Thursday, 5 May 2011

Who own Preah Vihear?

Anonymous said...

Which country owns Preah Vihear.

The answers are not hard to find.

1. The 1908 Treaty maps signed between Cambodia and Thailand put Preah Vihear and its surrounding lands entirely inside Cambodia.

2. Prince Damrong, as Thai Minister of Interior, asked for the 1908 treaty maps. 50 maps were given to Thailand after the treaty and Thailand never disputed the maps. How come only now?

3. In 1929 Prince Damrong visited Preah Vihear temple and the French officials, who were Cambodia's colonial administrators, were at Preah vihear to receive the Prince and during the Prince's visit the French flag, not Thai flag, was flown at the temple.

4. International Court of Justice's verdict of 1962 awarded Preah Vihear and its surrounding lands to Cambodia. One of the verdicts said "Thailand must withdraw troops, police and guards from the temple and its vicinity".

5. Lastly, Thailand accepted the 1907 treaty and the 1908 maps for 100 years, why it just make a claim to Preah Vihear now?

The Thai arguments did not have any merits at all. They just wanted to take advantage now because Cambodian leaders, especially Hun Sen, have not done enough to resolve the current Preah Vihear issue with Thailand. Cambodia should take the matter to Asean, UN or International Court of justice.

_________

1. The only accessible gate way to the Khmer Preah Vihear temple is made on the Thai soil. So the temple must be joint-listed.

Answer: No sense. The previous Cambodian territory extends on the present Thai soil. That's why the border of Thailand and Cambodia is demarcated closed to the Preah Vihear's stairs.

2.To make the temple really becomes the World Heritage site, the temple must be listed with all other sunbordinates that are now existing in the Thai soil and the temple must be co-managed between Thailand and Cambodia.

Answer: We have another solution rather than joint benefit with Thailand. Since the temple and its surrounding area are situated in Cambodia, based on French-Thai map, Thai doesn't have any right to claim for benefit, based on Preah Vihear temple. Since the borderline separates the temple in Cambodia and its remaining sites in Thailand, Thai can request its own site as another heritage site, based on UNESCO's decision.

3. The verdict of International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 gives Cambodia only the temple, but not the surounding land.
The ICJ did not demarcate the border line between the two countries, so the borderline is not known and the 4.6km square is not clear to which country it belongs.

Answer: ICJ claims Preah Vihear as a world heritage site based on French-Thai map 1904-1907. France and Thai made a talk whether or not they accepted the watershed as the borderline. However, it was just a note during meeting. It's not an official treaty or agreement. The official agreement and map (official paper) was sent to Thailand. Thailand signed and accepted officially and then requested more copies from France. It was about half century before International Court ruled that Preah Vihear is in Cambodia's territory. ICJ doesn't have to re-demarcate the borderline because there was the French-Thai 1904-1907 map and treaty that determines the Thai-Cambodia's borderline. Even though ICJ didn't demarcate the borderline between the two country, Thailand must accept the International Law which was declared by UN. Every country has its own sovereignty and must be protected, based on their map, which is recognized internationally. The map that was drawn by Thailand is an unacceptable map or a fraud map. Weather in purpose or not, it is against the international law.

4. The Frencch made-map has a problem, because the map has its basis on the wathershed of the two countries as the borderlines, but the case of Preah Vihear temple it does not follow the wathershed at all, so Thailand must disagree with it.

Answer: The map is based on watershed, but the map doesn't include Preah Vihear and surrounding area in Thailand. Thus, Thai must accept. It is not a technical problem. It is about official map and treaty between Thailand and France.

5. The wathershed of the two countries has been changed gradually due to the geographical change caused by the environment, so the new agreement to redemarcate of the two countries´s borderlines must be set by the Thais to reasured its rights according to the watershed basis.

Answer: Is there only Thailand can demarcate the borderline clearly? Cambodia doesn't have any Geographic technician? Even though there is a change due to environment, the French-Thai map can determine based on the previous watershed line. Every map has its own scale on earth. Thus, every demarcation must base on the previous watershed line in the map.

6. The map made by the France that controlled Cambodia is considered as biased and unfair. With this, Thailand must reject it.

Answer: There is no fair or unfair during the colony. Every country lost its territory. For example, Cambodia lost KamPuchea Krom to Vietnam, China lost its land to Russia, India lost its land to China. India lost its land to Pakistan. Some Japanese islands controlled by United States. Korean lost its island to Japan.

If seeing back 1000 years ago (before 13th A.D.), Cambodia lost the whole Thailand in the present. If Thailand can ask and get the surrounding area of Preah Vihear, I dare to lost Preah Vihear, but please give me back all provinces that Cambodia lost to you. So it's fair together. Sic!

មុខ​របរ​ដាំ​ផ្កា​ម្លិះ

RFA Khmer Webcast-KHM-050411

Abhisit and Hun Sen must take blame for undermining Asean

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By Suthichai Yoon
The Nation
Jakarta
Published on May 5, 2011

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa was asked last week whether he would try to arrange for the Thai and Cambodian premiers to meet at the Asean Summit to be held here later this week. His prompt response was: "No, I don't want to wait that long. The sooner the better."

The bilateral, top-level meeting between Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen has yet to materialise after a series of military skirmishes. Whether they will sit down and hold serious talks here later this week remains to be seen.

On the eve of the Asean Summit, the Thai-Cambodian armed conflict threatens to seriously undermine the regional grouping's credibility. The "Asean Option" to resolve conflicts between member countries may prove to be ineffective. The lack of an effective dispute settlement mechanism, despite the existence of the much-heralded Asean Charter, will continue to weaken the regional grouping.

Foreign Minister Natalegawa told a group of Asian editors from the Asia News Network (ANN) here last week: "As the host, we don't want the summit to be a single-issue gathering about the Thai-Cambodian confrontation. That's why I am pursuing peace aggressively for both countries. We have several other issues to consider at the summit, including those of Burma and the South China Sea."

There is a general feeling here that this week's summit of the 40-year-old regional grouping will be held under a dark cloud of cynicism over its future as a cohesive organisation.

Rizal Sukma, the executive director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, wrote in the Jakarta Post last week: "Asean would be hard-pressed to gain international respect if it cannot even gain respect from its own members. It is, therefore, absolutely imperative for both Cambodia and Thailand, and also Indonesia as the 'facilitator', to immediately implement the Jakarta agreement. Not doing so would bring about greater risk - not only to the conflicting parties, but also to Asean as a whole.

"Even without territorial disputes and border conflicts, it has already been difficult for Asean to realise its plan to become a regional community. If the conflict and the loss of life continues, the ideal "we-feeling" among Asean states and the absence of the use of force as the main characteristic of a security community would be harder to create. Consequently, the international community would look at the ideal of an Asean Community as just imagination.

"If the conflicting parties cannot seize the opportunity to settle the problem using the 'Asean option' there is the possibility that the United Nations Security Council (or some of its members) would come to the conclusion that regional arrangements had failed to address the problem. It doesn't serve anyone's interests if the UNSC concludes that the skirmishes between Thailand and Cambodia would pose an international peace and security threat and therefore require the involvement of the UNSC."

While insisting that his task would be a "relentless pursuit of a diplomatic solution" to the Thai-Cambodian problem, Foreign Minister Natalegawa said it's not a question of Cambodia trying to bring the issue back to the UNSC. "It's already on the UNSC's agenda. Cambodia doesn't have to refer the matter back to the UN. The genie is out of the bottle."

He said despite the difficulties caused by the military skirmishes on the Thai-Cambodian border, "I hope both sides can be encouraged to return to the negotiating table … to have the ceasefire re-established and stabilised to enable the deployment of the observer teams and the resumption of diplomatic negotiations."

If Indonesia fails to convince both members to go back to the negotiating table, Asean's standing in the international arena will take a severe beating. The Indonesian foreign minister didn't really say that in so many words but he did hint at that scenario when he told me:

"What if Cambodia takes the issue back to the UN Security Council? Well, we will have to see. It really depends on our capacity to solve the problem regionally. But then again, I don't want to suggest that there is a clear difference between what is regional and global, because they are mutually reinforcing to create conditions conducive to bilateral solutions. So, what is bilateral, regional and global - they are actually supporting one another."

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told reporters here last week: "We have to respect and honour the role and involvement of Indonesia. Thailand is not in a position to embarrass the Indonesian government."

That's all the more reason why Kasit and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Nam Hong will have to convince their respective leaders to hold serious talks here on the side of the Asean Summit, not only to avoid "embarrassing" Asean's current chair, but, more importantly, to refrain from further weakening Asean as a whole.

Cambodia, Thailand agree to border station points for deploying observers: Cambodian FM

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PHNOM PENH, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia agreed to accept the finalized arrangements for the deployment of Indonesian observers to the disputed border areas near Preah Vihear temple after Thailand has removed a disputed station point, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong said on Thursday.

"Cambodia replied to Indonesia, current ASEAN chair, on May 4 about the acceptance of the 7th terms of reference (TOR) for the deployment of Indonesian observers to the border with Thailand," he said at Phnom Penh International Airport before leaving for ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting on May 6 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"This is the finalized TOR," he said.

Hor Namhong said that Cambodia has got unofficial information that Thai cabinet ministers' meeting on May 3 also agreed to accept Indonesian observers to Cambodian-Thai border.

"So, I hope the TOR for observers will be signed in the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting on May 6 between Cambodian, Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers," he said.

"After that, Cambodia would urge Indonesia to send observers as soon as possible to ensure a permanent ceasefire," he said.

Cambodia and Thailand invited Indonesian observers to their respective border near Preah Vihear temple on Feb. 22 in the ASEAN informal foreign ministers' meeting after the deadly clashes on Feb. 4-7.

At that time, Indonesia agreed to send 15 observers to each border side of Cambodia and Thailand in order to monitor a ceasefire, but since then the sending has not happened as both sides have not agreed on TOR.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.

Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, 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.

ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Editor: Yang Lina

ANALYSIS: Thai-Cambodia border spat heads for ASEAN summit

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By Peter Janssen and Robert Carmichael
May 5, 2011

Cambodian soldiers guard at the Cambodia-Thailand border in Oddar Meanchey province, 01 May 2011. The Thai-Cambodia border situation was improving but it remains too early for people who were evacuated from the area to return home, the Thai prime minister said on 01 May. The most recent clash ended early 30 April and left 10 Thai soldiers wounded, the Thai army said. That was the second breach of a ceasefire agreed to by local field commanders and then approved by their superiors on Thursday. The conflict is over disagreement on the border, particularly a 4.6-square-kilometre area near an 11th-century Hindu temple. EPA/STR

Bangkok/Phnom Penh - The gathering of South-East Asian leaders in Jakarta this weekend promises more drama than past summits, which are not usually known for their diplomatic fireworks.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit will bring together Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose armies last month clashed on their common border leaving eight soldiers dead on each side, and around 70 wounded.

Fighting at the Thai-Cambodian border has flared on and off for the past three years since UNESCO named the Cambodian border temple of Preah Vihear a World Heritage Site, due to an ongoing dispute over a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land adjacent to the 11th-century Hindu monument.

Indonesia, this year's ASEAN chair, has taken an unusually proactive role in trying to resolve the border spat, but few observers expect a breakthrough this weekend.

Indonesia's offer last February to post observers in the disputed border zone in a bid to mitigate fighting has run into obstacles.

The Thai cabinet on Tuesday agreed to the Indonesian observers, but on the condition that Cambodian troops withdraw from the Preah Vihear temple complex.

That condition was 'not acceptable,' Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said. 'Cambodian soldiers cannot be removed from Cambodian territory. As Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeated again and again: both sides can stay where they are.'

It is unlikely that Hun Sen and Abhisit will hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit. Abhisit said Wednesday he would not meet separately with Hun Sen, insisting that the recent border clash was far from coincidental.

'This was an intentional effort to internationalize the issue,' Abhisit said. Thailand has insisted the issue is strictly a bilateral one.

'There will be thousands of media (at the summit). It's always a good place to present your case to the public,' said one senior Thai government official, who requested anonymity.

Hun Sen has a history of spicing up ASEAN summits. At the 2009 summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, he announced his appointment of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser.

Thaksin, who lives abroad to escape a two-year jail term, is also the political nemesis of Abhisit's government.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been poor since.

'I think, politically speaking, it is clear that the Cambodian government have pretty much written off relationships with this government,' the Thai official said.

Hun Sen has little to lose in antagonizing Abhisit, leader of the ruling Democrat Party. Thailand is heading for an election in June or July, and it is possible that the opposition Puea Thai party, which Thaksin still leads de facto, could win.

Between now and the Thai election, Cambodia is likely to be pushing for an international solution to the border issue.

Besides any plans it may have for the ASEAN summit, Cambodia on April 28 appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to revisit its 1962 ruling over Preah Vihear.

The court ruled the temple to be under Cambodian sovereignty, but at the time turned down a Cambodian request to rule on where the common border lay in the temple's vicinity, leaving that up to the two countries to decide.

Five decades later the two neighbours are still fighting over the 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land.

Now Cambodia wants the court to clarify its earlier ruling in relation to that land. Thailand has set up a legal team to make its case.

The two governments are likely also to lock horns over the temple at UNESCO's annual World Heritage committee meeting in June.

Observers have expressed concern that by getting the ICJ involved at this stage, Cambodia may be undermining ASEAN's efforts to mediate in the crisis.

'There is a danger of forum shopping (by Cambodia) which could distract attention from the ASEAN role,' said one Phnom Penh-based western diplomat, adding that the proposal to station border monitors might well prevent fighting but would not solve the issue.

'If you don't find a political way to resolve it then there is a risk of freezing, and right now the prospect of serious discussions ahead of Thailand's election seems quite small,' he added.

Fears Tribunal May Halt Khmer Rouge Trials

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By AP / MIKE ECKEL
Wednesday, May 04, 2011

(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) — Legal and human rights groups say they fear Cambodia's U.N.- backed genocide tribunal will shut its doors prematurely without prosecuting former second-tier Khmer Rouge officials accused of atrocities.

Lawyers for the regime's aging former foreign minister, meanwhile, pressed Wednesday for his release from prison, saying he should be held under house arrest instead until his trial later this year.

Ieng Sary's lawyers argued that his three years of pretrial imprisonment was illegal. A ruling on the appeal is expected later.

In its first case, the tribunal sentenced Kaing Guek Eav to 35 years in prison last July for running the regime's notorious S-21 prison.

Its second case involves Ieng Sary, former Khmer Rouge chief ideologist Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, and Ieng Sary's wife Ieng Thirith, who was minister for social affairs.

They are charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and other offenses related to the Khmer Rouge's four-year rule in the 1970s, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern Wednesday that the tribunal will shut down its operations after the current case and abandon plans for trials of other former Khmer Rouge.

The proceedings follow French-style law, which mandates that investigating judges collect evidence that is then forwarded to prosecutors who decide whether to go to trial. There are parallel sets of Cambodian and international judges and prosecutors working together.

Last week the co-investigating judges — You Bunleng of Cambodia and Siegfried Blunk of Germany — officially informed the court that their investigation for Case No. 3 was complete. The names of those being probed have been kept secret, but they are believed to include at least five second-tier Khmer Rouge officials.

Critics including Human Rights Watch say the co-investigating judges have done an incomplete investigation in an effort to scuttle future prosecutions.

"The investigating judges have acted precipitously to shut down the investigation, and I say that because we know from talking to people working in the court that they have not gone to crime scenes and done the kind of investigation that one would expect in any criminal case, much less a case of this seriousness," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

"They've basically done a desk study and it appears that that desk study was a sham," Adams said in an interview in Bangkok. "It was a political decision, it appears, to shut down this case."

The Open Society Justice Initiative, an international legal watchdog group funded by billionaire George Soros, says the court may ultimately decide to strike a deal with the government, agreeing to end cases No. 3 and 4 in exchange for full cooperation from the government and witnesses in the current case.

"Victims of the Khmer Rouge will be cheated of the more comprehensive accountability farther trials would have produced. And every Cambodian will know that all the will the international community could muster was not sufficient to create a truly independent court," James Goldston, the initiative's executive director, wrote in a recent opinion piece.

Adams said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has long been the main opponent to broadening the tribunal's targets, claiming improbably it could spark a revival of civil war.

"He's covering up, it appears, for people in his party, because there are senior figures in his party who could be held accountable," said Adams, adding that it is not likely that they would be the ones prosecuted. Hun Sen once served with the Khmer Rouge but defected from the group at a relatively early stage.

"There's nervousness in his party and he has publicly said over and over again that he would rather have the court fail than for it to go ahead with these cases," said Adams. "So there has been extreme political pressure. "

He said pressure has also come from the nations funding the tribunal, who would like to wrap things up quickly without having to raise new money beyond the costs so far, which have well exceeded $100 million.

Because of the inadequate investigations, "I think it's very dubious whether these cases will go forward and if they do go forward, that they will result in convictions," Adams said.

Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said it was speculative to say that the investigating judges plan to dismiss the remaining cases. He said it was wrong to draw exact parallels between the first two cases — which involved extensive research and investigations — and the two pending ones, saying each case has its own set of circumstances.

He also noted that under the deal reached between the United Nations and the Cambodian government, the court has been limited in its scope from the day it was founded.

"What's important is that there is a legal process that has been done; that impunity for the most responsible and the most senior leaders has ended," he said.

Associated Press Television News producer Jerry Harmer in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Quiet falls on the front

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Children play yesterday at Kou Pagoda in Oddar Meanchey province’s Banteay Ampil district before returning to their villages later in the day amidst a lull in fighting along the Thai-Cambodian border.

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:03 Cheang Sokha and May Titthara

Oddar Meanchey province

Guns have fallen silent at the border between Thailand and Cambodia, as yet another ceasefire was signed yesterday and returning villagers vowed to dig trenches and take up arms to protect themselves from future clashes.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday morning, at the inauguration of a pagoda in Phnom Penh, that a lull in fighting following clashes on Tuesday heralded the first night of peace since hostilities broke out between Thailand and Cambodia on April 22.

The clashes have killed at least 18 people so far.

The premier said that frontline troops stationed near to Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temple had slept soundly in Oddar Meanchey province on Tuesday night.

In two instances, he said, unarmed soliders from each country slept side-by-side at the same locations.

“The frontline soldiers should build trust with each other, and if that happens there will be no more fighting,” Hun Sen said.

“We don’t want to have war. War brings disaster – not only for the lives of the soldiers but also the lives of civilians.”

Yesterday morning, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defence, Cambodian major general Chea Morn and his Thai counterpart, commander Thawatchai Samutsakorn, met to affirm a ceasefire which was first brokered last Thursday.

A six-point agreement was reached. It included the provision of a complete ceasefire, moves to build trust between the two sides and the reopening of two border checkpoints in Oddar Meanchey province at O’Smach and Choam-Sangam. A soldier based at Ta Moan temple, the scene of fierce fighting over the past week, said another military meeting between representatives from the two nations was due to take place today.

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commanders sit near the remnants of a shell during a visit yesterday to an area near Ta Moan temple in Oddar Meanchey province, along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army, warned yesterday that is was too early to be sure that a ceasefire would hold.

“We hope that this situation, which is quiet at the moment, will last a little bit longer and will continue. Every time we’ve had the so-called ceasefire, it’s not very long and the situation occurs again, so let’s wait and see,” he said.

Regardless, many of the estimated 45,232 Cambodians forced out by the clashes continued to flood back towards the frontline yesterday.

Around 150 evacuees from two villages in Kokmon commune, in Oddar Meanchey’s Banteay Ampil district, returned home. Another 150 villagers, living close to the front line in Thmo Daun and Hanoukman villages, also moved back, some to a scene of destruction.

Thmo Daun resident Siek Chhouk fled her home on April 22. She returned yesterday to discover it had been damaged in the conflict.

“I am so regretful about my home. If fighting breaks out again I will not go out of my village. I will go to ask for a gun from soldiers to fight back with Thailand,” she said.

Photo by: Sovan Philong
An RCAF commander speaks in front of a bunker during a visit yesterday to an area near Ta Moan temple where recent hostilities have taken place.

While fellow resident Leng Srey, preparing her luggage before taking a truck home to Thmo Daun, said she intended to dig a trench at her property to keep her safe in the future.

However, officials have assured residents of their safety.

Bich Sokhen, Banteay Ampil provincial governor, said yesterday: “There is no one place in Oddar Meanchey province that is unsafe – everything has been finished.”

Experts are now investigating the weapons used during the clashes.

The director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, Heng Ratana, said yesterday that two bombs were being analysed. No evidence of cluster bombs use has been found as yet, he said.

Ieng Sary back in courtroom

Photo by: Eccc/Pool
Ieng Sary, who was deputy prime minister and foreign minister during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, sits through a hearing at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yesterday.

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:02 James O'Toole

A feeble Ieng Sary appeared before Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal yesterday to challenge his provisional detention ahead of his looming trial alongside three other senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

Lawyers for the former KR foreign minister argued that judges had not rendered a sufficiently reasoned decision on the defence appeal of last year’s indictment within the window during which the court could still compel their client’s detention. The maximum time limit for pre-trial detention since Ieng Sary’s 2007 arrest has therefore now lapsed, the defence said.

The challenge follows appeals earlier this year on similar grounds by the other three defendants set to be tried in the court’s second case: former KR head of state Khieu Samphan, Brother No 2 Nuon Chea and Social Action Minister Ieng Thirith. These appeals have been rejected.

Despite this precedent, defence lawyer Ang Udom told the court yesterday that there was no legal basis to continue Ieng Sary’s detention.

“Mr Ieng Sary has the presumption of innocence and has not been convicted of any crime,” Ang Udom said.

“The most suitable remedy is to release Mr Ieng Sary on bail immediately.”

The defence recommended that Ieng Sary be released from the court’s detention facility and placed under house arrest at his expansive home in Phnom Penh.

“Brother No 3” himself, now 85 years old, managed less than an hour in court yesterday before asking to leave due to fatigue. His lawyers have requested that the court conduct his upcoming trial in half-day sessions in view of his health concerns.

Donning the loose-fitting button-down shirt of the style he has worn in previous hearings, he appeared fatigued and at one point seemed to doze off as his lawyers spoke in front of him. Early in the session, the defence asked that he be given leave for a bathroom break.

Much of the argument yesterday followed the template of previous hearings on pre-trial detention. At one point, however, defence lawyer Michael Karnavas provided a sample of the debate over Cambodia’s complicated history with the West that is sure to come at greater length in the upcoming trial.

Responding to comments from deputy prosecutor Veng Huot, who noted in passing statements of support for the tribunal from United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon and American secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Karnavas said the UN was not “in any position to be lecturing”, given its support for the Khmer Rouge for years following their 1979 overthrow.

“I do believe that we should be entitled to talk about the carpet bombing, by the United States, of Cambodia. We should be able to talk about the UN’s involvement after 1979,” Karnavas said, accusing UN officials of limiting the court’s jurisdiction to events between 1975 and 1979 “to ensure that those issues were not properly vented out”.

Parasite hunters hit Kingdom

Photo by: Kenneth Ingram
Philipp Bless collects a bovine faeces sample during a visit to Kandal province yesterday.

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:02Kenneth Ingram

The mere thought of a parasite is enough to make most people cringe, but new research on parasitic worms in Cambodia has a few scientists wriggling with excitement.

Philipp Bless, from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, Switzerland, looks less like a scientist and more like a tourist at first glance.

Sporting a basic t-shirt, cargo pants and a black baseball cap with sunglasses, the 25-year-old is conducting field research on a specific type of parasite, in collaboration with the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control in Phnom Penh.

The project is part of a larger study supported by the United Bank of Switzerland Optimus Foundation, which primarily funds initiatives that seek to improve the health of children.

In a laboratory at the centre, Bless – who will use his research as part of his Masters degree - and his colleagues are trying to determine whether a type of parasite that commonly infects cattle and buffalo, known as Fasciola hepatica, is also infecting children in Cambodia. “Scientifically, I would be the first one to identify human infections of this parasite [in Cambodia],” says Bless.

According to a 2006 World Health Organisation report, about 2.4 million people worldwide have this type of parasite, commonly known as liver flukes, or helminths, a name derived from the Greek word for worm. A separate WHO report, published two years later, recognised Cambodia’s success in programs to reduce their numbers in the Kingdom over the past decade, while also indicating that more studies are needed to determine their distribution and numbers.

As part of the quest to find more data, Bless and his fellow researchers are on the hunt, actively searching for parasitic worms. Yesterday, they travelled to a slaughterhouse in Kandal province to collect a sample of nearly 100 worms, found inside the livers of cattle.

“After getting permission from the commune authorities and owner [of the slaughterhouse], I explained to the workers what we are looking for and showed them some pictures. One worker said ‘Oh yeah, everyday I see some. How many worms do you need?’” Bless recalls, with enthusiasm in his voice.

Bless says that these parasites are interesting because they can infect both humans and animals. He explains that the life cycle has many stages.

Once contaminated vegetables or water are consumed, the parasite migrates from the intestines and eventually settles in the liver over a period of a few days.

“The worm locates in the bile ducts of the liver, sucking up mostly blood and that can lead to a bunch of complications,” says Bless.

The worms can also eat their way through liver tissue, causing inflammation and scar tissue. As the parasites feed, they become sexually mature over a period of months. As eggs are let loose, they make their way out of the body through the digestive system. At this point, the eggs need fresh water and a snail to help them further develop and to deposit them on plants to be consumed by unwary humans or animals.

Photo by: Kenneth Ingram
Philipp Bless displays a vial of parasitic worms collected from cattle livers at a slaughterhouse in Kandal province.

Standing under a shelter at the slaughterhouse during a brief downpour, Bless takes a look at the samples. That the cattle have worms is no surprise to Bless and his support staff at the centre. In 2002, a limited study found that nearly 60 per cent of the buffalo and cattle in Kandal province were infected with the parasites.

Despite their findings, Bless says that people shouldn’t be too alarmed. The owner of the slaughterhouse assured him that infected livers are discarded. Bless also explains that the immature parasite, found on water plants such as watercress, is killed when the vegetables are cooked properly or washed thoroughly with clean water.

Referring to his notes on previous studies, Bless says that death caused by the parasite is “practically unheard of”, although they are known to cause a number of health complications such as fatigue, indigestion, fatty food intolerance, gall stones, jaundice, enlarged organs and pain.

In animals such as cattle and buffalo, Bless says the parasites can take their toll on agriculture by causing infected animals to produce less milk, meat and offspring. They can also become weak, leaving them vulnerable to other diseases or predators.

Dr Galina Nicolaevna Krushina, a physician at Naga Clinic in Phnom Penh, says that few people ever get to actually see the parasites that infect them.

“It’s only eggs we see in the stool, and from that you judge the presence of the parasite,”she explains.

She doesn’t bat an eyelid at the fact that she diagnoses parasites on a constant basis at the clinic. “They are very common all over the tropics, not just in Cambodia.”

Originally from Bulgaria, Nicola has 32 years of experience as a doctor in Africa and has been working at the clinic in Cambodia for the past two years. “Everybody who has lived in the tropics longer than six months has one. If he doesn’t, he has one hell of good luck,” she says. For her, diagnosing a patient is straight-forward. “The complaints are very typical. Fullness, tiredness, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea.”

She says the parasites are easily treated with medication that eliminates the uninvited guests within three to six days. But patients who are eager to eliminate their parasites present a paradox for research, according to Bless, because the medication is inexpensive compared to the regiment of tests that would be required to identify exactly what type of parasite is causing the problem.

Bless is hopeful that his field research will be successful. If he’s able to confirm that the parasite he is seeking is inside these cattle, He says the next step will be to collect blood samples from 150 to 250 primary school students, to detect if they have been infected by the parasite as well.

Concerns raised over new procurement law

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:03Vong Sokheng and James O’Toole

The government’s draft law on procurement is set to go to the Council of Ministers next week, despite concern from civil society groups about whether the legislation will effectively promote transparency in bidding for public contracts.

Ou Bon Long, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said yesterday that his ministry “is preparing to send the draft law to the Council of Ministers next week”, adding that the law would support the government’s efforts in public financial reform. “We made this law with the aim to ensure transparency in the public bidding process,” he said.

The legislation addresses a process that has long been fertile ground for corruption, plagued by “cronyism” and a lack of transparency, said Chheng Kimlong, a lecturer in business and economics at the University of Cambodia. But some NGO officials fear that the draft law does not go far enough in promoting an open bidding process and needs to provide for greater oversight.

The draft law calls for public contracts to be awarded through “public, competitive bidding” with oversight from the Finance Ministry, though it is not clear how such transparency will be compelled and information from the bidding process made available.

A provision for independent groups to access to this information and monitor the procurement process could help address this issue, said San Chey, local fellow for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific.

“If there is a lack of participation by watchdogs within the bidding process, it will create opportunities for corruption … that will affect public services and create losses from the national budget,” he said.

The law does not apply to procurements deemed “politically sensitive” or otherwise exempted by order of the Council of Ministers or the Prime Minister, according to an unofficial translation of the draft. It also does not apply to the concession process and the sale of state properties, nor to procurement projects funded by donors that are subject to their own financing regulations.

The current guidelines for public procurement are set out in a government guidebook on project implementation, and by the respective regulations of ministries involved in such projects.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said local authorities should be given more of a role in procurement under the new legislation in order to reduce the bureaucracy involved and make the process easier for bidders.

“We demand that the government deliver power to local authorities, with the participation of NGO watchdogs, in order to ensure transparency when there is an opportunity for procurement,” he said.

Another worry for some observers is the fact that there has been little public consultation on the draft law. In addition to the criticisms from NGOs, Chheng Kimlong said there were “lots of concerns” from the private sector that could be addressed through a more inclusive drafting process.

Ou Bon Long said the Finance Ministry was willing to make changes to the law “when civil society groups are able to provide appropriate recommendations”.

United States embassy spokesman Mark Wenig said in an email yesterday the US was “encouraged” by the draft law, and that a more transparent procurement process “will benefit both bidders and procuring agencies, and increase Cambodia’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment”.

Workers to Korea triple

Employees of Pantech, a South Korean mobile handset maker, work on an assembly line at a factory in the city of Gimpo last month. Reuters

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:01May Kunmakara

THE number of Cambodian migrant workers travelling to South Korea tripled in the first quarter year-over-year, officials said yesterday, though adding concerns with workers overstaying contracts mean the trend may not continue into next year.

A rebounding South Korean economy and a rejection of illegal workers helped to boost the Kingdom’s presence on the East Asian peninsula, though the ending of many Cambodians’ contracts in October could affect the number of new workers being sent there in 2012, officials said.

According to Heng Sour, chief of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training’s overseas manpower unit, Cambodia sent 1,475 workers to South Korea, about 86 percent of which were men, working largely in the industrial and construction industries. The remaining 200 workers were women, employed mostly in the agriculture sector.

“The Korean economy is getting much better, so they require more and more labourers from abroad,” he said.

South Korea’s policy against illegal workers also contributed to the rise, Heng Sour added.

The South Korean government has signed Memorandums of Understanding with 15 Asian countries, including Cambodia, to bring workers to the country. However, the number of workers from a particular MoU partner is reduced if migrants are employed illegally beyond their original contracts. Those numbers are then replaced by workers from other countries.

Heng Sour said that last quarter that there was a jump in illegal workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, opening the door for Cambodia to fill the gap.

But now he is worried that the Kingdom may encounter the same problem when many of its workers who left for South Korea in 2008 see their contracts expire.

“If they don’t come back, they will become illegal workers,” he said. “So, we will face a shortfall in 2012.”

Heng Sour called on Cambodians presently in South Korea to return to the Kingdom when their contracts were done, saying it would help the country by giving others here the chance to work abroad. Also, returning workers would have the opportunity to apply to go again.

“We appeal to their parents and local authorities to cooperate with us in urging them to come back,” he said. “When they are back, it does not mean they don’t have the chance to work in Korea again.”

He also noted that returning workers can receive up to US$4,000 paid back that they had paid toward insurance while in South Korea.

Cambodian workers initially sign a one-year contract but can receive a second two-year contract based on performance. If performance warrants, a final two-year contract is then awarded, before workers must return home to Cambodia.

Woman, 58, in rape claim

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:03Sen David

A 29-year-old man was charged yesterday with the rape of a 58-year-old woman, which allegedly occurred while she was waiting for her children to return home in Banteay Meanchey’s Serei Sophorn town on Tuesday.

Sin Va, director of the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office said yesterday that Kiev Chantha, 29, was charged after being arrested on Tuesday.

“He should be embarrassed because the victim’s age seems to be [similar to] his grandmother,” he said, adding that after the victim filed a complaint with police, officers caught him as he was allegedly attempting to escape from the province.

Sin Va also said that the victim told police that while she was sitting in front of her home, the suspect forced her into a secluded cottage and raped her. “She is too old and she has no power to shout for help,” Sin Va added. Police claim the suspect was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Provincial monitor for the rights group Adhoc, Prak Sophima, said yesterday it was aware of the case.

Vaccine touted as cancer prevention

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:02Mary Kozlovski

The creator of the human papilloma virus vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer, visited Cambodia yesterday and stated that vaccination prior to sexual activity was a crucial step in protecting against infections that can cause cervical cancer.

Professor Frazer told an audience at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday that 80 percent of HPV infections are contracted within three years of becoming sexually active.

“[About] 70 to 80 percent of women who are sexually active get the virus,” he said. “The public health benefit comes from vaccinating young women before they become sexually active.”

Genital HPV infections are primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse and are linked to most cases of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is administered in three doses and has been given to over 60 million women worldwide.

Professor Frazer added that two HPV vaccines on the market protect against virus types 16 and 18, which cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers.

An HPV vaccination programme began in Cambodia in June 2008.

Toilet raid probe launched

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:02Thik Kaliyann

Siem Reap province

An investigation has been launched into a clash that broke out when Apsara Authority officials destroyed a toilet block illegally constructed within Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap last week.

Rights group Licadho spokesman No Phothy said yesterday they were investigating complaints that officials had brawled with villagers, who were brandishing sticks and knives, during an hour-long Apsara Authority raid in Khnar Sandai Commune’s Banteay Srei village last week.

“Some of these charges are serious, including allegations a villager was assaulted and money stolen from a home during the confrontation. We will send this complaint to court if we find sufficient evidence,” he said.

Last week, blind villager Hok Vet told The Post that he had been beaten and had US$2,500 stolen from him during the raid. Apsara has denied both allegations.

Yesterday Hok Vet’s wife, Lin Neng Khoni, reiterated the claims and said she had filed complaints over the incident to the rights groups Licadho and Adhoc.

“When the Apsara Authority raided my house, the villagers protected themselves with knives and sticks because the police were threatening us with guns in their hands. I can’t believe the explanation Apsara Authority is offering,” she said.

She added police had rejected a complaint she tried to file and said she feared retribution after sighting Apsara Authority officials returning to photograph villagers.

“It’s completely unjust, I’m concerned that we will be targeted for speaking out but I really want to see justice done,” she said. Apsara Authority spokesman Yeang Savoeun yesterday denied any illegal actions had taken place during the raid.

“We welcome the investigation as there has been no wrongdoing on our part,” he said.

“The only people armed with guns were the police escorting us, who always carry firearms. At no stage did they threaten any villagers with their use.”

No Phothy, however, said that Apsara officials should have sought a legal solution to the dispute rather than resorting to confrontation.

Yeang Savoeun said the Apsara Authority were only authorised to conduct the raid after an official verbal warning to cease construction was ignored.

“In this case we warned the owner of the building to stop the construction as he had no permit, but we were ignored. Our mandate from the government forces us to act if the owner refused to apply for the proper permits.”

Violent storms cause a number of deaths

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:02Mom Kunthear and Phak Seangly

A SIX-year-old girl survived a lightning strike that killed both her pregnant mother and her father in Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district yesterday.

Srean Samun, who was five months pregnant, and her 37-year-old husband Long Samang were taking shelter in their wooden house – about 7 kilometres from Thmey village in Peam Raing commune – when it was struck by lightning.

Both were killed by the bolt but their six-year-old daughter, who was taking shelter with them, escaped unharmed.

“The husband was found dead on the ground, while his wife’s back, hair, and clothes were burned,” Thmey village chief Long Moeurn said.

A 13-year-old boy also died yesterday after being hit by lightning while ploughing a field with his grandfather in Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district, officials said.

The deaths come just days after a powerful rainstorm destroyed 12 houses and damaged more than 40 others, in Takeo’s Samrong district on Monday.

The weather also damaged 20 houses in the province’s Daun Keo town, police said yesterday.

Chhuk Engly, Samrong district deputy police chief, said that the storm hit four villages in Lumchong commune including Khvav, Porng Toeuk, Roung, and Preah Theat.

“The storm damaged 57 houses – 12 were completely destroyed and two people received minor injuries,” he said.

Takeo provincial governor Srey Ben has since brought supplies from the Red Cross to support the 57 families whose houses were badly damaged.

“One family received sarongs, blankets, kramars, tents, mats and 25 kilograms of rice,” Chhuk Engly said, adding that two of the victims received donations of 150,000 riels (around US$37.50) each. “The authorities don’t have plans to build houses for them yet, but can [in the future],” he said, adding that this is the first serious storm to hit Samrong district this year.

Keo Vy, chief deputy director of information and relations for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday that Cambodia does not yet have the equipment to predict and prevent storms because they largely rely on information from other countries.

“The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction advises people to build their houses with stronger materials so that they can be [protected] from storms,” he said, adding that houses in rural areas are susceptible to damage because they are built with weak materials.

US man dies at Walkabout

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:02Adam Miller and Thet Sambath

A 57-year-old American man was found dead after suffering suspected heart failure at Phnom Penh’s Walkabout hotel on Tuesday, police officials and hotel staff said yesterday.

Walkabout staff members, who declined to be named, identified the deceased as Richard David, 57, who had checked into the hotel on Friday and was discovered dead in his room on Tuesday.

“We don’t know when he died but he was found dead on Tuesday,” a staff member said, adding that the deceased had probably been dead for some days judging by the “really bad smell”.

“He died in the hotel room but we did not yet receive the results of the [blood] sample”, Lanh Yavma, deputy chief of the Science and Technology department at the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said yesterday.

“We suspect that he died from a heart attack because there are no scars or bruises on his body,” he added, before declining to comment further.

A staff member at Walkabout hotel, located in the Phsar Thmey III commune of Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, added that the body had been found after cleaning staff, attempting to tend to his room, found the door locked on Tuesday.

He added that American Embassy officials and police spent hours at the guesthouse before taking the body to Calmette Hospital at about 4pm.

American Embassy officials in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the case yesterday.

Trade to grow with Aussie FTA

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:01Tom Brennan

INTRA Company Director Han Rutten hasn’t given much thought to Australia as a sourcing country for his Cambodian import business. At least not for commodities like steel that he can get cheaper, thanks to reduced tariffs, from China and Vietnam.

That may change now that the Kingdom in January ratified the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, he said.

At a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh held to inform businesses like Rutten about the details of AANZFTA, officials from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade highlighted the country’s already strong ties to the ASEAN region as well as the benefits of the new agreement.

In 2009 and 2010, trade between Australia and ASEAN totalled about US$78 billion, up from $43.8 billion in 2000 and 2001 – though Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar accounted for just $386 million of that, according to a presentation from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

But officials emphasised the agreement’s potential, saying it covers an area with a combined population of 600 million and an estimated gross domestic product of $2.7 trillion.

The main tenets of the deal included reduced tariffs on the import and export of goods and updated rules of origin, as well as investor protections, a framework for business-entry provisions and assistance in implementing AANZFTA.

The rules of origin will benefit Cambodia much in the same way as the European Union’s “Everything but Arms” program, officials said. While the Kingdom imports most of the raw materials used in its garment industry, it still enjoys lower tariffs because those exports are often viewed as originating in Cambodia and not other countries.

“I think it’s a very good thing. I believe that it’s the future of development of trade for Cambodia,” Intra Company’s Rutten said, adding that the boost in trade might, as a result, help to grow the Kingdom’s manufacturing sector.

David Carter, Chief Executive Officer at Cambodia’s Infinity Insurance and President of the Australian Business Association of Cambodia, said the agreement helps to tackle another key concern of investors looking to put their money to work here: security.

Where they once had little recourse if their Cambodian partners reneged on a deal, according to Carter, the new agreement now offers much-needed avenues for arbitration.

“So that’s got to be very good news,” Carter said.

“If you can bring confidence about Cambodia to a group of investors, they’re more likely to come in,” he said.

However, there will be challenges to overcome as the agreement is implemented, Carter said, particularly in getting all key parties – such as Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce and Customs and Excise Department – up to speed on AANZFTA.

“No matter how hard you try there are always going to be hiccups along the way,” he said.

Intra Company’s Rutten also noted one potential problem for Cambodia resulting from the agreement, namely the loss of import duties. Given the country is a net importer of goods, the Kingdom will have to find a way to recoup the lost revenue, he said.

“So it’s not an easy ride for Cambodia,” he said. Government officials declined to comment yesterday.

Investors stock up on gold

A woman works at a gold shop in Phnom Penh earlier this week. Gold has been setting record highs on international markets. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:01Sieam Bunthy

CAMBODIA’S largest gold vendors claimed continued growth in prices has led prospective investors to increase their holdings of the precious metal, in the hopes that prices will continue to rise.

Ly Hour Gold and Exchange Store owner Sieng Lim said her business had increased in recent weeks with the sustained rally in gold.

“[Ly Hour’s] sales are on the rise because customers think gold prices will increase in the future,” she said. “They buy gold because when prices continue to increase, they can sell it for a profit.”

Before Khmer New Year in April, one damlung, or 1.2 troy ounces of gold, sold at $1730, while it was selling at $1860 per damlung earlier this week at Ly Hour, she said yesterday.

In March, Sieng Lim had told The Post that sales were declining, with prices at the time around $1705 a damlung keeping away buyers.

Ministry of Commerce statistics show gold has increased about 10 percent on local markets so far this year, as international prices for the precious metal have set record highs north of US$1500 per troy ounce this week. Gold closed at $1,533.28 on the Singapore exchange yesterday.

Virin Ratanak Gold Shop owner Virin Ratanak echoed Sieng Lim’s claims that customers had increased purchases, even as gold had become more expensive in recent weeks.

“Although gold is more expensive than before, buyers are increasing more than before,” she said.

However, smaller vendors of the precious metal claimed to be less enthusiastic about higher prices.

Ny Vet, a gold seller at Samaki market, said that the recent increase had required more capital for her to purchase gold, though her margins did not increase.

“The growth of gold prices is not good for sellers,” she said.

A gold vendor at Stung Meanchey market, who declined to provide his name, said that gold sales were decreasing every year as prices continued to rise. His stall sells mainly to factory workers, who no longer have the money required to buy gold at higher prices, he said.

Commerce returns as border gates with Thailand re-open

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

THAI authorities have reopened the O’Smach and Choam international checkpoints in Oddar Meancheay province, allowing bilateral trade to resume through the crossings, according to local Cambodian officials.

The gates had been closed following the start of violent clashes between Cambodia and Thailand on April 22.

O’Smach crossing deputy director Nhuy Cheang said yesterday the gate had been reopened at 10:22 in the morning.

“The people of both countries are very pleased, and they are going in and out, running their business,” he said.

“Some are setting up their booths [across the border] to sell their goods, and casinos are reopening too.”

The reopening of the gate came following negotiations between regional military commanders from the two sides, he added.

Choam crossing director Neth Dara said the gate had been opened at 1:39 yesterday afternoon.

Residents were returning to the area, and commerce ought to pick up again by Thursday, he said.

Neth Dara had said on April 25 that local cross-border commerce had been halted by the closure of the border. Loem Heng, owner of Royal Hill Casino located near the O’Smach crossing, said the casino had reopened after a halt when the Thai authorities closed the border.

“Yesterday morning the gate reopened, so I opened the casino,” he said. He declined to reveal the number of guests who had visited the casino yesterday.

Poipet crossing had seen a drop in tourists following April’s outbreak of hostilities, but local officials have confirmed the crossing itself was unaffected.

Some 62,651 visitors entered Cambodia through the Banteay Meancheay province checkpoint in April, down from 75,636 in March, figures provided by immigration authorities show.

Leak Romnea, chief of Poipet checkpoint’s Administration Officer, said on Monday that the sudden decline was due to the ongoing Thai-Cambodia border clashes, but added the crossing had remained open.

In an April 27 speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Kingdom could turn to other markets beside Thailand for imports.

“If Thailand closes the border, Cambodia will stop purchasing all goods from Thailand,” he said in the speech at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace.

Telkom officials say due dilligence done for CamGSM stake

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:00Jeremy Mullins

AN Indonesian mobile operator has completed its due diligence process for Cambodian mobile provider CamGSM, and is awaiting the results of an internal review on the stake, according to a translated report from Indonesia’s Kontan newspaper.

“As we know, penetration in Indonesia is very high and [Telkom] needs to find a new niche,” Eddy Kunia, Vice President of Public and Marketing Communication at PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, or Telkom Indonesia, said in the report from Monday.

He declined to set a date for the internal review process to be completed, but said the plan was for Telkom to be majority shareholder of CamGSM.

CamGSM operates its mobile service under the Cellcard brand in Cambodia.

Cambodian conglomerate the Royal Group completed its purchase of CamGSM in November 2009 from former partner Luxembourg-based Millicom International SA, in a deal that won industry magazine Telecomfinance’s 2009 “Asia Deal of the Year” award.

Royal Group is currently financed through a syndicated loan, with Bank of China as mandated lead arranger.

Eddy Kunia and other Telkom officials did not return a request for comment yesterday. CamGSM officials could not be reached yesterday.

Sweet, fresh taste of the countryside

Kim Lay, 60, sorts the peeled radishes before they are salted and laid out to dry in the sunlight. Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Villagers find casual work helping their neighbours peel radishes. Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Ky Heng shows how they are salted in giant clay jars. Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:00 Ou Mom

DRIVING along National Road 21 from Phnom Penh by the Mekong River, you’ll smell the scent of dried radishes on sale in stalls.

They’re a popular snack in Cambodia, with the sweet versions being eaten fresh, and the dried salty radishes giving extra flavour to soups and traditional dishes.

Sitting near many sacks of fresh radishes in front of her house, 60-year-old Kim Lay explains how she and her husband Ky Heng changed from growing sugar palms three years ago.

Their village of Prek Snay in S’ang District, Kandal province, is a centre for growing radishes, with many locals making a good living.

Says Ky Heng, 66: “Because we’ve seen most villagers make a good business from dried radishes, we decided to buy them from wholesalers.

“To make dried radishes, we have to spend about 10 days drying them after we’ve peeled them.

“At first, after peeling off the skins, we need to steep them with plenty of salt in big jars, until the bitter juices run,” he says, pointing to many jars in front of his house next to the store along the national road.

“In the morning, we need to lift the radishes out from the salt water, rinse them, and again pack them with salt to keep them for many months or a year without deterioration,” he says.

“To make sweet dried radishes, we have to put salted radishes in the sunlight until they are dry, and then further dry the pieces out over sugarcane for several days more,” Ky Heng says.

“Finally we need to put them in sugar again, drying them out to become crisp, or adding lemon for extra taste and flavour.”

Harvest time is busy for the villagers, who find odd jobs peeling and slicing radishes during the season.

Housewife Song Phalla, 40, says she can earn from 8000 riel (US$2) to 10,000 riel in a day by working for her neighbours.

“They give me from 2000 riels to 2500 riels for each sack of radishes,” she says. “Sometimes when my little children are free from their schoolwork, they also can do it as well.”

Wholesaler Kan Sopheng is perhaps the king of S’ang District, selling up to 100 tonnes of the vegetable each month. That can vary from 3 tonnes to 5 tonnes each day.

European film festival to focus on young people

Actors in Love is All, screening tonight at 7pm on the Diamond Island open-air screen.

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Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:00Roth Meas

A RARE chance to see recent European films focusing on youth can be taken this week in the European Union’s ninth European Film Festival in Phnom Penh, running until Monday, May 9.

Seven movies have been scheduled throughout the festival, which began on Tuesday, from seven European countries.

EU chargé d’affaire Rafael Dochaeo Moreno said the focus was on youth this year because 60 percent of Cambodian’s were aged under 26 and so, play an important role in society.

“Young people are the future of the country, and young Cambodians will one day be leaders in their own country,” he said.

Films in the festival will be screened at two venues for the first time this year, at Diamond Island and the French Cultural Centre (CCF).

Free open-air screenings at 7pm at Diamond Island, are designed to appeal to youngsters because it’s a popular evening meeting place.

Moreno said that these movies would help young Cambodians understand more about the lives of young people in Europe. Though Europe is far from Cambodia, he said youths in both continents shared the same feelings.

“In fact, we can imagine that young Europeans and young Cambodians have exactly the same problems, because what young people have in mind are love, friendship, work, studying to get a good job and money,” said Moreno.

The cinema would act as a bridge between the different cultures, he said.

All movies screened at Diamond Island are dubbed into Khmer, while screenings at CCF will be aired with the original soundtracks and English subtitles.