood.

Houy Sam Sereychan, bureau chief of Communicable Disease Control at the Municipal Health Department, said about 1,300 corpses are cremated each year in Phnom Penh.

Indifference? Impossible

TRACEY SHELTON; The Extraordinary Chamber’s Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde at an outreach event in Pailin in January this year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins
Friday, 19 September 2008

Extraordinary Chamber Judge Marcel Lemonde explains why he became involved in trying to bring former KR to justice

How did you come to be a judge at a Cambodian war crimes tribunal?

I have been a judge in France for 30 years, specialising in criminal law matters. For a long time now, I have been particularly interested in comparative law and in the development of international criminal justice. Moreover, I was deputy director of the National School of Magistracy for five years and, in that capacity, I had the opportunity to visit numerous countries, to study their judicial systems and to receive visits of judges from throughout the world. It was in that context that I came to Cambodia in 2002. I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which left a strong impression on me. I became interested in finding out more about the country and its history and began reading on the subject. When one immerses oneself in the history of Cambodia, indifference is impossible. A number of months later, the agreement creating the tribunal was signed: when the UN called for candidates, I quite naturally responded positively.

You used to be a police commissioner. How did this experience influence your work as a judge?

I was a police officer for five years, when I was 25 years of age. I think I was a little too undisciplined to be a good policeman! But I do not regret the detour. In the police force and in the field, I discovered the miserable and darker side of life. Indispensable experience for a judge.

How strong is your professional relationship with the Cambodian judges?

It is incorrect to assume that the international judges have nothing to learn from their national counterparts. The assistance is mutual. Without the Cambodian judges, the international judges would have great difficulty in bringing an acceptable form of justice to the Cambodian people. That does not, of course, mean that we agree on everything. Equally, it does not mean that we are unaware of the problems which the Cambodian judges must face including, for example, the absence of a minimum statutory protection for them, which would reinforce the appearance of their independence and impartiality.

What role do you believe history will play in the KRT?

It would be dangerous for a judge to consider him or herself a historian and to lose sight of the fact that a judge is here to ensure a fair trial. That said, in a context such as the present, there is clearly an interaction between the judicial and the historical: The judge will have to inform him/herself of the work of historians and the latter can in turn benefit from the trial process. The fact that entire libraries have already been written on the subject is, of itself, a difficulty as those works could be considered "pre-judgments" of current criminal proceedings. One has to take such existing works into account without at the same time letting oneself be tied to them.

What do you hope the legacy of the KRT will be?

The tribunal is, in the first place, clearly aimed at the Cambodian people. One could hope that it will allow this country to "read the page before turning it" namely, that the trial would contribute to the reconstruction of the country on healthy foundations. Beyond this, the tribunal can contribute to the reinforcement of the rule of law in Cambodia, via a durable influence on the national justice system. Moreover, I believe that the tribunal will have a beneficial influence on international criminal justice. It is the first time that civil law procedures are applied in such a context. Now, it has been my view that the common-law rules have been demonstrated to be, in certain respects, unsuited to the extreme complexity of mass crimes. So, if we manage this tribunal's procedures well, they could be a source of inspiration for other international(ised) criminal justice systems in the future.

What about your job gives you the greatest satisfaction?

I am proud that we were able to adopt the internal rules of the tribunal in nine months (shorter than other international tribunals), despite the rather unique problems we had to resolve. I am also satisfied that we were able to finish the investigation in the first case file in less than one year, which was not the simplest of exercises.

What are your greatest concerns going into the first trial?

The structure of the tribunal, being as it is the reflection of a series of compromises, is very complicated and its functioning, especially in its public trial phase, might appear problematic. Translation problems will undoubtedly contribute to this impression. Of course, it would have been far easier to have organised a "purely international" trial in The Hague or elsewhere. However, it is evident that going down that route would have had little meaning for the Cambodian people. The task we have set for ourselves is certainly complex: but I remain persuaded, on a daily basis, that it is a process certainly worth undertaking.

Sacravatoons :" SRP & HRP's Boycott "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons : " The Loster's Brains "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Sacravatoons :" Thai- Political- Climate "

Courtesy Sacravatoon

Rong Chhun calls out to the elected representatives regarding the size of the Cambodian Government

Cambodge Soir

18-09-2008

In an open letter dated from 18 September, the President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) asks for the attention of the 123 new elected representatives concerning the high number of officials in the future government.

In this letter, Ron Chhun expresses his doubts on the necessity to create more new positions for high ranking officials. According to him, the new government will indeed be composed of a Prime Minister, 9 Deputy Prime Ministers, 16 Ministers of State, 26 Ministers, 172 Secretaries of State and 168 Deputy Secretaries of State. In total, 392 people would thus encompass the executive power, compared to 334 in 2004, a number which leaves Ron Chhung skeptical. “No country in the world has a government with a head bigger than the body”, he writes, and asks the new deputies to take this parameter into consideration before giving their agreement.

He emphasises that this increase isn’t at all a sign of profound reforms, but to the contrary, a means to defend the existing interests. He then draws a parallel between the ordinary government officials, teachers, police or military, whose salaries increase slower than the cost of living since 1993. According to the trade union worker it would be preferable to limit the number of high ranking positions and more useful to redistribute this part of the budget amongst the ordinary civil servants.

Prince Ranariddh positively welcomes Hun Sen’s remarks

Cambodge Soir

18-09-2008

The day after Hun Sen’s speech, publicly confirming the Prince’s return from exile, Prince Ranariddh has immediately expressed his gratitude towards the Prime Minister.

I’m very pleased with your declaration of the 17th of September. I wish to express my infinite gratitude. Your speech clearly shows your efforts towards a national reconciliation, which is the best factor to bring prosperity and political stability to the country”, said the Prince from Kuala Lumpur in a letter dated from the 18th of September and directed to Hun Sen.

Wednesday 17 September, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Prince, in exile since two years, will be allowed to return to the country during the Pchum Ben festival. A confirmation anticipated since a few weeks by the President of the NRP, after having publicly voiced his approval of the election results of the 27th of July. Now, only the King’s pardon is needed, which should be signed imminently.

Hun Sen is not joking about “the thieves, the ghosts and the Youns”

Cambodge Soir

18-09-2008

Sam Rainsy might be subject to new legal proceedings for having insulted the CPP deputies from the National Assembly.

Next time Sam Rainsy might think twice before making such remarks. Hun Sen responded to the speech of the opposition leader, who was criticising the election “frauds” from July and describing the future lower house as being “a group of thieves, ghosts and Youns (editor’s note: Vietnamese)”. This isn’t a threat, but what you’re saying is an unforgivable insult. The National Assembly should be filing a complaint”, said an upset Prime Minister while he remained vague concerning another possible court action from the 90 CPP elected representatives.

Sam Rainsy has already been sentenced to pay 10 million riel for insulting remarks towards the three highest CPP officials, by the National Election Committee. This verdict was later confirmed by the Constitutional Council.

Taking advantage of this occasion, the Prime Minister said that the opposition had sent a messenger in order to negotiate a position of Vice-President, plus four more positions of President of the Parliamentary Commission, out of a total of nine. “ It’s disgraceful to ask the thieves to share the power”, said Hun Sen, who clearly didn’t seem worried about the development of the parliamentary opening, despite the threats of boycott from the SRP and the HRP because there’s no set quorum for the first session.

South Korean families sue Cambodian airline over crash

ABC Radio Australia
September 19, 2008

The families of South Koreans killed in a Cambodian plane crash last year have sued the airline for $US3.9 million.

A plane chartered by Cambodia's PMT Air crashed into a mountain in June last year, killing all 22 passengers including 13 Korean tourists.

South Korean investigators have accused the airline of failing to meet safety standards.

The Seoul Central District Court says 11 families filed the suit demanding compensation for loss of income, funeral fees and emotional stress.

In their petition they accuse PMT Air of failing to prevent human and mechanical errors.

The Russian-made AN-24 crashed on a forest-covered mountain near the southern Cambodian coastal town of Kampot.

36 hours in Phnom Penh

A krama, a traditional scarf with many uses, at the Russian Market. (Basil Childers for The New York Times)

International Herald Tribune

By Erika Kinetz
September 19, 2008

THERE'S another revolution going on in Phnom Penh. Once home to the Communist Khmer Rouge, Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, now has its own KFC and other capitalist trappings. Skyscrapers are rising, and foreign money is pouring in. This may be your last chance to see Phnom Penh before this former village at the mouth of three mighty rivers, once called the Pearl of Asia, turns into a booming metropolis. Even today, the city seems to shimmer with the sense that its low-slung buildings, ambling cows and smiling monks are not long for this world.

Friday

5 p.m. 1) DRINK BY THE RIVER

Founded at a confluence of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac Rivers, Phnom Penh is a city of water. Some of its main streets were once canals, and there's no better way to honor Phnom Penh's riparian soul than with a sundowner at Maxine's (71 Tonle Sap Road, Chruoy Changva Peninsula; 855-12-200-617). In an old wooden house that is slouching into the river, Maxine's has a ramshackle authenticity that, at least for now, seems immune to the city's rapid modernization.

7 p.m. 2) EAT LIKE A COLONIALIST

The French ruled Cambodia from 1864 until 1953, and whatever else you have to say about that legacy, they did leave behind good cheese. If you are in the mood to live large, go for the foie gras ($17) at the elegant La Résidence (22-24 Street 214; 85523-224-582; www.la-residence-restaurant.com). Otherwise, head to La Marmite (80 Street 108; 855-12-391-746; entrees $7 to $13), a scruffy bistro that offers better food than most of its more expensive cousins. (Note that prices in Cambodia are often quoted in dollars.) Afterward, if you happen to be in Phnom Penh on the first Friday of the month, follow the surreal swirl of drunken expatriates to Elsewhere (175 Street 51; 855-23-211-348), which has tables tucked into the trees around a small swimming pool. Or retire early. Cambodia, after all, is still a nation of peasants who rise at dawn.

Saturday

8 a.m. 3) KNOW THE STORY

Five Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial at a United Nations-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh. But this dark chapter is still so politically sensitive that it's barely discussed in Cambodian schools. All the more reason to grab an early tuk-tuk, a motorcycle-powered rickshaw, out to the Choeung Ek killing fields, about nine miles away via Monireth Boulevard (admission $2). Then swing by the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Street 113 and Street 350; 855-12-457-677; $2), where at least 14,000 men, women and children were tortured. Tread softly: locals say the place is still haunted.

Noon 4) EAT WITH FRIENDS

For solace, find your way to Friends (215 Street 13; 855-12 802-072; www.streetfriends.org) , where you can take comfort that your lunch is being served to you by rehabilitated street children. Despite the nation's galloping economy, about a third of Cambodians still live on under a dollar a day, the United Nations Development Program has said. The fruit shakes ($2.50 to $3.50) are fantastic, as are the tapas-style entrees, like grilled fish fillet with salsa verde ($3).

2 p.m. 5) HUNTING FOR BARGAINS

Bargains abound in Phnom Penh. Looking for affordable gems? Go to the backroom of Sit Down (116 CEO Sihanouk Boulevard; 855-12-805-4-28), where Hoeu Sareth's solid workmanship, simple designs and shiny Pailin rubies have enticed expatriates for years. For women's clothes, go to L'Armoire (126 Street 19; 855-23722-310), a sweet boutique that sells well-cut dresses from the designer and owner, Alexandra Barter. Ambre (37 Street 178; 855-23-722-310), housed in an old colonial mansion, carries men's suits and fancy dresses. And before lugging your bags back to the hotel, pick up at least one all-cotton krama, a traditional checkered scarf used for everything from holding babies to bathing. You'll find a great assortment (about $1.50) at Psar Tuol Tom Pong, a k a Russian Market, at the corner of Streets 440 and 163.

5 p.m. 6) THE SPA EXPERIENCE

For a pampering facial, try the spa at Bliss (29 Street 240; 855-23-215-754; facials, $38 to $45), but if you want a massage, head to Health Care Center Master Kang (456 Monivong Boulevard; 85523-721-765), which has a utilitarian ambience but some of the best-trained masseuses in town. Start by sticking your feet in a pool of hot herbal water that looks like mud. The aromatherapy oil massage ($15 for one hour) involves piles of hot towels, up to 20, stacked on your aching back. The forceful foot massage ($10 for an hour) can't be beat.

6:30 p.m. 7) KHMER COOKING

Khmer cuisine is not for the squeamish: garlicky crickets, black beetles, crispy tarantula and chopped chicken bits with bone. Fear not: there's barbecue. At a curbside plastic chair at Sovanna Restaurant (2 Street 21; 855-12-840-055) order dishes, like fresh-grilled squid, shrimp, beef or pork (small plates, 8,000 riels, or $1.96 at 4,168 riels to the dollar; big plates, 16,000 riels).

8:30 p.m. 8) STAY HYDRATED

The respectable side of Phnom Penh's night life consists of drinking, drinking, and then drinking some more. Tourists flock to the Foreign Correspondents' Club (363 Sisowath Quay, 855-23-724-014; www.fcccambodia.com). Actual journalists tend to drown themselves in the strong margaritas at Cantina (347 Sisowath Quay; 855-23-222-502), a grungy Mexican joint on the river. For martinis, go to Metro (Sisowath Quay at Street 148; 855-23-222-275), a sleek, modern place with some of the best drinks in town. If you must dance, Riverhouse (6 Street 110; 855-23- 220-180) offers throbbing bass and a slightly ghetto vibe.

Sunday

8:30 a.m. 9) SEE THE OLD CITY

One of the best ways to disentangle the city's torturous — and tortured — history is to study its old buildings. Settle into a cyclo, a kind of bicycle-powered rickshaw, for a three-hour tour of the city's architecture with Khmer Architecture Tours (855-92-870-005; www.ka-tours.org; the tours meet at the Phnom Penh Post Office, at Streets 13 and 102), a nonprofit group with very informative guides. Although the city has been shaped by waves of French and Chinese, you'd never find that old Chinese temple (now inhabited by squatters) or that defunct Citroën factory without help. Also, don't miss the work of Cambodia's most celebrated modern architect, Vann Molyvann, whose midcentury modern buildings are disappearing fast. Two have been torn down this year alone. Group tours ($5 to $12) are given every other Sunday; private tours are also available (about $40 for three hours).

Noon 10) ART AND ARTIFACTS

If you can't make it to Angkor Wat, check out the collection of Angkorian artifacts at the National Museum (corner of Street 13 and Street 184; 855-23-211-753). An open-air pavilion built around a lush garden fountain, it's one of the calmest places in the city, despite the occasional bat flying overhead. For something more modern, head around the corner to the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture (47 Street 178; 855- 23-217-149; www.reyum.org), run by Ly Daravuth, a French-educated curator and cultural historian whose past exhibits have included wat paintings and sculptures made from everyday objects. Reyum also publishes a collection of books on Cambodian culture that you won't find elsewhere.

2 p.m. 11) TASTE THE PAST

Cambodia was once famous for its peppercorns, which look innocuous enough but pack significant heat. Kampot, a sleepy river town about three hours south of Phnom Penh, was once the center of Cambodia's peppercorn farms. Today, nonprofit groups are working to revive the trade. The sweetest way to savor this history is at the Chocolate Shop, the city's first and only chocolate boutique (35, Street 240; 855-23-998 6-38). Order a palm-sized slab of dark chocolate encrusted with crushed Kampot pepper ($5). It is as sweet and as hot as the tropics themselves.

The Basics

Most flights between the United States and Phnom Penh require a connection. Korean Air (www.koreanair.com) flies from Kennedy Airport to Phnom Penh, via Seoul, South Korea, starting at $1,645, a recent online search showed. Cheaper flights can sometimes be found on EVA Air of Taiwan (www.evaair.com), which flies from Newark to Phnom Penh via Taipei. A recent online search found fares starting at about $1,200. A taxi from the airport to Phnom Penh center is about $10 with tip.

The Raffles Hotel Le Royal (92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh;, 855-23-981-888; www.phnompenh.raffles.com) is where journalists camped out in 1975 on the eve of the Khmer Rouge's takeover. Today, the historic hotel still draws dignitaries and foreigners, with stately rooms starting at $300.

The year-old Villa Langka (14 Street 282; 855-23-726-771; www.villalangka.com) is a welcome addition to the city's small but growing list of boutique hotels. There's a dark-tiled pool, a peaceful garden and tastefully designed rooms from $35 to $100.

THE BASICS

Most flights between the United States and Phnom Penh require a connection. Korean Air (www.koreanair.com) flies from Kennedy Airport to Phnom Penh, via Seoul, South Korea, starting at $1,645, a recent online search showed. Cheaper flights can sometimes be found on EVA Air of Taiwan (www.evaair.com), which flies from Newark to Phnom Penh via Taipei. A recent online search found fares starting at about $1,200. A taxi from the airport to Phnom Penh center is about $10 with tip.

The Raffles Hotel Le Royal (92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh;, 855-23-981-888; www.phnompenh.raffles.com) is where journalists camped out in 1975 on the eve of the Khmer Rouge's takeover. Today, the historic hotel still draws dignitaries and foreigners, with stately rooms starting at $300.

The year-old Villa Langka (14 Street 282; 855-23-726-771; www.villalangka.com) is a welcome addition to the city's small but growing list of boutique hotels. There's a dark-tiled pool, a peaceful garden and tastefully designed rooms from $35 to $100.

Garner LEADS aids school in Cambodia

Kathleen Suwanski (left), junior in LAS, Zeeshan Dhanani, senior in LAS, and Michaela Klump, junior in Engineering, discuss Operation Education with the Garner Hall Leads program. Operation Education is a fundraiser that hopes to donate $13,000 to help build schools in Cambodia.

Dailyillini.com
By Anahita Monga
9/19/08

About 20 residents from the living-learning community in Garner Hall, known as LEADS, stood outside of Wal-Mart in Savoy despite the pouring rain, canning to raise money to build schools in Cambodia.

"It was downpouring all morning and the weather was terrible," said Nicholas Heath, freshman in Business.

However, the weather did not suppress the passion of the "LEADSies," which stands for Leadership Education through Academic Development and Service, who refused to move inside. Instead, they canned from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14 for the project Operation Education.

Kathleen Suwanski, resident advisor at Garner LEADS and junior in LAS, said she was inspired to start the Operation Education project in April when she saw a video on CNN.

The video featured a young girl, Rachel Rosenfeld, who raised money to build a school through the Rural School Project. The school was for young girls in Cambodia who were forced into prostitution, Suwanski added.

Rural School Project is led by the American Assistance for Cambodia and has helped build 400 primary and secondary schools in Cambodia since 1999, according to their Web site.

The LEADS Community Council wants to raise at least $13,000 for this project by the end of this academic year, Suwanski said.

"We thought that if one person can raise that much money, we are 144 LEADSies so we can definitely get involved and help raise money," she said.

Claire Brady, the LEADS program coordinator, said that even though the project will be challenging, residents of LEADS are excited, undeterred and passionate about the project.

"Our goal is not to just stop at $13,000," said Zeeshan Dhanani, resident advisor at Garner LEADS and senior in LAS. "We want to create Operation Education sustainable and get other LLC's on campus involved so we can raise more money."

Students on the LEADS floor at Garner are actively involved in the project.

"It gives you a lot of self-satisfaction to be involved in such a good cause," said Tunde Akinwale, a senior in LAS and resident of LEADS.

Akinwale said he was born and raised in Nigeria and for him to be involved in this project is "very personal" and strives to help in any way he can.

By the end of Sunday, the residents of LEADS were able to raise a total of $206.53.

Still, this is just the first fundraising activity the group plans on holding.

"We just started having a loud conversation with each other about what we could do with $13,000 - either we could buy 100 Ugg boots or build a school in Cambodia," said Joseph Thompson-Wilda, junior in LAS and resident of Garner LEADS. "That attracted a lot of people toward us and got them to donate money for the cause."

Detention extended for KRouge official facing trial: officials

Yahoo Asia News
Friday September 19

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea's detention has been extended another year while he awaits trial at Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal, court officials said Friday.

"They believe conditions still require his detention," tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis told AFP, referring to court judges.

The former "Brother Number Two" is the most senior of five Khmer Rouge leaders detained on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the court.

Nuon Chea, 82, was arrested a year ago at his home in the northwestern province of Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold.

He has denied the accusations against him and claims his arrest was illegal.

Nuon Chea's lawyer Son Arun confirmed the detention had been renewed over defence team objections.

"The judges said they have not yet finished the investigation against him. So they have extended the detention of Nuon Chea for another year," he said, adding that he intended to appeal the decision.

Nuon Chea was the closest deputy of Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot, and was allegedly the architect of the regime's devastating execution policies during its 1975-1979 rule.

Up to two million people died of starvation, overwork or execution under the the Khmer Rouge, which dismantled modern Cambodian society in its effort to forge a radical agrarian utopia.

The genocide tribunal was convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of fractious talks between the government and United Nations over how to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders.

The first trial is expected to begin later this year.

Landmine survivors tell their story in pictures

Fairfax Media.
19/09/2008

A free Red Cross photo exhibition telling the stories of Cambodian landmine survivors is in Parkes from October 2-5, as part of an AusAID-funded tour of Australia.

Around six million landmines were laid in Cambodia from 1978 until the end of 1989. Pailin, a Khmer district close to the Thai border, is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.

Photographer Somira Sao, who escaped from Cambodia at age three with her parents, recently returned to her homeland with Red Cross to capture the stories of landmine survivors.

‘When I told people my story, they expressed genuine happiness that I had returned to understand their lives and my native country,’ says Somira.

The resulting photo exhibition aims to share with Australian audiences stories of landmine survivors in Cambodia, and to highlight the important joint work of AusAID and Australian Red Cross through the Landmine Survivor Assistance Program, which is funded by AusAID and managed by Australian Red Cross.

‘The landmine projects were painful and sad to witness. In Pailin, it was so disturbing to see how innocent people continue to be affected day-to-day by a war that is supposed to be over,’ she says.

Told in their own words, the interviewees’ stories consistently reflect the indiscriminate nature of explosive remnants of war and the harrowing impact they have on whole communities:

individuals and families, men and women, young and old people.

The exhibition explores how poverty, vocational and food insecurity affect people’s decisions to work in mined areas.

It highlights how, by tackling these issues, the program helps survivors break out of the poverty cycle so that they can live their lives with hope and dignity.

Australian Red Cross works closely with counterparts in the Royal Government of Cambodia, Cambodian Red Cross and other partners who are active in this important sector in Cambodia, to achieve the program’s goal to reduce the vulnerability of survivors of landmines and unexploded ordnance, their families and affected communities in Cambodia.

Opening in Cambodia in December 2007, the exhibition was launched in Canberra in April and is now travelling around Australia. It will be held in the Red Cross Rooms in Church Street.

The exhibition is free and open to all interested in understanding more about the tragic legacy of landmines and the work of Red Cross.

The exhibition will be officially opened on Wednesday evening.

Members of the public are invited to view this free exhibition at the following times:

Thursday, October 2 - 10am to 4pm
Friday, October 3 - 10am to 4pm
Saturday, October 4 - 10am to 4pm and
Sunday, October 5 - 11am to 1pm.

Border talks with P. Penh rank high on Somchai's list

The Bangkok Post
Friday September 19, 2008

Foreign ministers told to meet in New York


ANUCHA CHAROENPO

Thailand is ready to resume talks with Cambodia to try to resolve the border dispute about overlapping territory, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said yesterday.

Mr Somchai said he would inform Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen before their foreign ministries meet about Thailand's determination to use bilateral talks to end the border spats.

He said a new round of talks between the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers will take place after an informal meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) set for Sept 29 in New York.

Asean foreign ministers will follow their leaders to New York for the United Nations General Assembly scheduled to take place between Sept 25 and 29.

Mr Somchai remained tight-lipped about his new foreign minister. The present government has no foreign minister after Tej Bunnag resigned from the position last month.

The premier stressed the new foreign minister must be a person best known for being adept at foreign affairs.

Thailand and Cambodia have traded accusations over the past few days. The new hot spot is Ta Kwai temple, known as Ta Krabey in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh claimed Thailand had reinforced troops in the area which has not been settled. But the Foreign Ministry argued that the temple is in Phanom Dong Rak district in Surin, even though the boundary has not been fixed.

Thailand also protested that Cambodia had sent armed units into the area near the temple.

Hun Sen had also questioned Thailand's readiness to chair Asean due to political turmoil caused by the People's Alliance for Democracy's ongoing rally against the government.

The fresh spat prompted Mr Somchai to visit the Foreign Ministry one day after being elected by the House.

The prime minister told ministry officials that he would not attend the annual UN meeting and said Thailand will be represented by the foreign minister.

''I will find a new foreign minister before the UN General Assembly convenes,'' Mr Somchai said.

Political problems in Thailand have stalled talks with Cambodia after border tensions arose over the disputed area near Preah Vihear opposite Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket. The dispute later widened to include other locations, including Ta Moan Thom and Ta Kwai temples in neighbouring Surin.

The two countries have already completed the first phase of troop reductions near Phreah Vihear but the second phase has stalled.

Thailand and Cambodia have twice held talks about the border conflict. These were between Mr Tej and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Permanent secretary for foreign affairs Virasakdi Futrakul said it was not necessary for a third party to help solve the problem between the two countries as it can be handled by the Joint Boundary Committee.

Mind your bag: Street crime, robbery on the rise in the capital

Tracey Shelton; Foreigners are highly visible targets for thieves (left) but Cambodians, particularly women, are often victims, and displaying valuables in public (centre) or dangling bags from motos (right) increase the risks.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sovan Seng
Thursday, 18 September 2008

An expert says spiralling inflation could be behind a recent spike in street crime and urge people to be careful, but police say the number of reported bag snatches has decreased

FOR two years Cham Sopheany, 28, has been afraid to travel the streets of Phnom Penh. One evening two years ago while she was driving home from a wedding, the US$500 platinum necklace she had been wearing was snatched off her neck by a gang of kids who had been following her on two motorbikes.

"Since the incident, whenever I see young men driving in [groups] or driving fast, I feel that they will attack me," she said.The lingering fear was not irrational: Last month Cham Sopheany again became the victim of a drive-by bag snatching. She was sitting behind her sister on a motorbike when three motorbikes approached them and one of the men grabbed her handbag. This time, she was pulled her off the bike, suffering bruising on her head and seriously injuring her leg, which still troubles her today. Her leg is not the only painful aftermath of the robbery. "I am scared of carrying a bag while I am driving a motorbike or even when I walk," she said, adding that she now uses a plastic bag to carry her belongings instead.

"Even though the authorities say it is safe everywhere, I still feel it is unsafe for me. I think other people feel the same," she said.

Cham Sopheany's story is far from unique, as street crime, such as armed robberies and driveby bag snatchings, are on the rise in Phnom Penh according to Chris Chipp, country manager of UK-based G4S Security Services, which provides security solutions to large international companies. "There has been an increase [in street crime] over the last six months or so," he said.

The handful of incidents a month that make it to Chris Chipp's desk are just the tip of the iceberg, as hardly any of the victims report bag snatching to the authorities.

"It is very hard to gauge how bad bag snatching has gotten because ... most people won't report the crime," he said.
TRACEY SHELTON; An unwary female passanger on a motorbike in Phnom Penh on Wednesday dangles her bag from her shoulder, risking losing her possessions and being pulled off the bike.

Chipp says that crime rates in Cambodia are increasing "because people are feeling the pinch economically". He added that robberies in the street are also on the rise.

"The moto attacks are quite easy because a lot of women will sling bags over their shoulder and so it is right [in front of the robbers]," Chipp said.

" There has been an increase [in street crime] over the last six months or so. "

"They will grab that bag and they will yank you off the back of the moto as well."

Touch Naruth, Phnom Penh Municipal police chief, said the number of reported bag snatchings in the capital was declining. "Before, it happened every day, but now we only get one complaint in two or three days," he said.

Traffic accident or attempted robbery?

Last November a French woman, Aurelia Lacroix, 28, was killed on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard after she was dragged off a moto taxi and into the path of an oncoming minivan by two handbag snatchers on a motorbike, an eyewitness told the Post after the incident. Touch Naruth said last week that no arrests had been made in connection with the incident.

The moto taxi and the van fled the scene and no witnesses could identify either vehicle.

This is the only known fatality due to bag snatchings, but it is likely many more are injured as a result of being pulled off their moto. It is, however, impossible to tell how many people are hurt because no records of the incidents are kept, police say.

Heng Taykry, secretary of state at the Health Ministry and director of Calmette Hospital, said he did not know how many people sought medical treatment for injuries sustained during bag-snatching incidents. "There are not a lot," he said, adding that such cases are usually registered as traffic accidents.

As in the cases of Cham Sopheany and Aurelia Lacroix, the perpetrators of the robberies are rarely apprehended.

Mok Khemarith, Phsar Depot III commune police chief, said Cham Sopheary's case is under investigation. "There are not enough clues," he said, adding that police are stationed at various intersections to watch for any illegal activity.

Like many other women, Neang Thida, 43, did not file a report after she had her bag snatched containing $600 in May. "I did not report it to the police because it is just a waste of time and it's hard for police to find the suspects," she said.

Profile of the average bag snatcher
According to Chris Chipp, country manager of G4S Security Services, the bag snatchers are typically young Cambodian males between the ages of 17-23. Usually there are two or three of them on one moto. Some-times they work in pairs and ride two motos, each with a couple of men on them. Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth says, "The perpetrators are usually seen wearing student uniforms and driving brand-new motorbikes." As a result, said Chipp, the task of finding the perpetrators is like ”looking for a needle in a haystack”. Women travelling on motos should take precautions and tuck their handbags between themselves and their driver. Do not sling handbags over your shoulder as, if they are stolen, you risk being pulled off the bike.