Wednesday, 9 February 2011

S'pore urges Thailand, Cambodia to bear in mind ASEAN's reputation

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By S Ramesh
Posted: 09 February 2011

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Foreign Ministry said it is encouraged by the recent visits made by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to Bangkok and Phnom Penh aimed at facilitating bilateral negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia.

The ministry said it supports the ASEAN Chair's continued engagement to help bring about a peaceful resolution to the border dispute.

Singapore has also urged all relevant parties to act with restraint and bear in mind the interest and reputation of ASEAN.

No cancellation of Thai trade exhibition in Cambodia despite border dispute: Thai official

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English.news.cn
2011-02-09

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Thai's plan to hold the annual Thailand Trade Fair 2011 in Phnom Penh of Cambodia from next week will continue despite several times of military clashes between the two countries over the border disputed areas near the 11th century temple in recent weeks, said a Thai trade chief to Cambodia on Wednesday.

"No any cancellation to the plan--it's still on schedule on Feb. 17-20 at the Diamond Island's convention hall in Phnom Penh," Jiranan Wongmongkol, director of the Thai embassy's Foreign Trade Promotion Office in Phnom Penh, told Xinhua.

She said that the exhibition, in cooperation with Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, will be participated by about 150 Thai companies and about 25 Cambodian companies.

"Our Thai business people believed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's remark on Monday that the two countries' border dispute will not spread to cooperation in other fields,"she said.

On Monday, Hun Sen announced that Cambodia still continue cooperation with Thailand on all fields ranging from trades, cultures, tourism, economics and so on.

"We don't let the dispute at the area of about 10 km along the border near Preah Vihear Temple become as the dispute throughout the border of 800 km between the two countries,"said the prime minister.

Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict just a week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

The conflict is due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Cambodian girl dies from bird flu: WHO

http://health.asiaone.com/

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Wed, Feb 09, 2011
AFP

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - A five-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday, in the first reported fatality from the virus since early last year.

The girl fell ill in the capital Phnom Penh on January 30 and was taken to hospital with symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath, a joint statement from Cambodia and the UN's public health arm said. She died on February 4.

"Despite intensive medical care, the girl died 12 hours after admission from complications," it said.

The child is the 11th person in the country to become infected with the H5N1 virus and ninth to die since 2003.

Cambodia said it was working to identify her close contacts and "to initiate preventive treatment as required".

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng urged people with respiratory infections who had been in "contact with dead or sick poultry to promptly seek medical attention".

According to the statement, the H5N1 avian influenza strain has killed more than 300 people worldwide since 2003.

Thailand, Cambodia face diplomatic pressure to end dispute

Thai soldiers march during a visit by Thai Defence Minister General Pravit Wongsuwan at a paramilitary camp in Sri Sak Ket province, Feb. 9, 2011. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

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09 Feb 2011 05:36
Source: reuters

* At least 11 people dead, 85 wounded; thousands evacuated

* Two sides may meet in New York next week

* Ceasefire holds for second day

By Prak Chan Thul

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Thailand and Cambodia faced growing diplomatic pressure on Wednesday to end an armed standoff on a stretch of border surrounding a 900-year-old clifftop temple as guns held silent for a second day.

Reuters witnesses said about 20 Thai tanks were sent to a military camp in Kantaralak district in Thailand's Sri Sa Ket province close to the disputed border, but Thai army officials said they were not reinforcing troops in the area.

Thailand and Cambodia blame each other for provoking intense exchanges of fire that killed at least three Thais and eight Cambodians since Friday. At least 34 Thais and 55 Cambodians were wounded, according to official statements from both sides.

Diplomats at the U.N. Security Council said it was possible the 15-nation body would discuss the issue next week after Washington, China and Southeast Asia's ASEAN regional grouping issued statements urging both sides to show restraint.

Bilateral talks could take place in New York, possibly on Monday when Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is to brief the Security Council, said his spokesman, Thani Thongpakdi. His Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, is also due in New York.

"There is a possibility that the two will meet on the sidelines," said Thani, adding that this year's Association of South East Asian Nations chair, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, will also be in New York.

Thailand and Cambodia are both members of ASEAN, which plans to form a European-style single market by 2015 and has urged bilateral talks to end the fiercest fighting on the disputed border since the early 1990s, when Cambodia's Khmer Rouge forces operated in the area.

At the border, Thai and Cambodian soldiers held fire for a second day after a clash on Friday set off four days of fighting in the 4.6-square-km (2-square-mile) contested area around the Preah Vihear temple claimed by the Southeast Asian neighbors.

"The situation remains calm but what happens next depends on the Thai troops," Chea Dara, deputy commander of the Cambodian army, told Reuters.

MORE THAI TANKS

Cambodian troops continued to dig trenches around the temple.

Three Cambodian soldiers interviewed by Reuters on Wednesday said the number of Cambodians killed is likely higher than the government has indicated. They declined to be identified by name because they were not authorised to comment.

"There are many more deaths and injuries. People would be shocked," said one of the soldiers, adding that his deputy commander was killed in a clash on Sunday when a Thai shell hit the area near their unit.

Their statements could not be immediately confirmed by the Cambodian government.

In Cambodia's northern frontier areas, schools and temples have been turned into makeshift refugee centers.

Reasons behind the fighting remain unclear. Some analysts say hawkish Thai generals and nationalist allies may be trying to topple Thailand's government or create a pretext to stage another coup and cancel elections expected this year.

Others say it may be a breakdown in communication channels at a time of strained relations over Cambodia's flying of a national flag in the disputed area and laying of a stone tablet inscribed with "This is Cambodia."

The temple, known as Preah Vihear, or "Mountain of the Sacred Temple", in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, sits on a triangular plateau that forms a natural border.

Both sides have been locked in a standoff since July 2008, when Preah Vihear was granted UNESCO World Heritage status, which Thailand opposed on grounds that territory around the temple had never been demarcated.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 awarded the temple to Cambodia, which uses a century-old French map as the basis for its territorial claims, but the ruling failed to determine ownership of the scrub next to it. (Additional reporting by Prapan Chankaew in Ban Sangam, Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok and Damir Sagolj in Preah Vihear; Writing by Jason Szep; editing by Andrew Marshall)

Thailand to explain border conflict with Cambodia to UN

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

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Feb 9, 2011

Bangkok - Thailand is to send its foreign minister to the UN Security Council in New York next week to give its version of a border conflict with Cambodia, officials said Wednesday.

Kasit Piromya is to attend a council meeting on the conflict over disputed land near the 11th-century Preah Vihear border temple, which erupted into open fighting last week, leaving three Thais and five Cambodians dead.

'We're taking it as a good opportunity to inform the Security Council what transpired,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said.

The foreign ministers of Cambodia and Indonesia were also expected to attend the meeting, which has been called by council president Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, sources said.

Marty Natalegawa - the foreign minister of Indonesia, which now holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) - has stepped in to facilitate a bilateral solution between the two other ASEAN members.

'In the final analysis, the issue between Thailand and Cambodia must be addressed and can only be addressed bilaterally because this is a border issue that needs to be negotiated,' Natalegawa said Tuesday after visiting Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

Cambodia has sought Security Council involvement to speed up a solution to the dispute over the Hindu temple, which is perched on a cliff in the Dangrek mountain range that vaguely defines the border and has been a bone of contention for more than five decades.

In 1962, the International Court of Justice decided the temple belonged to Cambodia but failed to rule on a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land nearby that both countries claim.

Bangkok faulted UNESCO for exacerbating the sovereignty spat when it declared the temple a world heritage site in July 2008 despite Thai objections.

The decision prompted both sides to beef up their troops in the disputed area, about 450 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, leading to several skirmishes since.

Thailand insisted the dispute should be handled by the Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary, a body set up a decade ago to resolve border-demarcation issues.

This month's fighting has damaged the temple. A column at one building had been hit and was broken while the wing of another building had collapsed.

Cambodia has blamed the Thai military for shelling the temple and has requested that UNESCO send a team to assess the damage.

'I intend to send a mission to the area as soon as possible to assess the state of the temple,' UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said Tuesday in Paris, where the organization maintains its world headquarters.

Kasit leaving for NY Monday


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Published: 9/02/2011

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will fly to New York on Monday, Feb 14, for a meeting with Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong and Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesean foreign minister and chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the minister's secretary said on Wednesday.

Chavanont Intarakomalyasut said the three foreign ministers would then explain the Thai-Cambodian border conflict to the chairman of the United Nations Security Council.

It was expected the meeting would lead to a solution to the problem through bilateral mechanisms, he said.

Mr Natalegawa, in his capacity as Asean chairman, called on Mr Kasit in Bangkok on Tuesday after meeting Hor Namhong in Cambodia on Monday.

He said Asean would support the two countries in holding talks to solve their problems through bilateral mechanisms.

Rubber smuggling concern


Photo by: Jeremy MullIns
A girl taps a rubber tree on a plantation in Kampong Cham province’s Tbong Khmum district.

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Wednesday, 09 February 2011 15:01 Chun Sophal

Border smuggling has been blamed by the General Directorate of Rubber as the cause of a 15 percent drop in exports of the Cambodian crop last year.

The Ministry of Commerce reported yesterday that rubber exports fell last year to around 30,039 tonnes, down from 35,482 tonnes in 2009.

But Ly Phalla, director general of the General Directorate of Rubber, told The Post that the figure reported did not tally with his estimates. He believes that between 45,000 and 50,000 tonnes of the lucrative crop have been transported to international markets – based on the 39,000 hectares of rubber trees harvested in the Kingdom last year each producing about 1.2 tonnes per hectare.

“We think that falling rubber exports were due to cross-border smuggling, because there are some small border entrances at which there are no authorities stationed in order to record export figures,” he said.

The Directorate expects production to increase in 2011 as more trees mature, but warned that poor management and a higher tax rate could affect exports.

Ly Phalla highlighted the government’s new rubber export tax, ratified by Hun Sen in December.

The tax had previously sat at $50 per tonne, regardless as to the value of rubber, but the highest-value rubber is now taxed at $300 per tonne.

“In 2011 rubber exports could slow down, if the authorities do not strictly control the border entrances,” he said.

Kun Nhem, deputy director of the General Department of Customs and Excise, said yesterday the customs unit was strengthening management over exported goods, especially rubber.

He said that in order to implement this policy more effectively, the general department of custom and excise would ensure rubber exports are only made through the Trapaing Phlong border in Kampong Cham province to ease tax collection.

“We don’t know whether rubber is smuggled because recently we are strictly implementing our measures,” he said. One rubber producer, while supporting efforts to control rubber exports, also said that some yields had been lower than expected.

Deputy director of Sopheak Nika Investment Group, Men Sopheak, said that some younger rubber trees produced between 600 to 700 kilograms of rubber per hectare.

“I think the government should take action to effectively control rubber exports.

“Prevention of smuggling can help the rubber industry in the future,” he added.

The price of rubber on international markets has soared this year. Yesterday, the July-delivery contract gained as much as 2.1 percent to 501.3 yen a kilogram (US$6,090 a tonne) before trading at 499.3 yen on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange as of 11:57 a.m.

The physical price of natural rubber in Thailand extended gains to an all-time high of 185.80 baht (US$6.06) per kilogram on concern over supply shortages in Thailand and Malaysia.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BLOOMBERG

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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UN Welcomes ASEAN’s Role to Mediate Border Issues

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 08:04 DAP-NEWS/VIBOL

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, FEB 08, 2011-The UN has welcomed ASEAN’s role to help mediate the border issues between Cambodia and Thailand, leading the deadly armed clashes, a Cambodian official said on Tuesday.

“If ASEAN cannot help resolve the problem, the UN Security Council will be like to call on Friday or next Monday over the border issues,” Koy Kuong, spokesman for foreign ministry said.

Yesterday, Indonesia Foreign Minister met his Cambodian counterpart in Phnom Penh and today He will meet with His Thai counterpart to seek understanding about the recent armed clashed and situation at the border of the two countries.

Indonesian Foreign Minister told a press conference in Phnom Penh that ASEAN will create ASEAN Community in 2015 and we do not want to hear the gun fire. Indonesia this year is hosting the chairman of ASEAN.

Cambodia filed complaint with the UN Security Council about the Thai invasion near the 11th century Khmer Preah Vihear temple and PM Hun Sen yesterday asked the urgent intervention on the issues. He also appealed to The UN to call on an urgent meeting about Thai invasion.

Thai troops invade Cambodia on July 15. 2008. Thai forces want to take 4.6 square kilometers near the temple through unilateral map.

Dr. Sok Touch, scholar of political science of Royal Academy of Cambodia said that Bangkok administration must stop invading Cambodian territory. “Bangkok administration and Thai troops are similar to Hilter and German troops in the Second World War which invaded Poland. They used unilateral map to invade neighboring countries,Dr Sok Touch said. He also condemned the actions of Thai troop s which destroyed some parts of the Preah Vihear temple which has universal values.

______

 
Statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign



______


Cambodia Released a Thai Soldier

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 07:22 DAP-NEWS/VIBOL

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, FEB 08, 2011-Royal Cambodian Armed Forces on Tuesday released a Thai soldier who captured during the fighting at the border area on February 5 near the 900 -years old Khmer Preah Vihear temple.

The release was made at the Cambodian defense ministry at 10 AM today after the request from Thai side, the official of ministry said, adding that the ministry told the foreign military attaches to Cambodia in a ceremony about the release of prisoner of war. Previously, Thai side refused about the prisoner of war and said the Thai soldier lost to Cambodian sovereignty.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen yesterday said that the Thai soldiers were too weak and the arrest occurred because Thai soldiers invaded Cambodian territory.

Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 2008 after Cambodia successfully enlisted the temple with the world heritage site. Thai side has opposed the management and development plan of the temple, which contains universal values. Cambodia will submit the plan to world heritage committee in Bahrain this year.

Hor Namhong, Foreign Minister said yesterday that so far 5 Cambodian soldiers have died and 45 injured.

Tackling challenges a step at a time


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Wednesday, 09 February 2011 15:00 Dr Nick Walsh
Health Matters

----------------------------------------------------------
Dr Nick Walsh

I often sit back and wonder why things are so in Cambodia in contrast to the region. Yes, there are many similarities, but also stark differences. This is often explained away by the Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge years, but I can’t help thinking that it surely is more complicated than that. If the Pol Pot years had not happened, would Cambodia be like Singapore? Would Phnom Penh resemble Jakarta? Likely not.

The preeminent medical journal The Lancet recently published a health series focusing on the ASEAN nations, of which Cambodia is one. It was a fascinating series of papers, so much so that rather than posting a ‘like’ on my FB page, I thought I would devote this column to it.

“It’s the economy, stupid” so the immortalised words go. But in many ways it all boils down to economics. This is not Cambodia’s strong hand. On a purchasing power parity measure, Cambodia has the lowest per capita income of the ASEAN region and the highest proportion of population living in poverty. Nevertheless, economic growth is robust, and one would expect these figures to change in the coming years.
But there’s much more to health than economics.

Starting with the basic facts, life expectancy in Cambodia is 61 years – a little less for men, a little more for women. This has increased by around 10 years in the past 15 – significant progress. Cambodia has a largely young population with 50 percent younger than16. It’s also largely rural country (85 percent) compared to its neighbours, impeding economic growth and the provision of health care.

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Cambodia has the highest infant mortality and death rate within ASEAN

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It turns out that Southeast Asia is somewhat of a ‘hot spot’ for emerging infectious diseases. Take SARS and H5N1 as two recent examples, as well as the recent emergence in Cambodia of malaria resistant to new antimalarials. What is less known is that the first reported cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever occurred in Southeast Asia and have contributed greatly to the global spread of dengue fever. The SARS outbreak alone cost $18 billion with a significant impact on tourism – a key industry for Cambodia and neighbouring economies.

How is it possible that we live in an area which is a crucible to human infectious disease? The most important factors are rapid population growth (from high birth rates) and rapid urbanisation. The latter is responsible for dengue spread in particular. Interestingly, farming practices do explain some diseases. For example Japanese encephalitis requires water birds and mosquitoes to propagate itself – though pigs can also harbour the disease. In Cambodia, rice paddy fields next to farmed pigs in combination with no vaccination programme mean that it is likely the prevalence will increase.

Cambodia experiences the highest burden of communicable disease in ASEAN, even surpassing Myanmar and Laos. This, combined with a lack of health infrastructure and trained health professionals, means that the challenges for Cambodia are great. Despite this, there is no doubt that the SARS, H5N1 and H1N1 outbreak focused minds on the tasks at hand, and better surveillance of infectious disease, including border screening, ensued.

Turning to child and maternal mortality, the news is also worrying. Within ASEAN, Cambodia has the highest infant mortality and deaths under 5 (mostly from infectious diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia) and the second- highest maternal mortality rate. Despite this, the figures have improved by about 20 percent in the past 20 years – so progress is certainly being made.

Other ASEAN countries provide an example of how it is possible to reduce maternal and child mortality. Indonesia and Thailand were both able to do this over an extended period, a combination of economic development, gender equity, mandatory rural placements for health trainees, and a number of public policy programs resulting in better health financing.

Interestingly, early infant mortality improved with maternal mortality, meaning that what’s good for the mum helps the baby too. In terms of evidence, emergency obstetric care, safe water and the availability and use of appropriate oral antibiotics in early childhood are the key interventions which reduce deaths in these groups.

Lifestyle diseases have become part of the developed world over the past 20 years. Diabesity is the latest word to describe the epidemic, with fast food and lack of exercise to blame. However, Cambodia does very well when it comes to lifestyle disease with diabetes and obesity being near lowest in the region. Little data is available about tobacco use, but the risk of developing complications from obesity and hypertension are two to four times higher in Asian populations when compared with world populations. With increasing wealth, Cambodia will be vulnerable to an upturn in these lifestyle diseases.

Cambodia spends around 6 percent of its GDP on health, which is higher than neighbouring countries, but unfortunately 60 percent of health expenses are out-of-pocket, one of the highest in the region, meaning that the burden falls on families rather than the tax payer. The major reason for this is that 70 percent of health care expenditure occurs in the private sector (the highest in the region), and as most health economists know, private health systems are more costly than public ones. Cambodia’s health system is supported by donors to a large extent and with dependency comes the question of sustainability. But transferring the burden of health finance to the tax payer means a structured and effective tax system – and necessitates a middle class to pay the bills.

In fact, it’s a vicious cycle. Cambodia introduced a user fee for health facilities in 1996 as an incentive to health workers. Unfortunately for the poor, this was a barrier, and the health equity fund (donor backed) was introduced in 2000 to compensate health centres and providers. It now covers almost 70 percent of the poor in Cambodia and about a quarter of the total population. The final stage is then transferring this burden again to the taxpayer (in the form of a social insurance scheme).

This has already happened in the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand where social insurance schemes covering health in the formally employed sectors have been introduced to varying degrees, Cambodia is not yet in a position to consider this option.

Lessons from neighbouring countries show that consistent economic growth is needed to establish the tax base necessary to fund health insurance schemes. Cambodia is challenged by a largely rural population so health financing will be more difficult than urbanised neighbours.

But it’s not just about the burden of infectious disease and health financing. Doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers are needed to provide care and develop public health care systems. Cambodia currently has 0.2 doctors and 0.9 nurses (stats not people!!) per 1000 population, leaving it with a deficit of 44,000 health workers in order to meet World Health Organisation standards, only surpassed in absolute numbers by Vietnam and Indonesia (both sporting much larger populations).

Whereas Vietnam and Indonesia have 14 and 52 medical schools respectively (though have larger populations), Cambodia has only one or two, markedly restricting the country’s capacity to produce new doctors. Cambodia fairs better when it comes to nurses, producing around 900 a year in the public system, though this is still low compared to our neighbours.

The mind boggles at the complexity of this kaleidoscope of issues. In many ways it does come down to economics, but it is a long and complex journey from basic health services to a sector with universal health coverage. Cambodia has had a more difficult journey than most. Decoupling health from dependence on aid is another additional challenge with no easy solution. Where the heck do we start? One step at a time.

Sales of new cookbook aid schools in Siem Reap


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Wednesday, 09 February 2011 15:00 Sarah Macklin

A new Cambodian cookbook is being launched in Phnom Penh on Thursday evening, with all sales benefiting the NGO Caring for Cambodia.

Written by Cambodian-born American Narin Seng Jameson, Cooking the Cambodian Way covers dishes ranging from simple everyday recipes through to cuisine served at royal banquets.

“All proceeds from sales of the book will be dedicated to furthering the development of Cambodia, especially in the areas of education and reading, which are critical for Cambodia’s progress,” says the author, who lives in Bethseda, Maryland and was in the country this week for the book launch.

“I wrote this simple book for all Cambodians – young and old – living abroad,” she says.

“The book was started in 1993 when we were living in Burma. When I left Cambodia for America in 1974, I became homesick for the tastes of home cooking and worked to find the ingredients.

“But then we returned to the United States and I was busy working and raising two teenage boys,” says Seng Jameson.

“Two years ago, I started giving the draft to colleagues and friends who loved it, so we went ahead with publication – my first book,” says the author, 66, during an interview while she was on the road from Siem Reap to Battambang.

“My husband, who’s a perfectionist, edited the book. I’m hoping sales of the book will raise at least $20,000 for Caring for Cambodia, which educates children in eight schools in Siem Reap province.”

All profits from the book will go to the NGO founded by Jamie Amelio, which has built eight schools, five libraries and helped to educate nearly 6,000 children in Siem Reap province. The group has also given away 15,000 toothbrushes to encourage personal hygiene, and bought 1,250 bicycles so their students can reach school.

“They also send their teachers for further training in Singapore to improve the standard of spoken English,” says Seng Jameson.

She’s promoting the health benefits of traditional ingredients in Cambodian cuisine such as bitter melon, eggplant, tamarind and pepper.

“Even after emigrating to the US nearly 40 years ago, and after following my spouse on assignments overseas as a Foreign Service Officer, I have remained true to my Cambodian cooking roots at dinners and receptions,” says Seng Jameson.

“Everything we eat is nutritious and has a specific health function. According to the elders, pepper is good for a new mother because it helps reconstitute the blood after childbirth, ginger helps beautify the complexion, and eggplant helps in lactating,” she writes in the book’s opening chapters.

Princess Royal Bopha Devi has written a foreward, hoping the book will “recall the old tradition of cooking before the use of shortcuts and substitutes, which lack the refined Cambodian taste. I am sure food lovers, Cambodian as well as others, will enjoy the anecdotes of memories and the way Cambodian youth spent their time during the peaceful years of Cambodia, the 50s and 60s,” writes the princess.

Fish is the main dietary staple. “The people of Cambodia do not have to go to the market for their everyday meal because fish is always available in the nearest pond or rice paddy,” Seng Jameson writes.

Her book mostly focuses on casual food that can be enjoyed every day.

Those who attend the book launch may be able to try some traditional snacks made especially by the author. Cooking the Cambodian Way, $25, will be launched by author Narin Seng Jameson at Monument Books, 111 Norodom Boulevard, on Thursday, February 10, at 6pm.

Cambodia insists no soldiers stationed at temple, a claim that Thailand and media refute

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By Todd Pitman, The Associated Press
The Canadian Press 
 
The UNESCO's World Heritage Committee flag drops from the pole near the temple entrance of the Cambodia's 11th century Hindu Preah Vihear temple, which was enlisted as UNESCO's World Heritage site in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. The flag dropped during an armed clash between Cambodian and Thai troops last weekend. Thailand accused Cambodia of refusing to negotiate to resolve a border dispute that led to the fourth straight day of fierce clashes Monday, as Phnom Penh said that only U.N. peacekeepers can stop the fighting near an 11th century temple. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia - Cambodia angrily rejected Thailand's accusation that Cambodian troops used a centuries-old temple along their disputed border as a military base, revving up a war of words Wednesday amid a fragile truce.

The mountaintop Preah Vihear temple, designated as a World Heritage site, was the scene of fierce artillery battles during a four-day flare-up of a long-standing border dispute between the two neighbours. The fighting left at least eight dead and dozens wounded.

Shrapnel from the blasts chipped away at some of the sanctuary's ancient walls, sparking a debate between the two sides over how much damage was done and who is to blame.

Thailand accuses Cambodia of stationing soldiers at the temple and firing across the border at Thai soldiers, leaving them little choice but to retaliate.

Cambodia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday it "strongly rejects such a slanderous assertion," adding that "there has never been and there will never be Cambodian soldiers" at Preah Vihear temple.

"This has always been a place for worship and tourism," the statement said, adding that the only security presence at the temple is a small number of policemen with light weapons to ensure safety at the site.

On Wednesday, however, hundreds of Cambodian soldiers were seen by Associated Press journalists deployed in and around the sprawling temple compound, which was fortified by sandbagged bunkers.

Dressed in military camouflage, some played cards inside the temple's shaded walls. Some rested on cots or hammocks while others poured new sandbags and stacked them up. Aside from scattered rifles, weapons were not visible.

Cambodian officials said over the weekend that Thai artillery collapsed "a wing" of the temple, but Thai officials dismissed the account as propaganda. Tuesday was the first day journalists were able to visit the temple since Cambodia made the claim. Damage appeared to be light and the structure remained intact.

Thai army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd defended his earlier remarks about Cambodian military presence at the temple.

"It's obvious," he said. "You can take a look at the photographs, even the ones taken by them. There's definitely military presence at Preah Vihear. Their soldiers fired at us from there."

"We never intended to attack Preah Vihear," he added."We would never want to damage such a valuable cultural and religious site. The firing only occurred when they fired at us from that location."

Preah Vihear temple, built between the 9th and 11th centuries, sits on a atop a 1,722-foot (525-meter) cliff in the Dangrek Mountains along a disputed border zone between Thailand and Cambodia. It has been a source of tension and fueled nationalist sentiment on both sides of the border for decades.

It is dedicated to the Hindu diety Shiva, but it was later used as a Buddhist sanctuary. The temple is revered partly for having one of the most stunning locations of all the temples constructed during the Khmer empire — the most famous of which is Angkor Wat.

The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over adjacent areas has never been clearly resolved.

In 2008, UNESCO backed Cambodia's bid to list the temple as a World Heritage site. Thailand initially supported the bid but then reneged after the move sparked domestic outrage and protests. Some Thais worried that the distinction would undermine their claims to a strip of surrounding land.

Both sides sent troops to the border, resulting in several small clashes over the years. But the latest skirmishes were the most intense yet, marking the first time artillery and mortars have been used, according to soldiers and locals.

The latest fighting comes as Thailand's embattled government faces protests from ultranationalists at home who say it hasn't done enough to protect Thailand's sovereignty in the border region.

UNESCO said Tuesday it plans to send a mission to the area to assess the damage.

"World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them," UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement.

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Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker and Thanyarat Doksone contributed to this report from Bangkok.

Cambodia calls claim of soldiers at temple slander

http://www.salon.com/

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By TODD PITMAN, Associated Press


Cambodian army soldiers man a checkpoint near Cambodia's famed Preah Vihear temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Preah Vihear province, about 245 kilometers (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. Thailand accused Cambodia of refusing to negotiate to resolve a border dispute that led to the fourth straight day of fierce clashes Monday, as Phnom Penh said that only U.N. peacekeepers can stop the fighting near the 11th century Hindu temple. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia angrily rejected Thailand's accusation that Cambodian troops used a centuries-old temple along their disputed border as a military base, revving up a war of words Wednesday amid a fragile truce.

The mountaintop Preah Vihear temple, designated as a World Heritage site, was the scene of fierce artillery battles during a four-day flare-up of a long-standing border dispute between the two neighbors. The fighting left at least eight dead and dozens wounded.

Shrapnel from the blasts chipped away at some of the sanctuary's ancient walls, sparking a debate between the two sides over how much damage was done and who is to blame.

Thailand accuses Cambodia of stationing soldiers at the temple and firing across the border at Thai soldiers, leaving them little choice but to retaliate.

Cambodia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday it "strongly rejects such a slanderous assertion," adding that "there has never been and there will never be Cambodian soldiers" at Preah Vihear temple.

"This has always been a place for worship and tourism," the statement said, adding that the only security presence at the temple is a small number of policemen with light weapons to ensure safety at the site.

On Wednesday, however, hundreds of Cambodian soldiers were seen by Associated Press journalists deployed in and around the sprawling temple compound, which was fortified by sandbagged bunkers.

Dressed in military camouflage, some played cards inside the temple's shaded walls. Some rested on cots or hammocks while others poured new sandbags and stacked them up. Aside from scattered rifles, weapons were not visible.

Cambodian officials said over the weekend that Thai artillery collapsed "a wing" of the temple, but Thai officials dismissed the account as propaganda. Tuesday was the first day journalists were able to visit the temple since Cambodia made the claim. Damage appeared to be light and the structure remained intact.

Thai army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd defended his earlier remarks about Cambodian military presence at the temple.

"It's obvious," he said. "You can take a look at the photographs, even the ones taken by them. There's definitely military presence at Preah Vihear. Their soldiers fired at us from there."

"We never intended to attack Preah Vihear," he added."We would never want to damage such a valuable cultural and religious site. The firing only occurred when they fired at us from that location."

Preah Vihear temple, built between the 9th and 11th centuries, sits on a atop a 1,722-foot (525-meter) cliff in the Dangrek Mountains along a disputed border zone between Thailand and Cambodia. It has been a source of tension and fueled nationalist sentiment on both sides of the border for decades.

It is dedicated to the Hindu diety Shiva, but it was later used as a Buddhist sanctuary. The temple is revered partly for having one of the most stunning locations of all the temples constructed during the Khmer empire -- the most famous of which is Angkor Wat.

The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over adjacent areas has never been clearly resolved.

In 2008, UNESCO backed Cambodia's bid to list the temple as a World Heritage site. Thailand initially supported the bid but then reneged after the move sparked domestic outrage and protests. Some Thais worried that the distinction would undermine their claims to a strip of surrounding land.

Both sides sent troops to the border, resulting in several small clashes over the years. But the latest skirmishes were the most intense yet, marking the first time artillery and mortars have been used, according to soldiers and locals.

The latest fighting comes as Thailand's embattled government faces protests from ultranationalists at home who say it hasn't done enough to protect Thailand's sovereignty in the border region.

UNESCO said Tuesday it plans to send a mission to the area to assess the damage.

"World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them," UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement.

------

Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker and Thanyarat Doksone contributed to this report from Bangkok.

Someone explain why

http://news.asiaone.com/

via CAAI

Wed, Feb 09, 2011

The Brunei Times/Asia News Network


THE guns went blazing anew in the jungle near the Preah Vihear Temple as Thai and Cambodian troops clashed for the fourth straight day on Monday over the disputed border area.

When silence reigned after several hours of shelling and machine gun fire, the Cambodian government said five people were killed and 45 injured on its side of the border. The deaths brought to 10 the number of those killed while the wounded now placed at 85 with thousands evacuated.

The conundrum about the newest round of clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops is that there is no clear reason behind it. Both sides blame each other for starting the clashes five days ago and for breaking a shaky ceasefire agreed between the two armies on Friday night.

Furthermore, the reports said the skirmishes could have occurred as a result of a misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication channels. With the deployment of more soldiers who are tensed and unfamiliar with the terrain and the situation, something as simple as a few warning shots or border patrols straying too far could have set things off.

The acerbic exchange of words between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Thai Foreign Ministry will definitely not help to neutralise the tension. Hun Sen said his counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva was hungry for war while the Thai officials accused Cambodia of committing an act of aggression in violation of Thai sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This new round of gunfight will definitely not be the last armed encounter to take place in the disputed border zone, and the landmark temple will be a mute witness to many more needless bloodbaths and for what? Over a stretch of jungle? For national pride? Lives are being lost over murky reasons.

The Asean and not the UN should put an end to this needless loss of lives. The regional body will also be the one at the losing end if the Cambodia-Thailand struggle will persist. National pride is indeed greatly valued in this region, but the two countries must remember that ruling and talking through the barrel of the gun is not the answer.

Someone explain why

http://news.asiaone.com/

via CAAI

Wed, Feb 09, 2011

The Brunei Times/Asia News Network


THE guns went blazing anew in the jungle near the Preah Vihear Temple as Thai and Cambodian troops clashed for the fourth straight day on Monday over the disputed border area.

When silence reigned after several hours of shelling and machine gun fire, the Cambodian government said five people were killed and 45 injured on its side of the border. The deaths brought to 10 the number of those killed while the wounded now placed at 85 with thousands evacuated.

The conundrum about the newest round of clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops is that there is no clear reason behind it. Both sides blame each other for starting the clashes five days ago and for breaking a shaky ceasefire agreed between the two armies on Friday night.

Furthermore, the reports said the skirmishes could have occurred as a result of a misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication channels. With the deployment of more soldiers who are tensed and unfamiliar with the terrain and the situation, something as simple as a few warning shots or border patrols straying too far could have set things off.

The acerbic exchange of words between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Thai Foreign Ministry will definitely not help to neutralise the tension. Hun Sen said his counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva was hungry for war while the Thai officials accused Cambodia of committing an act of aggression in violation of Thai sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This new round of gunfight will definitely not be the last armed encounter to take place in the disputed border zone, and the landmark temple will be a mute witness to many more needless bloodbaths and for what? Over a stretch of jungle? For national pride? Lives are being lost over murky reasons.

The Asean and not the UN should put an end to this needless loss of lives. The regional body will also be the one at the losing end if the Cambodia-Thailand struggle will persist. National pride is indeed greatly valued in this region, but the two countries must remember that ruling and talking through the barrel of the gun is not the answer.

UN to meet on Feb 14 on Thai-Cambodian border disputes - reports

 via CAAI

UN Security Council has agreed to meet on Feb 14 to solve the border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia, Inter City Press reported.




The council reached the conclusion on late Tuesday, the Press; a non-governmental organization said.

To make clear that the UN is deferring to the regional group, Indonesia, as chair of this year's Asean, will be invited to the meeting. The country will be represented by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

The meeting seemed to respond to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's request for the UN to intervene in the dispute while Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted that the dispute should be solved on bilateral basis.

Meanwhile Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Press on Tuesday that he had spoken with the prime ministers of Thailand and Cambodia. Some wonder why Ban isn't mediating, or even asked to mediate, under UN Charter Article 99.

In Bangkok, Chavanond Indharakomalsut, secretary to the foreign minister that FM Kasit Piromya is scheduled to travel to the UN to explain the Thai positions to the UN chief next week.

One of the positions is that Thailand wanted the problems be solved bilaterally and did not want to see a third party step in.

Gen Prawit visits border province


via CAAI

Published: 9/02/2011
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Wednesday morning left for Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district by army plane to visit residents affected by the border clashes, reports said.

He was accompanied by army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and other top brass.

Gen Prawit and his retinue will also visit Thai troops deployed along the border.

The defence minister and the army chief will later this afternoon attend the bathing rites of Sgt Thanakorn Poolperm and Capt Rucharin Chartkamdee, who were killed in the border clashes.

Gen Prawit said he will do everything he can to bring peace to the border area.

He admitted he was concerned about the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s plan to lead the yellow-shirts to visit local villagers and Thai soldiers in the border area near Cambodia, saying it could worsen the situation.

Energy Minister Reaffirmed Normal Energy Trade Between Thailand and Cambodia


via CAAI

9 February 2011

The energy minister has reaffirmed that there has been no order from the government or the army to stop sending energy products to Cambodia.

Energy minister Wannarat Channukul confirmed that energy products are being traded normally between Thailand and Cambodia, despite the recent tensions.

He said there has not been an order from the government or the army to stop sending energy products to Cambodia, and that this it is not under the authority of the energy ministry to decide.

He added that trading activities will follow the free-trade agreement, and that no exact export numbers have been reported so far.

Domestic oil prices are starting to decline in line with world oil prices, due to the improving situation in Egypt.


However, fuel compensation funds are still needed.

Within one week, discussions with Finance Minister Korn Chantikavanij will be held on decreasing fuel taxes to reduce the burden on the government budget.

Regarding the joint-standing committee on commerce, industry, and banking proposing a postponement of the increase of LPG gas prices by 1-2 years, Wannarat stated that the Energy Ministry clearly announced the floatation of LPG gas prices.

However, the ministry welcomes all opinions for further consideration.

The energy minister recently went to a signing ceremony to give concession holders the right to inspect two pieces of land.

The first piece being land number L14/50 covering Petchaboon, Chaiyaphum, and Phitsanulok provinces.

This concession belongs to JSX energy holdings limited.

The second piece being land number L29/50 covering Nakorn Ratchasima and Chaiyaphum provinces. This concession belongs to TPI polene power plant.

The concession for both on land and in the gulf of Thailand consist of 65 panels of land, and the Energy Ministry has so far approved 22 petroleum concessions.

Market Report, "Cambodia Power Report Q1 2011", published

via CAAI

2011-02-09 05:21:00 - Fast Market Research recommends "Cambodia Power Report Q1 2011" from Business Monitor International, now available

The new Cambodia Power Report from BMI forecasts that the country will account for just 0.05% of Asia Pacific regional power generation by 2015, with a supply shortfall that may provide the need for imports from neighbouring countries. BMI's Asia Pacific power generation assumption for 2010 is 7,724 terawatt hours (TWh), representing an increase of 4.6% over the previous year.

We are forecasting a rise in regional generation to 9,786TWh by 2015, representing growth of 26.7% in 2010-2015.

In 2010, Asia Pacific thermal power generation will have totalled an estimated 6,149TWh, accounting for 79.6% of the total electricity supplied in the region. Our forecast for 2015 is 7,589TWh, implying 23.4% growth that reduces the market share of thermal generation to 77.5%. This is thanks largely to environmental concerns promoting renewable sources, hydro-electricity and nuclear generation. Cambodia's thermal generation in 2010 is an estimated 1.9TWh, or 0.03% of the regional total. By 2015 the country is expected to account for 0.04% of thermal generation in the region.

For Cambodia, the direct burning of wood and other organic fuels will have accounted for an estimated 74.7% of 2010 PED, followed by oil at 25.1%. Hydro makes a very small contribution, while coal and gas do not yet feature in the energy mix. Regional energy demand is forecast to reach 5,496mn toe by 2015, representing 20.6% growth from the estimated 2010 level. Cambodia's estimated 2010 market share of 0.15% is set to rise to 0.18% by 2015. Cambodia's share of hydro generation is expected to rise to 0.11% by 2015.

Cambodia is ranked 16th and last, behind even Taiwan, in BMI's updated Power Business Environment Ratings, thanks largely to the growth potential of power consumption and energy demand, offset by low scores in several other categories. It has the long-term potential to overtake Taiwan and Singapore above it.

BMI forecasts Cambodian real GDP growth averaging 6.4% a year in 2010-2015, with the 2011 assumption being an increase of 3.7%. The population is expected to expand from 15.1mn to 16.4mn by 2015, with per capita GDP and electricity consumption set to increase 64% and 106% respectively. Electricity consumption is expected to increase from an estimated 2.1TWh in 2010 to 4.8TWh in 2015. After power industry usage and system losses, we see a possible shortfall in 2015 supply of 1.1TWh, if generation grows at no more than our assumed average annual rate of 17.8%. There is a clear risk of electricity shortages if the power industry cannot deliver adequate new capacity as demand soars.

In 2010-2020 we forecast an increase in Cambodian electricity generation of 517.0%, which is top of the range for the Asia Pacific region. This equates to 159.2% in 2015-2020, up from 138.1% in 2010-2015. PED growth in 2015-2020 is set to remain around the expected 2010-2015 level of 53.9, representing 136.7% for the entire forecast period. Hydro consumption is expected to rise from virtually zero to 7.6TWh between 2010 and 2020, with thermal power generation forecast to increase by 116% over the same period. More detailed long-term power forecasts can be found later in this report.

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

Cambodia Rejects Thailand’s Assertion over Preah Vihear Temple

Phnom Penh, February 9, 2011 AKP – The Spokesman of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has issued a statement, rejecting Thai army’s assertion over Preah Vihear temple.
The following is the full statement dated Feb. 8:

“Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman of the Thai army stated as quoted in the Bangkok Post issued on 8 February 2011 that ‘Cambodia soldiers used the Preah Vihear temple as a heavy arms base to fire at Thai soldiers stationed in areas in Thai territory that were at lower elevation’.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia strongly rejects such a slanderous assertion by Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd. I wish to emphasize as follows:

There has never been and there will never be Cambodian soldiers at the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR. This has always a place for worship and tourism.

At all time there are only a small number of policemen with only light weapons to provide safety at the Temple site.

The above fabricated accusation of the Thai military spokesman is aimed only to justify Thailand’s attack on the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR, a World Heritage site.” –AKP

______

Cambodia Demands to Apply the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Goods in Case of Armed Conflict

Phnom Penh, February 9, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok An, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers and President of National Commission of Cambodia for UNESCO has sent a letter to UNESCO Director General Mrs. Irina Bokova, demanding the application of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Goods in Case of Armed Conflict, The Hague, 1954.

The full letter dated Feb. 7 reads as follows:

Mrs. Irina BOKOVA
Director General of UNESCO
PARIS

Phnom Penh, 7 February 2011

Subject: Urgent demand to apply the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Goods in Case of Armed Conflict, The Hague, 1954

Excellency,

I refer to my letter dated February 5, 2011. It is with deep sorrow that I find myself obligated to inform urgently Your Excellency of new attacks by the Thai armed forces against the Temple of Preah Vihear in spite of a series of negotiations between Khmer and Thai military officials.

These successive new large scale attacks by Thai troops against targets around the Temple of Preah Vihear and the sacred site of the Temple of Preah Vihear have caused, according to early assessment, significant damages to the Temple itself and in particular to Gopuras I, III, IV and V which were seriously damaged by Thai heavy artillery shelling on February 6, 2011.

We fear that other parts of the World Heritage Site will be damaged by Thai forces which continue to target it with artillery shelling.

The Royal Government of Cambodia considers that Thailand, a State Party to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Goods in Case of Armed Conflict, is in breach of Article 4.1 of the Convention and solicits Your Excellency immediate intervention in accordance with articles 21, 22 and 23 of the Convention.

In this context, the Royal Government of Cambodia requests that an urgent meeting of the Countries responsible for the protection or their representatives be convened including, in particular, representatives from the Kingdom of Cambodia and Thailand who are responsible for the protection of World Heritage sites. The objective will be to organize the protection of the Temple of Preah Vihear which is in grave danger of total destruction by Thai armed forces.

The Royal Government of Cambodia would welcome technical assistance from UNESCO to organize the protection of the sacred site of the Temple of Preah Vihear with the fielding of a group of experts to assess damages to the Temple and to take appropriate actions including the participation of UN military observers.

Please be assured, Excellency, of my high consideration.

President of National Commission of Cambodia for UNESCO
Deputy Prime Minister

______

Japanese Film Festival in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, February 9, 2011 AKP – The Japanese Embassy is organizing Japanese festival in Cambodia that will take place from Feb. to Mar. 2011 at Phnom Penh capital city and Siem Reap province.
The film festival, as stated a press release issued by the Embassy of Japan, aims to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Cambodia and Japan.

Showcasing of Japanese educational, scientific and cultural films, the festival is opened to all Cambodian public free of charge.

Four famous films of the said kind, dubbed in Khmer language, will be played at Sorya Cinema 2 at Sorya shopping mall in Phnom Penh capital city on Feb. 12-13, and at Bayon Information Center in Siem Reap province on Mar. 6-7. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil

Needless deaths, murky motives behind flare-up

via CAAI

By Pravit Rojanaphruk
Published on February 9, 2011

Both Thai and Cambodian leaders may say it was the other party that started the military intrusion into their territory, which led to death and injuries over the past few days. But the casualties were truly needless. This is not a time for Thais to unquestioningly unite behind their leaders but a time for calm, inquiry, scepticism and firm denunciation of war, no matter which side actually started it.

The people who died or are suffering are not the political leaders or generals in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, or the ultra-nationalistic, war-mongering, yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and its Cambodian counterpart, but poor villagers and low-ranking soldiers from both nations.

It is at times like this that we should best observe how blind and petty nationalism can be.

The Thai media seem overly eager to report on the casualties on the Thai side and take the words of Thai leaders and generals as more trustworthy. Perhaps it's likewise for Cambodians.

Some nationalistic Thais are calling for the tearing down of Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara, a Buddhist temple built by Cambodians in the disputed territory, and feel there's nothing wrong with such a demand even though they're Buddhists. Surely, if it were the other way round, many Thai Buddhists would cry foul and denounce Cambodians for being "fake Buddhists".

A pamphlet produced by the Thai Patriots Network, which is led by yellow-shirt Veera Somkwamkid, reminds readers how many times "Siamese and Thai territories" were forcibly ceded to British and French imperial powers. But there's nothing about how Siamese and Thai invasions of its neighbours have led to the gaining of land that might otherwise belong to some of our neighbours today. For example, any educated Thai knows that some northeastern provinces along the border with Cambodia are populated by Thais of Khmer ethnicity and many of these people still speak Khmer.

Back to our respective political and military leaders, surely either the Cambodian or Thai leaders are lying, as both claimed the other side opened fire first. But do you simply believe your leader, whether Hun Sen or Abhisit Vejjajiva, simply because you share the same nationality as him? This is tempting, especially when most people have almost no way of independently proving who launched fired the first salvo.

Such an easy and obedient attitude is too risky.

We first must ask who stands to gain the most from initiating such a conflict. We must also ask why can't the issue be resolved peacefully.

Will the Thai or Cambodian military get a bigger budget if they use up some of their artillery caches? But at what price for taxpayers, and for the low-ranking soldiers and poor villagers on both sides of the border, who have died a needless death, and to people who have been displaced and evacuated?

Was this whole affair initiated by some Thai generals in order to make the situation spiral out of control and thus perhaps give an excuse for a Thai military takeover of the civilian government again?

Things are too fishy, considering Veera and company's recent sojourn to the sensitive Thai-Cambodian border and their subsequent arrest, and the call for military action by the yellow-shirt PAD.

This writer doesn't know what the Cambodian premier may be up to. But at times like this, we need to question and scrutinise our leaders doubly hard lest more people end up dying needless deaths for a conflict that might be more about local politics.

When people see the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Taj Mahal or Angkor Wat, they should not just marvel at their greatness but also be reminded of the exploitation of labourers and craftsmen who worked on the construction.

Similarly, the other side of nationalism is equally ugly.

Quiet day on Thai-Cambodian border

via CAAI

English.news.cn
2011-02-09

BEIJING, Feb.9 (Xinhuanet) -- Along the Thailand-Cambodia border, the situation was still tense on Tuesday, but there was no new violence. Troops from both sides were still on high alert as Thai commanders said they were not confident of long term stability.

A new day and 24 hours without fighting the first time in five days.

The Thai military have now locked down their side of the border inside the nine hundred year old temple, off limits too all.

Although there is no formal ceasefire, a tense peace is holding.

Later in the morning a press conference with the local governor and military commanders.

This border clash has now caught the attention of the International community, the United Nations security council saying overnight it would support talks between Thailand and Cambodia brokered by ASEAN.

But while expressing hope the peace would hold, the Thai commanders say long term stability is less assured.

Colonel Chinnakard Rattanajitti, Thai Military, said, "Judging from previous situations when we've reached a ceasefire agreement, fighting broke out again within 6 hours. Therefore we cannot be confident about the situation".

Army bases are full of reinforcements.

The Thai army say these soldiers are part of a routine rotation, but troop numbers appear to be high.

Elsewhere the soldiers from the frontline were using the lull to restock their supplies.

As they did so, more aid arrived for those displaced by the fighting. donations have been pouring in from all over the country.

The local government says nearly twenty two thousand people are living in makeshift camps, but if the fighting stops, they can return home by Friday.

On the border itself an uneasy quiet.

Phra Viharn National park was once a popular tourist spot, but since the outbreak of fighting it has become part of no mans land.

And the long term affects of this conflict are being felt all across the border. Towns that once thrived with tourists and trade from Cambodia have seen that business disappear.

Thailand used to be Cambodia’s third largest trading partner in three years it has dropped to seventh.

While the territorial issues have inflamed nationalist sentiment elsewhere, for the locals things aren’t as black and white.

Sinuan Jampahorm, Thai Rickshaw Driver, said, "Talk should be the answer for this problem. We are like brothers and sisters. We should not fight, but love each other instead because people here go back and forth across the border all the time".

Today the only visitors to these towns are in uniform. Unlike the tourists who used to flock here, these soldiers look as if they’ll be staying for some time.

(Source: CNTV)

Editor: Tang Danlu