Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock during her pre-trial chamber public hearing at ECCC

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock during her pre-trial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, February 24, 2009. Ieng Thirith is charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Heng Sinith/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock during her pre-trial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, February 24, 2009. Ieng Thirith is charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Heng Sinith/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, stands in the dock at the start of her pre-trial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, February 24, 2009. Ieng Thirith is charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Heng Sinith/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Ieng Thirith, social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, is helped into her seat in the dock during her pre-trial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, February 24, 2009. Ieng Thirith is charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Heng Sinith/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Ieng Thirith (C), social affairs minister under the Khmer Rouge regime, sits in the dock during her pre-trial chamber public hearing at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, February 24, 2009. Ieng Thirith is charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity.REUTERS/Heng Sinith/Pool (CAMBODIA)

Ieng Thirith, right, a former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister and wife of its Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, looks on during a hearing at the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009. A former female minister of the Khmer Rouge regime shows her second appeal Tuesday for release from pre-trial detention by Cambodia's genocide tribunal where she is being held on charges of crimes against humanity.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Vietnam, Cambodia eye closer inspection cooperation

HANOI, Feb 24 (VNA) – A senior Cambodian official has asked for help from Vietnam’s Government Inspectorate in the training of personnel and making of laws regarding anti-corruption, complaints and denouncements.

The Cambodian Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspections, Som Kim Sour, made the request during her talks with Vietnam ’s chief government inspector, Tran Van Truyen, in Hanoi on Feb. 23.

Som Kim Sour appreciated the Vietnamese Government Inspectorate for assistance it extended to the Cambodian ministry, as well as its operation results in the recent years.

Truyen briefed his guest on his agency’s work relating to socio-economic issues, complaints and denouncements and the fight against corruption in 2008 and directions set for this year.

Cooperative ties between the Vietnamese Government Inspectorate and the Cambodian Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspections is vivid evidence of the cooperation and friendship between the two countries, he stressed. (VNA)

Olympic Day Run Proposed to Promote Thai-Cambodia Relations

Thailand Outlook Channel
24 February 2009

Major General Jaruk Areerachakaran, Vice-Chairman of the Thai Olympic Committee proposed holding an Olympic Day Run at Preah Vihear to strengthen Thai-Cambodia relations.

Major General Jaruk Areerachakaran, Vice-Chairman and Secretary of the Thai Olympic Committee revealed that he has submitted the major events that Thailand will send its athletes to participate in from now to 2012 to Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpon Silpa-archa so that the ministry can organize a committee to prepare the athletes.In 2009 there will be four major events. The First Asian Martial Arts Games in Thailand from April 25th to May 3rd, the First Asian Youth Games in Singapore from June 29th to July 7th, the Third Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam from October 30th to November 8th and the 25 SEA Games in Laos from December 9 to18.Major General Jaruk also mentioned the plan to organize an Olympic Day Run in 2009. In the last few years Thailand has held the Olympic Day Run with neighboring countries like Laos and Vietnam and this year he plans to hold the event with Cambodia.

With the Preah Vihear dispute, he would like to strengthen the relationship between Thailand and Cambodia, and it would be even better if the event could be held in the Preah Vihear area. However, this will have to be discussed further with the Thai Olympic Committee.

Rescue plan for rare Siamese crocs

The Siamese crocodiles were

By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

The Siamese crocodile is one of the world's rarest creatures.
Judging by its week-day morning performance at the Phnom Tamao wildlife sanctuary, it might also be one of the grumpiest.

Attempts to lasso the beast around the snout have contributed to its ill-humour. The croc only wants to come out of the enclosure on its own terms.

A joint team from conservation organisation Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and Cambodia's Forestry Administration is wrestling around a dozen crocodiles a day at Phnom Tamao - all in the name of preserving the species.

The Siamese was declared extinct in the wild in 1992, and while several population sites have been found in recent years, numbers are still critically low.
Conservationists hope to replenish numbers by breeding them in captivity

Conservationists are hoping to replenish the numbers with a captive breeding programme, but first they have to identify animals which suit that purpose.

The crocodile they have their eye on is making a disconcerting, low-pitched growl; it is in attack mode.

"Get your foot out of there," yells Adam Starr, FFI's crocodile programme manager. A flip flop-shod member of the team, armed with only a bamboo pole, beats a hasty retreat.

Crocodile wrestling

The Siamese might not be anything like as large as other crocodile species - for example the fearsome saltwater - but it can still inflict considerable damage on a human unwise enough to provoke it while limbs are within snapping range.

A "death roll" could easily break an arm or leg clamped between the crocodile's teeth.


" This project may allow us to breed the Siamese species and reintroduce it into the wild "
Nhek RatanapichWildlife sanctuary director

Eventually the lasso is firmly tightened around the animal's upper jaw.

That is the cue for team members to grab the croc by the tail, wrestle it out of the enclosure and place it into a shallow pit.
More ropes and a blindfold keep the beast subdued so the conservationists can do their work.

"You can't tranquilise them," Mr Starr explains. "Their instinctive reaction to distress would be to dive into the water. When the tranquiliser kicked in, they'd drown."

As many as half a dozen people pin down the croc while the vets go to work, taking blood and tissue samples for DNA analysis and injecting a tracking chip into the tail.

They will do the same for each of the crocodiles at the sanctuary - around 70 in all.

The conservationists are hoping to find pure-bred Siamese among the population at Phnom Tamao.

The samples will be analysed at a laboratory in Thailand, and confirmed Siamese crocs will be paired off for breeding.

No quick fix

The director of the wildlife sanctuary, Nhek Ratanapich, admits he feels a great responsibility for making sure the programme is a success.

Siamese crocodiles can inflict considerable damage on a human

"We have found that there are less than 250 Siamese crocodiles in the wild, and they are isolated so there is a lot of in-breeding," he says.

"This project may allow us to breed the Siamese species and reintroduce it into the wild."

Humans are the Siamese crocodile's only predator; the animals are prized for their soft leather.

In Cambodia, however, their habitats are in protected areas, and the local human population now largely treat their reptilian neighbours with respect.

That means conservationists are optimistic about the chances of survival for any offspring from the breeding programme.

"Previously in Cambodia, with its civil war and social strife, there were not very effective laws to protect these animals," says FFI's Adam Starr.
Confirmed Siamese crocs will be paired off for breeding

"Today the Forestry Administration and other government ministries have been very good at developing these laws.

"There are rangers in protected forest areas, so we believe there's a better chance right now to breed crocodiles - and have them looked after properly."

There will be no quick fix. Siamese crocodiles mature slowly, so it may be 15 years before conservationists will be able to tell whether or not the project has been a success.

For now they are simply hoping that what they are doing will be enough to ensure the species is never declared extinct again.

"The first time I've cried for 30 years"

Radio Netherlands

Dutch theatre director breaks Cambodia’s silence

by Sebastiaan Gottlieb*
23-02-2009

The premiere in Cambodia of the theatre piece Breaking the Silence by Dutch director Annemarie Prins (pictured) has brought many emotions to the surface. It is based on the stories of survivors of the country's infamous Khmer Rouge regime and appears to have achieved its aim: to break the 30-year silence around the genocide committed in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

After the first performance in Phnom Penh, Youk Chhang, the director of Cambodia's Documentation Centre, could not control his tears. He has been an important driving force behind Prins' work, and believes art can help Cambodians come to terms with the scars left by the Khmer Rouge:

"It's the first time I've cried for 30 years. I've talked to the Khmer Rouge leaders who committed those terrible crimes, but this theatre piece really touched my heart. Cambodia lost its soul back then and part of that soul was rediscovered this evening."

Scarred by the past

Ms Prins cannot think of a better compliment. She wrote the piece last year after interviewing a number of the victims of the Pol Pot regime. A number of characters who have been scarred by the past are presented on stage. One is a woman who no longer talks to her son because she suspects he committed crimes as a Khmer Rouge soldier. Another woman suffers terrible guilt because, as a small child, she stole rice out of the family's emergency supplies. However, two other women are featured who actually had a great time as children in the Khmer Rouge army.

To increase its accessibility, Cambodian song and dance is performed throughout the piece. Ms Prins needed permission from the Cambodian government before the performance could take place:

"Yes, it's a weird country. We had to give a performance for the culture minister and officials in a room at the ministry. That was actually to decide if we'd be allowed to do the piece at all. Luckily, I didn't realise that beforehand. I was also quizzed about the piece and four lines were eventually cut."

Censorship

She agreed to the censorship of the four lines because she feels it is more important that the piece is seen than that her artistic ego is left unruffled. The lines were literal quotes from Khmer Rouge propaganda songs:

"chop off the heads of our revolution's enemies and slice open their bellies".

Ms Prins says the cut does not affect the thrust of the work. It deals with the problems thrown up by the perpetrators and victims of the genocide having to go on living side by side:

"The victims don't talk about what happened, neither with their children nor really amongst themselves. The perpetrators are also reticent and live in a kind of isolation. It very difficult for people to talk, and that makes the healing process more difficult."

Annemarie Prins gives stage directions during a rehearsal

Artists killed

This is the second show Ms Prins has done in Cambodia. Four years ago, the American Fred Frumberg asked her to lead a theatre workshop. He set up the Amrita organisation 12 years ago to help resurrect Cambodia's performing arts. During Pol Pot's dictatorship, 90 percent of the country's artists were killed, because they failed to fit into the ideal of a largely agrarian society. Ms Prins says that

"Without Fred Frumberg, there would have been no possibility of a performance. There's nobody left in Cambodia to work on theatre; you really need foreigners for that."

Judging from the response to its premiere, Breaking the Silence had a major impact on its audience. A number of people said it should be seen by as many people in Cambodia as possible.

A mobile theatre is being constructed to take the show outside the capital, and tour the countryside.

"For me, that'll be the real premiere,"

says Ms Prins.

"Those are the people I'm aiming at, ordinary Cambodians".

Chuan Wei Plans WiMax Net

Unstrung.com
FEBRUARY 23, 2009

BARCELONA, Spain -- Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that it has been chosen by Chuan Wei (Cambodia) Co Ltd, to deploy a nation-wide WiMAX Rev-e (802.16e-2005 standard) wireless broadband network, Cambodia’s first. Commercial services are set for launch in mid 2009.

Chuan Wei, part of the Thai Boon Roong Ltd conglomerate, is counting on the Alcatel-Lucent solution to meet its target of serving one million subscribers, roughly 80% of the country’s business and enterprise population, within two years of launch. Alcatel-Lucent is providing a complete turnkey solution for WiMAX, including integration, design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance services.

“As the first provider to deploy a nation-wide WiMAX Rev-e network in Cambodia, Chuan Wei is helping shape the future of communications in the region. The network will provide significant infrastructural support to Cambodia’s economic growth, improving communications for local businesses and multinationals,” said Chuan Wei’s president, Alan Khov. “It will support high-quality voice telephony in addition to broadband access, thanks to the end-to-end quality of service features built into the Alcatel-Lucent solution.”
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)

Israeli business delegation to visit Cambodia

People's Daily Online
February 23, 2009

An Israeli delegation is set to visit Cambodia on March 16, hoping to forge agreements in agriculture and telecommunications, national media reported Monday.

The move is part of an Israeli effort announced last year to expand economic and political ties with Cambodia, the Phnom Penh Post said.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, told the Post that 30 Israeli delegates from the government and private sector would meet up to 40 Cambodian business leaders.

"We should know that Israel is a land of sand, but it has become an agricultural leader because of their expertise," Nguon Meng Tech was quoted as saying.

"I think they are also looking for farmland to grow rice and vegetables," he said, adding that there has been talk of leasing agricultural land to the Israelis and building a hotel, but no details have been disclosed yet.

Meanwhile, Tzahi Selzer, the Israeli economic and trade attaché in Bangkok, said that 15 telecoms companies, as well as agriculture businesses, would be part of the delegation, according to the Post.

Also present would be Israel's minister of telecommunications and minister of agriculture, along with possibly one other high-ranking official.

Israel was ranked the fourth-largest foreign investor in Cambodia last year in terms of value of projects approved, with 2.75 percent of total investment, or 300 million U.S. dollars, according to Cambodian Investment Board figures.

Source:Xinhua

Cambodia holds regional workshop on involuntary resettlement implementation and management

People's daily Online
February 23, 2009

Cambodia on Monday launched a five-day regional workshop on involuntary resettlement implementation and management, which was attended by officials from Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and the kingdom itself.

The workshop, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will provide the participants with an opportunity to exchange views on the above crucial topic in order to set a common perspective on better implementation of resettlement for each country, Chhorn Sopheap, director of resettlement department of the Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance, said at the workshop.

Involuntary resettlement needs to be properly implemented under a clear policy through appropriate legal principles and procedures stipulated in the laws and regulations to ensure all affected people are better off or at least to have the same condition as before, he said.

"We believe that good resettlement can prevent impoverishment of the affected people by turning displacement into development opportunities," he added.

According to an ADB report, nearly 4,000 families have been affected by the irrigation system in northwestern part of Cambodia (2005-2010), and 4,422 families affected by the Steung Chinit irrigation system (2001-2008).

The road rehabilitation and electricity system project in Cambodia (2003-2010) has affected over 4,200 families, and the railway restoration project (2008-2010) has affected 4,253 families.

Source:Xinhua

Cambodia drafts sub-decree for better resettlement in development projects

People's Daily Online
February 23, 2009

Cambodia has started drafting a sub-decree on addressing social-economic impacts caused by the development projects on implementation of involuntary resettlement, a government official said here on Monday.

"In the current context of Cambodia, we are lacking legal norms and legislations to support resettlement implementation, including limited awareness of people on law and weak enforcement of land law and other regulations," said Chhorn Sopheap, deputy secretary general of the Supreme National Economic Council and director of the resettlement department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

"We continue to further revise the sub-decree to cover all important issues in conformity with other laws and regulations, and to ensure efficient implementation," he said in the opening remarks of the five-day regional workshop of involuntary resettlement implementation and management, which also attracted participants from Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia.

The government is preparing this crucial sub-decree as policy guidelines for a better resettlement implementation, he said.

The project implementation is even more difficult and complicated if a third party causes problems behind because resettlement implementation is not only related to socio-economic side of affected people but also sometimes related to people's mind, especially political issues, he said.

"There were some problems occurring during the project implementation due to lack of adequate policy measures as well as experience, but we have to maintain a balance between people's rights of interest and general or public interest represented by prerogatives of public power," he said.

"We believe that good resettlement can prevent impoverishment and poverty of the affected people by turning displacement into development opportunities," he added.

Source:Xinhua

Vietnam-Cambodia relations invaluable: PM

24/02/2009

VietNamNet Bridge – The traditional friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia is an invaluable asset that the two governments and peoples should focus upon harnessing and shaping into comprehensive development, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said.

He made these comments while receiving Som Kim Sour, Cambodia’s Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspections, in Hanoi on Feb. 23.

The Vietnamese Party, Government and people will spare no effort in the development of every aspect of the Vietnamese-Cambodian relations for the mutual benefit of both nations, Dung said.

The PM expressed his happiness at the positive progress in bilateral ties in fields including politics, diplomacy, economics, trade, culture, arts, technology, security and defence.

The two country’s inspection agencies should also intensify their cooperation to assist national construction and the development of bilateral ties, he added.

Minister Som Kim Sour briefed the PM on the positive outcome of a discussion between her ministry’s delegation and representatives of Vietnam’s Government Inspection.

She said that the construction and development of the cordial relations between the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments and their people would make a significant contribution to the socio-economic stability of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

VietNamNet/VNA

Researchers Trained in Video Documentation

By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
23 February 2009

Three young Cambodians are being trained by the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California to document video testimony of the Khmer Rouge genocide.

The three trainees, one male and two females, sent from the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, are in their early twenties and represent those who were born, raised and educated after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center, said that the agency’s mission is to promote memory, justice and reconciliation and that documenting a balanced testimony requires high technology and good techniques to work with survivors.

“Video documenting is part of our work, but in general Cambodian people are scared of this modern technology, and sometimes when they talk to us they cannot express themselves much,” Youk Chhang said. “Therefore, it requires a professional technique. This is the reason why we sent our three staff to try their best to learn the technique for our future work.”

Youk Chhang said that the training was important because it would help the center speed up visual recording of the testimonies of many survivors, all of whom are getting old and many of whom died without having a chance to testify to their Khmer Rouge experiences for the younger generations.

Karen Jungblut, director of research and documentation at the Shoah Foundation, said that as of last year that the center has extended its work to Cambodia and Rwanda. It is the first time they have accepted such a long internship and training, she said.

The foundation specializes in documenting testimony of holocaust survivors. It has documented 52,000 video testimonies and had them translated into 32 different languages.

The three-month training will include methodology in interviewing survivors by providing a pre-questionnaire, which is a way to help interviewers know in advance the survivor’s background, understanding the events they went through and their impacts. The interns will then interview Cambodian-Americans who lived through the Khmer Rouge, known politically as Democratic Kampuchea. Results of this and future work will be stored at the Shoah Foundation for researchers in North America and at the Documentation Center for researchers in Asia.

Leng Ratthanak, a trainee whose paternal and maternal relatives were killed during Democratic Kampuchea, said: “Our goal is to interview more survivors in all provinces, to get different accounts of the regime, as well as to use the video testimony to educate the younger generation.”

“In the next 10 to 20 years, technology will be more improved, so telling the story verbally or through paper will not be easy to convince them,” Leng Ratthanak said. “But once we have a video testimony this will surely help us a lot, and it will also generate more discussions on the Khmer Rouge genocide in our country.”

The three trainees were selected based on their origins and religions. They are from ethnic Khmer, Khmer-Muslim, and indigenous Phnong minority, and organizers believe that they will mostly represent the Khmer Rouge’s victims.

The selection of young people born after the genocidal regime because they are neither a perpetrator nor a victim and they have an eye wanting to see and to understand the truth as well as having an easy access to both the victims and perpetrators, say Youk Chhang.

Sa Fatily, another trainee, who is a Khmer-Muslim, said that victims from her ethnic group suffered from physical, mental and religious assaults, but there seems to be little documentations about them. She said some victims are still traumatized by the events and do not want to recall it.

Play Aims For Khmer Rouge Reconciliation

Cambodian actors rehearsed a play, called "Breaking the Silence", in Phnom Penh.

By Taing Sarada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
23 February 2009

A Cambodian play designed to help people speak more openly about their experiences under the Khmer Rouge is scheduled for viewing in rural areas, following a performance in Phnom Penh this weekend.

The play, “Breaking the Silence,” was established under cooperation between the Document Center of Cambodia and the Amerita Art organization.

Director Annemarie Prins, of the Netherlands Featuring Artists of the Secondary School of Fine Arts, did research in several provinces in Cambodia about the sadness, horror and daily lives during the Khmer Rouge. Prins found that some regime victims and former perpetrators live as neighbors but do not talk to each other.

Youk Chhang, director of the Document Center of Cambodia, said the play would be performed mostly in the countryside, to help people understand there can be reconciliation and tolerance between victims and perpetrators.

“We aim to show ‘Breaking the Silence’ in some rural areas so that the people will be able to see and participate in the show,” he said. “There are about seven cases that we picked from real life during the Khmer Rouge regime, after research and study by the Documentation Center of Cambodia. We used these cases to produce a story to show the audience.”

The play will be performed in Kampong Cham, Kampot, Kandal and Takeo provinces, and is completely Khmer in character, including speaking, ideas, proverbs and songs, he said.

In 2007 the Document Centre of Cambodia put out a play “Searching for the Truth,” which earned strong support from Cambodians.

Ser Sayana, a Documentation Center staff member and an assistant for the play, said the performances were a part of the center’s outreach program.

“I think when people see it they will understand, because the show is really based on the daily lives of people during the Khmer Rouge,” she said.

“Some people who were members of Khmer Rouge, or whose relatives were Khmer Rouge members, are now living around or near Khmer Rouge victims, as neighbors,” she said. “Those former Khmer Rouge members are still hiding in their minds, without speaking out, to let somebody know, their inner sadness. So this show could allow them to speak out in a way to brings reconciliation and tolerance.”

Judges Dismiss Khieu Samphan Translation Request

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 February 2009

Khmer Rouge tribunal judges on Friday rejected a request from Khieu Samphan that 60,000 pages of documentation be translated into French.

The request, made by French attorney Jacques Verges, had delayed for months proceedings against the former nominal head of the regime, who is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Verges has said he would be unable to defend his client without the translations.

But following a hearing on the matter in December, the Pre-Trial Chamber decided unanimously that the request was not valid, judge Prak Kim San announced Friday.

The judges found no obligations stated in the rules of the tribunal that required translation, he said, noting limited resources as well as a time limit for the courts.

Khieu Samphan’s Cambodian attorney, Sar Savan, said the decision was unacceptable, though it was met with approval by both prosecutors and lawyers for civil parties in the case.

Khieu Samphan, 77, was arrested in November 2007, and his detention has already been extended for a year.

Khmer Rouge tribunal judges on Friday rejected a request from Khieu Samphan that 60,000 pages of documentation be translated into French.

The request, made by French attorney Jacques Verges, had delayed for months proceedings against the former nominal head of the regime, who is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Verges has said he would be unable to defend his client without the translations.

But following a hearing on the matter in December, the Pre-Trial Chamber decided unanimously that the request was not valid, judge Prak Kim San announced Friday.

The judges found no obligations stated in the rules of the tribunal that required translation, he said, noting limited resources as well as a time limit for the courts.

Khieu Samphan’s Cambodian attorney, Sar Savan, said the decision was unacceptable, though it was met with approval by both prosecutors and lawyers for civil parties in the case.

Khieu Samphan, 77, was arrested in November 2007, and his detention has already been extended for a year.

Experts Meet Over Resettlement Ideas

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 February 2009

National and regional resettlement experts met in Phnom Penh Monday to address legal resolution and policy for the thousands of Cambodians left without property in the wake of giant development projects.

Around 100 participants from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam, made up of government officials, non-governmental agencies, development partners and World Bank resettlement experts, met for the first day of a weeklong conference, to exchange experiences and compose legal measures and policies.

“Involuntary resettlement associated with development projects – both in public and private sectors–present presents certain risks. For example, people lose theirs land, homes, jobs, income sources and generally their way of life,” said Arjun Goswami, Cambodia’s World Bank representative. “In Phnom Penh, a recent effort to move residents from the site of a planned inner-city development is a case in point for private sector investment and development. Development projects can and have indeed in the past led to impoverishment of affected people. We all agree that impoverishment of people adversely affected by projects is unacceptable.”

Chhorn Sopheap, director of the resettlement department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said more than 10 national mega projects had led to the loss and farming land and houses for people.

“But these effects will not have a full resolution yet because of the lack of policy, legal measures and experience,” he said. “Involuntary resettlement needs to be properly implemented under a clear policy through appropriate legal principles and procedures, to ensure all affected people are better off, or at least in the same condition, as before the project.”

Am Sam Ath, Licadho chief of investigation, said in the last few years, giant development projects caused some 10,000 Cambodian families to lose nearly 10,000 hectares of farmland and thousands of houses, particularly in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Koh Kong, Mondolkiri, Kratie, Stung Treng, Rattanakkiri and Kompong Cham.

Counterfeit medicines in Cambodia: judging a tablet by its packaging?

Pailin (Cambodia). 06/03/2002: Woman selling Arteminisin, a drug used in the treatment of malaria, in a non-monitored drug store. ©John Vink/ Magnum

Ka-set

By Corinne Callebaut
23-02-2009

Obsolete statistics and a wall of silence noticed by most of the national protagonists working in that particular field... In Cambodia, the fight against fake medicines is still a taboo and a very sensitive topic. However, there is no denying that the country keeps suffering as a result of counterfeit or very poor quality pharmaceuticals, of which the population remains the first victim. In order to counter that silent epidemic, which mainly concerns antibiotics and anti-malaria drugs, a team in charge of combating fake medicines has been set up within the Ministry of Health and currently benefits from the support of important private external backers. Unfortunately, it looks like a cure has yet to be found in Cambodia to put the pharmaceutical network back on its feet.

UN Peter Taksoe-Jensen's meeting with Sok An for talks over anti-corruption measures at the KRT

Peter Taksoe-Jensen (L), U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, shakes hands with Sok An, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister, during a meeting in Phnom Penh February 23, 2009. Taksoe-Jensen is in Cambodia for talks over anti-corruption measures at the Khmer Rouge tribunal between a top U.N. legal official and a member of Cambodia's government amid fears of bankruptcy on the Cambodian side of the court, according to local news reports.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Peter Taksoe-Jensen (2nd L), U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, listens as Sok An (R), Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister, talks during a meeting in Phnom Penh February 23, 2009. Taksoe-Jensen is in Cambodia for talks over anti-corruption measures at the Khmer Rouge tribunal between a top U.N. legal official and a member of Cambodia's government amid fears of bankruptcy on the Cambodian side of the court, according to local news reports.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Peter Taksoe-Jensen (front L), U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, listens as Sok An (R), Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister, talks during a meeting in Phnom Penh February 23, 2009. Taksoe-Jensen is in Cambodia for talks over anti-corruption measures at the Khmer Rouge tribunal between a top U.N. legal official and a member of Cambodia's government amid fears of bankruptcy on the Cambodian side of the court, according to local news reports.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Peter Taksoe-Jensen (C), U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, talks with Sok An, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister, during a meeting in Phnom Penh February 23, 2009. Taksoe-Jensen is in Cambodia for talks over anti-corruption measures at the Khmer Rouge tribunal between a top U.N. legal official and a member of Cambodia's government amid fears of bankruptcy on the Cambodian side of the court, according to local news reports.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, right, talks with Peter Taksoe-Jensen, left, UN assistant secretary general for Legal Affairs, during a meeting in the Cambodia Council of Ministers office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

International Theravada Buddhist universities conference to be held in Myanmar

www.chinaview.cn
2009-02-23

YANGON, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- An International Theravada Buddhist universities conference will be held at the Sitagu International Buddhists Academy in Sagaing, northwestern division of Myanmar, executive secretary of the Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities (ATBU) Vulnerable Dr. Khammai Dhammasami told the press Monday.

At the second biennial conference, which will last from March 5to 8, about 70 papers relating to engaged Buddhism, religious teachings in Theravada Buddhist countries, monasticism in Theravada countries, and Pali literature since the 19th century will be presented mainly in English and Pali languages for discussion.

According to the executive secretary, 290 representatives from 30 universities and colleges from 11 countries including observers from seven other countries as well as 300 domestic monks and nuns are expected to attend the session.

These countries include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Uganda, Jamaica, Nepal and host Myanmar.

The conference is aimed at building a network of Theravada Buddhists and intellectuals from across the world to enable cooperation in religious teachings and education and disseminate Buddhist laws to the world, he said.

The first conference of its kind was also held in Myanmar's Bagan Popa resort, in which representatives of Theravada Buddhist universities and colleges from 13 countries attended, followed by the establishment of ATBU.

The forthcoming international Theravada Buddhist universities conference came more than four years after the World Buddhist Summit, sponsored by Myanmar for the first time, took place at the Maha Pasana Cave in Yangon in December 2004 to promote and propagate Buddhism.

Buddhism stands one of the four main historical religions of the world with over 360 million followers. Myanmar is a country with a majority of its population (about 80 percent) believing in Buddhism. It is estimated that there are over 420,000 monks and over 60,000 nuns within nine sects in Myanmar which have been unified at different levels under the leadership of the government's religious committee.

For nearly 1,000 years, the country has kept Theravada Buddhismpure and intact. Buddhist scripture learning centers and other monastic education schools were set up here long ago.

There are five Theravada Buddhist universities and institutes in Myanmar -- four in Yangon, one in Mandalay and one in Sagaing.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

BITTER MEMORIES: CAMBODIA’S MUSEUM OF GENOCIDE

Tourism Review, Czech Republic
23 February 2009

The 1970s present the most painful era in the history of Cambodia. Those to blame are still awaiting their justice, yet the nation mourns its dead. Many come and visit the infamous prison S-21 – now a museum of genocide.

The Khmer Rouge regime, which lasted from 1975 to 1979, remains one of the most dreadful eras in human history. Nearly a fifth of the entire Cambodian population died during this time. Several thousand innocent people were captured and held in the infamous S-21, a prison which only a dozen survived.

The former high school was transformed into a prison soon after the rule was established. The prisoners were subject to inhuman torture and forced to ridiculous confessions. After a period of about three months, they were taken away and murdered. The killing fields outside Phnom Penh, where the prison was situated, are a shocking example of the cruelty of the regime.

To commemorate all those who lost their lives in the prison, the S-21 has been turned into the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. Photographs and paintings of the victims line the walls as well as displays of the various deadly instruments used to torture the prisoners.

Unfortunately, those responsible have not yet been punished. In fact, the process with several high-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge regime has just started. Only one of them has expressed some regret. As the nation expects a fair ordeal, hundreds of visitors come to Tuol Sleng Museum to understand the past.

Documents have been made, interviews with the dozen of survivors have been shot and thousands of pictures taken. In fact, one of the photographers of the terrible regime is now attempting to open a museum in the former communist stronghold Anlong Veng. The museum features over a thousand photographs he had taken during the late 1970s. No matter how questionable his motives are, shedding more light on the darkest chapter in Cambodian history may help the nation move on.

Related:


WARSAW OPENS GHETTO TRAIL
The Genocide Museum – Helping Rwanda to Heal its Wounds

Cheap Cambodian crop floods province

23/02/2009

VietNamNet Bridge - Rice is still being illegally imported daily from Cambodia into the southwestern border province of An Giang.

Duong Su Market in Tinh Bien District’s An Nong commune is the largest granary of smuggled rice from Cambodia in An Giang Province.

Nguyen Anh Nghia, a farmer in the district, said that every day up to 200-300 trucks from Cambodia arrive at Tinh Bien District’s Duong Su Market. Each truck transports over 20 tonnes of rice.

Do Hung Viet, a rice seller in Can Tho city’s Thot Not District, said that the price of Cambodia’s unhusked rice was only VND4,000-5,000 per kilogramme – VND200 cheaper than the locally grown rice. "Buying Cambodian rice help me gain profits and save time," he said.

He added that Duong Su Market never lacks rice. Thus, the number of businesspeople from other provinces flocking to the market is increasing.

Farmers in the province said that rice smuggling makes their lives more difficult.

Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Industry and Trade, asked the Import and Export Department and relevant agencies of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Viet Nam Food Association to offer solutions for cross-border smuggling of rice into southern provinces.

VietNamNet/VNS

Shin takes a kicking in the bottom line for 4Q, but annual profit gets a leg-up

TeleGeography
Monday, 23 February 2009

Thai communications group Shin Corp, controlled by Singapore's Temasek Holdings, has posted a net loss of THB342 million (USD10 million) in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to lower profits at its domestic mobile subsidiary Advanced Info Service (AIS) and losses from its satellite operations. The negative figure compared with a net profit of THB730 million in October-December 2007. However, for full-year 2008, Shin’s net income soared to THB5.65 billion, up from THB960 million the year before. AIS, which previously reported its results separately, contributes more than 80% of Shin's profit. In Cambodia, Shin’s telecoms revenue from subsidiary Camshin increased as a result of a subscriber base that rose 93.8% to 921,205 in 2008. At the group's Laos unit, Lao Telecommunications Company (LTC), total telephony subscribers , including mobile and fixed line, increased 22.7% to 964,518 in 2008, primarily due to a significant growth rate of mobile GSM pre-paid users which increased by 25.5% to 868,622 in the year, and CDMA subscribers which increased by 16% to 29,620. Shin Corp comprises more than 20 companies in the wireless, satellite, internet and media sectors.

Progress in KRouge court corruption talks: UN

Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav listens to proceedings at his trial on genocide charges

Tourists visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre built on the site of Cambodia's infamous 'Killing Fields'

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A UN official Monday said "great headway" has been made during talks with senior Cambodian officials to find ways to stop alleged corruption at the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal.

The UN-backed court, which opened its first trial last week, has faced controversy over allegations of political interference by the government and corruption claims that Cambodian staff paid kickbacks for their jobs.

"We worked together to try to find solutions to the challenges that are in front of the court," UN assistant secretary general for legal affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen said after meeting deputy premier Sok An and other officials.

"We have made great headway this morning," Taksoe-Jensen told reporters, adding that they had also discussed an anti-corruption mechanism at the court.

Meetings would continue later Monday after officials "think about the proposals from both sides."

After years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the United Nations, the court was created in 2006 to try leading members of the communist 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime.

The long-awaited first trial started last week when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court.

Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are also in detention awaiting trial.

The latest corruption allegations emerged last year, prompting the UN to launch an investigation into claims that Cambodian workers had been forced to pay for their jobs.

International backers have appeared hesitant to pledge more money to the court after allegations of political interference by the government over whether the court will bring charges against more Khmer Rouge figures.

Court officials have said last year's allegations were "unspecific, unsourced and unsubstantiated."

Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation, disease and overwork as the ultra-Marxist Khmer Rouge movement tried to create an agrarian utopia.

Cambodia's Khmers Rouges on trial; Evil and the law

The Economist

Feb 23rd 2009
PHNOM PENH

From The Economist print edition

Thirty years after he was put out of business, a Cambodian torturer gets his day in court



JUSTICE moves slowly in Cambodia, even—or perhaps especially—where genocide is concerned. Thirty years after a Vietnamese invasion toppled the Khmers Rouges, and nearly ten years after he was detained, Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, last week became the first leader to face trial at a UN–backed “hybrid” tribunal on the dusty outskirts of Phnom Penh, set up to achieve justice for survivors of a regime that killed perhaps 2m people.

Duch ran Tuol Sleng or S-21, a notorious Phnom Penh prison (now museum), where more than 14,000 men, women and children were tortured and killed. For two days of procedural hearings the 66-year-old Christian convert sat attentively. At each adjournment he stood, touched his clasped hands to his forehead, and bowed to the crowded court. “Now he is just an old man. Before, he was the absolute man,” says Vann Nath, who survived S-21 because Duch let him paint a portrait of the Khmers Rouges’ leader, Pol Pot. “Whether someone lived or died hinged on him.”

Duch is being tried separately from four other detainees, all, unlike him, central-committee members. His systematic interrogations in S-21 left a damning trail of evidence, and he is vital to the effort to understand the regime. “He alone has admitted his deeds and will almost certainly point the finger to implicate others,” says Alex Hinton, of Rutgers University’s Centre for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights.

Last week lawyers proposed witnesses and noted arguments. François Roux, the defence lawyer, from France, was expected to condemn Duch’s prolonged detention, and Robert Petit, the main international prosecutor, to claim that Duch was part of a joint criminal enterprise—an attempt to implicate the other defendants in the S-21 atrocities. The court also debated whether a child survivor of S-21 could register as a victim despite missing the deadline, or if a husband could represent his dead spouse.

The success of the court remains in doubt. Elderly victims and the defendants themselves (the others are over 75) may thwart it by dying. It took ten years of talks between Cambodia and the UN before the court opened in July 2007. In March the court’s Cambodian side will run out of money. In December the international prosecutor publicly disagreed with his Cambodian co-counsel’s refusal to seek other defendants. This raised questions about political interference. Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, among others, is a former Khmer Rouge cadre.

Yet Duch seems likely to get the trial he and his victims seek. Mr Petit requested 40 days for questioning his witnesses. The defence witnesses include Duch himself, who, according to his lawyer, intends to apologise to victims and answer their long-held questions about the torture prison. Mr Roux worries that no amount of candour by Duch could fully explain the horrors of S-21: “I’m not sure that a human being can explain something inhuman.”

Talks Progress On Khmer Rouge Court Corruption Allegations-UN

Morning Star
2-23-09

PHNOM PENH (AFP)--A U.N. official Monday said "great headway" has been made during talks with senior Cambodian officials to find ways to stop alleged corruption at the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal.

The U.N.-backed court, which opened its first trial last week, has faced controversy over allegations of political interference by the government and corruption claims that Cambodian staff paid kickbacks for their jobs.

"We worked together to try to find solutions to the challenges that are in front of the court," U.N. assistant secretary-general for legal affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen said after meeting deputy premier Sok An and other officials.

"We have made great headway this morning," Taksoe-Jensen told reporters, adding that they had also discussed an anti-corruption mechanism at the court.

Meetings would continue later Monday after officials "think about the proposals from both sides."

After years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the U.N., the court was created in 2006 to try leading members of the communist 1975 to 1979 Khmer Rouge regime.

The long-awaited first trial started last week when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court.

Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are also in detention awaiting trial.

The latest corruption allegations emerged last year, prompting the U.N. to launch an investigation into claims that Cambodian workers had been forced to pay for their jobs.

International backers have appeared hesitant to pledge more money to the court after allegations of political interference by the government over whether the court will bring charges against more Khmer Rouge figures.

Court officials have said last year's allegations were "unspecific, unsourced and unsubstantiated."

Up to two million people were executed or died of starvation, disease and overwork as the ultra-Marxist Khmer Rouge movement tried to create an agrarian utopia.

A tango team, Dancing for drainage

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Monday, 23 February 2009

Khan Boline and Chum Van Belle perform the tango as part of Robert Lawrence's international Tango Intervention series in Psar Cha Park, next to Norodom Boulevard. Pedestrians gathered and motorists stopped to witness the team of 20 dancers who performed to raise awareness of water mismanagement in Phnom Penh. "We chose this location as it was formerly a canal that was filled in by the French, a move that is still causing flooding problems," said Lawrence, who has so far organised nine such events worldwide, most recently in New York and Vienna. "This is the most insane, chaotic and adventurous intervention we've done," he said of the Phnom Penh event.

Sixth man arrested in bomb plot

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Monday, 23 February 2009

Authorities say they're still on 'hunt' for more Tiger Heads

THE brother of the alleged mastermind behind the foiled bomb plot against state-owned facilities in Phnom Penh in January was arrested last Tuesday as a conspirator, authorities said.

Chea Kimyan, the brother of Som Ek, who has been incarcerated since January 12 along with four other suspects reputed to be in the so-called "Tiger Head" paramilitary group, was arrested by police on the same charges in connection with the bombs and on suspicion of recruiting and training terrorists, said Hing Bunchea, a prosecutor with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

"He is now being detained temporarily for further investigation," he said.

Police say Som Ek has confessed to organising both the most recent bombing attempt as well as a plot to blow up the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument in July 2007.

Military Police Chief Sao Sokha said Chea Kimyan had been in the hands of court investigators since Friday but would not comment on whether he had denied the charges.

A military policeman who asked not to be named said Chea Kimyan was arrested in Choam Chao commune in Phnom Penh's Dangkor district.

Chan Saveth, a legal counselor with local rights group Adhoc, said he was waiting for Chea Kimyan's family to contact him for consultation.

"We welcome the police's effort to arrest more suspects in the bomb plot in order to fight crime, but we are still doubtful about the charges until there is convincing evidence," he said. He said he had asked the court to move forward with hearings for all the suspects as soon as possible to clarify whether the cases against them were valid.

Rights groups had previously called for the release of more details surrounding the arrest, interrogation and trial of the suspects already detained. Chan Saveth said two of the men - Reach Samnang and Lek Bunnhean - have still been denied contact with lawyers or their families.

National Police spokesman Keat Chantharith declined to give details on the number of additional suspects identified by authorities, but said, "We are still investigating more people and will hunt for them to the end".

KRT graft talks reopen

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Lawyers Francois Roux, Pierre-Olivier Sur and Kar Savuth outside the tribunal last Wednesday for the trial of S-21 prison chief Duch.


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Georgia Wilkins and Neth Pheaktra
Monday, 23 February 2009

UN officials arrive to discuss the creation of new monitoring mechanisms at the hybrid court, as funding pressures intensify.

TALKS over anti-corruption measures at the Khmer Rouge tribunal were to continue today between a top UN legal official and members of the Cambodian government, amid fears of bankruptcy on the Cambodian side of the court.

Peter Taksoe-Jensen, the UN's assistant secretary general for legal affairs, arrived Sunday in Phnom Penh and was to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An today to continue discussions over monitoring mechanisms at the hybrid court.

Patricia Georget of the Office of Legal Affairs, appointed to represent the UN in talks, would not comment on the meeting except to say that the meeting would "continue the agenda from discussions in December and agree on a way forward".

The talks are part of joint efforts to establish anti-corruption mechanisms at the court after allegations arose last July that staff members were kicking back part of their salary to their bosses. However, an independent review of these specific allegations by a UN oversight body is yet to be disclosed, and no investigation by the Cambodian side has so far been undertaken.

"Relating to the accusations that ECCC is corrupt, the Cambodian government and UN are working together to resolve and end this problem because the government does not tolerate either corruption nor the impunity of crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime," Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council Ministers, told the Post Sunday.

"We will prosecute people found guilty of corruption and we will separate clearly the issue of corruption from the judgment of former Khmer Rouge leaders," he added.

Funding hurt by allegations

Observers say leaving the issue unsettled has jeopardised the credibility of the court and contributed to the ongoing financial troubles of the Cambodian side, which now expects funds to completely dry up by month's end.

"It is definitely my sense that the court's trouble raising funds is in part because these issues have not been adequately resolved," Heather Ryan of court monitor Open Society Justice Initiative said Sunday.

The possibility of widespread corruption has also led international lawyers defending the former Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, to file a complaint to the municipal court over the allegations, citing the issue of a fair trial. The investigation was abruptly cancelled earlier this month and appealed Thursday.

"We call on the UN, as we do on the Cambodian government, to cooperate with any investigation going forward," Andrew Ianuzzi, legal consultant for Nuon Chea's defence team, told the Post, adding that the UN should also apply diplomatic force over the issue.

"We hope the UN will put some pressure on the Cambodian government to cooperate with the general prosecutor [at the Court of Appeal] and make available the [review of allegations] as soon as possible," he said.

The court began its first trial, that of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, last Tuesday, a historic moment for the court that has taken years of diplomatic haggling to get to its trial stage.

Cops free indebted Thai gamblers

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear and Chrann Chamroeun
Monday, 23 February 2009

A THAI national has been charged with illegal imprisonment by the provincial court in Battambang after three runawayThai gamblers were freed by police from a house in the province, police said.

Battambang district police chief said the three freed Thai nationals had been imprisoned for a month after running up combined gambling debts of about five million baht (US$140,000) playing cards at a Poipet casino.

Deputy prosecutor Koy Kanya said the man in custody was an employee of Poipet's Princess Casino, where the three gamblers had racked up their debts. He said police were looking for four more suspects who were believed to be in hiding.

"I have charged Thai national Sati Sum Sin, 28, with the crime of illegal imprisonment according to Article 7 of the Serious Crimes Law," Kay Kanya said.

Battambang district police Chief Tuch Ra said the three Thai nationals - two women and one man - were freed from a house in the province on Friday. He named the women as Chhim Phong Sarak, 55, and Seto Ano, 37, but did not know the name of the third, a 23-year-old man.

"People living near the house tipped off the police, and we went there and freed them," Tuch Ra told the Post Sunday. "They lost money while gambling at the casino, but couldn't pay. They were being held at the house while their families were given the chance to bring money for their release."

Gambling is illegal in Thailand, leading many Thais to head to the casinos on the Cambodian-Thai border - such as those at Poipet - for entertainment.

Officer training marks enduring VN military cooperation: officials

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chean Sokha
Monday, 23 February 2009

A flow of RCAF officers continues to swell Vietnamese military academies as Kingdom inaugurates first National Defence University.

UP to 500 officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces will be sent each year to receive advanced training in Vietnam as part of ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries, officials said.

Ieng Sophalleth, spokesman for Prime Minister Hun Sen, said that more than 4,000 RCAF officers had so far received training in Vietnam, with Hanoi reaffirming its willingness to continue receiving Cambodian officers for advanced studies.

"Samdech Hun Sen has proposed that Vietnam help with training Cambodian military officers, in order to help develop [RCAF's] human resources," he told reporters Saturday after a meeting between Hun Sen and Vietnam's Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh.

"The defence ministries of Vietnam and Cambodia have long had a good cooperation."

Ieng Sophalleth said that Phung Quang Thanh had also thanked Cambodia for its cooperation in finding the remains of Vietnamese troops missing in Cambodia during fighting with Khmer Rouge soldiers in 1979.

Close cooperation

Pang Savan, director of the International Relations Department at the Ministry of Defence, said that Cambodia was sending between 400 and 500 officers to train in Vietnam each year, and around 100 for similar training in China.

"We have sent our officials to train in Vietnam for long and short terms," he said Sunday, adding that Vietnam was also providing free medical treatment to visiting Cambodian military.

Pang Savan added that the Ministry of Defence had established a National Defence University, which had provided 10 four-year officer scholarships - five to Laos and another five to Myanmar.

"We have defence cooperation not just with Vietnam but with India, China, the US, France and so on," he said.

During his visit Friday through Sunday, Phung Quang Thanh also met with Senate President Chea Sim, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Defence Minister Tea Banh.

Detente restored after Thai apology for artillery fire

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Thai army Deputy Commander-in-Chief Jeradej Kotcharat arrives in Phnom Penh.



The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Monday, 23 February 2009

THE Foreign Ministry has said it would not file a formal complaint against Thailand to protest an incident last week in which several shells fired by Thai troops landed on Cambodian territory.

A Thai delegation arrived in Phnom Penh on Friday to apologise for the episode.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Post Sunday that the retraction followed a successful meeting between the Thai delegation and Cambodian officials.

"The incident did not cause deaths amongst our people or damage to property," he said. "[Thailand] has shown it is taking responsibility."

In the incident Tuesday, at least eight mortar shells landed two kilometres inside Oddar Meanchey province in northwestern Cambodia. The shells were fired by Thai soldiers during a military training exercise near the disputed border between the two countries.

That prompted a letter of apology on Thursday from Thai army commander-in-chief, General Anupong Paojinda, to General Meas Sophea, the deputy commander-in-chief and head of the army of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

"I would like to reassure you that we will use all means to prevent such an incident from happening again in the future," the statement quotes General Anupong as saying.

After meeting the Thai delegation on Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged his neighbour to investigate the matter, but, otherwise, assumed a conciliatory tone.

"Thailand asked to apologise for this unintentional incident and promised that it will not happen again," Hun Sen told reporters after meeting with Thai army Deputy Commander-in-Chief Jeradej Kotcharat.

Cambodian and Thai soldiers have been deployed along the border since mid-July last year after Preah Vihear temple was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. Thailand has long contested that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia. Tensions ratcheted higher as last year drew to a close. In the most serious incident, armed clashes at Preah Vihear temple between both sides in mid-October caused the deaths of four soldiers.

Hun Sen will meet Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva this week for bilateral discussions about the border dispute while both attend the Asean Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Legal post goes to ousted Court of Appeal president

TIE TO THE KRT
You Bunleng, co-investigating judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, was appointed to replace Ly Vouchleng at the Court of Appeal after her removal. He initially said he might not be able to remain at the tribunal but eventually decided to stay on.


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun and Robbie Corey-Boulet
Monday, 23 February 2009

Ly Vouchleng's appointment to the Council of Ministers comes 17 months after allegations of corruption resulted in her dismissal.

LY Vouchleng has been appointed as legal counsel to the Council of Ministers some 17 months after a corruption scandal led to her removal from her post as president of the Court of Appeal, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told the Post Sunday.

A royal decree issued in August 2007 ousted Ly Vouchleng from the Court of Appeal in response to allegations that the court had been bribed into releasing two human trafficking suspects.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith defended the new appointment as "legal" and declined to comment on the past corruption case, deferring questions about that to "the person who decided to appoint her", whom he said he could not name.

Phay Siphan said he did not know who approved the appointment and could not say whether past allegations of wrongdoing levied against her had figured in the decision.

"I just know that she was appointed to the position of legal counsel at the Council of Ministers and that her background is in legal expertise," he said.

Ly Vouchleng could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said she had not heard of the appointment but that any decision to place Ly Vouchleng in a government post would be "difficult to understand" in light of the government's claims to be actively rooting out corruption.

"I feel very sorry if there really is a new appointment of Ly Vouchleng," she told the Post Sunday.

Transparency: Corruption laws 'weak', says report

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Stragio
Monday, 23 February 2009

TRANSPARENCY

US-based corruption monitor Global Integrity has released an annual report rating as"very weak" the government's good governance and anti-corruption safeguards. "Cambodia suffers from a range of governance and anti-corruption challenges, including vote-buying and political financing scandals to privatisations that have tended to favour a small group of wealthy elites," said the report, released Wednesday.

Although the country scored relatively well in voter participation and the integrity of its elections, the new report, which aggregated dozens of indicators provided by local experts, found Cambodia especially lacking in government accountability. It also listed the Kingdom alongside Angola, Belarus and Iraq on its 2008 Grand Corruption Watch List, noting that "effective one-party rule stands in the way of moving forward" and that "governance and anti-corruption reforms ... will be extremely challenging until fundamental changes take place". The report found that though there were anti-corruption laws in place, there was a large gap between the legal framework and its effective implementation.

Corruption hurts border trade: PM

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Vong Sokheng
Monday, 23 February 2009

Hun Sen vows to fire anyone operating illegal checkpoints

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has ordered provincial governors in border areas to make all efforts to assist small traders involved in cross-border commerce with Thailand and Vietnam. The premier's instructions follow complaints from struggling traders who have said in recent weeks that they are facing renewed hindrances from illegal checkpoints at border crossings.

"Don't make obstacles for traders trying to sell their wares to neighbouring countries," Hun Sen said, at the close Thursday of a conference at the InterContinental Hotel, referring to the practice of some corrupt border officials to take bribes to ensure passage of goods.

He said he would sack officials up to and including the level of provincial governors and four-star generals if they or their staff were found to be involved in corrupt activities such as operating illegal checkpoints.

"I will not keep one person whose misbehaviour causes the destruction of the livelihoods of other people," he said. "You must appreciate the demanding living conditions of people and must not take bribes when they try to trade their products."

Chieng Am, the governor of Svay Rieng province, which borders Vietnam, said he would ensure Hun Sen's instructions were followed. But he added that the lack of a market meant the amount of commerce between traders in his province and those in Vietnam was small - villagers sold just a small portion of their rice harvest and chickens across the border.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said late last year that official trade figures between Cambodia and Vietnam stood at US$768 million in imports and $135 million exports to Vietnam. Those figures exclude small-scale cross-border trade.

Storm in Siem Reap injures 14 and damages over 400 homes

Photo by: Photo Supplied
A house sits off its foundation in Siem Reap province after last week's storms.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Monday, 23 February 2009

Officials scrambling to come up with sufficient aid for affected families

A STORM that brought heavy rain and high winds to Siem Reap's Puok district Friday evening injured 14 people and destroyed or severely damaged more than 100 homes, Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin told the Post Sunday.

Tou Kha, deputy police chief for Puok district, said no casualties had been reported.

In all, 446 homes sustained damage, Sou Phirin said, noting that the government had by Sunday evening provided aid in the form of rice, noodles, blankets and payments of 50,000 to 100,000 riel (US$12.14 to $24.28) to 122 families.

But he said officials were scrambling to come up with aid for the other victims.

"We are seeking funding as well as other aid to help those who were impacted by the storm," he said. "It is very hard for us to seek aid because it occurred on the weekend."

He said local officials planned to distribute aid to the other affected families on Wednesday. In addition, he said, they would pay between $8,000 and $9,000 to repair the damaged roof of a primary school in Puok district.

As of Sunday, Sou Phirin said, aid had been provided by NGOs, private donors and the provincial chapter of the Cambodian Red Cross.

Sou Phirin said he led a team of community leaders and aid workers to survey the damage Sunday afternoon.

"We went to the place in order to know the exact number of families who were affected by the storm, so it is easier for us to offer aid," he said.

Storm aided by open space
Tou Kha said the storm was centred on Puok and Daunkeo communes. More than 10 houses in Lvea commune also sustained damage, he said.

He said the storm, the first of the year, was more serious than any that had hit Puok district in recent years. He said a 2008 storm in Puok district's Sasarsdom commune destroyed more than 100 houses.

Seth Vannareth, director of the Department of Meteorology at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said the beginnings of a similar storm had materialised in Kampong Thom on Tuesday but that the storm had not been able to gather momentum because of high concrete buildings in the area. The storm in Siem Reap, by contrast, occurred in an open area with few trees and tall buildings, she said.

"We would like to advise people to build houses with strong concrete and plant trees surrounding the house," she said.

Profile: Giving hope for two decades

Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG
Licadho founder and President Kek Galabru aims to promote respect for human rights in throughout the Kingdom and its institutions


NGO FOCUS Licadho
- Founded 1992
- Personnel 160 staff and volunteers working in Phnom Penh office and 12 provincial offices
- Mandate Licadho works with victims of human rights abuses, especially focussing on women and children who fall victim to domestic violence, rape and trafficking.
- Funding The group is funded by a wide range of donors, including Operation a Day's Work (Finland), Danchurch Aid, Diakonia, ICCO, Danida, German Agro Action, USAID/EWMI, and the governments of Finland, Australia, Malta and the Netherlands, as well as private donors.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sarah Whyte
Monday, 23 February 2009

As one of the first NGOs in Cambodia, Licadho has seen the landscape for civil society evolve - and says things are worse now than in 1992.

THE Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (Licadho) was founded in 1992, just after the thawing of the Cold War and the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements brought to an end a decade of one-party rule by the People's Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea - the forerunner to today's Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

Kek Galabru, the organisation's founder and president, remembers well the difficulties of operating in the overly bureaucratic and unstable climate of the early 1990s.

The organisation was one of the first nongovernmental organisations to be established under the UN's transitional administration, but even the presence of the international community could not prevent Licadho's early efforts from being mired in communist-era red tape.

"We had to sometimes wait eight months before we could get permission to visit the prisoners in jail," Galabru said. "It was only because the UN were in Cambodia that we got permission at all." In spite of the obstacles, Licadho had over 130 employees and had expanded into 12 provinces by 1998, and today it continues to work relentlessly with victims of illegal trafficking, domestic violence, land grabbing and forced evictions.

But as Galabru says, there is an endless amount of work still to be done. Licadho is still occasionally subjected to anonymous threats when dealing with high-profile cases involving well-connected authorities, she said, and in the aftermath of the Dey Krahorm eviction case last month, two members of staff were threatened via anonymous mobile phone messages.

"After 1993, we were given some freedom to operate as an NGO, but now in 2009 our democratic space is shrinking," she said, adding that the absence of democratic mechanisms in the country has meant that if these limits are overstepped, there can sometimes be serious ramifications.

"We do get very tired from our work, but if we give up on these people, what else will they have. ... we can provide assistance to the victims and give them a little more hope," she said.

Licadho provided legal, medical and financial support to such victims, explaining their rights under domestic law and the international agreements to which Cambodia is signatory. Licadho has also recently drawn attention to what it calls the "wrongful" 1,799-day imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, convicted of the 2004 murder of union leader Chea Vichea. The pair have been freed on provisional release.

The group also advocates free education for all children, government-provided medical care and full compensation for communities facing eviction - all goals the organisation hopes will move Cambodia towards a more democratic form of government.

"We need to see freedom of access to information, freedom of assembly and a freedom of expression in Cambodia before we can call ourselves a democracy," she said.

Growing up, Galabru said she was surrounded by strong female role models who left a strong imprint on her human rights work. In 1958, her mother, Pung Peng Cheng, became the first woman to be elected to government in Cambodia.

"When I saw my mother working and serving the people of Cambodia, I knew I wanted to serve the people," she said. "But I did not want to work in the government, so I began studying medicine." Years later, with the help of her mother and late husband, she set up Licadho. In 2005, Galabru was one of 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of the organisation's work in Cambodia.

"I was very grateful to my Cambodian colleagues who nominated me," she said.

"I hope that I can continue to serve the Cambodian people and not disappoint them."

New Japan aid targets health

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Monday, 23 February 2009

Portion will also cover Roleang Chrey irrigation

JAPAN announced last month that it would give roughly US$2.74 million to the Cambodian government for two projects - one aimed at fighting the spread of infectious diseases and the other to produce design improvements for Roleang Chrey Headworks, a major irrigation project in Kampong Speu province.

The bulk of the money - $2.5 million - will go towards the infectious disease control project, which will finance the purchase, storage and transportation of vaccines and the safe disposal of used syringes, among other things, according to a press release issued by the Japanese embassy January 11.

The rest of the money will go towards the Roleang Chrey Headworks, which was built in 1974. In particular, the money will be used to "provide a stable supply of water to the main canals in the present irrigated area".

Improving the headworks

Veng Sakhon, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said repairs to the dam would begin in mid-2009.
"We hope to finish the innovation in two years, and we hope that the dam will be able to irrigate about 10,000 to 20,000 hectares of land in the surrounding area," he said.

Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon said in a press release that the money would help mitigate the effects of the global economic downturn by funneling resources to agriculture infrastructure.

Kingdom's empty dock

Photo by: ECCC POOL/KEM SOVANNARA
Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, appears Tuesday during the opening of the Khmer Rouge tribunal's first trial.


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by John Pilger
Monday, 23 February 2009

International justice remains a farce while those in the West who sided with Pol Pot's murderous regime escape trial.

OPINION
John Pilger

AT my hotel in Phnom Penh, the women and children sat on one side of the room, palais-style, the men on the other. It was a disco night and a lot of fun; then suddenly people walked to the windows and wept. The DJ had played a song by the much-loved Khmer singer Sin Sisamouth, who had been forced to dig his own grave and to sing the Khmer Rouge anthem before he was beaten to death. I experienced many such reminders.

There was another kind of reminder. In the village of Neak Leung I walked with a distraught man through a necklace of bomb craters. His entire family of 13 had been blown to pieces by an American B-52. That had happened almost two years before Pol Pot came to power in 1975. It is estimated more than 600,000 Cambodians were slaughtered that way.

The problem with the UN-backed trial of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders, which has just begun in Phnom Penh, is that it is dealing only with the killers of Sin Sisamouth and not with the killers of the family in Neak Leung, and not with their collaborators. There were three stages of Cambodia's holocaust. Pol Pot's genocide was but one of them, yet only it has a place in the official memory.

It is highly unlikely Pot Pot would have come to power had President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, not attacked neutral Cambodia. In 1973, B-52s dropped more bombs on Cambodia's heartland than were dropped on Japan during the Second World War: equivalent to five Hiroshimas. Files reveal that the CIA was in little doubt of the effect. "[The Khmer Rouge] are using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda," reported the director of operations on May 2, 1973. "This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of a number of young men [and] has been effective with refugees."

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THE BOMBING DELIVERED A CATALYST. WHAT NIXON AND KISSINGER BEGAN, POL POT COMPLETED.
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Prior to the bombing, the Khmer Rouge had been a Maoist cult without a popular base. The bombing delivered a catalyst. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed. Kissinger will not be in the dock in Phnom Penh. He is advising President Obama on geopolitics. Neither will Margaret Thatcher, nor a number of her retired ministers and officials who, in secretly supporting the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese had expelled them, contributed directly to the third stage of Cambodia's holocaust.

In 1979, the US and Britain imposed a devastating embargo on stricken Cambodia because its liberators, Vietnam, had come from the wrong side of the Cold War. Few Foreign Office campaigns have been as cynical or as brutal. The British demanded that the now defunct Pol Pot regime retain the "right" to represent its victims at the UN and voted with Pol Pot in the agencies of the UN, including the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from working in Cambodia. To disguise this outrage, Britain, the US and China, Pol Pot's main backer, invented a "non-communist" coalition in exile that was, in fact, dominated by the Khmer Rouge. In Thailand, the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency formed direct links with the Khmer Rouge.

In 1983, the Thatcher government sent the SAS to train the "coalition" in land mine technology - in a country more seeded with mines than anywhere except Afghanistan. "I confirm," Thatcher wrote to British opposition leader Neil Kinnock, "that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or cooperating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them". The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the Major government was forced to admit to parliament that the SAS had been secretly training the "coalition".

Unless international justice is a farce, those who sided with Pol Pot's mass murderers ought to be summoned to the court in Phnom Penh: at the very least, their names read into infamy's register.

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John Pilger is a war correspondent, filmmaker and author whose reporting on Cambodia includes the films Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia and Cambodia: The Betrayal.