Tuesday, 25 November 2008

CPP Chairman begins visit to capital city

Chea Sim, Chairman of the CPP and President of the Senate.

25-11-2008

Ha Noi — A high-ranking delegation from the Kingdom of Cambodia led by Samdec Chea Sim, Chairman of the Cambodian People’s Party and President of the Senate, is expected to arrive in Ha Noi today.

The visit, scheduled for November 25-27, is being made at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam. It follows King Norodom Sihamoni’s visit to Viet Nam in June and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit in November this year.

Historically, friendship and comprehensive co-operation between Viet Nam and Cambodia have been further strengthened in line with the motto "fine neighbourliness, traditional friendship, comprehensive co-operation, and long-term sustainability" as agreed on by the leaders of the two countries.

This visit by Samdec Chea Sim aims to continue contributing to the strengthening of the relations of mutual trust and understanding between leaders and peoples of the two countries, consolidating Viet Nam-Cambodia comprehensive co-operation.

By implementing agreements reached by the leaders of the two nations, Viet Nam-Cambodia relations have continued to develop. Two-way trade has seen positive developments, reaching almost US$1.2 billion last year.

Viet Nam is now Cambodia’s fourth largest trade partner, while Cambodia is Viet Nam’s 16th biggest export market. The two governments have unanimously agreed to increase two-way trade to over $2 billion in 2010.

Regarding border issues, the two sides are striving to complete land border demarcation and marker planting in 2012. They have been co-operating well in managing and maintaining security in both land and sea border areas.

They are also implementing strong co-ordination at ASEAN, ACMECS, GMS, UN and other regional and international forums.

Viet Nam continues to affirm a consistent policy to maintain good neighbourliness, solidarity, traditional friendship and comprehensive co-operation for long-term sustainability with Cambodia, and believes that this visit by Samdec Chea Sim will help bilateral ties further develop and bring benefits to the two peoples. — VNS

Textiles expected to meet targets

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
Workers leaving a Phnom Penh garment factory. A recent panel said that garment exports may meet government targets for 2008.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal and Hor Hab
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Experts at a recent economic forum on garment exports say the $3 billion target may be met, despite the economic slowdown in the United States

OFFICIALS and analysts said they remain hopeful Cambodia's garment exports will reach the targeted US$3 billion by the end of the year, despite growing concerns over possible factory closures due to the global economic slowdown.

Kem Sithan, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said Thursday the volume of exports in the first 10 months of this year topped $2.4 billion, comparable to last year's figures.

His comments followed a one-day workshop, "Perspectives of the Textile and Clothing Industry and Employment in Cambodia", organised by the Cambodia Institute for Development Study (CIDS) and financed by the German NGO Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

"I think Cambodia's garment exports can reach about $3 billion in 2008, and this sector will continue to be strong next year," Kem Sithan said.

Last year, garment exports were worth $2.9 billion, with 319 factories employing more than 380,000 workers, according to ministry figures.

But CIDS Director Kang Chandararot questioned whether Cambodia would meet the $3 billion mark as the financial crisis continues to take a toll on the United States, the Kingdom's largest garment export market.

"I have little hope that Cambodia can sustain its high garment export levels this year and next year because it is unlikely to escape the effects of the crisis in the United States," he said.

" I think cambodia's garment exports can reach about $3 billion in 2008. "

He added that he expected the sector would be able to compete with China and Vietnam, the region's principal exporters, because margins are higher in Cambodia, which would give manufacturers leeway to cut prices.

He said garment exports have continued to rise, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years, with purchase orders dropping between nine and ten percent in 2008.

Purchase orders to drop

Cheath Khemara, a senior labour officer with the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said the global financial crisis and stiff competition from other countries could see purchase orders drop by as much as 30 percent in coming months.

Cambodia faces a growing turf war with more than 20 garment-exporting countries - including China, Vietnam and Bangladesh - that are competing for market share by cutting costs and promoting products abroad, Cheath Khemara said.

"We are really worried about our garment sector in 2009, but we hope the government will find an efficient way to deal with this situation," Cheath Khemara said.

He said 30 factories have closed so far this year, and several others continue to operate below normal production levels. GMAC officials said last week that an estimated 20,000 garment workers have been laid off so far this year.

GMAC called for government action to curb threats to the garment sector during last week's Government-Private Sector Forum, Cheath Khemara said.

Russian businessman on trial for paedophilia in Cambodia

TopNews.in
Tue, 11/25/2008

Phnom Penh - The trial of a Russian businessman charged with sexually abusing 18 underage girls began Tuesday after a series of delays in getting legal representation for the defendant, national media reported Tuesday.

Alexander Trofimov, 41, was arrested in 2007 on charges of abusing the girls while working in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

Trofimov, was convicted in March this year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and is currently serving a 13-year sentence in a Phnom Penh prison.

If convicted of the remaining charges, Trofimov could face a further seven to 15 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

The former chairman of Koh Pous Investment Group, which has a 300-million-dollar property development in Sihanoukville, previously complained he was unable to secure legal representation for the trial.

Trofimov has since hired a lawyer, but a local judge on Monday ordered the trial to begin even if the lawyer did not attend. (dpa)

Cambodian activist awarded German prize

German actress Maria Furtwaengler (L)and Roland-Berger-Award winner Somaly Mam of Cambodia (R) smile during the award ceremony in Berlin.

The Sun

Berlin (Nov 25, 2008) : A Cambodian woman dedicated to fighting human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children and women received a German prize on Monday for her work.

Somaly Mam was honoured with the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award at a ceremony at Berlin's Konzerthaus attended by German President Horst Koehler.

The award, worth 1 million euros (US1.27 million), was established this year to promote peaceful cooperation in the world.

Koehler noted that the prize was going to a woman who had experienced "unspeakable suffering" after herself being forced into sexual slavery in her native country.

"Today she is fighting to ensure that other women and girls are spared this fate," the president said in remarks prepared for delivery at the awards ceremony.

"We are honouring a woman whose story is shocking but which at the same time time gives hope; a woman who through her commitment to preserve human dignity is an example to us all," he said.

Somaly Mam, who was born in 1970, managed to escape her subjugation, and has been fighting for the victims of human trafficking and slavery ever since.

Together with her supporters, she has freed thousands of children and women from sexual slavery in Asia, and helped them reintegrate into society and lead a self-determined life in dignity.

In addition to her work in the field, Somaly Mam uses her fearless voice in political lobbying and numerous campaigns against human trafficking, said the award citation.

Some two to four million women and children worldwide are sold into prostitution every year, according to figures compiled by the United

Nations. The prize is named after Roland Berger, a retired professor who set up a global marketing consultancy in 1967.

Shukaku is not a Korean company: Ambassador

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Shin Hyun-suk
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to express my grave concern and clarfiy some facts regarding your interview with the vice governor of Phnom Penh Municipality, reported on October 3, 2008. According to an article of The Phnom Penh Post, the vice governor mentioned, "South Korea's Shukaku Inc has decided to invest in Boeung Kak".

The report caused Boeung Kak residents to protest against the development of the lake in front of my embassy on October 27, 2008.

However, the vice governor, in reply to my letter asking to him clarify the facts, confirmed that he did not mention[this]. Moreover, it is clearly stated in a press release on the Phnom Penh Municipality's homepage, dated February 6, 2007, that the Municipality has made a 99-year lease agreement with Oknha Lao Meng Khin, the president of Shukaku Inc, who is a Cambodian national, to develop the lake.

Therefore, I am curious as to why your newspaper reported that the developing company was South Korean, when there is no reason to assert that Shukaku Inc is a Korean corporation.

Shin Hyun-suk
Ambassador

Increase spending on education, not army

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by OU Sopheary
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dear Editor,

I strongly disagree with the government's proposals that place an emphasis on defence in next year's national budget. If we do weight defence, my first question is with whom might we fight?

If we think war between Cambodia and Thailand could occur due to the Preah Vihear case, why not bring the case to the International Court of Justice now? The solution to this problem is very simple. We should not make it worse by destroying our own people and resources.

To me, a proposal for increasing the budget on defence does not make any sense. Taking a very different view from the proposal, I think health, education and agriculture should be heavily emphasised. Poverty reduction is the prime goal for Cambodia as a least developed country.

Spending more money on defence doesn't have any contribution to reduce poverty in this country.

Cambodia's Millennium Development Goals indicate that our national budget should be heavily emphasised on the three sectors mentioned above. Unfortunately, only a relatively small percentage of the national budget is planned to be allocated to these.

I beg the government and the parliament to reconsider this proposal for the sake of all Cambodian people.

OU Sopheary
Phnom Penh

In Brief: Retired ranariddh still on payroll

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by VONG SOKHENG
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Prince Norodom Ranariddh is expecting to receive retirement pay from the National Assembly, which can amount to up to $1,100 per month, along with another 50 retired lawmakers. "Retired lawmakers receive between US$800 and $1,100 a month, depending on their rank within the National Assembly," said Cheam Yeap, a CPP lawmaker. Norodom Ranariddh resigned as National Assembly president in 2006.

In Brief: Public hearing for duch appeal

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by GEORGIA WILKINS
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Khmer Rouge tribunal will hold a public hearing on December 5 on the appeal by co-prosecutors of the case put forward against former S-21 prison head Kaing Guek Eak, also known as Duch. The hybrid court's co-prosecutors argued in August that the court order did not represent the full extent of his alleged crimes. Duch will be the first of five former Khmer Rouge leaders to go on trial early next year.

In Brief: NGOs, officials march in Koh Kong

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by CHRANN CHAMROEUN
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

More than 400 NGO staff and local government officials participated in a march against child trafficking in Koh Kong's provincial capital, which stretched through the city's main zone of brothels, karaoke bars and hotels Sunday. "[We hope] to encourage government officials, police and the public to work together to protect children from trafficking [and] exploitation," said rights group Licadho's Vann Sophath.

Justice delayed

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by MEAS SOKCHEA
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Disgraced former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday. The trial was delayed because one of Heng Pov's co-defendants did not have a lawyer. Heng Pov used the occasion to plead for his funds to be unfrozen, saying it would enable his children to restart school. he was arrested in 2006 after six months of trying to find political asylum in a third country failed.

Full Story

Heng Pov trial postponed

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Treated to a fleet
The Chinese government donated 33 ambulances, seven mini-buses, one bus, three cars, one excavator and other materials to Cambodia's Ministry of Defence on Monday. "They are very useful for the work of our soldiers and will help train our officers in disaster relief," said a secretary of state at the ministry, Moeng Samphan.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Court says former police head will face murder charge early in the new year

THE trial of jailed former Phnom Penh police chief Heng Pov has been postponed until early 2009 because one of the accused, Heng Pov's former colleague Hang Vutha, has no lawyer, municipal judges said Monday.

The six are to stand trial for their alleged involvement in an assassination attempt on Military Police Chief Sao Sokha in December 2003.

In a court hearing Monday, Heng Pov, who is already serving a 58-year sentence for murder, counterfeiting and extortion, pleaded with judges to unfreeze his assets, including a house in Chruoy Changvar and nearly US$1 million, confiscated by authorities after his arrest in 2006.

"My children left school because my money was confiscated. I cannot withdraw money for my children but I would like to ask to be able to withdraw money for a lawyer's services," he told the judge.

"My children have made no mistakes, yet they had to quit their studies because my money was frozen."

Lawyer Kao Soupha said his client should be given access to his funds since he was acquitted of the kidnapping charges under which they were frozen in the first place.

"Heng Pov requested that he be able to withdraw money, but this is not being permitted. The court froze Heng Pov's money following orders from the Ministry of Interior," he said.

Kao Soupha confirmed that he is still defending his client and that he will not abandon Heng Pov.

"I will not abandon him. I want the court to be just," he said.

The former municipal police chief, who was arrested in Malaysia in 2006 after a six-month bid for political asylum, blames late National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy for the crimes he has been charged with and convicted of so far.

Heng Pov faces an additional 30 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy murder of Sao Sokha and Koh Santepheap publisher Thong Uy Pang.

Kao Soupha requested that the court permit the plaintiffs to use money in the bank for legal services and to aid the accused's children.

Blaze rips through house at Wat Botum complex

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
Phnom Penh's Wat Botum after a blaze Monday destroyed a house.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

No injuries or deaths reported in the fire - the second in three years to strike the central Phnom Penh temple

ONE of the many ramshackle houses within the Wat Botum complex burned to the ground on Monday morning, in an accidental fire caused by an untended candle. No one was injured in the blaze.

The house caught fire at 7:15am and raged until 7:45am, when fire authorities intervened. It is the second time in three years that a building at Wat Botum has caught fire.

Chek Heng, 20, a monk, lived on the first floor of the building but escaped unscathed. Ten students and three monks had been living in the house, and all of them fled as soon as the fire began.

"By 7:45am, the house was completely burned, with four motorbikes, luggage, study materials and clothes destroyed. The fire was caused by a candle left burning in a room on the bottom floor when its occupant went out for his morning coffee and did not blow out the candle," Chek Heng told the Post on Monday.

"I and two other monks were very frightened. It was very lucky that no was injured."

The occupant of the room has denied he was to blame for the fire, but students living in other parts of the building confirmed the fire began in his room.

Sin Thory, 50, a fireman, said nine firetrucks were needed to quash the blaze.

At the previous fire in Wat Botum, an electrical fault was to blame for the fire, and damage was estimated at $100,000.

Oum Bun Theoun, chief of the Fire Division, said his entire squad was sent down to the area to combat the blaze. He said most fires in Phnom Penh are caused by electrical faults, careless cooking, untended candles and leaving the plug continuously on for electrical products such as TVs, airconditioners and computers.

Edc denies fault in death of buried boy

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Christopher Shay
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

But state power company pays $1,500 to family of 13-year-old amid claims he was smothered while working at construction site

MEN Chanpong, a 13-year-old schoolboy, was buried at a construction site of the state-owned electric company Friday. He was pulled from the bottom of a hole in a construction site operated by Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) after a bulldozer at the Phnom Penh site pushed landfill over him. The company denies responsibility.

"We never hire boys. We will find out the facts of the case from eyewitnesses. I think the boy may have been murdered and buried in our hole in order to assign blame to us," said Chea Sunhel, the director of the supply department at the EdC. He added that the company had given the family of the deceased $1,500.

The driver of the bulldozer immediately fled the scene, Chea Sunhel said. Police are looking for him.

Khan Sopheak, 22, a village assistant in Lorkambor, the area where the accident happened, said the boy worked for the electric company four hours a day when not attending school. On Friday, he did not come home after work, prompting his parents to set out to find him.

Schoolmates of the deceased boy told his parents they had seen the boy at the bottom of the hole, and the parents with the help of other villagers demanded that EdC investigate. To the horror of those present, electric company workers unearthed the body of Men Chanpong, Khan Sopheak said.

The director general at the Department of Construction, Im Chamrong, said Monday he had just learned of the tragedy but promised that he and other construction experts would look into the case today, saying that hiring workers younger than 18 violates the labour law.

Sok Sovandeith, the president of the Cambodia National Federation of Building and Wood Workers, said the EdC should not be hiring 13-year-olds.

"Although there is a construction worker shortage, they must not hire labourers if it violates the labour law," he said.

Alonzo Suson, country program director at the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said a lack of regulation and experience has created unsafe conditions.

"Construction has never been closely regulated. It's not very unionised, and with so many subcontractors it's difficult to monitor.

"One problem is a lack of training. You don't have a whole crew that has been doing construction for a long time. You don't have a stable workforce that knows to demand safety," he said.

Bilingual education aims to preserve minority tongues

Photo by: PHOTO SUPPLIED
Participants at a conference on minority language preservation held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia in Phnom Penh on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith and Sebastian Strangio
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Some of the oldest indigenous languages in Southeast Asia may soon become relics of the past, but bilingual education programs could reverse the slide

THE languages of Cambodia's indigenous minorities - some numbering no more than a handful of native speakers - are under threat of extinction, prompting government efforts to bolster bilingual education in minority areas.

"A separate language contains the information, ideas, philosophy and beliefs that have been developed by communities for hundreds of years," said Austroasiatic languages professor Gerard Diffloth at a conference on minority language preservation held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia on Monday.

"When a language disappears, it is exactly as if a very special library was burned down, and nothing remains.... It is a disaster for all humanity."

Most of the Kingdom's highland minority languages belong to the Austroasiatic language family, an ancient group of Southeast Asian languages that also includes modern Khmer.

"The other languages - Thai, Burmese, Austronesian - came later," Diffloth said. "This is the original Southeast Asian family of languages."

But he added that some of these historic languages, such as Chuang, Chu-ung and Samre, are no longer being learned by younger generations.

"[The Chuang] language is almost dead already," he said. "Five old ladies remember the way it was when they used to speak it, but it is no longer spoken every day ... [and] none of the children speak it."

Royal Academy President Sorn Samnang said the only way to reverse the tide was to create scripts that allow minority languages to be recorded and easily passed on to younger generations.

"Indigenous people do not have written languages," he said. "So we have started teaching them how to write what they speak in the Khmer script."

To this end, the Institute of National Language, with support from NGOs and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is conducting bilingual education programs in indigenous communities.

"Learning how to write indigenous minority languages in Khmer ... is a bridge for the indigenous people to continue higher education at public schools," said Iv Chan, director of the Institute.

He added that the programs were operating in Ratanakkiri among the Tampuon, Krung and Prov communities, among the Phnong in Mondulkiri, and among the Kuay populations in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear.

"Hundreds of minority people have participated in the training," Iv Chan said.

Delayed trial of Russian to go ahead

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

AFTER numerous postponements, convicted Russian sex offender Alexander Trofimov will go on trial at the Sihanoukville municipal court from today through Thursday, a court judge told the Post.

Judge Taing Sunlay, who is set to preside over the trial, said Monday that "it is time for his [Trofimov's] trial. We cannot delay any longer. These cases are very complicated and take time".

Trofimov, 41, the focus of Cambodia's largest-ever paedophile prosecution, was arrested in 2007 in Sihanoukville and convicted in March 2008 of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. The sentence was slashed to seven years by the Appeals Court in October.

Taing Sunlay said that Trofimov, the former chairman of Koh Puos Investment Group, responsible for a US$300 million development off the coast of Sihanoukville, stands accused of sexually abusing another 18 girls, and if found guilty would face between seven and 15 years behind bars.

Trofimov's trial has been postponed several times due to a lack of defence lawyers, but Taing Sunlay confirmed that Saing Vannak will defend him for the upcoming trial.

"I'm studying the case in detail as it is very new for me," said Saing Vannak, before declining further comment.

Teng Maneth, a legal officer at anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour les Enfants who will attend the hearing, said that Trofimov has tried to avoid his trial by refusing a defence lawyer or by changing lawyers. "The court will not delay his trial anymore," Teng Maneth said.

PM heads to talks in Vientiane

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

POLITICS

Prime Minister Hun Sen left Phnom Penh Monday morning for Vientiane, where he will attend the fifth Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam summit, slated to open on Wednesday.

Sri Thamarong, an adviser to the prime minister, said that during the meeting the leaders were planning to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the formulation of preferential policies for the three-country development triangle, as well as investment agreements between individual countries.

"During the trip, Cambodia and Laos expected to sign the agreement on the promotion and protection of investment between the two countries," Sri Thamarong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Officials said earlier they hoped trade with Vietnam would top US$2 billion in 2008. Hun Sen and his delegation will return on Friday, he added.

Man kills himself at the Naga hotel

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Teth Sambath
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

SINGAPORE national Lee Say Kah, committed suicide Sunday morning by jumping out of a ninth-floor window in the NagaWorld casino and hotel complex, police said.

"We suspect his suicide was the result of drug abuse," said Ou Pov, police chief of the Tonle Bassac commune, Chamkarmon district, on Monday.

"The whole night he had drank beer and taken drugs which made his head noticeably shake."

A report made by the victim's Vietnamese girlfriend said Lee, 40, had gone drinking with his younger brother and their girlfriends at a bar near Wat Phnom on Saturday night.

He had purchased and taken recreational drugs that night and returned to their room at the Naga hotel around 6:00am, Ou Pov said.

They both took sedatives and Lee jumped from the window at 7:15am while his girlfriend was asleep. She only learnt of her boyfriend's death when Naga security guards woke her, Ou Pov said.

"It is a real suicide. There is no reason to believe [the victim's] girlfriend was involved," he added.

Ou Pov said police are examining four pills found in the victim's room.

Lee and his younger brother had booked into the Naga casino two days prior to the death.

They stayed in separate rooms and both had Vietnamese girlfriends whom they had met years ago and had arranged by telephone to meet in Cambodia, police said.

The body of the victim will be kept at Calmette Hospital until the family arranges transportation, police said.

NagaWorld Resort declined to comment.

Rising waters and rising fears as Boeung Kak filling recommences

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Company officials say sand pumps will soon operate through the night

SAND-PUMPING company HSC has resumed the filling of Boeung Kak lake following a weeklong halt in operations due to the annual Water Festival and serious flooding in Russey Keo district.

HSC representatives told the Post that the company had restarted work at the lake last Wednesday, and was hoping to increase the speed of the lake's reclamation, which is expected to take up to 18 months.

"We are working from dawn until one o'clock at night," said the official, adding that to speed up the work the company was planning to work 24 hours a day by the end of the month.

Local developer Shukaku Inc started pumping sand into the lake in August as the first stage in a controversial commercial and housing development that has drawn criticism from local residents and housing rights advocates.

Some worry that the 133-hectare project, which will see the lake reduced to a tenth of its current size, will worsen flooding in central Phnom Penh.

The filling was halted Tuesday last week, with City Hall claiming the work would be suspended for the duration of the Water Festival and until the floods in Russey Keo had receded.

Filling round the clock

Boeung Kak lake villager Hok Lay, 46, said the sand operation had been proceeding through the night for the past two days, causing her wooden house on the lake to buckle under the weight of sand hitting her house's wooden supports.

"I'm afraid that day and night pumping will knock down my house. Now my house is bending," she said. "The pumping at night bothers my sleep."

Village Four representative Be Pharom said that flooding around the lakeside had receded during the halt to the filling and that he expects water levels to start creeping back up.

"When there was no pumping, the floods at Boeung Kak went down," he said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong declined to comment on the sand-pumping Monday.

Govt aims to boost tourism numbers with sporting events

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by CHUN SOPHAL
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Officials look to revive the flagging sector with athletic competitions at its marquee tourism draw, the ancient temples of Angkor

GOVERNMENT tourism officials are organizing two major sports events at Angkor Wat to invigorate tourism at a time when consumers around the world are feeling the squeeze.

Over the weekend, tourism minister Thong Khon announced the upcoming half-marathon on December 7 around the ancient temple grounds,with some 1,300 Khmer contestants and 800 foreign contestants representing 31 countries.

Several days later, on December 11, local and international professional golfers will tee off at the second annual Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open.

"The two events will help attract tourists to Cambodia. They will show Cambodia has good security and political stability," Thong Khon told reporters at the Ministry of Tourism.

Cambodia received 1.7 million international visitors in the first ten months of this year, according to the ministry - more than an eight percent increase compared with last year.

"We expect the number this year to reach 2.15 million," he said.

At the end of last year, the government predicted international visitor arrivals to reach 2.2 million in 2008 and 2.7 million in 2009. They have since curbed their expectations following the global financial crisis and border disputes with Thailand.

Not enough to save the day

The president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, Ho Vandy, was sceptical the two events would stem downward trends in the sector.

"The ministry must be more realistic. The best plan to attract more tourists is to increase the number of international flights and push for lower prices of air tickets," he told the Post.

Speaking at the Government-Private Sector Forum in Phnom Penh on Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the tourism ministry to target more Asian visitors to diversify the demographic of its market.

"I have ordered the tourism ministry and civil airline authority to double their efforts to attract more regional tourists ... rather than relying on long-distance tourists to sustain growth," he said.

Rising drug prices threaten fight against tough malaria strain

Photo by: CHRISTOPHER SHAY
Anti-malarial drugs on sale in Phnom Penh on Sunday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Officials say the new drugs needed to combat resistant strains of malaria in the country's west are effective, but cost significantly more

ALTHOUGH malaria cases have decreased in 2008, health officials have expressed concerns that high costs will limit the quantity of a vital new drug that can be purchased by health distributors in the coming year.

Kheng Sin, deputy director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, told the Post that a new outbreak of malaria was not imminent, but said in some areas in Battambang and Pursat provinces the parasite has shown some tolerance to anti-malarial drugs.

"Our national plan with the support of international partners is to curb the outbreak of malaria. We will introduce a new drug to eight provinces along the Thai border in priority areas," she said, adding that up to 2.5 million Cambodians are at risk from malaria infection.

"[But] our concern is that the new drug is more expensive than the current malaria treatment."

She said that due to public health services, education and the distribution of mosquito nets, the number of malaria deaths has dropped by about half since 1993.

The centre's director, Duong Socheat, said that 7,000 malaria cases were reported in the first 11 months of 2008, down from 15,000 last year.

Abdur Rashid, a doctor with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Phnom Penh, said the world body did not have detailed information about the threat of drug-resistant malaria strains.

"Increased resistance to malaria drugs is not linked to a malaria outbreak," Rashid said.

"We are currently discussing how to deal with the increase in the parasite's tolerance."

Cambodia must use its own maps too

The most recent map of the Preah Vihear temple area, from the Joint Communique of June 18, 2008, which is publicly available at:

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Norbert Klein
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dear Editor,

In a Letter to the Editor, printed in The Phnom Penh Post on Friday, November 14, 2008, Chan Veasna, of Cabramatta, NSW, Australia, requested that "Thailand must use Cambodian maps". But the letter references only maps of 1904 and 1907, and denounces that maps used by the Thai side "have no legal basis under international laws".

Surprisingly, there is no reference at all to the newest map, produced under the signature of Var Kim Hong, senior minister in charge of border affairs of the Cambodian Council of Ministers and attached to the Joint Communique of June 18, 2008, which was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and countersigned by Francoise Riviere, assistant director general for culture of Unesco and the then-Thai minister of foreign affairs.

During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:

"The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription ... of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached... "...the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the temple.

"The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the [other] maps."

The Cambodian nomination file referenced the 1904 and 1907 maps, so the Cambodian side clearly has agreed that these have been superseded and replaced by the map of June 18, 2008. If Thais should use "Cambodian maps", so should Cambodians - that is: the newest, official map of June 18, 2008, submitted to Unesco under the signature of the Cambodian deputy prime minister.

Norbert Klein
Phnom Penh
_______________
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Protesters protest at the prime minister's temporary offices in the old Don Mueang airport in Bangkok

Policemen take position during a anti-government protest in front of the Parliament in Bangkok on November 24. Numbers at Monday's protests were lower than expected by the PAD, although the demonstrators managed to fan out to several government buildings as well as sending an advance party to the airport.(AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Anti-government demonstrators gather near a portrait of Queen Sirikit for free food at Government House Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. Protest leaders are vowing to intensify their efforts to oust the current elected government. Thailand's Parliament postponed a joint session Monday after protestors surrounded the building and cut electrical power.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Thai police stand guard at the new government offices in Bangkok's Don Mueang (Muang) airport November 24, 2008. Thousands of anti-government protesters blockaded Thailand's parliament on Monday, forcing it to postpone an important legislative session, the latest twist to a six-month campaign to unseat the elected administration.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai anti-government protesters arrive at an abandoned air terminal at the Don Muang airport - where premier Somchai Wongsawat and his cabinet have set up a makeshift base - in order to prevent a cabinet meeting to be held, in Bangkok on November 24.(AFP/Pairoj)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen arrives

LAOS, Nov 25 (KPL) - The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen, arrived here yesterday’s morning on an official visit to Laos at the invitation of his Lao counterpart Bouasone Bouphavanh.

An official ceremony to welcome Samdech Hun Sen and his delegation took place at the National Assembly by Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh.

The bilateral meeting was held at the Party Central Committee Office on the same day where both sides signed a number of co-operation agreements including the agreement on investment promotion and protection.

At 19:00 hours, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and his wife gave a reception to the visiting Cambodian Prime Minister and his wife together with his entourage.

The Cambodian Prime Minister also has schedule to participate in the 5th CLV Summit in Vientiane on 26 November. CLV refers to three new ASEAN member countries namely Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.(KPL)

Russian businessman on trial for paedophilia in Cambodia

The Earth Times
Tue, 25 Nov 2008
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The trial of a Russian businessman charged with sexually abusing 18 underage girls began Tuesday after a series of delays in getting legal representation for the defendant, national media reported Tuesday. Alexander Trofimov, 41, was arrested in 2007 on charges of abusing the girls while working in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

Trofimov, was convicted in March this year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and is currently serving a 13-year sentence in a Phnom Penh prison.

If convicted of the remaining charges, Trofimov could face a further seven to 15 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

The former chairman of Koh Pous Investment Group, which has a 300-million-dollar property development in Sihanoukville, previously complained he was unable to secure legal representation for the trial.

Trofimov has since hired a lawyer, but a local judge on Monday ordered the trial to begin even if the lawyer did not attend.

Rape risk increasing in Cambodia

Women and girls face greater risk of rape and assault in Cambodia.

By Guy de Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Women and girls in Cambodia are facing an increasing risk of rape and sexual assault, a government report has said.

It says that around a quarter of the female population faces domestic violence.

But the study showed many Cambodians think it can be acceptable for a husband to assault his wife.

The Ministry of Women's Affairs released its findings to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Long-held prejudices are combining with new forms of anti-social behaviour to put young women and girls at particular risk, the report says.

It said that the increasing use of drugs and alcohol by men is having a direct impact on the safety of female Cambodians.

It suggests that gang rape is being treated as a "sport" in some areas - and that law enforcement agencies need to do more to stop it.

Education needed

The research also indicates that women themselves may have created one of the biggest barriers to reducing domestic violence.

When presented with a list of justifications for a husband attacking his wife, more than half the women surveyed agreed with at least one of the suggested reasons.

The report says that education may be the key to changing the attitudes which allow attacks on women to go unpunished - or even condoned.

The Ministry of Women's Affairs points out that Cambodia is ahead of many other developing countries in terms of its legislation.

There are laws on the prevention of domestic attacks - and the national millennium development goals include targets for the reduction of violence and human trafficking.

For Sale

Vendors prepare vegetables for sale at a market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo courtesy: AFP.

MySinchew 2008.11.25

Python-Packed Cars Seized in Cambodia

Wildlife smugglers transporting more than a thousand pounds of reptiles—including water snakes (above) and Burmese pythons—were intercepted by a Cambodian wildlife rescue team in November 2008.Such large wildlife seizures may signal a positive shift in Cambodia's fight against illegal traders, conservationists say.Photograph courtesy Nick Marx

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
November 24, 2008

Two wildlife smugglers transporting hundreds of live turtles and pythons jammed into the backs of cars have been arrested by Cambodian officials.

The drivers were apparently heading to neighboring Vietnam to sell the animals—many of them rare—to the region's illegal wildlife markets.
The November 9 seizure by a special Cambodian government task force comes on the heels of two other raids on wildlife smugglers in Malaysia.

Cambodia has long been considered a hot spot in the booming illegal wildlife trade, with many of its animals regularly siphoned off to Vietnam and on to China to be eaten or used in traditional medicine.

But large wildlife seizures such as the one in November may signal a positive shift in Cambodia's fight against traders, said Nick Marx, the Cambodia Wildlife Rescue Director for the conservation group Wildlife Alliance.

Animals are being rescued there every week, and larger busts may happen once or twice a month, Marx said.

Reptile Loot

The smugglers were stopped in Kâmpóng Chhnǎng Province in central Cambodia while heading east toward Vietnam.

(See Cambodia map.)

In the two vehicles' trunks, officials found 1,069 pounds (485 kilograms) of live wildlife, including three species of turtles—yellow-headed temple turtles, Malayan snail-eating turtles, and Asiatic softshell turtles—that are listed as either endangered or vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

Slow-growing turtles are particularly vulnerable to poaching, experts say, and wildlife traders can wipe out entire populations in a river or lake with one shipment.
The loot also included king cobras, reticulated pythons, and Burmese pythons.

The animals were packed into bags and metal tins and kept on blocks of ice to prevent them from overheating.
The smugglers, two Cambodian men in their late 20s, were arrested by authorities.

The animals, thought to have come from protected areas in Battambang Province in western Cambodia, were released into a protected area near Tonle Sap Lake in the country's central region, according to Wildlife Alliance.

Informant Network

Before the most recent bust, task force officials were tipped off about two Toyotas loaded with wildlife.

The government task force—called the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team—relies on a countrywide network of informants, who alert them to potential smuggling activities.

"When we receive information, we have to react extremely quickly," Marx said.

"Animals are often in transit, and if we don't reach them before they reach the border we're not able to rescue them."

The Wildlife Alliance-backed group of eight military police and four forestry officials has rescued some 32,000 animals in Cambodia since the task force was set up in 2001.

Big-Market Business

Though still traditionally accepted in Cambodia, wild meat consumption has declined dramatically in the country in recent years.

"A lot of the traders that used to sell wildlife meat [to Cambodians] have stopped," Marx said.

But the Southeast Asian country remains an important source of animals for the regional wildlife trade, and traders operating there are becoming increasingly sophisticated, conservationists say.

"It's a professional, big-market business run by people who know what they're sourcing and know where they're selling it," said Colin Poole, director of the Asia program for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

With a 12-person task force to cover a country the size of the U.S. state of Missouri, smugglers often manage to escape into neighboring countries, using tricks such as switching cars to avoid detection.

Cambodia is also part of the Association of Southeast Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network, or ASEAN-WEN, which was formed in 2005 to combat the illegal wildlife trade.

But Cambodia has had little involvement with the network so far, according to Marx of Wildlife Alliance.

"This is a regional problem, and so we need to be addressing it on a more regional basis," he said.
"A stronger connection with ASEAN-WEN … [would] be a big step forward, as it will mean that traders can still be arrested and animals rescued even after they leave the country."

Mr. Sar Kheng Warns Against the Culture of Preparing Documents Asking for Ranks and for Positions - Monday, 24.11.2008

Posted on 25 November 2008

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 588

“Phnom Penh: Referring to the Anti-Economic Crimes Police Department as an obvious example, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, the Minister of Interior, warned police officers of the Minister of Interior they should eliminate the culture of preparing document to ask for insignia of rank and positions, and he warned officers who commit wrongdoings that not only their appointment to a certain position may be revoked, but also they will be dismissed from the the list of staff.

“This warning was affirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Interior again and again, as he presided over a program to announce and to assign the positions of the director-general of the national police, and to award insignia of rank to high ranking police officers of the Ministry of Interior in the afternoon of 21 November 2008.

“In front of many civil servants participating in the event, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said that over a course of time, we saw that some departments have fulfilled their duties rightly, but some departments have not. For example, the Anti-Economic Crimes Police Department, which was previously called the Economic Police. He said, ‘Then, because of many disagreements, I changed it to be called Anti-Economic Crimes Police. But how can they fight against economic crimes, when they commit wrongdoings themselves? Now, those preparing documents for positions of directors of departments are many. Some have been reassigned from positions of directors of departments, but they disagree to leave.’

“He continued to say, ‘I want to eliminate the culture of preparing documents to ask for insignia of rank and to ask for positions; such a culture must not exist any longer. Otherwise, at last, we do not have a police with the capability to work, because of these preparations of documents for higher insignia of rank and for positions. As for those who do not prepare document and who are expert police officers for a long time, they were seldom seen promoted. As long as there is such a culture, we cannot find capable police to work. This is the problem.’ He added that the government rules the nation, which it is not a simple work; it is not just to control a unit. Therefore, we must think of officers who have sufficient capability for the work.

“The Deputy Prime Minster Sar Kheng asked how many economic crimes the Anti-Economic Crimes Police is involve to fight so far? He answered himself that there are none. He said that he has not received any reports about the achievements of the Anti-Economic Crimes Police, but only reports of complaints against them. He continued to say that previously, there were cases that cars or trucks were caught and brought to police stations, but after there were solutions according to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen’s policies, it seemed that there were no results as achievements. Moreover, there were cases that forces are deployed in order to block cars for extorting money.

“Regarding this problem, the Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng called on Khmer citizens to help report any real information related to the Anti-Economic Crimes Police to be dealt with, to end the present situation.

“He issued an order for the Anti-Economic Crimes Police to withdraw all forces from anywhere, because the director-general of the National Police is fulfilling his duty, saying that there is no legal basis to deploy forces to block cars or trucks for money.

“He pointed out that doing so, there will be no more people preparing documents to ask for positions of directors of the departments of the Anti-Economic Crimes Police.’ He added that he does not agree with the culture of preparing documents for higher insignia of rank and of positions.

“Mr. Sar Kheng asked, ‘If we fail to eliminate it, who will be cursed?’ It is the Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior only; therefore, if it would be allowed to continue, our police would loose its respectability.

“He drew the attention to look at the Anti-Economic Crimes Police in other countries, like to see what the French economic police does, that has achievements in preventing crimes, and he compared it with the Cambodian Anti-Economic Crimes Police that can only order one group of police forces to the National Road 4, and another group to the National Road 5, showing that they are not expert police forces to fight economic crimes. Mr. Sar Kheng emphasized that he means action, ‘If you continue to do as before, I will not only cancel your appointment, but I will also strike you from the staff list.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4750, 23-24.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 24 November 2008

Song Kosal Delivers her speach at UN

Song Kosal, landmine victim from Cambodia delivers her speech during the opening ceremony of the 9th Meeting of the States Parties, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Nov. 24, 2008.(AP Photo/KEYSTONE/Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Amanpour to Anchor a Nightly Show on CNN International

Shaul Schwarz/Reportage, for CNN
Christiane Amanpour at a memorial shrine at the Choeung Ek killing fields in Cambodia.

The New York Times

By ELIZABETH JENSEN
Published: November 23, 2008

In her 25 years at CNN, Christiane Amanpour has hopscotched the world, the very model of a foreign correspondent, turning up at seemingly every war, genocide, famine and natural disaster, slipping through previously closed borders and interviewing even the most recalcitrant of foreign leaders.

But there is one thing she has never done: anchored her own daily news show.
That will change next year, when she starts a nightly program on CNN International, which is retooling its lineup. An edited version of Ms. Amanpour’s show is expected to be shown on the weekends on CNN’s United States channel.

No start date for either version has been set, and the new program does not yet have a title, producer or much of a format, at least not one that executives are ready to talk about. But in in her office in the Time Warner building, with its sweeping view over Columbus Circle and Central Park in Manhattan, Ms. Amanpour said she would continue to travel with the program, “because I’m a field person at heart, in my bones and in my DNA.”

“I think that’s massively important,” she said, “because you can’t just sit back and opine about the news; you have to actually go out there and cover it and report it.”

Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, said: “Our thinking was we wanted a big, the biggest, name to hub our international prime time, and when it comes to global international superstars that list pretty much begins and ends with Christiane Amanpour.”

Ms. Amanpour’s program will go after big interviews but also include reporting and round- table discussions, he said. It will begin in the second quarter of 2009, joining several other new programs that the network — which reaches about 240 million households worldwide — has already started to show in the noon to 6 p.m. Eastern time period, which is prime time for much of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “BackStory,” with Michael Holmes as anchor, began in October; other programs, planned for early 2009, are in the pilot phase.

There had never been talk of Ms. Amanpour, 50, doing a daily program; she never had much desire, she said, because she was too busy running around to the world’s hot spots. But in recent years, after the birth of her son, Darius, now 8, Ms. Amanpour has put more energy into documentaries, including “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden”; last year’s six-hour “God’s Warriors,” which won a Peabody Award; and the coming “Scream Bloody Murder,” about genocide, which will be broadcast on Dec. 4.

In January, Ms. Amanpour, who was raised in Iran and is a British citizen, moved back to the United States for the first time since she left for Germany (later followed by home bases in Paris and most recently, London) nearly two decades ago. Her husband, James Rubin, the former Clinton administration official who is an adjunct professor of foreign policy at Columbia, wanted to return to New York in an election year. “I’d always said when it was his turn we’d come back to the United States,” she added.

A serious, occasionally fierce defender of the place of international reporting in an American television news diet, Ms. Amanpour has over the years, often while accepting honors for her work, made public, pointed barbs at her own bosses, when she thought entertainment fluff threatened to overwhelm more substantive topics. But these days, she says, she’s “hopeful that we’re up to the task.”

“The American people,” she said, “spoke loudly. The majority of the American people in the run-up to this election said they believe that the next president, one of his most important priorities should be restoring America’s position in the world. That to me says it all: That means that there is an openness, that there is a desire, a hunger to know about the world, and to know about where America is and fits into the world.”

Programming executives seemingly agree. In June, CNN added a one-hour international news program hosted by Newsweek International’s editor, Fareed Zakaria, to its Sunday afternoon lineup; Ms. Amanpour is a frequent guest.

Elsewhere, CBS’s “60 Minutes,” for which Ms. Amanpour was a contributor for nine years until 2005, has thrived this season with a steady component of international reporting, and BBC America continues to invest in news programming for the United States. In October, the public television stations WLIW and WNET in New York began producing a half-hour daily international news program for public television stations nationwide, anchored by Martin Savidge, Ms. Amanpour’s former CNN colleague.

In the coming documentary, Ms. Amanpour highlights the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide with a look at a century of genocidal campaigns, from the Holocaust to Rwanda to Darfur today. The stories are told, she said, through the perspective of people “who in each case knew what they were seeing and tried to scream bloody murder to stop it.”

Fittingly, however, one example where public attention eventually worked was in Bosnia, the first big story of Ms. Amanpour’s career. “I didn’t fully know what it was until I’d spent weeks and months understanding what it was. It wasn’t just two sides battling it out, it was genocide, and when we said that we were taking an enormous risk,” she recalled.

That war, she said, shaped her outlook on her chosen profession. “When we’re not there, when we’re not there in a critical mass and we don’t tell the story and we don’t put our eyewitness testimony in the public sphere, then the most unspeakable evil can happen.”

Reports Sheds Light On Cambodian Monkey Trade

Red Orbit
Monday, 24 November 2008

In a report to be released today, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) says Cambodia breaching international rules by allowing the capture of monkeys for research in the U.S. and China.

The report adds that thousands of long-tailed macaque monkeys are being taken and are being kept in cruel conditions until being exported. The group also says that the monkeys are raised on monkey farms that traumatize the creatures for life.

According to the BUAV, the unregulated trade is having an impact on the population numbers of the macaque monkey, leading to the degradation of Cambodian jungles.

"People around the world will be shocked by the findings of the BUAV investigation and to learn of the suffering inflicted on Cambodia's monkeys," said Michelle Thew, chief executive of the BUAV.

"At a time when there is growing international concern over the plight of primates, we urge the Cambodian government to protect its indigenous macaque population."

The macaque monkey is the world’s most common primate, including 22 species from Africa to Japan.

The macaque is a highly intelligent primate that adapts well to urban areas, but often earns a love-hate relationship with locals because of their playful ways.

According to the report, almost 10,000 monkeys where shipped from Cambodia to primate dealers in the U.S. and China.

International rules discourage using wild animals for research, but the BUAV says this is being ignored in Cambodia.

The group says that 80 percent of the monkeys died before reaching laboratories due to poor treatment.

The BUAV has asked the Cambodian government to regulate the capture of wild animals, and has urged the U.S. and the European Union to ban their import.

From Avoca to Cambodia: Drew McDowell making a difference

By Justin Head
The Evening Tribune
Mon Nov 24, 2008

Hornell, N.Y. -

For about three years Drew McDowell has given up a life of luxury in the United States to live in the third world city of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. And although he misses the United States, he doesn’t have plans on returning permanently in the near future. He is too busy running the two schools he created.

McDowell, a 1988 Avoca High School graduate, traveled to Thailand and Vietnam as a tourist in 2006 and ended going on a tour of Cambodia —the tour changed his life forever.

McDowell was brought to an orphanage that had children in terrible conditions. He saw children with rotten teeth, without shoes, dirty, desperately needing attention. He was shocked by the amount of young girls that were prostitutes in the region. He had an epiphany that he could change lives — and now he does.

“My heart is also constantly breaking from the tragedies. You meet these kids and see them very eager to learn, constantly laughing and playing games, smart and beautiful, and then you find out that their families want them to drop out of school to work so they can earn money to provide food,” said McDowell in an email.

After his visit, McDowell worked with a friend of his to become the project coordinator of a Village Earth program called the Cambodian Education Project. This project, which McDowell create from scratch has helped hundreds of children receive education, health services and attention.

“Village Earth is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable, community-based development around the world by providing innovative training, consultation, appropriate technology information, and project support services,” according to its Website.

“I was overwhelmed by the poverty and condition of life there,” said McDowell, adding, “I decided that I wanted to improve their lives. I began to think of ideas about what I could do.”

McDowell moved to Cambodia in the spring of 2006 and began working in the orphanage he had toured until he learned the staff was corrupt and wasn’t doing enough to help the children. The orphanage had a bad reputation and did not receive much funding. The children danced for tourists to get money and this disgusted McDowell. He began telling people the truth about the orphanage and his life was threatened.

“After six months, the orphanage director’s nephew, Lucky, who is in the military, called me to a meeting, which had to be translated. He was furious, and listed complaints of his suspicions that I was telling donors not to give to them, which was true, but he didn’t know anything really, though his intuition was right. He made threats to me and said I wasn’t to ever come back. I was scared to death, and left the country two days later for one month,” said McDowell in an email.

The threats didn’t stop McDowell and his passion for helping children though.

McDowell found a shack-converted to a schoolhouse nearby that was going to close down because an American man that founded had disappeared. No one knows what happened to the man, but McDowell bought all of the desks for $80 and took over the rent which was $30 a month.

“I bought a whole school for $110,” said McDowell with a laugh. He named that school the Aziza School.

He has since created a second school called the Lakeside School because of popular demand. The schools serve about 200 students from the ages of 6-20 at all different educational levels.

McDowell said people who donate to Village Earth can see the results of their donations. He has a blog on a Website that is updated monthly and Village Earth provides records of how the money is spent. They pay teachers $1.50 an hour to teach classes and McDowell pays for his own expenses.

“If I died now I could say that I lived a full life. Cambodians from all kinds of backgrounds; poor, wealthy, young and old, are constantly thanking me for coming to their country to help children, and have helped me in more ways than I can count,” said McDowell in an email.

McDowell said he has placed 15 students with good jobs and looks forward to helping more in the future.

Cambodia became a troubled region during the Vietnam War in the 1970’s. The United States bombed Cambodia for years while a radical group called the Khmer Rouge took control of the country. They enslaved common people in rural work camps, executed intellectuals and destroyed anything foreign or modern in the country. They banned books, money and medicine which has had a ripple effect on modern development in the country. It is estimated that the Khmer Rouge killed nearly two million people during its bloody rain of terror.

Cambodian Anti-Prostitution Activist Wins Human Rights Award

Somaly Mam hopes her work will help make other victims happy

Deutsche Welle
Human Rights 24.11.2008

A survivor of child slavery and prostitution, Somaly Mam battles forced prostitution in her native Cambodia. For helping to better the world for others like her, Mam received the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award Monday.

“Myself acquainted with misfortune, I learn to help the unfortunate” -- so said the poet Virgil over 2000 years ago. The saying, however, is one that could have come from the mouth of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who lived through slavery and prostitution as a child and faced every conceivable form of violence.

Having escaped that misfortune, Mam now uses her horrendous life experience to help fight for the rights of other young women who have been in her situation. Twelve years ago, she founded an NGO for women and children who were used as sex slaves called AFESIP, or Acting for Women in Distressing Situations.

On Monday, November 24, German President Horst Koehler recognized Mam's work by presenting her with the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award. The award, intended for those who work in the field of human rights and financed by the Roland Berger Foundation, is endowed with a million euros. This is the first year the prize has been awarded.

Childhood over at ten

Born around 38 years ago to parents she would never know, Mam was raised by foster parents in the eastern Cambodian province of Mondolkiri. At the age of 10, she moved in with an older man whom she referred to as “Grandpa” and began her work as a domestic slave to the attentive man. Her childhood ended then; running the home became her most important duty.

Mam says Cambodian women and children have no say in their lives

Four or five years later, Mam was handed over by “Grandpa” to a man twelve years her senior, forced to marry to settle an outstanding debt.

That her grandfather had made such a decision about her life, her body and her destiny is something she didn't question.

“In Cambodia, women don't have the right to say no,” she said. “Women and children must sacrifice their entire life to the family.”

Her husband disappeared shortly after their marriage and “Grandpa” then brought her to a bordello in the Cambodian capitol of Phnom Penh.

“I thought I owed him something. He fed me so I thought I had to be thankful and do everything for him.”

Trust fell by the wayside

The years following saw Mam held as a sex slave. In those years, violence, malnutrition, abuse and drugs intertwined. Attempts at escape were always hindered.

Cambodia's red light district attracts sex toursists from around the world

“My pimp would catch me and barricade me in a cage with snakes,” Mam recalls.

The memory floods the beautiful woman's brown eyes with tears when she relates it even today. Still, she speaks and writes about her experiences often. Her memoir, “The Road of Lost Innocence” was published two years ago.

"I can smile and speak today, but deep in my heart, I don't feel as normal as you,” she told guests at the book's launch party. “I don't know how to love another person. I don't know how to trust anyone.”

Mam has, however, learned to trust at least one man: Pierre Legros, a Frenchman she met in Cambodia who helped her to flee from the brothel. She went with him to France, married him and later returned with him to Cambodia, where she founded AFESIP.

The organization and its workers, with support from UNICEF, have thus far freed a thousand women and children from forced prostitution. AFESIP helps them to win back their self-confidence, to re-enter the community, to read and write and later, to train for future careers.

Literacy is one area AFESIP focuses on

Every time Mam helps a young girl, she is faced once again with her own fortune and sees the pain and suffering in them reflecting back at her like a mirror. It's an immense burden but also an advantage, Mam believes.

“If I hadn't had the experiences that I'd had, I couldn't have been able to help these young girls so well.”

Threats an everyday experience

The necessity of Mam's work is clearly shown when one looks at the horrific statistics concerning sex slavery in Cambodia. A UN report estimates that 50,000 women and young girls are victims of sexual violence every day. Ninety percent of children freed from brothels have tested positive for HIV. The country ranks as a top destination for sex tourists, which supports a continuation of forced slavery and human trafficking.

Still, not everyone agrees with Mam's work. She's publicly attacked politicians and businessmen in her homeland for their involvement in corruption and prostitution. Threats of murder and verbal attacks at the “whistleblower” are an everyday part of life for Mam, as are muggings and kidnappings. But she won't let that stop her.

“Every day, when I see these victims, these women who have been abused, who have so much pain, I know I simply can't turn my back on them. I have to fight with all my power. I will never give up. Never.”

Anja Koch (cat)

YAYASAN SALAM TO BEGIN SECOND HUMNITARIAN MISSION IN CAMBODIA ON SUNDAY

PETALING JAYA, Nov 24 (Bernama) -- Yayasan Salam Malaysia (SALAM), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) will begin its second humanitarian mission in Cambodia for four days starting Sunday.

It will be participated by 50 volunteers including several local media representatives.

This time around, SALAM's mission is to help build mosques, suraus and schools for poor communities in the country.

SALAM board of trustees member, Datuk Ahmad A. Talib said Kedah veteran of Malaysian Association of Youth Clubs (MAYC) would also join the mission.

"We will go to three villages and eight venues there which need help in building mosques, suraus and schools because the existing ones do not even have basic facilities.

"The expenditure for construction is expected to exceed RM60,000 based on our experience there last year. This time we will continue any unfinished work," he told reporters at a briefing session at the foundation's building, here today.

YAYASAN-CAMBODIA 2 (LAST) PETALING JAYA

The foundation would donate 40 cows to be slaughtered during Aidiladha, which would be celebrated by Muslims on Dec 8.

The beef would be distributed to some 3,000 residents in three villages, Tropengbeang, Tanaksawai and Praksandai in the Kratie province of Cambodia, he added.

-- BERNAMA

Cape trail expert to called to Cambodia

IOL
Environment Writer
November 24 2008

'So we'll be travelling by elephant...'

From Table Mountain to Cambodia, Capetonian Stephen Lamb will be taking the skills and experience he acquired when building the Hoerikwaggo Trail camps to the remote forests of Asia where he will establish an eco-lodge for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Lamb, who left on Friday for a four-week "recce" of Cambodia's Mondulkiri region near the Vietnamese border, said he was told that recent heavy rains meant the area was inaccessible by vehicle, even four-wheel drives.

"So we'll be travelling by elephant. Apparently that's the only way to travel in the monsoon season, or whenever there are heavy rains. I'm really excited about this sharing experience globally, and about the whole idea of setting up a blue-print for eco-tourism that really puts into practice the concept of touching the earth lightly," Lamb said.

Lamb, the project manager, will be joined by Mike Schroeder, the architect who worked with Lamb in establishing Table Mountain National Park's Hoerikwaggo tented camps at Orange Kloof, Silvermine and Slangkop.

"This is apparently an amazing area, called the Srekop Wilderness, half a million hectares of forest which still has Bengal tigers, leopard and Asian elephant. It is still pretty much untouched, mainly because of the war.

"WWF Cambodia want to have an eco-lodge for responsible tourism, so the focus will be on establishing renewable energy at the camp, setting up systems for dealing with the disposal of waste and so on. It will also be on making conservation issues relevant to the livelihoods of the local people," Lamb said.

The plan is to set up energy from a small-scale hydro-electric plant on a river. Before deciding where the camp will go, Lamb and Schroeder will explore the banks of the river by boat and by elephant to find the most suitable site. All the structures will be built off the ground and connected by elevated walkways.

Lamb says the area is now cleared of land mines.

'WWF Cambodia want to have an eco-lodge for responsible tourism'

Center for Friends Without a Border Opens in Cambodia

Monday November 24

MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Friends Without a Border has announced the opening of the Center for Friends Without a Border in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Located next to the Angkor Hospital for Children, the Center is designed to increase awareness of the many programs sponsored by Friends while helping to promote Green architecture and renewable energy in Cambodia. Visitors to the Center will be able to observe exhibits by world-renowned photographers, learn more about the history of Cambodia and see the remarkable impact and progress being made through the medical care, education and outreach programs provided by the Angkor Hospital for Children.

The Center was funded by Sterling Stamos Capital Management of Menlo Park, CA and New York, NY, a private investment firm committed to the idea of corporate philanthropy and "doing well by doing good." "We are proud to have helped fund such a remarkable facility," said Peter Stamos, Chairman and CEO of Sterling Stamos. "The Angkor Hospital for Children has been a wonderful project that has dramatically contributed to the well-being of the children of Cambodia. This project allows us to express our sincere gratitude for all that both Friends and Angkor Hospital have done."

The Center was designed pro bono by Cook+Fox Architects in New York and is the first green, sustainably designed project of its kind in Cambodia. Cook+Fox, well-known for its design of the Bank of America Tower in New York City, the first LEED Platinum skyscraper in the U.S., used techniques for minimizing energy use and recycling water, as well as sustainably-procured and locally-crafted materials.

Forever changed by his encounters with Cambodian children in dire need of medical care, famed Japanese photographer Kenro Izu founded Friends Without a Border in 1996 and helped construct the Angkor Hospital for Children. Since 1999, Angkor Hospital has treated over 560,000 children and is the largest pediatric HIV treatment facility outside the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Sterling Stamos is a private investment firm that invests globally using an endowment approach across five asset classes: fixed income, equity, absolute return, real assets and private equity. With principal offices in New York City and Menlo Park, CA, Sterling Stamos has over $8 billion in assets under management.
SOURCE Sterling Stamos Capital Management

Prime Minister announces sops to help garment industry

November 24, 2008 (Cambodia)

On the back of rising closures and lay-offs in the once vibrant garment industry, the Prime Minister, Mr Sen announced a 10 percent cut in export fees and also appealed to workers to call off their strikes to tackle the crisis which was snowballing out of control. This cut he said was to reduce the pressure on the garment exporters arising from the meltdown.

This announcement from the Prime Minister came due to a request made by the President of Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, Mr Leng at the 14th Government-Private sector forum. The association had in fact demanded a 30 percent cut.

Mr. Sen appealed to the labour unions to call off all the strikes as this was not the right time to strike but to ensure that their kitchen hearths were kept warm and helped companies tackle the crisis and cautioned them by saying that these strikes would lead to a loss of orders and result in possible closure of units they were working at.

The Chairman of the forums Industrial Relation’s Sub-Committee, Mr Sothy said that till date in the current year there have been 95 instances of strikes, a rise of 48 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

Unemployment in the garment industry is rising due to frequent strikes and the recessionary trends prevailing in the main global markets due to which new orders have been reduced to a trickle.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

Hun Sen Leaves for Laos, Vietnam Summit

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
24 November 2008

Khmer airshow audioed 24 november (719 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer airshow audioed 24 november (719 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday left for a two-day official visit to Vientiane, to sign agreements trade agreements and attend a summit of Laos, Cambodian and Vietnamese leaders.

The two countries hope to develop investment on the border of Vietnam, in a zone called the Development Triangle Area of CLV, or Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam.

“The visit will strengthen bilateral friendship, and both prime ministers will negotiate and sign an agreement on the promotion and protection of investment,” said Sri Thamrong, a political adviser to Hun Sen.

The business exchange between Laos and Cambodia amounts to around $1 million, mainly in agriculture. The two neighbors hope to open two international gateways, at Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri provinces, to boost trade and tourism.