Sunday, 31 May 2009

ASEAN Leaders Express Concern Over NK Threat

The Korea Times

05-31-2009

By Na Jeong-ju
Staff Reporter

SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island ― South Korea and Thailand agreed Sunday to make joint diplomatic efforts to help North Korea return to the six-party denuclearization talks and eventually abandon its program to develop nuclear weapons.

At a summit between President Lee Myung-bak and Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva here, they shared the view that the North's recent missile and nuclear tests threaten the peace and stability of not only East Asia, but also the whole world.

The Thai prime minister is one of the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) who gathered here for a special summit between Korea and the economic bloc, the country's third largest trade partner. ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

``Lee and Vejjajiva called for joint efforts to promote regional peace and stability and agreed North Korea's provocation will put Asia and the rest of the world in danger,'' Cheong Wa Dae said in a statement.

Lee discussed North Korea with other leaders and shared the need to cooperate for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue.

On Saturday, Lee held summits with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the presidential office.

Lee and Arroyo expressed deep concerns over the North's recent nuclear test while calling on Pyongyang to observe U.N. Security Council resolutions and to immediately return to the six-party talks, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Lee and the Vietnamese leader agreed the nuclear test was a serious challenge to the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and a threat to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia and the world, it said.

On the sidelines of the Korea-ASEAN Summit on Monday, President Lee will meet with the leaders of Laos, Brunei and Indonesia to discuss regional security and ways to strengthen economic cooperation.

``The summit will mainly focus on ways to increase trade and investment between Korea and ASEAN, but the leaders will also address North Korea's nuclear threats,'' a Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson said. ``The ASEAN leaders hoped the nuclear issue will be resolved peacefully through the six-party dialogue and promised to help South Korea achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.''

Asians talk of peace, but look to buy more arms

Sun May 31, 2009

By Nopporn Wong-Anan SINGAPORE, May 31 (Reuters) - Asia's defence policymakers spoke of peace in the region's top security conference in Singapore, but have been also huddling in the corridors of a luxury hotel haggling over deals with arms suppliers.

The annual Asia Security Conference, a forum for discussion, brought together some of the world's main arms-makers with military chiefs nervously eyeing their neighbours' moves and looking to upgrade defences in a region full of long-running insurgencies, potential maritime disputes and growing wealth.

"Defence suppliers find it very important to be here to make a set of contacts," said Jonathan Pollack, professor of Asian and Pacific Studies at the U.S. Naval War College.

Japan's defence minister told the gathering that the country, anxious about North Korea's latest nuclear test, would not strike first but it was still looking to boost its airforce with Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) F-22 fighter jets.

Top executives from firms such as Boeing (BA.N), the Pentagon's No.2 defense supplier, flew to Singapore to rub shoulders with potential clients, as they look to expand foreign sales at a time when the Obama government is starting to cap defence project spending.

"In the event that I'm meeting with any defence suppliers, it will be the last I'll be speaking to you," Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told Reuters, fresh from a military success that ended a two-decade old Tamil Tiger insurgency.

AIR AND NAVAL DEMAND

Boeing's defense chief Jim Albaugh told a briefing he saw growing Asian demand for air and naval forces as the region looks to protect its trade and territory.

Boeing met with India's top military official Vijay Singh at one of the hotel's private conference rooms, but the meeting was brief, and Singh later met with Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L).

Boeing may not have had much luck, as Cambodia's Defence Minister Tea Banh told Reuters he also met Boeing but was not buying anything for now.

Boeing is vying for a $10 billion Indian contract for warplanes, one of the world's biggest arms deals, together with Lockheed, Saab (SAABb.ST), Russia and a European consortium.

India plans to spend more than $30 billion over the next five years to modernise its largely Soviet-era weapons systems. China is spending 15 percent more on its military budget this year, leading to fears among some of an Asian arms race.

"What you do see in the region is a reaction between the military programmes of certain countries," said Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the conference's organiser. "There are many players, each of which is looking over their shoulders."

Indonesia, hoping to update its hardware, spoke at the meeting to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates about buying Lockheed C-130 transport planes, and told Reuters it could be in a financial position in 2-3 years to buy jets and submarines.

The world's fourth-most populous nation aims to raise its defence spending to 1.2 percent of GDP within five years, from 0.68 percent or $3.3 billion now, its defense minister said.

Indonesia's southern neighbour Australia this month released a blueprint for a $72 billion military upgrade, though its defence minister told the conference spending was "rather modest" when looking across the region.

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was asked at the meeting if the defence plan clashed with his vision for a regional security architecture and EU-style community, and replied countries had to pursue that and a defence build-up.

"The chance of conflict can never be ruled out," Rudd said. (Additional reporting by Candida Ng and Harry Suhartono; Writing by Neil Chatterjee; Editing by bill Tarrant)

Gates: N. Korea Nukes a Grave Threat



AssociatedPress

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates uses some of the harshest words yet on the nuclear weapons situation in North Korea, warning the United States will not stand by if the country transfers weapons or technology to other states.

Malaria resistance to most effective drugs proven in Cambodia

Photo by mst7022, Flickr

Paul Wallis

About half the world’s population is exposed to endemic malaria. The ancient disease, which was the plague of early civilizations, kills a million people a year, even today. Now, it’s showing resistance to the artemesinin class of drugs in Cambodia.

The suspected increased resistance (see Bob Ewing’s DJ article on this subject) has now been confirmed by international studies. The story of is much the same as that of increased resistance to anti biotics. Use of the drugs in Cambodia isn’t well controlled, and misuse of the drugs seems to be taking the same path as many other diseases.

There are a lot of ramifications in the development of a new form of resistant malaria. In terms of global health, it’s much like a new war, in the numbers of lives lost. Malaria is one of the most widespread global diseases, and the resistant forms have been known to spread rapidly, particularly in other impoverished areas. Asian strains of resistant malaria have previously spread rapidly in Africa.

The problem remains the Plasmodium parasite. Its extraordinary life cycle makes it hard to fight across all stages, and even massive extermination during the postwar years simply slowed it down. Add to this the difficulty of controlling the 60 species of Anopheles mosquito able to transmit malaria, and Plasmodium is the classic hard case of epidemiology. It's one of the hardest targets in medicine. Generations of work have gone into developing treatments, and this situation adds levels of difficulty nobody needs, and no poor countries can afford.

The World Health Organization has previously warned of serious ramifications to drug resistant malaria as far back as 2001, and has continued to express deep concern about the potentials of the drug resistant strains to spread globally.

This dramatic increase in resistance has happened before, with disastrous consequences. According to the WHO, referring to a previous form of anti malarial drugs:

Resistance of Plasmodium falciparum to choloroquine, the cheapest and the most used drug is spreading in almost all the endemic countries. Resistance to the combination of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine which was already present in South America and in South-East Asia is now emerging in East Africa.

There’s been further complications caused by fake drugs sold in poor countries like Cambodia, which contain enough drugs to pass tests, but not enough to work effectively as treatment. This is roughly the equivalent of inoculating the disease against the cure, and killing a few people on the side for ambiance.

(The fake drugs are said to be sold by criminal gangs. An interesting form of mass murder of thousands of people, if so. No doubt the traditional totally ineffective international law enforcement response will take care of the cosmetic elements, and charge them with the medical equivalent of jaywalking.)

The BBC says that the WHO actually told the drug producers of the current malaria drugs to stop selling the artemesinin drugs on their own, specifically to avoid this scenario.

The routine lack of cooperation from the drug companies is another problem. Medical professionals and organizations routinely cooperate internationally, even dealing with individual cases of infection. Nations usually cooperate and enforce their own regulations. But there are no effective global governing laws or coherent mechanisms to deal with the many cases of global spreads of diseases. The WHO doesn’t have the authority to demand enforcement of its policies. An enchanting international ad hoccery, as usual, pervades international law, and the pharmaceutical companies have exploited it. They can't be compelled to comply with WHO.

From the look of the malaria situation, the drug companies haven’t even noticed there’s a problem. For the sake of a few bucks extra on sales, millions of people could be put at risk. Even media terminology hasn’t quite found a name for this process, where health risks are monetized and sold to the world’s poor.

I can only think of one, off the cuff: Free Market Genocide. Catchy, isn’t it?

Civil Society: The US$18 Million Budget Can Only Assist Farmers Indirectly – Saturday, 30.5.2009

Posted on 31 May 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 614
http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

“Phnom Penh: A civil society organization which works in agriculture claimed that the US$18 million allocated by the National Assembly as a foundation to assist agriculture and agro-industry can only help farmers indirectly, and some said that it is not oriented into the right direction.

“The president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture – CEDAC – Mr. Yang Saing Koma, said on 29 May 2009 that the resources allocated by the National Assembly are good news for farmers, but they can only help them indirectly.

“He explained, ‘These resources can only help big enterprises, but there is no direct benefit for farmers.

“Mr. Saing Koma added that farmers might not benefit from them unless they are used to help farmers enhance their ability in doing farming, or to help them technically while the farming season is arriving, and to increase their yields and find specific markets for them. Doing this they will directly gain benefits, but the presently allocted resources can only help them partly.

“Apparently, the resources might be offered in the form of loans by the government to support different enterprises financially, and especially to those related to increase capital to buy rice to store it and other products from farmers for export, after several rice millers had announced that they lack capital to buy rice in the country. However, it was criticized that this measure seems to be somewhat late, because the harvesting season this year has almost finished.

“Mr. Saing Koma said, ‘I think that such a budget should have been adopted since December or January 2008, because so far, the harvesting season has almost passed, but if it is for next year, then it is good.’

“Regarding the adoption of this budget, an official from a farmer association who asked not to be named seems to agree with Mr. Saing Koma; he said that helping mainly big enterprises can only provide jobs to people with low salaries, while obviously about 80% of the farmers in Cambodia still encounter difficulties. He added that if they really want to help farmers, they have to ensure that there is a real market for farmers, and this should be enough.

“He went on to say that so far, 70% to 80% of the local market is occupied by neighboring countries’ products, as farmers are not much cared for directly.

“Related to the market for local products, Phnom Penh is not the only place, but farmers can hardly find markets for their products also at provinces.

“A vegetable vendor in Siem Reap, Mr. Sim Veasy, said that generally, farmers in Siem Reap nowadays say that vegetables for this well-known tourism city are all imported from neighboring countries, and many local farmers cannot produce much vegetables because they do not have the necessary capital.

“He added, ‘The 10 tonnes of vegetables in Siem Reap are all imported, while most Khmer farmers have only one basket of vegetables to sell.’”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4907, 30.5.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 30 May 2009

S. Korea Criticizes N. Korea Over Nuclear, Missile Tests

KCNA via AFP
An undated photo released in January 2009 shows a firing drill of two missiles at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

May 30: South Korean marines man at their positions at the South Korea's western Yeonpyong Island, near the disputed sea border with North Korea.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Associated Press

SEOGWIPO, South Korea — South Korea and Thailand criticized North Korea on Sunday, saying the country's nuclear test threatens world peace and stability and harms efforts to prevent atomic proliferation.

The two nations' leaders discussed Pyongyang's latest nuclear blast on the sidelines of a summit between South Korea and Southeast Asian countries being held amid heavy security.

The event was planned months ago, but North Korea's underground nuclear test and a series of short-range missile launches last week threatens to steal the limelight from economic matters, the main focus of the agenda.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva agreed that the test goes against international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and "undermines peace and stability not only in East Asia but also in the whole world," Lee Dong-kwan, the South Korean president's chief spokesman, told reporters.

They also agreed to exert diplomatic pressure to assure North Korea complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions and "promptly returns to six-party talks" aimed at ridding it of nuclear weapons.

The summit venue of Seogwipo — on the island of Jeju off the southern coast — is the South Korean city farthest away from the North. Still, the nervous South Korean government is taking no chances, positioning a surface-to-air missile outside the venue aimed toward the north.

Some 5,000 police officers, including approximately 200 commandos, and special vehicles that can analyze sarin gas and other chemicals have been deployed nearby, security authorities said in a press release. Marines, special forces and air patrols also kept watch on the island.

Leaders of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began arriving for the two-day summit, which officially begins Monday and commemorates 20 years of relations between South Korea and the bloc. South Korea's president planned to use Sunday for individual meetings with ASEAN leaders.

But concerns about North Korea's most recent bout of saber-rattling loomed. South Korean officials said Saturday that spy satellites had spotted signs that the North may be preparing to transport a long-range missile to a launch site.

The North has attacked South Korean targets before, bombing a Korea Air jet in 1987 and trying to kill then-President Chun Doo-hwan in Myanmar in 1983. But Pyongyang has largely abandoned such overt tactics in the past two decades.

The U.N. Security Council is still weighing how to react to the North's belligerent moves that have earned Pyongyang criticism from the U.S., Europe, Russia and even the North's closest ally, China.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday that North Korea's progress on nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is "a harbinger of a dark future" and has created an urgent need for more pressure on the reclusive communist government to change its ways.

Gates, speaking at an annual meeting of defense and security officials in Singapore, said Pyongyang's efforts pose the potential for an arms race in Asia that could spread beyond the region.

An incensed North Korea said last month that it was quitting the six-party negotiations after the U.N. Security Council condemned its April 5 rocket launch, widely believed to be a test of its long-range missile technology. The Security Council has imposed sanctions against the North over its first nuclear test in October 2006.

The six-party framework, which began in 2003, consists of the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition to the summit, a gathering of South Korean and Southeast Asian business leaders began Sunday with addresses by Lee and Abhisit, who both called for further cooperation to overcome the global economic crisis.

South Korea, Asean to Boost Investment, Lee Says (Update2)


By Heejin Koo

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will agree to boost investment and trade to speed recovery from the global economic crisis

South Korea and Asean’s 10 members will sign the accord during a two-day summit that starts tomorrow, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak said today in a speech. The countries will also pledge to elevate their yearly trade to $150 billion by 2015 from $90 billion last year.

“A global crisis needs global countermeasures,” Lee told Korean and Asean business executives on the southern South Korean island of Jeju, where the summit will be held. “A joint effort between Korea and Asean, nations full of potential, is vital.”

Lee has pushed for free-trade agreements with the U.S., the European Union and with Asean to buoy exports and avoid a recession. South Korea’s economy unexpectedly expanded 0.1 percent in the first quarter after contracting 5.1 percent the previous three months.

The won has fallen 18 percent against the dollar and 26 percent against the yen in the past 12 months.

An earlier agreement between South Korea and Asean to lower tariffs on merchandise took effect in 2007 and another on services took hold this month. South Korea exported $49 billion worth of goods to Asean nations last year and imported $41 billion.

Regional Cooperation

“Regional cooperation and integration are no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in a speech following Lee at the business leaders’ gathering. “In light of the global economic and financial crisis, we need to work more closely together to ensure that our trade and investment ties will not be seriously affected.”

Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Heejin Koo in Seoul at hjkoo@bloomberg.net

South Korea calls for enhanced ties with ASEAN

South Korean president calls for common 'economic community' with Southeast Asian bloc

Kelly Olsen, Associated Press Writer
On Sunday May 31, 2009

SEOGWIPO, South Korea (AP) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called Sunday for closer business and cultural ties with Southeast Asia to create a common economic community that is a leader in green growth.

Lee, who invited leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian nations to commemorate 20 years of relations between the Seoul and the bloc, hailed the expansion of their economic ties.

Total trade has grown 11 times over the past two decades to $90.2 billion last year, he said, and is expected to increase to $150 billion by 2015.

"We must strengthen our economic partnership, expand cultural exchange and become partners in our common goal of taking the lead in the new era of green growth," Lee told business executives from his country and ahead of a summit on Monday and Tuesday. "We have the vast potential for future growth."

The two sides have concluded free trade agreements in goods and services and plan to sign an investment accord at the summit.

"We must strive to become one business and economic community where business is done in a free environment," Lee said.

The ASEAN bloc is South Korea's third-largest trading partner and second-largest investment destination. South Korea is the grouping's fifth-largest trading partner.

The summit was being held amid tight security after North Korea carried out its second nuclear test and a series of short-range missile tests over the past week.

The business gathering was also attended by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein. Other ASEAN leaders were arriving Sunday.

The summit has been in the works for months, but the tensions with the North have threatened to overshadow it, though Lee did not mention them in his speech.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Associated Press Writer Kwang-tae Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

South Korea, Thailand criticize North over tests

A North Korean Navy ship, second from right, moves past North Korean fishing boats off South Korea's western Yeonpyong Island, near the disputed sea border with communist North Korea, Sunday, May 31, 2009. Spy satellites have spotted signs that North Korea may be preparing to transport another long-range missile to a test launch site, South Korean officials said Saturday, as the U.S. defense secretary issued his harshest warning to the North since its recent nuclear test.(AP Photo/Yonhap, Ahn Jung-won)

A South Korean anger looks at a Navy base near South Korea's western Yeonpyong Island, near the disputed sea border with communist North Korea, Sunday, May 31, 2009. Spy satellites have spotted signs that North Korea may be preparing to transport another long-range missile to a test launch site, South Korean officials said Saturday, as the U.S. defense secretary issued his harshest warning to the North since its recent nuclear test.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

By KELLY OLSEN, Associated Press Writer

SEOGWIPO, South Korea – South Korea and Thailand criticized North Korea on Sunday, saying the country's nuclear test threatens world peace and stability and harms efforts to prevent atomic proliferation.

The two nations' leaders discussed Pyongyang's latest nuclear blast on the sidelines of a summit between South Korea and Southeast Asian countries being held amid heavy security.

The event was planned months ago, but North Korea's underground nuclear test and a series of short-range missile launches last week threatens to steal the limelight from economic matters, the main focus of the agenda.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva agreed that the test goes against international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and "undermines peace and stability not only in East Asia but also in the whole world," Lee Dong-kwan, the South Korean president's chief spokesman, told reporters.

They also agreed to exert diplomatic pressure to assure North Korea complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions and "promptly returns to six-party talks" aimed at ridding it of nuclear weapons.

The summit venue of Seogwipo — on the island of Jeju off the southern coast — is the South Korean city farthest away from the North. Still, the nervous South Korean government is taking no chances, positioning a surface-to-air missile outside the venue aimed toward the north.

Some 5,000 police officers, including approximately 200 commandos, and special vehicles that can analyze sarin gas and other chemicals have been deployed nearby, security authorities said in a press release. Marines, special forces and air patrols also kept watch on the island.

Leaders of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began arriving for the two-day summit, which officially begins Monday and commemorates 20 years of relations between South Korea and the bloc. South Korea's president planned to use Sunday for individual meetings with ASEAN leaders.

But concerns about North Korea's most recent bout of saber-rattling loomed. South Korean officials said Saturday that spy satellites had spotted signs that the North may be preparing to transport a long-range missile to a launch site.

The North has attacked South Korean targets before, bombing a Korea Air jet in 1987 and trying to kill then-President Chun Doo-hwan in Myanmar in 1983. But Pyongyang has largely abandoned such overt tactics in the past two decades.

The U.N. Security Council is still weighing how to react to the North's belligerent moves that have earned Pyongyang criticism from the U.S., Europe, Russia and even the North's closest ally, China.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday that North Korea's progress on nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is "a harbinger of a dark future" and has created an urgent need for more pressure on the reclusive communist government to change its ways.

Gates, speaking at an annual meeting of defense and security officials in Singapore, said Pyongyang's efforts pose the potential for an arms race in Asia that could spread beyond the region.

An incensed North Korea said last month that it was quitting the six-party negotiations after the U.N. Security Council condemned its April 5 rocket launch, widely believed to be a test of its long-range missile technology. The Security Council has imposed sanctions against the North over its first nuclear test in October 2006.

The six-party framework, which began in 2003, consists of the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition to the summit, a gathering of South Korean and Southeast Asian business leaders began Sunday with addresses by Lee and Abhisit, who both called for further cooperation to overcome the global economic crisis.

___

Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seogwipo, Lara Jakes and Vijay Joshi in Singapore, Kwang-tae Kim in Seoul, and AP photographer Bullit Marquez in Seogwipo contributed to this report.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen to visit RoK


05/31/2009

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will pay an official visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) from June 3-5, according to news reports.

During the official visit, Cambodia and the RoK will sign several cooperation agreements including the grant to Cambodia, loans for Cambodia's road rehabilitation, waste water treatment, Siem Reap River's development and cooperation in the fields of construction, energy, mines and communications.

The delegation included Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Senior Minister and Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Im Chhun Lim and other members of the royal government.

The RoK became the largest foreign investor in Cambodia in 2007.

VNA/VOVNews

More markers built on Vietnam-Cambodia borderline


05/31/2009

Vietnam’s southern Kien Giang province and its Cambodian neighbour, Kampot province, have put into use 13 new border markers built on their common borderline.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony on May 29, Kampot’s President Khuoi Khunhua said the event marked a new step in the development of the bilateral relations between the two provinces.

The event also showed the unceasingly efforts at the two countries’ border areas in building a borderline of peace, stability and development.

At the ceremony, the two sides agreed to upgrade a couple of border gates – Ton Hon (Kampot) and Giang Than (Kien Giang), in order to facilitate trade and travel between people of the two provinces.

VNA/VOVNews

CAMBODIA Rice bank helps poor families

Yem Nuon, cashier of the rice bank program in Kandal’s Stueng district

http://www.ucanews.com
May 29, 2009

KANDAL, Cambodia (UCAN) -- Caritas Cambodia is seeing positive results four years after establishing its rice bank program to help poor rural families.

In Lavear Am and Kandal Stueng districts in Kandal province, for instance, the program has significantly benefited impoverished households, says Chhay Meng, Caritas Cambodia's program manager in this province.

The program here is just one of the many rice bank schemes that Caritas is involved in across the country. Caritas is the Catholic Church's social service agency.

"Confronted by immense poverty and suffering, our most fundamental response has been supporting marginalized communities by sharing resources, supplying seeds for farmers, increasing their output and supplies, and helping to reduce their dependence on high interest loans," he said.

Meng said that Caritas has managed to help six communes and 13 villages in the province, directly benefiting up to 250 of the poorest families.

The good thing about the program, he said, is that although Caritas is the principle sponsor, it is the local people who are mainly responsible for the day-to-day running of the rice bank.

Farmers contribute 20 kilograms of rice to the bank on joining the scheme.

Participants wishing to borrow rice to feed their families will have to pay 20 percent interest on what they borrow. However, the interest rate goes up to 50 percent on rice seed for planting, which they pay back at harvest time. If they default on a repayment, then it can affect their ability to borrow in the future.

The scheme also allows farmers to save rice, said Meng.

Rice bank officials are elected by rice bank members in the villages and staff from Caritas Cambodia. There are three main officials per district: director, deputy-director, and cashier.

According to Yem Nuon, 54, cashier in Kandal's Stueng district, Caritas Cambodia in 2005 provided 250 kilograms of rice to poor families in her district. Since then the rice bank has grown significantly so that there is now a reserve of about three tons.

"I'm very thankful to Caritas Cambodia for assisting the poor families in our village," she said "If our crops fail, we can borrow seed from the bank. If we borrow from other sources, we have to pay double the interest (almost 100 percent)," she said.

Hem Pring, 60, director of the rice bank in the same village, said her village has 26 families already registered as members of the program and 56 other people are about to join. "The members are living better lives now," she added.

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Cambodia's dump dwellers face eviction

A boy (left) sits at a garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AFP)
Emirates Business 24/7
http://www.business24-7.ae/

By AFP on Saturday, May 30, 2009

Scavenging for bits of plastic, metal and glass that earn them an average $10 (Dh36.70) a month, the children of Phnom Penh's municipal rubbish dump are among Cambodia's poorest.

Hundreds of families live on and around the 100-acre (40.5-hectare) site, making their meagre living from the materials they collect on the steaming rubbish heap, replenished daily with 900 tonnes of the capital's refuse.

"We don't go to school. I'd like to but I need to pick the litter and earn money. I have nine siblings and they all work the same job as me," said 13-year-old Mek.

Dump trucks rumble in and out of Stung Meanchey landfill site throughout the day, while the toxic waste that covers sink holes burns in the sun.

"I really worry about the children working on the dump especially because of the rubbish trucks that sometimes hit the children, because it's hard to see them up there," said 26-year-old father-of-two Chan Samon.

His fears are not unfounded – in February a 16-year-old girl was killed when a bin fell on her head. There have been numerous victims like her since the site opened more than 45 years ago.

Chan Samon told AFP he earns a pittance selling mostly bottles and cans to Vietnamese buyers. Middlemen come to nine storage depots at the dump's entrance, before selling it on to recycling companies for profit.

One kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of plastic fetches 10 cents, while one kilogramme of iron or a glass bottle goes for 2.5 cents.

But these slim pickings are all these families have. Many of them arrived in Phnom Penh from the rural provinces in the hope of finding better work, only to discover their only option was to join those foraging for rubbish.

Now Cambodia's authorities are closing down the site and moving the dump several miles outside the capital.

None of the residents are clear who is evicting them, only that they have been told to expect to move at any time.

"I heard something about the dump moving but I don't know what's going to happen," said Mek, who has worked at the site since he was three years old.

The move has been discussed locally since 2003, residents said, but a recent letter sent out by municipal authorities to all Phnom Penh residents confirmed the closure would take place in the "second quarter" of the year.

It said rubbish collection prices would need to rise because of the move, which it said was necessary because of the "environmental impact" of the site, citing the noise, smell, smoke and poor underground water quality.

Until the proposed eviction a few lucky children had escaped the grimy work thanks to about a dozen charities set up around the landfill site.

The organisations pay parents for lost income while they provide their offspring with schooling, clothes, food and a clean place to sleep.

"When I was up on the dump I met (charity outreach worker) Theary and he was interested in helping me and he brought me here," said 10-year-old Srey Neat, one of 96 children being looked after by Theary, who goes by only one name, and the charity "A New Day Cambodia".

The centre pays parents 10 dollars a month to keep their children away from the scavenging work.

But with the dump's closure, that helping hand may not be able to stretch far enough if the dump dwellers move further afield.

"We have some concern about whether some of the parents will need to move away and would like to take their children with them," said the centre's director Annette Jensen.

The landfill site is expected to be rebuilt next to Cambodia's infamous Killing Fields, where thousands of people were killed and buried by the communist Khmer Rouge regime during its 1975-1979 rule.

Chan Samon said he will have no choice but to take his wife and two children and move over to the new site.

"If the dump moves we will have to move with it. I have no choice because I don't have any other job," he said.

Vietnam, Cambodia: two border gates to be upgraded


30/05/2009

Two border gates in the southern province of Kien Giang in Vietnam and Kampot province in Cambodia will be upgraded to become national border gates.

They are Giang Thanh border gate of Kien Giang and Ton Hon border gate of Kampot.

The People’s Committee of Kien Giang province and the Administrative Committee of Kampot province on May 29 held a ceremony to launch the work and also inaugurated border landmark No. 302.

Representatives of the Cambodian consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnamese consulate in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville port city and senior officials from the two border provinces attended the event.

The upgrading of the two border gates aims to satisfy the daily needs of people from both countries and add an impetus to trade and import-export activities.

Apart from the Giang Thanh border gate, Kien Giang province also has another border gate at Ha Tien, which has become one of the busiest international border gates in the Mekong Delta region over the past three years.

In the first five months of this year, exports passing through Ha Tien’s border gate reached nearly 30 million USD, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent.

State President Nguyen Minh Triet granted the Independence Order, First Class, to the National Academy of Public Administration at a meeting to mark the 50th anniversary of its opening, in Hanoi on May 29.

The State President praised the contributions made by the academy’s professors, lecturers and staff over the last 50 years for training officials and providing professional administrative human resources for public offices.

The academy also plays a key role in conducting research on administrative science, to speed up the country’s administrative reforms, he added.

The public administration academy and other agencies play an important role in administrative reforms and improving the quality of the State’s apparatus, which is now an urgent and basic demand for the success of the country’s international integration process, he stressed.

The State leader also urged the academy to upgrade the syllabus used in administrative science to ensure better quality training and work with other countries to train public administrative officials.

During its half-century of operations, the academy has given refresher courses to more than 90,000 staff and officials from ministries and the relevant agencies as well as 10,000 officials who are chairmen and deputy chairmen of the People’s Council and People’s Committee at communal levels.

The academy has run over 10 official tertiary courses training thousands of public administrators, 14 postgraduate courses and several doctorate courses.

The academy boasts a strong pool of lecturers with 40 professors and associate professors and more than 200 others holding doctorate and master degrees.

VietNamNet/VNA

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Asia Urged To Avoid Protectionism Amid Financial Crisis

Dow Jones Newswires
05-29-09

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AFP)--Asian governments and international agencies met in Cambodia's tourist hub Friday to push for more trade in the face of the global financial crisis.

In statements from the meeting organized by the Asian Development Bank and the World Trade Organization, speakers said they were worried that countries will increasingly engage in protectionism.

"In order for Asia to significantly contribute to the world with its open regionalism and growth, each Asian country should refrain from taking protectionist measures," said ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda.

WTO director-general Pascal Lamy noted that world trade is expected to contract by 9% in 2009, which would be the first drop in more than 25 years, but said "trade is an essential ingredient to exit the crisis."

"We can generate the right peer pressure in order to try collectively to preempt this threat of a shift to world protectionism," Lamy told the meeting.

"One country's exports are another country's imports, and the other way around."

Lamy and Kuroda announced that Cambodia and Japan will prepare a report on an Aid for Trade initiative to speed up trade reforms in poor countries.

The meeting organizers said Asia's 22 poorest economies account for only 0.3% of world exports, a level that has barely increased over the past 25 years.

Hungary: State Secretary László Várkonyi signs Hungarian-Cambodian agreements in Phnom Penh

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary
http://www.kulugyminiszterium.hu

On the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on May 28, Mr Várkonyi and Mrs. Sun Saphoeun, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia had bilateral talks.

After the meeting two Agreements were signed: one on the consolidation and settlement of Cambodia’s outstanding debt towards Hungary with Mr. Ouk Rabun, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the other on development co-operation with Mrs. Sun Saphoeun.

According to the first document half of the debt will be written off by Hungary whereas the other half will be paid back by Cambodia within two months after the signing of the Agreement.

In the context of the debt settlement, the Parties have come to the agreement that Hungary undertakes to finance a Cambodian development project in the amount of at least 40 million HUF which corresponds to the paid back amount.

In the course of their consultation State Secretary László Várkonyi and Mrs. Sun Saphoeun agreed that this project will be a reception centre for the victims of trafficking and other vulnerable groups. This project is actually an expansion of an already existing orphanage built with Hungarian help in the eighties.

Vietnamese brands regional giants in Cambodia

A trade fair organized by Vietnamese manufacturers to showcase their products in Cambodia

Thanh Nien
http://www.thanhniennews.com

Friday, May 29, 2009

Several Vietnamese exports hold larger market shares in Cambodia than both Thai and Chinese products, said a local businessman familiar with the Cambodian economy.

Truong Cung Nghia, executive director of Truong Doan Company, said Cambodian customers preferred Vietnamese products to those from Thailand and China.

Processed seafood products from Vietnam held an 80 percent market share in Cambodia while agricultural products made up 67 percent of that market, said Nghia, whose company specializes in Cambodian market research.

Nghia added Vietnamese businesses supplied 68 percent of Cambodia’s steel demand.

Nguyen Xuan Truong, head of Binh Dien Fertilizer Company’s Marketing Department, said Cambodians used similar daily agricultural products.

Truong said his company’s brand was popular with Cambodian farmers in rural areas as the company advertized heavily in the countryside.

Sales in Cambodia reeled in higher revenues for the company than its domestic sales did, said Truong.

However, it was still risky to trade with partners in Cambodia as they paid in cash and rarely used banks, said Nghia.

Truong said about 120 Vietnamese businesses and investors were operating in Cambodian markets, contributing to the US$1.7 billion bilateral trade with Vietnam last year. He said the figure would grow to $2 billion this year.

Reported by Minh Quang

Malaria proves resistant in Cambodia

United Press International
http://www.upi.com

May 29, 2009

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, May 29 (UPI) -- Malaria's resistance to treatment in western Cambodia could foretell a global health crisis, a British researcher said.

Malaria in western Cambodia is proving resistant to the artemesinin family of drugs, until now the world's most effective drugs for treating the illness, said Nick Day, director of the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit.

In recent trials, it took up to five days to clear patients' blood of malaria parasites when the drugs previously worked in two or three days, Day said.

While Cambodia long has been a laboratory for malaria research, about half the world's population would be at risk if the resistance to artemesinin drugs grow, Day said. Malaria kills about 1 million people a year now.

In 2006, the World Health Organization warned of a possibility the malaria parasite could become resistant to artemesinin drugs, the BBC reported Friday.

Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Do Not Cooperate with the Co-Investigating Judges – Friday, 29.5.2009

Posted on 30 May 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 614
http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

“The co-investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal told journalists that four former Khmer Rouge high ranking leaders do not cooperate with the investigations.

“This statement was made by the Cambodian co-investigating judge You Bunleng in a press conference at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Thursday, organized by the Administration Office.

“Mr. You Bunleng told reporters, ‘Since we monitor them in detention and their defense lawyers ask questions so that they can explain some things raised by the co-investigating judges, they reject to answer by using the right to refuse to give evidence – that means there are no answers.’

However, Mr. You Bunleng did not mention the names of the four accused, but he just said he is talking about ‘the second case’ and the people can know that the second case relates to the four former Khmer Rouge leaders Khiev Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, and Ieng Thirith, who are now in pre-trial detention at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“The co-investigating judge You Bunleng added that because the right to refuse to give evidence is an absolute right of the accused, the co-investigating judges office must use additional investigating techniques.

“Mr. You Bunleng continued to say, ‘The fact that the accused do not talk can slow the investigations, because the lawyers ask us to consider many questions when we deal with each case.’

“Regarding the timing of the investigation, Mr. You Bunleng said that it is not yet clear. By 20 May 2009, the co-investigating judges’ office has interviewed 453 witnesses, including more than 10 foreign experts.

“But in the second case, there are 61 people standing as civil plaintiffs. He went on to say that the investigations being conducted are joint investigations for all of the accused, while the 453 witnesses relate to different accused persons.

“During the questioning on Wednesday, the prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal tried to describe former S-21 prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, alias Duch, as a person who made important and active decisions to thoroughly purge the Khmer Rouge air force in 1977 from unreliable members.

“Nevertheless, the accused, known as Duch, claimed that he only strictly followed orders from superiors for the S-21 prison, to kill hundreds of staff from the Central Committee of the Unit 502 which was located at the former Pochentong Airport – now the Phnom Penh International Airport.

“The execution lists of the S-21 Prison show that at least 299 people from the Unit 502 had been sent to the S-21 Prison and were then executed.

“According to nine letters written in 1977 by the former secretary-general of the Unit 502, Mr. Sou Met, to Duch, 50 people were mentioned. A senior assistant of the prosecutors, Mr. Alex Baid, asked Duch, ‘Did Mr. Sou Met order interrogations to gain information from some specific people detained?’

“Duch told the court that he had no direct relations with Mr. Sou Met and said that the letters of Mr. Sou Met were really written following the orders from anonymous superiors.

“Duch said, ‘Everything was sent through Son Sen or Nuon Chea in the following time. That was just Son Sen’s and Nuon Chea’s method to hide their names. Those letters were sent as if they came from Mr. Sou Met for me.’

“He added, ‘I had no direct relations with Mr. Sou Met, neither though phone nor through direct contact with him.’

“Because he was accused, according to his position from which he purged the Unit 502, Mr. Sou Met was considered by the deceased lawyer Brian Tittemore and by the Khmer Rouge historian Stephen Heder, who were former investigators of the investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in 2004, as one among seven persons ‘to be prosecuted.’ Being contacted repeatedly by phone on Wednesday, Mr. Sou Met rejected to talk to journalists.

“However, under questioning of the plaintiffs’ defense lawyer, Ms. Elizabeth Rabesandratana, Duch admitted that the information he offered to his superiors badly affected the victims.

“Duch said, ‘My reports did influence decisions of the superiors. However, when I met with the superiors, I was only responding to their questions.’”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #413, 29.5.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 29 May 2009

Assembly Passes Disability Legislation

http://www.voanews.com



By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 May 2009

The National Assembly unanimously passed legislation on Friday to protect and promote the rights of the disabled, even though the opposition boycotted the session.

Cambodia has a high rate of disability, an estimated 4.5 percent of a population of more than 14 million.

Ruling party parliamentarian Chheang Vun told VOA Khmer the new law would help “resolve social problems.”

“This law sets up all conditions to help persons with disabilities receive various social services and rights,” Chheang Vun said. “This law provides much interest for the disabled, and this law is implemented in conformity with international standards.”

Heng Chantha, whose legs were disabled by polio and who is a rights protection officer for the Cambodian Disabled People organization, welcomed the law.

“This law serves the interests of persons with disabilities, particularly to receive equal rights before the law, non-discrimination, participation of rights in society, the protection and promotion of rights, proper living standards and proper health and education,” she said.

The law passed with 75 votes, after 19 Sam Rainsy Party and three Human Rights Party parliamentarians walked out of the session.

SRP parliamentarian Mu Sochua told reporters Friday the opposition had walked out on procedural complaints, not because its lawmakers disagreed with the law.

Opposition proposals to strengthen the law were not distributed in the full session of the National Assembly, she said.

“Our proposal would have strengthened the law and was aimed at providing special quotas, food, understanding and legal ownership of lands and rights to proper housing,” she said.

Government Plans Public Investment Budget

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 May 2009

The government hopes to spend nearly $3 billion over the next three years on public investment projects, but opposition lawmakers worry the funds could find their way into the pockets of corrupt officials.

The budget, which was approved by the Council of Ministers Friday, will fund 536 projects mostly aimed at public investment.

The Council of Ministers approved $2.83 billion for three years, marking 303 projects as top priorities.

"The Ministry of Economy and Finance will play a crucial role in controlling this budget," Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said.

Opposition officials warn that public investment schemes could be open to graft.

"I am not opposed public investment with proper expenditure," said Yim Sovann, a lawmaker for the Sam Rainsy Party. "What I'm concerned about is that government officials will commit corruption through these projects."

A senior economist for the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, who asked not to be named, said the budget would not be enough to build up the country's infrastructure, following decades of war, but it could help the country's impoverished.

Opposition Editor Summoned to City Court

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
29 May 2009

Phnom Penh Municipal Court called an opposition journalist in for questioning Friday over articles he published on corruption and the cabinet minister.

Hang Chakra, director of the Khmer Mchas Srok newspaper, ran two stories alleging that Council Minister Sok An was involved in corruption.

One article praised Prime Minister Hun Sen for “destroying” corrupt officials surrounding Sok An.

Sok An is a deputy prime minister and one of the most powerful officials in government. He oversees matters concerning the Khmer Rouge tribunal and oil exploration, among others.

Rights workers and monitors maintain that Cambodia’s media environment, while technically free, remains fettered by political influence.

Last year, the editor of opposition newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer, Dam Sith, was jailed in a suit brought by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Later, a journalist for Moneaksekar Khmer, Khim Sambor, was murdered. No one has been arrested for the killing.

Dr. Etcheson: the creativity and zeal of Pol Pot's cadres contributed to the scope of the disaster

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 28/05/2009: Alain Werner, civil party lawyer, on day 23 of Duch's trial at the ECCC©John Vink/ Magnum

Ka-set

By Stéphanie Gée
28-05-2009

Following a pertinent review of torture and the practice of confessions, among others, with expert Craig Etcheson, the hearing of May 28th gave rise to an intense exchange between the international lawyer of Duch and the U.S. expert. During the whole afternoon, François Roux put forth his arguments with method, sketching the main characteristics of the Khmer Rouge regime and making sure to request Craig Etcheson's agreement on each new point raised: Democratic Kampuchea was a “regime of terror” that relied on the obligation of secrecy, an extremely centralised power, the systematic indoctrination of party members, a vertical communication system, a policy of spying and denunciation, a police State that practised mass purges... The lawyer thus pulled the expert towards his conclusions...

The practice of torture, an “oral tradition” that was encouraged
Returning to the meaning to give to the Khmer word “smashing”, which often featured in the Khmer Rouge terminology, expert Craig Etcheson, following the accused, recognised that it meant more than killing and was often translated by “crushing.” He explained this was in line with a long process aimed not only to smash physically but also psychologically. He said that the practice in S-21 was ideally adapted to the dehumanisation of the individual psyche. Alain Werner, co-lawyer for civil party group 1, then asked him if a torture policy was clearly formulated. “I have never seen an order or directive of the Central Committee that explicitly ordered torture,” the American replied, stressing, on the basis of various statements, that the Khmer Rouge explicitly leaders wanted great sufferings to be inflicted upon their enemies.

“Who designed these torture techniques?”, the lawyer asked him. “That is something we wondered about for a long time. Most of the time, they were developed through practice and were inherited from those used by the Vietnamese communists. It was like some kind of oral tradition.” For the expert, Duch was the main trainer in those techniques. “In security centres at the zone, sector and district levels, the range of torture practices seemed to be limited to beating, whipping, suffocation by plastic bag and electrocution. In S-21, there were supplementary techniques, like burning, ripping off fingernails, […], pouring salt on open wounds, using poisonous insects, various forms of water torture and hanging by the hands tied in the back until the shoulders dislocated, etc.”

On the use of the contents of confessions
President Nil Nonn then intervened to remind all parties that “all statements made as a result of torture cannot be invoked as evidence, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.” Judge Cartwright specified that this was not a formal decision and added that while such a confession was in itself an admissible fact, its contents could not be accepted as a proper statement. The international co-Prosecutor remarked that the issue of the use of the confessions was currently before the co-Investigating Judges in case file 2. The issue is a crucial stake for the future of the debates.

The practice of confessions pushed to the extreme at S-21
In response to a series of pertinent questions from Alain Werner, Dr. Etcheson explained that another specificity of S-21 was that interrogation procedures were more vigorous and elaborate than in other places, due to the very nature of the individuals interrogated, that is for most of them, experienced revolutionaries who could talk about more topics of interest. In this death antechamber, some confessions were extracted over several months and could eventually total more than a thousand pages, which was not comparable to what was done in the other security centres, he added.

Annotations, Duch's trademark
Annotations by Khmer Rouge cadres on confessions were also more dense in S-21. The expert recognised that Duch was the author of a great number of them, but he could not recall the existence of notes attributed to Nath, his predecessor at the head of S-21. The practice did not seem to result from an order, but from Duch's initiative. Craig Etcheson recalled that the accused had been a school teacher and hence used to writing notes on the papers of his pupils, and he may have kept this habit in his new functions as interrogator.

The expert clarified that a whole variety of annotations existed. Some seemed to have the same function as a routing sheet, that is it included information on the addressee of the confessions, others looked like memoranda for the accused (like “already read”, “to finish”). Some had instructions for the interrogators, for instance to order them to look for a specific type of information or to resort to torture. Some were more analytical, summarising and analysing the confessions, others dealt with larger aspects related to an ongoing investigation carried out in S-21 and going beyond the scope of the confession, and others still were similar to notes written by superiors such as Son Sen or Nuon Chea, etc.

Adaptable confessions
In front of the Trial Chamber on Monday May 18th, the accused said himself that people intervened on the confessions, by writing on them to modify the admissions. The Standing Committee had decided not to take any measures against Ta Mok or Son Sen, although they were implicated in confessions, Duch had said as an example, to illustrate the way confessions were fabricated from beginning to end. Alain Werner reminded that when one wanted someone to be arrested, one arranged to adjust the confessions to this effect. “I think that beyond the statement made by the accused, it is something that occurred in some cases,” Craig Etcheson admitted. “[...] It is difficult to prove who made these corrections, but the regime's high-ranking leaders, that is Son Sen, Nuon Chea, and maybe even Pol Pot, could have been responsible for such interventions.”

A paranoia sustained by the hunt for enemies
Although purges became widespread within the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea (RAK), the expert deemed that it was the contents of the confessions extracted in S-21 that convinced the superiors there was a conspiracy against them by several military officers. After reminding him of his comments on the previous day – that purges within the Ministry of Economy could be explained by the paranoia of the Central Committee and a system of systematic detection of enemies devised by the accused –, Alain Werner asked the expert whether that system could have fed and reinforced the Standing Committee's paranoia. Craig Etcheson answered that it was a good example of a feedback loop system, in which the system fuelled itself and generated this kind of phenomenon with an increasingly greater energy.

Duch spared by the purges
Alain Werner continued his examination. Noting that most, if not all, of the directors of security centres in Democratic Kampuchea were victims of purges, as were an important proportion of the staff in S-21, he wondered that Duch did not experience the same fate. “In my opinion, the accused himself was not purged because his superiors considered him effective and loyal,” the expert commented.

How to measure the most important security centre
It was then the turn of the defence to interrogate the expert witness. Duch's Cambodian lawyer was first and asked which was the most important security centre in Democratic Kampuchea in terms of size. “If one measures size in terms of the number of staff employed at a security office, I think, unquestionably, S-21 was the largest,” Craig Etcheson replied. “If, on the other hand, one measures the size of a security office by the total number of victims who were persecuted and/or murdered there, then it is more difficult to compare because very few security offices have surviving records in such detail as S-21.” That was not the answer the lawyer expected, who argued that if S-21 had an important staff, it was because it encompassed three sites, which involved a whole circuit of supply. For him, the most important centre is the one where the greatest number of people lost their lives.

The Angkar explained by Craig Etcheson
Kar Savuth moved on and invited the expert to define what Angkar was. “The Communist Party of Kampuchea [CPK] adopted the use of the term 'Angkar', which is Khmer for 'organisation' from a similar usage by the Vietnamese Communist Party. At different times, to different people within the CPK, this term seems to have been understood in different ways. For some, it referred to the entire organisation of the CPK, for others, it could be used to refer to any individual member of the CPK [...] or to the top leadership of the CPK […]. In other usages, Angkar appears to refer only to Pol Pot or sometimes to Pol Pot and Nuon Chea.”

A regime of terror
His international colleague took over. Before starting his questions, François Roux asked Craig Etcheson for a moral commitment: “In light of the information you have as a researcher on the one hand, and of your current functions with the office of the co-Prosecutors on the other hand, do you think you are able to reply to my questions with absolute freedom and independence, even if the answers you were to provide were contrary to the strategy of the office of the co-Prosecutors?” “Yes, I believe so,” the expert answered.

Invited to define what a regime of terror is, the expert complied: “I would define a terror regime as a government or similar organisation that employs methods of arbitrary violence to coerce the compliance of its own members or populations that it wishes to control.” “So, I can say that this is a definition that matches well the regime of Democratic Kampuchea?,” François Roux retorted. “Is that a question?” “Yes, it was,” the lawyer confirmed. “It is my personal view that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea explicitly employed terror as a means of control,” the expert admitted.

In this game that the lawyer pulled him into, Craig Etcheson limited himself to answering the questions strictly, without ever straying... and remained unruffled.

Duch had a unique perspective on Democratic Kampuchea
A little later, François Roux: “And was everything that was implemented compartmentalised, with secrecy and vertically, so that the party centre was the only organ that knew what was happening in the country?” Craig Etcheson: “As a general rule, yes, although there may have been exceptions to that general rule. One exception that came immediately to mind is the accused person. Formally, he was not a member of the party centre. However, he had the opportunity to interrogate persons from all units of organisation, at all echelons, from all across the country. And in the course of that work, he gained a unique perspective on what was happening within Democratic Kampuchea.”

Duch, a stranger to the elaboration of CPK policy?
The lawyer also returned to comments made by the expert on the previous day: “You also said [...]: the fact that communication between heads of divisions and S-21 had to go through a vertical structure, as described by the accused, that pattern completely complies – these are your words – with the way I understood the CPK's strict monopoly within the party, the organisation and the military institution. [...] I am not mistaken, am I?” “Yes, that is correct,” the expert answered.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 28/05/2009: Technician repairing the sound system in the press room on day 23 of Duch's trial at the ECCC
©John Vink/ Magnum


Then, the French lawyer returned the focus on his client who, placed in this black picture, was unable to act upon a system that was beyond his control, he argued. Challenging it would have been sanctioned with certain death, he said. “After this overview, here is my question: would you concur with me to say, I suppose, that all the policy we have been talking about for the last hour, was established by the CPK leaders, very early, you said even before March 30th 1976 [date of important decisions taken by the Standing Committee], without Duch playing any part in the determination of this policy?” Craig Etcheson cannot agree: “I am not certain that this can be said. There are periods of time between the beginning of the regime, on April 17th 1975, and the order to establish S-21, on August 15th 1975, when I cannot clearly account for the whereabouts and activities of the accused person. So, I do not know which functions he may have been performing at that time.” François Roux persevered: “Was the accused ever a member of the CPK Standing Committee?” “I do not believe so,” the expert answered. The lawyer jumped at this point: “I believe I read in your report that the Standing Committee was the one making decisions on policies.” “Indeed, it is,” the American answered.

Roux tirelessly sought to get the expert to come round to his arguments: “Would you concur with me that this entire policy, as you describe it, fell outside of Duch's competence?” “I do not agree,” the expert said forcefully. And so on...

An impossible ranking of security centres, according to the expert
The French lawyer reminded that the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) – an NGO which creation Craig Etcheson participated to – established lists of the nearly 200 security centres scattered around the country during Democratic Kampuchea and identified to this day, in which the centres are ranked by the number of victims. He then asked the expert “to tell the Chamber which rank S-21 occupied in these gruesome records” provided he was aware of the document. Craig Etcheson refused to venture down that path, explaining that, when it began this work, DC-Cam had no experience and was unable to find a precedent from other countries for such a task. He also added that as a result, he considered that some of the data must be regarded as “unreliable.” Reaction from Roux: “Thank you for the reservations you have expressed regarding the documents of DC-Cam. […] But you have not answered my question...”

The international co-prosecutor protested: “It is an attempt to add to the case file a document that is not there!” “Absolutely not,” the defence lawyer responded, “I am interrogating an expert under oath. He is aware of it or he is not.” Craig Etcheson's answer: “I am not.”

Duch's capacity of innovation and zeal
Things being clarified, Duch's lawyer said he wanted to “attack head-on” some fundamental questions. Returning to a comment made by the expert during the previous day's hearing on Duch's role and “methodology” in the purges, François Roux asked the expert “how the methodology used by Duch differed from the line imposed by the CPK and how it pertained to his own personal initiatives.” The expert: “[...] My understanding […] is that the accused person was very much an innovator, a creator, a developer and an institutionaliser of the methods of making very detailed confessions that are extracted over long periods of time. So that in some cases, it seems as if the victim is forced to name every person he or she has ever met and could remember their name. And then, those lists are used to go out and round up new batches of traitors to whom this same process is applied. And you see a very nearly exponential growth in the number of accused traitors and then the number of victims of purges. In part, it is the zeal with which the accused person pursued this project that caused this methodology to result in such a large number of victims. [...] On the one hand, the policies of the Standing Committee certainly played a role in the unfolding of this tragedy, while at the same time, the creativity, inventiveness and zeal of the cadres who were tasked with implementing those policies also contributed substantially to the magnitude of the disaster.” “Did they have the choice?”, François Roux asked. “As I suggested, one always has choices in life.” Do you agree with me that today, he [Duch] is still alive?”, Roux continued. “Yes, he is.”

S-21, “under the absolute authority of the superiors”, according to the defence
The co-Prosecutor reacted abruptly, considering that the defence's question implied that there were only two choices for a CPK cadre, “death or duty”, while there may have been other options like “fleeing”. François Roux rebuffed him: “Dear co-Prosecutor, it is not the time for your closing speech.” Then, the lawyer explained he had winced at the words “capacity of innovation” used by the expert. “I do not have the impression that from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy, any cadre could take the liberty to innovate, unless they had been asked to do so very strongly by their superiors.” And he added that, for his part, “the best term applicable to S-21 was that it was under the absolute authority of the superiors.”

The place of S-21 in the government
On Roux's request, Craig Etcheson reviewed a chart of the government of Democratic Kampuchea featuring S-21, to include in it bodies subordinate to the high command, military units, independent regiments and two offices of the high command. Earlier, the expert had explained he considered S-21 not as a combat unit but as an intelligence operation, and felt it was appropriate to include it in the chart of the government rather than in the chart of the combat units of the RAK. The corrected chart was presented at the end of the hearing. “The defence bore in mind your declarations, Mr. Echeson, indicating that all the division secretaries were superiors of Duch. Yet, here, I see them at the bottom of the chart. This bothers me. I would have also liked to see the high command of the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea. [...] I do not understand. You have just told me that your report, at the time you wrote it, was a general report that did not focus specifically on S-21. Yet, you place it in this chart at a place that is not its one, and you have left out of the chart a number of people we would have liked to see at their right place.” And after a silence. “I forgot to tell you one thing: I do not like and I have never liked scapegoats.”

The hearing was adjourned and will only resume on June 8th. Duch will then be interrogated on the facts related to the implementation of the CPK policy at S-21, in the absence of François Roux. The French lawyer announced during the hearing that he would not be back until June 11th, as he would be held back by his new functions at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Rice bank helps poor families

May 29 2009

KANDAL, Cambodia : Caritas Cambodia is seeing positive results four years after establishing its rice bank program to help poor rural families.

In Lavear Am and Kandal Stueng districts in Kandal province, for instance, the program has significantly benefited impoverished households, says Chhay Meng, Caritas Cambodia's program manager in this province.

The program here is just one of the many rice bank schemes that Caritas is involved in across the country. Caritas is the Catholic Church's social service agency.

"Confronted by immense poverty and suffering, our most fundamental response has been supporting marginalized communities by sharing resources, supplying seeds for farmers, increasing their output and supplies, and helping to reduce their dependence on high interest loans," he said.

Meng said that Caritas has managed to help six communes and 13 villages in the province, directly benefiting up to 250 of the poorest families.

The good thing about the program, he said, is that although Caritas is the principle sponsor, it is the local people who are mainly responsible for the day-to-day running of the rice bank.

Farmers contribute 20 kilograms of rice to the bank on joining the scheme.

Participants wishing to borrow rice to feed their families will have to pay 20 percent interest on what they borrow. However, the interest rate goes up to 50 percent on rice seed for planting, which they pay back at harvest time. If they default on a repayment, then it can affect their ability to borrow in the future.

The scheme also allows farmers to save rice, said Meng.

Rice bank officials are elected by rice bank members in the villages and staff from Caritas Cambodia. There are three main officials per district: director, deputy-director, and cashier.

According to Yem Nuon, 54, cashier in Kandal's Stueng district, Caritas Cambodia in 2005 provided 250 kilograms of rice to poor families in her district. Since then the rice bank has grown significantly so that there is now a reserve of about three tons.

"I'm very thankful to Caritas Cambodia for assisting the poor families in our village," she said "If our crops fail, we can borrow seed from the bank. If we borrow from other sources, we have to pay double the interest (almost 100 percent)," she said.

Hem Pring, 60, director of the rice bank in the same village, said her village has 26 families already registered as members of the program and 56 other people are about to join. "The members are living better lives now," she added.

Couretsy : UCAN

Power group sells more to Cambodia


29-05-2009

HA NOI — Viet Nam will sell more than 1 billion kWh of electricity per year to Cambodia, according to the Electricity of Viet Nam Group.

The latest electricity purchase amends a contract between the EVN and Cambodian utility Electricite Du Cambodge first signed in July 2000.

The amended agreement also calls for Viet Nam to build a transformer in Chau Doc in An Giang Province and more than 26km of line to deliver power from there to the Cambodian border. Cambodia, meanwhile, will lay more than 50km of line from the border to a 220kV transformer in Takeo Province, and another 46km to a 220kV transformer in the capital city of Phnom Penh.

Slow construction progress on the Cambodian side has delayed the completion of the project from 2003 to 2009, according to the group.

Suu Kyi tops ministers' talks

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
ASEAN and EU delegates, including Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint (third from left), at the end of their meeting Thursday.


The Phnom Penh Post
http://www.phnompenhpost.com

Written by George Mcleod
Friday, 29 May 2009

Junta rejects outside pressure during ASEAN-EU meeting.

DEFYING a rising tide of criticism, Myanmar's deputy foreign minister on Thursday firmly rejected international calls to secure the release of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, an issue that dominated the agenda of the 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting.

"We are a sovereign country, and we reject interference," Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint told the Post at the meeting at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall.

"We don't accept pressure and interference from abroad," he said in a separate statement to the conference that was mistakenly broadcast to reporters.

His comments came as Asian and European foreign ministers urged Myanmar to free all political prisoners.

Delegates said the issue loomed over the two days of wide-ranging talks.

"We are still deeply concerned about Mrs Suu Kyi's detention," said Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

"She should be released immediately, and the Burmese government must enter dialogue with all political parties," he added, using the military-ruled country's former name.

The meetings concluded with a joint ASEAN-EU statement calling on Myanmar to grant early release to all political prisoners and lift restrictions on political parties.

Suu Kyi could face up to five years in prison if convicted of violating the conditions of her house arrest after American John Yettaw swam to her lakeside home earlier this month.

Delegates at the closed-door meetings said discussions focused on the controversy surrounding Suu Kyi's detention and the country's poor human rights record.

A senior European delegate who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue called for an end to military rule in Myanmar.

"We think [Suu Kyi] should be freed and that elections should be held, and whoever wins should govern.... The Burma issue is really dominating the discussions," the delegate told the Post.

At the close of the talks, a declaration was made on the accession of the EU and EC to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, but two high-level delegates said Myanmar rejected some aspects of the declaration that came out of the summit.

"Burma has been a very contentious issue at the talks, and the Burmese were not happy that they were being put on the spot.... They demanded that their objections be noted in the final declaration," said a senior ASEAN diplomat, asking not to be named.

A senior EU diplomat who also requested anonymity confirmed that "the Burmese delegates did not agree to some parts of the declaration".

But at the signing ceremony that closed the summit, Jan Kohout, foreign minister of the Czech Republic and the deputy director general for external relations of the European Union, downplayed any disagreements.

"[The agreement] paves the way for mutual cooperation between ASEAN and the EU."

He added: "[The Burmese] had some issues with the selection of the UN envoy, and those were noted, but the parties reached a consensus," he told the Post, in response to a question about the allegation of Burmese objections to the declaration.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan was upbeat about the talks. "[Suu Kyi's detention] is a serious issue of discussion, but it's not a serious barrier," he told the Post.

But some delegates said Aung San Suu Kyi was crucial to the wider issue of a free and democratic Myanmar.

"I find it borderline amusing when I hear speeches that Suu Kyi has violated her house arrest.... I want to see a Burma that is free," Finland's Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb told reporters.

Michael Zimer-Johns, Denmark's state secretary for foreign policy said: "In the world today, issues such as [the Suu Kyi detention] cannot be treated as an internal issue," he told reporters at the summit.

"The release of Suu Kyi and a political process is key."

Witness takes stand
In Yangon Thursday, Judges finished questioning legal expert Kyi Win, the only witness for the defence, said Nyan Win, National League for Democracy spokesman and member of Aung San Suu Kyi's legal team, adding that it was not yet clear when a verdict would be reached.

The court had barred three out of four defence witnesses, including the detained deputy chairman of the NLD, Tin Oo, and Myanmar's former longest-serving prisoner, Win Tin, who was freed in September, he said.

Outside the court, security officials arrested a lone protester, a man in his 50s who held a banner that said in Burmese and English, "Saving Suu is saving Burma".

Both sides are set to give their closing statements to the trial on Monday, Nyan Win said.

ASEAN last week issued a rare condemnation of Myanmar, warning that the regime's "honour and credibility" were at stake, in response to Western pressure to take action against its most troublesome member.

Singapore's government said, however, that expelling Myanmar from the 10-member bloc was not the way to bring about reform.

"The question of expulsion or suspension, which [is] often raised by external observers of ASEAN, is not as straightforward as it seems," said Zainul Abidin Rasheed, senior minister of state at the Foreign Ministry, today at the city-state's parliament.

"We have always believed in ASEAN that we have more influence over Myanmar, however limited, through engagement rather than isolating it."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

Fresh street sweeps mar summit opening

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
A homeless woman sits on a bench on Sihanouk Boulevard in Phnom Penh. Rights groups say the municipality has cracked down on street people ahead of this week's ASEAN-EU meeting.


The Phnom Penh Post
http://www.phnompenhpost.com

Written by Mom Kunthear and Sebastian strangio
Friday, 29 May 2009

RIGHTS groups say at least 25 street people were rounded up by police in Daun Penh district on Monday and Tuesday nights ahead of the Wednesday opening of the 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh.

Jason Barber, a monitoring consultant at local rights group Licadho, said 10 people Monday night and an additional 15 on Tuesday were unlawfully detained by security officials from the Daun Penh district office, handed to the Municipal Department of Social Affairs and trucked to Prey Speu, a government "rehabilitation" centre in Choam Chao district.

Barber added that the detained included an HIV-positive woman who had her antiretroviral drugs confiscated by district authorities.

"It could have been a death sentence for this woman if we didn't get [ARVs] to her in time," he said.

"This is just an indication of how the authorities are playing with these people's lives."

‘Cleanup' policy
The most recent wave of roundups followed a similar sweep last week, when 30 beggars, suspected drug users, sex workers and homeless people were detained in Daun Penh and turned over to Social Affairs officials.

Barber said the unlawful detention of street people has been the policy of the government for "close to two decades".

Prey Speu is one of several government centres that have been widely criticised by rights groups, who say that inmates have been beaten and starved.

In its 2009 global human rights report released Thursday, Amnesty International writes that in 2008, the centres saw "at least three" detainees beaten to death and the gang rape of women by centre guards.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
...the authorities are playing with these people's lives.
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"We think that this centre, in particular, needs to be closed down. As long as it's open, it will continue to do nothing more than function as a detention centre," said Barber.

But Soun Chhoeung, deputy director of the city's Social Affairs Department, denied the sweeps were timed to coincide with the ASEAN-EU meeting, saying authorities intended to beautify the city and provide care and education for street people.

"The authorities in Phnom Penh city have to clear [these people] in order to make our city more attractive, and we don't want them to sleep on the street because it can make them sick," he said.

"We are worried about their health and future."

Daun Penh Deputy Governor Sok Penh Vuth added "it is bad for our city when foreign tourists see there are many street children and when beggars come to them to ask for money. They make our city dishonourable."

Sebastien Marot, executive director of Friends International, said municipal clean-up efforts happened roughly every three months, but that the onset of big events - such as the ASEAN-EU meeting - appeared to accelerate the sweeps.

He added that Friends worked to help the victims of such cleanups by providing them with temporary accommodation and getting them out of the city's rehabilitation centres.

"We try to offer the municipality a different way of doing these things," he said, adding that 60 street children were now in a "holiday camp" run by Friends in Kampong Speu province, and that 20 families were staying at the group's two drop-in centres in the city.

"We're trying to get people out of those centres," he added.