Thursday, 2 October 2008

Govt's proposed NGO regulation law overkill: civil society

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Rights groups brand the PM's proposed NGO Law "unnecessary", saying terrorism and fraud can be solved through more effective means

OPPOSITION lawmakers and local rights groups have criticised the government's proposed introduction of tighter regulations for non-government organisations, saying the restrictions go beyond what is needed to ensure accountability in the NGO sector.

Addressing the first meeting of the new cabinet Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government plans to pass a law regulating the operation of local and international NGOs in Cambodia.

"We have to know the sources of [NGO] funds," Hun Sen said. "We are concerned that their funding could come from terrorist groups."

The Ministry of Interior originally drafted the Local Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations Law in 2006, and it is expected to be passed soon by the new CPP-dominated government.


Lawmakers contacted by the Post agreed there was a need for the government to weed out fraudulent NGOs, but said this goal could be achieved through other means.

"I support the government wanting to receive reports and information from NGOs, but if they are creating a law to control NGO budgets this would not conform to democratic principles," said Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua. If the government is worried about terrorism, she added, it should order the relevant ministries to increase their readiness rather then constraining NGOs.

" We are concerned that their funding could come from terrorist groups. "

Ngy San, deputy executive director of the NGO Forum, said his personal view was that some degree of regulation was necessary, but that its extent should be the subject of debate. "There should be some regulation of the sector," he said. "But what should be the content of the law?"

But Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the necessary laws were already in place, citing the long-awaited Anti-Corruption Law and other criminal legislation."

The NGO environment is not perfect. Some NGOs are using land concessions for profit, but the solution is not to make things difficult for all NGOs. The root of the problem is that government officials are benefiting from these deals," he said. "If you pass an anti-corruption law, you prevent your own government from doing these things."

Ou Virak added that errant NGOs were no justification for the promulgation of a new law. "The root cause is not civil society. It is NGOs that have some link to people high up in the government," he said. "It makes you wonder where the priorities lie for the new government. The solution is going to be much worse than the problem."

Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation, agreed that the government had more pressing concerns than tightening its grip on NGOs. "The government should create laws against corruption, conditional laws for [the appointment of] independent judges and laws to resolve land disputes," he said.

Renakse manager refuses to leave hotel

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

KEM CHANTHA, manager of the Renakse Hotel, will continue to defy a government request to vacate the historic property by the end of September, she told the Post on Tuesday.

"I am staying here to see what they will do because they are not respecting the law," she said. "I want the government to recognize my right to stay.

"Kem Chantha has operated the hotel for more than two decades, and her lease is valid until April 2050, she said.

But a notice posted last week on the hotel's front gate said the property, owned by the Cambodian People's Party, had been sold to Alexan Inc and will be developed to provide housing for government officials.

Kem Chantha said the government offered US$200,000 in return for their breaking her lease.

She added that officials gave her no advanced notice of the sale and have offered only a fraction of the value of the hotel.

"My company could have offered much more than the $3.8 million I was told they accepted from the new owners," she said. The Renakse Hotel's nearly 7,000 square metres of property has increased in value as land prices citywide have skyrocketed in recent years.

"I want the government to recognise the injustice of this, and I won't leave until they do," she said. Government officials could not be reached for comment.

Badly behaved buffalo


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Heng Chivoan
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Startled by onlookers, a buffalo throws his rider to the ground, dragging him several metres along the muddy track before coming to a stop at the annual P'Chum Ben buffalo races in Vihear Suor, Kandal province, on Monday.

Amnesty International denounces the harassment of housing activists

Demonstration against evictions in front of Wat Botum

Cambodge Soir


The human rights organisation presents an uncompromising report concerning the use of the Cambodian justice system against victims of land disputes.

The activists pursuing the right to housing are frequently victims of intimidations and legal harassment during land disputes, states the NGO Amnesty International in an 18-pages report, titled “Cambodia – The right to housing, a dangerous activity”, published on 26 September.

Amnesty International brings up several cases, amongst which the one of Chhea Ny, arrested in August 2006 and detained until December 2007 while he was involved in a land dispute against high ranking military in Boeung Pram village, Battambang province.

“I was chained in a dark cell during one week, he declares in the Amnesty International report. I felt so unhappy. I wasn’t allowed to wash. They took the chains from my feet after one week.”

Chhea Ny was then released while the authorities claimed having “arrested the wrong person”.

Amnesty International quotes Cambodian NGO’s which say that the number of housing activists who were harassed by the authorities increased from 78 in 2006 to 149 in 2007.

The association requests the government to respect the human rights defenders and to allow them to work without obstacles, intimidations or harassment. It also demands the end of the forced evictions of people. Finally, Amnesty International suggests the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, to come to Cambodia in order to investigate these violations of the rights of the activists.

Allegedly, 150,000 Cambodians are living at risk of being evicted, according to Amnesty International.

Last days of the Renaksé Hotel in Phnom Penh

Cambodge Soir


Built during the 1930’s, the huge colonial building which houses the Renaksé Hotel has been sold last week by its owner, the Cambodian People’s Party. Its tenant has been asked to move out before the end of the month, the lady is however decided not to budge. The earthen pot against the iron pot?

These are the last days of the Renaksé Hotel, undoubtedly the most beautiful property in Phnom Penh and perhaps even in whole Cambodia. Located between the Royal Palace and the river, the building and its wings are housing this hotel since the end of the 1980’s. The woman in charge, Kem Chantha, has been requested to wrap her things and leave the keys to the new owner; a private company. Last week, a note at the entrance wall of the hotel mentioned that this land, property of the CPP, had been sold to a private company, Alexan Inc. This company allegedly belongs to the daughter of Yeay Phou, owner of the Pheapimex company, whose husband is a senator and advisor of the Prime Minister and main investor in the real-estate project which will replace the Boeung Kak Lake.

“This morning, the lawyer of Min Kin, new Minister of Cults and Religious Affairs, displayed a new circular notice at the entrance of the hotel to inform me that I had to leave by the end of the month”, declared the tenant with a trembling voice to Cambodge Soir Hebdo. The Ministry of Cults is located next to the hotel.

In reaction to this ultimatum, Kem Chantha declares being determined not to leave the premises. “They’re accusing me of not having done maintenance works. This is a lie and I can prove it. I have all the invoices”, she said, adding that she has a lease contract until the end of April 2050. The tenant declares having offered the CPP to buy the property. “My company had the means to offer much more than the 3.8 million dollars that they would have accepted, according to what I heard from this buyer. On the other hand they’re offering me 200,000 dollars to leave. This is unacceptable”. However, Kem Chantha has no illusion concerning her chances to score a victory.

According to the price per square meter in this neighbourhood, the property is evaluated by experts to be worth between 28 and 32 million dollars, in other words ten times more than the announced rate.

The future of this remnant from the colonial period is uncertain. There are talks to build residencies for government officials, but nothing has been decided yet. It could be demolished as well. This wouldn’t be the first colonial building to be torn down in town.

When Thailand purchased the land on Norodom Boulevard, north of the Chbar Ampoeul bridge, it demolished the imposing colonial structures which stood under century old trees in order to build the current embassy in a style that could be qualified as modern. Some people had reacted, albeit timidly, asking for at least one house to be spared in order to turn it into the Ambassador’s residency, but nobody listened to them…

Road Safety, first assessment concerning the Pchum Ben festival

Cambodge Soir

During the Festival of the Death, a highly important religious celebration for the Cambodians, hundreds of thousands of car and motorbike drivers travelled on the roads throughout the Kingdom. The lack of respect of the Traffic Law and the ignorance of the rules of conduct by the drivers has led to numerous traffic accidents, despite a glowing report from the authorities.

The Pchum Ben holidays took place from Saturday 27 September until Tuesday 30 September. In Phnom Penh, four serious accidents were registered by the police. They resulted in the death of two people and seriously injured four others. According to Tin Pra Seu, in charge of the road safety, these numbers are good because lower than the ones of last year. “This is thanks to the fact that the police was better prepared and also because more people travel by car instead of taking the motorbike to go to their native village”, he explained. In Kampong Cham, on the road to Phnom Penh, which is one of the most dangerous in the Kingdom, eight accidents were registered by the police during these holidays, with three deaths and sixteen injured. For Chhay Koson, deputy commissioner of the provinces, “this year’s increase in numbers of accidents is above all due to the behaviour of the youth with little respect for the traffic rules”. Finally, in Siem Reap, five accidents led to the death of three people and injured twelve others, amongst which five seriously. Thang Sakun, traffic office director for the province, was relatively satisfied. “Even if we have one more death than last year, the number of accidents is decreasing. There were 12 in 2007. This is probably thanks to the traffic campaign”, he explained.

However, these are not definitive numbers because they only take three provinces into account. More detailed statistics should be available through provincial hospitals and public services.

Elray Resources: Works Program to Prove Up Gold Reserve Estimates Announced

red Orbit
Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Elray Resources, Inc. (OTCBB: ELRA), a technically-driven gold and precious mineral exploration company, today announced details of its 24-month staged exploration and drilling works program, which is intended to prove up the reported reserves estimates of gold and other precious metals on the Company's properties in South East Asia.

If the works program confirms management's expectations and is successful in proving up estimated reserves, the value of Elray's properties, and shares, can be expected to experience rapid growth. Investors continued to seek safe haven with gold and the metal saw its largest ever one day price advance on Wednesday, 17th September.

"I am pleased to report to shareholders that Elray is entering an aggressive expansion period," commented Elray Chairman Mr. Barry Lucas. "We have a top caliber team, detailed work program and properties with excellent potential."

Initial focus for the Company's works program will be on Cambodia, where the Company has over 15,000 hectares with multiple areas with historical small scale mines and grab samples that have returned up to 71.9 grams/tonne of gold.

Work on the ground will commence during the month of October 2008, at the beginning of the Cambodian dry season. The three selected priority projects are Senator, Angkor Wat and Porphyry Creek, with Senator and Angkor Wat containing immediate drill targets. The works plan includes completing exploration drilling, preliminary metallurgical test work and scoping studies. Running in parallel on the projects will be completions on data compilation, geological mapping, surface geological sampling and geological surveys to define drill targets.

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The works program was developed by Mr. Grant Roberts and Mr. Tony McDougal, who head the Project Management Team for the Company.

Mr. Roberts is a geologist with 28 years' experience in geology, mineral exploration and geophysics. He has executed and managed geological and geophysical programs including for large global corporations such as BHP, Riotinto and Xstrata.

Mr. Tony McDougal is a geologist with 15 years' experience in geology and mineral exploration. He has worked in New Zealand, Australia, South America and SE Asia managing and supervising regional scale exploration programs in base metals, precious minerals and coal.

About Elray Resources, Inc.

Elray Resources, Inc. is a junior exploration and development Corporation which has successfully accumulated a portfolio of four highly prospective, heavily mineralized mining tenements in Cambodia and Mexico. Elray Resources, Inc.'s primary objective is to source potential and viable projects, conduct geological assessments and seek Joint Venture partners to develop the properties.

Please visit for more information.

The Cambodian Tribunal's Trials

Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Wall Street Journal

Corruption complaints at the Khmer Rouge War Crimes tribunal.

Cambodia's new government was sworn in last week, and Prime Minister Hun Sen wasted no time announcing his intention to target corruption and improve the rule of law during his next five years in office. A place to start is with a full investigation of corruption complaints at the Khmer Rouge War Crimes tribunal.

The United Nations Office of International Oversight Services in New York presented the Cambodian government with a letter last month describing complaints of corruption at the tribunal from multiple staffers. But instead of investigating the allegations, Phnom Penh demanded that the original complaints be given directly to "the competent authorities" in Cambodia. It's unclear whether the complainants' identities will be protected.

Since allegations of corruption were publicized in these pages last year, the U.N. has taken steps to clean things up at the tribunal. The Cambodian government has also made a few efforts to shore up its anticorruption credibility -- appointing two new ethics monitors in August and creating a formal mechanism for complaints, albeit one that increases secrecy. The court spokeswoman, who is also one of the monitors, told us one complaint is currently under investigation.

Yet donor nations want to see more serious action. The United Nations Development Program, which oversees donations to the Cambodian side of the court, has suspended salaries to around 250 Cambodian staffers since June and plans to "delay the further release of UNDP-managed funds until the recent allegations of corruption have been resolved," a UNDP staffer told us in an email.

The tribunal also needs to do more to eliminate conflicts of interest. Deputy Prime Minister Sok An is chairman of the government task force responsible for high-level Cambodian staff appointments at the tribunal; a serious corruption case could implicate either him or people he appointed. If Sok An is serious about cleaning up corruption, he will recuse himself from any investigation.

Cambodians deserve a clean and fair trial to redress the deaths of their 1.7 million countrymen who were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. With the first trial due to begin in a few months, there's little time to waste.

Q&A: 'Oil Prices Have Revived Interest in Dams'

Jeremy Bird
Credit:Mekong River Commission

Marwaan Macan-Markar interviews JEREMY BIRD, Mekong River Commission

VIENTIANE , Sep 30 (IPS) - Concerns over the future of fisheries in the Mekong River floated to the surface at the first round of discussions held here late this month to shape a blueprint to build a series of mega dams across South-east Asia’s largest body of water.

Some fisheries experts warned that the proposed eight dams to harness the waters of the Mekong in Laos and Cambodia will be a ‘’barrier to fish migration,’’ impacting a billion-dollar economy and a valuable source of nutrition for the 60 million people living along the lower Mekong basin.

The 4,880-km-long river, which flows from the Tibetan plateau, through southern China, and goes by or through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, has nearly 50 commercial species of fish that migrate up and down the river throughout the year.

Such concerns will have to be addressed by the dam developers, says Jeremy Bird, the head of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), a regional body whose members include Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and which has a mandate to manage the lower Mekong basin. Bird, who took over the helm of the MRC six months ago, welcomes the regional interest in building new dams, as he revealed during an IPS interview.

IPS: Four years ago there was hardly any talk of building dams on the lower stretch of the Mekong River’s mainstream. But now there is a burst of interest, with plans for eight dams in Laos and two in Cambodia. Why the sudden shift?

Jeremy Bird: Plans for dams on the mainstream of the Mekong have been talked about since the 1950s, but the very large ones were not built because of concerns over resettlement. Then back in the mid-1990s the Mekong Secretariat, the precursor to the MRC, looked at a number of possible projects, but smaller ones. They didn’t go ahead because of the (1997) financial crash and the reduction in demand in Thailand in particular.

But there are a number of reasons now why there is interest among (dam) developers. One is the high oil and gas price; the other is a general interest in hydropower as a renewable technology because of concerns over climate change. Also, there is an availability of finance in the region from China, Malaysia and Thailand.

IPS: Who is driving such plans, for whose benefit is it?

JB: The whole region is witnessing an increase in the demand for electricity. Vietnam’s annual increase is to the order of 15 to 16 percent in electricity demand growth. Thailand also, since a lot of the power generated in Laos will go there. And also here in Laos, although domestic consumption is relatively low, with the increase in mining the country will also require considerable amounts of energy.

IPS: Does this mean that the river, as we know it, will be completely transformed after the dams are built?

JB: The proposals for the dams are just proposals. They have not been approved for implementation yet. There is still a lot of study to be done, more consultations under the 1995 agreement (where dams on the mainstream have to be approved by all four MRC members) that need to take place. And it is difficult to say at this stage how many of the projects would proceed. Clearly dams change the natural course of the river. They change river flows, they change sedimentation patterns, they have an impact on fish migration. Some of those impacts can be mitigated but others require much more complex solutions and have social implications as well.

IPS: At the moment research has shown that the annual economic value of fisheries in the Mekong is three billion U.S. dollars. And the people who are benefiting from fisheries are large, poor communities who live on the banks. But the ones who are going to profit from the dams will be a select group. Is there a danger that you are creating a trade-off here, choose fishing or dams, and the loss for the people at the bottom end of the economic spectrum will be far higher than what the dam developers envisaged?

JB: That assumes that no measures are taken to address this problem, which everybody now is talking about. I think one of the important things of this meeting is that the issue of fish migration has become so central to the discussions. We heard so many presentations, so many questions about this. I think even the developers recognise this.

With this, there will be tremendous efforts now targeted towards first of all avoiding those impacts; if that is not possible, to then minimise what they are and to then mitigate to the extent possible. And in doing so I think this other concept has been discussed, of benefit sharing. So this concept of trade-off in your question implies there is a winner and a loser. I don’t think it is always possible to get win-win solutions so that you could preserve the status quo, but you can avoid having win-lose situations.

IPS: Are you concerned that the proposed dams may end up creating the problems that arose after the Pak Mun Dam was built in Thailand in 1994, most glaring of which was it stopped fish migration and affected 9,500 families living on the banks of the largest tributary to the Mekong? Even the World Commission on Dams report drew attention to this, saying that such a dam should not have been built.

JB: That project, along with a number of others, has certainly increased our understanding of the importance of migratory fish and their effect on people’s livelihoods. I think our level of knowledge now is much, much better than what it was than when that project was being planned and the level of open discussion in the planning process is much wider.

IPS: This is your first consultation for hydropower development on the mainstream of the Mekong and you had many high-profile people, from government officials, dam and fisheries experts to dam developers. But why were the people from local communities living on the river’s banks, who will face the brunt of the changes being discussed, not invited?

JB: At the moment I do not see that as a problem in terms of involving communities directly in a meeting like this, which is taking place in English, in an environment that the communities are not familiar with. I think if we had done that, we would have been accused of a cosmetic approach, of trying to demonstrate some sort of validity of the process from that point of view. What is important for us is to understand the concerns and the problems of those communities and we can do that in a number of ways. We will have many opportunities to do that, like village-level consultations.

Govt must address the real issues of concern

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sophan Seng
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Dear Editor,

I refer to your article "New CPP-dominated Assembly sworn in" [Phnom Penh Post, September 25.] The recent swearing-in is a historical moment for Hun Sen's political leadership - his way to premiership was smooth and democratically legitimised. Previously, his path to premiership had experienced some hardships. For instance, in 1993 he was the second prime minister with Prince Norodom Rannaridh as first prime minister; in 1998 there was the coup that allowed him to consolidate his sole premiership; in 2003 parliament was stalled for almost one year before his premiership was given to him again.

I appreciate the fact that this 2008 assembly mandate has been smoothly, legally sworn in, and in particular the participation of the Sam Rainsy Party's 26 representatives who endorse Hun Sen's premiership for another five years as mandated. But the successful ascent to premiership through parliament does not warrant the level of centralisation in the executive branch. His government comprises far more high-ranking members than before, especially those from the dominant CPP party.

The challenges ahead are daunting - such as ensuring national security. Key issues to address this mandate are security, illegal immigration, the high rate of corruption under the current system of crony capitalism, land price speculation leading to land grabs and the ongoing border dispute with Thailand.

Security is a central claim for the next five years in power for Hun Sen. He says Cambodia in future decades will not worry about terrorism, civil war and social chaos. But the core issue of security here is not terrorism - it is food security, social equity security, democratic security and especially government officials who should be security-checked before being sworn in. Many countries have different methods of ensuring lawmakers meet certain security standards, such as checking the background of persons to ensure that they are not abusing their position and mandate in government to do harm to their country.

This new approach of security should be amended by the parliament checking the background of any person who will be employed as military, police or state officials. Achieving this security clearance stabilises the government's leaders as well as the whole nation.

Crony capitalism has been widespread in Cambodia. After the civil war, the open horizon of market-based economics in Cambodia swiftly and horrendously embodied itself in a type of crony capitalism. Cambodia has significantly evolved itself a "national crony capitalism", which means all national economic mechanisms and dynamics are controlled by just a few businessmen. This kind of emergent economic trend will hinder the emergence of economic equity and will widens levels of inequality in the Kingdom.

Sophan Seng

PhD student in political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Workers lacking key skills: survey

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

NEARLY 96 percent of Cambodian employers require some form of higher education when hiring professional staff, with 72 percent requiring a bachelor's or master's degree, according to a new survey by the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA).

But more than half of the 220 employers surveyed said it was difficult to find professional staff with good analytical and decision-making skills.

"Only 13 percent of employers believe that graduates have all or most of the skills they need for work," CAMFEBA said in a statement.

Var Sim Samrith, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labor, said the ministry needs time to improve educational and job training sectors.

"It is very important for the ministry and other institutions, as well as related personnel, to balance the supply of skilled workers in Cambodia's labor market," said Var Sim Samrith.

Yim Meng Chhorn, a human resource analyst with HR Inc Cambodia, said the lack of skilled workers has less to do with specific degrees than that the skills they do possess do not correspond to market demands.

"More and more students are studying finance, but they ignore technical and agricultural skills," said Yim Meng Chhorn.

"New employees normally need to adapt to their workplace because the quality of exams is low, students are lazy at school and the curriculum needs to be updated," he said.

About 33 percent of university and vocational training students make their own decision on their field of study, based on perceptions of those skills in the Cambodian labour market, the survey noted.

Chan Sok Khieng, rector of Norton University in Phnom Penh, said between 1,200 and 1,500 students each year earn bachelor's and master's degrees at his university.

"More than 90 percent of new graduates from Norton University can find a job because we are providing them with the skills that match market needs," he said.

Chan Sok Khieng said graduates must possess more than the sufficient skill to do the jobs they are hired to perform. They also need to have a proper perspective on the workplace itself.

"Many young people don't understand what it means to be a part of a working team in an office environment," he said.

Countries Ban, Recall Chinese Dairy Products As a Result of Tainted Milk Scandal

By Alice Carver
October 1st 2008

Thailand health inspectors are testing nearly 100 imports from China from possible melamine contamination, and have found melamine levels of 0.38 milligrams per kilogram and 0.55 milligrams per kilogram in the powdered milk from Shuangwa Dairy Co., the FDA said in a statement. The levels are below Thailand’s legal limit of 1 milligram per kilogram.

On Wednesday, the Thai FDA temporarily banned the sale and import of 10 dairy products from China, candies, buns and biscuits counting among them.

The growing scandal over tainted milk products has prompted many countries including Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and New Zealand, to ban, or recall Chinese dairy products.

Health officials recommend that consumers avoid Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products and White Rabbit Creamy candies, products which are made in China.

British candy-maker Cadbury recalled 11 types of Chinese-made chocolate after the products have been found tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical product usually used to produce plastic materials, fertilizers and pesticides. The chemical is added to low-quality or watered-down milk to boost its protein readings and fetch a higher price. Melamine, which is high in nitrogen, can cause kidney stones and other organ problems.

At least three babies are dead and more than 50,000 infants in China have become sick with kidney stones or kidney failure associated with the consumption of infant formula contaminated with melamine. Chinese authorities pulled 4,247 tons of milk powder and 1,562 tons of liquid milk from the shelves in an attempt to put an end to the tainted-milk scandal which spread global fear about Chinese products made with milk or milk powder.

Accuracy is of the essence for new Khmer Rouge dictionary

Solomon Kane's recent book, Dictionaire des Khmers Rouge, is a hugely ambitious undertaking says reviewer Henri Locard.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Henri Locard
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Author Solomon Kane has completed the first historical dictionary of the KR, but French historian Henri Locard argues that the ambitious work is limited by multiple inaccuracies

ONE must agree with David Chand-ler, author of the foreword for Solomon Kane's Dictionnaire des Khmers Rouges (Dictionary of the Khmer Rouge), who calls the book "an extraordinary work". It is amazing to see how a single man could amass such an amount of data covering such a dense subject. Unfortunately, it seems to fall somewhat short of his self-proclaimed ambition of "a tool for completely deciphering the tragedy that ... has cost the lives of almost two million Cambodians".

Chandler provides a highly complimentary foreword that skillfully explains the historical significance of the Democratic Kampuchea regime. It is a pity, however, that the dean of Cambodian historical studies gave wrong dates for both Cambodia's independence and America's massive bombings (although in the later case, I am quite sure this must be a mistranslation from Chandler's English).

I am not certain that this kind of format - a dictionary - is best suited to the subject, apart from the biographical entries that constitute the most solid backbone of the book. Although well-documented entries are numerous, there are far too many that are inaccurate. Also, the author does not tell us much about his sources, which makes it very difficult for the reader to check the information.

Role of US dubious

When describing the fateful American bombings (p.56), the author writes: "According to sources [which sources?], the campaign would have made 300,000 to 1,000,000 victims among the guerrillas and the civilians." One reliable source, indeed quoted but not used by Kane, is the demographer Marek Sliwinski's Le Génocide Khmer Rouge (The Khmer Rouge Genocide). It is reckoned in this book that the civil war made a total of some 310,000 victims, or about half of the number most often quoted. Among those, some 17.1 percent were killed by bombardments, or about 53,000 people, both civilians and military. True, unexploded ordinances continue to this day to be very lethal for the Cambodian population, as Kane rightly points out. But can he also explain why, when the American bombings ceased in August 1973, the civilian population continued nevertheless to take refuge in all the cities? Were they not just running away from the war but also from the repression and the collectivisation inflicted by the revolutionaries?

Kane repeats the accusation that the Americans were involved in the March 18, 1970, so-called "coup", although there is no evidence of this in American archives. Kane accuses Lon Nol of having thrown overboard the policy of neutrality during the Cold War. But so had Prince Sihanouk when he tacitly allowed the Vietminh to use large pockets of the country as sanctuaries in the second Indochinese War. And that was precisely why he was voted out of office by the National Assembly, under military pressure.

The same approach is further developed in the entry concerning the [current] trials of the KR leaders (p.307-10). Americans are accused of having made sure that only the 1975-79 period was involved. But, if this was true, certainly some communist countries were not keen to see their involvement in the coming to power of the KR being further researched either. Kane fails to quote the true reason why the US delayed for so long to help finance the KR tribunal: the fear it would not meet international standards, and because of the corruption prevailing in Cambodia.

Facts and figures

Kane is speculative in his approach to figures: he tends to inflate them. What is the source of the 60-percent death toll of the Chinese? We are told they were 400,000 in 1975 and 175,000 in 1979. It is the same with the Chams: we are given figures that could lead the reader to believe that as many as 60 percent of the Chams died under DK, while the figure is closer to 40 percent, which is horrendous enough (p.69).

Among other inflated figures, we have the entry on the mass graves (charniers, p.72-75) and an uncritical repetition of extravagant figures: some contained 100,000 to 150,000 victims! The same implausible number is given for pits in Kampong Chhnang (p.214), and Kampong Thom (p.216).

Among other inaccuracies, we can quote: What evidence has the author that the people starved partly because of "bad harvests" (p.133); the real reason was of course that rice was stolen by Angkar and that meals were collectivised. Several witnesses have told me harvests were all good under the regime.

Keo Meas cannot have "participated" in the July 1954 negotiations in Geneva, as the Khmer Communist groups were not admitted (p.191) to the negotiation process. Kambuja was not "an Anglophone magazine" (p.198). It was written in French - I contributed to it in the sixties - but an English edition was also produced, translated from the French. Khieu Samphan could not have been "the first member of the CPK to have been received by Mao Tse-tung" in 1974, and in claiming this, the author shows he is quite ignorant of the etiquette amongst communist parties or countries. Pol Pot had already been received by Mao twice before, in 1965 and in 1970 (p.201).

Where did the author see that Khieu Thirith got a degree in English literature, "after an exhaustive study of the works of William Shakespeare" (p.204)? She did not join the maquis in 1968, but in 1965 (p.205). How could Ieng Sary have "accepted a post as history teacher at Sisowath High School" (p.210), given he was never offered such a post?

Nuon Chea did not study at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, but Thammassat (p.227). Kane rightly reports that Nuon Chea was trained for two years in the North Vienamese maquis, from 1952 to 1954, but fails to mention that he became a friend of Le Duan, the successor of Ho Chi Minh. This saved him from being tried in the July 1979 "genocidal" trial in Phnom Penh of the "Pol Pot-Ieng Sary clique".

In the entry on genocide (p.144-45), Kane overlooks a vital piece of information: it was the Vietnamese who first stuck that label to the DK regime to justify their intervention. No other communist regime has had the honour to be called "genocidal" since - not even North Korea, which must have exterminated as many of its citizens as DK, although over a much longer period, no doubt.

Too many entries are broad approximations. For instance, when describing the sahakor, the KR basic administrative division, the author gives the usual translation of "cooperative", instead of the more accurate "people's commune", as they were called in China. To support the allegation, Kane claims that the people had a free choice in the creation of those collectives during the civil war, and collectives were "supported by the rural communities" (p.111). So, once again, why did the population, including many peasants, flee those "liberated" zones in the hundreds of thousands after August 1973 when the American bombing had ceased? There is no evidence that collectivisation was popular with any layer of the society at any time.

The entry on the Montagnards contains a number of useful and accurate pieces of information. But in this case the author is somewhat misinformed. The villages of the ethnic minorities were not brutally "destroyed" to make room for the Labansiek State Rubber Plantation in the early sixties, but dismantled and transported by the company trucks, to be moved further on, as there was then plenty of available space on the rich volcanic plateau. The minorities were given the choice either to be salaried on the plantation, to start their own rubber plantation with saplings given by the State company, or move further if they wished to continue with their traditional way of life.

One curious assertion is that Pol Pot based his repression of Buddhism on article 20 of the constitution. Does he really believe that the ultimate leader of the revolutionary regime cared in the least about the legality or illegality of his criminal decisions (p.59)?

The entry on Maoism misses much vital information, speaking mainly about the so-called Cultural Revolution, overlooking the Great Leap Forward that directly inspired Pol-Potism. We have here mainly the fanciful image of the doctrine entertained by some French "intellectuals" in the sixties and early seventies that was aeons from the reality in China at the time, and later DK (p.237-38).

Useful information

The Mey Man entry contains plenty of useful information about that Marxist intellectual of the early days of the revolutionary movement, who refused to follow the party along its violent ways. In later life, he set up the UN Human Rights office in Pailin which is curiously called une officine (a pejorative word in French for an agency or something of the sort). What is a pity is that Kane failed to mention that this was the only "intellectual" connected with the KR movement who, shortly before his death from cancer, publicly expressed his profound regret to have seen his career associated with that criminal movement. He spent the last months of his life translating the remarkable history of Cambodia written by the late Nhiek Tioulong (The Khmer Chronicles) from French into Khmer.

Kane states that Pol Pot escaped four assassination attempts, without mentioning that we are not at all certain if those were real or imagined (p.323). Philip Short believes they were figments of Angkar's imagination. At least the question should be raised.

In the entry about "collectivist ideology" (p.99), Kane alludes to the 1869 Basle Conference of the Socialist International, but manages not to mention either the forced collectivisation under Stalin, Mao or Ho Chi Minh, which all served as models for Pol Pot.

Sometimes, the book is a directory of the many minor KR military leaders, in particular in the eighties and the nineties, that is, much after the rout of the regime. But Kane has neither identified their real names, nor given dates during which they operated. A single entry around the KR military leaders in those post-DK decades might have regrouped information of use for history.

Quantity, not quality

All this being said, there are numerous very useful and well-informed entries. And it is a remarkable achievement for a single individual to have accumulated so much data, with such dedication over more than a decade. For instance the entry on the refugee camps in both Vietnam and Thailand (p.64-66) is well-informed, as is the one on animism (p.35). We could quote the "Cambodian Master Performers Program", thanks to which the first Cambodian opera by Him Sophea was first performed in Lowell, Massachusetts, and will soon be performed in Cambodia itself.

The author is indeed a great expert in military art. We can quote, for instance, the entry on Chan Chakrey, purged in August 1976, the description of his rivalry with Kae Pauk, and the informative entry on Chou Chet (p.92-93). And so are the entries on the Vietnamese invasion (p.170-72) and the military aspects of January 7, 1979 (p.175-76). One apposite reference is the entry on Hate Day (p.176) instituted by the PRK regime; it was ironically first celebrated precisely in 1984 - a reference to George Orwell, whose description of the totalitarian State was prophetic in the case of DK, as it was modelled on the Stalinist regime (p.176-77). Clever too is the brief description of justice under DK, in which "slogans are a substitute for a civil code" (p.177), and one can add, a criminal code as well.

Kane is absolutely right when he denounces the myth that Buddhist monks were widely targeted by the KR (p.59). Quite rightly, Kane insists, too, that industry played a significant part in DK's economy (p.167).

Indeed, Solomon Kane has accumulated an impressive amount of information on the lethal regime. But writing a dictionary on the KR must be well beyond the reach of any single individual. He would have been well-advised to have formed a team of both international analysts and Cambodian survivors, in order to produce a fully reliable compendium of KR lore that would be of use to the coming generations.

Purses with a purpose

Khmer Krafts, a Cambodian business founded by Bob and Kay Petrik to offer employment for women, has signed a five-year contract to provide purses for Great American Fundraising, which works with 25,000 schools across the country.Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr

Published: October 1, 2008


Baker City Herald

The seamstresses of Khmer Krafts are busier than ever these days crafting purses for Great American Fundraising, which works with 25,000 schools across the nation.

Khmer Krafts was established in 2005 by Bob and Kay Petrik of Baker City to provide jobs to women who graduate from Cambodia's Battambang Trade School.

The company tagline is "Purses with a Purpose — Fashion that Makes a Difference."

Cambodia is still recovering from The Killing Fields, the period from 1975-1979 when the communist guerilla group Khmer Rouge swept through the country and forced city dwellers into labor camps. More than three million Cambodians were killed.

The Petriks first visited the Asian country in 2004 with Musicianaries International, and that's when they met the Rev. Setan Lee, founder of Kampuchea for Christ (KFC) and a survivor of The Killing Fields.

Lee's sister-in-law, Chhevan Yos, manages Khmer Krafts and designs the purses, wallets and book covers.

At first, the business employed 20 women, who in 2006 sewed 2,800 purses.

Now the employee count is at 47, and the women have produced 34,000 products so far this year.

"We had to move to a new location," Bob Petrik said.

To make space for the new orders, the Petriks had Yos ship all the excess purses to Baker City for storage.

"It ended up being 6,000," Kay said.

The Petriks outfitted a storage room to accommodate the stock, and members of Baker High's National Honor Society helped unload and organize.

"They were a huge help," Kay said.

Back in Cambodia...

Khmer Krafts' new building is located on five acres near the outskirts of Battambang. It was originally designed as a motel, so each room is outfitted with a cooking area and bathrooms.

"Everything was new — they'd just built it," Petrik said.

The women use treadle machines, which are essential for those who work at home without electricity.

"We give them a machine to take home," Bob said.

At the center, each room is used for a different process — sewing, packaging, shipping — which has helped the business handle the larger volume needed by the fundraising company.

Khmer Krafts is featured in Great American's "Helping Hands" catalog.

The page for Khmer Krafts offers five products: two purses, an ID wallet, a checkbook cover and a book cover.

The challenge to fulfill Great American orders is to find enough fabric so customers receive the exact product they order.

Prior to this, purses were made with whatever material was readily available.

Now the Petriks and Yos are working with a broker in Bangkok to secure mass quantities of fabric.

"In Cambodia they sell (fabric) in pieces — a package with the same print in four different colors," Kay Petrik said.

Sales of Khmer Krafts through Great American are going so well the company has ordered at least 40,000 for next year.

Purses available now

In addition to Great American, Khmer Krafts purses are available in Baker City from the Petriks at their Ag Insurance office, 2119 Seventh St. (Call ahead at 523-2414 to make sure the Petriks are there.)

Also, Soroptimist International sells the purses year-round at the Baker County Chamber of Commerce gift shop, bazaars and gift shows.

Proceeds from this project fulfills the club's national mission of helping women around the world.
Locally, purse sales help support the Soroptimist mission to prevent domestic violence because half the profits go to MayDay and the other half is put in a community chest fund, which is used to fill requests that better women and the community. (The club aims to donate $100 per month from that fund.)

"Soroptimist has been very supportive," Kay Petrik said.

She said other groups are also welcome to use the purses as a fundraiser.

Across the country, the purses are being sold in churches, hospital gift shops and bookstores.
The company's contract with Great American is a five-year commitment.

"They have just been wonderful to work with," Bob said.

And just when the Petriks were adjusting to the Great American deal, an opportunity came up to develop an outlet for the purses in Cambodia.

That project, however, may be handled by a club at Washington State University called SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) who will develop a marketing and business plan as a project.

For more information about Khmer Krafts, call the Petriks or visit the Web site,

TeliaSonera buys majority stake in two Asian mobile operators

Telecommunications Online

by Ek Heng (Telecommunications' Asia-Pac Correspondent)
Wed. October 1, 2008

Nordic telecommunications group TeliaSonera is taking controlling stakes in two Asian mobile operators in Nepal and Cambodia. The Stockholm-based telco group is investing US$488 million altogether in Spice Nepal Private Limited in Nepal and Applifone Co in Cambodia.

Through the purchase of 51 percent stake in TeliaSonera Asia Holding from Kazakhstan’s Visor Group, the Nordic telco group gets 80 percent stake in the Nepalese operator with 100 percent ownership of Cambodia’s Applifone. Visor Group retains ownership of 49 percent in TeliaSonera Asia Holding and the transaction is expected to be completed on October 1.

As Nepal’s second largest mobile operator, Spice Nepal serves 1.6 million subscribers or about 41 percent of the market share. Applifone is a start-up mobile operator in Cambodia with more than 97,000 subscribers or about 3 percent market share.

The multi-million dollar investment is in line with earlier announcement by TeliaSonera that it was looking to emerging markets in Asia for growth. The group has set its sights on markets of between 10 and 20 million population with less than 20 percent cellular penetration. Nepal and Cambodia have a combined population of 43 million, low mobile penetration and are growing economies.

Following disclosure of second quarter financial results in July this year, the group declared it was seeking job cuts of 2,900 in Sweden and Finland over an 18-month period aimed at achieving savings of US$830 million. The release of that quarter’s results showed that growth was due to foreign businesses including mobile operations in Russia, Turkey and the Eurasia division. More than half of its operating income is derived from Asia and Eastern Europe. The telco group was formed from the merger of Sweden’s Telia and Finland’s Sonera in 2002.

In an earlier development in September, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the group, TeliaSonera International Carrier announced it built a second point of presence in Singapore in an expansion of its global backbone into Asia. It chose Singapore because of its status as the Internet hub of Southeast Asia. The carrier owns and manages over 43,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable and has more than 100 points of presence across Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

World crisis, local hitches might delay CamEx launch

TRACEY SHELTON; Construction workers at the site of Korean-funded Camko City, a satellite city slated to house the future Cambodia Stock Exchange.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George Mcleod and Brendan Brady
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

CamEx's 2009 launch date was widely regarded as optimistic, but now some business leaders say global financial crisis could push things back further

WITH global markets in turmoil, business leaders say the much-anticipated launch of the Cambodian stock exchange could slide back by up to a year.

"Before the crisis hit, we had some doubts over whether the market would be able to launch [on time]. Now [the crisis] adds to the problems," said In Channy, CEO of Acleda Bank, in an interview with the Post last week.

The exchange was scheduled to start trading by 2009 under an agreement with Korea Exchange signed September 2007.

Initial progress was encouraging with Cambodian lawmakers debating and passing a 69-page securities law within a week of the deal being inked.

But with the global financial turmoil slowly spreading to Korea, China and Japan, liquidity has evaporated as investors flee equities.

The second biggest lender in Cambodia, Acleda, was among the first major companies to say they wanted to be listed and had specific capital expansion plans. But the bank's CEO now says that while the company fully supports the stock exchange in principle, current market conditions may delay the launch.

"Perhaps it will take until 2010," said In Channy.Even before the crisis hit Asia, the nascent stock exchange had encountered a string of problems.

Key questions about the joint venture between the Korean Exchange and Cambodia's Ministry of Economy and Finance remain unanswered, including how restrictive the audits and disclosure requirements will be and what size companies will be allowed to apply.

Crisis not relevant

According to Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, the US economic crisis's impact on Asian markets is not linked to the delay of the CamEx launch.

"Even before this problem in the US, I didn't think the stock market would be ready for another three, four or five years," due to a lack of transparency in Cambodia's business environment, he said.

While he identified a lack of transparency as the main culprit, he told the Post Tuesday that the 2009 deadline was also unrealistic as the county lacked a class of informed and knowledgeable investors.

"Even rich people in Cambodia know nothing about stock markets. They have money but they are from the war generation. We'll probably have to wait until their kids who are educated overseas return, so we'll need another few years."

Nguon Meng Tech cautioned the stock market not be rushed into a launch in the absence of credit asset evaluations.

The requirement that companies declare their assets is widely believed to be one of the biggest obstacles to establishing Cambodia's stock market. Most enterprises that could list are family-owned and guard the value of their businesses.

A prominent business leader in Cambodia said that the predictable teething pains of the stock exchange were a sensitive issue.

"Everyone supports the idea of launching the exchange, but there has been an understanding for some time that the country and the legal system just aren't ready," he said.

Much-needed capital

But many Cambodian business say new capital is just what the economy needs. When plans for CamEx were first announced in September 2007, Prime Minister Hun Sen called a securities market "the lifeblood of a capitalist economy which will actively contribute to mobilising financial resources."

Marvin Yeo, Managing Partner at Frontier Investment and Development Partners, said that even with the difficulties facing the exchange, he expects the market may be launched on time in a limited form.

"I think the stock market is a great thing for the country, and I see it being launched on time. It will probably take one or two years to go through its teething process, but I think it will work out."

Cambodia's first agency to assess the value of corporate assets opened earlier this month, but business figures were skeptical the new body will be able to establish sufficient nationwide transparency in time to meet the 2009 deadline.

Background Info on Elray Resource's Estimated Million Tonnes Gold Bearing Outcrop

CNN Money
October 01, 2008

Elray Resources, Inc. (OTCBB: ELRA), a gold and precious mineral exploration company that recently announced the presence of a million tonne gold bearing outcrop on one of its properties, is pleased to provide the following background information on the project.

The outcrop is on a concession (Title No: 230751), known as the Analhi Project, situated 50 kilometers to the east of Guasave City at Sinaloa state, Mexico. It is approximately 10 kilometers from water and power supplies, factors which contribute to the viability of the project. The area is known to be heavily mineralized.

Elray has a 120-day option agreement to conduct a geological survey and, based upon findings, move to a Purchase Agreement over the property.

Existing assay reports on the property show significant values including up to 1.1% copper, up to 9.9gm/tonne of gold, up to 15.3gm/tonne of silver, rare earths and up to 10kg/tonne of lead. These are very interesting values for an outcrop because the cost per g/t can be kept very low. The copper values could result in the discovery of a porphyry which is an easy to get to, large area with low values of copper.

"This outcrop has attracted a lot of interest," commented Mr. Barry J. Lucas, Executive Chairman of Elray Resources. "Our Geo team's report, which is currently being prepared, will include the dollars to be spent on the Works Program for the site and the most appropriate extraction method. We will be providing regular updates to shareholders."

About Elray

Elray Resources, Inc. is a junior exploration and development Corporation which has successfully accumulated a portfolio of four highly prospective, heavily mineralized mining tenements in Cambodia and Mexico. Elray Resources, Inc.'s primary objective is to source potential and viable projects, conduct geological assessments and seek Joint Venture partners to develop the properties. Elray Resources, Inc.'s 100% controlled entity in Cambodia is Angkor Wat Minerals Ltd.

Heeding the lessons of another war

International Herald Tribune

By Maleeha Lodhi and Anatol Lieven
Published: October 1, 2008

Forty years ago, the United States began to mount raids into Cambodia and to undermine the government of King Sihanouk in order to cut Vietcong supply lines.

As a result, America's war with Vietnamese Communism spread into Cambodia, leading to the triumph of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian genocide. But these horrors occurred after the U.S. itself had quit Vietnam and after the U.S.-backed regime in South Vietnam had collapsed. Washington's widening of the war benefited neither America nor its local allies.

The U.S. is now making the same mistake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If continued, ground incursions by U.S. troops across the border into Pakistan in search of the Taliban and Al Qaeda risk drastically undermining the Pakistani state, society and army.

Many Pakistanis are berating their new civilian government and the military for being too supine in their response to the American actions. There have also been public calls for NATO supply lines through Pakistan to be cut, which could cripple the Western military effort in Afghanistan. The latest dreadful terrorist attack in Islamabad illustrates the danger of a wider conflagration and the price Pakistan is paying for its role as a U.S. ally.

The dangers involved in Pakistan are greater even than in Cambodia, where the disasters were contained in one country. The current war has already been driven into the Pakistani heartland.

If turmoil increases in Pakistan then the forces of extremism will be strengthened, in the region and the world. Thus the long term implications of "losing" Afghanistan pale into insignificance when set against the risk of "losing" Pakistan.

Nor would undermining Pakistan, whether intentionally or not, in any way help the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan. Pakistan has six times Afghanistan's population and is a nuclear state. The Pashtun population of Pakistan is greater than that of Afghanistan, and provides a large number of Pakistani soldiers. Far from saving Afghanistan, present U.S. strategy toward Pakistan will only risk sinking Afghanistan itself in a whirlpool of regional anarchy.

Instead of this approach, the U.S. and NATO should adopt a radically new strategy for Afghanistan that relies more on soft power. The approach should be based on the recognition that Afghanistan cannot be transformed along Western lines and that the U.S. cannot maintain an open-ended presence in that country without destabilizing the entire region.

Afghanistan must sooner or later be left to the Afghans themselves to run. Local actors should take the lead in carrying out counter-insurgency, as Western forces and an overwhelming reliance on military force are liable only to multiply enemies.

The terrible effects of bombardment on the civilian population have become a potent factor behind the will of many Afghans to resist what they see as an alien military occupation.

The next U.S. administration therefore should announce a return to America's original objective, that of hunting international terrorist networks and preventing them from creating safe havens in Afghanistan. This should in fact be America's only core objective. The attempt of the West to "transform" Afghanistan is already meeting the same fate as the Soviet attempt to do so. It is strengthening the insurgency, by creating the impression of a threat to the Islamic way of life and local tradition.

Instead of continuing with what is in effect a purely Western approach, Washington should initiate serious regional talks on Afghanistan's future.

The United States and the West need to remember that however long their forces stay in Afghanistan, sooner or later they will leave, while Afghanistan's neighbors will always remain. Tragically, their policies have in the past generally been directed against each other, with disastrous results for the people of Afghanistan.

The United States should instead seek to shape a regional concert that will stand some chance of at least containing Afghanistan's problems in the long term. None of this will be easy; but a continuation of present U.S. strategy promises only widening turmoil in the region, or at best war without end.

Soaring Gold Prices Sting Local Jewelers

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 01 October 2008 (876 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 01 October 2008 (876 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Jewelers and gold shop owners in Phnom Penh say business has dropped in recent days, thanks to a rise in gold prices spurred by uncertainty in global financial markets.

Local gold prices were trading at $1,070 per damlung, or $810.70 per ounce, on Wednesday, up from $1,040 per damlung last month, part of an upward swing fueled by the US financial crisis and uncertainty in other markets.

Many Cambodians own gold, a throwback to the times of turbulent currencies, when under the successive regimes since the 1950s, monies were all different—or, in the case of the Khmer Rouge, abolished altogether.

But Phnom Penh sellers said the higher prices of gold are curtailing the Cambodian habit. The period following Cambodia's July elections has been economically slow overall, and, hit by inflation and the high price of fuel, less people have money to spend.

"We've met difficulties getting income from the gold business, because the price of gold has risen to a high price in recent days," Ly Hour, who owns Ly Hour Jewelry and Exchange Co., Ltd., said. "The people have no money to buy it."

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said the high price of gold in Phnom Penh was due to the US economic crisis and the weakened US dollar.

"The high price of gold for Cambodia is a good thing, because the majority of the people like to save gold," he said. "It decreases the income of gold sellers, but it is not a necessary thing for investment or business in Cambodia."

Oa Sophy, owner of Orsovann Jewelry Shop, said gold has been steadily rising in price, but his profits have been hit hard all year.

"I have been unsatisfied with the income of my gold business this year," he said. "Compared to 2006 and 2007, I've lost some 50 percent of my income from gold, because in 2005, 2006 and 2007, we sold one kilogram of gold a month. But right now, we only sell out only 300 grams of gold a month."

Jewelry shop owner Long Ly said a dip in gold sales was no need for concern.

"The high price of gold has not completely affected my gold business," he said. "If my income drops down, I must take care of my business to make it rise up."

CPP Mulls Coaltion Offer for Prince's Party

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
01 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 01 October 2008 (931 KB) - Download (MP3)
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The ruling Cambodian People’s Party is considering allowing the Norodom Ranariddh Party a place in a coalition government, following the return of its exiled leader to Phnom Penh Wednesday.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh returned from more than a year and a half in exile over the weekend, visiting Siem Reap for Pchum Ben festivals and arriving in Phnom Penh Wednesday.

He returned after a royal pardon was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen and issued by King Norodom Sihamoni, negating a 2006 breech of trust conviction.

The premier-approved pardon was a thawing in political relations for the prince, who had been the main political rival of Hun Sen in the 1993 and 1998 elections and a violent CPP putsch in 1997.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Wednesday the CPP would first consider how to incorporate Funcinpec, formerly the main royalist party and once headed by Prince Ranariddh, into a coalition.

“The first step is that we think about Funcinpec joining the coalition,” Khieu Kanharith said. “But the second step is to think about the Norodom Ranariddh Party joining the government. This is what Prime Minister Hun Sen told me.”

He declined to say whether the CPP would offer ministry positions to NRP members.

Funcinpec, which saw two lawmakers win seats in July’s polls, has been assigned 30 high-level positions in a cabinet of 248: one deputy prime minister, five senior minister positions and 24 secretaries of state.

You Hokry, NRP Secretary-General and one of three of the party’s National Assembly lawmakers, said Wednesday he was not aware of any offers from the CPP to join a coalition.

Patrols Vie Over Temple’s Beauty, Isolation

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Oddar Meanchey province
01 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 01 October 2008 (1.59 MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 01 October 2008 (1.59 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Ta Krabey temple, the smallest and most isolated of the Ta Moan temple complex, is a favorite stopping point for patrols on both sides of a continued military border build-up.

Set high on a mountain the Dangrek range in Oddar Meanchey province, the temple was built around the same time as Angkor Wat, in similar stone, with an open style reminiscent of Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument.

Both Thai and Cambodia claim the temple, which is part of a three-temple complex, and on routine daily patrols, soldiers from each side briefly occupy Ta Krabey, which perches at the end of a steep jungle path.

Neither side has claimed tension over the temple, and the rotations are routine, but Cambodian soldiers report frequent helicopter overflights by the Thai military.

UN dodges border dispute

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan brady and Thet sambath
Wednesday, 01 October 2008

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday urged Cambodia and Thailand to settle the border dispute by themselves, dashing the hopes of the Cambodian government for an intervention.

The UN chief briefed Cambodian foreign affairs secretary, Ouch Borith, and Thai foreign minister, Sompong Amornivivat, as they met their Asean counterparts to discuss border talks at the UN General Assembly in New York. Asean has also pushed for a bilateral resolution.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan downplayed the UN's decision as "nothing new" and insisted Cambodia was comfortable sticking to bilateral channels.

"It is a more than 100-year-old border; we don't need new people involved for us to know where it is," he said.

On September 12, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he planned to seek international arbitration in the border dispute by taking the issue back to the UN Security Council and to the International Court of Justice.

On July 22, soon after the stand-off at Preah Vihear began, Cambodia appealed to the Security Council but withdrew the complaint two days later after Thailand agreed to hold talks on the issue.

While discussions over a full troop withdrawal stagnated after the recent political unrest in Bangkok, Sompong Amornvivat was quoted in Thai daily The Nation on Tuesday saying: "we told the Asean ministers that there is no longer confrontation since previous negotiations manage to reduce numbers of troops."

But tensions on the ground have escalated, spreading to temple sites along the border.Sompong Amornivivat is to visit Cambodia before new Premier Somchai Wongsawat's scheduled arrival on October 13.