Friday, 30 July 2010

Democracy ????

Veera Musikapong, a senior leader of the anti-government "red shirt" movement, arrives at a criminal court in Bangkok to appeal for his temporaryrelease July 29, 2010. Veera and several other "red shirt" leaders face terrorism charges which theoretically carry a maximum penalty of death. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang


Veera Musikapong, a senior leader of the anti-government "red shirt" movement, arrives to appeal for his temporary release, at a criminal courtin Bangkok July 29, 2010. Veera and several other "red shirt" leaders face terrorism charges which theoretically carry a maximum penalty of death. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Veera Musikapong, senior leader of the anti-government "red shirt" movement, arrives to appeal for his temporary release at a criminal courtin Bangkok July 28, 2010. The court postponed the decision of whether to grant Veera bail to Thursday. Veera and several other "red shirt" leaders face terrorism charges which theoretically carry a maximum penalty of death. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Jatuporn Prompan, one of the core leaders of the anti-government "red shirt" protesters, speaks with reporters as he arrives to report to a criminalcourt in Bangkok July 28, 2010. Jatuporn, along with several other "red shirt" leaders, faces charges of terrorism. Jatuporn has been released on bail. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Jatuporn Prompan (2nd R), one of the core leaders of the anti-government "red shirt" protesters, arrives to report to a criminal court in BangkokJuly 28, 2010. Jatuporn, along with several other "red shirt" leaders, faces charges of terrorism. Jatuporn has been released on bail. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

An anti-government protester lies on a ground during a skit mocking the recent anti-government protests at Lumpini Park in Bangkok July 25, 2010. The protestersurge the Thai government to lift the state of emergency which imposed during the recent political unrest. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

An anti-government protester with a mask participates in a skit mocking the recent anti-government protests at Lumpini Park in Bangkok July 25, 2010. Theprotesters urge the Thai government to lift the state of emergency which imposed during the recent political unrest. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

An anti-government protester with a mask participates in a skit mocking the recent anti-government protests at Lumpini Park in Bangkok July 25, 2010. Theprotesters urge the Thai government to lift the state of emergency which imposed during the recent political unrest. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Thailand's military, government in sync, Real Democracy for thai?


Thai Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva (front left) and the Army's commander in chief, Gen. Anupong Paochinda, leave a meeting of top officials Dec. 16, 2009, on the country's internal security.

Soldiers watch Mr. Abhisit's April 12, 2009, speech from Government House in Bangkok announcing a state of emergency aimed at stemming anti-government protests across the country.
ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS Thai soldiers hold anti-government protesters in their encampment in Bangkok on May 19, ending a nine-month showdown that caused up to 90 deaths.


via Khmer NZ

Prime minister needs to keep army on his side

By Richard S. Ehrlich - The Washington Times

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BANGKOK

Since the quelling of the Red Shirt pro-democracy protests in May, Thailand has witnessed a show of unity between Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose legitimacy in office has been questioned, and the military, a key player in the government's stability.

Local media - especially those controlled by the military - have spotlighted the government's leadership and the military's efforts to restore peace during and after the protests, while contrary views of the crackdown on the Red Shirts have been censored.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abhisit has approved a controversial defense budget and declined to investigate complaints of mismanaged military expenditures, as several army leaders are expected to be promoted, at least partly for their performance in quashing the Red Shirt rebellion.

Mr. Abhisit can ill afford a disgruntled military, which overthrew this Buddhist-majority country's last nationally elected prime minister - Thaksin Shinawatra - in 2006 and has conducted or attempted 18 coups since the 1930s whenever it has deemed such action necessary.

Mr. Thaksin's ouster, in part, sparked the Red Shirt demonstrations in downtown Bangkok this spring, which the U.S.-trained army put down with snipers, assault rifles and armored personnel carriers. As many as 90 people were killed and 1,900 injured during the nine-week showdown.

"Since the army is the only tool the Abhisit government has against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Red Shirts, there is no question it has to keep the military happy," the English-language Bangkok Post reported this month.

Among the military leaders awaiting promotion is Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is expected to succeed Gen. Anupong Paochinda as army commander in chief after the latter retires Oct. 1. Mr. Abhisit and Gen. Anupong reportedly have agreed to the change of command.

Colleagues and Thai military analysts regard Gen. Prayuth, 56, as a more hawkish commander than Gen. Anupong, who is said to have been reluctant to use heavy firepower against the Red Shirts' barricades because he wanted to retire without his countrymen's blood on his hands. Gen. Anupong and other top generals overthrew Thaksin in a bloodless coup.

"If Gen. Prayuth does get his promotion, it will be seen as reward for his service during the latest campaign against the Red Shirts, aside from the fact that the deputy army chief is actually in line to succeed Gen. Anupong," the Bangkok Post reported on July 15.

At least five other top military leaders also are expected to be promoted, including Deputy Chief of Staff Dapong Ratanasuwan, who is considered the strategic planner of the army's operation to contain the Red Shirt rebellion.

Thailand's military wields a lucrative and influential media arm, owning more than 200 radio frequencies, a TV station and a TV channel's concession.

But the military has not staged any victory parades after crushing the Reds, perhaps mindful that the civilian government should have the public spotlight.

During the crackdown against the Red Shirts in April and May, grim-faced uniformed officers frequently appeared on TV to speak to the public, prompting some to question why Mr. Abhisit was not more visible.

The prime minister also was criticized for sheltering inside a military base in Bangkok for several weeks during the Reds' insurrection - eating and sleeping near Gen. Anupong's office, apparently fearing assassination.

Today, the military's image is still a sensitive topic.

Official TV broadcasts and other displays feature flashbacks of armed soldiers trying to restore peace to Bangkok's Red Shirt-infested streets while valiantly ushering innocent civilians out of harm's way.

However, problems arose immediately when a new Positive Network group of people from advertising, public relations, media agencies and TV associations produced a video titled "Apologize Thailand" in mid-July.

The video includes graphic footage of clashes between the army and the Reds, along with other troubling aspects of Thai society, and was banned from being broadcast.

Its narrator asks in part: "Did we do anything wrong? Did we handle anything too harshly? Did we listen to only one side of the story? Did we perform our duties? Did we really think of people? Were we corrupt?"

The narrator advises: "If there was anyone to blame, it would be all of us. Apologize Thailand."

After Thailand was cited internationally for censoring thousands of websites, plus other media, Mr. Abhisit said "Apologize Thailand" could be broadcast on TV, but television censors demanded it be "corrected" before it could air.

Thailand's "military is first and foremost an armed bureaucracy, which does not fight wars," analyst Duncan McCargo wrote in a 2002 article, "Security, Development and Political Participation in Thailand: Alternative Currencies of Legitimacy."

"Instead, military officers have preferred to devote their energies to the more interesting and satisfying professions of business and politics. Their core businesses have been smuggling, logging, and profiting from the country's natural resources," wrote Mr. McCargo, a professor of Southeast Asian politics at Leeds University in England.

"In politics, they have consistently claimed for themselves high political office - many of Thailand's prime ministers have had a military background - and a share in the running of the country."

The military has appeared pleased that Mr. Abhisit increased the defense budget and generously allowed several controversial weapons-procurement contracts.

One of the prime minister's most controversial moves regarding the army has been to ignore complaints that the military wasted $24 million on bogus bomb-detection equipment.

Earlier this year, the devices - GT200s - were exposed as frauds and denounced by the Thai government. Nevertheless, the military continued using the hand-held devices in southern areas and subsequently detained several innocent Muslims as possible insurgents but missed actual bombs that killed several troops.

Theary Seng's Clarification on the France 24 Phone Interview


By Theary C. Seng

Regarding the telephone interview I gave yesterday (July 28) with France 24, I would like to make the following clarifications:

1. I am the founder of the Center for Justice & Reconciliation and founding president of CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education, no longer of the Center for Social Development since the politically-motivated injunction order removing me in July 2009.

2. There is real fear that Duch, not a "senior" Khmer Rouge leader, will be made the sole scapegoat of the murderous, genocidal KR regime; we know this current Cambodian government never wanted this Tribunal and certainly not the Case 002 involving the senior KR leaders to move forward.

Hence I have two theories viewed through the lens of political interference:

(i) The dramatic, public sacking of Duch UN lawyer Francois Roux at the eleventh hour is to irreversibly discredit Duch as a star witness in Case 002 involving the senior KR leaders, the heart of the Tribunal. Duch has been consistent in implicating the senior KR leaders. What is the best way to discredit a star witness but by attacking his credibility. Before Duch's changing of position and sacking of his lawyer, it was an open question whether Duch has rehabilitated and genuine in his remorse and confession; the switch and the sacking erased any credibility for many regarding Duch's reformed character and will cast an even darker shadow on anything he will have to say in Case 002.

(ii) Because this Tribunal has been so contextualized by political interests and regularly punctured with overt invidious political interference, it is difficult for me not to be a bit cynical to think that the incomprehensibly lenient sentence has the hand of politics behind it to create this cynicism that is unfortunately surfacing.

BUT, BUT... we need to think of the larger picture which is the demand of Case 002. Without the start and completion of Case 002, this Tribunal will be considered a failure - a waste of everyone's time, energy, resources in the millions and worst the embedding of irreversible cynicism in a society already so fractured by distrust and fear. We CANNOT, CANNOT let this happen. We have to move on from our anger and disappointment and channel that energy toward advocating, demanding for the quick start of Case 002, the heart of this Tribunal.

From the Killing Fields, on a Mission of Truth


International Film Circuit
Thet Sambath, left, and Nuon Chea in “Enemies of the People.”

via Khmer NZ

By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: July 29, 2010

“Some say that almost two million people died in the killing fields,” declares Thet Sambath, a polite, soft-spoken Cambodian journalist for The Phnom Penh Post, in the opening moments of the documentary “Enemies of the People.” He adds, “Nobody understands why so many people were killed at that time.”

Thus begins this intensely personal film, undertaken at some risk, in which Mr. Thet Sambath seeks the truth about the mass killings from 1975 to 1979 at the hands of Cambodia’s Communist Khmer Rouge government, which was responsible for the deaths of nearly a quarter of the country’s population.

The heart of the film, a collaboration by Mr. Thet Sambath and the British documentarian Rob Lemkin, consists of meticulously cataloged interviews conducted during nearly a decade with perpetrators of the mass execution, many of them rural farmers living in northwest Cambodia. As they open up and matter-of-factly describe horrific acts, the camera scours their weather-beaten faces.

“Enemies of the People” is extraordinary on several fronts. Mr. Thet Sambath’s father and brother were slain by Khmer Rouge militants, and his mother died in childbirth after her forced marriage to a militiaman. Yet as Mr. Thet Sambath gently coaxes peasants to confess to atrocities, there is not a shred of bitterness in his questioning. At times, Mr. Thet Sambath suggests a one-man Cambodian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Instead of affixing blame, he seeks the healing power of confession.

“Enemies of the People” is another disquieting testament to the fact that ordinary individuals under extreme pressure will carry out the most monstrous crimes. If they hadn’t followed the orders of superiors, they say, they themselves would have been killed. One farmer, a Buddhist who believes in reincarnation, expresses his tormented certainty that it will be many lifetimes before he returns in human form.

He is persuaded to demonstrate with a plastic knife on a nervous young villager how he pulled back the heads of prisoners and slit their throats. “I slit so many throats that my hand ached, so I switched to stabbing in the neck,” he recalls.

These peasant executioners were often given wine to loosen their inhibitions. Soldiers stood by to cover the mouths of children when they screamed as they witnessed their parents’ murders. One farmer recalls acquiring a taste for drinking human gall, even though it was bitter. The stench of blood was worse than buffalo flesh, another remembers. As bodies decomposed, the waterlogged fields bubbled as if they were boiling, one woman remembers. Another refuses to drink the water in this now placid tropical landscape because of bodies buried there.

The film’s journalistic coup is Mr. Thet Sambath’s persuasion of Nuon Chea, the chief ideologue of Pol Pot, the Cambodian Communist leader who died in 1998, to explain what happened. Mr. Nuon Chea, also known as Brother No. 2, is a proud, gaunt man in his 80s with missing teeth, who lives with his family in a cabin in the woods. Mr. Thet Sambath visited him regularly for three years before he agreed to tell the truth.

By his account, the Khmer Rouge government, which he describes as “clean, clear-sighted and peaceful,” was determined to be more Communist than Communist China by abolishing all private property. Its enemies — “spies who attacked and sabotaged us from the start” — belonged to the party’s more moderate, Vietnamese-sympathizing faction.

“If we’d let them live,” he says, “the party line would have been hijacked.” He and Pol Pot, he says, were in perfect accord, but the revolution failed because they had no experience in governing. For every question that is answered, 10 more are left hanging.

“Enemies of the People” reserves its biggest emotional punch for the end of the film, when Mr. Thet Sambath, who has lied to Mr. Nuon Chea about the fate of his own family, finally tells him about their loss. Mr. Nuon Chea, after a pause, thanks Mr. Thet Sambath for his “graciousness” over the years of their relationship, and then expresses his deep apologies.

As the final interviews with Mr. Nuon Chea were conducted, he and other high-level Khmer Rouge officials were waiting to be arrested for war crimes and genocide by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a United Nations-backed tribunal.

On Monday Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as Duch, the head of the Khmer Rouge’s Tuol Sleng prison, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for charges that included crimes against humanity. In 2011 Mr. Nuon Chea will be the tribunal’s second case.

ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE

Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

Produced and directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath; written by Mr. Lemkin; directors of photography, Mr. Lemkin and Mr. Sambath; edited by Stefan Ronowicz; music by Daniel Pemberton; released by International Film Circuit. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. In English and Khmer, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. This film is not rated.

Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency: The Exports from Cambodia Increased by 258.7% – Thursday, 29.7.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

via Khmer NZ

Posted on 30 July 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Phnom Penh: The director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency said that Cambodian exports to South Korea increased up to 258.7%.

“The director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency to Cambodia, Mr. Lee Gwang-Ho, said on 28 July 2010 that investment and trade between Cambodia and Korea increased remarkably within the first six months of 2010.

“He added that the amount of exports from South Korea to Cambodia increased only by 22% while the exports from Cambodia to Korea rose by as much by 258.7% in the first six months of 2010, compared with the corresponding period last year.

“According to figures provided by Mr. Lee Gwang-Ho, though the export of Cambodia to South Korea went up, the total value of export is still low.

“He said, ‘The export from Korea to Cambodia was US$153,462,000, while the export from Cambodia amounted to only US$22,635,000.’

“The products from South Korea exported to Cambodia are mostly textile products in the form of raw materials needed by the garment factories, cars and trucks, garments, food, pesticide, medicines and other substances, tires and spare parts, whereas the products exported from Cambodia to South Korea include garments, forestry products, aluminum, food, machines used in construction, minerals, and shoes.

“According to Mr. Lee Gwang-Ho, by March 2010, Korean investments were still the biggest in Cambodia. The total investments by Korean companies registered is about US$2.7 billion.

“He went on to say that the fields of investment of Korean investors in Cambodia are the following: 52% in real estate, 21% in construction, 7% in the production sector [South Korea establishes production facilities in Cambodia to create products], 3% in the mineral sector, 3% in tourism, 3% in banking, 3% in services, 3% in agriculture, 2% in technical services, and 1% in telecommunication.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5262, 29.7.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 29 July 2010

Thailand lobbies to stall Cambodia's temple plan

via Khmer NZ

The Nation (Thailand)
Publication Date : 30-07-2010

Thailand's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti made several attempts on Thursday (July 29) to block Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple management plan from the World Heritage Committee's consideration while the delegation from Phnom Penh stood firm.

Cambodia insisted on pushing forward with the plan, saying it had already given Thailand too much.

At press time Thursday night, the World Heritage Committee had not yet considered the plan and Suwit hoped the committee would delay considering it for another year.

Thailand and Cambodia were once again at loggerheads over the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear when Cambodia submitted its management plan to run the world heritage-designated temple.

Unesco's World Heritage Committee is holding its annual meeting in Brasilia.

Preah Vihear has been inscribed on the world heritage list since July 2008 and Cambodia was obligated to submit for consideration its management plan for the temple.

Thailand expressed its concern over the plan, fearing Cambodia might make the disputed areas adjacent to the temple a buffer zone.

The Cambodian plan does not include areas to the north and the west of the temple, which are the subject of a border dispute with Thailand, according to a source close to the meeting.

At a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on the sidelines of the World Heritage Committee meeting, Suwit raised his concern that the area to the east of the temple, which is the core zone for the listed property, is also under Thai sovereignty.

The Thai Cabinet, after the ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962, had relinquished the eastern area to Preah Vihear. However, Thai officials at the meeting in Brazil yesterday insisted that the area remained under Thai sovereignty.

Cambodia rejected the Thai claim and the meeting between Suwit and Sok An failed to find any common ground.

Meanwhile, Suwit prepared measures to respond to the Unesco and World Heritage Committee's decision. He was lobbying to have consideration of the plan delayed for at least one year. If the lobbying efforts failed, Suwit planned to issue a statement of protest, objecting to the temple management plan.

The protest statement for the records would state that Thailand would never recognise Cambodia's right over the Preah Vihear temple, the source said.

As a final option, Thailand might withdraw its membership from the World Heritage Committee, he said.

Cambodia said Thailand's move would harm its international reputation, as the objection to the Preah Vihear plan was an attempt by the Thai government and its extremist alliance to spoil the good relations between the two countries.

"Cambodia doesn't care at all about the objection," Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, was quoted as saying by The Phnom Penh Post.

The Cambodian government's spokesman, Phay Siphan, said the so-called overlapping area of 4.6 square kilometres adjacent to the Preah Vihear as claimed by Thailand was based on a unilaterally produced map but the Cambodian claim was based on the 1908 Siam-Franco map.

"Thailand's falsified establishment of the map to claim the area is an international crime," he said.

"Now Thailand's policy is, if they get nothing, they want to co-manage the eco-management."

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the management plan of Preah Vihear should not be approved until Thailand and Cambodia have settled the border dispute over the areas surrounding the temple.

The Joint Boundary Committee of the two countries is now in the process of negotiating the boundary demarcation but its work has made little progress.

Abhisit said that ideally all problems could be settled if Cambodia allowed Thailand to propose the Preah Vihear jointly as a World Heritage Site.

Thousands of pro-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) members gathered in front of the Unesco regional office in Bangkok's Sukhumvit Road Thursday night, waiting for the World Heritage Committee's decision on the Cambodian plan.

The PAD is a strong pressure group that is forcing the government to oppose the Cambodian plan over fear of losing territory.

Suthep: No tension along the border


via Khmer NZ

Published: 30/07/2010

The Thai-Cambodia border area remains quiet even though the World Heritage Committee has postponed its consideration of Cambodia’s management plan for Preah Vihear temple to next year’s meeting in Bahrain, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said.

“There is nothing to worry about. Thai people should not panic as the government has a clear-cut guideline to settle the border dispute with our neighbour by peaceful means,” Mr Suthep said on Friday morning.

Mr Suthep, who is in charge of security affairs, said the postponement gives an opportunity for Thailand and Cambodia to hold talks on the demarcation of the disputed border area.

Asked about reports that Cambodia had built a road and temple in the disputed area, the deputy premier said he needs more times to gather information on the matter. He would keep the public informed.

He called on all parties to refrain from making the Preah Vihear temple dispute a political issue for political gain or self-interest, because it is a matter of benefit for the nation and all Thai people.

Thailand wins 1st round of temple war


via Khmer NZ

Published: 30/07/2010

The World Heritage Committee has postponed the consideration of Cambodia’s management plan for Preah Vihear temple to next year’s meeting in Bahrain, “Ruang Lao Chao Nee”, a television programme on Channel 3, reported on Friday morning.

The WHC, now meeting in Brazil, said that the documents supporting the management plan of Cambodia were sent to the World Heritage Centre instead of the heritage committee and therefore it had not enough time to consider details of the plan.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister and head of Thai team Suwit Khunkitti who is now in Brazil said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had phoned him to congratulate the Thai team on its victory.

“The prime minister thanked all members of the team for working hard to protect the country’s sovereignty,” Mr Suwit said.

Cambodian man clears land mines he set decades ago



via Khmer NZ

By Ebonne Ruffins, CNN
July 29, 2010

Siem Reap, Cambodia (CNN) -- Maneuvering slowly through grassy Cambodian terrain, a caravan of 20 men and women is on a search-and-rescue mission. Dressed in military fatigues, they are guided by a fearless leader who calculates every step and ensures the safest path for his comrades.

It takes just minutes for the unit to confront the first of many hidden targets: a muddied 20-year-old land mine buried a few inches beneath the ground.

"This is an active land mine made from Russia. [If] we step on [it] ... it explodes and cuts the leg off," says Aki Ra, leader of the Cambodian Self Help Demining team. He and his group are working to make their country safer by clearing land mines -- many of which Aki Ra planted himself years ago.

Aki Ra, a Cambodian native who does not recall his birth year, was a child soldier during the communist Khmer Rouge regime, a genocidal crusade responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians during the 1970s. He was raised by the army after being separated from his family during the internal conflict.

Around age 10, Aki Ra estimates, he was given a rifle that measured his own height. Soon after, he was taught to lay land mines.

For three years, Aki Ra worked as a mine layer for the Khmer Rouge. He then did the same job for the Vietnamese army that overthrew his village.

"I maybe planted 4,000 to 5,000 land mines in a [single] month," said Aki Ra, who says he's about 40 years old now. "We planted them all over the place."

According to the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, an estimated 4 million to 6 million land mines were laid in Cambodia during three decades of conflict. The mines were planted to defend strategic military locations, target warring opponents and deny the use of roads.

"I had [bad] feelings, because sometimes we were fighting against our friends and relatives," Aki Ra said. "I felt sad when I saw a lot of people were killed. A lot of people were suffering from land mines. [But] I did not know what to do, [because] we were under orders."

Approximately 63,000 civilians and soldiers have been in accidents involving land mines and other explosive weapons, according to the Cambodian Mine Victim Information System. Nearly 19,000 of them were killed. Today, Cambodia reportedly has one amputee for every 290 people, one of the highest ratios in the world.

When the United Nations came in the early 1990s to help restore peace to Cambodia, Aki Ra saw an opportunity to begin undoing the damage he and others had done. He started training with the U.N. and helping them clear mines.

It was around this time he got the name he goes by today. He was born Eoun Yeak, but he was so skilled at clearing mines that his supervisors began comparing him to AKIRA, a heavy-duty appliance company in Japan. One reportedly commented, "He works just like an AKIRA." The name stuck.

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2010 CNN Heroes

In 1993, one year after working with the U.N., Aki Ra decided to begin clearing mines alone.

"Some of the areas I was clearing were places where I used to plant mines before," he said. "I didn't have any equipment. ... I clear by knife, by stick."

For Aki Ra, this bare-hands technique "wasn't dangerous. It was easy."

But easy didn't mean legal. The method was not in accordance with international standards, which requires protective gear and other professional equipment. So in 2005, he went to the United Kingdom to receive formal training and accreditation.

Aki Ra estimates that he and his group have cleared more than 50,000 land mines and unexploded weapons

In 2008, Aki Ra formed his nonprofit demining organization. Comprised of native Cambodians, it includes former soldiers and war crime victims. One of the workers is an amputee who lost a leg to a land mine.

"[Our] goal is to clear land mines in rural villages for the people who need the land for building houses or farming or building schools," Aki Ra said.


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Khmer Rouge
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Aki Ra and his organization devote all of their donated funds to clearing Cambodia's rural "low-priority" villages. These villages, populated primarily by poor farmers, do not always receive first dibs for minefield clearance projects because of their remoteness and limited traffic. At times, they're completely overlooked.

"Villagers report land mines every day, and they ask us to destroy [them]," Aki Ra said. "The people are afraid of mines. Whether there are a lot of land mines or only a few, [we] still have to clear the area so that the people in the village can be safe."

Kuot Visoth, chief of Prey Thom village, was relieved when the team arrived in early July to clear his village.

"I know the area around the school has a lot of land mines, and I am afraid that when the children come to school and play, they will step on them, or the villagers' buffaloes grazing in the area would be killed," Visoth said.

Aki Ra estimates that he and his group have cleared more than 50,000 land mines and unexploded war weapons such as bombs and grenades. The Cambodian government says there are 3 million to 5 million mines still undiscovered.

Many of Aki Ra's recovered land mines and unexploded weapons are on display at a museum in Siem Reap. For $2, visitors can touch defused mines and bombs as well as AK-47 rifles and war uniforms.

"I had an idea to open a land mine museum to teach people to understand about war, land mines," he said. "Even though the war [is] finished, [these explosives] still kill people, and the land cannot be used."

Also at the museum is an orphanage that Aki Ra and his wife, Hourt, opened about a decade ago. Roughly 100 children, some injured by land mines, have been cared for over the years. The orphanage provides food and shelter for the children and sends them to public school.

"I brought them to the museum because I could provide them with [a] better situation," Aki Ra said. "If I didn't help them, they would have a very difficult life."

The orphanage's first resident, Sot "Tol" Visay, lost a leg to a mine. He was living on the street when Aki Ra was demining in his province. Aki Ra offered Visay a home, and Visay has spent the past seven years living there.

"This place has been very good to me," said Visay, now 21. "Mr. Aki Ra does not want anything from me. Instead, he encourages all people here to study, to gain knowledge."

Hourt died last year from a stroke, leaving Aki Ra to care for his three biological children and 27 orphans ages 10 to 20. Aki Ra is thankful to have caretakers, teachers, a chef and a driver who help look after the children during his demining missions, which can last up to 25 consecutive days every month.

"All the children living in my center I consider as my own children. They call me father," said Aki Ra, whose efforts in Cambodia will be highlighted in an upcoming documentary, "A Perfect Soldier." "I have told them about my personal life. They understand all about my history. I tell the children that they should study hard, do good acts and love each other."

Want to get involved? Check out the Cambodian Self Help Demining website at http://www.cambodianselfhelpdemining.org/  and see how to help.
You can nominate a 2010 CNN Hero at cnnheroes.com.

CU-Boulder students protest immigration law on Arizona streets


http://www.dailycamera.com/

via Khmer NZ

Graduate: 'This experience has been emotionally intense'

By Vanessa Miller Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 07/29/2010

Growing up in Denver with Cambodian parents who came to the United States in 1979 to escape the violence in their home nation, University of Colorado senior Melissa Khat said she has a deep appreciation for the nation's immigration roots.

That's why on Thursday -- the day Arizona's controversial immigration law took effect -- Khat, 22, and several of her Boulder-based friends were on the streets in Tucson to "stand in solidarity" with others who feel the law goes too far and promotes racial profiling.

On Wednesday evening, after opponents celebrated a judge's order blocking much of the state's immigration law, Khat and her group joined dozens of protesters in the small town of Guadalupe, just south of Phoenix.

"A good number of community members blocked the main intersection into the community and stood there for an hour," Khat said.

The demonstration was peaceful, she said.

"Any peaceful action that we can take to get our voices heard will make a big difference," Khat said.

The judge's temporary injunction of the law Wednesday delayed some of its most contentious parts, including a section requiring officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws and parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers. Provisions of the law that are less controversial were allowed to take effect Thursday.

The state asked an appeals court to lift the judge's order Thursday as Arizona communities such as Tucson and Phoenix filled with protesters, including dozens who were arrested after confronting officers in riot gear.

Protests that Khat and her friends took part in Thursday were nonviolent shows of solidarity, she said. Some people held signs that read "I am not a document" and "We reject racism," and other people waved flags while walking through the streets and blocking intersections.

Temperatures soared to more than 100 degrees in parts of Arizona, but Khat said the heat was bearable because of the cause they were supporting.

"It's so worth the weather -- being here, standing among these people and being part of history," she said. "It's a motivating and inspirational experience for me."

Khat, who's studying international affairs at CU, said she's passionate about immigration issues because her parents were refugees.

"They have plenty of stories of struggling to be in the United States," she said, adding that the Arizona law adds even more pressure on immigrants trying to fit in and build a life. "It's racism, and clearly it's not something we can tolerate in the 21st century."

CU graduate Sergio Gutierrez, 23, who joined Khat in their drive from Boulder to Arizona this week, said he was compelled to protest out of disgust for provisions in the new law. Being among all types of people united in one cause has been refreshing, he said.

"It's nice to see everyone come together like this," he said. "This experience has been emotionally intense and symbolic for everyone, particularly for those people who are willing to get arrested."

He and Khat, who spent upwards of six hours in the Arizona sun Thursday, plan to hit the streets again today. Gutierrez said they will be "cop watching," which they have been trained to do.

"We will be watching the police and monitoring their behavior and their professionalism to make sure everyone is being treated appropriately," he said.

Two Massachusetts Teens Change Lives of Students in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

Journeys Within
CONTACT: Andrea Ross
TEL: 877 454 3672
E-MAIL: andrea@journeys-within.com
WEB: www.journeys-within.com
Click Here for Media Kit

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — Leah Petty and Claire Miller are pretty regular 13-year-olds: They go to school, have fun with their friends, and look forward to summer vacation. But these two teens are no ordinary young women that look forward to hanging out at the beach, the pool, or with friends. These girls look forward to making a difference. Three years ago while living with her family in Singapore, Leah visited Cambodia and was personally impacted by the poverty that she witnessed in this country. Rather than just ignore the problem, Leah talked to her best friend Claire and together they made a plan to raise money for Cambodia and to make a difference in the lives of kids their own age who were struggling just to survive.

For three years, the teens together have raised funds from friends and family to help their cause. Last weekend, Claire and Leah had one of their most successful fundraisers to date. They held a yard sale in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and thanks to donations from neighbors and friends raised over $1600. This means that to date, these remarkable teens have raised over $4,000 for Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC), a non-profit organization in Cambodia that Leah and Claire chose to support because of the organizations’ proven effectiveness in offering practical assistance to local communities in Southeast Asia.

“We are so amazed by Leah and Claire,” said Andrea Ross, JWOC founder, “To be so young, yet to be able to really embrace the idea that they can make a difference in the world. It’s very inspiring and they embody everything that JWOC stands for: To see a problem and to solve it!”

After her initial trip, Leah visited Cambodia again and visited the JWOC projects she had helped support. She has seen first-hand the impact that her fundraising has had and she and Claire hope to return to Cambodia next summer to volunteer with JWOC so that they can once again be involved in the projects that they help make possible.

When asked what message she hopes that people will get from all of her hard work, Leah answered, “That any little thing can help. Whether it’s $10, $100, or $1000. The people there have so little compared to us. We complain if our hot water takes too long to heat up. Most of the people there don’t even have clean water, not to mention hot water. We don’t know what it feels like to be 10 years old and starving, our parents not putting us in school because they can’t afford it and they need you out to beg. Nobody should have to go through that.”

To date, the money that Leah and Claire have raised together has gone towards repairing wells, buying GPS units for well scouting teams, building a new library and computer center, and sending a JWOC Scholarship Student to university for four years.

About Journeys Within Our Community
JWOC was founded by Brandon and Andrea Ross, owners of Journeys Within Tour Company in response to guests and travelers desire to give back and make a difference. JWOC believes in its slogan, “See a Problem, Solve a Problem” and has been doing that for the last five years. More information can be found and donations can be made at
http://www.journeyswithinourcommunity.org/  or you can contact Andrea at 

Cambodia Pharmaceuticals And Healthcare Report Q3 2010


via Khmer NZ

Published on July 29, 2010

by Press Office

(Companiesandmarkets.com and OfficialWire)

LONDON, ENGLAND

Cambodia's pharmaceutical market was calculated to be worth KHR711bn (US$172mn) in 2009. We forecast drug consumption to increase at a rate of 11.6% over the next five years to reach a value of KHR1,232bn (US$302mn) in 2014. Our long range forecast is for the market to reach KHR2,062bn (US$516mn) in 2019, equivalent to annual growth of 11.2% over the 10-year period. In absolute terms, the country's pharmaceutical market is one of the smallest covered by BMI. However, its high growth potential emphasises Cambodia as an emerging target for drugmakers in the medium term. In the Pharmaceutical Business Environment Ratings for Q310, Cambodia is ranked the lowest of the 16 Asia Pacific markets surveyed. The country's medicine market is small in absolute terms and percapita expenditure is low. However, we are forecasting double-digit growth over the medium term. Fundamental disincentives to drugmakers include a young and predominantly rural population, a lack of respect for intellectual property, endemic corruption and excessive bureaucracy.

A decade of economic growth and political stability has allowed Cambodia to begin to tackle its underdeveloped healthcare system. Measures such as health equity funds, a new social health insurance system and the use of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) has begun to reduce inequalities in the system. The public health budget has grown in line with economic growth. However, per capita health expenditure remains low and around 60% of healthcare costs are paid out-of-pocket.

Government figures show that the national health budget is increasing. However, contributions from foreign donors exceed government contributions at a rate of around 2:1. This reliance on foreign contributions means that health expenditure levels are exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate. Counterfeit drugs are a major constraint on legitimate drug market growth. Around 65% of the illegal pharmacies operating in Cambodia have been closed, according to the US Pharmacopeia in May 2010. The development comes as the result of a major anti-counterfeiting operation undertaken by the Cambodian government for over five months. According to figures released by the Cambodian Ministry of Health, the number of illegal pharmacies was reduced from 1,081 to 379 between November 2009 and March 2010.

The domestic pharmaceutical industry comprises seven small manufacturers dealing in basic generic medicines. The bulk of demand is met through imports, both from developed markets (such as France) and nascent markets (such as India, Thailand and Vietnam).

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MAG Cambodia - May report

via Khmer NZ

 
29 Jul 2010
Source: MAG (Mines Advisory Group)

 
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

 
Reporting period: 1-31 May 2010
 
Summary:
  • Clearance of 173,825 square metres (sq/m) of suspect land by MAG clearance teams
  • Removal and destruction of 1,604 dangerous items: 361 anti-personnel mines, 20 anti-tank mine, 1,223 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO); including 531 Small Arms Light Weapons, 444 cluster munitions, 10 items of 101+mm, and 238 other items
  • Beneficiaries of MAG activities: 13,502 people from 2,769 families
  • Community Liaison activities: one team meeting, 34 village visits, eight pre-clearance assessments, one post-clearance assessment, two technical assessments, the generation of 31 UXO reports, three case studies and nine Risk Reduction Education sessions
  • Mine Risk Reduction Education reached 1,826 individuals in 108 sessions
  • Preparation of 107,448 sq/m of land by mechanical vegetation clearance and hand-held strimmers.
Basic Mine Risk Education includes communicating the message that local villagers should not touch mines or explosive remnants of war.
MAG Cambodia

Reducing Risk in Northwest Cambodia
 
Whilst extensive Mine Risk Education (MRE) has been delivered in Cambodia for many years, mine risk is still a major factor for the lives of people living in the northwest of the country.
 
Over the last four years there has been a general downward trend in the number of accidents caused by mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), but in May this year there was a significant increase in accidents, with 50 new casualties from 19 accidents in eight provinces.
 
This represents an increase of 317 per cent compared with the 12 casualties reported in May 2009.
 
Many of the accidents today are caused by farmers extending farming land in suspect areas. The greater mechanisation of farming in the northwest is also resulting in an increasing number of accidents caused by anti-tank mines.
 
In addition, accidents are still being caused by people tampering with ordnance.
 
The MAG Community Liaison teams are addressing the ongoing problem in communities by providing targeted Risk Reduction Education (RRE).
 
On 20 May, MAG's Community Liaison (CL) team delivered RRE within the village of Bour Run village, Bavel district of Battambang. Before arrival in the village, the CL team consulted all available secondary data regarding the mine/ERW impact in the village and any reported high-risk activities.
 
On arrival in the village the team met with the village chief and the Community Based Mine Risk Reduction (CBMRR) volunteer in order to identify specific households whose livelihood activities are thought to be at-risk from the impact of mines and ERW, and to gather information regarding specific groups of people undertaking high-risk activities.
 
Once the data collection was completed, the CL team developed targeted MRE sessions appropriate to the high-risk activities and individuals identified. Sessions were then conducted with each of the groups at a time and place that was suitable for them.
 
In Bour Run village, high-risk people included those that intended to extend land for agriculture, people who are likely to access unsafe areas to collect natural resources and forest products, economic migrants that may travel through suspected areas, and those likely to deliberately tamper with explosives out of curiosity or familiarity.
 
As it is understood that communities sometimes have little choice but to put themselves in direct danger from explosive items, when promoting and providing Mine RRE to target groups the CL team conduct participatory discussions to try to encourage suggestions for livelihood alternatives, behaviour change and safe practices when undertaking high-risk activities.
 
MAG thanks the following donors to the Cambodia programme: Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Finn Church Aid; Lutheran World Federation; NVESD; UK Department for International Development (DFID / UKAid); Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State.
For more information on this or other MAG programmes across the world, please visit http://www.maginternational.org/ .

The World's Oldest Oppression

http://www.americamagazine.org/

via Khmer NZ

Posted at: Thursday, July 29, 2010
Author: John Coleman, S.J.

The trafficking of women and children for purposes of sex has grown exponentially to become a major criminal activity—generating funds of around $12 billion a year, just behind the criminal funds generated by illegal drug and arms sales. The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines trafficking as follows: “The recruitment, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, or abduction or fraud or deception, or the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of person having control of another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others, or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Because it is usually clandestine, precise statistics on sexual trafficking world-wide can be hard to estimate. The United States State Department reckons the number to run, minimally, to about 800,000 yearly. Other estimates (for example, by the Human Rights Law Group) run into the millions annually. Moreover, it seems to be growing apace. In 1996 at the First World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm, the issue was raised as a growing phenomenon. The International Labor Organization in 1998 saw it as an issue of global concern on the rise. The Second World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in 2001 estimated that the situation had worsened since 1996.

I first became aware and interested in this horrendous criminal violation of human rights and dignity issue when I began teaching and writing about globalization a decade or so ago. I wanted also to know how criminal elements used the new tools of globalization ( the internet, world travel and banking etc) to further criminal activities such as smuggling, arms and drugs sales and prostitution. I chanced upon a 2005 book by a Canadian journalist, Victor Malarek, The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade. Malarak recounted in that book the tales of numerous Eastern European women from the old Soviet bloc countries who were promised jobs in western Europe as nannies or maids only to find themselves, first, brutally raped by the criminals who contacted them, having their passports removed and kept under guard in the bordellos across Europe where they were whisked. The portrait was one not of happy hookers or the world’s oldest profession but rather of the world’s oldest oppression.

Prostitution, to be sure, is not a new phenomenon. But the global reach of transporting women from Eastern Europe or South Asia to cities such as London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Melbourne is something new. Much of the trafficking in Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Columbia and Eastern Europe is controlled by large criminal organizations.

They target certain key countries (Moldavia, Ukraine, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia) to recruit young women ( sometimes they are sold by their parents) who are, then, sent, first, to some key transit countries (Austria, Israel, Mexico) and then to their final destination countries (Australia, The United States, Japan, Korea being major receiving countries). Key traffickers target also places with a lot of United States troops ( e.g. Korea) or where there are UN Peace keepers. One Ukrainian trafficked woman, Olega recognized eight of her former clients (UN Peacekeepers) when the bar she was forced to work out of in Bosnia was raided.

Over the past decade, words of concern about the phenomenon of sex trafficking have proliferated but to little effect. Laws are weak (and often punish the prostitute but not “ the john”); governments are corrupt; many of the economies from which the women are snatched into sex slavery are in shambles and national and international resolve is shaky.

A year ago in Rome, at a remarkable congress organized by the International Union of Superiors General and the International Organization for Migration, dozens of women religious spoke to the issue. "Human trafficking is one of the effects of the globalization of poverty and hunger against which governments are only engaged in a war of words." The statement from the congress complained that national policies were ineffective in getting women who were forced into prostitution off the street. They saw the phenomenon of sex slavery as not only a violation of human rights but “an embarrassment for all humanity."

Trafficking feeds on the three famous P’s: Patriarchy (men’s sense of entitlement over women), poverty and powerlessness. Many prostitutes freed from their slavery return because of the lack of economic alternatives. Most studies of prostitutes, however, show high rates of physical assault and rape. One study of 207 trafficked women, conducted by the London School of Health and Tropical Hygiene, found that 8 out of the ten women had been physically beaten or assaulted. 61% had been threatened with a gun.

One of the difficulties in addressing the issue of global prostitution is the different stance of those who want to right the wrongs. There are abolitionists versus reformists. Abolitionists, such as in a 2003 statement by the Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women, oppose any legalization of prostitution. They see prostitution as an inherently degrading profession for the women and a violation of human dignity to see sex and a woman’s body as an item to bought and sold. An alternative NGO, The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, rejoins that abolition of prostitution is doomed. They seek its legalization and a renaming of prostitutes as ‘ sex workers’, with all the labor rights of any worker. Places which have legalized prostitution ( e.g. Amsterdam, Melbourne), however, have seen little diminution of a criminal element or of the influx of sex trafficked slaves. Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam rued the impact of legalization in his city. In Melbourne, for the 100 legal bordellos there are 400 underground, illegal brothels, many of which employ trafficked women from Indonesia or Thailand.

In a new book, The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It, Victor Malarek takes the position of the abolitionists. He champions a stringent newish law in Sweden which targets the johns. In Sweden, selling sex is de-criminalized (giving the woman some leeway). But buying sex is a crime. Middlemen who purchase a sexual service for someone else face a fine and a possible jail term of up to six months. Anyone who has sex with a trafficked woman or with a woman who has bruises on her body gets a specially heavy fine or jail sentence. Norway has followed Sweden’s law. Norway’s justice minister explained the rationale: “People are not merchandise. By criminalizing the purchase of sexual favors, Norway will become less attractive in the eye of human traffickers.” Norway also has initiatives to help women leave prostitution.

John Coleman, S.J.

Thailand Threatens to Pull Out of UN World Heritage Committee Over Border Dispute

VOA, Ron Corben | Bangkok
29 July 2010

via Khmer NZ

Photo: AP
Preah Vihear temple is seen near Cambodian-Thai border in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia (File photo)

Thailand is threatening to withdraw support from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization if the U.N. World Heritage Committee backs a Cambodian plan to manage a 900-year-old Hindu temple site bordering the two countries.

The Thai government's threat to withdraw from the 21-nation UNESCO World Heritage Committee was made as the panel prepared to vote on a new Cambodian proposed management plan for the 900-year-old Khmer temple.

Source of tension

The Preah Vihear temple site lies immediately inside the Cambodian border on the top of a 525-meter-high cliff in the Dangrek Mountain range. But access to the temple complex is only readily available from the Thai side.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice ruled that that the temple is on the Cambodian side of the border, but failed to determine ownership of an adjacent piece of land. Since then, Thailand has sought to have both countries jointly seek World Heritage listing for the site.

But in 2008, then Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama was forced to resign after a Thai court found he had breached the constitution by signing a joint communiqué with Cambodia. This opened the way for Cambodia to make a separate application for World Heritage listing.

New friction

Under a proposed development plan for the temple, Thailand fears Cambodia may create a buffer zone around the site, marking what Thailand sees as occupation of its territory.

The Thai government has been lobbying committee member states to postpone the vote until both countries settle the border disputes covering land immediately surrounding the Preah Vihear temple.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said Minister for Natural Resources Suvit Khunkitti attended the meeting and had the full backing of the Cabinet for Thailand to withdraw from the World Heritage Committee.

"If the process adopting that plan is approved, not only Khun Suvit is authorized to object to that plan - not to vote for that plan - he is authorized to express his ideas, his concerns and also the wishes of the Thai government to reconsider the membership of the World Heritage Committee," Panitan said.

Thai proposal

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is calling for a return to a 2000 agreement centered on the border demarcation. He said Thailand would only accept Cambodia's management plan if the temple is jointly listed between the two countries.

The temple site gained World Heritage listing in 2008, but has remained a source of nationalist tensions since then. Pro-nationalist groups in Thailand protested earlier this week outside the UNESCO offices in Bangkok.

Avoiding clashes

In recent years, rising tensions between Thailand and Cambodia have led to cross-border clashes, with the Thai army accusing Cambodian troops of laying land mines in the region.

UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova, released a statement calling for dialogue in safeguarding the temple site. She also said the World Heritage Committee's first concern is to protect and promote the region's heritage, and emblems of peace, dialogue and reconciliation.

Kasit lays down the law


Kasit: Submits letter to WHC members

via Khmer NZ

Published: 30/07/2010

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has submitted a strongly worded letter to World Heritage Committee members outlining Thailand's fierce objections to Cambodia's management plan for the Preah Vihear temple.

The Foreign Ministry also began furious lobbying yesterday for the WHC to postpone consideration of the plan.

Deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs Chittriya Pinthong met with diplomats from 10 countries who sit on the 21-member committee: Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, China, France, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. France, Sweden, Switzerland and Brazil sent their ambassadors to the ministry.

"As long as the demarcation has not been finished, Thailand cannot cooperate with any decision by the WHC," Mr Kasit said in his letter.

He also said Thailand was upset as the WHC appeared not to have realised the sensitivity and importance of the temple issue. Any decision made now on the management plan would raise tensions between the two countries, he said.

"The WHC has also neglected the fact that the management plan for the Preah Vihear temple cannot achieve concrete results and be a success because it has ignored the Thai role in helping preserve the temple," he said.

The temple has been listed as a world heritage site since 2008.

The Thai lobbying came as Thailand and Cambodia were unable to break their deadlock over the issue in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital serving as the venue for the WHC meeting.

Talks between Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, brokered by Brazilian chairman Jao Luiz Silva Ferreira, took place on Wednesday after the WHC adjourned its discussion of Cambodia's management plan for Preah Vihear to allow both countries to try to patch up their differences.

In tense 30-minute talks, Sok An told Mr Suwit Cambodia had made compromises with Thailand and it could not make any more changes, a source close to the meeting said.

The Cambodian deputy premier stressed that Cambodia's management plan included the eastern part of the temple, but the Thai delegation argued that demarcation of the area had not yet been settled, the source said.

The government on Wednesday threatened to withdraw from the WHC if the committee members approved the Cambodian plan.

The source said at this stage the option of Thailand giving up its membership of the WHC was not needed.

The source said Thailand would make its stand clear by rejecting Cambodia's management plan.

If the WHC continued to consider the plan, the delegation would issue a statement denouncing the WHC, saying it had failed to comply with regulations and had allowed Cambodia to submit its management plan late.

Cambodia should have handed in its plan six months ahead of the meeting but it made its submission less than 24 hours before the meeting began.

The source said the delegation would walk out if the denunciation failed to change the WHC's mind.

The controversy surrounding the Preah Vihear temple is expected to intensify tensions along the Thai-Cambodian border even though authorities insist the border situation is relatively calm.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and the leaders of the three armed forces met yesterday to discuss the matter.

Mr Suthep faulted the WHC for listing Preah Vihear as a heritage site because it sits next to an overlapping 4.6-square-kilometre zone claimed by the two countries. He said the WHC's listing of the temple triggered the dispute between the neighbours.

"The WHC shouldn't be an agency which creates a conflict between two countries," he said.

Mr Suthep said the border situation was normal but the military was prepared and on full alert for any untoward events.

"Don't speculate about what they will do. We are just prepared," he said.

Gen Prawit said the armed forces had a plan to deal with the border situation. He insisted that joint border committees had been working well.