Friday, 4 February 2011

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


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Cambodian Army Fight to Repel Thai Invasion

PHNOM PENH, February 4, 2011 AKP – The Thai army has invaded Cambodia again on Friday 4th February 2011 at 3pm (local time), said Cambodian government’s spokesman.

Cambodian armed forces have been forced to take aggressive defensive measures to repel approximately 2000 invading Thai soldiers along six points well inside Cambodian territory.

The fighting erupted at least 500 meters inside sovereign Cambodian territory at Sambouk Khmum and Veal Entry and spread to another four locations.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said “although Cambodian soldiers tried to negotiate to stop the Thai soldiers from invading Cambodia, the Thai army kept moving deeper into Cambodian territory and opened fire without provocation on Cambodian forces. We have a right to self-defense against the Thai invasion to protect our land.”

The Thai invasion came after several hours of painstaking negotiations on Thursday from 4 p.m local time onwards where Cambodian soldiers had persuaded the Thai soldiers to withdraw.

Instead of staying within Thai territory, the Thai soldiers chose to invade Cambodia again on Friday 3 p.m (local time). The Thai forces made an about turn, invaded Cambodia without provocation and fired aggressively. Cambodia is forced to defend its territory and is using all means at its disposal to repel the Thai soldiers who at one point were more than 500 meters inside Cambodian territory, taking advantage of the buffer zone agreed upon previously before the invasion.”

An Asian diplomat said that “the Thai invasion came after the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) pressured Abhisit-led government to do whatever necessary to free the two convicted, Thai spies currently imprisoned in Cambodia.”

The Thai invasion appears to be well planned and coordinated as the Thai Foreign Minister is currently in Cambodia to attend the Joint Border Commission (JBC) meeting, said the diplomat.

“This is no accidental exchange of shots facing off each other. This is planned and premeditated to try apply pressure on Cambodia to free the two imprisoned Thai spies,” said the diplomat.

It is believed that at least four Thai soldiers were captured deep inside Cambodian territory at Veal Intrei.

Thai soldiers rushed into the buffer zone and moved up to 500meters into Cambodian territory at:

1) Phnom Trab 2) Sambok Khmom 3) Chak Chreng 4) Veal Intrei 5) Ta Tho 6) Ta Sem
and fired vigorously into Cambodian forces defending sovereign Cambodian territory.

By Ek Madra, AKP Contributor

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JICA Continues to Support Gender Mainstreaming Project in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, February 4, 2011 AKP — The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has announced its support to the Cambodian Ministry of Women Affairs’ Gender Mainstreaming Project Phase II, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the ministry.

The five-year phase II of the project is aimed to promote the economic status of Cambodian women and to strengthen the join implementation with five partner ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.

Mr. Kobayashi Yukiharo, representative of JICA to Cambodia, praised the Ministry of Women Affairs for its determination in promoting gender equality, focusing on women’s economy, which he said contributes to increasing social well-being and economy. –AKP

By Théng

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Cambodia To Host International Mines Meeting in Late 2011

Phnom Penh, February 4, 2011 AKP – Cambodia will host the Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in late November or early December this year, Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC)’s senior official said.

Government representatives from over 150 countries are expected to join the one week-long meeting, according to Mr. Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC.

This is the first time that the country hosts such a meeting since it became a State Party to the treaty in Jan. 1, 2000, he said.

From 1992 to 2010, CMAC has found and destroyed some 2.1 million mines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs), said H.E. Heng Ratana, adding that in 2010 alone, over 150,000 mines and UXOs were found and destroyed.

CMAC is an internally-recognized institution and so far many countries including Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Columbia as well as many African countries have come to Cambodia to learn and share experiences with CMAC. –AKP

By CHEA Vannak

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“qb 013” Company To Sponsor the First-ever International Horse Racing in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, February 4, 2011 AKP – Cambodia Advance Communication Ltd. of qb 013 planned to give a sponsorship to the first-ever international horse racing with jumping over fences in Cambodia and sought cooperation with the Ministry of Information.

Faroug Abu Saleh, director of Cambodia Advance Communication Ltd. of qb 013 who met with Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith on Feb. 3, said that his company has run telephone operation here for three years.

He said he has not held a talk yet with the ministry to create the cooperation in telephone and network service and other services to allow his company to meet the need.

The company has had telephone and network service in 17 provinces and expected to extend its coverage to other areas across the country.

H.E. Khieu Kanharith appreciated qb 013 Company for its operation in Cambodia, asking the company to cooperate with the ministry in the call in show in response to the listeners’ opinions because there are many radio stations being installed by the ministry in the provinces, municipality and cities in the country. –AKP

Article in Khmer by HUN Yuth Kun
Article in English by THOU Peou

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EFEO To Hand Over Temple Conservation Archives to Cambodia

Phnom Penh, February 4, 2011 AKP – The French School of the Far East (EFEO) will hand over archives related to the conservation and development of ancient temples since 1907 to >Cambodia, EFEO Director Mr. Franciscus Varellen told Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok An here on Feb. 2.

EFEO will also transfer knowledge in architecture through training programs and help repair the West Mebon Temple, he underlined.

EFEO has already completed the restoration of Baphuon Temple and it is planning to organize a workshop on the school’s works, Mr. Varellen added.

In reply, H.E. Sok An, also minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, profoundly thanked EFEO and the French government for their assistance to the restoration of temples in Cambodia and their intention to hand over archives and transfer knowledge in conservation and development of ancient temples as well as to help repair the West Mebon Temple.

He further recommended the APSARA and Preah Vihear Authorities to continue their close cooperation with EFEO and the French Embassy. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

Student paid $1,170 in 'fees' for fake job


via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:03 Sen David

Phnom Penh military police arrested a 33-year-old man yesterday for allegedly deceiving a student to pay more than US$1,000 to secure a job with the Cambodian Red Cross.

Chan Heng, chief of the intelligence bureau for the municipal military police, said Hout Ly Heang, who is a construction worker in Phnom Penh, had pretended to be a CRC staffer in charge of recruiting new employees.

Prum Sotheary, a 24-year-old student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, paid Hout Ly Heng a total of $1,170 over 10 separate occasions before catching wind of the scam, Chan Heng said.

Hout Ly Heang reportedly told the fourth-year student that the CRC required “fees” to cover her application, work attire, a health check, a form for the Ministry of Interior and CRC accounting.

“The last time, the suspect told her that the International CRC needs $500 more, so she started to doubt him and thought he was deceiving her and she filed a complaint to the military police,” Chan Heng said.

Men Neary Sopheak, deputy secretary general of the CRC, said the humanitarian organisation requires no such fees.

“It is completely a case of deception,” she said, adding that such incidents could make residents “lose confidence” in the organisation’s work.

Refugees set to depart


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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Vong Sokheng

The majority of a group of Montagnard refugees being housed at a United Nations-administered refugee centre in Phnom Penh has been approved for resettlement in Canada and the United States, less than two weeks ahead of the scheduled closure of the site.

Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said yesterday that the agency had established solutions for most people at the site.

“We have solutions for virtually all the people at the site. Some of them will be leaving in the next few days, and some shortly after that,” he said by phone from Geneva. “I can confirm that the countries are Canada and the US.”

A small proportion of the group has opted to return to Vietnam after having applications for asylum rejected, Mahecic said.

“There were nine cases that covered about 11 people that were not identified as refugees, and these people, after going through the process, they volunteered for voluntary repatriation,” he said. “The others are in the process of being resettled.”

Mahecic declined to comment on the exact number of refugees who would be resettled in each country.

On November 29, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to UNHCR to announce that the refugee centre, in Sen Sok district, would be shuttered at the end of the year, warning that any Montagnards remaining at the site faced deportation to Vietnam.

The deadline was eventually extended until February 15 following a request from the agency. The centre contained 76 Montagnards when the closure was announced, 62 of whom were registered refugees qualified for third-country resettlement.

Since 2001, about 2,000 Montagnards – as Vietnam’s highland ethnic minorities are known – have fled to Cambodia due to official crackdowns. In December, Human Rights Watch estimated that about 300 Montagnard Christians were now serving prison sentences for their religious or political beliefs.

Denise Coughlan, director of Jesuit Refugee Services, said yesterday it was “great news” that the majority of the Montagnards had been accepted for resettlement before the deadline.

“We’re very happy that Canada and hopefully the US are opening their arms to them,” she said. She added that UNHCR’s call to reject a small number of asylum applications was “probably a fair decision”.

Coughlan said it was unclear exactly when the resettlement would occur and how many in total had been approved, adding that there were still a number of cases being ironed out as of yesterday.

“Everything is in a total state of flux at the moment,” she said.

The closure of the site will bring to an end a 2005 agreement between Cambodia, Vietnam and the UNHCR governing the processing of Montagnard asylum seekers.

Coughlan said it was as yet unclear how the Cambodian government would process future cases involving Montagnard refugees.

“According to UNHCR, they have to be treated exactly the same way as any other asylum seeker,” she said.

“The major thing is that the Cambodian government remains open to processing refugee requests of asylum seekers, including Montagnards.”

When contacted yesterday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak did not comment in detail on how cases would proceed after February 15, but expressed hopes there would be “no refugees in future”.

Dengue fever: Authorities to distribute insecticide


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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:03 Khoun Leakhana

Dengue fever

The National Anti-Dengue Programme has announced plans to distribute 180 tonnes of the insecticide Abate in selected provinces in Cambodia.

Added to water, Abate helps to kill mosquito larvae and prevent the spread of adult mosquitoes.

Ngan Chantha, director of the Programme, said distribution had originally been designated for all 24 of the Kingdom’s provinces but that limited quantities and rising costs had necessitated an amendment to the plan.

“We have three conditions for areas to receive Abate,” he said, adding that only those areas that were designated as rural and that had a high level of confirmed dengue cases would qualify.

In August last year, the Programme announced a similar plan to distribute 100 tonnes of Abate in 24 provinces. Ngan Chantha said the latest plan was aimed at reaching areas that did not previously receive Abate because of a shortfall in supplies.

According to the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, there have been 3,771 reported cases of dengue and 10 deaths in the first seven months of 2010.

The same period in 2009 saw 2,355 cases and seven deaths from the disease.

Evicted villagers stage protest


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Children play yesterday along a portion of National Road 6A, which is in the process of being widened in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.

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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:03 Post Staff

Ninety-three families from Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar and Prek Liep communes yesterday held a protest after receiving a letter prohibiting them from rebuilding houses removed for the expansion of National Road 6A in July last year.

Chroy Changvar resident Suong Sophan said the letter, issued by Russei Keo District Governor Klaing Huot and received on Wednesday, prohibited residents with land 3.5 to 4 metres from the road from rebuilding their houses.

“Ninety-three families who completely lost their homes by road expansion project haven’t got compensation yet, and now they ban us from having our houses built,” he said.

The letter, dated January 27 and obtained by The Post yesterday, stated that residents must stop rebuilding houses and remove houses already rebuilt within 15 days.

The letter also stated that residents who did not comply would be sent to court.

In July 2010 the Phnom Penh Municipality enlarged a 4,000-metre section of National Road 6A, evicting families on both sides of the road.

Suong Sophan said that the authorities offered plots of land in Kampong Speu province last year, but the land was never received.

Sung Thon, a resident of Chroy Changvar, said he didn’t understand why the authorities had waited until people rebuilt their houses.

“The villagers living along the roadside built concrete houses because they don’t want to see their dilapidated house after it had been removed,” he said.

Chroy Changvar Communal Governor Pich Saroeun said yesterday that the district authority would give a plot of land in compensation to residents who agreed to move.

Russei Keo District Deputy Governor Kob Sles could not be reached for comment.

Prey Sar to get facility for mothers


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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:03 May Titthara

The women’s section of Prey Sar prison is to get a new building to house pregnant prisoners, those who have just given birth and mothers whose children are in jail with them, a prison official said yesterday.

Khlout Dara, director of Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 2, which houses female inmates, said the maternity building would improve conditions for mothers and children in prison, while also reduce overcrowding.

“We used to have a building for children, but it was too small,” he said.

“The organisation has asked for an expansion to ease the burden of women who have just given birth,” he said.

He added that the new building, to be constructed with assistance from French NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, would provide a healthy environment and proper sanitation, and that some prisoners would have access to private rooms.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, welcomed the development, saying NGOs have been asking the government for some time to construct a separate building to better accommodate pregnant inmates as well as women living with their children.

Funcinpec HQ spat deepens


Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Secretary General of Funcinpec Nhek Bun Chhay speaks to reporters in May 2009.

via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:02 Meas Sokchea

A senior Funcinpec party official who has accused the party’s Secretary General Nhek Bun Chhay of selling the party’s headquarters without authorisation says he also has evidence that Nhek Bun Chhay improperly mortgaged the property for US$2 million.

Phan Chantha, a former Funcinpec lawmaker and current committee member, said yesterday that he had documents proving that Nhek Bun Chhay mortgaged the property prior to its sale.

According to documents dated September 2010 and obtained by The Post yesterday, Nhek Bun Chhay mortgaged the property at Canadia Bank for three months for $2 million.

Along with the mortgage contract, Nhek Bun Chhay attached a report outlining the result of a September 9 meeting of the party’s permanent committee, Phan Chantha said, but did not attach any authorisation from the central committee.

“I would like Nhek Bun Chhay to show me all reports of the meeting and a joint decision of the central committee,” Phan Chantha said. “There was no decision from the central committee.”

He added that the permanent committee met prior to the mortgage and sale of the party’s headquarters, but added that no joint decision was made agreeing to either action.

“We would like him to respect the party’s conditions and central committee decisions,” he said.

On Wednesday, Phan Chantha told reporters that Nhek Bun Chhay had sold the building for $3.85 million and purchased a new property in Kandal province, both without the necessary authorisation.

“This sale is completely contrary to the condition of the party,” he said.

When contacted yesterday, Nhek Bun Chhay again dismissed Phan Chantha’s claims, saying that before he mortgaged the property, the permanent committee met many times and decided to mortgage and sell the property because the current location was too small.

He also said the profits from the proceeds of the sale were intended to help the party’s tilt at elections in 2012 and 2013.

“That’s why the permanent committee has decided to change headquarters. And after the decision, the permanent committee took this issue to the central committee because we want plenty of transparency,” Nhek Bun Chhay said.

Nhek Bun Chhay invited Phan Chantha and all other party members to scrutinise all reports and documents involving the headquarters, but said he cannot make them public.

“Nowadays everything must be decided by the permanent committee. A president or secretary general cannot sign without a decision of the permanent committee,” Nhek Bun Chhay said.

Ratanakkiri officials plan to relocate jail


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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:02 Tep Nimol

Plans are underway for a private South Korean company to build a new prison in Ratanakkiri, according to provincial authorities.

Deputy Provincial Governor Thorng Sarun said yesterday that the provincial prison will relocate from its current location in Banlung town to O’Chum district, moving a distance of approximately five to seven kilometres from its current location.

“The current prison is the first thing people see when visiting the province, so we’ll move it to the outskirts and the Korean company will build a supermarket and housing on the former prison’s land,” said Thorng Sarun.

The Korean company will provide US$500,000 to buy an estimated seven hectares and to build the new prison, Thorng Sarun said. He added that five hectares have already been secured by the Interior Ministry and it is working to acquire two more.

Thorng Sarun said he expects the new location will have enough water and electricity for prisoners, and hopes some land will be used for agriculture and animals pastures.

The plan to move the prison began in 2006 with the Tai Seng company, but the company abandoned the plan due to the economic crisis.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for human rights group Adhoc, said yesterday he supported the move because the new prison will improve conditions for prisoners.

Military, police must declare assets: ACU


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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:02 Vong Sokheng

About 14,000 military and police officials are among those required to declare assets by February 28, Anticorruption Unit head Om Yentieng said yesterday.

He said about 10,000 police officials at the Ministry of Interior and 4,000 from the Ministry of Defence must state their business interests, property and vehicles to the ACU.

The comments follow a workshop with military and police officials led by the ACU this week to educate them about the asset declaration requirements and the government’s highly publicised effort to fight pervasive corruption.

The ACU estimates that between 100,000 and 150,000 government officials will be required to declare assets, permanent member Sar Sambath said last month.

Om Yentieng said there was no progress to report on the high-profile investigations involving Moek Dara, former secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, and Chea Leng, former chief of the anti-drug office at the Ministry of Interior.

Both were apprehended last month under allegations of corruption and selling drugs, following the arrests of former Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean and his deputy, Chheang Sun.

“Moek Dara is in jail now, and we do not have more [arrests related to the ongoing investigation],” Om Yentieng said.

Agriculture on bank agendas


A woman harvests rice in Siem Reap province in November of last year. Agri-business has been highlighted as a main target by banks this year. Photo by: Will Baxter

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Rice milling and food processing will be factors in loan demand

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via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:00 May Kunmakara

THE agricultural sector is proving one of the top target markets for loans this year, according to some of the Kingdom’s leading bankers.

An improvement in sector outlook has spurred interest, members of the banking community said yesterday. Last year, the government outlined plans to export one million tonnes of milled rice to global markets by 2015.

In Channy, chief executive officer and president of ACLEDA bank, said that after its outstanding loan value rose by 36.82 percent in 2010, the agricultural sector was the bank’s main focus.

“We plan increase loans to the agricultural sector from 12.25 percent of total loan value in 2010 to 15.25 percent. We plan to increase our [total] loans from US$744 million in 2010, to $1 billion this year,” he said.

He stated that the agricultural sector was a large sector which many commercial banks had not previously targeted, due to a lack of rural branches. The sector represented 43 percent of loan customers for ACLEDA in 2010.

Rival banks, however, are looking towards agricultural development as a growth market. Dieter Billmeier, vice president of Canadia Bank, saw his bank’s total loans rise by 30 percent year-on-year in 2010, led by the agricultural sector.

“Agricultural growth is very strong and will continue at a high level for the next few years. Rice milling facilities and food processing facilities will be factors in loan demand in years to come,” he said.

ANZ Bank also highlighted agri-business as a main target for 2011. “Our focus sectors this year include agri-business, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade. We are also very interested in infrastructure.” said Stephen Higgins, chief executive officer of ANZ Royal Bank.

General manager of Foreign Trade Bank Gui Anvanith described agriculture as “the machine of our economy” that would push growth in other sectors.

ANZ, ACLEDA and FTB all ruled out real estate loans as a target sector for 2011.

Last year, FTB, Canadia, and Vietnam’s BIDC banks signed an agreement with the state-led Rural Development Bank for a $23 million loan package to be disbursed to the agricultural sector.

The government has doubled funds for agricultural loans made through RDB from $18 million in 2010 to $36 million this year. It is also preparing a $25-million fund to guarantee 50 percent of credit offered to the rice industry by commercial banks.

End to Bangkok Air’s monopoly is welcome


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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:00 Steve Finch

IT was the only airline to fly from Bangkok to Phnom Penh in the early nineties, the sole carrier to do so on the same route during the factional political infighting of July 1997, and briefly also had a monopoly between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Now the last remaining Bangkok Airways monopoly in Cambodia on the lucrative Bangkok-Siem Reap route looks to be under threat.

Further confirmation this week that Cambodia Angkor Air is to join Bangkok Airways in flying between Southeast Asia’s main air hub – Bangkok – and one of the region’s premier tourist attractions – Siem Reap – represents good news for the industry.

But if the Kingdom is to maximise competitiveness among airlines and bring in more tourists it could open up the country’s airspace further.

Members of the domestic tourism industry have complained for years about the Bangkok Airways monopoly between Bangkok and Siem Reap, so addressing this problem by bringing in CAA this year should help alleviate concerns over high ticket prices and limited capacity, to an extent.

But previous government indications – dating back to Hun Sen in 1997 and subsequently expressed to members of the tourism industry since – that only Bangkok Airways and a Cambodian carrier would be allowed to operate on this popular route means the government is simply not doing enough to fly people to the country’s star attraction.

What is the reason behind this apparently arbitrary decision? Economically it makes little sense when the likes of Air Asia and Thai Airways would almost certainly be keen to schedule flights on this route.

The addition of CAA will further fuel concerns that the new national flag carrier is only interested in positioning itself on routes that do everything to boost its own standing but little to help Cambodia’s travel industry, which is surely the main aim of a national airline.

CAA has already monopolised the Kingdom’s only domestic air route between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh after Bangkok Airways’ licence was not extended in 2009, resulting in a decline in internal air traffic of around 10 percent from January to October 2010, compared to the same period of 2009.

In failing to establish flights to the newly renovated airport in Sihanoukville, CAA has again failed to serve the wider interests of the domestic travel industry. And while this latest move by the new national career to fly from Siem Reap to Bangkok is good news, it further reinforces suspicions that CAA is only interested in cherry picking the best routes and defending its position with arbitrarily designed market restrictions by the government, reportedly the airline’s joint-venture partner with Vietnam Airlines.

The end of Bangkok Airways’ last remaining monopoly in Cambodia is most certainly welcome, but only as long as the government isn’t simply replacing one monopoly with another.

Conserving AngkorConserving Angkor


This is one of the many reasons why tourists from all over the world flock to Siem Reap province. The magnificent Angkor Wat is captured in a reflective sunrise moment

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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:01 Post Staff

The majestic sunrise over the towers of Angkor Wat is the quintessential image of Cambodia. Captured by thousands of amateur photographers each year, it is the bedrock upon which the country’s tourism industry is founded.

Last year more than 1.1 million international tourists bought tickets to enter the Angkor Archaeological Park, a 25-percent rise on the preceding year. As more tourists visit the temples, the strain on the ancient structures intensifies.

The World Monuments Fund is fighting to conserve the Angkor compound. The New York-based organisation has been working in Cambodia since 1991 and has three sites within the park, including a project to conserve the roof of the gallery that houses the bas-relief depicting the Churning of the Sea of Milk.

“Water is seeping through into the wall and touching the bas-relief – that’s why we want to repair the roof,” says Cheam Phally, the senior architect for WMF. The project is due to finish in the middle of 2011 and is painstaking work.

The team of stonemasons has a small worksite in one corner of Angkor Wat’s compound.

Here all of the 700 blocks being conserved are numbered and their condition recorded. Once all the soil is removed and the stonework repaired, the condition is once more recorded before the block is put back into place. Carvings are left untouched.

Where necessary new blocks are cut to replace previous stonework that has either disappeared or is beyond repair.

Cheam Phally explains how previous conservation work involved replacing the stone blocks with concrete. This affected the natural drainage systems of the blocks, placing the world famous bas-relief at risk.

However, it is neither the weather nor the relentless stream of tourists that poses the greatest threat to the temples, according to Cheam Phally.

“The impact of tourists on the temples is small, but the environment outside is not yet good,” she says. “There is more damage from the cars, tuk tuks and buses than from the tourists.”

This is something the Apsara Authority also recognises.

Responsible for preserving the heritage of Angkor, Apsara Authority coordinates the conservation works funded by various governments taking place around the archaeological park. It is also working to determine responsible tourism solutions so everyone can enjoy the temple in the future.

“We have battery cars to take visitors around the temples,” says Chrun Sophal, AA’s director of the department of communications.

“If all the tourists come together at one site it can be dangerous, but we are trying to separate them,” he says.

Chrun Sophal cites various spots that AA has identified for watching the sunset, thus reducing the pressure placed on the traditional sunset- watching spot on Phnom Bakheng.

Watching the stream of tourists flocking down Phnom Bakheng just after the sun has set, it is hard to see what positive effect this measure has had. Many in the tourism industry feel that more radical measures are needed, such as the enforcement of no walking and climbing zones throughout the temples.

Although there are signs indicating where tourists are not allowed to walk, these are largely ignored.

“Some people climb without thinking and touch the stones,” says Cheam Phally. “Sometimes they follow the walkways we prepare, but sometimes they just walk where they want.”

With tourism in Angkor back on the rise, the pressure on Cambodia’s most cherished treasure seems set to increase. Cheam Phally and her team of stonemasons look set to be kept busy for many years to come.

Two faces of Angkor


Chumm Voeung carves a water buffalo’s head out of wood in Rohal village, near Ta Prohm

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Friday, 04 February 2011 15:01 Post Staff

While the Bayon’s enigmatic smile might be the face of Cambodia, the people working within the Angkor Archaeological Park are its heartbeat. Despite the substantial revenue generated by tourism, many of these are struggling to make daily ends meet.

One kilometre from the temple of Ta Prohm, a dirt track leads to the tiny village of Rohal.

Chhum Voeung, 30, sits in a rough wooden shack carving a large block of wood with a chisel. It is destined to be a water buffalo’s head, sold to tourists. His brother Soeut, 35, works next to him.

Soeut has two completed miniature wooden Khmer houses placed in front of him. Part of an order for 10 houses, Soeut fears he will only be able to make five houses in time, as his work is too slow.

The brothers still use hand tools to carve the wood because electricity is expensive in their village. It is almost twice that charged in the town of Siem Reap, they claim.

Part of a small cooperative that includes two women, Key Ky and Pov Leang (both 31), they share communal tools, but work separately, selling their craftwork to the traders who work around the various temples of Angkor.

Key Ky has been carving wood for seven years now.

She makes light of the physical nature of the work. “It is not really difficult,” she says. Voeung agrees that the work is not tough, though he fears for the future.

“The increased price of wood and difficulty in finding it is making things hard,” he says. He hopes to find some work outside of the village, possibly as a stonemason, working on one of the conservation projects carried out at the temples.

Further into the archaeological park and close to the temple of Banteay Srey a woman sits with her young son outside her wooden home feeding caterpillars.

Un Hon was one of many women who eke out a precarious living selling goods roadside in Angkor. She is still paying back the US$800 she borrowed from a micro-finance institution to get started. Two years ago she started farming caterpillars for the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre in the tiny village of Sanday.

Farmers are provided with a small collection box. They harvest butterfly pupae which are then sold back to the centre.

“One of the good things is the work happens at home,” says Om Srey Vat, 26, the centre’s manager. Most of the 18 farmers employed by BBC in six villages around Angkor are women.

“They can work around their family duties while their husbands go out and get another job.”

Un Hon estimates she makes about $100 each month from harvesting the pupa.

Her four children help her while her husband does occasional jobs around the surrounding villages.

“My family is in a different situation because we have an income, but the difference is not great,” she says.

With between 1,000 and 2,000 butterflies native to Cambodia, the centre was opened to the public a year ago.

Revenue raised from the 25 or so visitors who come to the centre each day helps to fund the social enterprise.

Om Srey Vat hopes to expand the programme to include pupa exports overseas.

Puppets work on so many levels


Jig Cochrane, Stuart Cochlin and Bina Hanley show off puppets

via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:00 Post Staff

ONE day each year the streets of Siem Reap are thrown open to the city’s children, as they walk tall with their even taller puppets. The brainchild of Stuart Cochlin, Jig Cochrane and Sasha Constable five years ago, the Puppet Parade has now become an established fixture in the Siem Reap community calendar.

Last year thousands flocked in from surrounding villages to see the parade, says Bina Hanley, sales and marketing officer for the Puppet Parade. “We collected just over US$1,000 in the buckets during the parade alone mainly in 100 and 500 riel notes,” she says.

The project involves 12 NGOs working with children around Cambodia’s main tourism town. Sometimes the NGOs create their own puppets, at other times they work with another organisation to create one.

Each year artistic director Jig Cochrane flies in from the United Kingdom to coordinate the three-week project. Cochrane has 20 years’ experience of organising community carnivals around the globe.

In the first week he develops some creative ideas with six student artists from Ponleu Selpak Circus in Battambang and local artists from Siem Reap.

The following week the children are let loose on their puppets. It takes about two days to create a puppet, the longest of which is a 15-metre-long Naga, or serpent. In the final week the team makes the frames for the puppets and rigs up the lighting.

All the children who join in the workshops leave with a sense of achievement.

“You don’t have to be an artist to make an incredible puppet and feel very proud of it,” says Cochrane.

“Lots of these kids have come off the street.

“This is their time to shine in the town, to walk through the town to the applause of the town.”

The parade also has an educational aim. Each year an expert talks to the children about the animals they are creating. Often these are endangered. In previous years a tiger and an Irawaddy dolphin were created. This year it is the turn of the giant ibis.

Other educational components involve health lessons. Road safety puppets have encouraged the use of motorbike helmets and the “toothbrush man” helped promote dental hygiene.

Cochrane believes the parade is helping to “reintroduce art forms into the country” that were lost during the Khmer Rouge period.

Off-road adventure tours by buggy


The view from the front seat of the buggy – before we went off-road. Photo by: CRAIG MILES

via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:00 Craig Miles

I had not driven a manual car in over a year, so I was a little nervous as I walked into the Flomo Adventure Tours office near Old Market in Siem Reap, ready to go on one of their off-road buggy adventures.

In the end it turned out to be the experience of a lifetime – despite my face being covered in a layer of orange dirt as I exited my chariot.

Flomo Adventure Tours was established in November 2010 by Carol Poquet. She originally came to Cambodia to run a guesthouse, but instead recognised an opportunity to start adventure tours as nothing like it existed in Siem Reap at the time.

First up, Poquet purchased two 650cc Kinroad off-road buggies from China. They each have water-cooled engines to ensure they survive all conditions, and a maximum speed of 85 km/h. The tours are led by a guide, but the customer drives the buggy.

Driving out of Siem Reap town was the scariest part of the trip. I had not driven in Cambodia at all since arriving over two months ago, and never dared think of myself at the wheel. Driving here is different, to say the least, compared to driving back home in Australia. I like to think that’s why I managed to stall my buggy three times in quick succession.

Like any manual car, though, once I got the hang of it the rest was plain sailing.

One of the best features of the buggy was that it could pick up easily in third gear, rather than having to shift to second or first when dropping speed; convenient when bouncing over bumps on the dirt tracks.

The trip I chose is one of the most popular, according to Poquet. It lasted for about two hours and my tour guide Dan Sayer, also the manager of Flomo Adventure Tours, was in front of me on a dirt bike during the whole trip, so I always felt safe.

He gave signals when needed – a raised closed fist to stop; a raised open hand if we needed to be careful; and pointing if there was something specific to look out for, such as a pothole or wild animal.

From Siem Reap town we went through West Baray, eventually stopping at Baray Lake for a rest.

We then drove around the lake while children ran out from their homes to catch a glimpse of the buggy and wave manically at us.

The next stop was at the Siem Reap Silk Farm for a free tour, then on past the rice fields and back into Siem Reap.

The trip was certainly a memorable adventure as well as a chance to see parts of Siem Reap not normally sought out. Some sections of the tracks were quite bumpy, but that only added to the fun, and there were a few small water holes along the way too, which caused muddy splashes when driven through. Bring a change of clothes, just in case.

There are numerous other options for tours and the crew at Flomo Adventure Tours are discovering new routes all the time. Poquet said the team discovered a new route to Bakong Temple just last week.

Among the options is a one-hour sunset tour, a half-day tour including a boat trip and visit to the floating village, and a full-day tour where trips can go to the waterfalls and the temple at the Khulen mountain, a jungle temple at Beng Mealea, or the waterfall temple at Kbal Spean.

Prices range from $20 to $190, depending on the package and how many people sign on. There are two buggies, so up to four people can go on a tour at once.

To drive, customers must have a valid driver’s license and be over the age of 16, but children aged seven and over can ride as passengers.

More information and bookings, visit http://www.flomoadventuretours.com/  or telephone 063 964 586.

Hope starts to bloom for rice farmer


Rice takes a back seat as Uch Panha picks lotuses in her field alongside the road from Siem Reap to Tonle Sap Lake.

via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:00 Post Staff

AS we pull up on the roadside between Siem Reap town and the Tonle Sap Lake, Uch Panha, 28, is selling lotus plants to a Korean tourist. She hands across two bunches, receiving a dollar.

Like many in Cambodia’s second-poorest province, Panha used to depend on rice farming to support her family. Two years ago, she borrowed US$1,500 from her mother in order to lease five hectares of land to grow lotus plants.

Before she borrowed the money from her mother, life was very difficult for her.

“When I grew rice, we didn’t have enough money to live,” she says. “Now I grow lotus I have money to buy something every day.”

Uch Panha makes up to $25 per day from the many tourists who break their journey here. While we talk, several couples stop their bikes to take their photograph surrounded by the flowers. Some leave a small tip.

The lotus has a six-month growing season between November and April, during which Uch Panha can grow two crops. Outside of these months she reverts to rice farming.

Lotus farming might not have changed the lives of Panha and her three children, but at least things are easier than before.

“I have more money to support my children going to school,” she says. Uch Panha plans to lease a further five hectares of land for the next growing season.

Man about town


via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:00 Peter Olszewski

$15,000 Valentine’s package
Travel and Leisure magazine is spruiking Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor’s Enchanting Escape Valentine’s Package which comes in at a mere $15,670 for three nights. This works out at $5223 a night – cheap at half the price, as they say.

For the 15 grand plus, guests get three nights’ accommodation in a private villa with butler service; a 30-minute balloon ride over the temples of Angkor Wat with champagne and canapés; a private guided sightseeing trip in a 1950s Jeep; a champagne breakfast for two in a jungle temple; a “nearly four-hour” Amrita Grand Indulgence couple spa treatment; private roundtrip airport transfers; Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose champagne and fresh fruit on arrival; and a candlelit dinner for two served poolside with a bottle of Chateau Petrus 1988. Plus, women get a gift of an Eric Raisina dress with custom fitting, and men receive a Panama hat.

Siem Reap on new cruise circuit
Award-winning river cruise operator AmaWaterways is launching a new state-of-the-art vessel this year on the company’s seven-night Mekong River cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City.

The good ship MS AmaLotus will leave Siem Reap on September 13, with prices starting at $1920 per person according to the company’s website.

The AmaLotus is a “brand-new” vessel and, according to the press release, its décor “will combine colonial elegance with local artifacts and regional Mekong touches”.

The cruise boat features all-outside accommodations and deluxe 226 square feet staterooms “with all the amenities of a fine hotel”. Almost all the staterooms have a private outside balcony.

A 15-night land-cruise itinerary is also available. This package is priced from $3920 per person and features two nights in Hanoi, an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay, three nights in Siem Reap, the seven-night Mekong cruise, and a two-night stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

Gym chain ‘eyeing’ Siem Reap
Thai newspaper The Nation reported this week that “Clark Hatch, a professional gym and fitness centre chain, is eyeing Siem Reap in Cambodia as a target for expansion. The company already operates one centre in Phnom Penh”.

But John Sheppard, a senior partner at Clark Hatch, informed me by email that: “We have no firm plans as yet but see potential in these provincial towns and cities as Phnom Penh is pretty well served with fitness centres now. I’ll keep you informed if there is a development.”

Best Western comes East
It seems an odd coupling, but the world’s largest hotel chain, the Arizona-based Best Western has “signed on” Siem Reap’s oddly named boutique hotel, Suites and Sweet Resort Angkor.

The “rebranding” will take place some time soon, but the hotel’s marketing manager Joni is not quite sure exactly when, or exactly what the “rebranded” hotel will be called.

The hotel’s general manager is the non-English speaking Didier Foliguet, a former chef who has also worked on cruise boats.

The Suites and Sweet Resort opened in July 2009 and drew much attention through its architecture, designed to resemble a floating Cambodian village. Siem Reap architect Alain Hely drew up the plans, and the design work for the furniture and decor was rendered Khmer-style by Theam Leam.

The boutique hotel, with 18 poolside suites, is the brainchild of its founder, 53-year-old Christian Izard, a former human resources honcho who, in 1988, won Le Figaro and TMP/Hudson’s HR Manager of the Year award. Izard arrived in Cambodia intent on starting a “second life” in a new field.

Shadows creeping


via CAAI

Friday, 04 February 2011 15:02 Sovan Philong

Herm Sreypich, a 12-year-old student in grade 6 at Srah Chak School, walks past the outer wall of the French Embassy on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Witnesses to history: NIU professors recall day first Khmer Rouge verdict handed down

The public gallery at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is crowded with onlookers July 26, 2010, when the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal handed down its first guilty verdict against a senior Khmer Rouge figure. NIU faculty members Kenton Clymer (history) and Judy Ledgerwood (anthropology) were there. (Courtesy of Reuters)


via CAAI

NIU professors and Cambodia specialists Kenton Clymer (history) and Judy Ledgerwood (anthropology) were at the proceedings last July in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, when the first verdict against a senior Khmer Rouge leader was handed down by an United Nations-backed international war crimes tribunal currently underway in that country.

Clymer and Ledgerwood will discuss the verdict against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies’ weekly lunchtime lecture from noon to 12:50 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, in Room 110 in the Campus Life Building.

As director of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison during the 1975–79 Khmer Rouge regime, Duch was responsible for the deaths and torture of more than 14,000 Cambodians imprisoned there. His guilty verdict and 35-year sentence marked the first verdict by an internationally recognized court against the Khmer Rouge, who are estimated to have caused the deaths of more than 1.7 million Cambodians during their brutal regime.

Clymer and Ledgerwood, who were in Cambodia on separate projects over the summer, were seated in the public gallery at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia directly in front of Vann Nath, a famous painter and one of the dozen or so survivors of Tuol Sleng.

“It took an hour to read the verdict. It was very long and very complicated,” Ledgerwood said.

During the reading, there was emotional reaction in the crowd when the names of the victims were read and when the 35-year sentence was handed down, then reduced by five years because of Duch’s illegal incarceration by the Cambodian Military Court from 1999 t0 2007. With credit given for time already served, the 69-year-old Duch will serve 19 more years in prison.

“Many Cambodians were very upset that the sentence seemed short,” Ledgerwood said. “I felt it was OK because, given his age, it means he is likely to die in prison.”

Cambodia does not have the death penalty.

Duch was successfully prosecuted, Ledgerwood said, because authorities had the cooperation of the former math teacher. “Duch is the only one [of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders] who has said that ‘I did this, it was wrong, and I’m sorry,’ ” she said. “[Khmer Rouge leader] Pol Pot went to his grave saying he’d done nothing wrong.”

Ledgerwood and Clymer went to the court proceedings with Cambodian villagers to witness the verdict. These villagers were brought to Phnom Penh by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, a nonprofit group originally affiliated with Yale University’s Cambodia genocide research program. Four surviving and now elderly Khmer Rouge leaders are still awaiting trial, expected to begin later this year.

High School Happenings

http://www.scarsdale10583.com/

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 February 2011
Nicole Chi

Schools Helping Schools Fundraiser Features the Story of a Survivor Marshall Kim: Scarsdale parent Marshall Kim, who is a survivor from the Cambodian genocide will be telling his story on Friday February 4 at 7:00 pm in the Scarsdale High School Little Theater. The event is hosted by the student organization Schools Helping Schools, and will feature musical performances in addition to Kim’s riveting story of his experience living through one of the worst human tragedies of the twentieth century. There will be a question and answer session afterwards.

Tickets for admission may be purchased at the door, and cost $5 for students and $10 for adults. Free drinks will be provided, and baked goods will also be sold at the event. All proceeds will go towards sustainable farming efforts and a new literacy program at the Children’s Development Village in Cambodia, which houses about orphans and children from unstable families

During the Cambodian genocide driven by Pol Pot and the radical communist Khmer Rouge regime, approximately 1.7 million people were killed. Genocide should never be forgotten, so come hear a story that you will remember forever and help give children the opportunity for a brighter future.

Attention Aspiring Writers: Scarsdale10583 is now accepting student submissions of poetry and prose. Each week, one or more pieces written by students from the elementary, middle, or high school will be selected to be featured on Scarsdale10583.com.

Poems, short stories, and other forms of creative writing will all be considered. Please submit your best pieces for the chance for your work to be read by a large audience! Each piece of writing must not exceed two pages single-spaced.

Please send submissions and a short bio of the writer to Scarsdalecomments@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Job and Internship Fair at the Scarsdale Teen Center: The job fair is open to the Scarsdale High School students only and free of charge for companies. If you would like to have a representative of your company attend please click here to register.

You will have the chance to promote your organization and any opportunities -- internships, full-time, part-time or temp work to our diverse, and talented students seeking opportunities that begin this summer or fall.

Date: Saturday, March 5, 2011
Time: 2-4pm
Address:
Scarsdale Teen Center
862 Scarsdale Avenue
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Time for cool heads and common sense


via CAAI

Published: 3/02/2011
The PAD's latest demand on the government shows the group's increasing unreasonableness. In order to deal effectively with the Cambodian government on the fate of its two colleagues and other pending issues, the group, the government and the people in general must speak in single voice and move in the same direction - from a position of strength and in peaceful manner

Anyone with a modicum of wisdom realises that the demand of the People’s Alliance for Democracy - that the Abhisit government must secure the release of the two convicted Thais held in a Cambodian jail by Saturday is both impracticable and unreasonable.

And the PAD leaders must realise it too, yet they still made the demand anyway. Not only that, they also threatened to take tougher action against the government, without being specific, if the demand was not met within the Feb 5 deadline.

Then, what is in the minds of the PAD leaders? Do they really want their two colleagues to be released in three days? Or they have another, hidden agenda?

What options does the government have up its sleeve to force the Cambodian government, or, to be more specific, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen since he is the only one who has the real say in Cambodia, to release the two Thais, Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon?

Flexing more Thai military muscle at the Thai-Cambodian border, or sending an F16 jetfighter into Cambodian airspace as earlier suggested by Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a co-leader of the PAD? Sending more Thai troops and all the big guns to the border as a show of force, in addition to the reinforcements already deployed there? Or using force to flush out Cambodian soldiers and civilians allegedly encroaching on territory claimed by Thailand, as demanded by the PAD?

None of these confrontational options will be accepted by the government, as they would only worsen the already tense situation and, worse, pose a risk of armed conflict - which would benefit either country.

A sensible approach to the problem is to lodge an appeal against the verdict, but the process will take time. A royal pardon could also be sought for the two. But none of this is possible within the three-day deadline and can only be done through negotiations.

The government’s decision to send Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to Phnom Penh for talks is an approach in the right direction. The two sides need to talk, to sort out their differences on the border, including the 4.6 square kilometres surrounding the old Preah Vihear temple which is at the centre of the dispute, and the fate of the two Thais.

The flexing of military might is totally unnecessary and would only tend to escalate the tension.

The ongoing PAD rally to put pressure on the Abhisit government will not help improve the situation. Nor will the nationalist card being played by the group succeed in attracting more support for its cause.

The fact is that many of its former supporters have now distanced themselves from the group, not because they are Democrat supporters but rather because they have lost confidence and trust in movement due to the misguided objectives of its leaders.

And the nationalist card is one of the misguided objectives.

Hence, it should not be surprising that the mass protest expected by the PAD last weekend did not materialise. It is doubtful that any mass PAD protest will happen after the expiration of the three-day deadline.

But numbers may not matter as much as the spirit of its supporters. What tougher action do the PAD leaders have in mind to to put more pressure on the government after the deadline lapses? I only hope and pray that common sense prevails among the PAD leaders and that they will not become so desperate that they repeat their past serious mistakes - which included the occupation of Government House and Suvarnabhumi and Don Muieang airports.

The PAD rally has, so far, been peaceful, although its closure of parts of Ratchadamnoen Avenue has caused inconvenience to a lot of people. Hopefully, it will remain so.

But for the benefit of all concerned, it is better than the PAD and its ally, the Thai Patriots Network, call off this rally and join hands with the government as a unified force to put pressure on Cambodia, to bring it to the negotiating table where they can settle their differences.

Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia

http://www.associatedcontent.com/

via CAAI

Ruth Paget, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Feb 3, 2011

The National Gallery of Art's online tour of Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia: Millennium of Glory uses interactive web software to create an exhibit that shares the history, culture, and religious iconography of the Khmer civilization through text, video, and audio files. The majority of the artwork in the exhibit comes from the National Museum of Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet (Paris).

Each major era of Khmer art has a hyperlink to a page with two or three short paragraphs describing the era, a QuickTime video link that allows you to move around the exhibit and click on artwork for its description, and RealPlayer audio links for selected artwork that gives supplementary information about the work and its place in Khmer civilization. The text, audio, and video elements of the exhibit bring different information together to create an appealing new kind of museum experience for the online visitor.

The exhibit introduction page describes the conditions that set the stage for the rise of Khmer power and its monumental art complexes and sculpture between the sixth and sixteenth centuries C.E. Most importantly, the Mekong River system provided the transportation network allowing for commerce to generate building funds. Secondly, trade routes between China and the Middle East brought traders and travelers, who introduced Khmer society to Hinduism and Buddhism.

In the early Khmer period and up to the twelfth century, the Khmer rulers adopted Hinduism as their religion while allowing Buddhism and its art to coexist with Hinduism. The Pre-Angkor Period section of the exhibit provides a succinct description of the central tenets of Hinduism and names the principal Hindu deities that figure in much of Angkor's art:

Brahma (the creator)

Shiva (the destroyer)

Vishnu (the preserver)

Khmer rulers identified themselves with either Shiva or Vishnu until Buddhism became the state religion.

If you click on the photo of Vishnu from the Pre-Angkor Period page, you can see the swaying hips, broad shoulders, and fleshy, naturalistic modeling of the body that distinguishes the art of this early period. Buddhist art from the Pre-Angkor period also manifests the naturalistic forms seen in Hindu sculpture until the eighth century C.E. when Khmer art becomes more formal and distant, commanding respect on the part of the viewer.

The Pre-Angkor Sculpture page provides easy-to-understand explanations regarding:

• The central tenets of Buddhism

• Why and how Prince Siddharta became Buddha

• What Bhodisattvas are and what they do

Buddhism's day as the state religion of the Khmer civilization would come in the late 12th century.

The monarchy that would make Angkor famous began in 8092 C.E. when Jayavarman II unified Cambodia. (Varman, as one of the audio segments points out, means "protector" and figures in the name of all the Angkor monarchs.) However, it was Indravarman (r.877-886) who began the building program that would make Angkor and its environs famous. Indravarman commissioned the first "temple-mountain" built, which was called Bakong. Bakong and later temple-mountains symbolized Mount Meru, the Hindu home of the Gods. Indravarman also commissioned the building of a reservoir that provided water to the temple moats as well as for agricultural needs during the dry season; the Angkor complex served spiritual as well temporal needs.

A statue of Vishnu from Jayavarman II's reign that you can select from the photo reflects the values of the new ruler: Vishnu stands in a rigid pose signaling the new distance between rulers and ruled. The symbols justifying this distance are portrayed with Vishnu: the staff, globe, disk, and conch shell. The audio description which accompanies the sculpture details what each symbol means, but the important element to retain is that the rulers were the earthly embodiments of the deities, commanding obeisance.

Indravarman's son Yasovarman (r.899-early 10th century C.E.) commissioned the first reservoir and temple-mountain complex called Bakheng at the actual site of Angkor and continued the monumental, regal, and austere style of his father. The exhibit continues to provide historical information on the Tenth Century and the Art of Koh Ker and Banteay Srei as well as the Eleventh Century Art of the Kheleang and Baphuon.

In the early twelfth century C.E., Vishnu became all important as a deity during the reign of Suryavarman II (r.1113-at least 1145) when the monarch chose this deity to represent him. The bronze torso and head fragment of Vishnu from what was once a monumental sculpture must be one of the treasures displayed in this online tour. This sculpture originally showed a sleeping Vishnu (the preserver) on the back of the serpent of eternity with water flowing out of Vishnu's navel. When Vishnu wakes from his sleep a golden lotus bearing Brahma (the creator) will emerge from his navel.

This identification of the Khmer rulers with deities made the rulers omnipotent. Even the Buddhist sculpture of the 12th century C.E. shows Buddha asking with a crown, earrings and distended earlobes, and jeweled belt. While the exhibit describes this kingly aspect of Buddha as the "later Khmer conception of Buddha as King," there is a historical basis for this representation. Prince Siddharta (who later became Buddha) was born into the Ksatriya caste in the Hindu religion. The Ksatriyas form the princely and warrior caste of Hinduism. As part of this caste, it would be expected for Siddharta to wear jewels and a crown. Once he renounced his princely birth, he set upon the path to becoming enlightened as Buddha.

Buddhism would find its place as state religion in the Khmer Empire when Angkor reached its zenith under Jayavarman VII (r.1181-1218). Jayavarman VII extended the Khmer Empire by conquering the Chams of central Vietnam and extracting tribute money from most of Thailand and Laos.

The audio recording that describes the photo of the sculpture of the head of Jayavarman VII records the devout Buddhist as saying, "The suffering of the people is the pain of Kings." The sculpture of Jayavarman VII's head depicts as sharing Buddha's characteristics - the long distended earlobes caused by wearing heavy earrings as a price in his youth and eyes closed to the "Illusion of earthly things" as the audio informs online visitors. The Buddhist Bayon Temple built in the center of Angkor Thom is his contribution to Angkor.

The Cambodian capitol moved to Phnom Penh in 1431 when the Thai Kingdom captured Angkor. After this period, wood sculptures predominated alluded to for several reasons in the exhibit text. If you click on the photo of the wooden Worshipper sculpture from the Post-Angkor Section of the online tour, you will discover its description as a Theravada Buddhist work, focusing on spiritual humility rather than metaphysical speculation. Theravada remains the predominant form of Buddhism in Cambodia to this day.

If you have never participated in an online tour of an exhibit, Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia: Millennium of Glory will impress you with its content and composition. The direct link to the exhibit follows: